It took several days to cross the entire piedmont region and now there were the mountains to navigate. The Sandflea was keeping to a moderate pace rather than speeding along. Her crew needed to keep an eye on the countryside as well as the sky. But it was the sky that delivered a surprise. Far in the distance the crew could see a tiny speck of an airship following them. As it came closer they could see that it was moving rapidly and meant to overtake them.
“Full stop!” Cried Captain Willie. “We gotta to see what’s goin’ on with this fella.”
“Been expecting a message, have you?” asked Kennia.
The captain shrugged. “Figured it was bound to happen. Everything so vague-like and fishy. Might as well get some more intel.”
As an airship doesn’t exactly stop on a dime so some time had passed before the Sandflea was moored. Meanwhile, the smaller airship had caught-up with them and its pilot had shimmied down a knotted rope. He waved wildly as he strode towards them.
“Hey there Miss Kennia and Miss Tira! How y’all doin’?”
Mike, for it was him, gave her hand a vigorous shake.
“What have y’all ladies done with your captain?”
“He’s still in the cockpit with the new spy lady. No need for everyone to come out. Tira and I just wanted to stretch our legs a bit.”
“I’ll just pop in and wag my jaws at him for a bit.”
Mike had been aboard the Sandflea enough times that he could easily find his own way up the ladder and to the cockpit.
“Hey there, captain! How’re you?”
“Well enough, I suppose. What news do you have?”
“You too, Miss. ‘Fraid I don’t remember your name! You must be our new lady super-sleuth, am I right?”
“My name is Rose Chavous.”
“Captain, Miss Rose,” Mike bobbed his head in greeting. Since he was very tall and the airship was cramped, his head was already bent forward but he still managed a polite dip.
“Aw, just call me Little Red!” She laughed and held out her hand in greeting. “So what’s the latest news?”
Later, after their discussion, the Captain called the other members of the crew to reboard and be briefed on their situation.
“Listen, y’all,” said Little Red. “You know already that there’s some weird things happening at the northwestern border area. I’ve an idea about what, but not why. So now we need to make a detour and fetch a package.”
“What kinda package? Asked Tira.
“The one you left with the Catawba Nation last winter.”
“I was afraid you were gonna say somethin’ along those lines.”