The Captain took a staggered step backwards as the smoke began to clear and a regular visual was possible without the need of his advanced monogoggle.
"Cap'n...how's that possible!?" Skye asked, turning to him with wide eyes.
"I...have no idea!" Louis grabbed onto the nearest speaking tube and shouted into it, "Genevieve, Aurora, explain to me how in the name of God the largest ship of the Darmanian ship was able to redirect the Teleforce Cannon's beam!?"
Louis was staggered as he watched the undamaged Darmanian flagship.
"Captain I..." Gen's voice wavered a little.
"Similarly charged particles, Captain." Aurora's accent was obvious and brought Louis to attention.
"The Cannon works by charging particles and focussing them inside a vacuum tube before repulsion is created in the barrel and amplified to the point where the particles are forced from the tip of the barrel at incredible speeds." Aurora explained quickly, trying desperately to put this into layman's terms for the Count who was neither a scientist nor an engineer. "As such, if the enemy were able to know of our designs in advance, it is possible that they created a kind of shield on that ship. What they seem to have created is a device that charges particles and focuses them between conduits, containing them within the field generated by those towers. Effectively, creating similar repulsion to repel the beam but due to the speed that the beam travels at, it was merely misdirected rather than stopped dead or reversed upon us."
Louis stared intently at the ship and slammed his hands suddenly down on the control panel, his exasperation evident.
"Rear-Admiral! Report! What has just happened!?" Vice-Admiral Constance's voice appeared on the radio and Louis sighed heavily.
"It appears that the enemy have our schematics for our experimental Teleforce Cannon. And they must have had it for a substantial amount of time as they have ensured that their largest ship is equipped with a method of countering the most powerful weapon at our disposal." Louis awaited a reply but silence was all he received. "Perhaps if we had waited we could have discovered that!"
"Count de Theudubert! This is hardly a time for you to-"
"Quiet Constance! I am the one who carried out tests on Tesla's weapon and as such you should have taken my wishes into account regarding this matter! You disregarded expert opinion due to prejudices against me! If we are to carry on with this battle, we need to work together, not against each other!" Louis stepped away from the device and awaited another response.
"Alright then chaps, we can have this out later, right now we have a fleet before us who outnumber us, but hopefully do not have us outgunned. Stay in formation and begin the advance!" Admiral Tooley did not give them time for the argument to escalate before the order was given for a full-steam ahead.
"Crew of the HMS Valkyrie...prepare for battle!" Louis pulled his hat a little tighter on his head and relieved the pilot at the helm of her duty, taking over the wheel while she moved to aid Skye and the co-pilot.
"Tabitha, increase speed and ensure the gunners are prepared. I want literally every cannon manned!"
Before Skye could carry out the order or even muster a retort to being called by her true first name, a huge explosion rocked the starboard side of the ship, sending the crew tumbling to the left in shock. What had happened!? They were far enough away that no weapon should have been able to hit them!
The Darmanian flagship's cannons were all swivelling to the front, aiming for the British fleet, smoke wreathed the barrels of the foremost cannons, having fired from such a vast distance that Louis had not been expecting it. Surely such an act was impossible!?
Another volley and Louis span the wheel to the left, steering the ship just out of the path of some ammunition which would have scraped them seconds before. Still, the ship was hit by a thundering crash as the ammunition exploded in mid-air despite lack of contact with anything.
"Oh, you must be pulling my leg!" Louis looked to Davenport who looked just as dumbfounded as he was.
"We shouldn't even be in range of conventional cannons yet!" Davenport lifted a telescope to his eye and shook his head in disbelief. "These weapons appear to be of a massive calibre. It is unlikely we will survive a direct hit, and an airburst close enough to vital parts of the ship will more likely as not bring us down!"
"Fine, we need to get into range of that flagship, sooner rather than later!" Louis replied, increasing the speed himself.
"You want us to get closer to that thing?" A crewman manning one of the bridges pressure monitors wailed. Skye silenced him with an angry look.
"Won't that bring us into range of the rest of their fleet Cap'n?" Skye asked.
