Before the warning even register's on Hiro's ears, his hands are already in motion. His left hand resting on the scabbard of his Katana his thumb reflexively frees the blade from its leather cage. His right hand is instinctively ready to glide the sword to freedom. His eyes quickly scan the scene in an attempt to locate the Haagathga. Judging quickly that they are hunting in a pack and difficult to see he raises his deadly sword into the first position of the _steel armor spirit_ kata -- weaving ever so slightly to and fro, almost phantasmal, in the attempts to garner their dread attention from the others.
Pham was taking a leisurely stroll on the deck, revelling in the darkness, as a change of pace from the oppressive rainbow brightness of the flow. Then the shout.
Knowing that his normal selection of spells doesn't help much in this kind of situation, he looks around for something to use to help repel the awful creatures. Time being of the essence, and not wanting to go back below for his staff, Pham grabs the closest thing he knows how to use - a mop one of the sailors had been cleaning the decks with. Pham then sets out to try and help where he can, swinging the improvised staff at one of the invaders, only to see the wood slide off the creature's quivering, sucker-covered membrane with no apparent effect; it ignores him as no threat and closes in on another of the crew.
In the galley, ibn Fadil glances up toward the shout and drops what he is doing. "They must have heard of your cooking, Master Nahele," he quips, grabbing for a couple of the elf's longest, sharpest knives. "May I borrow these?"
Without really waiting for a reply, he starts for the corridor, then abruptly stops and doubles back to the stove. Transferring both knives to his left hand, he risks singing his right to grab an unburned end of a piece of the wood he put on the fire just moments ago. Now armed with two knives and a flaming brand, he goes out into the corridor and heads for the nearest ladder to the deck, keeping a sharp eye out for any invading haagathga. Chaos reigns on the deck when he arrives, having had to fight his way past fleeing crew members to climb the stair.
"Damn," Val mutters as his senses go into overdrive. Standing in the shadows of the stairwell, as has been his habit of late, he sees the chaos erupting on deck. The instinct to rush forward to see what he can do to help is momentarily curbed by the realization that he carries only daggers as weapons. The screams send a chill down his spine as he pushes the hesitation aside; a pair of slim daggers springs into Val's hands.
"Everyone get below!" he shouts above the rising noise. "Clear the deck!" There were too many people out here! Val shoves the nearest sailor towards a hatch, mindful there are no bloodsacs on the man's body, as he makes his way towards Nyala.
"Bloodsacs. Oh hell." Emmett whispers, flicking his eyepatch up a second before drawing his heavy cutlass. With a muttered word a blaze of light erupts from his left eye, playing back and forth across the ship, trying to find and outline one or more of the haagathga. He's ready to start yelling for the non-combatants to get below when he hears Val's yelling.
"Val! Stay there - get people off the deck and don't let these suckers get through the hatch!" Emmett keeps his blazing eye trained on one, closing with his best speed. _"Use the tools best designed for the task." I wish I couldn't, but I don't seem to have the option of picking my battlefield._
The half man gives an apparently tentative cut with his cutlass, drawing the bloodsac's attention. As it closes, Emmett delivers a backhand slash, designed to open up as much of the things amoeboid surface as possible. He uses his hook to ward off any sort of enveloping maneuver as he does so. His slash is ineffective -- the membraneous coverings are tougher than they look -- but he has successfully distracted the bloodsac drifting up behind Hamal.
Yestin is no more successful with his massive blade, though it strikes splinters from the deck with the force of his blow. A sailor called Joe and the clumsy Seton scream -- and all too quickly fall silent -- as two bloodsacs attach themselves, their color lightening slowly as they begin to feed. Inez dives for the deck, shrieking, within a few feet of Hiro, and eludes a fourth, which hovers for a moment in what may have been uncertainty. The sole arrow Nyala judges safe pierces the creature, which begins leaking slowly.
Hiro's blade darts home with almost leisurely grace, and more of the bloodsac's viscous inner fluids spill onto the deck. It does not fall, but has clearly been seriously wounded.
At the helm, Alais brings the ship to a stop, then full astern. Already within the gravity plane by the time they were spotted, the four bloodsacs are not affected, but no more appear.
At the other end of the deck, Ulf draws his shortsword with a shout and hacks at the creature attached to Joe. He wounds it, but clearly not enough for it to interrupt its meal, and Nolan's thrust slides harmlessly from its membrane. Most of the unarmed crew members have had time to get below through the hatch Val is guarding; Inez, Derica, and Hamal remain above, and the captain and mate are making their way to the deck to join the defense.
Pham stares at the useless mop in his hand. "I should have know better, I need something with an edge, or a point... " A quick look around finds a couple of belaying pins securely fastened to the rail. Pham looks over to make sure a bloodsac isn't closing on him, and drops the end of the mop between the two close set pins. "Please, Hextor, let this work!" With a sharp tug and a surprisingly loud crack, the end of the mop breaks off, leaving ... a ragged point!
Thus armed, Pham moves quickly to the nearest bloodsac, thrusting with his improvised spear at the bloodsac attached to Joe, but again his weapon slides off without any apparent effect.
Ibn Fadil gets out of the way of the last fleeing crew members and glances over the scene. There is Nyala, there Yestin, there Emmett; and there the several haagathga. I should have stayed below, he scolds himself. Dropping one of his borrowed kitchen knives but keeping the other, he advances on the nearest feeding bloodsac, leading with his improvised torch and watching carefully for its reaction. In the flickering light his expression can be seen as one of concentration.
The bloodsac does not react to the nearness of the flame, but merely continues its meal, and his cleaver glances off the sucker-covered membrane.
Val is unable to stand by as Joe and Seton suffer. He takes the opportunity to hurl a dagger at a bloodsac fastened to one of his fellow crewmen, careful not to impale the victim of the parasite with his throw. There's a flash of silver as the blade heads towards Seton and -- at last! -- pierces the strangely tough membrane. Val draws one of his remaining daggers and stands ready for what comes next.
Unable to leave his post at the helm lest any further threat appear, Alais watches over the battle, ready to direct help anywhere it seems necessary, but now that the deck has been cleared, those remaining seem to have the battle as well in hand as possible.
Ulf again hacks desperately at the bloodsac, but to no avail, and Nolan stumbles in mid-rush and nearly lands on top of the thing as he tries to regain his balance.
In the midst of the chaos, Hiro remains entirely calm, and his follow-through finishes off the bloodsac near him as Inez scrambles for the hatchway and safety; it drops heavily to the deck, leaking.
The two attached bloodsacs are moving slowly; beneath the horrified gaze of the other crew members, each extrudes a slender, tube-like growth into the necks of their victims.
Yestin bellows and swings again at the one still floating freely in the ship's atmosphere, but again it eludes him, and Nyala's arrow goes wide as well.
_Ok. this thing is able to flow out of the way of the slash. Deny it a place to move to._ With that thought Emmett takes a quick scabbling hop to the right, then advances on the thing, sword first, slashing to drive it back against the forecastle wall. His blade connects, cutting deeply into the grotesque body as he forces the bloodsac into the corner.
As the aft stairwell finally clears, Theo thunders up onto the deck to defend his ship, followed closely by the mate, both of them with short swords at the ready. Both blades bite into the one Val knifed, releasing a sluggish flow of blood -- that of its victim mingled with its own fluids.
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© 2001 Rebecca J. Stevenson