The sonar operator would be able to see that there were several dozen dots appearing and disappearing, essentially swarming in from the open sea and towards the port and sinking vessels. They certainly were too big to be divers, and far too numerous and fast. A few peeled off from the packs and approached the submarine. For the those looking through portholes, a few glimpses of tentacles or pink flesh could be visible as something darted by quickly. Any proximity alarms would possibly detect a few creatures making contact with the hull, and for the divers in the House, they would certainly be able to see squids that were just a bit bigger than a man encircling the vessel. They seemed curious, mostly, as they swam around the sub and occasionally attached themselves to it.
One of the squids swam right up to the House. An eye the size of a dinner plate peered into the porthole at the divers inside, and it actually seemed to look at several of the humans within with a... strange sense of intelligence. It made a strange warbling sound and then its tentacles began smashing at the portholes violently, followed by several more squid rushing in to assault the House. At the right angle, their beaks could be seen - knife sharp and large enough to punch a hole through a man easily.
Two more torpedoes were launched at the remaining escort approaching the [i]Zuflucht[/i]. The spread was excellent, and while one missile streaked passed and continued on into the bay, the other was impossible to avoid and it exploded against the armored prow of the ship. The entire vessel lurched from the heavy hit and the engines immediately ceased, causing the ship to flounder in the waves. As the hit was below the water line, the escort started to list towards the bow as water rushed in but lack of further sinking seemed to show that the bulkheads had been lowered to prevent further water from entering. Any sailors trapped in those sections below deck were doomed to drown.
The escort didn't raise a white flag, but they also ceased firing. Sailors scrambled about the bow of the ship, pumping water out of the ship and onto the fire that had erupted.
The rounds fired erupted around and against the escort shortly after it had been struck by the torpedo. At this range the aim was true, and the turret's shells exploded against the starboard side of the ship's castle and bridge. A mortar shell exploded directly against the deck on the stern, tearing down the rear mast and a light deck gun. A few sailors were in the blast range and two men were seen being thrown overboard from the blast, while the others disappeared from view - dead or severely injured. Three sailors could be seen descending rapidly from the bridge, which was smoking, and they were waving their hands at the [i]Mariner's Boon[/i].
[quote] Revenant, this is Admiral Dobbs of the Dawnbreaker. We have disabled one of the escort ships and they have raised a white flag in surrender. They look in need of aid as their ship is on fire and slowly sinking. We will move to engage the cruiser (C-2) but what do we do about the men on the escort? [/quote]
The flagship's radio operator crackled over the comms - "Continue engagement doctrine until battle is concluded, then provide aid after the engagement as you see fit."
The remaining cruiser took several more hits from the guns of the [i]Dawnbreaker[/i], and to crew's pleasant surprise, the cruiser struck their colors and rose a white flag despite suffering only light to moderate damage. It was clear at this point that the battle was nearing its end - there was only one remaining escort left besides the cruiser. Everything else had been sunk, or was severely damaged. A few moments later, the last escort near the [i]Revenant[/i] also rose a white flag in surrender shortly after the cruiser had.
[b]The battle had been won, with few casualties for the Mannfred Fleet![/b]
The escort on fire near the [i]Dawnbreaker[/i] was in poor shape and seemed on the verge of going under, fire still blossoming out from sections of the ship. Dozens of men were already in the water, some swimming away to avoid the ship in case the magazines detonated or the ship rolled over onto them. With the amount of life vests appearing around the sailors, it was clear they recognized their ship was sinking. A small, secondary explosion erupted near the stern of the ship and rocked the vessel. An engine room detonation, it appeared. Greasy smoke poured out of the rear portholes and several sailors suddenly could be seen pulling themselves out of them, two of which were on fire and they frantically dove into the sea with their arms flailing. Others slipped and tumbled into the rough water around the ship as it was battered by the waves.
The distance between the heavy cruiser and escort was small, and the men could easily be seen at this range. For Dobbs, the bridge crew, and any sailors with a visual on the escort, they would be able to see small glimpses of pink swimming beneath the surface of the water and towards the sailors that were overboard. To the untrained eye, it seemed that one or two men had sunken under water because they had lost their strength, but in reality it became quickly apparent that they were [i]pulled under[/i]. Sailors began screaming and thrashing in the water, swimming back towards the sinking escort as squids began appearing on the water. Tentacles snaked up out of the water and began grabbing at the men, pulling at them. Some squids surfaced and visibly attached themselves to the sailors in the water, their beaks cleaving into the soft human bodies as blood began to stain the waves around them. Rifles and pistols were fired into the water by some of the men on the deck of the escort in an effort to kill the squids or scare them off, but the sea creatures were violent and tenacious. Several made for the ship and began attacking in, though their beaks and arms couldn't penetrate steel. Still - several men who were crawling back up the side of the ship were mercilessly pulled back into the water by powerful tentacles. The screams of panicked sailors was as loud as the blaze coming from the ship. Those trapped in the water tried to fight back with daggers and sharp pieces of wood, but it was a grim picture.
The massive repair ship was not an easy beast to move, but the sudden hard turn to starboard spared the vessel from being hit by the torpedoes. However, the maneuver bled most of the ship's speed and caused the engines to overwork themselves, triggering a momentary stall as the bow was turned towards the now stopped escort. The ship's hull could be heard creaking and rumbling, though thankfully this was not from damage and just temporary stress. With that in mind, any rapid and quick movements to return the ship to the prior heading moving towards the [i]Eisenstrasse[/i] would likely put more undue strain on the engines after the sudden evasive move.
"Squids! Squids!" The panicked call went out on the port authority vessel, causing a commotion to break out as men with guns rushed to the side of the ship. A few rifles cracked out, but the men of the airship likely had a hard time seeing the occasional glimpse of pink flesh lurking beneath the surface of the water. Diablo sailors were shouting and yelling, throwing ropes and netting over the side of the ship as everyone of their sailors in the water rushed back to climb their way back on board. Repair crews on the side of the ship began pulling themselves up as well.
