Week 5, Sinking the Gunboat
When we left our heroes last time, Chris was wounded, invisible, and airborne after doing his darnedest to sabotage the cannon on the German gunboat. Alag was swimming about nearby after being shot off the mast, along with the crow's-nest. The rest of us were hiding here and there in the "Rona," waiting to ambush the Germans when the try to board her.
Pfusand, of course, hasn't a hope of hiding. So she ambled over to the side of the boat nearest the Germans, trying to look curious in a stupid, animal -like way. Perhaps she provided distraction as Chris landed and got an emergency healing from Dr. Wu, and while Sophie slipped over the far side of the "Rona," into the water and, she hopes, out of combat.
Just as the gunboat came within boarding range, Hayes led the surprise attack. He, Mubato, and Hiro were the first across, followed soon by Wu and Chris, all of whom go in fighting, mostly with karate or ordinary fisticuffs. Several German sailors get flung into the water. Just as Wu and Mubato locate the magazine (NOT in the gun turret; no wonder Chris couldn't get it to blow up by dropping thermite down the gun), a door in the turret opens and someone fires at them, missing.
Lorelei crosses. It surprises the heck out of these nineteenth-century Germans when a young lady starts tying them in knots with karate. Daewen surprised them, too, but probably moves too fast for them to see clearly what she is. She relieves Mubato and Hayes of their opponents in one double-action karate punch. She then gets clubbed from behind and spends the next few seconds relieving her attacker of his mortal coil.
Tom and Cantrel start firing from on board the "Rona." The two ships are at their closest approach. Pfusand, who is not much of a leaper, can now climb over. She does so and grabs a window on the turret, then begins turning it around so the door faces her and not her friends. Those who have leisure to notice are much impressed. Wu, however, is busy with a German in a berserk fury. He manages to kick the man off the boat -- onto Alag in the water. Sorry about that Alag.
Tom and Nate cross. Cantrel slips into the captain's cabin of the "Rona" and starts snooping. Chris shoots the berserker attacking Alag, gets shot from a gun slit on the turret, and returns fire. The fighting goes on, steadily, with the Germans losing steadily, but inflicting damage on the "Rona" crew.
Eventually, Pfusand swings the turret door over to herself. A pompous man in dress uniform brandishes a sword and shouts in German, "For Emperor and Empire!"
"Oh, an officer!" Pfusand remarks in English. This throws the guy off his stride, but not before he slices at her. So she pounds him.
Daewen and Mubato have fought their way into the magazine, pulping sailors as they go. Mubato now emerges with a shell. He leaps to the roof, poises the shell over the smokestack, and calls to Hayes, "Cap'n!?"
Hayes takes one look at the proposed action and yells, "Abandon ship!" We all turn to leap back on the "Rona" and ... find that it has quietly drifted away. It is now many yards distant. Oh well. Tom and Lorelei leap overboard. Neither can swim, but Tom is still wearing his flying belt and sets it on enough lift to keep him and Lorelei from sinking. Daewen and Alag are next. (Alag climbed out just in time to jump back in.) Wu lingers in order to probe for Pease. He finds him in the turret and tries to sleep him. No good.
Chris thinks it would be nicer to have a gunboat of our own and tries to damp the explosives in the shell with his Alchemical powers, but he isn't sure it works. He turns invisible, grabs Wu, and lofts. Pfusand then goes overboard with a mighty splash. Hayes rescues Hiro from his last set of opponents, then Mubato tosses the shell down the smokestack. The three of them dive in and start swimming.
Wu, up in the air, tries to sleep Pease again. Still no good. Chris dunks both of them into the sea, just of realism, then, lands them on the deck of the "Rona" and turns visible. Sophie meets them, being the next to scramble out of the water.
By now, we are all off the gunboat. We thus get a dramatic view of Pease on top of the gun turret, shaking his fist in the general direction of the "Rona" and shouting, "I'll get you for this, Bully Hayes!"
Tom and Lorelei swing around the gunboat in as wide a circle as they can manage and meet Pfusand, who doesn't know how to swim either. But at least she can float. Tom uses his flying belt as an outboard motor and starts pushing all of them toward the "Rona."
Ever go dynamite fishing? The idea is to kill the fish by exploding dynamite in the water. The gunboat explodes at this point, and Tom, Lorelei, and Pfusand are the fish. The concussion doesn't kill them, but Tom passes out. Lorelei revives him.
That was the shell exploding in the steam engine. Then the magazine blows:
This time Lorelei passes out. Tom tries to revive her but does more harm than good. The boiler then blows up but by this time the drifting wreckage is too far away to do further harm. Eventually, the "Rona" comes and fishes Pfusand and her friends out of the water with the cargo crane. Hayes & Co. then wonder mightily as Dr. Wu patches up Lorelei with Pfusand kneeling by as scrub nurse.
We head out to sea in case the cannibals show up. Chris turns invisible again and takes a farewell flit over the scene of battle, looking for survivors. None appear, except a lone German sailor. Chris slips him a piece of flotsam so he can reach the island and take his chances with the cannibals. Pease is not in evidence.
We set sail for the Philippines, on an ordinary cargo run. Then we will rendezvous with the "Lorraine" in the Solomons. It's a three week cruise, and we spend it training. As a result, Sophie comes on the telepathy net.
Sophie? Well, yes. It seems that when Chris read her memories a while back, when she was sleeping, she was dreaming. In her dream, she read Chris's memories, and most intriguing they were, too. She got a vague idea of what we were up to and confronted Chris and Tom with her suspicions. They did a perfectly lousy job of covering up, so Sophie knows all about the net. As far as any of us can tell, she is no more than she appears to be, so we've added her to our motley list of allies. After all, the worldbenders would screw up her era, too.
Finally, Chris managed to get the ring of invisibility off. It got bent in the explosion that hurt his hand, last episode, and although he could twist it to make the invisibility come and go, he couldn't get it off his ring finger. A little cold water and goose grease fixed that, however. From now on, he wears it on his pinkie.
Copyright © 1998, Jim Burrows. All Rights Reserved.