Author Topic: Sailing the Seven Skies  (Read 4164 times)

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Offline NicTei

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Sailing the Seven Skies
« on: March 30, 2015, 09:11:11 AM »
Easily one of the weirdest story concepts I've come up with, and another NaNoWriMo success.  Unlike Night Terrors, however, this one isn't finished; I literally hit Writer's Block in the last few chapters, and haven't worked on it for a little over a year.  The thought is that by posting what I've got, I might get some inspiration to at least finish the rough draft.


[desc=Totally not stolen from the Night Terrors page just because this one coincidentally had twenty-three (completed) chapters as well.]Table of Contents
Chapter 1 - Click Here!     Chapter 9 - Coming Soon     Chapter 17 - Coming Soon     
Chapter 2 - Click Here!     Chapter 10 - Coming Soon     Chapter 18 - Coming Soon     
Chapter 3 - Click Here!     Chapter 11 - Coming Soon     Chapter 19 - Coming Soon     
Chapter 4 - Coming Soon     Chapter 12 - Coming Soon     Chapter 20 - Coming Soon     
Chapter 5 - Coming Soon     Chapter 13 - Coming Soon     Chapter 21 - Coming Soon     
Chapter 6 - Coming Soon     Chapter 14 - Coming Soon     Chapter 22 - Coming Soon     
Chapter 7 - Coming Soon     Chapter 15 - Coming Soon     Chapter 23 - Coming Soon     
Chapter 8 - Coming Soon     Chapter 16 - Coming Soon     
« Last Edit: April 24, 2015, 06:24:38 AM by NicTei »
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Me Am Robot     |     Night Terrors     |     Sailing the Seven Skies     |     The Old Gods     |     Vagabond

Offline NicTei

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One
« Reply #1 on: March 30, 2015, 09:12:55 AM »
   Victor had always hated flying.  Whether it was the constant drone of the wind rushing past the windows, the violent shaking that accompanied any turbulence the airship ran across, or the horrid food didn’t matter; altogether, it was a downright dreadful experience.  Never mind that he was setting off on vacation to white, sandy beaches and near-constant sunshine.  All that mattered to him as he stood on the boarding platform was the prospect of spending the next several hours being thrown about in his compartment like a ragdoll as the other passengers around him began to lose their own composure and turn on each other like animals.  Already feeling his heart beginning to quicken, he checked his pocket watch to distract himself.  Elizabeth was late.

   As always, he had his parents to thank for his sister tagging along.  Chances were she had no interest in vacationing with him, either, but their mother was always pushing them together and trying to get them to spend as much time with each other as possible.  Their father merely watched from a respectable distance; he preferred to leave any executive decisions to his wife, always directing questions from either of his two children to the woman of the house.  Once upon a time he had told Victor, “Albane men are passive men; we’re perfectly capable of stepping up, and perfectly happy to watch others do it for us.”  That seemed like a poor excuse to Victor, but since that talk he had begun to notice how passive he actually was.  For example, he hadn’t put up much of a fight when he learned his sister was accompanying him, and as a result was now waiting for her on the platform while other passengers passed through the gates and onto the ship.

   That his sister was this late did not surprise him in the least.  One of her most irritating characteristics was her blatant disregard for the desires and needs of others; she preferred to go at her own pace, even to the detriment of a group.  In all likelihood, she was well aware of the time, but was strolling slowly through the station to the final gate, intentionally delaying her arrival to irritate him.  Or perhaps she had found something foolish and useless in one of the shops lining the path to the boarding platform and decided she needed it?  Whatever the reason, she had to know that she was putting him in eminent danger of missing his flight.

   Of course, he could always just board without her.  After all, he was a grown man of twenty-four years, very nearly twenty-five.  His parents could no longer punish him; he was too large to be thrown over the knee for a spanking, and his mother would not dare draw the wooden spoon on him.  Other than a few stern words when he returned, there would be no consequence for leaving without her, and having spent six years in one of the top universities in Mercia being scolded and told off day in and day out by austere professors and upper-classmen, he was relatively certain he could handle a few stern words.  Most importantly, without Elizabeth along he could let loose and have fun, as opposed to keeping his eye on her to make sure she stayed out of trouble.  The more he thought about it, the more he was warming up to the idea of boarding without her, consequences be damned, though he reminded himself that simply getting on the ship without waiting for her did not mean she would miss the flight as well.

