Sunday, May 27, 2012

Remembering Bovril...

Okay, you really don't have to read/look at this. It's just a chance for me to vent on recent events that made me sad. (Which is an understatement.)
Going in to this, I was like, "Wow, this is going to be so cool! I'm going to take a bottle calf to fair!" I knew that this calf was small and not in the best shape, but when I saw him I was both thinking, "This will be harder than I thought," and "Don't worry, little guy. I'm gonna get you fixed up and you'll be the best calf ever. You'll win the fair," at the same time. He had massive scabs on his knees from falling a lot because he was so weak and his rear end was caked with clart and he was a sack of bones that barely came past my knees at a month old--that's small. He never really grew, and from early on he didn't have good luck. His mother was 16 years old and he got trampled in with the other cows. He lived with my uncle's dogs on the back porch until we brought him home.

I got up at 5:40 every morning to feed him, and after about 10 days his appetite finally grew. He was eating not only  milk in the morning, half a bottle in the afternoon, and another full in the evening, but he munched on grass and hay and all the like, too. On his second Wednesday, he was the epitome of a healthy cow. We'd bandaged up his knees and cleaned him up, and our four dogs were even getting used to him, and we were almost ready to be able to let the gate open on his pen at all times. He was our little calf that could.
And then on Saturday it all turned for the worst. He didn't want any food Friday night and was inactive, and when I got home from my commitments on Saturday morning his belly had bloated to twice his size. I could hear the sloshing of what's called frothy bloat and the echo of the gas on his insides like he were a balloon. He didn't want to move. From the advice of someone on Facebook, we cut up a garden hose to use as a stomach tube to get some of it out. We pushed it down his throat and after a little while the most rotten smelling stuff started coming up. But it made me happy. I would have smelled it all day, because I thought that meant that he would get better, that in the morning he'd be ready for his bottle and we could put it all behind us. I didn't care that he looked as thin as the day we got him because that meant the crap was out of him and he was on the road to recovery.
I couldn't have been more wrong.
The next morning he'd bloated again. We had to drag him out of his house to see how bad he was, and withing a few hours he wasn't able to stand up on his own. His breathing became shallow and his eyes sunk in. When my uncle came to see if there was anything he could do, my sister had taken me to some graduation parties, partly to get my mind off of Bovril. It didn't work. All I could think about was getting back home to see how he was doing. When I left, I didn't know that that was the last time I'd ever see him.
He barely made it back to my uncle's house before he passed. He wasn't even out of the car yet.
I didn't find out until the next Wednesday because I was too afraid to ask.
I still can't believe I only had him for two weeks. It feels like a whole part of my life has been ripped away from me. Like it has to have been longer--things that important and life changing are never so short. It's hard to think that only three weeks ago today my mom and I were building him a little house and driving down to get him. One week ago, probably within a few hours ago, he died, and I didn't know. I was holding on to the vain hope that maybe, just maybe, I'd get him back and all would resume as it had been. That possibly I'd be taking Bovril, poor little underdog Bovril who'd been given one chance, to fair. I wanted so badly to bring him back to my uncle at the end of the summer with a blue ribbon on that very calf that had scabs on his knees, poop on his butt, and ribs showing through his skin, the one that would have a shiny coat and a spring in his step, well fed and bright eyed. The one who defied all odds and made it when everything was stacked against him. We really thought he would.
But now, our little calf that could, he never will.
Rest in Peace, Bovril the calf.
Wherever you are, know that
I'll always love and remember you.

Friday, May 25, 2012


A/N: Is it fluff? Is it a hint at someone's secret plot? Is it totally awesome? I can only answer "yes" to one of these completely unbiased-ly, but I'll leave it to you to figure out which one. Well, go on. Read!
Disclaimer: I am not SW, so I don't own the characters, creatures, or settings he created. I do, however, own the stuff I did.

