The Spider Cliff Mysteries

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A hastily made shelter in the wreckage of many zeppelins

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Posted by Radek, 12:50am, 24 Mar, 2010

"Haha, yeah. You know me, paranoid at the best of times, confrontationally paranoid at the worst." *Radek offers a reassuring, if not slightly sharp-toothed grin at Eckstein, eyes slightly dilated and constantly darting about as if afraid to settle on any one thing for two long. He only calms down -slightly- when he feels the cool reassurance of a close friend's weary smile, returning Alice's look with a nervous glance and a weak grin of his own.

He stays focused on the inane chatter of the two nearby sailors, however. How couldn't he? They're so loud, so loud he feels like his ears are going to bleed. He bites his lip, wondering how long their conversation'll keep, some small part of him glad at least not to be thinking about - whatever that was. He manages to pull himself together again and notices the faint glint of metal along Hildebrand's rolling pin as she shines with a focused mentality. Confident in his own preparations, he simply stares at Alice with an unfocused thousand-yard stare, managing a slight smile at her words.*

Oh, this is that thing - the one you mentioned earlier?... You could hold on to it, i mean if it keeps you safer- *his words tumble onwards and he finds his hands reaching out almost unconsciously to retrieve the tiny copper beetle; he seems to find some solace in it's unblinking glass eyes, a serene smile crossing his lips as his pale fingers slide it into his jacket.*

I'll hold onto it, then. We can figure out what it does when we're back in the sky. After all, I know you'll get us through this fine, Alice, and you never know when we'll need something like this... I'll keep it safe until we can use it properly. *He nods his head solemnly, and goes back to waiting. They all go back to waiting, with time sliding by an endless loop as the two sailors continue to talk about terms of shore leave and the fair wenches they hope to meet, flashing snaggle-toothed grins and poorly-drawn tattoos. Hildebrand walks over and begins to talk to Radek, but he can't quite distinguish her voice - some thought is eating away at the edge of his mind and his fingers are clenching and unclenching around the air as if it is blocking his way.*

~You should've given it to her. What was it, anyway? There was something, something she had wanted. There's still time, just in case things turn out poorly. You know they will, they always~

*Radek's eyes snap open, frightfully wide and full of a dreadful concentration, his expression clear. He rises to his feet, sliding his revolver to his side with a liquid ease.* Where... Is... Alice? *His words falter at first, then quickly catch intensity as he doesn't wait for an answer dancing onto the suddenly - painfully - silent ship deck. Noticing the two hogtied sailors, he loiters over and leans next to them, thumping the cold steel of the revolver against his shoulder. An unusually cruel look glints in his eyes.*

You have seconds to tell me where whoever did this to you is before I lose my patience. If I found out that anything happened to her, I'll - I'll- *Radek laughs uneasily, then looks as if he's about to cry, shoving the barrel of the revolver into one of the sailor's terrified face. But quick as whatever mania appeared strikes him, it leaves and Radek dashes off moments before Eckstein and Hildebrand arrive, both just as worried... But perhaps not for the same reasons. Radek is already busy running around corridors, sharp eyes keeping a careful watch for any sign of Alice.*

~You already know where she is though. She's not patient. She gets to the root of a problem, and eliminates it. What are you so afraid of?~

*The double-door he spied through earlier hangs slightly open. Unholstering the shotgun from his back, Radek batters it against the door to the satisfying sound of splintered wood as he steps into the tiny room, noticing nothing but a few dazed and slightly battered pirates. Cards litter the floor, kings and queens daintily stabbing themselves with fantastical objects. Radek looks around desperately for any sign of Alice.*

This message was last edited on 24 Mar 2010.

Posted by Alice belladora, 5:12pm, 24 Mar, 2010

*Eckstein and Hildebrand hurry onboard after Radek, before deciding to split up in search of Alice, giving each other meaningful glances before they part.

Up above, Alice pokes at a control panel with a furrowed brow.
She wants to get the ship moving, but she can't quite remember how. She shoots a glance at the Captain of the vessel, bound and propped up against a barrel.
She walks over and pulls him up, giving him a well meaning look which doesn't come off quite as well as she might have hoped. She begins to interrogate him on the workings of an airship, prodding the poor fellow meaningfully on the shoulder with her gun.
After much stuttering and whimpering he eventually manages to tell her to "push that switch to the right, no, not that one, that one."

