The noise became louder as she came into consciousness. The light also became brighter until she opened her eyes. She had a headache, similar to the one she had on Gersbalk last time. Lying there she looked around, Simpkins was aiming his rifle out of the window but she couldn’t see anyone else. As she sat up she felt a little giddy.
Simpkins looked back at her, “Lizzie, are you all right?”
She nodded, “I think I really do need a metal helmet when I go on a mission, ow!”
Standing and holding onto the side she asked, “Where’s everybody gone?”
He looked at her, “The two air sailors are helping Paul free the ship from the ground it’s caught onto. The Professor is running his shield machine, it seems to be working.”
“Yes, since we’ve been here none of those guns has got through it. I only hope they don’t have proper artillery, then we’re done for.”
“Have you seen any giants?”
“One popped his head out of a hole and I shot him,” he grinned, “John the giant killer.”
“I suppose it was lucky the shield wasn’t stronger really, otherwise your bullet would have ricocheted all round it, might have killed one of the air sailors.”
“What, the useless one,” he whispered but mouthed at the same time to give it emphasis.
“Yes, that Hawkins, when we got hit he threw a wobbler and crash landed, there was nothing wrong with the ship before he crashed it.”
She went down to the engine room, Wagstaff was floating on the ceiling and she had to grab on not to also be taken up into the air, “What are you doing?” she wondered.
“I am trying to calibrate the coils so that we have the shield while we are in flight. I think I’ve just about done it.” He used the climbing bars to make his way round to her, “Now if they can just free her from that outcrop...”
Following Ichabod outside the airship she saw Paul, Roland and Hawkins trying to cut the Tawa free from a nasty hook she had crashed into. They needed to saw through the strut that was caught on the hook. Flying higher had only caused it to get a better grip. It was Paul’s turn to use the hack saw and he was breathing heavily. “Lizzie...” he called her as he handed the saw over to Johnson. He walked up to her, “Saw you bang your head, I think you need to wear a helmet or something when you’re on the move.”
Grimacing she asked him,” Are we nearly free?”
“We are, but I’m thinking about staying. We’re safe as long as we stay up here, under the shield. Any giants who pop their heads out either Simpkins or I will shoot.”
“So we’ve just come for the view and the hunting of giants then?”
“We are on Gersbalk, the giants are going to know we’re here whether we’ve come secretly or not, and that’s if we could have been secretive. They seem to have some kind of sense that we’re here, Wagstaff told me. So I say let’s make the best of it and try to rescue the queen now.”
“So you’re going to shoot your way through hundreds of giants?”
“Hundreds, I thought you said you only saw a few?”
“I did, but I only saw a small bit, there could be hundreds, there could be fifty. Either way it’s risky.”
“Shall we take a vote on it then?”
“No, we should try now.” For a second she looked at the enormity of the flying island and then went into the airship to discuss how they were going to attack the giants and find the queen with Wagstaff and Simpkins.
As they sat having the cup of tea that Wagstaff had prepared them Paul suggested, “We could go in through that door that the giants keep trying to use to get to us.”
“We could,” agreed Lizzie, “and if it’s locked we’ll get Lukin to open it for us.” She had kept Lukin wrapped up in her bag so far, Wagstaff had said that the shield machine might affect him.
“What do we do about the guns firing at us?” queried Johnson.
“I think I can create a corridor through which we can walk in safety by moving the WED with us part of the way,” suggested Wagstaff. He unbolted the shield machine, “We can take it as far as these wires are long, after that we’re on our own to the door.” Then he asked Johnson to help him lift it, “You two can cover the party,” he nodded to Simpkins and Phoenix. Making Johnson go backwards up the steps Wagstaff made sure of his footing as they both walked towards the giant door.
The single cannon that could line up on them continued to fire at the ship, however they would be dangerously close to being targeted by another gun when they made a run for the door.
