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Author Topic: Wind in the Sails - (( 1x1 Alexis Voltaire and MWBailey))  (Read 1380 times)
Alexis Voltaire
Rogue Ætherlord
*
United States United States


Shàlle We Dànce?


« on: June 01, 2013, 04:47:04 am »

((For the moment this is a one-on-one game between myself and MWBailey. I'm not currently recruiting other players.))

Episode 1 - Storm's Prey

The sky of western Mississippi was a brilliant clear blue, if you got high enough above the rainy damp weather felt on the ground. Above the rainclouds the sun shone down into canyons and valleys created by towering battlements of cumulus clouds.

In the wider of one of these valleys of clear sky, her carefully-chosen set of sails filled with a strong eastern wind, was an airship typical of the small sail-driven military scouts of the late Civil War. Anyone observing her from a distance would have found her hard to make out at first, her sails and envelope were patched as well as irregularly painted in varying shades of white, gray, and along her lower portions blue. It was partly camouflage, partly a lack of funds for decent repairs.

Her name was the Cloud Shark, and at the moment her captain was hot in pursuit of something that shared the storm-driven air currents...

---

The early afternoon sun slanted down through the rigging as Mariah Kelly swung herself from the midsection ratlines to the canvas catwalk that ran along the middle of the Cloud Shark's envelope from bow to stern. Years of familiarity allowed her to take the catwalk at nearly a run, her feet remembering the location of each support spar without the need to look and the safety line running loosely (though by no means carelessly) through her right hand.

The wind whipped through her shortish, rather roughly cut hair, which was a shade of red that clashed with what was nevertheless a favorite bright red shirt, worn under a partly-unbuttoned heavy leather coat. The wind up at this altitude was frequently chilly enough even in June to require that she and her crew kept warm clothing handy.

Mariah paused as she reached the fore upper mainsail, squinting upward through the gap between the sail and envelope through amber tinted goggles. She didn't see anything, but a harsh scream from overhead told her the direction of what she was looking for. She started to climb up the forward ratlines, reaching the sloping top of the envelope in a few moments. There she pulled herself up to crouch on another walkway, this one made of wood and supported by the ship's internal framework to give a stable walkway at the top of the otherwise soft envelope. Again she looked skyward.

High above the starboard bow, a loosely-organized flock of sky squid were scattered by a screeching dark-winged missile. The squid's wide translucent wing-fins wavered as they sought to form a protective circle, angry red flashing through thier chameleon-like skin. But the hawk spread her wings and pulled out of the dive in a graceful twist that carried the momentum into an upward attack, shearing away at the last second as a squid darted forward with an open maw and tentacles spread wide.

The hawk circled and flapped her short agile wings for altitude, taunting the circle of squids by dodging and weaving just out of reach. The squids began to break the circle and form instead into a spearlike attack formation. It was then that the hawk struck. She folded her wings into a lightning-fast short dive, flaring them wide at the last second to bring her outstretched talons forward and down into the body of the nearest squid. There was a short, violent scuffle of talons, wings, and and tentacles before the squid went limp.

From where she watched, Mariah gave a loud come-to-me whistle, and the hawk circled and carried her prize with labored wingbeats down to where Mariah sat on the walkway.

"Good girl, Maggie." Mariah said to the hawk, digging into the possibles bag slung over her shoulder and bringing out a feather-decorated bit of leather. She offered it to Maggie the goshawk. Maggie glared at her for a moment, jealously mantling her catch with both wings, before deciding the lure was a better prize and hopping up onto Mariah's gloved fist.

Mariah took hold of Maggie's jesses, the short straps tied to the hawk's ankles, with her thumb, and grabbed the squid before standing and heading back along the walkway to the observation deck.

She let Maggie to hop off and perch on the railing, and then sat herself, with her back to the obs deck weather shelter. She pulled out a wickedly sharp bowie knife to begin cleaning the squid. There wasn't much in the way of edible meat on it, but, in Mariah's opinion at least, it would be a nice change from the dried beef they'd been stuck with for the past several days.

From her perch Maggie tilted her head and watched with fierce wine-red eyes, shuffling her steel blue wings and shifting impatiently from one foot to the other, waiting for a morsel.

Soon enough Mariah had finished with the squid and stood to toss the inedible bits over the side, and began to feed Maggie small pieces from the back of her glove. Maggie hopped up and began to eat hungrily, while Mariah's attention turned to the darkening storm that lay directly in thier course to the east. They'd been riding in the storm's wake for much of the day, but now it looked as though storm was building up and stalling.

