97 Speak Softly
Back on board the Flame Scorpion Kreppelin, everyone was looking at Zoey with various expressions after her statement. Athena looked excited to see what Zoey would do, Nito looked concerned, and Doris looked skeptical.
Zoey just smiled as she put on her mask and activated her Dark Star Vision. Using this technique, she looked at the airships chasing them so she could get a better idea about how to stop them. The ship in the middle was bigger than the other two and was clearly the flagship. Even at this slowly shrinking distance of over two and a half kilometers she could see the figures on the deck, but the details were still hard to make out.
The pursuers seemed to be putting on more speed as well in an effort to catch them. Zoey figured that she should get on with it before they actually caught up. If she crippled the flagship, the others would likely not chase them anymore.
After a few more moments of calculating the distance to the target and the target airship's structure, she had a plan. Opening her interface she selected her newest weapon, the DAAC, and the Mk1 Prototype Armament. Then she selected one of the configurations she had set up when she had been in the cave after reaching Rank 4.
Once she applied the configuration to the DAAC, she pulled it from her inventory. Her friends and the crew that had gathered anxiously around to watch exclaimed in surprise at the strange looking weapon she now wielded. However, for Zoey this was a familiar weapon that she had helped design back on Gaia before it fell. This version of the weapon had some differences though.
The weapon's base was the DAAC with it's twin barrels and pistol grip, and over that she had applied the Mk1 Prototype Armament in a deadly configuration that promised only destruction to anything in its path.
The barrel of the new configuration was a meter long and lined with cylindrical studs along the sides. These studs controlled the energy of the weapon and were responsible for fusing the two 20 millimeter slugs into one 30 millimeter projectile when the weapon was fired. They also contained additional Gravity Rune Arrays to fire the larger projectile an even faster speed than the DAAC could by itself. The barrel ended in a single opening 30 millimeters in diameter and sported a large vent brake to help with the recoil.
On the other end, the breech was reinforced and there was now a stock on the weapon so Zoey could brace it on her shoulder when she used it. Lastly she had included a scope that interfaced with her mask and Dark Star Vision array that was embedded into it. The scope had various levels of zoom, and had ballistic trajectory prediction built in to it. By using the data from the weapon and measuring the wind speed along with various other atmospheric variables, it could predict the trajectory of the shot in real time as well as possible deviations based on the collected data and range.
It was a large weapon, and it was heavy. The design was from a magnetic accelerator anti-material rifle Zoey had helped design, and though most of the design was the same, the original had been a magazine fed, single slug weapon.
When she had been testing different designs in her interface she had decided to use the DAAC as a base instead of creating a new weapon from scratch. This was mostly because she was able to design a system for fusing two magical slugs into one during the firing process. She had discovered when testing the weapon virtually with her interface that when the condensed magical slugs fused, the resulting projectile was considerably more dense and volatile, and as a result was more destructive than any other design she had been able to conceive. She was interested to see what the result would be when she fired it.
Zoey laid the weapon across the railing and settled into a firing stance as she acquired her target through the scope. With the magnification of the scope and her Dark Star Vision she could now clearly see the lead Kreppelin and the crew on board. Sure enough, she was able to spot Cornelius Rellen standing on the aftercastle of the flagship where he was commanding his crew.
For a moment, she considered just killing him with her first shot. Surely that would deter the rest of the pursuers, and the Rellen family deserved no mercy from anyone if judged by their past actions. But Zoey decided not to take that shot. Not today at least... Her goal today was to make a statement, not to assassinate a noble.
She moved her sight to her actual target and placed her finger on the trigger. Once she did that, her scope lit up with telemetry data and the trajectory prediction line appeared in her vision. The scope showed her the distance to the target, how long it would take for the projectile to reach it, and the possible deviation range as determined by the shot telemetry.
Satisfied with what she saw, Zoey lowered the weapon and cracked open the breech. The weapon opened with a click and soft hiss to reveal the two empty chambers that glowed with eerie light from the arrays etched into the walls. Zoey retrieved two metallic shells from her inventory and slid them into the chambers, then closed the breech with a snap. The weapon responded to the loaded shells by humming to life while the geometric array lines on its surface glowed softly with magical power. It was ready to fire.
"You might want to cover your ears." She said to the anxious group and crew gathered at her back. She plugged her own ears with some fabricated plugs and steadied herself for the shot.
