To The Skymaran
Vale blinked, surprised by the sudden appearance and disappearance of the impossible. Why would a boy be on an AI ship? Is he a prisoner? Vale shook the thought away. AI’s are not capable of harm. It was impossible. They are programmed to assist, not to hurt. But why else would he be on that ship?
Before she could think of it any further, the AI ship moved ahead, cutting them off from the storm’s center. Mortem turned The Libertatem, trying to avoid a head-on collision, but the wind picked up and before Vale could process what was happening, the two ships collided with a loud CRACK, that was swallowed in the sounds of wind and thunder.
The Libertatem rammed into the Resistere Futilis and it quickly became clear that The Libertatem was the more fragile ship. It crushed into the side of the Resistere Futilis like a soda can being crushed in a large hand. Mortem shouted above the sound of splintering wood. “To the skymaran’s!”
The crew scattered, each running to their designated small manned skymaran, a small ship made up of metal, sails, and gears. It was powered by pedaling, or arm pulleys. Vale looked around, watching the ship swallow itself and her heart sank. Everyone has a way off the ship but me. She hadn’t been accounted for because she had snuck onto the ship. She was never part of the original plan. She needed to act fast or she was going to fall off of the breaking ship and into the water below, dying before she ever hit the water.
Panic set in, her heart racing but before she could scramble down the nest to see if she could catch a ride with one of the others, the nest cracked at the base as it hit the AI’s ship and she fell. The wind was knocked out of her, her lungs stunned into silence as she landed on a hard surface. She forced herself to sit up and watched as The Libertatem crumbled, and fell out of the sky, racing in pieces towards the water below.
She didn’t understand why she wasn’t falling. Why she was on a steady surface that seemed strong, unmovable. Looking around, her lungs filled with air and she gasped. She wasn’t on The Libertatem. She was on Resistere Futilis. She was trapped on the AI ship.
Scrambling to her feet, she ran to the side, looking down at the broken Libertatem, a sense of grief filling her. No, no, no! Did everyone make it? Are they okay? Her legs shook as she turned around to take in her surroundings. I need to get off this ship. The fact that the AI ship had cut them off, knowing The Libertatem would ram into them filled her with dread. AI’s don’t make mistakes. This was a purposeful move. Why would they do this? How is that possible?
She stretched out, testing to see if any of her bones were broken and a sharp pain shot up her new metal arm. She glanced down and found that the metal was dented, sparks spewing menagincly off of it. She groaned. A broken bone, she could find a way to set, but she had no idea how to solve a robotic issue. Let alone one that could set her on fire.
She heard movement off to her left, a mechanical hum. An AI. She turned the opposite direction and ran, hoping to find a place to hide before she was found out. She was afraid. More afraid than she had ever been of AI’s. But everything that had happened in the last five minutes had sent her entire world into question. Who and what can I trust? Will Mortem and the others come looking for me? Will they think I am dead? What about the storm?
She didn’t want the AI’s to get to the lighting, but had no idea how to stop them either. She ran blindly, having no clear map in her head of the ship. As she turned a corner, she rammed into a wall— no a person. She stumbled backwards and losing her balance, hit the ground.
Vale looked up to find herself face to face with the boy with bright blond hair and dark blue eyes that she had seen earlier. He looked wild. Covered in oil, sweat and a quiet stare that tore into her with unashamed curiosity. Her relief at seeing another human shattered however, when she realized that he stood over her, holding a wrench over his head.
Vale’s eyes widened. He’s going to kill me. I’m going to die.
After everything she had survived, sneaking onto The Libertatem as it took off into the sky that first day, a fall from the nest that ripped off her arm during her first lighthing storm, a shipwreck in the sky that sent her hurling onto an enemy ship, she would die at the hands of a mysterious boy on an AI ship that had tried to kill them all.