The Rising Paragons

Discussion in 'ROLEPLAY GRAVEYARD' started by Zombie Turtle, Mar 11, 2015.

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    • The History of Paragon

      The history of Paragon starts innocently enough, man created fire, and the wheel. From there the possibilities were seemingly limitless. Man advanced further and further into the world of technology and power and left any thought for the planet behind.

      It wasn’t long before the wars man fought became world-shattering. The invention of black powder and guns changed the face of warfare. Mass-killings were now possible; leaving room for more as the conscience wasn’t forced to face the results of man’s actions.
      The whole of Paragon was at war with itself before long, and bombs rained down from the sky. The war to end all, it would later be referred to as Paragon’s Strife. Cities were destroyed daily. Families eradicated at the blink of an eye. And then the nuclear weapons were brought in. It was a sad day to be alive.

      Over seventy-five percent of the population was destroyed in those initial bombings. And mass-genocide seemed to be the plan for all military tacticians involved. It would have ended in the complete and utter destruction of every living thing on Paragon; and perhaps the planet itself.

      One by one the established governments destroyed each other leaving naught in their wake but more fighting. More destruction. A drive for power amongst those who had none pushed the already failing societies further down the proverbial spiral. Society began to crumble, laws no longer held any sway in society.

      The end was nigh.

      That is until the city in the sky appeared. Legends abound as to its origins, but one thing everybody can agree on is that it single handedly ended the wars. This savior city in the sky unleashed what they later called “The Breath of Odic”, neutralizing all nuclear weapons and large scale bombs with a single wave of power. Odic, as the city was revealed to be named, declared themselves as gods, remaining in the skies beyond the end of the fighting. Silently watching. (For more information see, ‘Disciples of Odic’)

      The first few years there were some desperate skirmishes for power resulting in some loosely held monarchies throughout the world. Borders were redefined based on the sheer numbers of foot soldiers one ruler had. Eventually, a fractured peace descended upon Paragon.

      Several years of this peace prevailed before the ground began to shake and tremble in response to the beating it had endured during the wars. The water rose up and swallowed the land. It was as though the planet itself were acting out a brutal retribution for the years of torment that man had heaped upon it. New lands rose from the depths of the seas, new mountains formed, new streams and rivers. The surviving twenty percent of the populace moved on, settling in new places, as well as the few already established cities that remained above sea level.

    • A description of the religions of Paragon, both past and present.

      • Religion of Ages

        The Ages is the monotheistic religion of the Strifes. They worshipped and prayed to one All-Powerful albeit passive God. Their wars were waged in His name, and they strove towards death and the paradise they were offered afterwards.

        There is in the Ages the antithesis of God. A destroyer of sorts, the one who comes to corrupt the souls of unsuspecting men before they can reach the point of redemption to be allowed into the paradise.

        The majority of worshippers abandoned this faith during or shortly after the Strife of Paragon. Most followers went through an existential crisis, thinking “What type of all-powerful being would just watch while those who worship it suffer and die in such gruesome and horrific ways.” Following logic these doubters quickly accepted the newly proclaimed gods of Odic.

      • Religions of the Past

        There were plenty of other religions in the times before and during the wars, though none were as prevalent as the Ages. Several polytheistic religions scattered the globe, but none had the same following as the Ages.

        The Ages also experienced several different sects of beliefs, though most of the more finite details have been forgotten to the past, as it is the core beliefs that made the biggest impact on society and, as a result, history.

      • [fieldset=Disciples of Odic][/fieldset]​
        Disciples of Odic
        “Listen and obey, as we of Odic are the only true gods. Technology is plague upon this land, and upon mankind, you do naught but murder each other, and there will be no more.”
        The Disciples of Odic, a named first penned in the first years after the Strife of Pandora, is the devout following of the self-proclaimed gods of the floating city, Odic.

        As far as the people of Paragon know, six ancient and wizened gods live in the city above them. They have not been seen or heard from since their historic Breath wiped out all large scale weapons on the planet, finally giving peace to the war plagued inhabitants of Paragon.

        Followers of the faith have very little doctrine to go off of, as the gods have yet to grace mankind with their writings and laws. Still, several students of theology have developed a basic guideline for any true believer to follow. These guidelines are loosely based on the doctrine of the Ages combined with the only words the Gods of Odic have ever spoke.

        The doctrine is simple in that man shouldn’t murder and that more advanced technology than what the people of Paragon were left with is strictly prohibited.

        Gathering places are marked in every settlement for people to say their silent prayers of appreciation and gratitude for the Gods of Odic. These places take donations throughout the year, taking turns running fresh supplies up to the gates of the city in the sky. The supplies are never taken into the city, but still the offerings are made ritually.

        Few members of the more extreme sects have taken to carrying idols (carved statues in the remembered likeness of the gods) around on their person as a way to have the saviors of mankind closer to them.

      • New Ageists

        A growing trend in Paragon. The Ages has once again started to grow a following. The deity more believable, as a being who is, by nature hands off. More and more people are abandoning the idea that the residents of Odic are gods thinking that gods who demand worship they should probably make themselves more readily available to the public. For these people, it is easier to follow a God that has never made His presence known, than several who have and then went into hiding.

    • Locations of importance and notability around Pandora

      • The Planet Paragon

        The world of Paragon is massive, and mostly covered in water. Though, it was not always so. It had its fair share of water, but the area of land was far greater.

        The earthquakes that shook Paragon changed the landscape dramatically. Where deserts once stretched on as far as the eye could see large lakes are now surrounded by burgeoning saplings and other lush and blooming flora. Entire forests are now deep under the salty waters of the now plentiful oceans.

        Islands dot every horizon, as far as one can look. Small settlements littering the map, making do with only what’s available in their very limited geographical locations. Since most ships were destroyed, in either the war or the subsequent quakes, very few people are able to actually travel from place to place.

      • The City in the Sky

        Odic; the flying city, the city in the sky, the city of the gods that saved humanity. So much can be said for this place, and yet, so little is known.

        One legend states that Odic and its inhabitants had been in a deep slumber deep beneath the crust of Paragon. It was only the bombs falling that brought the mystical city back into the sky. The gods were not pleased with the destruction of their resting place and stopped all weapons of mass destructions with a loud, unified scream to ‘cease’.

        Legends about how it stays afloat range from the magical to the practical, but again, this is something nobody can know for sure. The ‘gods’ aren’t around to ask, as they haven’t been seen since that fateful day when their Breath was released, and the Strife finally ended.

