03: Scouts of the Scale
Opal gazed across the overcast skies as the Chimera raced across the heavens as she kept the ship steady and straight. Watching the bubbles in the glass tubes indicated the altitude of the vessel and adjusted when the ship tilted or rolled to the sides. The kronocon, a round sphere attached above the navigation station with mechanical gears and hands showing the current time. The brass sphere contained sorted pictures of the sun in the current relative position. The sun position read late afternoon, a few hours more, and the sun-would begin to set. Glancing over her shoulder back to Shaitar, “The view is breathtaking.”
Shaitar stood at the map table, plotting the course and checking measurements with pins and strings plotted on a map. “Yes, sometimes I wish I could just keep flying. That will not happen anytime soon.”
The door to the bridge opened, Maverick stepped through. “I don’t think I can sleep anymore.” Moving to the co-pilot seat behind Opal. “I am surprised we have not hit a hill or crashed into the ground. You let her pilot?”
Opal spinning her head around, “Ohhh, your one to complain.”
He smiled at the jest, “Well, did you try out the Phantom Pilot?”
Opal shook her head, “No, Landis is still going over the rune structures to see if any damage has occurred. The problem is that other systems have been affected by the unexpected power of grace. ”
Maverick said, “How about the armor?”
Opal frowned, “We figure my armor will only hold for a short while and will get one more burst from the afterburner. Using it again may blow out the rear exhaust ports.” She paused for a moment, “How’s our goddess?”
“She is asleep, worn out. The physical and mental fight she had with Chizzit has left her drained. I know the nightmares drifting in her head. I can’t unseen the filth of horrors she showed us. Her mother was a piece of shit.”
Opal’s head rolled to one side, “Well, she was a demon goddess called the Siren of the Night.”
Shaitar poked more pins with strings into the map he had. Soon he would have to replace the map with fresh prints; the current map had already so many holes poked into the paper. He looked at the Kronocon, then down at the map. “Turn thirty-seven degrees to starboard.”
Opal pulled the control levers and pressed the appropriate foot petals. They slowly turned to the right. “Aye, aye, sir.”
Maverick smirked, “Well, it looks like we are not crashing.”
Opals eyes narrowed as she glared daggers at his head.
Maverick added, “Yet.”
The ship rocked as if a heavyweight had been lifted. The Chimera rose in height. Opal pointed at the shape of Torac. He dived off and flew before the ship, expanding to his full size. Opal pulled the sliding lever forward and slowed the Chimera down to distance the vessel and Torac. “What’s he up to?”
Shaitar peering up from his map to look out and followed the dragon through the transparent walls of the bridge. He watched as the massive dragon became nothing more than a speck in the distance. Crackling beams of electricity flashed, lighting up the cloud filled expanse. The rolling sound of thunder followed, echoing across the land below.
Shaitar reached inside his coat jacket to pull out his spyglass. Looking through the eyepiece, he made out two small burning airships falling from the sky. Putting the spy-glass back in his inner coat pocket, “Scouts. Torac spotted the enemy and took action. The main force may not be too far out.” Moving over to the brass communication tube labeled ‘Ship Wide,’ he shouted, “Be prepared, Torac just destroyed two scout vessels.”
The burning air-ships descended rapidly crashing into the broken yellow plains below. Entering into the cloud formation, Torac released a electoral victory roar, releasing more eldritch energy into the sky. The arcs of electricity brightening the billowing white clouds around his elongated body. A moment later his field of view returned when he exited the cloud, much to his surprise and the crews of the small fleet of Volothian airships he faced before him.
He quickly counts six vessels. One much like the Scale, with two smaller vessels attached as secondary ships. The other larger one was flat, with a single tower, but held a two dozen or so smaller scout crafts, a carrier. Blooded or Demigods often command ships this size. The remaining four vessels were corvette class, the size, and similar functionality to the Chimera.
Torac blasted the largest vessel. Electricity bolted out his mouth as his eyes lit up with sparks of arcing lightning. A flash of light and the sound of thunder followed by a cracking of wood and steel instantly reaching temperatures hot enough to melt the metal. The wood caught fire and the mighty vessel began to descend downwards. Torac quickly let off another bolt of lightning, this time, he held the bolt longer, causing the bolt to burn across the carrier’s deck. Several of the minor scout ships burst into flames as the small ships either drives exploded, releasing the air elementals inside, creating a fair amount of havoc as small twisters appeared on deck, then shuffled off, flying free of the metal that bound them.
Torac dived down and crashed through one of the four support corvettes. His bulk and size were three times the size of the more miniature airship. The effect caused the either drive to break, causing more debris to explode as the elemental escaped confinement. The serpentine men fell from the skies screaming, one by one the flailing men cratered into the ground.
