Chapter 22 of Lead Heart is up! I was trying a few new things on this one – not sure if it worked or not, let me know what you think!
The clown ship swept in with a raging storm.
The cannons ceased their assault on the monks, their operators lay motionless. Junk and garbage were hurled her direction, swept into the wind. She noted two of them did actually have real weapons, but shotguns wouldn’t make it far .
Leliana smiled. 5 more shots, this time just 1 kill and 3 hits. “Damn. Wind sucks.”
“Where in Cain’s name did you learn to shoot” Antros had his own gun ready, but the enemy ship still too far. That and the fact the clowns were practically riding a thunderstorm. He wouldn’t be able to hit anyone until they were basically a stone’s throw out.
The ragged zeppelin swayed unsteady in the strong winds. As it approached, they could make out the mismatched propellers hammered and taped into place on the sides. What Leliana initially had taken to be splotched paint on the balloon actually turned out to be many different fabrics woven together. Poorly. The balloon bulged oddly, like it was trying to escape its rope prison.
The two ships rushed toward each other. A team of Jesters gathered around a wide plank, a manual rudder of sorts, and started into a wide arc. The floppy hat bounded unpredictably about his deck and screamed at everyone.
The Nightmare matched the turn easily. More than once, the ship dropped without warning as the storm twisted the sails violently. They were close to level with the cannons at this point, and still Jovi turned into them. Suddenly, the ship trembled with a roar. An enormous blast of flame jetted out, licking the air in front of the opposing ship. The flames aimed directly for the balloon fell just short.
The fame pointed down and washed the deck. Leliana was amused that the Jesters’ fire-fighting technique was just throwing themselves on top of burning debris. “Balls and scat, Teena’s gun is bigger than mine.” The Nightmare’s momentum carried her past the clowns without any return fire. With everyone smashing themselves into blazes and ducking the larger blast, there was nobody to man the cannons. “I want it.”
The ships swept apart. An explosion rocked the air as the fire found a deposit of gunpowder.
Leliana realized how much the jet had slowed them, when it swiveled and shot them forward. The deck tilted almost horizontal as Jovi spun the wheel. The door to the cabin slammed wildly now in the wind, and Jovi’s voice drifted out every time the door opened.
“Oh no you”….”You damn clown bastar”…..”And feed them to your grandm”…..”AAHH!”
The sniper stifled a giggle, sighting back to the clown ship.
The world was dark. Angry clouds blotted the sky.
Thunder almost masked the sound of return fire. A tiny shriek floated up on the wind and the flamethrower spiraled and sputtered out of sight. The canvas sails sprouted holes. A jarring lurch indicated that at least one shot had hit something important. “Teena!” Leliana tore at the ropes.
“Wait! We’re coming up on them again, you have to get some hands off of those cannons. Trust Gib and Karina to take care below.”
Antros had to scream to be heard. He was right though. She grit her teeth and took aim as a blast of rain hit her in the face. Both ships were tossed back and forth like toys, and the growing flames on the clown ship sputtered and died.
They’d lost a lot of height. The two ships barrelled forward on a collision course. The Nightmare turned aside at the last second to brush just passed.. Smart, since it allowed her to dictate what they could target. Unfortunately, every shot was a guaranteed hit. Leliana had time for 4 shots. 4 clowns fell.
“Hit the deck!”
The railing exploded shards of wood and screws into her face. Someone screamed. The ring in her ears drown everything but the howling wind, and she lined up another shot.
The world spun then and the realization hit her like a brick. The mast! The thick beam teetered and Leliana tore at the ropes binding her to it. The wood groaned, shrieked, and then she was airborne.
The knife sang and the rope fell away while dozens of scenarios whizzed inside her head. Only one left her alive at the end.
She grabbed the beam with both hands. The oncoming ship looming. She took a breath. Closed her eyes. Then hurled the mast full-strength straight down. Time slowed as she floated, weightless, drifting ever closer to the looming spikes on the Jester ship. A few seconds later, she hauled herself aboard. 21 eyes locked onto hers. Glee, contempt, rage and delight played across a cluster of painted faces. Pierced eyebrows and ears and noses stuck out in all directions, and she noted at least one phallic tattoo. The heavy storm politely quieted for a moment of introductions. She smiled and swiped her eyes, coating the deck in blood.
A thousand feet below, a quick conference took place. The group of empty-handed monks vaulted out of the treetops. A small team already on the ground were unpacking a heavy ballista, and many were winding a rope into a complicated knot around the trees.
Furrowed, grey eyes looked to the sky. Calculating.