The hall way shook once again under his feet as the faint feeling of rapid and repeated vibrations ran through its surface under his feet until it felt like he too was vibrating with the chaotic ringing that stretched through almost every surface around him. Straining to hear through the tangible cacophony as he put a hand out to steady himself on the cold surface he could feel the reaction from what was left of the ship to the constant barrage of impacts against its once seamless hull. Only a few feet away, on the other side of the hull dozens of claws, teeth and mandibles were hammering away at the metal trying to find purchase but to no avail as they had been since the day they had burned from the tunnel winds and impacted into the surface below. Then they had been a proud crew of 30, sailing their Amber Vial through the tunnels and guarding the way-leighs as they had done for years before the corsairs came. Scrambling to react they had been the first to roar their defiance at the invaders, the first the shoot back and the first to stand and be counted like all privateers should he thought to himself as he paused in the flickering light from the malfunctioning over head glow globes. His leg hurt like nothing else but their ships doc had been one of the first to die in the impact alongside half the crew who had not been killed by the close range barrage during the attack run. Trying to picture it in his minds eye all Mar could see was the blinding headache he was beginning to give himself as he reached down to a pouch on his belt and grabbed a pair of tablets, gulping them down with a the thinnest swig of grog from his canteen. He knew he’d have a few hours of hobbling with little pain before it returned in waves, and he would then have to live with it as he let the last of the painkillers he had wash over him. How many were left now he thought to himself, they’d lost 6 in the battle, then another 8 in the crash across the ship, since then maybe another 8 to the mutants, radiation and starvation as they used up what was left of their supplies that had been aboard the ship. Now all that was left was him, two of the gun crew, the ships cook, the navigator and a rigger from the repair team, six lost souls still burning in what could only be the closest to a physical hell-scape that he could have ever imagined. Slowly making his way further along the corridor he began to make his way once more towards his original destination, the ruined ships bridge at the fore of the ship. The topside of the ships fore had survived the impact quite well thanks to the reinforced prow, saving those who had been at the their posts in the deck below. The rear of the ship however hadn’t been so lucky as the grav-plates had been shattered and left behind as they tore free from the hull, fire licking at the sparking cabling and leaking hydraulic lines as the ship had skidded a further few hundred metres before coming to a halt after smashing into a rock out crop. He tried not to think about those who had been in the ships engine room or rear compartments on impact, the faint echoes of the screams ringing in his ears anew as he shook his head to shift the memory and instantly caught a flood of aches and groans from his body for doing so. He stopped for a second time and let his body rest for a moment as he pulled himself together before continuing onwards once more, humming an old tune to himself as to drown out the constant vibrations and memories wafting around in his mind. When the ship had come to a rest it had done so at a slight angle, lifting the fore into the air and leaving everything with a noticeable degree of tilt to it when ever you passed forward through the still intact sections of the ship. With this as Mar finally made it to the set of stairs leading upto the hatch into the bridge he had to remind himself to take an extra step down the now extremely steep stairs as the hatch swung down with a load clang, adding to the visible dent already growing in the metal work from all the previous times it had been opened. Hauling himself upwards Mar prevailed what was left of the bridge as lose panels and cables hung everywhere, control panels smashed and still sparking, what few lights that still functioned flickering wildly causing a cascade of chaotic light to fall across the entire room and somehow making the entire seen appear even more sorry for itself than it otherwise would have. Spotting the reason he had come here Mar made his way carefully round the side of the command stations and over to what looked like a side cupboard but actually contained what would have been the navigators sensor displays and augur systems. Hunched over the controls a raider was working away at a set of cables, periodically testing a set of controls before swearing and going back to fiddling with another set of cables. “Reason you called me up here Silk or were you just getting tired of listening to your own swearing by yourself?” Mar asked as he lent against a stained portioning wall as the ships navigator looked up and flicked a pair of grimy digits at Mar in response. “Had it working for a minute earlier” Silk replied in between