Why did he accept this? What kind of sky pirate would allow himself to be roped into the military? If there was one thing that sky pirates stood for, it was freedom. The ability to set off from port, disappear into the clouds and never look back. It was the need to not be tied to the ground which connected all sky pirates and made them brothers.
But not for Count Louis de Theudubert. He was no longer a brother of the sky in the eyes of most sky pirates, but then, he was always hated amongst a small faction who despised how merciful he was towards those whose possessions he stole. The Black Den were definitely not who he would have wished to associate with at any rate. They were pathetic excuses for human beings whose goal it was to humiliate, manipulate and torture their victims before taking everything in sight, often including the vessels themselves. The Count prided himself on not harming a single person if it could be avoided, and he always left them with a vessel and enough fuel to land at the nearest port
Captain? A voice from behind caused Louis to turn towards its source. He had been facing outwards from the bow, the wind was cool and light here, gently caressing the bow of the ship as they steered closer to the northern skystream.
Lieutenant Davenport. The Count recognised the man who was technically the highest ranking military officer on the ship. Whilst the Count himself was in command of the ship, Lieutenant Charles Christophe Davenport was the head of the military presence on board, much to Louis chagrin. But this was a necessary evil and Davenport was one of the few military dogs whose presence he actually enjoyed.
Lieutenant Davenports father was the vastly respected and decorated General Joseph Davenport, a man whose only achievement in the Counts eyes was that he had managed to blow people up without getting himself blown up in the process
nothing to be proud of. It was widely believed that Charles Davenport would be following in his fathers footsteps, showing incredible promise and vast knowledge of military strategies, but somehow he had ended up on board the HMS Valkyrie. Having spoken with him at great length, the Count knew why this was, even if Davenport had never actually spoken it aloud: It was because of his father.
Unlike most of the military, Charles had sought freedom, abandoning what would have been a long and pointless career in the military for a life in the sky. Oh yes, this man the Count understood! Louis took in the sight of the man, taller than himself with broad shoulders. The red jacket hiding what he was sure was a good build beneath it. Only a few strands of brown hair showed from the very fore of the pith helmet that seemed permanently attached to his head. The black trousers tucked into calf-high boots were very much to Louis taste, especially since they were quite similar to his own. A few scars littered his skin, stories of which had given the Count quite a lot to laugh over as Charles explained the various pranks which he and his classmates had played on each other in the academy. He was disciplined, but most certainly not without a sense of humour!
Lieutenant Davenports feet came together and he saluted sharply, betraying his excellent form in the military, Sir, it seems that the zeppelin we were tailing has knowledge of our presence. It has veered away from its path and is now heading directly into the skystream.
The Counts eyes widened and he turned to look outwards at the sky again, barely able to spot the black shape on the horizon as they had made sure to stay only barely visible, the use of telescopes and his own little secret allowing them to track the zeppelin quite successfully.
Very good Lieutenant. Then we move now. Prepare your men and make sure that they are fully equipped for a major boarding operation. The ship in question is cannon-equipped and there are possibilities of plasma cannons on a vessel this big. Assemble in the foyer and avoid the deck until I give the direct order.
Sir! The Lieutenant saluted once more and then moved with speed and precision back through the doors that led into the foyer, already pulling the telephone-like radio transmitter from the pack on his back and calling into it for his men to gather, orders being relayed to those beneath him.
Now, it was the Counts turn. He lifted the radio from the side of the ship and pushed the button, the smooth metallic surface was cold to the touch as he lifted it to his mouth.
We need to increase speed by forty KTAS, had to starboard and extend the Glider fins! If that zeppelin manages to make it to the skystream, we are going to lose it. And I dont need to tell you what kind of payoff a ship that big has do I? He smirked as a cry went up from around the ship, the men acknowledging how important this was. Lets do this!
