Aether Shanties RP (PM if interested/Started)

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-Exeter St John-

With Capricorn trailing behind, Exeter slowly paced through the violent chaos raging on The Mermaid's deck. To look at him, one would never have realised he was surrounded by the cries of the wounded and dying, the ringing clash of steel or the loud cracks of gunfire. He semeed totally at peace, taking deliberate steps without weapons raised.

As a young pirate rushed at him with a cutlass, Exeter casually sidestepped, giving Capricorn a full view of the assailant. With lightning speed, Capricorn dashed forward and ducked under the cutlass's high arc before connecting two vicious jabs to the pirate's ribs. Before the unfortunate man had time to react, the misbegotten wrenched his swordarm round and clutched a heavy hand round the pirate's face. With barely a strain, Capricorn twisted the pirate's body in an almost impossible way. Exeter continued his walk. He was looking for a worthy opponent to fight, one of the ship's notorious misbegotten leaders.

"Do any of you think you can take the Skulk-Hound on?!" Hearing the cry, Exeter wheeled round. He stared hard at the disgusting countenance of The Mermaid's First Mate. It was twisted and blood-thirsty, just like the rumours promised. Exeter would enjoy putting this dog to sleep. He gestured to Capricorn, allowing the misbegetton to leave his master alone, to fight where it pleased; then he moved towards the Skulk-Hound with sabre raised.

Exeter gutted one pirate on the way to his target, a poor swordsman who had his back to danger. Taking barely a breathe, Exeter pulled his sword free of the dead pirate and swung at Sheska's face. Despite being taken by surprise, the Skulk-Hound's block was strong, knocking Exeter off balance. He attempted to plant his foot behind to steady himself but only found a corpse to stand on. As he stumbled, Exeter felt the full force of Sheska's forehead in his face. He felt the blood drip from his nose into his mouth as he raised his flintlock. But too late.

Before he could even think of firing, Sheska performed a flourishing heel kick to his gut, sending the Imperial sprawling to the deck. Winded and blinking through the blood, Exeter felt a heavy boot plant itself on his swordarm. He grunted painfully but resisted, reaching with his other hand for his flintlock. Sheshka kicked the weapon away and aimed her own firearm at Exeter's face. Her eyes burned like a blacksmith's forge.

A long monent passed between the two enemies, it was as if the rest of the battle was no longer raging on the The Mermaid. Exeter blinked furiously at the pirate before throwing his head back in a fierce cry. "CAPRICOOOOOORN!!!!"

As Exeter's cry died down, Sheska cocked her revolver, a smile of deep satisfaction on her twisted features. Exeter heard the deafening shot but didn't feel the cold embrace of death. As Sheska had fired, Capricorn, reacting to his master's summons, had cannoned through the fighting crowd and gripped the misbegotten pirate's gun-arm, causing the shot to graze Exeter's left shoulder.

From gripping Sheska's arm, Capricorn brought his livid face right to hers and bleated angrily. His grip was like a vice and his strength stopped Sheska from pulling away. Capricorn glanced over to his master who was being helped back to the Invincible by a few of his boarding crew, them fighting off any pirates who threatened their passage.

Exeter glared furiously at Sheska. After this, he wanted to kill the creature himself. But he would allow Capricorn to exact some vengeance, ensure the pirate scum never forgot who she was dealing with. "MAIM!" He cried to his pet.

At the order, Capricorn twisted Sheska's arm, causing her to drop the revolver. He locked her elbow and punched through it with three sharp blows before twisting again at the shoulder and striking through her collarbone. The pirate didn't have time to cry out before Capricorn had thrown her to the ground and stamped heavily on her shoulder, dislocating it smoothly. One final twist and a strong pull from the crazed mesbegotten ripped Sheska's arm off.

Capricorn looked slightly surprised but quickly regained his instincts and bounded back aboard the Invincible, dropping the arm overboard on his way.

The three pirates lit the grenades on fire almost at the same time.

"One."

Beth would give them enough time to throw and aim, but she really needed to get them out of here now. She saw her crew fight for their lives, their ship and her. She did not enjoy seeing them die or hurt, but the dead imperials made up for it. Sheska was beating up what looked like an officer, which just made the captain smile.

"Two."

They prepared to throw their grenades and Farthing had a sickening grin on his face. Beth probably had a similar one, but she couldn't see it without a mirror. She put her hands on the wheel.

"Three."

When she turned back to the mermaid's first mate, she was shocked to see her getting beaten up by a large misbegotten. What the hell? Why would they fight among themselves in this situation? She was about to order them to stop, when it ripped Sheska's arm off.

"Eat shit and die!" Farthing screamed.

The grenades went flying through the air and exploded on the imperial ship's deck. Beth reacted, but it was as if she was in a haze herself. She knew the mermaid was leaving the imperial frigate behind, and that the pirates on deck were making mincemeat of whatever imperials there were left on their ship.

The last two imperials alive were tortured to death. The pirates got to have their fun, starting with cutting off their legs in pieces, then moving onto doing the same with the arms, then leaving them to bleed to death on the deck, while sharing a bottle of rum. She loved hearing their cries for mercy, but something else occupied most of her attention right now.

"Farthing, take the wheel." She had gotten them out of there. The imperials should be busy with their gift and they shouldn't be able to catch up with the mermaid anyway, not at this speed.

"I'll..."

Her voice was cracking up again, but she couldn't even tell why. He put a hand on her shoulder, as they passed each other.

"You don't need to excuse yourself. I understand."

Beth walked over to Sheska, bent down and picked her up in her arms. She had to keep a wheel steady on a regular basis and during storms, that threathened to tear it apart, so carrying someone else wasn't very hard.

"Attention proud members of the mermaid, we just set fire to an imperial frigate and escaped. I'd say that's bloody well done. Still, it wasn't without losses. Count the dead and check the ship for damage. Doc, Beth is on her way to your cabin with our wounded first mate. You better be there. The rest of the wounded will be carried there as well eventually."

It wasn't a female voice on the intercom. It was a male one, which it hadn't been in a long time. Beth was reminded of a simpler time, when she might have carried one or two wounded pirates through these corridors, not someone who she genuinely cared for and was pained to see wounded.

"What are you afraid of? People die all the time. They know they might get killed, during a raid or a boarding, or in a drunk brawl. It's not about death, it's about life. If you focus too much on getting to the end, you might lose sight of the journey. We've all chosen to die as pirates. Aye, it's tough when a friend perishes, but I can't tell you to not make friends. Just to live on for them." It was one of her earliest conversations with Roberts, before she had even been made first mate and after a particularly nasty boarding, which had cost her two of her friends in the crew. She still couldn't say why he had approached and talked with her, maybe it was the way he was. "You should be worried if you ever develop deeper feelings for someone though. That is a lonely and painful road, to end up walking alone."

She had asked if he knew that from experience, he had nodded and excused himself. She had never asked him about it again, it didn't feel right to pry. Beth stopped outside Samuel's cabin.

"HAHA! TAKE THAT, YOU EAGLEFUCKERS! THIS IS MY SHIP, AND DON'T YOU EVER FORGET THAT!" Jason cackled with glee as he saw the Imperial frigate go up in flames, its deck consumed by a growing inferno. They had no chance of catching them now - by the time they had those flames put out, they'd be well out of sight. He caught his breath after his tirade, trying to center himself. 'Well, that was therapeutic. But, as the old priests say, no rest for the wicked.' He turned to the deck, surveying any obvious damage. Nothing too serious - the holes in the deck could be fixed in a couple of days, if he put his team to work on it when they docked in Helium City. He continued his sweep, nodding in approval at the Empire's dismal failure to destroy his handiwork, until he came upon Sheska, hunched over in pain...

Oh, shit.

