Aether Shanties RP (PM if interested/Started)

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She listened to Jason, and while he made several valid points, they didn't have the largest budget. Sure, they had gold from their latest raid and could get more, if they boarded and stole equipment from other ships. It might even be a good idea to hijack another ship and sell it, if they could do that without damaging one too much.

Beth looked at the piece of paper he handed her. It didn't seem like anything they hadn't bought before. It was things she kind of expected to need after a bad battle, though this one could be said to have ended to their advantage. They were still alive.

"Alright Jason, this list isn't out of the ordinary and I can get these things without much problem when we get to Helium City. I don't know about the other improvements. Roberts always relied on discretion and speed to avoid the empire. I'm not him, but it might be better if we try to avoid the empire entirely."

That may not even be a possibility. They could indeed be heading towards a future where fighting the empire was part of their weekly chores.

"We may need to capture and sell a ship, if we want to increase our budget to get gold to buy upgrades. Go ask the others though. I'd start with Eddie."

It had gotten dark outside by now, a starry sky above them. She took a deep breath, the night air was refreshing.

...Please let me do this for you." Garrett plead, before wrapping his arms around her into a large, gentle hug. "That's not fair; how am I supposed to argue with that?" she thought to herself as she returned the hug as best she could with only one good arm. She buried her head in his shoulder, unwilling to let the hug end. Eventually, it did end - as all good things must - and, with a sigh, she relented. "For you"

With that she leaned back onto the couch, careful to avoid hurting herself further. It bothered her that she wasn't out their ensuring the safety of the crew and ship, if only to keep up crew morale, but she knew Garrett was right. "and thank you-" she said, her words strained, not from the injury so much as the thoughts she was trying to express. "-for everything. I doubt I would have lived half as long as I have without you, and it wouldn't have been a fraction as meaningful." she continued, still trying to express herself. "I don't want to see you suffer either...anymore; every day I want to boot Mr. St. John off my ship for the way he glares at you. You're always doing so much for me; and I can never return it for fear of what would happen if we were discovered..." she said, trying to keep her composure as her still-good hand wrapped into a fist. She let the statement sit for several minutes, trying to find the words she desperately needed.

"When this mission is over... let's just leave. You said we could go on adventure; that you wanted to do whatever I wanted together. But; the thing is, YOU'RE the greatest adventure I know of. More then anything, I want YOU to be happy. I want to finally be able to scream how I feel about you at the top of my lungs, and not need to think of the consequences and the Imperial political games and maneuvers. I want to spend every second of every day with you, with no one to get in our way." she said, having found at least some of the words she wanted.

She considered adding a 'and screw the empire' at the end, but felt it unneeded. For, through it all, she still believed that the Empire was better then the alternative, were it not for the horrible costs. She wondered if the Empire understood how much it cost them to distance the rest of the world. The idealist in her saw how if the empire would only... change... accept the diversity of their world, it would never have another enemy, and each would be a thousand times greater then either the empire or the sky-cities had ever imagined. She wondered if this was what drove so many to piracy; the feeling of disappointment at what "could" and "should" have been. She stopped the line of thought before it extended; for she still believed change would win out in time. Instead, she made another comment.

"I love you Garrett Corvus and will until the world crumbles. If there's an afterlife, I will love you into eternity. If we're reincarnated, I'll search the world to find and love you again, and if there's nothing after death; no afterlife or second life is worth anything without you anyway."

She squeezed his hand once more, happy for his presence.

-Sheska-

After about ten minutes of trying to sleep, Sheska merely opened her eyes in irritation. She couldn't even get close to being drowsy, even with the painkiller easing the agony that came from the tattered remains of her arm. Sitting up, she rubbed her face with her remaining hand, then slipped out of the bed and reached up, pulling the tie that held her dreadlocks back off entirely so that they hung loose from her head.

Her mind was racing, which was the main reason why she couldn't sleep: Too much had happened, and she needed time to think, but not in there. Not in the small but cozy Captains cabin. Even if she was told to rest, she needed to move somewhat, and even if it meant that the crew would be staring at where her left arm used to be.

Striding to the door, she opened it quietly, then closed it just so behind her. Striding to her little corner of the ship, she reached behind her accordion--Another thing she couldn't do again until her arm was replaced somehow--and grabbed her second stashed bottle of rum. She was about to pull the cork out with her teeth when she remembered Sam's words, and with a disgusted snarl she shoved it back where she stashed it.

Then she made her way to the top deck, ignoring the crewmen she passed as she went up the steps, then made her way to the nearest railing. It was quiet out, and had gotten dark. Leaning against the railing, using her arm as support, she stared out into the scenery they passed. She could barely spot a Neobeduin tribe, looking like it was on the move from one campsite to another.

As she watched them, she let herself think: A lot happened in the last two days. I saw Beth die. God knows I never want to see that again. Felt like I didn't have a purpose anymore for a moment there. My feelings notwithstanding, she's a good woman, and a great leader. It's an honor to know her.

Found out Izzy feels something for Jess, and good luck to em. Izzy especially will need it.

Got boarded by Imps, and I lost my arm in the process. Damn that son of a whore. Just had to remind me of Lieutenant Garrison and make me drop my guard enough for that Misbegotten bastard to tear off my arm. Fucking brute. If I ever see those two again, I'll kill them slowly. Capricorn... That was the goat-minded one's name. Need to remember that. Not like I'll forget it anytime soon as it is.

And Beth and I may be in a relationship now. A romantic one. God, that's actually kind of scary. I can't help but wonder what she sees in me now. A killer? That's what I am after all. A lover? I don't think anyone has ever seen me like that. A dog? Hell, I'm that too, but I'm so goddamned tired of being seen like that. It feels degrading to be seen like that, but when she looks at me, I don't feel that.