“Breakfast?” Singe asked, leaning around the doorway into Ronnie’s cell.
“Is that you, Eugene?” She called back to him, straining her eyes in the darkness. Singe quickly pulled out his whistle and piped for the wormlight hanging in the ceiling to glow. She squinted at it for a moment, blinking, then turned to grin at him. “It is you,” she said brightly, her face bright green but spotted with dark shadows. It was still before dawn, and they would be over Unst in less than five hours.
The cooks would be the only crewmen up at this hour, preparing the half rations for all of the crew—even the guards had nodded off—and in their early morning groggy state, they hadn’t objected to giving out the prisoners’ meals a bit ahead of time; the first of it would already be cold when the men woke up, anyway. He’d merely said he’d been getting a head start on his middy’s duties for the day—or, rather, he had gotten up early so he could carry out his plan and only be partially behind on his tasks, but he’d conveniently left that part out.
He brandished the two biscuits, cups of coffee, and meager servings of potatoes like they were the King’s feast. The meals were set down on Ronnie’s bed, and she sat on her pillow, he opposite her, their legs crossed as they leaned over the food and dug in. Singe picked up his biscuit, tearing it in half without hesitation. The first was eaten in a single bite, the second placed on the girl’s tray. In the dim light, she frowned at him. “The food is yours,” she insisted, and flicked the small half back onto his plate. “You eat it.”
Shaking his head, he deliberately plucked up the biscuit, holding it in the air between them. “If I eat this biscuit, you agree to eat half of my potatoes and tour the ship with me before the rest of the crew wakes up.”
Her mouth formed that little “o” shape it always did when she was surprised. “You are allowed to do that?”
Singe bit his tongue. “You’re avoiding my question,” he countered, avoiding her question. She closed her mouth and swallowed, her brow creasing into little wrinkles.
“I would love to do that,” Ronnie admitted, “but I do not want you to be in trouble.”
“I’ll be fine,” he said quietly, meeting her deep green eyes. She held his gazed for a moment, so intense that he felt a clenching in his heart and his lungs stop working in shock. Ronnie was breathtaking, even though her blond hair was covered in grime and tangled in knots, her skin darkened by grease and her fingernails were chewed to stubs. She had an aura about her, one that drew Singe to her. To distract himself, he lifted up the piece of bread so that it blocked his line of sight into her eyes.
He smirked at her, pulling his biscuit apart and placing half of his potatoes inside. Dumping the other part onto her plate, he swallowed his sandwich. “Eat up,” Singe said with his mouth full, “We’ve got a long tour ahead of us.”

“Would you like to see the message lizard room or the mess hall next?”
Ronnie chewed on her lip thoughtfully. “I do not need any more food,” she said, grinning at him impishly, “So we shall see lizards now.”
He reached down for her hand to lead her there, but drew it back sharply, placing it on her shoulder instead and steering her out of the room. The corridors were still dark, the wormlamps resting because no crewman would have use of them… yet. Singe estimated they had another half an hour before the general wake-up call was sounded.
Rounding a corner, he pulled her into the second room on the left. “Now you have to be quiet,” he said, “or the lizards will all wake up and start chattering. Barking unsettling, that is.”
Ronnie’s silhouette nodded mutely, her eyes twinkling. Singe took out his handheld wormlamp from his pocket, and the soft green glow filled the small room. On either side of them were cages about the size of a man’s head, stacked up to the ceiling all the way to the end of the room. The far side was filled with the boffin’s desk.
It looked different than usual.
In truth, he’d only been in there once or twice, but Dr. Williams’ desk wasn’t easy to forget. He was the most unorganized boffin Singe had met in the Service, and he had always left papers and files strewn about his desk and rarely could the fabricated wood be seen through them.
Now it was spotless. The files were stacked neatly into a single small pile, and a wooden filing cabinet was filled with papers, organized alphabetically. One of the cages was in the center of the desk, holding three message lizards. They looked normal enough, but none of them were asleep like the rest of the beasties in the room. Two kept twitching. Singe looked closely at the plaque that should have said Williams’ name, and then he swallowed a gasp of surprise.
The dully shining surface read, “Sebastian Fitzroy”.
“What are they for?” asked Ronnie’s voice incredulously.
“Uh, this isn’t really all that interesting of a place,” he whispered, pushing her back toward the door.
“Yes it is,” she whispered back, resisting him.
Taking a step back, he stumbled and fell onto the wall of the cages, and immediately groggy voices filled the room. Ronnie’s face paled, and she backed out of the room. “They have seen us? You will get in trouble?” she said when they’d made it into the hallway.
“No,” he assured her, “That was the message lizards talking. It’s what they’re for.”
“It’s okay, really.” He placed his hand on her shoulder to find she was shaking. Ronnie shied away from him, avoiding his eyes.
“I thought that...”
“Sh. It will be fine, I promise. Now, do you still not want to go to the mess hall?”
“Then we have just one last stop and the grand tour of the Leviathan.”