"Yes, but we are faster than they are! We can manoeuvre far more swiftly than they can hope for!" Louis could think of nothing else. Back here they were sitting ducks, closer they had more of a hope, apart from the large battleships which hovered menacingly in the ranks behind the Darmanian flagship. That worried him far more than the flotillas of smaller ships.
There was another thunderous broadside from the distant flagship, Louis winced as a frigate from Celeste's Squadron was hit and erupted in a sheet of flame. Even at this altitude the crew could feel the heat wash through the glass of the bridge windows. Several panicked shouts could be heard from the bridge crew and Louis raised his hand for silence.
"What the hell is happening up there!?" Gen's voice came over the tubes, speaking from engineering where she only had a rear-facing view.
"I am afraid that is a rather long story Genevieve. Crew, as far as you are to be concerned, we are in range of enemy fire." Louis could not believe just how well equipped the Darmanian forces were and this was before they had even reached their borders where they had even more weaponry.
"And we are currently out of range of their lightning weapons for now Captain, but that shall probably not remain so for very long..." Davenport nodded to the horizon as the fleet began to slowly advance towards them, far more slowly than Louis had estimated they could move.
Even as the British fleet advanced ever closer towards the Darmanian armada, a bright light could suddenly be seen building at the rear of the armada.
"What're those bastards up to now!?" Skye asked as she regarded this strange sight.
Like a miniature star the light began to envelop several of the large battleships at the rear of the Darmanian fleet obscuring them from view before a flash caused every person able to see it to shut their eyes in agony. Louis' right eye felt somewhat guarded but he still clutched onto the helm and wedged his eyes closed.
"Christ! What just happened!? My medical bay just lit up like the Crystal Palace!" Elizabeth's voice sounded over the speaker tube from the infirmary.
"I'll let you know when we can all see again!" Davenport responded for Louis.
Davenport was grateful for his tinted glasses at this point which meant he could already see fuzzy shapes around the sunspots. After shaking his head a few times and blinking, Davenport could fully make out the fleet in front of them once more.
"That's impossible!" Davenport remarked, blinking again. Had...had the battleships become invisible!?
"Where have they gone?" Louis asked, his left eye still closed, but the Telescopic Diagnostician zooming to the back of the fleet before them. Another explosion rocked the Valkyrie and Louis stumbled over the wheel, using it to hold him upright as he steered away from the blast. "Find out from the others First-Mate!"
Skye was surprised at this, having never actually been called that as a title before... She opened the radio channels and tried her hardest to conceal her accent.
"I...Tabitha Skylar, First-Mate o'the Valkyrie 'ere. Um...Could the other Squadron leaders please report if they know where the enemy Battleships are?" She cringed even as she spoke and then glared at her Captain.
"HMS Valkyrie, you are ordered to pull back your squadron to the rear, this is going to a ship of line battle. Your vessels are not designed to take this kind of punishment. The Hermes, Excalibur and their squadrons are to provide flank cover and harry the escort vessels, as I take the battleships forward to engage that infernal behemoth. That is an order!" Admiral Tooley's voice was drowned out suddenly by a thundering explosion which resounded over the radio transmission.
"Tooley!?" Louis shouted despite not being remotely near the receiver at the time.
"Admiral?" Constance's voice came on instead, equally as concerned as Louis.
"Admiral Tooley here, I am fine, continue with the orders I have laid out and execute them now!" The man sounded out of breath and this was worrying Louis.
"Louis, do as he says!" Gen's voice returned over the speaking tubes.
"What is it Genevieve, what is happening to him!?" Louis knew that her view through the rear windows was a perfect vantage point to observe the Mjolnir.
"Captain, the battleships, they are BEHIND us! The light, when I could see again...they were there! Following from the rear, attacking Admiral Tooley's squadron as they attempt to push forward!" Her voice was trembling as she spoke, unable to believe what she had just seen.
The Admirals squadron turned ponderously to meet this new threat, the flash and crump of gunfire could be seen and heard as a furious exchange of gunfire began between the two forces.
"Oh fantastic!" Davenport exclaimed with frustration "Vessels that can move from location to location instantaneously, what next? Will they stop time?"
Skye smiled despite herself.
"Christ! That is how they were able to move with such speed when they attacked Guernsey and Jersey...And how they could appear in the centre of London undetected...and how they lured us into the trap!" Louis was incensed. "They can transport themselves!"