Then the first squid appeared. It leapt out of the water and grabbed a sailor directly off of the plank he was sitting on against the side of the ship. The man beside him began attacking the beast with a hammer, and soon there was a tangle of limbs and tentacles as man fought beast. Small arms fire picked up as everyone not fighting fires diverted their full attention to fending off the sudden squid attack. It was a terrible site to see men swimming in the water, only for them to completely disappear as squids pulled them beneath the waves without warning. A cruel tug of war erupted as two sailors tried to pull another up out of the water, but one of his arms was coiled in pink as a squid's tentacles were wrapping around him. A burly sailor with an ax appeared, and instead of cutting away at the dozen's of rough, rubbery tentacles, he hacked away at the sailor's arm. The man shrieked but shortly went unconscious as his arm was amputated to prevent him from being pulled into the water.
Krantz and the others observed the carnage growing below as the squids attacked those that were in the water. So that was why the Admiral didn't want them to go into the water. Man eating squids. Disgusting. "Continue rescue efforts. For both the men and the vessels. Permission is granted to use the zeppelin's machine guns on the squids. Maybe we can drive some of the squids off." he stated. von Strauss, whom had returned from tending to other duties involving the crew, saluted and issued the order via intercom to use the [I]Eisenstrasse's[/I] lighter defensive weapons. Moments later, the machine guns scattered across the underside of the massive airship, which were meant to shoot at infantry and lightly armored aircraft, would begin to sound off.
"I WANT MACHINE GUN FIRE ON THOSE GOD FORSAKEN SQUIDS! [I]SCHNELL![/I] [B][I]SCHNELL![/I][/B]" shouted Váradi, barking orders to the other troopers that were still on the airship. As more men decended to assist on the deck of the ship, the storm troopers aboard the airship set up in places where they could fire down at the water and began to open fire on the squids that they could spot. Bursts of man-based light machine gun fire rained down, attempting to kill or at least draw the squids off the sailors and soldiers that were still alive in the waters.
From a distance, it sounded almost as if a miniature war had started just beneath the [I]Eisenstrasse[/I].
Sounds of screws being drilled and hammers banging nails replaced the cacophony of cannons and explosions. A repair crew inmediatley set to repair the more vital parts of the Mariner’s Boon to keep the ship intact until the order would be given to dock next to the Zuflucht. [I]If[/i] the order was given anyway. Bennett oversaw the repairs and inspected the damage on the outside until he noticed something off in the distance.
Something was going on with the Eisenstrasse. Tentacles, larger than men, bursted out of the water and were dragging sailors under the waves.
“What the fuck...” Bennett muttered to himself.
He sped towards the bridge, knocking inelegantly on the door.
“Captain, it’s Bennett! There's a bunch of angry squids in the water! They're swarming anyone overboard!”
Jäger cursed as the squids slammed their beaks and tentacles against the armored hull. "Integrity?" Högborg shook his head. "These creatures are large but they're not strong enough to damage the hull."
Outside the divers opened fire. Armed with 7mm underwater submachineguns firing metal darts designed to rupture diving suits, oxygen tanks and air tubes their weapons did not have any lasting effects on the larger squids.
One of the divers grabbed a harpoon rifle and fired it, sending a harpoon right into the mouth of a squid trying to get in through one of the portholes. In the back the squad leader was busy pressing a button next to the airlock hatch. When pressed the button would relay a signal to the bridge, allowing the divers to communicate through morsecode.
The comms officer on the bridge looked up. "Sir, divers are requesting that we surface immeadiately." Before Jäger could respond one of the more curious squids managed to get itself sucked into one of the engine turbines, shaking the ship and causing an alarm to sound.
"Engine two failure! Something is blocking the turbine!" Yelled Fyrgårdh across the intercom.
Cursing yet again Jäger looked at Helmsman Smedberg. "Take us up near the fleet. I believe that the Mariner's Boon is closest to us. Make sure we don't surface too fast." He turned towards the comms officer. "Tell the divers to retreat back into the airlock now. Send a message to Marine Officer Kahleen as well, she needs to grab some men and get out up top once we've surfaced."
Quickly the orders were carried out. Inside the House a green light blinked in morse, prompting the squad leader to do several hand gestures. Soon enough the divers disengaged and retreated into the airlock.
Meanwhime the Blixtvåg began it's ascent for, hopefully, safer waters. As the ship slowly rose up from the depths messages were also sent to two allied vessels.
TO: MARINER'S BOON
FROM: NECS BLIXTVÅG
Resurfacing in progress STOP
Requesting armed support STOP
Squids attacking STOP
FROM: NECS BLIXTVÅG
Possible repairs needed STOP
Squid inside turbine STOP
Evaluation in progress STOP
Tobey looked through his binoculars towards the commotion at the Port police vessels as squids began attacking them.
He then heard Bennett knocking on the door and heard the message that came through from the signal room that the Blixtvåg would be surfacing nearby, and needed help with their own share of the tentacled menace.
After opening the door for Bennett he went to retreive a revolver from his desk and sounded the alarm.
He looked at Bennett, "I want everyone at the ready. And be careful along the rails."
A tired klaxon began ringing across the deck and the sailors who were not occupied began scrambling for the nearest crate of axes and spears. Those who could decended into the armory to grab some of the available firearms.
Emerging onto the upper deck, Tobey blew a whistle to get Norrys' attention, "The submarine will be surfacing close by! I want these squids dispatched as soon as you lay eyes on them!"
Norrys nodded and turned to his men, whom after a quick briefing began fanning out along the railings on the port side with their guns at the ready.
A murky dark shape appeared not far from the Mariner's Boon. At first water seemed to be pulled down but then it suddenly shot out and turned into white foam as the Blixtvåg surfaced.
