Shot pistols generally spat clusters of small metal balls in a lethal cone out to a few hundred spans. Mirl’s gunnery officer had perfected a far more interesting projectile. Harren steadied the extended stock against his shoulder and took aim on an Albo.
The recoil nearly toppled him from his chair. Halfway to the old plane a thin trail of flame traced the bullet’s path. It passed through the canvas and the inside of the plane was illuminated with bright yellow light. Harren pulled back the lever over the barrel and fed another shell into the chamber. This time he stood to put a shot through the canopy of the next Albo over. He collapsed into his chair and guzzled down another mouthful of the mechanics’ searing liquor. “What is in those things?”
Mirl held up a shell. It had a metal skin, scarred with predetermined fragmentation lines. “There are two chambers inside. The contents react violently with each other. The propellant drives a nail through them both and they start reacting at about two hundred spans. When the shell splits it releases flaming liquid in all directions. Or it would explode at about a thousand spans and do the same thing.”
“Really?” Harren cranked the handle and fired straight up.
They watched the fire trail thicken and eventually blossom into a white hot teardrop. “We should move.” Suggested Mirl.
“What goes up must come down.”
“Oh. Of course.” They grabbed the bottles of liquor and bag of ammunition and wandered a wavering line back to the mess. Harren remembered the chairs as he stood at the door, and looked back to see them both in flames.
There were mounted commendations all the way down the main table. Each sat atop the growing tower of ale and spirit bottles the associated crew were consuming. Harren’s gunship raid and Mirl’s high altitude bombing were being lauded as grand shows of strength. The heroes were due to embark on a publicity tour. “Drink your fill boys, for tomorrow we must entertain our public!” There was a roar from the crews and a hammering of the table that toppled two bottle towers.
They collapsed onto a bench seat. “Where have they sent you?” Mirl asked.
“Back to Reff, to shine above the grimy city, then some middle of nowhere air show and finally on to Stran Island to talk with the Navy about combined force attacks.”
“We are going even further north, to show the damned logging camps that we care about them by mercilessly bombing trees.”
“This supposed Hidden Army in the woods. Every time a logger gets toxicated and falls in the river it is all about the Hidden Army. So we are going to bomb the forest around the river and maybe kill some river reptiles.”
“That sounds like more action than I will see.”
“Death from above!”
“Death from above!” They saluted each other with spirit bottles.