"Matter transportation!? Are you serious!?" Gen responded.
Louis did not dignify that with a response, allowing her to make her own deductions based on what she had witnessed first-hand. All of the puzzles fell into place suddenly and he realised that this meant there was something incredibly valuable to be had in all of this. Imagine the plundering that could be done if your ship could instantaneously be elsewhere!
Right now, Louis' thoughts moved to more important things. Despite his orders, he knew even the heavy cannons of the British battleships could not hope to defeat the enemy's huge floating fortress and its escorting armada. It was up to him! If they were to destroy a ship the size of the Darmanian flagship, they would need to hit it with the Teleforce Cannon as their weapons were far too small to affect it even with their newly advanced firepower.
"How long until we can use the Teleforce Cannon again?" Louis asked, staring at the advancing fleet in contemplation.
"At full capacity, at least forty minutes. If we were to reroute all engine power, still around thirty minutes." Gen had clearly recovered from her shock as her voice was confident.
"Is there no way we can have it at full power faster WITHOUT abusing the engines?" Louis asked, knowing the answer already.
"We can reroute all of the power from everything all at once for just under a minute and...the cannon's charging chamber will overload Captain. We will all die and we will remove at least our entire squadron from the sky in the resulting blast." Genevieve almost sounded as if she had lost patience with Louis at this stage.
"Can you make it so that such an event was to occur if, for example, the thrusters were started or stopped?" Louis listened intently as those in the bridge stared at him in horror.
"Do it, do it now and do it fast. Make it so that it is designed to be activated as soon as I stop the engines. I'll rely on thrusters alone." Louis turned away from the engineering speaking tube and to the fore-deck where he knew Aurora was. "Aurora, calculate where I would need to be in the sky so that a descent with thrusters at maximum would carry me to the enemy flagship...without an envelope."
Before he received any responses to these orders or before Davenport-who had now stood and walked towards him-could react, Louis turned to the ship-wide tube and pulled it close.
"I need you all to listen very carefully as we are about to do something ridiculous and frankly, uncharacteristic. However, we shall also be depriving the Royal Navy of some of its resources and also abandoning them now rather than after the battle." Louis needed to sugar coat this as best he could... Davenport was next to him now and looking as though he was contemplating striking the young Count.
"I want the envelope given extra lift and I want the thrusters attached to the envelope positioned to full reverse. Then I want all of the gluemen, gunners, damage control teams and engineers to converge within the envelope and scout balloons save for Bjorn Hauptmann, Genevieve til Baudfert and Tabitha Skylar who I want in the glider as soon as humanly possible." Louis' eyes locked on Skye for a moment and he smiled before continuing. "Aurora Ebeltoft and Doctor Elizabeth Knight are also to report to the glider with equipment they deem necessary."
A response came almost instantaneously from Aurora, "Sir! What you asked me to work on with Gen, you will find it in a box at the back of the bridge. Don't forget it!"
Louis then stepped away from the tube with a smile before catching Davenport's eyes. The Captain took a deep breath, attempting to look more intimidating to Davenport but likely failing miserably.
"Lieutenant, gather your men and assemble in the glider as soon as possible. We have a mission to undertake."
"Dammit Louis, what are you doing!?" Davenport looked somewhat menacing but Louis did not betray this fact.
"I am doing what is best for the Royal Navy, for Queen and Country. That flagship will decimate our forces before most of them can even get close. It needs removed and I can do that. You are under orders to make sure that everyone you see is getting to their positions Lieutenant. Understood?" Louis asked, narrowing his eyes.
"You sure picked a hell of a time to become patriotic..." Davenport replied before clapping a hand on his shoulder. "Be careful."
"You'd better be in that glider before we leave..." Skye told him before she followed the other pilots down through the hatch.
"And if Genevieve needs forcibly removed from the Valkyrie, do so!" Louis shouted down the hatch as it closed before he sighed and turned to the speaking tubes for what he hoped was the last time as he realised on more dutiful thing he should do. "Bjorn?"
"Captain? You called?" Swiss' gruff voice responded from what appeared to be...the Mess Hall?
"Bjorn, are you near the living quarters!?"
