The Pearl Spoon had managed to secure a stealthy possition above Gerald Parsons’ airship. Captain Siddhartha Greenburg jumped, protected by Mickey Tellune’s calm air surrounding him, to the balloon attached to Parsons’ airship. Sidd slid down the curve of the balloon, releasing his parachute when there was no longer material beneathe him. The parachute caught the wind, sending Sidd to the deck of the airship; he grabbed hold to the side of the deck and retracted his chute back into its pack. Sidd could see that there was a heavily armored guard – a clunker – on either side of the deck, eyes on the skies beyond the ship. There were portholes in the floor, one to each side of Sidd, and a door to each side past that. Sidd decided to go down the porthole to the right, knowing that the engine room would lie beneathe. He knocked on the port, quietly enough that the clunkers could not hear, and prepared to attack whoever would come to open it.
A smaller guard – a knight – opened the port, and Sidd reached for his throat. Though the knight was startled, he managed to duck back into the port and out of Sidd’s reach. He then sprang up from the port, getting a full look at Sidd, and recognizing him as a pirate. Sidd blasted steam at the knight’s face, but the knight dodged this attack as well, and promptly called out to the two clunkers, “PIRATES!”
Sidd quickly alerted his crew with their two-way emergency communicator, and jumped down into the porthole, grabbing the ladder and sliding into the engine room. He saw a huge engine, surrounded by engineers milling about at eye level as well as on catwalks above Sidd’s head. Sidd rushed to the main control center, knowing that a guard couldn’t be far behind him.
Meanwhile, Verynn guided the Pearl Spoon and set it to align, and remain aligned, with Parsons’ much larger airship. Verynn, Fork, Mickey, and Corun jumped from one deck to the other and at once found themselves in battle. The knight attacked first, slicing Cori with his rapier, but it only glanced off her rocky skin. She attacked back, hurting him with a solid punch. As one clunker disappeared down the porthole after Sidd, Fork swung his sword at the clunker remaining, managing to hurt him. Fork dodged the clunker’s enormous hammer, and struck the clunker down, where he lay dying. Rather than risk the clunker’s revival, Fork slit his throat before running to the far right end of the ship, where he could see a beautifully gilded door.
All the while, Mickey and Verynn had rushed to Cori’s aid, though the knight was nimble enough to dodge both of Mickey’s daggers, as well as avoid a shot from Verynn’s pistol. The knight then swung his rapier at Cori again, but narrowly missed her. Cori used her own dagger against the knight, wounding him greatly. He slumped off to the left of the ship, toward an unadorned door at the far end. Mickey and Verynn ran to join Fork at the elaborate door to the right, while Cori went after the knight, who disappeared beyond the plain door. “It’s locked.” Fork informed Mickey and Verynn when they reached him. “Let me try; maybe I can get it to open.” Verynn replied. She crouched down, investigating the lock. It was very complex – a model she’d never come across before. She struggled to determine its weakness, but to no avail. “This is taking too long.” Fork complained. He shoved Verynn aside and struck the lock with his sword, splintering the wood of the door around it. The door swung open.
Cori followed the knight through the small wooden door and saw him limping down a narrow, iron, spiral staircase that led into what looked like a command center. He was shouting “PIRATES! PIRATES! PIRATES!” over and over again. Looking up with bewildered expressions were pilots sitting at controls around the rim of the circular room, and Gerald Parsons sitting in the center. Seeing Parsons, Cori flew down the stairs, past the limping knight, and grabbed the airship’s captain. She pressed her dagger to his throat. At the far end of the room, a porthole door lifted and a new knight climbed out. He took in the sight of his employer being held by Cori, and froze. Cori began backing up the stairs, dragging Parsons with her. He squirmed a bit, but a slight pressing of her dagger into his throat and a tight squeeze of her rocky fist into the flesh of his arm stopped him from trying to escape. The knight followed them slowly, step for step.
