Author Topic: The Tale of a Crow  (Read 32023 times)

Offline C r o w

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Re: The Tale of a Crow
« Reply #15 on: March 10, 2016, 04:54:12 am »
Inside it was a round area, in its center there was a table, with machinery all around it.
On the table was positioned a stretcher, and tied to it there was a girl.
It looked like a pretty normal human, exception made for the hair that were all of a light grey and jet black on the temples.

She looked like she was sleeping, so no worrying about her for now.

"Wait, if I came in from that door, where does this lead instead?"
He muttered to himself while trying to remember that zone's layout.

He then opened the door.
"Gods have mercy...."
It was full of stretchers, all with people tied on them.
All had gruesome malformation on them, pieces of the body cut off and sometimes even inhuman body shapes.
Extremely long teeth, skins with colorations that wouldn't be possible to have in nature, the hair and the hairs, all with strange shapes and colorations.
This were certainly the left overs of a mad scientist.
On the side of each corpse there was a little card with written on each things like
"C-14- Failure", "C-27-Failure", "C-05-Failure" and so on.
Under the word "Failure" it was written what caused the death for each of them.
Everyone had written there "Test-Substance-02".

After staring at that gruesome slaughter-fest, he rushed out of that room and closed the door behind him.

He found the girl awake, looking directly at him.
"Hi, who are you."
"Are you a doctor?"
"No, not at all."
"Am I going to die like the others?"

Those words were very saddening for the man, he realized she already knew what happened to the other cavies. Feeling like it was a cowardly thing to just run away without trying to help. But it was also too dangerous for him to bring that girl with him.

He walked around the table, thinking, continuously coming in and out of the girls field of view.
Then he stopped near the door.

"Hello? Where are you going?"

"To hell with it!" He blurted out, surprising the girl. "I'm expendable anyway."
Emil then drew out his bloodstained combat knife and walked quickly toward the table.

The girl was scared, she didn't want to die, that man was scary, she closed her eyes as he was upon her, waiting for the knife to hit her.
Only to hear the straps that tied her to the table snapping as they got cut.

"Quick, get up." The man said while reaching out to her.
Emil was wearing a combat armor, and over it a duster. He then took off that duster, there was another underneath, perfectly and totally identical to the one that he had just took off.
"Here, put this on, good, now follow me."
Emil first went outside of the lab and started to look for some good distraction on the map.
On the easternmost side of the facility there was the generator that powered up the entire facility.
"If I can find a way to blow that thing up I coul-!"
Something clicked sonorously behind him. He turned around, knife already in hand, only to see the girl loading a heavy revolver, strangely similar to his...
Wait, I'm not feeling it in my side! "Hey! That's my gun!" He then said angrily.
"This is a nice gun! Can I keep it?"
"No, you ca-" He targets to say when he was interrupted by another voice.

"Doctor Ahslim! Are you there?" It was a guard, he lowered his guard for a second and that happened, typical.
"Who ar-!" The last word was silenced by a powerful boom coming from the girl's direction.
A bullet caught him between the eyes.
The body wilted, lifeless, on the ground.
When he turned around he found the girl with the gun aimed at the guard's dead body, then quickly taking another bullet from Emil's belt and loading it into the gun.
"Ok, you can keep it."
She smiled as an answer.

Offline C r o w

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Re: The Tale of a Crow
« Reply #16 on: March 10, 2016, 05:21:29 am »
The lights going towards the generator area were stronger than the ones that were everywhere else, so trying to sneak in the shadows and in the bushes had become difficult, or at least it would have, if on,y the place wasn't so unguarded.
At one point there were no plants around anymore and the area became full of machinery.
Enormous cogs chaining into each other, moving multiplied other systems, pipes spewing jets of steam, the stench of diesel burning...
That was definitively the generator room. Multiple cables departed from the generator towards center of the facility.

"Ok, you stay down, try to hide if someone comes, and shoot them if they are guards, understood?"
She nodded, her long hair following perfectly her head's movement, creating a grey wave in the air.

"And hold your hair still! They are moving all over the place, it's distracting me."

Then he crouched and started to walk trough the room.
There was an engineer inspecting a panel beside two enormous working cogs.

Seeing the scene Emil already formulated an idea about how to stop the machinery,
it was quite gruesome and very likely to happen.
"Come oooooooon, do I really have to do this..."

He tried to find some other way to stop the generator.
"Well, I'm no demo man, so I gotta do what I can."
He muttered.
The engineer managed to hear the muttering despite the noise from the generator and turned around:
"Oi! Who's there!?!" As soon as the man finished his phrase he found Emil's sword passing through his neck.
"The Baronies sends their regards."

When the man's body fell on the ground, Emil sheathed his sword and started to lift the body.
He then threw it between the cogs and immediately there could be heard screeching sounds and bones breaking.
In the end the cogs stopped, and the steam streams started to overflow the room.

Emil started to run where he left the girl, only to find a man with his face mashed into pulp by what appeared to be the handle of a handgun, other six corpses were around him.

"Hey! You still here?"

She came out from behind a corner.

She had a guilty face.

"I have run out of ammo."

He took off his bullet belt and gave it to the girl.

"Oh, much obliged."

The generator room was becoming a sauna.
And the screeching from the generator itself was getting terribly loud.

"Let's get moving."

Offline C r o w

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Re: The Tale of a Crow
« Reply #17 on: March 10, 2016, 05:26:18 am »
The maps on the wall had pin-point accuracy, they also presented every and any secondary passage.
"I still don't know why would anyone put everywhere maps of the place in what is supposed to be a secret facility." He said to the girl.
She actually answered:
"Oh, I heard that people kept getting lost in natural caves, and that someone even died, so they decided to mark the really usable ways, that had no chance of getting you lost."
"It actually makes sense."
Running quickly to the southern hangar he met nobody, and nobody still had noticed the corpses hidden by Emil hours ago.

