In the Lair of the Red Fly

Originally posted 20-JUN-1990

Log of the SS High Rhodes
Apr 610:30 AM - Spotted them at last! We are beating to quarters even as I write this. Kharaatl claims the hold is approximately a mile up the valley, hidden on a small shelf. I even spotted a cannon emplacement on a hill top above it. Having Kharaatl locked below decks until after the action.

10:45 AM - High Rhodes has crash-landed! We made another few sweeping runs past the gun emplacement, discovering two more in the process! Two have been silenced - we dismounted one gun, and decimated the other crew using one of our spike-droppers. However, we had taken some damage to the hull, lowering our altitude. On a pass by the third emplacement, we lost some more liftwood panels - dropping us lower than the ridge beneath us. We grounded (Cleese managed to not break us up on the ridge) some four hundred yards from the pirate position.

Things confused at the moment. Barkley leaped off the bridge forward, taking Billi and Bayswater. I ducked in here to jot this down on my way topside. Awful clattering just now - probably grapeshot.

2:10 P.M. - Things are a bit more under control now. The gun position fired grape at our exposed deck. By the time I got up there, the last few Martian top men were leaving the deck. The gunners had already departed, leaving the deck deserted with few noteworthy exceptions: one of the top men lay nearly at my feet on the deck, riddled with grape; Alouysius was still manning the port Nordenfelt, and Apshavaal and Roak still manned the starboard Heavy cannon, exchanging fire with the pirate gun position. While I got my bearing, more grape rattled along the deck. I told the two gunners they'd get a bonus for their efforts.

Presently, the pirates stopped firing grape and resumed firing shot. Other than crushing poor Alouysius, their shots were rather ineffectual - but so were ours. I crossed to the forecastle hatch and roused the crew of the Rod gun, whose better range would for easier shots. Smith and Wesson, the Rod gun crew, silenced the pirate gun on their first shot.

Meanwhile, Barkley and Freedy had organized an assault on the first gun position. We had silenced it earlier, but there was infantry in it now. Freedy and his marines carried the position, taking a few wounds in the process. Eventually, they reported back with two wounded prisoners that they had discovered a tunnel leading down into the bowels of the mountain. Freedy left the hill occupied by a few men (Barkley went up to take charge), and came down with five men.

Billi had taken one of the bombs we had made up and ran toward the ridge crest above the shelf where Kharaatl said the pirate camp was. He had been chased back by musket fire when about halfway there. I had Cleese and Khantiili the sailing master rally the men and prepare the ship for defense against a ground assault.

Kharaatl, our captured guide, had apparently gotten loose after we crashed. In attempting to flee the High Rhodes, he had run afoul of both Doktor Goebbels and Doctor Ching. Cleese caught him over Ching's unconscious body. We secured him.

Freedy and his marines investigated the second gun position after it had been silenced. It too had a magazine, but no tunnel leading beneath it. Freedy told me they set a fuse and left a badly wounded pirate (along with two bodies) to make his own escape. Beastly man, Freedy.

After a bit of doctoring and a spot of lunch, I am organizing an expedition down into the tunnel reported by Freedy, probably down into the very heart of this rat's nest. Barkley shall be in charge while I'm gone.

I shall most likely take:
As many marines as are available
Cleese (who seems hot on joining the action)
Apr 6
7:15 PM
Captain Koeniggard is dead. I am taking command of the High Rhodes and will act on behalf of his estate of which this vessel is part. Due to its damaged condition, my first duty is to attend its repairs. Bayswater will have complete tale, but wanted to record change of command.

T Barkley,
First Officer

Copyright 1996 by Mitchell K Schwartz

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