"Sir, heat reflectors are going critical," one of the technicians shouted. His voice barely overpowers the sound of flames that belong in hell swirling under the XH11-Hellspawn, the world's largest, most powerful, and safest firefighting hovercraft humanity has ever invented; and in a world where Yellowstone's wrath controls the planet, it's mankind's last line of defense during the evacuation.
"I've go no more pressure," another technician reports. "The water's evaporating before it can reach the ground."
"It doesn't need to reach the ground," the unwavered captain says, partially to himself. As his crew and his ship are being put to the test above Earth's newest eruption, he stands stone still on the bridge, hands behind his back, his eyes darting back and forth along a mural of computer monitors in front of him, analyzing the situation. "We just need to keep the flames back."
"We lost another engine!" a mechanic on the lower levels yells into his radio. The captain knows he has to do his job, but he can't help but remember when he was down there, when he was a cadet; everyone and everything was hot and heavy, every breath burned his lungs, even his tools stung through his worn gloves to his fingers. He remembers how his ignorant captain tried to take out a whole lava bed with just one Hellspawn, how the ship was half submerged, and how his friends either suffocated from ash or burnt in the hottest degrees on the surface of Earth while he only lost half his face. He won't do the same.
"All hands, all decks, prepare for civilian evac," he orders. The hovercraft slows to a halt over the only residential area in Chicago that's not being burnt to a crisp. The massive hoses of the Hellspawn are the only thing keeping the lava back. He can see in a monitor that last of the Chicago Fire Department and a handful of civilians holding onto shrinking odds of survival, their shapes tainted by raining ash.
"All decks are green, Sir," someone says. There's an explosion port side.
"Fuck, we're alight!" a mechanic bellows. "I repeat, the ship is alight! We don't have the water to put it out!"
"On my mark one," the captain plans. "Cut all power in everything; the engines, the hoses, the goddamn lights. Put every drop of juice we have in the reserve batteries.
"Sir?" a deckhand asks. There's another explosion, and the body armor directly below the deck starts to simmer. The captain ignores it.
"On my mark two," he continues. "Return 30% power to the engines and basic ship power, and the rest to the hoses. Stand by." Even though the alarms are still ringing, the tired engines are still revving, and the flames are still burning, the captain only hears silence. He turns around and looks out the window. The sky is a solid shade of dark grey, the only light being emitted in the entire city coming from the lava, which had hit the metropolitan area like a tsunami and making them light up like steel being smelted into a sword. The lava continued its journey with no resistance, climbing over buildings, bellowing its orange and red waves over everything humanity had amounted to. Grey raindrops patter the glass, making everything that much more murky. The captain smiles.
The Earth is hell, and he doesn't wish to be anywhere else.
"We lost another hose!" a firefighter on the ground shouts. The chief runs over to him, gas mask, helmet, and most of his coat painted grey by the rain, and adjusts the dials on the truck, which overheated hours ago.
"Alright, fall back to the next block!" he orders when the hose fails to return to life. A wave of lava splashes onto a nearby roof, and is quickly suppressed by a water-mech, it's two arms in the shapes of hoses outstretched and blasting the house with twice the water as any truck ever could.
"There is no next block!" the firefighter yells. The chief turns around. Only twenty feet away, the last eight civilians are escorted by his remaining three firemen as the lava continues travelling unchallenged. The civilians are screaming uncontrollably; they're wearing about five layers of water soaked clothes, but the chief knows that they're feeling every molecule of hot air around them. He takes off his own coat and hands it to a woman, and feels them himself.
"Ok, we make our stand here!" he orders, and signals the mech to take the street behind him, but he knows he'll run out of water before he makes a dent in that wave. He turns to a policeman. "You! You have your pistol?"
"Yeah, why?" he asks.
"Look!" a man shouts, and points to the sky. The chief looks up, and sees the grey sky part, and is replaced by a giant ball of floating flames, hurtling towards them like a meteor. He can see small pieces break off from the main base, each piece growing bigger and bigger.
Suddenly, four bright lights shoot out of the Hellspawn's engines, and a wall of water, five feet thick and completely circumferencing the ship, splash onto the ground. The lava is hardened before the water can turn to steam, and slows the advancement of the lava to a crawl. A bucket with three firemen in large suits aboard is hastily lowered to the ground.
"Everyone in now!" one of the shouts when it hits the pavement. The lava starts to climb over the hardened stuff.
"Hurry!" another fireman shouts as the flames get closer. "This ship isn't gonna last another second down here!" The chief looks up after helping a child on board, and sees that one of the engines has already powered down, a large piece of armor plating is peeling off, and there's no more water. Without another thought, the chief vaults to the side, and before he feet touch the bottom of the bucket, the fireman shouts into his radio, "Lift! Lift! Lift!"
The bucket is jerked upward as the engines flash alive and become bright than all the flames on Earth combined as it gains altitude rapidly. The occupants of the bucket are thrown to their stomachs as a tube directly above them showers down water, and the heat begins to fade.
After a few minutes, the Hellspawn is higher than any wave of lava could reach, and the bucket stops its shower can begins to retract. The chief stands up and looks up at the ship, and is speechless at the sight: The entire undercarriage of the hovercraft is simmering like a fried egg; melted pieces of metal drip down to the ground below them; the engines are sputtering and coughing; everything is smoking from the intense heat, heat that the ship was never designed to withstand but did anyway. If there was ever a ship that emerged from the gates of hell, this is it.
Guess that's why they named it the Hellspawn.