        All that is known for sure, is that a large white wall surrounds the city, and nobody has ever managed to scale the towering structure. The offerings always rot outside the gate, giving no indication of anything actually living inside.

      • The City With Something to Hide


        Terminus is a small settlement. Completely self-reliant, not much is known other than they are generally distrustful of outsiders. Terminus is located on the far, mostly uninhabited side of the mainland; the largest remaining landmasses on the planet, though they are relatively well inland, the next nearest settlement is 376.5 km away.

        Nobody is ever seen leaving town, though strangely enough each there seems to be roughly half the citizens missing from town at any given time.

        The streets are quiet, the children do not run and scream and play. The decay and death from previous generations are plain to see on the buildings. If one didn’t know better they might think a ghost town and not even give it a passing glance.

        The people that do know better don’t seem to last long. Anybody who speaks of the strangeness that is Terminus just disappears. It’s hard to say how the people survive as they do not participate in outside trade. They are surely keeping secrets.

      • Just Beneath the Surface


        Termiground is a highly advanced city that originally resided in a natural cave system beneath Terminus, and is inhabited solely by rogue scientists that call themselves ‘The Faction’. The faction works out of laboratories they’ve dubbed ‘Devoir’. To keep up with spacial demands the caves have been dug out, tunnels connecting to most major cities on the mainland.

        Unbeknownst to the powers that be, Termiground has been developing not only more advanced tech, but also weapons of mass destruction. Their guns are more powerful than anything Paragon has ever seen, even in the times of the Strife. The Faction has been underhandedly spreading their wares throughout the general population, arming the people against the governments, and the more threatening dominators, pirates.

        Entry into Termiground is difficult, requiring knowledge of secret entrances. Though most places on the mainland have at least one entrance, Terminus has several. Beyond the secrecy of the locations, the entrances are guarded by a series of traps and alarms, preventing almost all intruders, or at least signaling their arrival.

      • A Flying Fortress


        The SkyFleet; a pirate’s home away from home. This is the Commander’s home ship, and it very rarely makes land, being refueled through auxiliary fuel tanks, using fuel transported onto the ship by the different crews.

        The SkyFleet acts as a safe-haven for any crew under the overall command of the Pirate Commander. It is where all the crews spend a vast majority of their downtime. Occasionally it is used as a meeting place for all of the crews under the Commander to gather and discuss whatever issues there may be.

      • The Seats of Power


        o Jingo- Possessing the last standing army in Paragon, the government in Jingo runs a tight ship. Every able bodied citizen begins training as soon as they are old enough to safely wield a weapon. This city rests comfortably on their laurels, dealing in arms and training when the need arises to keep the income flowing through the city. Surrounded by tall, unyielding mountains and jagged cliffs, they are one of few, if not only secure areas left in the world.

        o Mohla- Mohla is a trade city resting in the flat desert lands; it exports fuel and imports profits. There is a wide class gap in Mohla, though there are more rich than poor. There’s always a party present in Mohla, one just has to know where to look, and who to ask. The government really is just for show, having several wealthy, and immoral mafia organisation struggling for the power.

        o Firth- The city of Firth lays squat on the open waves with all the charm of a bullfrog and twice the tenacity. Its people are a practical one, never using two words when one will do with their machinery showing the same simple, single minded determination. Mostly self-sufficient, Firth supplements its fish and fresh water farming with the occasional mechanical export. Also known for its strong, if wary, ties to the city of Jingo which shares an appreciation for practicality, if not the elbow grease that often goes with it.

        o Alcyon- Alcyon is an island community of Acolytes devoted to the worship of the Gods of Odic. Their monastery is not at all self-sufficient, but the other gathering halls across Paragon pay homage to them, allowing them to focus solely on their study of the gods. The other states are beginning to grow tired of Alcyon’s leechlike existence, and with the growing number of Ageists the Acolytes may be looking at trouble in the future.

        o Coterie- Nestled precariously over a large waterfall, Coterie boasts a vast array of natural defenses along with some carefully laid traps; there are rarely any successful incursions because of this. Large families with infamous, and highly regarded bloodlines populate the city of Coterie and its holdings. It is much more clannish than anywhere else in Paragon, and not just anybody is welcome to live there. Coterie is famous for its architecture, and for the right price any of the other cities is more than welcome to hire their brightest new star.

      • Outlying Holdings and Towns


        Smaller settlements have cropped up across the landscape of Paragon, homes to those who aren’t at all particularly interested in the politics and hub-bub of life in the bigger cities. Though these places are greatly influenced by the cities that protect them, throughout the years some of seeds of discontent and rebellion have been growing—working their way in from the outermost holdings.

        As with all things involving large populations, some enjoy the lifestyle and protection—though this can often be sporadic where the pirates are concerned—offered by the cities, and some do not. Those that do not appreciate these often feel that freedom would be preferable, even if it came with a lack of stability.

    • Standing Governments

      Jingo is a communist state ran by the four highest ranking men of its military. The power of Jingo is more important than the power of one, and every citizen within the city must be willing to fight.

      The out-lying cities, the cities that fall under Jingo’s protection must all work and provide for the people. Money isn’t really a thing, as the goods are ‘distributed’ throughout the Jingo’s holdings by small squadrons.

      Mohla is a prime example of how corruption and wealth can run a city. The titled politicians of the city are either in the pocket of one of the competing families, or hired by them. The politicians try their best to do their job, but are being pushed and threatened or outright working for mob families who have a half truce that holds enough stability to actually govern the city. The politics are all cut throat though and everyone is trying to figure out who is in which mob's pocket, and how they got there.

      Politics in Mohla is a lot like a fancy ball; all smiles and ‘how-dos’ for the public, all the while trying to figure out which knife would cut the deepest.

      Firth is governed by those who are best at doing. Political aspirations have nothing to do with government here, instead, one is boosted up the proverbial ladder by being beyond proficient in their given profession. Technically, Firth is a technocracy where the technology is stocky, and practical, rather than flashy.

      This is the most efficient way for the city to run, as those who have found ways to work with the least amount of waste are in charge of just their area of expertise. The elders are revered in a sense, in that they are literally a lifetime of knowledge and experience for the younger citizens to pull from.

      Alcyon is a theocratic state, ruled by the highest of their order. The Acolytes have a circle system to distinguish rank amongst the devoted. All those who live and study at the monastery are considered Acolytes, the believers who live elsewhere are referred to as Disciples.

      Not every Acolyte is considered equal, and they are judged by their peers, and deemed worthy of moving into the next circle of faith.

