A storm's a coming
Mission: Chapter 7: Going West
"A storm's a coming" McGinty kept muttering to himself, but nobody was paying much attention to him. The sky reader, Sahka, had reported only clear skies ahead, so the general opinion aboard the ship was that he was having a senile moment.
Ashrieda dangled one of Copper’s presents by the tail, debating whether or not to toss it into the sea. Normally she ignored the old man’s ramblings, but she must have been feeling anxious about the storm, because she decided to humor him.
“That sky reader we picked up, he ought to be fired, is that what you’re saying?” she asked, folding her arms across her chest. The present used this opportunity to wiggle its way out of her grasp. “Shit,” she muttered.
The rat fled for its life across the deck, bounding over a steam pipe only to be crushed flat under a black naval boot. "Damn vermin!" The boot belonged to the first mate, Holland Jefferson, whose look of satisfaction was replaced with disgust as he scraped the underside of his boot clean with the end of his walking stick. The man was taller than Ashrieda and certainly a lot broader, and cast a long shadow across the deck.
Jefferson swung his stick around and pointed it at Ashrieda. "Sjaarda!" he barked. "There's two enemy ships closing in fast. One fore. One aft. What's the best course of action?" Suddenly a bottle flew through the air between the two crewmates, shattering on the deck nearby. As if guided by some sixth sense Carol stepped out of door leading to the lower decks, her hand already gripping the handle of her weapon.
“Whazzat then?” she quizzed suddenly, her voice containing a moderate slur.. “Someone say somethin’ ‘bout combat?” It was clear that after such a long time without needing to draw her blade the crazy woman was getting a little antsy.
"Calm down, Summers" said Jefferson, stressing every word and raising both hands in defense. "These are just theoretical ships!"
Carol gave what could only be a cross between a pout and a scowl. She was clearly disappointed not to be involved in any real violence. “Eh, thanks for gettin’ me riled’ up for nothin’, then...” she mumbled, planting herself on a nearby box. The woman planted her scabbard on the deck and rested her hands and chin on the hilt like a cane, having gone from anxious to apathetic in moments.
Ashrieda glanced at Carol and then back to Jefferson, trying to avoid looking at the debris on the end of Jefferson's cane. "Well Jefferson, we're missing some key pieces of intel. What sort of theoretical ships are these? How big are they? Are we in the theoretical sky or are we in the theoretical water? What time is it? How's the weather? Is there a storm coming, or do we have some pleasant theoretical weather to do battle in? That information would be useful to come up with a reasonable plan of action. I mean, you wouldn't want me to make a bad judgement call -- theoretically, of course, because that would be unlikely in actuality -- and we're all blown to theoretical smithereens." She glanced at the handle of Carol's weapon anxiously.
Holland Jefferson raised one eyebrow at Sjaarda's questions, and answered them. "It's noon on a summer's day and they're Elladian battleships. They're fast, and maneuverable, and determined to rid the skies of you. And her, hopefully." he added, jerking his head towards Carol. "What do you advise the captain?"
Carol’s mood swung again, as did her blade, as the barbarian rose from her seat and began filleting the air, several of her strokes getting a little too close to the others for comfort. “Whattaya think she be advisin’?” Carol interjected in mid-showoff. “Jus’ drop me on deck and cover yer eyes ‘fore you get blood in them!”
Jefferson scoffed. "So much for the war dogs, I've seen actual dogs that were more calculating than you." He peered at Ashrieda. "At least Sjaarda asks the right questions. Maybe the 'officers' aboard this fine ship aren't entirely hopeless."
His mood seemed to be brightening, but the shadows on the deck weren't. In fact, it was getting darker by the second. "What's this?" asked Jefferson, looking up at the sky. Almost perfectly above the Steamhawke dark clouds were forming, blocking off the sunlight.
"Told ya" muttered McGinty, holding nervously onto his third favourite mop.