Subsubsection: 11 December 2013 (on the air base, stealing the plane) Up Subsection: Before the Dawn Subsubsection: 22 January 2014 (down to the sunken ship, re-spinning the Earth) 

8 January 2014 (flying to Orrorsh and fighting a demon in the sea)

A crate that hadn’t previously been noticed, labelled “instructional materials”, proves to contain Stephen Travis, a diving instructor from Core Earth who had been enslaved by the Nile Empire to advise on the use of the suits. There isn’t time to do much more than unchain him, however, as the fighters move in to attack.
Hayami replaces Hildy on the top gun; David and Stephen take the two at the sides. Diamond concentrates on evasive flying; there’s one hit with minor damage, but she’s able to ignore the usual rules of air combat and slow the plane down to below the Spitfires’ stall speed, making it harder for the attackers to line up a good shot.
As she’s diving and weaving, there’s a crashing from the tail, and a hatch opens; a huge bald man unfolds himself from the compartment, with a Luger in one hand and a wrench in the other. He looks around and shoots wildly, barely missing Stephen; Thorfin stands in his way and readies his pick.
Stephen damages one of the attacking Spitfires, and Hayami gets in an excellent shot that sends the other one up in a ball of fire. The survivor gets in a good hit, though, and Diamond’s kept busy shutting down the starboard engine, assisted by David, who hasn’t been having much luck with his gun. Thorfin and the big guy trade pick and wrench strikes back and forth, Thorfin getting in a good hit with his pick: it gets stuck, but the man doesn’t seem to be badly hurt.
Stephen finishes off the last Spitfire as the big guy abandons his weapons and tries to smash Thorfin with a crate. Thorfin gets out of the way, and Hayami throws a shuriken into his eye. That hurts and enrages him, and Stephen moves in to finish him off with a knife.
With one engine out, the team throws surplus equipment (and the big guy’s corpse) overboard in order to keep flying, but they know they won’t have the range to make it to the refuelling ship. Diamond lands somewhere in the Red Sea, and David works on the engine, muttering at the crudity of the design.
They fly on through the night, passing through the relatively light storm wall into Core Earth. The refuelling stops go smoothly; the crews of the small ships are clearly in terror of the Pharoah whom they think is on the plane, so they work as quickly as possible while doing their best not to come to his attention as individuals.
There are still some lights on the ground in India, but not as many as one might hope for.
The Orrorsh storm wall is rather more fervent, a solid vertical band of black cloud shot through with lightning. Diamond manages to hold the plane together, and soon they’re circling the area marked on the plans, some way north of Christmas Island. The massive energy vortex joining sky and sea is a bit of a hint that this is probably the right place, but there’s no sign of anything else around; indeed, the sea near the vortex is curiously calm. Diamond lands, and almost at once the team sees a large white fin cutting through the water; a few seconds later, there’s a thump from below, repeated, as something tries to batter through the hull of the plane.
Stephen and Diamond put on diving suits, load up with exotic weapons, and enter the water. Hayami runs out on the wing of the plane to see what these “octi-grenades” do: they don’t seem terribly octi, though they are shaped to be thrown underwater, but they do explode in a satisfying way.
Stephen attacks the giant shark with a speargun, but it doesn’t seem to help much. Diamond’s torpedo pistol is rather more effective, and even seems somehow to be reloading itself after she fires. The shark sinks into the depths, glowing; Diamond levitates herself back into the plane, and Stephen heads back more slowly.
The glowing returns, in the shape of a massive eel. Hayami, still on the wing, encourages it to strike at her, then dodges out of the way, plunges her katana into its body, and holds on, though she’s shocked by the electric field it seems to be generating. Stephen copies her example with his knife, protected by his diving suit; Diamond makes further shots with the torpedo pistol; and David takes conventional pistol shots when the eel breaches the water.
As the wounded eel starts to sink, it shifts form again, into a bright red (somewhat overweight) humanoid with gills and webbed hands and feet. It explains that “that was FUN”, then starts to tell the puny humans to flee, or they will be sent to the coldest pit of… but this is interrupted by a huge sneeze.
He mentions “the key”, and Diamond realises that this is probably the Fabergé egg. She gets back into the plane and passes it out. The demon accepts it and apologises: “When the Gaunt Man gives you an assignment, you have to keep up appearances.” He claims there are more guardians below, dead humans, then swims into a sudden dark patch in the water and disappears.
 Subsubsection: 11 December 2013 (on the air base, stealing the plane) Up Subsection: Before the Dawn Subsubsection: 22 January 2014 (down to the sunken ship, re-spinning the Earth)