The ballista bolt from the tradesman strikes the shrikeship's forward ballista and smashes it enough to prevent its use. The shrikeship continues to bear down on the Starflyer.
As impact between the shrikeship and the squidship seems imminent, the Starflyer begins to move upward in an attempt to evade the incoming vessel. But, the Starflyer's reactions are not enough, and the nose of the shrikeship pierces the port hull of the Starflyer under the main deck. The Starflyer shakes as a result of the impact, but everyone manages to keep their footing. Almost immediately, four crewmen from the shrikeship begin attaching grappling lines between the two ships.
Captain Hart, drawing his long sword and wheel lock pistol, shouts, "All hands, prepare to repel boarders!" The crew turns from their ship duties to face the pirates and draws their short swords.
On the deck of the Starbug, Lieutenant Oakwood calls out, "Raijin! Robb! Take over for me here!" As the two crewmen replace their commander on the ballista, the half-elf rushes to 316's side and examines the wound for a few seconds. Seeing that the modron is not "bleeding" too badly, he stands and calls downward, "Helm, head for the shrikeship!" Facing the ballista, he orders, "Men, target the shrikeship. I don't think we have to worry about the dragonship anymore."
As Lieutenant Oakwood finishes his last statement, the dragonship suddenly begins shaking. It violently shudders for a few seconds and then begins moving forward. The pirates come out of hiding and rush back to their positions, manning two ballistae in the process.
Watching the previously immobile ship move away, Oakwood shouts, "Helm! Stay with the dragonship! Don't let it get away! Change of plans, guys. Continue to target the dragonship!"
Anleef, seeing the re-emergence of the crew, pulls back the drawstring of his bow and aims at the new ballista crewmen. Without warning, the pain surges in his shoulder, and he looses the arrow prematurely. The first arrow flies across the void, over the heads of the pirate crew and continues into space.
Shar, with his loaded crossbow, fires at the crewmen surrounding their captain. The bolt pierces the back of one of the men, who arches his back and appears to cry out in pain. One of the pirates next to him quickly looks at him and goes back to work on the captain.
Three pirates on the dragonship have picked up bows and, after preparing an arrow, fire at the crew of the damselfly. Two arrows fly through the ship's air envelope without hitting anything, but the third strikes Shar's rear-left haunch, causing the young dracon to roar in pain.
Anleef, fighting back the pain in his shoulder, fires a second arrow at the ballista crew of the dragonship. This one hits its mark, causing another one to fall to the deck and not get up.
With the grappling lines secured, the pirates from the shrikeship, approximately 15, begin to make their way to the Starflyer with weapons in hand.
Tarith reaches the main deck and shuts the sterncastle door behind him. Seeing what is about to transpire, the half-elf draws his long sword.
Ret turns from the catapult, draws his battle axe and sneers at the pirates as they come closer to the squidship.
Bursting through the door leading into the forecastle, Sergeant Trandar rushes onto the main deck. Trandar, with wheellock pistol in hand, aims and fires at one of the approaching pirates. The loud explosion startles a couple of pirates, but nobody appears to have been hit from the shot. The giff holsters his pistol and draws his long sword and shield.
Aysle, realizing his opportunity, rushes to the port rail of the forecastle and begins casting a spell. As the pirates begin to leap onto the deck of the squidship, the spell is completed. A fan-shaped mist of clashing colors sprays from Aysle's hand and washes over three pirates crossing to the Starflyer on the grappling lines. The pirates swoon and fall unconscious, dropping into the void.
Six pirates make it past the colorful mist and climb onto the squidship. Two pirates run up the stairs to the forecastle deck and are immediately intercepted by two of the Starflyer's crewmen. The first pirate cuts down the crewman with his short sword and looks at his next target who is standing five feet away: Apathy. Apathy draws his long sword and stands ready to repel the invader. The second pirate swings down at the crewman only to have it blocked by his opponent's blade.
Another pirate lands on the Starflyer's main deck and immediately engages a crewman standing near the stairs leading to the forecastle. The pirate cuts across the crewman's chest, sending him reeling back against the forecastle wall. The crewman fights back the pain and continues to engage the pirate.
One pirate rushes past his mate and attacks the giff first mate. Trandar meets the incoming sword with his own and parries the attack.
Another one lands on the deck and charges at the crewmen standing by the starboard rail that were previously holding bows.
The sixth pirate reaches the deck by the door leading into the sterncastle and attacks Tarith. With his long sword ready, Tarith easily blocks the pirate's attack.
Captain Hart quickly moves to the forward rail of the sterncastle, aims and fires his pistol at the pirate rushing the starboard crewmen. The pirate jerks from the impact and drops to the deck at the crewmen's feet near the stairs leading up to the sterncastle. The captain runs to the stairs leading down to the main deck.
Ret charges screaming at the pirate furthest from Apathy on the forecastle deck and chops the pirate's legs out from underneath him, sending the human dropping to the deck to move no more.
The halfling by the starboard rail draws his short sword and moves against the pirate facing the giff. The pirate, seeing the lunge, dodges the halfling's attack.
