"If I'm not back in five minutes, wait longer."-- - Ace Ventura, Pet Detective
The water around Geoff has begun to bubble, and is giving off an odd, phosphoresece. Geoff starts to paddle away, but suddenly something grabs him. Dozens of what feel like small tentacles wrap around him and drag him forward. Then hes lifted up into the air. Hes been scooped up by a finely woven net full of shrimp, and Geoff. He waits. The net is swung over the ship, then Geoff and the shrimp are dropped into a dark void. Geoff doesnt injure himself, as his fall is cushioned by the shrimp. He gets out of the pile of shrimp, into the hold full of ice blocks. He takes off his helmet so he can hear and see better. Its dark, but there is residual phosphorescence from the shrimp, and some light from above. He finds a ladder, and undoes his vac suit so he has access to his weapon. Up he goes.
Geoff emerges onto the deck, lit with faint yellow lanterns. The sailors are speaking some sort of argot, and don't appear to notice Geoff. Geoff: "Hello." A couple of the men scream, and one of them drops over the side. Another yells something about "
le mer", and charges Geoff with his cutlass glinting in the dull lantern light. Geoff decides to attempt to disarm the man, and grabs him by the swordarm. He cant understand the words, but he can tell the man (who smells of liquor) isnt saying anything kind. Geoff redirects the blow, which takes out a chunk of wood from the rail. The man then punches Geoff in the ribs with his off hand. Hes a tough old salt, good thing Geoff was wearing armour (the vac suit). Two more crew members join the fray.
Geoff keeps swinging first, but missing. The first man pokes him with the cutlass, the crewman with the belaying pin grazes Geoff in the ribs, and the man with the pike misses completely. Good thing. Geoff decides this is no longer friendly, draws his 9mm, and shoots the cutlass man in the lower torso, spine. He falls over. At the same time, the other man misses, but the guy with the pike hits Geoff in the left shoulder, pinning him to the mast. He has Geoffs attention. Geoff shoots the pikeman in the throat, and the guy with the belaying pin dives overboard.
In the raft, theres an odd, fishy smell. Then a dark form of a ship appears out of the fog, accompanied by a keening scream (as Geoff extracts the pike from his shoulder). The good thing is Geoff doesnt feel any sudden stoppage as his ship hits the rubber raft. The bad news is the raft is pushed under. Samantha tries to leap out of the raft, and sort of partially gets out, but gets pulled under with the raft. It gets pulled under the keel and then stuck on the barnacles. Robert gets tumbled, and then dumped out. Samantha goes sort of thumpety, thumpety, thumpety along the side of the boat.
Geoff has decided to stop the boat, since the crew has run off. He finds the wheel thingie, but theres no throttle. There are sails, which are set, and the boat is going along at a nice clip (about 10 knots). From up here, Geoff can see some international orange stuff in the water the two halves of the raft flapping and some one in the water gasping for breathe. Geoff grabs the pike and tries to rescue Robert with it. Robert sees this and instinctively grabs on. Geoff pulls him towards the side of the boat so he can grab on. Robert pulls himself on board with Geoffs help.
Samantha is conscious, but lightly beaten. And shes tangled up on the raft by her feet and cant breathe. Geoff is trying to find the missing members of his crew, and tries to hook the raft parts by leaning over the bow with the pike. Robert: "These things have anchors dont they? Geoff: "I have no idea." Geoff hooks part of the raft and calls for help. Robert comes forward to help, and notices a big fish hook kind of thing. Oh, thats the anchor! Geoff decides it would be better to lower the sails first, but after the raft is pulled up. Its heavy, but he manages, and gets Samantha at the same time. Shes pulled up onto the deck, coughing up water.
The ship continues to move, but land must be nearby, as Geoff and Robert can hear surf. They decide to cut the ropes that hold the sails, and Robert manages to find his suit knife. Its a bit of work, but they are able to take down two sails, which flap around and must be avoided. Robert rounds up as much clothing and gear as possible as the ship slows. What Robert and Samantha had on the raft is found, and the ship ends up bobbing and banging in the breakers, less than 100 yards from the beach (approximately). The ship has a dinghy, and Geoff tosses the remains of the raft towards the reef so if the dinghy hits something and sinks theyll have something to swim to.
Its successful. They go about 30 yards and the dinghy grounds. Its a long, shallow approach to the beach,
Geoff: "Do any of you nice people have medical?" Robert: "No, we werent able to find our Vargr." Geoff: "Lovely. Well, in your lack of medical ability, could you help me to fix up this hole in my shoulder where the pike skewered me?" Robert helps Geoff rinse out the wound and cover it, using some of the antibiotic cream in the emergency kit. Robert: <to Geoff> "Do you have survival skills?" Geoff: "I dont have the papers, but Ive survived so far." They both have mechanical lighters, and driftwood is gathered. A small fire is made, once some one figures out that tinder is necessary. It doesnt give off much heat.