Quickly depressurizing the vessel's alarm echoed across the water while red squids still clinged to the ship.
A large group of them were still trying to bite their way into the House while others were scattered across the hull. Sticking out from one of the turbines were several tentacles and a mass of mushed pink meat, the remains of the squid which got pulled into the engine turbine.
Ontop of the bridge four portholes opened to reveal the barrels of rifles poking out. At the same time Kahleen, followed by a cadre of marines appeared at the top of the hull.
Sari saluted towards Norrys and his men before signaling her own soldiers to engage the squids.
One by one the marines kneeled before firing a salvo at two unlucky squids. Meanwhile the porthole riflemen engaged as well, with two rifles engaging the squids ontop of the House.
The Pathfinder relays a radio message to the [I]Reverent[/I]
"Admiral, This is Captain Travis Warren of [I]Pathfinder[/I]. sorry for not breaking radio silence sooner. we're on our way to assist picking up any overboard crewmen from any of the ships. Please advise of the course of our direction, over"
Bennett himself nabbed a Winchester rifle and a bowie knife from the armory, readying himself to face the squids. Norrys and his men were at the ready, though now they were joined by Bennett.
"Oi, Norrys!" he yelled loudly to get his attention. "Be sure to have your men stay far way from the rails or else they're squid food!" He then took his place next to two mercenaries by the center of the port side.
"So, how do you like your squid served?" he jovially asked one of them.
The scene was horrifying to Dobbs. Those sailors being dragged to the depths by these monsters. Blood in the water. Men screaming for their lives. SOMETHING had to be done. Dobbs turned on the intercom:
[QUOTE]Commander Wollisfend, get your marines on deck immediately. Fire on those squids attacking the sailors down below! Loading bay, get the patrol skiffs out and try to get the sailors on that sinking escort on board. Need personnel on deck immediately, bring ropes.[/QUOTE]
Dobbs made his way onto the main deck, in time to see marines and sailors alike of the [I]Dawnbreaker[/I] head out onto the deck. Some men had shocked looks on their faces as they saw the scene unfold below. One even threw up at the carnage taking place in the waters below. Wollisfend soon showed up with his own pistol and looked shocked at the scene below.
"I didn't thing monsters were real..." he said to Dobbs.
"Think about that later, get your men to fire on those squids." he said before looking to the sailors bringing a large amount of rope, "All of you, throw lines into the water, we gotta try pulling them out."
Dobbs leaned over to see the patrol skiffs being deployed with several marines on board, armed with rifles as well, though his concentration was cut short by Wollisfend.
"Marines, AIM!" he said. Rifles cocked at the ready and rope lines were thrown into the water.
"Fire!" Wollisfend yelled, followed by a barrage of rifle fire.
A buzzer alerted the bridge of the Zuflucht to trouble below the decks. "We've got too much pressure," the helmsman warned as the ship leaned into the heavy turn. A tremor caused the ice cubes in Fallensteller's tray to clink against the glass pitcher. Another buzzer followed the first as the captain gripped her armrest. "Heat warning!" the helmsman informed.
"Torpedoes cleared!" the technical officer cut in.
Fallensteller appeared alert, but unready. The helmsman and Ackermann looked at her expectantly, but her directive only came after additional hesitation. Another, stronger tremor increased the urgency. "Throttle back, then, and save the engines!"
Before the order could be carried out, the throttle suddenly sprung backwards into the helmsman's hand as the rumblings ceased, and instead a howling sound from the engines resonated from the exhaust pipes. More lights and buzzers sounded on the bridge momentarily before all was quiet again. "...That's a turbine trip," the helmsman explained.
"[I]Scheiße.[/I]" Ackermann shook his head and turned around, reaching for his cigarettes as he stormed out of the bridge in frustration. With her first officer out, Fallensteller stood and walked to the helm to observe the instrumentation herself. The system showed rapidly falling pressure and rotations per minute and a return to safe operating conditions. The young captain was at least aware that large ships were capable of disengaging their turbines and venting pressure in emergency situations, but had never seen such a scenario play out as she had only previously worked on smaller, oil-powered ships.
A grouping of lights turned off. "The emergency vents just closed," the helmsman informed, "the clutch should catch on in a moment and we can slowly take her back up to speed, ma'am."
"I know how a turbine trip works, Mr. Kirsch," Fallensteller huffed.
The technical officer cut in- "We've got a message from the Blixtvåg, they've suffered a turbine failure and want our assistance. Our deck crew is also dealing with a rather serious squid problem."
Fallensteller sat herself back down. "Have a message sent that we'll be there in a moment. And what do you mean by a squid problem?"
"...the men in the water are being devoured," the technical officer replied. "One of them got in the Blixtvåg's turbine; they're all around us," he explained.
The captain grimaced. "Alright, tell the riflemen to accompany the repair crews, and send a reply to the Blixtvåg and let them know we can accommodate them. Mr. Kirsch, pull us up alongside the submarine as soon as we have enough power to move again. Ahead slow," she elaborated, wishing to keep the pressure down for the time being.
"Aye aye," the helmsman replied, annoyed.
Outside, Ackermann watched as Neustadt and her crew extinguished the small fire started by the sole impact the Zuflucht took during the fight. A pair of dead bodies lay covered by a tarp nearby. A huge column of benign black smoke was rising from the side of the carrier, expelled all at once by the sudden steam release.
The entire battle was earned by the Mannfred Fleet, however there was another unfortunate problem. A buzz noise ringed into Spaghetti for eternity until a familiar voice came in.
"All vessels, all vessels. Do not allow men to enter into these waters until further notice. Retrieve all men overboard with extreme haste and caution, with personal weapons present. That is all."
