The Crossroads of the Aether
A note to all new readers. Unfortunately a member had themselves removed form the Empire, and all his content went with him. Therefore, reading this story from the start makes little sense, as he was a fairly major player in the first half of the story. If you are interested in joining the roleplay, skimming over the first part will allow you to get a feel of the ships, fleet and characters. The story pick up again in New York on page 52 with the remaining contingent of players and the whole story. Our next chapter will begin in a new discussion. Enjoy :)
The Quad A Airsylum houses the worst of the worst. It is an airborne prison fleet that has no governmental allegiances, but is allowed to travel the world due to the fact they will take and hold the worst criminals known to man. An almost impenetrable prison of 5 ships:
The Apparition home to Commandant Sovereign AW Doyle, Warden of the fleet. It houses those who are inclined to try to escape and those prisoners who are not claimed by any country, they are the ghosts.
The Arsenic, commanded by Ero Gleilian, a woman's prison.
The Atrocity, Houses Air pirates and mercenaries.originally commanded by AirMarshal Cain. In his absence, Izzy Burham, Pirate Queen of the Midwest is in command.
The Abomination, commanded by Doric Murray, which houses the mad scientists and biologically altered fiends. Those that are hell bent on world domination, those that experimented or are experiments of biological or genetic alteration or are trying to create some sort of super race, be it robotic or biological.
The fleet is funded by the governments of the world, but works for no one. In this agreement, it will house a variety of criminals, most whom are unfit to be kept in regular prisons, and the governments of the world agree to allow the Quad Afree passage anywhere and everywhere it wishes to travel.
Sometimes we are also contracted as bounty hunters, seeking and capturing criminals, pirates and mercenaries.
We have a vast network of contacts, moles and lookouts as well as governmental connections that afford us unparalleled access and control.
Join us for the adventures as we mop up the scum of the Earth
After a rather serious battle, in which the fleet was sorely wounded, we are stopping for repairs in New York for some time. While here, various characters are becoming involved in side stories and adventures. You may join us at this time if you wish.
Doric started awake bathed in sweat. He had been having the dreams again. He pushed his body away from the bed attached to the wall with a hiss of steam. Sleeping upright was the only was to mould to a soft surface, his spiders body being too cumbersome to sleep lying down. He checked his clock, 4 am. He had 2 hours till he started duty. Time for a breakfast, a stoking of his boiler, and a check-over the experiments in his lab. And of course a cup of tea and a cigar up on deck.
Doric carried the toast in one foreleg, , and the coffee in the other, both legs currently fitted with a tentacled hand. He leaned against the railing, staring into the darkness around him. The sky was not even tinged with dawn yet. He blew on his coffee and took a sip. He then used his only real hand to place a cigar in his mouth. He unclipped his tentacled right hand, resting it behind him. There was clank of chains as he sorted through the items stored in his abdomen. He removed a two tanked oxy-acetylene torch, clipped it onto his right stump, ignited it on the lowest setting and lit his cigar with it drawing deeply. He returned the torch to the hatch behind him and reattached his preferred prosthetic once again. He hoped someone else would wake up soon, he wanted some company.
Doyle takes her usual morning trip around the fleet. It's peaceful first thing in the morning. Before the sun rises and the prisoners wake up, the fleet is a elegant creation to behold.
Morning Doric, this is early for even you. Salute
She continue the inspection. She will meet up with Doric later, she still has one more ship to visit before the sun comes up and besides, the morning inspections are the only time that she gets to be alone.
Being the Commandant of a prison fleet is a very challenging job. Doyle averages 3 hours a sleep a night, but somehow she thrives in this environment.
After returning to the deck of The Apparition after the inspection, the morning crew begins to awake and report for their posts. Another day in the air has begun.