Sidd reached the main control center, and faced an engineer that stood between him and his goal. “Sir,” he said, “In three minutes, you could either be dead, or you could be helping the mission of justice.” Sidd’s voice contained just the right combination of menace and comeraderie, and the engineer scurried off. Just as Sidd turned to the controls and prepared to sabotage them, he heard the clunker coming up behind him. Sidd dipped to his left just in time for the clunker’s large hammer to whistle past his head and into the controls. A loud alarm immediately filled the engine room, and engineers began rushing around to find and fix the problem. Sidd smiled smugly; the brutish clunker had done his job for him! His objective completed, Sidd turned to escape. While the clunker was struggling to get his hammer free, Sidd dashed for the ladder to the top deck. Halfway up the ladder, Sidd heard the clunker begin to follow him. Almost to the top, he felt the clunker grab for his ankle. Sidd kicked as hard as he could and managed to get his ankle free. He quickly pulled himself over the edge of the porthole to the top deck, and closed the porthole door. He saw a dead clunker lying on the deck, grabbed his hammer, and used it to jam the porthole door closed. Once he was sure the clunker wouldn’t be able to come up, Sidd ran to the gilded door on the far right end of the airship.
Verynn, Mickey, and Fork gazed into what appeared to be an elaborate captain’s quarters. There didn’t seem to be anything of value in sight, so Mickey set to work searching the room. Before long, he found a small knob behind a painting that hung on the wall. It was the lock to a safe – a safe whose door turned out to be the entire wall of the room. “Think you can unlock this, Verynn?” he called. Verynn came over and took a look at the lock. “Sure!” she said, “I think I know this lock, anyway.” She set to work, and, sure enough, the door clicked open in no time. Beyond the door was a small flight of stairs. Fork climbed them carefully and peeked over the edge to the landing above. “It’s the treasure!” he called down, barely able to contain his excitement. “No guards?” Mickey asked. “None.” Fork said distractedly, already opening a large chest to find it filled with bank notes. “I’m going to make sure Cori’s all right then.” Mickey told Verynn. Mickey headed back to the main deck, passing Sidd on the way. Mickey ran to the other end of the deck and opened the small door. On the other side was Cori, and she was holding a dagger to the throat of a very frightened Gerald Parsons. “Where are you keeping your ‘special cargo’ we’ve heard so many rumors about?” Cori asked Parsons menacingly. “In the safe in my captain’s quarters you’ll find all the treasure you could ever want,” Parsons’ voice shook in his response, “Just don’t look in the file cabinet in there.” Mickey made a small slice across Parsons’ chest with his dagger and growled over Parsons’ whimpery scream, “What is it?” “Secret plans…” Parsons mumbled, “Worth a lot…” and then passed out. Cori released her hold on him and he slumped to the floor.
The knight appeared at the top of the stairs, having heard his employer’s scream. As soon as he saw Parsons unconscious on the floor of the deck, he attacked Cori. She neatly dodged him and returned his strike, but the knight slipped out of reach of both her attack and the one from Mickey that followed. Between the two of them, they couldn’t land a single strike.
Sidd ran into the captain’s quarters and up into the safe room attached. He saw Fork greedily taking his own share of the treasure, Verynn packing up the rest of the shares for the crew, and, in a corner to his left, a small file cabinet. He went straight to it, opened the only drawer, and saw one file in it, labeled “Ouroboros Initiative Schematics for Warship 7A.”
Out of the corner of his eye, Sidd saw Fork rush out of the room. He turned to Verynn, “Did you get the treasure?” “Yes, and you got the special cargo?” “Got it.” Once they reached the main deck again, they saw Fork escaping to the Pearl Spoon, and Mickey and Cori fighting the knight on the other end of the airship. Just then, another clunker and knight came out of the porthole nearest to the Mickey and Cori’s battle. “Verynn, prep the Pearl Spoon, Fork, I’ll give you my share of the treasure if you take care of that clunker!” Sidd shouted. Verynn got out her pistol, shot, and the knight fell backwards, over the railing of the spiral staircase, and crashed on the floor of the command deck. Verynn smiled to herself and ran to prep the Pearl Spoon for the crew’s escape.
Fork charged at the clunker…
To Be Continued…