Written for Moonshine Grid. This part continues from the previous: https://momusnews.wordpress.com/2014/01/04/gauntlet-run-pt-2/
Gauntlet Run Pt. 3
“Clear for action!”
All across the airship, Hail To Thee, airmen scrambled to their battle positions. The Q-ship, a warship disguised as a merchant, had sucked in an aerial pirate to point blank range. The pirate believed the merchant ruse and sent a cutter over with their captain and a prize crew. Now the cutter’s crew was in irons and the captain unexpectedly dead thanks to Arteigna’s remarkably quick trigger finger.
Captain Hansen picked up the sound-powered phone, the inter-ship communications system. “Lookouts. Anyone have the second pirate vessel?”
A chorus of “negative” from lookouts answered him. Lookout Cohen replied, “Last saw her abaft us at 3 miles, Cap’n. She ducked into a cloud. Haven’t seen her since.”
“Keep an eye on that last position, Cohen.” Hansen put the phones down as the older, scarred Mr. Glick entered the pilot house. He manned the flight controls during battle allowing Hansen free hands to handle comms and command with the crew. “Good to see you, Mr. Glick!”
“A fyne daye fer a battle, sar.”
“And now it’s off to my cabin where it’s safe for Arteigna,” said Hansen.
The lovely Arteigna crossed her arms with a set expression Hansen understood all too clearly. “Not on your life! I want to see the battle.”
Hansen decided two battles at once was too much, especially considering the one with Arteigna would be a losing one. “All stations report ready,” said Hampton. “Gunners report their targets are locked in.”
The pirate floating in the air one mile away was at point blank range for the gunners. The gaps in the enemy Aeromium shield that allowed their own guns to fire were perfect targets Hansen’s gunners. “Very well, Mr. Hampton. Uncover the guns.”
“Uncover the guns!” Across the ship, boxes that looked like cargo containers suddenly swiveled. Eight twin turrets, four above and four below, aligned themselves with the sights of the gunners. “Guns standing by,” said Hampton.
“Fire, Mr. Hampton.”
The airship rocked as 16 6″ guns fired a full broadside into the pirate. Hansen’s Hail To Thee had some of the best gunners anywhere in the sky. Sometimes, like today, they were too good. Twelve of 16 shots hit their mark. A remarkable achievement for airship battles, even at the close range of one mile. The pirate vessel was hit badly. She might have survived, but secondary explosions erupted when shells cooked off. Explosions ripped away Aeronium field nodes. Her keel broke in two places as the Aeronium fields which held her aloft collapsed suddenly. The ship was doomed in an instant. It crumpled and collapsed in upon itself, and fell from the sky streaming fire, smoke, and doomed pirates.
“Blast!” said Hansen. “Hampton, that shooting was too good.”
“Yes, sir. I’ll be sure to have the men miss a little more often,” quipped Hampton.
Hansen glared. “You’ll do no such thing. There’s another pirate out there somewhere.” He keyed his mic. “Lookouts. Where’s that second pirate?”
Another chorus of negatives. “She’ll be coming for us now that her sister ship has been attacked,” he murmured.
“She might be running,” noted Hampton. “It’s obvious now we’re no easy prey.”
“If I were that pirate, I might sense an opportunity and…Mr. Glick, hard to port!”
“Enemy below and abaft!” called a lookout as shells struck the Hail To Thee. It was only the ship’s sudden movement to port that saved her from certain destruction. Six of the enemy rounds hit the impervious Aeronium fields and were deflected away, but two slipped past along the unprotected spine of the ship. Explosions rocked the vessel. Twelve Aeronium nodes, the devices that generated the Aeronium fields and also held the ship in the air, shorted out and blew up. The crew was thrown off its feet as the stern of the airship dropped suddenly.
Mr. Glick, with decades of experience piloting airships, heaved at the controls. “Her ass-end is pullin’ us down, Cap’n. She’s flyin’ like constipated quail. We hafta’ dive to keep ‘er level an’ stable!”
“Do what you must, Mr. Glick.” shouted Hansen above the sound of wind shrieking past and screaming, overstressed steel. “Lookouts!”
“She’s above us, Cap’n. Two miles and closing. She’s moving for the kill!” shouted Cohen.
“Come on then. Do your worst!” grated Hansen.
This story isn’t done, and wiley Captain Hansen still has a few tricks up his sleeve.