'Roost traffic control, this is the Edward Teach, requesting landing clearance.'
'Good morning Edward Teach, you are expected, please make your way to dock four. Five knot speed limits apply and will be enforced.'
'Understood, dock four, thank you Roost traffic control, you bloody officious pile of scrap tin and frayed wires.'
Everyone on the bridge turned to look at When.
'What? No damn construct's telling me how fast I can pilot my own boat in friendly airspace!'
'Whose boat, Mr When?' The Captain asked as she strode through the door from her quarters onto the Bridge.
'I... I mean, we... That is, obviously, she's your boat Captain... I... I just meant that...'
'Calm down man, when I'm not on the bridge, better yet, when I'm not actually on board, feel free to think of the Teach as your own. Although I'd like to think that you'd treat your own ship better than you treat this one sometimes. You still owe me a new boarding tube.' She sat in her command chair and surveyed her screens, 'Which dock has she put us in?'
'FOUR?' She jumped back up and stormed towards the main viewer, 'Four is the bay where the garbage cutter docks on a Friday morning!'
'Lucky for us that it's Wednesday then,' Commented Landry, the Communications Officer, with a smile.
She turned slowly towards him, and the colour drained out of his cheeks, 'Mr Landry, who are we exactly?'
'Captain... I don't...'
'Let's start with something a little simpler, Who are you?'
'Carter Landry, Ma'am, I don't see...'
'Ah-ah, and what do you do?'
'I'm... I'm the Communications Officer,'
'On board the Edward Teach?'
'Yes, well done. What kind of ship is the Teach?'
'She's a Corsair...'
'And who is the Captain?'
'You are Ma'am, obviously. I meant no disrespect!' He looked at When, with a growing glint of panic in his eyes.
'Don't look at him, he can't help you. Next question, where are we?'
'At the Roost, your family home... But...'
'Ah! Finally, there we have it! We're at my family home, where my loving Mother and Brother will no doubt be waiting for us with open arms and a twelve course banquet.'
When stifled a laugh.
She shot him a look made of knives and thunder, 'Can you see why I'm upset that they're making us dock in what is, effectively, a garbage chute?'
'Yes Ma'am, of course, I completely understand. I'm sorry...'
'I'm glad we all understand each other. Frobisher!' She shouted, not taking her eyes off the quivering young officer.
'Connect to traffic control and get us a better berth will you, there's a good disembodied head!'
The lights flickered on Frobisher's face as he inveigled his way into the Roost's network.
'Edward Teach, this is Roost traffic control, please cease and desist you efforts to connect to...' There was a loud crackle as the communication signal was cut and reconnected, 'Edward Teach, please make your way to dock two. Fifteen knot speed limits apply but will not be enforced.'
'Fifteen knots, but not enforced?' Mouthed When to the Captain.
'You expressed a concern that five knots was too slow for our purposes, so I took the liberty of increasing the dock speed limit and disabling the pressor emitters whilst I was connected.' Replied Frobisher, an air of smugness radiating from his expressionless face.
'Very good, Dr When, bring us into dock two, try to keep us below fifty knots and if you take any more paint off the hull I'll skin you and use you to patch that slow leak in the number three gasbag.'
'Aye Ma'am!' Grinned the First Officer. He opened the Intercomm, 'All hands, prepare for docking at the Roost, this will be a...' He looked at the Captain questioningly, she shook her head slowly, 'A short visit, grab what decent food you can and if you need equipment, Ask for it, don't steal it, these people are our friends'
The airship turned majestically and made headway towards the Roost. The stark cliffs of the Captain's home coming into view piecemeal through the mountain mist, showing the vast extent of the ancient estate. She missed her home and her family, but her Mother's disapproval of how she made her living made these visits few and far between. They were less than five hundred meters away when the green landing indicators lit up around the entrance to dock two, and the huge steel doors started to grind open.
She sat back into her seat and braced herself, When always showboated his way into the Roost and she was sure that this time was not going to be any different. He took up a position behind the helmsman and cracked his knuckles.
'Roost traffic control, this is the Teach, we're having difficulty with our landing automatics, we will be docking manually.'
'Acknowledged Edward Teach, dock two is cleared for approach. Emergency services have been advised.'
When cut the connection and pouted, 'I said that we were coming in on manual, not on fire...'
'They've seen you dock before, obviously.' Grinned the Captain.
He glared as he took the controls, gunned the engines and aimed the ship straight at the broad, glass windows of the traffic control centre. The Teach jumped forward, her tethered gasbags struggling to keep up with the sudden acceleration.
'Ramming Speed!' Yelled When over the squeals of the over-stressed connecting chains.
He waited until he could see the screaming faces of the traffic control team through the armoured glass, and the heavy shutters of their collision screens starting to deploy before he turned abruptly and headed for the docking bay. Cutting the engines, he allowed the ship to turn around completely so that it was facing backwards and applied full burn on the maneuvering thrusters. She entered the bay stern first and coasted slowly to a halt just as the docking tube engaged on the hull.
The Captain turned to the bridge crew. 'Secure engines and thrusters, rig the gasbags for neutral buoyancy and for gods' sake lock the cargo bays, we don't want any inquisitive members of the Pewter Guard nosing about in my booty.'
The crew dissolved into fits uproarious laughter.
'What? Why are you all laughing?'
They all turned towards her, and seeing her reddening face, started to laugh even louder.
'What are you laughing at? Mr Landry, When, stop laughing! I'll keelhaul the lot of you if you don't stop laughing.'
Luckily, they were laughing so loud that they didn't hear the Pewter Guard Commander on the viewscreen, demanding to know why they'd docked their sloppily patched, scab ridden junkpile of a corsair in the Baroness' personal dock.
Else there'd have been a massacre.
OK, so I'm afraid that I'm going to end this story right here, as I intend to use this arc in the book. You'll all find out what's happened to Lady Dorleith's Father, Mother and Brother soon enough (hopefully) - And there will be further, complete, adventures of the Edward Teach coming soon.
Just not this particular one.
See you on Monday - Watch out for the Spiders.