Saturday, 24 December 2011

An Eye on the Prize, Part Seven

Fleeing the Dreadnought 'Dogmatist': Week Six. Day Four. Pallata Beta.

The Alastar Herion that emerged from his medical rooms and sloped through the underdecks of the 'Pointless Venture' was even more morose than usual. Dry, rusty coloured, flakes fell from hands left unwashed and he barely saw or felt the many helpful Decksman's hands that steadied his way as the ship shuddered and shook under thrust. His brilliant, bright, cruel mind was dulled by the weight of disappointment and worse, futility.

He did not notice the hubbub on the main gundeck or the excited happy chatter of the men around him. He did not notice the busy, sweat-shined beaming faces of the Fourths as they shouted orders and neither did he hear the trundle and hiss as the dynamo cannon were run out and readied for winding. Seconds and Thirds preened rankwhiskers and moustaches as they oversaw the seeming chaos of the gundeck. Even the much pressed underdeckers scurried around with crowpipes and valve levers, happily fetching and carrying for their many betters on the ship.

Herion took no notice of Sing's beaming grin, (He always smiled so.) and did not notice the way Morgan's face fell from sun-high to storm-dark when he looked upon the suffering Augmenteer.

'Why, Alastar, whatever is the matter?'

'Morgan, I have been such a fool.' He let out a heavy sigh.

Morgan shook his head and attempted a smile, though it soon died.

'I cannot believe such a thing, it is not in your genes.'

'Yet I have been thoroughly duped. That creature, Beeler.' Alastar saw his friend's face darken further at the name. The Augmenteer waved a fey, bloodied, hand. 'Do not look so, he felt little enough pain, though I am afraid he did not survive my processes.' Morgan bristled slightly but the utter, desperate, loss on his friend's face quickly ate his dislike away and left the captain quiet. 'The man knew little enough, Morgan, but it was enough. The list is useless, the Dal-Breear woman knew who I was. The whole thing was a trap'

Morgan let out a whistle through his teeth.

'An action with you as the prize. Why did they not take you at the station?'

Alastar shrugged perfunctorily.

'I can only think that they did not expect me to act in such decisive haste.' His blue eyes stared into a past only he could see. 'Perhaps if I had stopped to think...'

'Well, at least the spymaster woman is dead' shrugged Morgan.

This seemed to plunge Alastar further into his darkness and he let out another long sigh.

'I am no longer so sure of that, Morgan. No longer sure at all. She fell far too easily, I suspect I encountered a double.'

Morgan knew there was little he could do to dissuade his friend of his conclusions, and more, that Herion's conclusions in matters of intrigue were usually correct. Instead of trying to convince his friend otherwise he changed the subject entirely to one he found far more positive. Morgan's body seemed to swell and delight spread across his heroically bearded face.

'Alastar, I must tell you of this as it will cheer you so. The incoming frigate sent a message as soon as He was within flasher range. 'Captain Parvin sends her regards,' eh? What do you think of that? Parvin sends her regards!'
Alastar, so locked into his own misery he had still not picked up on the near jubilant mood of the ship stared at the floor.

'Ah, so those Temat frigates caught poor Parvin.'

Morgan looked shocked at the suggestion.

'Nothing of the sort. It would take more than a few Temat Frigates-of-War to catch wily young Idya Parvin at the wheel of a fine fish like her, 'Perseverance'.'
Herion's angular, beautiful face, became obtuse with puzzlement.

'I do not understand, Morgan. How can this frigate be ours and have met with Parvin? You said at least another week before we could expect assistance. A week at least is what you said. I am sure..'

'It is Fisk! Alastar,' Morgan grabbed his friend and shook the unhappy Augmenteer in delight. 'Captain Fisk with a new ship, 'Mouse Became Cat'. That is why the Watchmen did not recognise the silhouette,' he let go of his friend and beamed. 'Oh, ape bless Old Fisk.'

Alastar fished around in a memory hazed with black thoughts.

'Fisk, the Privateer?'

'Aye, and The Ape knows how Parvin found her, though they did serve under the Temat together before they saw the truth, if you remember. Anyway, find her Parvin did and now Fisk is here to help.' Morgan grinned. 'Two good Frigates have the measure of a Dreadnought all light long. He won't know the 'Mouse's' capabilities either, so I doubt he'll risk his damnable Ai now.' Morgan stared up into the overhull. 'With no need to run we'll find out how good a Captain he really is, oh so we shall.'

