Chapter 1: The Sea and the Port
Location: The Steamhawke
Timeline: A cold November morning, early
Strange days, strange tides, her old first mate used to say. The day was strange, with a soft wind blowing in exactly the direction they had to fly according to the map. Captain Daenelia was looking forward to be up in the sky. She could get some sleep then. Or at least, she hoped she could. She kept forgetting that she had a new crew, not used to one another, and only McGinty to stand by her side.
There were still people coming on board. The Elphin male, who had impressed her with his uncanny strength, due to his two mechanical arms. The man with the broken nose, who had tried to bargain a payrise immediately after being hired. The dark looking man, who smelled of rum all the time. And the woman, with the attitude. All clearly skilled at their job as deckhands, but new. So new.
The rest of the crew also ran about on deck, and the passenger, Mr. Hill, stood looking over the side, with a bemused smile on his face. Even standing still, he managed to be in the way. Daenelia snorted, but kept her mind on the fee she charged to fly him around. The kitling was up in the Crow's Nest, which Daenelia now called the Kit's Nest. And McGinty, McGinty was scowling and mopping up dirty footprints.
The last of the suppliers had left the ship. Daenelia called McGinty to her.
"Ring the bell, McGinty," was the curt command.
The old swabbie grabbed the bell rope hanging next to the captains quarters and pulled on it energetically. He began swinging back and forth ringing the bell as forcefully as he could. While he rung it, the Captain slowly walked up the few steps to the poop deck, to stand in front of the steering wheel, facing the crew that was gathering on the deck.
"Men!" She shouted, as McGinty was stilll ringing the bell. "Women!" She continued, trying to shout over the din McGinty made. "McGinty!" She shouted as she leaned over the poop deck railing. The old man jumped up, but let go of the rope. The Captain straightened up."Men, Women, Crew!" She began again.
"Today, we embark on an adventure, a quest, a search for treasure! I have here," and she held up the map, "a map, guaranteed to lead us to vast riches! We will all need to work together, to fly the ship, and to make the journey easy on us all. For at the end of it, there be loot for all! You all heard me say, I am a fair captain. And so I am. I will give each man, each woman," "and elphin!" the elphin male interjected, with laughter following. "And elphin." The Captain smiled. "All of us the same share, regardless of rank or position. But only if we all do our jobs, and we stand together! Out in Sky justice will be swift for those that can't play by my rules." Murmuring started. "I am a fair captain. Do not mistake me for a fool." She ended in a much lower voice than she started.
"Untie the lines! Unfurl the sails! Stoke the engines! And smooth skysailing to us all!" She raised her fist, and the crew cheered somewhat.
McGinty leapt off the side of the Steamhawke and ran for the timber to which the ship was tied to.
On deck the crew ran to and fro shouting enthusiastically. Kanya Ashand directed pirates scrambling up the masts, and within seconds the mighty new sails were unfurled to a rousing cheer.
There was only one person in the darkened mess hall. Nicholai listened to the footsteps above and wrote "Today's special: Grits surprise" on the chalkboard.
Meanwhile McGinty was trying to untie the ship from the dock, but he couldn't figure out which knot he used in the first place. Was it a double-shank twist knot or a half-hitched loop knot?
In the engine room Akito pulled the goggles over his eyes and took a shovel from the rack. Brem pulled a cart filled with coal into the room and sealed the hatch behind him. "Okay men!" he shouted, turning around with a glint in his eye. "Let's get this hunk of junk moving!" Levers were pulled, valves were opened and closed, and shovels full of coal were tossed into the furnace. It roared to life and the giant temperature gauge began to move. One after another the giant pistons on the ceiling started thrusting.
Laudine was getting tired of fully-grown pirates crashing into her as she tried to run across the deck. She didn't quite have her cabin girl instincts yet, and was already getting battered and bruised. A powerful hand grabbed her by the arm and pulled her into the air. Laudine came face to face with the captain herself and could only grin sheepishly at her. "Need a hand miss Fortescue?" the captain asked, and lifted her over poop deck railings.
Daenelia stepped back and placed her hands on her hips. To her left was Fern Farley and to her right was Ashrieda Sjaarda. "What do you think of the crew, ladies?"
"They look a little disorganised, captain" smiled Ashrieda.
"I reckon they'll do just fine" laughed Fern, observing them through the telescope attached to the railings.
A mechanical whine pierced the air. The lateral propellers were beginning to rotate, the air swooshing around them. Thick black smoke poured out of the chimney behind the ladies on the poop deck. A dull vibration could be felt under the crew's feet. The Steamhawke was coming to life.
The captain grinned with happiness. "Let's get this baby off the water!" she shouted, and threw herself at the wheel. Daenelia lurched to one side and spun the wheel violently. With a deep grinding sound the Steamhawke turned towards the ocean, away from the Seaport. The captain pulled on a gearstick and the propellers went into overdrive, the chimney smoke turning white. With a great deal of noise the ship lifted out of the water and pointed upwards a few degrees. The three rear propellers kicked into gear and the Steamhawke inched forwards. The wind caught in the sails and the ship accelerated.
And off the Steamhawke flew, heading into the sunrise, half of the dock dangling from a rope with McGinty clinging onto the last plank.