Another cry and the ship veered, the large fins along the starboard and port folding outwards like wings from the side of the decking as the jets flared up, the one of the left firing at double the strength so that the ship turned towards the right. Both of them then flared at the same level, sending the ship speeding towards the opposing zeppelin. At once, four more jet engines, these attached to the Valkyries cruciform fins on the main balloon of the airship. This was going to be tight because of the distance between them, but the HMS Valkyrie was the fastest ship in the Naval fleet and had some of the most advanced weaponry available. Both starboard and port side triple-barrelled cannons, four large rear cannons and, Louis pride and joy, a large Teleforce Cannon that could be extended from the prow. He did all he could to avoid using such a disruptive weapon, but if needed it could be used to rip through ship hulls with an intensely focussed beam of energy which was created through an experimental Tesla reactor.
Captain? The radio hissed to life again and he lifted it, clicking it on.
Captain, I think we can get another twenty KTAS out of the ship if we reroute some of the power from the cannon to the engines.
Louis smirked and shook his head. His boatswain Jordan was constantly attempting to pass himself off as the ships mechanic, but in the past, Louis had found it best to allow him his freedom. The kid, while only seventeen, seemed to have some kind of knack for these things and was a technological genius that would still not allow himself to accept any rank higher than boatswain because of his love for the ships they worked with.
Do it if you think it is possible Jordan, but I swear, if anything explodes this time
Nothing will explode Captain! Trust me! Although, the conduits Im using to focus the energy are experimental so
A bit of static followed before the ship suddenly lurched forwards, causing Louis to grip harder onto the edge of the ships prow, his cane clattering to the deck as he smiled broadly, the wind whipping through his medium-length, black, wavy hair. The Count lifted one hand to the tip of his top hat, partly obscuring his view. He lowered his right hand to reveal the Telescopic Diagnostician over his right eye which served as an analysis screen. It was an amber-coloured eyeglass, shaped into a monoggle which was connected to a control panel on his arm. He quickly pushed a button on the inside of the greave on his right forearm which caused the crystal to focus in on the zeppelin, scanning the distance and how long it would take at this speed.
when it would have taken sixteen before that boost
damned impressive Jordan
The Count said to himself, leaning down to lift his cane once more, leaning on it before reaching to his right hip with his left hand, pulling his rapier from its scabbard a small amount to check that it wasnt sticking before he resheathed it. From under his left arm, he could feel the weight of his gun in the shoulder holster. The laser pistol was the smallest of his weapons, but it was definitely the best for boarding other vessels!
It had been a long time since Louis had first taken to the sky, his first ship was a small, pathetic little thing. But with his crew, he had managed to take down vessels three times its size and that had begun his career as a sky pirate. It had only been recently that the government had signed him on as a privateer, using his talents to track down other sky pirates and capture them or to seek out cargo ships from opposing nations to take their cargo into custody, otherwise known as stealing it
Louis became quite famous, or infamous depending on whom you asked, for his particular brand of piracy. No hurting unless you had to, no outright destruction, just hoarding and selling loot and also information. If there was one thing that Count Louis de Theudubert prized more than valuables and weapons, it was knowledge! Knowledge, and of course, his freedom! Only once had he even deemed himself close to capture, but in actual fact, that had been a misunderstanding just under nine months ago
* * * * *
Please, relax Count. We have no qualms with you! The man stated, his moustache curling upwards as he smirked, his hands coming together upon the folder in his lap before he stood, turning to face the window.
The truth is, Count de Theudubert, we would like to enlist your services.
Louis laughed hard, the chains that bound his wrists creating quite a haunting jingle sound as he did so.
Excuse my disbelief Admiral, but usually when a Skypirate has been clapped in irons and dragged into the royal offices, it is not for tea and crumpets. In reality, Louis was terrified. He knew that piracy was often considered treason if carried out in British airspace, and treason was punishable by death or even worse, prison!
