Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Page a Day: One Hundred Sixty Eight

           Ash’s artillery fell silent as it moved in closer. The first tier was ours in all but name. Nogilian  needed cover on the second and third.

            “’Ware ships!” came the cry. My head shot around, vision through the oculars blurry with the movement. Three hulls to the southeast, greatships coming from around the horn of the mountains. I understood. Hide in a cove until the invasion happens, swing round to pin your opponents against the base of the Stair. But three? That was all?

            “Valkyries!” I shouted, to be heard up and down along the sand. “To sea! Scuttle! Repeat: do not board! Damage and destroy.” This was going to be fun. No navy really prepares for a cavalry attack.

            We sped. The machine gel was already spread before us, to support the artillery that even now was aligning for another barrage.

            “Three columns!” I shouted over the sea. “Split off by squad! Line assault!”

            We accomplished the maneuver just before we reached them, files of chameleoned valkyries streaming toward each greatship. I led the center line, dwarfed by the mass of the hull, reaching as far above the waters as any of the tiers Nogilian was climbing. I neared, slowed, drew my quicksword, dropped the tip. I let it bite the hull just below the waterline, eased forward. The thing about Profusionist metal is that its healing abilities are limited. My slice alone, it could have mended. But it could not recover faster than the hundreds of blades that deepened the cuts as we rode forward.

            I’ll never know if the machines from the deep helped or not. But I suspect they did. That first hull keeled over pretty quickly. And the water churned furiously beneath us. The spearmen atop had just realized what must be happening and started to fire at the waves when the whole ship listed. I backed off,  saw the other greatships tilting too. I ordered everyone out and away, sped back toward the spit. Mission accomplished.

            Something strange, though. No more artillery barrage. Ash had his disks hitched to valkyries and everyone heading toward the beach. I swerved to inquire.

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