Agatha H. and the Fair Dinkum Blue – Part 9

Genre: Steampunk / Gaslamp Fantasy
Stumbles Clumsily InGirl Genius
Mara’s Involvement: medium-heavy
Time: continuing after The Pauper Princess and the Way of the Trilobite.
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The story so far!
–Whose Heterodyne Is It, Anyway?

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Legal disclaimer stuff:
“This story is not approved by, sponsored by or affiliated with Studio Foglio LLC or Airship Entertainment.”
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The Pauper Princess Fanfiction Theatre Presents:
Agatha H. and the Fair Dinkum Blue – Part 9!

“WHY ARE YOU STILL ALIVE??” Lucrezia had made respectable efforts thus far to free herself from the shackles, but was unlikely to succeed as long as Queen Matilda Zola BananaFanaFoFana kept such careful watch.

“If you’d stop shouting,” she said, “I’d be happy to-“

“SOMEBODY!!” bellowed Lucrezia, now able to use her Voice, “ANYONE, KILL HER FOR ME AND YOU SHALL BE REWARDED!!”

Before she could screech any other threats, offers, or complaints about accommodations, a device vaguely resembling a gas mask was clamped over her nose and mouth. The straps self-fastened and self-tightened around her neck by the time she had begun another tirade. A wholly silent tirade. She could breathe in and out, but no sound escaped the device. Not for lack of her trying.

Matilda sighed in relief. She patted the mask. “Oh, my, that’s so much better. Funny; I made it for my hairdresser. She does excellent work, but just won’t stop talking! Rather than kill her, I just slap this on as needed. Like now. You know, I think you two would get on well.”

Lucrezia glowered.

Matilda clapped her hands together. “All right, then! That was not so your Voice that Commands the Winds would summon people to your aid, but because I couldn’t stand all your screaming! I left you alive and unvenomed for a reason, you know, and you were making me regret it. There’s a lot to catch up on, so I’ll try to be brief. You are still alive because I’d like to think that you’re more of an asset alive than as a corpse. I strongly recommend that you not prove me wrong. Now, where to start, where to start? Oh! If you’re a good girl, I’ll show you how you got here in the first place. It’s a lovely little device that I’m hoping will get a more use in the near future. If you’re a good girl. {ahem} Also, knowing you – and I do, heh heh  – you’re probably still obsessing about me trapping that mental copy of you in a neural trap. Still fuuuming about it. Well! I have news about that. I’ll explain.”

She paused to gather her thoughts. After a few moments, she shook her head.

“No, there’s too much. I’ll sum up. It took some time, but I dismantled the neural traps keeping me… you… Lucrezia a prisoner. We – Zola and Lucrezia – are now peacefully coexisting, Auntie…Sister! But not such that either of us is dominant. We have truly merged minds! So if ‘I’ refer to us as ‘we,’ it’s a little more than the royal ‘we,’ non?”

Glower, followed by her own shake of the head.

“I don’t expect you to believe me,” said Matilda. “In some ways, I have more trouble believing it than you do. You wanted to vivisect me, I wanted to disintegrate you.” She chuckled at the memory. “Hardly good candidates to become inseparable companions. But during my journey to this wonderful land, I had the opportunity to do a lot of… well, for lack of a better term, soul-searching. Really, Auntie-Sister, it all comes down to the important things that we both want. We want to rule. We want to conquer. We want revenge! I don’t have to name names. There’s a line around the block of people we need to squash. And we finally came to the conclusion that we could accomplish all that together, rather than forever battling for mental dominance.” She paused to offer a smile to her ‘sister.’ Lucrezia was unimpressed. “By the way, if I remove the muzzle, will you promise not to scream and shout and spew death threats?”

After one last Glower, Lucrezia nodded. Matilda removed the muzzle, but kept it as close by as that accursed locket.

“Now,” she said, “Here’s what I have in mind-“

“If you ever call me ‘Auntie-Sister’ again,” said Lucrezia, “I’ll strangle you in your sleep.”

“…Well, thank you for that warning,” said Matilda. “It’ll give me some ideas how to redecorate my bedroom.” She sighed and put her hands on her hips. “So typical of me. Us. Unwilling to work with anyone, always plotting, always scheming, always planning betrayals. Ohh, those were the good old days. But also unproductive.”

“Oh, and you have been?” said Lucrezia. “What did you call yourself? Queen ‘Matilda’ of Austria? Really? Who would make you Queen of Austria? What a waste of wasps!”