Sheska... was just mutilated? What... what happened? He stood, dumbfounded, as she was hauled off by the crew, presumably to Sam's cabin. 'Her entire arm, gone. Not even cut off - ripped off. What manner of monster...' He shook his head. Now was not the time to worry about that. He made his way down to his cabin, where he opened up a large lockbox. Inside was a large contraption the size and shape of a human arm and hand. I've been fitting this for myself, but retooling it shouldn't be too difficult once we're in Helium City. Sheska has quite a bit more use for it.' With the arm in hand, he headed to Sam's cabin. He saw Beth waiting, a concerned look on her face. "You alright, captain?"

One the Mermaid pulled away from the imperial ship Samuel had finished patching up the man on deck and was halfway back to his cabin when the order sounded through the ship. He immediately began to run only to see Beth standing in front of his cabin. He spoke as he opened the door.

"What's wrong captain? Not like you to..." He trailed off as he saw Sheska on one of the beds, sans an arm.

"My god Sheska, what happened?" He said as he ran over and began checking the damage on the missing arm.

'Damage is obviously extensive, even if the arm were to be found it would be unlikely I could successfully reattach.' He thought as he immediately pulled out a large cloth after checking the shoulder and finding the broken bone.

"This is going to hurt ma'am, a lot, but I need you to stay as still as possible." With that he tied on the cloth tightly near the stump of her arm to stem the bleeding as much as possible.

He kept some clean water for these occasions and set about cleaning out the wound being extremely careful, as he cleaned some light bleeding came back and he applied pressure to have it slow. Once he had cleaned the wound he rinsed the area around liberally to make sure any dirt had been washed away before bandaging the wound.

With that finished he wrapped the whole stump in bandages and clipped them on so that they wouldn't fall off.

Samuel then set about setting the broken shoulder so that it might heal. Once finished he looked at Sheska.

"Ma'am, you are going to live and your shoulder will heal in time. However, with the extensive damage done during the severing of your arm it is unlikely that I will be able to successfully reattach the limb. I'm sorry ma'am, but the maiming is permanent. I'll see about getting you a simple prosthetic once we reach the next port, I'll also handle the training required to use it properly. Unfortunately the more advanced prosthetic limbs are unavailable to me and any powered ones are simply theory to my knowledge." He said honestly with a look of sympathy. He knew for a while that a prosthetic limb, even the more advanced ones, took a long time to get used to and never gave the full range of movement one had experienced before.

-Sheska-

Sheska was taken by surprise when someone came up from behind to accept her challenge. But she managed to catch a glimpse of him at the corner of her eye, and whirled around. She raised her cutlass, blocking his sabre with little difficulty, but she could admire the power that was behind the swing. Grinning a little wider, she pivoted, taking her chance as he stumbled back over a corpse to ram her forehead into his face, disorienting him further.

Even as his nose bled, she continued with a firm heel-kick to his belly, knocking him back onto the deck of the ship. Taking a step forward, she kicked his flintlock out of his hand so he couldn't bring it to bear, then pinned his sword-hand beneath a bare foot.

It was then that she finally got a good look at her opponent: An Imperial Officer, judging by the uniform, but his hair was greasy, his greatcoat filthy, and--she sniffed--he stank like a pirate. As he stared up at her, she felt a familiar clenching in her gut. He was giving her the same look that her Chuno Ggun commander gave her, one filled with contempt, disgust, and said that they didn't see you as human.

Her eyes narrowed as her face twisted into a similar look of disgust, bringing up her revolver and aiming it at his face. She cocked the hammer back, and was about to fire when he called out.

"CAPRICOOOOOORN!!!!".

The First Mate merely quirked an eyebrow before pulling the trigger. The moment she did, some monstrous thing had barreled through the ongoing slaughter and grabbed her arm at the last minute, causing the bullet to go into her enemies shoulder. Her shout was angry as she struggled, and that was when she noticed that it was a Misbegotten, like her. It pushed its face into hers and bleated like a goat, which seemed appropriate due to the look of its eyes. Her momentary confusion was enough to give her opponent time to get away, and give one last order.

"MAIM!".

The Misbegotten acted quickly, too quickly for her to react. He twisted her arm, making her drop her revolver to the deck, then locked her elbow and broke it with ease with three heavy blows. Another twist and he did the same to her collarbone, breaking it with a single hit. Then she was thrown to the ground in pain, her shoulder stomped on to dislocate it, just before it finished the job. With a sharp tug and a hard twist, the flesh connecting her shoulder to her torso tore, the dislocated bone straining, then breaking out of its socket as her entire arm was ripped off from her body in a spray of blood and gore.

Sheska did the only thing she could under that amount of pain. She writhed and screamed, the sound long, high, and as excruciating as the agony she was experiencing. She clutched at the torn remains at where her shoulder should have been, even with her cutlass still gripped in her other hand. She looked up at the Misbegotten with utter terror, only to push it aside with anger and indignation.

Even as the nausea and physical torture washed over her, she struggled to get to her feet and back into the fray, but she collapsed, only to see the beast that beaten her take off, tossing her limb overboard as it went back to the ship. Then she fainted.

She passed in and out of consciousness for a time, opening her eyes just slightly as she felt the sensation of being carried, and she looked up to see the Captain carrying her. A dull feeling she couldn't begin to describe in her current state welled up in her: A combination of embarrassed pleasure and utter disgust at herself. She murmured something just before fading back out.

The next few times she faded back in, there were voices, a bed, and sharp pains where her arm used to be as it was cleaned, then bandaged, but she couldn't comprehend what was going on. When she finally went out completely, she laid back silently in the bed, her gray skin pale as death, her dreadlocks loose and spread around her head. And her mouth twisted in silent pain.

She looked weak, vulnerable, and utterly defeated.

-Half an Hour Later-

When Sheska awoke, the first thing she noticed was pain, and a sick roiling in her belly. The second thing she noticed is that she woke to a voice.

"Ma'am, you are going to live and your shoulder will heal in time. However, with the extensive damage done during the severing of your arm it is unlikely that I will be able to successfully reattach the limb. I'm sorry ma'am, but the maiming is permanent. I'll see about getting you a simple prosthetic once we reach the next port, I'll also handle the training required to use it properly. Unfortunately the more advanced prosthetic limbs are unavailable to me and any powered ones are simply theory to my knowledge."

She didn't respond immediately as her golden eyes opened slowly, dulled by pain. Then she looked around and quickly leaned over to one side, grabbing a nearby bucket that had had the water that cleaned her wounds, and promptly vomited. When she finished, she laid back and closed her eyes again, panting heavily.

Her face was sweaty, her skin still had an unhealthy pallor due to blood loss, and when she opened her eyes again, they looked frustrated and angry, though brighter than before. Glancing over, she noticed that Beth was there, as well as Sam. Grabbing the nearest blanket, she pulled it over her chest, knowing that her shirt was sure to be elsewhere, thanks to the dressing her arm needed.

She forced herself to sit up, and she looked at Beth after a moment. "Sorry, Cap'n. Didn't kill nearly as many Imps as usual. That big Misbegotten sumbitch took me by surprise... I guess I'm not exactly fit to be First Mate now, eh?", she asked sadly, looking down at her lap.

With one arm, she couldn't keep up with the crew anymore. She couldn't be as good a fighter now. She couldn't protect Captain Beth.

Then, pushing aside her disappointment in herself, her feelings of defeat, she looked back at the Captain and nodded. "How's the ship, the crew? How many did we lose, Beth?", she asked softly.

-Annis-

Annis stormed across the deck, shouting orders at the top of her lungs. It didn't even occur to her that this should be Exeter's job, she just saw the problem and started dealing with it. Most of the surviving deck crew were so used to her orders by now that they couldn't help but obey.