Down below, Hildebrand unintentionally makes her way down to the engine room, while Eckstein goes in search of Radek, knowing his tendency to overreact.
Doctor Edgar is nowhere to be seen.
Outside, one of the sailors manages to break free from his ropes, sees someone unfamiliar threatening his Captain from the deck, and begins to panic, running round a hysterical circles before deciding this might not be the best course of action, and instead running off to get help.
Spektor watches the scene unfold. He knows there will be trouble.*

~Alice slowly turns the rudder, getting used to the feel of the thing before she starts doing anything rash. Perhaps a moment to think would be a good idea, but how on earth can one think when that confounded man won't shut up?
Tired of the Captain's whimpering, she sets about untying him, and marching him to the wooden railing. Several people down below point and stare as the Captain of the merchant vessel is thrown unceremoniously overboard by a person wearing a top hat and swearing very loudly.
Not too far away, two mildly bored guards follow a young sailor, his hands still bound behind his back, exchanging glances that say "we've got a right one here."~

"I'm telling ya, there i was, just talkin' with me brother about this an that, when suddenly i was struck from behind. Next thing i know, I'm bein' tied up by this madwoman, then threatened by this scruffy pirate! he ad a gun, an he pointed it right at me! i tell ya, i coulda bin killed! Then there was this great big fella, wiv a barmaid followin' im'! an now they're tryin' to steal me poor captain's ship, right in the middle of broad daylight! never seen anythin' like it, not in all me life."

*Eckstein has eventually managed to find Radek, after negotiating his way through a maze of seemingly endless passages, and begins giving him a severe talking-to for not keeping an eye on Alice. Or rather, he tries giving Radek a severe talking to, but is interrupted by the sound of the ship's engine starting up. He gives the gunman a glare, before storming off to give someone else a severe talking-to.
Meanwhile, Hildebrand stumbles onto the deck, as the ropes securing the ship to the dock begin to snap, one by one. Alice looks over her shoulder, and gives the barmaid a manic grin.*

This message was last edited on 24 Mar 2010.

Posted by Radek, 4:38am, 25 Mar, 2010

*It was probably the kick of the engine into it's morose life that managed to snap Radek out of his wandering daze - it sure wasn't Eckstein, who despite the best of intentions and a great deal of experience with Radek, finds his words drifting against the man's skull as if it were a wall, only the occasional blank nod indicating that Radek is still alive; this all changes as, with a grin so wide it threatens to split his face in two, he jumps to attention.*

That'll be Alice now, won't it? Naturally, she's taken care of the ship and whatnot in perfect order - it won't be the captain, he'll likely be disposed of somewhere... Really, next time I'll be more careful, Eckstein. It really was rather shoddy of me not to notice her take initiative like that. Really - *Radek taps the revolver against the side of his head, looking embarrassed* - What sort of bodyguard just dozes off like that? But you must admit... She's fearless in motion, Alice. *Surveying the efficient carnage, Radek obliviously fails to notice that Eckstein has already wandered off, trailing curses and mumbling to himself.* "Damned Skinner, flipfloppin' around like that. Y'shoulda just done yer job..."

*Already, Radek is walking up to the deck and whistling as the sound of ropes swaying and snapping fills the air; below, the sound of two guards, one panicking and firing what might be a pistol into the air, can be heard. Radek soundly ignores it and walks onto the deck, bowing melodramatically to Hildebrand and Alice with a flourish of an imaginary hat.* "Lovely weather to be sailing a stolen ship away in, isn't? Done wonderfully as always, Alice." *What his cheerful expression doesn't convey is perfectly clear - I should've been there, at least to those familiar with him. Eckstein arrives not long after, shaking his stormy mane of hair. The ship begins to rock back and forth as it strains to free itself into the sky. Radek rubs his orange stubble idly, looking pensive as a sudden thought strikes him.*

Hey. That doctor. The one that's been following us around... He claimed to know you, Alice, but I tried to give him the slip. Wasn't sure if he was trustworthy or not... What can I say, Darcancia's been giving me the paranoia blues, as it were. *He chuckles as Hildebrand whacks one off the sailors soundly with her rolling pin mere moments before he wakes up.* That being said... Did you know him? Did anyone, for that matter? Because it seems like Doctor Edgar has gone missing, and either he's run away in terror from the chaos that seems to follow us wherever we go, or... *Radek chuckles again, but this time with a slight purse of his lips.* Anyway. More important fish to fry, skipper. Where am I needed on deck? Unless of course, ya want me to investigate this possible security breach...