Australia,” she said through gritted teeth. “My new name was their idea. Queen Matilda the First of the island-continent of Australia.”

Lucrezia just glared. Matilda scoffed.

“Fine. You know it as ‘Dinnunder,’ the mysterious land of Albia’s exiles. And I know that’s how you know it, because… I know what you know.” She grinned and got another Glower in response.

“Oh, come on!” said Matilda, throwing up her hands. “This would take a lot less time if you just accessed her memories, dear. I can teach you-”

“Oh, ho ho, no! If you mean the Agatha girl’s memories, then forget it!” Matilda raised an eyebrow. “That pun was not intended!”

Oh, good,” said Matilda. “And yes, I did mean ‘the Agatha girl’s’ memories. Really, you… you call her that? Never mind. You’ve been in her head for, what, three or four years now, and you haven’t spent all that time digging through her mind?” She paused for a response. “Well, what have you been doing in there, dear?”

“Plotting my escape, of course!” Lucrezia snapped.

“Oh, for—“ said Matilda. “You weren’t doing anything! Just sitting there under the locket!”

“You’re welcome to try it on,” said Lucrezia. “See what it does to you! Then accuse me of ’just sitting there!’ ”

“I have other plans for this,” said Matilda, peering at  it. Even from there, Lucrezia could feel its energies. But thankfully not strong enough to push her under again.

“Destroy it,” Lucrezia hissed. “Melt it into slag!”

Matilda held it away from her. “You’re not thinking things through, dear,” she said. “One, this is leverage. Two, I need it so that my artisan can make a replica.” Off Lucrezia’s incredulous look: “Not a working replica. As if he could. Just something that resembles it to the last detail and to the highest scrutiny. You can’t go wandering about the fleet with a bare neck. It’ll be hard enough for you to impersonate her without that little red flag!”

“What – Are – You –“ Lucrezia paused to take in a deep breath. “-TALKING ABOUT?!?

I swear,” said Matilda, wagging a finger, “One more shriek like that, and the muzzle goes back! Don’t think it won’t!” She held her finger close to Lucrezia’s face, silently daring her to try. For once, her counterpart remained silent. “A wise choice. As I said, it would be much easier if you’d let me teach you to sift through her memories. That would save me a lot of breath.”

No,” said Lucrezia. “She’s always pushing at me. It takes concentration just to keep her at bay. If I start spelunking, that will just give her a handhold to crawl out. And unlike you, I have no plans to “peacefully coexist” with her. In fact, here is what would make me consider working with you in any capacity: find me either a blank slate of a body and transfer my mind there, or get her out of this one. Then we have a deal!”

“I see,” said Matilda, tapping her chin. “Let us consider your demands for a moment. Given that you’re strapped to my table, in my lab, in my palace, in my queendom, in a land that you know nothing about, I’m curious how you think you have any negotiating power? Now don’t get me wrong; fixing your little Agatha problem will be on our to-do list, but it’s not acceptable as a demand. I’ve… calmed down, and would rather not destroy one of my own, but you must understand this: I don’t need you to win this war. But I recognize your expertise – and kinship, and offer you the opportunity of a partnership, to conquer and humiliate our real enemies.”

Lucrezia seemed to actually give some consideration to her words. She furrowed her brow. “I didn’t realize you had such a hatred for Klaus?”

Matilda only sighed and closed her eyes.

“…What?”

****

“…An Empress now, you say?”

Yes,” said Matilda with obvious exhaustion. “Which I shouldn’t have needed to say.”

“Not another word about that!” The women exchanged glares. Lucrezia turned up her nose. “And don’t think for a moment that I trust you. And most importantly, I am not, by any stretch of the imagination, your minion!”

“Awww,” said Matilda. “But I had a uniform for you and everything.”

Lucrezia stiffened sharply and fumed, “You will take your uniform and shove it up your-”

“ARE YOU ENTIRELY incapable of a sense of humor?” Matilda fumed back. “Don’t answer; I already know. There are other ways to have a good laugh other than cackling over the humiliating defeat of one’s enemies.”

“Speak for yourself,” she sniffed. “Such as it is. All right, it should be simple enough: I infiltrate their ranks, then kill them at the first opportunity.”

“What? No!” said Matilda. “There needs to be humiliation! Subjugation! They need to stand before both of us in abject surrender! Then we kill them!”

