The Sky's War Part 2

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Charles pushed the gun around, so it would face the oncoming plane. Facing the stern of the ship, he could see the carnage the planes caused. Men were lying against boxes of ammunition, the life slowly being drained out of them by various wounds. Others crawled along the deck with leg bones shattered, trailing long smears of blood. Some just lay in helpless heaps of cloth, skin and bone. The cries of wounded and moans of the injured chorused in painful wail. Most deafening though, was the silence of the dead.

Shattering the silence was the explosion of the artillery gun firing. Charles turned his head from the wounded and watched the shell arc overhead and fly toward one of the Zeppelins. Finding its mark, the shell penetrated through the Zeppelin’s soft canvas and buried itself deep in the Zeppelin’s heart. The fused ignited the shell’s charge and red hot shot was sent flying within the Zeppelin, infesting the deepest organs of the ship. Inevitably, the spark of the artillery shell ignited the Zeppelin.

The fire engulfed the bow of the Zeppelin in a matter of seconds, hydrogen feeding the flames and spurring them to go on. Gaining ferocity and anger, the fire exploded out and torn down the flanks of the Zeppelin. Consuming anything in its path, the Zeppelin was reduced to a massive oval shaped fire in less than thirty seconds.

“Bloody, heck,” John whispered.

“Here’s the plane!” Charles yelled. He pressed the trigger and the Lewis gun answered. Only two other machine guns were firing alongside their’s- the other three were either destroyed or crewless. Despite the lacking firepower, hundreds of bullets flew through the air, but all managed to avoid the incoming plane. Shots flew past Charles and John and hit the artillery gun. The pilot of the plane was surely attempting to seek retribution of the Zeppelin by exploding the gun. Charles knew it would only be a matter of time before one of the bullets hit…

An explosion, louder than any gun, blasted from the artillery. The shockwave sent Charles flying forward. The sound swallowed Charles and he could hear nothing. The sound chastised him to sleep, and he accepted the offer. He closed his eyes.
***

Addler gazed at the fight from his plane, watching his opponent move. The artillery gun from the British airship plumed again with deadly effect. The shell pierced through one of the Zeppelin’s soft skin like a splinter. This splinter was poisonous though. The fuse of the shell blew and sent hot lead balls flying within the Zeppelin. Like a nasty fungus, fire inflamed the wound. It shot down the sides of the Zeppelin, sending shards of canvas soaring outwards.

Addler could see a man atop the Zeppelin, running for his life away from the flames. The fire had no mercy and smothered him in its red and orange wrath. Nothing could stop it as the Zeppelin began to sink. The combined forces of pyro and gravity destroyed the Zeppelin.

Addler set his jaw. Something must be done against that infernal British artillery. He turned his plane downwards. Coming from the airship’s stern, he could rake the gun deck once more. Swooping low, Addler lined the British airship in his gun sights.

He pulled the trigger and the two Spandaus bucked and spit. Casings flew from the sides of the guns. The bullets pelted the airship’s spine. Addler squinted, trying to hit the artillery gun. British sailors dived for cover among the machine guns, trying to evade the deadly lead.

An enormous boomed resonated through the air, its shockwave causing Addler’s plane to quiver. Where the artillery gun once stood was a gaping hole in the hull of the airship. The artillery piece was simply nowhere to be found, incinerated in the fierce explosion he had caused.

The explosion was bitter sweet to Addler. Though the artillery piece ceased to exist, the ignition of hydrogen was nowhere to be found. Perhaps it was filled with another substance, a non flammable one.

The British did not seem to appreciate the destruction of their ship as a Sopwith Camel charged straight for Addler, machine guns blazing. Addler rolled off to the left, barreling off the top of the airship. The horizon spun in front of Addler, the sun, ocean and clouds changing directions. After evading the plane, Addler pulled up once again to finish off the airship’s remaining Lewis guns. He pulled around to the back of the airship, positioning himself to rake the ship from back to front once more.
***

Charles’s eyes flickered open. His cheek was cold. Taking in the world, Charles realized he was laying face down on the armored spine of the airship. He remembered hearing a loud bang and going flying.

“Quick, riggers! Cover that hole! We can’t lose any more of that daft helium!” Charles heard faintly. The sound bounced around his head like an echo in a cave. Slowly, he put his hands underneath him and pushed himself up. His legs ached with an immense pain. He looked down and saw that they were burnt, red blisters springing out in defiance against the heat.

He then stared at another wounded animal, the airship. Bullets must have ignited the ammunition cartridges of the artillery gun, creating the massive explosion that had flung him. The explosion dug a hole in the airship, blasting clear through the armored plating. Helium must have been escaping from the airship for the airship was slowly, extremely slowly dropping.

“Woah, John, hat was something wasn’t it!” Charles called out despite his parched throat. There was no response. “John?” Charles turned his head trying to find his brother. His eyes met a heap further along the spine of the airship.

“John!” Charles pulled himself to the body, even with the great pain in his legs. He reached his brother and gaped at him.

The boy was a mess. The German machine gun bullets had riddled his body. He was hit in the arm, legs and stomach. The blood from the stomach wound was bleeding the most- seeping through the leather bomber jacket in a red ooze. Already, a warm puddle had formed around John, a bright red color. His head was turned towards Charles.

