Aether Shanties RP (PM if interested/Started)

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"Would you mind if I observe the autopsy? My duties are done, and I'd like some sodding answers." Jason was sure his frustration showed through is voice, despite his best efforts to reign it in. "If this Beth is really from the future, maybe her body could tell us a little about what we're getting into."

"Very well, I have no objection to it. Just be warned, autopsies get more gruesome than combat." Samuel said as he began.

He removed the clothing from the body and set it aside. If it turned out this was actually a future version of the captain then those were her personal items and he would return them to her. He had done preliminary medical examinations of the crew from time to time so his next step was to retrieve the most current records he had kept of Captain Beth. He opened the ledger he kept for her and opened it to his most recent mark.

"Once in a lifetime thing I have here. I'll have to make sure I keep proper documentation of everything. Perhaps I'll even make a book on this one day." He said to himself as he got out all the tools he would need.

"Now, down to business." He first checked the temperature of the body and found nothing abnormal. Next was to check the body for scars and marks, of which he found plenty. He brought the book containing a list of marks on the captain. He couldn't keep the smile from his lips if he had tried.

'A birthmark in exactly the same spot, same type too. This is most certainly the captain.' He thought to himself as he continued.

'Hmm more scar tissue than current records indicate there should be.' He made note of it along with the birthmark on a new page of the ledger now that it was confirmed. Samuel had bowl of water and a rag nearby and started cleaning the stomach wound of blood and debris, being careful to not accidentally damage it.

'Shame she wasn't alive for long, I could have learned so much in an interview.' Once the wound was clean he checked it for size and type also checking the back for a similar wound which he found. He spoke as he wrote it down.

"Size and shape of wound on stomach and back consistent with puncture from a blade, more likely than not a sword of some length. Bruises on body consistent with being in some sort of fight. Likely cause of death, blood loss due to wounds sustained from a sword during a fight."

He then began to check the bones of the extremities and found that the bones of her feet felt as if they had suffered some form of break. The only thing that had probably kept her walking was sheer adrenaline, he noted the bone fractures and continued on. Her left arm also had damage indicating a bone that had been broken but hadn't healed right. It was usable with nothing cosmetic but it was an indicator this was their captain as it had been noted in records before. Though this kind of thing was common with those who couldn't receive proper medical care for long periods of time. A crew member had fashioned a crude splint and sling for her at the time of the injury so it wasn't anything of real concern. He had gleaned all he could from merely observation and hand tests so it was time to open the body. He made sure to put a mask on before doing so and kept his hair back so as not to contaminate the body.

Upon opening the body cavity carefully so as not to damage it he immediately saw where the blade had run through the body as there was organ damage in the area. Cuts and punctures to the intestines consistent with having been run through. The other organs in the body cavity were normal however, except for the liver which was showing signs of cirrhosis consistent with heavy drinking of alcohol.

"Wounds to organs consistent with stabbing. Damage to liver consistent with heavy alcohol usage, recommend captain lessen alcohol intake." He said as he wrote it down.

'Now this is what I was hoping for, how a proper examination of a future self can lead to preventative patient care.' He though as he continued. Finding nothing else he closed the cavity and sewed it back up so that if the Captain ordered a proper burial it wouldn't be a more gruesome sight. Though he personally wished he could keep it for preservation and possibly further experimentation.

He moved on to his last point of study, the neck and head. There was no damage to the neck as he suspected since the future version of the captain had been able to speak. He noted some bruising on the face consistent with a fight and continued on. There were no signs of a wound to the head but still decided to check for brain damage, finding none. He made note of everything and then put down the ledger. Samuel took the future captain's personal items and put them in a basket to bring to her. After covering the cleaned and sewn up body with a sheet he took the basket of personal items and stuck the ledger under his arm to carry the basket with both hands. He was ready to walk back to the Captain's chamber.

"So anything in particular you want to know before I or we go back to the Captain?" Samuel asked Jason with a smile.

The autopsy went without incident. Jason had seen limbs blown clean off his fellow engineers when they'd been too flippant in stoking engines, or burnt to death when they mishandled welding sticks, so he found Sam's warning somewhat quaint.

"Size and shape of wound on stomach and back consistent with puncture from a blade, more likely than not a sword of some length. Bruises on body consistent with being in some sort of fight. Likely cause of death, blood loss due to wounds sustained from a sword during a fight."

'That doesn't tell us all that much, unfortunately. She was in High Tortuga, a place full of people with both swords and a desire to use them. But to nail Beth like that would take quite a bit of skill, not something I suspect any two-bit pirate could do...'

"Wounds to organs consistent with stabbing. Damage to liver consistent with heavy alcohol usage, recommend captain lessen alcohol intake."

'Heh, good luck with that one. Beth is a pirate: heart, soul, and liver.'

"So anything in particular you want to know before I or we go back to the Captain?"

"Any idea as to the dimensions of the blade that ran her through? I have a catalog lying around somewhere that could give us a hint as to its make. I doubt an ordinary thug on the streets of High Tortuga could best Beth in swordplay, but if it's an Imperial make..."

"Straight blade, decent size, definitely an imperial blade. Probably an officer's sword judging by the fact she was run through and the size of the puncture. Saw plenty of them when I was still a doctor for the Empire." Samuel replied before starting to leave the room.

"Also I'm glad you didn't make much of the autopsy. I've seen many sailors both pirate and imperial a like end up vomiting or fainting once I begin to examine the body cavity and weigh or examine the organs by pulling them out." He commented with a laugh.

"Funny that I can handle holding a human heart in my bare hands but the food here gets me."

Isaac marched down the ship's corridors, making his way to the captain's cabin. He was still mentally adjusting the route for a slightly more efficient ride, but he had more than enough for Beth to give some orders with regards to getting the hell out of High Tortuga.