"I want a bucket-chain up from the galley! You and you, get to it! Get those injured men out of the way, the sick-bay will fill up quickly so I want a CAREFULLY selected group of men taken down there, the rest will have to wait. You!"
She pointed at a fresh-faced recruit, face stained with dry blood.

"We need blankets. Come with me."

And with that she was off, marching as fast as her legs would carry her to the the sick bay.

The escape from the Pirate vessel had been short and brutal. Annis knew her combat, and she could tell long before it actually happened that the fight was going badly. She held out as long as was sensible before cutting her way back to the ship, choosing speed over accuracy or defence.
A couple of her men had made it back too, far less than she'd hoped but more than she'd expected by the time they were retreating. And of course, as soon as her boots had hit back home those damned grenades had landed.

"The ship is on fire. I need assistance NOW."
She hissed before Vasco even had the chance to get a word in. She stood in the entrance, glaring at him until he obeyed.

In all the chaos, she still hadn't noticed the huge gash on her shoulder.

-Isaac-

"Oi! Watch it!"
Isaac ignored the shout and continued barrelling down the corridor. Yes, crewmen were busy and he should watch his step. Yes, the ship was damaged and stress levels were high. And yes, panicking wasn't helping anybody.

But Sheska was injured.
He hadn't seen it for himself, but it's all anyone had been talking about. The captain hadn't even given the moving orders after the battle, so at best guess the injury was bad.

But he didn't know anything, and the thought of his best friend dying on the surgical table turned his stomach to ice.

He burst into the med-bay and took in the scene.

Samuel was leaning over Sheska, Beth stood nearby, worry written all over her face.
Sheska's arm was gone. Not damaged, not mangled, just plain gone.
"Oh hell." Isaac muttered.

Sheska was awake, he moved a little closer, looking at her.

"Fucking hell Sheska. I'm so sorry."

"Fucking hell Sheska. I'm so sorry."

"Don't be. It wasn't your fault." Jason couldn't help but wince a bit at Sheska's state. It wasn't the gore that put him off - years of industrial accidents had a way of hardening a man to sights of blood and missing limbs. No, it was her demeanor - no longer the confident taskmaster he had come to respect. In her place stood a broken and defeated woman. "However, all may not be lost. In fact, this might be the start of something very..." He paused, looking for the right word. "...interesting, to say the least. Sam, you have a minute? We have something to discuss."

Garrett ducked under cover as the pirates launched a barrage of grenades, which caused the deck of the Invincible to be set alight. Small fires peppered the area as the crew desperately scrambled about, either trying to escape the pirates, or to try and extinguish the flames. The Mermaid meanwhile could be sailing off into the distance, obviously proud of their minor victory despite losses. He could see that Adrianna lay at the bottom of the rigging, in a slightly crumpled heap, her eyes closed, and she herself not moving.

Carefully moving about to avoid catching fire, Garrett made his way over to examine her, to try and see if she was still alive.

'Don't you dare die on me now Adrianna.' He said quietly, his voice a mixture of anger, concern and desperation. From the looks of things, she appeared to be simply unconscious, and fortunately he could feel a pulse from her neck. Taking care not to cause any further injury, Garrett carefully picked the woman up, holding him gently in his arms.

'You know, if this was any other occasion, I'd find this to be either very romantic, or at least rather cute.' He said with a smile, the ensuing chaos masking his voice somewhat. Garrett then tried to carefully avoid the fires, as he made his way across the deck, and towards Adrianna's cabin. After moving past several crewmen who were busy tended to the fire, he was inside the cabin, and made for the couch that was along the wall.

Garrett carefully laid Adrianna on the couch, making sure to remove her coat, and to make sure she was comfortable, he laid it across her like a blanket. He then crouched beside her head, and whispered in her ear.

'Now, you stay here my love, get some rest, after what has happened here you need it. Don't worry, I'll be back soon.' He then kissed her on the forehead, a playful smile escaped his lips as he stood up, and he began to make his way to the door.

Samuel first took the bucket and dumped it out the window placing it back at Sheska's bedside. He then took a syringe of morphine and filled it to the proper amount, making sure to clean it of air bubbles before injecting her with it.

"That should help with any pain you are experiencing Sheska. Also don't try and tell me you didn't need it, I'm not so bad at my job as to believe that for a second. You also need to take it easy and rest." He then turned to the rest of them.

"As I said she needs to take it easy, if she shows more signs of stress I will not hesitate to kick you out. Especially with patients piling up." With that he took Jason aside, keeping an eye towards Sheska and the others who were under his care.

"I'm assuming you have some solution to the current state of her?" He asked Jason once they were off to the side.

"I'm assuming you have some solution to the current state of her?"

Jason reached into his satchel and produced the mechanical arm, presenting it to Sam. Its frame wasn't complete, so if you looked closely you could still see the parts interlocking together, a mesh of wires, gears, and various devices modern engineering had yet to properly name. "Aye. I originally tailored it to fit me - you'd be surprised how common maimings are amongst engineers - but with the right gear, I could easily retool it to fit Sheska."

He produced another tool, a modified voltometer, and pressed the contacts to one of the wires protruding out of the limb's end. The arm contracted in response, each finger moving individually as he powered different wires. "I've spent tons of time with anatomy books, honing the mechanics behind mimicking the range of motion of a natural arm. It took some trial and error, but I'm fairly certain that if you could find a way to interface this arm with the nerves she has left, she'd regain full range of motion."

He put the voltometer back in his satchel, handing the limb to Samuel. "Unfortunately, I don't have the equipment needed to do that onboard. We'll need to wait until we dock in Helium City before I can do anything else. In the meantime, though, feel free to look it over, and don't hesitate to ask me any questions about its functioning."

Samuel couldn't help but smile.

"It will take much time, study, and practice but I do remember one of my books talking about a way of attaching nerves to a mechanical apparatus. The writer had done some small scale testing but humanoid applications were still a theory. By the time you have your tools and made your modifications I should be ready to perform the surgery." He said as he took the arm carefully. He placed it on a nearby table in his cabin.

"Now if you will excuse me I'm going to tend to some other patients." He told Jason before walking to the bed next to Sheska's and began to bandage up the sailor there.

Samuel fixed Sheska up pretty fast. She woke up and puked, before pulling a blanket over her naked chest. Beth thought it was odd. The doctor was a man, but she had never had a problem being naked in front of a doctor herself. It was their job and most were professional about it. Those who weren't didn't usually last long. She was the only other person in the room. Oh.. Beth couldn't help that her face reddened.

"Sorry, Cap'n. Didn't kill nearly as many Imps as usual. That big Misbegotten sumbitch took me by surprise... I guess I'm not exactly fit to be First Mate now, eh?"

She wanted to tell her that the thought was nonsense. Beth had seen others crippled and still continue their jobs, with some difficulty, but there were prosthetics which could turn most people back to normal, sometimes even better.

"Not with that attitude." She said sharply. "The technology to fix you exists, but if you're going to be a whiny bitch from now on, there's no need to waste the time or money."

Motivate them to keep fighting another day, if they can't, it's time to replace them. She would be sad if she had to, but she strongly doubted it.

"How's the ship, the crew? How many did we lose, Beth?"

She didn't actually know herself. They had lost a lot of people, but she hadn't been told the extent of the damage yet.

"We're still working on assessing the damage and losses."

Isaac entered the room and declared that he was sorry. She wasn't sure why, like Jason said, it wasn't his fault.

"As I said she needs to take it easy, if she shows more signs of stress I will not hesitate to kick you out. Especially with patients piling up."

It was true that more people would show up, and this wasn't exactly the largest room. She had thought about knocking down a wall and using the next cabin as well. It should fit at least two or three beds. Maybe it was a bit too much of a makeshift sickbay. She could suggest it later, right now, there would be plenty of work for them all. They could fly the mermaid without a full crew, but it put a strain on everyone who had to work harder. Luckily it couldn't be that far to Helium City.

