Aether Shanties RP (PM if interested/Started)

 Pages PREV 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 . . . 34 NEXT just wanted to use that image didn't you :P

Well in the actual game book the tone they've taken is quite Larger-than-Life, Swashbucklery Black and White, so at the very least the Imps are Team Worsebadguys.

Yay! Accepted! Though its a shame not nearly as many pirates were accepted. Still, this should be fun. Can't wait to get started!


3quency: just wanted to use that image didn't you :P

Well in the actual game book the tone they've taken is quite Larger-than-Life, Swashbucklery Black and White, so at the very least the Imps are Team Worsebadguys.

I'm seeing it, to put it in D&D terms, as the Lawful Evil Empire vs. the Chaotic Evil pirates.

I understand the game itself is very much a pirate adventure game, but I'm not familiar enough with the original game world to make that distinction. As such, I can't help but look at it as one evil vs. another evil.

Besides, isn't that better then the usual "good vs. evil" dichotomy.

side note: Remember, imperialistic Europe/America viewed themselves as the good guys throughout much of history; bringing civilization to the rest of the world and that the world we enjoy today would not exist save for the short lived imperial century.

For more, see:

Also: Actually, the image was a last minute thing, though I have been enjoying all the galactic empire propaganda I've been finding.

With regards to the sidenote: I'm fairly well-read when it comes to Imperialism so I do know the basic psychology behind it, yes. However I'd not seen the vid before, that made for some interesting viewing thanks Hiei.

I suppose game-wise it just comes down to a matter of personal preference. I'm certainly not going to play Black Annis as if she's a villain and knows it, but at the same time I recognise that she has a lot of villainous qualities and in story terms the Empire are definitely the villains.

They are, after all, responsible for the mess the world's in. But I agree that they don't necessarily see it that way themselves. Cackling self-acknowledgement just makes for bad bad-guys.

Everyone is the hero of their own story.

Unless it's self-aware or for little kids or something. That's where card-carrying villains should probably stay.

I do agree on calling BS on the whole "Pirates as good guys" deal which has been fairly prevalent since that lil' movie Disney did with Johnny Depp innit...

But in this setting, they've actually managed to make it so that pirates are more like... Economically-minded freedom fighters, as opposed to being actually much like historical pirates. So... Yes, definitely seems to be a big, obvious "Good Versus Evil" deal going.

Still, I don't think that changes too much. As has been mentioned (Thank god), any good villain sees himself as the good guy. In fact, they generally see themselves as the best guy - hence why they can break moral expectations and such and think they come out smelling like roses.

Side-note: Awesome lil' vid, I had never heard of that series and am now officially hooked.

With regards to the sidenote: I'm fairly well-read when it comes to Imperialism so I do know the basic psychology behind it, yes. However I'd not seen the vid before, that made for some interesting viewing thanks Hiei.

I suppose game-wise it just comes down to a matter of personal preference. I'm certainly not going to play Black Annis as if she's a villain and knows it, but at the same time I recognise that she has a lot of villainous qualities and in story terms the Empire are definitely the villains.

They are, after all, responsible for the mess the world's in. But I agree that they don't necessarily see it that way themselves. Cackling self-acknowledgement just makes for bad bad-guys.

I'll give you that - the empire is definitely villainous, and all the Imperial characters have some elements of evil in them (Even Adriana is a duty obsessed individual, blinded by ambition and propaganda who thinks of spreading the "correct" imperial ways around the world; by choice or force as needed). What more, while obviously self-aware villains can be fun in some contexts, that context is probably not this game.


For me it has less to do with "The empire are the bad guys" and more to do with the implication that, therefore "the pirates are the good guys"; no group that sails around, stealing and killing can really earn the "good guy" title in my book. So, by extension, the question is which evil is the lesser of the two.

Does the order and protection the empire offers, for all their segregation, conquest, and negative-persistence, outweigh the absolute freedom at the expense of society, livelihoods, and lives of the pirates? If you prefer order, then the empire are the relative "good guys". If you prefer freedom, then the pirates are the relative "good guys". If neither appeals to you, I think you're in the wrong game


On that note, this conversation has gone off the deep end; sorry ^_^

Glad people are enjoying Crash Course: World History. It's been one of my favorite youtube series since I discovered it 37 episodes ago

Question for hiei, 'tina and I think Evrant:

Okay, seriously, how the fuck do you guys get such awesome images? Do you find the pictures then base the characters around them or is your google-fu just abominably strong?

Nah, the other way around. Just searched Devianart for "steampunk plague doctor", nothing to it really.

@hiei: You forget the medical care. Glad to see another fan of that series.


Well, you certainly don't have to worry about some of the more self-aware pirates thinking that they're good. In Sheska's case, shes mainly out to have fun, make some gold, and get drunk. That, and possibly find some eventual romance. But otherwise, she doesn't pretend to be the good guy: She thoroughly enjoys getting into fights and brawls, and doesn't have any compulsion about brutal killings.

She just hates Imperials, really.

I gotta admit I was worried. I scrolled through the names and didn't see myself, then I did on the second pass. I'm excited to do this now. Crazy madman doctor go time.


But that's my character! jk :p



But that's my character! jk :p

You know, we could always have a competition to see who the maddest doctor is. I'd imagine it would be rather interesting.

We can hold annual SCIENCE! Games.



But that's my character! jk :p

We can hold annual SCIENCE! Games.

