Posted on Sat Jul 28th, 2012 @ 7:28pm by Captain Daenelia Bradley & Captain Jack Stallion & Master Brem de Berg & Master Ashrieda Sjaarda & Lieutenant Iride Coriolix Mr & Mate Wren Tamryl & Sailor Edward Marketh 2nd & Sailor Niles Oscar & Sailor Mei-Xiu & Mister Ciprian Cendrars & Master Caroline Summers & Snot Rag Erm
Chapter 5: Into the Fire
Location: The battle
The Steamhawke and the Sky Tiger were aloft side by side.
Julian Robinson was determined to prove to everyone that he was not the coward that they thought he was. He gripped the rungs of the ladder tightly and climbed up through the rear hatch and onto the deck. Robinson's first sight was Jack Stallion pointing a pistol at him. The pirate captain pulled the trigger and Julian's head jerked back from the force of the bullet. Robinson fell back through the open hatch and out of sight. Behind Jack was a scene of complete chaos, the deck of the Steamhawke swarming with pirates from both ships.
More Steamhawke pirates swarmed up from the gun deck, boatswain Faizel Naji among them. His hope, that there would be fewer enemy pirates left, dashed as he quickly surveyed the chaos. He saw his crewmates fighting valiantly, and jumped in with a scream of rage. His eyes were on Jack Stallion and a murderous need in his heart pressed him ever closer to him. But there was always another enemy in the way, or a crewmate who needed to be helped out.
Daenelia held on to a rope on the poop deck, as she tried to take in what was happening. She noticed Jack, his fighting style both efficient and full of grand gestures. She knew what was going to happen, and at that moment he spotted her. He paused briefly, his weapons still for the first time since he entered the ship. While around him his men fended off the Steamhawke crew, Jack took deliberate steps towards Daenelia. She almost took a step back, but she realised she was not afraid. It had to come to this.
She stood at the top of the few steps to the poop deck, as Jack put one foot on the lowest step. "You have a way out, Daenelia." His voice was low, but loud enough for her to hear. "Surrender, and give me the map, and I will let you live." He waited for her answer, while standing still, framed by the fighting going on behind his back.
"No." She raised her sword to cut his throat, but Jack easily blocked her attack. He pushed her back, onto the poop deck, and stepped up after her.
Parry, riposte, parry, strafe, brief hug and then lunge to finish. This is what happened to Erm more cases than not, the hug only happening at both combatants missed their attack and went leaping into the other person. He looked around with a wild look in his eyes. Smoke rolled across the deck in whisps and the fighting was thick on all sides. He had been sick sometime before and the vomit mixed with the blood on his shirt, how did it ever come to be like this, he wondered. He'd lost sight of the captain, and spotted more strangers than friends as he spun around on his heel to block an incoming attack. Things were quickly turning hopeless. If only there was a chance for reinforcements...
Back on the Sky Tiger,Mei had just finished off one of the enemy and took a minute to look across to the other ship.It appeared things were going somewhat poorly,though perhaps not hopeless,considering they had survived to this point.She saw someone in familiar clothing surrounded by what did not appear to be allies,she quickly ran for a bloodied rope held in the weak grasp of a recently dead man.
She took a brief second to close his eyes and gathering her courage,took a running start and hooked her claw into twine.The robotic woman hoped nobody heard her scream as she shot across the sky,dropping down on one of Erm's attackers.
Nate Winters was impressed by Mei's acrobatics. He'd lost sight of everyone else from the group that had boarded the Sky Tiger, instead concentrating on picking off pirates with his rifle. Having run out of rifle rounds, Nate had resorted to using the weapon as a club.
Steam filled the air as the engineering crew worked to try and fix the engines without them cutting out. "Watch yourself!" Brem shouted at a snot rag who was about to push a pipe back to its normal angle, "It's hot, put some damned gloves on to do that!"
The engine wasn't in good shape, for everything they fixed it seemed that two more things broke on it, rivets popping from too much pressure was the worst, two crewmen had already been taken to the doctors with metal imbedded in their skin. Burns from burst steam pipes also caused serious hazard to them but luckily so far they had only been mild.
Captain Stallion and Captain Bradley were pressing their swords against each other, their faces almost together, the steel points of their weapons inching closer to each other's flesh. Jack raised his boot and pushed Daenelia off of him, sending her falling backwards along the poop deck. "I have it!" he shouted triumphantly, a brief silence falling in the wake of his call. Jack held aloft Daenelia's half of the map, his eyes wide. Daenelia looked up at him, checking the inside pocket of her jacket, from which Jack must have reached in and took the prize. "And I have yours" she replied, struggling to her feet. The man instinctively checked his own coat just to find that his own piece was indeed missing. Daenelia laughed and waved it around in front of his face.
