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The Sorceress War Part I, Chapter XIX

AN:   Okay, for anyone wondering what the Valhalla looks like, here it is.  It roughly looks like Setzer's airship, the Blackjack.  Except, the Valhalla is silver and has gun turrets.  And of course, is jet powered.  



Celeste Trepe--  "Heartilly will agree with me on this since we always play together:  'You aren't a true video gamer unless you can keep playing after 48 straight hours and play on despite those evil epileptic seizures that seem to come up after the first 24 hours.'"



    Raine and the other Wolves ran half-crouched along the cargo area of the Airship Docks.   To Raine's detest it had taken nearly an hour to get to the docks, since the train departure had been delayed.   It would take another hour just to catch up with the Helian attack forces.  To make matters even worse, it would only take the attack force two hours to cross the small stretch of ocean that separated Galbadia's Western shore from Helios' Eastern one.   That was cutting it far to close for Raine's tastes.  Wolf Pack did have a benefit however.   Most of the soldiers stationed at the Airship Docks had left with the attack force or were busy placing things back the way they were before the airship fleet had taken off.   Since a boat was out of the question due to its speed, Raine decided the only way to get to Galbadia in time to stop Virados was by airship.


    The thought seemed to not sit very well with the other Wolves, however.   The only one with any pilot training of any kind was Julia, since she was the vehicle expert, but Galbadia had not taught her how to fly an airship.  Helios had full access to airship blueprints, and so Galbadian forces had no idea how they were even controlled.  Julia, to the shock of the others who had expected her to be overly-excited, was actually nervous about getting into one of the large war machines and flying it to Deling.  


    There were only two airships left.   One was a large and slow cargo transport that would take far too long to trudge over the ocean.   The second was probably the only option.   It was sleek and silver, with two extensions on the hull that looked similar to wings for horizontal stability.   A large engine was attached to the bottom and latter half of the hull, and seemed to be the largest region of the airship.   Gun turrets littered the sides of the hull and the area above the bridge, and the name Valhalla was etched into the hull.   Raine had been cautiously leading them towards the ship, but now favored Julia's haphazard way of destruction.   This process was consuming too much valuable time, and if she needed to go in guns ablaze, then she would do so.


   "Ugh, I almost hate myself for succumbing to this level of combat, but I guess I have to."  Raine said with an almost disappointed tone in her voice.  "We need to go through quick.  Do we have enough ammo to break through without problems?"


   Julia laughed happily.  "I love you, Raine!"


   "I know, I know."  Raine replied with a slight smirk.   "Seriously, are we good to go?"


   After a few moments of checking their weapons, Edea took the initiative to reply.  "Yes.   I have two magazines left, Epsilon has three, Andraia hasn't used up her bullets yet,  Zion has one spare magazine, and Celeste has three bullets left in her revolver... if she were awake to use it that is."


   "Okay, we're pretty good then.  Zion, if you run out of ammo, just grab Celeste's gun."  Raine informed.  After seeing Zion's nod, she continued on with what she was saying.  "All right, on my count we attack.   One... two... three....  charge!!"


   On her command, the ten soldiers burst out from behind the small metal structure they had been hiding behind.   The Wolves that didn't have any firearms fell into place behind the ones that did, letting the others get perfectly clear shots against the enemy.   Naturally, the four guards who had been standing in front of the Valhalla jumped into action as soon as the Wolves let out their war cries.  However, they didn't stand much of a chance against Epsilon's sniper rifle.  With a quick motion, he was able to shoot four bullets out towards the guards.  Each hit their marks either in the chest or head.  


    On instant, after Epsilon had let the now un-silenced gun ring out, the alarm system sounded throughout the entire complex.  Quickly checking behind them, Raine and Edea noticed that a Mobile Type 4 had been released from somewhere and was now using its hover-jet system to rocket towards them.  The two women instinctively began to run faster, and told the others to hurry as well.  The war machine wouldn't be able to catch them, however.  With the robotic attacker only a few hundred yards off, the Wolves sped up the boarding ramp and into the Valhalla.


    "Julia and Lilliana, get up to the bridge and get this thing going!"  Raine ordered as she ran through one of the walkways.  "Edea, Epsilon and Zion, go see if you can't use one of the anti-artillery guns to get rid of the Mobile Type 4!  Everyone else strap yourselves in somewhere!"


    Each soldier took off in their appointed direction.  Julia and Lilliana sped up towards the area which would house the bridge, and Edea and Zion ran off towards the rooms above the bridge which held the chain and laser cannons.  The Mobile Type 4, on the other hand, was already spraying the outer hull of the airship with Vulcan cannon fire.  Since the hull metal was so thick, there wasn't much of a threat that the bullets would break through, but the sheer sound of the ricocheting bullets was enough to terrify even the bravest of the Wolves.  


