The Dread Pirate Sawyer, Part II


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Scene Title The Dread Pirate Sawyer, Part II
Synopsis Edward Ray said the Featherweight would be safe…
Date December 23, 2018

I wanna marry a lighthouse keeper and live by the side of the sea

The crackle of old music on a console-mounted radio is more signal than static for the last twenty minutes. Captain James Woods has kept the radio on for the entire journey since setting out from the Pelago, using the pop and hiss of the static as a guide as much as his compass.

I’d polish his

Nope.” Carina Harrison has been listening to Lighthouse Keeper on an infinite loop for twenty minutes straight, and her click of the radio into the off position is a display of the end of her patience. Flicking a blue-eyed stare to the ginger sea captain behind the helm of the Featherweight, Carina inhales slowly and then breathes out a serene sigh at the relative silence. “Just… give me five minutes of peace.”

Grimacing, Woods looks from Carina out to the rear of Oar Place or Mine a few hundred feet ahead of them, the beacon of its floodlight serving as a signal marker for the rest of the fleet. Woods adjusts the wheel a half degree, then picks up his pocket compass and eyes the needle, working out the ship’s bearing.

“Four hours,” Woods says to the air of the heated cabin. “Maybe less, if we keep up this pace.” He hasn’t missed the flash of lightning in the cloudy horizon to the north, but he’s trying to keep it out of his mind. Much like the snow squall currently battering down on the ships outside, icing up the windows and slicking the decks. “We’ll be lookin’ for the lights of an old radio tower.” He says with a look down to the compass, then back to the darkening skies outside. “I can’t believe we haven’t— ”

Nope.” Carina repeats, fixing a serious look at Woods. “Do not say what you’re about t’say.”

“B’wha?” Woods rests a hand at his chest. “I was just gonna’ say— ”


“About how I can’t believe we haven’t seen— ”

I swear to god.

“Pi— ” Woods doesn’t finish the word, noticing that Carina has taken an adjustable wrench in one hand from the adjacent table, holding it like a billy club. She raises one brow, and Woods just turns back to the helm and stares off into the snowy distance. Carina, satisfied with her victory, tucks the wrench into the pocket of her winter coat and steps out for some fresh air (and a cigarette).

The sound of the shutting door is punctuated with a muttered, “Pirates.”

"Not a pirate in sight!" Des chimes cheerfully as she skips past Carina on her way to the cabin. "Maybe it's Sawyer's day off! Where do you suppose pirates go on holiday anyway? Maybe Tahiti? Is there still a Tahiti? I'll have to ask Stef at the library next time. I bet she knows." Brows come together as she considers for a moment. "Or maybe Mad Eve. I bet she dreams of places pirates go on vacation. That would help us know where it's safe for us to go on vacation." She grins.

At least she catches the look on Carina's face, which sends her scurrying into the cabin. The chill that runs down her spine has nothing to do with the one in the air. "What got into her?" She asks as she shuts the door behind her.

Having brought Aurora on board Woods's vessel and made sure the small girl was 1) bundled up for warmth, lifejacketed to within an inch of her little life, and 2) in possession of her beloved Blossom and her backpack, Elisabeth is able to allow the little girl to remain below without too much trouble. She can, after all, hear the little girl's BREATHING even from up here and despite the wind's ever-present sound along her senses. She herself prefers to be out in the wind — just that slight hint of seasick when she's below. So despite the snow squall, she's up on the deck wrapped in the heaviest clothing she has, blonde hair covered by a knit hat while she watches out the window.

As Des goes skipping by, Elisabeth turns her head and slants the bouncy version of the woman she knows a Look. "Jesus Christ… don't fucking jinx us!" she tells the girl as she enters the cabin Because that's all Liz can think of her as — a girl. She's too…. BOUNCY. Then she mutters, perhaps a little bitterly, "Tahiti …. Is a myth. I'm firmly convinced it doesn't exist." Especially in this damn world. She smirks faintly. "I'm pretty sure of it… It's a made-up paradise."

Slanting a glance between Woods and Des as her mother steps out, Liz looks startled. "A radio tower…" Where the lights are still on. And rescuing a woman made of light. "Jesus," she breathes out. Goddamn Edward Fucking Ray.

Out on the deck, Carina draws in a slow breath and exhales a sigh through her nose. “Yep, the Tower’s been active since before the flood. Used to be a radio station back in the day.” She leans against the wheelhouse wall beside one of the windows, watching her daughter, and then the sea. “The lights from the tower’ve been steadily fading through the years, and with Ver— uh— onica. Veronica. With her pirates.” Carina shrugs. “It’s less a beacon and more an omen these days. I think the radio station’s automated now, just playing the same music on a loop.”

Inside the cabin, Woods adjusts the wheel a half degree and looks to Des, then up to what of Carina’s shoulder he can see through the window. When Elisabeth crosses into his field of view, he looks to Destiny with a raised brow. “Wha’d y’think they’re talkin’ about?” Sounds like a question, but not the one his worried brows want to really ask her. Woods hasn’t been comfortable the last two days, hasn’t been eager to get to their destination despite the fact that his tugboat is leading the way. He’s been to the Tower once. He never wanted to return.

“Mother-daughter stuff, probably.” Des seems pretty sure of this. What else could a recently reunited family want to do? She sighs kind of wistfully. “She’s really lucky. They both are.” Blue eyes stare out at the sea as she admits, “I miss my mom.” She doesn’t talk about her lost family much. This isn’t an exception, as she’s quick to change the subject.