The alarm bells rang from all the ships. Torac, now recovering from his dive, circled back to make another attack. Two dragons were deployed from their cages on the two larger ships, one a bright green Quaotle and another western dragon with red and black striped scales. The dragons both enlarged their bodies, expanding to their full size. These dragons were younger and only about two-thirds the size of Torac. The red’s eyes burned with fire. He roared in challenge, flames leaped out of his mouth, leaving red fiery trails behind him.
Torac dived into the nearest cloud for cover. He turned his direction back to where the Chimera approached. He would lead these two dragons back to the lonely Canadance Corvette. The air-ship would be on high alert now, and would be more than a match for the pursuing dragons.
Torac worked on keeping the younger dragons close. He dived in and out of the bulky white clouds, maneuvering as quickly as to avoid the two dragons. The clouds disrupted by his significant presence left trails of white, where he entered or exited the white puffy material. The Quetzalcoatl, closed the distance quickly, much more rapidly than Torac liked. Torac lost track of the red, a nearly fatal mistake. The smaller dragon had maneuvered in front of him, predicted which cloud Torac had chosen, then let out his fiery breath. As Torac exited, he flew into the dragon’s wall of fiery death. Torac exited the fire cloud with burns covering most of his body. The red triumphantly roared, leaving the his booming voice for all to hear for miles.
Torac howled in pain. The substance the dragon had left still burned on his body. He dived down, smoldering, leaving a trail of fire and smoke. The quetzalcoatl, slithered right behind him as he descended. The dragon more aerodynamic form allowed him to fall faster than Torac. He quickly slithered up behind the burning dragon. He encircled the Torac’s body. Torac realized too late that the dragon snake had coiled around him and bit into the back of his neck, releasing a toxic venom into his body.
Torac began desperately thrashing, clawing, and biting. The other dragon constricting his body prevented him from inhaling to create his electrical breath. The dragon snake constricted him too much. His mind started to become disoriented as the venom continued to proceed unabated throughout his body. Projecting to Katalina, “Looks like I failed. You will have to carry on without me.”
The dragon-snake held tightly, constricting more and more. Torac thrashed voilently trying to shake the younger dragon. He eyes slid shut as he lost consciousness and struggling for breath.
The Chimera, Serpent Hull, Women’s Quarters
Katalina’s eyes flared open, with Torac's the last message. “No. I am coming.” She pushed her body up and off the bed. Every fiber in her body hurt. She burned her grace, making herself ignore the pain of her wounds. Pushing open the door and quickly pushed her way down the hallway to the cargo bay. Pulsing her awareness, she spotted where Torac is at. “Desire, turn the ship this way. Hit the booster. Torac is dying.”
“What are you doing up?” He returned her projection.
Pleading with Maverick, “Do it now. He won’t last long!” She felt the ship surge forward as the compressed force stored in the chamber exploded out the rear of the ship’s exhaust ports. She hung on to some of the storage crates until she adjusted to the ships sudden acceleration. Katalina made her way across to the upper deck where Rolland had already been seated in the gunner chair of the Black Dragon. “Got something to kill a dragon?”
Rolland looked at the goddess, all wrapped in bandages, some still red with blood. “Yes. I can’t charge the bolt through the Black Dragon, if more than likely blow-up and take half the ship. Do me a solid and charge the bolt?”
Katalina reached over to the loaded bolt. Touching the shaft, her eyes and hands pulsed a bit as her grace flowed into the heavy bolt. “How’s that?”
Rolland grinned, “That will work.” He closed his eyes, “I see them. Three dragons, One wrapped up with Torac, the other flying high.”
Landis climbed up to the upper deck, “Goddess, you should be resting.”
Katalina’s leathery wings expanded outward from her back. Bright red flames bursting around the wings forming a dance of fire, the smell of brimstone followed. “Landis slow Torac and that other dragon. That dragon-snake tangling my friend is mine.”
Landis nodded as he turned to where the dragon fight was taking place. He stretched his awareness out. “Arcana: Temporal Slow.” Pulsing his grace, Landis created a sphere around the two falling dragons. The light slowly redshifted inside the globe and grew darker. The dragons slowed to a near standstill in the air, only a few hundred feet above the ground. “Done”
Katalina ran to the edge of the ship and dived off. Her body slipped over the edge while the scorpion barbed tail slide over the railing. Kate rose in the air as her wings beat with the flames of her grace.
Rolland turned the ballista’s hand-wheels to aim at the red dragon. Lining up the fiery dragon, he paused for a moment then pulled the trigger. The mechanical device released the tension and sent the bolt toward the flying dragon. Rolland’s eyes glowed with his grace, sense the traversing bolt as the payload neared its target. Rolland altered the trajectory of the bolt in mid-flight to further increase the accuracy.
The red dragon now perceived the laughable projectile coming towards him. He changed his bearings to the left. The bolt altered course to match the dragons. The grace-enhanced bolt penetrated the dragon’s thick, scaly hide and exploded. The internal explosion rolled throughout the red and black scaled body, causing bloating until the exploding force ruptured through the skin. Bloody charred chunks rained down to the ground below.