Jack growled and lunged at her, trying to grab the piece of paper. Daenelia jumped back, still grinning, while furiously thinking how to keep the map she took from Jack safe, how to keep from getting killed and how to get her own piece back. Obviously this was bigger than she could handle on her own. To win time she ran as fast as she could into the rigging of the aft sails. She stuffed the paper down her blouse, into the skin-tight shirt she wore underneath. As she climbed up the rigging Daenelia looked over her shoulder to see Jack, having composed himself, standing below her on the deck.
"I'll hunt you to the end of the world Daenelia" Jack called up to her. "Wherever you sail, wherever you hide, I will find y..." His words were cut short by a dull roar that rattled the wooden deck below his feet. Flames were erupting from the Sky Tiger's chimneys, filling the skies above both of the ships. Wren's device had detonated. "What's going on?" Jack Stallion cried above the din. looking over the side of the Steamhawke towards his own sky ship. Engineers were emerging from below decks, flames belching through the open trapdoors, and the men and women dove screaming off the side of the Sky Tiger. Some of them tried to leap onto the Steamhawke, but the distance between the two ships grew as the Sky Tiger's engines began to fail.
Seeing the imposing ship on fire, its crew diving down to escape the flames, gave the crew of the Steamhawke the morale boost they needed to push harder to defeat their enemies. With no new reinforcements dropping on deck, the Sky Tiger's crew was fighting a losing battle. Soon the Steamhawke crew had either killed, wounded or captured the invaders. Jack stood looking at his ship for just a blink of an eye, though. Seeing his ship go down only made him more determined to finally get rid of Daenelia. He grabbed a line in the netting, but before he could pull himself up, Daenelia dropped to the deck behind him.
"You found me, Jack," she said as she spread her arms, a loaded pistol in one hand, a heavy cutlass in the other. "What are you going to do? Break my legs?" She shrugged. "Throw me overboard? Leave me to die?"
Jack gripped his sword and tried to remember if there were bullets in his revolver. This could soon be over if he could just put a bullet between her eyes. He took a step sideways and bumped into Erm, who stood on the poop deck, bloody, grim, his arms folded. In a reflex Jack pushed his revolver against Erm's forehead and pulled the trigger. Nothing but an empty click, and not a wince on Erm's face. Erm frowned and backhanded the smaller man in the face. Not hard enough to throw Jack to the floor, but the implication of a captain being hit by an apprentice was clear. Jack was on the losing side now, and that wasn't acceptable. Captain Stallion aimed a swing at the young man, but his sword was blocked by Daenelia's. Jack's sword was knocked out of his hand and sent swinging through the air.
Jack Stallion was pressed to the very edge of the ship, only the railing at his back separating the captain from the open sky. He looked over his shoulder, seeing the that the Sky Tiger was now far below the Steamhawke, flames flaring and smoke billowing from his old ship as it crashed sideways into the water.
"It's over, Jack" called Daenelia, her pistol aimed steadily, her young apprentice at her side. Behind her, more of Steamhawke's pirates were approaching, with none of his own crew to be seen. "I still have your half of the map, Daenelia" replied Jack, his voice cold and emotionless. He held the parchment tightly in his outstretched hand, his only remaining bargaining chip waving in the wind. "I will trade it for one of your lifeboats. Otherwise, it goes off into the sea, and you will never find the lost treasure."
"How far away are we from land, miss Sjaarda?" Daenelia asked over her shoulder, to where her tactician was standing.
"About thirty miles, Captain Bradley!"
Daenelia lowered her pistol, held her sword tightly, and cut Jack's hand off with a single mightly swing. It fell to the deck between the two of them, still holding the other half of the map. Jack Stallion held his wrist with nothing but shock on his face, as Daenelia reached down and took her prize.
"Throw him over the side."
And so they did.
- Epilogue -
The battle was won as soon as Jack was thrown head first over the railings. The Steamhawke and its crew had withstood the encounter with the Sky Tiger, although the ship wouldn't remain sky-worthy for long judging by the sounds that the Steamhawke's engines were making.
Looking around her, Daenelia could see that everyone was as exhausted as she was, but they couldn't relax just yet. "We need to dock in safe territory so that we can rest and repair. The nearest dock is Mypos, but it isn't wise to travel to Elladia while the Nautikos Guard is on high alert. We have to reach Seaport as soon as possible, and do everything we can to keep the ship in one piece until then."