A slight, cautious grin touched the corners of her mouth as Mariah sized up the wall of deep blue clouds that stretched out before them. It looked as though they might have some excitement before thier next job in Birmingham after all...
« Last Edit: June 01, 2013, 05:02:14 am by Alexis Voltaire » Logged

~-- Purveyour of Useless Facts, Strange Advice, Plots --~
MWBailey
Rogue Ætherlord
*
United States United States


"This is the sort of thing no-one ever believes"

rtafStElmo
« Reply #1 on: June 01, 2013, 05:59:22 am »

The ship's bell rang loudly in a regular pattern, clang-clang,clang-clang,clang-clang,clang-clang... The voice of Alpha Daglish, Weathermaster, gunner, melee fighter and all-around expert (in her own mind, at least) rang out , molded by the hard-leather megaphone through which she shouted. "STORM WARNING! SHE'S STALLED AND WE AIN'T!" SHE"S A SPINNER!" In other words, the storm had developed into a supercell and was exhibiting evidence of at least one, perhaps several, centers of rotating wind currents. Such storms were unpredictable and had smashed even the biggest , most well-armored and well-built ships, even Union Ironskins.

"Steady on, Weathermaster, Keep your head on!" First Mate Jack Char (Or Charbonneau, if you believed the stories of him having been one of Jean Lafitte's Lieutenants) Shouted back. "Lay us a course to get in and survive, or by the Great Blue Hole, I'll dangle you for the squids myself!"

"Do I look like my head's rollin on th' deck!? "

Char's head whipped around and the Mate gave Alpha the hardest glare she's ever seen.

"Alright, alright, lemme get a feel for it. " The girl shut her eyes and relaxed, turning to one side with compass in hand, almost as if sleepwalking. Jack sighed. her face looked so innocent and childlike, when Feeling the Wind, as she called it. He had a suspicion it was just theatre, but whatever her faults might be, Alpha was never wrong about the weather, and had never played the ship or crew false. But Lord, she was a harridan otherwise!

Alpha opened her eys , looked where she faced, checked her compass, grabbed the sextant and turned it side ways and used it like a rangefinder,. then sighted at the storm with the instrument held vertically. "CAP'N! I RECOMMEND," she yelled a bit more harshly than needful, and with a definite sarcastic bite, "HELM LEFT TWENTY DEGREES! BOW DOWN SIX! STERN VANES TO POSITION SIX! SHORTEN ALL SAIL TO ONE HALF AND STRIKE ALL GALLANTS AND TIGHTEN ALL STAYS! THERES AT LEAST TWO VORTII IN THERE, WITH HAIL AND LIGHTNING. KEEP TO THE WESTERN EDGE! Er, That is, if you value the ship and our lives, of course," she finished smugly.

Hail was bad news; it meant that there was not just a lot of wind, there was a lot of wind and it was blowing all kinds of every which way, often while rotating around the cyclonic centers. Saying to the West sounded stupid, but although most tornadic windforms originated toward teh west and moved east,. that fact meant that the West was actually safer, since the tornadoes would most likely  form and then head East, leaving the ship alone as long as they didn'yt get caught in the inrushing currents.

Logged

Walk softly and carry a big banjo...

""quid statis aspicientes in infernum"
Alexis Voltaire
Rogue Ætherlord
*
United States United States


Shàlle We Dànce?


« Reply #2 on: June 02, 2013, 04:02:53 am »

Mariah gave Maggie a low wait-on whistle and raised her fist into the air to give the hawk a little extra take off momentum. Maggie circled out alongside the ship while Mariah found her own quick way down, sliding down several support lines to the lower ratlines and swinging down onto the outer deck in the space of a few seconds.

"Fine, as long as it gets us through." Mariah replied to Alpha. "Set Alpha's course for us, Jack." She called over to her first mate.

She raised her fist and gave Maggie a come-to-me whistle, bringing her inside and out of the storm, letting her to flap up to her perch beside the weapons locker. Mariah tossed the squid into the pot that was strapped down to the tiny stovetop in the corner of the cooking area.

"Best put that away." She said to Joshua on her way out the door, seeing him sitting at the mess table with the internal parts of an auto-loading crossbow spread out in front of him. "there's a heckava storm heading our way.

