Author: Smonorkith PM
Hundreds of years into the shadow of the apocalypse, humans survive, thrive and advance once more. They build airships and skyports - towns in the sky. On the ground, land raiders inhabit the wastes; cities and towns are spread thinly apart. In the skies of the new world, Galland and his crew find themselves at the dawn of a new age, mired in revolution and conflict.Rated: Fiction T - English - Adventure/Sci-Fi - Chapters: 17 - Words: 45,042 - Reviews: 11 - Favs: 3 - Follows: 2 - Updated: 05-06-13 - Published: 09-08-12 - id: 3056732
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Captain Galland awoke to a curious sound; silence. The reassuring grumble of propellers that he was so used to was nowhere to be found in the air. Galland lay, listening intently for any reassuring sound, but there was nothing, neither Seroni's authoritative barks nor sigh of toiling crew. All was not right aboard the Hyperion. Sitting up, Galland continued listening, wondering if he was in fact still asleep, in some strange nightmarish land wherein ships ran silent. A moment passed, then another, still silence. Galland couldn't bare it any longer, he had to see what was going on.
Leaping out of his bunk, he quickly slipped on his nut brown trousers and white shirt. Pulling his bracers over his shoulders, jumping into his bucket boots and slipping on his black tailcoat, Galland swiftly exited his cabin, pistol at the ready. No sooner had he opened his cabin door than a fierce roar erupted from below deck, and the Hyperion shuddered as she unleashed a powerful volley of cannon fire. The tremor shook Galland off of his feet, he was unprepared, still slightly drunk and barely awake. Scrambling to his feet, the sails of an unfamiliar ship crept into view, and a strange scent met his nose, mingling with heavily rum soaked morning breath. We need more mouthwash, Galland thought to himself idly, as he was trying to work out whose ship was sailing by, and why they were exchanging cannon fire. Then it hit him. It was the smell of wood burning. Odd, he thought, there's nothing burning on that ship.
Realisation finally sunk in as he heard shouts from below deck. The Hyperion didn't even have enough cannons for a volley; she was a smuggler, not a war bird. It was the other ship that had fired. Galland snapped out of his stupor and set off at a dash below deck, someone had some explaining to do. As Galland neared the stairs leading below deck, the other ship fired a second volley. The sound of splintering wood confirmed the hit, and the Hyperion's engines spluttered into life as the pilot began manoeuvring. Bounding down the last of the steps, Galland was immediately greeted by his first mate, Seroni Dans. Seroni was a pale young red head, who'd been with Galland for a few years; she and the captain also jointly owned the Hyperion, and although the pair had decided that he should be captain as a formality, Seroni commanded the same respect as he did.
"Captain, so nice of you to join us," Seroni sarcastically remarked, as Galland swept by, making his way towards the armoury.
"Damnation! Seroni, why in the aether is there a terribly strange boat shooting at us, while we're sitting dead in the sky?" Galland asked spinning to face her, half angrily, half excitedly. He always enjoyed the thrill of a good fight, but waking up before noon and being shot at while hung-over didn't really agree with him.
"Sighted her on first watch before dawn Captain, about ten miles off stern. She must've picked up our scent on the radar, we went to blackout hoping to evade her, but she found us."
"She surely did," Galland replied, checking his sword, "Boarding party ready?" He was half sure he knew the answer already.
"Ready to go at the word, sir," Seroni responded with a grin, loading her shotgun and tying her tether to her brown leather belt.
"Well then. Let's go cause trouble!" Galland smirked, as he kicked open a hidden door in the wall of the armoury.
"Let's misbehave!" Seroni shouted, joining him, the rest of the party following.
Hidden doors all along the starboard side flung open, and tethers were fired and locked onto the other ship. The captain swung first, blasting his pistol at a cannoneer aboard the other ship. In a flash the party was aboard the vessel, engaging the enemy at close quarters. Galland's crew were seasoned veterans, mostly, and they had little trouble dealing with the amateurs who crewed this boat. Whoever had decided to attack the Hyperion was not as well informed as they should have been. While Galland's crew weren't the most notorious, or the most terrifying, they were still veterans of the skies, and weren't to be taken lightly.
"I'm going below decks to look for the captain of this bird, keep an eye on things up here Seroni," Galland bellowed across the deck.
"Aye captain," Seroni called back, before spinning on her heels and shooting a crewman who was scrambling to rush her.