God knows I'm not pretty. And I'm sure as shit not polite or well-mannered. I'm a hard drinking, bloodthirsty, greedy pirate. And now, for possibly the first time, I'm worried about my looks, because I want to look good to her. Jesus Christ, what's wrong with me? But I want it to work between us.

Overall though...

"I'm pissed. And hurting. And I want to make someone pay.", she murmured aloud, her eyes narrowing as she glared at the horizon.

Eddie was down in the cannon hold, helping getting everything in order again for the next battle, they'd driven off the Imps for now, and two point blank volleys from their cannons did quite a bit of damage or he was an adopted Groundling Misbegotten whore with pink silk ties in his hair. He hadn't really paid that much attention to it during the fight, he'd been too busy off in his own little world and slaughtering Imperials to notice. He relished the sight of one of his shots kill two instantly, the third getting away without an arm from the shoulder down, that had been a fun shot. He even thought he'd seen the guy get away, and for that he had mixed feelings, on one hand, making the Imps fearing of the ship made sure they slipped up next time, giving them more deaths, but on the other is the fact that he hated not finishing a kill he started, and he wasn't sure which he was more inclined to listen to at the moment.

The cannons back in place, the barrels secured, and the crew exhausted from the fight, pulling the cannons out of the way and back into place, and the fact that they had to nearly bend double to aim the damn things the right direction, he finished with them and left the hold. He arrived on deck and started reloading his gun, the metal still warm from the tussle. After struggling with it for a few minutes, he was able to unlatch and open it, not from rust or disrepair, but from design. He never understood why the gunmaker had made it like that before, nothing he'd seen before was this damned hard to open.

"I'm pissed. And hurting. And I want to make someone pay."

"Oi, Sheeka,"He called out behind him, finally getting the thing open and pulling out the two cartridges he'd used, replacing them with two good ones, damn these things were hard to pack and load,"Ow's the armless thing goin'? Anything tinglin' yet? How many Imps did we get back there anyways?"

Adrianna soon returned the hug in kind with her one good arm, then proceeded to bury her head in Garrett's shoulder, being rather unwilling to let the moment end, which he could agree with. Sadly though, like many moments, it had to end. "For you." With that, she leaned back onto the couch, taking care not to avoid straining herself any further.

"and thank you-" Adrianna then said, her words sounding strained, but not because of injury, no, she was trying to convey her thoughts in the best possible light. "-for everything. I doubt I would have lived half as long as I have without you, and it wouldn't have been a fraction as meaningful." This caused Garrett to blush again, taking the complement well. He decided to switch over to the couch, sitting in the empty space where Adrianna's legs were. Garrett smiled at the notion of seeing Adrianna boot Exeter off the ship.

"-You're always doing so much for me; and I can never return it for fear of what would happen if we were discovered..." He held Adrianna's hand once more, smiling as he did. This smile continued as Adrianna carried on speaking.

"When this mission is over... let's just leave. You said we could go on adventure; that you wanted to do whatever I wanted together. But; the thing is, YOU'RE the greatest adventure I know of. More than anything, I want YOU to be happy. I want to finally be able to scream how I feel about you at the top of my lungs, and not need to think of the consequences and the Imperial political games and maneuvers. I want to spend every second of every day with you, with no one to get in our way." She stopped for a moment, thinking things over. Garrett was curious as to what her mind was thinking right now. T'was a pity he did not possess telepathy, but he could take a guess by what she said.

"I love you Garrett Corvus and will until the world crumbles. If there's an afterlife, I will love you into eternity. If we're reincarnated, I'll search the world to find and love you again, and if there's nothing after death; no afterlife or second life is worth anything without you anyway." Those last words brought a tear to his eye, as Garrett embraced Adrianna once more, and kissed her passionately on the cheek.

"I love you as well Adrianna, from the bottom of my heart... May we never fight and drift apart, let us always be together. I do these things, because I care about you, and I want to see you happy." He said with a charming smile.

"Right now though, I shall carry out your request; and you my dear, should get some rest. Don't worry, I'll return soon." He then added, sealing that sentence with another kiss. Garrett then rose from the couch, giving a quick salute to the admiral, suddenly feeling more professional in the process. He then helped Adrianna back onto the couch, and quietly made his way for the door. After leaving the room, he breathed a sigh of relief and joy.

"That, that felt good. More than good in fact, terrific." Garrett, then made his way to Annis, who was still giving out orders to the crew.

"Mrs. Annis, Admiral Lanestar requests a report regarding the current status of the Invincible. Due to her injuries, of which I hope Doctor Roque arrives soon to check on them, she has sent me in her stead. I hope you understand."

"We may need to capture and sell a ship, if we want to increase our budget to get gold to buy upgrades."

He was afraid that would be the case. Their latest haul was fruitful, to be sure, but hardly anything people would write legends about. "Well, I used to be a grad student, so I'm no stranger to making miracles happen on shoestring budgets. Give me what you can and I'll see that I can do."

"Go ask the others though. I'd start with Eddie."

"Can do, captain." Gave his usual halfhearted salute and went on his way. He scanned the deck and saw Ed talking to... Sheska? Shouldn't she be resting?

"How many Imps did we get back there anyways?"

"No idea. Sheska, what are you doing? Am I gonna have to get Sam up here to drag you back to your bed? You know you shouldn't be up and about."

-Sheska-

Her train of thought was shattered the moment someone called her name, and she glanced over to see Eddie fiddling with his custom-made gun and the cartridges that it used. Turning fully, she frowned, her hand resting on her hip as she tilted her head.

"Oi, Sheeka. Ow's the armless thing goin'? Anything tinglin' yet? How many Imps did we get back there anyways?"

