Steampunk Family

War Wings

April 15, 2011
This entry is part of a series, Voyage to Antafrica»

War Wings are gliders made of yak hide and wood. When the rider leaps from the airship he has no plans to return. He must fight his way onto the victim ship or spiral to the ground, riding thermals like a vulture. I sounded the alarm. Klaxon blared and lights flashed. They had seen us.

A warrior swooped down from the Mongol ship towards the Schöneluft. He drew his bow and loosed an arrow at us. “Too soon,” I thought, “you’re not close enough.” Strange thing to think; stupid of me. There was something odd about the arrow’s flight; the arc was wrong. Then it exploded, fiery shrapnel screaming into the envelope. I screamed a string of curses and leapt for Mein Herr’s rifle. I must have put the butt of it through the windowpane, for next I knew I had fired. The War Wing glided towards us still, as though its rider was alive. Then a current of air struck it sideways and it spun out of control, falling to earth like a broken deck chair heaved overboard. And that was it; I had killed a man.

Chef ran from the great room, yelling something in French. Useless, I thought. I scanned the sky for the next attack, opening the other tall side window so I would not be fool enough to break that one as well. Three more War Wings were soaring in. My first shot fell short. I did not want to let them get close enough to damage the envelope again. I waited, holding my breath. Bright yellow and red streamers whipped behind the frame of his gliding wing. I breathed out and squeezed the trigger. He fell. I aimed at the next man.

Chef ran back into the room.

“Les Grandmeres – zhe old ladies are patching zhe ship,” he gasped as he reached me, “Zhere is no fire, not yet.”

Not useless, then. I fired, missed, thanked him while I reloaded, and fired again. Missed! A Mongol arrow exploded, tearing into the envelope. I fired again – hit the blaggard at last and aimed for the third.

The great ship shuddered and the floor shifted beneath my feet. My shot went wild. I threw the rifle at Chef and pointed out the window. He took my place and began firing into the air. I’ve no idea if he was aiming or not.

I threw myself at the controls. Nothing responded. No lift, no balance weights, no ballast dump, nothing! We were lifting, though, and I couldn’t stop it. I slapped stupidly at the control panel for what seemed like minutes but was seconds, before the truth hit me.

“Gah! Damn you monkeys give me back my ship!” I lunged for the speaking tube, shouting incoherent demands in pieces of several languages. Still the airship rose. I scanned the sky again. Chef must have hit one of the attackers. One War Wing soared near, with five others newly launched behind him.

At last I saw the Boiler Chief’s plan. The War Wings were at the mercy of the winds. They could only chase the thermals. If we lift we may rise above their reach. Brilliant! Except … except that above the Wings is their master, the war ship of the Khan. How am I to fight that?

Nevertheless, the boiler room had seized control of the ship. The boiler chief had all our lives in his paws now, whatever was left of our lives. I grabbed my shotgun and ran to the hatch in the Schöneluft’s belly.
Entries in this series:
  1. On Grandmothers
  2. With A Bang!
  3. In Search of Ancient Angiosperms
  4. Assault on the Galley
  5. The Sorrows of Chef
  6. Faeries, Helpful Siblings, and other Mythological Creatures
  7. Meanwhile, Back in the Lab
  8. A Day of Discovery
  9. The Children’s Hypothesis
  10. A Research Date
  11. Aboard the Schmetterling
  12. The Cave
  13. The Cage
  14. Knee of the Yeti
  15. Kidnapped!
  16. A Clue
  17. The Yeti and the Comb
  18. Fighting the Count
  19. Fighting the Yeti
  20. Falling
  21. Breadcrumbs
  22. The Search is On
  23. Flight to Saigon
  24. On the Streets of Saigon
  25. The Sad Man
  26. At the Grandiere Club Aeronautique
  27. If you Give a Count a Cookie
  28. Out of Cookies
  29. Stuck!
  30. Airships Float?
  31. Where is Claire?
  32. Drowning
  33. Into the Drink!
  34. Boat!
  35. Mushroom Trip
  36. Ambush
  37. The Variegated Strangler
  38. In a Strange Land
  39. Hand over Hand
  40. The Last of the Gouda
  41. An Unusual Breakfast
  42. Downstream
  43. What's for Dinner?
  44. Axe and Fire
  45. Meanwhile, Back at the Airship
  46. Over the Gobi
  47. Return of the Grandmothers
  48. Warning from Huang
  49. Anxious Hours
  50. Ulrik Prepares
  51. Destruction by Dawn
  52. Finding Philomena
  53. No Luck in Pekin
  54. The Children Rescue...Something
  55. Corndog Liberation
  56. The Fate of Corndogs
  57. Have you Tea?
  58. Antafrican Hosptitality
  59. Onion Porridge
  60. Homesick
  61. On the Hunt
  62. Farm Living
  63. Singing for Supper
  64. You Say Potato...
  65. Curiosity is the Foundation of Discovery
  66. An Awkward Position
  67. Trouble Comes Riding
  68. Capsicum Capture
  69. To the Palace
  70. The Death of the Lincoln
  71. War Wings
  72. A Long Way Down
  73. Enter the Lightning
  74. Before the Queen
  75. You are a Tomato!
  76. A Sunken Ship
  77. Eglantine Aubergine
  78. Children of the Soil
  79. At Night in the Nightshade Court
  80. At Night in the Nightshade Court
  81. At Night in the Nightshade Court
  82. The Price of Popcorn
  83. Ulrik and Chef
  84. Fire!
  85. Claire's Bluff
  86. Tomato Queen and Aubergine
  87. It's Going to Blow!
  88. Rhodri in the Gardens
  89. The Servant's Fountain
  90. History Revealed
  91. Fight at the Fountain
  92. Repercussions
  93. Father Discovers the Yeti
  94. Aboard the Lucy Stone
  95. Summoned
  96. The Queen's Accusation
  97. The Queen's Rage
  98. The Khan
  99. The Last War Wing
  100. Eglantine Departs
  101. Thumping Rhodri
  102. Bad News from the Boys
  103. Where's the Count?
  104. In Search of the Count
  105. Spying on the Queen
  106. Confronting the Count
  107. Orphaned?
  108. Orphaned?
  109. Montesanto's Experiments
  110. Montesanto's Experiments
  111. The Queen's Tantrum
  112. Bettina's Tantrum
  113. The Flaming Queen
  114. Uprising!
  115. Uprising!
  116. Escape
  117. On the Run
  118. The Mysterious Coach
  119. Red Racer!
  120. Revolution Reset
  121. By the Acid Sea
  122. Farewell Antafrica
  123. Home Again!
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