“Years ago our world had as much land as water, but that was years ago, long before anyone alive today was around.
Now all we have is the sea.
Exactly what happened is unknown, lost to the years, lost to us in the water, what is clear is it was the ship captains who saved what they could and brought us hope. Hope of a fresh start on the islands we now call home. We are a scattered bunch of islands with only a few thousand inhabitants each a the world is smaller now and we still look to the Captains to lead us. Some call the Captains pirates, I call them our last chance.”
- Unknown, date unknown
“Our first Howitzer, fully operational it will defend the entrance to our island from all threats, hopefully its very presence will be a deterrent to anyone who would think to challenge us.” The island’s Captain said looking up at the bases newest commissioned defensive weapon.
“A complete waste of money, Captain.” Someone said walking through the crowd
“Senator Michaels, your opinion was well noted and it was out voted in the council, as the way of this island the majority leads.” The captain said with a broad smile.
“Captain, how long has it been since this island was attacked, by anyone?” Senator Michaels asked raising his arms getting people’s attention in his usual grand style. Michaels was a politician he'd lived his entire life on this island working first in ship building and then coordinating the zythium mines and harvest fleets.
“There’s always a first time, Senator” the Captain replied. The Captain was Michaels complete opposite some said he'd been born on the waves on board one of the harvest ships others said he felt as sick when he stood on land as other did when they were on a ship.
“I could believe that Captain, but how long has it been since you own Marauder has seen combat.” Michaels said looking over at the Captain’s own ship sitting in the docks the Marauder, the biggest ship of the fleet, was one of the survivors of the great floods and the last ship remaining from that era which was still afloat. The Marauder rarely put to sea instead leaving it to the newer classes that had been developed over the years. “How long Captain?”
“Many moons, Senator, however there is always a first time and we must always be ready. The Howitzer will safeguard us in the immediate future, we should celebrate this not argue.” He said trying to keep the peace.
“You mean the Captain’s should celebrate still remaining in control.” The Senator said this time smiling himself. “The Howitzer and its crews fall under your command, Captain” he said reminding the Captain that he ruled with the gun as much as the respect he held.
“We are only here to protect this island and it’s people as we have always done, as our predecessors did, if I could I would step down tomorrow. But you know, as well as I do, Senator that if a threat arose tomorrow we are the only ones who would protect this island.” He said reminding Michaels of his own limitations.
“As your predecessors did, the Captains keeping the power destined for civilian authorities…” Michaels began before the Outpost’s sirens began “what is that?”
“The Emergency sirens” the Captain replied raising his hand to his ear pressing the communicator there. “Operations, what do we have?” He demanded the communications officer replied rapidly his emotions high and adrenaline pumping. Moments later the Captain turned back to the Senator “one of our Longboats is coming in, on fire, perhaps you civilians will excuse me.”
“Was it an accident?” Michaels asked as the crowd watched the Captain leave “were they attacked?”
“There’s always a first time!” the Captain shouted back grimly running down the dock at the outer marker the inbound ship was coming in. The Longship was smaller than the Marauder-class most often it was used as a miner gathering resources for use on the island building new facilities, researching new, or lost, technologies and in new ship development.
Reaching the docks the Captain watched as the Longship moved into the shipyards on autopilot, it was too dangerous for a ship to manoeuvre in island’s narrow channel under its own control. As soon as it was in range of the docks fire fighters on the piers began to douse the vessel with foam extinguishing the flames allowing medical crews on board. Charging aboard the Captain headed for what remained of the ship’s bridge the ship’s hull holed and battered but it was thankfully intact. It would take days just to remove the damaged armour and weapons before repairs could begin maybe a fortnight before the ship could go back to sea. The bridge was destroyed only a single member of the ship’s bridge crew of six remained alive he looked about sixteen his head bloodied from a wound and he was holding onto the ship’s main wheel like it was all he had left in the world. The Captain ran to his side pulling the young man to his feet “Lieutenant, what happened out there?” He demanded seeing the man was awake “what pirate attacked you?”
“Not a pirate, something new.” He struggled out “in mining fields” he said before passing out from the blood loss.
“Get a medic over here!” The captain shouted, moments later as the medics arrived he rose to his feet looking around at the devastation the five other members of the bridge laid dead each having sustained multiple gunshot wounds and burns from the fire. Touching his hand to his ear he tapped the communicator there twice activating the Marauder’s communications system drawing himself up to attention, as if that made a difference, he spoke loudly and clearly. “This is the Captain to all crewmen and officers of the Marauder. Fuel the engines, arm all ripper cannons and prepare to put out to sea.” He said marching off the wrecked Longship back onto the pier there stood Senator Michaels and his civilian following.
“Captain, what do you intend to do?” Michaels asked the others too stunned by what they were seeing to speak.
“I’m going to find out what is going on out there, I’m taking the Marauder out to the mining fields to find the cause of this damage, and I am going to make sure they pay for the lives that have been lost today.”
“That will leave us defenceless!” Michaels protested “you have a responsibility, all the Captains do!”
“My responsibility is to the sea; you have the Howitzer that and the sea wall will protect you.”
“When the first attacks occurred we thought it was other pirates finally turning their eyes towards us however it was really the Draconians. Appearing from what appeared to be nowhere they set up bases and sent out hunting parties, almost overnight, every mining cluster in the sea was guarded or under attack by Draconian forces. The initial attacks caught everyone by surprise the Draconians travelled in fleets of up to five ships some of them massive too large for anyone to challenge. There was no communications, no visible contact instead we had to try and match them developing new weapons, new ships and new defences. Although this helped us match the Draconians it also brought the attacks from other islands, ambitious ship captains and ruthless pirates seeing our success wanted some for themselves and so it started the never ending cycle of war.”
