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 Post subject: Adventures on the Blood Angel (and other places)
PostPosted: Tue Oct 21, 2008 4:13 pm 

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The Blood Angel: 210 AU, Halifaximus 12

"Meester Caine!" The nasal voice of Caine's mechanic could barely be heard above the din created by the impact of shells on his craft's hull. "Meester Caine, idea is to keep plane from getting shot, not to make it be so!" The young armadillo put a hand out to keep from bashing her head on the side of the cockpit as Caine made a hasty flight adjustment. The Blood Angel's engines whined in protest as it jerked suddenly to the left to avoid the raking fire of the Avenger which screamed by over their heads.

"Not now, Olga!" Caine gritted his teeth as he turned his head to look for the attacking plane. The Avenger's front guns had a spectacular spread, and its pilot was skilled at reversing just as Caine was lining him up, causing the Angel to fly directly into the opponent's sights. He envisioned the bullet holes and scars his plane was incurring, and imagined the grousing his mechanic would do once they were out of danger. Of course, he didn't have to do much imagining; Olga was complaining at the top of her lungs just behind him.

Finally the Avenger attempted to circle in on them. Caine smiled, throttled back, and used his craft's superior turning ability to rake the sides of the pirate's ship. Bullets sparked off its hull, then the tail separated from the rest of the fuselage and the ship dropped, nose-first, toward the ocean far below.

Caine blew out a breath he hadn't realized he'd been holding and leaned back in his seat. "Whew."

Behind him, Olga muttered and grumbled to herself in the guttural Uurwerkian tongue. "Will take many hours to fix this damage, Meester Caine," she grunted.

"Good thing, then," he replied, checking his navigation map. "It'll be at least two hours 'til we reach Leng."

He swore he could hear her scowl behind him. "Would not take so much time if you stayed out of gunfire," she ground out.

"Consider it job security," he quipped. "I don't want to hear about it anymore. When it's fixed, you can talk to me about the damage. Until then I don't wanna hear a peep outta you." He turned in his seat to gaze at her. "Got it?"

The armadillo crossed her arms over her chest. "I am getting it," she grumbled, nodding her head once, emphatically. Her mohawk bobbed comically, and for a moment Caine envisioned her as an angry rooster, scratching about in the chicken yard.

Caine stifled his smile and turned back around. It wouldn't do to have his mechanic strangle him before he reached Leng with his shipment.

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 25, 2008 9:50 am 

Joined: Sat Aug 02, 2008 8:22 pm
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(Disclaimer: Excerpts in this scene from Ellington Radio were, of course, written by Ellington.)

Caine strapped the Blood Angel's wheel and got up from his seat, stretching luxuriously in the Osprey's small cabin. He glanced over his shoulder out the windshield, then stepped to the back of the cabin and unlatched the heavy steel door leading to the crew quarters.

Olga sat with her back to him, her red mohawk bobbing as she nodded her head to some bizarre music coming from the radio set.

Caine closed the door behind him and clambered up into his bunk, retrieving a battered cardboard box from under his pillow.

"How are skies, Meester Caine?" Olga asked without turning around.

"Blue," replied Caine, hopping down and pulling up a chair to the little utility table his mechanic was sitting at. He opened the cardboard box, smiling. Within were a handful of cookies, nestled in a bit of white tissue paper. He took two and stuck one in his mouth. "Cookie?" he offered, holding out the box to Olga.

The armadillo peered skeptically at the box. Her nostrils worked. "What kind cookies smell like that? Is like someone put grass in wet sock and boiled on stove."

Caine laughed, nearly choking on his mouthful of cookie. "Oh, yeah," he replied after he'd swallowed, "I forgot -- they're nip cookies." His ears pinkened slightly and he set the box aside. "Don't know what they'd do to an armadillo."

Olga frowned at him. "You eat those and then you fly plane?" she asked, incredulously. "Now I see why always plane has hole in it!"