   The very minute he decided he was done waiting, he spotted her approaching through the crowd.  As usual, she had decided not to dress for the occasion; where the other women passing by were wearing formal, frilled dresses and impressive hats, she was wearing a very plain white blouse and dark riding trousers.  Aside from their great-grandmother’s funeral and a cousin’s wedding, he had never seen her in a dress, nor had she shown much interest in dressing up.  In this and other ways they seemed so diametrically opposed as to be from entirely different families.  For example, where he was thin, gaunt, and dark-haired, she had inherited their father’s fair hair and had a much healthier build.  Many a time his colleagues had asked for his blessing to marry her, and though he knew they were joking it still became a weary question.  He was glad he was done with the Academy.

   “You didn’t have to wait for me,” she remarked when she finally reached him.

   “And you didn’t have to make me wait, dear sister,” Victor retorted.  “But there’s nothing to be done about it now.  I can only hope we’re not stuck in a cabin with a violently airsick family.”

   Without waiting for a response from his sister, he turned and started for the final gate, where a man in a dark blue suit and cap was checking tickets.  The vast majority of passengers appeared to have boarded already, as there was no longer a line extending out through the gate.  After being ushered through by the ticket man, Victor and Elizabeth walked along the bridge connecting the platform to the airship itself.  Having flown on many occasions before, the vast majority of them school-related, glancing up at the dirigible ahead of them was merely out of curiosity regarding the name of the ship, though Victor would be lying were he to deny that he still felt even a small wave of awe wash over him as he stepped into the massive shadow of the vessel.  Its name was emblazoned in large, elegant black lettering on the tan hull:  E.H.S. Bullfinch.

   Looking to his left and right, Victor could see other ships as well, some docked perpendicular to the edge of the cliff the station had been built on, and others docked parallel.  The vast majority were the familiar shape, with a large, metal, gas-filled balloon carrying a smaller gondola underneath, but a few were ‘upside-down’, with the gondola on top and the balloon beneath.  The Bullfinch was, appropriately, one of the smaller vessels at the dock, though it still dwarfed the other zeppelins Victor had the dubious pleasure of riding.  He had often found the worst to be the smallest ones—those that sat twenty at most and had no extra room for moving, only the seats for the passengers and a small section in back that served as an emergency toilet.

   The attendant closed the doors behind them, leaving Victor to deduce that they were, in fact, the last passengers to board.  As Thomas, his best friend at the Academy, had told him, the layout of the gondola was very much like that of a train car:  a central aisle ran the length of the passenger portion of the zeppelin, with a row of cabins on either side.  There was probably an outer aisle as well, though given the width of the central walkway two additional paths would be unnecessary.  Only one compartment door was still open, and to Victor’s delight there were no passengers inside.  Despite the crowds, they had managed to acquire their own private quarters for the flight.  His fears of being stuck with a large family—the only thing worse than experiencing turbulence was listening to an infant experiencing turbulence, he had found—were graciously unrealized.

   After standing on the platform for so long waiting for his sister, he was relieved to be able to sit down, especially on such a comfortably cushioned bench.  His luggage fit neatly into the cubby underneath the seat, and with everything stowed away safely and nothing else to do but wait for the inevitably rocky departure from the dock, he closed his eyes and tried to calm his nerves.  Every single statistic he had ever read about zeppelins crashing chose that particular moment to resurface in his mind, and for a moment he was possessed by the wild urge to grab his luggage—and maybe his sister—and get off the ship.  After all, a vacation was not absolutely necessary, and was in fact costing him more money than he ought to have been spending given how much he still owed the Academy.

   Once again, however, he lost his chance to act on his impulses; the very moment the thought crossed his mind he felt the floor give a slight shudder.  A few seconds later, the entire ship jolted and he began to feel it turning.  The mooring lines had been severed, and the Bullfinch had disembarked.  The next few minutes, he knew, would be a dreadfully uncomfortable rise in altitude, during which his ears would pop, his stomach would lurch, and his head would hurt.  After that came the inevitable turbulence that threatened to shake the zeppelin apart, and finally an equally uncomfortable descent.  With a sigh, he buried his head in his hands and waited for the rising sensation to start, heralded by the sensation of gravity’s viselike grip trying desperately to keep only his stomach from floating away while the rest of him was free to soar.

   Up above the bench across from him was a map displaying all of Mercia.  All of the major cities were labeled, the most prominent of them being Icarus, the national capital.  Out of habit, he looked for Westingbrook, where he had grown up and where his parents still lived, but as usual it was far too small to be included on the map, even one larger than some of the portraits in the Academy’s library.  He could still remember the faint pride he had felt when he had first found a map detailed enough to show Westingbrook, though what exactly he had been proud of still eluded him completely.  Though he was fond of his home, it was not the sort of place to inspire pride.  No famous figures were born there—and neither had they made so much as a brief visit on their way elsewhere—and there were no factories to produce goods; it was merely a quaint little settlement off the main roads where everyone knew everyone else and gossip spread near-instantaneously.

