Chapter 5: Into the Fire
Location: On deck
The Steamhawke and the Sky Tiger were mere moments from entering weapons range with each other. Captain Daenelia Bradley raced between the crew as they ran around on the deck, looking for her tactician. She found Ashrieda Sjaarda stepping onto the deck while rubbing her eyes. The Steamhawke had just sailed out of an alchemical fog that had had a negative affect on most of the crew. It was no surprise that Ashrieda was still groggy, but the captain needed her tactical advice, and fast.
"I need your tactical advice, and fast!" shouted Daenelia.
"What year is this?" asked Ashrieda.
The captain wanted to slap Ashrieda, but instead handed her a telescope and pointed at the sky ship in the distance. The Sky Tiger was a terrifying sight from the front, as attached to the prow was an iron ram in the shape of a tiger's face. It was enough to snap the tactician to her senses.
"That is the Sky Tiger" began Daenelia, "It is not a modern skyship by any means, but it has been modified and upgraded many times. I need your help to come up with a plan."
"What kind of firepower does it have, Captain?"
"Two rows of cannons on either side of the ship. We have only one row, so in terms of gunners they have us outnumbered. But they don't have any forward-facing cannons whereas we have two."
"I see it has vertical propellers keeping it aloft, and only small sails at the fore and aft. I'm guessing it's not a manouverable ship by any means."
"That's right Ashrieda, the Sky Tiger was made before the articulated locomotive engine entered mass production. That kind of ship is instead reliant on powerful propellers and that means there's no room for large sails like the kind we have on the Steamhawke. We can turn faster and with less forward warning to the engine room."
"What's that I see glinting on the side of the Sky Tiger, captain?"
"It's some kind of steel plating. It's been damaged in a few places, but I am worried that our cannonballs are just going to bounce off unless we get a direct hit."
"That must add tons of weight to the ship. There's no way an older engine could keep such a heavy ship in the sky, not without some kind of secondary power source."
"I'm thinking the same thing, Ashrieda."
"What do you know about the Sky Tiger's captain and crew?"
"I know... too much about Jack Stallion. He is an excellent strategic thinker. I know the kind of people he recruits and I bet most of them are veterans. Although we have some experienced pirates aboard the Steamhawke, we have just as many fresh faced youngsters. And not all of us have recovered from the fog yet. But the Sky Tiger just went through a battle with two sky ships, so I am hoping that their stamina is already drained somewhat."
Ashrieda handed the telescope back to Daenelia. "I've seen enough. Let's get started."