Morning had barely broken when the AirMarshal's eyes snapped open. Three fifty seven a.m. Raised on a military schedule, this revellie was a firmly ingrained aspect of his being. It was like clockwork, even after a profound night of drunkeness. He swung a heavy leg out of bed and his head swam with the effort and motion. He set his other foot firmly upon the deck and struggled to clear the cobwebs from his brain. He stared down at his feet and noted how the shadows on his hands looked like bloodstains. He chuckled to himself sardonically and shook his head, 'No amount of soap could EVER clean my hands', he thought wryly.
The memory of two days ago came flooding back to him in a rush. Of how he sat in his usual haunt, in his normal seat, and of how his old friend Ainsley Doyle suddenly appeared as if from nowhere, looking distorted through the bottom of Harlan's glass. The offer that she had for him, was an incredulous one.
"You want me to do WHAT?", he exclaimed.
"Like I said", she answered,"It's quite simple. Our project is internationally funded and politically warranted. We are already fitted and underway. The Under Officers have long since been enlisted and are currently onboard. The task now is one of finding Upper Echelon Officers and mainly well seasoned Commandants to take charge. You immediately came to mind Harlan. The task at hand here, is one of immense security and secrecy. We have all been charged with keeping the very worst of the worst of criminal elements, the bane of all civilized and polite society, the most unwanted of dregs safely stored away.We need hardened Commanders such as yourself to oversee the situation aboard one of our Airships in the Airsylum. This will not be an easy task by any stretch of the imagination and you shall be adequately rewarded finacially regarding all efforts in this matter."
"Tarbender, the usual please good sir", Harlan asked. A jameson promptly appeared before him and he gazed down into the golden liquid.
"Mr Cain", AW Doyle continued," We are in desperate need of very qualified persons who befit these stations. This is certainly not going to be an easy task by any stretch of the imagination. We will be fitted against the very worst genius and deplorable souls that have ever disgraced the Aether with their mere presence. We need iron willed people and those that will be dutiful to the cause Harlan...and I ask you to please embark upon this with us."
"Besides AirMarshal. you OWE me and I am now calling in the favor. By the grace of God goes I, but by the good grace of ME... you STILL go... as I am undoubtedly sure you remember... my friend."
Harlan exhaled a sigh into his drink, and raising it up, drained its contents.
"How much money ARE we talking about Madam Doyle?"
"Mam" said Doric, saluting smartly. He knew better than to engage Soverign Commandant Doyle at this time, the morning reprieve from her life was to be respected. He threw the cigar butt and the cold dregs of the coffee over the side. He then returned to his cabin and attached a water hose to his metallic body and turned on the tap. Once his boiler was full he removed the hose, and started the system inside his to drop a cardboard wrapped ball into the water tank, ensuring the lid was firmly closed. It took a minute for the water to soak through the cardboard, but once it reached the chemicals inside, there was a muffled "WHOOMPH" and Doric knew the water had turned to super concentrated steam, enough to last him the next 24 hours, even with heavy use. He would love to adapt the engines of these ship to run on the same technology, but the Diamantium that his boiler was made of was not in large enough supply to make boilers the size needed for these ships.
Did he have time to nick down to the lab for a quick bit of experimenting? The answer came from the monkey hurtling down the passage to his quarters. It stopped on the perch outside his door, and looked at him with longing. "Message recieved" he said, and the monkey bit happily into its peanuts, shell and all. Doric unrolled the message scroll. "All Officers report to central meeting room ASAP." "Cheers fella" he said, scratching the monkey behind the ear. He placed his customary fedora on his head, and began to make his way to the walkway hatch. Time to find out what today would bring.
The AirMarshal turned off the steamy waterspout and stepped from the shower. As he dried himself off, he thought that his 'useless adjutant had better have laid out his uniform'. He stepped into his cabin and alarmingly reached for his sidearm, but only found a damp thigh.
His mind grasped for an explanation of what he saw and he rapidly thought, 'Christ! I MUST be going through whisky detoxification. I am in withdrawal. I MUST be hallucinating!'.
There, sat upon his uniform, was a monkey gnawing on the top of the message tube in its paws.
The sudden remembering of the use of monkey messengers eased all concerns of his mind and his blood pressure.
