Author Topic: Cloud Whaler  (Read 13225 times)

Offline Lord Dick Tim

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Cloud Whaler
« on: February 23, 2013, 01:56:48 am »
She is a sight, a sight to see.  An exotic girl from the deep south, her skin dark with the suns kiss, her crown bleached white and full covering her from head to toe with its glorious luster.
She's the shape of a women, yet one raised with a Spartans adherence to discipline and control.  Thin, lithe with strong legs good for long marches yet not sprinting.  Her stomach is flat and hips wide with the shoulders and arms of a life made to toil with one hand in the field, the other balancing a babe at her side.

Yet she is not obedient like some cultured or city lady, her eyes flash with pride, her tongue is a vipers and her words spit like fire when provoked.  A sharp wit and steely will that cannot be mastered by any man.  She is strong, and powerful and demands more of her partner then can be given, but he must give it.  Sweat, blood, bone, flesh, sinew and soul must be layed before her and even then it will not be enough.

She will never fail you, should you not fail her, she is the Cloud Whaler, and I am her Captain.

Offline Wazulu

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Re: Cloud Whaler
« Reply #1 on: February 23, 2013, 07:11:55 pm »
*Sorry to wreck your story here, but are you going to move the original Cloud Whaler Story/Captain's Log over? It was a pretty good read (feel free to delete this post-reply, I'll probably do so anyway)*

Offline Lord Dick Tim

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Re: Cloud Whaler
« Reply #2 on: February 23, 2013, 11:11:32 pm »
I plan to yes.  Ive been sinking my teeth into victorian writing as of late and am trying to lightly emulate it.

Offline Lord Dick Tim

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Re: Cloud Whaler
« Reply #3 on: February 24, 2013, 01:42:16 am »
Captains log
Cloud Whaler
0600

The Burren is a bastard land fit for bastard children. This sickly waste of sand and rock is a bone yard for countless battles and failed expeditions. Pirates loom behind every cloud of acrid smoke, or just on the edge of every sand storm. The blighted yellow sun beats relentlessly on the ship, I've had to have my engineers keep a constant eye on the ships balance, should the heat expand the gasses to much and rupture the balloon. The blasted sand binds up the turbines and guns, I've had the crew place tarps over the weapons to keep the firing mechanisms clean, but the turbines are a different story.
The air filters keep clogging, if not for a steady wind coming up from the south we'd have been becalmed several times when my chief engineer was forced to bring them all offline for repairs.
At least our cargo is safe, packed in casks and heavily armored deep in the hold. I pray it stays that way.

@@@@

The sun was rising, the sudden and deep cold that always comes just before dawn was lifting rapidly off the ship, condensation from the sudden temperature shift dripping down from the balloon like a soft rain, one that was greedily and swiftly collected by deck hands armed with cotton mops, both for safe footing and for the precious liquid itself that was squeezed out of the cotton swabs and poured into a reclamation unit for purification.
It was perhaps one of the only true blessings of crewing a junker class ship, the long balloon and wide deck offered better shade then most ships, shielding the crew from the harsh days sun, while also providing them with the daily bounty of their own private rain.
Captain Richard Timothy stood at the helm of his ship, the Cloud Whaler, a raised platform at the rear that looked out along the rest of the deck and provided the captain with a commanding view of his vessel and crew. He was not a handsome man, nor very tall or of athletic build, his middle had gone to fat in his older years and his face was broad with a prominent brow hooded over dark eyes that seemed as hard and abused as rusted iron. Yet he stood always like a man as tall as a giant, hands clasped behind his back and crooked jaw set at a hard angle, greeting the morning with grim determination.
His was not the way to be bellowing orders or kicking a toe into ribs that were slow to wake, his manner was professional, disciplined and military and he expected the same from the crew of men and women who manned his ship.
Although not a war vessel, the Cloud Whaler was more then capably armed, with long range howitzers on the forward hull, and two more below decks on the port and starboard side, accompanied by a pair of light Gatling guns on the weather deck for strafing the decks of enemy ships. A merchant marine of the skies, her crew had fought off better armed ships countless times, all thanks to the regular training and attention to detail their captain demanded.
A dark colored man, taller then the rest of the crew by a head, wearing the simple brown coat and pants that all the crew wore walked up to the rear of the helm and stood off to the side behind the captain, silently at attention.
Richard looked out over the port side of the ship, to the west which was still a steely gray color in the sky, his voice was deep and had the quality of groaning decks boards distressed when the ship moved suddenly, "Have the crew share boiled eggs this morning, and have the cook take meat from my personal store for the soup."
The command given, the large dark man departed below decks, presumably to make the arrangements for the crews meal. It had been a hidden message, of sorts. When ever the captain suspected battle, the crew got to eat salted beef. Not the hard tack rations that kept them nourished if not truly fed, but beef from his own table.