      Starting from the bottom tier and ascending, the Acolytes refer to themselves as: Docent, Savant, Pundit, Cereb, and Solon. At any given time, save for at the Cereb level, an Acolyte has the right to request to be elevated, which is done by a vote of his or her peers.

      There are only ever five Solons. When one moves on from this life, a vote is held and a Cereb is moved up, whether or not they believe themselves ready. The five Solons have complete autonomy over the rest of Alcyon.

      Coterie is a relatively peaceful place, ruled over by a panel of judges. It is the judges’ jobs to find the most amicable solution to any problem for all parties involved. The judges rely on generous donations from all families residing in their district. The citizens of Coterie hold the principles of minimal government very close to chest, only acting when there is absolute need.

    • Money and Trade

      Money differs from holding to holding, with the smaller settlements working on the currency that their governing city uses. Mohla is rolling in wealth, comparatively, and has evolved to the use of paper currency within the city. When dealing with other cities though, most trade is done in goods. Firth uses precious metal stamped into coin. With the amount of physical labor done in Firth the coins work well, as they are sturdy and nobody can argue their worth. Jingo, on the other hand, doesn’t have an actual currency. Goods are distributed based on need by the government. Alcyon doesn’t have its own currency, instead adapting the currencies of everywhere else to their own needs. Coterie’s currency consists of intricately carved and pressed tin. Its flimsy, and a physical representation of their economy.

    • The Faction

      Descended from the greatest minds of the Strife generation, the citizens of Terminus have long been developing and bettering tech to make their lives easier. As time progressed they did, and the lives of the scientists and their families were drastically changed. They lived in peace, and without fear of invasion of tyranny because of this. In a wave of altruism (and ego), they decided the world should partake in their achievements. Through a chain of carefully selected traders they gradually began slipping their improved tech into the world.

      It started with basic things. Creations that made cleaning and cooking easier; household things. It wasn’t until they realized the severity of the pirate issue that they began allowing defensive and offensive technology into the general public’s hands.

      The scientists fear their brilliance will be turned to war and they'll lose all their progress so instead operate in secret and bump development of things in the right direction. Special rivets for machinery, new kitchen utensils, etc. It’s when their ego starts to point towards fixing world problems like piracy and militarism that they fall down. They develop higher quality guns to give to pirate hunters (and track who has what so if a pirate or city claims it they can remove them quietly) and build bigger weapons in case they need to defend against the greedy cities always looking to dominate each other for either gain or security.

      Overall, most of the scientists inside Devoir work independently of each other; working on their own projects, and there’s very little cross over. At any given time there are thirty to fifty projects being improved upon, and created inside the facility, though only a very small group knows the details of those projects; and they have spent a lifetime specializing in political sciences.

      There are several different divisions of scientists, including Automatons, Armaments, Vehicular, and Life Improvement. Occasionally, the departments do overlap, and it happens more so in Life Improvement and Vehicular sections than anywhere else. As a side note, the Automaton department is slowly dying. The machines are just too far ahead of their time, and so complex that the scientists routinely fail, decreasing overall morale in the department.

    • Piracy in the Sky

      Bound together by the SkyFleet, most of the pirates of Paragon answer to the Commander. All things considered, the SkyFleet is one of the most organized and stable societies on the planet. An established monarchy has ruled the otherwise lawless group of brigands for as long as anybody can remember, with the Commander choosing their heir upon retirement.

      The Commander takes a fair cut of all profits and supplies in exchange for repairs, ammo and upgrades, as well as the general protection of the SkyFleet and all of its subordinates. Not all crews get equal support though, the better the captain the more their crew gets. It’s a system designed to spur competition and drive crews to pillage to the best of their abilities.

      The Commander has complete autonomy in regard to promotions, and crew placement, they has the ability to completely remove an ineffectual captain if they see fit.

      Occasionally the Commander will issue a statement regarding where it is acceptable to raid and pillage, as temporary truces between the pirates and the cities are important in order to ransom and blackmail a certain area.

      Naturally, if all the captains aren’t happy they can either leave or try mutiny, so the Commander has to keep them on good terms and remove troublemakers.

      If a pirate wants the protection and support of the SkyFleet they have to obey the Commander.

      Other pirates and smaller pirate guilds exist but the SkyFleet is the only one of note and significant power.

      Although, the role of commander is not gender specific, the current commander is a male and his name has been lost through the years being only referred to as ‘The Commander’. The Commander has yet to name his successor, and it has prompted some serious competition betwixt the current captains. The only rules regarding succession is that in order for the heir to be contested every captain must agree to remove the successor, and agree on a new one.

    • A complete list of vehicles commonly used by pirates

      • The Scout


        Fast, and small the scout is often used for supply runs, or as the name suggests, scouting potential targets. Only pilots and the captain are allowed to use this. Crew members not ranking as pilots will be found, and punished accordingly.

        Each crew has two or three scouts a piece depending on the size of the crew and profits said crew brings in. Scouts are light on artillery, but quick. When faced with the possibility of a gunfight the Scout’s pilot would be wiser to try to use the increased maneuverability to get out of Dodge.

      • The Wasp; a Raider

        The Wasp is every crew’s best friend. It’s quick and agile and possesses a few small guns; making it capable of defending itself if the need arises.

        As a raiding ship the Wasp is able to carry the pilot, a gunner and an additional crew member for quick smash and grab incursions. It is incapable of holding much loot, but its speed allows it to often make multiple runs into the same skirmish to grab as much as possible.

      • Brutus; a Raider

        As its name suggests, this type of ship is a brute. Packing a wide arrangement of guns, ranging from quick fire Gatling guns, to slow fire, high impact projectiles this plane was made to dish out some damage. Built like a flying tank, this beast can take damage as well as it can hand it out.

        Brutus is used in big raids and needs a pilot and two gunners to be truly effective; though generally it transports a two or three extra crew members, depending on the task at hand. It boasts a relatively large cargo hold, though at least half of it is filled with ammunition at take-off.

      • The Whale; a Carrier


        The Whale. So named because of the way the ships sit in its belly waiting. This carrier can hold up to ten ships, depending on the size of said ships, of course. Generally speaking, it can hold a few Brutus types, a few Wasps and several Scouts. Beyond the ship bays is the cargo hold, containing all of the loot that has not been sold off or divided.

        The Whale boasts several large flak cannons, as well as large caliber machine guns. Though it isn’t often that a carrier is attacked, the guns also serve to protect the raiders if things get too hairy.