Never have any ships been stolen by you or anyone under your command. In fact, aside from injuries sustained by cannon fire, no-one has ever been harmed on your watch. The Admiral turned to look at him, holding up the folder that had Louis picture attached to it with a paperclip. He threw it onto the desk and it fell open to a picture of Louis family, the sight of his father, mother and sister causing a spark of rage to fly through him.
WHAT DO YOU KNOW OF MY FAMILY!? The Count shouted, lurching forward suddenly before being caught roughly around the biceps by two large naval officers who he struggled hard to be free of. As he struggled, his hat fell from his head, his aviation goggles resting on the brim. His long hair became tangled in his monoggle and it slid up onto his forehead from his right eye.
Relax, we know nothing more than you do. They were kidnapped in Darmanian airspace, the note that was sent to you asked for no ransom, but did tell you that you had three years, with a family member being killed off every year unless you found them. The Admiral smirked again and stepped forward, lifting up the top hat which had fallen to the floor and dusting it off before he handed it to the visibly deflating Count. He unfastened the manacles from his wrists and nodded to the officers to release his arms.
Louis knew what was coming. He had been approached two years prior to join the Royal Navy officially, but had turned them down, refusing to be tied to the land in any way other than supply runs. But now
We want to commission you as a Privateer. A pirate on our payroll. You will have access to our shipyards, our weapon stores and even our men. A crew can be provided-
I have no need for your crew. I have my own! Louis fixed his monoggle and placed his hat back on his head, his face becoming more stoic than ever before.
Well, then what would you require? The Admiral asked, a knowing smile spreading upon his face.
I want a ship, fast, light, but armed to the teeth. I want at least twenty of some damn good men. And if it can be arranged, Id rather not your naval pansies either. I want some regimental types, ground soldiers, disciplined and able to take orders from a Skypirate without question. I keep my own crew and we get on the payroll as well as fifty percent of the plunder. Louis told him matter-of-factly, without pausing, as if he had planned this all along.
The Admiral laughed heartily. Are all Skypirates extortionists then? Fine, take that. We more want you to be able to take down the other Skypirates at any rate. Anything else youll be wanting?
I need an official rank as well as international transport papers. I need to be able to get into other countries airspace without suspicion. I am sure I will have some time off from official duties after all? It was Louis turn to smile as he held out his right hand towards the Admiral. If those terms are acceptable, then I shall be yours.
The Admiral was clearly unsure of these last two terms and he hesitated before he extended his hand with a careful response of Ill see what I can do
* * * * *
Captain? The radio had hissed to life once more and Louis lifted it to his mouth.
Here, are the preparations complete?
Yes sir. We are now coming within gliding range. What are your orders?
Louis smirked and hung up the radio, walking swiftly to the foyer where Lieutenant Davenport was stood with his full platoon.
Is Swiss not attending today? Count de Theudubert asked casually.
No sir, came the curt reply, he is still recovering from his replacement arm.
Louis had forgotten about his chief gunners artificial limb replacement surgery. Bjorn Swiss Hauptmann, ex-military gunner before a tragic accident caused him to be honourably discharged from service. An unfortunate accident occurred when he was loading an unstable blasting cartridge back when such things were merely experiments for firing the larger projectiles had caused Swiss injuries. An explosion had torn through the cannon chamber of the vessel, meant that his left arm had been ripped away from the elbow down and shrapnel had caused irreparable damage to his right eye. Such injuries made him unable to carry out his duties for them then, but after Louis had picked him up, he had made some startling improvements using nothing more than scraps and loot they had picked up. He had earned himself the nickname Swiss not only because many of them had mistaken his German nationality for being Swedish, but primarily for the fact that he had added several EXTRA limbs to himself to make up for the one lost. Bjorn now almost constantly wore a boiler-pack on his back to power the various improvements he had made to himself
He possessed a crane mounted on both the right and left sides of the boiler-pack, combined with his brass-coated mechanical left arm and to top it all off, a self-designed steam-pressure cannon-ball launcher which lay over his right shoulder, utilising the very technology which had caused his injuries. All of this, combined with the technological replacement for his right eye made him seem something like a Swiss Army Knife in nature as well as in usefulness. The replacement eye, which looked very similar to an advanced monoggle, was similar in function to Louis own, his self-created Telescopic Diagnostician tool which connected to his wrist-mounted control panel. The major difference being that Bjorns connected directly into his optic nerves, which thankfully were undamaged due to the shrapnel. And it was also much more powerful than the Telescopic Diagnostician in several ways, with several different functions and all controlled with series of blinks so that there was no need for an external control. It was genius, and something which the medical profession were highly keen to invest in, but something that Swiss was sitting on until he chose to retire!
