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Author Topic: Steel Birds of Paradise Game Thread: Episode 1 (The Mysterious Prototype)  (Read 20044 times)
MWBailey
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« Reply #275 on: February 20, 2013, 08:46:24 pm »

Meri guided the sampan that she had purchased from the old man out beyond the final floats and canals of the station, into the fog that had descended upon the waters. the small boat's motor, something of a rarity among the enclave of boat people, drove the little craft far out past the edges of the domain marked by the station's buoys, to the area where a short time before, the carrier barge had been sunk.  There in that location, she felt the presence of the thing she had dropped: the sword.

She had thought to leave it behind, but in the end could not bear doing so; she supposed the blade had in fact become her soul, as Obuna had said it would, as such blades were traditionally considered to be to their owners, be they openly samurai or secretly shinobi, man or devil. Meri had had, lost, thrown away, even wantonly destroyed many swords. Sabers, bastard swords, hangers, rapiers, they had meant little to her individually, but this blade had been given to her by Obuna himself, who had adopted her into the bosom of the only enclave where she had felt at home in nearly a century. It was therefore the last link to him that she would ever have, now that he was dead. She knew the truth of that awful eventuality in her bones; she could no longer feel the weight of his regard pressing upon her across the waters. Once again, she had outlived a loved one. And so, she did something, once again, that vampires, in this new universe where she had settled, were not supposed to do: she dove in, and struck out for the deep bottom, ignoring the pain that the open, flowing water caused her.

There at the bottom, its hilt standing up like a beckoning arm, stood the scabbarded sword, stuck into the sand at the base of the Station's seamount. Since she was undead and not alive, she could not die of the damaging pressure of the deeps, and once she regained her boat at the surface, katana in hand, she cast the sword into the bunk under the hoop-supported cover, and lay there on the little scrap of deck at the stern and leaned against the tiller, as he healed - ever so slowly. The drunkard she had fed upon before going to find the boat had rejuvenated her abilities, but still it was several hours before she was able to do more than lean against the rudder's tiller and gasp unneeded breaths in response to the pain of both the injuries caused by the pressure and the healing of those injuries; both were, in this case equally excruciating, she supposed because of the nature of seawater. Apparently it did have an effect on her kind here.
----------------

Kendall sprang to his feet, yet still managed to appear suave and poised as he did so. "Why yes,  Ma'am!" he said ethusiastically, offering Donna his hand as the band struck up a extremely danceable, if somewhat whacky, new number, for which the second trombonist got up and sang something about looking 'like a monkey when you grow old.' Sabre grinned at the lyrics, and grabbed Al's hand, and said, what say we show these kids how it's done, Drake?" as she likewise pulled her partner to the dance floor. Damned if she'd let a chinese cat steal her man...
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« Reply #276 on: February 20, 2013, 08:59:40 pm »

Amir found himself drumming his heels to the beat like he did when he danced, his knee constantly bobbing up and down. He took another drink and closed his eyes to relax, still drumming out the beat on his feet. His heart pumped slightly offbeat, which bugged him, but considering how much blood he lost to that fop, who was apparently named Shiro, he'd forgive it. He was under a lot of pressure, in more ways than one. Indeed, Donna was a woman he wanted to sleep with, but he hoped it would not hurt their relationship as friends. Donna was a good friend, and a damn good copilot. He wouldn't want to hurt that connection in pursuit of pleasure. "Allah, forgive me if she loves me, if she hates me, Allah, bless me if she doesn't."
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MWBailey
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« Reply #277 on: February 20, 2013, 10:11:38 pm »

