The Dust Saint

A former Ascendancy dirigible, now turned a smuggler and privateer ship.

"It is ... remarkable. Piracy is inherently the pastime of scoundrels, lowlifes, thieves, savages. That is not the Dust Saint. You'd think that with their backgrounds, they'd try to forget ... everything. Not try to conform to the laws they once had to ... but no. They hold on to it, and not out of simplistic familiarity, but because they recognize the merit in that kind of operation. Better men once called that insight."   -Marques Lyons
 

Honorable Treachery

  The Dust Saint was an 6th-rate airship, a nameless, faceless machine in an invincible army of hundreds of identical vessels in service of the Granisine Ascendancy. Three years into the war, the airship and its crew made a daring escape, deserting from the Ascendancy. Since then, she has made a name for herself as a smuggler and privateer vessel, generally under southern Graveslori employ.   The 'Saint's crew is not the only one to have deserted from the Ascendancy. The ship was merely the first of many to become disillusioned with Achilles and his regime. While no amount of desertion could have an effect on the hordes comprising the Ascendancy's army, the prospect instills hope in some southerners.   Some of these deserters even ally with their former enemies, actively fighting back against the spread of the God King's empire. However, most simply lay low and try to make a living for themselves, try to forget that there is a war for the world being waged.  

Reputation

  Since its desertion, the Dust Saint and its crew have achieved renown in many of the anti-Achilles militias. Their reputation precedes them in many places they go, a notoriety of destructive seizures of Ascendancy supplies, smuggling of high-ranking southern sympathizers, and daring, narrow escapes from their pursuers.   Unfortunately, this reputation is a highly idealized and fantasized one, portraying them more as noble do-gooders than the sanctioned pirates that they are. The ship may be known for its crew's exploits and adventures, but their criminal and piratical nature are often neglected. Undoubtedly, many of the Dust Saint's escapades have been fit for those of heroes, but the crew of the ship are not, in fact, heroes. Far from it.   And though the crew of the Dust Saint are famed as heroes in southern armies, it is the opposite in the north. The Ascendancy does not forgive. It does not forget. Rewards have been issued, bounty hunters hired both within and without the Ascendancy. For years, the Saint has faced down, escaped, and eluded these pursuers, but it is a dangerous game to play, and one they cannot win for long. Their one hope is that the Ascendancy falls before it finds them. That it dies before they do.  

Appearance and Distinguishing Features

  The Dust Saint, confident, or maybe arrogant, maintains a striking, now somewhat famed appearance. It is known for the black, yellow, and red checkering pattern traveling along its entire gunwale, as well as along the hull and balloon engines.   The 'Saint's flag is custom designed; the heads of a chimera in jade on a blood red background. It also carries an Ascendancy flag for more incognito missions.  

Ensemble and Hierarchy

"Madam, please. Condescension will get you nowhere. It seems you are under the illusion that this ship is like something you'd read about in a book ... No. We aren't pirates in your service, madam. You are, in fact, the lowest ranking person on this vessel. If that so disturbs you, you can be easily be removed."  
-Nico Toth
  Airship crews range in size from as few as 5 to as many as 500, some with capacity for passengers. The Dust Saint is on the former end of the spectrum, operating comfortably with 20-70 crew members, and able to function with just the five essential roles of airship operation.   The ship is currently staffed with 32 such members - a core six; a cook, surgeon, carpenter, and quartermaster; and an additional 22 crew, comprised of deckhands and the like.   On the Dust Saint, all are considered equal. No man or woman is greater than the other, though everyone has a role and rank, a place on a totem pole of responsibility. The captain is just one person, to be deposed if deemed unfit (though the current crew of the 'Saint has a level of loyalty to their captain that is uncommon for their ilk).  

