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Author Topic: A Story About Airships And The People Who Love Them  (Read 758 times)
Airship Engineer

« on: June 24, 2012, 06:23:48 am »

I wrote this.  I'm wondering if I should write more.  I'd like you to read it and tell me if you would want to read the next chapter, if there were a next chapter to read.

Serra Reynolds was certain that she was about to die. The Night's Angel was falling to pieces around her; everything was on fire. Things she didn't think could be on fire were on fire. Where there wasn't fire, there was smoke. Thick, black and choking smoke that brought tears to her eyes. At least, she told herself it was the smoke that made her cry. Her precious Angel was dying, and she knew something inside her was dying along with it. For the briefest of moments, hardly enough time for the thought to form, she considered throwing herself into the conflagration and letting the fire consume her. The ship was her life, and if she couldn't have her ship, she wasn't sure she wanted to live.

"Time to abandon ship, Captain," McGraniff growled. "She be a lost cause now."

Serra turned to argue with the engineer, but he wasn't interested in her retort. He shoved a jumper into her arms and grabbed her, dragging her towards the stairs that lead to the main deck. She set her heels and made him work for it.

"Captains got to go down with her ship, don't she?"

"Don't be stupid, girl," McGraniff said, displaying the same respect for her position he always had. "The crews abandoned her safely, you and me are all that's left. It's time to go."

The smoke wasn't so thick above deck, where the howling winds could clear it faster than the wood could burn. She tried to track the sun, but the Angel was falling too fast, spinning around in circles as it plunged towards the earth.

"Gonna be a dangerous jump," McGraniff said as he pulled her arm through the jumper's harness. "Best to leap from the castle, less likely to smack you out of the air as she comes about."

Serra nodded mutely, offering no resistance as McGraniff manhandled her and buckled the jumper in place. Suddenly he slapped her hard across the face. She blinked.

"What the hell was that?"

"Listen, girl," McGraniff growled, his big, rough hands holding tight on her arms. "Ship goes down. You get a new ship. But only if you live. You hear me, girl? Only if you live."

Serra nodded, with more enthusiasm this time. McGraniff smiled at her, a big toothy grin spreading across his shovel-shaped face. His ruddy cheeks had dimples when he smiled; she'd never noticed that before. She wasn't sure she could recall him smiling at her before now. Strange time to start smiling, she thought, but he was already heading across the deck.  She followed him, clinging tightly to the deck rail. The Angel was spinning fast enough that a misstep would send her hurtling out into the void.

They reached the forecastle. McGraniff climbed over the rail and clung there, his eyes intently focused on the sky. She joined him. She'd never been afraid of heights, couldn't afford to be in her line of work, but as she watched the earth spinning below her, speeding towards her, she felt a rising sense of panic in her stomach. She tried to stop the thought from coming, but it came anyways; she imagined what it would feel like to slam into the ground, the ship exploding around her, being crushed and torn apart and burned alive all at the same time. The thought paralyzed her and her grip on the rail became so tight her knuckles turned white.

"On my mark, captain," McGrannif shouted.

She could barely hear him over the howl of the wind, but she nodded vigorously. A moment ago she had felt resigned to dying with her ship, now she was terrified it was actually going to happen.

"Now!" screamed McGrannif and he leapt, his hand tight on her wrist.

Together they sailed out into the air. The Night Angel continued to spin around and for a second Serra thought it would hit them. They weren't going to escape afterall; the ship was determined to see its captain die along with it. It missed them, just barely, but enough, and then they were in freefall.  Serra was flying; flying as she had never flown before. McGrannif's hand held her wrist in an iron grip. Their eyes met and she heard herself shrieking. It wasn't fear though, it was joy. She could see it in his eyes as well, and in that huge grin of his that had grown even larger.

"Wauhooo!" she screamed as they plummeted towards the ground, spinning in a circle like a pair of mad ballroom dancers.

