The Ship listed slightly to port as the winds of the tunnels buffeted against the rusted hull, metal creaking as it ever did as plates settled against one another and others strained against their welds, bolts rattling as the entire structure shifted in the wave of gravimetric thrust that propelled it forward on its voyage through the cavernous tunnels that made up the home ports. Every ship was a city in of it self as the various bands of riggers and raiders made their never ending journeys around the ships interior, constantly fighting against the inertia of time that worn down the constant repairs and retrofits that kept the barges, cutters and sloops in the air above the rocky floors far below. The ‘Solace Lost’ bore her name proudly on the fore of her hull, the ancient barge ferrying her charges under the auspice of her long serving captain and equally long stressing bosun according to her crew. The pair has made incalculable runs through the darkness and shimmering back light that made up the various paths between the ports for many years and the Solace had her far share of war wounds and scars to prove that despite her age and appearance she was a ship to be feared under her crew, long chargers bedecking her fore and aft quarters whilst her port and starboard sides hid array’s and capacitor linked heavy cannonade arcs. “The old girl would tear the jaws of a maw” if she was roused her crew would jest proudly if pushed and her captain would silently agree with the slightest tilt of his chin from a chair sat in the half light of whatever tavern they were calling home for the evening ashore. Right now however the crew were anything but boisterous and her captain equally as silent as the ship continued on its course down and down through the caverns and past free ships plying their trade. Captain Dayan flexed his knuckles as all around him the helm crew brought the ship to each new heading quickly and quietly; the Helms women glancing up at the Bosun with a look of momentary query before receiving a reassuring nod in reply, the back light from the hatch into the bridge scattering out as the ship maintained its silent running. Cold runs weren’t a usual for the crew and the message from the admiralty to divert down past Drogba’s house hadn’t been greeted at all well, a number of fights had broken out in the mess before the captain had let loss the raiders to quell the fight. Dayan by nature was a cautious man, a 70 odd he was far past the human complement of 45 years that marked a privateers life if they were lucky, caution and a shrewd word had seen him through his life well and his crew respected the wisen old captain for his experience and skill with a blade. Right now that caution was telling him to unship the guns, raise flag and high tail it back up to the border point with all speed that the solace could best make. Scout runs into the deeps weren’t something the solace was for, if called on she was a brawler who would hold the line with the best of them, not slinging in the shadows like a hammerhead, she was all teeth and attitude and yet the admiralty had ordered her down her to follow up on what had happened to the last 2 scouts to go down and now a Brute hauler had simply disappear into the ether with all hands. “Ladar reports clear Cap’n” the navigator called from over his shoulder in a side bay filled with wires, scopes, scanners and flickering screens, “Keep the birds scanning and increase power to forward bouys” Dayan lent forward, resting his head against the point of his fingers “Aye Cap’n” “Helm keep her steady and be prepared to bring her about full turn on my word” “Yes Captain”, Dayan raised an eyebrow at his second in command stood motionless beside him “The Ameythst Rose reported back nothing major beyond rock fall and those ‘shadows’ Ish, so where in the depths have those crews gone?” Dayan questioned his second, Ish shrugging. “She keeps what she keeps sir” He spoke after a moment “She takes what we leave and we never leave” “Aye Ish” Dayan lent back, scratching his chin “But even lost things leave a trail of their passing” He lent back closing his eyes for a moment, something a miss causing his natural sense to carefulness kicking at him. “Navigator set buoys loose and scan for seismic, I want to know what’s below even if it’s a Howler taking a dump” “Aye Cap’n” the navigator lent out from his station before the sound of clicking switches and muttered curses emanated from behind the partition. “No ship just disappears” Dayan flexed his knuckles again before standing up and stepping down to the helms women before him, resting a hand on her shoulder as he stared out into the darkness before them “Where have you claimed them banshees” He muttered to himself, the crew passing a look at the mention of the hated ships of the corsairs. Dayan smirked at the look “She’ll fight for us well, never doubt the solace she won’t” He spoke quietly to the crew as a steadying grin spread across their features. The crew worked quietly as Dayan remained at the shoulder of the helms woman, his presence so close to hand steadying the nervous crew, the depths passing by at an ever increasing pace as the solace made her passage into the deeper darkness below. “Hard Seismic report Cap’n” the navigator called from their station as the crew jumped at the sudden sound “Fore lights, unship the guns” Dayan yelled and a moment later the swivel mounts flickered into life further down the ships hull and bathed the rocky floor below in beams of light, metallic shutters falling away revealing readied guns and readier crew. Mutants scattered and disappeared down crevasses and fissures as the beam swept over them, eyes glaring back at the passing metallic giant, “Speed to quarter full” Ish Snarled into the radio, “Where are you” Dayan growled as the ship slowed, nothing moved as time slowed for a moment, before a sound like the wailing of the very damned themselves roared up the tunnel, every light on the solace exploding and dying as the grav plates cracked and the Solace Lost slammed into the floor below in a blossom of fire and debris...