"Yes sir, I had to finish fixing my left arm before I could take my post. What do you need?"
That sounded incredibly strange, for Swiss to have stayed away from manning the guns when going into battle!
"Bjorn, I need you to attach explosives to our engines and thrusters. No timing mechanism, there will be a big enough bang to set them off. Make it quick and get to the glider straight after. Move as fast as possible as there is little time. At least you are close to them from where you are." Louis knew that everything was set now. As he walked over to the radio transmitter, he could hear the hustle and bustle from down below as all of the ship's crew rushed to their new positions.
"Rear-Admiral De Theudubert to squadron," Louis spoke into the transmitter, "pull back and assist the Admiral's squadron, keep those enemy battleships occupied so we can get our heavy guns up front. HMS Sunsprite. Athena and Damocles double back hit them head on and break up their ranks. HMS Warspite, Borealis and Sussex circle left and attack them from the rear. Your small stature will make you difficult targets but be careful. Hit and run tactics only. Aim for the engines, I am guessing they will be using a lot of them to keep those beasts in the air."
A chorus of acknowledgements came back in reply and through the port and starboard view ports Louis could see his squadron peeling off as ordered.
Louis was left alone on the bridge, despite the explosions billowing around his vessel and the furious skirmish to the rear of the fleet it was oddly quiet. He knew that he had to stay behind, this was his ship and he needed to ensure that his plan was carried out successfully.
He increased the lift of the ship, flying upwards so that he could ensure the thrusters carried him into the flagship after he released the envelope from the ship so that the rest of his crew could escape unharmed. When he released the envelope, he would activate the thrusters at full and deactivate them straight before impact so that the Teleforce Cannon could overload within the energy field, destroying the Darmanian Flag ship and hopefully a sizeable chunk of their fleet.
What's more, it would keep the other squadron leaders from needing to cover him, thereby putting themselves in unnecessary danger.
Louis locked the helm and walked over to the radio, lifting the receiver to contact all of Britain's forces, every ship equipped with a radio, including his own squadron.
"This is Count Louis de Theudubert contacting the other squadron leaders. I have instructed my squadron to double back and cover the Admiral as he advances with the big guns. Commodore Brislan and Vice-Admiral Constance continue to protect our flanks and engage the escorts as planned. I am about to destroy the flagship so keep well back and make sure to keep safe during this confrontation. Good luck..." Louis closed off all communications so that he was unable to receive any arguments.
Louis engaged the thrusters and continued to rise.
"Captain, if you continue at this speed and incline, it will be about five minutes from now...If you go at full engine and thruster power, perhaps four?" Aurora finally answered from the speaking tubes.
"Thank you, now get to the glider." Louis replied, increasing engines to full and increasing thruster capacity also.
Louis sighed as he pulled out his pocket watch, holding it in one hand and the wheel with the other as he began to count down the time. His eyes flicked up to the view in front of him, the blue sky closing in what seemed to be too fast, the fleet of the enemy now below and before him. He made sure to straighten the Valkyrie, in line with the towering black hued air fortress in front of him. He had no idea if his family would be on board such a vessel or kept prisoner within the walls of Darmania. However, they were likely not important enough to the military to be on board...it was a risk he had to take.
The Count closed his eyes, thinking about those that he would be leaving behind. People like Celeste who he had only just confessed his feelings for...
"Ah well, the Black Den will be incredibly disappointed that they never managed to get their hands on me." Louis smirked to himself and pulled the Ace of Spades from his pocket, throwing it towards the window with a sigh.
"Captain, all crew, save Swiss, are in position." Davenport's voice over the speaker tubes soothed Louis somewhat as it meant the crew would now be safe.
"Thank you Charles. I want you all prepared for departure as it will come in one more minute." Louis responded with a smirk. "And thank Aurora for-"
Louis paused and his eyes widened as he realised what he was saying. If Aurora and Gen had managed to finish what he had requested, he might survive this! The Captain dashed to the back of the room, kneeling by one of the containers which was covered by a red piece of material. Pulling it back, he flicked the lid open and laughed aloud, reaching in to lift the heavy mechanical object from the lining. Three metallic cylinders now lay in his hand, one large central chamber with two at the side.