There was twenty foot of cable, which left a ten-foot gap with no cover. And from this distance they could see two dead giants through the doorway and another cowering behind a wall. Simpkins positioned his rifle to take a shot, but the giant saw this and moved completely around the corner. He looked at Paul, “Who’s going in first?”
“I wish I had a shot gun, at close range it would take him out.”
“Or a grenade,” smiled Wagstaff as he took one out of his pocket.
“That doesn’t look like a grenade?” commented Lizzie as she too lined her DN35 up on the doorway.
“It’s a stun grenade, I’ve been working on them based on the technology from electric pistols. You see here…” he started to explain to them how it worked.
“Just throw the blessed thing,” ordered Paul.
The Professor turned the knob at the top, left the safety of the electric shield for a bit and then threw the grenade into the passageway beyond. At the same time as he stepped back into safety an electric discharge hit the giant and it fell motionless into view. Part of the discharge hit the electric field but dissipated around it.
Paul and Simpkins looked at each other then, as though they had communicated with each other mentally, both ran for the door. The other gun turned to match their movement but did not fire.
When they got inside they found a spiral passageway leading down. There were no other giants waiting for them. Paul kicked the arm of the unconscious one, “Big feller in’t he.”
Turning to Paul he remarked, “Well, he is a giant!”
Lizzie came in next followed by Wagstaff then the two air sailors.
As she looked down the passageway she saw a cylindrical object, open and full of tools, “Looks like they were a repair crew, they weren’t even armed.”
“Shall we kill him?” Paul asked as he kicked the unconscious giant again.
“We’ll tie him up for now,” said Simpkins who didn’t feel right about killing an unconscious man/giant.
Lizzie moved forward a bit to look down the ramp, “We seem to be at the top of a spiral walkway, I can see another gun emplacement further down.”
“They were fixing the guns,” responded Wagstaff as he joined her, “that means we were lucky then, all the guns weren’t working.”
Paul finished tying the giant up with some metal strip he found in the giant’s own toolbox. Then Lizzie led the way down the metal ramp.
They passed the backs of thirty energy cannons on their way down. When they got to the bottom the rooms were similar to the ones Lizzie had been in last time she was on Gersbalk. “I think the terramidion is down that way a bit,” she commented.
“The what?” asked Simpkins.
“It is like a giant conservatory.”
“What’s the use of that?”
“You can bypass locked doors and that.”
“I thought that’s what we had your little toy for?”
She looked thunderously at him, he is so arrogant, and I thought I liked him?
There was a strange clattering sound from the passageway they were nearest to. She looked down it, “Metal men.”
The others all took a gander as well, “Four, how are we going to deal with four?” moaned Johnson, who was only armed with a cutlass.
“Can one of your grenades take them out Professor?” asked Lizzie.
He felt in his knapsack, “I don’t know, I only have four left.”
“What else are we going to do then,” she reasoned as the metal men came closer.
Paul and Simpkins started shooting at them and though they were hitting them they had no effect.
“Oh all right then,” relented Wagstaff as he primed the grenade, “but Lizzie hide your stun pistol in case it affects it.”
As he threw the grenade she made sure the pistol was behind her back. Three of the metal monsters were hit by the full blast of the electric grenade and fell to the floor the fourth only partially. It had been thrown backwards and was now scrambling to get to its feet again.
“Use another one Professor,” she ordered.
“No, I only have three left, what if there are loads more of them?”
“I’ll distract it,” offered Paul, “while you shoot it in the back of the neck Simpkins.” He then began to run towards the metal man.
“Simpkins,” cried Lizzie, you fool.
Getting on one knee John readied himself for the shot. Paul ran straight towards the robot then, as it began to grab for him, he sidestepped and got behind it. A broken table leg looked like a good implement, left after one of the others had fallen on it. He threw the leg at the golden man and so it turned to combat him.
Simpkins shot at the robot and hit it but missed its neck. He reloaded.
“You can’t afford to miss John,” chided Lizzie.