The Captain shook his head, staring at the ocean while an skirmish occurred. But it was no time for inaction, he had to save somebody. The Captain ran to the top deck of the Problem Child, staring at these squidies raping these poor souls. His hands covered the sides of his heads, turning to ring an alarm in the bridge. He tackled the glass box knocking his head, smashing the glass in pieces. Behind was a big red button. He slammed his fist, signalling a loud buzz throughout the ship.
"ATTENTION! We got squids in the waters and people to save! I hope." The Captain pointed to the helmsman "Catch up to the front! We need to help our side of the fleet! Behind the Dawnbreaker!"
The helmsman nodded, executing orders while mercenaries headed outside, armed with polished rifles, ropes and machinery to reinforce the roping for incoming people. The mercenaries breathed deeply, scopes pointed to anything dangerous. Meanwhile the crewmen were ordered not to head for the water, but the Engineers stared at each ship that received damage during the fight, rallying crewmen to get the needed repair equipment afterwards.
Travis waits anxiously in the comms for the Admiral's reply. Travis decides to prepare his men for the fight against the man-eating Blood Squids. he looks back to a Chief Officer and spoke out his orders
"Williams. Send the Marines to man the 20mm's and the Louis Guns to support fire on the deck. we are escalating to the defence phase. once we get near to any of the crewmen on the water, tell them to pull them out as fast as they can before those god-forsaken squids gets a bite out of their flesh. tell them as well to bring their guns with them and fire at any squid that comes by. They may have knives for teeth but they don't have any protection for themselves."
Williams merely saluted to his superior before voicing the captain's orders to the ship's intercom.
The door to the bridge swung open as Graves entered, clearly angry.
"Are we just going to stand around and do nothing while they get eaten by squids?"
"Your concern for our colleagues below is noted, Mr.Graves." Reginald adjusted his collar, noticing he had neglected to do so after his little episode "You can drop the act now. Nobody from the other ships is listening. I know you like to hunt big game and you just want to shoot the big squid, but we are not a hunting vessel, do you understand?"
"With all due respect, captain" Karam began to speak "We are here to assist the fleet and Graves has a point. We have been hovering above the sea and doing nothing." Stroking his beard, he continued "Hardly supportive on our part."
"Fair points, Mr Vaikar." Reginald looked out the window before continuing "It seems that our colleagues on the Eisenstrasse have the best idea for us zeppelins, so we will follow their lead. Graves, you and everyone who can shoot should grab a long range rifle and head to the lower decks where you can get a better view of those squids." Graves nodded and left the cabin, a smug grin forming on his face. Reginald continued to calmly give his instructions "Karam, follow the Eisenstrasse lead and descend so our guns can hit the squids. Machine gun turrets included. I don't want a collision so keep some distance between us. If we were to even get close to one, I'm shaving that beard of yours to be used as my new flag while the rest of you, I will throw overboard."
"No need for threats, captain. I'm fully aware of the consequences of failure." Karam answered before he began to bark orders to the crew.
Lead rained down upon the large, vicious squids that had appeared from the depths to attack the men trapped in the water. Wherever a squid showed itself, it was ripped apart by bursts of gunfire. A few unlucky men were also hit with bullets. Their bodies floated on the surface before a squid snatched them and pulled them under. Regardless of what creature was killed or injured, the water soon became a murky red from all the spilt blood between squid and man. It wasn’t long before the frenzied thrashing in the water started to die down as men escaped the water, or were taken by squids. Whereas ten minutes ago the water was full of men, it was now eerily empty with only dead squids or squids parts floating lazily with the waves. It seemed odd that for such a pack of deadly animals, they didn’t eat their own.
On board the port authority vessel [i]Stormbreaker[/i], a large man with a bushy red beard and white captains cap sought out one of the higher ranking crewmen of the airship that was on deck. His cheek was scratched from a piece of shrapnel, and his somber navy blue uniform was ragged.
“Aye, god’s bless ye fer tha help. I’s know that ship anywhere,” he said, pointing a meaty finger at the distant [i]Revenant[/i] maneuvering in the waters towards the bay. “Master Mannfred a good man. I reckon Raum told’em to come back. Its’a blessin’ ya all came when ya did.” The man’s accent was terribly thick – a native of Campo Diablo, it seemed. He was tanned from being out in the sun often enough, and his skin had the tell-tale weathering of a long time sailor.
[b][i]Mariner’s Boon and Blixtvåg [/b][/i]
The escort held steady as the crew attended to damage taken during the brief battle. None of the damage was terribly severe, but it would take some hours of hard work to get everything fixed and settled. Thankfully with the [i]Zuflucht[/i] in the fleet, the time it would take for repairs would be halved as professionals set about their work nonstop. For the sailors on board, the scene occurring beneath the [i]Eisenstrasse[/i] was clear and alarming. The faint sounds of screaming was overtaken by the staccato bursts of rifles and machine guns. Veterans of the Colonial War would know that sound well, but this was the first time all guns were turned to beasts en masse and not other men.
The submarine surfaced without issue as well, the vessel managing a textbook resurfacing maneuver. Once the sub was bobbing on the waves, dozens of squids could be seen clinging to the hull or swimming up near the surface around the ship. The needle guns and quick surfacing served only to wildly irritate the beasts. Now that they were in open air, it could be heard that many of them made these curious warbling growl and hissing noises. Their slimy and rubbery skin glistened in the daylight.
Gunfire from the [i]Mariner’s Boon[/i] began picking off squids that were on the lower sides of the hull or in the water. Bullets did a better job at killing the beasts than the diver guns, but still it took several shots to fell a squid. A well placed rifle shot near the eyes typically killed one of the creatures instantly, but many instinctively fired center mass of the squid body where the fins were.