    • What's Playing and Where

      Radio is an important part of life on Paragon. Each city broadcasts at a very powerful frequency, so that it can be heard throughout the holdings. Each government has chosen to utilize this in their own way. A vast majority of the time, the radio plays music, though instead of commercials between sets of song propaganda can be heard.

      The thought behind this is simple, political espionage runs rampant, and the wide broadcast gives the powers that be the opportunity to put their own spin on what’s happening in the world and how it affects the citizens.

      In Jingo the steady beat of classic marching music rings across the city. Simple and practical melodies, for a simple and practical place.

      With parties happening every night—nay, every hour, Mohla’s station is on the up and up with a wide assortment of jazz and swing music.

      Alcyon, as expected, plays religious chants. Beautiful in their simplicity, Alcyon’s station is a great place to tune in and mellow out.

      A simple beat, earthy sounds, and ‘working’ lyrics pound through the station in Firth. It’s not music to dance to, nor to relax with, but rather sounds to be motivated by, music to work to.

      Skill and precision create the symphony that rocks Coterie day and night. Strings, woodwinds, brass, and percussion played in perfect harmony.
      No broadcasts originate from either Odic, or Terminus.

    • Interesting Relics of Legend

      In a world where the past was destroyed in the flames of war relics of a time forgotten are rare, and of high value. States and private collectors alike vie for these in demand artifacts and the pirates capitalize on them; sometimes going as far as to liberate them from their owner and auctioning them back, like a kidnapping victim.

      The first of these artifacts were found by the original Commander (though he liked to refer to himself as the Pirate King). The ransom of these artifacts funded the establishment of the very first SkyFleet from which the current monarchy has grown.

      The artifacts that have been found range from the small and obscure such as an heirloom necklace belonging to the Lancaster family to the legendary painting, ‘Black Blossoms’ by Fyodor Patrova.

      Some of the more coveted of these artifacts remain lost to the world and it is these that the pirate forces focus their energy towards in hopes of ransoming them for great profits. For example, the great Jingo Doctorate, the manuscript that inspired their society-- written by Theodore Jamison Jingo, himself-- has fallen from their possession and the pirates know just how badly their nation wants it returned. Another example of these coveted relics are the lost game chips of the notorious gambler, Jacques Loreque.


    #1 Zombie Turtle, Mar 11, 2015
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2015

  1. A dry spell. For lack of any better way to put it, the crew of The Whale was experiencing a dry spell of unheard of proportions. With Firth and Alcyon currently under restrictions for bargaining, and the few leads for relics they’d had to work with in recent weeks it seemed like they were doing naught but lazing about.

    Fred didn’t do well with lazy. It made her bitchy; picking fights with anybody who looked at her sideways. In her attempts to stay busy, she had done all of the maintenance on Hummingbird, even tweaking the throttle and thrust to try and improve even more on her maneuverability. Without completely disassembling and reassembling every square inch of the plane, she was at a standstill once again. Still, the search to keep herself occupied continued. Fred scrubbed and polished until her Bird glimmered in the sunlight as she darted across the sky. All in all it had been time well spent.

    The Ladies were primped and lubed; all dolled up with no place to go. Surely the six, well the seven, of them were as eager to have a bit of fun as their mistress.

    An unlit cigarette danced frantically through her fingers as Fred paced the belly of the Whale, yet again.

    Ridiculous! Outrageous! Egregious! Absolutely fucking preposterous!” Her rant echoed off the metal walls as the majority of the crew continued about what they all considered ‘a well-deserved and much needed break’. Captain Nicklaus Faringham leaned casually against his Wasp, his face pinched. This wasn’t the first time Fred had cornered him in the hold to spout out her spiel, but from the look on his face it was definitely growing tiresome.

    At the very least we should have Scouts hopping about ground level. Even if they don’t pick up anything useful we wouldn’t just be sitting on our thumbs!

    Fred, we’ve bee-

    Cutting him off mid-sentence, she took to mocking him straightaway. “Fred I already told you blah, blah, I’m a whiny bitch-baby!

    Before she was able to continue Nicklaus had her arm wedged behind her and a blade held against her throat. Fred was a lot of things, but stupid wasn’t one of them. Though she could have him beat shot for shot with any sidearm, the captain had her beat hands down in a knife fight even without the element of surprise. “I’ve had about as much of your bullshit blathering as I can handle. If you value your tongue, you’ll keep it still until you have something of equal value to bargain with.

    With a hard shove, he tossed her away from him. Fred bounced back to her feet immediately, ready to spring. Her eyes shining with defiance as she opened her mouth to continue her tirade when the look on Nicklaus’s face shut her up. “Keep it up, Winnie, you’ll end up grounded for good and your precious little bird parted out to the other pilots.

    The threat hung in the air for several seconds before Fred's ire and frustrations refused to be held in any longer. An almost feral howl erupted from her lungs as she turned on her heel and stormed back through the hold. No longer having an outlet for this fit of rage, Fred knew she needed to get the hell away from the damned carrier.

    Raising her middle finger in a salute to her captain, she climbed into Hummingbird’s cockpit and taxied out of opening. Hummingbird’s nose dipped out of The Whale sending her barreling towards the ground. Fred closed her eyes and took a few deep breaths; using the moment to unwind a bit before effortlessly pulling out of the dive and darting across the sky.

  2. Day 68.

    It has been 68 days since he had been kidnapped from the settlement and kept in this "Whale". He just had to stop there and see the locals. Not that they knew him, but he was curious as it was a new place. The pirates came fast and no one was ready. Screams of helplessness and fear rang in his ear. He didn't know why they were here, and there wasn't a plan to keep this place from being burnt down. Ben wasn't interested in becoming a public defender of this place. Alleyway after alleyway, he ran as fast as his legs could carry him. Bob and weave. Bob and weave. This is what he did, moving past noisy people and speeding transports. It seems by the time he reached the large doors, not only were they unsecured, but they had been taken by the damn pirates. Before he could even say "shit", a pirate and ran up from his left and smacked him with a bottle. Blackness overtook his sight, and it seemed like it was over.

    Ben woke in a personal cell with nothing but his clothes he wore that day. Even his gold watch was missing. Fucking pirates. A man stood outside his cell, as if he waited for him to wake. "Who are you and what were you doing there?"

    It was the same thing, for the first week or so. The man would ask certain questions and Benjamin would answer along the lines of:

    "Your father. Your mother."

    The large, questioning man was patient and even seemed to enjoy the different responses.

    "Still don't feel like talking Benjamin? It's a shame." And he would be gone until the next day.

    Of course, he did have different questions for different prisoners. Some even managed to get his ire through his fist into their face.