Systems and Capabilities

 

Layout

  For its crew, the Saint is a large ship, originally purposed to transport soldiers and automatons into battle. With two hull decks, a significant hold, and a number of superstructures, it has capacity for a significant amount of freight and passengers.   The stern castle, placed on top of the quarterdeck, houses the armory, captain's quarters, and navigation room. The roof of the stern castle is primarily taken up by the primary rigging for the aft engine. Within the quarterdeck are the powder room, the officers' berth, and the officers' dining room. These latter rooms have been seldom used since the ship's turn to piracy, as the dynamic of hierarchy has shifted quite tangibly.   The 'Saint has a single-deck forecastle, primarily used for sleeping berths and the fore anchors. However, the forecastle area is extended downwards into the upper gun deck, to provide additional space for sleeping areas and the ship's galley.   The hull decks are comprised of an upper gun deck - which has self explanatory purpose - and an orlop, which is used mostly for storage of immediate resources. As a former transport ship, the Dust Saint's compartment is quite spacious, capable of holding a vast amount of supplies for the size of the crew, in addition to the ship's ballast.  
The Dust Saint
A rough, in-world diagram of the layout of the Dust Saint.
 

Propulsion

  Like others of its grade, the Dust Saint is equipped with two sunstone balloon engines, one fore and one aft. While it is unable to function with just one or the other because of weight distribution, in the event of one balloon engine being compromised, the other provides significant aid in controlling descent.   These engines, when fully charged, can operate for many days at moderate speed, but increased activity of the ship has an effect on the engines that is distinctly non-linear.   Supplementary to the engines, mounted on the aft hull are two rotating propellers, which aid in steering.  

Armament

  The Saint was never meant to be a warship, but since its crew's desertion, it has been re-armed with a battery approaching that of one. Originally intended to have a single continuous gun deck, the central part of the orlop has been repurposed as a secondary battery. Undoubtedly, the kinds of weaponry that the ship uses are difficult to source in the southern lands, but the crew has made do.   On the main gun deck, the port and starboard hulls each sport a complement of 14 ebongrain cannons. The central orlop has a smaller battery, 7 ebongrain cannons per side. A full stock of ammunition and additional ebongrain is stored in the quarterdeck, the most heavily armored part of the ship. Mounted on the ship's superstructures (specifically the forecastle and quarterdeck) are five harpoon launchers for chasing and controlling victim ships, along with a single Sunstone-powered cannon, a type of weapon particularly effective against airships because of its incendiary nature.   In addition to this artillery, the ship keeps a fully stocked armory with a shockingly large supply of ebongrain weaponry.  

Armor and Defenses

  Most of Achilles' airships have a range of different speeds and respective armoring, but are in general ironclads: heavily armored, but comparatively slow moving for their type. The Saint is atypical in this degree, having been heavily stripped down and repurposed. It relies on speed and destructive output over armor.   As such, it doesn't have much to speak of in terms of defenses. Its original steel plating has been stripped from the majority of the ship, reinforcing only the keel and nether areas of the ship. For airships, this is not a particularly practical arrangement, and the ship relies on its pilot to make up the ground lost and capitalize on that gained.  
"The Dust Saint? Do not speak to me of them. Disgusting, pathetic weaklings. Traitors, all of them. They thought it fit to defy the Ascendancy? To be the first to betray us? They thought they had the right to start this- this- this movement, that justifies treason through their high and mighty moralities? Deplorable. When you see them, spare none."
-Unknown

The Captain

  Ivane Blonde is the enterprising captain of the Dust Saint. Even after she deserted from Achilles' army, she is known for her militaristic and organized personality. This regimented attitude extends to the maintenance and funtion of her airship.   Ivane is Graveslori by birth, having grown up in the war-scarred lands of pre-Ascendancy Granis. As such, the peacemaker propoganda of Achilles was quick to draw her to his cause, rising through the ranks as a highly capable and successful captain. However, when her home city of Ligrav was all but destroyed and transformed into the floating monstrosity of Gravebane, killing countless innocents, she became realized of the horros wrought at Achilles' behest. She and her crew deserted, fleeing south to seek refuge with the Graveslori.  

The Pilot

  Nico Toth is the pilot of the Saint. It is credited to him - and his exceedingly adept reflexes - that the ship is still in operation after so many years. Like his captain, he is known to be no-nonsense and generally stoic, though not alien to the occasional joke and laugh. As the ship's pilot, it is he who is largely responsible for the survival of the lightly armored 'Saint.   Nico was born to two immigrants from Klavafeld, but identifies as Granisian. Growing up as a soldier for the Ligrav city-state of the time, he joined with the Dust Saint during Achilles' rise to power. He remains devoutly loyal to the ship and its crew.  

