Updated: Mar 26
Captain Jeffery Carl Moise’s journal of the Royal Air-fleet, today’s date 10th of May 1889. The clouds underneath seem to blanket the southern western hemisphere. As far as the eye cloud see, like a blanket made of cotton neatly extended past the horizon. The propellers roared in my ear, almost muting my thoughts. All four of them sped up to full throttle like a stamped of horses. We were able to catch an air current, that helped us soar like one of the hawks that we keep on board to send messages back and forth.
Half of the men had never flown in their lives, let alone on such a contraption. Because of the altitude we were able to achieve, we were able to avoid the storm brewing below us like the caldron of a witch. We hit an up stream that carried us up on its palm, so I steer the bow ship downwards straining every arm muscle I had. I could hear all the stuff falling in the other rooms like if there was a drunk sailor in the other rooms. I had the crew nailed down all the furniture, for this exact reason, yet there were somethings you just can’t nail down.
I was a sea-captain before I got this commission. Not only was I the first ever air-captain but also the first one of color. Back when I was a sailor, I led a crew to save an Admiral of the British Navy from pirates. What I didn’t know was that he was a distant cousin of the Queen. This didn’t make things easier for me, but it did open many doors that were usually closed to people like me.
Anyway, I was able to find a western current that help level us off. “Captain Moise there’s an opening in the storm should we send down the hot air balloon?” My first mate John Cruger said. He stood straighter than a pole and sucking in his beer gut but failing miserably.
“Yes, send down J. Staiger. She can easily handle these winds. I believe her mother gave birth to her in a cloud, so they say.” He giggled a bit at my comment.
“Yes captain.” A gust of wind banged the windows, and the muscle on my shoulder blade seem to cramp up when I turned to port. I had to drop my weight on the wheel at 1st it wouldn’t give like a merchant holding on to his last shilling, my first mate dropped his weight on it as well. As we wrestle with the god of wind. I balanced myself like if I was walking on a tight rope. He grabbed me by one arm and shoulder. “I’m ok, thank you.” He saluted me and took off to the lower decks to find her.
I got on the phone that resemble a gramophone. The hearing part felt like if I was putting my ear up against a trumpet horn. I moved some gears and winded it up. “I need more power add more coal if the guys are tired change shift. The wind is throwing more jabs than I can handle.”
“Aye, aye, captain.” I heard back. As soon as I was off that apparatus, J. Staiger was right behind me with a big grin. My heart jumped a bit. “My god woman what are you trying to do to me?” She was standing there with a big smile as if I was inviting her to eat ice cream or something.
“Sorry Captain. I arrived as soon as I heard.” She was holding her fist closed in front of her. Her whole body was jumpy. Her blouses was button all the way up to her neck. Her red fedora with her goggles seems not to move. She’s a north Indian girl, her mother was one the 1st female sea captains. Her father and Indian merchant from New Deli. Her complexion close to mines like a caramel cinnamon of sorts. People always believe that we are sibling. She’s only around 5 foot 2 but she packs a punch. Once she gets cranking there is nothing that could stop her.
“I need you to jump on the hot air balloon and pick up the report from Captain Marks and remember no heroics.”
“Me… captain I never do that.” She said crossing her fingers.
“I’m serious, just pick up the message and get on board safely.” I adjusted my jacket and looked at her from one eye.
“As you wish Captain.” She put her goggles over her eyes and ran off.” No man can do what she does including myself. I watched her from the back window of the bridge. One of the sailors was tying down the hot air balloon getting it ready. He was bent over, and she jump on his back with one foot and stepped on the rail of the ship with the other like if she was the daughter of Hermes. With one hand she latched on to the rope of the basket of the balloon swung herself around and landed in the balloon. She cut the rope and the balloon started to sink at a fast pace. My heart jumped a bit she fell a few hundred feet before she cranked the heat of the hot air balloon. The sailor yelled at her waving his fist at her, and she just blew a kiss at him.
From the corner of my eye, I saw a shadow on the clouds. It felt like a giant predator in depths of the sea. It was no wild animal, but they sure act like it. I slammed my hand on the alarm. I grabbed the horn with the other. “Incoming.” I turned the wheel to starboard pulling the hot air balloon like cans behind a carriage. I got on the other horn that connected me to J. “Get ready you have guest.”