"A self-propelling jetpack." Louis smirked at the vambrace hanging from the left side made of brass, controls on it almost matching the one on the right arm which controlled the Telescopic Diagnostician. He slid his black tailcoat off and dropped it to the floor before he slipped the straps over his shoulders so that it sat snugly on his back, the three firing chambers pointed outwards, away from him. It was untested and likely highly dangerous...but it was better than certain death! The tailcoat would have likely set on fire with the back of the coat flapping freely.
Louis checked his watch and raised an eyebrow. There were only twenty seconds left to go before he had to begin.
"Prepare for separation." Louis called into the speaker tubes.
"Captain! Swiss is still not here and neither are you!" Davenport replied from the entrance to the glider, the glider itself not having tubes connected to it.
Complete silence followed and Louis looked at his pocket watch with a look of concern. It was now or never...
"Separating now!" Louis added as he pulled a lever and pushed a button, cursing his luck. If need be, Swiss could have his jetpack... Louis hit large red button, only to be used in extreme emergencies, to release the chains which held the envelope to the rest of the airship which hung below.
The Captain then closed off the engines and checked the thrusters were at maximum as the ship reached the zenith of its arc, beginning the long descent towards the flagship. The Valkyrie began to crackle as energy was charged within the Teleforce Cannon, preparing for a full detonation.
Louis steadied the wheel and then grabbed one of his spare canes from the bin next to the hatch, turning before lodging it into the steering wheel with a sigh. He was going to miss this ship!
"Bjorn..." Louis spoke to himself before he ran to the hatch and began his descent, running with some agony along the halls, keeping an eye out for his friend as the metal railings that were now crackling with more power than usual, all of it running in the direction of engineering.
Louis crossed through empty corridors, open hatchway doors creaked and they swung gently as the ship rocked back and forth through the intensifying maelstrom of cannon fire. He peered into several rooms making sure no one had been left behind. He passed the armoury and then the galley which to his satisfaction was stripped completely, meaning the crew had found time to store the provisions and weapons aboard the glider.
The Captain reached the deck without having seen the German at all, which was ridiculous as he had passed the engines and the thruster rooms...
"Bjorn, where in the name of God are you!?" Louis called into a speaker tube.
"Captain, get out of here! I am rigging the cannons to fire and then explode also! I do not want my babies to fall into enemy hands!" The German's deep laughter followed.
"Bjorn, we have less than twenty seconds! Get down here and take my jetpack!"
Silence followed until an explosion rocked the deck. Louis looked over the side as they were finally within range of the flagship's escorts which advanced on the Valkyire like a swarm as it accelerated ahead of the British fleet. As the enemy vessels approached, one of the side-cannons from the Valkyrie swivelled and fired as one on the other side did the same as if symbiotically linked, the expertly aimed shots hit the command decks of the two nearest Darmanian vessels either side of the Valkyrie, causing them to lose control and drop through the clouds gushing smoke and debris. Those had been perfect shots and no way could Swiss have been manning them both! Had he got them hooked up to a timer!?
"Bjorn, get out now!"
"I will be fine Captain, get out now!"
"I will not leave anyone behind! If anyone is going down with this ship, it is the Captain!" Louis knew that if he did not leave within the next few seconds, they would both be too close to the explosion to survive.
"Trust me Captain, I will not go down with the ship!" The conviction was evident in Swiss' voice and he sounded confident, even if it was perhaps a ruse...
"Damn it Bjorn, I had better see you down there!" Louis told him before stepping up onto the railing which was now strangely devoid of energy. The ship was plummeting now, aimed perfectly for the centre of the enemy flagship, the Valkyrie's cannons firing in all directions as the small ships attempted to destroy the Valkyrie before it hit its mark. This would be dangerous, but Louis would be such a small target that being hit by stray fire was extremely unlikely.
"STOP HESITATING!" Louis shouted to himself and his eyes widened as he suddenly dove over the edge of the ship, pulling his hat firmly down on his head as he began his freefall. He pushed some buttons on the vambrace and then flicked the on switch and...nothing happened!
Louis began to panic, seeing the state of Darmania below him getting closer with each passing second. He frantically began hitting buttons and flipping switches but the jetpack stayed silent.
