There were only ten of them left; but separated as they were, the enemy would pick them up one by one. The only thing in their favour was the fog. They wore special specs developed by Dr. Greyson, which allowed them to see better. But it wouldn’t make a bit of a difference soon as they boarded the ship. They had to regroup; the Commander called an order and they stepped back. They all knew they had to get together and offer a common front. But how long could they hold? There were ten of them against another fifty of them. And their ammunitions were running low.
“Captain?” One of the soldier nearby asked.
“We follow the Commander’s order; step back, keep them in your line of sight. Reinforcement will come.”
It was becoming more unlikely by the minute; they might as well all die here. What a shame really. After surviving three years of war, they would die miles away from home. That really would be the most idiotic end ever. But one didn’t decide when the time was come. Captain Carlington knew that as well as any other navy officer. But the Captain also knew that if they were to die here, someone had to blow up the ship. Its content couldn’t fall in enemy hands.
Eventually there were two groups of five soldiers; back to back they constituted two circles and turned; it allowed them to alway know where the enemy was and to allow a saving of ammunitions. But even that wouldn’t last long. They had to count every bullet; the enemy didn’t seem to care. They were wasting them in the fog as it were, something they must be grateful for. But if it were to rain… Still some bullets came disturbingly close.
“SHIT! I’m hit.”
One of the soldiers swore; not loud enough to divulge their position. Still as they fell, Captain Carlington knew their odds of surviving were getting slimmer. Bummer! She’d hoped to be home tonight.
They heard the sound of the steam engines before they saw them – not surprising. The zeppelins flew over the ship in moments. Friend or foe? Belinda Carlington raised her shield. She didn’t want to die from the machine guns she knew were set on the zeppelins. But when they fired, it was at their invisible enemy. Screams reached them, as a rope ladder fell from the hovering flying engines. The Commander called.
“Captain, get your soldiers up.”
She ordered the soldiers up; last the wounded one.
“Where did the bullet hit?”
“My shoulder Captain.”
“Can you climb?”
“I sure as hell can Ma’am.”
She raised an eyebrow. She didn’t accept useless boasting. A man who couldn’t identify whether he was overdoing it was a liability.
“I swear Captain. I wouldn’t lie.”
She nodded. And she helped the man up. It was slow but he pulled himself up.
“Captain, are they all up?”
“All but one and myself Sir.”
She looked over; the other group had gone up another ladder. Only she and the Commander remained on board.
“You get up there Captain.”
“Sir, there is no need for that.”
“Captain you know our cargo.”
She did but damn it! She wasn’t going to leave the Commander alone in this wretched weather. It would be at least a day before a steamer reached the place and pulled the ship to port. She crossed to where he stood. His left arm hung limp. He’d been shot. He couldn’t get up.
She knew they couldn’t bring it up in the zeppelin. If anyone unauthorized learned of what they carried, they would be dead before their superior could see it. And the Commander wouldn’t make it up.
“I’m staying with you Sir.”
“The hell you are Captain. I need you to ensure the steamer comes as fast as possible and with only the appropriate people in it.”
She almost refused but she wasn’t in the habit of disobeying her Commander’s orders.
“Belinda.” His tone was stern. But an undercurrent of something else ran in it. She met his gaze. “You know this is the right and necessary thing to do.”
“Get that steamer and Lord Lancashire. I trust you.”
“And if you see her, tell Alice I’ll see her tomorrow.”
She nodded and saluted. With that, she seized the ladder and pulled on the side. She started going up and the zeppelin flew away. Within moments, she lost sight of her brother. Jonathan would be fine. But he was right; no one could know about the machine they’d found on the Givry vessel in the Green straits. They had no idea what it was. Their engineer couldn’t figure out. Maybe Lancashire and his engineers would know. Her duty was to bring it back to the mother land and ensure Her Majesty’s government could discover its use and destroy it if it were too dangerous.
Still she would feel better when her brother was ashore with them and not in the middle of the straits, stuck in a no man’s land where pirates could find him before the steamer came back. As it happened a steamer was ready by the time they reached the city of Haverne. She cabled Lancashire from the zeppelin. And they were back in five hours. Their superior was concerned about the machine. It looked like it could power an engine much bigger than the zeppelin and no-one had ever managed to build a steam engine that big. The rest was out of their hands. They’d fulfilled their mission. Now to home and a doctor to ensure Jonathan didn’t lose the use of his arms. They might be called to serve again sooner than later.
In response to Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie Tale weaver prompt Free form