Meeting Cliff

Cornelia pulled aside an idle cabin boy who had just finished mopping the floor of the control deck and gave him a simple order.

"Inform the Professor that we are to land in Paris within the hour."

The young man nodded and departed for the Professor's cabin, more than pleased that he didn't have to clean anything else for the time being.

Cornelia then sat in her chair and glanced down at the world below her. While they were not yet overtop the city, one could see the smog and pollution that permanently lingered over Paris not far off. Cornelia estimated that it would take another half-hour to reach a port and at least twenty minutes to have the airship safely landed and secured.

As the airship headed in its predetermined direction, with little need for human direction, Cornelia pondered the events of the last 7 hours. After the unexpected interference from Lord Alastair and his mercenaries nothing else had happened that was out of the ordinary. A rainstorm had slowed them down slightly, but it was unimportant and the ship had sustained no damage, although it was discovered that the leak in the engine room had gotten noticeably worse and the seals around some of the windows were letting water in.

While all of this was important to the well-being of the ship, Cornelia was distracted by the thought of having to work with Cliff Cornwall. It had been four years since she had last seen him, although she was sure there were still hard feelings over what had happened. Her reverie was broken, however, by Johnson who told her it was time to begin the descent.

Checking her pressure and gas levels, Cornelia began to lower the ship. Johnson had already received permission to anchor the ship at one of the cheaper docks. With the flip of a switch, Cornelia opened the valve that would release the gas that held them afloat. As the gas levels reached those needed to land safely, Cornelia flipped the switch back in place and imagined the sound the valve would make as it closed.

The landing was simple since the port was not very busy. The dockhands scurried out to help guide and secure the ship as it was lowered into place. It was a delicate process. A sudden gust of wind could catch the ship and throw it into others nearby, causing irreparable damage. 

When the ship was finally attached to the dock by numerous ropes, Johnson went out to discuss docking fees with the manager there. While he was not a particularly good negotiator, he didn't mind doing menial tasks. It was apparent to most of the crew (and Cornelia herself) that Johnson was smitten with the female Captain. It could certainly get irritating, but Cornelia didn't mind as long as he continued to do extra work, even if it was just to impress her.

Ikonov came up to Cornelia shortly after the landing. He had not taken the descent well and was rather pale. 

"We should go immediately to see Cliff. I do not wish to fall behind."

Cornelia, in an attempt to delay the inevitable suggested that he send a telegraph to Cornwall's home and await a reply, since it would be rude to show up unannounced.

"Nonsense. He has been instructed to await my arrival. He is not a man to rely on ceremony much anyway."

Cornelia agreed halfheartedly and followed after the Professor as he went off to find a horse drawn taxi. 

The End

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