When he reached the hangar, the light were off, many other systems were malfunctioning.
Explosions could be heard in the distance.
With a little buzz also the lights of the hangar overheated and exploded, creating sparks that temporarily illuminated the room.

Still running the two exited the facility.

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Re: The Tale of a Crow
« Reply #18 on: March 10, 2016, 06:05:34 am »
Outside, it was night time.

"Ok, now, be careful and do exactly as I do."
Emil said while starting to climb down the cliff on which the airdock was located.

Even if she was climbing bare handed, she was actually moving faster and with more agility than Emil.
Still, she was perfectly copying every his move.

When they reached ground, in the forest at the mountain side, while Emil immediately started to walk rotor wards his ship, the girl was standing still and looking amazed around her.
"What is this?"
"Uh...a forest?"
"I heard that name! It's beautiful!"
"You know how to shoot a gun but you don't exactly know what a forest is."
Emil lowered his guard and looked directly at her in amazement.
She simply shrugged her shoulders.
"Whatever, we still must get out of this island."
"What's an island?"
"Nothing! Just keep following me."
He said as he speed up.

The modified squid was still perfectly covered by the foliage of the surrounding trees.
Emil climbed up and then reached out to the girl's hand.
As soon as both were on board, he reached the wheel and started the engine and the balloon lift system, quickly raising above tree-level and gaining speed.

The mountain could be still seen at their side. Some booming noises were heard and on another side of the mountain, flames erupted and pieces of rock were thrown in the air.
Apparently, the engineers weren't able to prevent the overheating of the generator.

The girl was still like she was glued to the starboard railing, her eyes shut open with a mixture of joy and amazement in them.

"This time I'll have to go around the northern border of Chaladon, it was already annoyingly risky flying trough the mainland once, don't want to do it twice."
Emil was thinking loudly.
The girl was lying down near there, covered with his duster and a pair of portable blankets: "Who are you talking to?"
"Why, I'm talking to one of the few people that I know is capable of understand my reasoning!" Snared Emil.
"Who would they be?"
" Me, of course."
He then proceeded to take a bottle of moonshine, that was near the fuel tanks.
He was about to open the bottle, when he remembered to check if it was really drinkable moonshine, or the engine moonshine.
It was the drinkable one.
He took a few sips and then put the bottle back into place.
"Why are you drinking fuel?"
"That's moonshine, a pilot's best friend, when either they or their ship need a boost."
The girl was showing for the first time a suspicious face.
"If you say so."

Offline C r o w

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Re: The Tale of a Crow
« Reply #19 on: March 10, 2016, 06:07:03 am »
The travel back to the CRIES HQ was felt as fairly quick by both, since Emil was being continuously hammered by questions and had to talk a lot.

His original plan to kill some time during the travel back was to read a novel called "El Muid", it was very recent and many of his colleagues found it to be a simple, short and yet epic and enormously entertaining story. For some reason the ones that were the first to discover it were the guys specialized in explosives and demolition operations.

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Re: The Tale of a Crow
« Reply #20 on: March 10, 2016, 06:42:57 am »
Interlude 2,
 C.R.I.E.S. HQ

In a dark room like the one where he had first joined the CRIES.
A man was sitting is front of Emil, the only thing that he could see clearly was his extremely smug face.
"A very high kill count, a girl saved and a facility blown up.
This seems like the basis to write a novel, y'know?
It looks like a story extremely unlikely to happen. And yet it's true."

"How can you be sure? Even I myself am surprised by the fact that I managed to survive and that the info leak was true in the first place." Questioned Emil.

"The girl you saved and brought back was superbly cooperative and answered calmly, even cheerfully sometimes, every question we made her, and also confirmed in full your report, moreover she added a few things that she saw personally in the facility, but we interrogators all presume that she doesn't know anything else, she has lost all importance to us now."

"Have you found anything special about her?"

"Well, except those hair of hers, everything seems pretty normal. Even she doesn't know anything in particular about herself.
However, her presence brings up a dilemma: what are we going to do with her?" The man's smile widened.

"I already know what you would say, lad. I can see clearly that you have a liking for her, your knightly attitude makes you want to help her and keep her at your side.
You know what lad? You can!
We in CRIES are people very expendable in the eyes of the Barons, we have carte blanche in any situation we are involved, as long as we are out of the Baronies.
Also, since we answer to the King himself, he is the only one able to give us direct orders, but as I said, we are also extremely expendable, so not even him really care about us."

"Now your smile is becoming a bit creepy." Commented Emil.

"Oh, goddamnit! You ruined the atmosphere!
Still, you got me? She's all yours, happy travels!"

He then left the room, leaving an astonished Emil alone.
"What the...You know what? I ain't even mad, just going to roll with it."

Emil then headed for the infirmary of the CRIES HQ, where she was brought after the interrogation.
As soon as she saw him, she smiled and said cheerfully "Hi!"
"Can I go now? This place is comfy and nice, but those blanket and duster of your were better." And then she made a puppy face.
"Are you serious with that?"
"What 'that'?"
"The face."
"Can I come with you? Please? I won't annoy you like I did last time..."
The behavior of that girl was shocking, a moment she looks like a maid in distress, the next she shoots in the head a man and smashes into pulp the face of another.
A moment she snarks about what you drink and the next she makes a puppy face to convince him to bring her on his ship, between the section commander and then girl, Emil couldn't be more confused.
After getting back a bit of composure, he said:
"I just wanted to ask you if you wanted to come with me, but I take in advance that the answer would be yes."
Emil smiled kindly.
"Come on, ready up."
The girl just literally jumped out of the bed, already dressed up with a set of high quality traveling clothes designed by the famous designer Khovansky.
"Who give you those clothes?!? They cost a lot!"
"A smiling man, also, what is CRIES?"
"Why do you ask?"
"The smiling man asked if I wanted to join CRIES and I said yes! The name sounds nice!"
Emil's confusion increased.
Putting his palm on his face, Emil said calmly: "And yet again, I ain't even mad, I just gonna roll with it, but you girl, sure are strange."
"I may be strange but I'm not the one that wears two identical dusters one on top of the other and drinks ship fuel." Was the girl's comeback.
"Ok! Now! That was my backup duster and I didn't have any place to put it, and that wasn't even ship fuel, it was moonsh-"
"Ship fuel!"
"Ok, whatever, whatever, whatever whatever whatever! I'm losing my sanity, I need to get flying or I'll go insane!"
He said while he exited the infirmary and started to move towards the airdocks.
"Wait for me!" Yelled the girl while running to catch up with the man.
"And I still don't know your name, kind one."
"Mine's Emil, what's yours?"
Now they were walking side by side.
"I don't know, I don't remember clearly, but I always liked the name Selenia, I want to be called like that."
"Yeah, I think that it is a very nice name for you."
He said while boarding his Squid.
The he reached out to her.
"Welcome aboard Selenia."