As he was walking, he ran into Samuel and Jason, leaving Sam's work room.
He nodded politely to the pair and stopped momentarily to peer into the room.

THe sight of the captain's body was unsettling. He knew it wasn't her and he knew she'd already been dead but it still felt... un-natural almost.

He looked at the Doctor, and jerked his head slightly to indicate the body.

"And?"

Meanwhile, on the top deck, Eddie continued to do everything he could to get them out of port as soon as possible, tying off ropes where needed, urging the crew onwards, and everything he loved about the sky. One of the biggest reliefs he got was from leaving port, he didn't belong there, and his body knew it too well, he belonged out here, getting a ship ready for sailing, pillaging, shooting, and his stunts was just icing on the cake that were his loves.

He hummed along with the rest of the crew, knowing his voice wasn't suited to singing anything. Finishing with his duties, he climbed the rigging up a bit and watched the last few tasks be completed. Simply for the fun of the view of High Tortuga and the Mermaid.

He breathed in the air, and sighed, a new outing. Obviously it was going to be filled with people to kill, things to rob, and places to blow up, not necessarily in that order or combinations there of. Not like he knew anything that went on below-decks with the engines or the weird machinations that clicked, whizzed, buzzed, and belched out more smoke than a broadside attack.

"We fly the moment we're able, so get to moving!"

"When else would we start flying Sheeka? Just as'oon as we tie up at the nex' port? Not like I know much about those engins, but I don'think we can tow one of 'em. Catch me if I'm wrong Ms.Hound!" He dropped down from the rigging, aiming for Sheska's general clear area, feet first.

"Straight blade, decent size, definitely an imperial blade. Probably an officer's sword judging by the fact she was run through and the size of the puncture. Saw plenty of them when I was still a doctor for the Empire."

"Hm... That explains who we're competing against, but still not why..." Jason thought briefly on this revelation, and it didn't look good. If the Empire was interested in it, and it was important enough that Beth would transcend time and space to warn us of it, some serious shit was about to go down.

"Also I'm glad you didn't make much of the autopsy. I've seen many sailors both pirate and imperial a like end up vomiting or fainting once I begin to examine the body cavity and weigh or examine the organs by pulling them out."

"Way I see it, you're an engineer, same as me. You just happen to put people back together, rather than machines. Besides, once you see a person split themselves clean in half because they didn't vent an outlet properly, most gore seems quaint in comparison."

"Funny that I can handle holding a human heart in my bare hands but the food here gets me."

"I may give Frank shit, but it's true most Skyfolk food takes a while to settle. But enough pleasantries, we should report to Beth." Jason motioned to leave, but stopped as Isaac poked his head through the door. His head made a motion to the corpse on the operating table. "And?"

"Definitely Beth, and she was killed by an Imperial."

-Sheska-

Sheska set about walking about the top deck, inspecting everyone's work as they neared time to set off. That was when she heard the voice of their Cannon Commander called out to her from above. She looked up and snarled. "Get down from there you bloody idiot! You can't climb as well as I can, and you haven't got the claws either.", she shouted up at him, just before he said the one thing she wished he didn't.

"Catch me if I'm wrong Ms. Hound!".

She quickly took a few steps back, glad that she wasn't stupid enough to even try to catch the death-seeking bastard. When he landed not a few inches from her, she leaned forward, her lip curled, teeth bared, and a growl working in her throat. "Eddie, if you try that again, I'll be sure to put a bullet in your balls. Maybe then you won't have a want to do that sort of thing. Now if you've done your work, see about helping the rest of the crew.", she told him, jabbing a claw not too gently against his chest, then motioning to the still-working crewmen.

Turning, she looked about the deck one more time, then nodded in satisfaction. The ship was ready, now all they needed was the Captain to set them off and on their way.

"Definitely Beth, and she was killed by an Imperial."

Isaac frowned. It made sense, he supposed. He'd spent some time eliminating all of the other possibilities in his head, and short of a very good surgery job, the sort of thing the Ggun would pull, it had to be Beth. Still a bit of a shock though.

"...Huh."

Well it looked like they were all heading the same way, so Isaac stood just outside the door and politely awaited the other two.

"Eddie, if you try that again, I'll be sure to put a bullet in your balls."

"Ouch, Sheeka,"Eddie said, rubbing his chest where the claw had poked him,"But a bullet to'the balls does a bit more than I think you think I thin-wait, hold up, I lost myself there....uh-huh, right....that's it! Anyways, the point's that I missed once, poor guy lost most of 'is insides once...come to think of it...no,no...that's not it"He said this all more lost in deep thought than menace or threatening, then smiled, ear to...well, a smirk actually,"So, when's the Cap'n saying we're leavin'?"

-Sheska-

Once she was certain all was prepared, she glanced back at Eddie, making one of her eyebrows quirk up. The man was still talking, rambling more like. And he was having trouble getting his words in order to either tell her an anecdote as to what happened another time he did that, threaten her, or apologize. She wasn't entirely sure which, but she suspected he couldn't deliver a good threat to save his life.

As a pirate, that was pretty damn sad.

He made up for it in balls though, which she supposed he could keep as he smirked at her and asked when the Captain said they were leaving. "By the time she gets to the helm. And if you could, keep the cannon crew you're in charge of from spreading rumors about... The body we brought aboard. Until we know what's going on with that, crew doesn't need to know.", she told him, just before starting to make her way to below-deck.

"A good way of putting it Jason, also I've seen some medical texts dealing with a merging of man and machine. Perhaps I can get some of your expertise one of these days on it." Samuel made sure all the clothes were in the basket and the ledger was safely under his arm before leaving the room and looking to Isaac.

"An officer by the looks of it. Though where she died and why is still a mystery, perhaps the captain might know more. Though there may be clues in the future self's personal items, which I'm going to return now with the autopsy report." The three of them began walking through the ship until they reached the Captain's door.

