In The Fog - Story

This is a bit of a VSF/Steampunk style story though I haven't got that far with it yet.

“Damn it and may the fog and all its denizens take the women and devour her.”

“I take it the meeting didn’t go well Captain?”

“Well I hope the man who marries her has a strong will or a death wish. How did she ever get the job I’ll never know?”

“Well her father is the Grand Admiral, Captain.”

“Yes and damn him as well.  I mean what has she got against me?”

“And she is the sister of Uladria sir whom you jilted at the altar about two years ago as well.”

“That was politics and she damn well knows it. Her father said if I didn’t jilt her in such a manner I would be for a long walk off a very short plank from the side of his Flag ship.  As I was on said ship at the time it was hard to refuse the man.”

“Did you try bribing her Captain?”

“Aye five thousand Stars. I know it’s a lot but that fool Hendrasi got his mark for a mere three and I thought the extra two might help her see past previous issues.  Damn her to the fog without a compass.”

With this last comment first mate John Dangrin, aide to Captain the Lord Levin De Sar crossed his heart with the eight points of the compass.  As curses went that was the worst uttered by a sailor to another.  To be lost in the fog with a compass wasn’t a sure chance of survival, it played havoc with them.  But to be lost without one was a sure sign that death and the deep or whatever hid in the fog would take you.

“So what now then, Captain?”

“Back to trawling the edges of fringe society, Mr Dangrin in the hope that something comes up to turn our favour.”

“You could try patching it up with the old man Captain.”

“Oh he’d love that wouldn’t he?  His only son popping along for a chat and explaining to him that some fog spawned women was keeping him from getting along in life.”

“A simple no would have been fine Captain, and I think we might go someplace else as ranting about Commodore Resilia here on her territory isn’t going to do well.  Maybe a drink is in order?”

“Damn her.  Sorry what a drink, yes a drink is in order.”

They both walked a few paces before Captain Levin stopped again.

“How much does Vasquin owe us?”

“About fifteen thousand, Captain.  Why?”

“I wonder if he’d see his debt cancelled to make that bitch vanish from the face of Murovia?”

“Captain I’m sure he would, but you’d be in jail the moment the crime was discovered.  I think telling several people at the Lords and Ladies ball that you’d like to see her dead would certainly give the Justice system motive enough to consider you were behind it.”

“Damn it and her.  Well onto better news, have we sold it all?”

“Yes Captain except the Teriam.”

“Why I thought that would be easy to shift.”

“Oh I could get a buyer tomorrow Captain, but I was thinking.”

“Right, come on man out with it.”

“Captain I’d rather we were inside somewhere before I say anything, you know we are always followed.”

“Is it the “I’m blind honest my Lord” or the rat faced man this time.”

“Rat faced man Captain, and you know that’s Lord Podsburies son as well.”

“And, he’s a damn spy. What do I care for his father?”

The both of them went silent heading for the local tavern.  It wasn’t a place of wealth in which a Lord would be expected to be found, in but Captain the Lord Levin De Sar wasn’t a normal Lord.  Or maybe he was more normal than the rest.  He preferred the company of the other Captains, who after a while ignored his start in life and just saw him as they were.  It wasn’t like being a Lord was making his life easy.  In fact some sniggered at his constant issues with Commodore Resilia.  More than a few had used her animosity against him to gain favour saying they were trying to shut him down or beat him to some trade item.

Throwing himself into a chair Levin smiled at the pretty serving lass as she dropped off his and Dangrin’s drinks.  Handing her some small change he smiled as her eyes flashed at his.  He knew with a few words he could have her out of that uniform and in his bed.  But women were a distraction he didn’t want or could ill afford right now.

“So Mr Dangrin do we have a crew?”

“Aye, Captain. I kept about eight of the old hands and then got rid of the other forty as you instructed me to. do.  I’ve re-employed some people we have used before and taken on some fresh hands as well.”

“Good if we ever get enough for a second ship having old hands to call to our side will be very handy indeed.”

“Aye as you say Captain.”

Looking about the room they both leaned in closer so their words had less chance to be heard.  Not that it would be easy as the room was a ruckus with sailors and dock hands alike shouting at each other and trying to keep a pace with the ale.

“So Mr Dangrin, do you want to explain your idea to me?”

“Well Captain I know we could pull in eighty or ninety thousand stars for the Teriam but it’s very high grade military.  It is worth more but that can make it hard to shift.”
“You can’t tell me there is no buyer?”

Taking a swig of his drink Dangrin wiped his mouth with the back of his hand before leaning in.