“Did I tell you someone found a pair of tap shoes? In my size? I had to practically beg them to hold on to them for me until I can find something to trade, but I promised I was going to come back to the Pelago with something awesome this time and totally make it worth it.”

Destiny does not know how to tap dance. Or, if she does, she hasn’t actually done it in the entire time Woods has known her. “We’ll have to rename the Featherweight to the Lollipop.” She grins wide at him, hoping she can distract him from some of his worry.

"Well, that would explain the constant Lighthouse Keeper song," Elisabeth quips drily, sharing a grin with her mother. "Thanks for making him shut that shit down."

She pauses and says, "Someone who could make predictions told us we would need to go to a radio tower. And that we'd need to rescue Aurora's other grandmother and a girl made of light." Elisabeth's expression is pensive now. "I hate when that asshole is right." Shes worries about what they're going to run into out here — exposing Aurora to basically a massive hurricane, even more potentially fatal gunfire or other battles, and all the rest of this is not sitting well.

Cassandra has never liked boats. Yet here she is, on a boat, heading to an uncertain future in the middle of the ocean toward a radio tower. It’s not like there was much choice in the matter, really. She was offered a place at the Library, as a researcher, recovering old and lost documents, but her place was with Elisabeth and Aurora and the goal was wherever they ended up. The conversation she had with Asi at one of the bars in the Palisades Sill was enough to convince her that even a chance of getting somewhere else than here would be better than staying here.

Making her way above decks, wrapped in cold weather, waterproof, and whatever else she could scrounge together to keep warm and dry in the teeth of a storm, Cassandra sidles her way up to stand next to Liz. If her emerging from below decks wasn’t enough to announce her presence, she simply lays a hand on the other woman’s shoulder. “She’s sleeping.” Cassandra announces over the howl of the wind to anyone who can hear. The she in question must be Aurora. “All the excitement of the journey just wore her out. I had to go through Goodnight, Moon twice and a chapter of Harry Potter before she’d doze off.” They’re up to the chamber of secrets, told from Cassandra’s memory of reading it once a long time ago. “She’s really excited to see what comes next. I’m thinking of introducing a first year student named Aurora later, just to make her really squeak.”

Carina offers a side-long look to Cassandra, then nods quietly and looks back out to the water. “We followed someone who could predict things once too,” she says, continuing the thread of conversation Elisabeth had begun and trying to avoid thinking about Aurora too much. “Else Kjelstrom,” Carina intones with a hint of resentment. Cassandra recognizes the name from her world, an Evolved musician whose songwriting was precognitive.

“When we first went up to the Tower,” Carina motions to the north, “Else was with us. Her and Edward. We left the two of them and Destiny in that place you're…” she hesitates, “the place you're going to. When they called for a rescue some time later, Else was a gibbering wreck.”

Carina hadn't spoken much about their previous journey to the Tower, but now so close she can't help but relive some of the dread that comes from being in a place like this. “Now she's some born-again prophet-priest, says God is going to save us all if we welcome her into our heart.” Carina closes her eyes and shakes her head. “I hope your prophet is a little more stable.”

Inside the cabin, Woods offers a look over at Destiny with a bittersweet smile, then down to the ship’s wheel. “How about we rename Eric’s ship and we keep this one as it is?” His smile becomes just a bit more earnest. Woods pauses as he notices Carina look out over the side of the ship, but when she returns to where she was standing he keeps talking.

“So… Destiny,” Woods’ brows furrow and he drums nervously on the wheel. “Are you… planning on following these people back into that bloody awful place?” He’s been avoiding this conversation.

Des giggles at the notion of renaming Doyle’s ship. “But his ship’s name is perfect.” She shrugs. “I guess so’s this one. It can stay.” The little blonde’s cheerfulness seems impenetrable.

Until suddenly, it isn’t.

“Jimmy, I have to. They’ll need a guide, and I know the Commonwealth forwards, backwards, upside down and through a mirror,” she insists. Her eyes beg him not to argue. Or not to look at her with disappointment. Or worse, fear and sadness. “Besides,” she continues, rushing to the wall of the cabin to take a wooden jewelry box off the shelf. It winds up and plays music while a ballerina twirls about in a tutu made of fragile pink tulle that’s faded with age to something more of a peach color. “I have this.”

In among her usual trinkets - shiny rocks, a strand of rainbow-dyed yarn, a tube of lip gloss and a handful of bottle caps - is a handgun. Destiny looks up again like she knows she’s broken some rules, but she’s hoping for forgiveness anyway.

Heh. More stable? She has a notion that if she tells her mother that Eve is in any way involved, that will be bad. She puts a hand up on Cassandra's and looks at the younger woman. "Thanks. Having you here makes her feel a little better." Lord knows, her daughter has not had it easy the past year or so. Cassandra has been a godsend. "Go on inside the cabin, stay dry. We'll be back in shortly." She meets Cass's eyes, forcing a smile. She needs this time with her mother… especially now.

Elisabeth looks out over the water and says softly, "I can't promise he's any more stable… and as much as I hate the asshole, I will admit that nothing he's told us has been wrong. One of the last things he said to Magnes before we left the last world was 'the Featherweight is safe.'" Elisabeth turns blue eyes to her mother and smiles just a little bit. "We didn't know what the hell he was talking about… until the day you guys walked into the dining room." Searching Carina's expression, she says simply, "I have to believe he gave us good information."

