>Vivian: Greet friendly bull-person. Thank them for their timely assistance. >Find a way to sneak an introduction with your new ally >Also, heal yourself. Eating some fruit should instantly heal you, right? >Nibble away, granting Ferdinand initiative for the next melee round. >Huge stranger: use a suitably placed wooden beam to score a homerun
“Yessir! Thank you for saving my butt there, mister!”
“I'm a lady taurfolk. For the most people my chest situation is a dead giveaway you know…”
“Oh! Sorry! I'm not very good at the whole mammaries thing! I did not mean to insult you!”
“None taken, little one. I'm mr. Francine the first mate, and I've been with captain Earhart for years now. Welcome aboard!”
“Wait, mister?” “Oh it's just maritime tradition” she says, gesturing with her free hand while holding the porbeagle pirate in headlock with her other, “one of those queer little quirks that make the field so fascinating. All officers are addressed as mister regardless of gender, and now you know to do that too!” “Thank you mister Francine! Say, what should we do about this guy? He doesn't seem keen to give up…” “Nah, he's smelled blood and is in death frenzy right now. Bop him on the snout with something solid like a two-by-four, that should knock him out of it!”
You do as instructed, grab a belaying pin and bring its full brunt on the porbeagle’s fat nose. He makes a honking noise and hunches down on the dock, subdued.
“What should we do with him? Tie him up?” you venture. “I have half a mind to toss him aboard and be done with him but tell you what, I'll let you decide. I want to know what sort of person I'll be working with!” Francine beams and claps your back with her meaty paw, nearly sending you flying.
Well, seeing as the pirates failed to raid *your* ship, it only seems fair to take some of their plunder from *their* hold. Go find their ship. Have the prisoner pirate lead the way. And also do the heavy lifting.
I also support looting the pirates' ship. If they have a ship. And don't loot them a lot; there's no need to be mean. Just loot them enough to teach them a lesson about how it feels to be looted on the high seas. NOBODY LIKES IT!
The captain explicitly said 'no prisoners' so no rope-tying, you wouldn't want to be accused of mutiny on your first day aboard! >Tell the pirate either he can walk the plank or work on your ship till the next port. Also >Investigate the pirate's vessel, claim it and add it to your fleet.
>Vivian: The best course of action would be to reverse it back on her. It is technically your first day on the ship, and you have no clue about what to do with P.O.Bs. If she insists, don't make him walk the plank. As a fish, it will be an easy exit.
>Instead, go for stern, but calm. As if you were dealing with a somewhat-more intelligent child. Wait for everyone to gather, and then board the ship after making sure the pirate that fell down the stairs is either dead or unconscious. If he is neither and is in hiding, he could run away with your ship while you are boarding the pirate's ship.
>Going alone onto an enemy ship, regardless of how strong Francine is, is bad. That is why it would be best to wait for others.
>Vivian: First, find rope that you can tie this guy with. Second, hold interrogation (with help from the captain, of course) >The captain explicitly said 'no prisoners' so no rope-tying, you wouldn't want to be accused of mutiny on your first day aboard! >Instead, go for stern, but calm. As if you were dealing with a somewhat-more intelligent child. Wait for everyone to gather, and then board the ship after making sure the pirate that fell down the stairs is either dead or unconscious. If he is neither and is in hiding, he could run away with your ship while you are boarding the pirate's ship. >Vivian: The best course of action would be to reverse it back on her. It is technically your first day on the ship, and you have no clue about what to do with P.O.Bs. If she insists, don't make him walk the plank. As a fish, it will be an easy exit. >Tell the pirate either he can walk the plank or work on your ship till the next port. >Sharks can swim, throw em in! >Try to appeal to the Porbeagle Pirates traits of [Laziness] or [Greed] >Explain to the now-lone pirate that now would be a good time to switch sides as his job prospects are not looking good. If they insist, tell them that your captain is better than their captain. >Vivian: Attempt to give them a hard lesson about how their captain is probably conning them to their grave. Use your [City-life experience] against their [Fish out of Water] experience.
