Author: Smonorkith PM
Hundreds of years into the shadow of the apocalypse, humans survive, thrive and advance once more. They build airships and skyports - towns in the sky. On the ground, land raiders inhabit the wastes; cities and towns are spread thinly apart. In the skies of the new world, Galland and his crew find themselves at the dawn of a new age, mired in revolution and conflict.Rated: Fiction T - English - Adventure/Sci-Fi - Chapters: 17 - Words: 44,041 - Reviews: 6 - Favs: 3 - Follows: 2 - Updated: 05-06-13 - Published: 09-08-12 - id: 3056732
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
It had been over week since the Hyperion had left the Port Royal and the crew hadn't seen any evidence of human life since. Not a skyport or trading ship to be seen in the sky; and nothing on the ground either. The land beneath them was truly barren, still disfigured by the nuclear horrors that had been unleashed by the ancients in the Six-Minute War. Galland was gazing in awe at the desolate wastes below. It was unthinkable to him, that the ancients would even produce weapons capable of scarring the world in such a massive way, let alone use them. A commotion interrupted the captain's thoughts, and he turned to see what was happening. At the top of the stairs leading below deck, Galland could see Edson clambering to his feet, clumsily picking up an assortment of blueprint papers.
Covering the engineer's eyes were a pair of custom built goggles that aided him with his engineering duties in the dimly lit rooms deep down in the bowels of the ship. From his neck down, he was entirely covered by set of overalls that may have once been white, but were now covered in soot, grime and who knows what else. Steel toed boots protected his feet, and he obviously needed them; the rubber that once covered the steel had been chipped off by the impacts the boots had taken. A shock of short black hair that was going grey, spiked up with sweat and dust, sat atop his head, and he wore himself a moustache that spread to his sideburns and connected the two. Galland suspected that he might be growing a beard, however Edson hadn't seemed able to grow one particularly well after an incident in the Hyperion's engine room incinerated the beard he had so proudly brandished when he'd first set on with the crew.
Edson rushed over to the captain and laid out a blueprint in front of him. Galland looked at the engineer expectantly while he took a moment to catch his breath. Edson pointed excitedly at the blueprint, and took in a big gulp of fresh air; spending all that time below deck, in the dust and grime, had left him incredibly unfit, and always grateful for being in the open. At last the engineer spoke, "Captain Galland, sir," he managed, before taking in another breath.
"I'd like to ask your permission to modify our engines, sir."
Galland raised an eyebrow. With improved engines, the Hyperion would be in great shape to outrun any would be predators, and when this whole episode was over, the modifications would come in useful for smuggling. However, Edson's inventions were quite renowned for being brilliant in theory, but unstable. Galland had to be sure that the modifications would be safe.
"Go on..." the captain said. Edson grinned, and gestured to the blueprint.
"It's quite simple really. I've been looking at the way the propeller shaft spins, and I've deduced that if I simply make the amendments you see here, and here, we can achieve a forty percent increase in speed!" the engineer said, excitedly.
"So... There are no possibly explosive components being jury rigged into my ship's engines?"
"Absolutely none whatsoever!" Edson shouted. "Well, okay, there is my tried and tested oil injection device to help lubricate the parts, but I assure you there have never been any explosions yet, and I've been using that device for years!"
Galland sighed. He thought for a moment. Edson had come highly recommended, and he had been using his oil injection device for longer than Galland had been flying. The captain decided it was worth the risk, and nodded in agreement, before dismissing the engineer. It was, after all, one of the reasons he'd hired him in the first place. The engineer gathered up his blueprints and ran off below decks, beaming like a school boy. Galland couldn't help but grin at his childlike enthusiasm.
With the engineer disappearing out of sight, the captain turned back to the wasteland below. In spite of all its ugliness, Galland couldn't help but find it beautiful. It wasn't long before his thoughts were interrupted again, this time by Bendis, who was on forward watch.
"Captain! Come quickly!" the crewman shouted. Bendis was crouched on the prow, looking over the edge through a spyglass. Galland rushed over and joined him. Bendis pointed into the distance and handed over the telescope. The captain studied the horizon for a moment and tried to make out what he was seeing.
