Escape

Being behind on one's word count sucks. Today I should, if i were on schedule, have roughly 8500 words written. I only have roughly 4000. By the end of the day I should have 10000 written.. Today is going to be a very busy day.







From an outside observer's point of view the entire maneuver was slow, ponderous, and about as threatening looking as a cow tipped on its side. To the men crewing the ship that was tasked with the capture of this rouge airship it was an entirely different matter.

"Bring our ships in." Admiral Yost barked. He thought for a moment then added, "Ready tubes two and three then plot a shooting solution."

"Sir, we're ordered to take them alive if possible." The man at the helm said slowly, to call it fearful would be an overstatement, just a dose of caution.

The man in the captain's chair nodded thoughtfully. "I understand Jim, but I also know the man running that ship. Worked the Quarks Treasure rescue with him. Even without the lightning giving him a lucky break," And no he would not call it anything else. Officially it had been a lightning strike that fell the krakken and so he would speak nothing of his personal thoughts on the matter to anyone, least of all his subordinates. "Even without that he took on three of the beasts himself with a glorified passenger liner and drove them back. I Will Not underestimate what he's capable of and want to be ready if he tries his usual bag of tricks."

"Aye." Jim shook his head and turned back to his station.

"Get me a radio channel." Yost's tone and manner was brisk. "Maybe we can work something out." He doubted it, but one never knew.





"Captain." Julian's voice was attinuated and distorted by the handset, "They wish to discuss terms with us under a flag of truce."

Jack looked thoughtful. "We have something they want and it's attached to my ship. What keeps them from using this talk to blow us out of the sky?"

"Their radioman tells me that the fleet is commanded by Admiral Jherom Yost."

That got his attention. "They sent Yost after me? Not sure if i should be more worried than impressed or more impressed than worried. His word of a ceasefire will be good though so arrange a meeting, tell him I'll get senior staff together."

"Aye."





So it was Ordered, and so it was Done. Between the two radio men a suitable arrangement was made and two groups met in an empty field not far from the Lady Hawk. It was a relatively small gathering, meaning only a dozen or so people actually speaking with twice that either as security or doing menial work such as setting up the tent they would talk in, carting food or dispatches to and from, and the like. Neither group had bothered dressing to impress anyone, this was a last minute negociation rather than a photo-op and the leaders to both sidesseemed disinterested in trying to out-peacock the other.

Once everyone was there, refreshments offered then declined and people seated Jack took a breath. "So you're being told to tear my ship apart, probably imprison me for however long somebody with a bug in his ear about all this feels like, all because of a few bits of kit"

Yost nodded once, "About the size of it, but you don't seem to quite grasp just how bad your little cargo theft makes my people look. Personally I understand that you're an independent and could care less, but it isn't about you so much as what could happen if somebody with a wider agenda gives it a go because we let you slide."

"I get that," Jack held up a hand. "No, Sir I really do understand. I have a bit of a reputation that makes anything i do inflate somewhat. However is there some way we can come to a compromise that won't land me in a box?" He looked around the tent and took a sip from his glass. "What about having your people stripping my ship down and giving me a refit with something less likely to have people trying to shoot at me unprovoked?"

Yost looked thoughtful for a moment and sighed. "It could be done, I'm not sure how much leeway I have on my orders though." He motioned for one of his aids and had him run off. "While we wait care for a game of chess?"

At this Jack's face broadened. "Sounds like a good idea." He sent word with one of his men that all was well and that everyone was to hold position.





"He can't be serious." Edward grumbled. "We put... Hell we're still working on the modifications. He can't just have them take it." Needless to say the big man was not happy with the idea that Jack was putting forward.

Deets, the only other man in the officer's lounge, shook his head. "Betta they take the pretty toys than they take us doncha think?"

"Maybe." Edward's voice was still shot through with disapproval. "I...just.." His shoulders sagged.

"I know. Hard pill ta swalla," Deets was starring at a mural that dominated one wall of the room. It depicted a fleet of ships leaving a port city in some distant past. Fishing ships by the looks of things. "We'll make it through though. You might wanna go make arrangements to have it disconnected." After a moment he shook his head. "Better hold off on that though. Things still might go sour, wouldn't wanna be sittin' ducks up here."

Edward started for the door. "No, no we wouldn't."

Deets watched the big man leave and shook his head before heading to the ship's radio room. There he found an older man apparently listening intently while making slight dipping motions with a finger, probably not even aware that he was doing so. Several moments passed before he realized anyone was there, and even then he seemed to respond only grudgingly. "Sounds like the deal's square. Least if they're planning anything I can't smell it."

"So they're gonna want us to land, make ready for boarders?" Deets was questioning, it was a gamble and he wasn't overly fond of the idea. "Escort us somewhere, put in for a few more months?"

The elderly fellow snorted. "We just get back in the air and it'll... bah. Think they're talkin' 'bout us putting in at Bassil."

"There's worst places out there.
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