Post by Invictus on Aug 22, 2015 2:24:11 GMT -5
The Eastern Sea, Approaching Fairhaven Island, 27th of Aestus
The air began to frantically thunder as rifles cracked from all directions, releasing their projectiles and filling the air with a thick smoke.
“Julianos! Look left!” cried Titus, falling to his knees behind the starboard side deck’s railing, narrowly avoiding a metallic round which struck the hull behind him.
The furious giant, as well as several other marines of the vanguard jumped to attention and peered through the fog, spotting not only one, but two enemy airships suited for war closing in on both sides of the Tessonic.
“By the Maker, they’ll have us surrounded!” cried out an Ardrean marine, panicking amid the chaos.
“Don’t waver! We focus on the frigate at hand! Duck and volley just like we’ve practiced, marines!” cried Commander Despos, patrolling the starboard side of the Tessonic, sabre in hand.
Nodding to himself and those around him, Titus fell into position behind the railing and quickly began the process. Deep breath. Exhale. Preparation. Load powder into firearm. Check. Deep breath. Exhale. Load ammun-
His process was suddenly and violently interrupted as the marine adjacent to him let out a blood-curdling scream before collapsing onto the deck in front of him.
“We’ve no time to help the fallen! FIRE!” cried the hardened Ardrean commander of the elite aerial soldiers.
Load ammunition from belt. Check. Deep breath. Exhale. Load weapon…
The foreigner jumped suddenly to his feet, weapon at the ready as his neighbor fell back to cover behind the ship’s durable frame. Slightly peaking his eyes just above the railing, he spotted his target: the gruff-looking black-bearded one. The one that looked like a pirate from Invictian legend. Aim. Fire. As soon as the shot was fired, the young marine had fallen back to his position of safety. It almost looked as he had hit his mark, but perhaps it was simply optimistic imagination. Indeed, it had hardly been over a month since he had even learned to use the foreign Ardrean rifle.
The rhythmic dance of firing and covering with his neighbors had continued for a time, each neighbor alternating in opposite to his neighbor. The stench of powder dominated the air all around, and Titus’s eyes began to water from irritation. How many had fallen thus far? Four? Five? He couldn’t tell; his vision so obscured by the gray fog.
“d**n the Maker, where are those canoneer-“ Despos attempted.
The cannons aboard had at last been manned, propelling their shrapnel at the adjacent vessel. A horrible crunching sound deafened the marines as the iron ball struck the iron-sided ship, partially penetrating the exterior and sending splinters scattering into the sea below.
“W-why aren’t they firing their cannons at us, sir?” Pavos the marine called out to his superior.
Yes... why not? Interesting...
“Doesn’t matter,” the older veteran dismissed as he squinted at the vessel in the distance. “Keep up the fire, boy!”
The dance continued for some time; occasionally an Ardrean or allied belligerent would fall to the floor wailing, their agonized shrieks drowned out only by the fury of firearms and crash of cannons. This particular tactic couldn’t continue for too much longer, however. Something had to give.
A strange sound in the fray, before a sudden crunching sound digging into the railing behind the cowering marines. Titus dodged to his right as an audible snapping sound struck next to his left ear. He quickly turned to look, only to find the end claw of a grappling hook embedded well into the Tessonic’s frame.
“They’re boarding us! Prepare to repel!” Despos wailed, raising his standard sabre.
“Hope that fancy Invictian fence-work comes in handy today, Tito!” called out an obviously nervous Julianos. The brute still hadn’t got his name down yet, but it didn’t matter anymore. It was the moment of truth. He stood quickly to his feet, removing his sabre from its sheath and moving into a defensive pose next to his brothers. As the Aengmirians pulled, the foreign warship edged ever closer to the Tessonic. Some attempted to pull at the hooks as other continued to fire on the invaders in vain; both to little avail.
“Parry defensive formation! Form semi-circle!”
