Chapter 92:

The Back of the Leviathan - Part 4


“Or that’s what I’d like to say at least…” The inquisitor continued as her words got less jockey and her tone went serious. “What we use ain’t more than some big metal box with parachutes, the important thingy’s the plane carrying it. And I’m kinda sure no one saw a plane movin’ ‘round, so they can’t be the same. Ain’t I right, Col?”

Even the name of these ‘devices’ was as simple as their use. Calling something an ‘assault coffin’ don’t put much to imagination no matter what.

Also, they weren't more than some novelty weapon that never took off. Some inquisitors were crazy enough to use it, but the whole idea of an armored airborne assault wasn't that viable. Throwing yourself from a plane while inside a coffin didn't even sound as a good idea.

“They installed some cushions for me, but I wouldn’t call that some high-tech superweapon for sure.” Colette explained, even if she wasn’t paying that much attention to the discussion. “And getting permission to fly anything above the Archipelago is a fucking pain in the ass too. They only sent me that on the face because Anna ran away.”

“On radars, we saw the ‘plane’ you two speak of for a single second, and most only noticed a fast shadow passing by.” The admiral recited, likely from memory, how the events at Col’s arrival were seen by the wider population. “It is possible that we are dealing with the same kind of plane then. In fact, we could even be dealing with the very same plane.”

“Stealing a rocket plane won’t mean a thing if ya can’t supply and fly it." Anna continued, trying to argue her point without giving away too much. "The whole base would need to be made of traitors to work that thingy. It's way too freakin' complex to move those rockets...”

“So it is ‘unlikely’ and not ‘impossible’, do you not agree?” The humanoid dragon continued, now with an even clearer tone that showed how sure he was. “If these terrorists can infiltrate the heart of our lands, why would it be harder to take control of a single forward base?”

“You’ve a point, but it’s still impossible. The Federation would first blow a base up then let it go rogue and I assure ya they’d notice somethin’ that important goin’ rogue.”

“I agree with Annabeth. Something seems wrong with this theory, even if I can’t point out the why...” Karim also added with her face turned into the one she used during investigations. This had never shown much of a result, but the inquisitor still found it good to see the only neutral party taking her side.

“Believing solely on your intuitions when the only viable option is right in front of our faces seems unwise. Unless you have another idea on how those ‘coffins’ were dropped, I will be forced to prepare countermeasures to the spy planes roaming around.”

It was as much of a threat as it was a certainty that admiral Moem would go on with his word. Even if Anna was unsure of how committed to keeping the islands safe, it was clear by his expression that he wasn’t lying right now.

Either that or he was a bigger trickster than the redhead. And half of her personality was made around this one detail.

“If I can…” Minako finally rejoined the talk which she seemed to be very focused on for some reason, using the same cue she liked to even. “Is it really worth risking a rebuttal from the continent when we can’t even be sure if the boxes are the same devices? In fact, wouldn’t the fact that we didn’t see any parachute on the Tortuga prove that both ‘coffins’ are different devices?”

“It ain’t proving a thing. We only need parachutes cause humans ain’t that resistant. If ya wanna throw demons somewhere, even falling from some thousand...” Anna cut the argument before it could finish, stopping a moment later as she noticed a better one. “You may be a genius, you horny fox.”

“Oh my! Keep the praise coming, please… Though I have no idea what I did.”

“I don’t think that was a praise...” Anna’s partner answered the excited kitsune as she heard what was likely the closest to a praise the inquisitor could give. “Still, care to explain, Annabeth?”

“The impact was too shallow!" The inquisitor excitedly broke in, although it didn’t seem to be enough to clear the confusion from any face. “If those fell from a rocket plane flyin’ high enough to not be seen, then they’d go straight through the deck. Those things were too heavy for such a shallow impact, y'see? Throw bunch'em and you'd destroy that deck instead of only damagin' it... It has to've another delivery method. Somethin' like...”

Running the numbers would take more information than Anna had and half of it was based on feeling alone, but she felt to be close to the right answer. Either that or she was very close to the right one, at least.

The problem was if she could or couldn’t explain this one without causing a massive ripple effect.

“Something like…?” Karim voiced out what was on everyone’s minds as the red-haired inquisitor took her time to answer. And by the feeling of it, unless she started to talk, things would go bad either way.

“Somethin' like the plane's engine, but without most things, ay? I've seen a thing similar once but it ain't a common device...”

“Go on. Our time is short as is.” The admiral that had been hearing the back and forth for a while called out as his aide whispered something. In his voice, there was a mix of curiosity and cynicism that was almost palpable. And it was very likely that he was more willing to simply deal with the possible danger right away instead of losing time here.

So, even if it could be a bad option, Annabeth decided to come clean right away.

“It could work if they had some 'missiles' as they call it. Like, big rockets that crash on whatever target ya need." She explained, even if she lacked most details there. "Way too expensive when they won’t even deal with a barrier easily, so it ain’t really thing people research much, but I think it’d be possible to make...”

Big weapons were always hard to use against magic. It was too costly to have them enchanted to the point that their size would be worth the trouble, and without enchantment, barriers would nullify it. And something like a ballistic missile was even more of a problem than that.

On planes, one could carry conventional weapons and use them to good effect, so rocket propulsion there was useful. It was still overkill and kind of a novelty but worked well enough.

With missiles, unless you were packing something as absurd as an atom bomb or some anti-magic singularity, then it was useless. And even then, setting a barrier would still mess up the attack.

It was a good idea that was too simple to counter when magic was factored into the situation. Unless the scale went to the point of personal use, it was too expensive. And by this point, the range would be too small and you would be back to a rocket launcher instead of a missile.

But if your plan was short-range and against things that could hardly deploy huge barriers, like ships, then it was usable. Still insane and expensive, but usable.

“This…” Moem answered while deep in thought. From what Anna could tell, he was either trying to remember anything about ballistic missiles or trying to understand what she meant by that. Which one of the two only relied on how well was the navy’s information network, though. “This is not something I considered… If it became something usable like this, then it is, indeed, a possibility.”

“Not really a common weapon or somethin’ ya’d think ‘bout, but if all else’s false then the last option must be true...” Anna added to the admiral’s thoughts while still trying to decide how far she should go with the information. And still, she was very troubled by the situation, and her next phrase showed it.

“And I don't think we've gotta way to deal with it other than huntin' the damn base.”
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