Francine putting you in charge of the situation suddenly makes you anxious, more than you ever were in the recent combat. Staying alive is simple, just follow your instincts, but trying to make a good impression on someone is hard. You are not used to giving commands! You nod towards a bundle of rope and make an asking expression, but Francine shakes her head slightly. Take no prisoners. Since you are not intimidating in the least you decide to reason with the porbeagle instead.
“Hey, you should, like, give up and join us instead” you venture, unnerved by his huge, unblinking eye staring at you silently. “I'm sure you'd be paid well! Besides, I think your captain isn't treating you right. It sounds like a con where he gets rich and you an early grave…” “Yeah, otherwise we make you walk the plank!” Francine interjects and looms over the sitting pirate, scowling and snorting. “Wait what, if we do doesn’t he then get away? He’s a fish.” “Yeeess? The captain doesn’t want to take prisoners so I’m letting him go. I have no intention of feeding his useless butt all the way to Goodport!” “I think you’re willfully misinterpreting her orders…” “Captain Earhart is a good kid, and a brilliant sailor for her age, but sometimes you have to take liberties interpreting her orders. In time she’ll come around and agree that your way was what she really meant without knowing it.”
“Excuse me, but I can't help feeling that I've been insulted in some way”, the porbeagle pipes up, “but I'd still be willing to hear more of this supposed betrayal by my captain?” You breathe in deeply. Okay you can do this. You are going to impress the heck out of mr. Francine. “Tell me something, mister…?” “Just Benjamin. Pleased to meet you!” “Alright, Just Benjamin, we picked you up from a pirate ship. How you ended up there?” “Well, there was nothing left for me at the reefs. I picked up what little possessions I had and went to join the fleet to make ends meet. My useless brothers followed me afterwards.” “Just like thousands of fishfolk before you?” “Exactly.” “And tell me, at any point did you feel accepted? Like you belonged?” “Sure, of course. Why wouldn’t I? It’s the porbeagle fleet!” “Uh. But. You see, the fleet is keen to talk about bringing progress and stability-” “No, they’re pretty much all about pillaging.” “Okay, but. Like. They’re building a bright future and it’s not meant for the likes of me and you, right?” The pirate scratches his nose and furrows his brows. “I guess? I haven’t really given it a thought before.” “Well, you shouldn’t bother to think too much about it! The bottom line is that they don’t think in terms of good and evil but whether you’re useful or not, and that’s really really bad and that’s why you should join us!” “...” “Pretty please?” “I didn’t understand anything of what you were trying to say, which means you must be really smart! I believe you, sign me on!”
In theory I could have made Vivian to roll for it, but I think having her convert the pirate leads to more interesting situations so I’m letting her succeed automatically.
>Blake: Assess situation. >Vivian: Give Blake the lowdown. >Pirate: Give Blake a punch in the breadbasket. >Blake: appear and intimidate the pirates solely by existing in their vicinity >Investigate the pirate's vessel, claim it and add it to your fleet. >I also support looting the pirates' ship. If they have a ship. And don't loot them a lot; there's no need to be mean. Just loot them enough to teach them a lesson about how it feels to be looted on the high seas. NOBODY LIKES IT >Well, seeing as the pirates failed to raid *your* ship, it only seems fair to take some of their plunder from *their* hold. Go find their ship. Have the prisoner pirate lead the way. And also do the heavy lifting >Going alone onto an enemy ship, regardless of how strong Francine is, is bad. That is why it would be best to wait for others.
Suddenly Blake raises up from the cargo hatch and looks around, noticing you. He walks up to where you stand without any particular hurry, as if he was on a pleasant stroll through park instead of a battlefield. When he comes up close you notice he looks pained even though he tries to hide it, and shields his midriff as he speaks.
“Situation report.” “We beat up some pirates and recruited this fellow!” you say, swelling with pride. You think you did pretty well for your first day at the job! Francine makes a sour face and shakes her head. “The captain won’t like it at all. She hates pirates and won’t let one serve on her ship.” “I run this operation. I make the decisions, not captain Earhart. He can stay.” Blake says with a flat tone, fully expecting the discussion to be over.
