March 12th, 2150 AD
After Captain Tempest dismisses the crew, the player characters go about their duties. Aaron Cheetah and Green Harry head back to work on the cannons. Edmund Churchill-Wintermute goes down to the cargo area proper to check with Jesus Ortega, the 2nd Cargomaster, about the weight of the cargo and other matters. He learns from Jesus that there has been some additional cargo taken on board for this trip.
Finnius Cloudbody returns to the small work area of Black Angus McTavish, and continues to work on the accounts problem that was brought to his attention. The ship lurches, but seeing as it's none of his business, Finnius continues his work. One of the ship's crew, Victoria Falcon, also a trader type, brings Finnius a cargo manifest of the current load. He compares it to the ledgers, and finds a discrepancy - there is He400 worth of goods that have no sign of actually being purchased. The goods are foodstuffs and other luxury items. Finnius goes in search of Angus. Finnius finds Angus, and when he makes his report, tells the trader to go get Edmund, Donavan Wake, the chief Quartermaster, and Jesus Ortega, and to meet him in the cargo bay.
A second lurch of the shift causes some distress among the crew, but has a more serious effect, causing several of the cannons on both broadsides to come loose. Aaron and Green Harry come close to having limbs caught under the cannon they are working on, but only suffer some minor bruises (take 1 pip of damage each). Once they are extricated from the cannon's working by several of the crew, they learn from Owen Kincaid that several cannons on the other broadside are loosened as well. The three characters, along with several of their work crew, get to business tightening the loose bolts and screws.
Edmund goes looking for the chief engineer, Nathan Windfall (who is also the primary lift engineer), and is told that he's dealing with some of the lift and gasbag problems. Venturing up on deck, he learns from Windfall that several of the gasbags have been punctured, stabbed by what Windfall's trained eyes tell him are knife and cutlass slashes. This is what has been accounting for the shudders and jolts the Scarlet Lady has undergone of late. Edmund tells Nathan to make the repairs as quickly and as safely as possible, and then he goes to check on the supplies of helium.
After checking the situation with the helium, Edmund is agonising somewhat over the matter when Finnius comes to fetch him. While they head for the cargo bay, Edmund tells Finnius the situation with the helium, and the latter suggests that they use the reserve helium. Arriving in the cargo bay where they join Angus Donovan Wake, and Jesus Ortega, they learn the cargo in question was signed for by the Captain and is registered to Windlass Enterprises. It is to be delivered from Governor Cumulo-Nimbus of New Deseret to Jeffrey Cloudbear, the leader of one of the Neobedouin tribes. Angus knows and Finnius remembers that Windlass Enterprises is a New Deseret shipping company owned by Governor Cumulo-Nimbus. Finnius asks Angus if he knew about the shipping of these goods, and the First Mate says, "No." From what the characters can tell, the cargo has not been tampered with.
Edmund grabs Aaron, and heads back with him to the engineering section to deal with the helium situation. As they walk, the ship lurches once more (and unknown to all at this time, the gangplank to the skyloft is torn). As the two near engineering, they hear screams coming from the rear of the ship, and they start to run. Green Harry, who is working below the engineering deck cleaning out some pipes, comes running at the screams as well. They arrive to find that two of the engineering crew are down with serious steam burns, and the valves to the steam generators are either open or cracked and venting steam. Finnius, who has arrived on the scene as well, hands Aaron a set of long rubber gloves (and with the liberal expenditure of Fate points), he manages to survive a steam explosion, but closes the valves down. In the aftermath, they find the release cogs are fused. Harrry grabs one of the burned crewmen and gets him to Peg Leg Davis, the ship's doctor, in time, but the other crewman dies of his burn wounds.