“Uff! You are sentimental. Are you sure that’s me in there?” She reached out to tap Matilda’s forehead; the Queen leaned away from it. A knock on the lab’s door temporarily halted any further debate. Matilda unlocked and opened it herself, then grinned at Hugh’s entrance. He bowed deeply and flashed his own ice-melting smile.

“Your Majesty,” he said. “Will you be needing accommodations for your guest, or a deathtrap?”

“Good question, my dearest Hugh,” said Matilda, and tapped at her chin while ignoring Lucrezia’s scowls. “Accommodations,” she finally said. “But first, you’ll want a tour, won’t you, Lucrezia-darling?”

“Oh, am I a ‘good girl,’ after all?” she sneered. “And didn’t you just tell me that I’m an Empress? That would be ‘Your Imperial Majesty,’ thank you very much.”

“And that will get you found out right away,” said Matilda. “My sources have learned that, for some reason, they’re terribly informal about addresses and other protocol. Trying to be ‘one of the people,’ I suppose.”

“Oh, come now,” she said. “Even Tarvek? He was born pompous.”

“Look, as satisfying as it is, don’t go about ordering everyone to tremble and kneel, all right?” said Matilda. “And don’t use the Jägers as furniture! She actually respects them.” Off Lucrezia’s eye roll: “I know; but at least try to. Now, time is wasting. Let’s have that tour.”

“Weeell,” Lucrezia oozed, slipping her hand beside Hugh’s elbow, “If we must. You’re a good tour guide, aren’t you, dear?”

“He’s also mine,” said Matilda, nudging her aside to slip her own hand into place. “You’ll have another escort.”

Lucrezia sneered at her, then suppressed a gasp just in time as her ‘escort’ stepped into the room: a dark-skinned woman in white and red, whose burned and scarred face and mechanical upper limbs painted a grisly picture of pain, violence, and the obvious willingness (and desire?) to inflict both on others, judging by her maniacal grin and madness in her eyes. And not the good kind of madness.

“Admiral Dupree,” said Matilda, “You’ve met Lucrezia before, have you? More well-known as ‘the Other?’ ”

“Not directly,” said the Admiral. “I mean, other than the one in your head. Hey; what’re you looking at?”

“Ah, nothing,” Lucrezia lied, avoiding eye contact. ”I’ve seen far worse than—Ah, what I meant to say-“

“Save it,” said Dupree. “The new look is thanks to your friend, or bodyguard, or whatever she is. The Pauper Princess?”

“…The what?”

“Admiral,” said Matilda, “I explained this. This is not Agatha. Lucrezia, do you know who she means?”

“Not remotely.”

“Well,” said Dupree, “If you’re going back there to be a spy or whatever, and she’s there, save her for me.”

“I… shall consider it,” said Lucrezia.

“I think she’ll make a nice, decorative lamp. Or two! Slice her vertically and have a matching set.”

“Dupree, we’re wasting time!”

“Fine,” the Admiral grumbled, then gestured to the doorway. “Which way, Queenie?”

“Let’s visit the petting zoo,” said Matilda. “That should be a nice warm-up.”

“Is that a ‘humorous’ way of describing a hive engine?” Lucrezia asked.

“If only,” said Matilda. “I’m afraid that breeding slaver wasps has proven impossible in this part of the world. The climate just won’t support it. But this wonderful land has provided some natural alternatives. Though not ideal ones.”

“I’ll pass. What else?”

Matilda’s tone had more menace than usual. “Lucrezia,” she said, “If I wanted you dead, you’d be dead. If I wanted you venomed, you’d be venomed. I don’t care if you don’t trust me; you’re just going to have to trust me!”

“Great logic, right?” said the Admiral. Her cheerful demeanor disappeared. “Now move it, Not-Agatha! I’ve got a war to get back to.”

*********

Gil spoke into the fleet-wide public address. “All crew, ear protection in thirty seconds. No exceptions! Countdown begins…” He nodded to the Professor, who nodded back. “NOW!”

The Professor’s device hummed and vibrated. He placed his hand on the main lever and waited for the end of the countdown. Simultaneously, Gil glanced back at his clank bodyguard Borhlaikha, then pointed towards Dupree, who continued to hover just beyond the edge of the shields but was clearly preparing to return to her ship’s cockpit.

