Author Topic: GOI Short Story  (Read 2361 times)

Offline HamsterIV

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GOI Short Story
« on: March 06, 2014, 03:09:35 pm »
I am at the helm of my sniper variant pyramidion, two mecs up front, and gat mortar side. I have a good solid crew with me. Old hands who know the score, I trust them and they trust me. What I don't trust is my allied captain who has taken his squid run off into the perpetual dust storm of the dunes. Being sensible, I move my ship into the ribbing of an ancient wreck, and put my crew on watch.

We hear them before we can see them, the shriek of engines tortured by moonshine and the quick successive thumps of manticore rockets bursting in the sky. I turn my long guns in that direction and tell my crew to make ready. I hear the smooth clunk of the gun breaches closing behind the specialty rounds my gunners have loaded.

The clouds part to reveal my ally running hell bent for leather away from a pair of Manticore Goldfish. He is swerving erratically, but whether it is from evasive maneuvers or unbalanced engine torque, I neither know nor care. I do know his crew is working full time to keep his ship in the air as the rear gun has been completely silent in spite of it having the range and firing arc.

"Target?" I hear one of my crew ask from the top deck.

"Rear ship, focus weapons and engine if possible" I respond. The "If possible" is redundant. I know these men, they could shoot the hat off the enemy captain without mussing up his hair. Lodging a mercury round in in the big fat autoloader of the manticore at this range is child's play for them.

"Tha-thump" my guns say in anger for the first time today. Positioned as I am below and behind the mercury, I get the perfect view of both the rounds arcing towards the target. True to my expectations the first round knocks that stupid lion head off the starboard side of the manticore while the second lodges itself in autoloader. I imagine with grim satisfaction the look of dismay on the gunner's face as his beloved weapons falls silent.

"Engines if you please" I call out to my gunners. I know this will be a much trickier shot. The hostile goldfish is oriented almost square on to my ship. There are a few protruding bits of hull between my guns and their rear mounted engines.

"Thump" one gun barks into the cold desert air. The shell sails past the engineers desperately trying to free the auto loader, past an unmanned side mounted flamethrower, and lodges itself deep in the engine block of the Goldfish's port maneuvering engine.

The Goldfish captain fails to correct for the sudden loss of thrust and his ship drunkenly swings to port. My second mercury gunner was waiting for this to happen. Just as the thrust engine swings into view he cracks off a shot which shears off the engine's mounting bracket and sends it tumbling to the desert below.

The lead Goldfish fails to notice his ally getting crippled. Perhaps he is too taken with the chase and the thrill of an easy kill. Perhaps he doesn't see us lurking behind a rusty pipe with only the top of our balloon and the well worn barrels of our field guns poking out. Or perhaps he thinks that just because I am sniping I don't carry a close range bite. It doesn't really matter what the enemy captain's understanding of the situation is, so long as he keeps on running into my trap.

"Switch target to lead Goldfish. One volley into the hull armor, then stand ready side guns." I yell crisply over the clanks and thuds of the my crew reloading. My hull engineer casually walks to the rear mounted Gatling gun eager for his first action of the day.

The chase has gotten a lot closer since the first rounds left my long guns. My gunners don't even bother using the telescopic sight, but instead slam home four rounds in quick succession. I slowly rotate my ship to keep the enemy ship inside my gun's tight firing arc.

My ally squid rushes through a gap in the wreckage below and to the left of my ship. The sudden rush of air in his passing causes my own ship to rock genitally. The squid's crew are exhausted having worked non stop patching battle damage and keeping the engine's from exploding under the captain's reckless use of moonshine.

I catch a glimpse of the captain's face, eyes are wide with terror. He has seen too much this day and it will take him weeks to recover. Even then he will never again be that same cocky boy that ran out in front of the fleet for the glory of first blood. It is for the best I muse, very few of us get to make a mistake that big an live. It will be impossible for him to have not learned anything from this experience.

The thump of my gunner's feet landing behind me snap me out of my revelry. "The ladder is too slow" they would often joke. True to their word they has simply leaped over the guard rail of the upper catwalk and let gravity do the rest. A twisted ankle would be disastrous for us at this point and I make mental note to admonish them for it later.

