Saturday 8 October 2016

The Owl

Previous Session: The Hand of Sorrow

The Owl flies into Haven - despite their misgivings about Cross, Cyrus Vance can't think of any better way of finding a path to Seraphina Flint's lair. Snargle parks the ship in the usual berthing spot, and they head to their usual bar. Vance tucks a small case of whiskey under his arm, strangely enough it helps keep people on side.

Snargle, Vance and Natasha (the still incognito Lady Blackbird) all sit in Harker's booth at the back. The information broker should be able to sort them out, and after getting their drink orders - everyone's for beer, except for Natasha who orders wine, which is definitely a mistake, Vance tells her that the bottle she's getting her glass from has been open for six months!

Vance hands over the case of whiskey and tells Harker what they're after. He thinks a little, and then says that he'll be back with someone who can get them there. When he goes, the table have a energetic discussion about the difference between smugglers and pirates; Vance thinks there's a world of difference, but Snargle take a quick straw poll and everyone in the bar declares them to be corsairs of one stripe or other.

Natasha questions the wisdom of broadcasting their shady business to everyone, but Vance grins and points out a few of the other booths - maybe she's worried about Soto there, haggling over a pair of plasma cannons, or Marchwood, who is parceling up the latest shipment of opiates. He doesn't go round the whole establishment, but it's clear they're in good (by which he means bad) company.

In walks Violet. Vance and Snargle exchange glances as she sits in the space vacated by Harker. They thought they were going to get away with this, but somehow Cross' lieutenant is here to speak to them.

Her proposal is pretty simple. Leo has left Cross down one too many time, and he needs Vance to do a quick delivery job - head to Nightport to pick up some medical supplies, deliver them back here and then Violet will show them the way. Vance probes Violet's intentions, but he doesn't see anything here other than Cross' greed.

After glancing towards Natasha to make sure that this timetable suits her, Vance agrees to the deal, and they head directly to the Owl to make way.

The Owl
by John Harper
Going aboard, Violet eyes up Natasha and mentions that she seems out of place. Vance yells down to them that he's really sorry, but they seem to be all out of the '17 vintage; they'll have to pick up a few more crates next time.

In the two days out, things settle into a bit of a routine. Violet and Natasha spend a lot of time chatting, and when neither Kale nor Vance are on duty up on the bridge, they play chess.

About halfway they pass three whaling ships around a leviathan, busy harvesting and Snargle pulls a flashy barrel roll over them. Vance sees it coming (he knows his favourite Goblin can't resist!) and warns everyone over comms to hold onto their hats/breakfasts! As they pass by, Vance gets on short-range radio to talk to the captain of the Freebird, a Orlance, and asks him to give them a call if they spot anything dangerous out here.

In her room, Violet entertains Natasha (Violet does have some good wine in her case) and they press each other to uncover the little mysteries which concern them. Natasha discovers exactly what Cross desires the medicines for; while some of it will be used for its intended purpose, most will be transformed into a lucrative hallucinogen. Violet discovers that Natasha is both hiring Vance and the job - and putting two and two together she gathers that Natasha has some kind of relationship with Flint.

For the rest of the trip, Snargle and Kale go through their (unknowing) ritual, with Snargle making his particular brand of repairs/upkeep on the Owl, with Kale undoing the work as soon as the Goblin's back is turned.


Approaching Nightport, Snargle gives the Owl a signature waggle, and lights up in the particular sequence that lets the defences know they're friendly. They get placed in the furthest parking spot though, apparently, their last delivery here caused a bad infestation of small critters they're still trying to get rid of!

Naomi Bishop
Violet goes off to make the deal for the medicines alone, she'll be back in a few hours and while she resists any suggestion from Vance that they'd feel more secure knowing where she's going; having them know where the rescue might be needed sounds like a sensible precaution. She's meeting with Captain Wester, a pirate renowned for being good a getting into and stealing goods from Imperials.

A tipsy Natasha wants to head along (or at least out for a drink), but Vance convinces her to stay aboard with him. Taking a firm professional line with her he steers her towards the galley - he teases that he might just be able to win a game of chess against her tonight!

Naomi patrols outside and Snargle takes Kale and Oscar out for a few drinks. Vance suggests McGargle's (where Dutchie's golden ale is 5 for 4), but Snargle brings them to the Domain instead. The place is replete with the stranger denizens of Nightport, Goblins, sorcerers and other things. Kale and Oscar are wonderfully out of place here.

Sidling up to the Illithid barman, Snargle orders three strange concoctions with floating eyes and nervously approaching the bar, Kale and Oscar follow his lead and down them in one. Talking to the sorcerer Vladimir, Snargle wonders why a gifted sorcerer like Natasha would be giving up a high-class/rich life? But all Vladimir can add is that the Remnants are a great hiding place, as for the Pirate Queen Flint, so for his friend.

