DrYuriMom

The Improbable Captain - A Victory Belles Story

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It gets harder now. Last chapter I had to come to know Pensacola so that I could write her. Now I have to face Desolation. Reflective of her name, like all Morgana she's still lacking substance for us captains. Whatever I do will certainly fall apart in the face of later canon. I have to dance around details while still making the battle interesting. This is perhaps the greatest conundrum I've faced as a writer, so Ch 3 will take some time.

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Excellent story! Gives me ideas for an origin for my captain if I were to write a fanfic. Can't wait for the next chapter.

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*Peeks in* Excellent writing there. Enjoyed it so far. Keep up the good work my friend.

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The Improbable Captain

Chapter Three: Mutiny

August 31, 1939, 8:10 pm Hawaii Time (evening twilight)

 

“I need your expertise,” I heard with ears and mind still struggling to keep pace with the unreal dialogue unfolding on the bridge. “Pensacola can’t do it without the crew. I can’t do it without you. Support me and we’ll get the civilians out of here safely. Support him, and women and children die.”

 

Despite the urgency of the action outside the thick glass panes and steel walls of the bridge, everyone in the nerve center of the USS Pensacola stood frozen…statues witnessing a battle between god and the devil. The oily yellow haze and the pervasive sense of dread that had come with it deepened the sense of unease shared my all the men as they…we…struggled to figure out which was which.

 

‘Like a moth to flame’ my peers warned me when I started dating the shameless Dorothy Esther MacGregor. ‘Mark my words,' one salty old Captain played the role of Cassandra, ‘she’ll be a career ender someday, Stirling.’ Truth be told, I always suspected that they might be right.

 

I don’t think anyone imagined it would happen like this, though…

 

“You,” my wife pointed to Signalman Jimmy Lott, “have the duty signalman order Cassin to fall back and assist Downes. They are to flee in the opposite direction of wherever we go. Make best speed and don’t look back. Wireless the Navy as soon as they can.”

 

“Belay that order!” Captain Miller’s voice boomed again.

 

Regulations told everyone aboard that God just spoke. A Captain’s word was law. To reject it meant only one thing.

 

Mutiny.

 

I felt myself sidle over to stand by the men who had all consciously or unconsciously collected near the helm, away from the warring deities. The pungent smell of smoke from the still-smoldering boathouse filled our nostrils. I could see the sweat on their faces and drenching the armpits of their uniforms; even a few eyes with tears as they faced not only a battle seemingly out of mythology but also an absence of clear leadership. More than a few smiled nervously as I joined them, a sense of confidence in me that I certainly didn’t share.

 

Was there such a thing as strength in numbers in a situation like this?

 

“Pensacola, don’t!” the little slip of a girl I had married interceded before her…friend?...could muzzle my commanding officer again.

 

Uncertain what my role should be when the two most important people in my life started dueling to the death, professional or otherwise, I still knew my duty to the ship and its crew…not to mention the collection of innocent passengers who never gave an oath to put their lives between their country and whatever might threaten it. While these two duked it out, we were still in grave danger. Someone had to make sure there was still a ship left to command once the battle of wills was over.

 

“Dory,” I implored before either Captain Miller or his improbable adversaries could launch another salvo. “Can you at least have…Pensacola?” my voice tripped over the name as I raised my hands in exasperation. “However it works please have the ship weave a bit! We make an awfully easy target going in a straight line.”

 

Captain Miller glared at me but didn’t argue this time. Dory nodded to her associate who smiled again. I could feel the ship jerk hard to starboard despite Andy Lentz doing nothing at the helm.

 

“See,” the captain struck back, turning to face the men standing with me. “Whatever delusions this hysterical woman is under, she’s still a girl with no sense of warfare. She’ll get us killed! Frank,” his voice raised as he addressed the senior-most petty officer on the bridge, “get these women off my bridge. And you, commander,” a glare likely familiar to the men of the Pequod drilled into me, “either assume your duties or place yourself under arrest.”

 

“But sir,” Helmsman Lentz interrupted as the ship righted herself impossibly quickly this time, “the ship is moving itself!”

 

“At my command, I might add,” Dory added with her trademark confidence. “This ship goes where I tell it to go and shoots at what I tell it to shoot. She’s got a mind of her own now, Captain Miller, and I think she’s made it clear just what she thinks of you.” Just then the deck shuddered followed moments later by a mist of water across the windows along the right side of the bridge.

 

“Near miss off the starboard side, Ma’am,” commented the impossible girl who had sucker-punched my commanding officer. It wasn’t lost to any sailor on the bridge that it would have been a hit if not for the impossibly smart course adjustment moments earlier. “No damage. The crew is getting very anxious, though. I hope you two settle this pissing contest quickly. I’m still happy to shut the little prick up for you, Captain.” The brightly-dressed Indian girl menacing the older, taller white man standing in his perfectly pressed blue uniform was a sight to behold.

