The Story of Steven Copley

a story
2013-01-29 15:54:31,
2016-07-05 12:04:28
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Chapter 1

A man woke to the gentle rocking of his hammock. Wearily, yet with a grace that showed his experience, he left the comfort of his blanket to begin the day. Walking up to the large porthole and looking outside, he saw nothing. Just a gray misery, so thick that you could cut it with a knife. He felt safe, no one would be able to spot them here. Rain began to speckle the glass of the window and he heard the bell from the top deck calling the morning shift.

It was going to be a miserable day.

He quickly put on his uniform, buckled his high black boots, and donned his heavy wool jacket. Making his way to the stairs, he glanced up, the rain dotting his face. He let out a sigh and slowly pulled himself up. The rain was cold and the wind was biting.

"Captain on deck!" cried a man at the helm.

Everyone on deck turned and saluted before returning to their tasks. Despite the years that he has served as captain, he had still never become used to the salutes. A young man in uniform approached him.
"Good morning, Captain".
"Good morning" he replied. "What is our position, Lieutenant?"
"We have held our position since last night, despite the wind, and we are at three hundred fifty fathoms."
"How thick is the cloud cover?" Asked the captain.
"Unknown, it crept in shortly past the middle night."
"Increase our elevation to bring us above."
"Aye sir" the man said before saluting and rushing off to ensure the order was met.
"How are you feeling this morning, Steven?" asked a man behind him.
"I am fine, Doctor."
"You do not look fine" the man pressed. "Come, lets get some breakfast."
"Very well Charles."

The large burners at the corners of the ship began to push out more flames. Slowly, the ship began to rise through the clouds. At four hundred fathoms, the clouds broke, the rain stopped, and the wind died down. Though they had left the miserable rain and wind, they were still surrounded by the towering peaks of cloud.
The two men entered the captain's mess with two of the other officers. The cook brought in breakfast, and when asked what was being served, he only replied with "food". Usually, this level of insubordination would have meant ten lashes in front of the crew, but the officers overlooked it. They had been on patrol for two and a half months and were long overdue to arrive at port.

"When are we to go to port, Captain?" asked one of the officers.
"Our orders are to patrol the Prussian border." He replied. "We will
continue to do so until we are told otherwise."
"I only ask because we are running low on food and about to begin on our reserve fuel"
 The captain sighed, threw down his utensils, and left the table. The other men were speechless. The doctor rose and followed after the captain.
"What is the matter Steven?" exclaimed the doctor as he burst into the captain's quarters.
"Not now, Charles."
"Yes, now. You have been growing more reclusive, you are hardly around to even give orders anymore. It cannot be because we have been on patrol so long without any action?"
"Yes, that must be it." said the captain.
"That is not it then. You and I have known each other too long for you to be able to lie to me." said Charles. "I am your physician and your friend, tell me what is wrong."
"I don't feel like discussing it."
"I don't care. You have to talk about it sometime."
"It has been a long time coming."
"I know that you did not want this assignment. It is yours though, and you have to make the best of it.
"I didn't even want to be captain. I was content to simply serve."
"But you are captain and now you have others in need of leadership. There is nothing you can do about it."
"There is one thing that I can do."
"Are you really considering resigning your commision?"
"I am tired. Eight years of doing something that you never wanted to is exhausting. Especially when it is not very exciting."
"What would you do?'
"I was thinking I might captain a merchant ship."
"If you think that will suit you. But enough of that for now, what about orders?"
"I have not received new orders for over a month now."
"Don't you think that's odd since we are a patrol ship in a time of war?"
"Very odd, but not for much longer." said the captain straightening up. "I am taking us back to port."
"Is breaking orders a good idea?"
"I don't care about the orders, we have been out here without relief for too long. We are running out of food, fuel, and moral."
With that the captain rushed from his quarters and up to the top deck. "Captain on deck!" was shouted once again. This time, when everyone turned, they stayed facing him waiting for an announcement. He look at each of them, smirked, and said "We're going to port, lads!" The crew cheered and made the ship ready to return to port. The sails opened, the propellers began turning furiously. Slowly the ship began to decend through the clouds. When they emerged from the underside, they saw below, the great city of Optilocus. As they go closer to their port in Argenstrath to the south of Optilocus, they saw that something was wrong.
Many ships were surrounding the capitol firing down on it and parts of the city were ablaze. The crew gazed upon the city in horror.

Had the war been lost? Was Optilocus taken?

The captain wondered if this is why they had not received orders. As they drew closer, the captain looked at the ships through his spyglass. To his horror, the ships were bearing the Antiford flag. If Antiford ships were firing on the city, then surely they would fire upon his ship. One of the crew shouted out that two of the ships had turned and were coming towards them.
They did not have enough fuel to find the rest of the fleet, nor were they able to out run the ships coming after them, and they certainly could no go to the Prush Confederacy. They would have to make a run for Titania. If they could pull into one of their ports, they would be safe for a while.

"Back to the clouds!" shouted the captain.

His hope was to lose the enemy in the cover and maybe reach the northern border. The crew, still in shock, stood still staring down on the battle. The captain fired his pistol.

"Back to the clouds, now!" he repeated.

The crew scrambled to follow the orders, and the ship disappeared into the clouds. Then, it became quiet. All that could be heard was the rushing of the air as it passed them. They had run out of fuel and the burners had stopped. At first they were floating down gently, but as they got lower, they began to fall faster. The crew began to panic, the ocean was drawing closer.

"Hold fast!" the captain shouted.

With that, the ship plunged into the water, and all went dark.