Aysle enthusiastically holds his hand out, palm side up, to Ret. The dwarf,
already busy winching the catapult back into firing position, looks at the
hand, smiles and says, "Aye, that'll slow em down and make em think twice. I
wonder though . . . only one ship to attack us and a tradesman? Not another
ship around, huh?"
Two ballista bolts from the dragonship hurl toward the Starflyer. The first
bolt flies wide of the ship, passing in front by 100 yards. The second bolt
strikes home as it slams into the keel on the underside of the ship.
A third bolt flies toward Garen's Gem, the tradesman. The bolt rips through
the port "wing" taking a large amount of material with it.
The crew of the tradesman responds by returning fire with their ballista.
The ballista bolt from the Starflyer shoots past the bow of the dragonship
and continues its course through the void.
The Starflyer, under Krillan's helm control, drops away from the tradesman
and begins to turn to port. Wide-eyed with shock, Captain Hart says to
himself, "What in the hells?" Suddenly, he rushes to the communications
tube and yells into it, "Helm, what in the Phlo are you doing?!"
Shadow Bane, relaying Krillan's message, responds, "Captain, Krillan suspects
there may be another ship in the area. He . . ."
"Don't you think I know that?!" Hart screams back. "That's why I want us
to stay by the tradesman! Krillan, get back on course!"
Through helmsight, Krillan sees a large, stray asteroid about three miles
ahead of the tradesman.
Garen's Gem has now gained some distance from the Starflyer, which has
turned from its original course and is now starting to move on an intercept
course toward the dragonship. The pirate vessel continues on its present
Seeing that the squidship's course hasn't changed, Hart turns from the
"Damn him to the Abyss. I don't care if he is a priest of Celestian," the
captain mutters to himself. "Sergeant, get to the helm!" The first mate
nods and replies in his bass voice, "Yes, sir." The giff rushes down the
stairs from the sterncastle and through the door.
The catapult on the Starflyer finishes loading and fires at the dragonship.
The port-starboard ballista is loaded and ready but now does not have a
target due to the new course heading.
Meanwhile, the one shot from the tradesman strikes the forward tower of the
dragonship, sending splintered wood flying at the pirates on deck below.
All three ships maintain present course. Garen's Gem is now clearly one
mile away from the Starflyer, and the pirate ship is looming closer. The
ship itself has rotated to allow their guns a better shot at the low-flying
squidship. Anyone watching the dragonship can now see that the crew is
almost entirely human, and they are preparing for melee combat.
The catapult shot from the Starflyer flies over the top of the highest sail
on the pirate vessel and continues its course into space.
The pirates bring two ballistae to bear and fire. Being so close, the bolts
seem to reach the Starflyer within seconds. The first bolt pierces the port
hull near the aft of the ship. In fact, it penetrates the helm room and
catches Shadow Bane by the wing. The bolt sends her along with it into the
wall behind the helm where Krillan is sitting, where she now hangs off the
floor unconscious and bleeding from her right wing. The second bolt crashes
through the port hull, about 30 feet forward of and a little lower than the
first bolt, into the cargo area.
Sergeant Trandar bursts into the helm room and sees the avariel hanging from
the back wall. The giff springs into action and rushes to her side while
yelling, "Tarith, help me with her!"
Through helmsight, Krillan sees an object emerging from the asteroid ahead
of the tradesman. It appears to be another ship.