The Expedition was going well. We had been flying north for most of
the day, avoiding the winter storms, and were making good progress
towards our destination. There had been rumours among airship crews of
an ancient temple replete with traps, ancient runes, danger and
treasure! It sounded terribly exciting and of course an adventurer
such as myself had to investigate.
The sky was beginning to darken as the Albatross floated through the
fog. The winter weather was making the journey more and more
difficult and, as the murk thickened, we found ourselves navigating
by compass alone. The wind was picking up and I feared we were being
blown off course. We needed a better view. I cut the engines and
started to increase altitude, rising above the fog. The air grew cold
and still as our vision cleared. The wind had caused us to meander
west of our intended direction. I began to re-plot our course.
As I studied the chart I heard a strange noise, like wind whistling
around ropes that the Albatross didn’t have. Looking up, I saw six
odd looking vehicles surrounding the ship. They resembled small
kayaks with sleek gas bags holding them aloft. They appeared to have
harpoon guns mounted on their prows.
For a moment I stood, frozen, and marvelled at their quiet approach
and tactical genius. They had completely encircled us, but none of
them were directly in front to avoid our heavy carronade.
With a pop and a whizz, they fired their harpoons, each one embedding
itself deep in the hull. I stood for a moment in shock. All seemed
lost when an idea struck me. While they could hold us in place with
their vehicles combined force, I doubted they could support the full
weight of the Albatross. Shouting for Sigmund to hold on, I pulled
the emergency balloon vent and the ship dropped like a stone, pulling
the six pirates with it.
The panic in their eyes quickly turned to hatred as they cut their
harpoon lines and pursued. I re-inflated the balloon and engaged the
engines at full. The albatross shot away, but the nimble pirate
vessels quickly started to gain on us. The marauders had drawn a
variety of weapons and opened fire. Shots tore into the balloon and
took chunks from the hull. We were going down!
Suddenly, the firing stopped. I looked round to see the pirates turn
their canoes and jet away into the night. Lights loomed ahead.
Through the fog I could just about make out a city wall. It was New
Babbage. I had heard of it and listened to it’s radio broadcasts but
never actually visited. It didn’t look like I would be able to now
either as the balloon finally gave way and the beleaguered ship
crashed into the ground.
Crawling from the wreckage, Sigmund and I brushed ourselves down and
headed for the city. It was a long walk over the freezing, snow
covered ground. Eventually, with soggy feet and running noses, we
arrived at the gates. It was clear now why the pirates had fled as
the walls were topped with some kind of electrified cannon. We
trudged into the city, hoping a kind soul would take us in.