"Captain, I have the results of the autopsy and the personal items of the deceased." He said as he knocked.

Adrianna brought her left hand to her temples, her thumb to her left and her forefinger to her right, and rubbed them in an attempt the clear the argument induced headache. For a moment, she had a sense of wonderment at Exeter's sudden apology - one that seemed genuine and heartfelt. She briefly wondered if perhaps she had misjudged him.

Then he made a comment about Annis's death while smiling and Adrianna knew it was but a calm in the storm. Before anyone could continue, she cleared her throat and said, quietly, but with force, "Enough. This is an imperial vessel. We will keep our conversations civil; else we are little better then the pirate hoards. . Mr. St. John; You will treat Mr. Roque and Ms. Backer-Cromwell with the same respect you would any of His Majesty's loyal servants. Your apology however is quite well spoken, and I thank you for the civility. Ms. Baker-Cromwell, your question has merit, though it is dangerously close to questioning the will of the Empire or His Majesty; please be certain to keep this in mind. I expect all my officers to act with order while on duty and aboard my vessel." she said,taking time to chose her words as diplomatically and directly as possible.

Adrianna recalled that she had another piece of business to attend to - one which Annis had pointed out a mere half hour previous. "On which note; Mr. St. John - I have allowed your state-of-dress to slide in,light of your previous... occupation, I would remind you that you are the first mate of this vessel and an example to the crew. Please remember to arrive promptly and without delay for future sailings."

With the unpleasantness dealt with; Adrianna returned to the task at had. "Ms. Baker-Cromwell. I do not claim to understand the will of the Emperor, but his will is clear. For whatever reason, he has chosen us for this mission personally. And while I will agree with your sentiment that this is a "glorified treasure hunt", it is none-the-less an important task. Remember; many of the most powerful weapons of the Empire were salvaged from the ruins of the old world. Would you want pirates to acquire one the of old world's "nuclear" devices, one of their communication arrays, or worst of all one of their temporal transporters? Any such item in the hands of the pirate scum could spell disaster for the Imperial Navy; sending thousands of brave sailors to their deaths. If this ruin contains such an item, we are duty bound to find it and return it to the Emperor for safe keeping; binding it to the Imperial will." she said, without delay or hesitation.

"Now; we have our heading. unless there is any other business to which we must attend before sailing, I will ask you-" she said, striker her admiral-tone once more, directed at Annis, "-to guide us out of port while Mr. St. John, Mr. Corvus, and I decide on our exact vectors to reach the city of Helium with due haste." Adrianna said, keeping her face stoic. She knew Annis would be surprised to hear the request; traditionally either she or Mr. St. John acted as the pilots, but then she had her reasons. If this mission was the Empires way of sending them to their death, then the only option was to complete the mission then remove the source of the Empire's frustration; her command. If this mission went well, she would need to retire from active service. As a result, Exeter would likely be moved to a more important vessel for his expertise, which would leave Annis in command. Her command skills would therefore need to be tested while she was still Admiral.

Looking around at the group, she waited to see if anyone had any more business to attend to.

Beth stepped onto the deck again. Looking around the dock she could see a couple of other ships being prepared as well, but she didn't know why. She suspected that one or two captains had gotten word of what had happened earlier at The Laughing Gull, and maybe they were now eager to get a hold of whatever they thought she had given to herself.

She couldn't see Isaac anywhere. She did see the cannon commander jumping down on Sheska, at first she feared they would get into a fight, but her fears proved unfounded. Beth couldn't hear what they said, but Sheska passed her on her way to the helm.

"Where are you going... Is everything ready..."

She didn't wait for an answer, but climbed up the stairs to the helm. A couple of times she had to steady herself with the help of the railing.

Well, it's not the first time I've been drunk at the wheel...

It was rare though. She eventually made it to the helm, and placed her hands on it.

"We're casting off!" Beth turned the wheel, which made the side of the ship crash into the dock platform. Crates and planks fell down towards the mountain as she accidentely destroyed part of the docks. The ship shook and the crew onboard had to hold onto whatever they could, to not fall over. "Oops. Sorry about that..."

She steadied the wheel and took a deep breath. No one had died yet, even after that blunder. Where was Isaac? Probably flirting with that Neobeduin woman Jessie. If she found out that was the case, she would have him hang off the side of the ship by a rope as punishment.

"Full speed ahead!" The engines responded and the ship took off in some direction, with a drunk captain at the helm.

-Sheska-

The First Mate was once again disoriented as Captain Beth passed by her as she was on her way to check on her. Turning easily however, she followed her to the helm, occasionally moving to catch her as she started to stumble. "Yes, Cap'n. The ship is ready to cast off whenever you are. However...", she said, hesitating for a moment before taking her place next to Beth as she took the wheel.

"I'm worried about you, ma'am. When you have the chance, I'd like to speak to you, Beth.", she said, her voice softening, and her speech getting more formal, more proper.

In the Chuno Ggun, she had learned to speak proper English. She just saw it as stuffy and overly-formal most of the time. But when she felt it was appropriate or necessary, she would occasionally slip back to it. Overall, it didn't suit her personality, her looks, or her rough voice.

It was when Beth started the ship going that she winced, hearing the crash of the ship into the platform, and she shook her head even as she clutched to the nearest railing to keep from falling overboard.

"I'm worried about you, ma'am. When you have the chance, I'd like to speak to you, Beth"

The ship flew fast, leaving High Tortuga behind and Beth thought that they weren't that much off course. Not that she had been given one, but she had flown to Helium City before. The mountain peaks she flew scarily close to looked familiar, though she hadn't been quite this near them before.

Sheska's concerned voice touched her. At least one person was worried about her, instead of asking if they could cut her up, for research.

