Moira’s pistols were in her hands instantly, orange tongues of flame erupting towards Brin Nash. The air thundered, and bullets whined angrily like enraged bees. Nash grunted as he took both shots low and to his left, deep into the bull-like muscles of his thigh. The lunatic grimaced, instinctively clutching the bloody bullet wounds. Tripping over his feet, Nash went crashing down to the deck onto one knee.
The lady blacksmith glanced towards the Fomorian that raced away with Angela in his grasp. Moira took aim, hesitating, waiting for the right moment to fire at the young girl’s captor. Her finger closed around the trigger just as Captain Hunter accidentally stepped into her line of fire!
“Damn it!” Moira swore bitterly.
Suddenly, the sound of wood snapping apart like the crack of a pistol, sliced through the air only a few feet away!
“Leg it!” John exclaimed, getting to his feet and hauling Moira along by one arm. A broken wooden plank flew past them both.
“But … the Cap’n and Conrad!” Moira complained as she jerked her arm free with a sour look at Clark. “They’re in trouble. They’ll need a hand in getting Angela!”
Clark snorted derisively, then jerked a thumb over his shoulder towards Nash. “We’ve our own troubles!”
Moira glanced back and jumped in surprise. She expected to see Nash still collapsed to the deck, nursing a bloody – and useless – left leg. Unfortunately, that was not the case, as Nash slowly was slowly climbing to his feet, a mask of pain on his face. He glowered at Moira, blood running down his leg as he took a step forward.
Nash, blatantly ignoring his wounds, slammed a fist directly into the deck. The wood splintered as his hard knuckles struck the slats like an iron hammer. The surrounding section of the Intrepid’s deck buckled violently, then snapped with a pistol crack. He snarled at John and Moira, ripping a part of the deck from the ship itself and hurling it at them with all his strength.
The wooden missile whirled crazily through the air, spinning like a saw-toothed dervish. Just before the splintered wood could slice into either one of them, John tackled Moira, knocking her flat. The slats careened overhead, slamming into one of the tree-trunk like steel masts five feet behind them. Wood exploded into a cloud of splinters, with two smaller portions of the broken deck sailing away on either side of the mast.
“Bugger’s still pretty spry!” Clark growled irritably.
Moira scrambled to her feet, then glanced unbelievably at her pistols. With a glower, she jammed them into their holsters, fixing John with a hard glare. “Then I need somethin’ bigger!” The lady blacksmith looked around until her eyes settled on one of the Intrepid’s lightning cannons. “Like that!” She shoved John away from her, “you go help the Cap’n. I’ll be along straight away.”
John grabbed her arm before she took more than a step. “It won’t do. They’ll be locked down while in port!”
Moira bit back a curse, then ducked instinctively as a barrel whirled past them on her right side. She glanced back at Nash, who reached for a secured set of barrels, the tarred rope holding them in place snapping with a pop.
“Fine then,” she replied sharply, looking around as a quartet of sailors rushed on deck, armed with rifles. “I got another way to get him off the ship. Go help Cap’n Hunter and Conrad,” Moira finished sternly. When John hesitated, she glared at him, “move, damn ya!”
“Sack-it, all ready! I’m going!” he retorted, racing across the deck towards where Captain Hunter now lay on the deck, shaking his head as if dazed.
Moira turned her attention back to Nash and the riflemen that had taken up firing positions. The rifles barked, spitting flame and lead towards Nash, although the Fomorian shrugged off the bullets like a mad bull shaking away flies. Nash grabbed another barrel and flung it at the four riflemen, scattering them as they dove aside for cover. The empty barrel shattered against the deck, showering the sailors with a cloud of deadly wooden splinters.
The lady blacksmith hunched behind one of the Intrepid’s masts while chewing her lip in frustration. “I’ll think of somethin’ anyway,” she muttered to herself.
Everywhere, pieces of wood from barrels, the ship itself, and other debris peppered the deck – however, none of it was useful. Nearby, a spark lantern – one of the newer varieties that was powered with a gas-voltaic battery to allow it to be easier to carry about – clattered from its bracket on the wall, bounced off an old fire axe, and rolled across the deck, spilling a light trail of electric arcs in its wake. Moira watched it roll slowly towards her, when immediately an idea struck her. She dared a quick look around the mast – Nash was busy hurling more debris at the riflemen. Moira closed her eyes, took a deep breath then bolted from cover and raced for the lantern.
The moment she left the cover of the mast, Nash spotted her. “Damnable woman!” He snarled, snatching up yet another barrel and hurling it at the lady blacksmith.
Just as her hands touched the metal loop atop the lantern’s frame, Moira glanced up at the flicker of a shadow overhead! Immediately, she dropped to the deck, ignoring the pain as she tumbled out of control. Behind her, the barrel shattered, releasing a cloud of scrap metal shavings!