    "Why do you treat me differently from the other prisoners?" Benjamin finally asked.

    "Because you aren't my enemy. You have never made a name for yourself other than by being The Loaded Bard."

    And the man was right. While he did often have to defend himself from mindless raiders and drugged up thugs, Ben refused to fuck with the pirates. This response led to a whole other conversion about what the singer had done previously and the fact that he was there to visit. His name was Cody and it was nice to finally put a name to the face.

    "I am starting to see this more and more as an opportunity to ask if I can stay here as a visitor than in his rusty cell."

    "Well, considering you finally told me to truth I can see what I can do. No promises." And the man left, but not before taking a gold watch out of his pocket and tossing it through the cell door. It was his original.


    It took about another week for him to get out of the cell and to roam about the ship. He was under supervision, of course. Can't be too careful. Before long, his things were returned and was a performer on the ship. They were rare shows but they still happened. He and Cody had become friends but with his work they weren't around each other very much. There were always more people to interrogate. By the time day 60 came about, Ben had not seen him in about a week. He dared not ask what happened, as he still didn't really have any standing to ask questions without getting hurt. So he waited.

    He sat in his new, much cozier room. Granted, it wasn't a StarLight Inn but this was still nice. There was room to organize everything and to even have his weapons at the ready. Currently, he was writing in his journal. It was something that helped with his moods, and Ben was just coming out of one. Slapping the book together and putting the pencil down, he stood up and stretched. Soon, it would be time for drinks, cards, and music. It was going to be a long night.
  3. The range of corridors beneath the hold were a quiet place, echoing tings and groans of creaking metal danced about the place along with the steady hum and beat of the Whale’s massive engines. One could almost call it serene. To the untrained eye it would seem a waste that no one was enjoying the peaceful atmosphere bathed in the crisp, warm light emanating from the many portholes littering the walls in orderly fashion. After a few moments even the untrained ear would understand why. There was a heavy thud, the kind that one felt in their chest, followed by a muffled but deafening boom. A few moments of silence followed the starting sounds before this too was interrupted, the shriek of an unoiled hatch coupled with some very loud, very creative cursing washed down the hallway. A plume of thick, black smoke followed tight on its heels, the plume was in turn followed by a smoke darkened figure coughing and spluttering as they slammed open the various portholes along the wall in an effort to vent the space, though the smog proved too think to be deterred so easily. With a wild gesture of arms the blackened figure shouted in frustration and walked briskly, eyes streaming from the irritating particle’s in the air, towards the short stairwell that attached this hall to the main hold area. The door was quickly opened and just as quickly slammed shut, willowing trails of dust and smoke wasting through the cavernous space as the figure leaned wearily against the solid steel of the door. A casual wipe of a grubby hand streaked the streams of grit and grime that their leaking eyes had made across their sooted face, this naturally didn’t actually clear any of the mess aware so much as it spread it more thinly, leaving their eyes free to blink into focus.

    They settled on the steadily approaching figure of Captain Nicklaus. A nervous grin spread across the lips of Tin-Nose Ardente who threw a hasty and poorly ordered salute at the man and immediately moving into a heavy flow of speech “Sir! Troubles with the latest design sir, minimal damage to hull integrity (told ya the new struts would hold) the rooms a right mess though, take at least a week to set right, wouldn’t believe the amount of work involved. See to it with my own body ‘course, wouldn’t dream of imposin’ on such a fine figure as yourself…” the stream of words continued as Tin-Nose began edging around the heavy built man who had positioned himself between Tinny and the nearest exit “…bit of shrapnel but that’s t’be expected innit? Mighta lost another eyebrow or two but what’s the use of em if not to give em a good roasting now and again, eh? Keep the blasted fuzzy things on their toes amiright?

    A speck of soot wafted lazily to plant itself on the Captain’s sleave, a speck that Tinny immediately tried to wipe away, leaving a great smear on the pristine fabric. A choked laugh bubbled out from their heavily scarred lips, more a thing of nervousness than actual humour “Ah, my ‘pologies Capt’n. Seems I’m a bit smudgy tod-” a hand whipped out towards them, slipping under the thin leather strap that held the younger crew member’s signature tin nose to their face and lifting, pulling the wiry engineer to their toes as they followed. The Captain just stared. “R-right you are, sir, right you are. I’m gonna clean the mess up quick smart, no dally-doodling for me, no how!” they gestured vaguely behind the two of them to the door “Gotta let the old girl air out first though. Smoke’ll make cleaning a job not even ol’ Tinny could master, eh?” It was then that the leather strap snapped, letting the hapless engineer drop like a sack of beans, though they went from prone to upright in the time it took a rat to sneeze to gently lift the nose, with its strap, from the captain’s outstretched finger “Well I’ll just see myself out f’abit. Let it… err… simmer down… in there.” Another nervous giggle accompanied this and Tinny bolted, still gently smouldering hair leaving a trail of smoke behind them as they ran for the nearest scouting ship, nose in hand, one and a half eyebrows shorter than they were that morning, and flung on the aviation goggles resting on the well-used handle bars. Another brief and utterly filthy salute, followed by the immediate stalling of the aircraft, signalled their ‘escape’ into the clean air beyond, engine stuttering and coughing as it struggled to cope with the hasty, and for the most part unskilled, take off.

    It was only when they had actually managed to make it several hundred feet from the belly of the Whale that they let out a sigh of relief. The captain looked fit to do murder and Tinny knew full well how much their little ‘experiments’ tested his patience, the remnants of the last could be seen from their position wafting steadily out of the open windows on the sizable airship to their left. Tin-Nose didn’t really know why it troubled the captain so. Sure it was a mess but that was kind of the point, they weren’t working on wooden dolls and frilly dresses in there you know. The why of it didn’t really matter anyhow, it was what it was and the captain was pissed. Tinny thought it best to make scarce for an hour or so before heading back to clean and polish the hallway, they knew full well they had better have it gleaming in short order but they couldn’t rightly do so if the captain gutted them first and handed the carcass over the cook (who had never really forgiven them for burning out the kitchen a few years back). A grimace crossed the pyromaniac’s expression, a twisted thing with the scars littering their features, and they let the scouting craft’s throttle out. It was nothing to compare to a Wasp’s even marginal speed, but more than enough to put some distance between themselves and the quietly fuming Nicklaus Faringham, with Tinny all the while wondering who, or what, had put the man in such a testy mood.
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  4. A sly smirk danced across Fred’s lips, as she peeked once again at her cards, not truly paying attention to the game, instead playing the players; having them tell her of the local goings on, and drawing as much gossip from them as she could without rousing suspicions.