“I will admit that Darwinism is amazing,” she said, after “wow”ing for about the tenth time in the in as many minutes. She wasn’t like most Clankers, the kind who shuddered at even the thought of a fabricated beastie; she always went in for a closer look, from the bees to even the gastric channels. At the moment they were exploring the recycling systems located just to the right of the gastric channels, directly above the gondola’s back end. The beasties here, slug like things the size of dogs, ate all the paper the crewmen were done with—classified mail that needed disposing, letters that had been read so many times they’d fallen apart, simple stationary notes—and spit it back out as clean pulp that could be pressed back into new paper. “I do not know that we have anything that can do this,” she said, “at least not where I have been.”
“Well, we are pretty amazing,” Singe said, puffing out his chest in a gesture of mock bragging.
“I know you are,” she muttered.
Spluttering, Singe replied, “I don’t even understand half of this barking stuff! I fall asleep during lectures!”
She punched him on the arm playfully. “You? No…” A mischievous grin was tilting the corners of her mouth.
He regretted teaching her sarcasm.
A half-asleep crewman stumbled into the room at that moment, and Singe pulled Rachel by the arm in between two of the sleeping beasties. They let off a thick odor, and a puddle of slime had gathered around one of them. Don’t think about it! Singe told himself. He took a fleeting glance at the watch on his wrist, and cursed under his breath. They’d lost track of time, and now the entire crew would be awake in a matter of minutes.
The airman looked about dazedly for a moment as if wondering how he’d gotten there and then turned away, muttering something about the bathroom. Singe counted to ten and then ushered Rachel out into the corridor. They rushed through the least used hallways to get back to the brig and managed to get back into the cell without a sound, the guards still snoozing lightly. The instant the door had closed, they broke into insane giggles. “We made it,” Singe gasped, clutching his side and trying to regain control.
“Yes, yes,” Rachel laughed, and Singe stepped toward her, leaning down until his forehead was against hers. He looked deep into her widened eyes, closing the few inches to kiss her.
She turned from him so that his lips landed on her cheek, and said “Shouldn’t you be giving Tad his food?” with a pointed look at the tray he placed on the fabricated wood in the corner before they’d left.
He closed his eyes tightly, bringing himself back into reality. She was still a prisoner on the opposite side of the war, and he couldn’t do this with her. “Yes,” he said solemnly. “I’ll be back with dinner,” he added without a look over his shoulder.
“Goodbye,” she called softly after him. He could hear traces of shame in that one word, and was that… disappointment?
He shook his head, clearing it of her aura. It was no wonder the Service didn’t allow girls aboard willingly. At least, not very often. They were too distracting.
The door squeaked open and Singe shouldered his way in to Tad’s cell. “Rise and shine!” he called boisterously, expecting to find the Clanker curled up on his cot, still asleep. Instead, he was sitting up in bed, eyes fixed on Singe.
“Well, where’s my ‘grand tour?’”

