"Life is action and passion; therefore, it is required of a man that he should share the passion and action of the time, at peril of being judged not to have lived. "--- Oliver Wendell Holmes
Geoff wakes up in the evening, hungry. He goes downstairs to eat, and runs into the others on their way to dinner. Samantha: <looking at Geoff's attire> "Oh. <to Robert> You didn't think to get Geoff...?" Robert: "Well, no. We thought he'd be sleeping." Geoff finds one of the hotel staff if they can help. Normally, yes. But Geoff's really big. Geoff: "Is there a tailor handy?" Yes, but it might take some time. Geoff orders dinner in his room, lest he offend someone, as the tailor's shop is closed. Tomorrow Geoff can check out the tailor's shop, and the used clothing place, tonight he drops off a note with his measurements in case the tailor is an early riser.
Samantha has thrown on something appropriate that she purchased earlier. It's important to know how to blend, after all. The dining room is lovely - linen napkins, candles, the whole nine yards. Everyone looks stunning. Even Marguerite is wearing a dress - red, showing a bit more cleavage than is quite proper. Good thing there are women there to add color, what with the men in black and white. Everyone is there, even Kip.
At the point of the cheese and fruit being served (late in the meal), there's a discussion going at one end, and it moves down with a newspaper that's being passed along. Franz, Kerrie, and others disapprove of this. The story has been broken - Albion has secret gold mines in the Mysterious Islands, and the flashes of light were from the heavily laden airships being shot down by Fredonia. Oh great - every treasure hunter will be heading that way now. A couple of men excuse themselves to run upstairs to their rooms. They're going to need really shallow ships to get out before the tide comes in, or they're going to regret it.
Franz: "Well, shall we step out on the balcony for brandy and cigars?" Robert: "Why yes." Samantha can join the ladies and drink sherry. Marguerite runs off to do whatever. That way she can be discussed by the women. It's scandalous, going about in pants. She undoubtedly prefers the company of women.
A couple more men gulp their brandy and run off; the remaining gentlemen know that the tide isn't high enough yet. Idle chit-chat, nothing too serious. Upstairs, Geoff hears the clink of glasses and smells cigar smoke from below, and decides to head downstairs. He goes through the parlor and out to the balcony. He waves to Samantha and says hello. This causes the teenager to blush. The "strapping individual" is discussed by the women after he leaves. Nice and solid looking.
Robert goes over to see what Kip's group are talking about, as the men have split into three groups - the older, more experienced men, the supporters of Albion, and the supporters of Fredonia. Geoff picks the middle (geographically) group, since he has no idea who most of these guys are. That puts him with Kip's group.
Kip, or Red as some of his friends call him, is holding court and going on about the virtues of the common man, the stout yeoman. Like he's done any real work in his life! They want to bring civilization out to the Hinterlands, save all the poor savages. In an Albion fashion, of course. There's also an undercurrent of "the gold". Man: "Do you think it's true?" Man: "Lt. Kerrie is here with a warship, getting ready to sail south. That can't be a coincidence." Geoff: "What gold is this?" Man: "Well, haven't you seen this morning's paper?" Geoff: "No." He's handed a paper, with the bizarre story in it. Geoff gets a big laugh out this. Geoff: "If you're moving gold, you do it by boat, with escort. You don't try to load an airship with it and fly it out right in front of your enemies." Yes, well. Whatever the method, there's definitely gold somewhere. Man: "Remember the stranger who showed up here a month ago? Spending gold coins the likes of which no one has seen?" Much nodding. Geoff: "Can you draw the markings on the coin?" Man: "I didn't see them myself, but Mr. Felixson I believe still has some in his shop." Mr. Felixson is, more or less, a pawn broker. He has been known to help gentlemen down on their luck, trading money for passage for a watch, or whatever. Like maybe a nice painting, even??? Samantha would love to hear this, but no, she's stuck in the parlor with a bunch of women discussing (obliquely, mind you) Geoff's butt.
Robert goes to the bar and orders soda water with a twist of lemon. And he sits down near Kip's partner, the serious drinker, who has changed for dinner. Man: "What are you, a nancy boy?" Robert: "No, I just like to keep my wits about me." The man goes back to drinking. Robert: "Have you read the paper?" Man: "Look. Did you come here to talk, or drink?' Robert: "Both, actually." He's ignored by the drinker. Robert decides to talk to the bartender, a Vargr. Bartender: "Quiet night, sir. What do you think of this gold business?" Robert: "Fascinating." Bartender: "Well, it does make sense, sir. In a way. Coming as it does a month after that stranger came through spending gold, shortly after the first light." Robert: "What about you? Are you going out as well?" Bartender: "No sir. I'm content to stay here. If they go out and find gold, they'll return to spend it here. If they find nothing, they'll be back to drink any way." Robert: "True. Still, I imagine it's pretty tempting to run off in search of treasure." Bartender: "Yeah, like anyone's going to beat that warship out there. A paraffin steamer, probably does 20 knots." Robert: "Yes, but it depends on when they leave the harbor." Bartender: "If they try to leave too soon, or too overloaded, they won't get out past the harbor before they sink." Robert: "It's the nature of the beast." Bartender: "If you say so sir." Robert: "It's greed. It drives men to take risks they wouldn't normally take." Bartender: "If you ask me, sir, it's just a rumor.