   The sound of the cabin door opening and closing broke him out of his reverie; Elizabeth had apparently gone off in search of something more entertaining to do.  While his first instinct was to chase after her, he let her go; he doubted she would get lost so easily, regardless of how large the ship was.  He suddenly realized that he could feel the zeppelin rising, but it wasn’t as intense or uncomfortable as he’d been expecting.  No wonder Thomas had recommended the Bullfinch by name.

   Now infinitely more at ease with his flight, he loosened his tie and stretched out on the bench.  Sleep had always made flights easier to handle, and given how smoothly this trip was already going—barring his sister’s tardiness—he might actually enjoy his vacation after all, air travel included.  Closing his eyes and counting his sheep, he was asleep in moments, already dreaming about the beach.


« Last Edit: April 02, 2015, 09:36:30 PM by NicTei »
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Me Am Robot     |     Night Terrors     |     Sailing the Seven Skies     |     The Old Gods     |     Vagabond

Offline Rabbit

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Re: Sailing the Seven Skies
« Reply #2 on: March 30, 2015, 02:59:14 PM »
Woo! I wanted to read this when you posted your ideas for back on
[desc=City of Tomes]TempTome[/desc], because I like stories about [desc=Remember my story Horizon? That was going end up being about sky pirates.]sky pirates[/desc]. So I shall read this with burger relish.

EDIT: Actually read it now. Very good. I love how just the tone of writing - the words and expressions you use - clearly place it in a different setting and genre to your other stories on here. This seems to be just my cup of tea.  :teabreak: I look forward to the next installment!

:owl:
« Last Edit: March 30, 2015, 09:31:48 PM by Rabbit »
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Offline Phoenix

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Re: Sailing the Seven Skies
« Reply #3 on: March 30, 2015, 03:28:20 PM »
So I shall read this with burger relish.

Well, that made me giggle.



Anther interesting start Nic, although it doesn't jump out at you like your other works on here yet. It seems to have a slower opening to it. A great start though  :read:, I shall be looking out for more. :)

Offline Angel

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Re: Sailing the Seven Skies
« Reply #4 on: March 30, 2015, 10:32:19 PM »
I'll agree with Pho with that it's definitely a slower start but it seems to suit the narrator. I'll agree with Robbit about the tone, setting, genre etc. It has a really different feel to it and I look forward to seeing how this is going to develop over the [desc=Can I mention how jealous I am of how much you've managed to write over the past 18 months?]coming chapters[/desc].

Enter Helena's world of light.
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Offline NicTei

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Re: Sailing the Seven Skies
« Reply #5 on: March 30, 2015, 11:39:15 PM »
I'll agree with Pho with that it's definitely a slower start but it seems to suit the narrator. I'll agree with Robbit about the tone, setting, genre etc. It has a really different feel to it and I look forward to seeing how this is going to develop over the [desc=Can I mention how jealous I am of how much you've managed to write over the past 18 months?]coming chapters[/desc].

I want it on the record that I have no idea how I managed to create an entirely different feel than anything else I've written. :P

Also, in regards to your alt text, I'd be remiss if I didn't point out that the vast majority of what I have to post was done during the Novembers after Tome fell, so I've got a serious chapter stockpile for [desc=This one and Night Terrors]those tales[/desc].  The others are pretty obviously done outside of NaNo because, regardless of how long I've been working on them, I have very little actually finished--only six to seven chapters.  The Old Gods is just weird because it's an attempt at epic poetry that I've had sitting on my drive since I started writing the [desc=Which is actually up on Tome right now; bonus points if you can guess which one it is!]story the mythology was for[/desc].

