Winds of Aerathiea

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Chapter 10: Liam and Ethan

“Jules, do you think she likes me?”

Jules responded, “Is that hardly an appropriate question to ask a computer?”

“Ha! I guess I can’t ask you about your girlfriends then?”

Liam purposely walked past his cabin door.

“Hardly, Master Liam. You missed your cabin by the way.”

“It’s okay, Jules, I’m not really tired yet. I just want to have more of a look around- Unless you mind?”

Even in the bowels of the ship, the lightning could still be seen from the ends of the hallways that opened up into observation decks. The following thunder was just as brutal and deafening.

“Mind? No, it’s perfectly alright with me,” said Jules waiting until the thunder finished to complete his sentence. “I assume Rebekah took you to their secret clubhouse?”

“You might say that.”

“They enjoy playing games with me. It’s true that I can’t see or hear in some places on the ship, but I was created to respect the privacy of my patrons and guests. I can be very discrete. I hardly care about the plotting of an adolescent mind.”

“You would be surprised at what adolescent minds can think up. We might surprise you yet. I wouldn’t take it personally, Jules. We just sometimes need a time and place to ourselves where we can work out our own problems without older people around us constantly telling us which is right and wrong. It has nothing to do with you.”

“Interesting. I received the same speech from Rebekah on that subject.”

Liam only knew vaguely where they were going, but he had no idea how fast this ship was flying through the clouds, illuminated by constant lightning. As he gave himself the grand tour, he kept glancing out the various windows. He couldn’t help but think that they were not traveling very fast.

“Jules, how fast are we moving?” He asked peering out the window at the storm.

“I assume you want the average velocity?”

“That would be fine, yes.”

“At the moment, six knots.”

“How about English?”

“I don’t follow, Liam?”

“Miles per hour, please?”

“Oh,” said Jules as if he came to some new discovery. Maybe he did, what did Liam know of computers after all? “I thought most people spoke in kilometers? About eleven kilometers per hour.”

“Missouri is still really backwards. I think a lot of people still think the metric system was invented by Satan or something.” Liam calculated in his head. “Not very fast. Knots must be pretty close to miles? Still about six miles per hours. I could almost walk faster!”

“Yes, a knot is very close to a mile. It’s about fifteen percent faster. And it’s just a term that’s not very metric either. A holdover from another time. In these winds and torrential rain on the ground, you wouldn’t get very far.”

Liam heard someone approaching in the corridor. As he approached, Liam noticed the man was in his early twenties, thin and was wearing a green jumpsuit. The man stopped as he came up on Liam at the window.

“Liam Waite?” The man stuck out his hand and Liam found himself shaking hands. “It’s good to see you up and about!”

Jules piped in. “Liam, allow me to introduce Ethan Phillips, our communications officer.”

Ethan shook back. “It’s very nice to meet you.”

“I saw it all go down this morning. I’m surprised Trish let you out of her clutches so easily?”

“Not as surprised as I am. I know to never to do that again.”

“What, run at the launch like a maniac?”

“No, get shot. I can strike that off my bucket list!”

Ethan found himself very much at ease with Liam. He leaned on the railing and looked out at the storm that Liam was staring into.

“Some storm, eh?”

“Yeah, but it’s very different up here. Even though we are closer to it, it’s more distant or something.”

Jules broke in again. “Speak for yourself, Master Liam.” It’s taking a considerable amount of my processing power just to keep us heading in the right direction.”

“And I’m confident you will get us there, all in one piece, Jules.” Ethan didn’t want Liam to be too alarmed, even though it was just as unnerving to him. “Well, I’m actually doing my rounds. Got to check in in a minute. I hear you will be joining us on the ground tomorrow?”

“That’s what they tell me. I get to be a guide or something.”

“Had you been up in this area before or something? We’ll be about eighty kilometers north of where we picked you up.”

“No, my dad used to take me to work there when I was younger. Captain Grumm and Mister Kyton were hoping I might remember something.”

Ethan chuckled, “That’s Mister Davis. His first name is Kyton.”

“Ahh. My bad…”

“I don’t blame you. Screwy name. He came from somewhere in Europe. Denmark or something- at least that’s what I think of when I hear his accent. I don’t think his last name is really Davis. I think it’s Americanized for something else.”

“Americanized?”

“Yeah, you know, like Smith instead of Schmidt or something like that. All I really know about him is he went to Cambridge. He won’t mind telling those stories a few more dozen times, I’m sure. Don’t let his gruff exterior get to you. He’s a kitten on the inside.” Ethan pushed up from the railing. “Well, like I said, I’m on my rounds. Don’t get into any trouble.”

Liam nodded with his macho goodbye and Ethan rounded another corner and was gone.

He pushed off the railing and just noticed that one of the doors had a little red square under the railing leading to it. He quickly opened up one of the two doors and walked into the room. “What is this place, Jules?” No answer. Liam smiled to himself.

He found himself on a top landing of some kind. It was much more industrial than the corridors he had been down already. At his feet was a box with some flashlights in it. Liam reached down and picked up one of the lights and flipped it on. The beam arced out across a vast, empty space. It was hard to imagine that a room, easily the size of a football field could be hidden on an airship.

He was standing on a gantry gangplank looking down but his mind took a minute to adjust to the scene laid out before him. It was a giant shopping mall and bits and pieces of an amusement park? “What the hell?” Liam made for the gantry stairs and began the ten flights of descent to the main shopping level. “Damn! Someone could hang out here forever and never be found,” thought Liam as he bounded down the last twenty steps, three at a time. However, at the bottom, one of the steps caught his foot at just the wrong angle and down he went. Fortunately, nothing was hurt worse than his pride. After picking up the flashlight that had skittered across the faux-cobblestone flooring, Liam continued to explore.

He walked amongst the pieces of amusement park rides. Everything was brand new. Most rides were still in their unassembled in their crates and others looked like they had been cannibalized for various parts, or they had never been completely assembled in the first place. Liam guessed that this was part of the ship had been under construction when the Event happened. He glanced up at the gantry he had descended from and could barely make out the door he had come through. He turned and began to pick through boxes and crates of equipment looking for anything useful. Old habits die hard.

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