“Don’t worry about me, it will be raining air pirates if any of them dare.” She huffed out.
They slammed their skipper into ours. I had to steady my feet as the two bows duked it out. They jumped on board like frogs raining from the sky. My men unsheathed their swords and the metal clanking commenced. I turned towards port slamming back into their skipper a few of the pirates plunged to an early grave.
The door of the bridge crashed open, and the glass shattered into a million pieces. I reached into my waist and like a dancer I turned and lowered myself throwing my knife. I hit this scraggly pirate in the throat. He fell forward like a plank and right behind him was another one who look like he hadn’t brushed his thief since the founding of the new world. I reached for my pistol, but he threw himself towards me. The bullet took off, but it ricochets off the walls of the bridge. He rolled towards me and stuck out his sword. I hopped to one side and his sword went into the steering wheel. I grabbed the wheel and turned hard to star board. Trapping his arm like a crab holding it’s prey, I gave him a good front kick to his chin, that send him off to la la land. I took his arm out and regain control of the ship. I got back on the horn turned the dial, “cut their lines and get ready for port drill.” I took a look down and J had her hands busy bouncing around like a rabbit, knocking them off the basket like she promised. One guy jumped in the basket he was three time her size. She jumped on the rope behind her and swung around and grabbed his neck with her legs from behind like a serpent. She pulled him off the ship and you could hear his screams as gravity took over and showed him whether there is an afterlife or not.
I steered hard to starboard again, giving the men enough time to install the 2-foot drills on the port holes. Once I saw they installed them I cranked a lever on my right side. The smoke on top of the cabin bellows out steam and the drill began to spin. I hit hard to port, drilling the side of their ship like if it was there mother. I pulled up the bow of the ship like a drunk dentist. It ripped their deck up and freed us from them. I was able to get enough distance from them and most of the fighting had been contained. Their ship now limped along losing altitude. “They won’t be bothering anyone for a while”, I said to myself.
I looked out the window to check on J. I grabbed the horn. “I hope they didn’t mess up your hair.” I waved to her from the window.
“A girl works hard to look this good.” She fluffed up her hair even though the wind was blowing it back.
“We should be coming up on the coordinates keep an eye out. I will drop in altitude.” I pushed the steering forward. I could feel the pearls of sweet building up. The clouds welcomed us into their realm like a whale welcomes krill into its belly. They swallowed us right up. Mist builds up on the window making it hard to see. I cranked a gear and turned on the wipers.
“I see it, but I’m still too high.” Her hot air balloon was dragging behind the ship. I squinted my eyes to look at the hot air balloon coming up from the jungle. Its red outer shell waved in the air. Some clouds flowed through and blocked my view. “I don’t think we’re going to be able to grab it.” She screamed into her phone.
“Don’t do…….” And before I could even finish my sentences, she dove off her basket with a rope tide to her waist. I inhaled all the oxygen in the room as she swished through the sky. Her arms wide open like a hawk swooping down on its prey. She snatched it in her hand and as the momentum carry her up she flip her body back, her legs went into the bask. Her waist had slammed into the rim of the basket sending her crashing into the basket. As if the basket had swallowed her whole. “J, J, can you hear me? Are you ok?” I shifted the gears. “Bring it up, on the double.” I barked at the men.
I peeked out the window and saw her head pop up out of the basket. “I’m fine, I just had the wind knocked out of me for a moment.” I sighed.
“One of these days… Come directly to the bridge.”
“Ai, ai captain.”
After 15 minutes she came in all bouncy like if nothing had happened to her. “One of these days J, you won’t be as lucky.” I tighten my lips and squint my eyes.
“I’m sorry sir but I got the update and a map from the expedition team on the ground.” She said with a smile.
The truth is I couldn’t be that mad because I know how important these messages are. “Tell Kives to prepare one of his birds, we have a message to send back to England.”
“Ai, Ai, Captain,” she took off like a steam Engine. I plot the course for the next pick up on the other side of the continent.