And, finally, I feel like I should apologize somewhere for vomiting up so much new content onto the forum last night; I was tired and bored, and my only alternative was actually doing homework. [desc=We need a barf smiley]:barf:[/desc]  So now I get to figure out my chapter posting schedule, which already fit pretty nicely at Mon-Wed-Fri.  I'll probably start alternating chapters of MAR and Vagabond, since there's so little of both, but I'm not sure where to fit this one into the week. :shrug:

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« Last Edit: March 30, 2015, 11:41:17 PM by NicTei »
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Me Am Robot     |     Night Terrors     |     Sailing the Seven Skies     |     The Old Gods     |     Vagabond

Offline Angel

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Re: Sailing the Seven Skies
« Reply #6 on: March 30, 2015, 11:43:48 PM »
But, you've done two successful NaNos so, really, you can continue to hold your wheesht. :P

I josh, but it's still impressive to me that anyone can churn out a whole novel in a month. It blows my lowly peasant mind. :onfire:

Is it Vagabond? :shrug:

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Offline NicTei

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« Reply #7 on: April 02, 2015, 09:31:26 PM »
   Elizabeth had always loved flying.  Being able to look out the window and see just how far above the earth she was made her feel strong and empowered, and she often imagined a small child looking up at the zeppelin passing far overhead and wondering just how it felt to ride on an airship.  Westingbrook lay off the main road, but directly underneath a major air route connecting the capital city, Icarus, with a major port city, so she knew exactly how the Bullfinch appeared from the ground.  In her mind’s eye she could picture the large tan hull slowly emerging from the clouds and casting a large shadow as it briefly blocked out the sun.

   The interior of the ship was impressive too, of course; the main aisles were all carpeted with an exotic pattern of black, tan, and deep red, and polished silver trays were being pushed around by kind-looking waiters in sharp suits, but the true value of the zeppelin could be seen in the electric lamps spaced at even intervals down the central corridor.  While they were becoming more common, even among domestic homes, she was still surprised to see them.  Not for the first time, she found herself wondering how Victor had afforded the ticket.  More importantly, she wondered why he of all people wanted to vacation in the White Isles.  He had never been overly fond of the sun or the beach, so far as she remembered, unless his experiences at the Academy had changed him that much.  Even if they had, she could not imagine him doing anything on the beach other than hiding underneath an umbrella with his nose buried in a book.

   Beneath her feet the Bullfinch swayed slightly, but she kept her footing.  Recently she’d been learning to stand in the saddle, so she was used to having the surface she was standing on shifting unsteadily.  She supposed she had Victor to thank for that, in a roundabout way:  had their parents not agreed to pay for part of the entry fees for the Academy, she probably would have attended herself.  Instead, they told her that money was too tight, and she would have to remain home until her brother was done.  So for the last five years, she had stayed home and helped with the housework, teaching herself a small set of useless skills in her free time.  While she was now adept at climbing trees and had a beginner’s level of understand with archery, other endeavors had not ended quite so well.  Juggling, in particular, came to mind.

   All things considered, this vacation would be good for her.  Getting out of Westingbrook was exactly what she needed, though she doubted going with Victor would help.  Something was better than nothing, she supposed, and she could probably squeeze some fun out of it if she did her best to avoid Victor for the duration.  In her experience that was easier said than done; knowing him he had taken a few moments to debate following after her when he realized she had left the compartment.  For all she knew, he was looking for her right now, though a quick glance behind her assured her that at the very least he was not sneaking up on her.

   When her parents had first told her she was going to the White Isles, she had been ecstatic.  Then they told her she was going with Victor.  Immediately she had regretted seeming so excited.  But, of course, her mother simply would not take no for an answer, and here she was.  Thankfully, she would only be with Victor on the White Isles for a week.  If she could keep her nerves from fraying for five short days, she would get through the ordeal and only have to see Victor on holidays and birthdays afterwards.  He had graduated and would be moving on to find a job, after all.

   On a whim, she crossed over to one of the outer corridors to look out the window.  Far below she could make out a city surrounded by a forest.  As high up as she was, she could see no distinguishing landmarks that might help her identify the city; it was merely a nameless little hamlet carrying on under the shadow of the Bullfinch, however momentarily.  The people who lived down there were simply going on about their lives, oblivious to the fact that they were being watched from above.  Not that she was getting some sort of voyeuristic thrill from the thought, of course.

   Turning from the window, she paused to purchase a drink from one of the passing food trays before returning to her cabin.  Victor was sound asleep on his bench, snoring softly underneath a world map; she had only just now noticed the map of Mercia over her own bench, and made note of the designer’s apparent map fetish.  Whoever it was would undoubtedly have a great deal to talk about with her brother.  Why he had decided to take six years of his life to study navigation and cartography when she had known him to get violently air- and sea-sick simply defied logic, though once again she acknowledged that he might have changed during his time in the Academy.  That he was sleeping soundly and not retching into a bag at the moment had to count for something, though she would wait until the flight was over to make her final judgment on the matter.  She just hoped he could refrain from vomiting all over her shoes, recalling the first flight they had ever been on.

