Wages of War – Chapter 3 Rescuing and Capture

Chapter 3                   Rescuing and Capture

            Cavan and I sat in the small room contemplating our new circumstance. An armed guard almost as big as the two of us combined sat just outside our door charged with keeping us “comfortable.” His presence gave me any feeling but comfort.

            “So, what the hell do you think we should do now?” I started. “I mean, here we are while God knows what Inkaritath and the rest of the Harcos are doing just circling the city up there. They must all be going stir crazy. I feel sort of bad for the crews.”

            “Jules, we’ve got time to figure all of this out. The repairs are supposed to take two weeks. My biggest worry is making sure there’s enough in the ship’s stores for the excess passengers they now carry.” Cavan answered with a look of worry and deep contemplation that I hadn’t seen since before we found his father. I knew he was more worried about Sonia than any of the ten thousand fairies aboard those two floating fortresses. The two of them had not been separated in the last ten months of our time on this wild quest. She gave up everything she knew; family, friends, the pride of being one of only a handful of women who went to college in this age.

            I have never had a love interest. There have always been women I am fascinated by and who are attractive, but I have had little ability to be with the fairer sex. After all, we started this bizarre adventure only weeks into our schooling. This being said, I couldn’t relate to Cavan’s internal stress. I looked at him. Sitting in the window looking up toward the sky with only one thing going through his mind, “Is she okay?”

            We sat in silence staring at each other and taking in the room. Cavan sat on a window seat so perfectly fitted that one would assume it was carved from the wall. The two four post beds sat on angles in the space with the foot of each facing the window itself. At this point I could see the noon sun hitting its peak shining through the panes of clear glass in the center surrounded by stained glass squares on the outer edge.

            The sun gleamed light through the colored glass adding an almost carnival feeling to the room’s bright décor. Hangings of red and orange fabric surrounded the window and seat tied with gold Lemay stays. As the sun passed hour after hour our jailor only contacted us once for a light dinner of bread, cheese and a rice dish tossed with spiced sausage and vegetables. The food matched the room; hot, audacious and full of New Orleans flavor. At least the small feast was accompanied by a good glass of wine.

            After nearly an entire day of nothing but watching Cavan mourn the loss of his dream and the absence of his beloved, the sun began to make its way down over the skyline of the French Quarter. It’s bright tones of red, orange, purple and pink were replaced slowly by the same colors in miniature coming from the lights in the buildings below. I couldn’t stand the silence any longer.

            “Well, at least the room’s not boring.”

            Cavan and I both laughed uncontrollably. It wasn’t even a funny comment; just the absurdity of the situation and our confinement struck us silly. As we finally settled for what was supposed to be a restful night, a small figure crashed into our window. A local fairy sat perched on the sill singing to the wind that blew her body into the panes. She was oddly tiny. Her voice rang out with a troubled tone, like a fledgling bird left too long in the nest alone.

            As her wide eyes gazed through the glass into the room, I was reminded why we did all that we did in Ecuador. It was for the good of these creatures that Dr. Anstruther; Cavan’s father first went into those wilds. His attempt to find the origins of these creatures we take so for granted led to the greatest and most controversial discovery of all time. We became so wrapped up in the quest for Dr. Anstruther, we’d forgotten the real meaning of his work; spread the truth about fairykind. Here I sat watching this innocent creature calling for help pleading with the wind for assistance against itself. It responded by gaining intensity and fervor with every current of air.

            Without warning, the recently adopted night burst apart by searchlights cutting through our window. The winds were not natural, but the propellers of an airship pushing the New Orleans air as it descended to our location. A shadow lowered into the window frame. It was amorphous and vibrating. The form undulated, then suddenly lit in flame oddly outlined by the artificial light coming from the airship.

            With the precision of royal marksmen, spears alight with fire flew through the window setting the drapery aflame. With one precise movement, the bizarre silhouette outside the glass spread in synchronized flight locking the spears into the square frames between the glass. The ropes, which we only noticed at this point, went taught, seizing for a moment and tensing before breaking the remainder of the window out of its casement in the wall.

            As if planned and rehearsed endlessly, a rope ladder dropped just outside of the hole left in the boarding house. By this time several men were outside of our room banging the door as the sound of the old creole woman shrieking, “I will fine de godam key! You brutes gun break down ma door! Den you gun pey fa it! I dun care who ya werk fa!”

            Just as the hinges of the door began to give and the rattle of tumblers clicked in the door, Cavan and I were lifted with our rucksacks into the air and surrounded by armed Towhay. The faces of the men as they looked out of the broken window up at us were filled with fear so paralyzing that their weapons remained drawn but silent.

            Once aboard the dirigible, we charged for the bridge to find what impatient soul had decided waiting for the Empire to sort this out was out of the question. Neither of us was shocked to see Inkaritath standing aside the helmsman. Sonia’s presence did cause us to pause.

            The captain of this vessel had made it very clear at the onset of our journey that he did not prefer women to be aboard his ship. The fact that she stood on the bridge aside the helmsman was out of character for the captain. Thinking of this, I looked around. The captain was conspicuously missing from the bridge. Cavan noticed as well.

            “Where’s Captain Moralez?” he asked.

            “I asked him to leave.” Sonia said matter-of-factly.

            “You did what?” I asked, not believing what I heard.