He waved her complaint away with a hand. "No, no," he insisted, "it's not like that. I only eat one or two at a time while I'm in the air." He folded the tissue paper back over the cookies and shut the box. He stared at it for a moment, then lifted his gaze to Olga. "It's not like I get whacked out on the stuff. Can't really, from just these things."

Olga's persistent frown told him she didn't believe a word he was saying.

"Really!" he said, sitting up straighter in his chair. "I got them from a nice old lady on Lhasa. They're mostly ... well, just cookie dough. If they were dangerous you'd really be able to smell the nip in 'em." He extended his arm, holding the other cookie under Olga's nose. "See?"

Olga pulled her head away from the offending object. "I see, but I do not want to smell," she complained. "Just make sure you are not crashing plane because of crazy stinky cookies, Meester Caine."

Caine just shrugged and got up to retrieve a container of milk from the tiny refrigerator. A 'Happy Unification Day!" magnet, blaring its message in red and white, caught his eye as he opened the door. "Where'd this come from?"

"Strange old squirrel gave to me when I do walkaround last time you go to tavern," she replied noncommitally. "Gave red shirt too. Is too big for me. Maybe you wear it."

Caine set the milk bottle on the table and poured a quantity into a ceramic mug.

The radio squawked briefly, causing Caine to flatten his ears against his head in protest, then went silent. Olga glared at it. After a moment, the voice of Ellington came over the airwaves. "Good evening, ladies and gentlemen of the audience. Open up your ears, your hearts, and your minds ... it's time yet again for the best show ever, the fast talking, melodious sounds of the world's first and only pirate radio show ... Ellington Radio."

Caine, like many other Skyrates, listened to Ellington whenever his broadcasts broke through the regular stuff on the airwaves. He smiled and settled back in his aging chair, despite its protests. He took a sip of milk and popped the other cookie in his mouth.

Ellington spoke for several minutes, mostly about the Order and the Court. Caine didn't know much about them, except that they were strange people from outside the known Skylands and that they were full of mystery.

"On to the mystery of the week," the radio host continued, "Is it a geological phenomenon? A secret project by the world's movers and shakers?"

Caine raised an eyebrow and took another sip. Olga got up from her chair and came around to his side of the table, frowning at him as she used a rag from her toolbelt to mop up a drop of milk he'd carelessly dropped on the table.

"Mere hours ago," said the radio, "fishermen on a small water-based boat noticed the sea near New Hovland ... bubbling."

"Huh," grunted Caine, getting up. "We're about an hour out of New Hov. Wonder if we can see it from here."

Ellington's voice described this bubble occurrence and postulated about its cause. Was it volcanic activity far below the surface of the water, or was Eltsina, leader of the Green Republic, tooling around down there in her submarine?

Caine took his mostly-empty mug of milk and went back to the control cabin. Olga made a noise of disbelief and turned to busy herself with some maintenance task or other.

"Anyway," Ellington chattered on from the crew compartment, "ERN staff will be monitoring the bubbling to give updates as soon as things change."

Caine leaned over the control panel, staring out the windscreen at the ocean far below. "Ah," he muttered to himself, "can't see anything from this far up." He dropped into his pilot's chair and checked his instruments.

Olga poked her head in from the crew compartment. "Am hoping you are not thinking to go down to water with plane to see this bubbles," she admonished.

He turned in his chair to look at her, licking a few drops of milk from his muzzle. "It could be something interesting, Olga," he insisted.

"'Interesting' usually means 'trouble'," she replied, taking the empty mug out of his hand. "Long flight from Alpha 4 has made you bored. Come, we will listen to Uurwerk dance radio station. Will perk you up."

Caine stared at her, one eyebrow slowly rising. "No," he said after a moment, "I think I will stay here." He sat up, frowning, as if waking from a mild trance. "You go listen to your dance music," he instructed her, rubbing his arm across his face. "Enjoy." He turned back to the controls.