Military Campaign Progress Edit
Privateers by their very nature are wanton to celebrate the simplest of acts, from the greatest of victories down to the loudest of tales that lifts the heart and fills the spirit with feelings of adventure, that call to the soul of the privateers as a people. Accordingly when any host assembles or settles into a new home, be it for the long or short term, many a tavern and welcome drink can be found for those that wish to spend a night in hearty company to the sound of a vibrant people living every day as if it were their last. As such with the armada this essence is distilled in a potent quality that gives rise to their famous drinking competitions and infamous bar brawls in the home ports across the width and breadth of the privateer homelands, upon the surface this approach to life gives rise to the first bars and new settlements that soon find themselves filled to the brim with eager port goers and crews ashore, following in the wake of the Black Coats. Sadly many a crew finds themselves turfed out of their hammocks soon after the celebrations come to a close as the armada is ordered onwards by the admiralty, the dawn chorus of gutter worship is met by the sounds of reading rigger bands and raider crews, individual flotillas coming together as the roster call goes out and members are checked off before each flotilla marches to the east, facing the route they came only a few short weeks before hand, now a steady trickle of commerce and settlers where once stood a silent road to be tread. Under Banners of every flotilla and every ship’s muster the army marches east passing by parties of scavenging riggers and raiders escorting cargoes of what valuables may be needed in a new port. The reason for this change in direction soon becomes apparent however as the army soon swings south down another series of under and overlapping roads, passing through great tunnels and past ruined towers standing like ancient cadavers that mark the boundaries of a new territory yet unseen.
The following few weeks pass with an ever growing sense of something great at hand amongst the various crews of the armada as the force pushes ever onwards into the new territory at a great and greater pace. Younger crews race ahead of the older more grizzled black coats in ongoing competitions of bravado and challenge that marks a young crews life, laying claim to greater and greater swathes of land whilst the rest follow up behind by a few days march, waylays left for those that follow indicating the progress of those ahead. Some captains are heard to grumble amongst their crews about the lack of decent rations and the even lower standard of grog the armada’s crews are having to put up with as they make their way into the unknown, the lack of a solid food source beginning to make its presence known amongst the normally optimistic privateers as the days roll past. Some take measures to augment their rations, stripping any morsels of food discovered as they pass through buildings, even splitting off and making their own scav runs into the territory already passed to find better grub thought many return sheepishly when the Armada’s Bosun threatens to hang the next crew to deviate away or insult the accords after two crews come badly to blows over a crate of recovered packaged goods. This uncharacteristic break in character is lost amongst reports flowing back from the young scouts however when the next flag call is made amongst the flotilla, waylay reports point to the territory they now walk being 3 times the size of that which they had previous claimed the months before. The pace set seems to be paying off one of the flotilla captains is heard to say as the force breaks camp one morning, a tentative joy spreading across the forward crews as they mark the passing buildings with more and more interest as the first month passes.
With an idea of the scale of their new prize the flotilla captains look to the temporary orders handed down from the surface squadron to maintain all forward movement and lay claim as quickly as possible to the new lands, a number of grizzled captains question the sense in this but carry out their orders with their usual bark of motivation amongst their crews. The younger captains relish in the freedom to roam ahead as they reach further and further ahead of the core grouping of crews and flotillas, sending back notes and reports of their findings as they pass by empty dilapidated warehouses and half collapsed storage barns. A trio of crews chasing one another in a long running challenge to see who may reach the other side first find themselves passing through the wreckage of great machines, rusted and gutted workshops leading off in every direction as they slow and stand in wonder before a series of half completed plates of steel and iron, a raider climbing to the top spying a way ahead realising what they had found with a cry to her ship mates as they find the bare bones of a great ship sat on a suspension trolley at the end of the warehouse. In better times this place and the surrounding barns would have serviced the mines that the ports now nestle within, sending replacement parts and new parts for great ships that the privateers now call theirs. Such a find spreads a smile upon even the most cynical black coat as they settle in around their greatest find in the new lands, the sight of a birth place for their great barges giving birth to a name that touches every lip across the armada, Land’s Crest. The celebrations held over the course of the next night light a fire amongst the crews hearts as they drink well into the night, a sea of tents and awnings filling the ancient machine barn as they dream of the treasures held deep down, all focusing within as eyes watch from beyond the gloom, creeping every closer to the fire of the armada’s camp.