After a time, Meri hauled herself to her feet, and lurched to the sleeping/living quarters amidships, such as they were; thin wooden slats bent over and covered by a sort of bamboo paling, and then finally by a brown tarp, over decking above the bilge of the boat, lower than the stern deck by about eighteen inches. A shelf along one side that served as a bunk, with a rolled-up futon and bedding covered by another tarp. A narrower shelf on the other side that could double as both table and bench, at one end of which an alcohol lamp stove was nailed to the wooden surface.  Two fuel cans lay under the bench, the larger containing diesel for the motor, the smaller, methanol for the stove and for the three small lanterns that also rested there. She supposed she should have hung the lanterns before setting out, but it was nearly midmorning now, so she made a mental note about that. She felt under the bunk. Ah, yes, there it was. She pulled from hidden hooks a metal box containing a gun cleaning kit; the rifle it had been used for had fallen overboard long since, the former owner had said. she opened the kit, took out a patch and the gun oil, and rore a scrap from a rag  from a pile of such under the bench. She dried out the sword and hilt as best she could, and then used the wooden t-handle of the cleaning rod as a hammer to knock out the bamboo peg that held the blade to the hilt, slid out the blade, wiped it once again, then oiled it with the patch and generous glugs of gun oil. tieing a smaller rag scrap to the clening rod, she put the pieces of it together and ran the rag down inside the scabbard.  She reassembled the sword, ran it back into the scabbard, untied the ribbon from around it and used it to make a sling, and then slung the sword across her back.

After a time, she started teh diesel motor, and turned the prow of the little boat back toward the station. She did not mind the sun as much as she had thought she would, without her all-covering black woolens, and thanked the memory of her sire for the ability to stand its rays. With Obuna dead, and the village on the move, she no longer had a mission to carry out for their former nipponese masters; if anything, she owed the clan a blood debt to avenge their late master, as did all of the clan.

Thus, when she spied the Japanese raiding junk on the horizon to the west, she feigned engine trouble. A short time later, the junk lay adrift in a tertiary current, listing badly as her hull slowly filled with seawater, her crew of fifteen all slain, their corpses bearing no marks but sword slashes. she left her mark, the Characters for 'dragon' and 'bat,' sliced into the side of the left bowpost, the cuts carefully stained with fresh blood. The sampan continued on its way back to the station, a well-fed Meri smiling in the early afternoon sun, sword safely stowed under the bunk...
---------------
"Excuse, Please," the proprietor of the Club said, coughing politely behind Amir's chair. "Do you happen to know where Our Young Meri has gone? It is time for another number, but no one can find her anywhere. You were the last to dance with her, were you not?"
« Last Edit: February 23, 2013, 05:59:39 pm by MWBailey » Logged
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« Reply #278 on: February 20, 2013, 10:18:36 pm »

Amir had nearly dozed off, his drumming keeping him awake. "Hmm? Huh? Oh. That girl. We didn't really dance. Anyway, last I saw'er, she'd disappeared into the crowd. I couldn't tell you wha's she been up to." He was slurring slightly, the strength of the Absinthe crushing most of his willpower. No more drinks until the partying was over, he decided. "Sorry 'a disappoint ya. I'm sure she'll turn up soon."
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« Reply #279 on: February 20, 2013, 10:29:37 pm »

This was better, less complicated.  Donna lost herself in the movement and truely enjoyed herself.  "Kendall you certanly know how to cut a rug."  She said smiling.
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MWBailey
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« Reply #280 on: February 20, 2013, 11:27:15 pm »

"Thanks, Donna, you're no slouch yourself," Kendall said, as tehy parted for a moment, doing tap-dance-style moves while the rest of teh dancers made room and let them go at it. The band launched into another sultry, jungle-beat tune; it seemed they were doing all right without Meri...
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« Reply #281 on: February 21, 2013, 09:48:58 am »

All her confusion and annoyance were washed away as the beat shifted to something with a bit more heat in it.  Now this was more like home.  She had enough drinks in her to feel warm and light but not enough to think about things deeply.  For the moment everything was perfect and bright.  Laughing she leaned in to a dip bending almost in half.  This was almost an addiction and why she was seldom in her bunk until the wee hours of the morning. "I think I could almost dance all night."
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MWBailey
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« Reply #282 on: February 21, 2013, 10:37:57 am »

Kendall was having the time of his life; he had expected a relatively dull life aboard the station between warhawk duties, but here he was, dancing with a beautiful girl who was a great and downright artistic swingdance partner! "Well, let's do that, then!" he replied to Donna's comment. "Let's cut every rug in the place, and then go find a couple more, hey?"