"Let's.. move her to my cabin. It's just down the hall and no one would dare enter without my permission. It will give you more room for other patients, doc."

-Sheska-

"Not with that attitude. The technology to fix you exists, but if you're going to be a whiny bitch from now on, there's no need to waste the time or money."

Sheska's eyes flared up with indignation, insult and just a hint of betrayal, but then they softened as she realized what Beth was getting at: She didn't have the time to whine, and frankly, it wasn't like her. Besides, both Sam and Beth were right, there was always the possibility of a prosthetic.

She nodded firmly. "You're right, Cap'n. I'll remember that.", she said quietly, before glancing over as Izzy came in, followed by Jason.

"Fucking hell Sheska. I'm so sorry.".

She shook her head and grimaced. "Not your fault, Izzy. You've nothing to be sorry about. And judging by what the Cap'n said, I've nothing to be sorry for either. Well, save the fact I didn't kill that Imp bastard when I had the chance, filthy swine. I won't make the same mistake again.", she said darkly, angry color flooding into her face as her eyes fired.

Oh, she would remember the man, and the Misbegotten that did this to her. And she would make them pay, dearly. An arm for an arm, for starters.

When Sam came over with a syringe, she shied away at first, then flinched as it pricked her. But immediately after, she felt relief start to wash over her. "Oh, thank god for you, Sam. I needed that, and feel free to give me more, because I'm in pain.", she told him, before her attitude made a one-eighty and she scoffed.

"I'll take things easy when I'm dead. We all have a job to do: Keep Cap'n Beth alive, and get her to where she's going. One arm or not, she ain't dying on my goddamn watch. So that means I can't be some invalid who is stuck in a bed.", she spat out, saying the word 'invalid' as if it were some particularly disgusting concept.

Then Beth spoke up again.

"Let's.. move her to my cabin. It's just down the hall and no one would dare enter without my permission. It will give you more room for other patients, doc."

Sheska's head suddenly turned to Beth, her eyes locked on the Captains, even as she felt a blush start to rise onto her cheeks. "Ah, your cabin, Cap'n?", she asked, trying to sound merely curious, even as flashes of a vivid, recurring dream ran through her head.

A dream of Beth, one that she often found confusing, a little embarrassing, and something that she swore wouldn't interfere with their relationship as First Mate and Captain. Particularly since they always felt so real.

"Sheska do not hesitate to ask if you need more painkillers. I tend to keep a large stock for these occasions. However you will rest or by god I will sedate you to the point you have no choice but to rest. You are not about to get yourself killed and ruin my hard work simply because you feel you have something to prove." He said without looking away from his work.

"Captain I have no issue with you taking her to your cabin if you so wish. I will need to check in periodically if only to swap bandages. Also no alcohol, last thing she needs is her getting an increased blood flow. Oh and if you have it make sure she gets something with sugar and some kind of meat, it should help her regain some of the blood she's lost, as well as water to stave off dehydration. Once you have moved her I'll be checking in around every thirty minutes due to the severity of her injuries." He said bluntly as he continued working.

-Exeter St John-

Upon boarding the Invincible again, Exeter had pushed aside the sailors who had helped him across. He was hurting, but the physical pain was nothing compared to the wounds received by his dignity. The rabid misbegotten whore! A surer footing on his part would have changed matters considerably. As it was, Exeter was resigned to the fact that, if not for Capricorn, he would most probably be dead.

As he watched Capricorn leap onto the deck, dropping the scum's arm into the oblivion below, Exeter seethed. He should have killed her. He shouldn't have given the bitch a chance. Capricorn skidded to a halt in front of the first mate and bowed it's head, offering hands to be shackled now that the fighting was apparently over. Exeter locked the chains in place and herded the misbegotten creature, slick with the blood of it's victims, down to the lower deck.

"You did well today, Capricorn." Exeter said idly, closing the door on the cage. He prodded experimentally at his shoulder, smiling wryly at the pain sent through his body. He watched the misbegotten for a while, eyes following it's ponderous meanderings around the cage. Aside from what Exeter had caused earlier, Capricorn seemed to have avoided injury. "I would be dead without you beast." Capricorn looked up dumbly, goat eyes empty but content.

"You don't understand my words," Exeter stated matter-of-factly. He knew damn well the beast couldn't understand. But he was wont to talk to Capricorn after battle. Especially after close calls such as that. Exeter found it easy to unload his problems to someone who didn't understand. It meant they didn't talk back. "It doesn't matter that you don't understand my words. But I'm sure you'll come to understand that we'll get that pirate dog. She'll not forget us in a hurry." Capricorn shuffled closer to it's master's voice. "And I'm sure she'll do everything in her power - in Beth's power - to ensure we get what's owed." He spat on the floor, a mixture of mucus and blood. It occurred to him that his wounds needed treating.

He would also need to see Lanester... get a report from her. More importantly, see how she would deal with what happened. It wasn't exactly the best result and Exeter was sure much of the blame could be attributed to Lanester's control of the situation. A failed assault wasn't treasonous but maybe it could point the way to something that was. Exeter sighed at the report he would have to get to the Lord Commander. Paperwork wasn't exactly his thing but no one else could do it...

From above, Exeter could suddenly hear muffled explosions and the clamouring of the crew. A farewell gift from the pirates, no doubt. Huffing tiredly, Exeter turned to leave, but as he did, his eyes passed across the crate of rotten vegetables. "I'll get you some better vittles." He called to Capricorn before heading back up the narrow stairway. The misbegotten deserved at least that much after it's performance today.

Having made his way back on deck, Exeter simply shook his head at the flames. Pirates always wanted the final hit, like it was an indicator that they'd won. He shrugged, leaning in a doorway. The Empire would catch up to them eventually. When they did, Exeter would be there to pry as many fingernails loose as he needed to satisfy his vengeance.

As he scanned the deck, Exeter could only find Annis, barking orders as usual and ensuring the fires were quickly contained and extinguished. He couldn't see Lanester. Or her tame pirate... Perhaps she was taken? Perhaps she had jumped ship, turned traitor already? Exeter's pulse quickened and he stalked over to Annis, his left shoulder throbbing.

"Is the Admiral safe?" His voice was strained, urgency raising the pitch slightly.

Garrett quietly left the room, making a mental note to return in a little while to check up on her. As he closed the door, he could see that Annis was busy at work ordering the crewmen around to contain and extinguish the fires; a few moments later, Exter soon appeared on deck, his pet Misbegotten Capricorn not that far behind as they headed down below deck to put Capricorn back in his cage. Seeing an opportunity to do some good for the crew, he helped out with extinguishing the fires; an act which brought a small amount of surprise from them, but they at least appreciated it.

After a while, Exeter appeared back on deck, heading straight towards Annis, no doubt wondering where Adrianna was.

"Is the Admiral safe?" He asked, his voice sounding strained due to the injuries sustained, but also a sense of urgency.

"You need not worry Mr. St. John,-" Garrett said as he turned to face the man, a slight bow came afterwards.

"-Admiral Lanestar is safe in her quarters. She took a rather unpleasant fall from the rigging after being shot by an Neobedouin Outrider, and was unconscious when I found her; luckily she had sustained minimal injuries. After making sure she was alive, I carried her back to her cabin where she is currently asleep.

Whilst I am not in the position, nor have the rank to act as an advisor to you, I would suggest that you wait till she is in a more suitable condition before asking her any questions. However, should you wish to submit a written report to her, I can make sure she receives it."

