March 13th, 2150 AD
The next morning, at sunrise, Captain Tempest descends to the crow's nest, and talks to Finnius Cloudbody, who is on duty. The ship is moored to what Finnius realises is a 6-foot high plinth now covered in rock, stone, and vegetation. She tells him to get some kip, and to be ready when the expedition actually gets underway in about five hours.
Edmund Churchill-Wintermute wakes, and goes to see First Mate Angus McTavish, who orders him to fetch Emma Whitlocke (Tammy's new character, a former bounty hunter) and add her to the salvage team. When asked why, he tells Edward that she's good with guns and the like, and has a decent survival instinct. Edmund goes and fetches Emma Whitlocke from the small area put aside for female crew members, and the two get off on a strange foot. She's not sure what to make of him. Emma accompanies him to where the rest of the crew is waking up, and he introduces her to the rest of the salvage team. Aaron Cheetah, Green Harry, and Finnius all react to her addition and presence in a variety of ways. The characters learn that the main deck has been afflicted with dung from the giant condors that dwell in the area near the mooring of the Scarlet Lady. The player characters are summoned by various taskmasters to their morning duties. When one of the crew, Jakob Flint, talks back to him, Edmund sentences him to cleaning the condor poop off the deck.
Aaron and Harry work with the various other crew to swab the deck clean of the condor poop. Once the Scarlet Lady has set sail once more, the player characters are summoned to the Captain's quarters. Finnius wears his respectable clothes to the meet, while Edmund wear parts of his old Imperial Air Navy (IAN) uniform, and Harry wears his best, clean shirt. When the player characters, including Emma Whitlocke, arrive at the Captain's cabin, Tempest and Angus are waiting for them. Captain Tempest and Angus go over the salvage mission with them again for the benefit of Emma Whitlocke. They learn that there's no information about the dolls in questions, in terms of their size and what they look like, learn that there is a tribe of Neobedouin in the area, and find out from Captain Tempest that they'll learn about the terrain type "in due course".
Several hours later, the Scarlet Lady arrives at her destination, and moors herself some 60 to 80 feet off the ground at a rusted, overgrown but recognisable ferris wheel (if the characters had any idea what a "ferris wheel" is), approximately a mile from the amusement park ruins and funhouse proper. The characters find that the terrain is rocky, with several massive outcroppings that drape the area in shadow, with scrub, and some trees and other vegetation overgrowing most of the ruined amusement park. The characters notice the lack of ground cover, the massive outcroppings, and Finnius notices that sections of the funhouse wall that he can make out appear to have been ripped outward, as if by giant hands or claws.
The player characters gather the equipment and weapons that they want, and prepare to drop to the ground. Edmund and Harry have problems getting down, and land hard on the lowest level of the ferris wheel seats (both taking bruising damage), before extricating themselves and reaching the ground. The characters all reach the ground eventually, and manage to orient themselves. Using her multi-lens goggles, Emma makes out that there are some fast-moving animals in the outcroppings, and among the funhouse ruins. [Possibly mountain cats of some sort?]
The player characters move in the direction of the funhouse, going around the ferris wheel, and come to a 40-foot long crevasse that is almost 20 feet across, and abyssally deep. Aaron and Emma almost plunge into the crevasse, but manage to grab onto the ledges two-handed. Edmund also almost falls in, and grabs the ledge one-handed. Finnius manages to grab Harry before he plunges into the abyss, but the Misbegotten almost drags him in with him as he climbs the Skyfolk trader in his desperate bid to get out of the crevasse. Aaron drops his rifle into the crevasse during his escape. Harry pulls Emma out of the crevasse, after she sees what appears to be giant grey crabs scuttling along the walls of the crevasse down below. Edmund and Aaron manage to claw and drag their way out of the crevasse, and the characters spend a few moments regaining their breath at the edge of the crevasse.