Offline C r o w

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Re: The Tale of a Crow
« Reply #21 on: March 11, 2016, 07:16:47 am »
Strayed, the one who gets lost

A couple of years later

During the years, the Shrike, the ship of which Emil caught existence, had become quite popular, it had become a very appreciated vessel, with great maneuverability, a decent amount of fire power and a likable shape.

One of such vessels was in that very moment driving straight trough the Yeshan territory, to the city of Far Point.

On the ship there were only 4 people: two men were playing cards on the upper deck, a man and a woman were sitting on the lower deck, covered with portable blankets.
The man was sharpening the blade of his sword, while the woman was looking at the landscape.

"Have you ever seen an Anglean woman?"
The question came out of nowhere, its randomness surprising even Emil, who, with the years, has become accustomed with every and any kind of shenanigan that might happen.
"Come again?"
He actually thought to himself that he may have misheard.
"Have you ever seen an Anglean woman?"
He didn't misheard.
"Why do you have to ask things like this Selly? I know you are bored but could you please abstain from such a high level of randomness?"
He now took out his combat knife and started to clean it from some dried blood, of which the knife appeared always to by dirtied from.

"I'm serious Emil, have you ever seen one?"
Finally taking really into consideration such question, Emil stopped the cleaning process and while scratching his bristly beard turned his head to the horizon.
After a minute he started playing with his mustaches, noticing that he actually have never seen one.

"No, I actually never have. Why do you ask?"
The girl then turned to Emil.
"I just realized, that I have never seen a live Anglean!
I only imagine them from that stories of yours about that battle some years ago."
"Well then, what do you think about traveling to the Republic after we finish our current assignment?"
Now Emil turned in her direction.
"Seems wonderful." She smiled.
Emil then tilted his head upwards, in the general direction of the two crewman on the upper deck.
"Oi! You done playing yet?"

"Nay cap'n! This damn Quinqaachian is damn good!"
"We are 36-4, by the way, and it's not me who's good.
It's you that suck at this game."
"C'mon lad, don't be so harsh, I could be your brother!"
"You ARE my brother, moron."
"Why are you always so serious?"
"Because you are never serious enough."

"Do your magic you two, and find where we are on the map, this lands are repetitive!"

"Aye, gimme a sec"
"If we are correct, Flyaway should be some tens of kilometres on our left, just a day worth of flight and we will get to your objective."


It was night time when Emil's shrike reached Far Point.
Judging by the lights coming from the houses, the city was quite small, but it was easily seen the presence of multiple very high towers, each of them armed to the teeth.
In fact, if someone were to look at them with a spyglass, they could see that those towers could go toe to toe with even a large detachment of the Yeshan Imperial Fleet.

As Emil's ship was getting closer, the radio he had in board started to crackle, the tower guards were trying to make contact. Since Selenia was closer, she got to the radio first.
"Unidentified vessel, stop your movement, state your business and then proceed to the control tower to have your vessel inspected."
"Which one is the control tower?"
"First state your business."
Emil was a bit fearful, sometimes Selenia could be extremely sly and capable to masterfully lie, but other times she was very ingenue.
"We need to refuel and take extra fuel tanks, we have business to do in Anglea."
"What's your origin point?"
"Our ship departed from Iscadon."
Hearing that name Emil thought:
"We have never actually been to Iscadon too, we will have to spend this year more on scouting."
There was silence coming from the guard for a good minute.
"Very well, the control tower will start now to flash a red light, go there."

Then a tower in the middle of the others started to blink the red light.

While moving with minimum speed towards the tower.
Everyone on Emil's vessel was feeling the tension.

"This have the stench of a trap."
"And we are just going face first into it."
The two engineers commented.

"Keep calm you two, and let the miracle maker do his work." Emil replied.

"And who would the miracle maker be?"

"Why, me of course!" He said while grinning. "Dear, load burst rounds on every gun, if they want to play the bad guys with us, things are going to blow up."

As soon as the shrike reached the control tower skydock, on every docking bridge appeared men with guns.
One in particular, that looked like he was an officer, started to shout:
"From now on your ship belongs to the FarPoint independent city.
Now dock it and debark, we are watching you."

Emil's grin just got creepier and bigger.
"Why, you will be watching me?
I'll be hwatching YOU!"
With that lame joke, the docks where blew to pieces by the side hwachas.

The shrike entered full backward thrust and, as soon as he got far from the control tower, he did a 180 turn, engaging full forward thrust, trying to get out of the towers many guns' arcs.

The towers, noticing the failure of the ship capture operation, opened fire on the vessel.

As the fire from the towers was intensifying, the shrike was too dishing out shots, its hwachas covering with explosions the surface of the towers, the heyoka missile launchers hitting gunpoints with precision.

Soon they were also out of the towers' firing range.

Things got messy when the combat planes took off.

Quick and nimble, the planes were a pain to hit.

"Everyone!" Emil shouted to his crew while tying up his belt to the wheel.
"We need to out climb the planes! Hold on tight!"

The two engineers, knowing the specs of the ship, already had an idea about how to out climb the enemy planes so they tied themselves to the main deck.