Which is scary as hell in its own right for Elisabeth… because if it's the truth, this is the only chance she'll ever have to get home again.

“Mmnh,” Carina vocalizes with uncertainty, shrugging as she does. “I suppose. It still… I'm having a hard time wrapping my head around all of this. Parallel… worlds, or what have you. That our lives could've been so different— were? Because we turned left when we could've turned right.” The gravity of that weighs heavily on Carina, coupled with the notion that she's been dead in all of them.

“I think, at the end of the day, if you can get home…” It's always been you with Carina, even if Liz feels the unspoken desire to say we in the sentence. Maybe she's just afraid to dream. Dream of seeing her husband again. Dream of a real life. Maybe she's just afraid of what got her here. Regardless, she isn't saying much about it, having grown sullen and ponderous.

Inside the cabin, Woods has been silently transfixed to the handgun. “Who— ” he resists the urge to just snatch it out of her hand. “Where did you get a gun!?” He asks in a sharp whisper, stepping away from the wheel to grab her by the shoulders, staring down at her like a wild-haired and protective parent. He spies Cassandra by the door through the window and flicks a frantic blue-eyed stare back at Destiny.

“For fuck’s sake just put it away,” Woods hisses, looking nervous around it.

“Call me if you need me.” Cassandra nods to Elisabeth, giving the older woman’s shoulder a squeeze, a glance moving over Carina before she steps back. “Ma’am.” Polite as always, Cassandra is.

The hatch leading to the cabin is a few steps away, Elisabeth and Carina choosing the spot they’re in for the same reason the ship builders did - the overhang they’re under provides shelter from the wind and wet that’s ever present in this world. Luckily, Woods and Destiny get a reprieve as the door to the cabin sticks, the knob refusing to work. Cassandra has to work at the latch to get it to open, even going so far as to turn the latch and throw her shoulder into the door, giving it a good thump to loosen the hinges before it decides to swing open. “Hey.” she says as a form of greeting as she steps inside and pushes it closed against the breeze, keeping the scant heat in and the cold and wet out, her back to the pair as she latches it securely.

“I was wondering…” Cassandra turns and takes a seat at one of the open spots - one of the seats in the back of the cabin with a view over the stern of the ship. “Wondering a few things, actually. Do we have an ETA on arrival? I know sailing into the storm is screwing with the numbers, but I’d like to know how long I have to let Rory sleep.” Elisabeth’s daughter, belowdecks. “And if you could give me an idea of what we’re sailing into. I mean…I have an idea of what it is sounds like a video game. A tower that leads down to a world underwater. It just seems fantastic.”

Just as fantastic as the flooded earth must be.

"Mom…" There's a heavy sigh. Elisabeth doesn't know what to say to her mother — so many things went sideways in so many places. Instead of making an argument one way or another on the matter of whether her mother should come or not come, she simply wraps her arms around her mother's shoulders and rests her head against the side of Carina's. "I love you. In all worlds." The bond she feels toward this woman is different than the one she has for the mom that she knows… but it's there. It's a complicated situation at best. Pressing a kiss to her mother's temple, she says simply, "No matter where I am, no matter whether you go with us or not… just know that. I don't want to make things harder on you."

“I got it from—” Des looks over to the door as Cassandra pushes at it. She shuts her mouth and the music box with a heavy clunk of wood. “Yes, sir,” she murmurs quietly, guilt etched into her features as she ducks out of that protective hold to stash the box back where she took it from.

The tension hangs thick in the air between them after Cassandra enters the cabin, but Destiny’s quick with a smile. “It is kind of cool,” she admits of the Commonwealth. Then that smile fades, “But it’s dangerous now.” A nervous look is flickered between passenger and captain, unsure of how much she should reveal. “We’ll have to get through the storm first…”

She takes a deep breath and scans the horizon for any sign of pirates.

“Oi,” Woods says with a side-long look to Des, then up to Cassandra. “We’re sailing into the edge of a bloody hurricane,” he clarifies, which explains the inclement weather the last day or so. “An’ we’ll be mooring at an old radio broadcast tower. Tha’s just a landmark an’… it's where we left the sub.”



“It's better if we just explain when we get there. It's a lot’f details an’ I don't rightly have the patience t’explain it more’n once to— ”

Off the port side, through the wheelhouse windows, the violent glow of a red flare explodes up in the distance. Wood’s expression turns ashen, and he moves from the wheel to the window, wide-eyed. “Oh fuck me, that's the Sayonara— we've got incoming!”

Out on the deck, the pop of the flare was preceded by two wooden splintering sounds that only someone with Elisabeth’s sound attenuation could pick up. The flare is a much better indicator of danger, but Carina seems to be breaking into movement toward the front of the ship. “Pirates!” Carina calls out, and when she reaches the railing she opens her mouth and emits a sonorous pop that reverberates like a deep bass line through the ship and the water.

“Oh no— no!” Carina turns, facing the wheelhouse, “full stop! Full stop! Sea mines!

The flare brings Liz's eyes toward the sailboat that's acting as point on their incursion. Her mother's power resonates in her awareness, though Elisabeth can't parse the data that might come back. The best she's managed is the most basic footprint of her immediate vicinity using echolocation. She relays the order, "Full stop! Mines!" through the glass, making sure that Woods and the others hear it. She heads for the bow of the ship to her mother's right and calls, "Can you feel anything on the surface coming at us?"