Louis spoke to himself, looking to his right and picturing his old friend stood there. His jet black workmens boots covering the bottom of the brown jumpsuit which only went up to his waist where he clearly had never bothered to pull on the top half, instead tying it around his waist. The white shirt was almost always grease-stained, but the black waistcoat at least provided much more cover for it. His right hand was covered in a thick leather glove to protect him, but the left clearly had no need for that. The Captain smiled and then shook his head, realising he needed better focus than to be thinking of the longest serving member of his current crew. Theyd been through a lot
but now it was time to focus on the newer members of the crew!
Ok, begin lockdown and then activate detachment! The Count shouted back into the cabin, getting a nod from an engineer as the hatches closed and sealed themselves. This was where the HMS Valkyries true secrets would be revealed! As they got close enough to the target, all non-boarding crew aside from one gunner and one of the ships helmsmen would move into the cabins within the rigid skeleton of the airships balloon structure. One helmsman would take the wheel inside this cabin, and one would take the wheel within the separate gondola of the airship. Then the magic occurred
Four large cables were locked into place connecting this cabin to the airship behind them before small gas canisters fired, separating this part of the ship from the rest. Allowing for enough time for the wing fins to glide them far enough away from the gondola, the helmsman pushed an ignition switch and two smaller jet engines flared into life, sending the cabin, or the Glider thrusting towards their target at a speed which could not be matched and a size that made it much more difficult a target for the enemy. Cover fire was sent by the main airship and the Gliders cables were extending perfectly, meaning they were never disconnected from the rest of the Valkyrie for long!
As the glider pulled alongside the zeppelin, four grappling hooks fired from various points along the starboard side, latching onto the wooden hull of the long deck of the ship. This was definitely a cargo ship, if they had not noticed it before, the design meant that it had several large cabins held within the deck, and there was always the possibility of even more in the balloon of the zeppelin! Louis licked his lips in anticipation as he walked towards the door to their cabin which led out onto their own deck. The tension in the ropes had mounted and it was now time to move! He grabbed a clip to attach himself to the ropes so that they could slide across to the ships deck and watched the others do the same.
The Count smiled, drawing his pistol and his sword at the same time before pressing a button on his wrist that made crosshairs appear on his monoggle. This hopefully would not be too much of an operation, as this was a cargo ship, but mercenaries were being hired more and more recently and Louis NEVER wanted to kill anyone. It was for this reason that he had spent money from his own pockets to upgrade all of his crews weaponry to include not only lethal weapons, but also non-lethal alternatives. He carried a sword, but the first thing that would be done when a larger group of enemies showed would be up to Charles Davenports modified grenade launcher which fired chloroform canisters to quickly incapacitate those that could do them harm. Charles was therefore forced to go in first and carried breathing apparatus on his back to protect him from his own weapon. Part of the platoon carried masks as well, which would mean that Davenport had backup if it was needed. Of course, the Count himself also had immunity, thanks in a large part to a combination of his own ingenuity and Jordans skills. With a push of a button, the Counts wrist-mounted control panel slid a needle into his vein and the tube of green liquid mounted upon the greave emptied into him.
Shooting to wound, the Count thought to himself as he checked that his pistol was loaded, was most definitely acceptable in some of the harsher conditions
Here we go Davenport