The first competition will revolve around who can perform the most complicated surgery with as little anesthesia as possible, the more limbs you replace, the less drugs you use, the more points you get.




But that's my character! jk :p

We can hold annual SCIENCE! Games.

The first competition will revolve around who can perform the most complicated surgery with as little anesthesia as possible, the more limbs you replace, the less drugs you use, the more points you get.

Bonus points if they're your own limbs.

It's cool guys, I can make robotic replacements for anyone who screws up their surgeries. I can be our Earl of Pudding.

It's cool guys, I can make robotic replacements for anyone who screws up their surgeries. I can be our Earl of Pudding.

As long as you don't end every sentience with a "~" or start building giant [steam powered] robots




I take it back.


Would be awesome


Like I said in the group chat, the only thing that would make this rp better is giant robots.

I rest my case.

The floating city of High Tortuga bobs and sways slightly below its mighty gasbags, the massive chains that anchors it to the peaks flexing as it shifts in a mountain breeze. The habitations aboard High Tortuga are a maze of low-level, sprawling structures. These residences are crammed onto the main platform. It's mostly dosshouses, inns and taverns. It's a dangerous place during the day, but at night it's even worse. You better watch your steps, both the fall from the platforms and the inhabitants could kill you.

Several airships hangs anchored at the docks of the city. One of them is The Mermaid, another pirate ship among many, which is known to some, because of having both a captain and a first mate that's mutants. At the moment, The Mermaid is silent and close to empty, except for a couple of unlucky bastards who were put on guard duty.

The rest of the crew has been celebrating their latest raid of a merchant ship, which turned out to have a much better cargo than expected, wares which they've already sold. In the end, it's just another excuse to drink and brawl.

Winged Beth and most of her crew is currently at The Laughing Gull, a rather large and crowded tavern, with its own house band. The band is a mixed group of skyfolk and neovictorians. Those who fights at The Laughing Gull, gets thrown out by the strong automata at the door, who works for the owner. The owner is a skyfolk man of medium size, wearing brown clothes and working the bar. The captain has been there for hours, enjoying the music and the booze. The morning is creeping closer. It's still dark outside, but the sky is starting to turn a lighter grey.

Beth makes her way through the crowd in the tavern, towards the bar to order another mug. She has had a bit of rum already, but she's not close to as drunk or rowdy as some of those in the crew. She needs to keep an eye on her crew, as she feels responsible for them and might get the blame if someone did something stupid. So far the night has gone by without any major issues. Only five people have been thrown out.

She nods at the owner with a smile, when he prioritizes her order. Being recognized as a captain does have its advantages. She turns around and heads back to her table. A neobediun man is lying passed out on the floor. At least she hopes he's just passed out and not dead. It does look like he's breathing and she saw him fall off his chair earlier. She steps over him, careful not to spill her rum.

Beth sits back down at her table. Six members of her crew are sitting at the same table.

"Tis be a mighty fine night." She says, even after a few years as a pirate she doesn't feel comfortable talking like that. It's probably because she had once been writing propaganda, and if you wanted people to take you seriously, you better know how to write and talk properly. "I hope everyone is feeling as good as I am."

She raises her mug and drinks heartily. The smell alone could knock her off her feet. The alcohol made her body shiver. Beth wasn't one to drink rum because of the taste. It was a fast way to get drunk. She had often used it to repress bad memories or emotions. It made her happy.

She lowers the mug and sees a few more pirates entering the tavern. They're not part of her crew, but she hasn't rented the whole tavern. She wouldn't do that, as she considers it a waste of money and they might end up missing out on good company.

When a female with red hair among them sees Beth, she gets a perplexed look on her face and whispers something to a younger girl who entered with her group. Beth is used to being an object of attention, she is a misbegotten, but this feels different. She shrugs her shoulders and blames it on the rum. The redhaired woman heads for the bar, while the girl shifts her gaze twice, between Beth and something that appears to be outside the tavern, then she follows the woman.

Imperial City of Desolation: June 17th, 2150; 10:46 A.M.



Rear-Admiral Lanester sat in the back of the carriage, staring angrily out the door at the decrepit docks. Her left leg sat crossed over her right in a way "unbecoming of a lady", with her right leg shaking with nervous energy. She glanced back at her orders, checking and double checking them to ensure she had read them correctly. To her regret, she had; the last three times as well.

Having received her orders from Lord-Governor Havering, she immediately called for the carriage she now occupied. All she had said was "Yes, Sir" and saluted, but she wished she had said every other word the Governor had inspired. On the surface they seemed simple enough - sail east toward Helium City then on to the coast, where they would turn northward until they reached the arctic. The orders were to secure a ruin of the old world in the northern most reaches; specifically a weapon the empire heard rumors of. Then, once they had acquired said item they were to return to Old Borealis with the artifact with the greatest of haste. All-in-all, it was, as she had seen, simple. Save three facts and one gut feeling. The first was that; of all the cities to set sail from, Desolation was the furthest from the ruins. This showed just how little the empire cared about the mission. The second was that; though the IAN could have organized a fleet for the mission but had not. Were the artifact truly as important as her orders suggested; a fleet should be sent to secure it. Her gut and experience - combined with the cruel smile Lord-Governor Havering had given her with the orders - left her with the feeling that the mission was little more then a joke. The final line in her orders merely showed how cruel of a joke it was.