The conversation on the balcony has turned to speculation about the lights in the sky. Meteors? Crashing airships? Or something...else. Kip: "Yes, perhaps it's some of Miss Roarke's little green men from another world." Laughter all around. Geoff: "Who's this Miss Roarke? I don't believe I've met her." Man: "Oh she's the lady in the red." He nods towards the parlor. Man: "Allow me to introduce myself, Lord Lindsey. And this is Kip Mayfair." Lindsey is another upperclass young man, but obviously more polite than Kip. Geoff: "Geoff Thompson. <shakes hands> A pleasure. Will you be sailing south as well then?" Lindsey: "Absolutely. Even if it's just a meteor, think of the scientific knowledge that could be gleaned! I'm not one to brag, but my ship the Spaniel is the fastest thing in these waters." Geoff: "Sail or steam?" Lindsey: "Both. I just popped in here this evening, and I ran into my old friend Kip here. He filled me in on what's going on, and of course I said I'd be going." Geoff: "Have any problems with pirates?" Lindsey: "Oh I wouldn't worry. There's not a pirate ship around that can keep up with the Spaniel." Geoff make some polite inquiries about Lindsey's ship, finding out that it doesn't have any cannons or other heavy weapons, but it does have "strong yeomen, with small arms". Geoff doesn't think that's enough, but he doesn't bother trying to convince Lindsey or Kip. Lindsey: "So, Thompson. An adventurer, are you? Perhaps you could come along with us on the Spaniel. We could use a man of action like yourself." Geoff: "Thanks, but I'm already traveling with a party." Lindsey: "Are you sure there isn't some sort of inducement I could offer you to join our little group?" Geoff: "No, thank you." Lindsey: "Well, good luck to you then." He extends his hand, and seems very genuine. The chat continues amicably.
Sooner or later it had to happen, and Geoff ends up explaining about being from Kanaida, again. Lindsey: "Doesn't it get awfully cold up there? Whatever do you do?" Geoff: "Let's just say that when we're shut in doors all that time, social events take on great importance." Politics are brought up, and Geoff's feelings about the Albion-Fredonia conflict are probed. He fails to rise to Kip's bait. Geoff: "As you described me earlier, I'm a man of action." Kip: "So you have no opinions?" Geoff: "None that I know you well enough to express." Lindsey: <nods> "I understand sir."
The 19 year old is quite taken with Geoff. She's here with her aunt, a stout matronly woman (her aunt, Lady Patricia) here to bring the good word to the natives. Sophie is dark haired, pale skin, blue eyes, and tall for around here. She slouches, which hides her height a bit, and doesn't do much to show her rather attractive features. Just as well; her aunt doesn't approve of the men in these parts. Patricia: "They're all adventurers or ruffians, remittance men, and the like." Kaeth comes in to see Lady Telford. Samantha: "Yes?" Kaeth: "I've been speaking with some of the other gentlemen, ma'am, and there's a man who deals in used items who may be of some interest to you. He came across some interesting items from a man about a month ago." Samantha: "Really? Well, I doubt he'll be open tonight." Kaeth: "No ma'am, but we can try him in the morning." Oh good, something to do!
That's about it for the night - no fights, nothing spectacular. No one bursts into flames, and the hotel doesn't blow up.
The party is awoken at about 4:00 a.m., by all the noise. Seems like half the town is getting ready to leave. They need to be on board the ship by 7:00 a.m. Geoff goes in search of clothing, to the used items shop. The shopkeeper has to look in the back for something that will fit Geoff, and an Imperial Naval uniform, blues, is brought out. A bit dusty, they've been here for a while, and there's a small repair in the middle of the back. Geoff will take it, he can remove the insignia. He also buys some local, generic clothing that's big enough, just. He decides to keep the lieutenant-commander rank insignia, but it's hard to find anything Marine-like. He asks the shopkeeper about Kanaidian Marine insignia. Shopkeeper: "Kanaidian Marine? They have Marines in Kanaida?" Geoff: "Yes sir." Or at least they do now. He can find a Kanaidian military insignia, just not Marine. It'll do.