----------
Aftr a while Meri trurned the tiny craft away from the station and south-southwest. After a time she came to a small coral Islet north of the Marshalls, and eased the sampan over the small barrier reef and into the tiny lagoon. Meri tied up the sampan the ramshackle remains of a pontoon pier that jutted out into the lagoon, and used the old trick of hiding the sword next to her person in the Place That Is Not, ready at a moment's notice but out of sight or sensation until then. She dared not leave such a valuable item loose in the little boat, or to lay there unarmed; there were no people here, but better safe than regretful. She then ducked under the midships cover and pulled down the fore and aft blanket fabric curtains, and lay on the bunk, waiting for sleep to overtake her, having spread out a tiny quantity of her dirt on the deck and on the bunk's boards before opening and laying out the futon and bedding.

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« Reply #283 on: February 21, 2013, 07:09:17 pm »

"Then Lets put a little extra fire in to things."  She said launching in to steps her father taught her when she was only seven.  Her skirt billowed revealing her tan legs as she spun keeping the rythem in feet.  Together they lit up the night like a bright flame and by the time she had to stop because her dogs were barking the hours had flown by.
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MWBailey
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« Reply #284 on: February 21, 2013, 09:52:35 pm »

Kendall blew for a few seconds after that  last dance." Wow, Donna, you sure do know how to show a guy a good time," he said. "Lets do this again sometime, OK?"
« Last Edit: February 22, 2013, 05:49:15 am by MWBailey » Logged
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« Reply #285 on: February 22, 2013, 12:11:55 am »

Those beautiful legs, as the semi-incapacitated Arab watched, were a beautiful sight to him. She was a wonderful looking lady. "Hope I impressed her when we'd danced, eh." He was a bit dizzy from the Absinthe, but was regaining his bearings, as he'd abstained for a bit just so he wouldn't doze off. The long hours waded and she seemed to still be having fun. He was glad.

So as the wee hours of the night rolled by, he noted the hall had become all but nearly deserted. "Donna, Kendall, ya know what time it is? The place is nearly empty. Think we should get goin'!" he called to them, checking his wrist for a timekeeper that wasn't there.
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« Reply #286 on: February 22, 2013, 02:25:27 am »

Donna saw out of the corner of her eye the cut glass doors to the club.  They were filled with pink and gold light.  "I don't have my watch but I would bet you it is dawn.  Tonight was lovely and after we have had a chance to recover I would do it again in a heart beat." Donna was carrying her shoes and it was a wonder they weren't either full of holes or smoldering from the abuse she put them through. She lived up to her child hood nickname the dancing princess from the amount of shoes she destroyed as a child.
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MWBailey
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« Reply #287 on: February 22, 2013, 05:59:27 am »

"likewise, Donna," Kendall said. He grinned, "Well, time to go back to the office."

"Oh no you don't, kid," Sabre said, smiling, You need a bath at least. Go home and get one, take a short nap, eat breakfast, and get in by elevenish. I did this to you, and I can't in good conscience let you go straight to the office after stomping dancehall floors all night when I'm the one who called you to the dancehall in the first place."

Kendall acquiesced, after protesting that he felt "just fine, really, no, really I do,"

Then, Sabre took Al's arm, and said, "let's you and me do the same back at the hangar." maybe Donna'n Amir'll let us nap in Blue Duck after some eggs and sausage..." She trailed off suggestively.
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« Reply #288 on: February 22, 2013, 08:19:30 am »

"Good night!"  Donna waved and wobbled between the drinks and the dance she was not the most stable on her feet.  It was all Davi's fault for making them so dammed tasty and it had been far too long since she had a properly mixed Caipiroshka.  She wiggled her toes on the blissfully cold floor.  Now did she walk home and taker her sweet time so her head would clear or take a cab and hope she didn't fall asleep before her stop.  Decisions, Decisions.
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« Reply #289 on: February 22, 2013, 02:22:47 pm »

