March 19th, 2150 AD
...and begins to pursue their airboat.
The player characters congratulate each other on making their escape from San Reyann in the airboat, but Haley Deuce expresses the concern that their pilot doesn't appear to be all that sober. Arthur Quentin-Smythe informs her that Henry Jones-Wilcox is somewhat intoxicated, but that he's certainly capable of flying the Guppy without any problems. Emily Harrington-Boothe returns from the deck above, and when she hears this, says that he'd better - there's another ship pursuing them, like the Bountiful if her guess is right.
The various player characters quickly go up on the airboat's deck, and Peter Bear Redwood, who has the best vision among the characters, says that it's the Scurvy Princess, if he's any judge. The characters debate ways for the group to take out the pirate ship, but Jeanette Storm tells them that the Guppy is unarmed, and that she hasn't got the speed to outrace the pirate ship, nor does she have any weapons. The characters debate using the steamrifles against the ship, but Andrew Hartwell and Arthur tell the others that the weapons just don't have the range for an aerial combat. Emily says that this won't be an aerial combat, it will be a slaughter.
Jeanette inquires of the others if the item she found down in one of the small rooms of the Guppy is a weapon. While Peter stays on deck, Jeanette takes the other characters below to show them what she found. Andrew recognises the device as a weapon indeed - a steam bazooka that used to be carried aboard Imperial frigates for a while, but were deemed too dangerous for use due to their tendency to backfire. [The party actually came up with the idea, and while I liked it, I decided not to make it too cheap. Cost them 7 Fate Points!] While he's not overly fond of using the weapon, the others decide that the steam bazooka is their only choice, but that it means luring the Scurvy Princess in close enough to use the weapon, roughly 100 yards. They return to the deck, leaving Arthur with Jones-Wilcox, and tell Peter of the developments. The group concludes that it means they're going to have to effectively surrender to the Scurvy Princess, and then attack her when she's almost on top of them!
It is a tense fifteen minutes aboard the airboat as the Scurvy Princess draws closer and closer. Scurvy Jack fires a couple of broadsides at the airboat as they come in range, but fortunately, Jones-Wilcox is able to avoid them, with advice and help from Andrew and a couple of the others. Jeanette and Arthur go topside and communicate via heliograph that they wish to surrender, and Scurvy Jack agrees to this. As the Scurvy Princess moves closer and closer to the airboat, the characters are fearful that their plan won't work. As the Scurvy Princess moves into good range, Andrew Hartwell brings the steam bazooka weapon to bear on the pirate vessel and, with a truly lucky shot [enhanced by 3 Fate Points], strikes the rear gasbag area near the engines and the gasbags explode, destroying one of the airship's propellors and causing the airship to teeter at a 45-degree angle as her weight balance is adjusted. The shockwave from the explosion strikes the airboat as she tries to move away at speed from the stricken Scurvy Princess, and it is only the piloting skills of Jones-Wilcox that allows the airboat to escape. Andrew does not escape injury, however, as the weapon's steam flash causes him to be seriously burned on the side of his face. Emily treats the injuries to stabilize them, but says they must get him below for her to do any real healing to him. Fortunately, Andrew has lapsed into unconsciousness. The player characters nearly lose another of their own, however, as the violent shaking the ship suffers causes Peter to almost slip over the side, and he is saved only by the swift action of Haley and Arthur.
Leaving Haley on deck to keep watch, the player characters go below, taking the unconscious Andrew with them. The player characters are pleased to see that the Scurvy Princess appears to be scuppered for now, but they know she'll back as Scurvy Jack won't let this go without some form of retaliation. While Haley and Emily treat Andrew's injuries, the others check on the cargo and go to see how Jones-Wilcox is doing. He's more sober now and more enervated, now that he's seen some action! The airboat travels on towards its meeting with the Bountiful Queen, and reaches the pirate airship without any further mishhaps.
On docking with the Bountiful, the player characters report to the Captain, while several of the crew unload the cargo from the airboat. At first they down play the story of what has happened, but eventually the characters tell Captain Stormfist everything that occurred to them. When they mention Alexander Foxhound, she tells them that she knows the name; he's a sneaky type who worked for Scurvy Jack once upon a time. She wonders what he's up to now, and Jeanette says that she believes he's either still in the pay of Scurvy Jack, or else he now works for the Oakendales. In any event, she's glad to have the player characters back aboard, and tells them that they'll sail for Sanctum first thing the next morning.
Some two days later, the Bountiful Queen re-enters Sanctum air space, and is approached by two of her Piranha-class military airships. Communicating via heliographs, Captain Stormfist makes it clear to them that she's come to clear her name. The Sanctum military fleet allows the trader ship to dock. While Emily and Haley go ashore and get a doctor to treat Andrew's injuries once more, the Captain and the rest of the player characters and Calliandra, as well as Corky McGee, along with a contingent of the Righteous, go to the Sanctum Trade Guild to clear the vessel and her crew's name. With the evidence of Corky McGee, the return of the cargo for delivery to Andrew Whitebreeze, and some financial restoration for "damages caused", the name of the Bountiful Queen is cleared, and her Captain and crew are exonerated by the Sanctum officials. Andrew Whitebreeze agrees, with some chagrin, to help with the repairs to the Bountiful Queen, and offers Captain Stormfist and her crew a delivery of cargo goods to Isla Aether once the Bountiful repairs are complete. Consulting with her trader, Jeanette Storm, Captain Stormfist agrees to the arrangements.
Overall, I was really pleased at the outcome of this game session, and the conclusion of the scenario in question. The business with the steam bazooka (!!! yes, really) was introduced by the players themselves, and they agreed to the cost of the weapon in Fate Points, and I really felt that though it was a major change to the plot per se, it wasn't completely outrageous though I may have overestimated the range of the weapon. That said, the players between them had enough Fate points that this wasn't a big deal. The players actually dictated the final scene as well, as they didn't want to drag out the whole business with the clearing of the group's name before the Sanctum Trade Guild, and so I chose not to do so, though there was some pretty good roleplaying during that sequence as well.
The Abney Park's Airship Pirates game continues to be a bit hit and success with my players, and they're having a really good time with it. I like running the game (which is a good thing! :)), and am having an entertaining time with the game and the party of characters. The next adventure will take place wholly on Isla Aether, methinks, but I've just got to work out a few more basics about it. Can't wait! :)