Selenia first tied herself to her hwacha, then she realised what her parter was about to do.
She tried to stop him but he was out of her hands' reach.
"Emil no!"
"Emil yes" he replied grinning.
"Emil no!"
"Emil yes"

In that moment, when they both shouted, the Shrike, burning both kerosene and hydrogen, and turned 90 degrees upwards and skyrocketed, leaving behind the planes, whose pilots remained utterly surprised of the neigh impossible manoeuvre.

After a few seconds of vertical flight, Emil reactivated the ship's talons' turning system, and regained a stable position.

The engineers were panting, one of the two even puked off the edge of the ship, the other was just laying on the deck floor, looking skyward, with shocked eyes.

On the lower deck Selenia was laughing hysterically, while still being tied to the hwacha.
Only Emil was still calm, holding the wheel like nothing happened.
"Well, none of you here would have what it takes to be a fighter pilot!
This talons act perfectly as elevators and ailerons.
Man, I wish I could drive one some day."

Then both the other engineer and Selenia puked.

"I would like to see how you all would react to an Immelmann then."

While holding on the railings, Selenia, untied herself from the hwacha and walked towards Emil.
She grabbed onto his shoulder and said:
"I don't know what that is, nor I want to. But try, even try to do something like this again, and I'll shoot off myself pieces of the ship."

He then turned around and hugged her.
"You are all over reacting, come on, this is nothing that a good dose of moonshine couldn't fix."

"Will do!" Groaned an engineer from the upper deck.

"Sorry, I still don't drink ship fuel." Replied Selenia, leaving the hug and laying in the floor.

"If you say so."
 After that, Emil stopped the ship and turned in the direction of Far Point. "We still have to make contact with our fellow operative."

"Not now dear, I need some time to recover." Selenia groaned from the floor.

"Oh, don't be such a girl!"

"Hey, guess what? I am."

"She got a point you know."
One of the two engineers commented from ten upper deck.

"Whatever then! We will be landing now, y'all should have a sleep."
Even before he finished his sentence he heard snoring from the upper deck and found Selenia already curled up and sleeping under the blankets near the back engine.
After he landed, it took him a bit of time to get sleepy enough to convince himself to lay down.
Suddenly he heard a clank on the side of the ship.
Emil turned quickly around, unsheathing his sword and drawing out his hand gun.

A man covered in a sand coloured cloak, was walking towards him with his hand raised.
"Operative "Strayed" I believe." His voice was cold, tired and yet also gentle.
"You should be "Sandcrawler" then."
"Indeed I am, and I presume that the fair lady sleeping there is the operative "Dove" in this case."
"We were trying to reach you inside Far Point, that was the planned meeting point."
"It "WAS" you say truly, now the city is in near lockdown after they spotted a few days ago some Yeshan warships patrolling just outside of the towers' gun range. Since I was not a registered citizen they planned to imprison me, as also I was seen as a suspicious individual..."
"Especially since you keep going around in that cloak of yours."
"Every operative has his trademark, as you do too, Strayed, this is mine, and on the other hand, you would never see me if I were stalking you in a desert."
"Well, enough about this trivialities, what message did you want to relay in the first place?"
"There are three events:
First one: political parties in Yesha are strongly disagreeing about what to do about the imperial expansionism. It may ignite a civil war within a decade if things keep going like this.
Second one: Arashi raids are getting stronger and more frequent towards the Guild, I have no idea why, the Arashi don't do things harshly and without thinking, they must know something we don't.
Third one: the strength of many independent cities is increasing dramatically, especially Anvala. Somehow that managed to get some extra relic-tech, and their weapon production is enough to rival with the one of the homeland.
Another city, Iscadon, has gone silent, as much as I tried to get info on my way here, no one knows anything about what's going on right now in the city.
So, I have to ask you to give me a lift to Dragontown, then I'll try to reach Iscadon myself."
"No problems about that, but why couldn't you relay these news yourself?"
Sandcrawler looked with sad eyes to Emil, he shook his head for a few seconds, then with a voice broken by sadness, he said:
"Something in my guts is telling me that, from the moment I leave this place, my life will be at risk and if I die, I don't want to let my discoveries die with me.
We have very few operatives left, we are barely a hundred, but due to our operation rules, it's like we are much less, we are just wandering agents, to be held as much far as possible from the baronies."
Then, all within the same second, Sandcrawler turned around, pulled out two heavy revolvers and aimed directly at Selenia, that in that same second woke up, pulled out her gun and aimed at the man.
All the guns clicked as they pulled the hammer of their guns.
"And you can count on a loyal partner too, Strayed."
Emil gestured to Selenia to lower her weapon.
As she lowered her gun, Sandcrawler did too.
"Farewell operatives." The man said while jumping down from the ship.
And while he was walking away he shouted:
"Apparently Anglea is quite good looking in this season and the flowers are blooming in Chaladon."

Emil laid on Selenia's side and put on the portable blanket. Finally being relaxed enough to sleep.
"Wake me when the sun's high."

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Re: The Tale of a Crow
« Reply #22 on: March 14, 2016, 06:45:30 am »
Then sun was high when Emil woke up, and his head was hurting.

He was also put upside down, arms were around his chest.

"Uhm, what's going on? Selly?"
"OH! FINAL-FUCKING-LY! You slept past lunch time! We were waiting for you to wake up in order to take off!"
"Why are we like this?"
"The other operative helped me make you stand up, so that I could supplex you."

In that moment Sandcrawler entered Emil's field of view.

"And she did a damn good job! You finally woke up!"

Emil had a very surprised face for a few seconds, trying to find any sense in what he heard.
"Well, girlie, would you mind letting me go? It's quite uncomfortable being supplexed."
"Take this as a very energetic wake-up-hug."
"It sounds very sweet, but still I got supplexed."

Selenia then let Emil go. She immediately stood up, while Emil first slowly rolled on the floor, the groaned and in the end stood up too.