With a small snarl, she reached over and cuffed the side of his head. "It hurts like fuck, you gutter slug. No, it doesn't tingle, it feels like its on fire, and I don't know how many Imp shits we killed, I just know we didn't slaughter every living soul on that frigate, so it wasn't nearly enough.", she growled out, glaring, just before her expression softened a bit, though her snarl merely turned into a sneer.

"Thanks for the concern, by the way. Its not like having a limb literally torn off is that big a deal. I can just take it in stride.", she said sarcastically, before turning to see Jason walking up to her.

"No idea. Sheska, what are you doing? Am I gonna have to get Sam up here to drag you back to your bed? You know you shouldn't be up and about."

"Can't sleep, needed to move. Needed to think.", she said, her voice going more quiet.

"A lot has happened in a short time, I needed to... Sort things out, kind of. In my head.", she clarified, just before leaning back against the railing and reaching up to push some of her dreadlocks out of her face.

"By the way, I wanted to talk to you, Jason. Before Beth took me to her cabin, I overheard you talking to Sam. You say you've got an arm already being made? Whats that about?", she asked, frowning a bit.

"Thanks for the concern, by the way. Its not like having a limb literally torn off is that big a deal. I can just take it in stride."

"Good to see ya taking it well then, Sheeka. Kinda mean to be callin' me a gutter slug, don'cha think?"

He rubbed his head where she'd swiped at him. A bit of a welt was starting to pop up. He holstered the reloaded gun at its place on his hip, and secured it, couldn't have that falling out at the wrong time.

"No idea. Sheska, what are you doing? Am I gonna have to get Sam up here to drag you back to your bed? You know you shouldn't be up and about."

"It really matter? If she can walk, she can walk. Ain't that good enough for you learnin' types? Nothing fallin overboard here, certinly not her. Anyways, how's it going down where the coals run red and the water boils over?"

Vasco sighed as he washed the kidney dish, bloody from the bullet that he had extracted from a patient. The man had been shot in the chest, near the armpit. Doctor Roque wasn't sure of his survival, mainly because bullet wounds create all sorts of trauma and controlling the bleeding of chest is difficult, mainly because the ribs make it difficult to compress the structures that are bleeding. Still, this was the last of the lower ranks that needed medical attention. He moved on to washing the wound. Some people were of the mind that cleaning bullet wounds were of not the highest priority since infections could be treated later. Not Vasco. This was a military ship that had engagements almost every week, soldiers needed to be up and ready, not lying in beds watching their wounds fester. Not only that, Doctor Roque thought the very notion of it was... unprofessional to say the least. Wound washed, he bandaged the wound, making sure that it would not interfere with the pressure state of the patient's chest.

Another task complete. With that, he took up the pre-packed doctor's bag and moved on to inspect the Rear Admiral. In truth, he should have seen her sooner, but burns require more attention than possible fractures and bruising from a fall. Nevertheless, Vasco was sure of having an understanding with her about the matter. The whole question was a bit of a paradox in itself. Who do you save first? The captain or the crew? Without the crew, the captain would just be by him or herself trying to run an empty ship. Without the crew, the ship would be chaotic and disorganised, it took a commanding officer to tie the crew together. He rose up the stairs and ladders and was right beside the Rear Admiral quarters and saw Garrett just as he left. Hopefully the man hadn't interfered with the Rear Admiral, as such could possibly harm her, especially if there was a spinal injury. Hopefully, it was just a little knock on the head, a spinal injury was the worst case scenario for Vasco, after all.

"Doctor Roque; medical inspection as ordered." He said as he knocked on the door and Vasco waited a reply. Lanester was one for manners, after all.

"Can't sleep, needed to move. Needed to think."

"No, you don't need to sodding move. You had an arm ripped off, Sheska! That isn't something you walk off." Jason buried his temple in one of his hands, the stress of the day starting to get to him. "You need to swallow your pride and accept you're gonna be on the sidelines for a while."

"A lot has happened in a short time, I needed to... Sort things out, kind of. In my head."

Well, shit. So something did happen with Beth. He decided to keep his mouth shut - even the bet notwithstanding, it wasn't his place to judge. 'I just hope they know what they're doing. I've seen plenty of on-ship romances before, and in this line of work, they never have a happy ending.'

"Well, whatever it is you need to sort out, keep this in mind - your actions have consequences. Sometimes they're consequences we don't see coming, and are ones that hurt the people we care about. Don't rush into something without that thought in the back of your head."

"By the way, I wanted to talk to you, Jason. Before Beth took me to her cabin, I overheard you talking to Sam. You say you've got an arm already being made? Whats that about?"

"Oh, that? I machined myself an advanced automata arm in the event of an accident in the engine room. Full range of motion and everything. Retooling it in Helium City to fit you shouldn't be too hard."

-Sheska-

One of the few things Sheska didn't anticipate, and if she had she would not have looked forward to it, was being between two Skyfolk, one lecturing her, with the other being mildly offended at a choice of insult. Eddie was very mildly annoying, and she could tolerate him because of his cannon skills and the fact he was a damn good fighter. Jason she respected for his intellect, and tolerated his pushiness.

The two, however, didn't mix well with her current inner-turmoil, so she had to visibly struggle to keep from grabbing them both by the collar, one after another, and headbutt them into submission.

Turning to Eddie, she leaned forward and bared her teeth.

"That was sarcasm, Eddie, and the point of calling you a gutter slug is that it was meant to be mean. There is no such thing as a 'nice insult'. Only backhanded complements.", she explained, before looking at Jason.

"Firstly, my legs are fine. Trust me, I'm not ready for any heavy lifting, or even running a short distance. Walking from here to the Captains cabin isn't such a hardship even in my current state, so I think its alright. I'm not likely to overexert myself unless someone needs their ass beaten into a bloody pulp.", she added.