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Chapter 25!

Pat me on the back. It's been less than a month. I guess I have my brother to thank for this, considering it's his ninja wizard plotting skills that motivate my writing. We have a system; he does most of the plot and I do the writing. He's makes the skeleton and I put on all the things that make it whole. :)
Disclaimer: I don't own this. I'm getting waaaaay too tired of saying that.

“We have a problem.”
All three of them said it at the same time, and then stopped.
“Well, go on then,” Deryn ushered Newkirk, taking a seat at the mess table. She and Alek had rushed there the moment they were dismissed from the meeting, which had ended quickly after Fitzroy’s debriefing.
“It’s... a private matter, Mr. Sharp.” Newkirk raised his eyebrows, willing Deryn to understand. “I don’t think I can tell you here,” he muttered, nodding toward Melissa and her sister, who were catching up on lost time by one of the windows. “Perhaps the gastric channels?”
Alek shuddered beside Deryn, and she shook her head. “It’s alright, Mr. Newkirk, you can’t tell them anything they don’t already know.”
Deryn could feel Alek stiffen beside her, and Newkirk spluttered, “A-are you sure?”
“Yes,” she said firmly. “Now, go ahead.”
“Well, it’s about Tad. He... knows. Who you are.” He paused, taking a deep breath. “And it’s my fault.”
“As it turns out, Mr. Newkirk, I would appear to be several people. You’re going to have to be more specific than that.”
Alek took a seat next to her after he rigidly draped his piloting jacket of the back of his chair, smiling grimly.
If only it weren’t so complicated, she thought. When she was a little wee lass, she’d never dreamed she’d amount to be anyone, and and now she was three people. It wasn’t all bad, of course, and she much preferred it to being a woman stuck at home with a baby on her hip, but it would be nice if she knew exactly which person she was nowadays. She may have been born Deryn, but she was spending most of her life as Dylan, and she wasn’t sure she’d ever be able to go back. Her pa had always said things were easier done than reversed.
“That’s the thing,” Newkirk growled, “I don’t know how much he knows, just that he knows more than he should. He’s pieced it together that there’s a girl in the Service.”
The conversation between the sisters stopped abruptly. Levi took a deep breath. “That would be my fault,” she said.
“Excuse me?” Newkirk asked. “You told him about Deryn? How would you even barking know?”
Levi walked over to the table and leaned on the back of a chair. “Let me explain, Mr. Newkirk. I’m Lauren Wilson, and this is my sister, Melissa.”
Deryn was sure that anyone passing in the hall could have heard Newkirk slap his forehead. He turned to Deryn and gave her the most withering glare she’d ever seen. “You mean, there’s more of you?”
“No,” she said patiently, “They’re Americans.”
Alek looked up from his slouched place next to her and offered, “Like in The Perils of Pauline,” and ran his hands through his hair, rolling his eyes.
Newkirk gave him a confused look and then turned back to Deryn. “In the British Air Service? How’d you pull that off?”
Melissa cleared her throat and joined the group. “It was my idea, really. Our mom sent us to boarding school over in England, which we needed recommendation letters for. And the Service needs those, too, see? So we changed a few important details and voila! Easy as pie.” She ignored Deryn grumble about how making pie was not, in fact, easy. “Lauren’s a dab hand at forgery.