“It hurts…” John sputtered, coughing up a mix of saliva and blood. Charles’s hands were shaking- what should he do? What could he do? Tears began to well in Charles’s eyes, betraying any form of masculine honor. Charles didn’t care and let them pour, a trickle of angry tears.

“I’m sorry, John, I’ll get who did this. I swear to the king and God, I swear.” Charles croaked. Charles supported his brother’s head and drew his tin canteen. He brought it to his brother’s dry, cracked mouth and poured some down his throat. His brother swallowed and then smiled, thankful for the drink. No water could save him though, and his head went limp in Charles’s hands. The fire that burned in John’s hazel eyes died, leaving nothing but the cold embers of death. Charles brushed his brother’s eyes down, closing them for good. He couldn’t bear looking at those lifeless things.

Charles’s sadness turned to rage. He gritted his teeth and pulled himself to the closest machine gun to him. He grasped the gun in his hands, not bothering to put it on the mount.

The German glided in, the same plane that had wreaked so much havoc on Broadsword, the same plane that had killed his brother. Charles had taken a solemn oath to avenge his brother’s death and he would not be stopped. He squeezed the trigger and the Lewis gun jumped back into his chest. Lead streamed from the tip, hammering into the German’s plane. Charles roared and hollered as he fired. His anger and hate knew no bounds. Tears flew from his face, streaming at his cheeks.

The bullets found their mark, tearing into the plane. The engine smoked and gave out; the wings of the plane turned to tissue paper and were ripped apart. By miracle though, the plane managed to land on the spine of the airship, tearing off machine gun mounts and shoving aside boxes of ammunition and supplies. It fired its machine guns as it fell, spraying the deck down.

Charles was flung back as rounds plunged into his torso. Each bullet knocked his breath away. They felt like hammers being pounded into his chest. Pain blossomed around his heart. He felt warmth in his shirt as blood welled in it. He knew the life was being drained from him and he must act quickly.

With his waning strength, he let go of the Lewis gun he was firing previously and pulled himself close enough to the plane. He expected to see a man with the countenance of the devil and a body of a daemon with eyes like portals into the underworld. Strangely though, the man looked like any other soldier on the battlefield, just like him. Yet he could not bring himself to forgive the man, the man that had killed his brother and so many others.

Charles drew a pistol from his coat breast pocket. The gun was dripping with blood, the chambers of the revolver a sticky red mass. He looked into the pilot’s eyes and saw contentment, a man at peace despite staring down a barrel of a gun.

“This is for my brother,” Charles said aloud as he pulled the trigger. The pilot’s body jerked sideways as the bullet entered him.

“And this is for me.” Charles fired a second time. The pilot’s forehead spilt in half as the bullet bored into it. The head was snapped backward with a load krak sound and then lolled around lazily. Charles had avenged his brother, but did not feel any form of retribution. The pilot he had killed, what would his brother feel? Would he feel anger like himself?

Charles didn’t know and didn’t particularly want to know. All he knew was that he was extremely tired. All he wanted to do now was sleep. He only needed a short nap that was all. After a few minutes of rest, he’d be fine. Charles lay down on the spine of the airship, its cool metal skin enticing sleep to come. The rocking of the ship was too much to bear and Charles’s closed his eyes and fell fast asleep with sadness still lingering in his heart. Those were his final emotions.
***

Addler dived towards the deck of the airship, Spandau’s screaming. There wasn’t much of the deck left to destroy though; all the machine gun mounts had been destroyed. There was one persistent gun, its mouth sparkling brightly. Somehow, the bullets from that one, singular gun, found its way to Addler’s airplane.

Ricochets pinged all around Addler’s cockpit. The bullets had flooded the engine and immobilized the propeller. The glass window in front of his face shattered sending shards of razor-sharp glass flying in all directions. Miraculously, Addler was hit neither by bullet nor glass. His life had been spared- for now. His engine coughed and sputtered, but gave out.

. Addler knew he had to make a quick landing before gravity took over. Where could he? He only had one option. Yes, it may be insane. Yes, it may be inglorious, but it would be his only chance, a slim chance at that, of survival. Addler pushed the stick down and glided towards the airship deck. Steel and canvas crashed as the ungainly landing ensued. Addler’s plane careened down the deck of the airship, smashing off any remaining objects. The plane skidded to a stop just before the machine gun that had brought it down.

Addler exhaled deeply after realizing that he had holding his breath the entire landing. He had just made probably the most difficult landing he had ever attempted and managed not to be harmed. His hands were shaking as the adrenalin waned.

Addler watched closely as the machine gunner began to pull himself on hands and knees towards the plane. The boy could not walk, for his legs were badly burnt. Trailing behind him was a smear of red. Addler felt an admiration for the boy. Many a man had tried to down him, all unsuccessful, but this boy had done it. The boy had pulled himself very close to the plane, only about five feet away from Addler.

To Addler’s surprise, the boy drew a small, bloodied pistol from his jacket pocket and pointed it toward Addler. He then witnessed what was in the boy’s eyes. They were glaring, angry eyes, filled with resentment and hate. Behind them though, very subtly and well hidden, was pain and sadness. Addler knew this boy would kill him. Addler was ready. It was time to meet Joseph once again, in a different realm.

Addler closed his eyes and felt a heavy stomp in his chest. He jerked sideways as the bullet through him. Addler only felt a flash of pain before a bullet to the head blew it out.





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