"I just watched a badly hurt version of myself, stagger into a tavern and tell me that something depended on us getting to a place I had marked on a map. Then fall over dead. What's there possibly to worry about?"

I have experienced worse... Actually no, on second thought, I haven't.

"Can you even imagine having that happen to you?" The wind pulled at her long hair and stretched it out behind her. She felt better with the wind grazing her hair and wings. The rum would wear off and then she would be back to her normal self. She pulled the ship up higher, so that they wouldn't hit a mountain. The alcohol was the reason that she still felt somewhat sane. If she eventually sobered up, she would have to face the reality of it all. And what then? She could do as she had been told, but what would the crew think when she forced them to fly across the continent?

"At least I could have had the decency to stay alive for another ten minutes. Might have been slightly more helpful than dying. And did you see the look in my eyes?"

There had been pain, relief, suffering and love in those eyes. Not all of it directed at herself either.

Vasco gave a chuckle, an Imperial ship on a treasure hunt? Last time he checked, pirates went off on adventures like that. Still, it was an interesting reversal nonetheless. Especially with the crew bickering like rowdy pirate scum. Seeing as the little ruckus was over and that he was no longer needed, Vasco excused himself out of the room, leaving the others to themselves. Hopefully those two wouldn't rip each other apart with the Rear-Admiral there. He sighed, how on earth did Exeter even get back into the IAN? On second thoughts, he didn't want to know, as the man had a history of violence and the IAN probably thought that it was a good idea to let an old raggedy stray sheep back into the fold as some farce or something. That reminded him, Exeter probably blew off some steam beating Capricorn before the meeting. Poor thing, it would be best to put it down, but that would just cause even more trouble, enough for Dr. Roque to be tempted to try and put Exeter down. Vasco was always left to clean up his handiwork.

He descended the stairs down to his domain - the sick bay - and fetched a lantern, plus some bandages, surgical thread, and medical alcohol. He would need it where he was going. The beast had been banished below to the dark recesses of the hold, filled with rust, dust and all the dirt that had filtered down to settle in that dark pit. Nevertheless, the descend would be just a matter of clambering down the stairs and ladders until the moans of the neglected Misbegotten could be heard, or the creaks of the newly-acquired automation moving about. But that thing was nothing but a helpful hand to hold the lantern while he set about his work. Vasco hated doing this, as his work would be undone and there was the fact that the pit, as he liked to refer to it, was not a welcoming place for someone like him. Before these thoughts of dread entered his head, Vasco found that he was there.

Vasco turned to Felon-12 and handed the lantern to the automaton with a simple command, "Hold and follow."

He walked up to the cage where Capricorn resided, the smell of rotting vegetables hung in the air, thick enough for it to permeate the filters of the mask. He sighed, what had Exeter done now?

-Sheska-

After the scary cast-off, she unwrapped her arms from the railing and strode back over, brushing off her front as a way to reorient herself. She looked up whenever Beth spoke.

"I just watched a badly hurt version of myself, stagger into a tavern and tell me that something depended on us getting to a place I had marked on a map. Then fall over dead. What's there possibly to worry about?".

Sheska nodded quietly, then sighed. She supposed they'd take the chance to talk now. "It's hard to imagine, ma'am. But I know you'll get us through this, Captain.", she said firmly, conviction filling that last sentence in its entirety.

"Can you even imagine having that happen to you?".

"I think I would have fared better seeing myself, dying and defeated, than seeing you like that.", she told her.

That meant that somewhere, sometime, another version of her failed. Failed to protect her Captain, failed to stay alive to the last, defending her. She either died, too inadequate to keep her safe, or she was a traitor, and may as well have been dead.

After another moment, she took another step forward and placed a gentle hand on the Captains shoulder. "I won't let that happen to you, Beth. I'll die before I let anyone get close to killing you, and you know how hard I am to kill. And you know, the crew and I, Eddie, Sam, Jason, Jess, and Izzy especially, we believe in one thing, besides gold and the fact that the Emperor is a right bloody swine: That's you.", Sheska told her, her eyes locked onto Beth.

The look in those eyes was a myriad of different emotions: Trust. Love. And unshakable Faith.

"Until we know what's going on with that, crew doesn't need to know."

"O really now? We've just got us a body in the hold, no one's going to notice the stink, sure.Sure, Sheeka, I'll be right on making sure no one knows about it."

A couple of the crew walking by that heard the quietly said comment, stopping them in their tracks,"Shuddup, get yur stuff together, we're about to-"

The ship lurched a bit and the sounds of crashing and breaking, followed by the wails of night dockworkers and the Captain's slightly slurred apology as they navigated off into the world again. Eddie didn't really care, so long as they didn't get stuck in a port. Eddie himself stumbled a bit, but regained his balance quickly.

"See, told you we were leaving."

Eddie then saw Sheska and the Captain up on the helm. Not really caring what it was, he simply lounged on deck, the night air was great. It was good to be out of that stuffy place, he'd be back to normal by the time the sun rose, or somewhere around that time.

Samuel felt the lurch and realized where the captain would be.

"Well then now we know where we need to go." Samuel said as he went to the helm. having some trouble with the stairs with the basket and ledger in his hands, but he managed. Eventually he entered the helm.

"Captain I have the results of my examination. If you would I'd like to report them to you."

Jason nearly lost his footing as the ship lurched and shuddered, the sound of the dock shattering around them. "Son of a... BETH! HOW MANY TIMES HAVE I TOLD YOU NOT TO STRESS THE SHIP LIKE THAT?!"

He took in a deep breath. Beth wasn't here, so yelling won't get anything done. Besides, there where more important things to think about. Calming his nerves, he followed Isaac and Sam to the helm.

