The Fontaine floated through the flames as Captain Darmoth stood at the helm. He looked across the roiling fires ahead, seeing the shadows flicker on the islands to either side.

“Captain!”

Darmoth looked down, over the rail in front of him, to see his First Mate, Daniel Gaird waving to him. Every feature of his face screamed panic.

The captain looked over his shoulder and motioned for another of the sailors to take the helm. The islands were far out of the way, so he could afford to leave his post.

He ran down the stairs to the deck, where Mr. Gaird was waiting for him.

The First Mate pointed off to the right of the ship, fear in his eyes. “They’ve followed us in, Sir.”

Darmoth squinted his eyes, struggling against the glare of the Fire-Sea. In the distance, floating through the ocean of flame, Darmoth saw the distinctive shape on a Tallion ship. “Damn it! I thought they’d stay out of the islands.”

The captain moved closer to the rail. Pulling his spyglass from his pocket, he placed the eyepiece to his eye. The lens focussed automatically, the electrical components within whirring and buzzing as the ship came into focus.

Through the lens, Darmoth could clearly see the name on the ship’s bow. The Gaer.

He turned to Gaird. “Get the men ready. We’ve got a fight on our hands.”

The First Mate nodded, turned away from the captain and began issuing orders to all men within earshot. “Everyone to battle stations! Man the weapons!”

A chorus of Yes, Sir erupted across the deck as men hurried to their posts, grabbing a multitude of weapons.

 

Darmoth focussed on his own goal; an experimental pulse weapon hidden in his cabin.

When he had left the orbiting ship above to captain the Fontaine, he had been given the weapon as backup. The Tallions were liable to destroy any Earth forces they came into contact with, so some insurance was necessary.

Reaching his cabin door, he pushed it open, and stepped inside.

His cabin was a mess; papers and charts strewn across the floor. Ornaments lay scattered, and splinters of wood stuck out from the wall.

He walked to the cabinet hanging on the wall, and pressed his hand on the surface. A soft buzz came from within, then the latch clicked. He pulled the front open, revealing the metal cylinder that could be their salvation. A bundle of cloth lay beside it, which he knew contained the charges for the weapon. He picked up the charges and placed them in one pocket, storing the weapon in the other.

Closing the cabinet again, he returned to deck. Looking over the edge, his brow creased into as frown. The Gaer had made up more ground than it should. He sighed, and turned to observe the rest of the deck.

All the main cannons were manned, with a few of the smaller ones left as backup.

A voice came from one of the cannons. “Enemy in range, Sir!”

Darmoth raised one hand to the sky, then brought it down in a single, fluid movement.

The sound of energy being shot from the weapons on board was deafening. As the blasts neared the ship, Darmoth held his breath.

The blasts hit. Thick smog of dissipating energy covered the shape of the Gaer. As the strong winds and intense heat worked away at the smog, a blue flickering could be seen beyond.

Darmoth slammed a fist onto the railing. The shields keeping the Gaer from the flames stopped the blasts in their tracks.

Sighing, he pulled the cylinder from his pocket, then a charge from the other. Running his thumb along the length of the cylinder, he pushed open a space in the side.

He pushed the charge through the gap, heard it click into place, then closed the cover.

Looking to the rear of the cylinder, he spotted the small red button designed to act as the trigger.

He pointed the weapon toward the Gaer, took a deep breath, and pressed the trigger.

There was silence for a few moments before Darmoth finally lowered the weapon with a heavy heart, and replaced it in his pocket.

Taking a deep breath, he turned to his crew. “Cease firing!”

The men looked at him with confusion in their eyes.

He shook his head. “We can’t get through their shields. Save the energy. If we get through this, we might need it later.”

The men looked to one another, then shrugged and abandoned their weapons. Darmoth saw many of them pull out small energy-pistols from their coat, others holding to the traditional edged weapons.

As the ship neared, Darmoth pulled out his own sword, flicked the switch on the hilt and felt the surge of energy run the length of the blade.

As the Gaer moved closer, a click came from Darmoth’s pocket.

He paused for a moment, confused, before the realisation hit him. Reaching into his pocket, he wrenched the cylinder out, fumbling one-handed, trying to turn it toward the Gaer

Before he could, however, the weapon fired.

The shot blasted downward, through the decks of the ship.

The subtle flicker of the ship’s shield vanished, and a wall of heat slammed into Darmoth.

Smoke billowed through the hole in the decks, a horrible sight; the lower decks had ignited.

The men rushed around, disbelief painted in their features.

A blast struck the starboard side, sending men and metal flying.

The Gaer pulled up alongside the burning remains of the Fontaine, her captain standing smug and proud by her rails.

He stepped onto the railing, grasping a hanging rope for balance. “Did you really think we’d let you get away?” He smiled. “We have a score to settle.”

Reaching into the inside of his coat, he pulled out an energy pistol.

He pointed the barrel at Darmoth, and fired.

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