"You need not worry Mr. St. John,-" Exeter raised an eyebrow at the tame pirate's interruption. The bow afforded minimum respect but he decided to let it lie for now; everyone's patience would be wearing thin and tempers would likely be begining to fray after the shambolic assault. Exeter was too tired to start anything too heated.

"-Admiral Lanestar is safe in her quarters. She took a rather unpleasant fall from the rigging after being shot by an Neobedouin Outrider, and was unconscious when I found her; luckily she had sustained minimal injuries. After making sure she was alive, I carried her back to her cabin where she is currently asleep." If Lanester was unconscious, why hadn't anyone come for Exeter or Annis sooner? The First Mate pondered the implications: the tame pirate perhaps wanted time alone with her? Of course, he was her bodyguard so maybe he had only just seen to her safety. Exeter blinked wearily and filed the thought in his mind for another time, a time when he could think a little straighter.

Garrett continued: "Whilst I am not in the position, nor have the rank to act as an advisor to you, I would suggest that you wait till she is in a more suitable condition before asking her any questions. However, should you wish to submit a written report to her, I can make sure she receives it." Again, Exeter raised his eyebrow. The man was advising him? At least he had admitted that he's not in a position to advise.

"A written report?" Exeter's voice was dead-pan. "A written report for a farce in which I have no idea what occurred?" He sweeped his hands across the chaotic scenes of the crew fighting the fires. He allowed a smile to creep onto his lips. "A fine joke Mister Corvus." The smile slipped away. "I will not be writing any reports..." Not for Lanester, anyway.

"You say the Admiral is safe but in no condition to receive me?" Exeter frowned at Garrett, and his voice became sweet and nonplussed. "I assume then that you were just on your way to find the good Doctor Roque?" Quickly, Exeter's voice went low, an edge of threat to his tone. "You are not a physician, Mister Corvus, so I suggest you find someone who is and get them to see to the Admiral. Immediately."

"I'll keep that in mind, don't worry. You're free to come whenever, but I think it's better if everyone else stays out of my cabin. I'm sure you all have work to do, and if you don't you can go help wherever it's needed."

There would be plenty to do, there always was after a battle. She stepped over to the bed, careful not to to step on anyone or anything. The wounded had started to arrive.

"Aye, my cabin." She bent down and put her arms under Sheska's body, before lifting her again. "You'll rest easier there than here."

Beth left the room and carried her first mate down the hall, while a few more wounded were carried to the doctor's cabin. She pushed her own door open, which wasn't the easiest with Sheska in her arms, then she laid the woman down on her bed and sat down in her own chair.

I need a drink.

Closing the door and opening the safe, she took out her rum and drank. There was a lot she felt like telling Sheska.

"Do you know how tiresome it is to hear you say that your job is to keep me alive? Like I can't protect myself, like your life wasn't worth anything without me." She paused to drink. "No, your job is to act as first mate and take over after me, if I were to die in some freak accident or battle." Another sip. "When I was first mate, I didn't worry half as much about keeping Roberts alive as you worry about me. Fuck, sometimes I wished he'd just die." She sighed and drank again, not bothering to offer Sheska any since Samuel had said she shouldn't drink anything else than water. "I remember seeing that glorious bastard take a couple of bullets to his torso. I didn't think to protect him or avenge him, as he was too far away for me to get to in a battle. I thought "this is it, this is my chance." then he went on to kill both of those who had shot him and continue fighting until he passed out."

She laughed and drank. What a battle that had been.

"What if I end up in a situation where I decide to... Well, sacrifice myself.. A last stand, for all the things that I stood by before."

Beth would do it, it was the way she'd chose to die, if she ever got the choice. Seems like her future self might have acted with it in mind. She didn't think that she would ever fight the empire again for anyone else than herself. Killing imperials as a pirate wasn't neccessary, several people in her crew had died because of her hatred. They could have avoided the battle.

"I don't want you to throw your life..." She put the bottle on the desk and sat down on the bedside. "I'd hate to... Ugh, I'm not good at this.."

Beth moved her face close to Sheska's and looked her in the eyes, for what felt much longer than the seconds it were. Then she closed her eyes and kissed her. At least she could blame it on the rum, even if alcohol never had made her do anything she didn't want to.

"A written report?" Exeter asked rhetorically, his voice giving off a definite deadpan tone. "A written report for a farce in which I have no idea what occurred?" His hands then made sweeping gestures across the chaotic scene that went on around them. There was a smile that wormed its way onto his lips. "A fine joke Mister Corvus." The smile soon slithered off. "I will not be writing any reports..." Exeter then remarked, his words and tone of voice suggesting a slightly darker and foreboding intention.

"Well, at least I actually managed to make you smile at least, thats the one thing I haven't seen you do a lot of,..." Garrett casually remarked in public, although in his head he had come up with an insult.

'...you straight faced git.'

"You say the Admiral is safe but in no condition to receive me?" Exeter then frowned at Garrett, looking a little confused, yet also a hint of surprise at the comment. "I assume then that you were just on your way to find the good Doctor Roque?" His tone soon changed, becoming low and on the precipice of a threat. "You are not a physician, Mister Corvus, so I suggest you find someone who is and get them to see to the Admiral. Immediately."

"I was on my way to see the Doctor Roque after I had helped out on deck anyway." Garrett remarked, slightly annoyed on the inside, but remained calm on the out. He began walking his way towards the stairs for below deck, stopping to the side of Exeter, and spoke quietly into his ear.

"Although, if I were you, I'd go see the Doctor for a checkup as well, your not looking all that fresh yourself. Whilst I expect you're up to something, it is partially my duty as her bodyguard, to see that Admiral Lanestar is medically safe." Garrett then thew Exeter a stern look, but then switched to a more relaxed one as he made his way below deck, whistling as he went.

He navigated the corridors of the Invincible, sidestepping crewmen who were coming to and throw so they could perform their various duties, until he arrived at the Infirmary, where there was a small group of people waiting for injuries, and those just leaving. Garrett made a brief cough to mark his arrival to Vasco.

"Apologies for interrupting your 'work' Doctor Roque,..." He said, looking around at the patients.

"...but whenever you have a free moment, and not tending to any patients, could you come with me to Admiral Lanestar's cabin? You see during the battle, she suffered a rather unpleasant fall, and I figured it would be a good idea to have a medical professional check up on her to see if she has sustained any further injuries besides possibly a few minor ones. I'm just concerned for her safety is all."

"I'd be careful though, for she is currently sleeping; but you'd probably want her awake for any examinations." Garrett remarked, scratching the back of his head.

-Sheska-

Sheska stared at Samuel as he gave his orders and recommendations as a doctor, her heart sinking quickly. She was about to open her mouth and retort, when Captain Beth walked over and promptly picked her up.

"Aye, my cabin. You'll rest easier there than here."

Her slight blush darkened, and she looked away with embarrassment. "You know I've lost an arm, not a leg. I can still walk.", she murmured, though the complaint was token.

Really, she didn't mind Beth carrying her, since it was rather touching, even if it made her feel vulnerable. With a little difficulty, Beth opened the door to her cabin, then strode in and laid Sheska on her bed, which only flustered and embarrassed her more. God, am I sure I'm awake? Because despite the circumstances, this is starting to turn into my damn dream, and I don't know if I should be afraid or excited, she thought to herself.

When the Captain walked over to her safe, Sheska deliberately looked away so as not to see the combination to it, but when she glanced back, she saw that Beth had a bottle of booze for herself. She frowned a little, but kept silent as she sat up in the bed, watching her Captain take a drink and start to talk.

"Do you know how tiresome it is to hear you say that your job is to keep me alive? Like I can't protect myself, like your life wasn't worth anything without me. No, your job is to act as first mate and take over after me, if I were to die in some freak accident or battle. When I was first mate, I didn't worry half as much about keeping Roberts alive as you worry about me. Fuck, sometimes I wished he'd just die. I remember seeing that glorious bastard take a couple of bullets to his torso. I didn't think to protect him or avenge him, as he was too far away for me to get to in a battle. I thought 'this is it, this is my chance.' then he went on to kill both of those who had shot him and continue fighting until he passed out.".

