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The little airship sounded as if it was about to fly apart. Next time, the pilot mused, I’ll steal one that isn’t on the repair line. Next time. The thought that there could be a next time was an annoying thought, but was shuffled off to another part of the mind as a new mountain peak loomed large in front of the struggling flyer. Skimming valleys, running along ridgelines, threading though passes. This flight had been one of constantly being ‘up on the stick’, no pleasure cruise here, and with the constant threat of pursuit it had been a long nerve-wracking time. The sun pushed through the low clouds, and there was a very welcome sight of the Two Sisters and the Finger. This meant one turn through the pass, a short run along the edge of Bone Valley…then the Fells, and home. The reverie of being close to the end of this flight was interrupted by an increase of noise from the airship’s engine. The pilot cursed again, as that sound could only be made by the main bearings. It vibrated and strained so much the pilot feared it would come loose from its mounts, and all that could be done was turn up the oilers and pray they didn’t run out before the wall came into sight.
A few moments later, the ribbon of tracks along the aqueduct pushed out of the growing haze as the struggling little airship fought its way along. Just when it seemed the engine would finish the task before expiring, the envelope decided to raise the ante. Despite the best efforts by the weary pilot to keep the little ship in the air, it was losing altitude just as surely as the destination stood just out of reach. With a determination borne of desperation, the pilot pushed the throttle full open and pointed the doomed little ship towards the wall of the city. In a last desperate act to cling to the sky, the ship turned sharply to avoid the looming walls of Szuster House and raised its nose before coming to rest tail down in the dirt next to the Academy parapet. The pilot shut down the engine and moved away sharply from the wreckage as what little hydrogen was left in the envelope met the last of the heated metal of the now seized engine. The pilot stood watching the fire consume the flammable bits of the wrecked airship and thought that this way there won’t be any need to hide the evidence.
A solitary figure walked into the Muirsheen Durkin wearing a Prussian Fliegertruppen uniform. The bar was empty, and the figure walked to the counter and began to peel off the heavy layers of clothes that had been such a godsend while flying across the mountains. Once this was done, it took another bit of effort to locate where the proprietor had stashed the good rum. Devoid of the flight helmet, goggles, and scarf, the pilot took a long draw of Pussers from the bottle and pushed a tendril of blonde hair back behind her ear. She looked in the mirror and smiles that old familiar smile.
“Jed darlin’,” she said to herself, “nobody will believe this, even if you could tell them the truth.”

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Jedburgh Dagger

April 2014

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