*Hands in his pocket and slightly comforted by the metallic feel of the ever-ticking scarab, Radek suddenly remembers something and grins widely, taking a tiny lacquerwood box out of his coat pocket with a smile. He presents the box to Alice with a slight bow of his head, irises inquisitvely on hers.* This just happened to find it's way into my position, and i figured it might belong to you. Open it carefully when you have some free time. Figured that if it's a curiousity or curio, it's better tucked under your tophat then locked away in some grimy store. Well, we've got what we came here for.. let's set sail! *He rather pointedly ignores the none-too-distant arrivals to the dock below, a rather bruised looking deckhand yelling 'See! Told ya so!' as the two soldiers run off for backup...*

This message was last edited on 25 Mar 2010.

Posted by Alice belladora, 5:03pm, 25 Mar, 2010

*Alice takes the box with a grin, and safely stows it away inside her secret top hat compartment. She looks idly about her, and wonders where Spektor has gone. Her time for pondering is short, however, as all hell starts to break loose on the dock. She turns her attentions first to Hildebrand.*

Hildebrand. I need you to report the situation as it happens. I want to know everything, and i mean everything. Radek, you need to take out anything hostile, like those twenty heavily armed guards that seem to be running towards the ship. *She points unnecessarily.*
Eckstein, i need you to man the gun turrets-

*Before she can finish her order, Eckstein lumbers over, picks her up by the collar, and removes her from the rudder, shaking his head.*

"I'll be the one givin' orders around her, Alice. Yeh've gotten us into enough trouble as it is. You just busy yerself with defense. Knowin' you, we'd all end up buried inside the nearest building! Skinner, have yer shotgun at the ready, an' everyone hold on to somethin'."

*Alice watches him as he takes his place at the helm, expertly spinning the rudder. Shrugging her shoulders and sighing quietly, though still smiling, she draws her weapon, then busies herself with firing at the remaining ropes tethering them to the dock, speaking loudly to Radek over the gunfire.*

He's probably right, you know, but i really was was rather enjoying myself. Still, if anything happens to him on our way out of here, all you need to do is ask, and I'll be happy to bury us inside a building.

*She chuckles quietly at her comment, before continuing to shoot at the last two ropes. Hildebrand begins to throw the remaining sailors overboard, while Eckstein shouts obscenities at the incredibly confused guards down below. Not knowing quite what to do, they begin shooting randomly at the vessel, one shot narrowly missing Hildebrand's rolling pin.
Infuriated, she begins to hurl anything she can get her hands on at them.*

~As a small wooden bucket sails past the head of one of the larger guards, Doctor Edgar cowers far below, secreted in with the cargo, being thumped repeatedly by a large crate, and wondering what on earth is happening.~

*The last rope breaks, and Eckstein begins to steer the ship out of the dock and up into the sky.
Alice starts to shoot at the guards from behind a barrel, who are now returning fire very enthusiastically indeed. One of the sailors starts to climb up the side of the ship, knife clamped between his teeth. The ship rocks violently to one side, throwing him off. At this, the rest of the sailors begin to hurl their boots and shoes at the vessel, including anything else they have to hand.

Ascent into the sky and out of firing range is slow, the ship groaning constantly with the effort of just staying airbourne. Eckstein, not in one of his best moods, begins to shout at Radek, wanting to know why for heaven's sake wasn't he shooting properly, and why can't he stand up straight for once. Alice gives the gunman a cheerful pat on the back.*

It's alright, he always gets upset when his pint's been interrupted. And, er, when people are throwing things at him. At least we haven't got an arial dogfight on out hands, like last time!

*Spoken too soon, Alice notices another ship, perhaps fifty feet away, an ugly black shape, coming to intercept them.*
This message was last edited on 25 Mar 2010.

Posted by Radek, 5:10am, 26 Mar, 2010

An army of annoyed sailors below us, the skies nice and welcoming above us, stolen information upon our lips and our friends by our sides - really, who could ask for me then this? *Radek grins widely at Alice's word, shotgun already half in his hands as he steps over the towards the rails and chuckles at the seething mass of sailors, guards, and a few bemused onlookers below.* i'll make sure the only thing the bastards dent is our honor. Just say the word, Skipper. *He drops to one knee, bracing the shotgun like a rifle against his shoulder... Only to soon greet Alice with an apologetic smile.*

You were great up there, Alice. Too bad Eckstein had to cut you off... Of course, when he's in a mood like this- *Shrugging towards Eckstein, who is maneuvering them into the sky quicker than the now tiny figures below can throw fruit, garbage, shells and curses, Radek continues* - there's not too much we can too. Sometime you'll end up carrying me along on one of these wild rides, won't you, Belladora? *Radek quickly embraces Alice, holding her tightly before letting go with a slight smile.* It's been way too long since I've done that, and I'm glad to see you up and alive. Keep that plan in backup... Crashing into a strange building with you at the helm sounds like a pretty perfect end to this trip to me.