   Their great-grandmother had just died, and rather than take a weeks-long carriage ride to Icarus they instead took a day’s ride to the nearest airship dock, where they boarded a zeppelin many times smaller than the one they were on now.  There had been no passenger cabins, but two rows of ten seats in a miniscule gondola surrounded by windows.  As she recalled, Victor had spent the majority of the flight in the emergency toilet located at the very back of the gondola. Unfortunately for the rest of the passengers, the noise carried quite well through the entire cabin, so they were treated to the sounds of airsickness for roughly six hours.  By the time they had reached Icarus, they were all as pale as he was, though none of them could possibly have felt any worse.  On a more positive note, that was perhaps the first time she had ever seen him clean his plate at supper.

   Sitting down, she rifled through her bag for the one book she had brought along, a collection of poetry from Sylvanmire.  Her brother would no doubt disapprove of her choice of reading materials and would press one of his own books into her hands were he to see what she was reading, so she had resolved to avoid conflict entirely and only pull it out when he was either asleep or not around.  His borderline bigotry was no reason not to read what her friends had told her was some of the best poetry ever compiled.  As far as she had read, she could only agree with their assessment.

   Before she could pick up where she had last left off, however, there was a knock at the door.  She opened it to find a tall, older man with a magnificent mustache and a disarming smile.  Judging by the hat and coat he wore, he was someone important.  The shiny tag on his breast pocket that read ‘Captain Winston Greene’ confirmed her judgment.  That still begged the question of what the captain himself was doing knocking on their compartment door.

   “Can I help you?” she asked.

   “I apologize if I was interrupting anything, miss, but I’m the captain of the Bullfinch.  I just like to go from cabin to cabin and see how everyone is doing,” he answered genially.  He had a deep voice with a slight rasp.  “Is there anything I can do for you?”

   Elizabeth glanced at her sleeping brother.  “Not at the moment, but thank you for asking.”  As he turned to leave, she noticed the pistol on his hip.  “Are captains typically armed aboard their own ships?”

   Captain Greene turned around and smiled apologetically.  “I assure you, miss, there’s no cause for alarm.  This is merely a safety precaution all captains and crews from Mercia have been required to take.  I’m not fond of it myself, but I’d be even less fond of losing my ship.”    He shrugged.  “I do apologize with it makes you nervous, but once again I assure you that there’s nothing to worry about.  I must get going, but if you find you need anything, just ask one of the stewards; they should be able to help you.”

   With that he continued down the line, knocking on the door of the next passenger cabin down.  Understandably, his assurances rang hollow in Elizabeth’s ears.  Considering the only armed personnel aboard most airship were the occasional traveling soldiers, the Mercian Parliament ordering even the captains to carry arms was very disconcerting, to say the least.  There was something going on, and if there were weapons involved she had absolutely no intention of leaving the matter alone.  She began thinking back to every major newspaper she had read, trying to remember if she had seen anything about air traffic, but nothing was coming to mind.  Even so, she could not let the matter go so easily.  Her hatred of guns was at least equal to Victor’s hatred of flying.

   Settling back down with her poetry book, she opened to the last page she had read and tried to put the pistol out of her mind.  Victor was the one who had panic attacks over nothing, not her.  She would keep a level head, nothing would go wrong, and they would land without incident in the White Isles, where their vacation would go horribly due to her strong independent streak clashing with Victor’s seemingly infinite neuroses.  Then, after they had returned home, they would resume minimal contact and be perfectly happy with things back to normal.  And while she was dreaming, she also put in a request for a pony.

   Closing the door and pushing her luggage up against it, she tried her best to convince herself that would be sufficient to prevent any sort of disaster from entering the cabin and turned her focus back to her poetry.


« Last Edit: April 24, 2015, 06:24:00 AM by NicTei »
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Me Am Robot     |     Night Terrors     |     Sailing the Seven Skies     |     The Old Gods     |     Vagabond

Offline Rabbit

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Re: Sailing the Seven Skies
« Reply #8 on: April 03, 2015, 01:08:51 PM »
Hmmm... something is definitely afoot...  :read:

Another solid chapter, Nic.  :coolthumb:
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Offline Phoenix

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Re: Sailing the Seven Skies
« Reply #9 on: April 03, 2015, 05:38:57 PM »
Another good chapter here Nic :) It's going to be interesting seeing where this leads, it's starting to have a build up now  :Aokay:.

One thing I did notice was this though, I'm not sure if it's intentional? :shrug:

   Settling back down with her poetry book, she opened to the last page she had read and tried to put the pistol out of her mind. 

