Chapter 20 of Lead Heart is up!
The world hung silent, just for a moment. Six pairs of eyes stared up into one very sheepish pair. The ship jerked to the side as someone latched on from below. Leliana’s instincts took charge and she was standing on deck with a cut rope before anyone else registered what was really happening. She sprinted to the closet she knew held the docking rope and tied it to the same one she’d been wearing all day. The door to the stairs smashed open as Sekkel flew through it.
“Captain, there is a giant hook sticking into the hold from below.” He splayed his hands roughly 3 feet wide. “Have Teena bring her toolbox down, quick!” Everyone on deck scattered, all hands getting ready to repel the attack. Leliana had no time for those distractions.
The rope snaked through the air, landing on Gib. His huge hands wrapped around the cable as she sprinted the opposite direction. “Got it!” His triumphant smile flipped upside down as she sailed over the edge. “WAIT!” The rope pulled taught and his feet gouged the deck all the way to the railing, saved at the last minute by Jovi and Antros. The ship lurched sideways and swung slowly like a pendulum as the girl passed under it.
Below, a huge blade ruthlessly dealt with the attackers. One man whizzed past two others clinging to a rope. Moments later, his arm followed. Another dangled unconsciously from two hooks embedded into the ship. A scrawny girl flailed at Leliana with a torch, eyes wide. She wore a similar set of hooks and had started to burn a hole through the wood. The harpoon was embedded solidly in the center, and held the rope the two men clung to.
Leliana rebounded off the opposite wall and shot across the ship like a bullet, forcing the ship itself to jerk upright. She spun and watched two men on a rope and one unconscious guy plummetting through the air, cleanly cut free. The two puffed up with their own wingsuits after about 200 feet. Damn.
She was suddenly reeled in by the panicked trio on deck. “There’s still another one attached, she’s going to cut through the hull!” Leliana hopped up onto the railing, but was engulfed in a massive hug from behind. “Ack!”
Jovi rushed over. “You nearly flipped us over girly! Leave the last one to Antros and help me check the other side.” She was yelling to be heard above the wind and consfused shouting on deck, and Leliana handed over the harness reluctantly. “But I…”
“Got it!” Antros threw on the gear while Gib ran the rope around the mast. He crouched low and heaved a couple quick breaths, then disappeared overboard with a roar.
“Right, I’ll get the ones that escaped!” Muscle memory assembled the rifle for her and Leliana was sighting over the opposite edge in a heartbeat.
“Escaped?” Jovi ran after her. “What do you mean escaped?”
“They were on a rope but I cut ’em free so I could fight the torch lady.” She selected a couple of heavy, metal bullets – the improvised ones would be far too light. The men were gliding fast, she needed to concentrate.
Load the chamber.
Line up the shot.
“But the bastards are all wearing some weird flight suits so…” She trailed off to lead the first target.
The shot missed by a mile, Jovi’s singed hands gripping the hot steel. The drifting men starting screaming and zigzagging slowly.
“What are you doing!?” Leliana’s nostrils flared. The price of the bullet sprang to mind for a split second.
“They’re not a threat anymore, why are you going to kill them?”
“Wha- Er, I mean.” The girl glanced between Jovi and the two men below, her hands grasping for answers. “They’ll get away. They’ll just come back and hit us again. Strategically it’s in our best interest to -”
Jovi’s hands shot up. “No.”
Leliana’s eyes shot open. “What! Those guys probably have a team somewhere, they might just land and start shooting at us with something bigger!” She was gesturing wildly now, yelling to be heard over the whistling sails.
“And they may not!”
She pointed at the men with the barrel of the rifle. “They started this fight, they could’ve killed us. We can’t just let them leave!”
Two pairs of eyes stared into each other, raging wills struggled for control in a suddenly silent world. “I don’t need that blood on my hands.” Jovi’s lip quivered as her voice dropped, but her eyes were hard.
“But I’m the one-”
Jovi’s eyes shot wide open. “I am the captain. I am responsible for every single thing you do on this ship. That includes making sure people don’t sneak up on us, and that includes murder. Do not kill those men.” Jovi suddenly towered over Leliana, regardless of who actually stood taller.
Leliana shoved the gun back into her bag. “Fine.” She found herself, arms crossed, tracing lines on the wood with her eyes. A technique she’d picked up back “home” to keep control of herself. The ship creaked and groaned as Gib helped Antros back up, a long, black streak running the length of his forearm.
“Man she got me good, but I shook ’em loose. No more that I could…” He looked from face to face. “Uh. Everything alright up here?”
Leliana counted grains in the wood.
“We’re all alright, thanks to you two.” Jovi replied breathlessly. She looked at Leliana, then back to Antros. “Let’s get below and check everything out, fire is definitely something to worry about.”