“Oh I can sell it Captain, but all the crooks that would buy it want to pay less than it’s worth its very black market.  That ship shouldn’t have been carrying it and we should be handing it over.”

“Yes well the government and its organisation can go walk on that one.  So out with the idea man or do I have to drag it from you?”

Dangrin smiled the two of them had been together since the military they knew each other so well and he knew half of what was said was just pure pretence.

“Why not upgrade the ship, the Professor still owes us and we could sell our Teriam.  We’d still get sixty, maybe seventy thousand and it’s a legal sale as well.  Our engines can cope with the better grade we can power twenty seven percent past what we can now.  I reckon with a new load we’d still have ten percent to spare and we’d also gain 8 tonnes in carry space if we re-jigged the hold afterwards.  So, more cargo or more ammo”

Captain Levin sat back in his seat his drink in his hand chewing idly on some worn skin on his left thumb as he always did when he was thinking.  Really thinking, his eyes surveyed the room as he took in the scene.  Dangrin could read it all he was thinking about a faster ship, more guns as he always thought the hold was more than enough.  But he was thinking speed as well.  They would be faster than any other merchant ship and more than a match for ships their class and higher.

“So, Captain?”

“How long?”

“Two weeks max, we’re owed by the Merchants and Dockers guild for that favour we did them, so I could get us docked today if you gave the nod.  I’ve also spoken to the Professor and he’s more than keen.  He says we’d be mad to try it but he says he can do it.”

All he did was nod once it was enough for Dangrin who finished his drink and made haste to the exit.

“Dangrin hire some Marines as well, short term, I want anyone not sanctioned to work on the ship kept away.  Have them on the inside of the dock that way it’s less obvious what we’re doing.  It might pay us to hire some long term if they are any good, deck hands don’t make good men to board a ship.”

Dangrin nodded he never understood the game of politics but he knew the Captain was never wrong and that’s why they worked so well.  He covered the mundane things like pay, hiring on of crew and the Captain dealt with the Trader’s, Merchants and Lordly vagabonds that would try to rip off the unwary.  Each to his own, as it was it worked.

De Sar watched Dangrin go and even watched one of the men tailing them laugh to some drinking friends and then get up and follow him.  Sometimes he thought it would make life easier if some of these fell off the world.  It got at him, people following his every move when he was in port.  Okay he sometimes spoke very unpopular views but he was loyal to the Crown and anyone who dared to say otherwise tended to find out very quickly how upset it got him.  Leaning back he was suddenly more than aware of the thin nervous man stood just off to his right.

“Ah Mr Grimaldon what can I do for you?”

He smiled as the man jumped so sure was he that he hadn’t been seen.

“I was after a small favour, Captain De Sar.”

“A favour, were you now. The last time I did that some Mudron Destroyer tried to take my ship out of the skies.”

“You know I’m sorry about that Captain and how was I to know the permit had been revoked?  But you did well out of the deal as I remember.”

De Sar chuckled as he turned to look at the man.  He had to admit he hated Grimaldon’s kind but the world couldn’t live without the middle man and fixers.

“What is it you want Grimaldon?”

“Well Captain De Sar,” said Grimaldon taking the seat Dangin had vacated.  “I’ve heard solid rumour that the Mudron will be have a flight incident with a new type of cruiser they are about to try.  It has a better radio transmitter than before so can travel deeper into the fog.”

“I see and what incident is it going to have?”

“Pirates who’ll attack it, the Mudrons won’t be heavily armed it as it’s a test flight.  The Pirates will make off with the crew for ransom and anything else they can strip but the radio equipment will still on board.”

“So you want me to fly into the fog and hope to find this ship or get lost trying, aye Grimaldon?”

“Nothing further from it Captain, I want to make a copy of the radio and the rest of the ship is yours. I’ll even share the radio technology with you.  But I want the patent rights.  Plus like I said I sort of know where it’s going to be attacked so we’re all safe Captain.”

“Patent rights would make you a very rich man Grimaldon, are you sure the Mudron’s haven’t already done that?”

“Oh I very much doubt that Captain, if they did all the other powers would know about it in days and they would all be trying to work out how it worked or how they could stop it from working.  I have a feeling the Mudrons will be trying to keep it all quiet.”

De Sar looked at the man he had to admit the chance to take the ship was just the thing he was after.  Taking an enemy ship would certainly allow him to get anything he wanted. How could it be refused? He’d be in the public eye for a small time, so he’d have to make it stick.