Deciding that he may need appropriate dinner attire on this trip again, Geoff goes to a tailor shop. He's measured, then the tailor asks when he'd like the suit done by. Geoff: "By 7:00." Tailor: <incredulously> "7:00? Today? This morning?!?" Geoff: "Yes." Tailor: "Can't be done." Fine. Geoff decides to just buy what has been cut out, hoping to find someone who sews, and takes out a bundle of local money. The tailor sees all the cash, says "Perhaps I can have it ready by 7:00", and snatches the bundle from his hand. It will be delivered at the very last moment.
Meanwhile, Kaeth and Samantha have gone off in search of the pawnbroker. They find the shop, and a man nailing a "Closed until further notice" sign on the door. Samantha: "Mr. Felixson?" Felixson: "Yes? I'm sorry, I'm closed." Samantha: "I was hoping to make a purchase this morning." Felixson: "A purchase? This won't take long, will it?" Samantha: "No, I think not." A sale he doesn't want to miss, even if it makes him a bit late for the gold rush. He lets them into the shop.
Felixson: "Now then, what can I show you?" Samantha: "I was told you had purchased some items from a gentleman who came through here about a month ago." Felixson: "Many people come through here." Samantha: "He was paying in gold coins, but not from here." Felixson shows her a couple of coins out of his case - 250 gram coins, not like the 2.5oz Ducats. The coins show a man and woman, him in uniform, her in a gown. Looks suspiciously like the Emperor and Empress. Samantha: "Yes, I believe this is what I was looking for. Can you tell me anything about the man?" Felixson: "All I remember was he came in, he needed money to get a ship, and he had a limp. He sold some gold here. I don't know why he didn't just pay for his passage with it." Samantha: "Do you know where he went from here?" Felixson: "He didn't say where he was going." Samantha buys 10 smaller local coins, plus one of the Imperial coins. She thanks the shopkeeper and she and Kaeth leave.
As they exit the pawnshop, they hear the steam whistle of the Intrepid. Time to go! There's a boat from the Intrepid waiting for the remaining party members. They have to occasionally poke off some locals intent on getting their hands on any sort of boat, but the rabble are no match for the sailors. Samantha and Kaeth are spotted, and the ensign and several of his men come trotting up. Ensign Taylor: "The captain sent me to fetch you, ma'am, he was concerned something might have befallen you." Samantha: "Thank you ensign, we're coming." They're escorted down to the boat. Geoff joins them, after buying up $800,000 Escudos worth of trade goods, to get rid of the local money.
They head off toward the Intrepid, through the mass of other boats, rafts, dinghies, etc. Lt. Kerrie is up on the wheel deck with a megaphone. Kerrie: "I say! You there - move away!" Robert came on board earlier, with some of the crew. All the luggage, servants, and others are already on board, so the ship starts to move out.
The spot the Spaniel - black hulled, lean, long bow. Sails up, billowing steam. Kerrie: "Mr. Taylor, let's have full speed please." Taylor: "All ahead full." Ching-ching, ching-ching. The hatch cover is lashed closed, as it's bulging with wood. Someone did a great job. About 10% of the wood is split, but it can be split along the way. Geoff offers to help. He's wearing the local working clothes, so he blends in with the crew. Only the officers (all two of them) are in spiff uniforms. The doctor is in hunting gear, as is Franz - in an upperclass way. Samantha joins the gentlemen on the deck. Franz: "Ah, Lady Telford! Would you care for some lemonade?" Samantha: "Yes, thank you." Franz: "Heinrich, get Lady Telford a lemonade." Up on the wheel deck, Lt. Kerrie is getting frustrated with the idiots in the harbor. Kerrie: <through megaphone> "You there! Shear off!!" The Intrepid has a reverse prow, great for ramming, and some of the ships that don't get out of the way in time are smashed to flinders. Samantha hadn't understood what "flinders" meant until now. It's an educational trip. (Thank you, Mercer.)
Robert is up in the wheel deck, Geoff is helping to push off boaters. The Spaniel can be seen way off, with sails and steam both going. Once clear of the crowd, Geoff will head down to help the crew with the wood. Kaeth: "If you're splitting wood, and you come up against some that looks odd or too dense, be careful." He tells him about the demo concern, which Geoff understands (having demo). Kaeth helps split some wood too, and they both get a good work out. the crew just watches them and smiles. When a big pile has been split, a crewman picks up a big piece of wood, and tosses it into the hydraulic wood splitter. Geoff just smiles.
The Intrepid catches up and keeps apace with the Spaniel, which is about a kilometer ahead. Once they're out away from the shore, the water is blue, the dolphins are playing around the ship (a good omen), the sky is clear, and it's a beautiful day. This is more like it. The Spaniel is definitely a fast ship, but the Intrepid is gaining ground. Robert: "Do you have any maps of the part of the Golden Sea we're heading for?" Taylor: "It becomes pretty sketchy out here, sir. They're not called the Mysterious Islands for nothing, this area is not well-mapped." The crew will map as much as they can on the way. Robert takes a shift in the wheel deck, Kaeth takes one in the infirmary. The engine crew come in with cuts and splinters, as they're not used to handling wood. Nothing serious.
