I played Lady Blackbird last week at a friend’s house. It’s a freeform storytelling RPG with a steampunk flair to it. Lady Blackbird is a noblewoman who is escaping an odious arranged marriage to reunite with her lover, the Pirate King Uriah Flint. The story starts as she and the crew she hired to transport her to Flint’s location on the other side of the solar system have been captured by Imperials and need to escape. I played the title character, Lady Blackbird.
Well, it seems we’ve gotten ourselves out of another fine mess! After landing us in the brig of the Imperial Hand of Sorrow, at least Captain Vance was able to finagle us back out again– mostly through liberal application of eletro-explosives on the part of the handy and capable Mister Arkam, and some very well-timed maneuverings on the part of Mister Snargle. The Captain, on the other hand– feh! I need not explain what an ill-bred, frustrating man he is! Hard to believe a former officer of the Imperial Fleet can be so….
Anyway, enough. We escaped. Naomi had taken a blow to the head during our capture, which is probably all that saved her from being killed outright trying to defend me. Poor girl; I adore her loyalty, but I do hope she’ll learn some finess through osmosis.
After some skillful evasion, we set down at Haven for repairs and refueling. The Captain assigned jobs to everyone, and I announced my intention to go into port and do some shopping. In truth, I wanted to gather information on Uriah’s whereabouts. I understand the Remnants are a very large place. Plus…. those rumors I’ve heard….
Well, can you believe the Captain tried to order me to stay aboard ship! The nerve! As he was ranting and raving about how dangerous it was, I did offer that he could come along, of course. With Naomi still out of commission, I hadn’t intended to go to the surface without an escort anyway. Silly man, he continued to rant and rail until he insisted that he take me himself.
Being a gracious person, I let him persist in the fiction that it was all his idea.
We went to the surface and I went into my “star-struck trollop” persona, latched onto the Captain’s arm– see, this would have been much harder with Naomi!– and prompted one of his various contacts in Haven for information on Uriah. He revealed there was a deserter who Uriah had abandoned on some rock out in the badlands somewhere– I made mental notes to follow up on that. Although we later obtained some information that might help us find Uriah, I’m not a fool. I’d like to have a safety net, if not for myself, then for the crew of the Owl.
And there’s the problem, isn’t it? I’m absolutely terrible at this piracy and smuggling business. I ought to be looking for a way to abandon them all and find Uriah on my own, sparing myself the last of the delivery fee, but I just can’t bring myself to do it. From Mister Snargle’s brash, daredevil tactics at the helm– he spins amazing feats of prowess with our little rusty bucket of tin. To Mister Arkam’s high talents in keeping that same rusty bucket capable of not just flight, but such amazing accomplishments! I admire these men– they’re tremendous at what they do, and they’re remarkably likeable to boot!
Oh! I haven’t even written about —
Oh, fine. Yes, the Captain is very capable. Of course. He has the gift of command. If I didn’t know better, I’d suspect him of being noble born. Satisfied?
No, of course not. You wouldn’t be. But let me finish my story, may I?
When we were all back on board, I took a much-needed shower. Consorting with common criminals on Haven was exhilarating, but I must confess– most of them need instruction in hygiene. I was more than a little embarrassed on my way back to my cabin when I ran into the Captain in the hallway. These small ships lack appropriate private spaces for a lady to tend to her toilette without undermining the mystique. I’m afraid the Captain caught me at my most undone– dressed, of course, but only in a wrapped robe and slippers. Hardly a modest costume. And my hair– well, I’m sure I looked quite the hoyden.
After we left Haven, we headed for Nightport, looking for information on that deserter. On our way into port, a familiar voice came over the comm, insulting Captain Vance rather heartily. Wouldn’t you know, it was that scoundrel Captain Macalley! To think I nearly hired him for this job! After I failed to bluff him away, we engaged in what can only be called a dogfight, darting this way and that– and here we saw the prime reason I chose the Owl over Macalley’s larger, more gun-laden ship. It’s smaller and faster, and in the right hands– oh, my you should have seen Mister Snargle’s masterful work at the controls!
The Captain took the guns while Mister Snargle literally flew circles around them. After we… oh fine, after the Captain penetrated their cargo bay with the ship’s guns, I saw that Mister Snargle was getting quite upset over the loss of laborer life– the yeomen in the cargo bay were shunted out of the gaping hole left by the 37. I billowed up a quick windstorm to bring them safe to ground with only a few minor bumps and bruises. Mister Snargle’s a good man, for a goblin, and certainly, he has a touch for the common folk.
After their cargo bay was wide open, Mister Arkam had the brilliant plan to board their vessel and search for some information we need to complete our mission– yes, I am talking about navigational maps to the Remnants! He fashioned this rather wicked electric rope out of a chain and an oversized capacitor from the engine room and used it to lasso his way over to the other vessel.
Now, I did wait for him to be over on the other ship before notifying the Captain. And perhaps I ought to have left well enough alone. But… is not the Captain the master of the entire vessel? Is not the crew both his responsibility as well as his command? I would be most put out if any of Uriah’s men flouted his authority so flagrantly. So I shimmied up to the gunnery to let the Captain know of this development– and that we ought not to blow the ship out of the skies until Mister Arkam had returned.
Do you know he had the nerve to ask if I’d like to take a vote? Here I am, reinforcing his authority aboardship, and he–!
In any case, I went down to our cargo bay to get into position to catch Mister Arkam on his way in. With all our wild flying, it was going to be very difficult for him to leap from the other ship– now quite damaged and in danger of complete destruction– onto ours. I secured myself a bit indelicately by wrapping my legs very tightly around one of the support beams. Good thing I have so much practice with these kinds of athletic maneuvers.
The cargo hold opened and I spun out a funnel of air to draw in Mister Arkam on his jump. Mister Snargle moved us beneath the damaged ship, and Mister Arkam leapt directly into the storm! It was truly a thing of grace and beauty!
And then, seconds later, our guns struck again, obliterating the cockpit– followed almost immediately by several explosions in the engine’s boiler.
Although we sustained some damage to the Owl, it was minimal compared to what we’d done to the other vessel. The comm has been crackling all afternoon with reports of the damage. To Mister Snargle’s relief (mine, too), the cargo workers did make it to the surface safely, though with no ship, crew, or work, I can’t see that it will be of much use to them.
In closure, I’d like to point out that it has been a tremendous few days. I will be very grateful to finally be in the arms of Uriah, though. I will miss Misters Arkam and Snargle– fine, Captain Vance, too– but it would be nice to find myself in a slightly more orderly organization.
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