In the dark waters of Steelhead Bay, the shimmering reflection of the harvest moon was dusturbed by an glass orb bobbing to the surface, which immediately began to hiss with smoke then explode in a sodium flash.
Watching nervously from the roof of the Bazaar near one of the upturned corners of the Asian style roof, Vevel flinched from the explosion. He lowered the heat-binoculars to let them hang from his neck and knelt to crank the Marconi transmitter. After a few seconds of rattling the bulb on the wooden box brightened to a pale gold, and sounds of static leaked from the round wire cage. He cleared his throat, then pressed the transmitter button.
"Bazaar to Revenge! Jager Team is ready!"
An abrupt click broke the static as Nova responded.
"Roger that, Bazaar. Brass Team is ready. Operation Mongoose is a go!"
Velvel stood again, raising the lenses to his eyes as he watched the glass-walled ship slowly descend by the opposite edge of the bay. The merchant focused at the flurry of activity inside the cabin. Nova and Six were manning the cockpit. In the cabin, the Scientist was in full surgical gear, hastily arranging tables and equipment in the cramped quarters for triage, with two young girls in white smocks scurrying around, and at times crawling under around him with each gesture.
The one with the burning circle of red in her chest was Wren, of course. But who was the other one? The Scientist crouched to tie a mask over her mouth.
Velvel muttered. "Oh yes, that's Lo." He knew she had family in Steelhead, and was on staff with the Scientist at Wilde Hospital.
His attention shifted to the android and the demoness on the top deck, their heat signatures almost as glaring as the ship's engines. Both wore bandaliers weighted down with an array of devices, at least half of which he assumed were weapons. Ama wore an aromored suit of some sort, and held her wings tight to her body. Part of him understood the tension behind the signals of her wings.
The glare from Qlippothic and Amarantis was so bright that he didn't notice the neko standing on top of the device until a pair of crimson eyes stared directly at him from across the bay. He peeked over his lenses a moment, and realized that but for the eyes Koen radiated no heat at all. Qlippothic pulled a lever and a wide, flexible tube descended bast the hull. Ama leaned over the deck, watching the neko who was clinging for dear life to the end of the tube. What was that thing made of? He could make out the lattice of wires inside it as it swayed gently in the damp night breeze.
The neko's shimmering eyes blinked as he descended until his pawed feet reached the roof of the half-submerged boxcar. A second later and the eyes were shielded behind a pair of goggles. Pulling a mallet from his toolbelt, Koen crawled around the end of the tubes, hammering madly. Eruptions of sparks flashed the neko's sihouette against the gray tube. The flashes of heat forced Velvel to look away again.
He set his sights back on to the deck of the Bloodwing's Revenge. He watched first Qlippothic and then Amarantis crawl into the machine feet-first. As vague outlines of red he followed them down through the tube as Koen clambered his way back up the tube from the outside, his cold outline momentarily shielding the heat auras of his sisters. Velvel watched Koen reach the top of the machine to stand and catch his breath, but as he removed his goggles he dropped them and hit the deck the moment the explosions began.
Velvel himself lost his grip on his binoculars and as he fumbled and slipped feet-first towards the edge of the Bazaar tower.
"DA!" Velvel shouted with irritation. "I could be using your help!"
As Velvel Danielovich held to the gutter with one hand while dangling the lenses with the other, glowing white wings stretched from his back.