Strafing Run

a story
2017-09-21 19:37:43
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 “Is that it, ‘Lieutenant’?” asked the deckhand.

  Arnett peered over the side of the airship. Looking down into the desert below, he saw a small smoke trail. Exhaust from engines. Following the short trail he saw it. Several Sand Skimmers and two landships. One of them the Scorpios II. Arnett smiled.

  “Thar she blows!” yelled Arnett, pointing, “Tell your Captain we have her.”

  “How are you going to take on a whole band of pirates?” asked the deckhand.

  “Not alone,” said the Captain, coming up on the two, “So, Joel Arnett, how do we take on the Airship’s bane? Your stupid Scorpion of the desert.”

  “Those pirates don’t know the first thing about my ship,” said Arnett, “And they are spread thin. That crawler isn’t going to have a good shot at us. When I tell you to, yank that exhaust cord like nothing else and drop us. After it shoots, we can hit her.”

  “You ain’t sitting around while we risk our lives,” said the Captain, “We lost a Ball Gunner last week. Use the communication pipe to talk to Dibley in the balloon room to drop. You strafe those goons when we pass by.”

  Arnett furrowed his brow, but nodded. Running down into the hull of the ship, he made his way to the bottom of the ship, where a rear and front ball turret were. He moved to the front facing turret. He hadn’t seen a ball turret this large in a long while. There was a black-powdered punt gun facing downward to the desert and there was a rotary gatling gun with countless rounds. Arnett crawled down into the ball, setting up and strapping in to the gun.

  He turned a valve wheel as hard as he could, sending some of the Ship’s steam supply into the turret. The Turret shuttered, and began to move. Using some foot pedals and a hand lever, Arnett got acquainted with moving the Ball turret and how much range it moved.

  Looking out of the turret, he could see most of the turret was made out of reinforced glass like he had adopted on the Scorpios II, only with reinforced iron grating inlaid into the glass itself. On the top and bottom were some armor plating, but otherwise He only had glass between him and meters below. He saw the sand beneath them, and he could even spot the group of bandits escaping. The gatling gun was positioned underneath the seat. On the bulb was a rough retical used to aim.

  Looking down, Arnett concentrated on his landship. The rail gun on the back was awkwardly rising and positioning to take aim.

  “Dibley,” said Arnett.

  “Oi, ground boy?”

  “Be ready on my mark,” said Arnett, eyeing as the rail gun switched on and the air began to move, “Ready…”

  He saw it. The gun stopped jittering, and began to make very small corrections. They were going to fire.

  “Now! Drop us!” Yelled Arnett.

  He could barely feel his stomach begin to rise to his mouth with the force of dropping when he saw the glint of the shard. It swerved way overhead, and Arnett knew they missed. The ship began to slow its decent, but they were much closer to the landships now.

  Flipping a switch, he allowed the guns barrels to start spinning and he aimed for his own ship. He had to get the two on deck, chances are there was only one inside piloting it. Lining up the loose sights of the ball turret, Arnett fingered the trigger. Waiting for the right time, Arnett pulled the trigger and the gun opened fire.