The shuttle made its way above the Islands’ trees, standing out against a sky of a thousand colors.
Maghbel looked curiously to the little dragon which was helping them to return to the Legacy.
Damian pointed his finger down. «It isn’t over yet»
Visible only from their position, two imperial cruisers stood imposing on the board of the island above which the pirates were flying, keeping a height lower than its surface.
«We must get back to the Legacy» said the Captain clenching its teeth. «Brace yourselves»
Mayweather pulled the horizontal bar and the aircraft rushed forward, diving inside the forest.
They found their airship in the midst of an assault by the imperial troops. The pirates had put together an improvised barrier, in a semi-circle around the ship, behind which they had positioned to defend it. Around them, dispersed among the trees, the imperial soldiers tried to make a breach.
Vice-captain Ernst ordered to fire, shouting above the enemies’ shots and everyone’s voices. He pointed his musket and pulled the trigger, followed almost immediately by the rest of the crew. The shots exploded in every direction.
The Captain landed the shuttle behind the imperial army, at an extremity of the semi-circle where there were few men and seemed easy to pass without being intercepted and assaulted.
The pirates got out and took their guns. Kieran charged his pistol, which he had used before against the monster.
Maghbel took the little dragon in her arms. Mayweather turned to her.
«If they see you with us, they’ll come for you. You can go away if you want»
The creature denied. «You could have left me inside the fortress, but you didn’t do it. And you saved me from that beast. I’ll help you»
«You won’t be safe here anymore, I fear»
«I’ll come with you. I’ll finally stop being bored»
«I don’t know if you can live among humans. Are you sure?»
«As you wish. Stay behind us and be cautious» said the Captain.
They stealthily walked towards the Legacy and finally met an imperial platoon. The pirates had fired again and hit one of the men.
The nearest comrade cried. «Man down! Man down!»
The soldiers answered to the fire, but their enemies were already crouched behind the barrier. Shots flied above their heads or crashed into the defenses.
«Damn!» shouted the officer, hidden behind a tree at the tail of its group. «It’s nosense to keep on like this, we must charge the barrier!»
Another of the soldiers answered angrily. «Of course, we can’t wait to be chopped up! We don’t go there alone!»
«Call the others, then!»
The pirates, stalking among the trees behind the imperial squad, chose silently their next targets. While shots and curses raged in front of them, toward the glade where the Legacy stood, they took position in different spots of the wood.
Mayweather waited for another series of shots by the airship’s defenders and for the Imperials to expose themselves again to answer to the fire.
The same soldier as before turned another time to the officer. «The communicator doesn’t work!»
The Captain made a silent gesture with his hand, ordering fire. The four pirates aimed the Imperials.
The officer was going to rant against his soldier, but his voice was covered by the bangs. He fell to the ground with the great part of his squad, without noticing that he had been hit in his back. Only one of the soldiers was left and when he saw the Captain and his men running in his direction he rushed crying in the thick of the forest.
The defenders were about to shot again. They heard Ernst’s orders. «Aim!»
Mayweather ran to the border of the glade. «It’s time! We must take advantage of their cover!»
He untied his bandana and waved it in the air. Behind the barrier, at about twenty feet from him, the defenders in front of him noticed the Captain’s blue cloth and red mane.
They acknowledged him. One of them gestured him to reach them while the others aimed their muskets at other directions to cover the group.
When they finally got beyond the barrier, panting and purple-faced, the little dragon saw the great ship and began to shrill excited, trying to slip away from Maghbel’s hands.
«Let it go» gasped the Captain. «Maybe we have found a way to run away»
The animal run over the ramp and entered the airship, ignored by the imperial soldiers’ fire. The Captain hoped it could solve the situation soon, because their enemies became ever braver and began to try different ways to make a breach in the barrier. The pirates started to have some difficulty.
They did not have to wait much, but they got another surprise. The engine of the Legacy turned on, causing an air vortex nearby. From the hull went out two gigantic wings like fish fin, of the same color of metal, glistening in the sunlight. Fluid and mobile at the start, as they were organic, these stiffened just later.
Imperials and pirates were both shocked. The fire had ceased and all the fighters were now looking at the airship, incredulous.
«Inside the Legacy, you all! Care not about the wings» cried the Captain.
Some pirate threw grenades to distract the enemies and allow the retreat. Some of the ones who had gotten to the ship were shooting to the Imperials to cover those who remained behind, the rest of the men went to execute the actions necessary to leave.
«Be quick!» shouted Mayweather. «Reinforcements won’t get here late, their fleet is near»
«Captain» called Ernst. «The navigation tools are all working, but the computer is giving me unreadable messages»
«It’s the little one. Ignore the messages and make the ship leave this place»
The Legacy lifted in the same moment the imperial airships came to give support to the soldiers on land and block the pirate vessel. But its cannons shot first. One of the enemy ships went down and fell behind the clouds.
The Legacy gained speed both steadily and quickly. The propellers were pushed at their maximum. The wings the little dragon had molded on the hull started to move again, giving further push to the airship, which left behind itself the multicolor glow of the Floating Islands and an imperial fleet angry and powerless.
Drying the sweat on his face, the Captain thought that if the Rebellion really wanted that weapons cargo, they would have to be ready to pay double price to compensate for the disturbance. But he did not do it, in the end. After all, he had left the Imperial Fleet not to exploit the Rebels, but to join them.
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