Jareth and Apathy seem to freeze in their steps upon hearing the cry to battlestations. A look of alarm, mingled with fear, crosses Jareth's face. "Uh... what do I do now?"

Trandar barks out, "Jareth, get to the ballista! Apathy, go to the forecastle by the catapult! As of now, you are ship's spellmaster. Use your spells to help defend the ship."

"Got it!" Apathy shouts out as he runs to the forecastle and waits for the right opportunity to release a spell.

Jareth still looks confused. "What's a ballista?" he wonders out loud. Finally, he chooses a likely-looking weapon (through process of elimination - he looks for the one which looks like it needs help) and heads for it. "What am I supposed to do with this?"

The other one at the ballista (a tall, husky looking human with blonde hair) looks at Jareth and says, "First time in space, huh? I'll help you out." The man begins turning a crank on the construct next to him.

"This here's a ballista, a medium ballista to be precise. It works like a giant crossbow . . . " the man says while he attempts to crank the drawstring of the ballista into firing position.

The human turns to Jareth and asks, " Can you help me with this? I can't do this by myself."

Ret mans his station at the fore catapult. Aysle leaps to the catapult with Ret and works the winch back. Tomas mans the ballista and begins preparing it for the combat ahead. The other weapons' crew members (three others on the catapult and one more on each ballista) get to the weapons and assist in getting them loaded.

Hart orders down the tube, "Helm, maintain course alongside the tradesman. We must protect that ship."

Watching off the port bow, Aysle finally sights the object in question after a few minutes. Straining his eyes, he sees that it looks like a dragon with a building on its back. The "dragon" appears to be heading right for the Starflyer.

Captain Hart, watching the "dragon" through his spyglass, mutters to Sergeant Trandar, "They are signaling us. Surrender . . . your . . . cargo . . . or . . . prepare . . . to . . . be . . . boarded. Sergeant, signal back our answer: We will not surrender."

"Yes, sir." responds Trandar, and he goes to a storage locker on the port side of the sterncastle, retrieves two red and white colored flags and starts waving them in the direction of the "dragon". Captain Hart continues to watch through his spyglass.

After a moment, Hart states, "They are preparing to fire. Sergeant, fire the catapult."

The giff cries, "Catapult strike! Fire!"

The catapult shot flies away from the Starflyer at great speed. Captain Hart continues to watch the "dragon" through his spyglass. The other catapult crewmembers begin cranking the catapult back into firing position.

A minute passes and everyone on the ship can see the "dragon" with the naked eye, now just under a mile away. Those that are watching observe the "dragon" attempting to evade and failing as the catapult shot slams into the
port side of a wooden hull on the dragon's back sending wood shards and debris flying out of their portable atmosphere.

"Direct hit!" cries the captain. "Wait, they're returning fire! All strike, fire at will!" Sergeant Trandar repeats the order.

Upon closer observation, Aysle and Apathy notice the dragon's flag: a white skull and crossbones on a black field.

While watching for an opportunity to strike, Tomas discovers that the crew of the tradesman is also manning their weapons.


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