"Look over there," said Tular Maximinos, suddenly at my shoulder. It was his company who had come to our aid.
I turned to see one of the black Zoasian battleships explode into a huge fireball and fall into the city below, setting off even more explosions. The battle seemed to be going well, and I could see three other enemy ships burning in the sky, as they spun out of control. All of the ships in our squadron were still in the air, though many had taken quite a bit of damage. I imagined that the squadron making the direct assault against the city was incurring even greater losses, but we had our reserves, and we knew what we were after.
Suddenly all the soldiers on deck were knocked from their feet, myself included. I jumped up to see another Zoasian ship grinding along our bow. The two ships had collided in mid-air, and the enemy was sliding down our side. As the black battleship moved closer to where we stood, it began to move away.
"Come on," I shouted to my men, and taking a running leap into the air, I crossed the distance to the reptiles' airship. This wasn't really part of a plan. It just seemed like a good idea at the time to take the battle to the enemy.
Landing on the deck with a thud, I turned around to see how many of my company had made it across with me. About thirty others, including Tular Maximinos, had made it. One young warrior had not been able to make the jump, and was still falling the several thousand feet to the ground below. The remainder of our small battalion had remained behind, being unable to cross the distance before the two ships had moved too far away from each other.
"Where now?" I called to Tular Maximinos, as there seemed to be no Zoasians on deck.
"To the engine room!" he called back, and the two of us rushed toward the back of the ship, followed by thirty or so men and women.
A wide path ran along the side of the vessel between the superstructure and the edge, giving us a metal avenue down the length of the ship. It was good that it was a broad space too, because there was no rail along the side, as there was on Amatharian ships. We had gone down about half the length of the mile long vessel when I heard weapons fire behind me. I turned to see over a hundred Zoasians at the bow of the vessel, where we had just been. They were firing at us, and had already shot two of our team.
I sheathed my sword, and whipped out my light pistol. The Amatharians with me did the same, and we soon had the hulking reptiles diving for cover.
"Swordsman," I called to a female Amatharian, "take five warriors and hold this position."
I could see in her face that this young woman knew that she had just been ordered to give her life, but I could also see the fierce determination to complete her orders, and a strong desire to sell her life as dearly as she could.
Tular Maximinos and I led the other soldiers onward. At last we reached the rear of the superstructure, but there seemed to be no opening.
"We need to find a way inside." said the Amatharian knight.
"Well then," I said, putting away my pistol, and whipping out my long sword. "Let's go inside."
The blade of my sword began to glow even before my arm started its movement. I swung down to the deck, slicing with my sword, through the metal, like a butcher knife cutting through a soap bubble. With four clean strokes, I cut a large square hole in the deck. Tular Maximinos kicked the newly made door with the heal of his boot, and sent the square of metal flying downward. I whipped out my pistol and jumped into the new hole, landing some ten feet below and rolling to one side. A moment later, Tular Maximinos and the warriors of Amathar were beside me.
We were in a long hallway which seemingly stretched the length of the ship. It was brightly lit with artificial light. There were no Zoasians in sight. With a wave of his hand, Tular Maximinos signaled us to follow him, and we moved silently down the hallway toward the stern of the vessel. At each intersection of the hallway we glanced down the perpendicular shafts, expecting at any moment to be confronted by a large group of heavily armed lizard men. We ran across only one unfortunate Zoasian, whom Tular Maximinos sliced into three separate pieces.
After running literally more than a quarter mile down the hallway, we found ourselves at its end. The hallway opened up to a balcony overlooking a huge room full of machinery a hundred feet below. On the floor far below us, was the apparatus responsible for keeping the ship aloft. It looked something like a great turbine, though its hum was below the sound level of our own voices.
Almost immediately, we were spied by one of the enemy crew members on the floor, and seconds later we were engaged in a firefight with a dozen Zoasians below. Seconds later, two of my companions fell, wounds in their backs, and I turned to see a whole army of reptiles running toward us from the hallway we had just exited. I knew that the brave soldiers we had left behind had been overcome. I called out a warning to the others and fired several shots down the hall. But we were caught in a crossfire. A narrow catwalk led to the right or left of the balcony, but with weapons fire from below, and an enemy approaching from behind, it was suicide to attempt it.
"Good luck to you, my friend," said Tular Maximinos, smiling. He then jumped to the top of the balcony railing, and holding his sword straight out, jumped down toward the machinery below.
As Tular Maximinos fell, he carved his blade into the great machine. The mechanism began to sputter and spark and shriek loudly. The Amatharian's body continued to fall though, and hit the floor with a horrid crunching sound. I looked down to see him lying on the deck below, his legs a twisted mess of blood and bone. Before I could raise my own weapon in his defense, a nearby Zoasian pointed his ray pistol at the knight’s head and shot him.
Like a streak of lightning, a blazing light bust forth from Tular Maximinos's sword. It danced around the room for a moment, and then blasted through the bodies of every Zoasian in the engine room. Finally it disappeared. Before my eyes had readjusted to the normal light levels, a huge fireball engulfed the room, as the massive machinery that the Amatharian had damaged, exploded.
"Come on!" I called to the brave men and women with me.
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