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Casting Off

Silver stood on the deck next to the wheel which Orfeo manned while Morph sat on Silver’s shoulder. This was going to be their first dry run. Everything was stored aboard but one always needed to shake things out before the real voyage started. If there was a second time. “Everything ready, Mister Arrow?” He called to the First Mate who stood below him.

“Aye, aye, Captain.” Mister Arrow touched a finger to his hat. “Everyone and everything is ship shape. Just give the word, sir.”

Silver glanced up at Mrs. Hawkins who was in the riggings with the others. He used his telescopic vision and thought he saw her smile back at him. He started to give the order for the shakedown cruise when an image flashed in front of him.

It was Jeborah. “Silver, as Henry feared you must leave now. Officers from the Admiralty are here with orders for your arrest and impoundment orders for the Ariel.” He smiled back at someone off the image. “Ah, I see you’re here. I’m sorry for the delay in getting in to see me. Just give me a minute, good sirs. After all, I’m 655 years old.” The image vanished.

Silver leaned over the rail. “Change of plans, Mister Arrow. We have to leave now. ”

“Aye, Sir. As we discussed?”

“You have that right, Mister Arrow.” He turned to the helmsman as Mister Arrow began bellowing out the new commands for emergency departure. “Do it, mister Orfeo.”

“Aye, aye, Captain. Course laid in.” He punched several buttons on a lighted panel behind him with one tentacle while he spun the wheel with the other three and stepped on the throttle with his center tentacle.

Below decks in the drive room the Big Lizard heard the claxon sound from the push on the throttle and began punching buttons and pulling levers. Overhead Silver’s voice came over the speaker. “Engine Room, full power. We’re about to have some very-uninvited guests wearing government red.”

The Big Lizard punched down another button and a display screen lit up, showing him the scene outside on the dock. The screen was usually used to inspect the firing tubes but it was also useful as a rear-view mirror. He grunted as he saw Her Majesty’s Marines fighting their way clear of the sailors and gawkers on the docks who had gathered to watch the launch and now beginning their charge down the long dock, entirely ignoring the signs warning them that this was a ship launch area and stay out when the claxon was sounding, which it most certainly was. He glanced over at his other displays and grunted again in satisfaction. He kept the rear display on. He wanted to watch this.

The marine commander running along the dock with his squad said to the officer in the carriage pulled by laboring horses. “We have them, Sir. Before they can get clear of the docks and fully charged we’ll be dragging them to heel.”

“Good.” The officer adjusted his monocle. “I wonder how that shrew that slapped me will like her time in jail?”

The Big Lizard looked at the image viewer as the marines pounded towards them. He grinned. Captain wanted full power. Full power he’d get. He smiled at all the batteries with the latest atomic-level tech. They had been brought aboard fully charged and their lights were green. It was time to go. He threw the lever.

“Sir!” Shouted the marine commander. “They just opened the launching ports and that sounds like a full charge.” The background hum that had been droning away suddenly changed pitch and shot way up the scale.

“What? That’s impossible.” The officer shouted. He never got to finish saying what was impossible as the tubes lit up and the resulting blast wave blew him back out of the carriage and into a pterodactyl nest. Fire gouted as the ship turned to face the stars and then shot into the heavens. The officer never saw it leave as the parents and their chicks with razor-sharp teeth immediately attacked him and ripped his Gordon Brothers uniform (100 pounds with gold braid extra) into shreds and threw him out of the nest to sprawl alongside the marine commander where they happily defecated on him.

The marine commander got to his feet, wiped the black soot out of his eyes, and then tipped his helmet back and watched the fire trail vanish into the distance. He shook his head. Wherever they were going, they were going there faster than anything he’d ever seen. There was a BOOM that was more felt than heard. “By the saints, it’s already in warp.” He said in wonder, adding. “And where could they be going in such a hurry?”


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