"So I heard." Joshua said without looking up from his work.

"Alpha, get topside and start reefing in the uppers, I'll get the lowers*." Mariah said, heading to the edge of the outer deck and down onto the lower ratlines to start pulling in the lower mainsails and staysails. The wind was starting to come in irregular gusts that tasted like the storm, heavy, cold, and damp with a scent of ozone.

---

Meanwhile, Joshua finished screwing a tiny fastener into the framework of the trigger mechanism before setting it and his tools down. He sighed, looking at the carefully organized parts on the table before sweeping them all along with his tools into a box. "Never a dull moment..." He muttered.

He stood up and secured the little chair with a leather strap attached to the bottom of the table. (like everything else in the ship that could come loose, the chairs were strapped down to keep them from tumbling around in windy times just like this.)

Joshua grimaced at the squid that was settling into a rubbery glob in the bottom of the pot, secured a lid over it, and headed back to his quarters.

Although he could get around the rigging of the ship when needed, he didn't have the skill or most times the presence of mind for the others to feel safe letting him up there when the weather turned bad. In his opinion it was just as well, he'd rather stay out of the rain and wind.

He shut the door to his quarters and secured the box and crossbow frame with the rest of his belongings, picked up a dogeared novel he'd already read three times, and sat back in his hammock, waiting for the storm to pass, or for someone to call him to fix something, or someone.

---

*Sails on an airship are divided into upper and lower sections along the envelope's axis, essentially a mirrored pair of the sails typically found on a seagoing ship. This arrangement balances the wind force between top and bottom and prevents the airship from tipping over.
Logged
MWBailey
Rogue Ætherlord
*
United States United States


"This is the sort of thing no-one ever believes"

rtafStElmo
« Reply #3 on: June 02, 2013, 07:11:02 am »

Jack took the precaution of lashing himself to the central control pillar of the three-dimensionally articulated helm; it acted like the so-called 'joysticks' that had been used by the (in Jack's opinion) crazed individuals who had flown heavier-than-air gliders for the Confederacy. Near to hand were the levers for the bow and stern planes, as well as the trim tiller for the rudder sail; that, along with the action of the articulated helm, helped tame the wild-horse tendencies of windsailing dirigibles like the Cloud Shark. Maneuverable she was, yes, but it wasn't as if she were a skiff out  for a Sunday's cruise on a country pond; Even the slightest inattention could prove disastrous even in fair weather, even if the helm and trims were lashed down to where the ship would steer herself. In a storm, the Shark could buck, rear and run away with herself like a wild, cloud-leaping mustang without a steady, firm hand to fight her desire to run wild. HE brought the ship around to teh heading suggested, and set the planes, following Alpha's shouted instructions to "ride the bumps from Port" and "keep the ship in the clear air just at the tops" of the "hailtops"; those were the tops of the tertiary cloudmasses which, seen from the ground, often appeared to have a greenish tint. As the first of the outlying scud slipped away beneath the keelmast, the first violent hints of the ride they were in for tossed the ship up and then slammed her down again as Jack fought to keep her out of the insidiously sucking indrafts. "HANG ON!" he yelled, "That's just the outer bands!"
---
Alpha made a mental note to herself to shinny back down from the mast she was on now, and get her rifle. The really big Kraken loved to hang about in the dark, purply-black insides of the really big storms, and such a catch might mean a hefty profit for the beast's gas. She finished reefing the sails she was assigned to, and then leaped back to the hatch that led to the internal ladder inside the envelope. She dove down the hatchway and slid down the long outer rails of the vertical ladder, only letting go and grabbing onto the final rung at the very last second, swinging her body down and forward into the main gangway inside the ship's gondola, and bursting into the mess at a run, barely grabbing a member of the ceiling's network of brass pipe handholds to stop herself from careering on down the corridor.

She jimmied the locker's latch with the tip of her sgian dubh, grabbed her rifle, a giant monster of a rolling block Remington sniper, fitted with the infamous longtube telescope sight and chambered in .75 caliber, a real behemoth of a sniper, nearly five and a half feet of shoulder-fired, veritable cannon. It had downed its share of aerial men-o-war, and many hundreds of the people who flew in them, often from three, to five, to ten or more at a time, if they lined up in her sights just right. Alpha clipped the weapon's lanyard to her belt, grabbed a pocketful of extra cartridges (the sling carried twelve on the outer strap), relocked the locker's door, and hurried back out to the control room to help the Mate keep tabs on the weather, holding on for dear life as she fought her way forward against the pitching and leaping of the Airship as it rode the storm.

