A Steampunk Tale of Wonder – Last Flight of the Phoenix, Part Two

Last Flight of the Phoenix - A Steampunk Tale Of Wonder

The Victoria screamed out of the Arc Royal, bobbed, waved and then flew true as the air-wing burst into the open air. The sight that greeted Annie almost overwhelmed her, she has never seen so many ships and wings in one place. Her hands started to shake, she could feel the panic start to take over her body and her mouth grew dry. It took more than a few seconds for her training to kick in and she could then take stock of the situation. The Dominion fleet hadn’t started to launch its air-wings yet, and training her eye on the silhouettes of the enemy ship it looked like only a two of them were carriers, not counting whatever the Leviathan was carrying behind its screen of escorts. Squinting she could see the enemy picket wings turn towards them, but they were pitifully few and not a threat to the waves of air-wings the Europa fleet were launching. A plan formed in her head, if they could get close enough and under the enemy fleets guns they might just do some serious damage to the Dominion here.

She searched the sky around her for friendlies, hoping her launch hadn’t pushed her too far ahead of the main group, when her tin speaker crackled into life and the distorted, but familiar voice of Carol burst out of it, “Are we going to try to hit the big whale?”
“Roger C, keep close and tight… If we get hit, we both break off,” she replied.
“Roger A, no sense giving the paymaster a bonus today,” said Carol.
Looking to her upper left, she caught sight of Carol’s air wing, a sleek Victoria like her own painted with bright red fox markings of an air wing ace. Already her friend was pulling back to take up position on Annie’s wing and as one they dipped their right wings slipping away from the protection of the Arc Royals guns; putting themselves into a shallow dive towards the Leviathans picket ships. The Victoria’s newton increased power as Annie eased it into combat speed, just behind her Carol did the same catching her just before they hit the Dominion Pickets.

“C, drop smoke, rapid bursts, and then drop the chargers we want to scatter them and punch through,” said Annie rapidly her voice going off pitch as her adrenaline coursed through her.
“What if they follow?”said Carol her voice almost giddy too.
Annie risked a glance behind her and could see the tell-tale signs of the charger preparing to drop on her newton as flames licked out of the air wings exhaust and leaped down the fuselage.
“I’ll see if I can get us some help,” said Annie.
She twisted the dial on the her wireless, and tried to ignore the static blasting through the tin speaker.
“Phoenix one, request assistance, Dominion fighters squared.”

A moment of static filled silence and the tin speaker burst into life with faint call signs as other flights answered her.
“Roger Phoenix one, Rupert two and four are on your six.”
“Fox one and five as well, Phoenix one, good hunting wot? Save us something… Tally Ho!”
Annie smiled as she confirmed the flights calls, and then pulled the toggle out of her fire button. Counting down from ten she dropped the charger on her Newton, and felt the Victoria kick her in the back as it surged forward. The enemy fighters before her started to become much more real than the black dots they were moments before.
“C, drop smoke now!”

Annie pulled the launch lever and felt the smoke canisters drop from her wing, she then stabbed the fire button, watching the tracers burst from her twin guns as she tried to keep the closest Dominion wing in her iron ringed sight. For a second she though she saw her shots paint across an enemy air wing, making the return fire go wide of her. Flicking the charger lever up to extend the burst on her Newton, she pitched her Victoria and dove hard at the Leviathan, ignoring the picket ships entirely.

Suddenly blank flashes filled her vision, and it wasn’t until the dull frump sounds of air bursts hit her ears did she register the Dominion fleets anti-air-wing guns had opened up. Moments later the first fleet-to-fleet barrage started, and the air grew heavy with the smell of sulphate and cordite. Annie jinked her wing from left to right, more in hope of dodging the exchange of fire, than actual design.

Finally her Victoria swept over the line of picket ships, and she had to fight down the feeling of vertigo as the immense size of the Leviathan filled her vision. The huge navy guns studded the top, and sides of the warship like metallic warts.
“That is odd?” thought Annie. “No anti-wing fire?”
She checked her flight area and couldn’t see anything other than Carol’s Victoria near her. She turned her attention back on the huge warship in front of her.
“Could they be this arrogant, that they think a mere air-wing can’t hurt it… Well we’ll show them.”

Almost instantly Annie saw a flaw in the Leviathans design, there was a low trench running down its center, and if she took her Victoria low enough the gun crews wouldn’t be able to bring their guns low enough to hit her. The trench looked just about wide enough for her to avoid any small arms fire.
“C, cut to combat speed and follow me in,” said Annie quickly.
She barely heard Carol’s acknowledgment as she throttled back, then dove the wing down toward the Leviathans hull like a diver, she launched several quick bursts from her guns, watching almost distractedly as the shells bounced over the ships hull. Pulling up, she found herself in the artificial metal landscape and she started her strafing fun down the ship’s length.

To be continued…

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About Nick

Just an Englishman lost in the USA who happens to write now and again... Anyone got a cup of tea?

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