"Are these kind of situation common between you two?" Asked Sandcrawler.

"They have this kind of shenanigans AT LEAST once a day." Replied a passing by engineer.

"Shut up you and go warm up the engines. Selly, check the balloon, Sandcrawler, check the reactive armour, we will be taking off in a few minutes."

Hours later

Shrieking as it flew trough the air, Emil's Shrike was doing slaloms between the cliffs and the mountains sides.

A Squid was quickly flying behind it.

The front gun was blown off, a corpse still holding its handles.
Behind it another man was shooting forward with a rifle, the others were taking cover behind the various components.
"Who the hell is their gunner?!? How is it possible that they are having us pinned despite having no aft gun?!?"

On the Shrike, on the upper deck, between the two engines, a woman was standing.
Her whitish hair fluttering in the wind, her coat duster giving her an imposing aspect, a LMG held in her arms.
She targeted the hostile Squid with controlled bursts of fire, aiming with near perfection and landing most of her shots.

"I think I saw a pyra near them too, only it's taking a more direct route, they want to do a pincer move!" Shouted Sandcrawler."

"Until she has any ammo, there won't be any problem whatsoever!"
Replied Emil, while steering the wheel.

"Why do you trust her so much?"

"We have been trough even worse things than this! And she always managed to shoot the hell out of it!"

"Cap'n! Enemy on starboard side!" An engineer cried when he spotted the pyramidion.

"Use the Heyoka! Disable their front guns!"

In that moment banshee rockets came flying in the Shrike's direction, covering the area around it in fiery explosions.

With a light "thwup" the guided missiles were shot, and then, a second later, their propulsion systems ignited, making them flying, faster and faster, until they impacted on the pyramidion.

"Got it!"

The pyramidion then, with its front part full of fire, pointed downwards and started falling, as also its steerer have been hit directly with a missile.

"I'm out of ammo!" Selenia yelled as she reached the hwacha beside Emil.
"Turn right, now!"

Steering quickly, nearly bumping a rock, the ship turned and offers its right flank to the Squid.
The Squid's captain, on the other hand noticing the Hwacha aiming straight at him, steered to the left, covering his position, but leaving without cover many crewmen.

Limbs and other pieces of bodies flew around as soon as the rocket salvo hit the ship.
One of its manoeuvre engine and one of its main engines destroyed, the Squid lost a lot of speed, and its steering capabilities decreased dramatically.

Emil stopped his vessel in mid air, its guns acquiring a clear firing solution.
A final salvo of hwacha, mixed with some Heyoka missiles and small guns' fire hit the damaged Squid blowing it to pieces.

Sandcrawler then commented loudly:
"Now this ship is going to have a very big bounty at Far Point, you too Strayed, since you were seen by some people."

He shrugged his shoulders.
"I'll let her deal with that."
He said and nodded in the direction of Selenia, that was in that moment reloading and checking her guns.

Some more hours later

"Dragontown is in sight! Switch in the radio, prepare for docking manoeuvres!"
Emil yelled to his crew.

On the docks

The man with a sand coloured cloak stepped off the ship, waved once and then disappeared into the mass of people that was crowding the docks.

Arms crossed, Emil kept looking a while into the crowd.
Then, satisfied, he turned around and started the engines, communicated via radio to the control tower that he was taking off.

"You have the clearance to take off."

Engines roaring, the Shrike first took altitude, then turned north.
Emil turns to Selenia.
"Now it's time to keep my promise."
The ship thrusts forward, engine at full speed ahead.
"To Anglea."

The Shrike was flying fully into Yeshan territory, to avoid eventual bounty hunters from Far Point, where Emil got a bounty on his head.

Flying trough Yesha and towards Anglea, it was obvious that sooner or later he'll have to fly thought the infamous northern canyons.

The canyon were always a nice sight for airships, wasn't for the fact the almost a single error could cost you your ship, or even your life.

The winds above the Canyon were unnatural: extremely strong, even a Squid flying at full speed could barely move a meter per second.
The ground level was like a labyrinth, were the rule was "kill or be killed", pirates, raiders, patrols, scouts, many kind of ships passed trough that little piece of land, few came out of it unscathed.
Emil just hoped to not be ambushed by ships he could not deal with.

He had been slaloming for the last hours, always aiming north.
He had met a few ships on his way, two merchant ships with a few escorts, some Yeshan patrol galleons that were blockading some zones, but fortunately no pirates.

Or so he thought...

At a certain point, in the evening, he came across a little merchant barge.
It's engines were burning, the reactive armour was all torn to pieces, pieces of steel were falling off everywhere. The bridge itself was set ablaze. There was many bodies on the bridge, some with deep cuts, other with big holes in the chest.
There was only one man alive, kneeling, his face all burned, arms along the chest, looking high in the sky with empty eyes.

Shocked by such a sight, Emil neared his ship to that.
The crewmen threw some grappling hooks so that the two ships wouldn't fly too far away from each other.

Emil jumped on the ship, sword in one hand, a gun in the other.
He neared the man, who, as soon as he nicked the foreigner, started talking.
"They came out of nowhere....
A single ship....
Many died from their shots even before we noticed them....
Only the balloon was alive, perfectly intact..unscathed...
Everything else destroyed...."

The man then turned towards a canyon branch and pointed it with his finger.

He the turned in the general direction of Emil, eyes blind.
"Please... Kill me... I don't want to suffer from them anymore...

Emil quickly thruster his sword into the man's chest, piercing the heart.

"Thank you."

"Who are coming?" Asked Selenia from the ship.
"I don't know, he didn't specify. Maybe pirates. In any case, start the engines, I don't want to discover it on my skin."

It was too late.

From the canyon previously pointed at by the dying man, a Pyramidion class ship appeared, it was all painted black, even it's frame was jet black. Some strange kind of smoke was coming out out it, the engines were roaring like monsters, trails of flames were coming out of it back.