The crew of the Starflyer move against the pirates. The crewman next to Ret on the forecastle deck moves to engage the pirate facing Apathy but trips on a loose rope on the deck and falls on his face at the pirate's feet. Three more crewmen on the forecastle deck move toward the lone pirate. One of them makes his way to him and slashes at the intruder. However, the pirate parries the attack. The injured crewman on the main deck ripostes against the pirate in front of him, but his attack is parried as well. The crewmen on the main deck move to the port side of the ship to engage the pirates. One of the two crewmen attacks the pirate near the forecastle stairs, while the other moves to assist Tarith.
Apathy moves in and attacks the pirate in front of him. His sword strikes true and slices through the pirate's left shoulder into his chest. The unfortunate man drops lifeless to the deck.
Tarith counterattacks and strikes the pirate across his chest. The blow knocks the pirate over the rail and into the void.
The two ballistae on the sterncastle finish loading and fire. Tomas's ballista swings around and fires at the attached shrikeship. The bolt strikes the lower starboard hull and takes a portion of the hull out. Jareth sees the dragonship moving again and targets it.
Meanwhile, the Starbug maintains its course alongside the dragonship. The damselfly has matched its speed with the pirate's ship. The ballista crew has finished loading and fires at the dragonship. The large bolt impacts the dragonship in the lower decks just forward of the front "leg".
Anleef looses his first arrow at the ballista crew on the nearby vessel. The arrow strikes the remaining crewman dead center in the chest, and the man falls lifeless to the deck and leaves the ballista unmanned. Two more pirates rush to the ballista to take their comrades' places.
The three bowmen fire their arrows at the Starbug. One arrows flies into space, while the other two hit Lieutenant Oakwood. One strikes his left leg, while the other pierces his back near his spine. Oakwood utters a painful grunt and drops to the deck in mid-stride. He is still conscious but appears to be in a lot of pain.
Anleef aims and fires his second arrow at the crew of the second ballista. The arrow harmlessly hits the deck of the dragonship next to the ballista.
The bolt from Jareth's ballista hits the lower deck on the starboard side of the dragonship.
The tradesman moves around behind the Starflyer and fires at the shrikeship with its rear ballista. The bolt strikes the underbelly of the bird-shaped pirate vessel, causing the shrikeship and squidship to shudder from the impact.
Six more pirates climb onto the Starflyer's deck. Tarith immediately cuts one down and drops him into the void. Three of the pirates run up the stairs to the forecastle, and the remaining two runs toward the stairs to the sterncastle.
Pulling out his bow, Aysle fires an arrow at the pirates reaching the forecastle deck. The arrow pierces the first pirate in the chest and drops him to the deck.
Sergeant Trandar swings his long sword at his opponent and slices open the pirate's chest. The pirate flies backward to the deck and exhales his last breath.
Apathy charges forward and attacks the second pirate coming up the stairs to the forecastle deck. His sword cuts through the pirate's right shoulder, and he falls dead.
Captain Hart reaches the bottom of the stairs in time to meet the first of the two pirates heading his way. He thrusts with his sword right through the pirate's heart and quickly pulls his blade back to let the pirate fall.
On the deck of the forecastle, Ret rushes forward to meet the third pirate ascending the stairs. With a mighty chop with his battle axe, Ret sends the last pirate rolling down the stairs to the deck below.
With the path to the stairs clear and no enemies approaching, three crew members on the forecastle deck quickly make their way to the stairs and go down to the main deck to assist their crewmates. The crewman already on the main deck by the forecastle stairs swings his short sword at the pirate in front of him. The cold steel of the crewman's sword bites through the pirate's neck, and the rogue spins around from the force of the blow and drops to the deck. One of the two starboard crewmen reaches the pirate next to Captain Hart and attacks with his sword. The point of the sword digs into the pirate's abdomen. The pirate winces from the sudden wound, drops his sword and raises his hands above his head in surrender. The other starboard crewman reaches the pirate by the forecastle stairs just as he falls unconscious to the deck. He turns to attack the pirate fighting Sergeant Trandar and sees that he lies dead on the deck. Turning around to see the last pirate on the Starflyer surrender to the captain, the crewman sheathes his sword and says, "That's okay. I didn't want to fight anyway."
At that moment, a loud grating sound is heard as the shrikeship begins to pull out of the squidship.
The dragonship, despite the latest hit, continues its present course and flies past the Starflyer and tradesman without attacking. The bowmen on deck do not fire upon the Starbug.
On the Starbug, Raijin states, "It appears our friends on the dragonship have turned tail." He, then, turns to Lieutenant Oakwood to see him sprawled on the deck in agony from the arrows still embedded in his back and leg. Raijin cries out, "Lieutenant!" and rushes to his side.
Between grimaces from the pain and with hurried breath, Oakwood says, "Target . . . the . . . shrikeship. . . . Tell . . . the helm . . . to close . . on it . . ."
Raijin looks up and shouts, "Helm, close on the shrikeship!" In response to the command, the damselfly turns hard to starboard and begins moving toward the shrikeship, which is disengaging from the Starflyer.