As Galland reached the lower decks, he was sent flying into a wall as cannon fire from the Hyperion rocked the vessel. I really ought to get me a new gunner, Galland thought, as he hauled himself up from the boards. Running down the hall, he was glad that the Hyperion had fired now, as the crewmen who might have otherwise fought him were either dead or cowering.
Back up top, the fight was over, the smarter crewmen realised they were outmatched and laid down arms, though there were a few valiant (or foolish) men who fought to the death. Galland's crew hadn't taken a loss, save a few men taking some cuts and bruises. Seroni began to do some interrogating, beginning with the obvious questions. "Who are you?" she roared, as intimidating as she could manage. The crewmen stayed silent. "Why did you fire on us?" Silence again. "I won't ask any more. Answer me!" Seroni growled, pressing right up against a crewman's face. The crewman remained mute. She carried on, spewing threats of violence to the crewmen, but, even under beatings, they stayed unspeaking.
Seroni hissed in vexation and contemplated throwing the men overboard, but, while they were smugglers and criminals, they tried to be less like merciless pirates wherever possible; no doubt she would have lost sleep if she'd have killed them. She leaned against the guard rail, took a few deep breaths and idly played with her hair as she awaited the captain's return; it was then that she noticed something. All the crewmen were wearing identical outfits. Her thoughts hurtled back to when she was a child, reading the ancient history books. She could vaguely recall reading about how crewmen on navy ships wore the same uniforms as one another. How queer, she thought to herself, before dismissing the thought and going back to waiting. She'd taken a cut down the length of her right forearm, and it was only now that she noticed the warm rivulet of blood trickling down past her wrist and on to her fingers. The cut wasn't deep enough to be dangerous, though Seroni still winced as she noticed the stinging wound.
Below deck, Galland had made his way to the captain's office. He slowed to a silent creep and slid up to the door. Pressing his ear against the wood, he began to listen, attempting to get a feel for how many people were in the room and where they were. For a few moments, all was calm again in the sky. There were no more shouts or gunshots ringing, just the sweet purr of propellers carrying the airships onwards. Galland took in a sharp breath and burst through the oaken wood doors, firing his pistol twice at the crewman standing by the captain. With a groan and a thud, the crewman hit ground and the captain raised his hands. The captain was a sharply dressed man, almost too elegant to be an aviator, with a look of permanent disdain etched on his aging face.
"It seems there's been something of an altercation between us, sir," Galland said, holstering his pistol. "If I'm recalling correctly, you fired upon my ship not five minutes ago. Now why would you want to go and do a thing like that?" he asked mockingly, as he paced around the room. There was a freshly peeled orange sitting on the captain's desk, which Galland decided to treat himself to.
"Captain Galland, I presume?" the man asked, with an air of snobbishness, "I am Captain Atlas, of the Gabriel. We've been looking for you for some time."
"Well ain't that something?" Galland replied, his mouth full of orange.
"There are many a man who would see you and your ship plucked from the sky, and they are willing to pay a very generous amount to make it so," Atlas coolly said, straightening his collar.
"And why would you be so readily telling me this? Seeing as how your men are likely up there being beaten senseless and not spilling a word," Galland enquired, setting down the remainder of the orange on a bookshelf, before turning to face Atlas.
Atlas chuckled to himself and rose from his chair.
"Please, captain. I am no fool; I know how this is going to end. I'd just rather my final words are something more than simply, 'please don't'."
"Duly noted," Galland nodded, before drawing his pistol, "Any preference as to where I shoot you?" Atlas replied by shaking his head.
"Just make sure I'm recognisable."
Atlas turned away to admire a portrait of himself and thought of his life, and the choices he had made to lead him here. He thought of the town he grew up in, day dreaming about being an aviator. It was on these final thoughts he would dwell forever, as Galland sent him to the eternal country.
The captain hastily checked Atlas for valuables, noticing the sneer of contempt that was still across his face, even in death this man was a snob. After taking some petty change and an antique brass compass, Galland left the room and returned to Seroni, with just a hint of guilt niggling away in the back of his mind. It was always the same after he'd killed somebody; he much preferred to be merciful. More often that not however, mercy just wasn't a viable option, and though he didn't take pleasure in it, sometimes, some people just needed to die.
"Cap'n have anything interesting to say?" Seroni shouted across the deck.
Galland shook his head and looked at the gaggle of prisoners that were kneeling on deck, hands above their heads.
"Y'all are very lucky, in that I'm an incredibly forgiving criminal," the captain started, "there's enough parachutes here for everyone. Now I am taking your money, and I am scuttling your ship, but I'm no land raider. I'm not interested in killing for the joy of it. Better luck next time, I guess."