“Don’t put me under even more stress then,” he replied as he put his eye to the scope again.
Phoenix whacked one of its arms, then ducked. Come on Simpkins. The thing grabbed for him again and caught hold of his leg. It swung him up in the air.
“Dang,” cursed Simpkins as he saw Paul being swung in the air by the robot. He didn’t want to make the shot and hit his friend by mistake.
Lizzie saw what was happening and ran toward Paul and the metal man. Maybe I can shock it with my stun pistol.
As he was dangling there, his ankle in a vice-like grip, he tried to grab for the bunch of wires on the back of its head but missed.
Pointing her electric pistol she shot at the back of the golem, it had no effect at all, except to make the thing angrier. It shook him even harder.
“Thanks Lizzie, I almost had it then.”
Turning round the metal man looked at Lizzie, it raised Paul as though it was going to use him as a weapon then fell inert.
“Can somebody please release me,” called Phoenix from the back of the machine.
Running behind the robot Lizzie saw Paul dangling there clutching the bundle of wires from the back of its neck. She jumped up and down but couldn’t reach the arm to release his leg. The others came up to try and help. Simpkins stuck the bit of broken table leg between the fingers and Johnson helped him pull the fingers apart. Holding on to the metal monster Paul lowered himself down. “Oww!” he cried as he rubbed his foot, “the stupid thing nearly snapped my foot off!”
Wagstaff looked at it, “I wouldn’t be surprised if you had a bit of a sprain.”
When Paul tried to walk on it he found he did have a sprain. “Great, now I’m going to be hobbling around in the midst of danger.”
“You’re the one who ran into danger,” she admonished as she looked at his ankle.
“You could put a bandage on it for him,” Wagstaff suggested to her, “it’ll feel a little better. A few days rest and he’ll be as right as rain.”
After she had bound his ankle and Simpkins had given him a curtain pole as a stick to walk with they discussed what they should do next. “Can’t that talking head of yours tell us where she is?” asked Simpkins.
“I can ask him if he has a map of Gersbalk and where the likeliest place would be,” she replied.
“Do that then.”
Johnson spotted something, “Hey, there are people looking at us.” He had seen them peeping out of a door across from the windows that looked out on the rest of the island. He ran down to the door but it closed in his face. Trying to push the door open he got a broom in his chest. This sent him backwards and he fell on his bottom.
Lizzie laughed, “Ha ha, I think you just met the same people I saw last time.”
The door slammed again. She walked up to Johnson and held out her hand, “Come on.” As he stood to his feet she told him, “They only speak Hoo. I’ll need to talk to them.” Through the door she said, “Got ham ne gundan.”
“Se Lizzie McBean com, se tum kenar.”
“What’s she saying?” Simpkins asked Wagstaff.
“She’s saying she’s a friend, that’s all,” replied the Professor.
Lizzie continued to talk to the cleaners behind the door until one of them plucked up the courage to open it and let them in.
The woman had seen Lizzie before and she was scared. The man was friendlier but neither of them knew much English. When Lizzie asked the man if he knew where the queen was he said that a prisoner had been taken to the waygard. The waygard was at the lower part of the island. She was guarded night and day.
Lizzie asked him to show them the way. The woman was most distraught fearing that she would be punished by her giant masters if she helped in any way. The man told her to go back to her quarters. He was willing to show them though as long as they took him with them when they left.
“Clip, clip, clip,” went Paul’s makeshift crutch.
“Well that’s nice and quiet,” Hawkins moaned to Johnson. They were at the back of the party because Johnson only had a sword.
“What’s the matter with you, you’ve been quiet until now and then you moan?”
“We shouldn’t be helping them get their queen back but defending our own land.”
“Wouldn’t you ask them for help if Queen Isabella was kidnapped by a foreign race?”
Hawkins shook his head, “Of course I would.” He held back a bit then as he passed a console he pressed a silent alarm.