-Annis-
"Enough. This is an imperial vessel. We will keep our conversations civil; else we are little better then the pirate hoards. Ms. Baker-Cromwell, your question has merit, though it is dangerously close to questioning the will of the Empire or His Majesty; please be certain to keep this in mind.
Annis was a step away from killing Exeter. All it would take was a sudden draw. She was certain she was the better swordsman, after all. He wouldn't even have time to get that poncy pistol out before she'd gutted and quartered him. How dare he?
But... the Admiral was right.
Annis visibly shifted to a more formal, respectful stance, rather than the combat stance her feet had been moving her to. She cursed herself inwardly - she'd lost her temper and lost control.

And if she lost control, she lost the last thing that made her human. Normal. Without self-control she was nothing but a monster a hair's breadth from death. She bowed her head deferentially to the captain, but didn't say anything immediately,waiting for her voice to lose it's shake.

"I apologise, Rear-Admiral. I would not intentionally question our superiors. It shall not happen again."

When Lanester ordered her to guide the ship out of port she was shocked. Of course she'd done so before, she'd been a captain of at least three vessels before... before.
But it wasn't her job. Of course she'd do it if ordered but this was most irregular.
She saluted, muttered an "Aye-Aye, Ma'am." and left, watching Vasco go.

She wasn't sure what to think of his behaviour in the meeting. Yes, he hated it when people looked down on his handiwork, but it felt... almost as if he had been defending her. Odd. Why would he want to? She was his patient but so were the rest of the crew. He shouldn't have any particular loyalty to her just because she needed more... maintenance than most.

Pointless thoughts that were wasting time. The ship needed to leave.

She marched out into the centre of the deck so that most of the currently active crew could see her. The last of the supplies had been moved aboard during the meeting, Annis had been counting down the minutes mentally. Once all activity had stop and fearful eyes rested on her, she spoke in a low, but distinct voice.

"We are embarking on our voyage, as of now. I am to hold the helm. If the ship is not ready to leave by the time I reach the helm I will be very displeased. Is that clear?"

She smiled with some satisfaction as the ship around her became a sudden hive of hurried preparation, and marched towards the helm.
Finally at the controls of the vessel, her breath caught in her mask. It had been so long since she had been in this position. To be behind the wheel, the altimeters, the ballast dials... it was almost like being a captain again.

With some surprise she noticed the smile was still on her lips.
"Death or Glory it is, then." she said to herself, and they were away.

-Isaac-
As the ship lurched, Isaac's face paled. That should not be happening. At least he knew where the captain was.
Without another word to Samuel or Jason he was running full-pelt back the way he came.

As he barrelled past crew and sped up the stairs his mind started rushing through all the things that could go wrong;
They could hit a wind-bank Beth didn't know was there and end up in an 180 without knowing it. They could hit a tornado path and be shaken in two. They could run out of fuel before reaching Helium.
They could run into an Imperial Patrol.
That was one of the few things that only Isaac could do: he knew exactly where the patrol routes were. It had been his job to remember details with precision accuracy, and the Imps were sticklers for change. Their patrol routes had remained almost exactly the same as the day the Empire had been formed. But those routes weren't obvious - if they were then no pirates would have ever been captured or killed. Well, until the Imps started hunting them down anyway. And it was up to Isaac to steer them safely. Without a good navigator a captain was rudderless, flying blind. You never fly blind.

He dashed up on deck and thundered through the doors to the Helm, stopping short of both Beth and Sheska.

"What are you doing?" he shouted, all thoughts of rank and station lost in his general fury at the captain's recklessness.
"Are you trying to endanger the whole crew? Running a ship is all well and good, but any one of the minute things you have to worry about will get you stone dead without the right information. Information you just ordered me to acquire. Do you have that information yet captain?"

In the back of his mind there was a small voice screaming for Isaac to shut up. He had gone too far, he must have done. But he liked the captain and he hated to see her like this. He hated to see her doing stupid, reckless things like she was no better than Eddie. If she hadn't keel-hauled him for the hour-long lecture on accepting drinks from strangers last month then with any luck he'd be okay now.

But you could see something was different in the captain. She was drunk of course, but that look in her eyes betrayed something else too. And why shouldn't it? Meeting your own corpse would do that to a person.

He knew this. He knew all of this, but he couldn't shake the anger. He just didn't want the crew to all die because he hadn't been fast enough with his job. That was understandable wasn't it? Isaac hoped so, because if it was he'd probably be scrubbing latrines for the rest of the voyage.

Garrett was busy watching the world go by, and the crewmembers acting out their duty, when the ship's doctor, Vasco Roque walked out of the navgiation room. He was always curious as to what lied beneath that bird beaked mask of the doctor, wondering what the man even looked like; as a man in a mask on occasion had secrets. There was a brief pause, before Annis appeared as well, adressing the crew in a distinct and otherwise commanding tone of voice.

"We are embarking on our voyage, as of now. I am to hold the helm. If the ship is not ready to leave by the time I reach the helm I will be very displeased. Is that clear?" It seems as though that the persuasion had did the trick, as the crew up on deck had picked up the pace a little. Figuring that the staff meeting had come to a close, Garrett decided to stand at the entrance to the room.

"I take it that everyone has their orders then? If so, is there anything that I can help with m'lady Admiral?" Garrett then asked, finishing off with a brief bow of respect.

-Exeter St John-

Exeter had allowed his smile to deepen. It seemed that he had hit a nerve; Black Annis was seething behind her mask and looked ready to strike in anger. An uncharacteristically reckless decision. What a stupid fool. Nearly everyone knew of Exeter's nigh-on immunity - he was considered a hero and too valuable to remove. Anyone who was to strike him down would find themselves executed quickly.

He didn't move as Annis appeared to shift her weight. He wasn't afraid to take an injury. If she attacked, all he would need to do is sever the vital pipe connecting her mask to the oxygen tank. Despite her insubordination and health issues, Annis really was a decent officer; it would be a shame to lose her in such a reckless fashion.

