Success at Any Cost

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Writers Rift

Chapter 2 (v.2) - Preparation

Submitted: August 01, 2017

Reads: 55

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Submitted: August 01, 2017

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After hastily congratulating the women on her gun deck, Brooke followed Lieutenant Starling up the stairs to the top deck. The scene up there was no better than the one below: the wounded were stretched out on the far side of the ship to avoid being hit in the fighting, as the surgeons cockpit became overfilled early in the fighting. The ship’s chaplain offered caring words from the Compendium of Ancestors while the surgeon tried to ease their suffering on a physical level. Brooke chose to avert her eyes as she walked choosing instead to observe the women continuing to load and fire the cannons on the top deck. The captain could give the Orks no quarter since they could still be a threat even though it was paralyzed. 

The gruff lieutenant lead Brooke towards the rear of the ship to speak to Captain Prudence Mac Cavern who was arguing rather loudly with the ship’s magician, who it should be noted, was the only male aboard the ship.

“I don’t care that the moons were out of phase, it's still your duty to keep that barrier up! If you can't keep it up than we are all as good as dead dammit, there guns will tear us apart.”

The magician responded, “I won't expect you to understand that the whims of magic are so far beyond your simple ken that I don't have the time explain them in your short lifespan.”

The captain looked set to pull her pistol on the man then and there, “Tell that to the women bleeding on my deck or in the surgeon's hold!” Before he could get a word in she pointed briskly to the stairs and screamed, “Now can you get me a fucking fog bank in the next thirty minutes or are the moons not feeling that either?” He nodded quickly and muttered a mewling affirmation before bolting for the safety of his cockpit.

At the sight of Lieutenant Starling and Brooke, the captain’s demeanor slowly changed from one of anger to relief. “Midshipwoman Gains, I’m not at all surprised to see you were the cunning bird who brought down their masts.” 

“Thank you ma'am. I only wish I had thought of it sooner”

“On the contrary Gains, any earlier and the shot would have been made from too far away to be effective. You had the perfect idea at the perfect time.” Brooke let out a small chuckle and a slight smile.

“I hope you'll remember that for my officers exam next week.” She said jokingly. 

Before Mac Cavern could bounce back with a jest of her own the lieutenant forced a cough. “We should probably address the elephant in the room before we discuss next week's plans.”

“Quite true Starling. Let's get down to it than.” She waved Brooke over to a partially destroyed bulwark and pointed a spyglass at the mass of dark wood floating aimlessly across from them before handing it over to her. It was Brooke's first chance to observe the Orkish ship properly. The ship was based on the modern sloop design so it was meant to be fast and maneuverable, but with the massive 60 pound cannons shoved inside it, this ship could probably only outpace the largest naval vessels of Brooke’s side. Thankfully, those massive cannons meant that they could only fit six on each side, and all except one of those nightmares was knocked out on the port side.

Brooke handed the spyglass to Starling as the captain continued to speak, “I proposed that you two lead one team each across the gap in rowboats and force a surrender from those grey skinned pigs. We’ll fire off grapeshot to thin the population on deck for the next 5 minutes while you sneak across in a fog bank that our idiot magician assures me he can conjure.”

Starling scoffed, “Why can't we just pull alongside her and swing over to kill em like the pigs they are.?” 

“I take it you haven't dealt with an Ork up close. They stand a full head taller than a human man. With legs strong enough to jump between the ships without a rope. I'd rather not have one of those running wild on my ship with wounded onboard.”

Starling gritted her teeth and nodded. Mac Cavern turned back to the women next to her, “Loot what you can but the most important thing on there are the those 60 pounders just two of those cannons would make this ship a monster.”

Brooke tilted her head confused, “Ma'am isn't this a job for an officer, I accept, but should someone of higher rank than me be taking command?”

“Every other officer is either there,” she gestured to the wounded on deck, “or below in other roles. Regardless I'll consider this part one of your officer’s exam if all goes well.”

“I won't disappoint ma'am!” She snapped off a crisp salute, desperately trying to hide her excitement.

“Very good. Go and meet your teams I want you in the water as soon as that incompetent spell-shitter gets me my fog. You're both dismissed.” 

Brooke and Starling nodded and turned away. Brooke tapped Starling on the shoulder and asked “So how should we attack this. I'm think if we…” 

“Don't worry I've got everything well in hand simply follow my lead.” Before Brooke could add anything else the lieutenant walked up to the nearby bosun to call forth the boarding parties. The bosun blew a long blast from her whistle that was broken up by three short bursts. Sixteen sailors ran up onto the ship carrying a short musket, a pistol, and a cutlass arraying themselves in two lines.

Starling took out a small gold watch roughly the size of her palm and announced to the fighters around them, “We will have 5 minutes once the fog rolls in to get across to the pigs’ ship while the captain pummels the enemy with grape. Those of you on Gains’s team...” she indicated to the first row of sailors, “...will be running the distraction on the top deck, figure out who the officers are and kill them.” Brooke kept down the urge to question Starling’s grasp of the situation. Her superior continued on unabated, “my team will be loading two of the ship's cannons onto the row boats. Once that's done we will row back to the Courser before returning to retrieve Gains and her crew.” There were several grumbles from Brooke’s team, meanwhile Brooke could barely breathe, she was livid but she stayed quiet again rather than risk losing the opportunity to finally distinguish herself. “Load your guns and keep them half cocked, we leave the second we see fog. Dismissed!” The women snapped a salute and ran off.
Brooke grabbed Starling before she could walk off. “The captain didn't say anything about me leading a distraction.”

“Off course not but this is not my first boarding action. Don't panic, I'm sure you'll survive. All you have to do is fight like your life depends on it.” The weather beaten lieutenant looked very amused with herself as she turned and walked away.


© Copyright 2018 Chris K.C. All rights reserved.

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