What Goes Up...

Originally posted by Largehobbit: Mar 4, 2018, 10:09am

The Roost - 18th August – Morning

Eli stood on the deck of the Seraphim grinning at the sky. The Maelstrom boiled up ahead, the thick black and grey clouds churning and bubbling like tar on the boil. The occasional spark of energy flickered between the clouds, green streaks of death that could burn an airship to cinders if its captain was not prepared. Eli was always prepared.

“She’s a moody old bitch this morning.” He growled as he plucked a pocket scope from inside the folds of his thick woollen tunic. He tapped a button on the side of the scope and with a series of soft clicks it extended to around a foot in length. He trained his one eye on the thin circular patch of lighter cloud directly above the city. The Nexus was open and ready for business.

“You ever wonder how they do it?” first mate Lina Kellgorian came to stand alongside him, her eyes fixed on the opening in the dark clouds above. He gave a grunt of welcome and handed the spyglass over to her.

“The bastards live in a flying city, shifting a few clouds is a parlour trick compared to that.” Eli reached down and produced a small hip flask and began to unscrew the lid.

“Not on deck sir, remember.” She gave him an insolent grin as she snatched it away and he resisted the urge to snatch the flask back. She continued, “I just wish we could make our own Nexus..”

“Don’t be a fool.” He snarled rounding on her, “You could get yourself a nice padded cell in the Black Gallows for even thinking a thing like that.” He took advantage of her momentary shock to swipe back the flask and take a swig before she could stop him.

“Ghaah! Now I’m ready, let’s climb.” Lina shook her head and turned to bark orders at the crew. Several minutes of frantic activity passed by and Eli stood there glaring up at the Nexus above as the burn of the Whisky warmed his old bones.

“Away anchors.” Lina cried at last as the ship lurched into the air. There came a roar from below decks as flagslag was fed into the furnace. The power generated would run the ships steering and propulsion while the steam produced would feed the great balloon that help the craft aloft.

Eli said little as the Seraphim made the climb up towards the open maw of the maelstrom above. Lina was capable and was not long for running her own crew and ship, not that he would ever tell the girl that. Steering propellers to port and starboard did their work well as they made the climb, while the fan to the rear of the ship drove them onward at a pace. Once they got up there amongst it all something extra would be required.

“Looks to be calming down.” Lina commented as she came back to stand beside him. They were on the last stretch now before entering the Nexus proper. All around them the Maelstrom loomed, its broiling clouds shifting hungrily.

“Never trust the bitch.” Eli murmured as he watched the clouds. This close the rumbling of the maelstrom was loud enough to drown out the sound of the airship, and a hard wind was starting to pick up all around them.

“Hold fast.” Eli cried out and his crew obeyed, just as a huge gust came out of nowhere and almost drove the ship onto its side. One of the cords that held the airship fastened to its balloon sprang free and started to whip around the deck with a stinging fury. One crewman, a young lad, began to chase it.

“Leave it be and hold fast!” Eli roared but the lad did not hear him. Another gust came in and the ship lurched back the other way. There was a sharp scream and a rush of movement as the crewman was pitched overboard. For a moment the man hung there suspended in the crosswinds with a look of pure horror on his face and then he was swept from sight. Not downwards but upwards into the black bulge of the waiting clouds. Eli gave a grim nod and turned to face his crew.

“Drop the hammer!” he cried and there was a loud clang and small controlled explosion below decks as a nugget of pure flagesium was dropped into the furnace. The rear fan was lowered and two thrusters popped up at the stern.

“Draw in the side props and fire on three.” Eli roared. They were at the lip of the nexus now, swirling mist and shadow stretch up above them and all around them the maelstrom roared in a relentless black fury. Another second and they were inside.


The thrusters fired and the Seraphim tore through the mist on an upwards trajectory.