Elisabeth holds the railing with both hands, her gloves just a little slick. Closing her own eyes, even with her mother potentially able to check, she reaches and tries to isolate what sounds at surface level don't match the weather sounds — if something not their own boats are coming at them, perhaps she can pinpoint a vector.

To make things worse, creeping into view in the distance is a rusted behemoth of a ship, a heavy cargo transport turned into a floating city of sorts. It doesn’t draw near, but instead shifts until its starboard side faces the comparatively miniscule Featherweight so aptly named. At this distance, Prospero looks tiny as well.

It doesn’t need to get very close, hanging back by thousands of yards. The reason is clear after a moment: a familiar crack and whistle of mortars can be heard, puffs of smoke visible on the deck of the rusted ship. A peer through binoculars will count three mortars being hand loaded by the ship’s crew, while a fourth loads what looks like a grenade rocket — whatever’s being put in those isn’t military-grade grenades.

The mortar shell hits first, blasting the crow’s nest, showering anyone caught below with its debris and shrapnel. A split second later, a grenade arcs through the air before it lands on the deck, a telltale hiss of gas the harbinger of what follows — hazy, smoky looking clouds billow out, noxious and burning. In open air, it won’t take too long for the tear gas to clear, but it will take its toll — and make the job easier for the closer pirates on hand.

Elisabeth’s warning of mines gets Cassandra’s attention, and that gets her moving almost immediately toward below decks where Aurora has been dozing the past few hours, lulled to sleep by the rhythmic sound of the engines thrumming and the waves rushing against the barnacle-lined hull. It’s a system that she and Elisabeth have developed - get to the girl, keep her safe. Hell, Cassandra is the closest thing to an auntie to the little girl by this point, and it’ll be a cold day in hell that she lets anything happen to the six year old.

“I’m heading below deck.” she announces, more for Liz’s ears than anyone else’s. She doesn’t care if she’s seen as running away from danger, because she’s not going to leave Aurora alone. She wrenches the cabin door open, just in time for the rusted behemoth to ponderously maneuver to get into range. The sight of it stuns her. Something that big should not be moving the way it is, but the tell-tale thump of a mortar firing from the distance gets her to move. “INCOMING!” she screams, leaping down from the stairs leading up to the steering house, slipping and falling flat her back on the deck just as the mortar impacts. The explosion sends a shower of wood and shrapnel flying from the crows’ nest, sprinkling everyone with jagged shards of wood, plastic and steel. The blast also knocks Cassandra back against the starboard gunwale and very nearly knocks the breath out of her.

Bleeding from several small cuts and smarting from a bruised backside, Cassandra scrambles down below to grab Aurora and their backpacks.

But there’s no-where to run.

Destiny's eyes grow wide as saucers when she sees the flare go up. "Heck!" she exclaims and at first moves toward the cabin door to warn the Harrisons. When it becomes obvious they've seen, she pivots back with the intention of going below to help with Aurora. Cassandra is on top of that, however, so instead the teenager stares out the window in wide-eyed horror as the crow's nest explodes and the ship rocks.

A piercing shriek escapes her as she drops to the floor, covering her head. The music box topples from the shelf and bounces off her elbow, padded by her heavy coat, falling open on the floor in front of her. Scrabbling through the trinkets, she wraps her small hand around the handle of the gun.

“Fuck, fuck!” Carina howls as she covers her face and runs at the spinning canister of tear gas. Eyes wrenched shut and mouth closed, she kicks the canister off of the side of the ship, then exhales a whooping cough and blindly fumbles toward the wheelhouse, bumping square into Cassandra. The cough becomes louder, ragged, and the older woman doubles over and begins gagging, dropping to her knees for cover rather than out of incapacitation.

“Oh bloody hell! Hell!” Woods is shouting, watching flaming debris from the crow’s nest crashing down onto the deck. “I just had that perch replaced!” He screams, seeing Carina working through the tear gas and Destiny scrambling for—

Give me that!” Woods pries the gun out of Destiny’s hand, as though she were going to put someone’s eye out with it. Woods looks at the gun, then around at the massive cargo ship in the distance. Then, something else pushes through a fog bank and the swirling clouds of snow and ice. Another ship, closer than the other, coming up from behind.

It’s a garbage scow with a faded yellow crane arm mounted in the middle. Men and women bundled up against the cold are visible on the deck of the ship, most of them with machetes, clubs, baseball bats with bolts threaded into them, and all manner of other hand-made weapons. One scarved man stands by the crane controls, and the arm whirrs loudly as it swings out toward the aft.

Oh no you don’t!” Woods shouts, stepping out onto the deck and firing indiscriminately at the pirates aboard the scow, not a one of which appears to have a gun of any kind. At a distance it’s hard to make out much about them, other than the ratty clothes they’re bundled in — tattered winter jackets, shredded jeans, old boots with flapping soles, threadbare scarves wound around their faces.

A few of the pirates aboard the ship are struck, collapsing with screams onto the deck of the barge, but the crane arm is undeterred by the ricocheting gunfire, clamping down on the rear of the boat and acting as both a vice-grip to hold the ship in place, and a boarding plank.

The mortars are … God help her, not an unfamiliar thing. Elisabeth hasn't been in warfare of this exact type before, but she is military-trained at this point. Several years in the past, but the Wasteland went a long way in reactivating old instincts and training. The explosions above them have her ducking and failing to get out of the way of the mast. She takes a glancing blow from the rigging as it comes down, and as she hits the deck she rolls to get out of the way of the rest of the ropes and debris. The tear gas stings her face and has her eyes flooding, but although it slows her down, Carina's quick actions save it from being a game-stopper problem. And now… Well, …. what we have here is now colloquially known as a target-rich environment. And given their situation, no-holds-barred makes Elisabeth one very happy camper.