She tried to pull free from his grip; wanted to flap her arms and see if she could really fly, but he wouldn't let her go. Instead he pulled her towards him, reaching for her chest. His hand found her harness and wrapped around the ripcord; he jerked hard and her jumper opened, the giant cloth sail tumbling out and catching the wind. He let go of her wrist and tumbled away from her as the sail pulled her up with a rough jolt. A moment later and McGrannif's jumper opened and together they were floating in the air.

A thrill of exhilaration ran through her. She was truly flying now, sailing on the wind like the mighty albatross. The ground still rushed up to greet her, but at a far less threatening pace. She knew her flight would only last a few seconds, but it was enough. She looked down and watched as the Night's Angel, wreathed in fire and smoke, crashed into the trees below her. The airship exploded in a massive fireball and she felt a wave of heat and force pass through her and kick her up in the air. Then she was floating again, drifting towards the ground.

It came closer and closer, as it grew near she felt her panic rising once again. It was coming up to meet her awfully fast, and there was no clearing beneath her. Only miles and miles of trees. She pulled her legs up to her chest and wrapped her arms around her knees, preparing to slam into one of the massive evergreens that seemed to be hurtling up towards her.

She missed the top of a tree and smashed into its lower branches. They were soft and thin, but she was going fast enough that every twig felt like a punch from a very large man. She tried to straighten out her legs, hoping to absorb the impact without breaking an ankle, but needn't have worried. The high branches caught her jumper's sail and she snapped at the end of the ropes. The jumper's harness pulled tight in her crotch and under her arms and for a moment she flopped about like a ragdoll in the clutches of particularly angry child. Then it was over and she was hanging in the air, a good eight feet off the ground. She was quiet for a long moment and then howled with joy. She was alive! To think, she had considered going down with her ship. She yanked hard on the jumper's harness, twisting this way and that to free herself, and finally fell on the ground hard. Her knees buckled and she sprawled out on the soft dirt of the forest floor. She didn't bother to stand, she just kissed the ground over and over. Never in her life has she been so happy to be on the ground.

McGrannif found her a moment later, that queer grin still plastered over his broad face. He ran up to her and hauled her to her feet, pulling her close and wrapping her up in a fierce hug. They were both jumping up and down, thrilled to be alive, to be safe and sound and on the ground.
Then the moment passed and McGraniff pushed her away, as if he suddenly remembered who he was and who she was. The smile disappeared, replaced by that practiced look of surly indifference he had born since the day they first met.

"Well, captain, that was quite the experience, eh?"

"Quite so, Mister McGrannif," she said, trying to suppress a grin. "Quite so."

They stood in awkward silence for moment.

"What now?" she asked.

McGranniff fished a compass out from one of the dozens of pockets on his belt and checked their bearings. He pointed off in the distance.
"Rest of the crew would have come down along that line, captain," he said. "Suspect we'll have to start walking, catch up with them along the way. Hornsport will be along that line as well, we passed over it just before Donaghy attacked us."

"No, I mean what do we do now? The Night's Angel is gone. I've no ship."

"Going to have to get a new ship, captain."

"Aye, I suppose I will. Not going to be an easy thing. Airships are hard to come by."

"We'll work it out, captain."

"Aye, I suppose we will. Of course, we're going to have to find that dog Donaghy."

"Certainly will, captain. String the bastard up, that's what we'll do."

"Can't keep calling me captain, not anymore," she said with a sigh. "Ain't got a ship, means I ain't a captain no more."

McGraniff blinked and for a moment seemed genuinely sad. "You'll always be my captain, captain. Ship or no ship."

Serra smiled and threw her arm over the engineer's shoulder. "You're a loyal one, Seamus McGraniff, don't ever let no one tell you otherwise."

Together they began the long walk back to Hornsport, neither certain where they we're heading.
Corroded Alloy
Zeppelin Admiral
Wales Wales

« Reply #1 on: June 29, 2012, 01:47:37 am »

I read this and I enjoyed it very much. A great story and very well written. I'd love to read the next chapter.

Small though it is, the human brain can be quite effective when used properly.
Deck Hand
United States United States

If the hammer doesn't work...get a bigger one!