It was 1235 when the crows nest just above the balloon spotted the silhouette of a Gold fish dancing on the edge of a large rock formation, one which the captain had avoided, suspicious of the cover the terrain provided a faster, nimbler ship. The large dark man once again stood just behind the captain, this time speaking his speech peppered with a foreign accent that gave him a slight slur, "Hers shadow matches sha description of sha pirate days been saying prey on merchant chips Captain."
The captain considered what his first mate said before placing his hands on the wheel of his ship, "very well Banja, sound the alarm, battle stations".

Offline Lord Dick Tim

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Re: Cloud Whaler
« Reply #4 on: February 24, 2013, 01:50:51 am »

The alarm rang and the crew quickly sprang into action. Guide ropes on the balloon where secured and the gun tarps on the gun deck pulled back from the howitzers, gunners lining up their scopes with the emerging silhouette of a goldfish patterned dirigible creeping out behind a rock ledge half a mile away.
At this close a range the Cloud Whaler wouldn't stand a chance to out run her, and the sky was clear offering nothing in the way of cloud concealment. It only took a moment more before the crew of the enemy ship seemed to realize they had been spotted and the pirate vessel turned her forward section to minimize her profile and come in full speed.
The captain at his helm bellowed across the deck, "Fast descent 200' prepare starboard guns!"
A series of metallic cranks and the sudden protest of wooden timbers and groaning steel shook through the length of the ship as the captain released a valve control suddenly dropping the ships altitude, giving his gunners a broader target of the enemy goldfishes soft underbelly, "Fire at will!" His shout was immediately drowned out by the report of the brow and starboard howitzers, their tremendous back fire tacking the ship as if she where at sea being rocked by the salvo of her cannons.
One shot passed far to the right, yet the other stuck home, tearing through the lower decks yet failing to ignite the explosive charge at its tip.
The enemy ship lurched violently as her captain, out of desperation or bloodlust, threw her engines into overdrive, bearing the ship down at them at a steep angle, spitting tracer rounds from a forward gattling gun that struck the balloons armor and sliced through the air between deck plate and the balloons bottom.
A crewmen screamed and immediately fell silent, his body an eviscerated mess on the weather deck, his arm and torso shattered by an unlucky shot. Banja, the fist mate, jumped down from the stern and manned the downed crewmens position on the weather decks Gatling cannon, charging the handle and opening up with the loud chatter of its distinct, rapid report.
A second shot from the howitzer below deck struck home and tore through the goldfishes lower hold on the port side, causing a secondary explosion that pushed her far to starboard, bringing her port side guns to bear.
Either a skilled, or very lucky, crewmen on the enemy vessel opened up with the port side weapon, a fiery slash of crimson from a dragons tongue flame thrower washing the deck in a brief yet terrible blaze of fire. Banja, a man harder then any the captain had seen before, withstood that firey hell and laid down the gatling guns hammer, sending a ribbon of death across the enemies deck, striking the fuel canister of the dragon tongue unleashing the firey demon within onto the deck of the other ship who's trajectory and speed carried her down and forward of the Cloud Whaler whose browsprit howitzer tracked with a steady and level eye, sending two precise bursting shot into the rear of the ship causing a wrecking explosion that splintered the ship from bow to stern.