The marines of the [i]Blixtvåg[/i] appeared shortly after the submarine resurfaced, and more gunfire was added to the fight. Grouped firing did an excellent job at dispatching the creatures, but it was an unusual conflict. Men were not experienced with fighting such beasts. Tentacles had surprising reach and speed, and after several minutes of fighting a few marines would find themselves being knocked down or being constricted by the squids. Like any animal caught by a squid, panic rapidly ensured. Worst of all, the hull was slick with water which made running to save comrades ungainly and dangerous. More than one man was struggling with keeping himself from being pulled overboard and into the water – where certain death awaited.
The flagship acknowledged the radio message, and the operator of the dreadnought sent back a reply.
“Understood. Move to assist the [i]Dawnbreaker[/i]. Recommend caution when dispatching dangerous sea life, and check your fire when shooting squids with men still in the water. Usage of small guide boats and dinghy craft not advised.”
The rifle fire from the marines and sailors soon began killing and scaring off the squids. The creatures had been in a frenzy as they attacked the League sailors, and it seemed like almost a third of the men who had been in the water were simply… gone. It was certainly unnerving, as bodies typically floated on the waves. To see men simply disappear was a strange sight.
Caught between their sinking escort and the arrival of the heavy cruiser, many of the League sailors made the daring attempt to swim over to the larger vessel. The small dinghy craft and life boats of the sinking escort were being deployed, but they were overloaded with men – many of whom were wounded. The small boats meandered out into the water and were rocked by the large ocean waves.
Then the first lifeboat was tipped over from underneath. Men shouted in alarm as their small wooden boat was suddenly capsized, sending dozens more men into the water. Most of the sailors were stuck with using knives, axes, and various tools to fend off the attacking squids. Gunfire from the [i]Dawnbreaker[/i] rippled across the water, but a few of the dark uniformed sailors were struck mistakenly by bullets.
The skiff sent out by the [i]Dawnbreaker[/i] was also soon assaulted by squid. The skiff was slightly larger and heavier than the escort’s lifeboats, and with the weight of men inside of it the vessel was unable to be capsized by squid. Instead, from all angles around the boat tentacles thrashed out of the water and began grabbing at and maiming the marines on board. It was hard to wield rifles in close quarters, and soon pistols and knives were being use to hack away at the tentacles. Squids were knocking at the bottom of the boat, and suddenly with a splintering snap a squid’s beak erupted from the middle bottom of the boat. Water began to pour into the skiff, and one marine had his foot caught in the squid’s beak.
The engine turbines were beginning to show favorable levels again as the large ship moved forwards at a slow, easy speed. Core temperatures were still a bit high, but were falling as steam was vented out. It was all little more than a hiccup given that no damage had been done to the internal machines.
Topside, sailors set about putting out some flames and examining some of the damage the ship had taken from combat. The damage here wasn’t severe at all, though a few unfortunate men had lost their lives when a shell detonated almost on top of them. Riflemen from below decks began to appear along some sections of the ship as they peered out towards the nearby submarine being swarmed by squid. Gunfire echoed loudly as crew from both the [i]Mariner’s Boon[/i] and [i]Blixtvåg[/i] fired upon the attacking sea creatures.
The support freighter chugged along towards the [i]Dawnbreaker[/i] steadily. Mercenaries and crewmen began to fill out the deck in preparation for assisting the other ships, and all stared on with curiosity and apprehension. Rifles and tools were ready to be used as needed. A squid was seen retreating past the ship near the surface with a dead body in tow, the deceased sailor wrapped up in several tentacles and being dragged along just beneath the waves. Some rifles cracked and shot at the squid, but the beast simply went deeper underwater without any foreseeable wounds.
As the vessel approached, it seemed there was a rough fight going on here as squids continued to frenzy around the sailors and small boats in the water. An extra ship with armed men would prove undoubtedly helpful in killing the squid and saving lives.
[b][i]Eye of Horus[/b][/i]
It didn’t take long for the airship to simply fly over the assembly of ships and move towards the [i]Eisenstrasse[/i]. From high above, the full toll of the battle could easily be seen. The cruiser that had been sunk had disappeared entirely, leaving black oil and debris floating on the surface of the bay. A few dark shapes dotted the water, and it seemed some had made it to the nearest beach. These sailors were few in number, and likely many were lost to the blood squids as they had no way to defend themselves – and there were no ships nearby that could help. Elsewhere, some of the sinking escorts could be seen on fire. The scenes around these ships were clearly grim, as squids were still attacking people in the water. Muzzle bursts were visible as sailors and marines did what they could to kill the squids.
Near the [i]Eisenstrasse[/i], the scene was looking more calm. A large debris field was strewn about near the airship from the escort that had been annihilated by the [i]Revenant’s[/i] main guns. No sailors were in the water here – all of them had perished in the resulting magazine and boiler detonation of their ship.
Below the other airship and beside the port authority vessel, the water looked like it had recently been chumed. Which wasn’t far from the truth. Dead squids littered the water, though no human bodies could be seen. Men were moving about on the deck of the [i]Stormbreaker[/i], doing what they could to put out some fires and attend to the wounded.
"Keep firing on those damn squids! Bring up more men that make it to the ropes!" Dobb yelled to the men on deck. "We must continue to rescue those men from a terrible fate, assist our skiffs and their lifeboats in any way possible!" Dobbs also commanded. He then turned to head for the bridge to send a message to the fleet, but not before several of the research team bursted out in full force, followed by Lonstray who held a strange device.
"What is that?" Dobbs asked.
"It's a high-frequency sound emitter. We will need to set it up and lower it into the water. We predict that a high-frequency sound in the water will disorient the squids and send them away, or at least, make them easier to kill.
Dobbs nodded, and turned to one of the sailor crews manning one of the rope stations, "You there, hand your rope over to them!"
A minute passed as they cranked the device and tied it with rope. Then, Lonstray ordered his assistants to hold to the rope as if their lives depended on it, and threw the device into the water...