*Laughing, Radek nimbly jumps onto the airship rails as it lifts off, and braces himself against one of the deck walls, laying down heavy suppressive fire as the crowd continues to stare. The ship rocks off it's moor as the ropes holding it down explode in showers of twine and hemp. No one notices the impromptu stow-away as the zeppelin rises into the sky, too busy as the four are deflecting incoming fire from a small posse of frightened city guard; but old shoes and rocks don't do much to the merchant schooner's hull, and it's soon sailing through the sky. Radek slumps to the ground cheerfully, grinning from ear to ear as Alice pat's him on the back.*

We made it, didn't we? That's all that matters. And I do slouch sometimes... all the time, even. Not that it matters. I'm still hoping a certain top-hatted lass manages to find our way through the air into a convenient landing pad to be honest... *He chuckles, smiling at her... although his face darkens as the shadow of the large craft appears in the distance. Not just black, but encrusted with rust - or something that looks vaguely like rust - with shards of white sticking up jaggedly from the boarding deck. The look of confusion on his face quickly gives way to an assessing glance.*

Never seen a craft like that in Almeria. It's headed straight towards us... Your luck following us again, Belldora? *he offers her a quick, reassuring grin, then turns his attention back on the ship. It's ugly,but sleek and streamlined to flow against the wind. Hildebrand spits as the ship pulls closer, smog seeping from a vent at it's hull.*
What do we do? I don't think this little craft has much chance of getting away from it... Although then again, the uglier they are, the harder they fall... *Radek chuckles grimly as he takes cover behind the mizzenmast.*
This message was last edited on 26 Mar 2010.

Posted by Alice belladora, 6:31pm, 26 Mar, 2010

*Alice stares at the approaching ship in silence for a good half a minute, an unreadable expression on her face, before dashing off in a hurry and dropping a small bottle of what looks to be whisky in the process. It bounces across the deck, and lands conveniently at the feet of the gunman.
Neither Eckstein nor Hildebrand seem to have noticed this development, being engaged in a heated argument about whether or not it might be a good idea to turn tail and "head for the hills", as the barmaid puts it. Bringing his fist down with a thump, the Captain says something unpleasant in a loud voice. Hildebrand responds by grabbing him by the lapels, and giving him a good poke in the chest. Eckstein goes rather red in the face, and starts gesticulating wildly.*

"Take yer hands off me, woman, eve' yeh gone mad?! all i said was it'd be madness to try and outrun em'. We have ta' stay and fight, er else we'll be a smokin' wreck before ya can blink!"

"Don't you use hand gestures like that at me, young man! I'll have you know I've been sailin' ships, an' avin' arial dogfights before you were even out of yer' school uniform! Ere', I'll show you me scars an' all!"

*She tries to pull up her skirts, but Eckstein hastily stops her, and begins to steer the ship towards their opponent, ignoring her fists thumping him violently in the back. Ignoring them, that is, until one of her blows lands upon his right ear, causing him to let out several choice expletives. Turning round once again, he begins to grow even redder in the face, if that were actually possible.*

"Yeh think, jus' because yer a woman o' fifty, that i shouldn't give ya a good talkin to! after this is over, yeh'll be moppin' these decks till they collapse!"

"Ooh, I'm very frightened, Captain! *she deliver this with a toss of her heir and another jab in the chest*
I'm tryin' to talk some sense into that skull o' yers', an all you can give me is nonsense bout' scrubbin' floors! if you don't turn this ship around right now,..."

*The Captain and the barmaid continue in this fashion for a long while, not noticing the enemy ship growing ever closer. Down below, Alice begins her search, rummaging through various crates in search of Doctor Edgar, who she told very specifically to hide in with the cargo, and not move until she came and fetched him herself. Sighing, she stands up straight and tries to make out the shapes in the gloom. Most of them are boxes and crates, although there are some other things, possibly furniture of some kind.
She wishes she hadn't agreed to stealing a tatty merchant ship. Perhaps, she thinks, if we had stolen a theatre ship, things would have been a lot easier. At least there would have been plenty of costumes to disguise ourselves with...