The battle had begun and ended in a matter of minutes, yet the few shots that had connected from the enemy goldfish had cost them dearly. One crewmen killed, another had to have a leg amputated at the knee, and four with serious burns to their arms, face and torso, Banja, his first mate among them. Captain Richard took care to visit each of the men, who he had stored below decks out of the wind and in the shade. The ships surgeon, a bone saw of no little skill named Killian, had done the best he could given the limited supplies and facilities aboard a ship of this size.
He was a short man, with the bronzed skin of a seasoned sailor yet the green eyes and red hair of a southlander. He spoke softly, the captain having to lean down to hear him fully, the ringing of the howitzers report still sounding in his ear. "I'm not opportunistic about their chances captain, these burns are severe and I have only enough ointment to treat maybe one of them with injuries this extensive.". Richard grimaced, placing his hand on the surgeons shoulder and nodding, "you know what to do doctor, see to it." He frowned grimly, turning to his patients after fishing out a small glass vial and a needle before setting to the work of triage.
Last the captain went to see Banja, having separated him from the rest of the crew, the first mates injuries being grievous, his hands had melted to the trigger mechanism and his eyes had been burnt away. He starred now at the captain with lidless masses of flesh over a charred nose and toothy smile, the fire having burnt away the flesh of his jaw. A dark shadow preoccupied the captains features as he looked onto this wretched creature, one who did not suffer a word of pain nor even seemed to struggle for breath despite most likely having breathed in the very flames themselves. Not that it would have bothered a creature such as Banja.
There were some things, some sins a man could never forgive himself for, and for a moment, if only briefly, the weight and knowledge of it seemed to bear down onto the captains shoulders like the very weight of the world strapped to atlas's shoulders. Yet he rallied his resolve and stiffly marched to a small locked box, a plain thing of wooden walls and leather covers, locked with a combination tumbler that spun noiselessly into sequence before opening to reveal a set of tonics laid in wood shavings and cotton.
He held one of the small vials upto the electric light in his cabin, the redish substance casting a hellish glow about the small chamber, the impurities in the glass causing ripples like waves across the walls. He clasped it in his hand while turning to look at Banja, who still sat silently, his sightless face turning, turning as if to look right at him.
Yes, there where some sins that could never be forgiven.
« Last Edit: February 24, 2013, 01:52:28 am by Lord Dick Tim »

Offline Lord Dick Tim

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Re: Cloud Whaler
« Reply #5 on: February 24, 2013, 01:51:59 am »
Lord_Dick_Tim November 2012 FlagReply Member
Tinpot, a once tiny town buried under the shadow of a tall rock formation, now a bustling dry dock and free port. It had been two days since the battle and two more crewmen had died. A hat had been sent around the crew for pennies and change, a small offering that could be gathered as a gift for the widows. Richard had added the men's full pay for the month to the severance, it would be little consolation for their families, but it was better then nothing at all.
Banja stood at his side up on the weather deck, face towards the sun, his skin bandaged yet his healed eyes twinkling with the orange glow that came up from the horizon. Richard followed his gaze down to the city that was sprawled out before them, a beast of red rock and grey steel with a thousand quils thrust up into the sky belching the black smoke of industry and progress. Ten years ago, before the advent of the sky ship, and the discovery of a coal mine under the town, Tinpot had just been another dust farmers settlement, populated by a few hardy people with sun backed skin and calloused hands. They had been simple, yet efficient, ecking s life out here in the wastes that had claimed so many before them. But when the air ships came, everything changed. Coal was shortly discovered there after, and industrialists where quick to notice the favorable wind that passed near the settlement, how the large rocky cliffs that rose up like a curtain around it would shelter any fleet ashore from even the harshest of the Burrens deadly storms.
There was just one problem, water, the life source of every living thing great or small. Tinpot had been successful supporting only a few habitants, the people capturing the annual rains and painstakingly applying it to a hardy tuber crop, radishes, to support their need for vitamins and starch that just meat couldn't provide. As the settlement grew so did its thirst, the rains no longer enough to quench the dry throats of the multitudes, the sophisticated gentry, or simple labourers both to lazy to store and keep their own water supply.
That was the Cload Whalers precious cargo, water, taken from the ice fields of the north, chiseled from the very glacier. Clean water was always of value in these times, yet water of any kind was worth it's weight in gold when sold at the markets of Tinpot.
Using a complex system of signaling flags the Cloud Whaler was guided down to a docking harness by ferry, a practice that annoyed the captain no small degree, disliking the idea that he could not be trusted to bring his own ship into harbor safely.
When properly docked the crew got to the business of sealing up the craft before departing