"Aim for their eyes!" Yelled Kahleen as she fired a burst from her submachinegun. The soldiers currently not being grabbee by the squids did their best to free their comrades, using both rifles as well as knives and daggers to kill the evil beasts.
Meanwhile inside the bridge Captain Jäger oversaw the situation. He deployed more marines to the forward hatch as well as one of Gothia's specialities: flamethrower soldiers.
Equipped with a flamer on one hand these soldiers joined the ranks of the other marines and soon enough small bursts of fire ravaged the squids, unintentionally creating a cloud of smoke that reeked with the smell of burned calamari.
It was only moments after their so-called victory that the squids appeared and slurped up all the sailors in the water. Thomas stood in awe as he saw the life being sucked up out of the sailors below and all around the airship. A push in the back, even a rude push maybe, got him back to reality. It was chaos on the bridge but the Thornhill's first mate managed to calm it down. After everyone managed to settle down, the captain relayed his orders.
"Helmsman, get us into the fight. Beauclair, sound the general emergency alarm and gather up the men. Get them outside and ready to lay down fire."
Two "Aye-Aye, Captain" 's sounded only shortly after the captain finished speaking.
"Operator, relay a message to FLEETCOM. Any vessel in need of support can count on us to help them out."
The radio operator nodded and flicked a couple of buttons. He turned a knob and pushed in a single red button before speaking.
[QUOTE]This is the Thornhill, anyone in need of support should contact us directly and we will support you to the best of our ability.[/QUOTE]
The mercenaries on-board gathered on the deck, some with bolt-action rifles and some with automatic rifles. They were waiting to get the squids into their crosshairs. All of the Thornhill's lights were activated to provide a better view of the surroundings, albeit this provided almost none. After a couple of minutes a loud burst of firearms could be heard. The Thornhill had just moved into position and the mercenaries started firing all they had at the squids. Most of these impacted the water -and maybe some floating limbs, too- but not the squids themselves, as these were too tricky to take out from the height they were at.
"You may fire when ready, Mr. Vaikar." Reginald gave the command as the turrets aimed down and opened fire on the the squids. Meanwhile on the lower decks Graves and the anyone else who could use a gun started shooting at the beast. "Aim for those eyes!" was the general direction they were given.
The medical crews and fire control teams continued to work on the decks of the two damaged ships (those who weren't hurt too bad or were perfectly fine), as the other soldiers from the [I]Eisenstrasse[/I] continued to watch the waters. The gunfire had stopped for now, and hopefully wouldn't need to start back up.
The mercenary looked at Bennett from beneath his kepi with a anxious expression on his face, "I... I don't really know." he said slowly, "I don't really like seafood."
His attention snapped to the sea as the [I]Blixtvåg[/I] rose from beneath the waves with a thundering sound. Norrys' men stepped back as they saw the horrifying creatures up close, but Norrys wouldn't allow it, "They're just overgrown molluscs! I didn't hire any cowards! Fire at will!" he shouted.
In a state of united disarray, the mercenaries fired upon the squids whilst trying their best not to hit any of the divers and marines on the submarine.
Tobey stood on the bridges balcony and gripped his revolver hard. He found some mental steadiness by imagining the whole gruesome scene as just another great oil painting on the walls of his study back in Chatham Lanes.
The prototype machine was lowered into the water quickly. Squids were still thrashing about in the water attacking the humans, and another lifeboat had been overturned and the sailors fell screaming into the water. With a mixture of fear and apprehension, the scientists activate the high-frequency sound emitter. The effect is nearly instantaneous. Like startled cats, the squids completely disengage from the waters immediately. Men who had been struggling in the tentacles were let go, and a few gasping sailors returned to the surface of the water as squids from below released them as they were being dragged under. It was eerie how suddenly calm the waters became, though a few men still moaned from their wounds and splashing was still audible as men continued to swim for the heavy cruiser or towards lifeboats.
Still, bodies littered the waves. Men who had drowned or been constricted by tentacles, or having died from injuries taken in battle, floated lifelessly about in the water. There were nearly a hundred men in the water at this point. The [i]Dawnbreaker[/i] would need to have quite the triage set up to assist these men, though it was likely they would be offloaded in Port Diablo and taken as prisoners.
[b][i]Blixtvåg and Mariner's Boon[/b][/i]
The addition of more soldiers with weapons helped to stem the tide of squids, but the newly introduced flamethrowers quickly began to scare them off. Even the radiant heat from the flames caused the squids to warble and hiss, dropping their victims to dive back under water. Within several hard-fought minutes, the vicious sea creatures had been driven off, with none returning for a quick bite. Unfortunately, there were more than a few men with injuries... and a few men who were suddenly gone. Unlike a traditional battlefield, bodies didn't lurk around for long unless the squids left them alone. Dead or alive, the meat was still edible.
[i][b]Thornhull and Eye of Horus[/b][/i]
By the time the airships had joined the fight, most of the fight was finishing up. From the air the carnage was widely visible and disturbing. Corpses of squid and humans bobbed in the water lazily, and some of the water had the appearance of being freshly chummed. The armed men on board managed to get a few shots off at some squid sightings, though whether these creatures were killed or wounded was never apparently clear. At most, a few shots helped make the men fell better and eased their tensions. It was always refreshing to shoot at your problems.
With the battle between man and beast coming to a close, it was now time to take inventory of the casualties and damage wrought. There were dozens dead and plenty more wounded. Most were sailors of the port authority vessel, but some crew from the airship had been hurt during the struggle. The fires raging on the deck of the port ship were under control and dying out, but still burning. A triage center had been set up on the front deck and medical personnel loitered about to assist the wounded. The squids were gone now, allowing for men trapped in the water to be rescued and pulled out, as well as bodies to be recovered.