Kerrie: "I think we'll have some fine sailing, and as the wind is slacking I believe we'll be overtaking the Spaniel when his sails become less useful." Kaeth: "Good. I really don't want to have to rescue them." Geoff asks if anyone is up for cards, and Franz is game. Franz: "Care to make it interesting?" Geoff: "Of course."
A short while later, Geoff has thrashed the Count. He's up $200 Ducats, which the Count does not have in cash. How embarrassing. He offers to play for double or nothing, but Geoff demurs, not wanting to embarrass the nice man any further. Geoff: "I'm not a wealthy man, and I don't think I could cover that much money." Franz wants to give Geoff the $60 Ducats he has in cash, plus his marker. Geoff: "I only need walking around money. More would just make me a target."
None of the crew is willing to play cards with Geoff after this. Yes, he's very good at it, but the Count's talents obviously lay elsewhere. Geoff: "Would you wager $55 Ducats on <the Whist equivalent of drawing to an inside straight>?" Crewman: "No." Geoff: "Some people don't understand that concept." He can't help it if the Count is a card tuna.
As predicted, the wind slackens and the Intrepid pulls up alongside the Spaniel. Geoff: "You might want to slow down and invite them for dinner." Kerrie: "Capital idea!" After a shouting match between the ships, invitations going back and forth, until Lord Lindsey wins. Kerrie and his "guests" will join Lord Lindsey for dinner. Robert declines the invitation, preferring to stay on board the Intrepid, in case of trouble.
When everyone who's going to dinner emerges in their dinner attire, Geoff cuts quite the figure. He also causes raised eyebrows among his companions. Geoff is wearing the breast device of the Kanaidian Light Infantry, and an Imperial Navy uniform (minus insignia). But he looks good. Then it's a trip of 20' across water on a bosun chair, with both ships under power. Cool! They are piped aboard the Spaniel, which is run in bristol fashion. Very natty crew and officers. Trés spiff. The teak decks have been oiled, the brass polished.
Lord Lindsey comes out to welcome them. Lindsey: "Welcome, welcome to the Spaniel. Thank you for joining us. Cocktails on the deck?" Of course. Kip is on board, as is Marguerite. Lindsey is obviously out for fun little trip. Canapés, whiskey, and bubbly (the latter for the ladies). They discuss the madhouse in the harbor. Lindsey: "It's amazing what the common will do in the grubby pursuit of wealth. I don't believe for a second that there's any gold, but one goes where the wind takes one." Kaeth: "Winds change, don't they?" Lindsey hasn't met Samantha, and certainly seems to like having another female show up. Introductions are made. Lindsey: "And how is Lord Telford?" Samantha: "As far as I know, my grandfather is well, thank you." And there's Sophie and her aunt, Lady Patricia. Samantha introduces he of the much discussed posterior to the two women, as is proper, as Major Geoffrey Thompson. Patricia: "A military man?" Geoff: "Recently out of the service." Geoff is very polite, very charming to the aunt, who takes a fancy to him but as a source of information, not as a prospect. Patricia: "I understand the Count is fabulously wealthy." Geoff: "All I can say is he's not lucky at cards." Patricia: "I see." Geoff tells of the zeppelin crash, it's very exciting. Patricia explains that Sophie is her niece, from a good family (the Vaughns), but impoverished. Her father lost the family money, then accidentally shot himself, the mother died shortly afterwards. Patricia has warmed up to Geoff and is treating him like part of the family. Patricia: "...I mean, look at her, she's tall, gangly, plain, and without dowry." Geoff: "You know, where I come from on the frontier, a woman of character is more valuable than a woman with a dowry." Patricia: "Yes, but it is important that we find a good family, who will provide for her." Geoff is asked about the other members of his party - spoken for (Robert), Vargr, female. Geoff doesn't mention the single and attractive Lt. Kerrie, as Geoff isn't interested in marrying off Sophie to someone, he's interested in her for himself. When Lady Patricia asks about the Count, Geoff tells her he's married, with children. Geoff: "He has several lovely pictures of his wife and family with him. Very attractive woman, two kids." Patricia: "Ah. Oh well."
On the Intrepid, Robert is trying to learn how to use the sextant. Yes, he's Navy, but he's TL 15, space Navy. He has the math skills, that's a plus. Ensign Taylor is willing to help - heaven knows the man could use trained help.
