I was standing at the bow of the ship, wind rushing into my face, and the mist of the rainclouds dampening my coat. I laughed into the wind, still not used to flying through the clouds. I glanced back at Jericho at the helm, and by his expression, I thought maybe he wasn't used to it either. It would always be magical, no matter how many times you did it. He leaned against the wheel slightly, turning it to the left after checking the compass in his palm, and I turned back to face the rush of air.
I had placed my bow down beside me, but my quiver was still slung over my shoulder. I considered a moment, and decided to put it down as well, as I preferred the real kind of arrows with feather flights, rather than those plastic things, and didn't want them to get soggy. Ok, I admit, I do use today's style of arrows on occasion, but the feather flights, in my opinion have far more adjustability and smoothness, which could be useful when you wanted to attach a grenade to one end, which I had done from time-to-time, relatively speaking...
We had been flying for about an hour now, and the ride was considerably mellower than when we took off. I wondered how long it would take to get to Melbourne by flying ship. Hmm, I thought, I might have to take this kind of transportation more often and grinned again.
When I leaned slightly over the edge of the Albatross, I caught, every now and then, a glimpse of land or lights of a town or city whipping by far, far below. I'd done this a few times already, but it was such a rush seeing things so far away, so I did it again. I had flown by plane before. Indeed, I had flown in a plane to get to Australia in the first place, but this was something else. This was... indescribable, amazing.
Imagine you're a passenger on a plane, only all the walls except the floor are made of glass, and no one can see you soaring, truly, like a bird, with the wind in your face and the feathers of your wings ruffling in the breeze. It was like that, only better.
Sensing something, I turned. Israel had come to stand next to me, and he grinned when I faced him.
He yelled, "It's great, isn't it?"
"It's wonderful! I've never felt anything like it!"
"I know! And Kallista's having a blast! She's still up in that crow's nest, but I catch what I think is her laughter from time-to-time! I can only imagine how windy it must be up there!" He frowned, "She'll be alright, won't she, Raven?"
I grinned at him, suddenly glad I'd met him tonight, "Of course she will! This is Kallista you're talking about. She's done far more daring things if you ask me! And she does have her elemental magical power over wind to lighten the load if it gets too much, you know."
He nodded slowly, "True... but maybe I should just go ask Jericho... Be right back." I laughed and watched him walk off with a determined stride. He was about to approach Jericho when I shook my head and faced the clouds in the front of the soaring ship once more.
I looked back and forth then straight ahead, wondering what birds would think of a flying ship in their sky if they could see her, but there weren't any birds nearby. Perhaps it was too rainy and windy tonight. The clouds were rather dark and ominous. I tilted my head, looking at a particularly dark shadow somewhere ahead and wondering why it looked like... It looked like... I gasped, grabbed my bow and quiver, and ran towards Israel and Jericho.
Israel was by the edge, looking out at the endless mist, and he turned toward me, a quizzical expression on his face. I ignored him. "Jericho!" I shouted, but he didn't hear me at first over the wind, "Jericho!" He saw me this time, and I kept running towards him, pointing backwards to where I was standing a moment ago, "Plane! There's a plane coming straight at us!" A moment later I heard Kallista's fraught screams and looked up to see her waving her arms and pointing, and I wondered how long she'd been trying to signal us.
Jericho's eyes widened as he saw it, a dark shape in the clouds getting bigger very, very quickly. He yelled, "Grab onto something!" and I barely managed to sling my bow and quiver over my shoulder and wrap my arms around one of the masts before he spun the wheel drastically, tipping the ship onto her side. I screamed as my arms didn't hold, and I went sliding down, frantically grabbing for something, anything. I found a rope and jolted to a halt, yelling out as the ship careened crazily through the air. The thick rope was taut, and I prayed it was tied with one of those sailor's knots Jericho had spoken to me fondly of before we'd set off.
A roar resounded above, and I saw, as if in slow motion, the nose of the plain coming toward us. I didn't know if we could make it. It seemed like we were molasses moving through the air. Not fast enough, not fast enough, I thought. One wing of the Albatross was slanted in the air, and I thought it looked so fragile, like a paper bag about to be shredded, but the ship lurched sickeningly again. My hands slid down the rope, and I screamed out with pain and fear, glancing over my shoulder at the endless drop over the edge if my fingers slipped again. Looking back up, the wings of the plane were soaring by us, and I closed my eyes, not wanting to see the crash.
