“Those bastards,” Daniel cursed. “They’re blocking us off from the Lights, but we’ll outrun them, how far can they move that enormous airship of theirs, anyway.” He sprinted back to the helm and added some more Dust into the furnace. He pulled down a lever; the pipes blew out more air with golden particles, blowing the sails up. Aimee felt the ship rise farther up into the sky with an abrupt movement, everything in the ship shook and move; she held on to the main mast for support, in fear that she might fall from the ship. The bowsprit cut through a cloud and soon enough they were face to face with the aviators from the gondola. Daniel smirked in victory; their harvester was picking up more electrons from the Lights.
Aimee turned about herself and her heart dropped to the floor, her sweat had gone cold and her eyes widened. “Uh, Daniel?”
“Holy Lights,” Daniel mumbled. The higher skies above the thick sheet of cloud they had just gone through were swarming with airships larger than the first one they had seen. All of them of gray or black color, like looming shadows of the night. They moved lazily around themselves, it was like swimming among whales in the ocean. The colossal harvesters were dangling and absorbing much of the lights, leaving them with nothing. “I’ve never seen the skies so populated…” His voice quivered with terror and anger.
Aimee edged closer to Daniel, every aviator was scrutinizing them, she was sure of that. “What shall we do Daniel?” she asked timidly, “they’re everywhere.”
“Don’t worry, they wouldn’t dare do something to us,” he whispered, trying to gather the courage to sustain both of them. “They have no rights to monopolize the skies.”
Aimee’s eyes fell upon something black and dangerous protruding from the gondola’s front, it was long and sleek, metal most probably. She gasped when she figured out the shape of the object. “Daniel, their airships are armored with guns and cannons!”
Daniel gritted his teeth, “maybe they have had one too many fights in the sky, destroying airships from enemies that attempted to take their source of income. I’ve never seen them, but some merchants from the Trade have seen skeletons of airships floating in the blue ocean and on distant isles on their trips to the South. They all give the same sighting account, envelopes and sails burnt to ashes spread on the ground, and the frames of the airships’ rigid structure and flying ship’s hulls scorching under the Southern sun.”
Aimee’s heart beat wildly in the cage of her chest; she did not want the same fate as the poor aviators from the South. However, she didn’t want to tell Daniel to change course and head back home and sleep this nightmare away. He was determined to stay put and harvest as he always had had.
The airships started flying in formation, creating a large sheet of blackness above and casting them into the darkness of their shadow. The sliver of lights that penetrated through the zeppelins had now turned into nothingness as Shkein’s harvesters captured and absorbed all the electrons emissions from the Light. Aimee and Daniel were staring into the sinister darkness over them, lurking away and higher in the air.
Daniel slammed his palm on the helm, cursing. “Those bastards, they want to kick us out of the game.”
“If we ever belonged in it,” Aimee whispered miserably, recalling the words of Barden in the Trade.
“We’ll go home now,” Daniel sighed defeated. If Aimee hadn’t known him better, she would say he was on the verge of heated tears. “There is nothing we can do if they’re going to play dirty. He turned the Chaser around and steered it to the ground.
Aimee walked to the converter and opened its door, the Dust they had collected was now cooling, it was little, only one-tenth of what they normally harvested in a night. Aimee took the shovel, nonetheless, and started scooping the Dust into a bag. “I think we better save some Dust for ourselves,” she suggested quietly, “we don’t know what the situation in the Trade will be like tomorrow. But I don’t think it will be favorable in the Dust market.”
Daniel said nothing, only nodded as the ship was slowly descending inside the hangar. “This will destroy dad.” He anchored the Chaser and locked the cabin’s door once Aimee hauled the bag inside. “I only hope we don’t see any of the Shkein Corporation tomorrow in the Trade. I would rip their faces if they as much as show themselves.”
Aimee said nothing and helped Daniel close the gate. Both of them walked to their silent house and locked the door after they entered. The sky wasn’t shining with Lights anymore; instead, it was filled with blotches of dark objects; like ink on parchment. Daniel went into his room without any word to his sister and threw the door shut behind him. Aimee gave a jump due to the reverberating sound, and failed miserably at quieting her distressed heart afterward. She walked to her room and dropped to the coldness of her bed. She wriggled inside her blanket and let the unshed tears flow agonizingly down her cheek. Why was the world dimming when she had just found light in it? The soft glow of the Lights that usually rocked her to sleep were now gone, and she mourned them silently.