Offline Lord Dick Tim

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Re: Cloud Whaler
« Reply #6 on: February 24, 2013, 01:53:24 am »
...with part of their shore pay. Richard always cautioned against paying s crew their months pay all at once when first in port. It did them no good to piss it all away in some whores crib or loose it all gambling in the many taverns and inns.
After all the accounts where settled with the men Richard waited on deck for the harbor master to arrive for the routine inspection, enduring this newest insult with quiet dignity. He had been there at Jionco harbor when an airship full of illegal firearms had accidentally cooked off while at dock. The devastation had been ruinous, taking many men to an early grave and blundering countless other good people's private ventures when entire ships and holds crashed to the stony floor and burned.
It wasn't a moment after the harbor master left that a short, portly man well dressed in a grey coat and bowler cap walked up to the gang plank and smiled beneath a carefully trimmed brown mustache that curled at the edges while waving up to the deck, "Captain, may I come aboard?". Richard returned the grin and waved him up, "come on up here you damn dirt dog!"
The portly man strode up the gang plank without the customary wobble of one unuse to the tack and sway of an airship, he had a sailors balance and poise and ascended the steep climb with only the slightest hint of red in his cheeks. "Its good to be aboard again..." he cast his glance about and noticed the scaring on the weather deck from the recent engagement before turning a troubled look back at the captain, "what did you do to my ship?"
Richard laughed, a ruff thing that didn't sound so much like a laugh as it did two rocks grinding together, "the day that the Cloud Whaler is your vessel, is the day I populate a cloud grave and she lies splintered on the floor of the wastes!"
This jesting and mock posturing carried on for a few minutes, all the while Banja looked on, sitting on a coil of rope on forecastle, seemingly lost in his own private thoughts.
"Ok Sam, lests get this over with, the cargos below deck, I know your a busy man."
"Right you are Richard. And besides, I've got another venture you might be interested in".

Offline Lord Dick Tim

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Re: Cloud Whaler
« Reply #7 on: March 15, 2013, 06:07:20 am »
Another night aboard the Cloud Whaler, another night in skies racing against time and fate to carry some small bit of cargo from one end of this blasted land to another.

The cargo lay below decks, safely stashed away under heavy tarps of cotton cloth with a red line freshly painted about the deck and bulkheads as a proximity limit for the crew.  Casks of a new type of gun powder, manufactured in some place Richard couldn’t pronounce in a land he had never heard of.  The shipment was due for the ports of Anvala, where he was to turn it over to port authorities for a sum that made the trip to city of starch asses worth the bother of having to deal with the increased harbor taxes and inspection regiments.

The wind was stiff and cold, coming out of the north, yet at their backs which increased the relatively slow Junker to speeds that could match smaller and nimbler ships.  She creaked while gently rocking back and forth, the timbers stressing under sudden changes of torque from wind and temperature affecting the beams.  The hum of the engines was a constant murmur behind and above, on the command deck where he watched the glowing lantern of a deck hand on his night rounds, inspecting the ropes for icing, applying oil where needed or tying a yellow ribbon around anchors that needed to be replaced in the morning.

Richard approved of the young man’s attention to detail, the care he seemed to take with each station, putting his hands on each twist of the ropes down to the metal cores to ensure their good durability.  He’d been a replacement for some of the dead and wounded, young, but not green.  He’d either served on ships as a cabin boy or grown up running about the deck of one as a rattling of some crew or captain.  Jacob he believed his name was, Jacob Bard.

Seeing the boy had his duties under control Richard retired to the cramped space of the solitary cabin on board, where his first mate Banja was already sound asleep on one of the two bedrolls stretched out on the floor.

Moving to a small fold out table with clasping anchors on the foot to keep it steady Richard looked over the land charts for the coming day.  They would be coming up to Gabriel’s pass in the morning, a red canyon of thick clouds and ruined structures.  Most airmen just called it the Canyon Ambush, since that’s most assuredly what it turned into.  The Anvala fleet had tried to wipe out the pirates camped out inside its many twisting turns and deep hidden valleys with no success, the rats just kept coming back no matter how many of them they dragged away in irons, or sent down to the desert floor.

By dawn the ship would have to be ready, “I hope that boys ready”, he said, before folding away the table and lying down for the few short hours left of the night.