Three weeks passed, and Vale had fell into the routine of the ship. The days were long, and the food was pretty bad, but she didn’t care. She was flying through the sky with other adventurers!
After getting acquainted with all of the crew, she quickly learned that although they were impressed with her bravery when dealing with Captain Mortem, her spunk was not going to earn their respect. She felt foolish for being so cocky, thinking she could make allies among the crew quickly. It would take time to earn her place.
Vale knew that Mortem would throw her overboard if the weather GPS spotted a storm before she did, keeping her alert and focused. I’ve lost my mind. It’s only a matter of time before I’m hurled over the side, she thought as she stood in the crows nest, eyes scanning the horizon for any signs of a storm. But even with the odds being near impossible, did her job anyway, knowing that this was exactly where she wanted to be, even if it resulted in being thrown off the side of the ship.
Every morning, she would wake up before the sun rose and climb the rope ladder up the mainmast and sit in a lookout tower. She felt her body grow numb, a familiar feeling now, and let out a deep sigh, enjoying the cool crips air whipping through her loosely tied hair.
This morning she felt unusually alert as she sat gazing out at the pink around her. Flying above the ground and among the clouds was a breathtaking sight. Peaceful. The only distraction being a pestering bird that would squawk unusually loud as it flew next to the ship.
Vale wiped the mist from her face with a pair of arm warmers that she made from an old pair of socks to keep her warm. She had not seen any lighting storms since their journey began, and the crew had grown restless. They couldn’t go back without lightning. They would look likes fools. Proving that robots were the only ones fit for sailing the skies as Lightning Seekers.
The Libertatem had received word two days ago that a ship piloted by robots had been sent up to see if they could find more lightning than the human powered ship, packing on the pressure.
Suddenly, Vale saw something flash the distance. Squinting her eyes for a closer look, she saw it again. “Light,” she croaked. Clearing her throat she shouted. “Light!“She jumped to her feet and shouted down to the crew. “Lightning storm! Lightning storm to the larboard side!”
The crew didn’t hesitate and began to move the ship in that direction. Vale continued to shout from her post, keeping them on course.
The wind began to pick up with a deafening howl. Mortem appeared from his quarters and dashed up the stairs to the ship’s helm and took over at the wheel. The wind grew louder and louder, causing the ship to be yanked back and forth by invisible tethers while Captain Mortem fought for control.
“Take the sails down, ye buffoons! Quick before this blasted wind tears em clean off!” Mortem bellowed. But even with the sails down, it did little to help keep the ship on track.
Vale gripped the railing in the crows next, trying to stay upright as they grew closer to their mark. But suddenly, the wind pushed them off course. They were going to miss the lightning storm completely if they did not move fast. Vale shouted over the roar of the wind, fighting to be heard. “Captain, turn the ship! If you don’t turn it to the starboard side, we will miss the lightning! Turn the ship!”
Mortem nodded and spun the wheel with a strong yank. The ship creaked in protest. The propellers and jets on full power.
Vale finally understood why Mortem’s arms were so large. No other person on the ship could command the ship going head to head with a storm like this with just their bare hands. Slowly, Mortem found the strength to get them back on course.
“Brace yerselves! Ready the harpoons!” Mortem shouted as they entered the heart of the storm.
The ship was engulfed in thick dark mist and a huge gust of wind slammed into Vale before she could grip the railing securely. She flew back slamming into the mast. Before she could stop herself, or grip anything, she was thrown over her lookout post and was sent hurling downwards.
She was yanked to an abrupt halt as her hand caught on a rope, and she felt something in her arm snap and tear, shooting needles of pain across her shoulder and down her arm as her body stalled in midair.
Her world went dark for a moment as the wind flung her trapped body around and around like a half-broken marinate. Her vision returned as the sky split with lighting with a near-simultaneous clap of thunder.
Vale bit back a scream when she realized that she hung fifty feet in the air and the only thing between her and the ground was a mess of bloody rope and shredded pieces of her arm.