Categories > Original > Fantasy > Tradewinds 01 - "The Islands"


by shadesmaclean 0 reviews

pursuit, ambush

Category: Fantasy - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Fantasy - Warnings: [V] - Published: 2008-09-09 - Updated: 2008-09-09 - 1486 words - Complete

As the Islanders were a people of the sea, it took but a minute to unmoor The Edge and fire up her engines.

Ron manned the helm, trying to guide the ship and apply bandages at the same time. Angus held one of the gattling-gun style quadra-barrel laser cannons, as did Robert. All three of them scanned the sea in different directions, seeking even the slightest hint of a ship to guide them.

“Where the hell did they go?” Angus demanded.

“Ron, bring us about to port,” Robert ordered. He too had seen the retreating Cyexian ship, which he strongly suspected of previously hiding up the shore from the main harbor, before it vanished into the sheets of rain, and he didn’t like the feel of this. There was something oddly familiar about the way the ship had looked, like something he had seen before somewhere in his travels…

“Dad! Straight ahead!” cried a voice from the starboard side of the deck.

Max had looked out at sea a moment ago and saw something. Something the likes of which he had never seen before. It looked like a stout pole sticking out of the water, but then it had sunk back into the waves.

“Max! What are you doing here!?” Robert gasped, horror written across his face as he tried to figure out how his son managed to stow away while they were launching. So preoccupied with the enemy now that his son was safe, it never once occurred to him that he might disobey him after such a harrowing experience. “I thought I told you to go…”

He trailed off abruptly, his father-son lecture forgotten as he now saw what they were up against. For he had seen what Max had seen, and unlike his son, knew all too well what it was.

A periscope.

“So that’s what she’s got…” Angus gasped. At least it explained how they had vanished so easily, even in this choppy weather. He had heard Slash had some new secret weapon, that they were capturing more passing ships out there than usual, and he suspected they were about to find out how.

“Ron!” Robert wasted no time in making up his mind. With his son on board, this had become far more dangerous than he was willing to risk. “Call the comm station! Tell them Slash’s got a sub!”

“We’re being jammed!” cried Ron. No matter which way he tuned their radio, he couldn’t get through to the comm tower.

“Either it’s the storm,” mused Angus, “or else…”

“It’s a trap!” cried Robert, beating his brother to the punch. And concluding, belatedly, that perhaps they had been too hasty in their pursuit. A submarine could weather this storm better than they could. “Turn back! Ron, turn back!”

“Dad! Out there!” cried Max.

All eyes focused on where Max was pointing.

Rising out of the water, gliding alongside The Edge was something the like of which neither Robert nor his brother had seen since their wandering days.

It was at least twice as long as The Edge, and so dark it looked black in the storm. The deck was mostly flat, but about midlength there was a tower armed with a pair of quadra-barrel swivel cannons. Whatever circular emblem this vessel’s hull used to bear had been painted over with Slash’s clan’s sigil, a flaming skull and a pair of crossed swords. Yet there still remained U-553 in blocky characters.

Only moments after the tower cleared the raging waves, several figures emerged to man the guns. As it fully emerged from the troubled waters, the deck hatch also opened, and more of Slash’s crew climbed out, pelting The Edge with a volley of cover fire. As the Cyexians spread out across the deck, and the crew on the conning tower fired a boarding cable that harpooned The Edge’s foremast, all Robert could do was snap off several shots before diving for cover.

Ron brought the ship to a halt to avoid collision with Slash’s reckless maneuver.

Max, for now unseen, ducked back through the cabin door, watching. In his hands he gripped one of the disrupter pistols from the cemetery. The heavy-barreled weapon, barely small enough to rightly be called a pistol, was about the size of a submachine gun, with a heavy hand grip around the barrel, which was notoriously hot in a firefight. Aside from a little target practice, he had never used an energy weapon, and the disrupter felt very heavy in his hand.

He watched as the Cyexians took short lengths of cable and slid down the rope to the deck of The Edge. Two crew members on the conning tower armed and fired the water-tight quadra-barrels stowed there.

But Angus was quicker, popping back up at his post and setting his own gattling-gun barrels in motion, destroying the gun emplacements there and blasting one of the sub’s two periscopes.

Furious, Slash fired several shots at Angus, damaging the cannon, and nicking him in the shoulder.

Seeing his brother’s plight, Robert got back up and charged into the midst of his foes. The Cyexians were still getting their bearings, allowing him to actually kick one of them overboard. This situation had gone from bad to worse in the space of a few minutes, and now all he could do was try to repel this boarding party before Slash could gain a foothold; if he could have foreseen her having anything like this, he would never have considered giving chase.

Now he feared it might be all he could do to try to get his son and crew out of this alive.

To that end, he jumped at the mast where the boarding cable had hooked, slicing it with his laser sword. In the process, he ended up cutting down the mast itself. Under such choppy conditions, it was the best he could do jumping on the slippery deck.

To his credit, the mast actually fell on one of the Cyexian boarders, crushing both her and a section of the deck railing. But as Robert jumped back down to face Slash, Angus tried to regain his feet, grimacing— though whether it was more at the damage Slash had done to him, or the damage his brother had done to his ship to keep more of her crew from boarding, even he was not quite sure.

Deciding that what was done was done, he leaned around the cabin and opened fire on the Cyexians on the submarine deck. To his advantage, they were already having trouble keeping their feet in the growing storm. Though fired wildly, his salvo still sent most of them diving overboard, leaving them with problems of their own.

But Angus soon found himself with his own difficulties to contend with when a couple Cyexians managed to sneak up on him, attacking from behind.

“You’ve made an ass of me for the last time, Robert!” Slash declared coldly, firing up her laser sword. “We settle this right here, right now!”

“Once and for all…” Robert agreed darkly. “Let’s end this! I should have known you’d come back to haunt me if I let you live.”

As the two enemies of old began their fateful battle, the rest of their respective crews began one of their own.

A couple of Cyexian boarders broke away from the small group attacking Robert, seeking to take the helm. But injured though he was, Ron was not about to let them have it without putting up a decent fight. He sidestepped and kicked the gun out of the first Cyexian’s hand and shoved her back out of the cabin, but before he could lock the door another one leaned in with her power pistol drawn.

“We’re taking this ship!” declared the Cyexian pirate, seeing there was no way for Ron to draw his own weapon in time.

She trained her gun on him— and was shot in the back. As she fell to the deck with a confused groan, Ron saw Max behind her, disrupter pistol gripped in both hands.

“I…” Max lowered the gun, realizing now that he had acted solely on instinct. “Is… she…”

“No,” Ron told him, seeing that the blast had left no burn. “Looks like you set that thing on stun, Max.” Reflexively, just as he had Robert had always drilled into the boy in training. “…What are you doing here? Do you want to get killed?”

“But… I wanna help…”

“Stay close, Max,” Ron said, and to himself, I’m going to bring him back to Layosha in one piece, Robert, even if it’s the last thing I do… He pushed past Max and stepped back out onto the deck.

Only to see that this storm had still more trouble to offer.
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