Back-Heart: South Bound

Aaron slept soundly throughout the night.  But the sleep had not come easily.  He’d downed another bottle of the brew he’d bought in Okoa Landing and had let the patter of the rain outside lull him to sleep.  The presence from the pistol had deigned to stay out of his mind for a little while after Jay had left, but with the morning light it came at him with full force and with it a splitting headache.

As Aaron trudged up on deck, out into the early-morning light, he rubbed his head with one hand.  Thankfully the headache was enough to blur his focus and the sinister pull of the weapon in the back of his mind.  Under his other arm he held a large towel bundled up.  Scanning the deck for his unwanted guests, he spotted Mai and Katha huddled together under the mast where there had been the most protection from the rain last night.

Mai had broken out her survival gear that all agents were required to carry.  She’d wrapped herself in the small thermal survival-blanket, but it hadn’t been enough to cover her fully.  She looked drenched to the bone, her wet hair matted and tangled.  He doubted she’d gotten much sleep.

The glare she gave him as he stood over her confirmed his thoughts.

She deserves it for what she did to my ship, he thought to himself with a small smile.

He pulled the towel from under his arm and tossed it at her.  It landed on her face and she reached up and pulled it off grumbling at him.

“Get ready, cause we’re heading out soon,” he said by way of greeting before turning and heading for the ropes holding the sails.

“What no breakfast?” she asked, sarcasm dripping from her voice.

Aaron worked to untie the sails.  “This isn’t a cruise, now move your ass so I can work.”

Toweling off her hair, Mai stood and made her way to the bow out of his way with Katha following behind her.  The cat was just as drenched and miserable.

Despite the raging headache, Aaron was able to get the ship set to sail and he took off promptly.  The clear morning after the storm providing excellent conditions to get the ship in the air and moving at a steady pace.  The ship was soon off the ground and sailing through the cloud layers, heading for high altitude.

The wind pulled at Aaron’s jacket as he stood at the wheel, checking his bearings with the compass.

The large fluffy clouds reflected the morning light, making the sky glow.  At the bow, Mai stood wit Katha, looking out across the white landscape of clouds.

Aaron watched her for a moment.  “So where are we going?” he asked.

“I thought you weren’t going to take me where I needed to go,” she shot back.

Aaron grunted in annoyance.  “Not like I have a choice when you won’t leave my ship.  Just tell me where we’re going.”

“Douglas’ Bluff,” she replied slyly.  “I knew I could count on you.”

Aaron grunted in response.  A city of refugees in the cold of the far southern mountains.  It would be a long trip to get there.  And he would need to make a few stops along the way to resupply, but hopefully he would be able to get rid of Mai either along the way or once they were docked.

He mused over his predicament for a moment.  He needed to get rid of the pistol as well.  Getting away from Mai would only do him so much good while he still carried it.  He could feel it’s presence hovering in the back of his mind.

Shaking his head to dispel his train of thought, he suddenly felt homesick for the docks of the Flying City and the good days when he spend his time in the bar that he usually frequented there.  He hadn’t been able to stay for very long last time due to Mai’s interference.  But, if his memory served him, the Flying City would be drifting southward on the air currents this time of year.  It would be less than a day’s flight from Douglas’ Bluff by the time they reached the southern mountains.

Mentally he nodded to himself, making up his mind.  Guess I’m headed south…  He glanced at Mai leaning on the bow of the ship with Katha beside her.  For one reason or another.

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