Painted on its front there was a white cloaked figure, wielding a scythe.

Emil dashed on his own ship and brought the engines to maximum.
"Engineers! Start pouring moonshine in the engines! That's a Pyra mk I! We gonna have a rough time shaking it off!"

The Shrike accelerated all of a sudden, engines screeching for the pain of being put under constant tension by the moonshine.
"Selly, go help those two!"

The Pyra was already going crazy fast, so for a few seconds it was actually capable of gaining some space.
Suddenly there were explosions all around the Shrike and high speed shots were landing all around it.

"They are shooting us!"
"We have reached max speed! Now the moonshine is only damaging us! We are switching to kerosene!"

The two ships were in a stalemate: both were racing trough the canyons, the Shrike not fully in range of the Pyra.

Emil turned around for a second to shout to his ship's back:
"Close the balloon valve!"
"DO IT!"

The balloon, while giving less and less lift by the passing of seconds, also reduced the drag on the ship, giving the Shrike enough speed to shake off the Pyra.
When the ship was barely a dozen meters from the ground Emil ordered the balloon valve to be reopened.

Suddenly, the Pyra was there no more.
Only some fog was in its place.

"Keep worrying people! I'm not cutting the throttle 'till we are in Anglea!"

Its engine shrieking, the Shrike kept racing trough the canyo as the sun disappeared on the horizon.

Offline C r o w

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Re: The Tale of a Crow
« Reply #23 on: March 15, 2016, 05:41:50 am »
Remembrance: fortunately, I got lost

Driving in a somewhat.... Random way, Emil's ship reached the coast of Anglea, flew over the Bay of Ink, and was in the direction of Oaxley.

Everyone was entirely covered in furs. The engineers were actually from Quinqaachi, so they were used to the cold climate.
Selenia was another whole story: the girl only visited southern lands while with Emil and only went a few times in the Baronies during summer. So the anglean cold was a new thing for her. As such, she was wearing even the blankets as a cloak.
After a while, only Emil was really working: the engineers, excusing themselves by saying that they were keeping the engines in check, even if it was clear that they were using them to heat themselves up. Selenia had become a blanket that talked and ate.

"Hey, it's not my fault he is so damn cold!" She said usually.

Over the Bay of Ink

"I see something on the horizon!" An engineer shouted. "From the east!"

Emil turned around and saw a figure in the distance, a fat spot with two thin appendices on two sides.
Grabbing his portable spyglass, he looked at it.
"It's a plane! Take cover from that side! Don't man the guns, they are from the Republic Regular Army!"

Emil cut throttle to the engines and stopped the ship mid air.
It better not to risk to appear aggressive when dealing with angleans, especially with anglean planes and infantrymen.

Some high speed shots flew a dozen of meters in front of the Shrike.
"That's a warning shot."  Emil yelled to his crew.

Then the plane appeared to multiply, showing that actually there were at least other four planes behind  the one that was spotted.
The squadron assumed a delta formation. And started to circle around Emil's ship.

Just to be sure, Emil, moving stiffly for the cold, raised a white flag on a side of the Shrike.

From below, with a sonorous "vroom", an anglean corsair raised and stopped at the same altitude of Emil's ship.

It had a front mounted hwacha.

Under his masked helmet, Emil got ghastly pale: a single salvo from that thing and they would all be dead.

From a speaker, a metallic voice could be heard:
"You have entered the republic's airspace, as protocol we will have now your ship inspected."

The hwacha was put aside by mechanical systems, and behind it there were some infantrymen, cladded in full armour and furs, they were aiming their rifles in Emil's direction.

"Guys, you should really come here, so that they don't think we are doing something funny! Selenia, you too, stop being a blanket and come here."
Groaning could be heard from around the whole Shrike.

A few moments after, grappling hooks were thrown to keep Emil's ship in place, then, a gangplank was set between the two airships.

The infantrymen walked over it and surrounded Emil and his crew.

An anglean officer came then over.

They spoke, but the helmet muffled too much the sound.

"Sorry, come again?" Emil replied.

It could be heard a sign coming from the officer. Then they took off their helm.
Much to everyone's surprise, the officer was a woman, and actually a very good looking one, with an anglean-pale skin and dark hair.

"I said, take off your guns and show your faces."

Each of the two engineers took off from their belts a gun and put it on the floor, beside them. They had only hats, so they didn't have to take them off, to show their faces.
Emil put on beside him his sword, a pair of combat knives and his revolver.
Selenia on the other hand spent almost a minute taking off all the handguns she had in her.
Then they both took off their masked helmets.

"State why have you come here." The officer then said.

Emil stood there for a few seconds, thinking about what to say and what not to say.
He was quite good at lying, he managed to learn with time how to mask the various sign a person would show when telling a lie, and that ability have always come to be useful.

"What? Cat bit your tongue? Speak now." The officer added.

"We were flying as escorts for a merchant ship, but we had been ambushed by pirates during our passage trough the canyons south of here. The merchant ship got overwhelmed and we had to run for our lives."

"Nice escorts you were."

"We were outgunned and outnumbered, if we had stood back there, now we wouldn't be nothing but corpses."

"Hmpf..." The officer looked for a while at each member of Emil's crew.
The planes were still flying around the Shrike.
"What do you intend to do when you dock?"

"Refuel and buy food supplies to keep on travelling."

"Tell me where do you intend to go next."

"Well, after this misadventure, I think that I could pay for once a visit to my relatives that live in the Baronies."

"Fjordlanders... Hmpf.... Suits yourself.
Now follow my ship to the docks."
She nodded in the direction of a plane.
"Do anything funny, and these boys here will shot you down."

They slowly followed the corsair to a nearby anglean settlement.
The refuelling operation took very little time, he had then a few minutes to buy some food before being forced to take off.

They were followed by the anglean planes until they left their airspace.

Everyone was eating, except Emil, who was on the aft deck of the ship, looking at the planes that were quickly disappearing in the horizon.

