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The salty air whisked past Professor James Garnett-Warbulton as he surveyed his surroundings, with the wooden deck scrubbed to perfect cleanness, the covered cargo housing different odds and ends, yes, this was very nice. He knew that the cabin of the ship was much more comfortable, but also a lot more crowded. Hardly anyone came up here he reasoned. The Albatross was a large airship which he was riding to ¬¬¬¬Irongate, the capital of Cogersiia. Soon he would make a name for himself there. He could see his name written on every newspaper “PROF. JAMES GARNETT-WARBULTON’S INVENTION SAVES MANKIND” or something like that, he thought happily. Interrupting his reverie, Isaac Cargill-Bamber walked on deck. James smiled at his friend. Isaac was a stout, burly man with grey hair clinging to the sides of his head with a bald spot on top (in which he was very vain). His mechanical eye was whirring around in its goggle.
Isaac looked James up and down. The gangly red haired professor had scorch marks all over his coat. I wonder what he’s been up to?
“Isaac! How are you?”
“Just fine lad!” he boomed, “I got some parts that I was able to salvage from the dinner table. Do you want to see what I’ve come up with?” Without waiting for an answer, he grinned as he pulled out a little mechanical moth.
James was delighted,” Oh my, she’s a beauty! Why it’s probably the nicest you’ve ever made! What does it do?”
Isaac chortled as he pushed a little knob on the base of the abdomen. It started fluttering about on microscopic wings. Suddenly a breeze rushed in and carried the moth with it.
“NO! My moth! Catch it!” Isaac wailed but nobody was around to hear it. Through the excitement of Isaac’s moth, Isaac and James failed to hear the captain shouting and all of the people where beneath deck where the turbulence wouldn’t get to them.
A great wind picked up and the Albatross was tossed with it. James struggled towards the brass rod that supported the helium balloon that kept the airship up and he hung on desperately.
After an hour of battering winds and sheets of rain James arms started growing numb. Just as he thought he couldn’t hold on much longer, the storm cleared up. In his surprised he laughed out loud. Quickly the radiant smile on his creased face turned to a frown as he looked for Isaac. Behind him a voice grumped, “I don’t see what’s to laugh about. My bones are too old to be thrown about like this.”
James embraced the soaked Isaac, “Come on you old man, let’s find some rest for your old bones.”
By now everyone was on deck smelling the fresh air or looking seasick.
The worst was yet to come. James was walking toward the stairs when everything was tossed to the side. The airship lurched to a stop and started to plummet.
“Quickly! Everyone to the tech boubles! GO! GO! GO!” Isaac shouted as he pushed the person ahead of him towards the bouble landing.
In the midst of the confusion, nobody saw James topple over the landing and into the sky below.
It was cold and wet for James. He imagined he could feel the spray of the sea on his cheeks and he opened his eyes. A wave of vertigo made everything spin. He looked up and saw clear boubles shooting through the air. James felt something grip his waist very tightly. He looked up into the face of Isaac, perspiration dripping off his red face.
“James… get the… the sub… out of… my pocket…” he gasped, “I...I don’t think… I can… hold on …to you… much… longer...”
Hurriedly James turned onto his back and ruffled through Isaac’s pockets and shouted over the wind, “It’s not there! I can’t find it!”
“WHAT?! Aw crumbs. Well look for the expanding Hand glider!”
“You mean the one that looks like bird wings?”
“That’s the one.”
James unfolded the light Hand Glider until the wings were several sizes larger that himself. A great sheet of tan cloth fanned out that spanned the length of two men lying horizontally. The brass handles and gears glinted in the sunlight. He then took hold of the handle and swung himself up onto the back. It feels like I am riding a gigantic bird! And after that thought he launched into the air.
They soared for what seemed like hours, but in reality it was only a few minutes. A terrible ripping sound issued Isaac’s Hand glider which promptly folded in on itself and Isaac tumbled onto James.
“What are you DOING, Isaac!!!”
“You didn’t fix it yet!?!”
“Well I was going to but...” Isaac mumbled. They gradually descended past the clouds.
Briskly Isaac changed the conversation to another pressing matter. “There is a naval war going on below, which explains the flashes we’ve been seeing from time to time. We need to reach Irongate before we hit the water.”
“Isaac, um, you do know that I can’t swim, don’t you?”
Isaac’s face fell, “Oh… Bugger….”