Morgan pulled down the brass overscope and stared out into the vast, star-studded night of the experiment. He squinted at the far away thrust halo of the Dreadnought, struggling to decelerate its mass, and continued to speak quietly to his friend.

'Do you remember when we tracked down that traitor, Homsus?' Herion made a barely audible, uninterested, noise of assent and Morgan continued. 'A year of chasing and at the end, despite the danger and my most strenuous objections, you insisted on being there when we took him.' The second noise of assent from the morose augmenteer contained a little more interest. 'It seemed to me, Alastar, that if this Dal-Breear is one of their spymasters who laid a trap for you and she still lives then she would want to see it through to the end. As such, she is probably aboard that Dreadnought. Would you not agree?'

'Morgan, you may well be right,' came the Augmenteer's reply, heavy with possibilities and burgeoning plans.

With that, Morgan turned to First Sing (Always ready to serve his Captain.)

'Mr Sing, have the Jinsmen prepare the kettles for a hard decel. Have decksman put in small bore pipes, give her as much pressure as she'll take.'

Sing nodded his beaming head. 'As my Captain says.' (Utterly capable in the discharge of his duties.)

As Sing walked away Morgan grinned and added one last set of orders.

'And get the capillary men to their colour levers. Ape-damn this cowardly black-hull. Let's show our true colours. Make us war-bright, Mr Sing. War bright!'

Morgan did not hear his charming First officer's enthusiastic reply. He stared out through the crystal overhull at the faint glow of his adversary, a familiar piratical gleam in his green eyes.

'I want you to know I'm coming.' He whispered, 'I want you to know.'


Conclusion Communique::

Overseer Class Ark 'Gabriil' to Overseer Class Ark 'Oz'.
Experiment Station::Dysonmxvmxviii

Internal::Action report. SrcAI//PV-MbC-D//

Thirdest frigate class, 'Pointless Venture' (T-Cutter:LIBERTINEkeelform) and allied privateer frigate class, 'Mouse became Cat'(T-Cutter:SURPRISEkeelform) engaged Temat Dreadnought class, 'Dogmatist' (Build-For-War:TRIUMPHkeelform)with dynamo cannon//timecodestartaction//. Thirdest forces proved superior as previously predicted. Crew of 'Pointless Venture' hooked and boarded 'Dogmatist'//timecode//. Thirdest forces overcame the crew of 'Dogmatist' in hand-to-hand. 'Dogmatist' blue hulled on the order of her Third Officer, Ensilie//timecodeendaction//. Articles observed;intervention unnecessary. Images and losses addended.

Subject Access::Attn. TEMAT ADMIRALTY::Ransom list - Dogmatist.

Keal Relman, Captain. M (Left arm lost. Left leg crippled.)
Trame Bel-Feltyre, Second. M (Comatose.)
Harrick Ensilie, Third. M (Physically healthy.)
Xiresse Kintrul, Third. M (Blinded. Right hand lost. Right leg crippled. Left hand missing index finger and thumb. Major internal and external burns. Mute.)
Host Macrisse, Fourth. M (Minor burns. Some disfigurement.)
Pel Gre-Sansire, Fourth. M (Healthy.)
Hestrum Poldin, Fourth. M (Healthy.)
Dayuul Radledge, Marine Captain, M (Multiple blade and shot wounds. Recoverable.)
Hayje Dal-Breear, Diplomat. F (Head wounds. Significant memory loss.) //hidden//(not combat related)//unhide//.
Telt Byrom, Fourth. M (Healthy. Sought Thirdest asylum. Request under processing (87% favourable decision probable). Treat as lost in action.)

Thirdest Admiralty have declined to ransom the 'Dogmatist' and she will be relaunched as a Thirdest Keel once substantial repairs have been completed. Please alter silhouette books accordingly.

Sent and to be received through the Observation Arks in the spirit of non-intervention and subject self-determination. Four thousand and ninth year of process.

(If you have read it all, thanks hope you enjoyed it. Leave a comment and I shall give you a shiny silver penny. An imaginary one.)

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