bouts of laden profanity “Been trying to get the comms back on line when that started pinging” she jerked a thumb at the surprisingly intact ladar screen which was happily humming away to itself with a slowly closing contact ping sat about two miles away from them from what Mar could read. A flurry of sparks exploded from the panel to Silk’s left with yet more profanity from the agitated navigator before a static metallic squawking burst from the bridge speakers. The sudden noise elicited a loud dull thud against one side of the ship as something outside responded aggressively to the radio static. “Locals got no taste for radio” Silk remarked with a snide grin as she tapped a couple of the controls and switched a pair of dials round, the static receding into a choppy set of radio feedback, “Well Done Silk, you’ve found a quicker way to piss off the mutie spawn and have us die quicker” Mar shook his head irritated at the apparent waste of time, “Shut your gob and listen moron” Silk replied, hurling a screw driver at Mar. Flinching out of the way Mar grabbed the comms headset and listened for a moment as the screw driver landed somewhere off the other side of the ruined bridge, for a long moment that was just static and then a few words, then static and then a couple more. “What the...” Mar looked at Silk who fiddled with another pair of dials and the static receded further until chopped sentences were coming through the headset’s speakers. “I say again, any survivors...Amber Vial….Last Song, Respond. This is the Skiff Response, Drake’s Dragoons, Any survivors please respond...”. Flicking the switch on the panel next to him Mar spoke “This is Gunnery Chief Mar, Amber vial, requesting safe harbour”, a pause of static and then sound “Reading you chief Mar, This is Surgeon Kai of Drake’s Dragoons, hold tight, medical pick up is on the way”...
Military Campaign Progress Edit
Through out history mankind has been guided by a singular set of basic principles that have affected it at each and every turn, with at its beating heart the simple but binding notion of loyalty to ones fellows holding tight to each and every individual as they have passed their learning down to the next generation and so on until the founding of nations were built on the concept of loyalty to oneself, ones people and ones state would see every new civilisation through to a new era be what that may. At its core this loyalty to one another would see families expand to tribes, tribes to villages, villages to cities and cities to a national identity of what defined those of the human race that they belonged to their extended culture and people as a whole. This same sense would see those lay down their lives in defence of another who in turn would be spurred onwards by the sense of loyalty shown to them to rise and strike down those that would offend their brothers and sisters from a foreign land in their time of need. Each act would form a new bond that would lead down a new path as it would see humanity grow and take each step onwards with a renewed vigour as they knew that those at their back would defend them as they would them through the ages until their tales would inspire a common cause and see a nation birth itself unto the stars and expend the grasp of man kind as a whole. This one simple ideal has stuck so closely to the identity of man that it has become a core tenant by which most live their lives be it in a small simple way through to those that would stand in the very trenches and sell their lives for a cause born of common bond to their fellows from their loyalty to homeland and kin. The only issue is when these bonds become frayed or severed all together and the principle of loyalty fades away to leave a darkness that seeps like a sickness at the heart.
For the Raven privateers the concept of loyalty to oneself and to ones crew is a driving tenant felt by all and marks the privateers for who they are, free spirits that would stand for their way of life and lay down their lives to defend their culture with a fierceness born of a burning loyalty to one another. From each ship that pry's its trade through the tunnels of the home territory through to the port-siders that make up the populace of every port every privateer knows that should the worse happen and the survival of their way of life come under threat that each grudge will be set aside as they stand shoulder to shoulder with one another against the encroaching darkness, loyal to them home land to the last. For the Raiders and Riggers this sense of loyalty permeates their very differences and makes them stronger for it, as those spritely raiders that would jump aboard enemy craft or dart from cover to engage the foe know that should they fall the heavy iron wall of a armoured Rigger following behind will cover them as they work in tandem to put down what ever threat opposes them and afterwards both grow hoarse together as they sing the tale to their comrades in the taverns filled with their kin and friends alike. The only problem with this kind of loyalty is when it becomes misplaced, and the very ones that stand around you become the very ones that will be your downfall.