They go in for dinner, and Geoff manages to be seated across from the lovely young Sophie. He tells her and her aunt about the zeppelin crash. Sophie: "Is that how you obtained your wound?" [She means the facial wound.] Geoff: "Actually, while the lady was in a shop, I went across the street ... " He relates the story of how he was attacked by a card shark when he tried to stop him from cheating. This does not go over well with Auntie Pat. Patricia: "A card room brawl?" Geoff explains that he wasn't involved in the game...Lady Patricia is scandalized. On the other hand, Sophie does not look put off, but watches Geoff rather intently. The Count leaps into the fray, on Geoff's behalf. Franz starts telling tales about the gallant, and single, Major Thompson, who saved his life while on a hunt, bravely fought off pirates, and so on.
Kip is sitting at the end of the table, glowering at Franz. Lord Lindsey arranged for Kip and Franz to be at the opposite corners of the long table. Good man.
Back on the other ship, with Robert, who is told they have a difference engine on board the Intrepid. And navigational chronometers. Robert takes advantage of all the technical gee-gaws he can lay his hands on during the evening. He can talk with Ensign Taylor. He's not particularly super intelligent, but he's from the right family (his father is an admiral), and he's a decent chap, good at his job. He won't make any rash decisions; he's a steady man, knows his job and his ship.
Patricia asks about Franz, and his lovely wife? She's fishing. Franz gets quiet for a moment, and tells her he lost his wife and children in the influenza epidemic. Condolences are proffered. Geoff is feeling rather annoyed at not being able to eliminate a potential rival for Sophie's affection. A couple of times after he's been drinking, Kip tries to start something, but Lindsey distracts him. Eventually, he slides under the table and out of sight. His friend Rex picks up Kip's remaining drink too. Perhaps he has two livers. Many toasts. There are many countries, from Albion to Zenda. Marguerite gets louder and more forward as the evening goes on. Eventually it 's time for a really interesting trip back, in the dark on the bosun chair. Geoff takes advantage of the darkness and location to rid himself of some of the alcohol on his way across. How opportunistic of him.
No incidents - everyone returns to the Intrepid safe and sound. Ensign Taylor is there to meet the returning passengers and captain. Kerrie: "Full speed ahead, Ensign." Taylor: "Aye, sir. Full speed ahead. <to Samantha> Evening ma'am." Samantha: "Good evening, Ensign Taylor." Taylor: "Looks like we're in for a bit of a blow. The glass has been dropping for several hours. Do you smell that?" It's too dark to see the clouds, but they can't see the stars. Smells like there's a storm brewing; or at least it does to the nautical or outdoorsy types. Time to turn in for the night.
No one on deck without waterproof gear. Robert borrows a line from Kaeth to make sure he doesn't get thrown overboard. Geoff goes below to help throw wood into the splitter, but the crew is concerned about Geoff getting tossed into the splitter himself. He shortens his line so that doesn't happen.
Breakfast is an interesting event - how to eat when the ship is going back and forth rather violently. Yup, it's an educational trip all right. Spray, but no real rain at this point. The ship is reducing speed, as the water isn't really deep and stuff is being churned up. Kerrie invites people up on deck, if they want, as interesting fish and things are being dredged up. The doctor and the Count are beside themselves over the fascinating fauna being forced to the surface. Dr. Jurgen: "Captain Kerrie, what kind of a fish is that?" He's pointing at a big round thing with spike on it. A big, round, metal thing with spikes on it, about 10' off the - oh bugger. Kerrie: "HARD APORT!!!" The ship keels over while Geoff tries to pole the mine off. There's a hideous squealing as the engines rev up. Wha-boom!! The stern is propelled upward alarmingly. The mine's cable was apparently caught in the screw and pulled right into the ship. Samantha turns around to go after Lisette, who's magically appeared, with Samantha's luggage. Hmmm, she may be a keeper.
There's a second explosion when the boiler blows. The ship is sinking very quickly. Kerrie: "Abandon ship!" Ensign Taylor uses an axe to cut the lifeboats loose. People scramble after gear, Heinrich (at Kaeth's urging) grabs ammo and one of the Maxim guns. Geoff goes after his water proof bag, Robert after his sextant and gear, Kaeth after his medical gear.
They ship sinks very swiftly. Dr. Jurgen is in the water, and is picked up by Franz' boat. Besides the officers, the crew now consists of fifteen or so sailors, about half of them with severe burns. Ensign Taylor is in one boat, picking up people, Heinrich is in the other boat, holding the Maxim gun. Kerrie is in the water - he was literally the last one to leap off the ship. He has a bit of a gash on his forehead, but other than that he's fine. He's really concerned about his crew, not himself. Franz: "Well, that certainly broke the monotony."