"Your return is requisite on the successful acquisition of the device in question; which is of vital importance to the noble cause of the empire. His holiness, Emperor Victor III, personally wishes you fair winds and safe return and the greatest of success. This mission is of the utmost importance and..." it said, dragging on for another page and a half of the Emperors blessings. It couldm of course be shortened to two statements: "You must go, and don't come come back without the device." The order made her sick. Given her ships compliment - an ex-pirate, a broken soldier, a radical doctor, Automaton who were barely functional, misbegotten well above their rank, and a near complete lack of high-born (save those mentioned before and herself); their real goal was obvious. "The empire no longer requires your services; now die in a way befitting your rank."

She briefly considered tearing up the orders; refusing them outright, but the fact that the Emperor had supposedly chosen them for this mission personally denied her that option; she may not have liked the orders; but Victor III's will was law: and that law was absolute. Her only options were to go pirate - blasphemy - or find an artifact in the ruins and return with it; then declared her retirement before they could try the same strategy again. Here, she laughed; remembering the last two on the mission who were not well received; the ship's liberal Rear-Admiral, and her Skyfolk Bodyguard &, unbeknownst to all outside the steam-carriage, lover. She took a moment to glance at said lover - sitting across from her in the vehicle, and smiled. He looked as angry as she did; if not more so. It wasn't hard to see why; he held no loyalty to the Emperor or the Empire; the only fact that was keeping her from truly considering the pirate alternative. She closed the blinds of the carriage, leaned across to him, and took his lips; a luxury she would not be able to enjoy much once they set sail.

"At least it wasn't all bad" she thought, as the vehicle pulled to a stop not far from their vessel


City Outskirts:

Exeter St. John stared out into the wilds of the American Wastes the way he had for the last several hours, for the same reason he had for the same number of hours: looking for his hated enemy the pirate hoards. Glancing at the sky, he could see he only had a few more hours before he would need to return to the Invincible; it was sailing day and the weather was excellent. Fortuitously, he had already seen to the supplies he needed before the voyage and had them delivered to the ship by some Automatons; they really were the best kind of servants. His vigil continued until he had to leave, though his mind refused to stay focused on the task at hand; wandering instead to the event some hours previous.

It was an interesting "request" to say the least.


H.M.S. Invincible - Upper Deck


The docks were alive with the sounds of life, as goods from around the empire poured into the city for the nobility to enjoy and the IAN to use. It was a busy time aboard the Invincible as well, with the ship preparing for launch. A fresh coat of paint adorned the vessel, and a hundred Automatons moved supplies aboard under the watchful eye of the quartermaster: Anastacia "Black Annis" Baker-Cromwell. Or rather, it would have been under her watchful eye were it not for the constant tinkering of the ships doctor: Vasco Roque. The sounds of the lively dock overwrote any complaints that Black Annis could muster however, as Vasco finished the work on the suit. One of the Automaton's brought aboard a new cannon, but dropped it heavily on the ship. It wasn't enough force to damage the vessel or the cannon, but it rattled the ship and made a loud noise; more then enough to draw the chagrin of Black Annis; at least until Vasco took control again.

The sailing was a long time coming; they had been in dry-dock for nearly a week for repairs following a particularly ferocious pirate attack; made evident by the three large holes that had been in the starboard side. Needless to say, they had come out better off in the battle compared to the three sunk ships that now littered the ground near the edge of the great plains. The Invincible was after all an Imperial Frigate; a ship that few craft could hope to out maneuver or out gun. All in all, it had been a costly battle; losing many good men in the fight. Fortuitously, they were mostly Misbegotten and Automaton; and at the worst low class Neovictorians; all dime-a-dozen crew members. In fact, only a single Automaton had survived the assault; most being lost in boarding attempts (successful or otherwise)

That was where the automaton's bringing supplies came in; about a quarter of them were destined to re-crew the H.M.S. Invincible. They were mostly old models; few naval ships got new models as such automatons tended to be expensive and permanently deactivate (read: die) at the same rates as the older ones. Thinking on it, Feron-12 - the sole survivor of the previous automaton crew - was a newer model then even some of these, showing that maybe the idea of old Automatons for the navy was flawed. It hardly mattered of course; they had not the money for such Automaton's with any sense of frequency - Feron-12 being a special case given strange circumstances. When all was said and done however, the ship was finally ready to go - or would be by early afternoon. Once the Admiral returned with their new orders and their first mate returned from wherever he was lurking, they would be in a position to sail and return to their main objective: the eradication of piracy in all its many forms.

A more noble quest could not exist.


H.M.S. Invincible - Lower Deck


In the dark recesses of the Invincible, Feron-12 toiled like he did every day. He did his job; cleaning the deck of all debris regardless of size. As a result, Feron-12 was on his knees, scrubbing the deck with all his might. It was tiring work, or so he had been told, but it was his order. That was all he needed. Commands, and the actions to meet them were his life; what he subconsciously longed for. Well; at least what part of his subconscious longed for. Another part of it, a part he did not fully comprehend, seemed to have other ideas. It spoke to him in a strange sort of way, like a whisper at the edge of ones hearing, too soft for comprehension. Had he the emotions of a Neovictorian, he would have found it annoying. As it stood however, he did not and, therefore, it was just another part of his existence.

It was while doing his tasks at hand that a loud noise from above and a shacking rang through the ship; causing Feron-12 to let slip his soapy rag, where it fell into the lower hold. This would not be a problem, save for the fact that the Lower Hold was off limits to him; being the storage area for the first mate's pet Misbegotten. Feron-12 found himself in a difficult situation. He needed the rag to follow his orders, yet he would need to break orders to retrieve it. After weighing his options in the way only an Automaton could, he reached down into the hold trying to grab the rag, only to slip on the still wet floor and tumble into the hold.

