“With Les Chats Souterrains against us I can’t access the Analytical Engine.”
“Huh!” Rotskagg was staring into his empty glass. “Your thinking machine hasn’t exactly proven itself to be indispensible so far. There be more pressing matters. This conflict be stagnating. There be stalemate in the west. The Résistance be holding out against the Corporate ground forces who be overstretched and short of supplies, but we be not pushing them back. We still do not control the aerodrome and for now Fluffy is out of reach. If the fighting drags on others will get involved. We can’t take the Yanks head on.
“They already have clandestine special forces operating here in Jersey’s dark heart,” added Mother Superior.
Boz sighed. “It didn’t seem this complicated when we set out. I wish…”
“Sod this,” said Kiki, “let’s just get in there and kick ass.”
Consuella gave her a stern look, which was ignored.
The airship’s first mate burst into the cabin.
“We be approaching the stockade, skipper, but there’s something up. Lookout thinks he can hear gunfire.”
“That’s more like it,” roared Rotskagg. “Call all hands to action stations. Run out the guns. Launch armed scouts 2 and 6. We’ll work round and come in from down wind.
“Looks like you’ll get your wish Kiki, mon brave. Kit up young Flo. And here…” he casually tossed a Tokarev SVT-40 snipers rifle in the direction of Augusta King, “if it’s troops we’re up against, lass, take out anything looks like an officer.” She caught the weapon instinctively and checked the magazine. “Every one to the command deck.”
As the Queen Anne’s Bounty crept, as silently as could be contrived, to within view of the Corsair camp it was obvious that an attack was in progress. There was heavy small arms fire coming from the undergrowth along the edge of the woods and the pirates behind the stockade were shooting back sporadically. Within the clearing a cluster of corpses gave testament to a failed assault on the main gate.
Generalisimo Starcluster tweaked the focus on the airship’s pod mounted brass BBT Krauss 12×72 Battleship binoculars. “Those bodies look like Captain Midlands’ renegades.”
“Starboard gun crews, target the tree line. Three rounds each.” Captain Rotskagg Blenkinsopp turned from the ship’s intercom and picked up the VHS microphone, “Scouts, as soon as the shelling stops commence strafing run.”
Augusta opened a window and poked out her sniper’s rifle.
“Anyone runs out of the woods, your ladyship, terminate ‘em.”
The thunder of Queen Anne’s artillery shook the vessel from stern to stem. The Kittens clustered excitedly around the bridge windows, Phoebles’ heart pounded, and Boz stood resolute, stony, silent.
The forest erupted in fire and smoke as vegetation and earth were thrown upwards and outwards. Then the ornithopter scouts went in, tearing into the foliage with their 50 calibre machine guns. The first run met with a smattering of returned fire, but when the warbirds ripped a second stream of tracer into the renegade’s positions they met no opposition.
“Take her in Smee.” Rotskagg turned on the Tannoy. “Open all hangar doors. Cutlasses men. Deploy as soon as we touch down.”
The Queen Anne shuddered slightly as she came to earth and a mighty roar went up as the corsairs, and Kittens, fanned out across the clearing led by their captain, falchion bladed cutlass in one hand, Uzi Pro 9mm in the other and smouldering tapers knotted into his ginger beard.
Feeling a little left behind Boz and the gang stepped out from the dirigible. They clustered indecisively. The pirates were disappearing away into the woods, with Consuella and Flo racing to catch up, the stockade was some distance off and suddenly, glaring at them from only yards away at the boundary to the forest, was a menacing figure clad in nothing but tattoos and a US Army issue hard hat, wielding a gore stained Indonesian Golok Machete.