Behind him the Albatross exploded in the background. Flashes of red and yellow dispersed from behind them as charred metal and flaming wood came raining down upon them. Suddenly a spark landed on the soft material of the wings. A flame sprang up. Isaac batted it out but not before it had done the damage. They were spiraling down, faster and faster and faster when suddenly a fog horn sounded underneath them. James turned the glider towards the vessel.
“What are you doing James?! This is a war zone not some cargo ship!”
“Isaac, I can’t swim so this is our only source of survival.” James replied seriously.
“All right James, I trust you. I might be crazy, but I trust you.” Isaac sighed.
They maneuvered to land on the deck. The ship was, in fact, a war ship so the crew was highly suspicious of them.
“We wish to see your captain.” Isaac ordered in such a commanding voice that the soldiers obeyed. They were led up the helm where the captain pored over a map. She had such red hair that it looked like it was on fire. It was brought up in a bun, hidden under her hat. Blazing green eyes rose up to meet them. Her chin was raised.
“And why do you two gentlemen want to see me?” asked the captain stiffly.
“We wish to make an agreement; this ship is heading towards Irongate, I presume?” said Isaac as he met her gaze.
“Yes. And what does this have to do with anything?”
“Well, as you can see, Captain, our ship exploded for some malfunction. You cannot deny that you saw us spiraling down from there.” James cocked one eyebrow, “We will fight for you in this ship if you take us to Irongate, Captain.”
The Captain thought about it for a minute. “It’s Captain Breakspear to you.” She said as she extended her hand. They shook on it.
Hours later, the enemy ship approached.
“Guns at ready!” shouted Breakspear.
James was outfitted with a stun gun, as the soldiers called them, that shot blinding balls of light that temporarily paralyzed enemies. The leather handles fit James hand as if it was made for him. Isaac was given a handgun with compressed electricity balls that expanded to engulf the enemy in a lightning cage that shocked its prisoner. Both had armor that deflected basic ammunition and a dagger.
The gun fire was deafening. James stuck to Isaac no matter where he went. The enemy ship had already boarded and fighting like wildcats. Soldiers from both sides had many casualties. There was no way to know where the battle was going, or who would win. Isaac got separated from James in the excitement. When aerial support arrived, James thought things were looking up. Suddenly James knew. James couldn’t recall exactly how he knew, maybe James heard an unusual sound, maybe he had a sixth sense, but somehow he knew that Isaac was in danger. It turned out, that Isaac was cornered in an out of the way room by two ugly looking brutes.
James padded over to them as stealthily as he could. Isaacs’s eyes brightened at the sight of him. He whacked the soldier closest to him in the back of his head with the hilt of his gun. The effect was instantaneous. The soldier slumped into unconscious and the other soldier whirled around to face him. Soldier Number Two was holding a sinister looking onyx sword. In a swirling motion the soldier dismantled his gun with his sword and sent it flying.
The soldier took the advantage of James looking down as he pulled out his dagger to send a slash at James. James saw it out of his peripheral vision and dodged it just in time. The unexpected thrust sent him off balance and he crashed down. Isaac tried to hit the soldier as he had seen James do because his gun wouldn’t be of much use at close quarters. The actions distracted the soldier long enough for James to get up and uppercut the soldier and kick him away. The soldier tripped and lashed out and caught James with the nick of his sword as he went pin wheeling down. The gash ran down the bicep and into the hand rendering it useless. James had no time to think about the pain as he left the room with Isaac behind. He fought like a lion. To the spectators, it almost looked like James had an aura of power about him, almost glowing. He made his way to the front where he was greeted by men dropping out of the air craft to help with the battle. The battle was swiftly won after that.
Isaac pulled James aside from the clamor and whispered, “I knew I could count on you. That’s a nasty cut you have there. You need to get to the infirmary.” And with that, he bustled him out and fussed around him like a hen. James was asleep before he even hit the bed. There was a bright red flash of pain that eased to a dull throbbing as he sat up. He was in a room with several other men who had been wounded in battle. The nurses’ where everywhere at once, helping with this and that. They helped him up, fed him, and soon he was ready to go. James still had a cast, but he fitted it up with gears and cogs so it moved like a real arm. Captain Breakspear carried out her promise and within two weeks they were in Irongate. And for many, many years afterward, James always remembered what that gruff Isaac had said to him, “I knew I could trust you,”