A few seconds later, he was up; and face to face with Capricorn; the small misbegotten in the cage. The two stared at each other for a moment, neither reacting, until Feron-12 moved again to get back to work. Capricorn, perhaps sensing that the Automaton was not organic, merely went back to sleep; unimpressed by the creature. Feron-12 grabbed his rag and returned to work before his order breaking was discovered. He briefly wondered why he broke the rule at all, but the idea faded with the voice from the back of his mind.

Garrett Corvus - Imperial City of Desolation - Carriage

Garrett Corvus sat in the back of the carriage as it trundled its way through the streets of Desolation, a perturbed look of anger on his face as his right hand clenched itself to the door. Opposite him, he could see Adrianna checking furiously over her orders, seeing if she read them correctly or had made some sort of mistake. She had already done this three times before, and was still unsettled by them. Suffice to say, Lord Governor Havering was a bastard.

Corvus held no loyalty to Empire nor Emperor, but he did care greatly about one of its residents, Adrianna. She had immediately called the carriage after giving a quick salute, followed by a standard "Yes Sir" response. The premise of the mission seem simple enough, sail towards Helium City, then head northward until they reached the arctic; where they would find ruins of the old world, along with a weapon that the Empire wanted. Once the relic was in their hands, they were to return to Old Borealis.

Overhearing the briefing, two things annoyed Garrett about this whole setup. One, why would they send the orders to an Imperial vessel that was the furthest away from the location. Two, if this relic is so important; then why a fleet wasn't sent not only alongside them, but also to secure it. He figured that the Empire treated this mission as a mere joke, and that cruel smile that Havering gave as they left somewhat confirmed it; there was also the idea that they treated this as a suicide mission, given the Invincible's crew complement. Personally though, Garrett would have been overcome with joy, if he could kick Lord Governor Havering up the arse, then run him through with his sword. But he soon realised that it would of been a bad idea.

As the sun passed by over them, Garrett felt a little more relaxed, as he saw Adrianna give him a smile; which turned into a kiss after she pulled down the carriage's blinds. Besides those currently in the carriage, no one else knew of their relationship; a secret they would hope to keep until the time was right. Garrett decided to up the ante a little, by wrapping an arm around her, then giving a passionate kiss on the lips. Sadly though, this otherwise loving moment was cut short a little, when the carriage had stopped outside the H.M.S Invincible. It would also one of the few times that they could do that whilst on this mission.

"Such a shame, I was rather enjoying that." Garrett said softly, as he released his grip around Adrianna. He then opened the door of the carriage, climbing out, then offered a hand to the lady still inside.

"It appears we have arrived m'lady." He remarked, as he looked upon the Invincible.

Samuel picked away at the food he had ordered from The Laughing Gull, he had tried to get something with a mix of Neovictorian and Skyfolk flavors to try and make it all easier to digest. He wasn't even ready to attempt Neobediun food yet, far too different from anything he knew. He had no desire for the high chance of food poisoning either. Though in the back of his head he knew by the end of the night he would be dipping into the ships supplies a bit to settle his stomach.

"A very fine night indeed Captain. With a good and successful day looking for new texts. Still find it liberating that I can actually read these in public without it being taken from me and lit aflame." He said with a smile as he read his book with his left and continued to slowly eat with his right. The tome dealt with using plants and herbs to do a multitude of medical procedures. It wasn't as revolutionary as the books which had desired to merge man and technology or the ones that posited major surgeries could be done without any pain and no anesthetic, but it was still really more radical than anything he had seen in college.

The king had chosen a man to dictate to all schools and doctors what procedures and treatments were allowed, and those were simply the ones that were taught. He briefly looked up to see if anything might have needed his attention before he was right back to looking at the book.

Vasco sighed, the sound accompanying the noise of the docks. for the all the work he had invested in keeping Annis alive, she would undo it all in flash, as she insisted on constant training, causing minor damage to the mechanism. Minor damage soon accumulated and became major damage, that was the one thing Vasco worried about and lectured about constantly to Annis, to her dismay. The whole affair reminded Vasco about the one time an experienced veteran lost his leg due to a particularly nasty compound fracture. Another one of fickle Fate's victims, the man boasted frequently that he had never broken a bone. The leg had to be amputated - Vasco's first operation in the field - and was replaced with a crude clockwork prosthetic. Yet the man insisted on refusing help, certain that he would go about his business normally. Just like Annis. It was useless dragging those two stubborn mules to water, they would die of thirst before even thinking about drinking it.

Even so, he was glad to see that the Invincible would set sail shortly. The recent pirate attack that had crippled the vessel that left three gaping holes in its side and many more holes in its crew. Many lives and limbs were lost that day, but with some patients, there was simply no hope, a man with a hole where his heart should be was pretty much D.O.A., but thanks to Vasco, most of the injured found solace and recovery in the med bay, no matter the rumours about his grim appearance on his so-called half-automaton pet, whose bark and bite were feared. True, he doted on her; true, she was his pet project; true, the mess of copper plate, wires and tubing made her look like one had tired to mix machine and man. Nevertheless, Annis was his patient, he had simply given her the treatment she needed like any other. Whether she would fully accept her condition or her treatment had yet to be seen though.