The deadly cloud rained down around her as Moira covered her face with her arms. Jagged metal sliced into her clothes, cutting bloody marks in the places where the metal scraped skin. As the barrage subsided, Moira skidded to a halt on the deck, curled into a ball. Peering between her arms, she blinked at the caustic dust floating on the air. She sat up quickly and glared at the Fomorian.
“Ha! That the best ya got?” She taunted Nash with a smirk, “I barely felt it!” She scrambled to her feet and snatched up the spark lantern.
The Fomorian bared his teeth with a dangerous growl, reaching for another barrel behind him. The container rattled with the sound of more metal as he flung it at the woman.
When the barrel left Nash’s hands, Moira turned quickly on her heel, nearly tumbling to the deck. Racing over to the fire axe, she tugged it from where it was stowed, then threw herself down. The second barrel flew overhead, just missing her. Again, a cloud of sharp, jagged metal shavings erupted behind and around her, whipping through the air. No sooner had the cloud subsided, Moira grimaced as she got to her feet. With both axe and lantern in hand, she turned her attention to the pipes that trailed along where the deck kissed the railing of the ship.
Meanwhile, the sailors had recovered themselves; two of their number crawling towards whatever cover they could find on the open deck despite the painful slivers of wood that were embedded in their arms and legs. Others of their number snatched up their rifles, took aim, and gave Nash what-for.
Rifles thundered, and bullets whined through the air as the acrid smoke of gunpowder plumed in a thick fog across the deck. Nash roared in pain as he finally began to feel the sting of the bullets that wounded him. However, rage propelled him forward as he reached the ragged firing line of the riflemen. The Fomorian jerked the rifle from one sailor’s hands, then hammered the brave man to the deck, leaving him battered and senseless. Nash then turned his murderous attention towards the others sailors at hand.
Suddenly, there was a loud echo as metal savagely struck metal. Nash had just slapped aside the last of the riflemen as the sound reached his ears. He tossed the rifle aside, searching for the source of the curious sound. It rang again, only this time was followed by a brief, tortured screech of metal. Nash ran across the deck towards the starboard lightning cannons that were oriented safely up and away from being pointed at the station. There he found Moira, frantically hacking at a pipe leading into the base of one of the Intrepid’s powerful artillery placements.
Nash gave an ugly, harsh laugh. The woman was cornered against the rail. She had nowhere to run to. He savored the moment, flexing his bloodied and calloused knuckles. “Foolish woman. The cannon locks aren’t there.”
Moira jerked around in surprise, wide-eyed, holding the fire axe up over her shoulder like a club. She grinned at Nash with such a predatory look, the Fomorian began to back away suspiciously.
“Oh, I know,” she replied smugly, “but the water pressure is!”
Too late, Nash realized what she meant as the woman quickly spun on her heel and lashed out with the axe, slicing down against one of the pressure valves on the water pipe. Metal struck metal, and the fist-sized turn valve snapped away, propelled outward like a cannon as the warm salt water exploded in a deadly stream!
Nash grunted as the metal valve struck first, cracking a rib with an audible pop! Before he could even react to the pain, the water was on him in an instant. Normally pent up and kept under high pressure to feed water through to the lightning cannon, the jet of liquid slammed into Nash’s chest, lifting him off his feet and propelling him across the deck!
The Fomorian slammed down to the ship, rolling uncontrollably towards the railing. At the last moment, he caught himself before he sailed over the side. The water – now frigid cold due to the surrounding crisp, cold air – pounded at him, numbing his arms and his wounds. Slowly, in a near-mindless rage, he began to pull himself upright.
“That’ll do out of ya,” Moira said fiercely towards Nash, picking up the electric-arc lantern. Quickly, the blacksmith yanked open one of its insulated windows, then pitched the electric device at Nash.
Nash stood upright, despite the water pounding at him, as the lantern sailed through the air towards his chest. Instinctively, he raised his hands to catch it. Only at the very last moment did he realize his mistake as the lantern – covered with the writhing, eager arcs of electricity – dropped into his hands and connected the roaring gush of salt-rich water.
Electricity raced out of the lantern with a deafening pop and near-blinding flash, engulfing Nash while he convulsed and screamed in pain. When the flash subsided, Nash was gone. Instead, there was a break in the railing where the Fomorian had broken through, falling towards the ocean waters miles below and screaming with a mix of terror and rage.
Moira let out a ragged sigh, then hefted her axe with a determined glare. “That’s one,” she said firmly. “Now, where’s the one that’s tryin’ ta make away with Angela and hurt my ‘mates? I’ve a bone to pick with that one!”