    Four, two.. With a jack, ace, and a seven on the flop.... Call.” Fred leaned back in her chair, looking as smug as ever as the dealer flipped another jack onto the table. “You were saying,” she prompted, nodding to the large, but well-dressed man sitting a few chairs over.

    S’just crazy talk, darling—Raise twenty—don’t pay any heed to the locals.” He flashed a crooked smile, before looking back at his own cards.

    I suppose you’re right, handsome. There would be no way to know for sure if the chips truly belonged to Jacques Loreque. If they could prove it, they’d already have cashed them in, so to speak.” Fred shrugged and tossed her chips into the pot before waving to the small girl in charge of drinks for refills. The girl nodded, bringing Fred water and the rest of the table the stoutest ale available. With a wink, Fred slid a tucking several Mohla notes into the child’s hand as she passed back to her station.

    The game progressed. The players getting louder and louder, and more and more sloppy with their money as their tankards were never dry for long. Fred never really had developed a skill for cards-- but the game table is a good place for gossip, especially since she wasn’t about to pay a prostitute for their time just to gossip. To make up for her lack of ability, she often evened the playing field, bribing the child in charge of maintaining refreshments, and getting the table slobbering drunk throughout the night.

    As per usual, Winifred was cleaning up by the end of the night, two of the players cashing out only as they fell out—face first onto the table, to which Fred responded by nudging them onto the floor and out of the way.

    Aaaaaall in!

    The big guy was the only player left, she had expected it because of his size though. “I’m not going all in on this one, handsome.

    An’ wise tat, dahlin’?

    Because it wouldn’t serve me. I already have more than double your worth. Unless you can give me something worth the risk, I’m folding.” Sounding bored, Fred pushed her cards in toward the dealer, never picking her hand up as she fixed Mister with a challenging look.

    I’s got a bit of information. Coul’ prove to be wort a fortune,” The alcohol was greatly flavoring his speech, and Fred pulled her cards back waiting for him to continue. “Tha chipsss. Jacquees Lorech. His kinfolk still hab the chips. They was herr, trying to sell them off to the tables piece by piece.” With a hiccup and a burp Mister nodded; looking mighty satisfied with himself for that bit of bait.

    Thanks for that bit,” she smirked tossing her cards across the table where they came rest in front of the dealer. “I fold.” Fred couldn’t contain a bit of a smug chuckle as the dealer paid her for her chips and she leaped up from the table.

    Oh, nu you don’ts!” The large man struggled to his feet, the liquor making his movements laughably sluggish.

    Fred laughed as she pulled a cigarette out of her coat pocket, taking her sweet time before blowing Mister a kiss and jogging to HummingBird. A smug smile decorated her face as she took off toward The Whale. This bit of sugar going to go a long way to getting her back in the Captain’s good graces.

    The plane was in the air before she could regret her methods of getting out of the carrier. I’m likely to get myself grounded for good, I need to find a better way to get out and about….

    Luckily, the Whale was a slow moving beast, and even more lucky that Fred had an impeccable sense of direction. She found the carrier with ease and radioed for a clear entrance. When given the ‘go ahead’ she spun HummingBird into position, taking the opportunity to show off before lining up and bringing her bird to a halt in its spot.

    Hopping down into the belly, her boots sounded too loud in the uneasy silence of her return. “Where’s Nicklaus,” Fred sang out, feeling good enough to dance as she crossed the cargo hold. "My darling Captain! Oh, Nicklaus! Where are you?" Without waiting for a response, Fred continued her dance. Singing, out for him as she made her way through the carrier. “Ooooh Baby, have I got news!
  5. The original plan had been to give the captain a few hours to cool his funnel before docking the Scout, sadly fuel was a fickle mistress and had forced Tinny to head back after only an hours worth of breathing space. As it was the Scout shuddered its way back into the hanger bay on nothing but fumes with its pilot muttering half coherent curses over lackless crew members refusing to fuel aircraft after use before parking the compact vehicle awkwardly and legging it towards the workroom hatch, leaving the Scout entirely without gas. As they crossed the space their eyes swiveled about ceaselessly in an attempt to spot the Captain and, hopefully, avoid him. Kneecaps were, after all, better left unbroken, something that could not be guaranteed if Nick was still in his sour mood.

    Fortunately they arrived at the door-hatch without incident and slipped inside to relative safety. The smoke had thinned out considerably and the hallway was mostly clear .Tinny hurried along towards the room beyond where black smog still drifted out in bulk only to be sucked away the open portholes by the airstreams circling the ship. The grimy engineer 'tsk'ed the state of the little room sitting at the end of the ladder and sucked in a cleanish breath before sliding down the rungs to the solid steel flooring beyond and making a mad dash to the ventilation fans, switching them to full. This would of course add scrubbing the vents to an already arduous list of tasks but it was necessary to get started.

    With hands on hips Tinny glared about the room taking in the fractured steel table, burn marks, ruined machinery, fresh shrapnel scars on the walls and what remained of the tool box that had been sitting next to the new short-fuse-incendiary-prototype they'd been working on.

    "Welp, no use mopin' about Tinny, there's work t'be gettin done" they muttered to the empty room as they cranked the ventilation down to the lowest setting and set to ordering the place up with a will. Unsalvageable parts were the first to go, shuffled into a large pile to be melted down for scrap which sat next to a much smaller pile of reusable items. The few pieces that had been in the blast radius and had survived any major damage had been polished free of soot and stashed in the wall safe for the meantime. Next came the wiping down of every surface that had been darkened by grit and smoke, namely all of them, and it was halfway through this that the clatter of a landing craft could be heard echoing down from the hanger bay, something Tinny paid very little heed to, so absorbed in their work as they were. There was still an ugly set of burn marks to scrub at, a table to weld together and shrapnel marks to buff out. Not to mention the vents to scrubs, hallway to mop and wipe, and the pile of salvageable parts to reorganize. Upon finishing this stock take Tinny let out a huff of displeasure and kicked at a barrel of shell casings they'd just finished polishing. They would never admit it, but deep down they rather enjoyed neatening messes like this, just a little bit anyway. It was almost therapeutic in an elbow greasing, face sooting kind of way. Plus it always gave them an excuse to kick barrels, which was really its own reward.