“We had to study the Manual like crazy, of course, and teach each other to act like boys, but there were a few weeks in between arriving in London and taking the middies’ test. It was pure luck that the Leviathan was needing a few more midshipmen. You know everything that’s happened from then on. So, here we are.”
Lauren’s head was in her hands. “Not everything,” she groaned. “I told them my secret to save my life. They were going to kill me--I was lined up next to Rigby and Thompson, and they were going to shoot me in the head. Right before, I screamed it. What I was, and they threw me aside. I was a coward and I watched them die. I didn’t do anything to save them! Nothing!” she growled, ashamed instead of frantic.
Melissa took her sister into her arms, stroking her head. “They kept me alive to blackmail the Service. I was so afraid of them, what they might have done to me.” She sniffled once, then blinked a few times, but that was all there was to her crying. “You know who Ronnie is. She became my friend, and she was the only one who knew any English, other than Tad, but he’s a bum rag and I didn’t tell him anything he didn’t already know.”
“He’s perspicacious!” shouted Bovril, and Deryn looked down at it in surprise. The loris had been strangely quiet lately, only muttering the words it learned and not speaking out much.
“Aye, it seems so,” Newkirk agreed, looking out the window. They were passing over the sea again, on the way back to Britain. Unst was only a day away now, and once they arrived there they’d finally have more food. Deryn’s stomach growled at the thought of finally having fresh potatoes again instead of the staling bread and old potatoes at any of the two meals they were served on half-rations.
“I didn’t tell him about having a sibling also serving,” Lauren insisted, “If he knows anything new, it’s because he figured it out on his own.”
“Perspicacious,” Bovril trilled, then went on muttering.
“How much do we know he knows?” Deryn asked, feeling the hysteria rise in her throat. Depending on how much Tad knew, there was no limit to what he could blackmail any of them into doing. She took a gulp of air and tried to steady her racing heart. It would be okay. They would figure something out.
“I don’t know!” Newkirk repeated, kneading his knuckles into the table. “He wouldn’t tell me anything else.”
Alek took a deep breath. “When do you feed him again? You could hold it from him until he told you something.”
Nodding, Lauren said, “That’s a good idea. If he refuses, just eat the bum rag’s food right in front of him. Pretty soon he’d be begging to tell you all he knows.” She smiled grimly. Melissa was gaping at her in disbelief. “What? He’s a complete bum rag.”
“They’re due to get lunch in about an hour.” He shrugged, probably thinking forward to his own lunch.
Deryn was about to speak when she heard the scrambling of a message lizard overhead. Without preamble, it began speaking in Dr. Barlow’s voice, a little less calm than usual. “Mr. Sharp, Mr. Hohenberg, please report to the bridge immediately.
“We’re on our way, Doctor,” Alek said, standing up and snatching his jacket from the back of the chair. “End message,” he added quickly, and the lizard blinked and scrambled back into the tubes.
Chair legs scraped across the floor as the other four stood. “We’ve got some bats to feed, if you’ll excuse us,” Melissa said, completely like Miles again.
“Of course,” Newkirk nodded to them and then ambled slowly out. “Tell me how it goes,” he told Deryn, and clapped her on the shoulder. He was about to do the same to Alek when the other boy flinched away--his arm was much better now, but that would still hurt. “Sorry,” he apologized awkwardly.
