The Headwind Arrives (cont)Mature

Bainbridge's airship landed in a field some distance West of Marsten and North of the inventors' temporary workspace. Her Ladyship and The Captain approached the field on horseback, Ladyship's personal guard riding a short distance behind them. Now that he had a good look at it The Captain thought the thing looked less like a ship than he'd first thought.

It appeared to be composed of three distinct hulls. The central hull bore the most resemblance to a seafaring ship; it was thinner on the bottom than at the top and curved outward as it rose. This created a curve to the sides of the main hull into which nestled two smaller hulls; these being roughly cigar shaped. They bore no outward clue as to their function, unlike the main hull. It boasted a large array of windows at the top of it's rounded front, and along the sides where the main hull rose above the two smaller were rows of portholes. Also at the front of the ship, below the large windows, was what appeared to be a pair of large doors. Along one side was emblazoned the word "Headwind" in fanciful script.

And then there was the top of the ship... four strange contraptions sprouted from it, two front and two back. They were vertical metal poles with an array of flat horizontal blades attached at the very top. Pole and attached blades rotated, and from the slow whump-whump-whump they made as they spun lethargically  it was easy to guess that they were the cause of the dull roar he'd heard as the ship approached. What their purpose could possibly be, aside from creating a dreadful racket, he wasn't certain. 

The doors he's spotted at the front of the ship opened as he and Her Ladyship stopped a respectable distance away from the airship. A ramp was rolled out and a group of three people emerged. "Vanora!" One of them bellowed loudly over the noise of the rotating blades, breaking into a jog towards the pair. "Look at it, Vanora! Isn't it wonderful?" The Captain frowned at the casual and familiar use of Her Ladyship's name, but he would let her correct the error if she chose to do so. She didn't seem inclined to, instead dismounting and handing the reigns of her horse to The Captain, who remained atop his own horse, one hand casually resting on the hilt of his sword. 

"Bee!," Ladyship greeted Bainbridge as he reached normal speaking distance. "You actually did it? I admit, I didn't think you would!"

"And I admit that there were times I thought the same," Bainbridge replied, giving the Prince a low and sweepingly theatrical bow. "But I managed, by the gods! Mostly thanks to my friend here," he grinned, grabbing one of his companions by the shoulder and giving him a playful shake. 

"Ah, I don't believe we've met," Ladyship said politely. The Captain noted that the man in question was quite possibly a noble of some sort himself, if the richness of his attire was any indication.

"Finley," the man introduced himself. "A pleasure to meet you, my lady. I understand that you're one of the rulers of this city?"

"I am indeed," Ladyship replied. "And what of you? I know Bee here is an inventor. Are you as well?"

"Not quite," Finley said with a small shrug. "Oh, I'm interested in technology, don't mistake that. I just don't have any of the necessary mechanical aptitude."

"What he does have," Bainbridge added, "Is money. Loads of it!"

"Not so much as that," Finley downplayed the allegation. "My family are merchants up North, though, and we have done fairly well for ourselves."

"Well enough that he could afford to hire the workers I needed to finish building the Headwind in time for your fair," Bainbridge clapped Finley on the shoulder again. "And for that I am eternally grateful," he added with a warm smile. "And, um," he looked past Her Ladyship to The Captain, "who might the fellow with the dour look be?"

"Hmm?" Her Ladyship turned to look. "Oh, I'm so sorry. My dear Captain, this is Bee - Artemus Bainbridge, formally." The Captain nodded. "Bee, this is the Captain of Marsten's Watch. He's been working closely with me to make this technology fair a reality. You remember me telling you about the Watch, don't you?"

"I certainly do," Bainbridge nodded.

"Oh, I've heard of them," Finley added. "That's a singular organization. None of the other cities have anything like it. Very interesting!" 

The third and as yet unintroduced man cleared his throat. He was dressed far more utilitarian than the other two, and there was a smudge of something dark on one of his cheeks. A large, bushy mustache dominated the space between his large hooked nose and his mouth. "Oh, terribly sorry," Bainbridge apologized to him. "This is Walsh. He and I worked closely on the final boiler designs. He's part owner of the ship, mostly he makes sure it keeps flying."

"Pleasure," Walsh said. The Captain got the impression he had a lot of work to do and would much rather be doing it. He immediately liked the man. 

"Well, let's not just stand around out in the open," Her Ladyship said. "Come on, let's head back to the estate."

"Sorry," Walsh shook his head. "Engine two was acting up on the way in, I'd like to have a look at as soon as possible." 

"Of course," Bainbridge nodded. 

"Would you mind if I came along?" The Captain asked suddenly. 

"Eh?" Walsh looked surprised.

"I've never seen anything quite like the Headwind," he explained. "If you think you could suffer through me asking the occasional question I'd love to have a look at what makes her tick."

"Well," Walsh gave a questioning glance to Bainbridge, who in turn looked at Her Ladyship. 

"You two have fun," Ladyship said with a smile. "I'll see you later tonight, Captain."

"My lady," he nodded, and the Prince headed towards the city with the rest of the group. As they faded into the distance, he turned back to Walsh, who was giving him an appraising look. At last he nodded and even smiled a little. 

"Come on," he said. "Heady - we call her Heady for short - runs on two steam powered turbines. There's a boiler for each..." The Captain followed him into the airship, taking in every detail the engineer had for him.

The End

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