“Bring her to us, alive if at all possible,” he said. Bohrlaikha nodded silently, then was up the ladder to the ship’s upper hatch and on her way out in two blinks. It was unlikely that Dupree could see through the shield in order to spot the giant clank racing along the top of the airship to gain speed for its spectacular leap up, forward, and through the shield. From the front, the shield was (assumed) impenetrable. From behind, it was quite permeable. Bohrlaikha was unfazed by the transition and landed squarely on the front of the craft just as Dupree was getting settled into her seat.

“YOU WILL COME WITH ME,” said the clank, its expression implacable as always.

Dupree grinned and stood up again, pistol in hand. “I must decline your invitation,” she said, and fired. The explosive slugs hit their mark, but fizzled out after impact, and fell away with no harm to their target. The clank’s electrified blade charged up.

Dupree was back in the cockpit and shutting the canopy just in time for Bohrlaikha to raise up the sword for a mighty blow. Dupree lurched the ship, causing the clank to stumble, until spikes shooting from the bottom of its boots anchored it to the ship. It regained its balance.

“THIS IS YOUR LAST WARNING.”

“And you’ll have none!” yelled Dupree, and accelerated to full speed in two seconds. She loved the ‘rush’ from that. As soon as she found a clear path, she executed multiple barrel rolls to shake off the clank, who was proving to be irritatingly unshakable. Dupree leveled off the ship and aimed its port and starboard miniguns point-blank at the clank, offered it a little salute with a grin, and let them rip. The slugs that weren’t knocked away or destroyed by the clank’s sword fell away from it after impact.

The clank reached down and tore off the canopy. It let the piece fly away into the wind and began reaching for Dupree, who managed to kick away its hand and flip backwards from the cockpit onto the fuselage just behind it, holding on tight with her mechanical arm. She began looking around with purpose. The clank took two steps forward, each step anchored back into place by its boot spikes, and reached again for her. Dupree swung her free hand over to grip the clank’s sword hand, and forced it down. The sword’s tip skewered the cockpit all the way through the other side. Its momentum and its own melting power caused it to slice the rest of the cockpit almost in half.

Smoke poured from the open ‘wounds.’ The ship began losing power, and altitude, very quickly. G-forces and air resistance continued breaking the ship into pieces. Dupree braced herself for a leap, making sure to raise her buttocks high enough to wiggle them at the clank first. Another ship, whose pilot had seen her predicament, passed by underneath– and she was gone. Bohrlaikha watched it accelerating away, with Dupree riding on top. Bohrlaikha leaped to follow, but had no footing or leverage, and only managed to push itself away from the ship’s crumbling debris. If it felt any surprise, frustration, or fear, it was unable to show this via its ever-implacable expression.

A Guildern Guardian scooped the clank from the air. The Guardian’s mask was just as expressionless, though the flying suit’s pilot was very human.

“FOLLOW THE PIRATE,” Bohrlaikha said, climbing around the suit until it was riding on top like a jockey.

“Hold on,” said the Guardian, whose voice was female. “Your Ladyship?” Bohrlaikha was puzzled. The clank surely had not been promoted? Ah. The human reported to Empress Agatha; she must have been in communication with her. “Sorry,” said the Guardian. “We’ve got different orders. Hang on tight.”

“BUT-“

***

Moments after Bohrlaikha climbed to the flagship’s roof, Gil became intent on watching the show of it capturing the notorious airship pirate. Tarvek’s attentions were elsewhere. The Dinnundrian airfleet had revealed itself. And then what? No swarms of flying clanks, beasties, or even more fixed-wing ships were pouring from the vessels. Not even a giant, hologrammatic message from the Queen’s herald. The New Europan fleet was preparing its own fighters, though. Gunners fixed their sights on the enemy fleet. The Tooth Fairies busily sharpened their claws… and teeth. The Guardians checked each other’s suits and lined up along the open launch bay doors. The Jagers’ trigger fingers were itchy on their big gun, ‘Hallo, Sveethot!’

Movement: spotted. Hatches were opening on all ships, revealing impressively complicated guns behind them. He tapped Gil’s shoulder, who pushed the hand away. Tarvek frowned and gave him a shove.

“What?” Gil snapped, and gestured to the window. “Dammit! I think Bohrlaikha might-!“

“What do those look like?” Tarvek said, pointing in another direction.

Gil stepped close to the window and peered out. Then he clapped his hands together and rubbed them. “Ooo, death rays, eh? A nice test for us.”

“Maybe. Agatha?”

“You’re certain the shields will withstand ‘anything’ now?” answered Lucrezia with an uncharacteristic nervous tone to her voice.

“Gil’s clank needs backup,” said Tarvek. “Would you-?”

