A Winter Morning
Here is the next part of the serialized tale from our role play group "The Messdeck".
You can start from the beginning here.
Previously Lt Cmdr Maxwell MacDonald-Smythe is in command of the old airship HMAS Doris currently moored to a tall tower in York on her way to Scapa Flow. He is visited by a fellow officer Lt John Barbesly. Max knew him as the aid to the Admiral of the Pacific Airship Fleet in Esquimalt but he is now working for Naval Intelligence under the formidable Fleet Admiral Avis Chicheley. He tells Max about the mystery surrounding the sabotage attempt on Max's ship, the HMAS Velvet Brush, in Esquimalt two years ago.
Here is part IV
* Lt Barbesly excused himself on the grounds of doing his trick on ship watch for the black naval airship moored beneath the old Doris on the tower. He kindly "donated" the heater to the cabin for the comfort of Miss BB and Iveta, and promising to tell the rest of the Doris' crew that they weren't expected back until first light, he took his leave. After a quick and very cold tour of the Doris to make sure everything was secure, Max went back to the little cabin in the control car and is soon fast asleep.*
*Three hours later, with the automatic timing of a sailor long used to standing 4 hour watches, Max shakes himself awake and does another ship check. As dawn breaks across the grey winter sky the crew begins to climb back up. The first to appear is Sgt Fraser with Cpl Cooke close behind him.*
Fraser comes across the walkway and as he steps onto the control car he comes to attention and salutes smartly. "Good Morning Sir!"
"At ease Sergeant, I trust you had a comfortable night below?"
"Aye Sir. I half expected to find you frozen solid though Sir!"
Max chuckles. "That might have been the case Sergeant, save for a happy intervention by an old friend of mine. How did the rest of the crew fare?"
"No troubles Sir, most spent it in the pub with the crew of that black ship below us. Miss BB seems to have accumulated a fair pile of additional scarves and blankets though."
"And not a small amount of coin either I expect."
"Aye Sir more an likely."
Cpl Cooke comes aboard with a large box which he puts on the deck before saluting Max smartly. "A care package from Lt Barbesly Sir, said he didn't think we was equipped properly for such winter travels."
*Max opens the box to see several canisters that look like they would fit the bottom of the mushroom heater in the cabin. There are also several loaves of bread, some insulated jars of mulled wine, and a lovely old bottle of rum.*
Max clicks his tongue in appreciation. "Ah John, always the organized one eh? Thank you Cpl please stow this in the cabin."
"Aye aye Sir."
*Next to appear is Iveta who almost leaps aboard with a step so light that the control car barely moves. She gives Max a quick salute and a "Good Morning Sir!" and heads directly into the cabin to start working up the course that they will need to fly.*
*A few moments later Max can see Simpson at the top of the stairs burdened with a large duffel bag, followed by Miss BB with an equally large duffel and finally Watkins brings up the rear. Each member of the crew stops and salutes Max as they board the small airship. Except Miss BB who walks right by him before stopping most of the way to the cabin. With a muttered "Oh Dear!" she quickly turns and salutes with a squeaky, "Good Morning" and vanishes into the cabin.*
Max looks out at the slowly brightening winter day and says, "Well gentlemen, at least the wind seems to have dropped so maybe we will be able to make some headway." Turning to Watkins he says, "Prepare for up ship in 10 minutes!"
"Up Ship in 10 minutes Aye aye Sir!"
As the two mechanics climb up the ladder to the open keel walk Max can hear Watkins saying, "Right aft we go and get that old engine warming up, if she'll start at all in this cold!"
The Marine snaps to attention."Sir!"
"Think you can handle the unmooring?"
"Aye Sir, no worries Sir!"
"Very good, grab yerself another couple of them scarves of Miss BB's and standby to go aloft as soon as Watkins gets the drive going."
"Aye aye Sir!"
*As the crew begins the bustle and apparent chaos of a ship preparing to unmoor and head off into the winter skies, Max stands at the front of the control car, his hands clasped behind his back, looking down on the sleek black topsides of the navy airship moored below.*
Now, Mr John Barbesly, I'm thinking there is no way you just happened to be here by accident. You was sent by Admiral Chicheley I'm sure. She's keeping a close eye on us an no mistake. I wonder what she'll make of our little diversion today?
Part V is here.