Jeez, a hurricane, a battle, and now my ship hung in tatters above me. Okay... not tatters, but in disrepair. We'd kicked off the royal navy ship, but it's grappling hooks had cut into the hull in more than one place, leaving long gashes in the wood and the paint. The balloon envelope had a long gash in it as well, though we were still airborne, so it seemed most of the hydrium balloons had escaped damage. Inside the helmroom, the damage was less evident, but several of the windows had been cracked, and the compass had leaked, and was no longer spinning.
"Aww, come on, and just when we were making good headway." I complained, then there was a loud popping sound coming from the envelope. I ran up into the catwalks, looking at several of the balloons that now hung in tatters from their moorings.
"What happened?" I asked one of the deckhands, who was looking at me sheepishly.
"I-I," he stammered. "I was checking the balloons for holes, when these popped." I looked at the remaining balloons, was it just me, or were they swelling?
"What's our altitude?" I asked someone else, they shrugged and kept up their task. I ran down the ladders back to the helm, checking the altimeter, which was steadily climbing. Thats why the balloons were popping, the air was getting thinner. "Why are we gaining altitude?" I shouted into the speaking tubes. "Somebody leak the hydrium now! We need to get this ship down before we rocket up into space!" I could hear the men scrambling to do that, and then I went down the the engine room and gundeck.
The gundeck hadn't originally been one of course, I'd modified the deck above the engine room to contain about twenty huge cannons, ten on each side, which each shot a ten pound ball, and there was one rudder cannon, which stuck out just beneath the tail of the ship, so we could fire on any pursuers. It was no use being a pirate without some way to defend my ship. The floor here was reenforced with metal, but the cannon wheels still left long scratches in the surface when they recoiled. The floor was stained with blood as well, though there were men with mops already scrubbing at the stains. My ears popped as we headed back into a low altitude, and I could make out a coastline on the south horizon. I headed up to the helm and steered us towards it. The sun's position said we were heading south, the golden light of the setting ball of fire reflecting brightly off the hull of my ship as we sailed toward a familiar green delta in the dull sands of northern Africa.
The Egyptian Airship bay was not unlike the London one, a large hangar with doors to keep out the sandstorms that occasionally raged through the desert, and four towers at each of the four points of the compass. I steered my ship to one of the towers, knowing that Eddy would pay for the docking prices, and watched several of my crew tossing ropes to the dock-workers. I could almost hear the Heliopause sigh in relief as the engine was shut down, the fires doused, and the propellers came to a stop and the ship sagged in her moorings.
"Attention passengers, we have landed in the Egyptian City of Cairo for a short period of time while we make repairs from the storm." I said, a little smugly as I imitated a cruise director's speech. "During this time, I'd recommend you'd stay on the ship. Cairo is not a place for the...unpracticed."