A small, muffled noise can be heard. Snapping out of her ruminations, she continues her search more enthusiastically, knowing, at least, that the doctor hasn't been crushed to death beneath a crate full of oranges. She kicks a small cardboard box out of the way, the muffled noise becoming slightly louder...*
This message was last edited on 26 Mar 2010.

Posted by Radek, 6:40am, 27 Mar, 2010

*Staring off into the distance as the large craft draws ever closer, Radek gingerly drops to his feet and swoops the bottle up off of the ground and into the palm of his hand, taking a quick swig of the whisky inside before stowing it securely in his pocket; a look of consternation crossing his face as he realizes how much he has crammed in at the moment, with the little copper scarab letting out ticks of mechanized indignation at being forced to share room so many other objects. Chuckling to himself, Radek manages to fit the bottle in as he wanders over to where a certain blustery and blushing couple are arguing about the future of their decisions.*

"Well, if you ask me, our best course of action'd be to hide below deck somewhere and wait for them to board us. Unless they've kept an eye on us from a long way off - *Radek pauses uncomfortably, remembering the strange events that have been following them so far, but continues quickly* - they might not percieve as a threat. And it doesn't matter how many of them come at us if it's hand to hand. And honestly? We turn to slow, we're doomed if we run, and doomed if we fight. Although I'd love to try to knock that ugly behemoth out of the sky... *Smiling to himself as his words fall on deaf ears, Radek looks eagerly around for Alice and upon not finding her, stumbles off with one eye locked on the hulking form of the black ship, snippets of argument filtering through his ears.*

"Scrubbin' decks is th' least you'll be doin' after this if we don't try to stand our ground! i've been in enough dogfights to make fighting dogs blink and don't need someone else tryin' to tell me how to fly my ship!" *Hildebrand snickers at this and rests her hands on her hips.* "Yer ship now? So you've decided to go n' claim this here schooner as yer new pride and joy? Well it's in wonderful condition, sure it'll hold up like a match to flame against that bulbous thing! Y'should listen to me instead of being so stubborn!" *Distracted as Eckstein let's go of the wheel to gesticulate wildly, with much yelling and flailing about, Radek misses a step and tumbles down the stairs into a rather dark room, filled with furniture and goods obviously meant for trade. He lifts his head slowly from the floor, shaking dust and detritus off of his face. Something in the room faintly smells of oranges; his eyes widen for a moment in a brief memory, and Radek smiles; a smile which is cut short by a quiet yelp from somewhere in the distance.*

"Alice?" *Rushing into action, he starts moving a large circular table that's been held up against the wall of the room out of the way; it's obviously barricading someone and from the fear in his eyes, it's quite clear that Radek is worried that it's Alice.* "Don't worry. I'll be there as quick as i can -" *Wheeling the table to the side, he smiles widely at... a hunched up and very confused looking man with a very fake toupee. Who smiles back myopically as a cardboard box behind him is sent flying by a kick from a certain excellently haberdashered madame. Radek continues to grin widely. "Oh, it's you! Sorry for giving you the loop earlier, had to be rightly paranoid and all that. Howdy, Alice! Good to see you here, I'm pretty sure Eckstein wants ta fight that thing head on and Hildebrand isn't gonna let him. Me, I think - Edgar, was it? - Has a great plan here. Those barricades were pretty well set up, given how much time you probably had to throw them together..."
This message was last edited on 27 Mar 2010.

Posted by Alice belladora, 6:53pm, 27 Mar, 2010

*Alice picks up an armful of boxes, and shoves them in Radek's general direction, giving him a weary smile as she does so. Edgar gingerly stands up, and brushes himself down, adjusting his spectacles. Alice tells him to go fetch some more boxes. As her hurries off, Alice begins to speak, scratching the back of her head absentmindedly.*

Yes, that's just like him, old Eckstein. Of course, if Hildebrand wants him to do something else, he certainly won't contradict her. He knows she could beat him with both hands tied behind her back and a cricket ball in her mouth. He just doesn't like to meekly submit to anything, so he puts on a show of bravado. I expect they'll be coming down now, to see what's become of us. Oh, would you pile those boxes up over there for me? if the worst come to the worst, we can always throw them violently at our enemies.
Now where's Edgar gone to? i'd better go check up on him, he does get lost easily. *She pauses.*

Yes, he is an old acquaintance of mine, but he doesn't seem to remember me. Don't remind him. I owe him money. All because of a few smashed vases, i ask you. Did he mention anything about some books of any kind? it seems he owes me something too. That certainly makes a change.

