|Black Knight vs. the Titans
The silvery electrified knife left Desmond’s hand with only the slightest displacement of air, its gleaming edges flashing in the moonlight. He watched in satisfaction as the terrorist of the Titan Brotherhood slumped across the Jormungdur’s central aether bag, blue surges from the electro knife still coursing through his body, causing it to jerk like an amateur puppeteer with his first toy.
Desmond Barnes, also known as the North American Federation’s agent Black Knight, checked the surface of the mighty vessel, adjusting the tint of his goggles to further remain invisible. So far, his presence had gone completely undetected, but the now displaced guard would be noticed all too soon, and the Knight would need to be well away by then. With only a slight readjustment to the black short blade at his side, Desmond set off across the length of the airship, keeping his footfalls silent and soft.
What had made the Brotherhood take the Jormungdur? It was well known as a passenger vessel, with no military value, as was their usual quarry. In fact, this particular vessel was a luxury liner, with massive amounts of refitting needed to maker her battle-ready.
White Bishop had informed him of the planned seizure, though where she had gotten this information was a mystery, and White King had immediately commissioned him aboard. It was a simple matter to slip away during the evening cocktails and hide before the mutiny. Even after checking the register, the Brotherhood would only find that Desmond Barnes had voided his ticket before boarding, complaining of stomach problems.
Finding the correct attachment lines brought Knight out of his wanderings. If The Titan Brotherhood was here in force, it meant Major Chronos was with them, personally overseeing this operation, whatever it was.
Knight hooked his speed link to the cable and quickly rappelled down the side of the airship, stopping only when he could make out the light of the gondola. If his hurried memorization of the layout of the ship was correct, the control room would be directly below him. By now, Chronos had total control of the ship; heading toward what Knight could only hope was a base of some sort. Time was slipping away rapidly, and even if the passengers were still unharmed, victims would surely be forthcoming.
With a deft twist, Knight hooked the small clockwork mechanism attached to his boot onto the cable and swung upside-down. Now only bound to the ship by one ankle, he heard the ticking as gravity and the amazing device lowered him slowly and steadily down toward the gondola.
Major Chronos was dominant in the control room, supervising the flight, with several terrified engineers attempting to maintain their calm with gleaming rifles pointed at their backs’. His long black hair waved about as he gestured wildly to the crew.
Now was the moment.
Black Knight pulled a small canister from his belt, something Black Rook had given him, saying only that it would produce enough smoke to fill a small room for a few minutes and cause anyone breathing it to cough uncontrollably. Hiding in the envelope’s shadow and using his remaining hand to grasp the cable, Desmond unhooked his ankle and used his body’s momentum to shatter the glass window, flinging the canister in after it.
Within seconds, cloying black smoke filled the cabin, and the Brotherhood guards began hacking violently between their surprised grunts. With the window sucking the smoke from the room, Knight hooked his heavily fibrous scarf to his goggles and swung into the cabin below. Further utilizing the schematics, another knife left his hand, non-electric, and watched through his enhanced goggles as it lodged itself in the door lock, trapping everyone inside.
Having assured that escape was only possible through the window, Knight lay into the guard next to him, sweeping his feet and smashing his elbow into his trachea. A second heard his fellow fall and swung his rifle butt in the general direction, only to meet a black steel toed boot in his ribcage.
Knight slipped easily between them all in smoke, disabling each until Major Chronos lay on the floor with Knight's short sword at his throat. The engineers had been incapacitated by the smoke as well, and the few that were conscious shook their heads groggily in an attempt to clear them.
Knight pulled the Major up and said, “What’s the game, Chronos? Why a luxury liner?”
The Captain of the Brotherhood laughed shakily and said, “Not all wars are fought with guns and bombs, Agent Black Knight. Sometimes it takes something more to get a point across.” Knight gave him a swift elbow to render him completely unconscious, and raced to the ship’s navigation board. The auto heading was completely destroyed, with the last course set still active.