Alek gave him a good natured smile and chuckled. “No harm done. But we’ve got to be going. Dr. Barlow will have our heads if we’re not fast.”
“Nice of you to show,” Dr. Barlow said cooly, fixing them with a disapproving look.
“We had to climb almost the whole barking length of the ship! And not to mention Alek’s slow as a box of turtles on the ratlines!” Deryn protested, but another glare from the lady boffin quieted her. Boffins seemed to have that effect on everyone.
The bridge was less crowded than earlier that day, with only the captain, Dr. Barlow, and Dr. Busk clustered around one of the various tables. Deryn and Alek had just taken their place in the crowd when the door emitted yet another person.
“Mr. Fitzroy, right on time,” Captain Hobbes welcomed him, vacating a place next to himself. “Now we’re all here. The head falconer should be here any moment, with an injured strafing hawk discovered flying near our ship.”
Dr. Barlow’s eyebrows drew together. “That’s rare,” she said softly.
The captain was nodding solemnly when a burly man stumbled through the door, a strafing hawk clinging to his arm. There were voices coming from where he was, and for a moment Deryn thought the hawk was talking. It was then that she saw the three message lizards scrambling along it’s back, two of them squawking in many different voices. The third was completely silent.
“Fire! Fire!” one of the lizards shouted. “We’ll all die!”
“Oh, no! Jump ship!” the other cried. “Lord help us!”
A chill ran up Deryn’s spine, and her jaw dropped.
“Save what you can! Jump ship! We’re on fire!” it shrieked, then made the sounds of a crackling blaze. Then it coughed, and said in a somewhat calm voice, “Tell whoever you find that it’s happened again. And it’s them! Their spitting fire! The--oof!”
“God’s wounds, won’t it stop?” Alek asked hysterically, the only one in the room able to speak.
The captain waved his hand distractedly, staring at the frantic animals. The falconer swiftly put small black hoods over the heads of the three lizards and the hawk, who had been fidgeting anxiously. They quieted down considerably, but the occasional shout of “Fire!” could still be heard from under the cowls.
Deryn’s upper lip was quivering, so she bit down on it hard, leaving a deep imprint of her teeth in her mouth and only barely avoiding drawing blood. “Why is that one quiet?” she asked, glad to find her voice was steady and deep. It was the safest question she could think of.
It was Fitzroy who answered. “It’s attic’s scrambled,” he said simply.
“Then why are the other two raving mad?” Alek reached up to scratch his scalp; Darwinism was still infinitely confusing to him.
“You can’t possibly expect every lizard to act identically to the one next to it,” Fitzroy spluttered. “That would be like saying that Dylan would choose an apple over a pear just because you do, too.”
“It is quite strange,” Dr. Barlow muttered, peering closely at the silent lizard. “Almost all lizards react similarly to trauma, and this one appears to be completely normal.”
“I’ll investigate it,” Fitzroy offered, gathering the lizards before the lady boffin could get too good a look at them. “It is my job, after all,” he added, glaring pointedly at Deryn. As he left the room, lizards in arm, Deryn swore she heard him mutter something about zookeepers.
She took a deep breath, shaking her head and resolving to investigate his new job later. Turning back to the captain, she asked, “But, sir, what does all it mean?”
“The only thing it can. We’ve lost another of the AirFleet.”