Geoff: <to Samantha> "Ive got some dry clothing, if you need it." Since shes in her wet underwear, yes, that would be nice. After some food and warmth, everyone crashes. Night passes.
Samantha wakes up to the sun shining down on their shelter. Its well into the morning; they wake up when the sun finally makes it through a crack in the mylar. The men are still asleep, so she sneaks out to take care some personal matters, after finding some paper in amongst the rations.
After taking care of the morning ablutions, Samantha has the strange feeling that shes being watched. By a bunch of entertained local natives. She finishes what shes doing before acknowledging their presence. One of them steps out and smiles, sort of friendly. Shes surrounded, and cant go running back to the group yet. The natives are swarthy, and wearing loose, long clothing. He has a club on his belt, and takes out some chains and manacles from behind his back. Ah, this would be the slavers.
Samantha makes it as costly as possible for the slavers, while yelling for the nearby Geoff and Robert. Several of the slavers are confused by the difficulty of seizing the harmless female; apparently they've never encountered someone who lives on Regina Up. By the time the cavalry arrives, Samantha is surrounded by a bunch of moaning and groaning men on the ground, and the others have backed off uneasily. Geoff yells at the slavers and they draw weapons and back away. Geoff: <to Samantha> "Next time, let us know before you go off." Samantha: "Point taken. But I do feel much better now." Geoff: "However, we have determined that slavery is popular here." First the Vargrs, then the men with the manacles not something you carry around under normal circumstances.
No signs of any Vargr medic bodies washed up on the beach. Or Vargr medic non-bodies for that matter. Back to the dory. Nothing is missing, but its obvious that its a camp, and the slavers probably spotted it. Back to camp, where Geoff puts on sunscreen and passes it around. Hes ditching the vac suit with the holes on it, unless Robert wants it? Robert: "Why would I want it?" Geoff: "To get in touch with your pilotness." Robert: "Got that covered." He dons his shades. Geoff rolls up the vac suit and underskin, stashing them in the crotch of a tree. (For the orangutan to find later.) Samantha changes into her own, now dry clothing, and gear is gathered and packed up. Robert doesnt have a pack, but is going to make one out of the raft material until Geoff points out that this would be very heavy, and hard to deal with. Geoff: "Why dont you just detach one of the emergency packs out of the raft?" Oh, yeah, that would work. The four packs are removed, and everything is distributed. They load the extra equipment onto the dory, and tow it along in the water, since theyre walking along the beach.
Geoff: "I think we need to not go inland, since were looking for our missing crew member." They travel on for about 5 miles, and the sandy beach becomes rocky. Its still fairly flat, and circles to the left, but they can see several hundred yards away, near the water. Robert uses his spyglass to take a look. There are a bunch of people working right at the shoreline, and others appear to be raking. Robert: "Bunch of people up there. Digging in the sand. Looks like theyre shoveling sand into barrels." Geoff: "Possible, or they could be harvesting salt." Robert: "Or clams or something." Geoff takes a look, trying to determine if the people are slavers or some other group." Robert: "Want to continue on?" Geoff: "I dont know." Robert: "We could toss a coin." Geoff: "Or I could toss you over and see if you land on your head." Theres a thought. Looking out into the water, Geoff spots some smoke rising off the water - bluish smoke, a couple of hundred metres off the coast, on the far side of the coral reef. Geoff: "Probably some sort of primitive combustion vehicle." Robert: "But theres no ship. Maybe its a volcano."
Then they see people come out of the treeline, charging the people on the beach, brandishing weapons (clubs, nets, etc.). They look like the slavers from earlier. Geoff: "Lets go help!" Geoff draws his gauss rifle and finds out that it doesnt work here. Shit. He tries the ACR the electronic sights wont work, but the gun still functions (with the iron sights). Geoff hasnt used the emergency, backup, iron sights for some time, and they suck. He aims for centre of mass only, on the front slaver with a club, and fires. The man to the targets left falls over. Time for Kentucky windage!
Robert and Samantha, having no long arms, move forward as Geoff provides cover fire. He misses his next shot, hitting sand. Now he notices the rear sight is jumping around, so he pins it in place with a bit of wood. There are lots of targets, but the targets are getting mixed up with the victims. Geoff will not shoot at the unarmed, or armed with hoes people. A couple of the slavers crouch down, then explode in smoke. Theres a whistling sound and something hits behind him. He fires on the new group.
Things zing passed Robert and Samantha. Robert looks for larger rocks. Samantha keeps going, but not in a straight line, and not in the line of fire between them and Geoff. Speaking of Geoff, he takes down one of the shooters, but hes hit in the rifle just by his hand. The round ricochets into his hand, which is now bleeding.