The first few days of the new season would pass in sombre waves for the privateers of the Black coats, their armada still limping from their previous engagement. Some ships would bear the scars of that battle for the rest of their serviceable days whilst their crews would carry the memories with them for longer still as they passed into folklore in the ports from the descendants that would retell the tale time and again about that bloody day. By the end of the first week they would find themselves anchored at a makeshift assembly dock based out of Kilo proper rather than taking up space at the more mercantile docking arms as the small fleet of tender vessels and repair crews began their slow work of repairing those vessels still usable and breaking apart those that could not be saved for salvage to restore the rest. For the crews aboard these vessels the waking hours that passed would be bitter sweet as they watched their vessel scrapped in order to repair others that were more crucially needed. For others the long lines of walking wounded flooding Kilo’s small infirmaries and sawbones that worked there would be the last time they ever saw their vessels, as those that had survived the battle with the most grievous injuries would pass on in the company of their crew mates under the flickering light of ancient glow globes strung from the sheet metal roofs above them. This sight for the residents of kilo would continue on for some time as the steady sound of arc torches, welding gear and the moans of wounded filled the air with each passing day until it had become a constant agonising tone that filled the air for hours on end as the third week passed by in mock chorus. Reports coming from those few ships available to cover picket duty reported that the invader’s fleets seemed to still be clustered roughly around Drogba’s house and the burning Tink’s town from what they could tell without closing to dangerous distances for their ships. Nobody was taking risks anymore with what had just happened, weary port ships moving into twos and threes through the air as they made their ways upwards towards the other ports still in privateer hands. The universe in its infinite wisdom seemed to have handed the black coats a small sliver of luck however, Kilo was well famed for its repair docks and more ships than not were being restored at a steady pace, with some being brought back from near death thanks to the expertise of the Kilo Riggers that would have otherwise been lost. Never one’s to let the determined work of friends go under rewarded the black coats during the low eve of the fifth day of the final week would gather where possible in kilo’s small market district, each carrying a bottle of something or a keepsake. One by one they would pile them high before each captain of each ship lost would stake a knife into the surface of the nearest table until from above the emblem of the black coats could be seen with a pile of thank you’s at its centre for the inhabitants of Kilo. Come the morning the armada would find the port alive with activity as tired Riggers strapped themselves into the welding hulks and set about with renewed determination, a bound born of common cause and a sense of true loyalty coursing through the port until by the eve of the first month and the dawn of the second everywhere the black coats turned they would find a helping hand there for them with a readier Kilo resident behind it.
With this the Black coats would soon find themselves in some state of semblance as the rear admiral called the flag staff together one morning early into the first week. With the sound of welding torches hissing away in the background as repairs continued to progress throughout the armada he laid out the state of things to those present, running over crew complements, munitions availability, crew readiness and supplies. Ship by ship he worked his way through the ever growing list until everyone present was acutely aware of the situation; in a straight up fight they would not stand a chance, even with the information recovered about the enemies true status, it was that simple. A head to head confrontation would only result in more of the same that they had all just born witness too. Here a trio of flotilla captains broke out in argument whilst two flag staff almost come to blows before they are swiftly separated by two others, narrowly averting a full duel in the midst of the meeting. The rear admiral simply sat quietly as the arguments burnt themselves out until only silence remained before he opened his mouth to speak, and when he did a wicked grin split across his face that lefts more than a few officers present raising a concerned eyebrow. Laying out a series of maps before them the rear admiral carefully lays out his plan, the faces of dawning understanding coming across a few officers as he informs them of a few well learnt lessons from his excursions on the surface with the rest of the surface squadron. The meeting takes a few more hours before the assembled captains are dismissed to ready their ships, whilst the rear admiral takes two flag staff and