"Fos!" Galland cursed.
"What should we do captain?"
"We can't afford to jettison cargo. That means we can't climb in altitude. If we alter course we're burning precious fuel, and wasting time."
"Shit," Bendis replied, "we mean to go over them, at this altitude?" Galland handed Bendis the telescope and simply nodded in reply. The pair watched as the ship carried them closer. At last Galland stood up, and walked to the nearest radio, and dialled it in to the broadcast system.
"Everybody listen up," he began, "we've spotted some land raiders ahead who look to have acquired a mobile anti-air battery. At this altitude we're in range. You can bet your ass they'll take a shot at us, problem is, we can't climb higher, or change course. Things are going to get interesting. Be ready." Galland hung the radio up and told Bendis to find Seroni and report to the bridge. When he arrived at the bridge, Bjorn and Jack were ready to receive orders. Galland picked up the bridge radio, this time only radioing to the engine room.
"Edson, do we have enough spare fuel for five minutes of hard burn?"
A distorted Edson replied, "I believe we may, sir, why?" Galland had forgotten that the broadcast system didn't reach the engine room, something to do with faulty wiring installed by the previous owner. At any rate, it was probably best the engineers didn't know; they didn't really have a head for combat.
"When I give the order, give me hard burn for five minutes, no more. No matter what happens, you need to give me that burn, understood?"
"Uh, yes sir," Edson nervously replied.
"I'm counting on you." Galland put the radio down. "Bjorn, I'm taking the helm on this run, I want you to gear for combat and head down to the engine room." Bjorn nodded and left the room. Seroni and Bendis ran past him on his way and stood waiting for the captain's orders. "Seroni, Bendis, Jack. I need you to man the cannons and try to suppress the raiders; we're going to pass on the port side." Seroni smiled, she was good with cannons.
When the two had first met they stole a racing airship, the Calgori. On their travels in the stolen airship, a pirate ship began to dog them. In a bold move, Galland pulled a 'Crazy Ivan' and spun the ship sideways, exposing their broadside. Seroni seized this opportunity to use the Calgori's cannon to shoot out the pirates' engines, disabling their ship and allowing the Calgori to escape.
Seroni led the trio below to the gun deck. The Hyperion only had eight guns in total, of which five were on the gun deck. The other three were up top, to deal with any airships that might be above the Hyperion. The five cannons on the gun deck had all been shifted to the starboard side when the ship docked at the Port Royal. Seroni muttered a curse under her breath before beginning to move the cannons to the port side. Bendis and Jack followed, pushing their own cannons,
"Where are the damned rockets?!" Seroni barked. The only other remaining gunner scrambled to the ammo box, also on the starboard side, and began to push it over. Bendis pulled it from the other side.
"Seroni, where's my suppressive fire?!" Galland shouted over the radio. Seroni didn't respond. Instead she hit the button to open the gun ports. The ports were shaped so that the cannoneer could fire at a forty degree angle below and at a forty-five degree angle either side. Seroni could already see the raiders, but they weren't at the right angle yet. She loaded a rocket clip, and Galland rolled the airship slightly so that the trio could target the raiders on the ground.
Galland shouted over the radio again, "gimme' hard burn Edson!" The ship surged forward, and suddenly the raiders were in Seroni's sights. She fired a rocket; then another, and then three more. Her first clip was spent, and a steaming hot metal rod ejected from the side of the cannon. Bendis and Jack commenced firing, as the gunner reloaded Seroni's cannon. Her first rocket hit ground, missing the raiders, as did her second and third shots. Her final two rockets hit a raider bus and lit it up in a fiery ball. Black smoke billowed from the wreckage and Seroni swore she could hear the shouts. The other shots peppered the raider camp, mostly missing, but causing panic and confusion. It seemed that somehow the raiders hadn't seen the Hyperion coming, a rare occurrence, as raiders seldom missed a fight. The raider's anti-air battery fulgurated into life, spitting rockets towards the airship like a great angry cobra. A rocket struck the ship.