Sheska sat and listened as Beth spoke, but when she stopped, the First Mate sighed. "I never got a chance to know him, since I joined up after you took his place, but he sounds like a fine Captain. But, I follow you. It's you I care about, and after seeing your... Future self, I guess, die in front of us, I know I wouldn't be able to stand seeing that again.", she said, before Beth continued.

"What if I end up in a situation where I decide to... Well, sacrifice myself.. A last stand, for all the things that I stood by before.".

"I don't know. But, I can't exactly think of a better way to go myself. Just count on me slaughtering the bastards still responsible if you're still alive.", Sheska told her.

But, it was what Beth did next that really baffled her. She started to speak, then set the bottle down and sat next to her, staring her in the eye for what felt like a good minute. Then she kissed her, just as the First Mate started to open her mouth to talk.

Sheska's eyes widened in shock, but after a split second, both instinct and her subconscious took over: She closed her eyes as well, reached up and grabbed Beth's hair with her one good hand, and returned the kiss fiercely.

It felt like it lasted longer than it should have, but when she pulled away, it was with obvious reluctance. Panting softly, she looked at Beth with a mixture of pleasure and confusion. "What brought that on, Beth? You aren't taking pity on me because I'm hurt, are you? Or, do you really feel...", she started to ask, her tone hopeful.

Busy, busy, busy; that was the sick bay in a nutshell. Vasco wasn't even aware the battle had ended and was still in a frenzy of stitching and bandaging. However, when the burnt men started streaming through, his eyes narrowed. No wonder the pirates had resorted to trickery and underhand tactics. Then he went on to with treating the burns as the priority, cutting open the uniforms and cleaning them and dressing them. Some would have scars for life, some got away scott free, others had minor burns - no doubt from panic as fire engulfed the Invincible. He turned his anger into gusto and set about his work - or rather, his duty, totally oblivious to the outside world. Only the cramped little infirmary existed, all that mattered was the patients, enough had died this day. But still, this was a delicate balance between speed and solid surgery. One slip and that could mean death for the patient, especially in Annis' case. Vasco paused for a second, why did his thoughts always turn to her?

He jumped out of the super-focused state when he heard that ever familiar hiss of Annis's."The ship is on fire. I need assistance NOW."

Vasco was in the middle of cutting off a private's uniform where his arm had been singed, but with the quick realisation of what to do, he resumed with treating the patient, not even facing the glaring woman, "...Blankets - wooden cupboard upper right shelf..." With another flash of an idea he quickly added, "...Pitch-based explosive: water won't work...Come here for check-up afterwards..." He had the old bombardier to thank for that, even if the moustached sod wouldn't shut up about his wounds and let Vasco focus.

The wrinkled prune was now sleeping with the help of a little dose of morphine. With Annis dealt with he could continue on to treat the rest of the wounded. He somehow had the feeling that he would be a popular man tonight, no doubt the rest of the officers would want to have some medical attention as well. So he focused as much energy making sure that he could finish up with the lower ranks while trying not to think about the many amendments that the medical report needed. Vasco moved to washing the bloody scalpel when, just as expected, one of the officers, well technically a bodyguard of an officer but Vasco regarded him as one all the same, gave a sight cough and when on to say.

"Apologies for interrupting your 'work' Doctor Roque,..." He said, looking around at the patients.

"...but whenever you have a free moment, and not tending to any patients, could you come with me to Admiral Lanestar's cabin? You see during the battle, she suffered a rather unpleasant fall, and I figured it would be a good idea to have a medical professional check up on her to see if she has sustained any further injuries besides possibly a few minor ones. I'm just concerned for her safety is all."

"I'd be careful though, for she is currently sleeping; but you'd probably want her awake for any examinations." Garrett remarked, scratching the back of his head.

"You are right in coming here." Vasco replied, nodding, "...I'll come when I'm finished with this lot."

A simple wave of the hand dismissed Garrett away. It would be a busy night, indeed.

"Although, if I were you, I'd go see the Doctor for a checkup as well, your not looking all that fresh yourself. Whilst I expect you're up to something, it is partially my duty as her bodyguard, to see that Admiral Lanestar is medically safe."

Exeter watched impassively as Garrett disappeared through the door. The man was right, Exeter needed to get his wounds seen to. A bullet wound and - he suspected - a broken nose weren't big issues but it was better to let Vasco check and dress them properly to avoid infection. Annis was still seeing to the crew's attempts to stop the fires. Her attentions elsewhere, Exeter glanced sideways in the direction of Lanester's cabin. Perhaps this would be a great opportunity to find something against her?

With as much casualness as possible, Exeter meandered past the working crew, mumbling vagueries and nodded apporovingly. When he turned the corner towards the Amdiral's cabin door, he rushed over and gripped the handle firmly, taking a deep breath before slowly opening it.

Exeter popped his head into the room and looked around. The room was dark but he could see Lanester lying on the sofa, coat acting as a blanket. A table took up one corner of the room and it was strewn with papers, probably navigational charts, inventories and maps. Exeter opened the door just enough to squeeze himself in and closed it with a muffled click.

He scuttled as silently as possible to the table and investigated the papers. They were as he suspected; maps, reports and inventories. A few battle plans scribbled in a tidy hand. Useless at this point in time. He checked the drawers and found more official documents, none of them remotely interesting. Except for one. It was their orders for this mission but had been torn to remove part of the document. Perhaps there was something the good admiral wasn't telling her crew, but what? Unknown dangers? Extra orders regarding the artifact? If Exeter could find the torn piece, he would know. This was something that he severely desired.

For a while, Exeter stood thinking in the dark, rubbing his injured shoulder with his right hand. Lanester was an efficient woman, she wouldn't leave anything just lying around. He tried not think about the piece not being in the cabin. He cursed at the idea of Lanester having just thrown it away. Allowing his eyes wander the room, Exeter finally dropped his gaze to the sleeping Admiral.

He took a few slow steps towards her, heart pounding in his ears. If she were to wake up now, questions would definitely be asked. Questions that Exeter would probably be able to bluff his way out of. Probably. Still, he didn't want that, he needed her to trust him. Finding her First Mate standing in her cabin, in the dark, while she had been sleeping would not build up her trust. Exeter knew he had little time left for this moment.

Thinking quickly, he crouched next to the couch, and carefully slipped his hand into a pocket of her coat. Risky business this, but it was the only place Exeter could think that Lanester might keep something that could damage her reputation. He found nothing in the first pocket and cursed silently. At the second pocket however, he snatched out a crumpled and torn piece of paper.

A smile snapped onto Exeter's face and his eyes glittered brightly. Not wanting to risk any more time in the room, the First Mate folded the paper neatly and placed it inside his coat; he'd need to examine it as soon as possible. With one last look to the prone admiral, he blew her a kiss, bowed low and mouthed a sardonic 'thank you, Admiral' and left the cabin.

Despite still needing to see Vasco for treatment, Exeter rushed straight for his own quarters. The document needed to be examined.

"You are right in coming here." Vasco replied, nodding, "...I'll come when I'm finished with this lot." He then gave Garrett a simple wave of the hand, telling him to leave. In response, gave a courteous nod,

"Thank you Doctor, I'm sure Admiral Lanestar will appreciate it." Garrett then left the Infirmary and made his way back to Adrianna's cabin. Enroute, he saw Exeter walking past, heading towards his own cabin, or possibly to Vasco, he wasn't quite sure given the circumstances, but something felt different about the man.