Taking a bite from a piece of dried meat, Emil took a walk down memory lane.

Offline C r o w

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Re: The Tale of a Crow
« Reply #24 on: March 16, 2016, 06:49:54 am »

It was a hot day by Firnfeld standards:
there were not as many clouds as there were usually, the sun was high and quite visible, the wind was not as fast as usual and there wasn't ice absolutely everywhere.

"Since we are having a lack of suspicious leads to justify our operative's lone wandering, we will have to deploy you in groups in order not to have agents staying in the homeland." Said the smiling man, who actually was a member of the council of Barons AND the operative-leader of CRIES.

"A number of you will have be sent to investigate in the four different cardinal directions. A number of you will be sent to scout to the south of Chaladon, some to the west of Yesha, some to the east of Chaldon and some deep into the Firnfeld."
He then pointed at a paper on his desk.
"There is written who will go where. Have a good day everyone."

I was to be deployed in Firnfeld, with other nine operatives.
Since there was a total refitting of the Royal Fleet, no heavy ships for many people were available whatsoever, and so the team had to be deployed with airplanes.

Three members of the team were actually aces, while the rest of us were either novices with planes or never flew one at all.

We actually spent a month or so continuously training. It actually came out that the planes weren't too difficult to fly, soon enough we even started racing against each other trough the fjords.
I was personally the best pilot at landing: as long as I had an airfield I could land whatever the damage my plane had.

Unlike with airships, when flying planes we really had issues with the fuel.
We were flying for a maximum of 3 hours per day.
One time we even reached a Firnfeld airfield which barely few minutes worth of flying left.

The place that was to be our home base was a large airfield, with a lot of underground buildings.

Another time most of our squadron had to empty their guns by shooting when landing, since the wind was screwing up our landing speed and and the ice impeded our brakes to function correctly.

Nothing happened for at least two months, but in the meantime we trained a lot, the Aces were not rusty anymore and us newbies were newbies no more. Really, the Firnfeld climate made us improve by necessity our flight performances.

The event that broke our routine was a fisher village I found.
A strong gust of wind hit me, I temporarily lost control on my plane and got separated for some hours from my squadron.
It was near a large complex of pre-war ruins, everything was on fire.
After we spotted that we immediately flew back to base to take an airship in order to scout on the ground the place.

Fortunately the weather didn't change, so we reached the village without too much trouble.
We searched it trough for some hours.
We found only dying people. We managed to make one speak, but the only words were:
"Četiri vragovi."
He grunted for some seconds, then he died.

His last words were:
"Duhovi od Razgriz."
He also pointed to something north-east from there.

Sun was coming down, so we had to come back to base.

Realising the next day that we didn't understand shit about what the dying man said, we tried to ask to some Firnfeldman how to translate that.
Apparently he said:
"Four demons, Ghosts of Razgriz."

That evening, heavy drinks were had, booze flowed around in some Firnfeld tavern, theories were made.
We immediately got sober after hearing a theory from one squadronmate.

Those demons may actually be some kind of assault air crafts.

The next day we danced for some hours, and by dancing I mean we did I the Firnfeldian dance, in order to be ready in case we needed to take off at a moment's notice.

We actually didn't, so we went around the hangars used by the FSDF, or Firnfeld Self Defence Force.
Their planes had heavier frames, looked sturdier, and yet they had similar performances to ours.
We did a test ride with their permission. Almost everyone in our squadron fell in love with them.

We actually bargained our planes for theirs. I don't remember whether them or we were happier about it.

Their planes were very similar to ours in terms of performances, the main differences were that now we didn't to have to worry too much about the extremely cold climate and that the muzzle speed of their guns was higher.

Our old planes were the standard A type, Model 6 ones, also called A6M, perfect for dogfighting between the fjords.
The planes we then acquired were called Yak-9, we only understood that it was the mark 9, but we were absolutely oblivious about the "Yak" part.

One day one of the ace pilots decided that our next recon flight should be in the direction where the dying man pointed at, days before.

Men form the FSDF actually said that transports and exploration crafts sent toward that direction or passing near there have been disappearing for years, only to be never found as they get quickly covered by the snow.

We took off at midday.
The fighters we recently acquired could actually fly for 4 or even 5 hours, so we even extended our flight time.

After an hour of flight we flew over the remains of that destroyed village, then we proceeded in the direction where the villager pointed.

After another hour, to our supreme disbelief, we found the wreckage of one of the enormous juggernaut pre-war airships.
There was no wind nor any cloud whatsoever, the skies were strangely clear.
One thing was amiss.
It was almost totally intact.

Some of the engines were off, but it was straight on the ground, it was like it actually landed and not crashed.

On it could be seen an enormous straight bridge that remembered the runway of an airfield. There were two towering structures on each side of the runway-looking-bridge. One was broken in half, the other was totally intact.

In front of the ship there was an enormous figurehead: a long-haired woman dressed in what looked like a Firnfeld pilot vest, wearing a winged helmet.

On the side of multiple structure was depicted the detail of the head of the woman with the winged helmet, writings were under it, but the letters were either frozen and totally cancelled.

"Should we land?" These were exactly the words that one of the pilots said when everything went to hell.

We heard roaring coming from an end of the downed vessel.
We saw a trail of fire and a black silhouette dashed in the air.
Three more followed.
At first we were in total awe, then we woke up as one of our planes was blown to pieces by one of those things.

"Operative down! All units engage evasive manoeuvres!"

A large explosion was heard, the tail of one of ours had been blow off, soon after salvoes of bullets reached the now falling flame, shredding it into shreds.

"How can they be so fast?!?"
"I can't see them anymore!!!"
"They are above us!!!"
"How can they climb so fast?!?"
"How can they be so fast in the first place!?!"

"Stop panicking, spread formation, gather intel, and...

Our squadron was barely managing to keep up the pace.
We found that one of the planes had a single, extremely high caliber, gun. With a single hit it could blow an entire plane apart, also it acted for the rest of those planes as a targeting signal.

