Coming This Way
Vale stood on the deck, thankful for the fresh air. It wasn’t a comfortable place to stand, considering the uneven ground and the sharp metal that made up the railing but she needed a moment to process. Staring up at the large helium gas tanks that pumped into the ballonets above the ship, Vale thought through Dash’s claim. They had cut the meeting short when he was called down to the hospital wing, leaving Vale time to think through everything.
She pulled on a loose strand of her hair, tugging it and twirling it around her finger. “Is this really a Tradesmen ship? Then why didn’t Sky say so?” She gazed at the sky. The sunset was vibrant and all consuming as it painted its portrait across the evening sky, breathing a golden light into the horizon. The color was breathtaking, filling her with unhelpful and distracting thoughts of Sky’s hair. Her face bloomed again.
They hadn’t had a chance to talk about the kiss in the training room and with the newfound developments, she wasn’t sure when they would have a chance. She knew things were about to change. “Did Sky really not know about this ship’s purpose?” She prayed that was the reason, hating the idea of Sky lying to her. “Who’s lying to me? Sky or Dash? Maybe Sky couldn’t trust me. I didn’t believe him the first time around.”
The golden sky was set ablaze with orange, the sun dying, making its final stand before being consumed by the night. “I don’t have all the pieces,” she sighed as she pushed her hair out of her face as the wind whipped around her.
“Figured I’d find you out here,” Dash said dropping onto the ground next to her.”
Vale jumped, startled by the quiet boy who could appear from anywhere.
He rubbed the back of his neck, his lips quirking up at the sides. “Sorry. I forget that people can’t hear me coming unless I keep two feet on the ground.” He leaned on a smooth portion of the railing. “Care to share?”
Vale sighed and looked at the ship. “This is the ship of one of the leaders of the rebellion? It looks like a total disaster.”
“I know,” he seemed to have taken it as a compliment, looking around with pride. ”The Ignis is registered as a scrap collecting ship. Which accounts for the creatively terrifying metal exterior.” He laughed. “AI’s can’t see through the five layers of metal when they scan the ship. They assume the rest of the ship is the same. Full of scraps we pull from the ocean. They don’t know who we are or what we do.”
Vale gazed around, and couldn’t help but laugh. “I wasn’t sure if you were trying to pass off this junk heap as beautiful when you first showed me, but it really is a great disguise.” Dash had proven to be a person who did not care to follow the AI’s rules. His entire work as a doctor, hiding in plain sight proved that.
“It WAS a great disguise,” Dash said leaning his head over the side of the ship and staring up. “But if my father’s name is on that list, along with the other Tradesmen, we have a problem. They know exactly who we are, and I don’t think the AI ship was after that small ship they attacked earlier this morning.”
Dash was quiet as he stared out at the water, his hair brushing across his temple as the wind shifted. His voice grew softer as he continued. “They were after ours. And it’s only a matter of time before they find it.”
Vale thought of all the injured people on board. Of Kip and her family. Of Geo, Ace, and the others working to save them. The Ignis couldn’t afford to get caught. “What do we do?” Vale asked, paling slightly.
“We?” Dash asked with a raised brow.
Vale crossed her arms. “I’m in this too remember. I came looking for the people on that list. This ship is part of that. And we need to keep it safe.”
Dash turned back and stared out at the sea below. Sparks of afternoon sun were sprinkled across the deep blue tapestry. “Yes. We do. But unlike The Game Master’s ship or The Builder’s ship, and contrary to what you’ve seen me do, we aren’t built for fighting.”
Vale looked down at her hand. “But I am.”
Dash turned to look at her, the afternoon sun giving his black hair a golden sheen. “Yes. Yes, you are.” He pushed off the railing. “We better get moving. We have to warn the other Tradesmen before there is no one left to warn.”
With that Dash wrapped his arm around Vale’s waist and they shot up into the air, Vale screamed in alarm as they moved. Dash laughed into the wind. Vale wrapped her hands around his neck and squeezed her eyes shut, trying to push away her terror.
“I will never understand why you always insist on missing the most breathtaking views.”
“If you are talking about yourself then I am going to stab you with this useful arm of mine.”
Dash laughed again. “No, the sunset. Look!”
Vale forced her eyes opened and immediately gasped. The entire ocean was set ablaze with a golden sheen, making it look like they sailed over a sea of gold. Dash turned his head to look at her. “See. Breathtaking.” Vale nodded as she turned back to look at the water, her eyes drinking in the sight.
She felt like she was back on The Libertatem, searching the skies and seas for hints of light that would help with the energy crisis back home. The open ocean always cast an unblemished view, free of man-made structures. Promising a wide and accessible future full of possibility.
As she stared, a black dot came into view, tarnishing the otherwise perfect tapestry. “Do you have a spyglass?” Vale asked, her eyes glued to the slowly growing blemish.
“What do you see?” Dash asked over the sound of the wind.
“A potential problem. But I need a better look to be sure.” Dash shot them up to the top of the envelope, above the balloonetts, and landed gently ontop. Letting her go, Dash moved to a small box that was strapped to the top. Pulling it open he pulled out a spyglass and threw it to her. Vale caught it and turned to stare at the black smudge.
As she brought the spyglass into focus she gasped. “Dash. We need to move now!”
“What do you see Vale?” he asked, snatching the spyglass out of the air as she dropped it from her hand. Their hair whipped around wildly as the wind howled.
“The Resistere Futilis. The AI ship. It’s coming this way.”