The Barathi Floating Fortress they dubbed “Astramorte” was a joke. Someone in the Empire, thinking himself a military engineer, constructed a vast castle out of stone and bluewood, chinked with redpowder mortar, and loaded down with hundreds of long guns. The place fairly bristled with them.

But there were no scorpions —- no smaller guns to guard the approaches of fast and nimble targets —- especially gliders and wingmen. All it had was the muskets and pistols of the patrolling soldiers, because the guncrews were not armed as they slaved over their huge cannon. And their patrols were both few and lax.

As a squadron of sloops engaged the big guns on the Fire-side of Astramorte, four gliders arrowed in from the Utter-side at great speed. My squad —- three wingmen to a glider—leapt out, and coasted right up to the very wall of the Floating Fortress. There, near the base of the wall, in a narrow niche, there was a sewer grate no more than six feet tall. We set charges, blew the grate, and used the sewer pipe to enter the Fortress. Inside, we cut through the minimal patrols like a hot knife through butter, and made our way to the armory.

My squad set seven charges in Astramorte’s magazine, to be detonated by time fuzes. We quickly left the way we had came, running into only one patrol on the way. We launched our bodies back into the sky, gaining as much distance
as possible from the wall without entering the long guns’ field of fire.

The glider squadron returned, deploying catch-nets for us. We grabbed on, and were spun away faster than thought.

And just in time, too. The charges we’d set detonated the gigantic powder magazine of the Astramorte, blowing the Fortress to bits of gravel that fell towards the Blue.

My squad lost three men.

Ram Snakemind, Warmaster of Helkirk Freehold

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