Knight had only limited aeronautical skill, but he knew this heading and coordinates. The Jormungdur was the largest passenger airship to travel the Atlantic, with its regular route being from London to New York City.
This heading would take the two thousand passenger airship directly into the Statue of Liberty.
The pieces fell together, a chaotic symphony ringing together in his head. The Titan Brotherhood was no longer content to settle for petty skirmishes and small seizures; this was a global declaration of war, and they had no intention of abiding by any rules. Knight had to stop this ship or it could spark an arms race among the great powers, each accusing each other of harboring the Brotherhood.
Knight hurriedly searched for any kind of override, but his unfamiliarity with airships was telling. One of the crewmen began to moan, and Knight raced to his side.
“Sailor, can you hear me? I need your help.”
The engineer began to blink and Knight cracked open a small vial of wake tonic and forced it down the groggy sailor’s throat. Almost instantly, the fog left his eyes and he began to breathe easier. “Better?” Knight asked him.
“Yes, sir. What’s going on?” He asked in voice raspy from coughing.
“Here’s the situation, Sailor. Your ship’s auto-heading is demolished and the final heading set is leading us directly into the Statue of Liberty. By my nearest estimation, we have about ten minutes until this ship becomes the largest torch the Federation has ever seen. So,” he continued in his most calming voice, “Can you stop the engines from here?”
The engineer, to his credit, didn’t show his growing panic, and did his best keep the quaver from his voice. “Not if the auto heading is out, sir. It is connected to all the ship’s other systems. With it gone, the only way to stop her would be to shut down the engines manually. But sir,” he called as Knight was moving to the broken window, “If these men know enough about the ship to set her course and destroy the auto-heading, they’ll know how to restart the engines.”
Knight considered his options, the time seeming to slip away from him. Then the idea hit him, and his grin seemed to come through his mask. “Sailor, how much do you know about water landings?” he quickly outlined his plan to the paling engineer, and finished by saying, “The only thing you need do is to alert the passengers to do their best to hold on and keep hailing the coast for help. Now, help me bind these criminals and we’ll begin.”
They set to work with a vengeance, tying the guards wrists and ankles and dragging them to a small storage room outside. Knight gave a final wave to the engineer and climbed out the window, scaling the airship’s cables with the agility of a natural gymnast. The Statue was visible as he reached the top. Drawing his short blade, Desmond punctured a small hole in the auxiliary gasbag, just small enough to provide a steady leak. The airship immediately began to drop and Knight continued on, encouraged by the progress. Once the ship began to drop steadily, the agent made his way to the rear, near the tailfins and pulled out two small pads that attached to the front of his gloves. Special tiny hooks were sewn into the pads to allow him to attach to the gasbag itself and he made his way down swiftly and without alerting any of the additional Brotherhood in the engine room.
There was one final trick at his disposal, given to him by White Rook. It was very experimental and only useful in a situation just like this one. Knight dropped onto the engine housing and pulled what appeared to be a small revolver from his belt. Instead of bullet housings, coils and wires wrapped through the arm, glowing and giving it an alien look. White Rook said this weapon would disable any electrical device, and Knight was about to give it a field test.
Without further hesitation, he fired on the engine and nearly jumped when the engine coughed and died. The propeller stalled and stopped and their speed diminished. Just then, Knight heard the engineer call the warning and advise the passengers to brace themselves.
Knight was beginning to prepare his own departure when a series of shapes dropped from the ship and metallic wings shone dully in the moonlight. Chronos was escaping and Knight had no way to follow him. Tiny rockets propelled them to a dark shape in the distance that could only be their own airship.
Physically disgusted, he had to console himself with the victory of saving two thousand passengers from a fiery death and preventing a global war. But as the Brotherhood’s ship silently flew away, and Knight slipped inside a maintenance hatch to resume his role as Desmond Barnes, the victory was hollow compared with the stakes that had been raised.
Though safe for the moment, the world had become a far more dangerous place