heads to the cutting yards. Once there he has a number of riggers seal it off from anyone but himself and the two officers before emerging the next day with a mischievous glint in his eyes. Readying what was left of the black coats would take a further week as stores were tallied and brought aboard with fresh crews drawn from volunteers amongst the populace, during this a number of skiffs are noticed bearing the admiralty’s mark alongside another not seen in a number of years, the crest of the ‘Old Adament’. Press gangs are seen going door to door chatting with the populace before heading off to the next with a steadily growing column of volunteers and call ups following behind them. The other privateers army hadn’t been active as a single force in well over a century; every black coat knew that for a fact, but the idea of seeing them fighting again couldn’t help but put a spring into the competitive step of the black coats at the mental image of the two armies fighting side by side once more, the raider like black coats and rigger built ‘old Adament’. Thoughts of brotherly mischief would have to wait though as the armada is ordered out of port in a steady train of squadrons until the fleet is formed up ready to move out come the end of the second week by the rear admiral. The next week and a half would pass with a strange secrecy floating about the armada as a small flotilla of ships trails behind them, skeleton crews seen working away during the night cycle on them, only to disappear during the day as the various flotillas made their steady progress downwards and closer to the booming echoes of the raging battles below. Each day the same questions would be raised on a different ship as the eve of the second month fell upon them, who exactly where those ships intended for and why was the rear admiral being so quiet about there purpose?. Some of the younger privateers hedge bets amongst themselves across the squadrons whilst the older more grizzled black coats simply keep a watchful eye on the strange ships as the final day of the month slips by, the picket ships marking the engagement border passing by and slowly receding from sight.
The dawn of the third month would be met with a dry wind that every black coat had grown to know, the scent of smoke and fire carried on the air currents and the eddies of rock dust that caught at their grav trails, leaving wallowing streaks in the air marking their passage. Early on the morning of the fourth day into the first week a series of signals flash across each ship in turn as the entire armada turns to port heading down one of the lesser used passages that would in quieter times passed down to Drogba’s house. This small detail isn’t noticed by the crews of each ship as the signal flashes by and the reaction catches at all of them, the sense that drogba’s defenders wouldn’t have to see another season fighting alone in the darkness, that the armada was coming. Over the following week a profound sense of determination grasps the fleet as they prepare for the battle to come, each ship checking and rechecking weapons systems, munitions and personal gear, all the while be trailed by the strange squadron of skeleton ships. Forward picket ships bring back news close to the end of the second week that the enemy fleet detected by the scouts were still in position as they had been and were not aware of their presence or at least cocky enough after the bruising the black coats had suffered not to be bothered by it. Fools on them then was the common thought as the squadrons begin to form up, as they do a signal is flashed across to allow the strange ships through. The older grizzled privateers chunter amongst themselves as the strange ships head past, barely a soul aboard as they do with a smaller skiff following behind. The rest of the armada would follow behind at a distance as they entered into the cavernous tunnel that marked the passage down to drogba’s house. The corsairs ships reacted this time as the presence of so many privateer ships couldn’t be ignored. Striking their colours a number of flotillas pull from their siege lines, shoals of skiffs and swarms of cutter class ships powering up and swarming towards the privateers, the strange ships still pushing ahead. A rapid signal is sent across the black coats for all hands to brace as the skiff accompanying the skeleton ships pulls back and opens the throttle running back to them just as the first ships meet the enemy craft. There is a pause for a moment as the corsairs watch the silent ships pass by, tarps flapping over something lashed to their sides and decks. A signal static pulse is felt momentarily as the skeleton ships explode in a chain reaction, each detonation shredding corsair ships left and right before the next explosion in the chain. A roar of cheers and approval ripples through the black coats as the signal to form columns and engage fleets across the armada as the burning wrecks and hulks of burning corsair ships litters the tunnels with secondary detonations, the great siege barges all of a sudden without their protective screen of enemy craft.