Coming up off the deck to clamber to her feet, ignoring the hard jerk of pain in her side and down her arm, the blonde staggers to the rail. Through the wind and rain, she can see both vessels out there. It's the closer vessel that's the bigger threat in this moment and she leaves the handling of our boat to Woods. Clenching her teeth, she reaches for the sound waves that are running rampant around them thanks to falling wreckage, explosions, and assorted screeches and noise, shapes it in a fast and dirty concussion wave, and hurls it toward the scow with the intention of knocking everyone standing on the flat deck off the far end into the water, including the crane operator. A second wave follows hard on the first, aimed at the metallic docking clamp, and although this is far less a familiar use of her ability, she starts thrumming sound through the metal to attempt to fatigue it and perhaps cause it to rattle itself right off its mooring on the deck.

Cassandra and combat aren’t very much a thing. Showing the past in the middle of a fight is a good way for someone to sneak up and smack a person with a short stick, or wonder why that person isn’t moving. Coughing from the cloud of tear gas that managed to make it on board, Cassandra makes her way down the steps towards the front of the ship where Aurora has been safely stowed, nearly getting wrenched off of her feet from the crane latching on to the stern of the ship, yelping as she’s knocked off her feet again due to the sudden stop. “Aurora!” Cassandra calls, the screams of a terrified toddler echoing from the closed cabin. She knocks on the door as a warning before pushing it open, closing it behind her and holding it closed, wiping her face with a hand to try and get her tears to stop. “Come on, baby….” She pulls the little girl into a tight, tight hug that’s released after a moment. “We’ve got to get ready. Grab Blossom and your backpack and…” Cassandra looks around, catching sight of a pair of old diving goggles hanging from a hook on the wall.

The goggles are snatched off the hook and put around her neck, Cassandra starting to gather their things, talking all the time that she works. “Okay, listen. There’s stuff in the air that’ll make you cry and cough. It will sting but it won’t hurt” She’s not telling her this to scare her, but because she needs to know what to expect. Blossom is pushed into Aurora’s backpack and Cassandra’s - filled with things that might be useful that were sent with them from the Pelago - is pulled on her shoulders.

Old habits die hard.

Cassandra kneels next to the bed and grabs the sheet, ripping it into long strips that she folds over three times, soaks it with water from one of the bottles, and quickly wraps it around Aurora’s nose and mouth. Three more of these strips are made and one is wrapped around Cassandra’s face. “You stay here where it’s safe.” Her voice is muffled, the woman looking back towards the back of the boat. “ I’m going to take this…” She holds up the strips of cloth and the goggles. “To your mommy. She needs to see so she can help us. I’m coming right back, okay? You stay here and hide.

Sobbing uncontrollably, the little girl manages to do what she's told, remaining in the corner of the bunk curled into the smallest ball she can make of herself. She doesn't resist when Cassandra ties the wet cloth around her, and she buries her face against her knees when the adult leaves the room.

The gun is relinquished without a fight from Destiny. If there’s anyone she trusts with it, it’s Woods. But as he fires it, she screams again, covering her ears with her hands and staring down at the floor so intensely she could bore a hole through it. Tears roll down her cheeks as she remembers a time not long enough ago.

She had to be brave then. She has to be brave now.

Concussive screaming would be a super handy superpower, Des decides as she peeks up to see what’s happening outside as she glances around for a weapon she can use that won’t put someone’s eye out. Not accidentally anyway.

More mortars can be heard firing in the distance, the sounds of their impact sounding to the left of them and to the right of them; they may not be able to spare many looks to their comrades on the other vessels, but they can be assured that they are not alone in this fight.

Cold comfort.

Eventually another of those hits comes for them, just clipping the bow — as if someone might have aimed that one a little more carefully so as not to hit the pirates near the rear of the boat. Following the mortar shell, like a tiny satellite, is another of the tear gas grenades, billowing more of those caustic clouds. This one lands midship, rolling as the boat lists one way, and then rolling back again, a trickier target to kick off than the last.

There's a riotous chop of machine gun fire coming from the direction of the Forthright, muzzles flashes in the storm. All that is drowned out by the sonic shockwave erupting from Elisabeth. It hits the pirates with a thunderous force, throwing them back and to the side like candlepins in a bowling alley. The second thrumming vibration has less effect on the claw arm grabbing the rear of the ship.

All of the boarding pirates are waylaid by Elisabeth's blast, and as Carina comes stumbling out of the wheelhouse, coughing and wheezing and fanning herself she sees the second tear gas canister spewing everywhere and struggles to stay out of the rapidly expanding cloud.

We have t’go back!” Carina shouts hoarsely, “the mines are only in front of us, we need to move backwards!” Easier said than done with the barge clutching their rear.

Woods, having been gobstuck by the display of Elisabeth's power lowers his highly inadequate gun and hustles back to the wheelhouse, shielding his eyes and mouth with his sleeve as best as he can, but he's still coughing and retching from the smoke when he gets back. “Come on baby,” Woods says as he sets the gun down on the railing, flipping two switches and throwing the tugboat into reverse. At the same time, the crew can see the Sayonara on fire and headed in their direction away from a small whaling ship barely visible through the storm save for that its hull looks superheated, shedding a lambent orange glow through the sleet.