"DAMMIT!" Louis elbowed the contraption as he continued to fall.
* * * * *
Davenport had been forced to duck into the glider and close the hatch as the separation had begun without his consent.
"NO! HE CANNOT STAY BEHIND!" Genevieve was fighting against Amelia Hawkesworth who had decided that she would be better suited to be on the glider than in the envelope. She had attempted to reach for the handle of the hatch. Davenport indicated one of his men to grab her but Amelia had gotten there first and held her firmly.
"Shut yer trap or I'll shut it for ya!" Skye told her, her eyes narrowing menacingly, causing the scar over her left eye to appear longer.
"Louis...he is still on the ship..." Gen spoke to herself more than anyone else and tears began rolling down her face before she buried her face in her hands.
"Look, we are about to be heading into Darmania, this is what Louis wanted. We can infiltrate their ranks from the ground. The glider is small enough that they will probably think it is just debris when we first land." Davenport told them, lifting his gun and walking to the front of the cabin, looking out as the wings opened and they began their slow descent.
"How long have you known this for?" Enquired one of his men, several other soldiers and crew murmuring in assent.
"About 15 minutes!"
"15 minutes?" Echoed Dr Knight "That's a little short notice!"
"Well at the risk of being pedantic, what with the Teleforce cannon not working and the teleporting battle fleet, circumstances didn't lend themselves to advanced preparation! Louis was thinking on his feet and decided this was a better option than us all still being aboard when he rams the Valkyrie into that giant floating fortress!"
"He's a brave man, and we're going to follow his order whether ye like it or not, now let's get this thing down safe, then we can argue as to what we do next!" The First-Mate told the crew.
Automatically, Skye took the helm and began to steer them towards the country. They were likely all going to die here, but she knew that it was better this way. She could have died in some godforsaken street in London, broken by a gang or in a knife-fight or even in prison if she had ever been caught. Louis had given her a new lease on life, he had made her life worth something more...and she would do whatever she could to help him!
"You think he wanted us to go in for that?" Amelia asked with a small laugh. "I think it more likely he is under some misguided delusion that we will be able to rescue his family and somehow escape with them."
"Well, that's incredibly unlikely and will not be our primary objective. Although the thought that heading into a mysterious nation full of blood thirsty cultists, might be a rather risky course of action had occurred to me." Davenport responded.
"No, it won't. But that's not your call, it's mine." Skye informed everyone within the glider, turning the wheel sharply to port as they began to circle and head towards the largest town that she could see. "I'll need your advice, but with the Cap'n gone, his duties fall to me."
As the glider descended slowly, edging below the closing fleets. The heavier Royal Navy warships had closed the distance now and were starting to fan out, bringing their heaving broadsides to bear. The clouds above were scorched with smoke from exploding shells and burning airships. The Admiral was attempting to cut a path to the enemy flag ship. However in closing the distance they had also neared the towering border wall that ringed the Darmanian nation.
Not far from the glider, atop one of the tall castle-like structures on the wall which Davenport had first taken to be a guard tower of some sort, what appeared to be a cannon swivelled skyward. A bolt of lightning shot from one of the dark clouds above into the barrel of the 'cannon' passing through one of the Navy ships high above the above the wall, effectively slicing it in two, bringing it down in a blaze of flame.
"That is how they can hit ships so far away..." Aurora mused. "Their cannons are not cannons at all, they attract the lightning rather than dispense it!"
"We always thought they fired lightning from their cannons, we have seen it..." Davenport responded, rushing to look up at the damage caused. He noted the envelope of the Valkyrie, still bearing the large figurehead of the winged warrior woman, was now moving backwards through the sky back towards the British fleet, its thrusters on reverse would not last long, but they would be out of danger.
"They possibly do from the smaller cannons, the ones on board their airships and definitely their hand-cannons." Aurora responded. "But these...it is why they have such range and is possibly how they get the energy to store for their personal lightning guns."
"Unbelievable!" Dr. Knight exclaimed, shaking her head as yet more bolts of lightning streamed from the sky to the walls, decimating the forces above. The glider had to swerve to avoid falling airship pieces now, but that would help cloak their descent at least! They sailed over the top of the wall seemingly unseen by the defences and troops that manned it, descending slowly towards some sort of large settlement or city, the distance closing rapidly. Skye sighted an open space possibly some sort of civic area or graveyard, the glider was moving too fast for her to tell.