    The remainder of the general wipe down went smoothly and left them exhausted with a glowing sense of accomplishment, as well as enough grime coating to clog three industrial turbines. Any further cleaning was clearly pointless as dirty marks were left everywhere they touched and that just added to the workload. Tinny took this as an opportunity for a quick shower break and possibly mealtime if the coast was clear of impending captains. A grin flashed across their face and with a hop, skip and a jump they bumbled their way out of the room, up the ladder and down the hall to peek through the door-hatch nervously, eyes flicking about the hanger beyond.
  6. Are you out of your rabid ass mind, woman?” Nicklaus was furious. He had suspected Fred’s outburst was simply a put on, but to find out that she had deliberately disobeyed him, basically conning information out of denizens of a town in which a current treaty was enacted was outrageous.

    You know damn well that’s a good lead!” Fred countered, settling her arms across her chest indignantly. “And I brought it back. That should count for something, yeah. I could have just—

    Don’t even. You could have just gotten yourself killed if you had tried to go off alone, and you know it.” His tone was beginning to cool as time passed. Fred was right, it was a good lead. Those chips would be worth a fortune to a private collector, of even a more distant relative than the ones trying to pawn them off. With a deep, and overly dramatized sigh, Nicklaus flumped into his chair. “I suppose you have some ideas about how exactly we’re going to find these chip in our possession?”

    Winifred’s face lit up.
  7. Baylen had been awake since the rise of the sun, one of the few occupants who started their day so early. Unlike the few others who had mandatory shifts at this quiet hour, Baylen simply enjoyed the peaceful nature of the Whale before the days activities begin. At this hour one could mostly hear only the rush of the wind and the humming of the Whale in motion. Both were comforting sounds that made him feel relaxed and at home. It was the absolute silence that put him on edge.

    Before the rush of the busy day could begin Baylen had gotten in his usual workout routine, a hearty breakfast and his favorite coffee. The grinds he especially liked were hard to come by, a blend he could only acquire from within Coterie.

    Baylen stood by the railing, gazing out at the clouds. He gave a heavy yawn and stretched his arms out and upward, exhaling deeply as he brought his arms back down, cracking a few vertebra along the way. With a jerk to his jacket he moved forward towards his aircraft. Ensuring Albatross was in her prime was always his first priority. Their temporary stand still hadn't been going on for very long but it was long enough to start to edge on Baylen's nerves. He had been warned to keep within the Whale, a strict order by the Captain for all pilots but he had been given a special reminder by the Captain himself. Looking to be promoted, Baylen gave his word he would behave. But as time has worn on his impatience has grown thin, the itch for freedom and exploration burning beneath his skin. The last few days he hasn't been able to stay still, spending most of his free time tending to his aircraft or working out.

    Wanting an update, Baylen decided to look for the Captain first before tending to Alba. He walked briskly across the Whale, eyes open for the man in charge. Captain Nicklaus was sometimes difficult to locate as he was never in one position for very long. Being active with his crew and ensuring the team was running efficiently with the supplies they needed left him moving all day. Before Baylen could move much further in his search for the Captain, he heard a singing in the air and the unmistakable name of the Captain in the song. It seemed he wasn't the only one looking for the Captain. He decided to find the singer and follow them in their pursuit. It didn't take him long to step up behind a woman prancing across the deck, shouting out for the Captain in her sing songy voice. Something had put her in a great mood. Most everyone on the Whale was either bored, relaxed or agitated. Finding someone with this amount of glee was quite intriguing.

    By the time Baylen had tracked down the singer he walked up behind them, only to see the Captain speaking with the deliverer of apparently exciting news. When he caught a glimpse of Fred's face from behind Baylen exhaled deeply. He should have known. Baylen had been with Captain's crew for only about 8 months but it didn't take him long to figure out who Winnifred Rockport was. He had yet to speak with her directly but her angry outbursts were easy to catch and her temper was often flared. Not that he had a perfect record, but he found her exhausting and reckless and thus deliberately kept out of her way. This time he wanted to get close to her. Whatever had excited her must have been important, especially important to bother the Captain with.

    He hadn't caught all of the conversation between Fred and the Captain but enough to know that it revolved around information in finding the lost chips of the notorious gambler, Jacques Loreque. This had been something their fleet had been trying to acquire for some time now, even before Baylen had come aboard. To find news of getting closer to acquiring them was indeed exciting. He felt jealousy clench his chest as he realized Fred was putting herself in the Captain's good graces for her new found information, despite deliberately breaking his rules.

    Baylen cleared his throat and walked towards the pair of them. "Excuse me Captain?" he asked, stepping next to Fred with a dismissive glance to her from his side. "Did I hear correctly that you have a lead for the lost chips?" He looked to the Captain intently, wanting to make it clear he was ready and willing to assist in this major operation. He had originally wanted to know when they could leave the Whale. This news was all he needed to hear as he was more than ready to get off the base and start working. This was also a potential opportunity to push forward his much desired promotion.
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  8. Tinny’s peepers darted back and forth, forth and back, up and down. They realised that ‘coast checking’ had become ‘nervous stalling’ and threw themselves out into the hanger bay before they could think about it too much. Once they were out in the open things became much simpler: Make a mad dash to the showers and don’t get seen and/or eviscerated by a grouchy captain. Simple. Not necessarily easy, but simple. Tinny liked a good simple plan, easy to remember, direct, though to be fair their plans usually involved high explosives which was infinitely more gratifying than running helter skelter through the Whale’s belly.
    As the little pyromaniac legged it for all they were worth they tried to keep an eye out for any possible signs of the captain, not easy when the corridors that networked all about the Whale’s interior meant a straight line of sight was rare beyond the hallway one found themselves in at any given time. This, as it turned out, was Tinny’s downfall this time around, quite literally. They had just rounded a bend when a small crowd appeared ahead, the infamous Fred, a new face Tinny recognised but hadn’t bothered to attach a name to yet (the turn-over rates of a pirate crew were high) and, of course, Captain Nick. Shit.

    There was only one thing for it, dash down the fork in the corridors, and circle around. It was a ridiculously long way to get to the shower block, but hey, it beat interrupting the Captain and whatever was going on down there. Sadly the universe had once again conspired against the engineer and some careless slob had spilled a meal just before the skin-saving crossroads at some point earlier that day. The mess had been cleaned up but the residue that had remained was slippery underfoot, no big deal for anyone wearing heavy work boots, which Tinny was, but a very big deal when combined with layers upon layers of soot, grease and grime. Tinny had all of those aplenty and while they made to turn down the corridor their feet decided munity, aided and abetted by Slippery Floor, the cads, and flumped out from under them. Cue one airborn Tin-Nose Ardente and a running pace of momentum to propel them towards the back of the nearest body, fortunately for everyone involved they fell short and only managed to leave a Tinny sized smear of soot across the pristine flooring before coming to rest at the boots of New Face.