"You're lucky I wasn't armed you little s***", Harlan sneered. "Get the hell out of here."
The monkey looking forlorned and downtrodden, scampered away, leaving behind the message. Opening the tube, he read, 'All Officers report to central meeting room ASAP'.
"Oh hell", the AirMarshal gruffed, "So it begins."
Just over the edge of the ship, down near one of the canon ports, Izzy sat on a half floating, half secured work bench, trying to resist the urge to beat the weapon in front of her with her wrench. It had developed a bad habit of hesitating on the fire lately, and if there was one thing the mechanic would not have, it was something not working right. Especially not on this ship; admittedly, she had first taken the job merely to avoid ending up as a prisoner on the ship she now helped run, but after seeing the fleet for the first time, Izzy had truly fallen in love with it. And now, anything not working right felt like a personal insult to her. Izzy didn't take insults well.
She leaned back on one of the cables that secured her to the haul of the ship and pushed her goggles back onto her head, finding resistance when they met her pigtails. She looked out to the horizon to see the sun just peeking above the clouds; she may not have been as early of a riser as Doyle was, but it definitely seemed like she'd been up for a good few hours. Behind the wall of the ship she could hear the rest of the crew beginning to stir (Doric's very distinct collection of sounds making up a great deal of the cacophony), and upon checking her pocket watch she found that it was now 5:30 am. With something akin to a yawn, she pulled her goggles back down, flipping her multi-view cap over her right eye and adjusting the settings with a button on the left side. Peering back into the portion of the canon she'd opened, she gave a small sound of excitement, having finally found the piece that was causing the problem. She reached in with her small welding gun, adjusted it, and sealed the canon shut again. "Job well done, Mrs Burnham. Very fine job indeed."
Pushing open the door to her cabin, Izzy smiled upon seeing her little mechpet, Zephyr, sitting on her desk with a note in his beak. "Now what do you have for me now, you little scamp?" He hooted, just with the smallest of clockwork-like clicks behind it, and dropped it on the desk. It was from Josephine, again nagging her for "up and finding a job and leaving the rest of them to take care of the blasted ship that responds to no one but her." She'll get over it when I get back with all this money.
She'd just laid back down, having a good half hour before she really needed to be up, when the message carrying monkey came chattering onto her bed. Izzy tried to nudge him away, but he was a persistent little primate. "Alright, what?" She took the message from his paw and sighed, throwing back the wool blanket and pulling her boots and jacket back on before leaving the warmth of her room for the first official meeting of the crew. "This will be interesting, I'm sure."
(A great start guys and gals, we are on our way! )
Doric ducked his head under the hatchway and stepped out onto the platform. It always made him a little giddy doing this, although he was safer than most, his feet adapted to be able to cling to most surfaces. The walkways had proved too much for some crew, as being telescopic they had no railings. A single misstep meant a fall that would be your last. But they were the only way to keep the ships from bumping each other while travelling, and they allowed access to all four prison ships by passage through the central control centre.
Dawn now lit up his surroundings and he sighed with wonder. The ships creaking and and the air sacs groaning at their ropes, as if trying to escape. The ground, far below, covered in greenery as far as the eye could see. The wind tugging at his hair and clothes, sending needles of cold into his jacket. Monkeys traversed the rigging and ratlines, on missions of delivery. The propellers slowly cutting the air with a "whup, whup, whup." Whistles, cries and the occasional angry yell from the prisoners inside. This place made him truly feel alive. He noticed others beginning to follow the walkways around him, heading to the central ship. He lit his second cigar, and made his way forward.
Standing on the bridge of The Apparition, Doyle is handed a coded report. There is a high priority prisoner who needs to be picked up in New York City. The criminal is of special importance, he was trying to destroy the recently completed Brooklyn Bridge. He’s a demolitions expert with a twisted sense of justice and responsibility.