Deciding discretion is the better part of matters, the player characters follow the crevasse to the west, and make their way north along the edge of the rock outcropping. Emma is suspicious, and keeps an eye on the ridge, and sees the movement of two figures along the ridge though she can't tell if they're animal or human. The characters come upon the remains of what appears to be a rusty, old hogtrike. Seeing what appears to be a diesel tank, Aaron approaches it and sees the hogtrike is in better condition than he assumed, and the diesel tank is at least half full. He moves to start detaching it, and a bullet barely misses him and strikes the frame. Harry and Aaron attempt to dive for cover, but Aaron doesn't make it and is severely wounded in the shoulder by another gunshot attack (he takes 6 pips of damage). Emma and Finnius spot the barrel of a steamrifle, and Finnius calls out that they wish to parley.
Some ten Neobedouin are revealed as they emerge from the face of the outcropping, and the player characters regard each other with concern. While Finnius and Emma go to talk to the Neobedouin, Harry does his best to patch up the wounded Aaron, but the wound will leave a permanent large scar on his shoulder. Finnius learns that the Neobedouin are the Tamarind tribe, their leader being Harlan Tamarind. The Neobedouin wants to know why they have come to the ruins. "While our Captain may have a hand in piracy, *I* am a legitimate salvager," says Finnius. Finnius tells Harlan that they are there to find some dolls for a client, and Harlan replies that he knows where they are, but that the funhouse is dangerous. Harlan says the Neobedouin may or may not help them, that remains to be seen. The characters' first test is that they have to climb the ridge and meet the Neobedouin at the top. It turns out the climb is much more difficult than any of the characters expected, and much higher as well. Harry makes the climb with ease but Finnius struggles to get to the top in a reasonable amount of time, and Edmund suffers some minor fatigue through the exercise.
The player characters find themselves at the top of a relatively high, somewhat large, butte. They discover the Tamarind encampment atop the butte is quite large, with some forty (40) additional Neobedouin, several vehicles, a few animals, and a large rusted tank! The characters are welcomed by the Tamarind, and are escorted to smelly yurts to stay in. Needing medical assistance for Aaron Cheetah, Edmund trades his spyglass to the healer/shaman Handru in exchange for healing Aaron. Harry goes with the injured Aaron to Handru's yurt for treatment, as he's not willing to leave him alone with these people in his condition. Finnius talks to Harlan, and learns of the tribe's previous experience with the Scarlet Lady when she was still a bordello ship called The Pleasure and Pain. He also learns from Harlan and several other tribesmen that the captain of the slave ship Daedalus is one Black Jack McKay. Harlan tells the player characters that another ship, the Blackwind, is also looking for the dolls, which he calls "mannequins".
While the other player characters settle down among the Tamarind and learn more of them, Finnius trades two bottles of rum for one large skin of Tamarind liquor. Emma meets a little girl in her yurt who focuses on her corset, rapping on it and getting a sound like an automaton that makes her run away. Several of the Tamarind begin to think that Emma is an automaton because of the girl's story. One of the young women who will share her yurt is Nova, who convinces Emma to discard her corset in the heat for now, and they walk in the direction of the tank. Finnius tries to talk Harry into trading his first aid kit to the Neobedouin in exchange for help hauling the mannequins back to the Scarlet Lady, but Harry refuses, claiming that he doesn't want to do so as they may need the first aid kit when they go into the funhouse.
As the characters go about their business, a broadside cannonball strikes the tank with resounding force, and the characters are shocked as they see the Daedalus rising over the edge of the butte. Gunshots begin to ring out across the top of the butte, as a full complement of air pirates charge towards the characters and the Neobedouin tribe members!
As can be seen, the player characters had to deal with all sorts of stuff in this scenario, and there was the potential for some violent encounters that were avoided by quick thinking. The players had a pretty good session this time out, though the character portrayals are still a bit off and several of the players are struggling with getting the handle on their characters. That said, this session of Abney Park's Airship Pirates was quite challenging to run, especially with the sheer number of Neobedouin that I got to play.
I'm certainly looking forward to the next game session, as the Sunday players and their characters will get to experience the joys of the combat system in play for the first time! :)