Tonitrui Puella

Thunder Lass, Bolt of the Skies

I land on the deck of my ship and stagger a few steps to lean against the railing. The thunder from my spell still rumbles through the sky as a new sound of sharp cracking and splintering joins it. Still catching my breath, I watch as the deck of the other ship finishes its separation from the foremast—the last remaining connection between their carriage and cage. They seem to hang in the air for the briefest moment, expressions changing to pure panic as they realize what's just happened. And then, the carriage begins its plunge to the ground, disappearing through the clouds with screams fading quickly. I don't blame them; that fall is quite terrifying.   I sheathe my saber and turn the sound of cheering from my crew. Despite the grisly circumstances, I put on my best smile. "Captain!" Quartermaster Drusus shouts. "Captain, I think the crew have finally settled on a name for the ship." His eyes twinkle deviously.   "Oh? And what monstrously obscene name have you all concocted this time?" I ask and they respond with chuckles.   "Something to capture the essence of our fearless little captain, of course." Drusus smiles wickedly. "Tonitrui Puella—Thunder Lass."
  Tonitrui Puella—Thunder Lass—is a relatively new style of cloud ship developed by the Western Fleet. Smaller than most Fleet-enlisted cloud ships, it's fast speed and more accurate maneuverability makes it ideal for scouting and quick supply runs. This design comes with drawbacks—a much smaller carry capacity for cargo and crew, and fewer offensive and defensive capabilities.   The skilled crew knows the strengths and weaknesses of the Thunder Lass well, and uses this knowledge to push every advantage beyond the bounds the designers of the ship even imagined. Though most scouting or reconnaissance missions are safe from attacks, the possibility always lurks behind every cloud. The captain and crew push their speed advantage over other ships to foolhardy feats to defeat any brave opponents, despite the lack of typical armaments other cloud ships carry.   Any patron of West's numerous taverns can recount a tale of Tonitrui Puella's exploits. From the time they lured a pack of turncoats into a storm and once the skies were clear again only the Thunderer remained in the air, to the time another ship tried to tangle—literally—with them but then Captain Kassor shattered that other ship to splinters. Or that other time they were being chased by another ship that matched their speed so The Lass dove straight to the ground, managing to pull up in time while the other ship didn't.   Many argue the ship is only as good as it is because of its crew. Though the inner workings and design cannot be ignored as Tonitrui Puella is a leap forward in cloud ship design and technology. Many others argue that in a few years and upgrades to technology Tonitrui Puella will be nothing but a faint afterthought to its crew and West.

Power Generation

The magic of fire elementals is used to provide the heat to burn fuel for the boilers of the two engines—or in some desperate cases, directly heat the boilers (elementals can be tempermental and burn too hot or cold to maintain the necessary heat level). Tonitrui Puella is outfitted with new, high-pressure engines, making them more efficient than older ships.

Propulsion

The engines provide most of the movement, especially at fast speeds. However, for cruising and maneuvering, a square sail attached from the bottom of the ship provides some additional movement utilizing air currents. Additionally, the triangular sails on the sides of the ship—the fins—assist with movement, particularly with shaper turns and maneuvers.

Weapons & Armament

Though Tonitrui Puella isn't built for combat, it still has four light ballistae installed. There are two on both port and starboard sides, each spaced so that there are two aft and two forward. This lack of armaments lends to speed being used as its greatest weapon.

Armor and defense

Since speed is Tonitrui Puella's specialty, it lacks any heavy defenses, such as iron plating on the carriage or cage. The hull has minor reinforcement and can withstand a few collisions before breach. The cage's sleeve is similar to a gambeson, with a thin cloth-and-wire mesh layered underneath to defend against punctures.

Additional & auxiliary systems

Tonitrui Puella hosts two engines; in the event that one malfunctions the cloud ship can still stay aloft with one engine and the assistance of the fins. The cage—containing the gas and air for floatation—is not a singular cell. It contains four separate cells that are used for lift. This ensures that if there is a breach of the cage and a cell, it's likely only to be a singular cell so the cloud ship does not immediately plummet to the earth below.
Nickname
The Lass, Thunderer
Designation
COTS (Classemque ad Occidentem Turma Secundus)
Manufacturer
Owner
Vae
Owning Organization
Beam
21ft (6.4m)
Length
75ft (23m)
Speed
60mph (96.6kph)
Complement / Crew
25 crew; up to 25 more passengers
Cargo & Passenger Capacity
50-60 tons
On the topic of ingenuity of the crew, it should be noted that the lack of armaments inspired new cloud ship tactics. Many of the crew would use slingshots to fling flasks of acid, oil, and more onto the decks of other ships. Additionally, the small port holes were often used to cast spells from while safely below deck. Perhaps most intriguing to others was the use of the Enlarge spell to drop cannonballs onto ships below them. Tonitrui Puella can't carry the weight of actual cannonballs, so instead they held a stash of palm-sized iron balls to Enlarge and therefore weaponize.  
"Insane" doesn't come close to describe what Captain Kassor is asking us to do. Fly straight at this ship? Full speed? This very-much-larger-than-us-ship? The bayonet of the other ship glints in the sun light. If we don't pull this off right, we'll be skewered. I look to Captain Kassor, gripping her saber still in its sheath, tense. I grip the wheel tighter with one hand, other hand shaking above the lever for the fins. The distance closes quicker than my breathing. Please please please please-   "Now!" The Captain shouts. I pull both levers for the fins and the ships lurchers upwards into the sky. "Fire!" Comes the order, and our ballistae release their loads onto the target ship, now below us, piercing into their cage.   And we didn't take a scratch. I laugh, relieved. Insane!
  As part of the ship's defense, much of Tonitrui Puella is painted a dull white to blend in better with the clouds, or during times of clear skies an attempt at pretending to be one. More than once, The Lass has slipped the notice of ill-intentioned prowlers.
Tonitrui Puella


Cover image: by Ashley Donovan

Comments

Please Login in order to comment!
Sage eccbooks
E. Christopher Clark
5 Oct, 2021 12:10

You had me hooked right from the subtitle "Thunder Lass, Bolt of the Skies" and it just kept getting better from there. I loved the bit about the temperamental elementals, which are just one of the possible conflicts you could use to work this into a story/campaign. Great work!

8 Oct, 2021 00:36

Thank you so much!