Monday, November 15, 2010

The Memoir, continued

The day of the airship demonstration was clear and brisk but not too windy. Mr Sandhurst had speaking mirrors set up so that he could convey his orders to the crew in the hangar and in the airship itself. We had started preparations before sunrise. By the time Mr Sandhurst had arrived with the others we had been at it for several hours. The vehicle hovered over us, its gondola and engines gleaming beneath the creamy gasbag.

Penderking came up to me as the crew was preparing to bring out the airship and drew me aside. "I need you to go onboard the ship and make sure everything is running smoothly," he said. "The Duke of Moonrose is here and I want you up there to make sure nothing goes wrong."

I nodded but felt my stomach go into a knot. The Duke of Moonrose was a very powerful man in the ruling halls of Ashkaroth. We had heard he had had some interest in Mr Sandhurst's company but his presence meant something more. The Duke held the ear of the King and decided who and what the King's money would buy. That he was here to view the airship made me wonder for what purpose he wanted it. A contract from the Duke meant good fortune for all of us.

Even more it meant that I would fly for the first time. I had never gone up in the airship for any of the tests. It would be a challenge for me to keep my head and pay attention to what needed to be done.

I geared up for the flight, donning a canvas airsuit, leather helmet, and gloves before trotting out with the crew as they guided the airship to its launching platform. As I climbed into the gondola, I glanced back at Penderking. He gave me a smile but I could tell it wasn't fully heartfelt. I nodded and climbed in.

Greenfeldt, the pilot, and Hendon, the navigator, climbed in soon after and began the pre-flight. I strapped myself in the mechanic's seat set behind Hendon. When I looked out the window I could see one of the great engines overhead. The murmuring of Greenfeldt and Hendon as they went down the checklist served to make my blood thrill with excitement as we prepared the ship for takeoff. I heard Greenfeldt call out, "Engine 1 start up," followed with Hendon's reply, "Engine 1 start up aye," then the growl of the first engine at our front left as it began. It followed with the engine by me coming to life, its propeller whizzing around at first reluctantly then enthusiastically. The third and fourth engines came to life behind us and the whole ship hummed.

"Chrysanthe to Tower, permission for lift off," called out Greenfeldt.

"Tower to Chrysanthe, permission granted. You're clear," came the reply from the radio speaker.

Greenfeldt pushed the throttle and effortlessly the airship Chrysanthe rose from the ground.

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