"I will," she said, with conviction, as if it were a very important decision. "And Meester Caine?"

He leaned out over the side of the pilot's chair to gaze lazily at her. "Yeah?"

Olga pointed to her own snout. "You have missed a spot." She turned and went back into the crew compartment.

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PostPosted: Sat Nov 01, 2008 5:23 pm 

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Caine and his crew huddled around the radio, hanging on Ellington's every word as he described great, fierce storms in the north, bringing in a hail of floating rocks. Communications were being disrupted in that area, the broadcaster said, and flying was something best reconsidered.

"We'd better get back to Shriebeck," Caine said, switching off the radio.

"What about family on Uurwerk?" protested Olga.

"I regret not having visited my cousins when we were on Olio," lamented Joo-Chan, his usually brilliant blue eyes dull.

Luther grunted, as he usually did whenever anyone said anything at all. "Olio's way south," the bear muttered, moving to the map table. "They'll have plenty of time to prepare. And as for Uurwerk," he flicked a glance at the armadillo, whose red mohawk was bouncing nervously, "they're already in the thick of it. Not much we can do from down here."

"Uncle is to be famous inventor," insisted Olga, drawing herself up to her full height of five feet. "Bad weather protective hideout device will keep family safe."

Luther snorted. "If they're so safe, why're you worried?"

"We're going to Shriebeck," interrupted Caine, "because they'll need help preparing for the storms, just like everyone else. And with Blue running the supplies and assistance," he added disdainfully, "they'll need all the help they can get." He looked at Olga. "If anyone's running from Shrie to Uur," he said, "you can go with 'em. I'll pay for yer passage, if it's necessary."

Olga's mohawk waggled wildly as she turned her head to stare at her boss. "Really?"

"Really," Caine confirmed. "You /have/ a family," he explained, "I /don't/. So I'm gonna help out my home skyland. Next best thing. If you wanna go home an' be with your family, I won't stand in your way. Besides," he reached into his pocket and retrieved a battered notebook. "I made a fortune off that last little side-job I did out of Grotto. I can afford to spread it around a bit."

"What side job is this?" Olga stared at Caine suspiciously. Joo-Chan's sapphire gaze lingered on him as well.

Caine waved a hand dismissively. "'S not important," he insisted. "Just a little extra cargo we had room for anyway. At any rate," continued Caine, "if either of you guys wants to head for home too, I'll chip in for that as well."

Luther grunted. "I cut my ties with Tehras a long time ago."

Joo-Chan's usually pleasant expression was dark with concern. "I shall take you up on that offer, Mister Silversabre," he replied. "I have been a long time away from friends and family."

Caine nodded. "How long until we reach Shriebeck, then, Luther?"

"'Bout an hour, boss," came the guttural reply.

"Let's get to it, then."

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 Post subject: End of Days
PostPosted: Sun Nov 02, 2008 8:37 pm 

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End of Days

Caine pulled his restraining belts tighter as he fought to keep control of the Darkling in the increasing winds.

"Don't drift too far," came Luther's raised voice from the crew compartment, "or we'll lose valuable time!"

The roaring storm winds forced Caine to raise his voice as well. "I know," he shouted in response, "I know!" Sometimes that guy is worse than Olga with his nagging, he thought.

He peered down at his instrument panel, trying his best to keep the plane's nose on course. The winds howled and battered at the craft, occasionally hurling small bits of debris against its hull. He started as a dark clump of ... something ... bounced off the plane's windscreen.

"It's getting worse," he called.

"Storm's heading right for us," responded Luther. "Reports say it's coming northwest to southeast, straight from Uur to Grotto. We shoulda stayed there."

Caine scowled out the windscreen. "I won't abandon Shriebeck!" he cried.

"Those people treated you like dirt! Why help them?"