    Julia flinched as another bullet hit the outer hull of the area in which she was currently passing by.  She and Lilliana were following the signs that were posted on the sides of the wall to find their way towards the bridge.  Seeing a silver walkway  lead up into a room that was one floor above them, she quickly darted up it, assuming that it was her destination.  She was relieved when she saw the command consoles of the bridge, and eagerly leapt towards the pilots chair.  Lilliana flipped the switches that activated the gun turrets, so that the Wolves who were heading towards them could operate them without hesitation.  


    "Okay, here goes nothing!"  Julia shouted as she flipped on the main power systems and grabbed the main flight yolk.  However, she quietly mumbled under her breath so that Lilliana couldn't hear her, "Please don't blow up, please don't blow up..."


    She forcefully hit the vertical hover system and immediately felt a rumble beneath her as the engines increased their output.  She smiled as the Valhalla began to rise into the air, but found herself and Lilliana reeling back in shock as the airship came to a sudden and abrupt stop.  Julia didn't know what was wrong, but could hear the control panel beeping wildly in warning and several red lights light up on the panel in warning.  Damn it, did I not say 'Don't blow up'?!  She thought with distaste.  


    Lilliana tried to interpret the signals the console was emitting.  "Hey, Julia, I think that the safety measures are still in place.  You know, those steel cables that keep an airship bonded to its platform?  Find a way to detach them!"


    "Oh, easier said than done!" Julia shot back, then began to look franticly on the control panel for some sort of device that would do just what Lily had requested.   "Like I really know which button does that!  Ugh, help me find it!"


    Back inside the halls of the Valhalla, Edea, Epsilon and Zion almost collapsed as the ship came to a sudden stop.   After regaining their balance after a moment, they continued to run down the halls at top speed towards the gun turrets.  Finding two silver ladders shortly after they passed the bridge, Edea assumed that the gun turrets were above.  She ordered the two of the males up to find out.  Zion and Epsilon quickly scaled the ladders and found themselves sitting in front of the gun turret itself within a revolving platform.   A plastic guard would have prevented them from forceful winds, had they been moving.   Edea, by that time, had noticed another turret room on the side of the airship, that was used to shoot down targets on the sides of the ship as they strafed it.  Each powering up their own gun, they tried to locate the Mobile Type 4.  


    Epsilon found that there was a radio headset inside his turret, and he placed it on.  He tested it for a moment,  "Hey, is anybody on this channel?" 


    At that instant he received a heated reply.  He identified the source as none other than Julia, for it was the communication to the bridge and the other turrets.   "What do you want?!"


    "Where's the thing?  I can't see it!"  He shouted back, still turning his head around quickly to see some sort of movement.  


    "It's shooting our ass!  It's aft, aim that way!  Now shut up, I need to find a button!"  Julia shouted back over the intercom in his turret, then pushed a button that jammed the transmission to the bridge.  


    Epsilon spun his turret around backwards and Zion, seeing him do so, did likewise.  However, the only thing they could make out was the occasional explosion and jet exhaust from the mobile armor, but the machine itself was blocked by the massive engine and engineering cabins at the aft decks of the airship.   They would have to wait for it to move, which it would be doing sooner than expected.  Suddenly and without warning, the Mobile Type 4 turned and began to speed along the side of the Valhalla at break-neck speeds.  Unfortunately for Zion and Epsilon, it was still masked by the hull.   


    Edea on the other hand, had a clear shot since it was speeding down her side.  She swiveled the turret around until the targeting cross-hair was lined up with the mobile armor.  She would only have a few seconds due to the armor's amazing speed, but she tried anyway.  Pulling the trigger, she let out a blast of Vulcan fire at the enemy.  To her dismay, the bullets strafed along the ground as the mobile armor dodged the attack and continued toward the foredecks.  She spun the turret around again, and continued to fire.  She smiled as one bullet connected with the top left side of the armor, but it was far from enough to actually destroy it.  


    Julia and Lilliana were still searching for the button which would release the safety cables, but were having no luck.  Julia had reverted back to her own nature,  'if you don't know what you're looking for, just push everything.'  And that was what she was doing.  This system wasn't doing much either, except for lowering and raising the flaps and slats on the horizontal stabilizers and turning the night-vision HUD on and off.  She groaned in frustration and slammed her fist onto a large red button.  To her and Lilliana's shock, two missiles launched from the sides of the foredecks.   Julia dropped her jaw as they slammed into the upper part of the Airship Docks and caused the tower and surrounding buildings to collapse in a fiery explosion.  There was a large shudder as the platform threatened to collapse as well, now that the tower had gone down.  


    Lilliana spun around with a glare,  "Okay, I don't like your plan of pushing every button in sight!  Especially the big red buttons! Now would you please read the damn things before you push them?!"


    "All right fine!"  Julia said with annoyance.  "We'll do things your way.  But just because of the missile thing, I think my way is more entertaining!"