Friday, May 4, 2012

Chapter 24. A month exactly after 23.

Okay, I really, really apologize for not having written this sooner. I have been so busy lately, and then I had writer's block, and all that kind of stuff. But I got it plotted out with my little bro, and then it just flowed out of my fingers. So, here it is! Tada! Enjoy it, please!
Disclaimer: I still don't own this.

The bridge had more people in it than Alek had seen since Tesla had been first brought aboard. He cringed thinking of the man.
“... And at that point, sir, Midshipman Fitzroy led the prisoners to brig and we were all dismissed.” Deryn saluted and clicked her heels.
“Thank you, Mr. Sharp,” Captain Hobbes nodded, and Deryn sat down. “I would like to formally congratulate you and your crew for finding Mr. Wilson alive. Although it was a mystery that he alone was spared, I’m sure all of us are grateful he has returned to us alive.”
Alek noticed Deryn stiffening beside him, but she relaxed just as soon, and he wondered if maybe he’d imagined it. “Unfortunately, the rest of the crew have been confirmed dead.”
The room was silent for a moment out of respect.
Alek’s mind was still reeling from Deryn’s account of the mission. He had been stuck here on the bridge with the lady boffin and the officers. Of all the scurrying dots on the ground, he hadn’t been able to pick out Deryn, and he’d clenched his fists for so long in worry he still had red marks on his palms the next morning. The thought that she had been down there, with all that rubble and a few bombs that could have gone off at any time because they didn’t explode on impact, was still twisting his stomach into knots. He missed the time just a few weeks ago when the greatest danger had been falling out of the tree, not him getting shot and Deryn risking her life for a few machine scraps.
“The girl we captured is perplexing,” Dr. Barlow remarked, stroking Tazza’s head absently, “I’ve tried to speak with her, but she will say nothing in any language other than her name. I’ve already tried to speak with her a few times since she woke up. Rachel, she is called, is on mild painkillers for a blunt force head injury.” She shot Deryn a pointed look, and Deryn only shrugged. “Mr. Newkirk is serving her and the boy breakfast as we speak.”
She and Deryn exchanged glances, and the lady boffin nodded slightly. Deryn said “Sir, the Zoological Society has brought us in contact with Thaddeus before. His father is the German Count Abbott Welker. They may be the most devoted Clankers I ever met, sir. The boy insulted Darwinism in the middle of barking London! And the bum rag almost looked pleased when he heard about all those poor airships! If there’s anyone behind all this, him and his Da would be part of it.”
The captain nodded and smoothed his beard. “In that case, I’ll need a full debriefing from all that have encountered the count and his son previously.”
Alek glanced worriedly at her and Dr. Barlow. That was a tricky subject. How much could they tell the captain without giving up Deryn’s secret?
“Mr. Fitzroy, please begin your debriefing,” ordered the captain.
Sebastian stood up, straightened his uniform, and saluted Captain Hobbes. “Thank you, sir. I was with the second group of airmen deployed, and I searched the compound with Coxswain Clarke.  As you know, some of the air bombs were duds, and as a result the Clankers had all gathered in a single area, in a building that was mostly intact. They were armed with mostly pistols and a few larger guns, and when another group of men joined us we were at a stalemate with them.
“It was then that I had an idea. I’d recently learned how aerial bombs work in my classes, so I thought I could figure out how to fix one. The others held off fire while I fixed and set the duds on a timer, and we took them secretly to the backside of the building and got away as quickly as we could. It was a success and none of the Clankers were left alive.”
The bridge was silent for a moment, and even the message lizards that had been scurrying along the ceiling had stopped. “It was then discovered,” Dr. Busk said, rubbing his palms together, “that it had been the central intelligence building of the compound, likely where all the information on the Orion Omega was stored, along with all other experiments and many other things that would have been useful to the Air Service. Upon inspection of the remains,” he paused, looking pointedly around the room everyone’s face for just a moment, “my team found a disturbing file. Only one sheet had survived, and a few partials of others, and the distinguishable words read: ‘Orion Alpha; Mission success.’”
Dr. Barlow’s hand flew to her mouth, and Alek’s fists clenched. “Alpha?”
Fitzroy ran his tongue along his lower lip. “But it has already been decided that Orion Omega is the threat, last in the line and most dangerous,” he barked, grabbing the ends of the table and turning his knuckles white. “That’s what we should focus on, not this ‘Alpha’ blether! It doesn’t mean anything!”
“Then why would it say ‘mission success’? And there was part of an illustration, one that looked like some sort of flamethrower,” Dr. Busk shook his head, “and fire is one of the most lethal things for an airship. This can only mean that there are two parts to the Clankers’ plan, whatever it may be, and it could be worse than we’d ever imagined. Yet now we have nothing but charred scraps of unreadable paper when we were so close to discovering what that plan is, possibly saving hundreds of lives. Nothing, thanks to Mr. Fitzroy’s brilliant plan.”
“Surely there was nothing else that could be done in his situation,” the captain told him, raising a hand to calm the man.
“I have just a question for you, Doctor.” Sebastian tilted his head and stared at boffin, waiting for a reply.
“Well, go ahead, boy,” Dr. Busk said gruffly.
“Just how many times have you been awarded the Air Gallantry Cross for bravery in battle?”
No one spoke.
From what Alek had gathered, Fitzroy was always perfect boy in front of adults, but when none were around, he was Fitzroy, arrogant and nasty as ever. This side of him would be new to the captain and all the officers.
“Well?” he challenged.
“None, but I ha--”
“I see.” Sebastian drummed his fingers on the map table, staring unflinchingly at the gray haired boffin. Then he chuckled a little, a cold, maniacal laugh. “Maybe I should just have your job, then.”