   Closing the door and pushing her luggage up against it, she tried her best to convince herself that would be sufficient to prevent any sort of disaster from entering the cabin and turned her focus back to her poetry.

I got a little confused here, as you say she's settled down with the book and started reading presumably happy with everything around her.~But then say she got up again to close the door?
If I was to get settled, I'd have made sure the door was shut before she started reading again.

It may have been how I was reading it,  :shrug: can you see what I mean or am I just confusing myself again...

Offline Angel

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Re: Sailing the Seven Skies
« Reply #10 on: April 08, 2015, 10:38:03 PM »
Finally finished this!
I must have started to read this about three times.  :laugh1:
I like the differences already apparent between Victor and Elizabeth. It'll make for interesting reading to have different viewpoints on certian things. But then I'm also thinking that once things get rolling, it'll be interesting to see if them being siblings results in similar oversights etc. Great chapter Nic.  :nod:

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Offline NicTei

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« Reply #11 on: April 24, 2015, 06:23:42 AM »
   Victor awoke to the sound of yelling.  Nearly rolling off of the bench, he pushed himself into a sitting position and rubbed his eyes.  He was relieved to see that Elizabeth had returned, but the frightened expression he saw flicker across her face when she noticed he was awake erased that relief in an instant.  Outside, he could hear someone run down the central corridor towards the front of the ship.  Nervously running a hand through his hair, he straightened his tie before standing up and clearing his throat.

   “Do you know what’s going on?” he asked.

   Elizabeth shook her head.  “A steward came and told us to stay in our cabin and keep the door closed, but that was all I was told.”

   Victor nodded slowly.  This was not good.  Passengers would only be confined to their cabins if something was going horribly, horribly wrong.  The crew might have found a puncture in the hull.  They could be headed towards a slow descent into the ocean.  Granted, they were flying over land, so that was unlikely to happen unless whoever was steering had been helping themselves to the drinks on the food cart.  Even so, they might have to make an emergency landing in a bad part of the country.  Since a rescue would take hours and the zeppelin would be impossible to repair so far away from a port they would undoubtedly have to cancel vacation, making that the worst possible outcome he could imagine.

     Alternatively, the crew could have discovered an armed stowaway who was currently holding one of the other passengers hostage in an adjacent cabin.  Any minute now a bullet could burst through one of the walls and hit him.  Or Elizabeth, which would be a bad thing, of course.  Unless, of course, the stowaway was armed with a sword or knife, which would be incredibly foolish considering all of the crew members he had seen so far were carrying pistols.  He had refrained from pointing this out to Elizabeth because he knew how much she hated any type of firearm, but maybe now she would derive some comfort from that information.  There was a chance it would only make her more nervous, so he kept it to himself.  No sense in making his sister hysterical and adding to the chaos.

     Unfortunately, he had no idea what else he could do.  He trusted the crew to do their part to handle whatever situation had come up without his feeble attempts at assistance.  Unless they needed him to read a map, he would be useless to them.  The best possible course of action was to stay here, do what the stewards said, and stay calm for his sister.

     So, naturally, he threw up all over the carpet.

     Elizabeth groaned.  “Of all the times to get airsick, Victor, you choose now?  We’ve been flying comfortably for two hours, but you choose this exact moment to throw up?”

     Victor’s retort was cut off as the door burst open and a tall man with a mustache burst in.  The captain.  Victor had spoken with him briefly on the platform—one of the perks of being an hour early for the flight.  Then the captain had looked at ease and confident, but now he had a frightened, crazy look in his eye.  His pistol was no longer hanging at his hip, but clutched in his hand, the hammer already pulled back in preparation to fire.  With a shaking hand, he produced his keys.

     “You’ll be locked in, you’ll be safe,” he muttered as he tried to put the key in the keyhole.  “There’s no cause for alarm, no cause at all.”

     Elizabeth rushed towards him.  “Captain!  What’s going on?  Why are you locking us in here?”

     He looked at her as if just noticing her for the first time, then shook his head.  “There’s no cause for alarm, miss.  You’ll be safe in here, I assure you.”

     With that, he closed the door and turned the key in the keyhole, locking Victor in with his sister and a discolored spot on the carpet in front of him.  Elizabeth stared at the door helplessly for a moment before quietly sitting back down on her bench and picking up the book she had dropped on the floor in her rush to speak to the captain.  The calmness with which she continued to read from it spoke volumes to Victor of how scared she actually was.  Wiping his mouth on his sleeve, he sat down as well and pulled his bag out from under the bench.  There was nothing inside it that could help him, but he gained some comfort from having it sitting on his lap.

