Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Day Eight-Hundred-Four: Teamwork and Bedfellows

At first, everyone in Logan’s party was headed for the command deck of the Sky Bitch. That changed, and swiftly, when the engine of the airship began to groan. It was enough even to draw Logan’s attention away from his former fiancee, who’d just disappeared around a corner.

It started as a low, unhealthy hum, akin to the burble of an extremely hungry stomach. Then it transformed into a sound and a sensation, a slight shiver throughout the ship’s hull that hinted at foul things afoot. Then, as if to punctuate the need for action, the Sky Bitch swayed unnaturally to one side, as if perched upon the world’s largest swing set. The ship did not jerk precipitously, but Logan had spent enough time aboard to know that something was not right.

His father apparently thought the same. “That’s… that’s not good. Uh.”

Half cowering behind Logan, The Baron peered at Jeffrey. “What? What are we waiting for? We should go after Eve! I can’t properly tell her what to do with my hands in their current state…”

Logan shook his head. “Doesn’t matter. If the engine’s borked then we’re all fucked. C’mon, we’re headed to engineering.”

“But - “


Logan pointed to Cedric, then to The Baron. The big man happily grabbed his former boss and hauled him along, complaining, in the party’s wake. Jeffrey took the rear, his fists raised and ready, a quirk of a smile on his face. It disappeared when they heard Kierkegaard’s squawking laughter floating down from the command deck.

A short trip later they were standing at the entrance to engineering, a mishmash of churning cogs and well-oiled belts that was quickly devolving into utter chaos. A dozen sky dwarves were flitting about the place, jamming their spears into the machinery at random and doing their best to hover out of reach of the frantic workers below. Pagan and Evangelina led the campaign against the creatures, though Evangelina’s inability to use her magic without damaging the equipment was apparently hurting their chances of clearing the area in time.

Grabbing a nearby wrench, Logan sprang into the air and smacked the first sky dwarf he saw in the face. Its face twisted in pain, the sky dwarf flew back several feet, got caught in an intricate pulley system, and died horribly as the mechanism tore it apart. The pulleys shuddered to a stop, and the entirety of the Sky Bitch quaked in response, dipping precipitously to port. Logan had to twist dramatically, and accept a painful landing, to avoid flying into a bank of noisy gears.

Not like that, idiot!” Evangelina hissed, eyes flashing orange. “You’re going to get us all killed!”

Rubbing his head, Logan gave her the finger. “After knockin’ me out, lady, I’m not acceptin’ any orders from you.”

Watching Cedric as he attempted to swat two sky dwarves out of the air, Pagan wagged a finger at Logan. “The lady’s correct. We need to bring these creatures to ground level, then deal with them. This is the worst possible combat zone.”

Logan agreed. The sky dwarves, though not technically adept in any sense of the phrase, had managed to gum up a substantial portion of the Sky Bitch’s inner workings. Three of the beasts were attempting to pry a massive gear away from its axle, two more wrestled with a counterweight, and two more were attempting to cram the body of an engineer into a set of pistons. The rest kept anyone daring to stop them at bay with their spears.

The shudders of the hull spooked Logan, and he grabbed a guardrail as the Sky Bitch tipped from a portward lean to starboard. “Gods be damned. Okay, so we pull ‘em down. Got any ropes?”

“For lassos? No. We can’t use ropes in here, they could gum up the engines,” Pagan insisted. He was struggling to remain upright, his heavy armour threatening to drag him to the floor as the deck listed from one side to the other. “Hells. You! Big man with the stitches! Put the prisoner king on your shoulders and work together!”

Grinning broadly, Cedric plucked the complaining Jeffrey from the floor and dropped him onto his broad, lumpy shoulders. Logan couldn’t help but snicker as the two shuffled towards the sky dwarves attacking the counterweight, Jeffrey weaving as nimbly as possible to avoid the jabs of spearpoints.

Pagan turned to Logan. “Get to the deck and find out why this bloody ship is listing so badly. Try to keep us level. We’ll do what we can to clean up down here.”

Nodding, Logan turned to leave. He pointed to The Baron, who was cowering behind him. “You! Get in a corner, keep quiet, and don’t get in anyone’s way unless they ask. Get me?”

Shuffling to one side, his expression meek, The Baron dropped his eyes. “Yes, m’lord. Whatever you say.”

For half a second, Logan felt the impulse to apologize. Despite his reckless, damned near stupid attitude as a child, he’d always held a soft spot for his relentlessly kind mentor. The Baron had treated Logan much better than his father ever had, and in many ways the old man had been a better father to Logan than Jeffrey. But the memories of everything The Baron had done since the days of old smothered the impulse, and he settled for a quick roll of the eyes as he dashed out of engineering.

I’m gettin’ too soft for this, Logan thought. He thinks I’d make a good king? Fat fuckin’ chance of that.

Logan sprinted as quickly as he could through the corridor separating engineering from the stairs up to the command deck, the unhealthy lean of the Sky Bitch preventing him from moving at his full speed. He suspected, too, that some part of him wasn’t in a hurry to get to the deck, because he knew monsters waited at the top of the stairs, and though he was monstrous in his own way - he’d never met anyone near as fast as himself, save perhaps Eve - Logan didn’t like monsters. They scared the part of him that was still a child.

Monsters did indeed wait upon the command deck. But one of them was not who Logan expected.

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