Captain Harvey and what was left of his crew stood on the deck of the Jet with their hands held high. All of them were dripping wet and were in danger of hypothermia. The air was full of smoke and snow and Harvey's eyes watered. The crew of the Jet stood around them with edged weapons and scuffed pistols. They all looked as if they haven't seen the inside of a proper bathroom for some time. Behind them, the KND Puppy Tail burned. The hull creaked and the boards split from the heat. The sails broke apart in pieces and the mast groaned as it toppled over, making the ropes snap. The other members of Harvey's crew screamed as they swam away from the wreck, from the shower of fire, from the mast. Some of them were already dying as the ocean sapped them of their body heat.
The Puppy Tail was a sloop of war, like the Mad Monday. It was never meant to see combat, however. It was to be used as a scouting vessel. At any sign of trouble, the Puppy Tail was to retreat and report back.
The crew of the ship was smaller than the crews of other ships to reflect its status as a non-combat ship. Harvey blinked furiously as his eyes dried out from the ash. If the Puppy Tail was truly meant to be a scout, then they would have let him keep Lee as Master Rigger. The man had remarkable vision. But he wasn't a part of his crew anymore; he worked for that Nigel Uno now. Nigel Uno and that frigate had enough power that they could do without Lee.
And now, and now, Harvey gritted his teeth as some of the Jet crew tried to shoot his men who were still in the water. Some of them made bets and who would get who. It was inane. He just had his ship debrined. It was good to go. And then the Jet had snuck up behind them in a blitz and they hadn't known because the sentry fell asleep. The sentry was Shaun Fulbright, who usually served as a cabin boy of sorts. Shaun stood three people away from Harvey, looking rather defeated and guilty. Harvey didn't bother to say anything to him.
"Captain on deck," one of the Summersians shouted. He retreated and another man swaggered up in his place.
"Hey," he said. A wicked-looking knife was tucked into his belt and his sunglasses slid down the bridge of his nose. "I'm Captain Steve. You've probably heard of me."
"No," Harvey shook his head. "Just your ship."
Everyone became quiet as Steve's eyes flashed.
"Well, well. You must be the captain of the Puppy Tail."
"You know a good captain goes down with his ship, right?"
"You must not be a good captain."
Harvey took a deep breath and resisted the urge to punch Steve in the face.
"Walk with me, Captain," Steve said. Harvey was handcuffed and led away from his crew. "Did you know," Steve said as he led Harvey deep into the ship. "That Summersian ships do not run on hamster power like Springsthesian ships? They don't even run on guinea pig power."
"Then what do they run on? Steam?"
"They're human powered," Steve opened the door to one of the decks, which was filled with rows and rows of benches, manacles and oar handles of varying lengths. Some of the benches were already taken up with more of the Jet crew and some other people more ragged than the crew. The strangers were manacled to each other and to the bench by their feet.
"Other ships are powered by the crew," Steve continued. "But I think Summersians above this sort of work. Bring 'em in."
Harvey was shoved to the side as his crew was pushed into the deck. Steve's crew forced them to sit down in place of the Jet crew at the oars, then shackled them to the benches.
"You get to sit right over there," Steve pointed to the back. "So you can see everything."
"We are not galley slaves," Harvey shouted. He was dragged to the back and was shackled to his seat next to Shaun. Steve cackled from his place at the front.
"You better hope we hit up more Springsthesia ships, Captain McKenzie! The more food we're able to steal, the more scraps you'll be able to eat!"
Harvey's knuckles turned white as he gripped the oar handle and Shaun bowed his head. Steve wiped his eye.
= = = Steve, why you gotta be such a tool? Are you compensating for something? What's going on? = = =
Chad and Maurice watched their fellow crew members snipe the men in the water. It was difficult to do, because the fire of the ship was going out, leaving them with little light. Snow obscured everything and ice was beginning to crust everything. Chad sighed and scratched the stubble on his chin.
"This isn't right. I signed up to fight in a war, not to be a pirate."
"Why didn't you say anything," Maurice asked. "You know, when the captain brought it up?"
"Are you kidding? You saw what he did to those other guys same as I did."
Maurice nodded. There were a good number of crew members who didn't want to become pirates and Steve just had them thrown overboard while they were sailing over shark-infested waters. Both Chad and Maurice independently decided to keep their opinions to themselves in order to save their skins.
"Maybe we could mutiny?"
"It's too late for that now. All the guys who'd fight with us are dead. We'd lose."
"I thought about that too. But now we've got a whole bunch of hostages on board."
The two men were silent for a moment. Chad continued to scratch his chin.
"We're all gonna die," he said. Maurice didn't contradict him.
= = = Ugh, what am I doing? Am I foreshadowing? I don't know! = = =
Lance ran his hands over his head again. Hoagie, with the help of the machines in the sick bay, was able to speed up Lance's healing process. The stitches in his head were gone and so were the bandages and Lance was free to show off the hair that was growing in. His hair was still extremely short, practically the same length as stubble, but Lance still straightened his jacket as he looked in the mirror.