With the skirmish over, ships confined to the docks began to venture out into the bay and surrounding area to assist with cleanup efforts. Most were small vessels, such as trawlers, yachts, and patrol vessels, and they snaked their way around the assembled expeditionary fleet. Three more port authority vessels approached the surrendered League cruiser, as the [i]Revenant[/i] had made its way near the ship with weapons trained on the vessel. It would be an ordeal to imprison the surviving sailors, but that was a job for the local authorities.
Admiral Mannfred thumbed his radio transmitter and spoke into it, [b]broadcasting to the entire fleet[/b]. "The waters should be safe for now. Rescue efforts may continue as usual. All League sailors are to be treated under the conditions of the Merlot Doctrine, and they are to be classified as enemy combatants. Local authorities will determine their fate or reclassification as pirates. Our responsibility is to simply detain and provide them with medical care. Offload them in the port when ready. I will be speaking with the governor shortly and will negotiate for munitions, food, and other materials for our journey. We set sail tomorrow. Captains, expect a potential dining invitation. That is all."
Spaghetti rallied several crewmen as soon as the battle was finished. Many bodies across the sea, unable to respond. The Problem Child caught up, hearing the broadcast. With small casualties the Captain wanted to help others who faced damage.
Spaghetti walked up to the bridge, launching a broadcast to nearby vessels. "Hello? Hello? Spaghetti is foreddi! Any nearby ships next to the Problem Child, that's my ship of course may request assistance and supplies. We can also provide a little bit of patchwork and cleaning. Though not to that of the big repair ship. Just signal if you want. Maybe a chat."
"That is all." Spaghetti hung up the mic, sitting down.
Kahleen lowered her weapon, as did the troops. "Take the wounded inside. We have completed our task." Quickly the troops got to work. Those who weren't helping the injured back into the ship started to clean up the mess ontop of the sub. Kahleen took the time to make a quick headcount. Five men were gone. Light casualties all things considered.
Inside the bridge Jäger notified the captain of the Zuflucht that the Blixtvåg would soon be docking with the repair ship. Another transmission was sent to the Mariner's Boon, thanking them for their aid.
Tobey stood a while and looked at the snow calm waters. Corpses of squids could be seen floating in the water, but no sign of the men that had been in the water with them.
A terrible implication.
Now that things were calm, Tobey had regained his calculating cool and leaned over the railing of the balcony to look over to where Bennett was, "Mister Bennett! Lower a rowboat and take some men to scoop up one of the smaller squids. I want Doctor Marsh to have a look at it."
He entered the bridge to put his holster belt on to keep his revolver nearby in the future, and on his way out he stopped in the door, "Mister Nelson, be at the ready. We'll be making port soon."
The giant negro nodded silently, his usual stern expression on his face.
Tobey then made the rounds to inspect the damage, making his way down into the hold to inspect the hole that had been made in the side. He found Margaret looking it over.
"Oi capn. We're mighty lucky it dinnay puncture the second wall, and that we din' take in any water."
Tobey agreed. Truly a stroke of luck. In the future they would have to stay behind the fleet and let the more equipped ships do the job.
"How long are we looking at repairs, Miss Trevor?" Tobey asked with a genuine interest.
Margaret looked over the hole and twirled her cigarette around in her mouth, "I reckon 8 hours if we do it ourselves. I says we dock at that repair station. We get it done quicka and use their material."
Tobey nodded, "All right. We'll send a signal to the [I]Zuflucht[/I] and request docking permission. But send 3 men up to the bridge with one large and one small window. I want them repaired as soon as possible."
Returning above deck he made his way to the bridge and picked up the radio transmitter to make contact with the [I]Zuflucht[/I]:
[quote]This is Captain William Tobey of the [I]Mariner's Boon[/I]. I want to speak to someone with authority aboard your vessel.[/quote]
Getting off the floor after his tumble, Ephraim Brose brushed himself off, stretched a bit and left the cargo bay. But moments after the fact, as he attempted to find someone to talk to, the speakers of the ship-wide intercom alerted the entire ship of incoming combat! Ephraim sighed - we would have to grab his guns, which were in his dinghy.
Several minutes later, with Feuerwaffe and Revolver Pistole, Ephraim rushed over to see what was going on. As he arrived to join the other soldiers in fighting from the Eisenstrasse, the detonation from the escort ship caused him to almost fall over. One soldier assisted him back up, and Ephraim joined in the shooting.
Even once the battle ended and the squids appeared, Ephraim's aim wasn't getting any better, as he switched between the rifle and the revolver. It was obvious that, even with the brief training he received during the five days since the expedition began, he was going to have to practice some more. However, just as quickly as the fight against the squids began, it was over, the waters seemingly calm once more. He holstered his guns, took off his flat cap, and wiped his forehead as he sighed in relief. He looked over to the other soldiers he had been shooting with.
Seeing the effects of the device, Dobbs saw the squids disperse quickly from the waters, disoriented by the high-frequency generator. Blood still stained the waters and men were still panicking from this attack.
"Keep pulling them up! Give them medical attention if necessary, otherwise, head them toward the brig." Dobbs ordered to the sailors and marines on deck. He then made his way onto the bridge again. "Inform Mr. Collins to get his engineers for repairs on our damaged gun and scan the hull for any breach of integrity."
"Sir, we have a transmission coming in from the [I]Revenant[/I]." one of the crewmembers said.
"Patch it through."
[QUOTE]"The waters should be safe for now. Rescue efforts may continue as usual. All League sailors are to be treated under the conditions of the Merlot Doctrine, and they are to be classified as enemy combatants. Local authorities will determine their fate or reclassification as pirates. Our responsibility is to simply detain and provide them with medical care. Offload them in the port when ready. I will be speaking with the governor shortly and will negotiate for munitions, food, and other materials for our journey. We set sail tomorrow. Captains, expect a potential dining invitation. That is all."[/QUOTE]
With the transmissions end, Dobbs sighed in relief. "Get our skiffs to offload those sailors into the loading bay. Provide medical attention when necessary and put those that are unharmed into the brig."