The marines did just that as the hated enemies arose from cover, leaping like lemurs from hell; falling from the overhead position above. Sword in hand, one descended upon Titus, who quickly moved his blade horizontally to deflect the harsh blow. Unexpectedly, the perception of time around him began to slow, and everything in the environment with the exception of his new sparring partner faded away. As the seconds became milliseconds, he studied everything he could about the man in front of him; his odd-colored uniform, his foreign features, and, most importantly, his technique.
More sword-wielding Aegnmirians descended upon the starboard side, but Titus was focused on dancing with the first sea-soldier to offend him. The Invictian attempted to jab and stab, but to no success. The enemy seemed to anticipate every move before. Perhaps the Aengmirians really knew quite well the Ardrean technique. It was a good thing that Titus knew the Invictian technique, however…
Dropping to his feet in a sudden crouch like position, he slid his hand down as his pant leg, quickly drawing from it his hidden dagger that he had practiced with so many times before. He took the accursed Red Blade of the Dead God and jabbed it right into the puzzled pirate’s gut. Taking the opportunity of the sudden shock to his advantage, he removed the razor, before quickly planting it again directly in the foreigner’s eye, producing the most horrible cry that the rogue had heard yet. Horrified, but pumped full of adrenaline, he removed the blade again, using it once more to ensure the unfortunate soldier’s death by a quick severing of the brain stem.
As his head began to spin less, sound and vision of the greater world around him seemed to return, and he quickly rushed to help his comrades around him. As the panic began to wear off somewhat, he turned to see Julianos the Slayer slinging his sword through the enemy as if cutting like a knife through butter. The beast seemed to be handling himself quite well except for the gash across his cheek, but not well enough…
“Look out, you stubborn oaf!” warned Titus, quickly maneuvering his sabre to deprive an approaching Aengmirian of his sword hand. “Never expose your flank like that!”
“Heh,” replied the northerner, killing the last victim in front of him. “We can’t all prance around as fancily as you!”
The melee continued for a time, before at last it seemed as if the balance of power had shifted in the defenders’ favor. Beginning to panic, the demoralized attackers wavered, looking for a possible escape. Good. Now was the time to push forward. Quite literally.
Aengmirians by the dozens began to be violently thrown overboard, either by their own action, or with the help of a marine. Titus watched as the wailing banshees crashed into the water below, unsure if the fall was fatal or not. Even so, weighed down by fatigue and heavy clothing, it was safe to say that they were finished.
The crew took a moment to catch their breaths, some warriors coughing violently due to the suffocating smoke. Titus did a quick survey around him. There had indeed been quite a few skyship marine casualties. The wounded and dying tossed around and bled onto the deck; puddles of sanguine blood began to flood all around the port side. The marines around him appeared to be covered in soot and marked with fear. But they had done it.
“Brothers!” cried out a wounded marine, a deep gash in his chest hindering him as he hobbled over to the defenders from the direction of the front of the airship. “Brothers… we couldn’t hold the port side! Commander Orlaval is dead! The bastards got through! AGH!” the dying crewman managed to spit out before collapsing into the accumulating blood puddle below him.
It was then that Titus’s Solisthine training activated in his mind, demanding that he take control of the desperate situation around him.
“Shit! We need to get to the bridge. Now!”
“What about Commander Despos?! You’re not our leader!” shouted out Amius the Invictian, his hands covered in enemy blood.
Despos! Where was the commander amidst this chaos? Titus, along with his comrades in arms, began to scan the battle scene around them. At last, he spotted the gray-haired head of the marines rolling in agony on deck, just feet away; concealed by a few other war dead next to him.
“Commander!” Pavos cried out as the skyship survivors looked on at their fallen leader, blood spurting from his mouth.
“The Commander is down! We have no time! If these bastards take the bridge, it’s all over! LET’S GO!” Titus ordered, collecting himself and leading the charge toward the helm. The others followed in suit...