     Since the captain had his pistol out and ready to fire, Victor had deduced that they were under attack either from within or without.  He had heard neither shots nor clashing blades in the corridor, only shouting and worried voices.  An infant was crying in one of the cabins.  Without a window, he was unable to see what could be posing a problem outside, but he was able to guess easily enough:  pirates.

   Like their original sea-faring ancestors and the highwaymen that roamed the land, sky pirates were by all accounts unpleasant.  Whether they boarded an airship and robbed the passengers or simply brought the ship down and picked what valuables they could find out of the remains, Victor had yet to hear of an encounter with sky pirates ending well for any innocent travelers.  Damage was usually done to a targeted vessel during the boarding process that left it crippled and unable to fly very far, often with disastrous consequences for those on board.  If they were in fact under attack by pirates, there was very little that could be done to help them.  He had to keep his trust in the crew to be able to repel an attack and convince the pirates they were better off leaving the Bullfinch well enough alone.

   Moments after this thought crossed his mind, the first shot was fired.  It came from just up the outer corridor, and Victor hoped it was just one of the crewmen firing a warning shot at the approaching ship through an opened window.  The following volley of shots and the sound of breaking glass quickly trivialized the issue; a full-on firefight had begun between the two ships.  Outside in the corridor he could hear lead rounds slamming into the wood of the cabin walls; a loud splintering noise preceded one piercing through the wall of their own cabin, hurtling past Victor’s face to embed itself in the door.

   The next few moments were hazy.  Victor was vaguely aware of screaming something to Elizabeth before he threw himself onto the floor, grabbing her hand and dragging her down with him.  Soon after, he remembered hearing cannon fire and screams following the sound of splintering wood in the cabin ahead of them.  Clearly, their attackers were not concerned in the slightest with the possible damage they could be doing to the ship.  They probably belonged to category that wrecked ships and searched the crash site for the deceased crew’s valuables.  So he waited on the floor as shots were exchanged for what seemed like an eternity for the next artillery shell to

   But no more cannons were fired.  Victor could hear plenty of rifle and pistol fire, but the resounding boom of the cannon did not repeat.  Perhaps the pirates had realized that their target had no heavy weapons and were giving them a fighting chance.  Or, more likely, they were merely toying with the crew of the Bullfinch, throwing it in their faces that they could have easily torn the ship apart, but were content to run them out of ammunition before boarding and taking what they wanted.

   When the first savage yell cut through the air in the corridor outside, Victor knew they’d been boarded.  Without thinking, he pushed himself into a sitting position and pressed his back against the door, pushing with all his might and willing it to stay closed.  He knew it was already locked, but he felt as though he had to do something.  An added security measure never hurt, after all, though he became uneasy when Elizabeth joined him in trying to hold the door shut against the pirates.  The bullet hole up above their heads from the round that pierced the outer wall was more than enough evidence that she could be shot through the door.

   Of course, he need not have worried.  In fact, neither of them need have worried about the door; the wall ahead of them that separated their cabin from the outer corridor suddenly exploded inwards, one of the crewmen landing at their feet.  Through the hole stepped one of the largest men Victor had ever seen, the top of his head scraping the ceiling of the cabin.  He was leering at the both of them through a thick brown beard, one of his hands clenched in a bloody fist.  The crewman’s face was a bloody mess, barely recognizable as a person at all.

   “Pretty cheap wood don’ ye think, missy?” the pirate sneered, his eyes fixed on Elizabeth.

   Victor opened his mouth to shout something demeaning at him—or, more likely, scream—but the deafening retort of a gun drowned him out.  The large man wobbled on his feet unsteadily for a brief moment before falling backwards, still grinning.  Victor looked over at Elizabeth and was astonished to find her holding the crewman’s pistol, the barrel still smoking in her hands.  She dropped it as if it had suddenly become incredibly hot and kicked it away before pushing herself into the corner.  The horrified expression on her face perfectly captured what he himself was feeling, despite knowing full well that she had probably just saved their lives.

   In the next cabin over they could hear the sound of a struggle, but Victor’s thoughts were preoccupied with the large hole in the wall ahead of them.  If they moved away from the door someone might be able to get in that way, but anyone passing by their cabin on the outer corridor would be able to see them unless they hid.  No matter what they did, they would eventually be found by the pirates and robbed, raped, or killed, maybe even all three.  He only hoped they started with the killing first.

   “The parachutes,” Elizabeth said suddenly.

