We lucky few
Skyborne adventures in 4th edition land
The voice tube crackled. “Bridge, Fire control.” The deck officer reached over and answered. “Fire control, bridge, go ahead.” The tinny voice from the tube replied; “Bridge, we’ve got an active siege beacon in the target zone. Request permission to compute a firing solution and engage.”
“Permission granted. The pathfinders have done well.” , the deck officer said as he turned away from the tube and began barking a string of orders to the helmsman. Arclight II swung ponderously about to present her flank towards the blaze of lights that marked the Zoican capital city. Five decks below the bridge, crews of loaders and gunners began their work. Men grunted and strained at capstans and chain hoists. Huge gears turned and turrets slowly slowly rotated, massive shells were gently lowered into breech cradles as the Arclight II readied her guns for the first salvo of the night.
On the bridge a few minutes later, the voice tube crackled again. “Bridge, fire control. We have a firing solution, guns are hot. Request permission to engage.” The deck officer replied with a single word.
Arclight II’s entire port side vanished behind a maelstrom of smoke and fire. Trees on the ground five hundred feet below the supermonitor were blown flat from the massive muzzle blast of her broadside. With a sound like ripping linen, the gigantic shells tore through the air towards their target. Heads turned in the Zoican suburbs, wondering at the strange noise as the shells rumbled overhead.
On a rooftop three hundred yards from the siege beacon Arclight II had just unleashed a broadside at, the pathfinder squad hunkered and waited. “Hey corp, think they’re there?”, one trooper asked. “What if they didn’t see the beacon? What if they don’t shoot?” The corporal’s colorful reply speculating on the trooper’s intelligence, personal hygiene and parentage was cut short as the salvo landed. Two shells hit the air defense tower they had marked, the rest scattered around the plaza the tower was defending. The tower and most of the plaza center disappeared behind a curtain of flame. Two more salvos landed, reducing the tower and most of the stonework around it to molten slag.
“Right,” the corporal said, “let’s get the other beacon up and call in the drogues.” As one the pathfinder squad moved off the rooftop and into the streets, heading towards the plaza at a cautious half run.
The Stormshear skidded in slowly over the plaza. The supermonitors had done well. More than half of the heavy anti air defenses had been reduced to smoking rubble. The Stormshear’s captain made a mental note to invite the captains of the Arclight II and Luseferous to dinner. Bursts of explosives and magical energies stuttered against drogue’s hull as she settled into a hover. Hatches on the underside of Stormshear’s assault deck popped open and four hundred armored fighters leaped into open space. Their descent retarded by the drop pucks held fast in special pouches in their breastplates, the fighters slowed as they approached the surface of the plaza. Thirty seconds after their boots touched stone, Stormshear’s first wave of fighters had formed a drill perfect infantry square, pikes and halberds leveled outwards towards whatever threats presented themselves. One of their number crunched a crystalline teleport beacon into the dusty cobbles at the center of the square. With a hiss-crack! of displaced air, the mages of the first legion teleported onto the battlefield and sought the nearest enemy.
Strobe flashes of lightning and gunpowder illuminated the other drogues of the First Skyborne similarly moving into positions over their assigned drop zones. The drop zones took on an eerie silence as the guns of the supermonitors shifted away to allow the jump infantry a chance to establish fighting positions. The distant thunder grumble of the supermonitors heavy siege mortars became a constant backdrop, punctuated by the occasional stuttering shriek of a Wasp or Dragonfly on a strafing run. The infantry squares of the drop zones broke apart into individual platoons and squads. The expected organized counter punch had not come. There would be no counter invasion force mustered by the Zoicans. No quick and decisive battle around the drop zones to determine the fate of Zoica Prime, but rather the promise of a protracted and dirty campaign fought house to house and blade to blade to determine the fate of the city.