Sunday, May 30, 2010

Border-crossing chapter 2

A few minutes later they had recovered and climbed the latter to the main section of the airship so Tira could report the recent events to the Captain. Captain Willie James was a large, dark-skinned man with closely cropped hair and the world’s longest eyelashes.

The first words out of his mouth were, “What is that man still doing on my ship? He had better be a paying passenger because he sure as hell ain’t no cargo.”
“And what about his package, Tira? I don’t see any sign of it!” interrupted Kennia. She was in charge of contraband, mysterious substances and packages.
Old Toby snorted, “Yeah, I got it right here, “ and patted his vest. It rustled in response. Kennia stuck-out her right hand. “I’ll take it then, if you please sir.”

Old Toby wriggled out of the aforementioned garment and deftly began producing a series of paper-stuffed envelops with almost comical gyrations as he twisted and turned it to reach the different hidden pockets. Kennia patiently collected each from him.
“Package delivered in full and on time,” snapped Old Toby. “Feel free to just kick me outta the hatch now. Not like ya need me for nothin’ now that the Patrollers are on to me!”

Captain Willie ignored him and turned to Kennia, “What’s he got for us this time?”
Kennia sorted through the packets and shrugged, “just the usual. New dates and times for deliveries. Most of this is of no use to us. If there is a leak in the pipeline, we’ll have to reschedule everything and change all our passwords.”
“Including the saltpetre deliveries?”
“Especially them.”
“Lotta folks at headquarters are not gonna be happy about this,” Captain Willie turned away in disgust. He pointed at Old Toby, “oh, and you’re coming with us to explain in person, old man!”
“Oh, no I’m not! I’m just the deliveryman. I don’t know nothin’ about nothin’ and I don’t wanna go with y’all any further than I have to.”

“Somehow I don’t remember anyone asking you if you wanted to follow along,” smirked Kennia. “Besides, the further you are from the Border, the safer you are from Patrollers. We’re not the only folks skulking about where we shouldn’t be.”
“He doesn’t want to enter Cherokee Country is all,” said Tira. “Old Toby here is scared witless of Indians.” She laughed.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Sandflea makes a border-crossing

The year according to European reckoning is 1855. The thick summer twilight was disturbed by the sound of a propeller. The airship came in low over the tree line without snagging any branches and then hovered over a clearing. A hatch sprung open on the underbelly of the ship and a rope ladder fell down from the opening. Quickly a slight figure climbed down the ladder and then hung there, one foot on the lowest rung and one arm slung over a higher rung. The figure peered into the surrounding woods as it hung about 4 feet above the ground.

Her propeller stilled, the small airship drifted slightly but was far enough into the open to not be in danger of entanglement. Suddenly, a solitary figure dashed into the clearing.
“Tira?” he whispered. “That you? You’ve gotta take me with ya. They’re on to me.”
Tira hissed down at him, “What in hell is the matter with you? You know we can’t do that!”
“They’re onto me, Tira. I’m dead and done for if ya don’t get me outta here. I don’t need to go far, just a bit over the border and then a bit, just to be sure. Ya can let me off anywhere.”

In the time he took to tell his tale, the man had gasped and panted his way across the field and to the bottom of the dangling rope ladder. Tira sighed as she stretched forth her free hand and grasped his arm as he struggled to pull himself up the rope ladder.
“Up ya go then. But you can explain to Captain Willie just why you don’t have his supplies.”

A bloodhound bellowed in the woods entirely too close for comfort.
“Told ya they were hot on my trail!”
“Up, up, up,” yelled Tira in the direction of the hatch. She turned to her unexpected passenger, “Climb on up then. I’ll be right behind ya!”

Tira waited until the man had scrambled up the ladder and through the hatch before starting her own ascent. Meanwhile, the bloodhound’s bellowing was becoming louder and more excited.
“Get us up and outta here now!” she howled. “I’m on my way!”

Once safely in the belly of the craft, Tira lay on the floor, practically on top of the man in the crowded crawl-space. Her shipmate pulled hard on a lever that closed the mechanical hatch door and then sealed it. Kennia jerked her thumb in the general direction of the man lying crumpled on the floor, still trying to catch his breath.
"Who's the extra weight? And where's the package?"
Tira shrugged, "This is Old Toby. He was supposed to deliver the package and then some but doesn't seem to be doin' too well just now." She pressed her lips tightly together. This trip was dangerous, crossing the Carolina border into neighboring Virginia and now the risk was for nothing. Captain Willie was really going to love that!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

CFS Sandflea

The year according to European reckoning is 1855. The Airship Sandflea serves a purpose half-way between scoutship and privateer. Officially she does not exist and thus has no registration number. Her crew of four persons is arrogant and ruthless and specializes in acts of espionage och the occasional act of air piracy!