The Liberatem's “test” trip had received high marks. Also known as “you’ve proven that you can hold your own with AI run ships. Now let’s see if it was just a fluke.” Irritated by the news that they would have the audacity to call such a high success a potential accident, Mortem and his crew had taken to the skies with a new determination.
“Fluke,” Mortem could be heard muttering. “I’ll show you fluke.” Vale sat up in the nest, eyes peeled, waiting for the skies to reveal their next target. The crew had taken to sending up food with a pulley system so Vale could focus without having to go all day without eating. “No sense in having our lucky tolken starve herself to give us an edge,” Boomer said as he sent up a meal of hot beef stew.
Vale held the bowl of stew in her hands, enjoying the warmth that filled her right set of fingers, still unaccustomed to the metal that made up her left side. The new arm that was hers felt like a prank. A joke that no one would own up to. It felt nothing, so it left her feeling strange. Does this make me less human?
She soaked in the warmth of the stew, filling her body with something other than cold numbness. She didn’t have a spoon and slurped it down, wiping away the trickle that went down her chin, never removing her eyes from the sky. She had gotten very good at doing menial tasks while keeping her eyes glued to the blue beyond.
A strange spot of black suddenly blemished the sky. A bird? No, it’s too large. It grew bigger, moving towards them.
“Sparrow!” Vale called down to a man in his twenties with black hair and dark cold eyes that went by the winged nickname. Sparrow had the best hearing of the crew, and no matter where he was, he could pick her up.
“Yes!” Sparrow responded. Vale didn’t even glance down, eyes glued to the mysterious item in the sky. She wasn’t going to miss a thing.
“Something is moving towards us! Aft!” Vale shouted. Then a flash off to the left caught her attention. A storm. ”And tell Mortem we have our next target off the port side.”
The crew moved like a unit. The ship tilted to the left, a large set of dark clouds filling the sky with a deep rumble that held promise of potential lightning spoils. Vale could hear Mortem shouting below as she continued to watch the clouds.
The wind seemed calmer this time. It would seem that their next catch was going to be a peaceful one unless Vale’s arm got her electrocuted first. Suddenly the item that had been far behind them came up on the starbord side with a strange speed.
Vale swore. AI Lightning Seeker ship. They’ve come to steal our find! “AI’s!” Vale shouted down as the ship with the name Resistere Futilis pulled up next to them. It was large, nearly twice the size as The Libertatem. Painted black, the beast of a ship felt cold. Vale could hear the mechanisms powering the ship over the sound of the gentle wind. Machines moved about, their strange gleaming eyes sending chills down Vale’s spine.
“Boomer, if they come close to our target, blow ’em out of the blasted sky so that humanity can collect their precious scraps!” Vale pulled her eyes for the ship long enough to see that Mortem’s face was red, angry. His eyes wide with manic glee. Any excuse to take out robots.
Boomer pulled out a cannon and turned it to face the AI ship. “Yes, captain!” he called back taking aim, ready to pull the trigger. The Libertatem was nearly in the cloud now, tied in speed with the AI ship.
Vale turned and looked at the AI ship and suddenly found something out of place. Something breathtaking. Beautiful. Perfect on such a terrifying mechanical beast of audacity. A boy with bright blond hair that went down to his shoulders, hair wildly whipping in the wind, golden strands glistening in the afternoon light. Blue eyes broke up the black backdrop of the ship. He was so striking that Vale couldn’t help but stare. A human? Why is there a boy on their ship? She blinked and the blond boy was gone.