Author’s note:  I’m going to try switching update schedules.  Currently I’m trying to update every two days, with roughly a thousand words each time.  I’m going to shoot for updates every four days, with about 5,000 words each time.  As always, this is a rough, unedited first draft.  Thanks for reading.

 

The Twilight flew through the night, chasing after the Sky Drake.  The crew that Janus brought on quickly learned the workings of the Twilight, and took pride in their work to shorten the distance between the two ships.  Janus himself stayed awake to give moral support, present in what seemed like multiple places at once to give encouraging words, hold a rope, or share a sip from the flask in his jacket.

The next day dawned cloudy and cold, with intermittent rain.  Ford’s crew was sluggish to start, and the men on galley duty brewed extra coffee to kickstart the day.  Flying through the night had gotten the Twilight a good way across the Mediterranean Sea, and by keeping on schedule they would reach the mainland by evening.

Ford found Janus at the starboard rail, checking the ropes.  He held out a cup of coffee, and both captains took a few minutes in quiet to enjoy the drink.  The rain had slowed to a drizzle, and the giant nacelles overhead kept most of the water off the ship.

“Fitting weather, after endless sun and heat,” said Ford.  Janus nodded in agreement.  “I hear from the lads that you were up all night.”

“I slept.  Not much.  Thought it would help if I were out here with the men, rather than cozy in a bunk.”

“We did great on time, Janus.  I looked at the maps, we should hit land by nightfall.  My boys tell me that your crew knows their airships.”

“That’s why I hired ‘em.  Tried and true airmen, every one.  The Twilight is a workhorse.  If I weren’t so invested in the Sky Drake, I’d be looking to steal your ship,” Janus grinned.

“Appreciate the warning,” said Ford.  “Just make sure you kill me when I’m not looking, otherwise I will shoot first.”

“No gunfights for you, Ford? I thought all Americans were ready to go in guns blazing at the slightest provocation.”

“West of the Mississippi, maybe.  In Pennsylvania we’re a bit more civilized, thank you.  We send out invitations first.”

“How are you and your crew armed? Have you ever had to fight before?” Janus glanced at Ford and sipped his coffee.  Pirates were a problem, more in the distant spaces than in Europe, but as lucrative as the sky trade was, there would always be men eager and willing to take the risk of hanging in exchange for easy profits.

“Just once, in the Caribbean.  We were in Port-au-Prince at the wrong time.  The city was revolting against the governor.  Dozens had already died in the street riots.  They were swarming the ports, both air and harbor, trying to get out any way they could.  I made the mistake of staying too long.  We took on as many as we could, but in the end the mob tried to board any way they were able to.  They climbed the mooring towers and the anchor ropes, and me and the boys had to fight them off.  The screams were terrible.  It was a city that had turned on itself in frustration and rage, and it burned behind us as we flew out.

So yes, we’ve had to fight.  I don’t like it, but I will defend this airship and its crew with my life if I have to.  I expect the same of any man on board.”

“Port-au_Prince was a mess.  I try to stay on top of the news just for events like this; I think it’s better to be prepared than caught unaware.  The Sky Drake was in London, and the whole city was talking about it for days.  I’ve never been happier for telegraphs.  Still amazes me that news can travel around the globe that quickly,” said Janus.

“The governors wanted too much for too little, simple as that.  In the end, when the Twilight was leaving, they released the soldiery on the people.  Cannons with grapeshot and ranked gunlines of professional soldiers were firing on farmers, merchants.  I heard later that the streets were covered in blood and body parts.  I’ve refused to go back, since then.”

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