The Sun Never Sets (Part 1 of 2)

Posted by on Jan 18, 2012 in Blog | Comments Off on The Sun Never Sets (Part 1 of 2)

The Sun Never Sets (Part 1 of 2)

Written by Admin | Tags: , ,

This short story was submitted to us by Featured Author Luke Loseby, a Dystopian Wars gamer who was clearly inspired to create this entertaining story. We hope you enjoy reading his work as much as we did:

Francis stepped onto the bridge of the HMS Deliverer and instantly felt like the outsider, his scarlet red coat contrasting starkly against the deep blue of the other officers present.

The two officers closest to the door turned briefly as he entered and then quickly returned their attention to the Captain who continued apace explaining the actions of the last few days, “Needless to say,” he exclaimed with such animation that some of his tea spilled over the rim and into the white china saucer, “…the admiwal will know who to turn to the next time the colony is attacked.”

Captain Montgomery T. Sawlington ran his bridge like a gentlemen’s club. Conversation was dominated by bluster and witty repartee and his junior officers always refrained from being too witty in reply, else the Captain’s legendary temper reared its head. The Captain had also become a fan of the latest linguistic fad of exchanging his r’s for w’s.

“Ah Fwancis,” the captain said, pretending to have just noticed Francis’ entry, “Looks like we might have a bit more fighting to do before the day’s out, so be a good chap and wound up your boys and have them on alert.”

“Aye Captain,” replied Francis uncertainly, “Might I know the reason, sir, so I can be sure they are ready?”

The Captain shuffled from one foot to the other, pausing for dramatic effect. Captain Sawlington was tall and always immaculately dressed but thinly built. His sunken cheeks were further accentuated by his habit of sucking and pursing his lips between his words. He stared at Francis from his beady, sunken eyes beneath his giant forehead. “Nothing you need bother yourself with, Lieutenant, a few fwigates ahead we’re taking a look at, nothing we can’t handle,” he said in his most superior yet offhandedly casual manner. “Mewely pwocedure my boy.”

The HMS Deliverer was just returning from action off the Malayan peninsular. It was part of a combined Britannian fleet providing support to land forces suppressing incursions from the Empire of the Blazing Sun.

It was a fairly routine mission that almost went awry due to the Captain’s need to order some reckless action in all missions he commands…at least in Francis’ opinion. This particular action had needlessly put the ship in assault range of Blazing Sun forces and only Francis’ marines managed to repel them, despite copping a mauling.

“Sir, we’re only a short distance from our port and my men are short on supplies, not to mention the wounded. Wouldn’t it…”

“That sounds vewy much to me like you were about to tell me how to wun my ship, Lieutenant!” exclaimed the Captain, cutting Francis off and already going red in the face.

“Not at all, sir, I just thought that if…”

“Ships are like the human body, Lieutenant, and the Captain is the bwain. When I tell my arm to move, I like it to move, not ask me why or make alternative suggestions.  These ships up ahead are not a thweat and we’ll have them all sorted I fancy before you even get to the lower decks, I mewely alerted you as a courtesy. So alert your boys if you will or go down and sit meekly on your behind if you pwefer, quite twuthfully I don’t give a damn.”
Francis saw all eyes were on him and felt his blood begin to boil. He was about to retort but thought the better of it and simply saluted and turned to leave.

“That’s a good boy,” finished the Captain. “Now where was I?”

Francis paused at the door but simply breathed deeply, suppressing the anger building in his chest, and stepped out into the warm tropical air. He returned his Bicorn hat to his head, covering his thick mess of black hair, and straightened his officer sash. From where he stood he could see the other ships of the detachment returning from Malaya.

The two cruisers HMS Brawn and HMS Ascent were trailing slightly out to port and three frigates were up ahead, one cruiser and six frigates down from the full detachment that sailed into the Malayan waters. He descended the stairs at the rear of the bridge and then walked across the deck beneath to the upper fore deck.

He stood beside the massive three-barrelled main gun, peering out towards the cape up ahead where three Blazing sun frigates began to move around the head of the island, only tiny specks at this distance. But the HMS Deliverer was fast and Francis knew that by the time it too was around the head, the frigates would be well within range.

As Francis stepped through the hatch and began descending into the bowels of the ship, the sweet warm air outside was replaced by the sticky noxious stench of the sturginium boilers. The sounds of breaking water and sea breezes were taken over with the ominous rumble and deep thumping rhythm that you could feel in your chest, a constant reminder of the dangerously unstable technology that powered the ship.

“Attention!” Sergeant Bailey bellowed as Francis entered the marine quarters. The marines all jumped to attention in different stages of undress, some still wearing their red coats, while others were lucky to be wearing their white undershirts.

“Stand easy,” Francis said as he stepped further into the room. The men looked tired and many were currently in the infirmary or worse. Some had been patched up already and sent back to duties; one corporal had a bandage wrapped under his jaw and right round his head with blood soaking through on one side, the tufts of his side whiskers poking out of the front.

Sergeant Bailey sensed Francis’ mood and stepped in closer, “Anything amiss, sir?” he asked in his broad Scottish accent.

“The Captain’s chasing some frigates round the head of the island, he doubts we’ll be needed but wants us to report to stations.”

“But the Port’s not two miles from here and we got injured men down….”

“I know, Will,” interjected Francis, putting his hand on the Scot sergeant’s shoulder. “I did try to tell him, but you know old Monty T, what can anyone say? We just need hope he doesn’t balls this one up.”