- Tech Master Owen, Captain's Island
The old Marauder took to the seas as easy as any new ship it’s hull cutting through the growing waves as a storm brewed on the horizon. On the bridge the Captain stood like a statue staring out to sea, it was mid afternoon you could see for miles and miles even with the darkening clouds. “Set a course for the mine the longship crew were mining at full speed.”
“Aye, Captain” the helm officer replied, the Marauder turned away from the Island heading east towards a nearby metal mine. After the waves and the floods had consumed most of the land the survivors, the islanders as they were now collectively known, had been able to find areas of land too small for a base of operations but large enough for a small crew to land and to mine minerals from. They’d found some run down but operational wind farms floating on the ocean still anchored to the bedrock as they had been for centuries surviving even the raising tides, with a little modification they had been able to tap into these farms, giving them an energy resource to run the outposts and work their machines. Over time the pirates had constructed new oil rigs and tapped the Earth's oil reserves for the first time in decades giving them access to lost resources and another lifeline to recreating their world.
The journey towards the metal mine was a short one but before they even reached the mine the Captain could see a difference, ahead in the middle of a mining area a huge metallic island now sat almost like it had had risen from beneath the sea. Although the Marauder hadn’t been to sea in many years the Captain often joined mining and trade missions and he knew this was something new. “What the hell?” The Captain whispered trying to keep his surprise hidden from the crew.
“Sir, incoming vessels from the… that thing” a crew member warned stumbling over the words. “To the east sir.” He warned as all eyes turned towards the incoming vessels.
“Helm, slow to quarter speed” the Captain ordered raising his telescope scanning the horizon. Suddenly he saw them six ships moving in close formation five vessels forming an arrowhead in front of a cargo ship. He didn’t recognize any of the ship designs only that they moved fast, were large and they didn’t appear to have any open deck areas. “They aren’t coming any closer to us, prepare to dock with the mine, we’ll test the ground see if anyone approaches us and if…” Before he could finish his sentence someone shouted a warning.
“Incoming fire!” moments later machine gun fire raked the Marauder from long range, most of it missed landing in the sea but some tore into the ship’s hull ripping into the metal but causing no serious damage or casualties.
“Helm, come to port thirty degrees! Ripper Turrets fire at targets as they come into range!” The Captain screamed looking at the incoming ships three small ships no larger than a scout ship employed by the Outpost. They were moving in the same close arrow-head formation as the large ship were closing on the single Marauder. As they closed all three ripper turrets, on the marauder, opened fire. The three cannons were positioned fore, centre and aft and intended on providing 360 degree cover for the Marauder. The gunners coordinated their fire on the first target tearing it to pieces before immediately switching targets to the second vessel none of the crews needed direction instead assessing the threat these ships posed and dealing with them. The Captain smiled glad to see the crew had not forgotten their training or dedication however it was not over yet the Marauder was hit again causing more damage.
“Communications are out sir!” Someone reported
“Understood, continue turn aft gun volley fire both remaining targets. Forward and midships reload prepare for second round.” The Marauder continued to turn the aft gun now picking up the slack of the other guns firing into both remaining vessels who had realized that the Marauder was ready for a fight unlike the Longship.
“Sir, they are trying to put us between them, they are flanking us!”
“Continue turn! Forward and midships rippers prepare to attack target designated Alpha.” the Captain said activating his own console indicating which target he wanted hit the system immediately fed his information to the gun turrets. “Aft gun continue volley fire at Beta target.”
There was some “aye sirs” but they were droned out by the Marauder taking more enemy fire the Captain grimaced his beloved ship had served for years and years how long would the repairs be this time. The forward and midships guns suddenly opened fire together tearing into their target the deafening roar of a pair of Ripper Machine Cannons was something to behold, not the most advanced weapon of the old world it was one of the few weapons completely understood by the Outpost's scientists and it had become standard fit on all the Outpost’s ships. After today the Captain thought perhaps it was time to invest in some new weapons research, and some more Howitzers…
Two more impacts against the Marauder’s hull brought the Captain back from his thoughts of the future into the real world and the continued battle. Suddenly the ship in front of them exploded in a ball of flame, whoever these people were their ships weren’t built to last in a fight. “Helm, bring us to starboard bring forward guns into play against target bravo” the captain ordered, the last ship must have realized that it was useless to continue and was turning to run but there was no chance the captain or her crew would allow that now. The Marauder continued it’s graceful turn bringing it’s guns on the target, suddenly all three rippers field’s of fire merged on the single remaining damaged target, it stood no chance the three machine gun turrets tore the ship to pieces. As the last ship appeared to begin to surrender something exploded inside the ship blowing up whatever remained of the craft.
“B*******” the Captain swore seeing the destruction of the vessel “they don’t want us to know who they were… all crew this is the Captain well done.” he said congratulating the crew, their first combat in years and a victory. “Commence repairs and salvage operations we need to find out who these people were.” He said dishing out new orders “Commander, you have the bridge.” He said to his executive officer before heading below to his cabin, there was much to think about.
Hours later with its battle damage repaired the Maruader began to sail home to the Outpost, from the destroyed enemy ships they had found crates of metal ore that their crews had mined before attacking the Marauder, a couple of weapon fragments but no sign of the crew only a name “Draconian” a name completely foreign to the captain he wondered who they were and what their presence meant to the Outposts continued survival only time and the people’s reactions would tell.