*She frowns at the disarray of the room, and begins to drag a large sideboard towards the entrance, along with a pile of textbooks, a small cupboard, a tea-chest, and a faded cushion, for "cushioning purposes in the event of an attack", as she puts it. Edgar makes an appearance, rather red in the face, mumbling something about a crate of oranges in a precarious position.
Squeezing a small amount of juice from his sleeve, he makes a comment about the lack of noise coming from the ship. Suddenly, a loud banging noise can be heard, followed by an angry voice coming from behind the hastily re-barricaded door.
Two angry voices. Realizing she has shut the captain out, Alice goes an unpleasant shade of white, and busies herself with a very convincing coughing fit, giving Radek an apologetic grin as she does so.
Edgar, knowing his fate but reluctant to accept it, makes a display of suffering from a mysterious fainting spell, leaving the gunman to unblock the door and offer an explanation to a very angry captain and an incredibly volatile barmaid.*

~Meanwhile, the enemy ship draws closer, until it is practically scraping the side of the merchant vessel...~
This message was last edited on 27 Mar 2010.

Posted by Radek, 1:05am, 28 Mar, 2010

I can tell Hildebrand would easily win in a fight, but she seems hesitant to just force him to turn around; they've clearly faced more then a few duels with death down together. Unfortunately, their posturing has made it even more difficult to get a word in edgewise then when we were just trying to talk sense into Eckstein, not so long ago. *Radek chuckles at the memory, then cricks his neck the side and helps set up the boxes in an aesthetically pleasing and structurally secure manner as Alice talks; although not as impressive as his crashed-airship part hovel, he smiles in satisfaction as he piles up some wood against the boxes to serve as a lockbrace.*

"He seemed very intent on getting a book back from you. He surprised me with a huge deal of stealth, nearly thought he was some sort of assassin or something... It, uh, didn't help that I was thinking of stealing that katana for you. What can i say, my weakness for a well-armed woman, and the way you looked at it..." *Radek shrugs ineffectually, looking very embarrassed.* "It just seemed like the sort of thing that you'd put to good use. Anyway. Edgar. He didn't give me the title - just mentioned they were about goblins, which seemed interesting to me, because I recall your research on astronomy and artefacts, not so much goblins. I remember that the Professor used to go on about them occasionally, but I've never encountered one first hand. Any of this ringing a bell? And naturally, my dear Alice; your secret is safe with me!" *Radek brings his fingers to his lips in a shush motion, eyes twinkling and completely unperturbed at the grating thrum of an engine drawing closer.*

"... I really was glad to see you back all right. I was worried the ratc- Er, your contact had decided ta slip a dagger in yer back or something." *Radek looks exceedingly glum, subconsciously unfolding a neat teal-and-scarlet handkerchief from his left pocket and handing it to the juice-soaked Doctor Edgar.* "Now that you're here, it feels like I've botched bodyguard duty again... Although if my ears don't decieve me and I hear the soft patter of little feet in large boots stomping down towards us, I may be able to at least protect ya from our allies." *Radek chuckles to himself and scoots over to the wall of artfully piled junk; with a wide grin to Alice, he plants his boot straight into the center, sending shards of shipping crate and furniture everywhere. Before he can do anything else, Hildebrand's hand shoots out of the dust and grabs Radek by the cuff, a care-free smile still firmly on his face. Hildebrand is not amused.*

"Eckstein n' I, we were just finishin' the plans and here you are half-hidden away in a lil' fort o' boxes and widgets? Wotcher' think yer doin' Skinner? Knew I shoulda ne'er let you outta m'sight, well when we're out of this mess-" *Calming herself down, Hildebrand lets go and (reluctantly) makes way for Eckstein to step through. His face is no longer red, having achieved the sort of calm that one can only find after an intense rage.* "... Skinner. Y'know that we haven't always seen eye to eye, but didya really havta go and help Alice with one'ofer crazy half-baked schemes? We're under bloody attack here! This is a, a tree fort! In a bleedin' merchant ship!" *Tiny flecks of saliva fly from Eckstein's mouth, but Radek keeps his composure, still smiling undauntedly. When Eckstein has finally calmed down somewhat, Radek stands at full attention, hands in a half-salute and his expression piercing.*

