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Captain Russ’ coffee run

The Albatross floated through clear skies over the Blake Sea, bound for New Babbage with a cargo hold full of coffee. The shortages brought on by recent pirate activities were beginning to take their toll, and Captain Firecrest hoped to use the situation to his advantage, making a little cash while making the residents of the sooty city a little happier too. Keeping in the shadow of the ships balloon to avoid a nasty case of sunburn, he checked his heading and leaned against the wheel mounting, reaching for his flask of tea.

A loud crack split the still air and a cannon shot glanced off the ships stern, nearly knocking the Captain off his feet. Hastily stowing his flask, he cranked the engines to full and swerved, hoping to throw off his so far unseen attackers aim. Grabbing his binoculars, he peered around the cabin, ducking quickly back to the wheel as more shots flew past. In the brief peek he saw two small, agile airships bearing down on him from astern.

Swerving to starboard, as several shots flew through where the Albatross had just been, he began priming his own weapons to return fire. Several shots slammed into his engine housing, setting a nasty clanking sound going in time with the main propeller. Captain Firecrest decided to try something else.

Turning the Albatross to face his attackers, he carefully kept himself behind the wheel housing and called across the divide. “Ahoy there!”

The ships stopped firing and moved closer, a course female voice calling back “Ahoy yerself.”

“What can I do for you today?” Asked the Captain, careful not to show himself as the two ships moved closer, positioning themselves to his stern away from his cannons.

“Well ye can surrender yerself and yer cargo, or we can sink ya.” the pirates voice replied. “Personally, I like the second option.”

Firecrest called back “Hmm. Those don’t seem ideal. Would you consider half of these crates and we all go our merry ways?”

“Well, lets see….” came the gruff voice, considering. “I’m a reasonable woman and we don’t have a lot of cargo space right now. Trade ships fer it.”

The Captain could see a young man in the gunners position loading for another shot on one of the ships as he peeked out of his hiding place. “Hmm. That is a reasonable offer. Just a moment.” He stepped out, raising his hands.

The lead pirate watched from her ship with a raised eyebrow, calling across to him. “ About to do something yer think is fun don’tcha…” as he lunged forward to the controls and cranked a lever, causing thick black smoke to come from his stern exhaust vents as the Albatross shot forwards.

The pirates pursued, opening fire again, but didn’t hit much as the smoke obscured their vision. When they finally cleared the cloud, the Albatross had a good lead on them and was speeding away fast. Glancing around the cabin, Captain Firecrest saw them fire again, the shots zooming past. His ship felt more sluggish than normal, he suspected the opening volley had dented his engine housing and was interfering with the drive shaft. The Albatross forged ahead, but the pirates began to catch up.

Cannon fire filled the air, shots tearing holes into the hull of the Albatross. Russ spun the wheel, twirling the ship on her axis to face the attackers and slamming the gears into reverse. Cranking another handle, he engaged the forward cannon and returned fire, scoring a hit on the lead ship and taking a big chuck from it’s keel. The pirates flew away from each other, confusing his aim and wasting his next few shots on open air. Correcting to keep targeting the lead ship, he fired again, missing once, then scoring another hit.

Both pursuing ships banked to the sides and came at him from the flanks. He weaved from side to side as the ship flew backwards, but some shots still hit, bouncing off or taking chunks from the woodwork. Captain Firecrest gripped the wheel tightly, the knuckles going white on his left hand as he turned the Albatross so her cannons faced the second ship. He punched the fire button and smiled as his shot knocked their cannon off line and sent the gunner sprawling. His smile vanished as he realised he’d lost track of the other ship.

Suddenly, a shot blew upwards through the deck, quickly followed by another, which shattered a section of the balloon mount. The Albatross started to list to one side and the Captain almost slid off the deck, clinging to the wheel to save himself. Wood splinters and coffee beans flew through the air, falling into the sea below. Pulling himself back upright, Captain Firecrest pulled a lever, surrounding the ship with black smoke again, then pulled the emergency balloon vent and let the ship drop about ten meters. Shots flew through the smoke filled but otherwise empty air as the Captain kicked a lever and engaged the emergency boosters, almost flying into the cabin as the Albatross shot forward like a bullet.

The pirates began to pursue, firing a few more shots, then stopped. Russ heard a call of “Out!” from one of the ships as he sped away towards New Babbage. Leaning over the side, he saw several large holes in his hold, trailing coffee beans and other debris. He sighed, knowing that while he had got away, the pirates had once again prevented many in Babbage from enjoying their vital morning brews.

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