Then, before anyone can shout a warning, the Sayonara drifts into the minefield some two hundred feet away and the ocean explodes with a massive plume of water and wood debris that demolishes the front half of the boat.

Coughing and fighting to see through the tears and other fluids caused by the grenades lobbed onto their deck, Elisabeth is relying on people closer to the landing spot to deal with that grenade as she clambers over the lower back deck of the tug toward the clamp. The explosions of the mines against the Sayonara's hull has her ducking and looking back toward the other vessels, trying to pinpoint what they're dealing with through her compromised vision and the hampering storm.

"Can we reverse with the scow still attached?" Liz shouts back toward the wheelhouse, enhancing her voice enough to carry to Des, Woods, and Carina. Because if the answer is no, she's already in motion toward the rear and seems to be of a mind to climb over there. Cassandra is being trusted implicitly to do any and all necessary to keep Aurora safe.

"Mom, that sound you make… can you make it deeper?" She has an idea about those mines….

The thing that’s probably the most unnerving to Cassandra about being in combat on the sea is the way that the boat isn’t moving. Boats are supposed to bob and shift with the surface of the sea, but thanks to the crane attached to the back end, that isn’t happening nearly as much as it should. Pushing her way to the deck from below, Cassandra is nearly knocked off her feet by the impact of the mortar on the tip of the bow, only managing to save herself by wrapping her arm around the railing, willing herself to the deck. She looks around frantically and, when she sees the blond-haired Audiokinetic, she calls out. “Liz! Put these on!” Waving the goggles and bandanna above her head, Cassandra ties them them loosely around each other before tossing them across the deck to land near Elisabeth’s feet.

Right about the time she threw the goggles and the mask, the second can of tear gas impacts amidships, right around where she is, billowing clouds of irritants. Her original plan was to get back below, but plans have changed. Coughing, she does the only thing she can think of. Stumbling toward the tear gas, into the cloud, barely able to see, she searches for the canister and, with bare hands, she picks up the hissing grenade. Barely suppressing a scream she uses every bit of her strength and adrenaline to hurl the tear gas towards the back of the boat in a perfect outfielder’s throw, hopefully getting it on the attacker’s ship. She won’t realize it until things are over, but a lot of the skin of her right palm went along with the grenade, scorched from the heat of the chemical reaction going on inside and the residual heat from being launched from wherever it was launched from.

Hacking and coughing, Cassandra stumbles back down below, nearly falling down the stairs as she goes, crud streaming from her eyes and nose, skin burning. The pain from her hand isn’t registering yet, but she knows that she’s got to keep the little girl down below safe, no matter the cost. Grabbing a frying pan from the mess and a rag to wrap her hand in, she staggers her way towards the front of the ship where Aurora is, using her left hand to feel her way along the corridor. She’s mostly blind from that little bit of effort and probably will be for the next thirty minutes, give or take. Her plan is to hole up down below unless something goes really wrong.

Hopefully what she did was enough.

“Oh no!” Des cries, pointing out to— “The Sayonara!” The girl lets out another squeal of terror as the small boat is demolished by the mines. That could easily have been them. It still could, if they can’t break free from the pirates and get the heck out of the field.

With panic in her voice, she cries out, “Jimmy! What can I do?” At this point, she’s ready to see if she can shove pirates overboard if they try to board their ship, but even she knows that’s not a sound plan of attack.

Blinded, barely able to stay upright from the coughing, Cassandra finally makes it to the front of the ship where Aurora was left. She knocks on the door and pushes it open, her eyes burning, clenched closed against the deluge of tears from the tear gas. “Rory.” Cassandra pushes the door closed and leans against it, holding it closed, using a towel or something to wipe her eyes to no effect. “Aurora, baby…”

As soon as the door is securely closed, Aurora rushes into Cassandra’s arms, squeezing her tight, the little girl terrified from all that’s going on, her mouth moving at a mile a minute. “Cassie!! The noise hurts my ears! It was so loud an’ I want Mummy an’ Unca Kain an’ I want to go home!” She even stomps a foot at the end to emphasize what she wants, breaking into tears.

“Aurora, honey…” Surprisingly, Cassie sounds calm despite everything going on upstairs, comforting the little girl. “Your mommy and granny and all the people on the boat are going to get us out of this. You remember when you rode on Uncle Kain’s back? Well, you’re going to do that with me, okay? The smoke hurt my eyes, and I really can’t see very well right now so here’s what we’re going to do.”

One of the wet cloths is wrapped around Cassandra’s nose and mouth - if only she had done that before running into a cloud of tear gas - while another is held to her eyes to try and alleviate the burning. “You’re going to get behind my back, okay, in a corner and we’re going to wait. We are going to be super, super quiet. If we need to move, I need you to hug around my shoulders and put your legs around my waist. We’re going to pull the backpack on over you and you’re going to have to tell me where to go.” Because blinded.

Why they would need to move? If the boat starts to go down or boarders come on. A frying pan won’t do much good, but it’s better than bare hands.

Up above decks, there is still chaos. There's screams coming from the direction of the Sayonara, and the scow is still clamped on tight to the Featherweight. Carina looks out to the water, brows furrowed and considering what Liz asked of her. There's a look of recognition in her eyes, and when she turns back she nods.

James!” Carina calls back up to Woods, “Full reverse, push ‘em!” Meanwhile, she's moving to the pros of the boat with limping steps.