            “I asked him to leave. He wouldn’t allow me to go and fetch the two of you. His opinion was that ‘such a mission is foolhardy at best’.” She said mockingly with a false Spanish accent, then continued, “So, I asked him to leave. He of course refused. My response was simple; I had the Towhay place him in the brig for gross insubordination. As the highest ranking person on the ship, he must follow my orders.” She finished with certainty.

            “How are you the highest rank on this ship?” I questioned, only to receive what I’m sure was a well-rehearsed response.

            “With the two of you gone, I am the only ambassador to the Harcos. On a diplomatic mission such as this, the ambassador outranks everyone as the official emissary to the nation he/she represents. Besides, the Towhay wanted you back and Inkaritath wouldn’t keep on with the trip without you. Oh, and, we’re running low on supplies so we couldn’t wait the two weeks to get out of here.”

            “Oh. No other reason?” Cavan asked. Without hesitation she replied.

            “Nope.”

            The smile on her face was not easily held back as it grew from cheek to cheek despite the resistance of her facial muscles. Sonia broke out of her stoic false front and with a glee-filled run and landed square into Cavan’s arms. Inkaritath smirked then cleared his throat.

            “Sonia is being facetious, I have thrown the Captain into the brig.” He said matter-of-factly followed with an abrupt change of subject, “My friends, we must now talk of getting to Philadelphia to speak with your King James. I am anxious to seek his counsel.” The giant fairy pronounced. “The next phase of our mission must commence, hopefully with less disruption.” He finished quickly and returned to his station aside the helmsman. I broke in with the question that had been on my mind for some time now.

            “What mission, Inkaritath?”

            He turned and with a stoic look on his face answered bluntly, “To find the other twelve Great Ones. My brethren.”

            “Surely by now they are dead.” Cavan insisted.

            Sonia spoke for Inkaritath.

            “As Inkaritath has explained it to me, the technology that sustained him was not created by the Harcos. There was one nation of the Great Ones, a certain section of fairykind was Inkaritath’s size. That era ended four thousand years ago with a war that all but wiped out his people. Just before this, his people separated into thirteen clans and spread across the planet. The last of each of the original fairies was placed in a deep sleep using machines just like the one in which we discovered Inkaritath.” She finished.

            “So what’s the mission?” I asked, still perplexed by the whole concept. There were too many gaps in the story. I wanted them filled in, but I couldn’t risk this ancient fairy falling out of favor with us. At this point we were at his mercy. He said without turning

            “Jules, you and Cavan need your sleep. Go to your staterooms and I will call us all for a meeting as soon as you have been able to regain some sleep from what I am sure was a very trying day.     

          Cavan and Sonia went starboard and I port. The hall was on the third deck, just under the gasbag. Harcos guarded the doors. Two on each side, weapons in hand, eyes fixed in front of them. I didn’t know whether to feel honored or trapped. I bid my two friends, “goodnight” and sauntered into my room past my guards.

          The questions flew through my head as I lay on my cot looking at the ceiling. I thought of all that I left behind. How I have not even corresponded with my father in over half a year. My education ceased before it began to flower, and for what? To be told by an ancient wrinkled being that shouldn’t even exist in the eyes of the world that we were not done yet. I wasn’t done yet. The whole thing seemed so damn ludicrous!

          Yet there I lay staring at the patterns pressed into the tin, unable to sleep for fear of what the “mission” would entail. How were we to find the rest of these Great Ones? This was all too confusing. I began to fall asleep dosing in between conscious and subconscious thought. The memories of the day flooded back in vivid detail; almost super real, a day-dream of sorts:

          Time was sped up as I watched the hours pass in our room inside the boarding house. The sun swam its slow dance across the room highlighting the colors as it passed. When the sun had reached the left hand corner of the window shining through a red square of stained glass, time stopped around me. Cavan sat, mouth in mid sentence, but I could move and seemed to do so lucidly. The light seemed to pinpoint on the base of a bedpost. I hadn’t noticed the carving before. It was a miniature globe of the earth.

          The beam of light ended in a single point upon the miniature map – England. Time resumed its collision course with our rescue at top speed. The beam disappeared. A thudding in the room became louder and louder the intensity of the sound began to overtake me as I…

          Waking, still clothed, I heard the stateroom door being assaulted by someone’s knuckles. The knock was not panicked, but insistent.

          “I’m coming, already! Hold your britches, would you?” I said smacking my lips and stretching with a yawn as I placed my feet upon the wood floor. There was no light in the room, so I presumed it was before dawn. What the hell was so damn important to wake me at this hour? Furthermore, who would have the audacity to do so? Why had the guards let them? The rapping began again.

          “Alright, alright.” I pronounced exasperated. I reached the door and gently pulled it open. There stood Agent Carlin stood looking stern and stoic as ever.

          “What the hell are you doing aboard this ship?” I asked. He did not respond but began to shake and convulse. Blood trickled from his lips and the four tips of a Towhay weapon emerged from his chest. He lurched forward grasping for me with eyes pleading as his blood gurgled from his now gaping mouth. As his body struck mine

        I sat up straight in bed; cold sweat pouring from my head. I immediately placed my glasses on, wrapping the sides around my ears. I lit the small Tesla battery lamp by my bed and searched my coat pockets for my fountain pen and journal. I had been keeping track of our journey and any strange dreams or visions I have had over the past months. Before I lost the thought, I jotted down every detail. It’s funny how the subconscious works. Upon first scan, the dream and dream within it would seem odd. I was to find out in the morning just how foreboding my dreams were.

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