Inside the Nexus Lina watched Eli at work. He had a sixth sense for the ebb and flow of the winds up here. The Seraphim lurched this way and that as they rose steadily through the mist and cloud. A sudden cry from the bow signalled that the beacon had been spotted and she looked up straining to see the flickering light that would signal their approach to Elesium. After a moment or two she saw it and so did Eli. He gave her a nod and she began to relay the orders,

“Drop rear propulsion and bring out the steering props. Ready with the anchors.”

The ship rose steadily towards the light until finally the mists parted and the Seraphim came to the surface of the Nexus. The vast underbelly of Elesium stretched out all around them, the distant view blocked by the boiling clouds of the maelstrom. Directly above them the docking platform had been lowered through the smooth metallic hull of the city, the beacon light flashing on its underside. There were no other visible entrances within sight.

They circled the platform as they moved higher and eventually came to dock. Ropes were thrown over to the deck and magnetic anchors were fixed to the docking plates. As usual there was no one in sight and the supplies they were to take back to Dusk were all prepared and labelled on the dock.

“Open her up.” Eli ordered and Lina walked down to a small control panel at the centre of the deck and pulled down several levers. There was a loud scraping sound of metal on metal and slowly the side of the Seraphim opened up creating a wide walkway onto the landing dock and revealing the precious cargo within.

Lina disembarked and went over to check their new load as the crew began to carry the refined flagesium onto the dock. Lina checked off the crates. Medical supplies today. She frowned as she compared the cargo list with what was actually there.

“Captain.” She called over to the old man and after a moment he made his way down to her.

“What is it?” he asked.

“Only half of it is here.” She gestured toward the various crates.

“Damn them.” Eli growled. “This is going to cost us.”

“Screw that.” Lina snapped as she marched over to a panel at the end of the dock. Eli called after her but she ignored him. Staring at the panel she thumped a large red button with the words emergency only printed beneath. There was a long moment of silence and then a crackle as an unseen speaker came to life.

“State you business.” Came the voice, Lina froze for a moment, she hadn’t really thought this through.

“State you business.” Came the voice again. She took a deep breath.

“The cargo is light.”

“Please load your vessel and return to the Nexus.” The voice said in reply. Eli had marched up to her side now his face filled with fury, but Lina refused to meet his eye.

“We only have half of the cargo required for the flagesium we have delivered.”

“I repeat please complete your business and return to the Nexus, you have been warned,”

“We go.” Growled Eli, reaching for her arm, but Lina shook him off.

“We stay right here until we get the supplies we are owed and if they don’t like it we can just dump the bloody flagesium into the maelstrom and let them fish for it.”

“No.” The voice barked, and then calmer, “that would be a violation of the trade accord.” She had obviously hit a nerve so she continued.

“So is stealing away half of our payment, where is he rest.” There was no answer. Several minutes went by and nothing.

“Lets go.” Hissed Eli. The medical supplies were being loaded aboard now. She wondered for a moment whether they should cut their losses and leave but damn it she was angry. Who did they think they were. She punched the button again.

“We are waiting!” she called out. Several more minutes passed by and then suddenly,

“Stand by” the voice sounded out of breath.

A secondary platform was lowered from above containing the rest of the agreed shipment. Eli whistled and looked nervously upwards.

“Son of a bitch.” Lina whispered.

“Now we go.” Eli growled as he directed the men to pick up the crates. Out of sheer mischief Lina hit the button one more time,

“Yes?” came the clipped voice.

“You have a great day.” She giggled.

“Thank you.” Was the very dry response.

Back aboard the Seraphim she stood next to Eli and watched the ship being made ready. Her hands were shaking. What had she just done.

“Here.” Eli handed her his whiskey flask and she gratefully took a long swig.

“Lets hope the climb down is less eventful.” She said and he gave a chuckle.

“She’s had her due today.” Eli replied staring down into the cloud.

“Crewman Haines was not her due,” he made to speak but she cut him off, “any of your bollocks about human sacrifices and respect for the maelstrom and I will slap you, captain or not.”

He chuckled again, “Balls of solid brass.” He said shaking his head before calling the orders to begin the descent.

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