Stopping beside Jack as he rode the pitching of the deck and the attempts of the helm to whip about, she made an eye at him, winked, and said, "Uuurp?"
Logged
Alexis Voltaire
Rogue Ætherlord
*
United States United States


Shàlle We Dànce?


« Reply #4 on: June 03, 2013, 12:49:28 am »

Mariah moved with quick, deliberate caution from one hand and foothold to the next as the ship started to buck and twist in the heavy gusts. Down here there was nothing but the mast spars and a few ropes between her feet and the clouds, any mistake would be instantly fatal.

Once she reached the lower jibsail she hooked one leg through the keelmast safety line and braced the other foot against the lower spar, leaving both hands free to work as she pulled in the sail.

The rain hit in a nearly solid sheet as the Cloud Shark plunged into the storm. Mariah sputtered at the sudden mouthful of water but otherwise ignored it as it streamed past her goggles. Finished with the sails, she started climbing back up toward the gondola. Flashes of lightning deep within the storm lit the clouds below in eerie ways, revealing momentary flashes of a chaotic roiling skyscape.

In one of these flashes Mariah caught sight of something under the clouds that made her stop and stare out over the railing. It had looked like part of a mast and sail. She knew that storms and lightning-light played tricks on the eyes, but she also knew that clouds didn't form in solid straight lines. She shielded her goggles from the streaking rain with one hand an tried to catch sight of the ship again. When the clouds darkened she saw the yellow-orange glow of bow and stern lamps, just long enough to tell which direction the ship was heading.

"Bring us high and starboard!" She yelled in to Jack through the hatch, "Sail off the lower port bow!"

She braced herself against the hatchway as the shark fought against the wind, and as she watched the shadow of another airship emerged from the torn clouds at high speed, heading at an angle to the Shark's course.

The ship was almost twice thier size, with the lines of a sleek fighter and carrying two levels of mainsails, most of them furled or heavily reefed, her staysails and jibs reefed to a third or quarter. She had taken a beating from the storm too, one staysail flapped loose on a broken line and several others were torn.

The airship's upper masts missed their keel sails by yards, and then in the space of a few seconds she had vanished utterly from view.

Mariah blew a sigh of relief and shoved the hatch open, having to grab onto the edge of the hatchway to stop herself falling inside as the deck tilted suddenly back in opposite direction.

"They're bloody crazy to be taking a course like that." She said, bracing herself against the passageway wall as she moved up toward the control cabin. She was soaked to the skin after just a few minutes outside and was trailing a growing puddle of water. "Must be heading for the Louisiana border in a hell of a hurry."
« Last Edit: June 03, 2013, 12:52:36 am by Alexis Voltaire » Logged
MWBailey
Rogue Ætherlord
*
United States United States


"This is the sort of thing no-one ever believes"

rtafStElmo
« Reply #5 on: June 04, 2013, 05:04:59 pm »

"Alpha, mon ami, see to the Capitain," Jack said, "I think I have this for now. "Throw one of the watch coats over her at least. Mariah, there be tea inna spigot-pot on the stove," he nodded to where a rather large stewpot , fitted with a bung spigot, sat strapped down on the bridge's  gimbal-mounted heating stove against the inner bulkhead; steam hissed steadily from the tiny hole punched in the lid.

Got yerself all wet, didja Mariah?" Alpha said to Mariah as she complied. Alpha was mouthy, but not really a bad sort, she could be kind if she chose so to do. She herself was not exactly dry, but she habititually wore the bulky, several-sizes-too-large watch coat that had belonged to her former employer and foster parent, one of the few mementos of the female air buccaneer who had raised her. singed around the edges, looking as if it had been through the very fires of creation, it hung about her, held together by the three remaining buttons and the sling of the sniper rifle. How she managed to be so acrobatic in such a garment was a mystery.

"Tch, she kin do fer herself, I expect! oh, well, here ya go, girlie." she patted the coat down around Mariah. "keep swimmin' in the clouds, you'll grow gills, by damn. Get some tea in you afore you start growin' rime ice."
Logged
Alexis Voltaire
Rogue Ætherlord
*
United States United States


Shàlle We Dànce?