After a while, Garrett arrived back at the cabin. He entered the room, and was relieved to see that Adrianna was still where he left her. Looking across the room, he saw that the table that which would usually have maps and various other important documents lying across it, some of them had been moved. This called for a closer examination.

"Strange, who in all the skies would be nosing around these then? Surely they knew that the Admiral was sleeping, and not to be disturbed. Still, something doesn't feel quite right about this." Garrett said under his breath, safe in the knowledge that Adrianna wouldn't hear him. It was then he saw that several draws had been opened, their contents left untouched save one, the documents that held the orders for the Invincible's current mission. He even remembered that Adrianna had torn the bottom piece out, for it was important if memory served. After making sure everything was neat and tidy, Garrett pulled up a chair next to the sleeping admiral, and waited, holding her hand in the process.

Beth hadn't been expecting to get the she reaction she did. Sheska pulled at her hair and kissed her back, quite fiercely too. She wasn't sure what to think, if this was her reaction, then it had probably been the right decision.

...to end up walking alone.

That may have been true, but he had made both the decisions, or he wouldn't have known. Beth hadn't, she had listened to the advice of a man, which she had thought of as an older brother, but just because he had lost someone he cared about didn't mean everyone would.

"What brought that on, Beth? You aren't taking pity on me because I'm hurt, are you? Or, do you really feel..."

Defiance? To Roberts. Curiosity? For me. Affection? For you.

Beth opened her eyes and wanted to give her an answer, but she could only think of Sheska's own words. Every time she had said that she'd rather die herself than watch her die the last days. Before she actually had died in front of them all, that could have been explained away as asskissing. It had made her think in different ways. That, and months of crushing loneliness. Hell, she couldn't remember the last time she had shown a romantic interest in someone else. There had been the wild days with the neobeduin tribes, but she had been younger and with little experience of life outside Everglade.

"A kiss doesn't need to be more than just a kiss." She tried to excuse herself, but it felt cowardly on second thought. "Well, not that it couldn't.. Y'know, eventually.. turn into more."

It sounded dumb in her own head. She could have chosen anyone else and it would have made it easier, but Sheska would and had been there for her when she needed it. It was hard to imagine that anyone else would be willing to do as much for her. For someone who had taken the initiative she certainly backed off fast. Sheska's response still felt stronger though.

-Sheska-

She waited impatiently for an answer, sitting on the bed next to Beth, staring at her expectantly. But the answer she got was a little disappointing, causing her expression to go bland.

"A kiss doesn't need to be more than just a kiss. Well, not that it couldn't.. Y'know, eventually.. turn into more.".

"Well, maybe it wasn't just a kiss to me, what do you think about that? Maybe I'm not going to back down, and say 'Fuck yes, I'd like it to be more'. Backing off like this isn't like you, Beth. That tells me you either didn't mean to do that, or you're nervous.", she said, just before frowning a little.

"The first, I honestly don't buy for a moment. The second... Is rather cute. So we can see how this goes.", she said, a small smile spreading on her lips, laying back and stretching a little.

"If this does turn into 'something more' though, what should we tell the crew? Should we tell them anything? Because I can guarantee you, Izzy will find out. He can be pretty damn perceptive, unless it comes to Jess.", she added with a snort.

She was right. Beth wasn't the kind of person to back down, nor was it common for her to get nervous and act like a shy girl. Sheska's word was comforting to hear, because it did mean she wanted her. Well, if she was to act like she had meant it, then she knew what to do.

Sheska laid down on the bed and continued talking.

"If this does turn into 'something more' though, what should we tell the crew? Should we tell them anything? Because I can guarantee you, Izzy will find out. He can be pretty damn perceptive, unless it comes to Jess."

Beth put her hand around Sheska's neck, kissed her again, but passionately this time and bit on her lower lip, before pulling away. She kept the hand in a grip around her neck.

"You don't tell anyone. I promise you that you would regret it."

She couldn't let the crew know about it and she certainly didn't want rumors of this kind to spread among pirates in general. Not that she knew exactly how they would react, but so far both her and Roberts had kept their private matters to themselves. They were pirates, thieves and scallywags. They couldn't be trusted and some would likely try to use it against her.

Beth removed her hand from Sheska's throat, stood up and took the bottle with her as she left the cabin.

"You'll rest now. I need to check on the crew and the ship."

The door closed behind her, leaving Sheska alone in the captain's cabin.

Samuel kept working but found his thoughts drifting back to Sheska and Beth, it was rather odd that the captain and first mate would be sharing a room and more likely than not a bed as well. It had never happened on the imperial ship he had served on nor in the months he had served on the mermaid so far. Besides it was just plain odd for a captain to dote so heavily on their first mate in his opinion. He wrote it off but still some part found it odd the captain would give up her own room and bed when Sheska had her own bed surely. In any case though it wasn't his place to question it, it cleared up a bed for him and made sure at least one heavily injured crew member had someone to look over them.

As he mulled it over he was still healing the members of the crew coming in. Various injuries ranging from minor cuts to men who would die no matter what he did. He separated out those who would die from those he could actually save and worked on the ones who could actually benefit from his care. The current man needed a bullet removed from his arm and he set about stemming the blood flow before digging the bullet out, sewing him up, and setting the broken bone in the man's arm. His next patient would require some more delicate surgery so he spread some of the sand he kept for these occasions on the floor to make sure the blood didn't start making his job harder.

'As much as I feel for those injured in battle, it is good to be able to keep so up to date on my skills.' Samuel thought with a smile as he continued work.

Jason watched as Beth carted Sheska off to her cabin, an eyebrow cocked. 'Really? You could at least try at some subtlety, Beth.' He then had a flash of realization - the betting pool! 'Son of a bitch! Fry's gonna have a field day with this one. Well, no proof... yet. May as well keep my mouth shut and hope they do the same... at least until next week.'

Back to business. Looking around the makeshift infirmary, he couldn't help but think this could have been avoided if they'd been better prepared. They cast off from High Tortuga in an awful hurry, and if his hunch was right, this was about to get worse. Much, much worse. The Mermaid and her crew can't afford to be caught like this again - Sheska can only lose so many arms, after all. 'Luckily for us, I'm something of an expert when it comes to preparedness. Now, what would this ship need we don't already have?'

Ed could probably do with some new cannons and ammunition. With the proper supplies, they might be ready to fight a heavily armored enemy. 'I'll have to have a chat with him about that. I might know how to build a cannon, but nobody can use one quite like Ed...'

Then there was the matter of the ship itself. The Mermaid's armor was thick, but today's battle demonstrated how little that meant if the rotors where disabled. 'Redundancy measures in that manner... won't be easy. Emergency steam pressure vents, perhaps? Hmm, this requires further investigation.' He mentally filed the problem away.

'I should talk to Beth about this. I can't do much of anything without funding.' With that, he left the infirmary, heading to the Captain's cabin.

Lanester hit the deck with a resounding thud that would have been obvious were it not for the chaos of the battle. She landed on the deck on her metallic arm. Even before she hit the deck, she knew it was anything but a good for the piece of equipment. These thoughts however proceeded no further as the re of her body caught up, and her side impacted with the aforementioned metal arm. She heard and felt the familiar sensations of at least one rib cracking. Then her head slammed into the deck and the pain was gone.

The next moment, she jerked forward, up toward a seating position with a gasp; now on what appeared to be the couch in her quarters. The result was a sharp pain in her side and a moan of pain. She quickly fell back onto her back, trying to escape the pain. She tried to pull her hand to her side, to ease the pain more, but instead found resistance. Glancing up, she saw Garrett sitting next to her in one of the abundant chairs in the office, his hand holding hers. She couldn't help but smile; he had probably spent the entire time she was unconscious next to her.

