At rope's end
Chapter 5: Into the Fire
Location: On deck
Tags: War Dogs
The closer the Sky Tiger got, the wider and redder Carol's eyes became. The Steamhawke had turned around to take another pass, and while the ships had grown further apart over the last few minutes, they were once again closing in on one another.
Carol's willing and less willing recruits were readying their weapons. In just a moment they would all have to climb up into the rigging, to which some of the deckhands were tying ropes. When the time was right the boarding party would swing onto the deck of the Sky Tiger and let slip the dogs of war...
Winters had pulled down his goggles over his eyes, and was cracking his knuckles in anticipation. He spotted Ciprian standing next to Carol and trying to draw her attention away from the sight of the oncoming sky ship.
"So, Madame, is there a plan other than ... comment dites vous ... 'get them?'" Ciprian asked. The Gaul was busy applying a nasty looking mixture of great, ash and phosphorous to his exposed skin: face, ears, neck and hands. The mixture left his flesh with a strange green-gray, slightly translucent appearance. Ciprian winced, the phosphorous irritated his skin and he knew it give him mild chemical burns but, if his idea panned out, it would be well worth it. And, if it didn't, well he probably wouldn't to worry about the burns anyway.
"'get them' sounds 'bout right t'me" replied Carol, her eyes blood-red by now. "We don't know what's waitin' for us over there. When you're surrounded by blades, ya don't think, ya don't feel, ya just act. Ever felt like that?'
Winters spotted Mei-Xiu among the crowd. "Any good at climbing ropes, girl?"
Mei looked at the Sky Tiger or more specifically the space between it and the Steamhawke,if she missed her mark it would be quite a drop.It was a good thing she did not have an organic stomach or she'd in all likely be spewing but she didn't want Carol thinking she was a coward."I just have to get a claw into the rope,hold a jump off at the...exact right time,correct?"
"That's right. Okay everyone, grab your ropes... last one up the riggin' is food for the tiger!"
Carol led the climb up the starboard rigging. High up ahead was the crows nest, a daunting climb at the best of times. But this wasn't the best of times, the Steamhawke was moving rapidly and the winds were threatening to blow the pirates off to their doom. Somehow the attack group had reached the top of the rigging without losing anybody to the sky. At the top, Carol demonstrated the best way to tie one end of their ropes to the lines of the rigging.
The Steamhawke and the Sky Tiger were mere seconds from passing each other when Carol lad the charge, swinging into the open sky with sword already drawn. The others followed. They were at the low point of the swing when the first cannons fired... once again both sky ships were opening fire at close range. The starboard side of the Steamhawke erupted in flames some twenty yards below their feet, and the attack group were rattled from the explosions.
As they were propelled forwards away from the Steamhawke there was a bigger concern. Swinging towards them was a group of pirates from the Sky Tiger! Carol gave an impressive war cry, which was unfortunately drowned by the gunfire below them, and then the pirates passed each other in mid-air. Blood was shed, ropes were cut, and men and women fell to their deaths before anyone had even reached the opposing sky ship.
Carol released her rope at the right time and let her momentum carry her safely within reach of the swords of the enemy. She landed on the deck of the Sky Tiger with the boarding party right behind her. They had mere seconds before the advantage of surprise would be lost.
Mei grabbed and a rope and hooked it in with her finger blade and soon enough she was soaring through the sky and it felt wonderful.Nervously she jumped off and landed next to one of the Sky Tiger's cabin boys who opened his mouth to yell prompting her to retract her claws and clap the sides of his neck with quick but merely paralyzing force.The former assassin did not like to kill when she didn't have too and then bumped into a large man who grabbed her by the neck.She could make out a devious smile on his face and spun on one foot and kicked him in the groin with the other causing him to yelp in pain before she finished him off by stabbing him in with the blade in her shoulder.
Winters was wrestling with an enemy pirate over for the possession of a rifle. He kicked the man away and quickly shot him. The sound of the gunshot was lost under the hail of bullets being fired in the boarding party's direction. They had lost the element of surprise and the crew of the Sky Tiger had turned to repel the invaders. "We're going to be completely surrounded!" Winters yelled at Carol, who was hacking her sword into an already dead pirate and either didn't hear her crewmate or didn't care. Winters looked past her at Ciprian, who was narrowly dodging the gunfire as their crewmates dropped dead around them. The Frenchman had certainly realised how quickly the situation was turning sour. "Perhaps finding some cover would be in order?" he suggested loudly over the din.
Together they managed to pull Carol away from the pieces of pirate and towards an open trapdoor along the side of the deck. "This way!" Winters called, and the survivors of the boarding party followed them below. Mei-Xiu closed the trapdoor behind them and, using her unnatural strength, twisted a piece of iron railing through the latch to jam it closed.
They were trapped below decks.