"Need a chauffeur?" Amir asked, politely offering her his arm, taking a gentlemanly pose. "I could walk you home. Or at least pay for the cab."
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« Reply #290 on: February 22, 2013, 04:26:23 pm »

"Lets take a walk." Donna said linking her arm in his.  They had only made it a few steps before her ankle suddenly decided it had quite enough thank you and it went slack causing her to lean on Amir.  "On second thought Perhaps a cab is a better idea."
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« Reply #291 on: February 23, 2013, 02:46:06 am »

Amir chuckled and held tighter to Donna. "Oh, can't have 'at, can we?" He put two fingers in his mouth and whistled at a passing cab. The volume hit the cabbie's ears and he stopped for the couple to get in. "After you."

Inside the cab, Amir tapped the seat, causing the man to look back. "Where to?" He was an oriental man, like most here. It was the Station's Chinatown, as Amir had found. "Ni hao," Amir said in an attempt to seem amicable, "Could you take us to the Hangers, sir? How much would that cost?" "Company charges $30 for a cross-station trip." "That's alright, it is on the other side of the station." He produced $50 dollars and dolled it to the cabbie. "Keep the change, it's ya tip."
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MWBailey
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« Reply #292 on: February 23, 2013, 06:21:13 am »

Al didn't bother whistling. He just looked over at the line of "Open" drivers, and yelled, "Yo, CABBIE!" the cab pulled up alongside the curb, and Al  helped Sabre aboard and then got in himself. He waved a twenty in the rearview mirror. "There's two more where this'un came from if youse can catch that cab with the cowboy in it. Four more if you can beat 'em to the Steel Birds  hangar."

"You got it, mister, the asian driver answered, and floored the jitney-like cab. "Catch us if ya can, you two," Sabre yelled, and whooped as their cab almost overtook Donna and Amir's...
« Last Edit: February 23, 2013, 05:33:20 pm by MWBailey » Logged
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« Reply #293 on: February 23, 2013, 10:39:40 am »

Donna sunk in to the chair and sighed. "That was a dammed fine.  I haven't danced like that in a while.  You burn pretty bright." God it was good to sit for a while.  "I don't think I I could have made it home on my own so thanks."  She leaned in to Amir as they turned a corner. Damn she was tired.  She saw Al pass them.  "So do we give chase?"
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MWBailey
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« Reply #294 on: February 23, 2013, 05:53:25 pm »

Life and it's happenstances did not stop for the sake of teh Steel Birds' overmight town-painting. An island-hopping C47 Skytrain passenger flight that had originated from Tasmania happened to overfly the drifting, stricken raiding junk that Meri had devastated a few hours before about five hundred miles North by Northeast of Namu Atoll, and called it in as a possible rescue mission. "Roger, Tasmani Alpha," Bob in the PaRefSta tower answered. "We'll get our Blue Duck out there in a bit to check things out, over."

"Tasmani Alpha to PaRefSta, it looks as if there may be wounded; no one is stirring on deck, and she's heeling over badly, over."

"Roger that, Tasmani Alpha, We'll have Blue Duck go armed and ready, over."

Bob glanced out of the tower at the Steel Birds' Hangar, and saw a convertible jitney cab with oyts top down, the unmistakablwe blonde hair of Lady Sabre streaming out behind as it raced across the runway, and dodged around a taxiing trimotor, another cab a short ways behind. He went ahead and started dialing the Hangar, muttering to himslf, "Paintin' the bleedin' town again, I hope somebody's sober enough to fly..."
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« Reply #295 on: February 23, 2013, 08:13:45 pm »

Amir didn't have to say much, as their cabbie decided to give chase anyway. He held onto his hat and held Donna tighter to him for her own safety. "Passionate, ain't we?" Just a thumbs up. Amir just tilted his hat down over his eyes and held on.
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« Reply #296 on: February 24, 2013, 03:15:19 am »

"We make a good pair I think." Donna yawned.  "Damn we are moving like butter on a hot plate."  The world was spinning plesanly.
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MWBailey
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« Reply #297 on: February 25, 2013, 03:07:27 am »

Ralph paid off the driver, while Sabre headed to the Hangar office to call her own office. Thus, she happened to be the one who took the call. She'd always been able to hold a sizable amount of her liquor, so she was nearly as sober on the phone as though she had never imbibed.