Angus, Edmund, and Finnius head for the gangplank, while Aaron starts to effect repairs to the steam system. Arriving at the gangplank, they find two guards have been shot, but neither are dead. Edmund attempts to stabilise one of the two guards, but he dies [when the player gets a Foul Failure on the roll]. Ignoring the hazards of the gangplank, Finnius goes onto the docks proper, and asks questions of the folks he sees there, using bribery when necessary. The best description he can get of the perpetrator(s) is "pirate types, dark hair, and swarthy with a black beard". Angus orders Finnius not to pursue the matter, and to return to the ship. Seeing Green Harry working on deck, Angus orders him to return below and help with the repairs to the steam systems.
Below decks, Captain Katharine Tempest arrives in engineering, and receives a report on the condition of the Scarlet Lady's engines and systems from Aaron. She advises Aaron to check the steam intake system, and sure enough, that's where he finds the problem to be. Green Harry arrives, and he manages to tear off the fused values from the system, and find an orange chemical residue. Aaron and Harry can't identify it, and proceed to make the repairs.
Finnius and Jesus Ortega go down and check to see if any of the cargo has been tampered with. They find one suspicious crate, and when Jesus opens the crate, the primitive paper strips (confetti) bomb fails to explode. They find what appear to be the claws of some unknown creature(s) with a couple of pieces of parchment of some sort that hold lyrics from "The End of Days" (Airship Pirates rulebook page 29) and "Fight or Flight" (Airship Pirates rulebook page 31).
After discussing the matter with Captain Tempest, Edmund works with several of the crew to transfer the reserve helium to the gasbags. Nathan Windfall and his crew manage to reinflate the gasbags to the Captain's satisfaction.
Finnius returns to the engines area to get Aaron Cheetah, and mentions the paper strips bomb, but Aaron is too busy to deal with matters, as he tells Finnius that the Captain wants the engines adjusted and repaired as they need to leave port. Green Harry returns to the cargo hold with Finnius to look at the explosive device until Aaron can arrive, and they puzzle over it until he does so. When he arrives, they cannot identify the creatures in question, despite Aaron's somewhat broader knowledge of animals due to his Neobedouin background.
The player characters split up to do their respective tasks. Edmund goes to Captain Tempest, and informs of her what is going on. He shows her the compound-coated component from the steam valve mechanism, but she is at a loss as to what the compound is. Harry checks the powder magazines for the cannons, and discovers that there is approximately 1/3 of one of the small kegs missing. Aaron checks the steam and airship steering mechanisms, and pronounces them fit for travel in consultation with Nathan Windfall. Finnius goes down to the crow's nest, and discovers the body of a dead crewman (he seems to have been killed by a giant condor, but there is a bullet hole in his chest that is the true cause of death), and the remains of a rope ladder dangling from below.
Edmund and Finnius go and talk to the Captain about the sabotage, and suggest that they arm the crew. Katharine Tempest refuses to do this, justifying this on the basis that she doesn't want to alarm the crew too much (they're getting anxious with the business of the sabotage, and sitting in dock), and then adds that the saboteur may still be aboard, and they would be arming that individual even more. She finally concedes, after a persuasive argument from Finnius, that the player characters should be armed with blades of their choice, and she and Angus arm themselves with steam weapons. She orders that no crewman is go about alone. The mood of the crew becomes slightly more dour.
Some twenty minutes before the Scarlet Lady is to depart, Finnius spots the Daedalus, another pirate ship, leaving the harbour of New Deseret. The word spreads like wildfire among the crew and officers. Once the ship leaves port, the Captain explains to the player characters, while Angus watches, what their mission is. She has been hired to do some salvage work at an old amusement park and funhouse. All the client told her is that they are to find a set of matching "dolls", each of which is worth He500! She tells the characters that they will have access to the ship's hogtrike and that they will need to arm themselves somewhat when they reach their destination. The player characters make their individual preparations.
The Sunday game continues to be entertaining, with the player characters having missed a few hints and clues. The Abney Park's Airship Pirates game is one that I find has all different levels of intrigue and the like, and the players actually had to deal with several red herrings in session as well. (And no, I'm not going to tell you which is which! :)) All the players are starting to come to grips with their characters, and are adapting well to the game system. It should be interesting when Tammy's character gets added to the gaming group this coming Sunday.