The cat didn't have a ready answer for that. He settled for aggression, as he'd always done. "Why do you care? I gave ya the chance to hop off at Tehras, or anyplace else, but you didn't take it. Don't criticise my choices."

There was no answer from the crew compartment, so Caine went back to focusing on holding the craft steady.

The storm began to intensify as the Darkling flew southwest on a return path from the core. The yoke bucked and jerked in Caine's hands, the Hades lurching and slewing wildly through the air. Caine could barely hear Luther's growling complaints from the crew compartment over the sound of the storm's fury. Clods of dirt and increasingly large rocks thudded and clanged against the ship's hull, adding to the difficulty Caine had in keeping the plane aloft. He took a moment to glance down at his instruments and found his altimeter and compass both spinning randomly, seeming to be indifferent to the realities of the craft's attitude. He gave the panel a thump with his fist, only to lose his tenuous grip on control of the Hades. The yoke tore itself from his hands and the ship lurched violently. If he hadn't been strapped in, he'd have been hurled across the cockpit.

Caine reached for the yoke again, yelping as it bashed his fingers in its thrashings. The sky darkened deeply, and in the instant the cat looked up he saw a great body of rock headed straight for him. Through the scratched windscreen the thing loomed, the details of its jagged contours made plainly visible by a flash of lightning.

The great stone fragment smashed into the Darkling, tossing the plane like a child's unwanted toy through the stormy sky. The Hades tumbled over and over, spun and battered by the winds and debris in the air.

Caine regained his senses and regretted it; being in the plane now was like being in a washing machine. The wind and rain blew in through the shattered windscreen, and the cat was already soaked to the skin. He turned to look around his pilot's chair into the crew compartment. "Luther!" he cried at the top of his lungs. There was no answer. Raising a hand to shield his eyes from the wind and rain, Caine took a closer look, and his breath caught in his throat. The bear, strapped into a chair beside the navigation table, had been struck by a piece of debris hurled into the Darkling as it spun. A gaping hole in the ship's fuselage allowed the rain to drench Luther's still form, washing his blood onto the floor. Large shards of the plane's metal skin were embedded in his flight jacket.

Turning back to face front, Caine swallowed a lump in his throat. His blood pounded in his ears and he shivered in the storm now lashing him with rain. Through the destroyed windscreen he could make out the sandy landscape of Shriebeck, spinning round and round as the Darkling plummeted from the sky.

A terrible shrieking sound preceded a crashing bumping noise, and Caine saw very clearly the Darkling's left wing, shorn off by the storm, tumble over the craft's nose and whip off into the darkness.

He looked down on his home skyland, the place where his life had begun. Life had treated him very poorly there, yet he had escaped the crushing oppression of the place and flown off to new, brighter lands. He had made himself as he wanted to be, not as the Powers That Be would have him; weak, submissive, obedient. He was free, free to go his own way and be his own cat. He had chosen to use his skills, his ship, and his money to bring comfort and, he hoped, safety, to those people who suffered under the iron fist of Shriebeck's controllers.

The black smokestacks created a curious pattern as they spun in his vision. He was entranced. The smokestacks and the skyland drew ever closer.

He was no longer aware of the freezing rain or the lashing winds. In his mind, one of his caretakers, the young, gentle gazelle, held him to her breast and sang softly to him in his infancy. He closed his eyes and lost himself in her warmth.

The creaking sound of the Darkling's fuselage beginning to split roused him from his reverie. The entire ruined windscreen was filled with Shriebeck's sandy surface. Instinctively he grabbed the yoke, wrestling it uselessly as the ground rose to meet him.

The storm, reaching out with hands of steel, grasped the Darkling and snapped it in half, hurling it at the land below.

Caine screamed.

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 Post subject: After The Storm Or "What ever happened to that Caine fe
PostPosted: Wed Mar 25, 2009 11:04 am 

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Shriebeck


A thundering crash momentarily drowned out the sound of the roaring wind and lashing rain. Even huddled with his family in the root cellar of their tiny house, Jalen heard it. His pointed ears turned, searching for the direction from which the sound had come.