"Sorry to be a burden and a half, you make sure it won't happen again. Thing is, we're in pretty deep here and there isn't much chance for us to take that ugly piece of sky-faring dirt out on our own. You can hear it, can't you? In the walls, all around us, clawing at the back of our sanity till we just can't run any more?" *Radek chuckles, then continues, eyes stormy and lit with an inner fire.* "Naturally, Alice had figured out that given both of your incredible experiences you'd try to figure out the best course of action, and I'm sure you've got plenty of good plans. We need to choose one and fast, though. It's almost to the point where we could tunnel through the wall here -" *Radek nudges the hardwood walling with the steel rim of his boot* "- board that piece of garbage, and throw all the crew in here. I'll take full responsibility for encouraging this. And before you ask, that's Doctor Edgar. He's really all right, resist any urge you have to attack him."

*Sinking back into his more comfortable slouch, Radek offers a sloppy smile.* "If you want to come in here and hide with us, we can probably set the barricade up again in a half-second-" *Eckstein stares with a completely unreadable expression on his face, fists and teeth clenched and a vein slightly out on his forehead. Hildebrand is looking thoughtful however, assessing the situation with a razorsharp clarity. After all, after serving in bars, very little is stressful. Close by, what sounds to be some sort of automated buzzsaw seems to be clattering against the wall of the little merchant ship, and a thick smoke is pouring in from outside...*

This message was last edited on 28 Mar 2010.

Posted by Lettuce-Chan, 6:47am, 29 Mar, 2010

*Leticia approaches the city in the mountain, moving quickly through the sky in a small, yet no less powerful vessel, that clearly doesn't belong to her. A small, terminally grumpy brown owl perches on her shoulder, looking rather agitated. Possibly reflecting my own mood, she thinks wearily. She knew they would get into trouble. She warned them, didn't she?
She scratches at her unconvincing yellow wig, a hurried attempt to disguise herself.
As she moves closer to her destination, she reflects on what that poor merchant is going to say when he discovers his ship missing, a large hole in the ground where it used to be, a handful of coins as payment, and a small note reading: "I'm terribly sorry, but i had to commandeer your vessel. It really was an emergency, you see, and i certainly wouldn't have done it in other circumstances. Please accept this small bag of gold coins."

And, underneath, her signature, quickly scribbled.
Despite the fact that she is going as fast as she can possibly go, the city is still a way off. She rushes off to feed the engine more sky-crystals, leaving the owl, who it turned out is called Harold, in charge.
He reflects on the day's events, of he and Spektor arriving to tell Leticia, who was enjoying a nice pint at the time, that Alice, Eckstein, Radek, and an old barmaid were under attack by an ugly black ship, and that she must come to their aid immediately. And, to be fair, she had, after a fashion, and much muttering under her breath about "bloody owls."

Leticia feeds the engine steadily, not wanting to overload it, thinking of the last time, and the hefty bill. The ship gradually increases its speed, practically a blur against the sky, causing passers-by to look up and point. The mountains begin to grow close. Only a few miles to go,,,*

Posted by Alice belladora, 7:16am, 29 Mar, 2010

*Alarmed at the sudden noise, and the black smoke rapidly filling up the cargo hold, Doctor Edgar lets out a small, frightened squeal, before running off towards the hastily unblocked entrance and down the corridor.
Alice, still rather pink in the face from her energetic coughing fit, lets out an exasperated sigh, and runs off after him, the sound of her boots thumping against the floorboards inaudible against the noise of the enemy ship. Eckstein lets out a dire intonation, going a delightful shade of purple. and runs after her, shouting and swearing, his words, fortunately, drowned out.
Hildebrand strokes her chin thoughtfully, regarding the noise and smoke with a kind of misty eyed fondness. She looks up at Radek, a hunched shape in the darkness.*

"Don't you think we ought to go after em? I remember when i was a gel, i used to be just like that. Bit shorter, naturally. I just wish ida ad' the idea of not doin' what i was told. Life certainly woulda bin more interestin', that's for sure."

*Her reminiscences are interrupted by a loud crash, the ship turning sideways, causing her to land against a devilishly sharp crate of bananas, knocking her out.
Upstairs, Alice and the Captain engage in a heated argument about who should take the rudder, ending with the Captain frog-marching Alice over to one of the gun turrets, and telling her to get to work taking down the enemy ship. Unfamiliar with the controls, but determined to be of some use, she begins to fire haphazardly at the vessel.
Meanwhile, the cargo bay is under siege by a large cutting implement, leaving the gunman no choice but to struggle upstairs with the unconscious barmaid.