    Tin-Nose squinted up at the group from their back at the end of the soot trail, hands resting on their chest as if taking a nap and said, rather eloquently “Bollocks”. Nicklaus gave a long suffering sigh and rubbed the bridge of his nose, reigning in his frazzled nerves and temper while Tinny tried their best to appear unobtrusive, and failed miserably.
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  9. Captain Nicklaus Faringham considered himself to be the captain of the best group of scoundrels in the entire SkyFleet. He gave them just enough rope to hang themselves with and then watched as they cut the cord from around their own necks. He had a limit though, and most of his crew didn’t push him. He was ruthless, clever and at times downright scary; luckily his crew was also clever, and fearless.

    He leaned casually against the wall of the Whale as Winifred finished her spiel. She was a smart one—clever enough to move up the ranks if she could pull her head out of her ass long enough. Her plan was a decent one, but it would need some tweaking to be workable. With a sigh, he nodded to her, hoping that she would take the gesture as a dismissal. She didn’t instead, she raised an eyebrow and crossed her arms, waiting. It was at that moment that Baylen fell in next to her. Nicklaus fought against rolling his eyes.

    You heard correctly, Baylen,” he said flippantly, trying to convey his wish to be left with just his tone. “It’ll be a major thing, everybody will have to be on the top of their game. The chips are in Coterie.

    It was clear the two were not going to leave, so Nicklaus pushed himself off the wall, moving to cocoon himself in the confines of his tiny office while he smoothed the edges of Fred’s plan before assigning the crew to their tasks. He hadn’t moved a step before a flailing body landed at his feet. Rubbing the bridge of his nose to stifle the headache that was brewing beyond his eyes, Nicklaus shook his head. He growled as his gaze swept over the three of them. This motley group was the cream of his villainous crop. His patience was well beyond its limits as his arm swung up and he pointed toward the belly. “Get out of my sight! All of you!

    His eyes narrowed as he waited for them to scatter. When they didn’t vacate immediately, he scowled and turned on his heel trudging down the hallway, leaving them with a gruff, “Do not follow me!

    Hours passed as Nick bent over his table, fine-tuning the plans. It was going to be tricky. Coterie had the benefits of natural reinforcements. The planes had no problems getting in or out, but the locals were never caught off guard. The mission would have to be one of cunning, rather than brute force.

    Finally satisfied, the captain of the Whale wound the alarm. It set off a jarring, echoing siren throughout the carrier, signaling his crew to ready themselves, and gather for a debriefing.
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  10. "The chips are in Coterie" the Captain said. Baylen took a mental note of this. He had more questions but before he could say anything, the three of them were interrupted.

    Baylen took a surprised step back as the sooty mess of Tinny slid it's way across the floor, ending up at his feet with a rather culpable look on their dirty face. Baylen took two more steps back, not offering a hand to help the fallen one up as he had no interest in getting his clothes dirty at the moment. The only time he didn't care about his looks was when he was in the thick of action, focused solely on the mission at hand rather then staying clean and pristine. It didn't help that a lady was present, albeit a loud-mouthed lady, and he desired to keep a certain look about himself even if just for that reason.

    The Captain had had enough and began to wave them off. His patience was always thin but he seemed to be in higher spirits of impatience as of late; being cooped up on the Whale for as long as they were was taking its toll on everyone it seemed. Now was the best time to continue working on his aircraft. Seeing as he would be getting himself dirty soon anyway, Baylen reached down to Tinny and extended his hand to them, offering to help them up to their feet. "My name is Baylen. Who might you be?" While they seemed to be a bit of a mess they also must have been working on some mechanics and this, Baylen found interesting. He carefully pulled out a handkerchief and wiped his hands clean of whatever had transferred from Tinny to his hand.

    "I'm going to work on my plane for a bit. I'm sure I'll catch you around." With that he gave Tinny a grin, a wary glance to Fred, then left to his aircraft, spending the next few hours fine tuning his beautiful beast.

    When the alarm sounded off, Baylen got to his feet and finished what he was working on. Finally, a debrief to get them ready for their next move. A buzz of excitement began to circulate across the Whale as the crew assembled towards the gathering area.

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  11. The captain cleared his throat, with his arms crossed over his chest and a look of annoyance etched into his face as he waited for his crew to settle and shut up. After a few minutes only the sound of impatient shuffling remained and he stepped up onto a crate so that he could be seen by everyone.

    Since gossip is treated as a sort of currency ‘round here I assume most of you have heard about the lead we have on an infamous set of gaming chips.” Pausing, Nicklaus listened for the murmurs of acknowledgement, and a few gasps of excitement before continuing. “I want this grab to go as smooth as possible, with as little effort as possible, unfortunately, the chips are currently in Coterie. As you all know that’s going to make this acquisition on the difficult end of things.

    In order for things to go off without a hitch we cannot show up in full force. Some of us will have to go in from the ground, while one or two of our smaller planes enter from above.

    His eyes swept over the crew, looking for signs of probable arguments, but so far nobody seemed to be adding their two cents. His gaze settled on Fred, and Nicklaus couldn’t help but to grimace at the shit eating grin that spread across her face. It was her lead, after all, and she was a damned good pilot; though he felt a twinge of anger at the thought of rewarding her behavior. Perhaps a demotion might spark an attitude change in her.

    After assigning the ground crews, and dealing with several grumbled protests he was left with a handful of Wasp pilots and Tinny—his best demolition expert—waiting to be given instruction. Nicklaus ran his fingers through his hair, and took a deep breath. This wasn’t going to go over well.

    Baylen, you’ll be leading the air assault with Fred as your co-pilot.

    “Fuck you! This is my fucking lead!”

    Which is the only reason I’m letting you go at all! Get off your fuckin’ high horse, Winnie and open your eyes! I’m tired of your shit, and you will follow orders or you can enjoy a landlocked existence. I’m telling you now, to deal with it! My decision is final!

    Fred glowered, leaning up against the wall with a huff. She obviously wasn’t going to let this drop, but Nicklaus was grateful that she’d shut up for now and he turned attention to Tinny.

    You’ll be gunning on Baylen’s bird. I know this isn’t how we normally roll, but I think that the three of you are going to be able to get the job done.” He worried his hands through his hair once again, his gaze moving warily from Baylen to Fred and back to Baylen. “As the pilot in charge I suppose you’ll like a moment or two to discuss a plan with your crew?
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