“Hey! I did not say she needs-!”

“Seamus?” Lucrezia heard Mara say. She had switched her communicator’s channel. “Please send a Guardian to assist Herr Wulfenbach’s clank.”

What are you doing?” Lucrezia demanded. (Dupree was not to be taken alive!)

Mara only offered a shrug. “Helping a teammate in need. You heard Herr Sturmvoraus?” A Guardian shot past the main port at an unbelievable speed, then through the fleet’s shield and off in pursuit.

Lucrezia pulled off her headset. “To whom do you report?” When the Princess just gave her a puzzled look, she leaned in. “To Whom?” The Jägergenerals traded concerned glances. Heterodynes at each other was never a good thing.

“Wh– You, of course!” said the Princess. “But why are you shouting?”

“Because you acted without orders from me! How could I not shout?”

“Ag—Your Ladyship-“

Before she could answer, and with mere seconds left to their own countdown, the enemy fleet fired its weapons all at once. There was a momentary flash of light from the guns’ muzzles before their respective energy beams hit most of the ships’ shields squarely. Which appeared to be holding just fine. A crewmember reported full strength and holding steady.

“Herr Wulfenbach?” said Professor Óriásifej, his hand itchy at the lever. “Time’s up! Shall I…?”

“Wait!” said Tarvek, his palm held out firmly.

“Ahhh,” said Gil. “Not death rays…”

“Freeze rays!” all three Emperors said at once. It’s about time, Lucrezia thought.

“Mistress,” said Gkika, “Dis dun look goot! Giff de vort, und ve blast dem oudda de sky!”

Lucrezia waved away the suggestion. “The Boys called first attack. Let them have it.”

“Vat-?”

“Agatha!” Gilgamesh called out. “Your Guardian has Bohrlaikha. Tell him to continue pursuit of Dupree!”

“Her,” Mara said, having recognized Heather’s markings on the suit.

Lucrezia cared more about her childhood collection of spores, molds, and fungus than that little fact. She remained focused on Gilgamesh. “Don’t you think addressing this little problem is more urgent?”

“And capturing her isn’t??”

Lucrezia switched channels, having noted the settings that Mara had used. “Attention, Guardian that caught Bohr… Bohr… Herr Wulfenbach’s clank, your orders are to seek and destroy the freeze rays currently shooting at us. Understood?” Pause. “Good.”

“I think…” said Mara, putting a hand on Lucrezia’s shoulder and pointing, “I think they’re actually affecting the shields??”

Lucrezia subtly shrugged off the hand. “I made a good call, then.”

Gkika scoffed. “Hyu see??” Treat them with respect, indeed. Jägers needed to shut up and wait for orders, is what they needed.

The beams’ points of contact were beginning to fog up and spread slowly. On closer look, hairline cracks could be seen forming. Mara raced to a console showing readouts of power, frequency, harmonics, and other vital signs. Lucrezia joined her, feigning great concern.

“Add more power!” said Lucrezia.

“No!” Tarvek said. “A surge would crack them even faster! We need to send steady waves of heat across the surface, and continually increase the temperature to fully counteract the effects.”

“Ohh,” said Mara, nodding. “Yes, that should do! I’ll—“ She caught herself and stopped abruptly, looking Lucrezia’s way. “Your Ladyship?”

“We don’t have time for that, Tarvek!” Lucrezia countered. “We blast them back with more power!”

“Don’t, Agatha!” said Gilgamesh. “You’ll do their job for them! We’re trying it on our ships now, and it’s working! You’re synced with your ships, yes? Then hurry!”

“Your Ladyship??” said Mara, sneaking nervous glances towards the main window.

“…Fine,” she grumbled, “Turn up the heat!”

“Mistress!” General Khirzhan shouted, pointing out the main window. “Ve gots inkommink!”

The pitter-patter of rain was heard against the shields, if rain were made of thousands of metal bullets being flung at supersonic speeds. Mixed in were metal javelins that bashed repeatedly at the shields. Most fell away upon impact, as did the bullets, but others were starting to stick. And where they stuck, the cracks grew larger.

“Generals,” said Mara, “We’re going to need your help.” She turned a large knob, and a rumbling in the floor came from a panel sliding open. After it had fully opened, a large, hologrammatic projection flickered into view. Lucrezia had seen something like it before in Castle Heterodyne’s library – a wire-frame map of the Castle. Here, on the flagship, it was a hologrammatic representation of the Heterodyne fleet. The Jägergenerals gathered around the image.

