Chapter 34Mature

  The ship had a small air-wake trailing behind it. The normally pure white wisps were stained with puffs of oily black engine smoke. Simon bashed away at one of the engines that was giving him hell. The line of exclamations of a divine nature began to increase in frequency as the droning of the farthest port engine broke into a sputter. This ship, for all it's marvelous, if not a little bizzare, contraptions was in dire need of an overhaul.

Arcebus was at the helm. The mighty black control wheel was an ornate web of wood carvings, and felt good in his hands. The tips of four equally spaced nobs were fashioned into a decorative four-point star. Unlike the rest of the ship, it had something engraved on it that was not runic. It was a far more contemporary language, though the Navigator could still make no sense of it. It didn't discourage him from intently studying it between checking their bearing and monitoring the rows of gauges. Most of the readouts were now stable. Simon had managed to nurse his fickle machine back to average efficiency, and Arcebus assumed he had now decided to take a break.


Arcebus jumped at little bit. Leaning against the quarter deck was the hulking mercenary, Lee. He was filing his nails with a rough looking metal chip, smiling slightly when Navigator looked over at him.

“I can find work for you Sellsword.” Arcebus replied, returning to his duties.

“Yeah, don't doubt that. But does it interest me?”

Arcebus sighed, and said nothing. He was starting to get tired. Such immense focus was draining to maintain. The latest air-current maps were totally out of his favour, and worse, he had been forced to recover a lot of geographical mapping from memory. Mountains always meant unpleasantly random winds, so he was steering more towards the flatlands where, with a little luck from whatever gods resided, wind would push them onward to Blue Tiger.

“So, how long till we set down pilot?” Lee asked, appearing again behind his command panels.

“Wouldn't be surprised if it takes till daybreak tomorrow with a direct flight. Speaking of which, I need to show one of you what to do while I'm sleeping.”

The fighter raised his hands, “the only directions I need to know are the ones where I'm shooting.”

“Fair enough.”

“But really, I'm getting rusty up here. My head is literally in the clouds. Nothing to shoot sept the occasional flock of geese.”

“Well, we're entering frontier space. Here there be dragons, mate.”

“Wait seriously? Actual dragons, not those little fire lizards? That's not a load of hick nonsense?” Lee looked legitimately intrigued now.

Arcebus shrugged, “I've seen a couple at a distance, there were lairs at the Maw where I patrolled.”

Lee laughed, suddenly whipping out and twirling one of his custom revolvers.

“Dragon versus dragon! Could be interesting.”

A loud bang from the bow broke off his fantasy. The grease stained Simon with a very disgruntled expression pulled himself out of the front hatch, and rested his arms on deck.

“Apparently some unwelcome residents have graced the ballast chamber. A pack of mutated rats like those in Vahalla have been living in the stagnant water.”

Likely amused with the prospect of something to shoot, Lee grabbed the basic repeater rifle from the barrel of firearms in the back corner of the control platform. Basic guns from the ship's armory. “Well, that's my cue to go. Later.” With that, Lee vanished as quickly as he arrived, disappearing right as Davrou climbed out of the closest hatch into the hold.

“Feeling better?” Arcebus inquired, quickly locking the wheel NorthWest by North

“My head is swimming. Otherwise fine.” He replied plainly.

Davrou had taken quite the hit. Rayna and Lee had come back from a scuffle with local authorities, and the physician seemed to have taken the worst of it. Not the battle persay, but the matter of his recovery from the medicine he had taken. While they worked incredibly well, the side effects were apparently dreadful. Worse than any kind of hangover.

He looked out upon the rows of slow moving nimbus clouds below. Their cruising altitude was high above the more stormy weather. The plains around this area received an almost constantly torrential downpour this time of year. Summer was already fading, the wet season abruptly shifting to the frigid winter. With only a month of what could be called fall between.

Davrou shifted back to Arcebus. He walked over beside him and observed the adjustments he was making to the bolted map strapped to a makeshift table beside him. His brow twitched a bit as he noticed the path they were taking.

“Blue Tiger?”

“Our captain says she has business there. To my understanding, it's something of a ghost town.”

He scowled, possibly recognizing the name. Without another word, he swept back to the stairway and sat on the bottom step. He made no other comment, retreating to a notebook in his breast pocket. Such an odd fellow.

Simon appeared again, this time he was climbing up the exterior rigging. Arcebus was a bit amused with his willingness to climb the small netting he and the Navigator had moved down a little while after takeoff. Apparently it made it easier to get around the more 'out of the way' engines. All this with a bad arm. He hopped onto the top deck, receiving little more than a brief glance from Davrou.

“What's our condition up here?” The Engineer grunted, wiping the sweat from his forehead.

“Smooth for the moment. The engines aren't giving me as much grief when I accelerate.”

As if to antagonize them, the ship lurched again. Simon stumbled, but remained upright. His teeth gritted as he cursed whatever awful mechanism he would have to jury-rig next.

“Air breaks seem to like locking up.” Arcebus mumbled, throwing the bright white lever back down.

“I'll get to it later if it's not dire.” He said, throwing aside his leather thick leather gloves.

A tip of black ink protruded just past his wrist. Arcebus didn't pay it much notice, many airmen had outlandish tattoos. Arcebus himself had the Vegvisir, a symbol to guide him through rough weather, tattooed on his chest.

The three of them sat there for a long while, waiting while the sun connected with the horizon. Not much was said, but not much meant a lot in this crew of misfits.

The End

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