But it didn't come, and I opened my eyes again, wondering if we could possibly have made it. The plane's tail was sailing innocently by.
With a lurch, I saw Jericho out of the corner of my eye, clinging to the wheel and spinning it around again. It swayed to the other side before straightening, shaking like a wild animal frightened out of its wits. I slammed onto the deck again, and reflexively curled up, hugging the quiver which slid down my arm.
I was breathing hard, and it took me a minute to convince my hands that they could let go of the rope. My fingers uncurled so slowly.
"Are you alright?" Jericho was shouting to me, but I couldn't make my voice to work so I nodded. Suddenly I remembered Kallista in the crow's nest, and my eyes raced up, but I saw her pale face poking over the side, and ropes wrapped around her chest and waist. I sighed with relief.
"Where's Israel?" Jericho shouted to me again. I looked up, and saw his dark eyes wide, hoping I knew the answer to that.
But my heart sunk like a brick, because I didn't.
So now you understand. Wind rushing past my ears, coat flaps snapping and whipping, hurting, even through the pants. I was in a daze. How did I get here? Where was... here, exactly? I lurched through the air, and spun, legs bending at the knee, arms flying above my head.
There it was. I recognized what that was, hurtling towards me... Or rather, I towards it. Earth, it was called. That was a good planet, a good name for said planet. I wondered momentarily who named it. Then I blinked, and the air rushing past me seemed to hit me in the head, and I realized what this was. I was falling, wasn't I?
My mouth opened to scream, but the air rushed in. I couldn't manage a scream, so I shut it, and spread my arms and legs, trying, I know, futilely to slow my descent. Then I thought, hey, maybe if I turned over the coat would blow around, and slow me further, right? It was my lucky coat I was wearing today... wasn't it? Of course it was! Surely I had a chance to live. The earth couldn't really be rushing towards me that quickly, could it? No, I could do this.
The coat flapped consistently, possibly more uselessly than before. Hell, I needed a new lucky jacket.
Then I saw it. What was it? A speck, that was all. I was about to die, and I was worrying about a speck in the sky shooting towards me like a bullet. Why did I care how I died? Since I was going to anyway. Splatter on earth, hopefully not as messily as my mind imagined, or get impaled by a falling spear. That was what it was, wasn't it? No? What was it? I wondered why I retained my curiosity when I was about to die.
But then... no, it couldn't possibly be... Was that a person? Oh, no, someone else must have fallen off. Was is Kallista? Or maybe Raven? I think I heard a scream before I fell. Or it might just have been the wind rushing past. Either way, I would have cursed just then if I could have.
Wait, that wasn't a girl. It was Jericho, wasn't it? Hurtling towards me like a bullet. Surely he hadn't fallen off of his own ship? But what other explanation could there be? Then I got worried. He was coming towards me awfully fast. Again, I wondered why it mattered. Who cares if I died by human torpedo? No, I decided I didn't want to see, so I spun again, facing that beautiful earth below.
Then he was there, and he grabbed me, and pulled on something on his shoulder. A sound like a fresh bottle of Coca-Cola being opened sounded, only ten times louder, and I was yanked around the chest, my legs snapping downwards if only they could. I silently thanked my joints for keeping them securely in their sockets. Then I gasped and sucked in a breath, because all of it had flown out of me when Jericho had opened the parachute strapped around his chest.
"We're going too fast!" He shouted. "Brace yourself!"
I couldn't manage a reply, still gasping for breath. I saw something out of the corner of my eye and turned just a bit to see the Albatross coming towards us. I realized I must still be dazed, when all I worried about was being impressed at how fast she could fly. Then a small corner of my mind wondered who was driving. But that corner of my mind was crushed when I saw the land so near, and the Albatross flying over it, flying under us.
We crashed like a ton of bricks, crumbling down and rolling across the deck. I slammed into the helm and moaned, "Ooooh, that's gonna leave a mark."
Then I heard Raven and Kallista, both of whom, I realized, were at the helm, pestering me with questions about my health, but all I heard was Jericho a few feet away groaning, "Remember? I told you to keep all arms and legs inside the contraption, birdbrain." Then I heard another moan and a heavy footfall next to my ear. A moment later, a hand reached down, and I saw Jericho, a bruise already forming over one eye, a shark-like grin on his face.
That's when I realized I was alive.
And I had my lucky jacket to thank after all.
That's when I realized I was alive.
And I had my lucky jacket to thank after all.