"Father," he whispered excitedly, gripping the elder fox's paw, "something's crashed!"

"You'll hear a lot of that, I'm afraid, Jalen," his father replied, gazing sadly down at his son. "The storm is probably tearing planes from the sky left and right."

"But the pilot...!"

"We can't go out there," Jalen's father stated. "It's too dangerous."

Jalen's snout dipped. "Yes, Father." He kept his ears trained in the direction he'd heard the crash. Someone could come pounding on their door, asking for help. Would his father turn them away?


At length, the storm winds lessened, the rain slowed to a more moderate pace. Jalen's father bade him to stay in the cellar while he investigated the house for damage. Jalen stared at his father's back as the older fox climbed the rickety wooden stairs to the main part of the house. Jalen stood at the foot of the stairs, watching eagerly for the cellar door to reopen and for his father to call him out. He wondered if anyone had survived the crash.

It turned out someone had. It was a good thing that Jalen's mother was a nurse, because the bloody and bedraggled person he and his father carried on a sledge to the house looked very close to death. The ship had once been a Hades-class bomber, according to Jalen's father. Jalen himself thought it looked more like a scrap heap. Bits of black metal, shards of glass, and the occasional piece of shattered flight equipment were scattered for hundreds of yards, reaching from Old Man Perriman's well to the edge of Jalen's farthest neighbor's house. Beneath part of a wing and a snapped-off strut, sheltered from the worst of the rain, lay the crumpled form of a cat. Jalen, seeing him first, ran to him, then recoiled from the sight of his torn and bloodied clothing. His father's cooler head got the man tied loosely to a bit of wreckage which he and Jalen dragged back to the house.

"Will he die, Father?" Jalen asked, his wide eyes fixed on his mother's back as she tended the man's injuries.

"Not if I can help it," his mother interjected. Her voice held that note of determination that no reasoning could budge. It was the tone she used when insisting Jalen go to bed right this instant, or when denying him the privelege of staying up late on a school night. She chased Jalen off and recruited his father into the role of surgical assistant as she worked.

(to be continued)

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 01, 2009 7:56 am 

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Jalen went and stared out the window, listening obliquely to the mumbled words exchanged by his parents in the other room. Finally he got up and went back outside to walk around the wreckage. The craft had left a long, deep gouge in the earth, describing its path once it had impacted the skyland's surface. It looked like it had hit once, ripping a great chunk of earth free, then bounced once, twice, three times, each strike marked by an oddly-shaped pockmark in the ground. Finally it had skidded, shredding itself and leaving parts as it travelled, until its momentum finally ran out and the final remains of the plane tumbled free. Looking it over, Jalen couldn't imagine how the man they'd found could still be alive. He found the pilot's chair, its back cracked in half by the force of impact, and noted the straps were still buckled and undamaged. The pilot must have slid out from beneath them. Jalen picked up a hunk of black metal several feet long with the letters 'DARK' painted in stark white.

"Jalen!" His father's voice called from the house. "Come away from there!"

Jalen turned and saw his father's back as the older fox went back into the house. Jalen carried the piece of metal around to the back door and hid it under a piece of burlap, then ran back around to the front door and went inside.

"Jalen, you'll have to sleep in our room with us tonight," his father explained. "We've put the injured man in your room."

"Is he going to die?" Jalen had to know.

"Now stop asking those kind of things, Jalen!" His mother came into the room, wiping her hands on a rag. Her shoulders were slumped with fatigue, but the expression on her face bode no arguments. "He needs to get to a hospital," she went on, "but I don't know when any transport will be available. So he's going to stay with us and I'm going to treat his injuries as best I can. You, young man, had best go get washed up for dinner."

"Yes, Mother." Jalen went off to do as he was told.

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