The impact sent the gunner, who was running from cannon to cannon and reloading them, flying into a post. He was knocked out cold. Seroni spun to see, and shouted a curse that was inaudible over the thunder of the guns. She spun back to the fight with renewed vigour. She carefully lined up her shot and let out a rapid succession of rockets. No sooner had the last rocket left the gun than Seroni leapt out of her seat loaded another clip. Her rockets found their target, exploding into the right flank of the raider rocket battery. While the battery wasn't destroyed, the gunner was surely killed, and the box of ammo next to it ignited, sending rockets jetting through the camp. Seroni let out a sigh of relief. The chaos she'd caused down there would be enough to get the raiders off of their backs. She was confident they were out of the woods, but like any good soldier, she kept her gun fixed on the camp just in case.
They were just passing over the camp now, and aside from some small gunfire, there had been no shots fired since Seroni took out the battery. Galland let out a sigh of relief when the camp was a few hundred meters behind them. Edson, true to his word stopped the hard burn after five minutes, and by then the raiders were far behind. Too far to fire on them with the battery, if they had any rockets left, and airships were too fast for the raiders to give chase. The Hyperion had managed to come away from the ordeal with only superficial damage, a few panels missing here and there. Galland gave the all clear and Bjorn took over at the helm. Jack took his position in the bridge and Bendis went back to forward watch. Seroni was on free time before the engagement, but now the battle was over she took the gunner who had been knocked out to the infirmary. She could just about manage to lift him over her shoulder, thanks to his fairly small frame.
The infirmary was deserted since the ship's medic left on the Constantinopolis, so Seroni decided to at least see him come back around. She set him down on a bed and started looking for a sponge or towel she could wet. Returning with a wet sponge, Seroni couldn't help but smile and laugh as she was reminded of when she was a young girl, playing nurse back in Las Vegas. Eventually the gunner came to, and thanked her for looking out for him. The gunner went on his way back to the gun deck, to tidy the place up and reload the empty clips, and Seroni headed back to the crew deck.
Hopefully someone'll be there to play a hand of blackjack or two, she thought, as she made her way through the corridors. Seroni loved to gamble, it was in her nature, everybody in her old town did it. Galland was sat on a sofa in the crew deck, idly shuffling the deck of cards.
"You must've read my mind," Seroni said, as she sat opposite him and held out her hand. He handed her the deck for her to split, and she gave it back to him. Grinning, she threw five gears onto the table and Galland dealt her two face down cards.
"Split," Seroni said, as she placed her cards face up on the table, throwing down another five gears. She had two eights. Galland dealt another card face up on one of the eights. A ten! Seroni grinned. She gestured to stick. Galland dealt a card over the other eight. A six. Not too bad, Seroni thought, but she was much happier with her other hand. She glanced at Galland's hand. He had a nine showing. She decided at some length to stick with her second hand. Galland smiled. He drew another card. An ace. His nose twitched as he drew a fourth card. A three. Galland's heart sunk. He had fifteen. A bad place to be, he thought. After a tense moment he drew another card. It was an eight. He was bust.
"Shit." Galland reached into his pocket and threw ten gears next to Seroni's. She scooped up her earnings with a smile.
"Better luck next time cap'," she laughed, as she picked up the cards and began shuffling the deck. The pair played blackjack, with increasing stakes, for the next couple of hours. In the end Galland made a net loss of one hundred and twenty gears and his rum share for the next three days.
"Why I keep playing this game with you, I will never know," he said, as the pair got up to leave. It was late now; Seroni had to take watch and Galland needed to go to sleep. Galland said his goodnight and went to bed, and Seroni headed up to the observation post.
It was a cold night but Seroni was warmed by her extra rum share. She chuckled and thought back to one night when she, Bendis, Galland and another girl, Freyja, had stayed up one night after too much rum and ended up playing strip blackjack. The rules were simple, each player betted an item of clothing to sacrifice for that night and the next day's shift. Bendis got out of there quickly when he lost his shirt, coat and boots. Galland wouldn't quit, and neither would Freyja or Seroni. Of course Seroni, being a natural gambler, only lost her coat and boots. Freyja lost her top, bra and coat, and Galland ended up doing the next shift in nothing but his underwear. Seroni laughed aloud at the fond memory, before settling in the watch post with a blanket and beginning the night shift.