Francine looks incredulous and is about to say something, but you hurry to interrupt her before these two get into an argument. “What happened to you, mr. Blake? You look pretty banged up!” “I was cornered by another trio of pirates. Things looked grim, but suddenly a porbeagle fell from the sky on top of them. I used their confusion to attack and made them flee. Captain Earhart is chasing after them. That should keep her busy for the time being.” “What about the others, are they okay?” “Cassie and Doctor Lapin MD have boarded themselves up in their quarters, Joe is helping the pilot to secure the bridge, and Jan is out of sight hiding somewhere.” “He got jumped on too?” “I doubt he is even aware there is an attack.”
“New recruit! Welcome aboard to the Resistance. What is the composition of your forces, in herein and on your ship?” “Just two parties, six in all. And there’s almost no-one on the ship...truth to be told we have had personnel retention problems lately after hitting a rough patch. Most of the crew mutinied and went to work for McPorburger catering instead.” “Good, good…” Blake mutters absentmindedly as he turns to scan the ocean.
“There. That’s where the pirate vessel is located. We’ll take the ship’s boat and launch a raiding party. The primary objective is to sink it to avoid pursuit. The secondary is to secure sea charts and other useful materiel. The ex-pirate shows us the way in. Vivian, he seems to trust you so I want you to tag along. Questions?” “Several”, Francine says, “but the first one is that it is a very stupid idea.” She crosses her arms and juts out her chest defiantly. “That is not really a question.” “Whatever! We can’t board an enemy ship while ours is still unsecured, and that proven turncoat might lead us into a trap!” She points at the porbeagle. “It’s called taking the initiative. We have the situation under control here, and offence is the best defence.” “The captain won’t allow-” “Your captain swore her allegiance to the Resistance, and by extension that includes yours. If I give you a direct order will you follow it or not?” Francine clams up for a moment, then shrugs out a sullen fine.
“We’re going stealing? Count me in!” “Huh, where did you come from?” You are startled by Jan appearing behind your back, unannounced like a lazy cat. “My loot sense was tingling. Where’s the joint we’re burgling?” You point over to the spot where a dark shape floats under the waves. “Aw jeeze, in the water of all the places? I have to get my floaties...”
Who will go to the pirate undership? The boat has five passenger spaces, of which you and Benjamin take two.
Blake is all around good at infiltration, but is wounded Jan is the sneakiest, but can’t swim Francine is the strongest, but cannot fit through narrow spaces Cassie is aquatic, but panics easily Joe is good at hurting people, but has dubious loyalties The pilot can evaluate sea charts the best, but uses gunpowder weapons
Doctor Lapin MD is not available for off-board missions
Blake chooses himself, Francine, and Joe for the away team, all competent individuals more than capable of looking after themselves, and you as Benjamin's handler. When Jan hears he is not picked he protests but drops the issue when he gets stonewalled by Blake - his decision is final. Still, you can see from Jan's expression that he is determined not to let simple lack of means keep him from all that sweet, sweet loot!
Neither does Francine say anything. Instead she goes straight to ready the windlass to lower down a small rowing boat for your trip, working with stiff, angry movements.
“Do you need help?” “No, I can handle this by myself!” She then stops and turns to you, looking tired. “I'm sorry that I snapped at you, kid. It's not your fault.” “It's okay, I'm used to people wanting to get rid of me…” Hearing that all the anger melts off her. “Ohmigosh that's so sad! Come over here let me give you a hug!” Without waiting for reply she scoops you up in her meaty embrace and squeezes you tightly.
She is surprisingly soft for someone so big and strong, and smells like home. After an indeterminate time you are returned, giddy and lightheaded. “Hey kiddo, if you want to help then would you get some first aid supplies from Doctor Lapin, MD?” she says and pats your back, sending you on your way.
When you return carrying bandages and poultices you see Joe on the deck, taking off his clothes.
“Hi, what are you doing?” He groans and pretends not to see you at first, but eventually has to accept you persisting within his field of vision. “I was informed that a 'special task’ is chosen for me.” “Oh right, you're coming with us to sneak on the pirate ship. Are you taking your clothes off so you can swim better?” “...yeeees? That is exactly what I was thinking of. What else could it possibly be?” One or two reasons come to your mind, but you decide to change the subject. “No offence but I just don't see why they drag you along, it's not like we're going to need a bartender over there.” “No offence but I just don't see why we're dragging you along, except perhaps as a live bait. Let's just say that I am a man of many talents and leave it at that.” “But-” “At. That.” He glowers at you.
