The New World, First Fleet of the Isles, Steamship Indomitable
First Fleet Master Kose was old and his health was ailing but that did not take the fight out of him and the love for his nation and people. Hence despite his ailing health, he still held command of the First Fleet of the Isles. And when the Outsiders started raiding his beloved Isles, he immediately stepped forward to lead his fleet against the enemy and defend the islands.
To his surprise, Fleet Master Megan had actually offered him four new vessels. The ships were unlike any he has ever seen and the designs remained him of an island whale. The entire vessel was encased in black iron armour plating and long barrels of thunder weapons jutted out from all sides. A fat funnel sat near the middle portion and spew thick black smoke that came from the pair of boilers burning coal, which heated up a water tank and the steam used to power the two paddle wheels on each side of the steamship.
A complicated system of pipes and tanks collected and turned the steam back into water to be reused. At first, Fleet Master Kose was unwilling to take command of the four steamships offered to him by Megan as he was not familiar with their capabilities and he did not fully trust Megan's intentions.
But in the end, the need for more ships to fight against the Outsider's flying ships overweight his concerns and he grudgingly accepted the four steamships into his command. He made one of the steamships as his flagship and brought together on board with his own loyal crew who watched warily over the steamship's crew and its captain.
Along the way to Eastern Islands, he familiarized himself with the operations and abilities of the steamship and ran both shipboard and fleet wide drills to integrate the use of the steamships with the other sail rigged ships. He had some experience with paddle wheel ships that were converted by the United Nations but it was his first time on a fully armoured steamship.
He found the steamships to be very perilous in open water where waves as tall as a person were constantly crashing against the hull of the top heavy ship. Its gunwale rode almost as low as waterline and sprays from waves constantly drenched the sloped hulls. Many of the crew were constantly sick from the rolling decks and worse before they even encountered the enemy, one of the steamships had broken down.
Having no choice but to leave behind a few of his sail rigged ships to protect and tow the disabled steamship, he pushed on with the fleet to rush to the Eastern Islands' defence. Now, seeing first hand the might of the Outsiders' flying ships which both traditional and new cannon weapons did nought to their shields, he knew he has been played by Megan.
The steamships were too slow to escape while the sail rigged ships were too fragile to withstand a few hits. His First Fleet actually outnumbered the flying ships four to one, five to one if including the broken down steamship and its escorts, yet even an encirclement attack against those five flying ships couldn't even break through their magic shields.
Fleet Master Kose slump down on his seat as loud clanks reverbed throughout the entire steamship and a short moment later, a sailor manning the ship wide communications, a console covered with over a dozen speaking horns turned around with a panicked look on his face. "Fleet Master! Captain! We are being boarded!"
"Repel boarders!" The captain of the Indomitable immediately ordered as he heard the report. "All hands to repel boarders!"
"Aye, Captain!" The sailor replied and turned to the speaking horns before him and he started yelling into each and every one of them. "ALL HANDS REPEL BOARDERS!"
Kose's frown deepened and he suddenly ordered. "Order the First Fleet to break off the attack rush to the Eastern Islands! They are to beach their ships and get everything of use off the ships and fortify the islands!"
His sudden orders made everyone inside the command cabin to stare at him in surprise. The captain of the Indomitable quickly voiced his confusion out, "But Fleet Master! We have encircled the Outsiders' flying ships! It is just a matter of time before we wear their magic defences down and victory will be ours!"
Fleet Master Kose shook his head, "Our weapons cannot deal enough damage to their magic defences even if we have another twenty steamships!"
"It is better to preserve the lives of my people by having breaking off the fight!" Kose explained. "Our ships are no much against their flying ships! But on land, the additional sailors might give the Eastern Islands a fighting chance!"
The captain of the Indomitable finally nodded in agreement before he asked, "Than what about us?"
"We will become the bait to keep those flying ships from chasing the rest!"
Grothem was a Cartel shock trooper, hailing from one of the seven mountain peaks of the Mithril Mountains. Since young, he had inspired to see the world outside, rather than confined within the ever darkness of the undercity's tunnels and mines. Once of age, he signed when the recruiters came down from airships looking for new blood.
What followed was months of training and he was granted his wish of seeing the world. Fights against air pirates, monsters, and even with other nations soon taught Grothem the harsh reality of the world and turned him into a veteran.
When the boarding barge slammed against the target, the force of the impact jarred him hard enough to break his teeth if he hadn't been biting down hard on the piece of leather in his mouth. He spat the leather piece that was covered with his teeth marks and bloody saliva before pulling the strapped off the restraining bar that held him in his seat.
