Zoey quickly sat in her command chair and activated her controls as Max followed her closely. The others had their assignments as well, with General Saigo going down the grav-shaft to make his way to the fore gunnery platform, and Baiken, Ssaul, and Taigen gathering around the table in the back of the bridge.
The table's photonic glass surface came to life as they gathered around, displaying the Stella Tenebris in the center as the focus, and then the armada that was currently above them and firing their first volley at their general location.
Each enemy Kreppelin was represented by a red hologram and the projectiles they fired were also represented by red lines streaking down towards them. The table was using Zoey's drones overhead and sensors on the outer hull of the cruiser to display what was happening as a tactical interface. This interface was linked to the gunnery platforms so Baiken, Ssaul, and Taigen could coordinate fire and highlight priority targets for the Stella Tenebris's weapons and gunners.
Even though they had been trained how to use the tactical interface, they were still a little overwhelmed at at first when they saw the massive armada displayed in holographic form as the incoming bolts streaked down like red rain. The first hit on the outer hull of the Stella Tenebris snapped them out of it rather quickly though.
It happened to be a lightning infused bolt that hit right in front of the bridge windows, exploding into a thousand pieces of shrapnel as the magic discharged in the form of a lightning strike that scorched and singed the hull. The impact itself shook the hull plating and the supports beneath, but inside the cruiser, nobody felt it thanks to the Impact Dampeners that Zoey had implemented.
"704! Status report on that hit!" Zoey called out as she tried to judge the effect it had from the bridge.
"Damage negligible Miss Zoey. Hull still at 100%," 704 replied instantly to her call.
"Thank you. Keep watch on our power usage please," Zoey said as she took hold of the controls and prepared to fly the cruiser.
Custodian 704 was currently inside the engine room of the Stella Tenebris to monitor the power reservoir and make sure nothing went wrong. If something happened to the reservoir of Neo-Superfluid that provided power to the cruiser, or the backup power reserves, they would become a falling meteor with little chance of survival.
Zoey glanced outside where hundreds of flaming and electric bolts could be seen streaking through the fog, some barely missing the Stella Tenebris as they passed. There was a strange beauty to the rain of destruction, but this was not the time to admire that. If they were not complete idiots, the one hit they had scored should have given them the point of reference they needed to pinpoint Zoey's position.
Sure enough, the tac-interface display next to Zoey showed her a fresh volley of bolts being let loose from the armada, this time with an actual target, and that target was her cruiser.
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Cornelius had seen the first volley from his armada penetrate the clouds, but not a single hit had been made! Wait, there! He saw it! One lightning infused bolt had struck something!
"Right there!" he roared out at the officer in charge of the gun decks. "Target that area!"
The order was sent out and the sergeants in charge of the ballistae bellowed out commands as the crew threw themselves at their engines of war, wrenching back the ballistae arms to prepare for another magical bolt. Muscles strained as the crew heaved at their levers until the cables were securely slotted into their latches. Then the bolt was loaded into the flight groove, ready to be sent to its destination.
The crew member that was in charge of sighting called out adjustments to the crew who quickly went to work to adjust the angle of their weapons. Once done, they all stepped back and the sergeant reported the weapon ready to the deck officer who raised his arm to indicate that his deck was ready to fire again.
As soon as the deck officer dropped is arm, the roar to fire was bellowed out by the sergeants and the latch releases were pulled. With the sound of air being ripped asunder, the ballistae arms released their tenison and flung their bolts out with incredible force. On every deck the ballistae rocked back from the recoil, timber creaked and arresting ropes snapped taut and strained as the entire flagship seemed to shiver from the event, a testament to the sheer power and force that the weapons presented.
Every ship in the armada sent out their second volley, grouped around the area where the previous hit was confirmed. The distance to the most of the Kreppelins and their target was just over a kilometer, but the ballistae could easily cover the distance.
Cornelius and the entire armada watched with anticipation as the bolts streaked across the distance and finally penetrated the clouds. Cheers erupted from the armada as confirmed hits were seen blooming as fireballs and lightning strikes that clearly indicated something was there.
Orders were sent out to begin loading the next volley and soon the ballistae were loaded and ready. Once again they all fired in unison, releasing their destructive power on the unfortunate recipients below.
The crews eagerly strained their eyes as they watched for the explosions that would tell them if they had scored a hit or not. Cheers once again rang out as this time, even more bolts found their target and detonated in powerful explosions that could be felt even from where the armada circled in the sky.
But then the cheers suddenly grew silent as everyone stared at the scene they could not quite believe.
From underneath the clouds, a shape emerged. Like a leviathan from the depths of the sea it breached through the surface of the clouds trailing smoke and flames, lightning arcing along its black surface. Soon everyone in the armada could fully see the ship, or whatever it was as it emerged from the clouds.
Cornelius felt his eyes bulge as he stared at the massive ship that was now steadily gaining altitude, its sleek shape and metallic surface evoking a feeling of dread deep in his heart. He knew it was a ship, one that was no doubt more advanced and more powerful than his entire fleet! His mind insisted that it could not be possible that something like 'that' was here! But the truth was there before him. He had only ever seen 'that' once before in his life, and the sight of 'that' had forever changed how he perceived power.
He snapped himself out of his shock and started to bellow orders at his crew. He knew that his armada was outmatched by that ship, but he would not give up! He would claw his way into it with his bare hands if he had to!
The key to his future lay inside that ship!