« Reply #6 on: June 06, 2013, 12:21:58 am »

"This ain't so bad, it's almost a nice bath compared to that sleet storm over Ohio." Mariah said, still shivering a little as she pulled the heavy coat tighter, doing up two of the top buttons as she headed back to the mess and got three tin cups from under the counter. She offered one to Alpha, and yelled back toward Joshua's quarters.

"Tea's hot, get up here if you want any!"

Before heading back to the bridge to fill a cup for Jack and herself. She sipped at the steaming tea and watched the storm through the panes of the bridge windows, leaned back against a steady corner of the bridge wall with one hand resting comfortably on the saber hilt at her left hip.

Remembering something after a few minutes, she quickly gulped the remainder of her tea and headed back down the passageway to the mess, putting away her cup and digging around in the same shelf for a few other items. She took the lid off the pot where she had tossed the squid earlier, and used the little hand pump and spigot at the counter that pumped water up from the ballast storage to fill the pot up halfway.

Meanwhile, Joshua had come up for tea, and Mariah handed him a cup. "Up on the bridge." She said with a nod.

"Thanks." Joshua replied. Mariah looked back over her shoulder a moment later as Maggie's ankle bells jingled loudly, and the hawk gave Joshua a warning hiss when the rocking of the deck made him step a little too close. Joshua moved away quickly and Maggie settled back on her perch, keeping a wary eye on him. Mariah moved over and took Maggie's hood out of her possibles bag, hooding her for the moment to prevent further trouble. Hawks were so highly sight-oriented that they seldom took notice of what they couldn't see.

Mariah moved back to the pot, firing up the little coal-burning stovetop under it. She threw in a handful of dried spices that mostly included hot peppers, and for good measure added chucks of a lone potato that had started to sprout in the back of the cupboard. She secured the lid back on and left the pot to cook, and was just wiping down the blade of her bowie knife when she saw a large dark shape flit past the porthole, followed by a soft thump from overhead.

"Alpha, get over here with that rifle, quick." Mariah said quickly, pulling her goggles back over her eyes and sticking her head out the door to look. It wasn't a kraken, but what she saw was almost as bad - a dark red bullet-shaped body with long spined wings could be seen just over the curve of the envelope, and a second red squid was circling just above. "Reds on the envelope!" She yelled to the bridge. "Try and shake them off before they start chewing on us."

While Reds didn't grow to the huge ship-smashing scale of kraken, fully grown pairs were still up to eight feet long, fast, maneuverable, and venomous. They often attacked airships because the shape and lack of response to thier approach resembled a sleeping or sick kraken, which red squid preyed on vampire-like for thier lifting gas. They had learned to prey on airships in a similar fashion.

Mariah grabbed her revolver from the weapons locker and dashed out to the outer deck. From this vantage there was only one red squid visible, twining itself into the rigging high up on the envelope...
Logged
MWBailey
Rogue Ætherlord
*
United States United States


"This is the sort of thing no-one ever believes"

rtafStElmo
« Reply #7 on: June 06, 2013, 05:37:10 am »

Alpha cursed and stepped quickly to the galley, chambering a round,  pulling the lever back into position and closing the breech block, and flipping the rain caps off of either end of the long tube scope. "Bugger all, Mariah, When're we gonna get a leyden rig to put a shock through the rigging?" She sighted in on the thing in the screeching rigging high above, and nearly fell over when the ship hit a pocket of rough air; hailstones clattered up from below, as they had skimmed the top of a hailtop. She nearly lost her footing on the marble-like icy balls, then staggered to the railing, grabbed the bight of rope that most airshipmen sooner or later added to their workaday outfits, and lashed her belt to the railing, her kilt blowing wildly in the wind. She whooped as the icy wind blasted up under the kilt, blushing and getting angry at the fact. "Bloody storm's gettin' fresh, I tell ya!"

Alpha hooked one leg around the mount for one of the ship's crossbows, and took aim again. "cmon, 'old still you beastie..." She squeezed the trigger; after what seemed an eternity, the bullet hit home, and the animal's head spouted vermillion blood and gouts of gas, the body suddenly flopping down against the envelope, a sudden pitch cause d by a gust from astern flipping the nose up and the carcass of the red away into the abyss. "One down, one...two... four five six ... damn, what are we, a bait bucket?!" she began loading, firing, ejecting and pocketing empty cartridges, and repeating the process, the squids falling away one by one. Unfortunately, more kept showing up...
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