 

“Commander,” Frank Warren, the bridge’s senior petty officer turned to me, “what do we do?”

 

I could see Dory look at me, her face that of someone in complete control of the situation. Not a hint of sweat on her face, a clear departure from the glistening mantle on Captain Miller’s forehead and cheeks. Her blouse, while wrinkled, was immaculate. She didn’t smile…her expression betrayed nothing to anyone who hadn’t known her intimately over a decade. This was the face of a woman who could stare down the Speaker of the House. While I could sense doubts beneath her carefully constructed façade, her unspoken words to me were clear.

 

When push comes to shove, her eyes demanded, the crew respects you more than their putative Captain. The ball’s in your court, Doug. Whether you like it or not, it’s time to crap or get off the pot.

 

“Captain Miller, you stand relieved of duty for the duration of combat. James,” I called out one of the junior enlisted who was there to carry messages if needed, “please escort the captain to his stateroom and detain him there.

 

“Captain,” I looked my commanding officer straight in his angry green eyes, “when this is all over I will place myself in the brig for mutiny, but until then please let me fight this ship to the best of my ability.”

 

Captain Miller looked around the bridge. He could tell who held the cards for the moment even before another hard turn to starboard from a helm untouched by human hands.

 

“I’ll see you shot, Doug,” he spat even as he started for the hatch. “And you,” he stopped not a foot from my wife, looming over her slight frame to look her in the eye, “will never see the marble halls again young woman. You know you just flushed your daddy’s legacy down the crapper, right?”

 

“My career makes no difference if I don’t survive tonight, Captain Miller.” The woman didn’t back away even a fraction of an inch from the larger man. “I won’t stand by and watch you piss away the futures of everyone on board…or those on the Cassin and Downes. Once we make it through this, I’ll join my husband in the brig and I’ll face the ‘morrow with him and share his fate. Until then, I have voters and future voters to keep alive.”

 

All I could do is shake my head at her choice of words, punctuated as they were by another near miss to port that would have been a hit were it not for the mysterious force moving the ship.

 

Leave it to Dory to somehow bring everything back to politics.

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An unexpected update with an interesting development and an understandably stubborn Captain. I enjoyed it, but it's pretty clear that you skipped your proofreader this time. You made a few spelling and grammatical mistakes.

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Yeah, I chose to post without a net. I'm working to jump-start a muse who has been dormant for eleven months. It's a weaker chapter than I am capable of, but I'm sure I can come back and improve on it later once I'm back in my groove. I needed to get something going or I'd still be suffering "blank page sickness" come '46... :P

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I know what you mean. My chapter 3 should be ready soon but I had a long period where I couldn't think of anything so it's been delayed for a few months. Today I might be able to give it a good kick in the pants.

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A very welcomed surprise. It feels good to see Stirling and Pensacola back in action once again. I feel that once the battle is over we'll be seeing not just Stirling's mutiny actions coming back around, but also the captain having to eat some humble pie. In the words of the Captain Phillips movie: "Look at me, I'm the captain now!"

I'm also curious to see how you take on a battle scene and how Dory handles combat and people dying. Hypothesis: Not well

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I have a question for everyone reading this.  When I started writing this, I really wanted to do it from first person perfect.  I felt an eyewitness view of the events would be really cool.  That said, I am also going for a "Winds of War" feel with different people viewing the events so that we can be everywhere things are happening.  As such, I am wanting to write from both the viewpoint of Dory Stirling and that of her husband.  On the other hand, I've never read a book that was written first person perfect that shifted viewpoints.  I'm beginning to see why that might be the case.  I'd be curious what others think of the shift from Dory to Doug?  I realize a reader assessment is further complicated by the overall weakness of the first Doug chapter (Chapter 3).  Still, how jarring was the shift in viewpoints for the reader and do you think now that I've established that viewpoints may shift, do you think it could work?

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Personally I'm all for it. I've done some swapping over to VADM Holland, but then again I'm writing in the third person where its easier to do so. Perhaps make it a little easier to tell which perspective it's from, either telling us outright or something of the sort.

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A good story shouldn't have to tell us outright what perspective it's in, as we should be able to easily glean that information from context clues.  As for the shift, it wasn't particularly jarring for me, but I think that's because I hadn't read the first two chapters in such a long time and the third was so different, it felt like a different story altogether.  I would recommend staying in first person perfect as dory.  You might be able to intersperse doug because they know each other so well that she can make a damn good guess of his thoughts, or read his expression or tone perfectly.

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