Pouncing the Tiger
Posted on Fri May 18th, 2012 @ 2:50pm by Snot Rag Chops McGinty & Captain Daenelia Bradley & Master Ashrieda Sjaarda & Mate Wren Tamryl & Sailor Lorelei Loewe & Mister Ciprian Cendrars & Master Caroline Summers & Mate Ivan Petrov
Chapter 5: Into the Fire
Location: On deck
Smoke made her eyes water, but Daenelia managed to grab hold of Carol. "Summers!" she yelled, then coughed. "We need to get our people on that ship, take out some cannons, and crew! Are the war dogs ready?" Caroline’s fingers stroked the hilt of her blade as she yelled back, grinning from ear to ear: “When am I ever not?!”
Daenelia took a moment to gather her thoughts, as all around her people were helping people up from the deck, throwing useless debris overboard and trying to fix nettings and ropes. We need to get close, she thought. But we also need a surprise attack.
"Ashrieda, do you have any ideas?" she said.
“Captain,” Ashrieda started, glancing at Carol, “are you sure…uh…” Are you really sure you want to have the lunatic leading the way, she wanted to say, but she couldn’t think of a tactful way to put this. A mission such as this one required patience and that was a quality she wouldn’t associate with Carol even if hell was…wait, there was an idea.
“We need a good distraction -- whoever gets on board the ship needs to see where most of their men are concentrated. There’s a good chance that’ll be where the other power source is. Unless we can draw the concentration of men to us…we wouldn’t want to spend all of our resources, but if we can make them think that this our last stand, we may be able to keep their attention away. We need to keep as much of the fighting above deck as possible. Or –" She stopped, grimacing a bit. She had an alternative, but that would involve more people dying, and that certainly went into spending resources territory.
“That’s what I think, anyway,” she finished lamely, and waited expectantly for the captain’s orders. They weren’t long in coming.
"I want all the able-bodied pirates that we can spare to swing over to the deck of the Sky Tiger, as we make a pass. The rest of us will provide covering fire." Carol nodded. "Brem is trying to figure out where they get their power from. Hopefully he'll provide us with some intelligence before you have to leave. Otherwise, you'll have to fight your way below decks and see for yourself."
It sounded like a suicide mission, but this didn't deter Carol. Daenelia had scarcely finished giving her orders when the war dog pack leader headed off to gather some bits of ‘meat’ for the grinder. As always the confidence is anyone but herself was astoundingly low, but with more people to surround her the less bullets would be flying her way. It wasn’t long before a small herd of young deckhands gathered behind her (Many of whom had happily volunteered upon receiving rather persuasive arguments from an extremely charismatic knife point). Among the crowd was Nate Winters, who had been itching to get his hands dirty again ever since the prison break back on Mypos.
Ciprian had reached Daenelia and the others just as she was asking for volunteers. He clutched a a half empty body of Old West rotgut in one hand and a vile looking wad of gray-green putty in the other. If Ciprian looked hungover, it was only because he was. He had been sleeping off his first good bender since he had been rescued when the engagement with the Sky Tiger begun. After a resounding "Merde" loud enough to be heard over cannon fire, he swung out of bed, put on his overcoat and top hat, loaded his pistol and jumped out of his hammock. After collaring a crew member long enough to get the basics of the situation, he begun to formulate the basics of, if not a plan, at least a method. After some quick prep, he had stumbled on deck.
"Madame Capitain," he said, "There is more than one way to skin a tiger, no?. I would like to join the boarding party." He paused for a minute, "A question. What is the predominant language on the Sky Tiger?"
"Jack always prided himself on speaking proper Brittish. I suppose he'd enforce that on his ship. But the crew will be more varied, they'll speak lots of common pidgin to communicate," Daenelia said.
"Ashrieda, do you have any ideas?" Daenelia was repeating herself, she blamed it on stress. But Ashrieda did always have excellent ideas.
Ashrieda frowned. “About what? About pidgin? They might have a Tower of Babel situation under duress."
Ciprian's brow creased, it was not an answer he had hoped for ... but it was enough. If their captain took pride in speaking Brittish, and good Brittish at that, minimal functionality in the language would be a survival skill for the Tiger's crew. Temporary retreating to a slightly quieter corner of the Steamhawke, Ciprian stoked the tiny boiler on his steam-mechanical dictaphone and spent a few moments speaking into it. Then, slipping the dictaphone into the left pocket of his greatcoat, he returned to where the boarding parties were assembling.
The Captain knew she was running out of time. Ashrieda was right, a distraction was needed. Daenelia looked at Ciprian. She had the feeling she could trust him, about as far as she could throw him, but she had faith that his intelligence could be used as a weapon.
"Mister Cendrars, I agree to send you over with the attack group. Your job will be to stay alive and create diversions where needed."
While the captain was addressing the crew, Erm was trying to get her attention. He had emerged from the forward hatch with some important information. Eventually Daenelia spotted the young boy and ordered everyone out of the way so that he could approach.
"Captain! Master Brem dug up these barquo schematics! He says the Sky Tiger is a barquo-type ship and that these could be useful!"
Daenelia took the old papers from Erm. "Yes, that's right, snot rag. But the Sky Tiger was built more than thirty years ago. It had already been upgraded even when I was aboard. And those engineers must have performed some kind of miracle if it's still flying with all that extra weight."
"Master Brem thought the same thing, Captain!" replied young Erm, pointing at one of the papers where some red Xs had been inked. "He reckons they've done something on the engineering deck. There's room enough to replace the old engine with two locomotives, running side by side."
It didn't take an expert in steam mechanics to realise what a crazy idea that was. "Mon dieu!" called Ciprian, "One mistake and the whole thing goes... kaboom!"
Jack was obsessed, thought Daenelia, but not insane. He must have enough trust that his engineers are up to the task of keeping two engines synchronised. That settled it. "Alright, while Carol leads the boarding party, Ashrieda and Wren will go on a stealth mission in the lifeboat. Your target is the engineering deck. If you can disable one of the engines then the Sky Tiger should be doomed."
It still sounded like a suicide mission, but at least this way the main attack group would be one big diversion. Daenelia hoped that they could keep Jack's crew off guard long enough for the targeted strike on the engineering deck to succeed. Nobody had asked the captain how they were supposed to get back to the Steamhawke after the attack was over. It was just as well, because Daenelia Bradley wouldn't have an answer.