"Hang on! We're almost down now..." Skye told them, tilting hard to port as they skimmed the roof of a dilapidated house. There was no other open space for them to land in and the ominous looking pit in the she had sighted in the centre of the settlement had not looked to be a good prospect! Clearing another house by inches, the port wing tip clipped a chimney, ripping the wing off and sending the chimney flying to the street below in a cloud of smashed masonry.
The glider lurched towards the ground, the vehicle originally designed to be attached to the Valkyrie and therefore not needing landing gear of its own. The descent had been much faster than Skye had been expecting but...they were all alive so far! The small ship skidded as it finally came to earth.
As they slid and bumped along the uneven ground, a diseased looking tree loomed in their path sheering off the starboard wing at the base and spinning the glider around. Gen screamed and several crew members were nearly thrown from their feet. Skye fought the controls of the stricken vessel gouging a long trench in the ground as their speed began to decrease.
"Brace for impact!" Skye shouted as they approached a larger building, this one resembling a library or museum. They all held hard to the railings, they all looked away from the windows as they crashed into the building and were sent flying, the windows shattering, sending pieces of glass flying through the cabin like blades.
Dr. Knight forced herself to her feet before any others and scanned the small crowd quickly. The scent of blood was in the air, but not a single one of the small band seemed to be bleeding...something was strange here.
"Is everyone ok?" Davenport asked as they began to get to their feet.
"Louis..." Gen stood and rushed outside, staring out at the Valkyrie as explosions began to rock the hull of the ship. It was seconds from crashing into the flagship and even as she watched, blue light began to penetrate the holes in the hull.
"You can't run off like that ya daft..." Skye's sentence trailed off as she and the rest of the crew flooded out of the ruined glider to look up as the Valkyrie crashed into the flagship.
There was a bright flash before the entire ship exploded, then a shockwave knocked the crew to the ground before a giant pulse of energy rocketed outwards from where the Valkyrie had been moments before. The spherical dome of energy decimated the flagship, the huge explosion destroying many of the vessels clustered around it. As the slain monster descended through the clouds, bits of the falling flagship struck the great wall filling the air with an almighty sonorous clang, as part of the mighty structure bent and tore away, bringing down several adjacent sections. The ground shook as the flagship and wall sections hit the ground.
As they picked themselves up and gazed upwards in wonder, the air seemed to be filled with burning airships and falling wreckage. Debris began to crash around the crew as they stood once more, in particular one large metallic object crashing less than a mile away with massive impact. The crew was silent, watching as flaming balls of debris streaked through the sky like meteors.
The enemy fleet was in disarray, the Royal Navy fleet could be seen charging into the midst of the disorganised remnants, felling many as they advanced. Although it seemed to be but a sideshow to what they had just witnessed.
"Let's...take a moment to pay our respects and..."
"We may not have time." Davenport cut across Skye, indicating a narrow lane to their left along which approached a force of barbaric looking warriors. Clearing Darmanian, shrouded in black and eyes burning with unbridled bloodlust.
Gen wiped her eyes and pulled the large spanner from her back, cocking one end against her shoulder as electricity began to build in the opposing tips.
"They want lightning..." A bolt of crackling energy fired from the tip of the spanner, crashing into the front of the opposing platoon and knocking others to the ground. "They can have it!"
Davenport's men arranged themselves into formation before he had any need to issue a command, one line kneeling before the other as they fired their rifles one at a time, removing the enemy as each stood up.
"There will be more coming." Amelia announced, her hand touching the hilt of the rapier Louis had gifted her with.
"Indeed...we should keep moving." Davenport added, looking to Skye.
"On the way down, I saw lotsa men near that hole...I say we 'ead fer there." Skye drew her two favourite daggers and flicked a small switch in them, the wires connecting them to the small Tesla generator on her back began to glow red as the blades heated up, increasing their cutting efficiency.
"A sound plan. After you then...Captain." Davenport nodded to her with a grim smile and the crew began to move.