« Reply #2 on: June 30, 2012, 05:16:17 pm »

Wow, that was really good. One question though, how old are the characters? Because I see a chance for a spark between them. But then I'm a romantic who likes a good romance with action. This looks like a really good story in the making.

Life's tough, it's even tougher if you're stupid.
 ~ John Wayne, American Actor
Airship Engineer

« Reply #3 on: July 01, 2012, 02:09:51 am »

Wow, that was really good. One question though, how old are the characters? Because I see a chance for a spark between them. But then I'm a romantic who likes a good romance with action. This looks like a really good story in the making.

Serra is twentyish, McGraniff is fortyish.  Their relationship is a parent/child dynamic rather than romantic.  McGraniff was her father's best friend, and is himself childless, so he has taken it upon himself to watch over her to honor his former captain's memory.

The romantic interest will be introduced in the next chapter, but I had reached chapter five and realized I was going down the wrong track and I'm now in the process of rewriting from chapter two.

And the story is tentatively titled "Leadfish."  Which will make sense by about chapter four.

Thanks for the generous comments.
Deck Hand
United States United States

If the hammer doesn't work...get a bigger one!

« Reply #4 on: July 01, 2012, 03:26:54 am »

Sounds great
Serra is twentyish, McGraniff is fortyish.  Their relationship is a parent/child dynamic rather than romantic.  McGraniff was her father's best friend, and is himself childless, so he has taken it upon himself to watch over her to honor his former captain's memory
One of my favorite books uses that dynamic through 11 books, and it's so touching.
Captain Braid
Snr. Officer
United Kingdom United Kingdom

« Reply #5 on: July 08, 2012, 10:05:20 am »

Serra is twentyish, McGraniff is fortyish.  
Rochester & Jane Eyre
Max DeWinter and his (un-named)bride in Rebecca.

The twenty year age variance is also present in at least one couple here on Brass Goggles.
Besides which Women Mature much earlier than Men (if we ever mature).

Other than that a rather good start, if it continues along such promising lines I'd have my name down as a reader.

Experienced enough to know my limitations,
Old enough to know better,
Relaxed enough not to care.
Deck Hand
United States United States

You there! Wanna buy a vat of olive oil?

« Reply #6 on: July 18, 2012, 09:57:53 pm »

I'd most definitely be a reader, as well. You've got a really great start here and I would love to see more of this story.

If all the world's a stage, I'd like to talk to the person doing the scenery.
The Corsair
Defective Inspector
Zeppelin Admiral
New Zealand New Zealand

« Reply #7 on: July 19, 2012, 12:33:59 am »

Wouldn't mind seeing a 'Chapter 2' personally. Not sure how enthusiastic I am about it at this point. Seems like the sort of story that will either rely on the 'heroes' being thrown into bad and dangerous situations and getting out unceremoniously (bad) or will have a compelling tale to tell that involves the heroes achieving something great (good). This first chapter seems to be relying on the first of those two things.

Personally I'd have a chapter before this that does a lot of description porn regarding the ship and the captain's thoughts, giving us a window into how much the captain cares about the ship. Right now the reader doesn't really properly feel the loss of the ship and I'm not convinced the captain does either. The more attachment you give the captain to the ship before it goes down, the more intense this sequence you've written here will be and the more engaged the reader will be. Right now the only incentive to continue reading is to see where the story might be going.

I think I should also mention I had a dream about this game, only Bailey was a woman...

I assure you, that incident in Singapore was all a misunderstanding.
Will Howard
Zeppelin Admiral
United States United States

« Reply #8 on: August 12, 2012, 05:44:51 pm »

Looks very good.  I like the idea of a new "first" chapter with background information.  Perhaps Serra loves the ship not only because it was her ship, but because it (& Seamus) were the only things that she inherited from her father when he died/was killed.  Is the rival captain the one who also killed her father & destroyed everything else she owned? 

"I'm a Barbarian by choice, not ancestry..."
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