Mara’s hands became a blur as she operated control after control in rapid succession, only slowing down when it came time to slowly increase the shield temperature. The girl certainly knew her way around these devices. Weaknesses in the shields were displayed as dots, or in the areas where the beams hit, large blemishes. General Zog touched such an area with his finger. Outside, on that very same spot, javelins making any headway against the shields were flung away.

Mara glanced over. “If you touch the points of impact, it will focus that- Oh! I see that you’re already at it. Excellent!”

“Hyu got it, sveethot!” said Gkika, joining the others in poking and swiping at targets. “Hoy! De vun vit de lowest score gots to sing und dance for de pack!”

“No fair!” said Khirzhan, “Hy dun know any songs!”

“Dot’s vat hyu get, neffer kommink to my karaoke nights! Bedder find a goot costume! How about an old goat?”

“Ha!” said Goomblast, “Hy’ll see hyu onstage as an old biddy! Oh, vait – hyu already iz vun!”

Lucrezia was irritated by their chatter, but stayed back and let them work. Independently of this little targeting game, she noticed that some of the rays were stopping abruptly. That was her own fault, though; she had given that Guardian the order to attack the rays at the source. She and Gilgamesh’s pet clank were just doing their duty, and a bit more effectively than she’d expected. But it was either that order, have them do nothing and just return to base, or send them after Admiral Dupree. She could handle Gilgamesh’s wrath about ignoring his wishes. Meanwhile, the first order would arouse the least suspicion.

“Shields are stabilized!” said Tarvek over their communicators. Then over the fleet-wide address system: “Techs, set dampeners to half power. All personnel, ear protectors NOW. Attacking in 5- 4- 3- 2- 1-“

An unholy shriek that would puncture an unprotected eardrum still managed to set Lucrezia’s teeth into a grind and her muscles into knots. The Jägers, with more sensitive hearing, cringed and groaned as though listening to a thousand forks scratching clay plates. Emanating from the fleet’s flagship was a blast of pure, sonic power. The shriek became a THRRRRUM that was strong enough to give crewmembers within the fleet a mild shove. Outside the fleet, the shockwave spread concentrically. Anything in its path was given far more than a ‘mild’ shove. Any still-operational freeze ray guns were flattened. Small airships were pushed into larger ones. Larger ships shook and were forced into different directions. The dampeners directed at the enemy’s shields added to the damage caused by the impacts. Any of Dupree’s fixed-wing attackers, bullets, or javelins that were still in the air were pulverized. They could only imagine what was happening to the crewmembers caught without aural protection.

“Heather!” Mara called out, but could not be heard over the din. She ran to the main window, a frantic look on her face that dissolved into relief at the sight of her assistant, Bohrlaika still riding on her back, returning to the cargo bay. She wiped at her cheek and returned to her post.

Lucrezia caught herself staring at the carnage, oblivious to the whooping of the Jägergenerals, intermixed with arguing over who was going to be entertaining the troops. She overheard Tarvek and Gilgamesh conveying more subdued celebration; she added a brief exultation to keep a toehold in their world. Zola/Matilda was not on any of these airships, and was likely quite safe in the palace, but this situation needed to be mitigated, and quickly. Australia was not going to win this round. But how to give them another chance?

“How is our power holding?” she asked.

Mara nodded. “Just fine, Your Ladyship.”

“No problems here, either,” Gilgamesh piped in. “Self-sustaining batteries this powerful are good that way.” She detected a verbal smirk to the last response. Powerful, self-sustaining… batteries. The shockwave that dealt such a blow to Matilda was powered by them. She looked in the Princess’ direction and for once, was the one doing the staring. The Princess was engrossed in her work at the console and did not notice. Lucrezia was starting to suspect that the Agatha girl had some cause to appoint her as Techmistress. She would just need an attitude adjustment, then. Yes.

The sonic wave motion cannon ceased its barrage. None of the airships had been destroyed, per se, but judging by the smoke and flame from most of them, they weren’t long for the world. It was unlikely that Matilda’s fleet would get the chance to use the rest of their offensive. No more underestimating these people, then. She suppressed a chuckle. Matilda doesn’t need her to win this war, hm?

Tarvek’s voice droned over the public address system. “All guns, fire at will! All fliers, find your targets and exterminate with extreme prejudice!”

The swarms pouring forth from the New Europan fleet nearly blackened the skies.

–To be continued

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