Four of the slavers now start to work their ways over the rocks towards Robert and Samantha. The latter two take cover and aim. Robert fires his 12mm, hitting one of the men right in the spine; he goes down. The three remaining bad guys fire; only the man shooting at Robert hits his target. Robert gets hit in the left elbow. Hes wearing armor, which stops the slug, but it feels like some one hit him in the elbow with a baseball bat; he falls over, semi-conscious. Geoff fires on a target, which goes down. Samantha fires (its a long shot with a 9mm handgun), and hits the man in the chest. He drops. The remaining man turns and runs. The other slavers are being called off, but some of them are dragging off prisoners. Geoff tries to convince them that taking captives right now is a bad thing, by shooting one of them in the head with his rifle. A longer shot, but he does have a rifle. A couple more shots and the slavers take off running by themselves.
Geoff comes up to check on Robert, who is sort of coming around. His arm doesnt look good at all. No blood, but the arm is swollen up and a dark purple color. Geoff dips a bandana in water and tries to cool down the arm. Geoff: "Well want to put a splint on that too." Driftwood is found, and a splint is made. Robert: "What now?" Samantha: "I think now might be a good time to make local contact." She indicates Geoff should take the lead, being the big male and all. They approach, and an older man comes forward. Leader: "What do you want? We have nothing more to give." Geoff: "We dont want anything." Leader: "Why are you here?" Geoff: "We're travellers." Leader: "You must be from a long way from here. I have not heard accents like yours before. Do you come from the West? I have heard there are many marvels in the West." Note: Head west. Leader: "I am Mustaffa. Come, be my guest. The women will take care of your wounds." Geoff gives him one of the recovered guns. Mustaffa: "Ah, a fine weapon. Worth much gold, although I can see that it is like nothing compared to your own weapons."
Geoff is pissed off when he finds out that a couple of people were taken, and he wants to go after them. Mustaffa convinces him that this would be dangerous, and he will check to make sure they havent just fled. Mustaffa: "But you are tired, and your injuries need to be tended to. Take them to the healer." Geoff: "Hes the one who needs the leeches." He nods towards Robert. They are taken to a tent-like structure, where a woman is tending to the injured. Woman: "Come, come. You are strangers. I have heard you saved the village." Geoff: "Maybe not the village, but the people on the beach." Woman: "You have come from very far away." She mixes up some sort of potion and gives it to Geoff and Robert. Woman: "Mind you drink it all." Geoff: "Okay." It must be good for him, since it tastes like medicine. Samantha has some bruises from being bumped on the boat, but thats it. Robert and Geoff are tended to and get really sleepy from the medicine. Theyre barely able to stay awake to eat.
Mustaffa: "Your friends were taken care of? Their wounds were tended to?" Samantha: "Yes, thank you." Mustaffa: "We owe you so much. Are you hungry? Can you eat?" Samantha: "Yes, thank you." She is brought salted food. Mustaffa: "So, what brings three Westerners out here to the hinterlands? You know, I have been to the West. Not all the way to the west, but to the outposts. That is how I learned to speak as I do, and to write numbers." Samantha: "We were shipwrecked." Mustaffa: "Yes, these are dangerous waters. The pirates are very bold. Although I am surprised they would be so bold as to take on one of your iron ships." Samantha: "Actually, it was an accident, and not pirates at all." Mustaffa: "Ah. Is it true that you are all princes in the West, and that the most lowly servant has wonderous possessions? Why once I even saw a chariot that moved without horses. And what think you of the omen? Of a month past the great light in the sky, the falling star? It could be clearly seen across the Golden Sea, to the south." Samantha: "Where is south from here?" He points. Mustaffa: "You are not an explorer then?" Samantha: "No." Mustaffa: "You are the first woman from the West I have seen that dresses like a man. It is common for my people, but some of my people doubt that the Western women have legs. Would you like some tea?" Samantha: "Yes, thank you." A few minutes later he emerges with a silver tea set, and offers sugar, lemon, and cream. Samantha: "Just lemon, thank you." Very nice tea set, although the cups don't match. Terribly civilized though.
After an hour or so, someone comes in and whispers in Mustaffas ear. Mustaffa: "Ah, your friends are awake now, if you would like to see them." Samantha finishes her tea, and has one more scone before checking in on the boys. Geoff and Robert are awake, but a bit woozy. Samantha: "Hello. Feeling better?" Geoff: "Much. The healer is very good." Robert: "Yeah, whatever they put in the tea was great." Geoff: "Tea? Ah, the Navy euphemism." Samantha: "That wasnt tea, this <lifts cup> is." They all get tea.
Samantha passes on the information she got about the West, and the iron ships, the "omen" from a month ago, and the like. Theyll want to go south eventually, but maybe west first. After they find their Vargr, that is. Mustaffa will spread the word among his people, although there are not many of them here. They were just gathering salt for the winter. Mustaffa: "For now, you must rest. You can stay with us, and I will have my people spread the word about your missing companion. What western land do you hail from? Which empire do you serve?" Oh-oh. Samantha: "From the same land as these cups." She noticed a mark on the bottom with a lion and wreathes. Mustaffa: "Ah, from Albion. We used to see more people from that area, but not since the disagreement between that empire and Fredoni. " Ah, local politics!