Galland's crew emptied the pockets of the crewmen, and some emerged from the crew decks with chests full of possessions and money.
With a bow, Galland and his crew swung back aboard the Hyperion and gave the order for the gunner to burst the airbags. With the other ship falling out of the sky, and daybreak looming over in the east, the captain gave the order for hard burn.
"Let's make ourselves as ghosts," he said over the radio to the engine room. There was no vocal acknowledgement through the radio, but the surge of the ship and noise of the propellers spinning faster told the captain he'd been heard.
"Where we headed in such a hurry cap'?" Seroni asked, unsure of what Galland was planning.
"Skyport Constantinopolis. There's a man I need to see," Galland replied, absent mindedly. Seroni noticed he was captivated by a strange brass compass held in his hand. She'd never seen him so entranced before, save maybe when he saw the belly dancers in the nomadic bazaar for the first time. He must have sobered up by now, Seroni thought, so it's not the rum making him absent. Whatever the captain saw in that compass, Seroni decided not to press him about it, Galland was never usually like that, and it put a chill down her spine. Something foul was afoot.
The captain slunk off towards his quarters and Seroni started towards the navigator's post. On her way over, she took a last moment to turn and look at the strange vessel that had attacked them, as it fell towards the ground. It was distant now, and she could just about make out the dark blots of the crewmen parachuting to safety. Seroni sighed wistfully, realising she'd never even taken the time to find out the name of the boat. Criminal though she was, she still would have at least liked to have known who she'd been fighting.
"She was the Gabriel," the navigator said, looking up from his charts, sensing Seroni's discontent. Seroni turned and smiled a silent thank you."Captain have a heading? Or are we guided by the breeze?" he continued.
"Constantinopolis," Seroni answered, "he's being somewhat vague about his intentions, but he made it clear where he was headed."
The navigator laughed, "that's him all over." The navigator had been a crewman aboard one of the many ships Seroni and Galland crewed before they bought the Hyperion. He made friends with the pair and decided to join their crew when they got their own ship, and they were grateful; he was a good navigator.
"Hey Jack?" Seroni asked, gazing out of the office window at the rising sun. Jack looked up from his charts again, awaiting the second half of what Seroni had to say. "Did the captain ever tell you anything about his parents in Constantinopolis?" Jack thought hard for a moment, rummaging through his memories.
"I don't think he ever did," He responded at last, "save from mentioning that his parents were aviators on the Invincible, and that they died when pirates took the Avril , but you already know that," Seroni furrowed her brow. She really had no idea who the captain wanted to see or what was so special about that compass. Her thoughts were interrupted by a ship wide shudder.
"Would someone like to tell me what in the aether is going on?" a voice from the radio grill enquired. The voice was metallic and distorted, but Jack and Seroni had been aboard long enough to recognise that it was a somewhat vexed Galland.
"Some minor structural damage from the fire fight, sir. Nothing to worry about, she'll see us to port, and we can have her fixed in a day or two, less if we're lucky. At any rate she'll fly true enough even without repairs," a second voice replied, just as distorted as the first. Seroni couldn't tell exactly who it was, but it was from the engineering deck, that much was obvious from the sound of throbbing machinery in the background.
She said her goodbye to Jack, who was too busy in his charts to reply, plotting possible routes from Constantinopolis, and headed to the crew lounge for some supper. The meal was a simple meat stew, and she wolfed it down as though she'd never eaten before. She washed the meal down with a glass of water, and then began to head back to her cabin for some sleep; she'd been awake all night on first watch, and, after the hectic melee aboard the Gabriel, she figured she'd earned her rest. As she pushed her cabin door shut, she pulled the blinds down and began to undress.
Slinging off her brown, fur-lined military jacket, she sat down and untied her brown bucket boots. These boots were favoured among aviators and aviatrixes, thanks to their comfort and durability. Now that her feet could breathe, she took a few steps around the room, making fists with her toes. Even though she'd been flying with Galland for a good six years, she still felt nauseous every now and then, and found that clenching her feet helped her deal with it.
After she'd just about battled down her supper, she unbuttoned her teal blouse and stretched outwards, finally slipping out of her mismatched leggings; one leg being red, the other purple. She took a minute to consider the strangeness of her attire as it lay scattered about the cabin, before laying on her bunk and pulling a fleece blanket over herself, drifting off to sleep.