In the Owl's top turret sit Cyrus Vance and Natasha Syri. They've gone through a bottle of Violet's wine and started on a second; well, to be honest, it's mostly Natasha, as Vance is nursing his glass - feeling responsible for the ship with the rest of the crew out. Chess isn't on the agenda, Vance tells himself he wants to win fair and square, but it's something else (obviously).

They tell each other their stories, Vance leads off, this time sparing none of the details of why he was drummed out of the service. Natasha divulges her true identity and why she's going to Flint. Vance pushes her to tell him her plan for how to deal with Flint. She's not really sure though and he advise her to be sure what she wants of the situation because someone like Flint will use any sign of weakness or lack of resolution to her own advantage. She must pick an approach (either to be sorry and to regain her position as Flint's lover, or to show her power and demand her ransom back) and use all of her remarkable skills to see it through.

That line of thinking surprises Natasha and sobers her up a little. Then they hear Violet returning from the deal and they climb down from the turret. They have a quiet moment on the stairs, with Natasha teetering on the edge of falling - but Cyrus says nothing.

He starts unloading the truck, and Violet wonders where the rest of the crew is at. She's non-too impressed when she hears that they're out on the piss, but is kind of amused when she realises that Vance has left Snargle in charge of the drinking. Natasha's all up for heading out to find them, but between Vance and Naomi they steer her back inside. Vance allows him a small smile at Natasha's retreating figure, and that he and Naomi could agree on something.

Vance heads to the Domain with Violet. They arrive to find everything has reached peak drunkeness there. Vance opens the door to be hit in the face by a badly-thrown hat. Inside he spots a blindfolded Kale trying to judge his throw, it's well off target - it was supposed to hit a minor demon bound inside a summoning circle inside the door.

There's little Vance can do except join in. He takes the blindfold and a hat and tries his best (hoping no-one spots his cheating peak!) but the throw just misses the demon's horns and flies onto a table of drinks beyond - he buys a round of beer and they haul a skuttered Kale back to the Owl and take off


Kale Arkam
Most of the ship is hurting from a hangover when the Owl passes the site of the Leviathan-hunting. They pick up an automatic distress beacon from the trawler Freebird. After a very brief discussion with Vance, Snargle brings the Owl towards the source of the signal. The Freebird is listing, and going in a slow circle just at the upper edges of the Lower Depths. There's signs of damage, maybe from a Sky Squid...

They come alongside it, and get ready to board to take a look for survivors. Initially Vance says it's just going to be him and Oscar going across, he really doesn't want Snargle going (a pilot might be handy to have back on the Owl if things go wrong). The ship is a mess, and the strong metal door inside is so warped that it takes a considerable effort for them to slip past. With the creaking noise, they hear shouts from below.
They rush to find the Captain, Orlance trapped under a cargo box; very close to a large rift in the hull. They rescue him but don't find any of his crew - August and Claire. Despite Vance's temptation to just take whatever he can save from the Freebird, they set up a towing cable instead and limp back towards Haven.

With all this extra weight, the Owl is sluggish, and when the proximity alert goes off, the best they can do is look out to see what's there because there's nothing on the scope. Snargle starts to pull the Owl up, gaining altitude as much as the Freebird will allow, but then a large Sky Squid comes out of the depths and grabs onto the stricken trawler.

The Owl is straining, and Vance runs to the top turret to see if he can get a shot at the leviathan, but he's not hopeful. Down below, Natasha is suiting up, and goes outside. There's a huge display of violent cyclonic energy, and this incredible concentration of lightning drives the squid off.

Vance has seen this before, but it's even more impressive this time and has saved everything he holds dear. He gives her the crew fist bump as he passes her at the galley table and tells Violet to take out on of the vintage bottles of whiskey.


Back at Haven, Orlance leaves them half of the recovered goods from the Freebird as reward and goes off to check with the other two trawlers to see how they got on and if either of his crew made it. Waiting for Harwood to show up to pick up the merchandise, Vance and Natasha talk about her plans, and he tells her that he considers her part of the crew now.

Harwood arrives, his mechanical leg is very impressive, but it's obvious that he's holding a grudge. They spar, infuriating Natasha, but Vance cuts it short; they're going to get over their problem because Vance is dependable and Harwood needs that.

As payment for the goods, Harwood motions to Violet. The woman rolls up her sleeve and they can see a shifting map of the Remnants. She explains that Seraphina Flint only allows the trusted members of those who need access to be tattoo'ed with the map.

They're going to visit the Pirate Queen...

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