    This time, Julia scanned the buttons carefully, reading each one before moving on.  Finally, she came to one that said 'Launch Safety Release' and smiled triumphantly.  Pushing it happily, she and Lilliana felt a shudder and heard a loud clank as the steel cables detached themselves from the outer hull and landed with a scraping sound against the metal of the launch platform.  Julia grabbed the flight yolk again and quickly started the engines back up again.  This time, the Valhalla rose gracefully into the air.  


    Edea was slightly shocked as she saw the ground get smaller beneath her seat in the gun turret, but was glad to be getting out of the chaotic landing zone.   The Mobile Type 4 had been shredding the outer armor of the hull for a good five minutes now, and was still moving to fast for any of the gunners to shoot down, though all three of them had let off many rounds of cover fire.  Now that the airship was at a different angle as it rose, she had a better shot.  Lining the cross-hair up again with the main body of the mobile armor, she hastily pulled the trigger.  A stream of bullets scalded the ground and eventually worked their way up onto the frame of the armor, causing it to burst into several pieces.  She smiled at the success, and even though she detested war, she felt happy to be able to take the enemy out.


    The Valhalla finally completed the ascent needed to take off, and almost hesitantly Julia flipped the throttle up and caused the airship to rocket away at top speed to the East towards Deling City.  Hopefully, if luck was on their side, they would be able to arrive before the Helios and Esthar fleets could meet and attack their homeland.  




    "Come on man, can't this thing go any faster?!"  


    "Major Almasy, please calm yourself."  The captain of the Defiance said as he looked back to the impatient blonde man that stood eagerly behind him inside the bridge.   "I told you before, I have the ship going as fast as possible.  But, in this rough water, it would be dangerous to go any faster."


    Jesse shook his head in frustration as he let out a large sigh.  At this rate, they would be lucky enough to see Deling explode from a thousand yards off.  Icelina had tried to use the radio once before, and had failed to reach Timber or Winhill for any sort of support due to the heavy storm that hung over the Imperial Ocean.  Jesse tapped the hilt of his gunblade again, as he did most often when he was beginning to get agitated.  


    "Well, okay then.   Look, how far away are we from the Timber coast?  Can we radio again, and will it work this time?"


    The captain checked the radar screen that held the Defiance's coordinates on a mapping grid.  After a brief calculation, he turned back and replied.  "Exactly half a kilometer.  I suppose you should try again now, if your communications officer is ready."


    Jesse nodded and turned back into the cabin area.  Though he had expected most of his soldiers to be asleep due to the amount of running they had to do, most were awake with nervous looks plastered across their faces.  He could understand, since most of their hometowns were from Deling City, and they were worried about the people who lived there, and what would happen if they weren't able to give out the warning in time.  


    Walking over to Icelina, who was sitting in one of the passenger's seats, tapping her fingers against the arm rest in an anxious and impatient state.  She looked up to Jesse, her blonde hair falling into her eyes.   "Can I try for Timber again?  We're within the range, right?"


    "Yeah, he says were only a half click away.  You should probably be able to access their McCord Air Force Base, because that's right on the coast.  You tell them to radio into Deling, since they have a more powerful transmitter."


    "Roger that."  Icelina replied, then activated the radio equipment once again.  "Attention any Timber military base.  This is the Galbadian cruiser, the Defiance.  Please reply."


   After a few repeats of her message, she was shocked and relieved to get a reply.  "This is McCord Air Base.   Go ahead, Defiance."


   "Galbadia is under attack!  Esthar and Helios have launched a massive naval and air force against Deling City, ETA to their touchdown is... " She flipped her wrist up and looked at her watch.  "....exactly half an hour.  Our transmitter is weak and we can't reach them from where we are and we'll be too late to warn them ourselves.   You need to contact Deling to have them set up defenses, and call in Dollet to send over their nearest platoons or squadrons. Send in any of your reserve troops as well.  Do you understand?"


   "Copy that, Defiance.  I will forward the message immediately.  I'm sure we can spare some troops that are on patrol on the Galbadia-Timber border.  Good luck." 


   Icelina and the other Excalibur soldiers breathed a sigh of relief as they heard that.  Hopefully, Deling would be able to get all of their defense measures operational by that time, and that Dollet and Timber would send in their relief platoons as fast and they could.  Still, Helios and Esthar unfortunately had the element of surprise more or less.  It would take a quick mind to get all of the Deling Forces massed together for a large scale defense.  The chance of victory was slim.


   "So what do we do now, Almasy?"  Aaron asked, crossing his arms with a frown. 


   "We pray that Raine and the others found a way to stop them before they could reach the borders.  If not, then we're going to find ourselves in a whole mess of fighting as soon as we get off of this boat.  I'd ready your weapons and psyche yourselves up.  If she didn't get there in time to stop the launch, then we've got to support the defense squads as best we can."

Chapter 20

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