"Enough. This is an imperial vessel. We will keep our conversations civil; else we are little better then the pirate hoards." Lanester's words cut through Exeter's concentration like the keenest dagger. His smile dissolved and he took a step backwards, arms spread wide, to show he meant no harm.

"Mr. St. John; You will treat Mr. Roque and Ms. Backer-Cromwell with the same respect you would any of His Majesty's loyal servants. Your apology however is quite well spoken, and I thank you for the civility." He wasn't sure either deserved respect after the way they had spoken to a senior officer but he nodded acquiescence. The Rear-Admiral's decision not to punish Annis or Vasco irked Exeter but he kept silent. He would play the role offered to him without protest, until further evidence against her could be gathered.

"Mr. St. John - I have allowed your state-of-dress to slide in,light of your previous... occupation, I would remind you that you are the first mate of this vessel and an example to the crew. Please remember to arrive promptly and without delay for future sailings." This made Exeter raise his eyebrow slightly. Another barb about his attire... Despite his love for the Empire, Exeter was troubled by the amount of time the Imperials dispensed on cleanliness. Say what you like about the pirates, but you couldn't fault their time-management; ignoring inconsequential aspects of life could make the important ones infinitely more efficient.

He let it slide though and bowed his head apologetically at the comment about his tardiness.
"I admit that I've been meaning to get my timepiece looked at. I will endeavour to have it fixed when we next dock."

Exeter listened with half an ear as Lanester addressed Annis and eventually dismissed her and Vasco. The Admiral seemed particularly lax in her discipline. Rewarding insubordination with the opportunity to pilot the ship? Exeter inwardly scoffed at the idea but made sure his face remained impassive. Although it was difficult, he knew that in order to carry out the Lord-Commander's request, he would need to stay on the good side of the Admiral. He made note in his head to improve relations with Annis and Vasco too. If the Empire was truly uncertain of Lanester's allegiance, he would probably need the other officers' cooperation in order to bring the traitor to justice.

Bringing his thoughts to a close, Exeter focused back on the Admiral's words. "...Mr. St. John, Mr. Corvus, and I decide on our exact vectors to reach the city of Helium with due haste. At these words, Exeter stepped up to the map and began inspecting it. Helium City shouldn't be too difficult to reach; he'd been there many times in his life - under piracy and Imperial duty - and had a number of contacts there.

As Annis and Vasco exited the room, the First Mate was about to ask Lanester which route she would prefer taking but Garrett stepped into the doorway. He glanced at the man sideways, eyes narrowing slightly, before turning his attention back to the map.

"I take it that everyone has their orders then? If so, is there anything that I can help with m'lady Admiral?" Exeter ignored the man's words, instead busy scanning the map, content to be deep in thought. He could faintly hear Annis yelling orders to the crew. He smiled weakly and began to hum an old song he knew from days gone by. He trailed off with a few breathed words, so quiet as to almost be silent. "...Heave Ho...Thieves and Beggars...Never shall we die..."

-Capricorn-

As Capricorn opened his eyes, the pain shot through his body. He distinctly remembered the blows across his back but by the time his master had moved onto his head, he was already unconscious. He continued to lie on his side; moving hurt too much.

A low whine escaped his lips, a sad noise made more melancholy by the dull echoes produced by the lower deck. Capricorn was crying. Not because of the pain. Not because of his bleak situation and hopeless life. Capricorn wasn't aware that these were things to cry about. He was crying because he had upset his master.

The crying continued for a while until he heard someone approaching. Opening his eyes he saw a dim lantern approaching. Fearing that it was his master, Capricorn struggled to his knees and groped for a piece of rotten onion, ready to show his master that he had learned to appreciate what was offered him. After pushing himself to his feet, Capricorn tentatively placed the scrap of food in his mouth. His jaw ached but he chewed obediently. Since the beating, he had realised that the taste was actually quite good, interesting.

"Hold and follow." Hearing the muffled voice, Capricorn realised it wasn't his master. He swallowed the mouldy scrap and stood watching as a beak-featured figure was illuminated by the lantern.

Capricorn merely stared.

-Sheska-

The intense look aimed at the Captain was only broken off as Isaac, Jason and Sam ran up to the helm, with Isaac yelling at Beth in uncharacteristic fury. The fact that it was aimed at the Captain made Sheskas blood run ice cold, and her golden eyes narrowed dangerously in his direction, but at the same time, he was right: She was being more reckless and dangerous than usual in her rush to get on their way. Her worry for the Captains well-being overshadowed that, and while she thought of Beth first, she needed to think of the crew as well.

"Isaac! Remember who you're speaking to.", she hissed under her breath, baring her needle-sharp teeth, her more moderate death-glare aimed right into his eyes.

Then she took a deep breath and turned back to the Captain, her voice softening. "Unfortunately, he is right, Captain. That cast off was dangerous, and all the more reason to be worried. Let Isaac or I take the helm for you, because you need rest. You need to sleep off the rum, and let us take care of what needs doing.", she suggested with as much diplomacy as she could muster.

As she listened to herself however, she felt her stomach turn in disgust. She sounded like one of those fucking Imps, with their pomp, circumstance and formality. It was unlike her, it went against her brash, confrontational personality, and she hated that. But, if there was a time that needed her to be tactful and diplomatic, now was it.

The lurch hit while she'd been working under the main mast, meaning - of course - that she'd had an easy time anchoring herself to the spot. Her gaze ran along the deck quickly in that instant, and - through either fortune or good preparation - didn't see anyone get injured or thrown overboard. Another happy take-off.

The initial chaos slowly settled down. Preparing a ship for leaving port and actually accomplishing the take-off was hard work, especially if you were competing with neighboring ships. After that, it was just the usual watches.