Seeing how Joe has decided to play a grump you turn to Benjamin to pass the time. “So, what was your job at the pirate ship?” “I was the mid-undershipsman. It meant that I stayed in the mid part of the undership and out of everyone’s way. I passed the time by practicing ropework and embroidery and got pretty good at it! Want me to show you after we get back?” “I would be delighted to! I love knitting...wait, what is an undership anyway?” Benjamin shrugs. “It’s just a normal seafaring vessel traveling on the ocean’s surface. Except that it moves on the other side of the surface than usually, of course. It’s really good for sneaking up on unsuspecting people!” “Is your captain there?” He laughs. “No, no, of course not. She’s with the Porbeagle Fleet’s main flotilla a couple day’s sailing from here. We’re just one of the many raiders they send out to gather loot for her shiny, glorious-” “Yes yes I know the Retirement Fund. We really need to talk about that too after the mission…”
With the preparations ready you get in the small boat and slip away from your main vessel. Francine takes the oars and with her powerful strokes you glide across the deceptively calm sea. Spray glitters and sparkles in happy colors in the warm sunlight and the boat creaks and rocks gently, the journey's pleasantness completely at the odds with the sense of dread creeping over your head. The others do not seem to pay attention to it - Blake is focused on scanning the sea while Joe keeps moping, and Francine seems positively happy being lost in exerting herself - so they do not notice Benjamin growing more anxious the closer you get to the pirate undership. He leans in and whispers to you.
“Heeyy...don’t tell the tiger boss guy, but there is someone else on our undership I didn’t mention earlier.” “What? Why not?” He seems flustered. “It’s kinda silly thing...there is, like, this weirdo I kept seeing every now and then, but I don’t think he really is part of the crew.” “Weirdo, how? What they look like?” “I can’t really say! I just caught glimpses of him disappearing behind a corner, or heard walking noises from corridors that were supposed to be empty… I just assumed the higher-ups knew who he was and tried to ignore him, because if he was a stowaway then they’d make me search for him, and he gave me the heebie-jeebies!” “I think this is something Blake should know about!” “Please don’t tell him! I don’t want him to think that I’m a coward who’s jumping at shadows…”
You consider this for a moment, then nod in agreement. It does sound a lot like just a ghost story, and you can always pretend it was you who saw the mystery stranger if it turns out to be true and Blake needs to be informed.
Soon your boat stops next to a dark shape looming under the surface. Benjamin explains that most of the undership is dry and has breathable air, but the main access is through a moon pool at its bottom so a short swim is necessary. He leads the way by jumping into the sea and one by one the rest follow. You are the last one left bobbing alone above the waves, making you hesitate. What you are about to do is dangerous and crazy, and there is a very real possibility that you could die here alone and away from your family. You do not know these people very well and neither you are sure you want to help their cause to begin with - you can sympathize with them but you are not an adventurer - and Blake's plans for your future do not exactly fill you with confidence either...
Why Vivian chooses to follow them?
Vivian Quest Tale of a small lizard, crime, and weird biology!
Because Blake said so. You're finally part of something bigger than you, surrounded by people that rely on you. Have faith in your superior and do your part. Teamwork makes the dream work, insubordination can only drive you away from your destination.
>Well, what else could you possibly do? Stay here in the boat? Paddle away in a desperate bid for escape? Is there even any land in sight? Do you know where you are? >You're pretty much stuck with no options but to follow your erstwhile crewmates and participate in this whatever-it-is that they are doing >Because Blake said so. >You're finally part of something bigger than you, surrounded by people that rely on you. Have faith in your superior and do your part. Teamwork makes the dream work, insubordination can only drive you away from your destination >You are a weapon now. That's a scary thought and a huge burden, but it's going to be the truth. If it shall be the truth, let it be true on your terms. Seize your destiny >Because maybe for once, she can carve out a path of her own, away from the shadows of her brother.
You sit still and let your gaze sweep across the landscape.
There is nothing but open sea around you, the rebel ship nearby the only speck of life in the vast, watery desert stretching out as far as eye can see, flat and featureless. Your reptilian physiology needs little water, but even then you would not survive the sun's merciless caress for long. Taking the boat and going out on your own simply is not an option.
