Dark Flo had rushed onto the bridge and snogged Beryl passionately whilst the aviatrix struggled to steer a straight line. She had gently fended off hugs and overly enthusiastic greetings from Phoebles and was now perched on the chart table swinging her bare legs and clutching a pint mug of cocoa generously laced with Havana Club Añejo 7 Años rum. Her heavy Bergen lay at her feet.
“Overnight bag?” enquired Boz.
“Just the usual; Ninja kit, wing suit, knickers and toothbrush.”
“So, what’s the news?” asked Ginsbergbear.
“Well, Slasher’s not coming along on this jolly. He’s up to something, but he was being cagey. No change there. The Pirate plan is still to go for a full on frontal assault. Could get messy. I’m hoping we’ll all get some clarification from Captain Blenkinsopp pretty soon.”
Ginsbergbear tamped down on the contents of his Peterson, “bags of material for an epic poem then, if any of us comes through this.”
As the fleet approached Point Corbiére the lateral hangar doors midships on each side of Queen Anne’s Bounty rolled back and out swung the formidable speaker banks of a panning quadraphonic sound system acquired for a knock down price at the end of Pink Floyd’s 1994 World Tour. There was a whip crack as the airship’s two sable battle ensigns unfurled, thirty by fifty feet each, emblazoned with Rotskagg’s scarlet papal death’s head. The Flying Dutchman Overture boomed out across the welkin, bass notes rattling the aluminium girders on the Lady Æthelflæda. Oversized Jolly Rogers began to flutter from every craft in the armada – except the Inchcolm Lassie whose soot stained Saltire wafted bravely at her stern. The doughty Scott could also be distinguished by the designation PC(R)-1, for Puffer Clyde (Rocket), stencilled in fresh white paint on her bow.
“We’d better break out Larry’s Black St George ensign,” said Boz. The Autonomous Federated Counties had adopted the red cross of St George bordered in white on a black ground. “…the big one.” He added as Phoebles lunged for the flag locker.
For the first time in the trip the VHS radio crackled into life.
“Wind up the rubber bands me hearties. Once round the headland and we be going in full pelt. Pick your targets and fire at will.” Pulsing flames burst from The Queen Anne’s VRDK motorjets as the afterburners kicked in and she surged ahead.
Boz rang ‘Full Ahead Everything’ on the telegraph.
Beyond Noirmont Point the US battleships Arizona and Texas came into view anchored outside St Aubin’s Bay, ominous, skua-grey, with their main 14-inch guns slowly swinging round to target the corsairs. Pink Floyd’s gargantuan boom box switched over to Mars from the Planet Suite with the Berlin Philharmonic at the same time as The Destroyer of Worlds shot through the fleet, trailing a bilious smog and spitting fire, skimming just above the waves out ahead of the rest, arrow-straight for the dreadful warships. A few ragged rounds from the USS Texas straddled her and then, still at full throttle, the Destroyer of Worlds fired all six of her 18.1-inch guns simultaneously. There was a thunderous roar, guttering flame and billowing smoke. The majestic ekranoplan stopped dead in mid air, shot several yards backwards and dropped onto the sea. Rivets popped along the length of her fuselage, her jets spluttered and sparked. A hatch opened and several corsairs staggered out onto the starboard wing, bleeding from their ears and vomiting. There was a whining howl as the giant shells arced through the air, plumes of water as they fell harmlessly into the sea, and a fireball accompanied by a shuddering blast as a lone round exploded into a forward gun turret on the Texas. Queen Anne’s Bounty zoomed over the crippled Destroyer of Worlds and opened fire into the USS Arizona, who had slipped her anchor chains and was beginning to manoeuvre astern whilst firing sporadically from several of her five-inch guns.
Boz clicked on the shipwide Tannoy, “OK chaps, our turn. We’ll finish off the Texas, go in hard with the QF 6 Pounders, and then give them the big-bore F-off stern chasers on the way out.” He turned to Beryl, “Take us in over that wrecked turret, foredeck’s pretty much out of action. We’ll blast the bridge and radio-room.”