Templeton finally had the air intake under control, but it was tenuous. His best guess was that some important restraint or bolt on the outside had been knocked loose, so he'd have to go find and fix that later. Right now, though, he was three miles up and trying to outrun air-pirates, so his temporary solution would have to do.
He felt the first blows land against his ship. He heard the glass shattering and the gunfire. He knew Elson was in a fight for his life, but he also knew the former Sky Marine could easily handle himself against a few of those mass-produced and frankly poorly designed mechanicals.
Then he felt more blows - more boarders, likely - but no gunfire. Something was wrong.
As he raced up to the cockpit, Templeton grabbed supplies from the racks: his coil gun which he loaded with a copper cannister, a satchel with more ammunition for it, and a small welding shield that would at least look like it could block bullets. Failing that, it was small enough to throw.
In his careless rush, he barely noticed his clothes snag on a nail, and didn't notice at all that the airship slowly started to descend.
When he reached the cockpit door, Templeton took a moment to sling the coil gun and ready his shield, hoping one last time that it could stop what he needed to. Sure enough, his theory and faith were tested as soon as he opened the cockpit door. Two blunderbuss rounds slammed against his shield as Templeton came through. He aimed over the shield at the first unfriendly thing he saw and fired a short stream of heated copper wire at it. The wire landed all over the gyropirate's face and gun-arm. It seeped into holes and crevases before cooling, locking up the mechanical intruder's joints and creating short circuits. The gyropirate twitched, wrenched violently to try to free itself, and fell to the deck.
As it did, Templeton took a better stock of the opposition. Three more gyropirates and a smug looking brute in a thick, dirty leather jerkin brandishing a large pulley-saw in both hands menaced him from the other end of the small bridge. "Guthrie Jameston," said Templeton with contempt as he recognized the brutal mercenary from England. "We should have left you to die in Hong Kong."
"HAH! But you didn't, you soft hearted dunderhead." Guthrie yanked the pulley on his weapon and the saw-blade spun menacingly. "And with your soldier-boy dead, there's nothing to keep me from carving you to pieces."
Templeton's eyes went wide with surprised denial. Guthrie nodded down at Templeton's feet, and when he looked ...
The valiant young man lay bleeding on the deck, where he had been just hidden from Templeton's view by his shield. Suddenly, surprising everyone, Elson sucked in a long, gasping breath and said, "M'not a soldier ... m'a skyrine ..."
Elson's arm shot up and he blasted a hole in an oil pipe right next to Guthrie's head. The air-pirate yelped in surprise and pain as hot oil sprayed all over him and the deck. The gyropirates slipped and slid, one clinging to the bulkhead for balance and the other two falling to the floor.
Elson went slack again. Templeton fired another shot from the coil gun, sticking the standing gyropirate to the banister it was hanging onto for balance, then dropped the weapon to dangle from its sling and dragged his friend out of the cockpit. He pulled a little firebomb out of a pouch, wound it, and tossed it in with Guthrie and the spraying oil before slamming the door shut.
"Well played," said Templeton as he hefted Elson up in his strong arms. "I didn't know you knew my ship well enough to hit an oil-line like that."
Elson made a coughing noise that was probably laughter. Templeton winced as it sent a spatter of blood onto Elson's overcoat, and his heart sank as he saw how soaked the skyrine's shirt was. Even so, the wounded warrior just smiled and said, "Was aiming ... for ... s'head."