Checking that they were alone, she spoke up, her voice cracking slightly from the pain. "Good morning love; what have I missed?"

-Sheska-

The Skulk-Hound glanced over as Beth leaned towards her, blinking as one of the Captains hands wrapped around her neck. Then she instantly relaxed as they kissed again, more passionately this time. When Beth pulled away with a little nip to her lower lip, Sheska smiled widely and opened her eyes. "Now that's more like it, Cap'n.", she purred.

"You don't tell anyone. I promise you that you would regret it.".

"Right, Beth. Just remember, even if I keep it from the crew, some are bound to find out. None of them are stupid, 'specially not Farthing and Izzy.", she pointed out, but her tone was easy, and there was still a rather smug smile on her face.

"But, I won't tell. I'd rather keep you all to myself, anyway.", she added casually, though there was a glint in her eye as she looked at Beth.

When her hand moved from Sheska's throat, she couldn't help but reach up and rub where it was, and feel a little disappointed at its absence.

"You'll rest now. I need to check on the crew and the ship.".

"Alright, Beth, I'll stay here. Just, be careful, alright? And tell the crew I ain't dead yet, so they'd better not slack off unless they're wounded.", she pointed out, holding up her hand in a vague wave as the Captain left.

Then she sighed as she longed for the rum that Beth had taken with her. "Goddamn Sam, saying I can't have booze...", she muttered before laying back in bed and closing her eyes.

It was after a while that Adrianna rose forth from slumber with a sudden gasp and a moan of pain. She tried to pull away, but was met with resistance from Garrett, who had stayed with her the entire time, which resulted in a smile from her. "Good morning love; what have I missed?"

"A fair amount Adrianna, after you had fell from the rigging, crewmen from the Mermaid launched a grenade attack using some form of incendiary, setting fire to the deck of the Invincible. But don't you worry my love, Annis has been ordering the crew to contain and extinguish them, I myself even helped out with a few.

Vasco has been busy at work treating the crew's injuries, which reminds me, he'll be visiting later to check up on you, see what injuries you might of sustained due to the fall. Exeter is being Exeter, although his pet Capricorn actually managed to maim one of the higher ranking pirates, tore her arm off with some effort, though sadly it wasn't the Captain, Winged Beth. After their grenade attack, the Mermaid soon sailed off, though by my reckoning, they'll be heading towards Helium City like we are...

And well, if you want to know who carried you here, that would be me." Garrett said, his cheeks blushing a little by the end. Throughout all this, he still hadn't let go of Adrianna's hand, he was rather enjoying this moment, for a small part of him wanted it to not end.

Adrianna listened closely to the report out of a combined desire to focus on something other then the pain in her side, get her bearings regarding the state of the ship, and, in no small part, hear the comforting sound of her loves voice.

Of course, at the mention of "fire", she almost jumped off the couch; it was her job to ensure the safety of the ship; her injuries not withstanding. This resulted in another bolt of pain up her side, another fall back onto the couch, and another pain-induced moan. She hardly noticed the next few reports - she wasn't surprised by Exeter and Capricorn's actions, Dr. Roque's impending visit, or the ships heading - all had been expected in one form or another - so they meant little to her at the moment.

When the last report came, Adrianna's pain had finally dissipated; allowing her to enjoy the sight of Garrett's reddening cheeks and the feel of his hand griping hers. She wanted to comment on how adorable the act was, but her pride prevented her from such an open display of femininity. Instead, she squeezed his hand and smiled back at him. "Thank you love; it appears I owe you my life once more. One of these days I'm going to start repaying those debts. Until then; consider this-" she said. She sat up slowly, so as not to aggravate her side, until she was in a sitting position, then carefully leaned forward and kissed him. She held the kiss longer then most in the past, but eventually broke it, sat back and said "-the first of many payments."

Though she tried to keep a straight face as she said it, she had a better chance of hiding the Invincible in clear skies then hiding the blush that now graced her face. In an effort to relieve the feeling of embarrassment, she coughed and changed the subject. "I...need to check with Annis regarding the condition of the ship; would you be so kind as to help me up?" she said, as she tried to push herself up with her damaged mechanical arm; failing at the task and sending another painful sensation up her spine.

Garrett watched the expressions that Adrianna showed as he gave the report, most likely a desire to bite back the pain in her side. As expected, when the subject of fire had cropped up, it almost looked like she was about to spring forth from the couch; but her injuries prevented her from doing so. He tried to stop her from falling back, but the couch cushioned her fall.

After awhile the pain had subsided, and it almost looked like Adrianna was about to smile at the sight of Garrett's reddening cheeks, or perhaps even comment on how possibly cute it may have looked; but alas, her pride wouldn't allow it. Instead however, she squeezed his hand and smiled back at him, this caused him to smile back.

"Thank you love; it appears I owe you my life once more. One of these days I'm going to start repaying those debts. Until then; consider this-" she said. Adrianna then began to sit up slowly, trying not to aggravate her injuries towards her side, until she was in a comfortable enough sitting position. She then leaned forward and kissed Garrett, holding it for longer than they had in the past, until she eventually retreated, sitting back and said. "-the first of many payments." This caused Garrett to smile, and even chuckle.

"Well, if that was the first, I can't wait to see what is to come."

Try as she might though, Adrianna couldn't hide the blush that now graced her face. In an effort to relieve the embarrassment, she coughed, changing the subject.

"I...need to check with Annis regarding the condition of the ship; would you be so kind as to help me up?" Adrianna asked as she tried to push herself up with her damaged mechanical arm; though it looked as if it sent another painful sensation. Garrett gave a look of concern towards his beloved.

"You sure about that? I don't mean to subvert your authority or go against your orders as I say this Adrianna, but you just survived a rather high fall, no doubt suffering injuries to your ribs and possibly even your spine. Now is not the time for you to be trying to get up and do work,-" Garrett sighed as he took a breather, trying to calm down.

"-what you need to do is rest, and to get better. I can go see Annis and get the report from her in your stead, after all, I can act as more than just your bodyguard. Sorry if it sounds like I am being harsh on you Adrianna,-" Garrett then lowered his head, almost as if he was about to shed a tear, but he didn't.

"I... I jus... I just don't want to see you suffering is all okay. Please let me do this for you." He finished on, before wrapping his arms gently around Adrianna, in a manner that would be described as a hug.

She had been taken by surprise and now she was wondering, if Sheska had been having feelings for her that she hid for a long time. It could have been because she wanted to maintain a professional relationship, that wouldn't interfere with their work. Perhaps that would have been better than what she had just set in motion.

Beth didn't get far, as she saw Jason heading for her cabin. Passing him by on her way back up on deck.

"Did you want something, Jason?" She asked and continued walking.

"Did you want something, Jason?"

"Yes. Beth, you violated causality to warn us about something the Empire wants. Now, it doesn't take a mathematician to put two and two together and see that this is going to get worse. Much, much worse." They emerged onto the deck, and he gestured about, emphasizing the large holes littered about.

"If this battle should teach us anything, it's that we're not properly prepared to resist the Empire - not by a longshot. If that battle had dragged on, we'd all be dead. Now, we got lucky this time - their cannons only jammed our rotors. But if that shot had landed four feet off, it would have blown the propellers clean off their axles - and we wouldn't be having this conversation." He produced a small piece of paper from his labcoat pocket and gestured for Beth to take it.

"This is an itinerary of supplies and equipment we'll need to repair the ship. But simply getting the Mermaid back up to speed won't be enough anymore. Luckily for you, I happen to be somewhat of an expert when it comes to building bigger, badder ships." He stopped and turned to her with a confident smile. "And that's not the only thing I can do. I'll be canvassing the crew, asking them what they think they'd need to win an engagement with some Imp swine. You will rustle me up a budget. Then I'll compare the two and see what I can do."

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