Your lot now is with the Resistance, for better or worse. You feel sympathetic towards their cause - it is not like your stay in the Empire was pleasant or even tolerable - and being part of something larger than you must be a worthwhile cause. You always wanted something better out of your life than lurking in the shadows and scrounging in the alleyways. All you have to do is what Blake says, follow orders, and be reliable. These people are your family now, and they depend on you to be their weapon, a tool in their hands…
The truth blazes through your spine like a lightning of realization.
You are tired of being small and weak and scared all the time, that is all there is to it.
If Blake intends to make you strong to serve his purposes then you will let him succeed beyond his wildest expectations.
You will become strong. You will not be told what to do. You will do what you want to do and the others will have no other option but to be nice to you!
You dive into the waves.
As the above is hot and harsh, the below of the turquoise depths is cool and muted. Your nictating membrane protects you from the salt and gives you good vision. Ahead of you the trio of mammals flounder awkwardly, their size and strength of little use in the alien environment. You, however, find no difficulty in propelling yourself with your powerful tail and sleek build, easily catching up and passing by them. These are the people you look up to? Hah, just a matter of perspective!
Even you are no match to Benjamin, who glides effortlessly in the sea having shed his clumsiness in an apotheosis of flesh. He parts the water like a silver razor, graceful and deadly, his joy palpable and terrifying. This is his realm, you a chance visitor. If he wanted to betray you he could do it here with little difficulty, yet he flies around you in cheery loops grinning wildly and herds you towards the relative safety of the porbeagle undership.
As you rise from the water you are hit by smell of herring and gym shorts. The pirate ship’s stale and recycled air is permeated by a steady tugtug chorus of compressors echoing from a distance, unseen yet ever present. Bundles of gutta-percha tubes lashed together hang from the walls, expanding and slacking in peristaltic motion as gases are moved through them. The dim, gasping light gives the place an eerie feel, and the mysterious clangs and creaks rippling through the ship's metal belly make your imagination run wild. No small wonder Benjamin was convinced of seeing things!
Blake shakes himself dry and starts giving orders. You and Francine are tasked with scuttling the ship while he takes Joe with him to scavenge for sea charts, stationery, toilet paper etc. etc. Benjamin perks up and tells you that opening the drainage valves at the bottom of the hold should do the trick and volunteers to lead the way. Blake nods and says you will meet back here in half an hour, and that is the end of planning. Time for action!
The entry hatch to the hold is located in the aft part while navigator’s room and office supply cabinets are at the fore part of ship. You come to a junction in the main corridor where Blake and Joe split from your group with nary a goodbye, and you head towards the other passageway…
...When suddenly there is a pneumatic shriek and the heavy bulkhead door slams down! The sheer amount of mass coming down throws you off your feet like a slap from a wrathful god, the peal of metal reverberating through your ears and teeth alike. Shaken, you pick yourself up only to discover that the door is stuck fast.
Unperturbed, Blake motions through the porthole for you to carry on your mission. Benjamin shakes his head - the main access to the moon pool is blocked now, and while you could return through a maintenance shaft, Francine would not fit in them.
Vivian Quest Tale of a small lizard, crime, and weird biology!
Continue the mission, and then as the ship is scuttling, make to the Topside.(bottom of the undership). Francine won't get back into the moonpool, but she might fit out a cannon hatch or torpedo tube. Then it's just a swim to the surface.
>Now would be a good time to inform Francine of any unknown entities that might be lurking on this ship. >Continue the mission, and then as the ship is scuttling, make to the Topside.(bottom of the undership). Francine won't get back into the moonpool, but she might fit out a cannon hatch or torpedo tube. Then it's just a swim to the surface. >Proceed with the mission, trusting in luck to provide a way out for Francine.