   Crawling over to her bench, she started looking around underneath, finally pulling out a large, tight bundle of grey fabric with straps for her shoulders.  Pulling out another, she tossed it over to Victor before slipping her arms through the straps of her own.  Victor merely stared at her until she turned around.

   “Are you insane?  Where are we going to jump from?  If we run down the hallway, we’ll be shot for sure.  Even if we do make it out the door, what if the parachutes don’t open?  Where will we go when we land?  We don’t even know where we are right now!”  The rest of his rant was cut off as she crossed the room, pulled him to his feet, and slapped him across the face.  “What the hell was that for?!”

   “We can either wait around in this cabin to die, or we can at least try to get off of this ship alive.  If you want to stay here with the pirates, be my guest, but so help me if mother blames it on me I will have a psychic summon your ghost and trap it in a spittoon!” Elizabeth snapped.

   She darted out of the cabin through the hole in the wall before Victor could stop her.  He hesitated only a moment before putting his own parachute on, picking up his bag, and following her out.  Three dead crewmen were lying in the hallway, two slumped against the wall and one hanging halfway out a broken window.  Elizabeth had not gone far; she was standing at the precipice of the hole the cannon had made in the side of the gondola, which was surprisingly large; Victor refrained from turning around to see what it had done to the occupants of the room behind them.  Staring down at the fields far below, she gave him a nervous look before gripping the straps of her parachute and taking a step forward towards the hole.  A powerful arm wrapped around Victor’s neck out of the blue, pulling him back away from the hole while the hot muzzle of a flintlock pressed into his forehead.

   “I wouldn’t do that, girl,” a voice growled near Victor’s ear.

   Elizabeth stopped in her tracks and backed away from the hole.  Immediately, three men grabbed her from behind, tearing the parachute from her back.  She fought back, kicking at them and biting at their hands until one of them hit her over the head with the butt of his pistol, cowing her considerably if not simply knocking her out.  One of them started to laugh until a quiet “tsk” silenced him.  Somewhere behind him, Victor could hear the speaker clucking his tongue as if he were scolding a child.

   “Hitting a woman is a terrible crime, my friend.  I do not believe the captain wanted you handling the passengers so roughly.”

   One of the men holding Elizabeth snarled.  “Th’ cap’n didn’t say nothin’ ‘bout how we handle the passengers.  We was only told t’ take anythin’ what looked valuable.”  He grinned at Elizabeth.  “She looks pretty damn pricey t’ me.”

   “Enough!” the other man snapped.  He had a strange accent Victor could not place; he wished he could turn around and see the speaker that seemed to be trying to help his sister.  “I am thinking that, of the five of us here—these two not included—I would be the one who knows best when it comes to the captain.  Or are you moved to disagree with me, my friend?”

   The other man spat on the floor.  “I ain’ yer friend, ye knifey little shit.”

   In response, the man with the accent clucked his tongue again.  An instant later, a knife was protruding from the other pirate’s neck, his blood running all over Elizabeth’s hair and blouse.  She fell with him as he sank to the ground gurgling curses through the blood.  The other two stared dumbly at their fallen friend as Elizabeth darted to her feet, jolted to her senses by the warm, wet blood clinging to her with her hair.  She looked at Victor, and he assumed her own frightened expression was reflected quite well on his own face.  He had a pistol digging into his temple, and the arm around his throat had not loosened in the slightest.

   “Such a shame,” the man with the accent sighed.  “He was a good man.  Probably.  Well, probably not, but you understand what I mean, yes?  No matter.  You three may take these ones to the captain.  They have much to answer for, I think.”


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Me Am Robot     |     Night Terrors     |     Sailing the Seven Skies     |     The Old Gods     |     Vagabond

Offline Angel

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Re: Sailing the Seven Skies
« Reply #12 on: June 08, 2015, 01:41:34 PM »
Oh me oh my! What a situation they seem to have found themselves in now. I really like Elizabeth she's an interesting character and seems to do pretty well under pressure. Kind of hoping that they'll become pirates themselves. Bet she'd do well.

One thing, you didn't seem to finish the last sentence of the 17th paragraph.

Look forward to seeing how they get out or even get further into this situation.

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Offline NicTei

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Re: Sailing the Seven Skies
« Reply #13 on: June 14, 2015, 09:03:17 AM »
Ah yes.  That damnable 17th Paragraph Gremlin.  Cheeky little monster.

It's been over a month since I posted that last chapter; might have to think about putting another one up. >.>

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Me Am Robot     |     Night Terrors     |     Sailing the Seven Skies     |     The Old Gods     |     Vagabond

 

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