In one lifeboat are Lt. Kerrie, Franz, Kaeth, Samantha, and Heinrich, as well as some miscellaneous waterlogged crewmen. And the Maxim gun. In the other lifeboat are Ensign Taylor, Geoff, Robert, Dr. Jurgen, and the most severely injured of the crew, some of them Jurgen isn't able to help beyond making them comfortable as they expire. Robert: "What the hell was a mine doing out here?" Taylor: "That storm dredged up all sorts of things. It could have been floating for months, maybe longer." Geoff: "It wasn't floating free. It wasn't loose. When I tried to pole it off, I could tell it was tethered. We should be ready for an ambush." Taylor: "In that box there, there should be a telescope." Geoff: "I've got binoculars in my waterproof bag." He takes them out and looks around.
Kerrie is trying to get the motor on the launch started. It takes a minute for the paraffin to get heated up enough. Suddenly there's a big dark shape looming up from the side. (Déja Vu all over again.) It's a steam launch, the deck is filled with people (wild looking men with beards), and the ship is coming straight at the two boats. Samantha: "Well, crap." Franz: "Lady Telford, get down. Please, it's for your safety." He takes out his automatic pistol. Samantha gets down, but gets her gun out too. Heinrich gets the Maxim ready. Geoff hands out weapons, and starts firing his ACR as soon as he gets it out. The pirates return fire.
Kaeth steadies the Maxim gun, on the oarlock, while Heinrich fires it. Everyone with a weapon fires at a target. On the bottom of the lifeboat, where it's somehow supposed to be safe, Samantha is hit in the left hand by a ricochet. Heinrich is hit in the head, and goes down. Kaeth is gut shot - thank God for body armor. Franz isn't hit, but Kerrie is, in the left shoulder. Samantha: "Somebody hold the Maxim gun." She's pissed off now. Geoff fires off a Ram grenade. Franz and Kaeth hold the gun. Robert aims with his pistol and fires, taking down a pirate. Then the Maxim gun starts firing. The pirates certainly weren't expecting four seconds of continuous fire, all the rounds on a 250 round belt. And all of them hit the pirates and ship.
There is no movement on board the pirate ship. Piles of bodies, but no movement.
After a brief, rather stunned silence, Lt. Kerrie takes charge. Kerrie: "Make way!" The oars are run out, and it's time to take over the other ship. Taylor: "Make way! Stroke! Stroke!" They bump up along side, leaping onto the other ship. Robert is the first on. There's blood everywhere, and some of the men are moaning, but no one is moving. Robert pulls the man off the remains of the wheel and takes control. Geoff gets on board and starts tossing dead and badly wounded overboard. Twin fins come up - feeding time. Kaeth: "We need some one alive to question." Geoff: "We don't need very many." The pirates are willing to talk. They knew ships were coming, their leader set some bait in Brazzaville. That would be the newspaper article. They refer to him as Old Mustache, and he's not on board. The pirates' maps are not terribly helpful, but they're the best available for now.
Franz: "Doctor, look to Heinrich. He's in pain." Franz has that look. He watches with distaste as Geoff throws pirates over the side. Franz: "And where can we find this Old Mustache?" Geoff was thinking of finding out where other things were, but Franz appears to be rather certain about what he wants. The answer is not easily come by, as knowing who the Mustache is does not mean knowing where he is. It's about two days to the island they sailed from . A lot of adventurers and freebooters work the Mysterious Islands. Robert: "Is that the closest island?" No, they're about a day out from the start of the archipelago.
The ship is searched. They find weapons - some nice stuff, some garbage, all local. Kaeth: <quietly to Geoff> "Look for Imperial Nav stuff." He looks around, but everything is local manufacture. That's about it. Then there's the matter of the few surviving pirates. Lt. Kerrie: "They can have the smallest life boat. I won't execute them." Everything is removed from the lifeboat, including the oars, before setting them off.
Lt. Kerrie: "We should seek out the nearest island. We're going to need shelter from the approaching storm." Geoff: "We can run ahead of the storm, and try to meet up with the Spaniel." Kerrie: "Yes, excellent idea Major." Franz finds a large rifle, and picks it up, looking like he means to use it very soon. Robert: "We don't want the Spaniel to fire on us, not realizing we're good guys." They'll put up a flag off the lifeboat, and tow the steam launch as they head out.
Heinrich is still, miraculously, alive. Dr. Jurgen will bandage him, and keep him comfortable. Who knows, there's always a slim chance he'll survive.
A while later, they sight the Spaniel. Sailor: "Ahoy, on the vessel! Do you need assistance?" Geoff: "Yes!" One of the officers of the ship, along with a couple of armed sailors come over on a boat. Geoff suggests the party lower their own weapons, lest any misunderstandings take place. Lt. Kerrie is recognized, and the survivors of the Intrepid are taken aboard the Spaniel. Only one of the burned sailors of the Intrepid has died, but Dr. Jurgen doesn't hold out much hope for the other burn victims. It's suggested that Lord Lindsey send some of his able bodied men on board the pirate ship, to sail it ahead of the Spaniel in case of more mines.