She stood by the mast for a moment, simply watching the movement. Some crew members staying for the first watch, others quietly slipping to the galley to finish what they'd started on any of High Tortuga's many waterholes. She couldn't spot the officers from where she stood, and figured they would probably convene something of a meeting to discuss what just happened. Not the kind of thing one takes in stride. That meant it would be quite a while before Isaac came a-calling.

She set to climbing, doing it with the ease that came from living close to half your life as a nomad in jungles. In moments she was in the crow's nest, her usual haunt, and her favorite place.

Leaning forward, she felt the wind on her face, the exceptional freedom of an empty sky as the ship quickly left High Tortuga behind. She did not know the danger they might be in, of the threats that loomed on the horizon and were slowly revealing themselves to the officer that very moment.

For now, all she knew was she was still moving, still leaving places behind and going to new ones. A faint smile played on her lips. It was smaller and less bright than the ones she usually showed in public, but far more honest.

"I won't let that happen to you, Beth. I'll die before I let anyone get close to killing you, and you know how hard I am to kill. And you know, the crew and I, Eddie, Sam, Jason, Jess, and Izzy especially, we believe in one thing, besides gold and the fact that the Emperor is a right bloody swine: That's you."

Beth blushed as Sheska placed her hand on her shoulder and looked into her eyes.

"Bloody hell, woman, are you high..." She turned away from her, to focus on steering the ship.

Isaac finally came running up to the helm. Not only was he late to arrive at the helm, but he had the balls to blame it all on her.

"Are you trying to endanger the whole crew? Running a ship is all well and good, but any one of the minute things you have to worry about will get you stone dead without the right information. Information you just ordered me to acquire. Do you have that information yet captain?"

"It's my fault that you arrive late!?"

She threw a punch in the direction of his face, meaning to knock him out, but missed. If she had been sober it would certainly have hit.

"Unfortunately, he is right, Captain. That cast off was dangerous, and all the more reason to be worried. Let Isaac or I take the helm for you, because you need rest. You need to sleep off the rum, and let us take care of what needs doing."

"Damn. You're right, Sheska. I couldn't even hit Isaac... I mean, really.." Beth stepped away from the wheel and it started spinning by itself. The ship swerved back and forth. She loosened her chain sickle, which took longer than usual. "I'll just have to kill him instead."

The doc and Jason arrived at the helm, before she could put her threat into action.

"Oh! Seems like everyone thinks they can fly this ship better than me."

She was still struggling with her weapon when Samuel started speaking.

"Captain I have the results of my examination. If you would I'd like to report them to you."

"Great time to do that, isn't it?" Sheska had volunteered to take the wheel to allow the captain some rest. Maybe it wasn't such a bad idea, even if she had said it sarcastically. She sighed. "Fine. You can tell me on the way to my cabin. Sheska, take the wheel and don't forget to punish Isaac, after he's done his job. Kill him if he doesn't do it."

Beth climbed down the stairs.

-Sheska-

The First Mate grimaced as the Captain threw a wild punch in the direction of Isaac's face, only to miss by a mile. But it was when she let go of the wheel, which promptly started to spin, that she let out a soft, terrified yelp, and quickly grabbed hold of it for dear life.

"Captain! Don't kill our only navigator! We need him if we're going to get anywhere other than on the side of a damn mountain! I can only steer, I can't navigate!", she screamed out in horror, trying to keep the ship on course as their drunk Captain struggled with her weapon.

When Sam finally came up, she sighed heavily in relief, hoping that their dear Captain Beth would come to her senses.

"Fine. You can tell me on the way to my cabin. Sheska, take the wheel and don't forget to punish Isaac, after he's done his job. Kill him if he doesn't do it.".

"Yes, Cap'n! I'll make sure he will!", she called over, the relief plain in her tone.

Then she wearily motioned Isaac over, and the moment he was close enough, she cuffed the back of his head with force. "You bloody idiot! The Cap'n is drunk, and having one hell of an eventful day, and now you decide to yell at her?! If anyone is going to be yelling on this boat, it will either be the Cap'n, or myself, you hear me?! I had to be the diplomatic one, much as it pains me to realize. Me. Diplomatic. Do you know just what's wrong with that?!", she asked, berating him as she motioned with one hand, but kept the other firmly on the wheel.

"Very well captain." He said as he followed next to her.

"By the way, I can give you something to help you sleep if you wish. If nothing else I can give you something for tommorrow. Now, as for the autopsy. The person in question is most certainly your future self. Matching records for birthmarks and scars can prove that at the very least. She had more scars than you in fact, but her cause of death was being stabbed and run through by an imperial blade. An officer's sword to be exact. Whatever errand you have you running seems to be of interest to the empire as well. She also had broken bones in her feet consistent with a hard fall or other trauma. Bruises consistent with a struggle were also found.

Whatever you were doing, you get beat up fairly hard before the killing blow was landed. Also this basket in my hands contains the personal items of your future self. I'd like to request to be present if you plan to rifle through them for anything so that I might document what was on her person, the note is also of interest. Upon examining the organs of your future self I found evidence of liver damage consistent with heavy drinking. I strongly recommend cutting back on your alcohol intake." Samuel reported as they moved through the ship.

After Isaac had his say in, Jason stepped up. On his face, just as well, was clear frustration.

"Beth, how sharp was that first heading? It was at least twenty degrees from port." His teeth started to grind, his anger rising. "Now, I'm only gonna say this one more time, so you'd better fucking listen - this ship is old. The struts keeping it together aren't as strong as I'd like. Now, if you turn too sharply - say, twenty sodding degrees from port - those struts are gonna stress. If they stress, they break. If they break, I have to waste my valuable time welding them back together - time I could be spending upgrading our weapons and armor, and time we have to waste dicking around in port. So please - for the love of whatever gods there may be - BE CAREFUL WITH THIS SODDING SHIP. I HAVE TO FIX WHATEVER YOU BREAK."