The Navigator

  The 'Saint's navigator is undoubtedly the most shocking member of the crew, for they are, in fact, an automaton. Every day, droves of Ascendancy soldiers flock to the resistance cause, and the mechanical enforcers of his army are no exception. At least, the more sentient ones aren't.   Bethel is one such case. A former automatous officer in Achilles' army, Bethel, like others of their kind, became too self aware, to realized of morality and consciousness. They were instrumental in the desertion of Ivane's band.   Many members of the crew are disturbed by the automaton's presence, but their skill as a navigator and knowledge of the land are unparalleled, plotting courses and calculating travel time and resupply schedules. Contrary to many peoples' assumptions, Bethel is one of the more thoughtful and self-aware crew members, and can often be found having long, drawn out discussions on a plethora of topics with any one of the crew.  

The Engineers

  Keshi and Cato Falén are the Esuri, human and half-elf, father-and-son engineers of the 'Saint. Both are known for being the more upbeat members of the crew, though far from being inane or childish. Keshi has been in service with - and now under - Ivane since she first stepped foot on an airship. Cato, once a cabin boy, is now also one of the longest standing members of the crew   As the engineers, their roles are to oversee and make minor repairs to any of the ship's system, particularly the engines and sunstone cannon.  

The Gunner

gunner.jpg
  Anastasia Zhenoise is the newest and youngest member of the crew, barely 20 years of age. Her personality is that of quiet rage, and is prone to fearsome anger outbursts. That said, she is highly protective of anyone she considers a part of the crew or a friend (terms which are near synonymous for her), and is not only a expert marksman with the ship's weaponry, but is quite the inventor of ballistics herself. As the gunner, her role is less to operate the ship's armament (though that is an activity she does not refrain from) but to ensure that all armament is operational and ammunition safe.   Like Nico, Anastasia is racially and ethnically Klavan. Unlike him, she was born in Klavafeld. She is tight-lipped regarding her history, but among the crew, it is rumored to the point of common knowledge that she was sold into slavery in the southernmost reaches of Graveslor at a very young age.  

Comments

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1 Oct, 2021 07:41

I love the name of this ship, as well as the theme and feel as well.


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4 Oct, 2021 00:59

Thank you!! The name was something I ended up struggling with a lot, and I'm glad it ended up as something someone liked.


The wisest person I know once called me a glorious pinnacle of human mediocrity. I feel this is more or less accurate.   (Ignore what my username says. I am far from grand, let alone a master).
Sage George Sanders
George Sanders
1 Oct, 2021 19:03

Great artwork. I enjoyed the details on the crew.

Before becoming the Etonia Council, the members had to make it to Etonia. My Shipwright Challenge entry offers a glimpse into that story. Dìondair Malairt
4 Oct, 2021 00:59

Thank you! Although, to be fair, the artwork isn't exactly what should be called "great". I'm glad you liked it, though!


The wisest person I know once called me a glorious pinnacle of human mediocrity. I feel this is more or less accurate.   (Ignore what my username says. I am far from grand, let alone a master).
3 Oct, 2021 16:49

Everything about this is awesome! The layout, the details of the ship, the navigator, in particular, is my favorite. Great job!

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4 Oct, 2021 01:00

I did enjoy the creating the navigator's character quite a bit. Thank you so much!


The wisest person I know once called me a glorious pinnacle of human mediocrity. I feel this is more or less accurate.   (Ignore what my username says. I am far from grand, let alone a master).
3 Oct, 2021 23:12

Striking visuals. I particularly liked how you included letters into the map layer for that burst of authenticity.

4 Oct, 2021 01:01

I'm glad you liked the tidbits I added to the map. Thank you muchly for your compliments!


The wisest person I know once called me a glorious pinnacle of human mediocrity. I feel this is more or less accurate.   (Ignore what my username says. I am far from grand, let alone a master).
4 Oct, 2021 07:23

Very cool all around. Incredible artwork. The background and history weaved in throughout the sections really brings this ship to life. Nice work!

--Summer Camp 2021's Most Beautiful Screeching Teacher--
5 Oct, 2021 02:35

Thanks! I'm glad you thought the article encouraged verisimilitude/ suspension of disbelief, it was something I struggled with a ton.


The wisest person I know once called me a glorious pinnacle of human mediocrity. I feel this is more or less accurate.   (Ignore what my username says. I am far from grand, let alone a master).