Dobbs made his way to the loading bay, but not before running into Mr. Lonstray, who was followed by several of his assistants, lugging the device back to their workshop. "Ah, Admiral Dobbs."
"That was quick thinking on your part, Mr. Lonstray. You saved a lot of lives today."
"In the name of science, of course." he said, before looking to his left and waving forward. A few of the sailors filed in through the hall as well... carrying one of the dead squids.
Lonstray looked at Dobbs' somewhat shocked expression. "We'll try not to make a mess or a stink of the place." He then took his leave as they all went to their laboratory.
Upon arriving to the loading bay, Dobbs saw the skiffs coming in, as well as one of the lifeboats. Wounded men poured out as medical personnel immediately began tending to them, lying them out onto the floor.
"Why are they all here and not in the medical bay?" he asked to one of the doctors.
"We already reached capacity of the medical bay around 15 minutes ago... there are so many wounded..." he replied.
The scene was grusome, sailors moaning and writhing in pain from their wounds from the squids. Blood washing down the loading bay and back into the waters. Doctors frantically running around, trying their best to tend to everyone. Those that came out without any wounds were escorted by marines towards the brig in chains. Nellow soon joined Dobbs in the loading bay.
"We are heading our way to the port to dock, we can unload the brig prisoners there and the wounded as well."
Dobbs could only nod in silence.
"You. Ephraim. Head down to the ship below us, and help the medical and fire teams with whatever they need." said one of the officers of the Eisenstrasse. "Hurry up. The faster we tend to the wounded, the more lives we can save." the man continued, "The crew will direct you to the ladder at the front end of the Eisenstrasse. Take your revolver with you."
- - - - - - - - - - - - - -
"Strauss, I want a body count and reports on any damage we may have suffered. Also check with the medical teams to see if they need anything else." stated Krantz, glancing back to his first officer whom stood by at attention. "Right away, sir." she said with a salute, before marching off. Krantz returned his attention to the scene below, peering down at the ships and the water itself.
First major battle of the voyage. And first victory as well, but it costed lives. He forced the Eisenstrasse into the battle to save the crews of these two vessels. Reckless, and his father would have chewed him out at the mere idea of doing such a thing. He sighed at the thought, before a message over comms interrupted his contemplation.
[QUOTE][I]"The waters should be safe for now. Rescue efforts may continue as usual. All League sailors are to be treated under the conditions of the Merlot Doctrine, and they are to be classified as enemy combatants. Local authorities will determine their fate or reclassification as pirates. Our responsibility is to simply detain and provide them with medical care. Offload them in the port when ready. I will be speaking with the governor shortly and will negotiate for munitions, food, and other materials for our journey. We set sail tomorrow. Captains, expect a potential dining invitation. That is all."[/I][/QUOTE]
A dining invitiation? Interesting. It would allow him to actually meet the other captains face to face, instead of conversing over radio. He'd need to get his dress uniform ready...and inform von Strauss of his intentions. She'd probably request that he take Váradi with him. Váradi didn't seem the type for such an event, but still. It'd pay to have at least some support in the event one of these captains have other intentions. Trust must be earned, not given freely.
Ephraim looked over at the officer and put his flat cap on before saluting.
"Yes, sir, right away!" he said enthusiastically. He quickly left the area and headed towards the front end of the ship, following crew directions as he arrived at the ladder.
He got on the ladder and went down a semi-consistent pace, as he watched the medical and fire control teams assisting those on board the friendly vessel. As soon as he got off, he identified the team leaders and made his services known to them.
When word came through that the squids had been repelled, Fallensteller clasped her hands together in bemused satisfaction. "Ah, now that's how it's done. Gentlemen, I'll be going ashore. Is there anything else?"
"Will we be taking part in the rescue operation?" Mr. Kirsch, the helmsman, asked.
Fallensteller shook her head. "A waste of time for us. Our role is to repair other vessels, not to play lifeguard for those insufferable bandits who damaged our ship."
"There are reports that allied men are in the water as well-" the technical officer, Mr. Schuster interjected, but was silenced by a heartless glance from the captain.
"Others will handle it. Now, if that's all..."
Schuster begged her attention once more. "Captain, Blixtvåg radios that she's ready for repair docking. We also have an incoming relay."
"Fifteen seconds," she sighed, disinterested. The unpleasant buzzing from the technical console continued for a time as the bridge sat in uncomfortable silence. "Answer it," Fallensteller instructed when she felt the moment was right.
"Bridge," the officer said into the microphone. "Again, I apologize... Captain's order. From here on, assume a 15 second delay-" he explained, holding out the earpiece for Fallensteller, who took it and leaned in. A moment later, she was connected to Captain Tobey.
"Captain Tobey, I'm assuming this is urgent if you felt need to speak to me directly and couldn't wait until we were both ashore. Is your ship taking on water?" she began.
Out on the deck, Neustadt and her crew began to use hoists, cables, and wenches to anchor the Blixtvåg into the proper position next to the carrier before using cranes to establish a temporary elevator system between the high decks of the carrier, and the submarine, which was nearly at water level. Parts of the crew began to lower themselves down with basic diagnostic tools as they sought to examine the extent of the damage, while others spoke with crew members, especially those of engineering, in order to make a plan for rapid repair.
Ackermann, having nothing better to do at the moment, put out his cigarette and joined in with the operation, assisting Neustadt with managing the effort. It was the first test of the Zuflucht's crew in a live scenario, and for the dignity of the vessel and the nation that launched it, Ackermann was keen to ensure that it would go as well as it did in training.
Captain Spaghetti dinged his helmet, ordering Alf to take arms and bring the wounded to safety. Alf rolled his eyes while patrol skiffs came down to gather the bodies. In the mean time medics in boats brought emergent first aid, announcing their presence.
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