Then she sighed, and shook her head, pushing back her frustration at both them and herself to the back of her mind.

"As for the arm, you didn't have to do that, so thank you. I appreciate it. I do have a few requests to make for it though: I want it armored. If I'm going to go back into battle, it'll be better to block with that way, and harder to break. Think of it like the ships armor.", she added quickly to try and anticipate any arguments he would have had with that.

"For another, I'd like it to have claws to match my natural ones.", she said, holding up her remaining hand and flexing said claws.

"Since you're a mechanical genius, I'm assuming that won't be any problem at all for you. Right?", she asked, her tone challenging.

-Annis-
"Mrs. Annis, Admiral Lanestar requests a report regarding the current status of the Invincible. Due to her injuries, of which I hope Doctor Roque arrives soon to check on them, she has sent me in her stead. I hope you understand."

Annis turned slowly to face Garret. Her lip curled slightly at the sight of him, though the mask hid that.
She wasn't sure what to make of the Rear-Admiral's bodyguard. He seemed loyal enough but he'd been a pirate. A famous one, too, and that immediately put him down as someone to keep an eye on in Annis' books, regardless of who's trust he'd earned or life he'd saved.
And yet... at least he was honest about it. He never hid who he was, and Annis could respect that. Certainly a most interesting specimen.

"Corvus." she acknowledged tersely. "The Rear-Admiral will be pleased to learn that the majority of the fire damage has been attended to. All fires are out and the areas most affected are being repaired as we speak. I expect a report on the overall damage from our engineers within the hour. Once I know more, I will seek out the Rear-Admiral myself and give a full report."
She studied Garret.

...that wasn't concern in his eyes was it? Admittedly it was natural to worry about your charge but...

"And how is she? I do hope our commander's injuries weren't too... debilitating."

Yes I do, yes I do. Make her like me. Make someone else understand what it is to be me. Imagine the jokes they'd tell back home - the ship ran by two crippled women. I can already hear the guffaws.

-Isaac-
There was at least one place on the ship that still felt calm, and Isaac was up there.

He always seemed to find himself up the Crow's Nest when things got stressed. He was sat up there now, shielding his book from the wind and pouring carefully over the words. They'd taken a beating today. Sheska had taken a beating today, and Isaac had never thought he'd see that happen. He needed to talk to her. She was the only person on the ship that really knew him for being him, and whilst he was never sure, he felt it worked both ways.

It was times like these that you needed your friends most.

And where was he? Hiding up the fucking crow's nest reading a fucking book. Coward.

It wasn't even that. He wasn't scared of what had happened. Injuries had stopped upsetting him years ago. But... he knew Sheska. He knew how she'd be feeling about losing the arm. And all of a sudden, she had become mortal.

Isaac never really pictured his friends dying. Sure, people around him had been dropping like flies since he was six years old, but this was the first time that it actually affected him. She hadn't died of course, but the fact that she could have done was now firmly in Isaac's head. And he didn't like the thought at all.

He'd go and find her.

...just after one more chapter.

Adrianna indulged herself in the kiss, despite the shortness of it. It was one of the many things she enjoyed regarding Garrett; his openness regarding his feelings. It was a relief from all the subtle machinations of Imperial life.

Adrianna nearly laughed at the sight of Garrett saluting, thinking she might yet make a "proper Imperial officer" out of him. She did not return the salute; favoring instead remaining static on the couch for fear of aggravating her injury.

As he left, she turned her head such that it faced the ceiling, then closed her eyes to await the good doctor. Regardless of, and despite, her injury; the encounter has left her happy. She quickly faded off into the lightness of half-sleep, intoxicated by joy as she was. It what felt like only a few moments later - though the actual time may have been much later for time was difficult to keep track of in a slumber in a darkened room - that the knock came at the door. "Doctor Roque; medical inspection as ordered."

Without delay, she called out to him "Please come in Doctor." As the door opened, she tried to straighten herself up on the couch, so as to maintain some level of her commanding presence. She winced mildly at the pain, but managed to keep it from showing too much. "and thank you for your time; I shall try not to keep you from your more important duties to the crew." she said, a shade quieter then she normally would have.

Samuel finally finished working on the last man and updating records with not only the dead but the injured and how they were injured. He then noticed the time and put the records to the side and grabbed his medical tools.

'Damn it, I'm late in looking over Sheska's injuries.' He thought as he left the room to go look for her, finding her on deck eventually.

"I'm so very sorry Sheska, I forgot to look in on you. I got so caught up time got away from me. When you get a moment I'd like to perform a routine check up on it." He said as he looked visibly apologetic for leaving her in what must have been great pain.

"Since you're a mechanical genius, I'm assuming that won't be any problem at all for you. Right?"

Jason couldn't help but chuckle at that remark. He gave a confident air, to be sure, but did anybody really think he was so self-centered that simple ego stroking would do anything?

"Nice asskissing, Sheska. With skills like that, you'd kill at the Emperor's court. I'll look into armoring it, but I make no promises. The retooling itself won't be cheap, and we're running on a budget." He saw Sam approach from below deck, running up to Sheska. "I'm so very sorry Sheska, I forgot to look in on you. I got so caught up time got away from me. When you get a moment I'd like to perform a routine check up on it."

"Finally! Some sense! You're going with him, Sheska, and I don't want to hear any complaints. Shoo! The sooner you get it done, the sooner I stop hounding you."

-Sheska-

"Nice asskissing, Sheska. With skills like that, you'd kill at the Emperor's court. I'll look into armoring it, but I make no promises. The retooling itself won't be cheap, and we're running on a budget.".