Lord Lindsey makes sure that everything is done to see to it that his new guests are comfortable and undisturbed. Heinrich is made as comfortable as possible. Lt. Kerrie seeks out Geoff. Kerrie: "Major, would you join me? We're having a conversation with Lord Lindsey." Geoff: "Of course." He follows the lieutenant to the bridge.
Lord Lindsey: "We have a storm ahead of us, and it should hit in a few hours. We have wounded. What do we do - make a run back for Brazzaville? Or try to make it to a safe harbor?" Kerrie: "At this point, I would hate to turn back and have all our effort come to naught." Geoff: "I agree. After all, we managed to get past a ship full of pirates to get this far." Lord Lindsey: "Well, how fortunate, Lt. Kerrie, that you carried a Maxim gun." Geoff: "Actually, it was the Fredonians' Maxim gun." So we're agreed then? We ride out the storm and continue to the South." It's agreed.
Samantha is in with the women, and Lady Patricia talks even more when she's nervous. She goes on, and on, for hours. Sophie has put on her glasses so she can actually see. That explains the glassy eyed look at dinner yesterday. As the storm gets worse, Lady Patricia gets better. She's taking Laudanum for her nerves. She offers some to Samantha, who declines. She's used poison too often to take some unknown liquid from a relative stranger. Samantha sneaks a look at the book Sophie's reading. It's something about the flora and fauna. It's open to a section on the mating habits of some animal. Well, you work with what you've got.
There are sailors asleep on the line, from fighting the storm all night. Geoff helps carry men below. But the day is clear and beautiful. People are tucked in, and the deck can be cleaned later.
Eventually, the passengers wander up onto the deck a few at a time. Samantha sees Kip off along the railing smoking a cigarette and goes over to speak with him. Samantha: "Good morning." Kip: "Good morning. Quite an amusing storm, don't you think? Of course I understand you had quite the exciting time of it." Samantha: "If you find people dying to be amusing, then I suppose so." Kip: "I hear you were fortunate enough to have the count and his servant along to perform some sort of function. The Fredonians are good for something. They're the only ones who would be capable of producing that sort of weapon." Samantha: "So it's all right to shoot people one at a time, just not all at once?" Kip: "It's not sportsmanlike. But in the case of the pirates, I'd say they got what they deserved." He shrugs and takes a drag on his cigarette. Samantha: "I have a request to make of you." Kip: "Of course, Lady Telford, if it is in my power." Samantha: "Your politics are your business. But. We are all together on a small vessel. And we've gone through a great deal recently. Count Von Hollenstein has been a gentleman, and has done all of us a great service. Someone who has been in his employ for some time has been seriously injured and may well die. The Count is understandably upset by this, and he may run short of his usual patience. I would appreciate it if you kept your political and sociological opinions to yourself and didn't provoke anyone." Kip: "I didn't realize the Fredonians were so sensitive about their servants. Very well, I wouldn't want to take advantage of him in his current state." He spins on his heel and leaves, before Samantha kills him. Killing him the first chance she gets sounds like a very good idea. [The other players are of the opinion she should have killed him then, they'd have backed her up. "Gee Captain, he just fell overboard. Really."]
Kaeth: <to Kerrie> "Did you recognize the mine?" Kerrie: "Not really. It was a basic design, one that any number of countries could have made, including Albion or Fredonia. It could have been bought, or stolen." Kaeth: "Would anyone benefit from Albion and Fredonia going after each other?" Geoff: "Yes. Everyone else. If they're occupied with each other, they can't beat up on anyone else." Kaeth: "Who's number three after Albion and Fredonia?" Kerrie: "Probably Muldavia. Them or Vergonia." Geoff: "They don't habitually wear bowler hats, do they?" No, but what a peculiar question.
Late in the day, they begin to see small islands, dotted all over the place. Great area for pirates, and a bitch to search. One of the crew comes down from the rigging with news. Sailor: <to Kerrie> "Excuse me sir, there's something I think you should see." Geoff follows Kerrie up on deck to look, as does everyone else. He has to go up the rigging for a ways to see. Looking down on one of the islands, it looks like someone drew a line through the jungle, then a break, then another line. Samantha: <quietly to Robert> "Look, someone who lands like you." Robert: "Taught her everything I know." That would be the problem then. But it might not be Ariana, don't panic yet. Sailor: "Sir, there's a fire on the large island further down." On the beach. Ah - time for a landing party!