He ripped the neck brace off and together with the rest of his shock team, they readied themselves for the fight to come. Weapons were taken out from racks and holsters and they piled up before the nose of the barge. A muffled hissing scream came from outside the barge and an opening appeared. Grothem followed the battle brother before him, crawling through the small opening that dripped with warm water.
Soon he appeared at the other side, his feet armored in thick swabs of leather and iron strips stepping on puddles of water on the wooden deck. He hoisted his shock lance before him, giving the arcane weapon a few charging spins and seeing the needle on the tiny gauge quivering over the red band before he felt assured.
"Stay together!" The shock trooper leader called out as they stepped over bodies curled in up fetal positions around the decks. "Kill any that comes in our way! For Rock and Stone!"
"Rock and Stone!" Grothem echoed with the rest as they advance down the hot and dimly lit decks which looked like some kind of storage hold. Crates and barrels were stacked neatly all over the hold and many pipes of all sizes covered the walls and floors.
Suddenly, the loud hurried patter of footsteps could be heard over the sound of gears and several half naked figures appeared at one side of the hold. The defenders seeing the short dwarvan yelled out an alien war cry and they charged over, brandishing thick swords and axes.
"Kill them! Kill the damned savages!" The shock leader yelled and the rest of the shock troopers wheeled around to face the defenders. Arcs of lightning snapped out like whips and flayed those closest, scorching their half naked bodies and leaving behind burnt marks and the stench of cooked flesh.
Grothem squeezed the lever on his shock lance and the spell runes glowed brightly and with a loud crack, an arc of lightning whipped out like a snake. The lightning arc crawled across a short distance before dispersing into the air but those nearby fell back from the arc of lightning, writhing away in agony. The needle on the gauge of his shock lance instant flickered down to the middle, meaning that it had roughly two more charges left.
He repeated his action over another group of defenders, sending them shattering back from his lightning spell before he charged over the stacked crates with a war cry. His shock lance slammed into the belly of a screaming savage who was bowled over by his charge and the pointy end of his shock lance burst out from his back. "For Rock and Stone!"
With a mighty flick of his arms, he tossed the dying barbarian to the side before he rejoined the battle. Despite the numbers and height of the defenders, Grothem and his battle brothers' height and sized actually became an advantage in the tight narrow confines of the ship's hold. And with superior armor and spell weapons, Grothem and his battle brothers managed to cut down any foolish enough to challenge them.
Soon, the hold emptied, leaving only Grothem and his battle brothers standing in a sea of bodies. Blood pooled and slowly dripped through the wooden cracks of the decks while the dying and wounded moaned and cried. Grothem ripped the dangling shoulder plate off his armor, dropping the mangled plating on the deck with a dull thud before he rotated his sore shoulder. He had taken a downward chop from either a sword or axe and his armor saved him but he knew a nasty bruise will be waiting for him if he ever survived the day.
"Keep pushing!" The shock leader ordered as he stepped away from a body of one of their own. "We will grieve and remember him later! For now, we must take this ship!"
The face of the captain of the Indomitable turned angry by the minute as report after report of nothing but bad news came in through the speaking horns. Some stations had even gone silent which likely the crew were killed or disabled. The sailor manning the communication trumpets was getting nervous as his voice grew more and more pitched with each report.
First Fleet Master Kose let out a deep sigh before he stood up from his chair. He reached to the side and drew two small exquisite looking hand axes that glittered under the glow of the lamps. "Fight your ship, captain! I and my retinue shall deal with the boarders!"
"But...!" The captain of the Indomitable wanted to protest only to be cut off by a shake of Kose's head.
"Buy as much time for the rest of the Fleet to disengage, Captain!" Kose said as his aides helped him into a set of light armor that protected his vitals. "I will do the same!"
With that, he left the command cabin followed by his loyal men, and they headed towards the closest location where sightings of enemy boarders had been reported. His retinue silently followed him as they formed up into a protective phalanx around Kose. Soon, sounds of fighting came to their ears and they formed themselves appearing behind several crew members whose backs were facing them.
Before them, a small shield wall of short beings which called themselves Dwarvans had formed up. Piles of bodies littered the passageway around them and they advanced forward with their shields and short lances pointing out. Despite their short stature, the Dwarvans looked confidant and wore heavy armour covering almost all parts of their bodies. Their determined eyes stared out from the tiny slits in their full faced helmets and they even had the discipline to advance in order in the tight confines of the ship.
"Back!" A frightened sailor cried out in fear as he swung his sword wildly before him at the approaching shield wall. "S- Stay away!"
"Hold your spirit, sailor!" A loud bellow came from behind the frightened sailors as Kose came thundering forward. He stood tall and proud despite his ailing condition and he strolled forward with his retinue closely around him. "Stand and fight! Fight for your friends! Your brothers! Your sisters! For the Isles!"
"FOR THE ISLES!"