"Armor it, Jason. I'll take to pickpocketing while we're at Helium City. You'll get the gold for it, even if I have to slit some throats to get it for you.", she told him firmly, but she smiled.

She had to admire his confidence, and the fact that he saw through bullshit pretty well. "Besides, if I'm kissing anyone's ass, its the Cap'n's. That's the status quo: You're supposed to kiss my ass, then I kiss the Cap'n's ass, and the Cap'n... Doesn't kiss anyone's ass since she's the top of the chain.", she added thoughtfully, frowning before she spotted Sam walking up to her.

"I'm so very sorry Sheska, I forgot to look in on you. I got so caught up time got away from me. When you get a moment I'd like to perform a routine check up on it.".

"Right Sam. Just make sure you give me more morphine for the pain. I can use it.", she said to Sam, only to glance back at Jason.

"And you, Jason, shut it. I'm going, aren't I? You work on that arm and take care of the Mermaid. If anyone can make sure both work the way they should, its you, and that's no ass-kissing.", Sheska told him, turning to follow Sam back to his cabin, waving back vaguely to the Chief Engineer.

"Shoo! The sooner you get it done, the sooner I stop hounding you."

"You learner types are all the same, go to sleep, rest up, stay away from the rest of the ship. I swear it's all some kind of conspicy to keep the hurt ones down. Ah, ta'hell with ya, I'm going up'ta see if that Imp ship's anywhere around, can't be too careful with them idiots, always deciding to come back for more when they've lost six times already. But seriously, did anyone get the bodycount on the Imp side?"

Eddie turned round, away from the railing he'd been leaning on next to Sheska and walked across to the rigging, iron shod boots knocking on the wood underneath. He then started up the ropes and reached one of the connecting beams and sat down on it and looking out over the sky in all directions. The air was better the higher you got, and Eddie was a firm believer it got even better the faster you went.

"I swear it's all some kind of conspicy to keep the hurt ones down."

"Yes, a conspiracy to keep them from contracting a terminal case of deadness." Ed muttered something else and jumped up to the rigging overhead, settling on a beam overlooking the deck. "Oi, wait! Ed, I need to talk to you." Jason shimmied up the rigging after him.

"I've been thinking - that battle earlier today would have gone quite poorly if our luck had been much worse. We can't afford to be caught out like that again. Fortunately for us, I've taken it upon myself to turn this rustbucket into a lean, mean Imp murderin' machine. So, to get us ready for the inevitable rematch with those bastards, I need to know what the crew needs built. You head the armory - if you could wave a magic wand and had my skills and infinite money, what changes would you make?"

"Corvus." she acknowledged tersely. "The Rear-Admiral will be pleased to learn that the majority of the fire damage has been attended to. All fires are out and the areas most affected are being repaired as we speak. I expect a report on the overall damage from our engineers within the hour. Once I know more, I will seek out the Rear-Admiral myself and give a full report." It was then that Annis stopped for moment, studying Garrett for some unknown reason. She soon continued, but with a voice of concern.

"And how is she? I do hope our commander's injuries weren't too... debilitating."

"Thats very good indeed Annis, Admiral Lanestar will most likely be pleased that the Invincible is running smoothly once again, and that the crisis concerning the fire is under control. I'll let her know that you'll be paying a personal visit to her later. Regarding the Admiral's injuries, from what I can tell given my limited experience with injuries, she has a few broken ribs due to the fall, but I've asked Doctor Ro-" Garrett said with concern, then noticed that Vasco had entered the Admiral's cabin.

"As Doctor Roque, glad you make it. I'll be with you shortly" He then returned to Annis.

"-but I've asked Doctor Roque to check over her in case there is anything more serious. I, as I sure everyone else is on board this vessel, is concerned about her health and safety. Figured it would be a wise precaution to take." Garrett took a moment to examine the apparatus that Annis wore so she could live reasonably well. He used this opportunity to change the subject.

"I must say Mrs. Annis, Vasco has certainly has done a rather fine job regarding your breathing apparatus. Despite its construction, it has a certain elegance to it that I can't quite place my finger on." As he spoke, his mind was thinking something else.

'*sigh* I should ask her to keep an eye on Exeter, to see if he does anything suspicious, since I suspect him being involved in moving all those papers around and looking through those draws in Adrianna's cabin; as I fear he is up to something that might tamper with her good name. However, he is respected by the Admiralty, whilst I am so say "not to be trusted"; if I were to have Annis involved, chances are I might ruin her reputation as well. Best keep this to myself for a while.'

"Please come in Doctor."

And with that, Vasco began to enter. Just then her personal bodyguard greeted him as he was entering, ever watchful of his charge. Vasco simply gave a nod in reply, his mind busy with other things. That was the thing with Lanester and Corvus, they always came in pairs, together. Much like him and Annis; Vasco could understand the weigh of responsibility that a charge brings, but he - as ship's doctor - was responsible for the rest of the crew as well. But then again, the pair were more amiable to each other, more than the exchanges between himself and Annis - well, that was just Annis for you - however, Vasco just dismissed as a doting bodyguard and his charge. Nevertheless, there were rumours about people of opposing genders being with each other for a long time, but those were simple assumptions. Vasco didn't assumptions and thus just ignored them. After all, facts were sovereign over such gossip. Ah yes, there was that old quote from a dusty newspaper he had found, something about facts being sacred.

"...and thank you for your time; I shall try not to keep you from your more important duties to the crew."

Vasco gave a short bow and replied, "Worry about yourself; they have been seem to."

