“Congratulations, Captain. Report to the Fortune first thing tomorrow.”
The first words I have heard as captain. What that crazy, bearded man is thinking making me a captain I'll never know, but he is entrusting me with a ship in his fleet and I dare not disappoint him.
Of course, I am nervous, it would be impossible not to be. It’s not as though I have never served on a ship, but as a captain...I’ve never even been first mate!
The carriage has stopped. Out of the door is the Fortune...my Fortune...my future.
She is gorgeous. The bold red and gold letters spelling out "Fortune" on the aft section. Above it sits the balloons in their nets, surrounded by four masts, their sails furled and secure. On board, men run to and fro in a hurried and organized frenzy. A tall man, with a short beard is barking orders.
The dark, oak hull gleams with the light reflecting off the water as I walk up the gangplank. The smell of the salt air fills my lungs as the cries of the gulls echo deafeningly in my ears. I lay my hands on the roughly sanded railing and close my eyes, taking it all in. It’s almost overwhelming.
“Captain on deck!”
My eyes are still closed, but I hear everyone stop and I can feel their gaze, as if it were piercing the back of my skull.
"This is it. This is the moment. When all nerves must cease and confidence take over, even if it is only feigned. The crew needs a captain, and that captain is you." I try to reassure myself.
My breathing quickens. With one final sharp intake of air I open my eyes, and turn to face the crew.
“At ease. Everyone, back to work!”
“Welcome aboard, captain.”
“Thank you, commander.”
“Sir, do we have orders?”
“We are to leave as soon as possible and meet up with Captain Rothman and the airship Lydia.”
“Very good, sir.”
I breathe in deeply, and let out a silent sigh. as you grasp hold of the helm. I ready myself to give my first command as captain. Then, it washes over me. The feeling of clarity. All is calm. A small smile escapes my face.
“Hands about ship! Sheets and tacks, lifts and trusses! Ready port and starboard mainstayl’s sheets! Ready the envelopes and fire the burners! Make ready to fly!"
Then, I turn to my first officer.
“Let’s see what Cromwell wants us to do.”