Edgar is nowhere to be seen, Alice having searched for him in vain for as long a she could spare.
The sky begins to darken as three imperial sky-ships begin to move in towards the dogfight, intent on destroying the enemy vessel, and arresting the five thieves aboard the merchant schooner.
Far down below, a huge crowd has gathered to watch the spectacle, some taking bets as to who will win.
Time slowly begins to pass, and the enemy ship slowly but surely begins to destroy the merchant vessel, despite Alice's attempts to ward it off.

Not far away, Leticia's ship streaks across the sky, Leticia herself staring with disbelief at unfolding drama through her telescope.
Lightning flashes across the sky, a storm slowly brewing.
Marcus the headhunter makes his way across the rooftops, to watch the fight with a satisfied smile. On his back is slung two deadly-looking swords.*

This message was last edited on 29 Mar 2010.

Posted by Radek, 7:34am, 30 Mar, 2010

*Radek growls under his breath as the two remaining occupants of the cargo bay - himself and one rather unconcsious Hildebrand - are jostled about by the telltale crash of ship against ship. Grabbing on to the neatly stacked barricade of furniture, he manages to avoid stumbling to his feet long enough to brace Hildebrand back on hers. Hurrying the two of them up the stairs as quickly as he can, the last reflection in his eyes is the glint of cold steel, lined with flecks of rust and calcified red slicing through the hull of the cargo deck as if it were tissue paper. He slams the door shut and leans Hildebrand against it; her eyes blinking rapidly as the cloudy light of day helps the barmaid come to.*

"Skinner..? Where's Alice, then? An' Eckstein? We still under attack- ere' now, where r' you goin'?" *Radek is already sprinting across the deck like a man possessed to a turret where Alice is manning a large chamber-fed machine gun with a great deal of passion and a debateable degree of success.* "Alice! They're in the cargo deck - where's Edgar? Is - " *His eyes widen as he realizes that Eckstein is still at the helm. A million different emotions tumble through his irises before they harden and match his pursed lips. "Damn. Look, you're doing fine!" *His words of encouragement are shouted over the din as a peal of thunder can be heard from far off; the sky heavy with pressure. Tears in the canvas of the ship, and the thick sputtering of smoke from below deck makes it obvious that while Radek has been helping evacuate Hildebrand from the lower deck, the merchant schooner has taken quite a beating. Radek's face turns even more pale than normal and he pauses to take a deep breath, imagining something. He smiles for a fraction of the second, relishing the calm before the storm, then rushes over to the second turret, wheeling it around to face the massive black ship whose cannons are so easily ripping their own apart.*

"Alice. If things get really bad, i'm expecting you to give us a glorious explosion in the sky, and crash this thing into a building enough away that they won't find us. You'll have to do it even if it means knocking Eckstein out. It appears Hildebrand isn't going to be able to balance him out for us..." *As he talks through teeth clenched into a fevered smile, Radek carefully alternates fire between the enemy craft's hull and the rapidly approaching Darcancian fleet, who cautiously edge around the field like vultures, their distinctive red and white sails flaring in the darkening skies; another round of cannon fire from the enigmatic vessel tears into the railing, sending sharp chunks of wood and iron everywhere. Having lifted his arm across his eyes to protect himself, a grin creeps onto his face as something makes it's way across the skies, darting away from both the imperial fleet and the huge black craft like a dragonfly. Radek motions to Alice from his post, not sure if she can even hear him above the unbearable screech of metal and cannonfire, pointing to the craft-

As he does so, Hildebrand forces herself back to her feet, hefting her rolling pin with determination. Eckstein remains focused on steering, completely unphased even as fragments of the ship explode into powder around him. Radek briefly turn his gaze into the town, where he can see many small forms staring at them from so far away they seem to be mere splashes of color against the grey of concrete in a gray sky. He feels a sudden pain in the back of his mind again, but shakes it - no one could see them clearly from this distance. Armored with that thought, he fires another quick volley, unable to keep from gazing at Alice, half-illuminated against the dark of the sky by the constant explosions and smoke. He bites his lip and keeps firing as the ship starts to groan tremulously around them.*
This message was last edited on 30 Mar 2010.

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