The Rear Admiral had clearly taken a bad fall, judging from the damage to her prosthetic limb. She was seated, sitting up as straight as a ruler, face as stern as it ever was. Not that helped Vasco, he understood that people in authority needed to be seen as strong and some people refused to show any signs of pain, but as a doctor, he needed to know where the pain lay and whatnot, if there was any. Judging from her current state, the injuries the fall had caused were both less and more than he had expected. Possible shock to the spine, some broken ribs, possible bruising and other minor fractures. Not that it made it any better. The Invincible had taken a beating and so had its crew. Only unlike last time, Lanester had not escaped acott free, so to be. Vasco was silent as he set down his bag next to the Rear Admiral and measured out a dose of morphine. Enough to take the edge off the pain, but enough to keep her lucid. He flicked the syringe, making sure there weren't any air bubbles and turned to the Rear Admiral.

"Please do try to relax." He said, a remark on the stern face that she had greeted him with, that he went on to enquire, "For the pain?"

It was a simple matter of manners, if he had just injected her with the morphine without consent, that would just be plain rude.

"You head the armory - if you could wave a magic wand and had my skills and infinite money, what changes would you make?"

"Oh, lookie here, endless money, your little skills,"He thought a moment before hooking his feet together and swinging around, hanging upside down, his jacket hanging down below him, looking up at Jason,"Well...the whole armry, or jus' heavy guns? Whole armry, two more lightning guns, one at the forecastle, one more by the other, wherever it is, I forget. Replace our entire cannon line, all we've got are standard fifteen pounders, good against most Imps ships, but considering what we came up against today, we need twenty-pounders at the least to do more than chip the paint job on the sides per shot. Add in another five to put on our top deck.

"Next, we find my homecity, wherever the hell it's at, make...port...and find us one of them big'guns, size of three men each, weigh a ton, and can blow a hole in the side of an imperial fleet. O'course, they were still building the first one when I left.....Anyways, moving on.
I'll say we need another grapple or two, make sure the damn Imps don't get a chance to get away next time. Finally, set-up a couple triple barrel machine guns in our nest and on the helm, scary shit against an Imp boarding party or takin' out their balloon, that has to put a cramp in their aloftness. Maybe add a few dinghy's too, give us even more

Next is smaller guns, get each officer one o'these,"He gestured to his hand cannon,"Don't even think I'll be lettin' you touch this one, though. The rest of the crew, get 'em a bunch of grapeshot shooters, bunch of clockwork rifles with cartridges filled with grapeshot, you know 'em. Now, hand weapons, electricified pokers, sharp, and extremely uncomfortable to get hit with."

Eddie let go of the crossbeam and fell a few feet down, reaching out and swinging back into the rigging just underneath Jason,"So what'cha looking for that we can actually get? You asked for if we had lotsa money, and what I got izzat. Any other questions? I'm not too keen on stayin' around doing nothing."

"I must say Mrs. Annis, Vasco has certainly has done a rather fine job regarding your breathing apparatus. Despite its construction, it has a certain elegance to it that I can't quite place my finger on."

Annis' breath caught in her throat. The niggling pain started playing up again.
She hated it when people pointed out her mask.
It reminded her it was there.

She wanted to shout at him. Hiss her anger at her condition at someone.
But... she couldn't. It was too petty, too inconsequential. She needed an outlet.
Her eyes fell upon an idle crewman.

"You. Have your chores allowed for you to just stand there?" She said. The man looked up, eyes wide.

"Oh, no ma'am."

"Then why are you just stood there, Mr. Dupont?"

"I was ju-"

"I expect the utmost efficiency from this crew. You are ruining the system Mr. Dupont. What happens when the system is ruined?"

He answered robotically, as if this had been drilled into him from day one, which of course it had.
"People die ma'am."

"And their blood will be on your hands. Rigging work, now. Report to me when you are finished so that I may decide on your punishment."

The man shot off, clambering up the mast with a speed born through fear. Annis turned back to Garret.

"Mr. Roque certainly takes his work seriously. Almost as if it had an art to it. Now unless you need me for anything else, Corvus?"

Samuel lead the way until they got to his cabin, having her sit down on the bed he took the now bloodied bandages off and found that the bleeding was stemmed enough he could do proper surgery.

"Alright Sheska I am going to remove the dead tissue and get your arm closed up." Samuel said before getting a dose of morphine ready and injecting Sheska with it.

"Now I'm going to need you to lie back." He said as she complied.

As he began the surgery Samuel made sure that this would be his best work yet. Last thing he needed was both the Captain and First Mate ending up unhappy with the work, not to mention simple professional pride.

"So Sheska, I'm assuming you've heard of the planned prosthetic for you based on the fact you were talking to the man who is going to build it. What do you think of it?"

-Sheska-

It didn't take long for them to get back to his cabin, and as soon as they got there, Sam had her sit down on the nearest bed so he could take the dressings off of her wound. She fought against flinching and whimpering throughout the process, sitting rigidly and clenching her teeth, keeping silent through the pain. Once he was finished, she glanced over and gaped.

"Holy shit...", she murmured in horror.

There was barely anything left save ragged strips of flesh and just a hint of jagged bone. That was all that remained of her left arm. And it made her feel mortal, afraid.

"Alright Sheska I am going to remove the dead tissue and get your arm closed up.".

She glanced back at him and nodded, and when he injected her with more morphine she couldn't suppress the flinch that time. She hated doctors and needles, but Sam was the only exception: He was amiable enough, a good man, and a member of the crew. But that didn't mean she had to like being treated as a patient.

Laying back, she kept her face turned away, and once again clenched her teeth as he went to work removing the bits of loose flesh, and possibly even the remains of shattered bone.

"So Sheska, I'm assuming you've heard of the planned prosthetic for you based on the fact you were talking to the man who is going to build it. What do you think of it?".

"Haven't seen it yet. Hope it can stand up to a fight. Would like it armored, maybe engraved.", she ground out, screwing her eyes shut as she spoke through the pain.