Taking in a deep breath, he calmed himself. He might have laid it on a little thick at the end, but it had to be said.

Fear really should have flooded into Isaac's system when the captain went for her weapon. Drunk or not she knew how to use it, and if she genuinely meant to kill Isaac he knew she could. But... he could see the state of her. She'd taken the appearance of her clone very badly, and all Isaac could feel was pity. The worried anger was gone. Oh, he was still annoyed with the captain, launching the ship had been astoundingly reckless, but at least he could see why.

He watched idly and mutely as Samuel lead the captain off and wondered how she'd be treating him once she sobered up. She was usually more reasonable, but this hangover was going to be hell on her. He resolved to keep out of her way tomorrow unless contact was absolutely necessary.

Once she was gone, Sheska beckoned him over, before smacking him around the back of the head, causing Isaac to wince almightily.

"You bloody idiot! The Cap'n is drunk, and having one hell of an eventful day, and now you decide to yell at her?! If anyone is going to be yelling on this boat, it will either be the Cap'n, or myself, you hear me?! I had to be the diplomatic one, much as it pains me to realize. Me. Diplomatic. Do you know just what's wrong with that?!"

"Ow! Sheska!"
He was about to protest, but could see the concern in his friend's eyes. The captain was a wreck, Isaac of all people was screaming at his superiors and they were raring off to Helium City with no rhyme or reason beyond the captain's whim. It had been an extremely rough few hours.
Isaac's eyes softened and he calmed down.

"I was worried, okay? Sheska, you know what I'm like when it comes to unnecessary risks. I didn't know... I didn't realise the captain... this is really heavy on her, and I wasn't thinking. I was just concerned, you know?"

-Sheska-

"BE CAREFUL WITH THIS SODDING SHIP. I HAVE TO FIX WHATEVER YOU BREAK.".

"Hey! Didn't you hear what I just said? Only ones who yell on this boat: Cap'n, me. Not you, unless its to your men in the engine room. That room may well be your own Neo-victorian city, but this boat is the Cap'n's goddamn country, got it?!", she shouted, glaring more intensely at the Head Engineer.

When she turned back to Isaac, her face softened, but not by much. "I know that, Izzy. So am I. But, that does not mean we get to yell at the Captain, and otherwise be insubordinate. We need to trust in her, take care of her, and make damn sure she doesn't end up like her double in the hold. I won't allow it.", she finished fiercely, before beckoning Isaac over again.

"I need your heading, Izzy. Jason, get your ass back to the engine room and rule over your little fiefdom like always, make sure we stay in the air. Until we actually get shot down, we assume that the skies are ours, and that we can keep flying.", she explained firmly, sighing softly before adding under her breath, "God I wish I could kill someone right about now.".

Isaac raised his hands in mock fear.
"Long as it ain't me. Two threats in one day's more'n enough."
He put his maps in front of Sheska, with the route drawn out in red ink.

"There we go. You'll want to start South-South-West, keep heading on that bearing for about... fifty, sixty miles. The rest should be pretty obvious."

He stood back and looked out at the sky, frowning.

"Weather looks like it'll hold for now. Can't say much more without being out in it."

He took another look at Sheska. For one of the most terrifying women on the Western Seaboard she was sure looking scared. Scared and tired. You wouldn't see it without knowing her, or without knowing people. But still. He looked her in the eyes, and smiled slightly.

"She'll be fine. Whatever the hell that... thing Samuel's opened up is, it ain't going to be her. She's got you looking out for her hasn't she?"

"I need your heading, Izzy. Jason, get your ass back to the engine room and rule over your little fiefdom like always, make sure we stay in the air.

Jason balked at this, but let it drop. She had a point, and he had other work to do. "Whatever you say, Sheska. But I'm warning you now - if you let Beth back at the helm before she's sobered up and she breaks something, I'm holding you personally responsible for its repair. Cleaning up the crew's messes shouldn't be my job." He motioned to leave the bridge, but stopped at the doorway.

"But before I leave... keep an eye on the captain, alright? She looked pretty shaken, and you know she has the old pirate habit of boozing up when she shouldn't."

With that, he left, heading into the lower decks and towards the engine room. Today was certainly... eventful, to say the least.

-Sheska-

She huffed softly and waved a hand in dismissal as he hoped that he wouldn't be her victim, complete with mock fear in his voice, while completely ignoring Jason. They could burn that particular bridge when they came to it, but she took his request to keep an eye on the Captain to heart. "I ain't going to kill you Izzy, not unless you decide to mutiny, or do something to harm the Cap'n.", she said absentmindedly.

Then she turned to the map and listened to his instructions.

"There we go. You'll want to start South-South-West, keep heading on that bearing for about... fifty, sixty miles. The rest should be pretty obvious.".

"Right.", Sheska said, turning the wheel slowly so that they wouldn't stress the supports, or any other parts of the ship for that matter, and before very long they were well on their way.

"She'll be fine. Whatever the hell that... thing Samuel's opened up is, it ain't going to be her. She's got you looking out for her hasn't she?".

"That Beth may not have. The other me may have been dead, or god forbid, a traitor.", she said bitterly, just before looking at Isaac with intense eyes, "I'm afraid I may not be enough to protect the Captain this time, Izzy. I'm afraid that something might happen that will manage to kill her even if I keep in the way of any danger. Or worse: Something that kills her, but spares me.", she told him, confiding that fear in him.

Looking away, she worked her mouth into a snarl. "But I can't think about that. I need to keep focused, and I need to make sure that I cut down any son of a whore that stands in the Captains way.", The First Mate ground out between gritted teeth.

Then she nodded firmly and set her eyes forward again. "I'm sorry to say that that break in the hold will have to wait, Izzy. I'm not sure the Captain would be happy to see you relaxing till shes sobered up. Say sorry to Jess for me, when you can.", she told him.

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