“Fuck me fuck me fuck everything,” Woods rambles to himself as he looks back over his shoulder and cuts the ship's wheel to the right, in turn pushing the nose of the scow to the left. “Des!” He calls out, glancing back at Carina with wide eyes. “I'm gonna need y’t steer!” He motions to the angle the wheel’s at. “Just hold her straight!”

At that, Woods bails from the cabin and rushes to the back of the boat, having left the gun behind on the radio. He joins Elisabeth at the rear of the ship, listening for more mortar launches. “Hold on t’sonething!” Woods shouts, grabbing on to the crane arm and wrestling it, trying to get the toothed fingers just an inch above the lip of the rail so it will detach.

Up at the prow of the ship, Carina grabs the railing with both hands and closes her eyes. Her neck muscles tense, arms shake, veins bulge in the sides of her neck. The Featherweight has managed to back up fifteen feet by pushing the scow. It's not as far as she'd like— but it'll have to do.

Carina opens her mouth and a low, throbbing sound of deep bass rumbles out of her and reverberates through the entire ship. As it hits the waves, it disturbs the surface of the water, sending a sonic shockwave out deep through the ocean. A split second later, the ocean in front of the Featherweight erupts in a chain-reaction of massive explosions, sending a white plume of water a thousand feet into the air. The force of the blast is enough to pitch the ship back like a motorcycle popping a wheelie.

Woods is able to detach the claw at that angle, and when the Featherweight rides the massive wave from the explosion backwards, it pushes the scow completely out of the way. The wave from the blast ripples outward, and water thrown into the sky begins to fall like rain.

Carina, gasping, slouches down onto her knees and then collapses onto her side on the deck.

Between watching what Woods is doing to get that clamp loose and keeping her attention split to listen for mortars heading their way — which should be relatively easily divertable now that she knows what direction they're coming from — Elisabeth can't pay as close attention to how her question hits her mother. But as the hum begins, it's clear that Carina caught the idea. Liz hooks a leg around one of the railing supports. Wrestling with the clamp and holding on very tightly, she gasps at Woods, "I can't tell how many more are out there!" Other than the ones currently engaged in combat with the other vessels in their retinue.

The sound that is being generated makes her bones ache, and Elisabeth is able to counter the effect some for herself and Woods as they work on the clamp. The blast wave that lifts the Featherweight is not a small one, and Liz's hands are not as experienced at this kind of machinery detachment. The only thing that saves her from getting her butt hurtled into the waves is that leg around the railing support. Soaking wet with the rain and the massive displacement of water from the mine detonation, her hands' grip keeps slipping. But once the clamp is loose and the Featherweight is free, Elisabeth works on scrambling and hauling her way forward on the wet deck to get to her collapsed parent and make sure she isn't washed off the deck.

"Aye aye, Captain!" Des takes Woods' place at the helm when he vacates, grabbing hold of the wheel and keeping it steady as they reverse back as fast as the little boat can manage with the scow attached. Her eyes get big when she watches Carina let loose that deep sound. "Oh boy."

The boat tips back and Des holds on to the wheel for dear life. Quick reflexes see the girl snatching the gun out of midair when it goes sliding off the top of the radio. "Gotcha!" she crows triumphantly, swiftly righting the ship from her lopsided dive.

Up above, a lot of stuff is happening. Down below, in the cabins in the front of the ship, Cassandra is doing her best to soothe a panicking Aurora while keeping herself from freaking out too much. It’s hard to keep composure, knowing what’s going on upstairs. If Cassandra panics, Aurora will panic and that won’t do anyone any good. As long as the engine is running and they’re dry, things aren’t entirely lost.

The low-pitched sound that comes from Elisabeth’s mother is felt in Cassandra’s bones, the woman wrapping her arms around Aurora as the explosions from ahead send a shiver of sound and shrapnel spraying over the ship. “It’s okay! It’s okay!” she tells Aurora, combing the little girl’s hair with her fingers, gritting her teeth as the boat is unceremoniously shoved into reverse after the explosion, lurching forward as the ship surges back, detaching itself from the mooring arm thanks to Woods’ efforts.

“C’mon…go go go! Get us out of here!” Cassandra yells into the intercoms mounted on the wall near the door. Hopefully it's loud enough to be heard over the sound of combat. She’s still unable to see more than lights or vague shapes, her eyes covered loosely with her wet cloth - not as a result of her power, but as a result of the tear gas. God, she hopes she isn’t going to go blind…

In the wake of the tremendous explosion, seawater continues to fall like rain down from the darkened sky along with the swirling snow. As Elisabeth scrambles over to where Carina lays, slouched against the railing and unmoving, the worst fears rush through her mind. Dropping to one knee beside Carina and scooping her up with an arm, Elisabeth drags her dead weight away from the railing and the angrily sloshing surf lapping onto the deck. The fighting in the immediate area has stopped but the mortars are still firing and it feels as though chaos reigns all around, and this ship is somehow in the eye of the proverbial storm.

It takes a moment for Elisabeth to attenuate her hearing to fine sounds, to drown out the intense blasts of crashing waves, thunderous mortar launches, and distant screams to hear something as fragile and as simple as a heartbeat.

But there it is. Reassuringly strong.

Carina lays unconscious in Elisabeth’s arms, blood smeared across her ears and neck in thick streaks. She'd pushed herself beyond whatever limits she has, and at her age — she has to be in her mid sixties at least — that sort of exertion could be life-threatening. Though unconscious, Carina is stable. The ship is stable. Everything is — hauntingly — still.

