Shaundar and Yathar stood with Sylria on Queenie’s Castle Deck, smoking cigars together. They’d stopped smoking pipes because it was just too time consuming to load and light, and a waste of perfectly good tobacco if they were suddenly called into action, which happened more and more frequently. The cigars were cheap and slightly sour – the best they could generally do on their Lieutenant’s pay – but Shaundar was becoming almost affectionately attached to them.
Supply lines were becoming more strained, too. Occasionally, the alu’quesst ration was being supplemented with the human creation of grog. Shaundar was not fond of it and generally chose not to have his allotted taut when that was what was available. But he didn’t complain. Nobody did. That was just what there was.
They were in orbit around the Karpri space station, along with the burnt-out hulks of a Scorpion and an Ogre Mammoth, and a Hammership that was technically a prize but would likely be pressed into Navy service, depriving them of their shares. The prisoners – survivors, is more like it, Shaundar thought privately – were few enough to be kept comfortably in the Hammership’s hold. They had been exceptionally meek. This was making the Matey jumpy, but Shaundar had no doubt that it was no act.
The Karpri station showed recent signs of battle to go with its ancient scars from when the illithid had destroyed it just after the First Unhuman War. Shaundar felt badly for it. The starfly plants that comprised it seemed deeply saddened. Or maybe he was just being maudlin. He was not sure what had possessed the scro to decide to take it. Surely they must have guessed that there would be a reason that the elves had not used it themselves, now that war had returned to Realmspace?
The Queen’s Dirk had been sent to stop them, and stop them they had, but by the time they had arrived, the enemy had already landed and all hands not actively manning the helm were forced to become a boarding party. Shaundar shook his head to banish yesterday’s images of screaming and blood from his mind. Ship battles could be brutal but they were rarely so personal. He wondered how Yathar managed it, being a marine. Continue reading →