The Dawn of the third month starts as any other for the crews as they rose, greet the gutters with the morning call by the dozens and ready their blades and boarding arms for the next days march, the young scout crews already packed and well ahead of the more stoic crews at the heart of the armada. Following in the trial of these youngsters the wizen members joke amongst themselves about old days and old tales as they follow the waylays at a solid march, something however begins to call to them as the days pass on and the sight of the younger crews grows ever more distant as does the hope of catching them. A split emerges between the advancing scout crews and their elder charges, waylay markers never emerging to mark their passing calling that something is direly wrong, the smiles disappearing as quickly as they had appeared across the older crew and blades being drawn and colours raised to stand the black coats the battle. Sadly the same sense of wrong does not catch the young crew as the dawn of the second week of the third month draws in and a the sound of battle greets the flotilla captains. Ranging far ahead the scout crews and younger bands of raiders and riggers had spread out in clusters of allied ships, creating 3 impromptu flotillas of inexperienced ships mixed with shred scout vessel crews probing their way through this industrial wasteland. As one flotilla passed by the shadow of a collapsed pylon a shrill cry split the air, that flew to the next and the next until the sounds of the following older crews became a distant far off memory to the shaken crews. Scout captains immediately rallied their crews and hoisted the warning to one another as they turned about and sprint back down the paths they had come straight into the following hammer head crews and sloop crews chasing in their wake. Caution met bravado and in the sound of arguing captains the ambush they had walked into was sprung, tribal warriors appearing from the shadows and debris strewn floors, mounds of rock suddenly disappearing in the blink of an eye into bands of advancing tribal warriors. Flashes of red mixed with the grey of camouflage dust and ancestral war cries as the forward flotillas found themselves assaulted on every side, the sound of the dead and dying filling the air mixed with the report of gun fire and clashes of blade against shield and spear. Screams leapt across the air waves from crew to crew as spears pieced armour vests and daggers buried themselves into exposed flesh, dozens dropping in the first wave of attacks with dozens more yet accompanying them onwards as yet more and more tribals piled into the exposed flotillas. Two under the leadership of a pair of experienced scouts manage to punch, in some cases literally, out of their encirclement and strike colours, leading their crews back in a rapid dash to the safety of the approaching core of the armada. The Final flotilla is not heard from however for the course of two days as the battered young crews advance once more under the watchful guns of the old breed black coats, every building now being properly checked and cleared before moving forward in a sea of privateers. What they find cuts to the heart of the armada as a sorry sight greets them upon approaching a decrepit silo, a cloud of smoke from burning banners and piles of bodies still resting where they fell at their moment of death. Picking through the buildings surrounding them they discover small bands of survivors, bloody and broken but defiant at least against what they had faced, captains picking over the battle of the mounds as it soon becomes known by its survivors discover broken weapons littering the ground and more than the odd dead tribal amongst the ruins surrounding pockets of dead privateers. At last light the moans of the wounded carries across the air as the luckiest scouts return from the far edges of the territory reporting the way south blocked by collapsed debris that may be movable with some work. In terms of lives lost the final tally approaches 240 privateers lost to the black coats that will never drink and sing tales with their brothers and sisters again. Perhaps half that number of tribals are accounted for by the armada as they settle in to occupy the final stretches of the territory in the intervening weeks that pass, those lost are mourned by their ship mates as questions being to be asked of what happened to cause this and banners are raised by captains looking for blood as the leaders of the flotilla look to the orders handed down from the surface squadron that pressed them forward so fast…
The Black Coats have claimed a new territory for the Raven privateers, a primus grade industrial zone ready to be plundered for all its treasures. However this has come at a cost to the army, 240 raven privateers are dead and will never sail the tunnels of home again as the tribals known as the Soulful; previously encountered in the Agri-dome, launch devastating ambushes on the forward flotillas that had rushed ahead at the orders given to them by the surface squadron…
Cast Ashore Edit
With the ever flowing tides that pull the cultures strings growing stronger the privateers lack of a secure source of food has begun to take its toll in a minority of places that grind at the morale of the average ship crew and spark arguments amongst friends across the various ports that normally would simply be passed by on a normal day. This slowly growing tension combined with the loss of yet more ships to the unknown below soon finds its way to the lips of the admiralty as great duels are held within the admiralty house in Home Down over the right course to set for the Privateers as a whole. It settles little amongst the stress but does however serve well as a distraction as in two cases the duels spread out on to the street as the clash of blades draws bellowing crowds of onlookers, the causal ruin of two bars, a street market, one workshop and a barbers is swept under as a good cost for a new tale for the riggers and raiders to bite into within the taverns and bars , those that came within arms reach telling the tale to all those that would hear under a constant supply of good drink and a good seat to tell it from. On top of this some look to the surface for the outcome of another dual yet to be had amongst the surface squadron on the actions of the black coats, whilst signals sent up from below from two of the admirals send their intention to investigate exactly what has been going on whilst ashore….
1) Election of the Rear Admiral to the Black Coats and corresponding Fleet Steward is to be conducted, All ship CAPTAINS may stand if they wish. The results are to be reported to the admiralty by Friday evening at the latest.
2) A Boarding party is being sent to the surface to investigate what occurred with the Black coats and the ambush, they will be questioning all those that they find who have been present before, any wishing to assist from new crews may request so upon their arrival
3) With the lack of a secure node the lack of a major food supply is beginning to cause issues for the privateers, as such the most recently claimed territory is suffering and as such is under the ‘Pillaged’ Affect. This may rectify itself over the course of 6 months (2 events) but will result in a 50% decrease in tribute from the territory during this time, Privateers may send their crews to assist in fairly distributing claims which will lessen the effect to a 25% decrease for the duration if they so wish.