Curtains of Lights
“This is the helm; it steers the two aft sails,” Daniel pointed to a place beyond the cabin where two detachable sails in shape of wings were located. He walked to the Gatherer and pointed at the two large pipes protruding from the otherwise oval-shape machine, “when you burn Dust, air will pump out of those pipes and blow the sails up, that will give us the initial push we need to raise into the sky.”
“Daniel, I know all these things already,” Aimee interrupted, “I worked on the Chaser before, remember?”
“You are in no position to question the captain,” he snapped importantly, “you are only part of the crew.”
Aimee snorted and looked away, smirking, “yeah right, a one-man crew.”
“Now,” Daniel ignored her comment, “see this large tube going down by the side of the ship? It is attached to a pair of propellers on either side, when needed; it gives us extra strength to push our ship forward when we want to go fast. However, we rarely use it.” He walked over to the main mast and pointed to the main fore sail, “when the wind is on our side, it will push us forward using this, and we steer using its aft sail.” He now pointed at a sail in shape of a wing attached to the main mast just below the fore sail. I believe that is all there is to know about how to lift this up.”
“Finally!” Aimee said, “Let’s get down to it then.” She walked around the mast and stood before the Gatherer. She remembered working on it with her father not so long ago when it had broken down during a mild ice storm. Her mother had designed it and with help of Joseph, their own Dust Gatherer was conceived. Large Dust corporations used more modern and steam-powered Gatherers instead of using the own collected Dust as energy. Dust as energy and aether were called interchangeably, although aether was more of a mythological conceived name. It was believed that the Northern Lights were the spirits of ancestors that look over their families from the skies and that the gods of the universe breathed their auroral energy. The truth was unknowable, and many people were okay with it, but other fanatics were cynical about the subject and spent a great quantity of their life futilely investigating the source of the Auroras.
The Lights above were growing dimmer as the moon sailed its way to the center of the night sky, the colors were slowly fading from the atmosphere. Aimee sensed disappointment creeping up her face as she glanced at the sky. “Don’t worry, they will grow stronger after midnight,” Daniel assured her as he was turning some knobs and pulling down handles on the Gatherer, “just relax and feel the air in your skin. We’re still in September and the Autumn Equinox ends until after October, so we have great chances of gathering Dust during those two months.”
The Gatherer was starting to shake and stir to life; a little tremor of enthusiasm shook Aimee as she grappled to fight back the nauseating waves that were rising up her throat.
“You must feed the ship,” Daniel said, untying the latch of a straw chest and revealing their supply of Aurora Dust, the motor energy for their flying ship. He took a shovel from a cabinet and started shoving in Dust into the cool embers of the furnace in the gatherer. The front part of the gatherer was the ship motor and the back side was the Dust processor and gatherer. The “cool embers” were only polished black rock that ignited at the touch of Dust on them. Within seconds, the embers were sparkling with red auras. Sputters of red light whizzed in the ship’s furnace, hitting the metal walls and crackling to life. “When you pull this lever down,” Daniel pulled a red lever down, “magic begins.”
Aimee looked expectedly at the pipes and wasn’t disappointed. The pipes whistled a loud and long whine, spurting golden Dust that enveloped them in a tornado of dazzling and shimmering lights. Air started to pump out of the pipes at great speed and strength; the sails set above the pipes started to curve on the outside. A sudden jerk of the ship unbalanced Aimee, but she held on to the Gatherer, that jerk was the metal standing leaving ground. They were elevating into the night sky and into the undulating curtains of colored lights.
Aimee walked to the wall of the deck and grasped the banister for support; she leaned lightly on it and saw the hangar diminishing on the face of the Earth. “We’re flying,” she gasped. Bliss coursed her veins; she spread her arms and laughed. “This is perfect!”
Daniel chortled. “Knew you’d like it. Come, let’s get the Convertor up and running.” Both of them walked the flight of stairs that lead to a mini raise platform holding the enormous nautilus shell object with the orientation of the opening to the nearing lights. He pulled at a little door at the side of the Harvester and pushed a button. The delicate nautilus shell roared to life and started glowing alongside the Northern Lights. Its shiny outer exterior reflected the light above. “We have to get into the Auroral Zone before the Harvester starts detecting the Lights activity,” Daniel explained.
Aimee was fascinated, “mom was a real genius,” she said. Memories tugged at her mind as she pronounced “mom”, she now realized she missed her dearly. “It is wonderful she invented and built so many beautiful things; the Harvester, the Gatherer, and the Chaser!”
Daniel regarded her words fondly, “yeah, she was great. With time and determination you’ll become as good as her.”
“You are already a good aviator Dan,” Aimee never called Daniel “Dan” since childhood, but she thought this was an appropriate moment. Plus, it escaped from her. “Just like father is.”
“Was,” he corrected her bitterly, “he refuses to fly nowadays, and the idea of it scares the hell out of him.”
“Maybe he has had enough of traveling the skies,” she suggested, “and finally wants to settle down into a sedentary lifestyle.”
“Perhaps,” he said, “but why so suddenly and without giving us any reason. He doesn’t even defend himself when I ask him about it.”