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The Skylands

Pt.2 Preparation and first contact

By Andy ortegaPublished 3 months ago 7 min read
2

The CHARGER, Its slick steel hull and sharp horn-like front, made it one of the most intimidating ships in the skies. I stood at the loading dock where the ship was moored, looking around as the whole hangar was buzzing with activity. Men and women loaded crates of ammo, food, and medicine onto the ships. Engineers checked over their ships a final time to make sure everything was working properly. Pilots gearing up and making sure their flight suits were in working order.

“Move out of the way kid!” someone called out.

I quickly moved to the side as a Crawler lumbered past me. Its long four metallic legs thumped against the floor. Its box-like body had parts of planes and ammo on top of it.

I walked up the boarding ramp of The Charger, the inside was packed with people. My ship had one of the largest crews in the fleet because of its specialized purpose. The Charger was built with roughly the same design as most of the fleet. stubby thick wings on either side with powerful turbines attached to them. Larger turbines are attached to the back of the ship giving it even more power. It did differ from the other Airships in one crucial way. It had no guns. The Frigates, Cruisers, massive lumbering Battleships, and our gigantic Carrier were all equipped with an armament of machine guns and cannons. The Charger had no such weapons because the ship itself was the weapon. It was specialized for ramming and boarding. Its sharp spear-like nose could tear apart any frigate or cruiser and cause serious damage to even a battleship. It was made to take a lot of damage and without the extra weight of the cannons and its ammo, it was almost as fast as the nimble frigates.

Hundreds of synchronized footsteps echoed throughout the ship. I watched as the ship's garrison marched in, each carrying a rifle, their bayonets glistened dangerously in the light. They were five hundred strong, the largest garrison of any ship in the fleet. I looked around some more but couldn’t find what I was looking for.

“You looking for the Sky Marines?” The chief walked up beside me. I nodded as I kept searching.

“They’re already on board kid,” he said as he clapped my back, “let's go, we have to do our own final checkups.”

We met up with the rest of our engineering group and conducted our final checkups on the engines.

“Chief Maclo,” a voice said from one of the voice boxes in the engine room.

The chief ran over to the receiver, “Here Captain,”

“Are we all set to go? This is The Charger's first combat mission, I don’t want anything breaking before we even make contact.”

The chief smiled broadly, “Her main engines won’t give out on her sir, Charger is ready when you are.”

“Good work, keep it up.”

“Aye sir.”

“All hands,” The captain was now speaking on the larger voice boxes, they were meant for addressing the entire crew.

“We are set to depart immediately. Our mission is to engage the sky pirates, these particular ones deal in the trade of whale hunting. We do not tolerate any of these scum to operate freely in our skies.” there was a brief pause before he spoke again.

“This is the Charger’s inaugural combat mission with the fleet. This is our baptism ladies and gentlemen. We will not disappoint.” As he cut off I could hear loud cheers echoing throughout the whole ship. Us engineers also joined in. The Charger was a prototype that was barely allowed to be made, this was our make-or-break moment. We were determined to prove that we belonged in this fleet. That we deserve the honor of fighting for and protecting our city.

I felt the ship move as its main turbines turned on. I felt myself getting excited for the battle that was to come.

“Finally,” I said aloud.

A strong hand grabbed my shoulder, I turned to see the chief looking at me with a serious expression.

“Keep your head on straight kid, this is no exercise, this is the real thing,” he said, as he turned to the others in our group.

“Suit up, leather caps, goggles, fire suit, all of it lets go!” we all sprung into action. Putting on our protective suits and sliding our goggles down over our eyes.

“Cheif Malco!” another engineer from a different engine came running into our engine room.

“What is it?” the Chief asked

“I'm from the left wing chief, we need a Hanger to check on one of the turbines, it might be something, it might be nothing, but we need to make sure.”

“What happened to your Hanger?”

“He couldn’t make it to the ship before we left the dock.” the engineer replied.

The chief looked around at our group until his eyes settled on me. I stepped forward. He and I both knew I was the best Hanger in our group. He looked down for a moment, I was starting to worry that he wouldn’t let me go. I was twenty, which made me a lot younger and inexperienced than most in the fleet but I was just as skilled at my job as any of them.

“Damian, go help out the left wing. Don’t embarrass me you hear?”

I smiled broadly, “On it chief!”

I followed the other engineer as we ran through the ship. The passageways were narrow, just like they were on all the other ships. It took us about five minutes to reach the left wing. We barged into the engineering room, they were hard at work and a few of them were setting up a particular harness along with a long cable.

I recognized the left-wing chief immediately and reported to him.

“Chief Cere, I’m the hanger you requested from the main engine group.” he was smaller than Chief Malco, but the burn scar on his face made him just as intimidating.

He looked me up and down, he probably wasn’t expecting someone so young but he must’ve realized that there was no use in complaining about it at this point.

He gave me a firm nod, “Very well, hook him up and get him out there boys. We’ll be making contact with the pirates in about one hour so we don’t have a lot of time.”

““Aye Chief”” The engineers replied.

****

I could feel the cold wind even through the heavy jacket I was wearing. I breathed uncomfortably into my mask as I inspected the outside of the turbine. The multiple straps that hooked onto the outside of the ship allowed me to stay relatively steady despite the wind pressure. As I confirmed that everything with the turbine was working properly I looked out at the rest of the fleet. There were nine ships in total, and they were arranged in V-like formations. There were four frigates on the outside then three of the larger cruisers lined slightly behind them, then the two lumbering battleships making up the center. We were in the back since we had no long-range fire capability. But when the fighting started we would be charging to the front just like the new girl’s name. It was truly an impressive sight, seeing all of these warships heading to face a common enemy. My chest filled with pride at the sight, I felt like nothing could stop us. I could see the smaller pirate fleet forming up to meet us in the distance. It would be about another thirty minutes before either of us got in range of each other.

“This is not their day is it?” I said to myself with a grin.

As I unhooked myself and moved to make my way back inside I saw a flash from the corner of my eye. I looked back at the pirate fleet and saw a trail of smoke streak across the sky in a long arc heading towards us. Not long after I heard a loud boom, one you would hear from a cannon.

“Are they stupid? Their cannons won't reach us from so far away,” I said aloud. As I continued to make my way inside I heard a loud explosion. Startled I momentarily lost my grip on the outside ladder I was climbing. The cable strapped to my harness kept me connected to the ship but I still slammed into the hull a few times before barely grabbing onto the ladder. As I regained control of myself I looked out to see where that explosion came from. One of the lead frigates, Ranger, was on fire, a large hole had appeared on her starboard side and her altitude was steadily dropping as she began to list.

How did she get hit? From the cannon earlier? How did it reach her from that far away? Another shot echoed out, an undamaged frigate would’ve been able to dodge it. But Ranger was crippled, she didn’t have the capability to perform any evasive maneuvers anymore. I watched in horror as a second shot landed right on her center. The explosion practically tore the ship in half as both pieces of her fell through the sky as two fiery wrecks, black smoke spilled out of the pieces as if they were her death cries.

I broke into a cold sweat. We already lost one ship and we still weren’t close enough to even shoot back. As I watched what remained of Ranger fall, that nervousness and fear began to change into anger.

Those pirates better celebrate while they can, because we're going to kill every single one of them.

Science FictionMagical RealismFictionCliffhanger
2

About the Creator

Andy ortega

I love writing fantasy and sci-fi but I also write the occasional heartfelt drama. I hope to connect with many writers on this platform and write amazing stories for everyone.

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