“Right you are, sir,” finished Bailey after a brief exasperated pause, before turning to the marines who seemed to be leaning in trying to workout what was being said. “Attention!” Bailey snapped. “Righto boys, seems the Captain has some more work to do up ahead, nothing they can’t handle apparently, but all the same it’s battle stations for us.”

A small groan of disbelief began before the sergeant caught it dead in the air.

“This ain’t no democracy ya lazy English pigs, get to it! Blacket! If you don’t drop that scowl I’ll drop it for you. Thatcher! You’re on the Ack Ack guns with Smythe again. Dodrey!”

Francis watched as the marines swung into action yet again, grabbing coats and gear as the sergeant herded them round the quarters hurling abuse left, right and centre.
The men respected Sergeant Bailey but also feared him. He was not a physically imposing fellow, standing only 5’4” and with a plump build, but he had a way of coercing other men to deal with troublemakers in his units, and usually in such a way that the lesson was rarely forgotten.

He also had a very old clockwork bionic left eye which was massive in size compared to modern models. But the sergeant could no doubt not afford such new technologies; in fact it was surprising he even owned that one on an NCO’s pay, but the old wind up model seemed to add to his imposing character whenever he stood still, deep in thought slowly winding it up.

It didn’t take long before Francis found himself on the upper fore deck with his marines in position all around him, their red coats marking their positions arrayed on the forward decks. Francis took pride in his appearance; his own uniform had been made by one of the best tailors in London, but after so much action his red coat looked almost as dishevelled as his men’s army issue coats.

Fresh uniforms weren’t the only thing amiss – the Personal Aerial Rocket Assault, or PARA, packs were in short supply, causing many ships in the fleets to designate the marines as either offensive or defensive units, with only the offensive marines getting the packs.

Although this didn’t allow the marines to be flexibly employed it did allow Francis to play to his and his sergeant’s strengths. Sergeant Bailey was a stalwart defender and could rally men in even the direst of circumstances, so he led the defence marines. Francis was an opportunist in offence and was an excellent rocketeer – his personal PARA pack had been carefully modified in London and Francis used it to great effect, so the PARA troopers were his. Not that they would be needed at all this time, at least Francis hoped not.

At that moment the HMS Deliverer began to round the heads and the Blazing Sun frigates were in sight again. They had almost crossed an inlet in the island and were fast approaching the next headland, but the Deliverer’s main guns were easily in range and no sooner had Francis thought it than the Deliverer’s forward main guns opened up. The first shots missed, sending huge plumes of water flying up not far from one of the frigates. This was just a ranging shot though, and the guns began to correct to take the next shot.

The Captain had clearly noticed that the frigates were trying to escape around the next head as the Deliverer had picked up speed and was starting to outpace the detachment’s own Frigates. Francis began to have a bad feeling – the enemy frigates would know they were outclassed, but they persisted for the heads instead of surrendering.

Another blast from the main guns rang out, this time hitting one of the frigates. A fire blazed on the tiny vessel and it seemed disabled, but it looked as though the hull was still intact.

The deliverer had now outstripped its support ships and was closing on the frigates across the bay, but then the unseen ambush was sprung. The frigates had been the bait and heading directly at the HMS Deliverer from an unseen cove on the starboard side were five Blazing Sun cruisers. Their sleek, narrow design slid through the water like bullets and their guns opened fire on the Deliverer no sooner had their trap sprung.

The first two shots from the frigates missed but the other three hit the Deliverer directly. A large blast ripped upwards from the centre of the ship and from where Francis was he could see the upper rear gun had been crippled.

Francis noted that the engine room must have received damage as well. The methodical thumping of the engine had now been replaced by an irregular clunk and grind and the Deliverer began to slow in the water. They were sitting ducks.

The HMS Brawn and Ascent leapt into action, rounding on the newly spotted ships and releasing a round of torpedo fire from the waterline tubes. The three frigates also did their best to move into the field of fire to protect the Deliverer but the Captain’s lack of caution in racing towards the targets had left them too far behind.

The torpedos all either missed the mark or were destroyed by the enemy’s concussion charges, uselessly detonating them out of range in brilliant submerged blasts that rose from the sea like giant white soap bubbles before bursting in a spray of salt water.

The Blazing Sun frigates pushed on at full speed towards the Britannian ships, now splitting their fire between the Deliverer and the newly joined cruisers. HMS Brawn took a hit towards the rear of the ship, just above the waterline, which caused blasts of white steam to burst out of all the hatches before it began to list slightly in the water.

Ascent had now moved into line with the Deliverer and turned to present its broadside and with the Deliverer they unleashed a hail of fire. Two of the enemy cruisers took direct hits, one remaining afloat but adrift and with many fires blazing on deck. The other released a huge explosion from its belly and began to sink immediately.

The remaining cruisers still continued to close though, despite being completely outclassed by the Deliverer, and then it dawned on Francis: the Blazing Sun knew this detachment was light on assault troops. He reached into his satchel, removing the telescopticon. Pulling the brass instrument out to full extension, he placed it to his eye and adjusted the actuators.

The image came into view and Francis was face to face with the war mask of a Blazing Sun Samurai assault warrior. He pulled the image back with a slight adjustment of the brass knobs and the enemy’s plan came into view. The cruisers were jam packed with assault troops; the plan was to overwhelm and capture the Britannian ships.

To be continued.