Ships That Pass In The Sky

The HMS Menace departs Karkarham bound for Parhoon. Captain Harper wants to sweep the outskirts of the warzone around Shastapsh to see if he can strike a blow against the rebellion against the Crown. The fly past on the northern border and encounter a pirate out of Karkarham with a prize in tow, a neutral merchantman from Thoth. Harper debates taking the prize himself, but that could harm his reputation in Karkarham, so he signals the pirate to see if they will parley and trade information. They brusquely order the Menace to stand clear and Harper decides not to press his issue and continues on. Later, his lookouts spot a ship closing on them from astern. Its a Little Bird of Passage class merchant kite, a normally unarmed ship favored by smugglers for its high altitude capability. It is flying the rebel flag, so Harper orders a turn to attack it. Chief MacCraig stands by the forward 5" gun, holding his fire for better range, expecting that he will have a considerable range advantage over martian guns, However. the ship has been refitted with at least one human gun and they get in the first shot. MacCraig fires and strikes their stern gun. Harper signals for a close pass along their broadside to bring all his guns within reach. MacCraig fires and strikes their forward gun and the flank gunners rake the Little Bird with Gatling and Hotchkiss fire. Father Lars spots humans manning their forward gun and goes to warn Captain Harper. The Gatling gunner savages one of their masts, tearing the rigging apart. The Hotchkiss gunner puts a round into their bridge, wounding their captain and bridge crew. Damage to their hull causes the enemy kite to begin losing altitude.
The marines aboard the Little Bird open fire and one shot strikes Father Lars. Harper draws his pistols and fires both somewhat randomly in the other ship's direction. His crew take that as the signal to open fire and they shoot at the enemy crew on deck. One of Harper's marines tends to Father Lars' wound. Harper orders the Menace to swing wide out of their range and signals them to surrender. The other ship refuses and Harper orders MacCraig to give them some encouragement. MacCraig fires the 5" gun again and rips the rudder off the Little Bird's stern. They decide to surrender and the Menace comes along side and sends across a boarding party including Juan Escobedo and Dr. Reddington.
Boarding the enemy ship, they find some surprises. The forward gun is a modern German made 10cm high velocity cannon and it is crewed by a group of Irishmen! One is dead and another wounded, a third is unscathed. Searching the weapons from the ship's troops, one of the marines finds a brand new British army issue rifle and brings it to MacCraig. They search the other surrendered weapons and find seven more and ammunition for them.
Father Lars and a couple of marine guards go below to check for wounded while Juan and Nigel loot the crew quarters. Lars tends to the wounded captain and has him moved to his quarters. Once he has been treated, Father Lars questions him about how he came to be captain of an armed rebel merchant ship and his history.
With the situation under control, Harper has time to consider his options and confer with his officers. The Little Bird is damaged and towing upwind to friendly territory would greatly delay their voyage. He decides to strip the ship of usable and interesting items, take the captain and Irish aboard as prisoners, then release the rest of the crew and scuttle the ship. Work parties remove the two remaining light guns and ammunition for the German 10cm. The prisoners are brought aboard the Menace and MacCraig rigs a scuttling charge with his Hellfire compound. The ship is landed, the crew put off and the charge fired. The Menace heads away.
Captain Harper and Chief MacCraig interrogate the Irish and find they are members of a Fenian battalion under command of Francis Meagher who were smuggled in to Shastapsh to help the rebels fight the British. The rebels have also been aided with German arms and troops. The Fenians do not know anything about the rifles the Little Bird's crew had.

The Menace continues to Parhoon and once there, they scatter to various tasks. Harper turns over his prisoners to British authorities and files a report. Juan meets up with one of his agents and finds out a large contingent of British troops is on the way from Earth. Father Lars visits the local Vatican diplomatic mission. Chief MacCraig and Dr. Reddington visit the Royal Explorers' Society, then go drinking. Dashwood meets with British officials to sell his radio and also visits the Edison Society. They gather many clues about the mysterious ship and its Turkish commander. And finally, Harper goes to meet captain Spuulin Dunoos of the Parhoonese patrol kite Canal Serpent. Captain Dunoos relates his encounter with a Skyrunner cloudship on a course from Oenotria to Chrysax. It was flying the same flag as the mystery Endtime. It headed upwind and lost his ship, but it made the same strange humming sound as the Endtime.

They load up on supplies and head for Chrysax. There they spot the Skyrunner on the ground near a group of tents and an excavation. They circle around and land out of side and Harper, Father Lars, Dashwood, Juan and Nigel go forward with a marine lugging one of the radios. They encounter a group coming to investigate and when Father Lars tries to parley, they open fire. Two of the attackers are shot, one fatally, and the third escapes. Examining them, they find one is a human from Turkey, the other is a martian that Father Lars identifies as being from Protonilus.

The Skyrunner takes off and Harper orders the Menace in pursuit. The Menace's guns hammer the other ship and they move in to board her. Chief MacCraig leads the boarding party and going below decks, disables their motors with a vial of nitroglycerin. MacCraig and the marines fight off a counterattack from below decks, finishing them with dynamite thrown grenade style. A few marines are wounded or killed and MacCraig himself is injured when he drops another stick of dynamite down a hatchway and foolishly stands on the hatch. The Menace circles around and sends over another wave of marines. With reinforcements, they finish securing the ship. In the chartroom off the bridge, they find some partially burned charts. In the captain's cabin, they recover some letters in turkish and german, and papers identifying the ship as the Intikam. The crew of the Menace takes the damaged vessel under tow.

On the ground, Harper leads the others to explore the excavations. They find an abandoned hangar complex holding a twin hulled cloudship of ancient design. Studying the complex's architecture and items left behind, Father Lars and Dr. Reddington conclude the facility is over 15,000 years old. The cloudship appears to be a canal blaster; the vessels used to excavate the martian canals. However, the hull shows signs of recent damage from cutting tools and Juan concludes the ship's heat ray device has been removed. They realize their adversary may have the device. The science team returns to the surface and Harper orders the Menace to come down and pick them up. Juan and Nigel retrieve their tools and Juan takes pictures of the complex while Nigel types up a report. Afterwards, they set sail for Parhoon, taking the Skyrunner with them as a prize.

Smart Remarks and Quotes

Emily: "He looks deliberately rough and tumble, so he grooms his 5 o'clock shadow" talking about Captain Harper.
Mike: "If I thought things over, I wouldn't say much"
Konrad: "Foreplay in 1889 consisted of taking off all of the layers"
Konrad: "My own personal prayer factory" talking about Father Lars
Kevin: "I'm prepared to poke them with bullets"
Kevin: "When someone asks you if you're German, you say Yes!"
Konrad (about the Gunny): "There's a reason why I hired him"
Kevin: "But I can't remember what it is."
Konrad (as Harper): "I'm not used to having workers of your nature."
Mike (as Juan): "What, productive?"
Raleigh: "Dynamite doesn't take prisoners"