Even with morphine, the pain was still there, only dulled somewhat so it was just excruciating.

Samuel noticed her pain and prepared another dose of the morphine before injecting her. It was obvious from her expression that the single dose was doing little to nothing as he worked. As he walked back with the needle he grabbed the prosthetic arm he had built and placed it on a nearby table so that to look at it she would be looking away from the surgery. He got back to work cutting away the dead flesh and cutting the nerves off before attaching them to surrounding tissue away from blood vessels that might pulse and cause pain for the rest of her life.

"That is the prototype he built for himself, of course yours will need to be modified but it is of excellent make from what little I was able to examine of it." He said as he continued to perform the surgery as carefully as possible. He wanted this to come out as one of the best surgeries he had ever performed so he was being meticulous in making sure that not only was he minimizing the amount of living tissue removed and maximizing dead tissue removed, he was also planning ahead to make sure that no scars would overlap the prosthesis to cause irritation.

"I think he will make a fine replacement arm for you, also feel free to ask for more painkillers if the pain is still a major issue. Properly dosing the morphine isn't exactly a perfect science, lots of variables to take in. So I only used the minimum dose to start. Also once this is over I'll get you a steady diet of rum and fresh food." He said with a laugh to make some small talk as he continued.

"Please do try to relax." the doctor said, a remark on the stern face that Adrianna had greeted him with. Without much fanfare, he had filled a syringe with a translucent liquid of unknown properties. He then removed the air from the vial - for reasons that the doctor would insist was important but escaped her. "For the pain?" he asked, inquiring if she wanted the shot. Adrianna suspected the question was a formality and she would receive the shot regardless of her answer, but kept that though to herself.

Adrianna never much understood medicine or, for that matter, liked it. It wasn't that she disbelieved the good doctor or his compatriots medical knowledge or thought them untruthful; to the contrary, she valued their knowledge. It had more to do with the idea of putting substances SHE didn't know about into her. None-the-less, she signed slightly, and responded. "Very well Doctor Roque; as you say."

She had learned the hard way, many years ago, that arguing with a doctor was a lesson in futility; they would save your life whether you liked it or not.

-Sheska-

She relaxed a little whenever he injected her with more morphine, enough relief washing over her that she could ease her jaw and stop clenching her teeth to be quiet. But, she still winced just a little with every cut he made.

She was surprised when he set the prosthetic in front of her to look at, and she had to fight against shifting to get a better look. Her first thought was that it was shiny, and clearly unfinished. But otherwise it was sleek, and looked strong.

"That is the prototype he built for himself, of course yours will need to be modified but it is of excellent make from what little I was able to examine of it.".

"Yea, it looks like his handiwork. I can't help but hope he doesn't end up needing it, because he didn't have to offer it. Still, I'm glad to have what's sure to be the best.", she said, no longer worrying about what she was saying as being interpreted as ass-kissing.

Jason was one of the best, and even with her ignorance of machines, she knew that much. She just didn't want to mention it very often, else his ego inflates larger than the Mermaids balloon.

"I think he will make a fine replacement arm for you, also feel free to ask for more painkillers if the pain is still a major issue. Properly dosing the morphine isn't exactly a perfect science, lots of variables to take in. So I only used the minimum dose to start. Also once this is over I'll get you a steady diet of rum and fresh food.".

She smiled just a little and chuckled a little herself. "Having rum would be nice, but mostly I want to be able to fight again. I want to kill more Imperial bastards. Always thinking that they're better because of birthright, that because of some stupid system they imagined up, people 'below' them get to be used as tools.", she said, her tone getting darker and resonating with more and more anger as she continued.

"They think its ok to take a Misbegotten girl from the only family she knows and turn her into a killer. Big shock for them when she finds out shes not only good at it, but likes it, and learns to turn it against them. And they get surprised when, after taking away the only chance of having a family of her own, she wants nothing more than to tear out their throats with her own teeth. If I had my way, I'd slaughter every mothers son that serves the Empire.", she hissed with fury, her fist clenching hard enough for her claws to draw blood.

With a sigh, she responded, "Very well Doctor Roque; as you say."

He then proceeded with the injection and peeled off the layers of clothing to reveal naked flesh. Then, using his thumb and forefinger, he squeezed a couple of inches of skin, pulling the skin and fat away from the underlying muscle, and inserted the needle while holding the pinch. After that, Vasco pushed the plunger, injecting the morphine into her bloodstream, and released his grip on the fold of skin. The needle was removed and the small wound wiped created by the wound with a piece of cotton wool. All was done with silence, like some mystic ritual. To tell the truth, Vasco hated these sorts of visits, all formality and fuss, unlike the sick bay, where urgency made silent those who would question him.

Seeing the concern on her face, he went to dispel fears with an explanation, "It is just morphine; no need to worry." And then when on add as the rolled up sleeves began to sag, "Can you please remove your greatcoat, madam?"

Samuel continued with a frown at her obvious anger, it was unhealthy for someone to have that much fury in them.

"I can speak from experience Sheska, not all in the empire share the views of the emperor and his land. Many of them just know nothing else, and so they believe what they are told. I watched the people dance at parties and eat at banquets just to escape the truth for a moment. They knew they were as much prisoners as anyone else deep down, they just had a prettier view of it all. A little bit more pull in which way their cage swung. I had even heard some tales of the Invincible in my time in the navy. Getting assigned to that ship was basically a punishment for being a malcontent. I was threatened with that assignment on more than a few occasions." He laughed again at how much of a pain in the ass he knew he was to the captains who commanded him in the empire. He was still continuing with the procedure which was going exactly as he had planned it. If all continued to go well then Sheska would have no problem adapting.

