There's a hole that needs fixing!
Chapter 5: Into the Fire
Location: Gun Deck
"Let Fly!" shouted old man Salazar over the sound of the air screaming past the cannon ports.
As each of the cannons fired they were knocked back across the deck, and the gunners scrambled for their loading materials. They were in pairs, and Niles and her partner were about to start the reloading process when the Sky Tiger's volley hit the Steamhawke. The wall that Niles' partner was leaning against was smashed apart and the poor fool was thrown into the sky.
The pirates tripped over each other in an attempt to get away from the large hole in the side of the deck. "Clear the debris!" shouted Salazar. "And someone get me the handyman! There's a hole that needs fixing!"
Niles stared at the gaping hole in the wall in horror. That could have very well been her. Being her first time working aboard a pirate ship, she expected that she would be able to slack around with little work and get into a few fights while still getting food, shelter and some sort of compensation. She never expected that she would be in a situation like that.
She swallowed. The guy who was her partner was not someone she directly communicated with until that day. She wished she got to know him better.
"Hey," she croaked to no one in particular, "I need someone else to help with reloading!"
It was funny how she tried to avoid risking her freedom by running into a death sentence. She bent down and started to organize the cannonballs that had rolled about at the impact of the Sky Tiger's hit. Her hands were trembling as she picked up each ball. Niles couldn't help but drop one of them, and it rolled out of her reach. Luckily someone stepped in front of Niles and stopped the ball with his foot.
Herring Finn was standing there. "You dropped something" said the second Elphin, handing the ball back to Niles. The two Elphins hadn't spoken much since Niles came aboard. Finn was younger than her, but his life in the skies had toughened him up. He was used to this kind of situation. "I'll be your firing partner, I know my way around a cannon!"
It wasn’t long before Edward stumbled seemingly oblivious to the chaos around him onto the gun deck, having been roused from a mostly uneventful work session by frantic slamming on his cubbyhole and commands that he was needed immediately. A glazed look came over his face as he examined the cannon holes, the injured, and all the signs of battle. He’d certainly noticed it was louder than usual for this time of day, but this was quite unexpected. “Did I miss something...?” he mumbled somewhat to himself, quizzically scratching his head as he did.
Salazar was getting too old for this. "Boy!" he barked at Edward, "there's a hole the size of a wagon in the side of my gun deck! What are you going to do about it?"
Niles and Finn began reloading the cannon and she smiled a little nervously at him.
"Thanks," she mumbled. It was a little comforting being around someone a little like her in the day that was possibly her last.
She glanced at Edward, wondering how he had been so unaware of what was going on. It sounded like Salazar had similar questions.
"Don't just stand there boy! Are you living in your own fantasy world?"
The gunners hurried to prepare for the second pass while the old sailor kept trying to motivate the handyman. Meanwhile the boy Erm could be seen climbing the ladder up from the lower decks. He was heading for the forward hatch...