"I look good," Lance flashed a smile at himself before he left his room and made his way onto the deck. His jaw dropped.
It was snowing. The deck was slick and the railing and ropes were crusted with ice. Icicles hung from the sails. Lance coughed as the cold air invaded his lungs, then started as Patton threw things at him. It was a pair of boots, overalls and a thick overcoat, all waterproof.
"Oh," Lance struggled into the clothes, then jammed a beanie over his head. Being bald was cold. "Thank you, Patton. I take it we've sailed into Wintersdom waters?"
"Yeah," Patton scowled and gestured to the rest of the crew, who were bundled in warm, waterproof clothing. Most of them were using the hammers to bash the thick ice from crusting the ship and others heaved the loose chunks of ice overboard.
"Risky, isn't it?" Lance said as he watched Lee and his riggers try to bring the sails in. The men on the deck ducked as they were showered with icicles and other bits of ice that were shaken from the sails.
"Yeah," Patton said. "But it's riskier to keep the ice. All that extra weight'll sink the ship."
Lance went to the rail and peeked over. The black ocean churned about around them, but there wasn't any other ice out there that they were in danger of running into.
"Are you sure that the Jet is up here," Lance asked. "Summersian ships are heavy with armor to begin with. All this ice would be dangerous for them."
"No one ever said that the captain of the Jet was any smart," Patton grinned. "We'll all be fine as long as we don't run into any ice fields. If we do, we might get stuck and then we'll be stranded."
"That would be bad."
"Yeah. And then 20,000 would kill me," Patton laughed.
"How do you know the Jet is here though?"
"We got a distress call from the Puppy Tail. About five hours ago."
"That's no good."
"It's good enough. We've got them on radar now. We're moving to intercept them."
"And that will take how long?"
"…Frigates' are slow to begin with."
"Yeah," Lance smiled as Patton tried not to scowl. "Carry on. I'll be in the stateroom."
= = = Where it's nice and warm. = = =
Rachel had been awake for around six days straight. They were rationing out water and food. They were still utterly lost. Rachel stood at the railing of the ship and looked down at the green, sludgy water.
A couple days ago, Sonya had finally broken in a tried to cook one of the strange fish in these waters. She didn't let anyone eat it, because it was so suspect and she decided to use herself as a test subject. She fell ill within fifteen minutes of eating the fish. Kuki made Sonya eat something else that made her upchuck the contents of her stomach, then dragged her to the medical bay.
Rachel rubbed her eyes and looked at her watch. It was around 6 am and the sentries in the crow's nest would be relieved by Abby at any moment. The water was abnormally thick and very green. Rachel had sailed over green water twice before. The first time was over sea plains and the second time was over kelp forests. The water was a little thicker over the kelp forests, but it was never like this. Rachel wondered if they were sailing through water at all and not just through some strange polluted bay.
"Captain, my captain."
Rachel looked over her shoulder to see Abby. The dark girl started.
"No offence, Cap, but you look like the dead."
"Thanks, Abby," Rachel turned back to the sea. "I'm sorry. I'm lost. I've lost us all. We have no tech to guide us and all the stars are wrong."
Abby scanned the sea around the ship. "The water's green."
"And stupid thick," Rachel rubbed her eyes again. "What the hell? This is a nightmare."
Abby tied a life line around her waist and grappled over the side of the ship.
"Don't drink any of it," Rachel called out after her.
"I know," Abby said. She neared the surface of the water and whipped off her hat, then used it to scoop up some water. She frowned. Instead of getting a capful off soupy…whatever, she had come up with a hatful of asparagus.
"Asparagus," Abby whispered as she emptied her hat. She reached down and dipped her hand in the water. "Asparagus!"
Abby whooped and put her hat back on. "Abby knows where we are, Captain!"
"Sure do! Why don't you sit back and let Abby take care of everything?"
Rachel opened her mouth, then closed it. "Okay. Okay? Really?"
"Yeah," Abby climbed back up onto the deck. "Don't worry! We'll be back at port before you know it."
"Wow," Rachel smiled and started to walk back to the stateroom. "Okay. Uh…yeah. Alright. I'll just leave it to you then…I'll just…" Rachel crumpled onto the deck.
= = = Suddenly, Rachel is anemic. = = =
And of course she would be, if she hasn't eaten anything or slept in a week. That's what she gets.
Sorry for the delay in updating, guys. Writing is serious business to me like you don't even know (you might have figured that out by the reviews/critiques I give on this site). So I take time off now and then for hobbies. Hobbies are important to me. So yeah, review if you like. Review if something irks you. Just…review.
Debrined: Barnacles and other stuff can attach and grow on the hull of the ship. Over time, this stuff would weaken the wood, make it rot and create leaks. In order to keep the barnacles from damaging the hull, the ship would be hauled completely out of the water and the barnacles would be pried off. The process of taking the barnacles off is called Debrining.