"Just try to remember that you are more than a killer Sheska. I'd hate to see you become what they wanted you to be. As for this crew, Beth and you have found some of the best men and women in this land from my estimation. Personally I can think of no better ship to serve on. So much I've learned in my time here so quickly, it will certainly make for a good book one day. A mixture of medical tome and fantastic tale, perhaps it will outlive even the ship itself if I get around to penning it."

"So what'cha looking for that we can actually get? You asked for if we had lotsa money, and what I got izzat. Any other questions? I'm not too keen on stayin' around doing nothing."

"Replacing all of the cannons will likely be out of our reach until we take in another big haul, but new firearms for the crew... that might be doable. It'll take some time for me to make them all, but I can have some prototypes done for you by the time we cast off from Helium City." Jason lept off the rigging after him. He landed on the deck and strode off to the hold, giving a nonchalant wave back. "Take care, Ed. Try not to blow anything up."

Sam would probably be the man to talk to next. A couple of poor sods died in the battle, but that meant their cabins where empty - and the Mermaid could use a proper sick bay. Time to see what Sam thought of that.

-Sheska-

When Samuel explained that not everyone in the Empire was like she described, her fist relaxed until her bloodied palm lay up, and her anger fizzled like a wet fuse. "I know. I know, you're right Sam. But damn if there aren't too many people like that. People who don't realize that a persons worth is due to the strength of their arm, or their will, or their mind, and that true merit is earned by the sweat of ones brow. That's what Old Asimov taught me.", she said, and she closed her eyes, suddenly having flashes of her victims while she was in the Chuno Ggun.

Men, women, even some children. And she killed them, because she was too stupid at the time to realize she had a choice, and could rise up. Before she faced the barrel of a gun, and finally turned it on her would-be master.

They were, most of them, innocent. Simply wanting to get away from the Empire, and they were no different than she was when she was little. And she felt guilty, not only for the acts she committed, but for the fact that even through the shame she felt, part of her enjoyed killing them.

"Just try to remember that you are more than a killer Sheska. I'd hate to see you become what they wanted you to be. As for this crew, Beth and you have found some of the best men and women in this land from my estimation. Personally I can think of no better ship to serve on. So much I've learned in my time here so quickly, it will certainly make for a good book one day. A mixture of medical tome and fantastic tale, perhaps it will outlive even the ship itself if I get around to penning it.".

She felt the mood ease even more in the cabin, and she nodded just slightly. "You should. Might be able to help some other poor sod that looses an arm. And really, I couldn't imagine serving a better Captain than Beth. She's a great woman, and a good leader. I envy her for that.", she added, snorting a little bit as she laughed, silently.

"This Old Asimov sounds like a very wise man. Of course you are right as well, there are those who truly serve the empire blindly, thinking it is the best thing for this world and loving the emperor more than their family. Who would be willing to kill them if so ordered. In my time though those truly fanatical tended to be few, most did as they did simply to live their lives and survive as best they could." He said as the work became considerably easier with her releasing the tension.

"You should also not sell yourself so short Sheska. Beth may be the brain of this ship, but most certainly you are the spine of it all. You are the one who keeps everyone else in check and makes sure Beth can do her job properly. You are a fine leader in your own right." He was not to the point he was smoothing bone to make sure no jagged edges would irritate the tissue that would become her stump.

"I would like to pen that book someday. I feel that not many would have the same medical experiences I have had in the last little while and will have in the months to come. If I write it well enough it may even be a medical book that teaches everyone outside the empire's borders a little something. Who knows, might even get lucky and some copies will be smuggled into our dear emperor's borders to open a few eyes." He said with a smile as he worked.

Adrianna winced at the injection, but the feeling quickly faded as the drug took effect. "It is just morphine; no need to worry." Dr. Roque explained, before adding his next "order". "Can you please remove your greatcoat, madam?"

With the drug now spreading through her system, it took a few seconds before the request made sense, but once it did she began to follow the command without dispute. She slowly stood,less from the quickly disappearing pain and more from the newly created feeling of dizziness. It took her a moment to achieve her stance, but when she finally stood, she removed her greatcoat without much difficulty. She tried to place the coat on the chair Garrett had sat in some time ago, but her judgement was off and it landed on the floor. She wanted to reach down and pick it up; her obsession with a pristine cabin taking hold, but she feared it might aggravate her injury or Dr. Roque so she left it.

"What now, Herr doktor?" she said, awaiting the next order - remaining on her feet in an effort to remain awake. Though the couch was very a tempting proposition, she doubted she would be able to stand again if asked.

-Sheska-

"This Old Asimov sounds like a very wise man. Of course you are right as well, there are those who truly serve the empire blindly, thinking it is the best thing for this world and loving the emperor more than their family. Who would be willing to kill them if so ordered. In my time though those truly fanatical tended to be few, most did as they did simply to live their lives and survive as best they could.".

"Old Asimov One-Leg was my father in every way that counted. But, people who serve the Emperor, especially blindly, are fools that deserve a cutlass in their belly. The Emperor, and his Empire by extension, is a farce. The Skyfolk and even Neobeduin have it better in the wilderness than the lower classes of the Change Cages. There is hardly anything good in the Empire. Most are just too blind, or too stupid, to see that there's a choice.", she said, shaking her head a little.

Then she sighed, clenching her teeth again as he started to smooth the jagged remains of bone, wincing once before she finally forced herself to keep still.

"Well, if you do pen your book, remember to add that morphine should be used more for this particular procedure.", she added under her breath.

"Duly noted. I have been keeping track of how much I've been using." He said as he injected her again with another dose. He then got back to work again.

"I can't be too harsh on the people of the empire. It is all they know and they get fed so much propaganda I would be hesitant to flee too. I merely was lucky enough to get the chance to see beyond it, to see what could be rather than what merely was." He continued.

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