“Francine psst mr. Francine, Benjie thinks there’s someone else here who doesn’t belong in the crew and might be causing all kinds of trouble for us!” “Kid, mermen are naturally superstitious lot and Benjamin ain’t exactly the sharpest hook in the tacklebox.” “...True, but somebody caused the door slam shut!” “Of course he’d blame spooks and gremlins for any mechanical malfunction, when the truth of the matter is that he’s lazy, he’s shirked his duties, and as a result the undership is not properly maintained. Most of the time the simplest explanation is the correct one.” “But what if this one time it’s not and there’s a seventh passenger on the ship?” “Then I’ll punch him until he wishes he was a bogeyman.” She beams and pats your head. “But aren't you worried about the path back being blocked?” “Nah, we'll come up with something, I always do. Now hurry up, you have a mission to do!”
You get a distinct feeling that this was not the first time she said “I” when she meant “we”. Nevertheless, you pick yourself up and scurry along her plodding footsteps deeper into the unknown.
>Ask Benjie for a layout of the area. Surely he knows all the good hang-out spots for his ex-crew. (By which you'll avoid at all costs)
You are in luck, the hold is the favorite hang-out spot of no-one (it is kinda spooky when it is completely empty Benjamin explains and shakes his head ruefully). Journey down the cramped maintenance shafts is uneventful and soon the three of you are standing in the belly of the undership. The large metal cavern is unlit except for a narrow walkway circling it, and even small noises turn into tinny hollers as they echo through the open space. Condensation and salt seep from the rusty walls and drip glittering into the dank bilge water at the bottom.
Benjamin explains his plan.
Fig.1 Undership’s drainage arrangement
Almost half of the undership’s weight is ballast, to keep it submerged. It is connected to the drainage system for adjusting the amount of water in the tank as needed.
Fig.2 Consequences of unauthorized plumbing
The engine's coolant system is full of pressurized steam, and if it was connected to the ballast tank then you could vent entirety of its contents forcing the undership to rise. When out of water it would be impossible to fill the ballast again, causing a catastrophic buoyancy gain scenario and scuttling of the undership. It is a well known design flaw which is why every crew member regardless of their position is explicitly told never to do it ever!
“...And this is where we come in. One of us needs to fix the pipe connections, other stoke the engine, and third be ready here to open the drainage valves when the pressure starts to rise so we won't risk a boiler explosion.” “Wait wait what? You build flying ships and use them to travel under the sea?” “Didn't you listen to what I just told you? Going up is the easy part, it's the coming down again where we have difficulties! You really should pay more attention to people…” “Oh. Sorry. But that still doesn't explain why the ship goes up in the first place!” “Because of its Flight Thingie, duh.” “If you can make something like that why not sell them instead?” “And lose our best advantage against other ships? I don't think so!” “But you wouldn't have to steal from other ships! Even one of them would be worth more than this entire hold full of loot!” “Look, we're porbeagle pirates not porbeagle flight thingie manufacturers and retailers. It is a mouthful to say and doesn't rhyme at all! I'm starting to doubt if you're that smart after all…” “Both of you, give it a rest.” Francine stops you. “Benjamin, go fix the pipes and show me the way to engine room, I used to be a stoker at Bunnyland railways so I can handle that part. Vivian, wait here for the signal and then turn these valves open.” “But-” “No buts! Go on, get moving already!”
With that she shepherds Benjamin out of the door and into the corridor, leaving you alone in the dark together with a strange chill creeping up your spine...
Try not to run into whoever's hands were cutting through the hose. Bite nails claws nervously!
You are now sergeant Joe Mourad, and just a week ago you used to be an Imperial officer in good standing. You were approached by the high marshal himself and offered a secret mission for the good of the empire and your career. You were tasked with the recovery of an artifact reported stolen by a notorious troublemaker Blake Barager, but when you arrived to apprehend him it was revealed that he was just a distraction and that the Earth Crystal was already taken somewhere else.
Blake escaped and in order to track him down you went undercover and assumed the guise of a mild-mannered bartender working in a known rebel hangout. One day without warning you were attacked by group of mysterious cultists also looking for the Crystal, and in the ensuing chaos you and some other rebel sympathizers were escorted away and onto the stolen imperial warship. Blake fully knows who you are but has insinuated that he has plans for you, and has not blown your cover. You have started to think that one of you has made a huge mistake, and you are determined to make sure that it is not you.
Right now the infamous rebel leader stands next to you, scrounging around a janitorial closet trying to find something to carry your ill-gained salvage. What will you do?
Vivian Quest Tale of a small lizard, crime, and weird biology!