The Featherweight is Safe, Edward Ray said. So far his definition of safe has been relative.

Coming into the cabin from the back of the ship, Woods is plumbing the depths of one ear with a finger. “Christ almighty that was…” he stalls in the doorway, first eyeing the ship intercom and then the sight of Carina and Elisabeth through the bow cracked windows. “Oy, good sailing there Des. You alright?” He says with one hand on the doorframe, wanting to check on the others but needing that reassurance first.

“Had a good teacher,” Des remarks breathlessly, a big grin spread across her face. She sets the gun back atop the radio where Woods left it, a quick wave of her hand meant to assure him that she wasn’t playing with it. Or being serious with it. Whichever might actually upset him more.

The short teenager cranes her neck to check on the others above deck. “H- Hey. Is Carina…?” A worried glance to her guardian is meant to shoo him on to check on their crewmate. “I’ve got this,” she promises, resting her hands on the wheel again.

In the moments of calm when she finds the sound of that heartbeat, Elisabeth allows herself just a moment of weakness. Pressing her forehead to her mother's temple, she holds both of them there in the safety of that small cranny out of the wind though the falling water cannot be avoided. At least it hides whatever tears she may shed. Gathering herself together, she pulls to her feet and maneuvers her mother's surprisingly sturdy body into a carry hold and heads for the belowdecks, where Carina can be laid on a bunk to recover.

Aurora tries to hurl herself to her mama, but the movement is aborted when she realizes Mummy has her hands full of the lady that is her Nana, a title she has thus far not used toward the lady whose voice is a deep, dark green-blue — many shades darker than Mummy's soft peacock blue-green and murkier somehow, kind of scary. "Is she gonna died?"

Elisabeth gets the older woman settled and takes the time to then reassure her daughter by touch and words, smoothing her hair gently. "No, baby — she just blew out her sound really hard. She's okay. It would be good if you could help Cassie look out for her, 'Kay? I gotta go back up." A meaningful look to Cassandra, and then Liz is back out the door and up on deck to resume … whatever freaking blowing up pirates may need to be done.

"Woods, Des…" Elisabeth grins just a little despite the craziness still happening when she gets to the wheelhouse. "Got a next target?" The stillness … is kind of scary, and she doesn't expect the lull to last. Her blue eyes seek out the rest of their retinue of boats to see who is still intact.

In the stillness after the assault, the lack of sound and the poor sight sends a hundred scenarios spinning through Cassandra’s head. The sound of heavy footsteps heading down the corridor toward them, something being carried along behind, sets Cassandra to protection mode, putting herself between Aurora and the door with her frying pan at the ready, but Elisabeth and Carina’s appearance has her moving despite the near blindness. “Come on, Aurora, lets go over the first aid stuff we learned at the Pelago. If someone is unconscious we….”. She prompts, helping to maneuver the unconscious woman to one of the empty bunks, loosening tight clothing, lifting her feet to put a pillow beneath them, and getting her covered up with the blanket.

Aurora is certainly distracted by all the chaos, but Cassandra’s question gets her talking. “We…um…check for bweathing. Yes.” It's something they went over in the dark hours - the proper way to take care of someone until they could get help or wake themselves up. Obediently she sits on the edge of the bunk and, using a cloth passed to over by Cassandra, carefully wipes the other woman’s face mostly clean. Then her little hand moves near her Nana’s mouth and she sits still, eventually looking over to the two women. “She's bweathing.”

“Perfect.” Cassandra says softly, her eyes still shielded by the cloth. “Keep an eye on your Nana. I'm going to talk to your Mummy for a second.” Then she turns to Liz, her voice soft. “I'll take care of these two. Don't worry about them.” Cassie says softly, resting her left hand on Liz’s shoulder. “Go take care of business. Do what you have to do. We’ll be fine.” She hopes.

Turning back to Aurora once Elisabeth leaves, Cassandra moves to sit at the foot of the bunk, feeling her way with her hands and then bundling the little girl into her arms when she's close enough. “Why don't we tell your Nana a story? Think she’ll like Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s stone?”

Woods, who stood and gasped in awkward shock for some time while Elisabeth helped Carina belowdecks, finally finds himself straightening himself when she returns. There's been no mortar fire the entire time, everything’s gone frighteningly quiet in the interim, save for the whip of the wind from the storm.

“I don't know. I can't tell if anyone survived the explosion on the Sayonara,” Woods says with a grimace, anxiously raking a hand through his tangled hair. “I don't think— I'm not bloody sure what— ”

There's a pop of a mortar. Woods flinches, whips around to view the massive ship in the distance, breath held in and eyes wide. But there's no whistle, there's no explosion. A long moment later, there is just a soft pop high in the sky, followed by the bloom of a vibrant green flare burning high over the massive, rusting flagship.

“What— the fuck.” Woods breathes out with disbelief in his eyes. “What— what the fuck!?” Stepping over to the cabin, Woods throws open the door. “Des— that's green! In’nit? Thea's bloody green!

Woods is smiling. But then, realizing that Elisabeth may not recognize the haphazard symbols of this timeline’s ships, he turns to her with confusion and bewilderment in his eyes. “That's a bloody ceasefire flare! They're standing down!”

Des lets out a squeal of triumph, jumping up and down in place with joy and clapping her hands together excitedly. “They’ve stopped! They’re stopping!” She points out at the green light as though maybe someone might have missed it somehow. “We’re safe!”

For now, at least. Not where they’re heading.

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