"I see that they are fast, but they lack manoeuvrability. Try to outturn them, don't let them get a fire solution on you!"

I wasn't the best at dogfighting, I either was in an offensive position, or in a defensive one, my ability to dodge the enemy attack and then to re-engage was lacking.
I could fly hours straight dodging shots and barely get hit.
But in terms of attack I was only good with dive-and-climb attacks, which required altitude and speed advantage, which I didn't have at all in that moment.

The aces of our squadron managed even to properly outturn and form up in an enemy plane and shot at it.
While they actually didn't deal any major damage, their attack was extremely empowering for our morale.

During this half an hour long engagement, we lost a total of 3 planes, but we managed to hit multiple times an enemy boogie. Also, by the looks of the size and the frequency of the enemy attacks, it looked like that they were running out of ammo.
We actually were almost full, since we barely managed to get them in our sights in general.

At a certain point a plane broke from formation, their squadron leader engaged us in dogfights, he actually managed to take down one of our aces before being ganged up by the rest of us.
After the plane exploded, its fiery carcass falling off the sky, the rest of the squadron engaged us.

One by one they fell off the sky, each one bringing one plane to hell with them, the last one tho, after remaining alone, managed to shoot down two more of ours.

Of the 14 man our squadron was compared of, 3 were during the first 30 minutes of battle, 2 when the squadron leader attacked, other 5 when the rest of the enemy planes started dogfight. Only me, another operative and two of our aces were surviving.

We actually didn't want to land on that juggernaut's airway, but we had no other choice, we all had less than enough fuel to return to our base.

The landing was extremely simple, we lowered our speed, we extended our landing flaps, put down the landing gear, and simply touched ground, not even slipping on the surface of airway that was clear of ice, somehow.

When we left our planes, guns in hand, we decided to go for the intact tower on the side of the runway.

The door was opened.

Inside there were two stairways, one went up, the other went down, we decided to stay in group and then we all went down first.

We found a very big hangar, filled with what looked like scraps of the same design of the fighters that were fought.
Almost every single one of them was in pieces, in some cases even looking more like random scraps than a broken plane.

There was no model intact.

Bones frozen corpses were all around, their equipment looked very similar to the one that now is used in Firnfeld.

We only managed to find some samples of the weapons: the machine guns were actually very similar to the ones used all around the world, while the long barrelled heavy guns used by the enemy' squadron leader was extremely similar to...
"A field gun? Are we serious!? That guy was attacking us with a field gun strapped to his plane?!?"

"Calm down operative, I'm as much surprised as you are...
Apparently there is nothing else here for us to see.
Let's get to the other stairway."

The upgoing stairs lead us to what looked like a command bridge.
More corpses were there, well dressed corpses.
"These must have been the officers."

"Look around if you find something."

We combed the room, finding frozen papers that broke on touch and more frozen corpses.
"Oi! There is still something to read on this thing!" Said one operative raising high a notebook.

"What can you read?"

"On the front cover I can read something like 'Captain's Log', only it is written like...uh... Looks like an old version of our language. We can still read it."
Then he flipped the notebook.
"Nope, this one not."

"What is written?"

Emil stepped forward and took the notebook.
On its back it was written.

Cum historia
mutat valde Razgriz
revelat ipsum
primum daemon scelestus est.

Cum potentia
caenum daemon fundet
mortem in terram
deinde moritur.

Cum somnus finis
Razgriz surget
surget iterum
magnus heros est.

"This could need some time, but I can translate this language...
Somebody copy these words somewhere, I don't think this thing could survive outside the Firnfeld cold."

Then he opened the notebook.
The first page had written on it.
'Captain's Log, 18 December 1923, Captain Franz Gallifrey, Air-carrier ship Razgriz'
Emil read it out loud.

Then, turning the pages found very few retrievable information, as many letters were frozen and not legible anymore.

Emil remains reading for a few minutes.
"This ship was some kind of flagship and a flying airfield, it is never stated its allegiance. Here it says that it should have had on board 10 fighter squadrons, plus one elite squadron, called "The Ghosts of Razgriz", for a total of 44 combat planes."

"We met four... where are the other forty?"
"They are the scraps in the hangar bay."
"A shame..."
"I'm too tired right now, we need to find some way to get back to base."
"Yeah, nearly dying takes up a lot of energy."
"Operative, bring with you that notebook, we will have to at least try to copy it at the base, there may also be written something else."

After looking for a little more for something in the command room, our team went back to the planes.
A guy had such an obvious idea about our return flight that everybody else felt like a fucktard.
"What about we transfer fuel from some of our planes? There is enough space for two in each plane too."

"We are two couples , so a plane with two people each, for two."
"This was so fucking obvious that I feel like an idiot for not thinking about it first!"
"Shut up and help me refuel."

As we took off from the downed juggernaut, we saw in the distance a blizzard coming our way from north.
"Full throttle! If the blizzard catches us we are dead men!"
Fast like the wind, which in that region is damn-fucking-fast, we flew away.
We managed to come back to our base of operation in nearly 2 hours.

The flight officers were dead pale, even by Firnfeld standards, when they saw that out of 14 planes, our squadron returned with only two.

Around two days before this fight the Royal fleet had been fully refitted.
The event that happened to our team of operatives had us retread with utter urgency, as our HQ thought that leaving us there may cause the leak of info about some of our discoveries.

From that moment, 'till I had to switch to an airship for the mission where I met Selenia, I flew only planes, gaining a whole bunch of experience.

Taking another bite of dried meat, Emil said out loud:
"I love planes."

Hearing that Selenia replies jokingly:
"Gods help me if I ever have to fly with you, I would rather fist-fight an Anglean, that being present during your shenanigans-filled manoeuvres!"

"Suits yourself."
Then he yawned loudly.

Looking at a flight map Selenia adds:
"Go for Lord's Leap, we will have to drop the engies there..."

Emil finished the sentence:
"...and then we go for the HQ."