Vasco stood with a hint of unease. He didn't like the docks, nor the smells or the sights pleased him. Twice now, he had adjusted the filtration system to adjust for the many pollutants that were diffused in the air. His fingers drummed the top of his cane, he wanted the clean, sanitized to the best degree possible, and organized atmosphere of the sick bay. Not this dirty chaos of dock workers, goods and smoke-stewing chimmeys. Now that the daily maintenance of Black Annis' suit was done, he was done here. She was the quartermaster and he the ships doctor. Seeing that after the little incident that enraged Annis more that usual was over, she could take back control of the situation and do her job. Heaven help anyone, automation or not, that managed to ignite her temper would another incident like that again. He watched the Rear-Admiral's steam carriage arrive, then made his move.

He turned to her, "M...m...maintenance has been done. I'll be in sick bay."

As the Laughing Gull's band played energetically, Sheska leaned back in her chair at the table The Mermaids crew often sat at, one foot up on the edge of the table, while the foot on the wooden floor tapped its claws to the tune of the song. She raised her bottle of rum to her lips and took another careful sip: She couldn't get quite a drunk as she liked, seeing as she needed to keep an eye on the crew.

The initiated were good men and women, doing their jobs well, listening to the captain, and were practically hellhounds in a fight. As First Mate, she couldn't help but feel entitled to not a little bit of pride in the crew, but even they got rowdy and prone to a brawl or two when they got drunk. Hell, she was one of the biggest offenders, so she could hardly blame them, but as First Mate, she needed to keep them in line. Thankfully, that wasn't too hard for the full members of the crew.

Looking at the seat next to her as the Captain sat down, Sheska raised her bottle. "Of course I'm feeling fine, Cap'n! I've got a bottle of rum, a loaded pistol, and a hold full of our take back at the ship. What isn't there to feel fine about?", she asked with a wicked grin, her sharp teeth glinting in the dim light of the tavern.

Then she glanced over at Samuel, who was having trouble with his food. She couldn't help but look at him with a combination of resignation and pity. "Sam, you need to eat. I don't understand why you can't stand the food here. It may not be hoity-toity city food, but its good stuff. You may actually like it if you give it an earnest try.", she told him quietly, shaking her head just slightly.

She didn't much care for the doctors methods, or the fact that he was a doctor in the first place, but he was crew. She just hoped he never had to work on her with his butchers knives.

After a few more moments, her attention was drawn back to Captain Beth, whose own attention was focused on a pair of girls who had entered in with another group. Then the eldest walked off, prompting the younger girl to follow after a moments hesitation. "Something wrong, Cap'n?", she asked softly, her free hand inching towards her revolver, simply out of caution.

"The taste is fine, it is how it sits ma'am." Samuel replied as he took a bite and swallowed it. He knew most people wouldn't understand but really he actually liked the food he had found here. He just knew if he ate too much too fast he would probably end up vomiting over the side of the ship within the time it would take to leave port.

"Actually the Neovictorian food is too bland for my liking, but years spent eating it have made it all I can stomach. I'm trying to get past that though." He didn't want to offend as he had only spent a few months on The Mermaid, partly why the title of ma'am had come up. It was another hold over from his INS days and it was a hard to kill element of his speech.

The Laughing Gull. It'd been a while since Jason had been to this salty old place, and it hadn't changed a bit. Still loud, still full of obnoxious drunkards, and Frank still can't make skywing stew to save his sodding life.

Pushing aside his food with a grimace, Jason turned back to his rum, taking in a deep draught. 'At least the booze isn't all that bad. Not that it's hard to make rum...' Taking a wad of paper out of his coat pocket, he unfurled it to reveal a document with notes scribbled every which way. Underneath it all belied a drawing of sorts - incomprehensible scribbling to most. But to Jason, this represented years of hard work. Hard work stolen...

Deciding a seedy pub in High Tortuga wasn't the best place to reminisce on his past or to flaunt this treasure, he folded it back up and placed it back in his coat pocket. In its stead, he reached into his satchel and removed a thick tome, titled "Mechanics Stress Indexes, vol. 7". 'I may as well get the preparation for our departure underway. The sooner we get back on the job, the better.'

"The taste is fine. It's how it sits, ma'am." Jason scoffed at this, turning to the ship's doctor. "No need to lie, Sam. I'm a Skyfolk, and I can vouch to the fact that I wouldn't feed Frank's food to a starving dog."

"Oi! You take that back, you little shit!"

"Shut up, Frank! You know it's true!" The bartender and cook shot Jason a dirty look but let it go, turning back to his current customer. Jason rolled his eyes and returned to his book.

Eddie was as anxious as always, being in port always did. And to add insult to injury, he was in a seedy hell, close enough to the ship he could smell the tar holding her together, the gunpowder stored in her hold, and cargo they'd taken from that damned merchant earlier. They'd given up almost without a fight, and that was no fun. Ever.

In front of him stood his first tankard of the night, still more than half-full, and the best the place had to offer. The cheap stuff made his tongue turn, and since he had rarely drunken himself to that point on account of the fun missed out on being in that state, he may as well enjoy sipping at it. Not that their best was much better than their cheapest, it still had the consistency of turpentine, but at least it didn't cause him to regret the purchase as much. In his right hand he had a coin he'd taken off one of their victims, to remind himself that they'd be off again soon. His feet tapped out a steady rhythm on the floorboards of the Laughing Gull, again a normal occurrence while in port, the iron soles ringing after every tap.