I turn the ship to starboard and put the engines into reverse to start matching momentum with the Goldfish about to come into range. We lose sight of it for a few seconds as it moves behind a support beam of the ancient wreck we chose to hide behind. It appears again int the same hold out ally passed through moments ago. Its armor is cratered from the multiple field gun impacts, and its crew is frantically racing about the deck patching the holes.

My side guns open up without waiting for my command. My crew have been here before and pump out bullets and grenades as fast as the weapons are able to. The enemy captain realized what danger he is in and swings his Manticore to face me.

"Brace for impact!" I yell as I see those twin lion heads finally get angle on my ship.

The sound is deafening as rocket after rocket impact on our hull and balloon. Both our gatling gun and mortar fall silent as the percussive impact and shrapnel make a mess of their firing systems. A fraction of a second after the last rocket impacts our ship my crew are up and working on the guns. Numb from shell shock and beading from a dozen cuts these men know their duty. It is now a race between their autoloader and our engineering skill. It is a race we don't intend to lose.

My heart fills with pride as my crew jury-rig a new firing mechanism and resume pumping death from the side guns. Finally a lucky bullet tears away the last shred of armor protecting the Goldfish's rocket supply. The mortar gunner had been saving a few shots for this moment, and he gleefully lobs those shots through the gap.

Secondary explosions tear down the length of the Goldfish as the mortar rounds set off the Goldfish's fuel and ammo stores. The enemy ship does not sink so much as it disintegrates from the blasts. My crew let out a hearty cheer. I can just make it out over the ringing from the manticore volley we barely survived.

"Get those engines working, we are not done yet!" I roar. We had ignored the damage our engines had taken from the manticore because the guns were far more important at the time. In the distance I see that the goldfish we crippled earlier has fixed its engines and main gun. Celebration can wait.

It sends a volley of rockers our way, but being outside effective range and partially obscured by the wreck we take very little damage.

"Stand ready forward guns" I yell as I swing the bow of my ship to point at the Goldfish. The hasty patch work the enemy engineers made to their manticore is barely visible at this range. The decorative lion heads are no where to be seen. Sparks and smoke emit from autoloader att he base of the gun as it struggles to get the next volley of rockets on the launch rails.

My mercury field guns don't allow that autoloader to get any further. Round after round reduces the manticore to scrap. My crew, still bleeding from the point blank manticore volley we sustained, are in no mood to mess around. Even though the gun is clearly broken my gunners pump shell after shell into it.

The Goldfish is backing off trying to use the broken gun as a shield from the onslaught of out artillery. We break cover from the wreckage that has sheltered us for most of the engagement and begin to peruse. I instruct my downstairs engineer to keep an eye out. Inspite of the desert vastness an ambush is always possible.

"Friendly 7 o'clock" my engineer yells. I look over my shoulder to see that squid captain has found his nerve and is closing on my flank. The lesson he learned at the hands of the two goldfish seems to have sunk in. As he pulls even with me he reduces his throttle and takes up formation with me.

The Goldfish is sleek ship designed for interception and pursuit. However it is designed to fly forward and its aerodynamics work against is as it tries to back away from us. The enemy captain is stuck in an unenviable position, 2v1 with the knowledge that if he turns to run I will break his engines and close on him even faster. As we close to Gatling range he does the sensible thing and strikes his colors.

We pull along side the surrendered Goldfish, its crew raises their hands in surrender . I go aboard with one of my crew to spike the guns and dump its fuel and ammo reserves. The squid can tow it back to base. It serves him right for bringing this mess down on us. We gather the nervous crew in an open area on the main deck under the supervision of my deck guns.

An older man steps forward from among them, he is clearly the captain. Even without the rank insignias he has the look of a leader and an experienced veteran. He stands before me ramrod straight and offers his ceremonial sword. I decline, I have no need of trophies and this man will need what ever dignity he can keep hold when he gets to the prison camp.

It is a terrible thing I do; to remove this man from the skies. Even though if our positions were reversed he would not hesitate to send my ship and my crew down in in burning pyre, I feel a stab of regret that he will no longer have the freedom of the skies. We meet eyes and there is a flash of understanding before he returns to his crew.

Only when I am back aboard my ship do I allow myself to relax. My crew performed admirably and I let them know as much. The debriefing, breakdown, and analysis can wait until we are back at base. For now I focus on the cold desert air and the elation we are still alive.