Hitting one moving arial target while standing on another would be nearly impossible for a normal person, but Zoey had her Dark Star Vision. The technique increased her visual perception to the point where everything seemed to be moving in slow motion, so hitting the target was a simple thing.
As she placed her finger on the trigger and started to inject magic energy into the weapon, Zoey activated one final dormant array that had been applied to the weapon. It was her Dark Star Amp, an ability that came from her Dark Star Manuscript. This was a technique that she had never used before, but it only seemed fitting to apply the array to this particular weapon. Using Dark Star Amp on the weapon would completely drain her of magical energy with a single shot, but she was not going to need another.
Once again she looked through the scope and acquired her target. She could feel her magic energy bleeding away into the weapon as it charged up, humming louder and louder as it did. The arrays on its surface were pulsing with blue light, and the cylindrical studs along the barrel were oscillating with stored power.
It was ready.
Zoey took a steady breath as she checked the range and placed the predicted trajectory line onto her target. One shot was all she would get. She had to make it count.
The world around her seemed to come to a stop for a moment, then, Zoey squeezed the trigger.
Cornelius raised his spyglass to observe his prey again. The fleeing Kreppelin had shown some activity when they had spotted his ships, but they had not tried to outrun his squadron like he anticipated they would. As a result the Relleiux and his two accompanying airships had been gaining on them and were only a little more than two and a half kilometers away from catching them.
Through the spyglass he could vaguely make out the aftercastle of the mercenary Kreppelin, and for some reason, there was a strange amount of crew gathered there. Cornelius wondered what was going on aboard the fleeing vessel. They would no doubt be panicking after sighting his ships and the colors they flew. Commoner mercenaries would never be able to match his elite troops when it came to discipline and control.
As he studied the mercenary airship, Cornelius thought he saw something flash on the deck of the airship. He peered closer in an effort to see what it could possibly be, but all he could make out with his spyglass was an odd bluish light near the railing. After a moment of trying to make out what it was, he lowered his spyglass. It would not be long before he could properly see everything on that airship. His squadron was gaining on them rather quickly after all.
As Cornelius turned to give one of the lieutenants near him an order, his entire world abruptly came apart at the seams. He was suddenly hurled from his feet by a concussive shockwave that slammed across the airship, followed by an explosion that stunned and deafened him as he slammed down onto the deck.
His shaken mind wondered what in the name of the Gods had happened as he tried to struggle back to his feet and figure out what happened through his swimming vision and ringing ears. When he finally was able to make sense of his surroundings after having his brain scrambled, the sight that greeted him made his blood freeze in his veins.
When Zoey fired her weapon, the 30 millimeter, fused magic slug left the barrel at hypersonic speed. The subsequent boom, and the shockwave that it left behind stunned and staggered everyone standing behind Zoey with the sheer force of the blast.
The projectile traveled the distance to its target in less than a second, leaving behind a trail of blue magic particles and vaporized oxygen. It hit the Relleiux just above the deck, punched straight through the bowsprit, both of the masts, and into the area underneath the aftcastle where it detonated.
The bowsprit and both masts disintegrated in an explosion of wood splinters as the slug ripped through them. The wood splinters, some of which were nearly a meter long, became a deadly storm of shrapnel that ripped through the unfortunate crew like scythes through wheat. Limbs, blood, and organs splattered onto the deck amidst the screams of the unfortunate crew as the debris scattered across the deck.
When the slug detonated, it ripped the entire stern of the Relleiux open with a blast so powerful that pieces of the shattered stern hit the two Kreppelins following behind. From the top deck to the bottom deck, the entire stern had been blown clean off.
As the stunned crew of the Calion and the Mirade looked on in dumbfounded disbelief, a thundering boom echoed across the sky. That sound was the report from the shot that Zoey had fired finally catching up to its destruction, and its arrival seemed to trigger another catastrophe on the crippled frigate.
Following the sound, the two masts of Relleiux started to topple slowly to the side, accompanied by groaning timber and screaming of the crew. The frigate began to drop in altitude as it nosed down and listed to the side, pulled downwards by the weight of the masts that crashed onto the deck and over the side in a mess of timber, rigging and sails.
In a single shot, the flagship frigate Relleiux of the Rellen house and all its glory was shattered into driftwood by a girl and her gun.