"I hope everyone is feeling as good as I am."

"I'd be better if we weren't here Cap'n, We 'ave a set time of settin' off again?"

He sat forward, the ends of the strips he'd cut into his coat jangling a bit from their brads. His fist was clenched around that coin, it was just a reminder he'd be out of port soon, and his feet had stopped drumming the ground. Without noticing it, his chain of gold coins fell out of the front of his shirt, jingling on the table, which he then replaced inside his shirt without looking, eyes full of hope.

Vasco stuttered out that he was finished. Annis took a deep breath, drawing it in through the flesh of the mask and relishing the audible hiss of the newly-repair mechanism. And loathing the sudden sharp twang of pain as she swallowed that first breath. The pain didn't come often but once in a while the quill played up. And there was nothing Vasco or anyone else could do about it without killing her.

She frowned at Vasco.
"As if you'd be anywhere else. Begone, doctor. I'm sure I'll see you soon enough. Now if you'll excuse me-"
She stood and marched back out onto the deck, clapping her hands together loudly and shouting at the deckhands and automatons.

"Put your backs into it, you pieces of filth! I catch another of you dropping something and man or machine your skin'll be adorning my cabin!"

She looked at the doctor briefly as she was moving. He was a freakish little thing and that was for sure. The beaked mask repelled her, it reminded her too much of the misbegotten. And his behaviour... he reminded her of her brother. He was a weakling too.
And now Annis relied on this weakling to live. What did that make her? She tried to quash this thought by throwing her self into the work, yelling at the crew and directing the flow of materials, mentally toting up supplies as they were shifted.

And there, the Rear-Admiral's carriage. On top of everything. She quickly finished giving orders to a pair of automatons carrying a cartload of barrels and marched towards the gangplanks, before standing just short of them to welcome Adrianna back aboard.

Isaac sat quietly as the crew chatted and laughed. He nodded along and smiled occasionally, but kept referring back to the map he'd brought with him. Whilst they weren't too sure of their next course yet, it couldn't hurt to make sure that the local sky-map was up to date. After all, a couple of narrow scrapes or small miscalculations could get them all killed.

He frowned at Eddie's impatience. They'd only just got back from a job, and it had gone swimmingly well. What was he complaining about? Issac would never understand thrill-seekers.

Then Isaac noticed the captain watching the two girls. A strange look was on her face.
Sheska commented on it. Isaac's eyes drifted away from his map and he concentrated entirely on the exchange. Was there something about those two? He wasn't sure. He glanced quickly at the rest of the crew, to see if they were being any more attentive.

-Exeter St John-

A light breeze whipped at Exeter's dirty coat, sand from the vast deserts beyond Desolation sliding across the ground towards him. The Invincible's First Mate blinked away the grit and sighed heavily. It was probably time to return to the docks; Lanester hated tardiness and Exeter wanted to stay on her good side. Not out of fear but out of necessity for his duty to the Empire.

Turning slowly, with his hands clutched behind his back, Exeter headed towards the docks. He had enjoyed his time of quiet contemplation - away from the bustle of the airship - thinking about the desert and how the Empire could utilise it's vastness, if only piracy didn't enslave so many valuable resources.

As he walked thorugh the streets, Exeter smiled dryly at the deferential looks the inhabitants gave him. Despite it's shabbiness, his uniform still required respect, something Exeter especially relished. Two scruffy young boys were following him closely, a look of scepticism on their faces. They kept whispering to each other and laughing. Exeter was dimly aware of them but paid little attention.

Soon, the docks loomed above and Exeter stopped to stare up at the Invincible. It was a particularly fine ship, even after the repairs - one could barely tell there used to be cannon-holes only a few days ago. Shielding his eyes with a forearm, Exeter squinted up until he felt a light tug on his shirt. He turned to see the two urchin boys from earlier staring up at him. Before a frown could manifest, he put on his biggest grin, attempting to appear kind and fatherly.

"Hello boys," he said, crouching to their level. "What can I do for you both?"

The slighlty taller of the two looked defiantly at the other and then sniffed disdainfully at Exeter. "My brother here says you're a proper navy captain but I say you're a bloody vagrant!"

Exeter blinked, his mouth moving soundlessly. He wasn't quite sure how to process this information. "Well...what brings you to that conclusion, boy?" His grin never faltered although he had straightened.

"You smell," the little one said, holding his nose.

"And your clothes are almost as bad as ours." Snapped the other.

Exeter chuckled softly and scraped a hand through his greasy hair. "Good observation boys, but y'see... I'm working undercover on a secret mission. Yes I certainly am." He nodded emphatically. The boys looked uncertainly at each other. They didn't seem convinced. "Would a simple vagrant have a pistol as fine as this?" Exeter drew his flintlock and presented it to the boys. The older of the two scoffed loudly and waved the pistol away.

"Looks mighty old to me. You say what you like, but you're no navy man. Who would hire someone as dirty as you!?"

Exeter holstered his weapon and cuffed the boy round the ear. "Get outta here you filthy runt!" He aimed a kick at the smaller boy, narrowly missing as they scampered off down an alleyway. Exeter clenched his fists before taking a deep breathe and continuing on to the docks.

It was probably true what the boys had said; he hadn't slept in days and for months he'd been living in the same uniform... but there was just too much to do - map studying, note-taking and revisions of pirate tactics. Exeter didn't have time for trivial things like rest and hygiene, his mind buzzed with information that needed constant sorting, and puzzles that needed constant solving.