"Yes, He he comes now, I'll let you talk to the man himself," she said as Al blustered in. He looked at Sabre, then at the phone in her hand, then back at Sabre, quizzically.

"It's Bob at the Tower," Sabre said sardonically, in answer to his look. "Says there's a sinking Jap Junk about eighty miles out, wants you to take and look and go loaded for bear. Want me to come with?"

"Huh? Yeah, if you want." He turned his head against the handset. "Hello, Bob? Uh huh. Uh huh. North by..." he grabbed the clipboard with a Big Chief tablet on it, and his pencil from his shirt pocket,  and scrawled down the last known coordinates. "Great. fine. Yeah, Me an' Sabre'll go take a look. I always carry ammo in the guns, bombs on the racks plus a few aerial grenades, so if it's a threat, I can take care of it. Huh? Sure, sure, but hey, they started it. OK, yeah, over'n out. Bye."

He went out and climbed aboard the Duck and started spinning up the starter; the engine caught with a throaty cough, and soon the supercharged four-bank radial engine was thrumming along nicely. Sabre threw together a couple of sandwiches made from baloney and mustard, with a little mayonnaise, and filled two thermoses with coffee. "I'll spring for the replacements," she said to Donna as she and Amir pulled up and she made for the Duck. Al shouted down from the cockpit
that there was a rescue mission and he and Donna were going out for it. "Jap raider junk. Whatever it was hit 'em pretty hard. A Skytrain from Tasmania called it in, said it looked like no one was alive, but we're goin' armed to the teeth anyway, Bob's orders. Can't be too dire if the boat's already half-sunk..."
« Last Edit: February 25, 2013, 04:29:30 pm by MWBailey » Logged
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« Reply #298 on: February 25, 2013, 02:24:02 pm »

"None too eager to get back in the sky right now, anyway," Amir called back, helping Donna out of the cab, then carrying her in his arms. "Lookin' mighty tired, lass. Let's get ya to bed." A thought ran through his bed and he wondered if he should voice it. It could be really cunning, or really stupid. "Your bed, or mine?" he said, deciding to voice the thought anyhow. Maybe she would be a bit keen to the idea, or maybe she just needed someone to hold until waking time. For whatever reason, he still offered her his own bed.
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« Reply #299 on: February 25, 2013, 05:11:09 pm »

Al looked after the two disappearing into the Living Quarters. Truth be told, he would've preferred...

"I know what you're thinking, Drake," Sabre said in a teasing singsong, suddenly appearing on the wing-step on the other side of the cockpit from the side facing the hangar. "We'll have time to be naughty on the way back." She slapped him in the gut, playfully, with the box camera pack. "Bob'll get huffy if we come back without pictures." She sprang gracefully into the rear cockpit with the aerial camera gear and began strapping in, slapping on her flight cap and goggles, plugging the radio facemask into the eonboard set and and turning on the intercom; it would be difficult to hear one another otherwise, even with the canopy sliders closed and locked. Both wore the customary waterproof overcoats; the canopy was water and air tight - until the rear gun was needed, in which case  the rear of the canopy had to be lowered, and then the weather came in regardless. Japs or pirates, none usually attacked in a storm, but it had happened once or twice, so the coats SOP for the Duck. Besides, takeoff and landing by water could get wet and dicey at times...