After reading the orders, Doyle calls for 3 carrier monkeys to deliver the new orders to the Commandants of the fleet and asked for ship and crew readiness reports. Doyle has a special place in her heart for these little monkeys; she has long been an animal lover. The crew joke, of course not to her, that the only time they ever see her smile is while she is playing with one the monkeys and they she cares more for their lives and safety than anyone in the crew. Even her husband, the Chief Engineer and Navigator of The Apparition agrees that she cares more about the monkeys than anyone on board any of the ships, including him.
While waiting for the readiness reports, a navigation plan is being drawn up and weather reports are being gathered. Anytime the fleet travels, it’s a huge undertaking. Supplies must be ordered and delivered, the crew must prepare for the worst weather possible and the ships must be in their very best condition possible. Also, in this case, a special cell must be prepared for the new prisoner. Orders are for complete sensory deprivation and extreme solitary confinement. This prisoner seems to be a master manipulator and is very convincing, some say he may even be hypnotizing civilians into be unwitting accomplices.
AirMarshal Cain enters The Atrocity's, bridge and his eyes dart around and light upon the faces, the gleaming panels, and the nomal reading pressure gauges. The call goes out, "Commandant On Deck!". All hands cease their activity and snap to attention.
"As you were", The AirMarshal stated, "Report Mr. Mohr".
The crew resumed their duties as a stocky fellow with a slightly unkempt uniform approached. Martin Arthur Mohr was The Atrocity's Executive Officer, he had had the airship up and running smoothly and shipshape before the AirMarshal had arrived on board.
"Sir, we had had a problem with some of the "Cargo" overnight Sir", he started. "I came on duty at 04.00 and recieved the call from below decks of the breakout of a fire in Cell Block A-1. I dispatched Damage Control to the scene. They found acrid black smoke filling the space. They promptly found the source and were immediately set to the job of extinguishing the flames. Meanwhile, however, in the smoke and confusion, a lone prisoner tried to make his escape. He was thwarted in his endeavor of course, sir. The prisoner is confined to a solitary cell, he is one , Augustus Young."
"WHO did you say?", The AirMarshal queried.
"Prisoner 18540 Augustus William Young, Sir. Mercenary. Convicted for extreme viciousness and wantonness. Life sentence,Sir."
"Is he now?", Harlan asked to no one.
Then, a monkey came lumbering onto the bridge and sat at the AirMarshal's feet, staring up at him clanging a message tube onto the deck.
"Message recieved, rodent", Harlan chuffed. Harlan already could guess what the message said, 'Report A.S.A.P.'
"I expect a full report of the incident today Mr. Mohr. I leave you to your duty, I am requested elsewhere"
Executive Officer Mohr snapped to attention and saluted. Commandant Cain was heard on his way off the bridge, 'As you were'.
Doric continued into the central ship to attend the expected meeting. But suddenly he felt a lurch under his feet. The entire fleet was changing course, and picking up speed. "We must have gotten a new directive" he assumed. In answer to his query, a messenger monkey leapt off a rigging line and landed on his shoulder. He reached behind it to grasp the message from the capsule, and said, "message recieved." the monkey bounded to the ground and lay on its back, chewing happily on the peanut. "Scamp, get back to work" Doric joked, shoving it gently with his metal foreleg.
"Report A.S.A.P. New course, New York"
"Meeting adjourned" he muttered, and turned about face. He would need his crew to give him a full run down, but he was sure a cargo pick up was needed before they left landfall. He poised himself to take a mighty leap, knowing full well his 5 metre bounds would get him back to his ship sooner.
"Yoo hoo, Mr. Jinx?" Doric turned to see the lady reporter running up behind him. "Sorry Emily, I have urgent business. I'll see you over lunch" He lay low to the ground, then burst forwards in a hiss of steam. He landed lightly, then jumped forward again. In 5 great bounds he had reached his ships hatchway and whistled for a messenger monkey.
(May I introduce Em-I-17, or Emily, who I roleplayed briefly with once before, and has posted a stat on Commandant Bio's. Having a girl robotic reporter on board could make things interesting!)