On top of all his regular duties, he now had an extra one - keeping an eye on Lanester. The Empire didn't trust her entirely - a wise decision considering the company she kept - and so Exeter was tasked with watching her. If the necessity arose, he would enjoy bringing her to heel.

With that thought fresh in his mind, Exeter soon arrived at the Invincible. He was keen to find out what Lanester had been tasked with and where they were going to be heading next.

"It appears we have arrived m'lady." Garrett said, holding the door open for her. The day was still bright beyond reason, but her eyes were still adjusted so she hardly noticed. Glancing at her ship, she could make out the form of the quartermaster - Black Annis - reading the supplies and for her arrival. Lanester sighed a little; she was happy that Annis took her duties so seriously; she was easily one of the better crew members on the Invincible, but they were still at shore; she needed to learn to enjoy the fruits of Imperial life as much as the harsh duties by which they were earned.

Adrianna spotted another of the crew - Dr. Roque - disappearing into the lower decks; intent on getting back to his sick bay no doubt. He was another of the "good sailor, needs to take a day off" club. Though she knew his obligation to Annis kept him busy, Lanester couldn't help but worry the doctor would burn himself out before too long. Worse, doctors were hard to come by, and good doctors even harder. Either way, it was their choice what to do while off duty, so she would not intrude so long as it did not affect their performance. Thus far, their performance was astounding.

Turning back to Garrett, she uttered her thanks in the most "imperial" way she could. "That is quiet obvious, Mr. Corvus; but I appreciate your observation abilities." she said, as high and mighty as she could. The action of speaking to others like this used to be second nature to her, but now it seemed alien and wrong; she apparently spent too much time in the air. Now, she could barely keep her expression static; the ghost of a smile graced her face at the gentlemanly action - far from visible from the ship, but quiet obvious at such close range as 'Mr. Corvus'

She climbed from her vehicle, taking no help from Corvus or the Automatons that drove the carriage; she was an admiral, she could do some things herself. Glancing around, she spotted another member of her crew; her first mate: Mr. Exeter St. John. This particular encounter was no more a happy occurrence then a splinter, though she kept the feeling from her face.

The man was a strange sort of mirror of herself, though it pained her to admit it. They were both upper class, forged by battle into hard people, and absolutely dedicated to the cause of the Empire. He, however, seemed intent on doing all things by the book, despite - or perhaps because - of his ample time spent as a pirate. The man had no respect for anyone outside the Imperial family as far as she could tell, and insisted on using a misbegotten as a war hound. Still, he was skilled at his trade, and a finer first mate aboard the Invincible could not be found - save those disqualified from the position by race (Garrett) and injury (Annis). She half hoped he would take a cannon shot to the chest in the near future, but knew her luck was rarely so kind these days.

After escaping the carriage, she moved with a swiftness to the ship, then called out to Annis. "Permission to come aboard, ranking officer?" It was a formality, but she knew it was a formality that Annis not only liked, but insisted upon. The boarding plank soon sprang to life; reaching down to the dock.

"Now.. to determine what of our orders to mention" she thought as the plank hit the dock.

"That is quite obvious, Mr. Corvus; but I appreciate your observation abilities." Adrianna said in the most authoritative tone that she could. Garrett mostly figured that she said it in that way to keep up appearances, but she also had a right to do so; after all, he was lower in the echelon of command. There was however, a brief flash of a smile, it not even noticeable to those outside their radius. He calmly returned his hand to his side when Adrianna stepped out of the carriage.

It was then that he spied the first mate of the Invincible; Exeter St. John. Suffice to say, he and Garrett did not see eye to eye; mostly due to the fact that they were both different races, and Exeter had this look of burning desire to do things very much by the book, something which even rubbed Adrianna the wrong way on occasion.

'What an insufferable man, fanatically loyal to the Emperor, and no doubt wanting to usurp Adrianna's power at some point. Although, there is one thing I do pity; the Misbegotten he keeps on a chain. Poor thing, constantly being beaten by Exeter, and kept in a cage that is probably too small for him. He treats the boy as a mere pet, seeing himself as too high and mighty to care. However; apart of me thinks that he sees himself as the most valued. Oh how I would want to see you get yours.' Garrett thought to himself, as he checked Cerberus for any problems during transport. He then holstered the rifle onto his back, before making pace towards the gangplank, but keeping behind Adrianna, and watching the streets they came from.

"Permission to come aboard, ranking officer?"

Annis thought she could detect a hint of sarcasm in her commander's voice, but ignored it. Sometimes the woman could be quite insufferable, and her adherence to Navy regulations could leave something to be desired, but she was the commander of the ship.
If anything, Annis should be glad to even be serving aboard, she doubted any other officer she'd ever known would accept a crippled veteran in any capacity.
Cripple. Veteran. Scum.

"Permission granted. Rear Admiral on deck!" she bellowed the last part and any crew that had been serving for more than a few months instantly stopped what they were doing and saluted.

As the Rear-Admiral Lanester and her strange Sky-Folk, Annis fell into step alongside, as always filling her in on what she'd missed.

"The resupplying has gone well, Rear-Admiral. Save for a single incident - one of the automatons dropped a cannon. Minor scuff damage to the deck, I've had two of my mean clean and wax the location. I am attempting to track down the Automaton and have it reprimanded."

She frowned and looked off to the docks.

"Is that Mr. St John I see? He's late."