The ensuing engagement starts off well for the privateers with the heavy flotillas pushing forward in two great columns as the move to flank the siege hulk lines and engage them with their heavier broadside batteries, as the flotillas of lighter craft push forward to begin performing covering gun runs for the rocket armed craft reminiscent of ancient torpedo attack craft from the days of antiquity. The siege hulks designed to concentrate on bombardment warfare are slow to react as their overworked engines flare into life and begin to dry and rotate their great bulk. As one does so its fore grav plates take a glancing strike from a round from Drogba’s house itself, one of the great case mate defences still operating and lashing out to provide assistance to the incoming black coat relief force. Suddenly without forward propulsion the ship begins to drift and as it does so it collides with another hulk just as a series of rocket volleys impact the craft igniting it in a series of rippling minor detonations that reduce both craft to burning wrecks, the professionalism of the privateer crews proving no match for the out classed swarm tactics of the corsair fleet here. Taking heart from the sight of the burning wrecks the heavy flotillas not to be out done set to work reducing a further 3 siege hulks to ruined wrecks, one taken in a daring boarding move by a bulk carrier attached to the black coats that results for a short time in the heavy bombards of the hulk being turned on its own forces until the ship is scuttled. Reeling the remaining craft of the corsairs pull back towards the burning retros of further flotillas coming to reinforce them from their fleet, at this the black coats begin to reform their line with Drogba’s house anchoring their right flank, ready guns and readier crews spoiling for the fight to come.
The next few hours would see a repeat of the early part of the first conflict except this time when ever a ship baring the white devil ensign is spotted it is immediately raked with weapons fire, causing its escorting ships to peel away here and there rather than be gunned down resulting in a minor turkey shoot in one spot as one retreating shoal and one advancing collide with one another. Sensing a change in the winds of the battle the black coats choose to press the advantage as the enemy fleet begins to fall back, something though feels wrong though as the enemy fleet darts back each time the black coats step forward. A roar echoes from behind the fleet down another passage as a series of pings begin to appear across all LADAR screens of the black coats armada, another fleet of ships powering up from their hiding spot and striking forwards at their rear. “We’ve been had” the rear admiral snarls “All ships form up, defensive spread” the signal goes out as the black coats begin to reform into a defensive circle and make their way back, at this moment the previously retreating corsair ships surge forward in a tide of smaller craft, clearly they had been waiting for the signal to pounce once the privateers had been drawn into position. As the privateers gunnery crews open fire to try and drive them back, all mock cowardice suddenly gone to be replaced with suicidal malice.
The rest of the day would see brutal close quarters fighting as the black coats are swarmed by corsair vessels, their defensive circle being pounded on time and again by circling corsairs shoals of vessels, great brute hulks lashing out with broadsides and waring away at the black coats and their vessels. Time and again the black coats would begin their push to break out and time and again they would be pushed back into their grinder by the corsair vessels, each time with more ships damaged, more crew dead or dying. With each passing volley the black coats would find themselves pushed closer and closer to the edge of the endurance as ships began to burn and drop from the tunnels winds once more, in one place a brute hulk detonates immolating two other ships and their crews from the black coats. Swearing the rear admiral signals all flotillas to try and make one last concerted push back towards the passage they came down to break out, the heavy flotillas redoubling their efforts to drive a wedge into the enemy with the lighter craft making gun runs to drive that wedge into a gap. For a brief moment the gap is open before a shoal of cutters drive is closed again as they close to boarding range to drive the lighter gun craft of the black coats back. In their way though a haulage hulk bearing the name Amethyst Rose batters its way forward literally spearing one corsair ship on its hull as it forces the gap open anew with a pair of attendant cutters of its own laying down supportive fire. Signalling the rest of the fleet the rear admiral orders his own ship into the fray as the rest of the black coats mount their break out and surge through the gap towards the passage tunnel, engines burning hard for the safety of distance and warmer winds.
Once away from the fighting the rear admiral would call the flagstaff as they past the same picket craft they had seen but a week or so ago, each ship bearing fresh scars alongside battered and bloodied crew. The two flag staff that had almost come to blows in the weeks before failed to report and when the others were asked of their whereabouts the rear admiral learnt they had both been aboard the hulk that had detonated, immolating the two privateers in the burning pyre of their ship. Amongst the battered faces and weary looks the assembled captains and flag officers share the same look as the rear admiral when the question of the sudden appearance of the other corsair fleet is raised, “That was no mere coincidence, someone set us up” he growls through gritted teeth, “Someone is going to pay”….