Al got clearance from the tower, and taxied out to the runway, hit the throttle and took off into a crosswind, and compensated. They were off. About eighty-five miles out, they spotted what had to be the Junk in question. Al took the Duck down almost to the deck, and made a high-speed pass; Sabre called forward on the intercom, "Got it! Three shots, one of 'em's bound to be a good one.I thought I saw something moving down there. Be careful!"

Sabre's warning was suddenly punctuated by five rapid pings that bounced off of the fuselage and one of the canopy muntins. "Criminy!" Sabre exclaimed, and folded down the rear gun canopy, hauling the .30 up on its mount from its folded storage position against the rear partition beside the folding rear passenger bench. It was a bit heavier than the standard factory-made mount, due to the remote aiming and movement system, but she managed it with surprising deftness.  She managed to get the gun aimed at the objective, but only just; Al banked around and the target was suddenly out of sight as her view was replaced by sky when Al stall-turned and dropped, cutting the engine back in as they swooped out of the dive and came in on a slightly slower run

Al saw a figure slumped against the forward machine gun mounting of the junk, clinging as the vessel heeled badly to port. The figure jerked backwards, and three tracers arrowed in the Duck's general direction -- but then the figure collapsed to the deck. "Blue Duck to PaRefSta, we're taking light fire from subject,: Al spoke into the radio on the Station's frequency, "Damage minimal, going in for another look, over..."

He forced his thumb away from the firing stud,  and cut the engine and dropped the flaps, finally bringing the duck down onto the waves a little ways beyond the Junk, and ruddered her around as the stern settled into the water. There was no furthe response or movement at all from the stricken vessel. As theydrew closer,. Al saw the grisly evidence that whatever, or whoever, had attacked the little gunboat had not been particular about ho w they spattered the blood around.

"Geez, willya lookit that," he breathed. it was as if someone had squirted red paint all over the sides and deck. Really, really cheap paint, that washed off in seawater, and hung in the water r around the boat; the fins, tails and outlines of sharks could be seen circling and weaving around it. Even from a distance, Al could see the taletell signs that the attacker or attackers had been armed with the characteristic swords of the Japanese warriors, or something that slung blood off of the blade in the same stereotypical way.bodies could be seen laying everywhere on the deck, and on the port side, the sharks were having a field day lunging in and dragging off chunks of... he turned his head away. years in the amazon and seeing the depredations of piranhas, and years as a mercenary had hardened him, but sights like that still botherd him. he noticed the mark hacked into one of the bowposts of the junk. Dragon and bat... Batdragon? Dragonbat? he shook his head. "You ever see anything like that carving on the bowpost, Sabre?"

"What..." Sabre managed. Her mind, which caught hold of and stored all sorts of random things, akin to a sheet of  mental flypaper, coughed up a memory. "Oh, that... something similar on a sword, once, an old one in a  junk shop in... I think it was Singapore, the shopkeeper said it just showed up one day, sticking upright in a local turnip field..." She snapped a picture of it, along with several of the boat itself and the carnage surrounding it, both past and current. "Nothing doing here, We can't haul the bodies back, the sharks'll take car e of 'em  all, and the boat'll be underwater in a few hours. Let's head back.

But Al had to get evidence of some kind, so he nosed the main float against the side, clambered aboard and got two swords, a rifle, and the number placard from the side of the main hatchcover, and clambered back aboard, nearly taking a swim with the sharks in the process.

"You daft boy," Sabre complained  as he clambered in with her after depositing the items in the front cockpit. "What'll I do with you?"

"I can think of a few things once we get airborne and set the gyropilot," he offered.

"You're incorrigible," Sabre said, sounding irritable, but belying her tone with a subtle and strategic squeeze. After a time, they adjusted their airspeed to a respectably slow one well above the stall speed of the craft, but not fast, either. A short time later, the gyropilot device had been activated and set, and then the hatch to the passenger compartment in the main float came to be opened; after that the plane shuddered occasionally for various reasons until just before the Station appeared again on the near horizon...
 
« Last Edit: February 25, 2013, 06:00:04 pm by MWBailey » Logged
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