Annis didn't give the most polite of goodbyes, as usual, and dismissed him as he descended into the sick bay.

It was a cold, dank place situated in the belly of the ship. The grim atmosphere reinforced by the groans of the recovering patients and the chill of metal was everywhere. Metal beds, metal shelves, metal trays, metal tools. To an ordinary IAN officer, the sick bay was one of the worst places on the ship and stank of chloroform and death. But to Vasco, it was something of a home away from home. This was his own little country and he the little dictator. Here, he could order the Rear-Admiral to bent over for a shot or even present herself for medical examination with but a word from Vasco. With that thought, he smiled as the reached for a sulfa pack and was reminded about the Rear-Admiral's prosthetic arm. He would have to see her about that, yearly maintenance was imperative, but that arm was probably busy with other things at the moment. He would have to wait for an opportune moment to approach the subject.

He huffed over to one of the patients - an ensign that would go away with the scars of a veteran. A bit on the short side with blonde hair and a face that was once bearable to look at. Now a cast engulfed the lower side his face - the poor man nearly had his head split into four, one huge gash run down between his eyes, another down the jaw. Vasco took every measure to make sure that this lad still had a face. Even dosing him with chloroform when he had first woken up from the trauma and had tried to tear the cast off. Vasco turned to prepare the water-and-sufla solution to wash the wound and for the man to drink. Clean inside and out. The only worry now was how well the body would heal the wound, Vasco could only do so much. At least the man was not one of the few allergic to sulfa, then harsh ethanol would be used and morphine would have to be given for the pain.

A bellow from Black Annis reverberated around the ship, signalling that the Rear-Admiral was abroad. She would soon announce any orders or happening, as was the custom. She seemed to like customs, even humouring Annis with asking permission to come aboard deck. At least that would benefit Annis, as it would make her feel useful, even if she was apparently content with just being able to serve aboard the ship. A patient needed a healthy body and a healthy mind. Nevertheless, after at least a year, she had adjusted to the condition but didn't fully accept it. Vasco administered the sulfa solution to the man and moved on to the bookshelf, looking through for a certain book. A book about nursery rhymes, but with a section cut out and hidden to stash things in. He found it. Inside was a vial containing a small drop of the poison stuck in Annis' throat extracted during the installation of the apparatus. He had hoped to see other doctors and experts about it in Desolation, but his time was consumed with helping others.

Hopefully, other opportunities would arise...

Jessie had been quick to get started once they got to the bar. Setting her gun at their table, apparently trusting the crew enough to leave the gun untended among them, she set off for the counter, inquiring about their drinks and them promptly getting some of the harder stuff.

It had been chugged down at amazing speed, eliciting more than a few mirthful cries from the rowdy crowd nearby. To some, it was a new drinking companion who apparently was willing to go in as deep and as fast as they were. To others, it was a girl about to be drunk.

Opening drink done, she'd set off, hopping between tables and over turned chairs and downed drunks to get as close to the band as she could. In what little room she could find, she got to doing what she loved best - singing along and dancing.

People had made a bit of room after the first few times she bumped into them, but she hardly needed that. In Neobedouin fashion, she spun, twirled and jumped, moving between tables, leaning on chairs and basically making that entire corner of the bar her stage. People didn't seem to mind, or perhaps they thought she was hired entertainment and dared not draw the attention of the guard automata. She didn't make the mistake of lingering too long near any one table - she'd been to enough of these bars to know that would be just inviting hands.

Eventually, she'd made her way back to the crew's table. She'd worked up quite the sweat, but the pure exuberant enthusiasm coming off her smile made it clear that she was more than ready for more.

"'Oy, boys, girls. Chief does choose her waterholes well, don't she?" She winked Beth's way, then leaned over Isaac as she reached around the table to where she'd left her gun, slinging it over her shoulder and then sitting back on the chair.

She took a moment to breathe and wipe the sweat off her forehead with a handkerchief, and perhaps for that reason didn't catch it when Beth's eyes first turned on the redhead. When Sheska commented on it, though, her gaze focused and shifted in that direction. There was a touch of a hunter's ice in the eye, which all the rum she'd had did nothing to defuse. "Trouble already, is it?"

Isaac did everything in his power to stop himself from blushing as Jessie leaned over him.
Ah, and here was the real reason he'd brought the maps along - otherwise he'd have spent the whole night staring at her.

He really didn't know what it was about this Neobedouin girl that had him bewitched. Between the rigours of his former life and his general lack of social skills when not actively acting out a role he'd never had much room for... romance? No, that didn't sound right. Just general involvement with the opposite sex. Sure, he'd faked infatuation as and when he'd needed to, but had never been actually infatuated.

But there you had it. Maybe if he just asked her out on... something. Just this once.
...Maybe when he was feeling a little better.

"Trouble already, is it?"

Her comment snapped him out of it in a second, and he was instantly back into professional mode. It looked as if the others were expecting a fight. Not a huge change in character - Sheska was almost always expecting a fight. Isaac suffered from the same sort of paranoia but where she reacted with readying to strike back he usually tried to slip away and disappear. But he couldn't do that anymore.

He felt in his cuff for the minute gravity blade. A tiny sliver of blued metal, perfect for sling across a room and into a throat. He hadn't used it in a long time but it paid to be cautious if the others suspected danger was afoot.

"We're not sure. Something cap'n doesn't like." he whispered to Jessie.
Why was it he could only talk confidently to her when they were potentially in danger?

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