Intermission: Tales from Cliffside – The Skyrail 4

On the merchant ship, eight sailors were standing around the crumpled tube, scratching their heads, and laughing. Typical shoddy work, they said, directing their attention back to the Skyrail. No German air-torpedo would ever fail to detonate on impact, much less fail to even start up instead of crashing to the ocean. They moved to the railing to see what this funny little band of pirates would try next. At first nothing happened, and then one of the sailors shouted, and pointed into the ocean.

Floating there were two small air-torpedo tubes–the two that had fallen straight into the ocean. Someone had removed the wings, added a glass dome, and taken most of the insides out and replaced them with a hand-and-foot powered pedaling system. They were both empty.

A massive explosion shook the entire ship, throwing the sailors to the deck. Another one soon followed before they had even gotten to their feet. Fumbling about, the soldiers hoisted themselves up, only to be cut down by buzzing metal pellets that whirled towards their heads.

Lincoln’s gun was like a pencil–ticking off targets one by one. He would shift, sighting along his arm like a sextant, and squeeze the trigger once. A small puff of air, and a noise no louder than a snap of the fingers would echo briefly in his ears, and a soldier would fall, a metal ball buried in the back of his neck. Again his body would twist, and another soldier would fall. In five seconds, all eight soldiers were dead, their bodies collapsed limply on the bloody deck.

Quickly, Lincoln dropped to the ground, his bare fingers resting lightly on the deck, feeling the vibrations. It wasn’t easy–the ship was still recovering from the two explosions that had quivered through her–but it felt like twenty or thirty soldiers were heading his way. He smiled grimly. They wouldn’t find him–he had a job to do.

Like a cat, Lincoln lept over the side of the ship, pulling a wide rubber disc with a handle from his side and slamming it onto the metal. It stuck fast, causing his whole body to jerk unpleasantly. Fixing a thin strand to the handle, he slid down the side of the ship, looking for the right window.

Finding the third window from the aft, he stuck his head through, only to find himself flying through the air and landing hard on his back–a knife at his throat.

“Bloody hell, Vandergaard, it’s me!” he croaked.

“Had to be sure,” the young boy said quietly, as the knife vanished.

“Who the hell else would it be?” Lincoln hissed sharply. “Oh never mind–you took care of the cannons?”

“They’re dead weight,” Vandergaard smiled.”I used a bit of their own fuel to light the articulating joints on fire. It was a bit of a squeeze, but I got it done.”

“Good,” Lincoln returned his air-gun into his belt. “And you started the leak?”

“Yes…” Vandergaard’s smile vanished. “Do you want to remind me to breathe next?”

“Oh for the… just give me the damn Shaker already.”

Vandergaard pulled a small cylinder from a pocket, and tossed it to Lincoln. Catching it, Lincoln felt his way towards the middle of the engine-room where they now stood, carefully stepping over the five bodies with slit throats on the floor. Reaching up as high as he could, he felt for the small dip in the rafters that marked the seam. Fitting the Shaker firmly in place, he gripped the small rip-cord that stuck out from the side, and sighed.

“Guns dead, fuel leaking over the ship, Shaker in place. We’re done,” he whispered. Vandergaard nodded, and pulled out a small rocket. Aiming it carefully out of the window, he yanked the small wooden dowel out of the side, causing a shower of sparks as the rocket shot off into the sky.’

“It was lucky you know so much about German engineering,” Lincoln said carefully.

“Yes,” the young boy turned a fierce gaze to his companion. “Lucky.”


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