The Black coats have once more been engaged within their home territory in a fierce battle close to drogba’s house as they engaged one of the trio of corsair fleets making up the invading force. Despite a well achieved surprise attack it appears as if someone had set the black coats up for an ambush that was almost successful if not for the intervention of the surface squadron ships attached. Accordingly the black coats have taken further losses and casualties, but nowhere near as badly thanks to said intervention. (Note: Black coats have suffered a further 160 casualties putting them at an effective strength of 1990 of 3000, Enemy forces sit at an effective strength of 3817 of 4500. This means one enemy fleet is within one engagement of integrity collapse )
Cold shores at home Edit
With the ongoing situation with the invading corsairs fleets ever expanding and growing some would think that the average privateer would be thinking of nothing but home and family at a time where the fate of their civilisation might be at hand. For a member of the this culture however when pushed the true colours that mark out a privateer come through and now more than ever their knack as a people for pulling together and knuckling down to support one another makes itself none in a thousand different ways. Across every standing port families pool together to save food to be sent to the fleet even now a source of food has been secured, port militias begin to form and train regularly from old mouldy training manuals to allow for the experience fighters to head off to sign up for the now reforming ’old Adament’. Here and there the privateers make do to better support those making what will become tales of legend in the times to come and the tales sunk in taverns of these times. Amongst the free ships of the tunnels roving bands of independent captains form together in rough and ready squadrons that act as emergency response to ships in distress, rushing to the defence or aid of craft in trouble they become roving guardians of the haulers and carriers of the privateers ensuring food, supplies and medical equipment gets to where it is needed most before powering up to full throttle and heading in search of the next rescue case or enemy to chase down. Within the admiralty the leaders of the privateers find themselves with an ever increasing number of queries and questions from the greater privateer populace and spend most of their time devising and planning in between the occasional duel with a challenging interloper who didn’t understand what ’no’ means when they should their ideas over everyone else. In the more quiet moments the admirals find themselves able to discuss the most pressing issues as a trio seem to constantly come up across reports from each port and ship in turn. The first points at the biggest issue of casualties coming from not just the front line ships but also across the more mercantile vessels and free ships guarding them, mutant raids and marauding corsairs pushing past the picket ships in ones and twos were taking up more and more resources that could be spent elsewhere. One idea put forward would be to construct an overland infirmary of some scale in one of the surface ports that could tend to the influx of casualties. The admirals argument the merits and risks involved before settling on submitted the plan to the surface squadron via flag captain Michaels. The other two issues come in tandem, the first relates to the damage inflicted upon the black coats and the other the newly reformed ’old Adament’. Both require resources that can be ill spent on the other at this time and an idea is formed between the admiral of Home down and the Admiral of kilo, it would require signalling from both active fleet stewards of both fleets but would require a captains vote as well. Raising the ’old Adament’ would provide a new fleet to the privateers as was the original intention when the admirals decided upon the course in the previous seasonal cycle, however if instead of bringing the ’old Adamant’ to strength the black coats could be enlarged at the cost being able to support the ’old Adament’. They would have one large army out sizing any other force by nearly 50% but they would only be able to support that single fleet over the potential two that they could, again the admiralty finds itself split on the decision and sends a flag officer to ascertain a vote from the surface squadron ships as well as all other captains upon the idea.
1) With the ongoing conflict within the raven privateer home territories the admiralty has signalled the surface squadron to hold a captains vote on the planned idea of establishing a surface port infirmary to assist in handling casualties from across the home territory, ports and ships. Flag Captain Michaels will have more information available at the vote on Friday evening.
2) As the conflict continues to escalate the admiralty has been struck by an idea that will require a full vote by the various captains of the raven privateers to carry out. In the place of raising the ’old Adament’ the resources being used to reform the army will instead be redirected to the black coats to reinforce and enlarge the fleet at the cost of only being able to support that single fleet. More information will be available from Flag Captain Michaels during the vote on this issue. Note: Outcome of this vote must be reported to GOD by Sunday morning at the latest.