The men gather up weapons and equipment. Marguerite demands to go along as well. Marguerite: "We women have as much right as you men!" The doctor will stay on board the Spaniel, to tend the wounded. Kerrie will not remain on board the larger vessel, even though his shoulder isn't doing well, he's been disobeying orders.
Kip of course will go, since Franz is going. Kip: "If he's purely a gold-digger, Rex and I will come along." Rex raises a glass. Geoff: "Sure." Robert takes Kaeth off to one side. Robert: "All these locals, running into a survivor, who may not be completely, mentally intact shall we say..." Kaeth: "I'll make sure they're sedated." Robert: "The locals?" Kaeth: "The survivor."
They take the steam launch as far as possible, then continue on foot. They find a sort of spherical shape, smoke coming from it, or near it. Looks suspiciously like an escape pod. There's a single figure leaping up and down on the beach and waving. They go forward, watching for an ambush. There's a half naked man on the beach. The smoke is, in fact coming from inside the escape pod, and a small fire near it.
Geoff: "Hello." The wild, half-naked man runs at Geoff, yelling his name. Yelling...his.... Oh dear Lord, it's Ezbeki. Geoff: "When did you come down?" That would be the third streak. Robert: "Who is this?" Samantha: "I believe that is Major Thompson's, um, associate." Marguerite: "Oh my God, a spaceman! An ether pilot!" Robert inspects the pod. It's on fire. Looks like Ezbeki set a signal fire, which spread to the pod, the interior, and up the vines around it. Ezbeki is obviously glad to see Geoff, and pretty much ignores the locals. Ezbeki: "I heard what happened, you going off to some red zone. So, after I busted out of jail, I called in a favor from a Scout friend." Geoff: "We were looking for something that was lost here." Ezbeki: "Whatever. Any way, came down, and here I am." Samantha: <quietly> "Mr. Ezbeki. The people here are not aware that there are people from another planet here. They are not aware that there are people on other planets. I want it to stay that way. If you mess this up, I will kill you." Ezbeki: <to Geoff> "I like her, she's got spunk!" Geoff: "She's right. The locals don't travel off planet, they don't know there is an off-planet." Ezbeki: "Who is she?" Geoff: "She's with me." Ezbeki: "So, are you here with anybody?" Geoff: "Yeah, a whole bunch of people. The question is what are you doing here?" Ezbeki: "I heard it was a dangerous place, and figured you'd need my help. <looks at Geoff's injuries> And it looks like I was right." Geoff: "You should see the other guys." Ezbeki: "And by the way, my gauss rifle is screwed." Geoff: "Nothing that is electronic or electrical will work here. That means guns, sights, radios, and ships." Kaeth: <meaning to be overheard> "How fortunate for you that you found this ancient structure to shelter near." Ezbeki: "Yeah. Some kind of a native temple."
Robert motions Samantha off to one side. Samantha: "Yes?" Robert: "This was the third landing ." Samantha: "Apparently." Robert: "He might have seen our ship before he came in." Samantha: "Maybe. But if he didn't I wouldn't take it to mean anything. Ariana may be doing the sensible thing and staying out of sight and away from the planet."
The plucky adventuress is getting into an argument with the unimaginative males of the group, who are perfectly willing to believe this Ezbeki person was shipwrecked here. Marguerite: "No, it must be a spaceship. It must." Kip: "Well if it is, I can't say much for the evolution of your spacemen. Not judging from this one." Undeterred, Marguerite goes over to the spaceman. Marguerite: <slowly> "Can you un-der-stand-me? Do-you-speak-Ang-lic? Where-is-your-space-ship?" Ezbeki: <to Geoff and Samantha> "Why is she talking like that?" Samantha shrugs. Ezbeki: <to Marguerite> "So, are you here with anybody? Have you ever been with a spaceman?" Marguerite: "Been what?" Geoff gets him back on task, and Ezbeki changes into his gear, right on the beach. The women will of course avert their eyes. The men too.
Kaeth: <to Ezbeki> "Sergeant?" Ezbeki: "Corporal." Kaeth: "Anything hurting?" Ezbeki: "Only when I pee. Just kidding." He gears up, looks at the gauss rifle, then discards it.
Lt. Kerrie suggests that the Spaniel put out into deeper water, in case of pirates, then he and Robert can take out the two steam launches to explore. The Maxim gun will stay on the Spaniel, and the launches will signal with one of their Vary Pistols if they run into any trouble.
Samantha suggests that they start the search at the easiest end first - what appears to be the actual end of the furrow (rather than the starting point); they're at one end, and there's no ship, no meteor, no giant space clown, which means it's probably at the opposite end. Kerrie will check out the opposite, close end with the smaller launch, Robert will take the larger one to the far end (where it looks like the ship came down), and then they'll see who's the luckiest. Maybe they should start a pool?