I was keeping watch on a dark stack of nimbus clouds off to the northwest, but we were leaving it far behind, and it looked to be smooth going all the way back to Lionsgate City. Like riding a cloud. The sky pulsed with stars. Some people say it makes them lonesome when they stare up at the night sky.
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Kenneth Oppel His crew erupted into raucous laughter, as though this were all the best of fun. They only want things. I left him to his work and proceeded down the corridor.
By this time, with the alarm and noise, many were already awake, opening their doors and sticking out their heads. I reached the end of the corridor, at the Topkapi stateroom.
It was Miss Simpkins. Her hair was tied up in rags, and she wore a scarf round her head, so she gave me a bit of a shock. Without her makeup she looked quite different, puffier, and her eyes seemed smaller.
Now shoo. Sorry for the inconvenience. Lashings of apologies. All these people whom I normally saw in dinner jackets and evening dresses, laughing and eating, were now in their pajamas and bathrobes, small and bewildered.
A few people tried to talk, but silence weighted the room like thunderclouds. Watchful guards stood at the main entrances. Szpirglas himself was perched on the bar, helping himself to a drink. What are they but things, baubles, trifles, bits of stuff? And these things know no price. But if newspaper reports were to be believed, his sense of humor could shrivel up in a second. From a laugh to a gunshot without any warning. It seemed hardly any time at all had passed before they were back, with bulging gunnysacks and big smiles.
Then another pirate entered the lounge, a great bearded mountain of a fellow, pushing the chief wireless officer, Mr. Featherstone, ahead of him at gunpoint. Featherstone said. Sorry, Captain. But this does distress me, it truly does. People know me. They know that I might come aboard their ships and take their goodies. They know that I am a pirate. To be an effective pirate, one must be respected and feared.
So what would become of me if people started to think they could put one over on old Szpirglas? Try to trick me, try to catch me. I must protect my good name at all costs. A great gasp from all of us sucked the air out of the room as the wireless officer fell to the floor.
People were crying and screaming. I do not relish killing, but I will do it if I must. If you do not show me the proper respect, you force me to earn it! I bid you all farewell. We all stood frozen for a moment. My insides were ice.
Some part of me thought we should be following them, seeing what they were about, making sure they did no mischief to the ship, but no one seemed keen to anger Szpirglas further. Captain Walken nodded at Mr.
Torbay and Mr. Wexler, and they cautiously began to follow the departing pirates. Overhead, I could see the pirates climbing the companion ladders toward the axial catwalk. I wanted to make sure they kept going; I wanted them off the ship without harming her. I would not follow them. I would go aft and climb up through the rigging, unseen by officers or pirates.
It was unlike me to disobey an order, but there was something going through me, a terrible fear that the ship might be in danger, my home, and I could not just sit in the passenger lounge, blind, hoping everything would be all right.
I raced aft and scampered up the wiring and braces. I could swing my way around the ship like a spider. Up I went, hidden, toward the axial catwalk, my feet springing from wire to wire. Almost level with the catwalk now, I could see the pirates waiting their turn at the next ladder, climbing up to the forward observation hatch.
It seemed they really were leaving—without any other evil design on the ship or her passengers—and I felt my heart begin to calm. Maybe it was truly over. I peered out through the domed hatch. We would be free before long. The last of the pirates cast off their spider lines and, pelted by rain, were reeled in, swinging madly in the gathering gale. We were free of the pirate ship, but not the elements. The front was rolling over us now. I was not afraid the Aurora would founder, but the pirate ship.
Plowing through a front, you sometimes get a microburst, an intense downward column of wind that can drive you suddenly lower. I snatched up the speaking tube. Now get down from there. I heard our engines roar to full throttle, felt the elevators struggling to keep us level.
The pirate ship veered into us, tried to pull away, but another gust of wind pushed us together again. The propellers caught in our skin and kept cutting, through the taut fabric, through the gas cells inside. The propellers slashed through our port side, from stern to amidships.
I felt the horrible chainsaw vibration rattle the entire ship. The pirate ship slewed away from us, and came back once more, its propellers rushing right toward me. I dropped down the ladder and was nearly thrown off the rungs when the blades cut through the hull. Then they were gone, wrenched back into the sky.
I clung to the ladder, panting, listening to the roar of the propellers fade. And then there was a new sound. The mango-scented gush of escaping hydrium. The reek of mangoes made my eyes water. The whole ship was exhaling, like the last long sigh of a dying man. From underfoot there was a metallic creak as the ballast tanks along the keel opened, and tons of water tumbled out to the sea below. The captain was trying to lighten the ship. I saw another team of sailmakers heading for the upper hatches and ran over.
Levy, the chief sailmaker. We could use you up top. I kicked off my shoes and slipped my feet into snug rubber-soled slippers. I grabbed a helmet, tested the lamp mounted on top. Tightening a tool belt around my hips, I crammed it full of patching materials. Bruce Lunardi was already in his gear, looking pale as he mounted the ladder. I climbed up after him, my feet dancing up the rungs.
Her massive dorsal fin towered above us like a mountain peak. Over the wind in my ears, I heard the fierce drone of the four engine cars at full power, straining to fly us level as the Aurora gushed her precious hydrium. Below, all around us, the sea was dark as mercury, and closer than I liked.
Starboard side! I hooked my safety line to the cleat, fitted the goggles over my face, and turned on my lamp. The sailmaker passed me a bucket of patching glue and a small satchel of patches, and I clipped them both to my harness. My rubber-soled shoes gave me a fine grip, even though the wind pushed at me. I swept my lamp back and forth, searching for gashes.
They were all too easy to find, huge jagged swaths, hissing angrily as hydrium escaped from the torn gas cells within the hull. It gave me a pain in my chest to see them. Then I got to work. With my brush I swiped glue over the skin, pressed hard with the patch, and counted to five. It was fast-setting stuff, this glue, and you had work quickly, make sure every edge was sealed tight.
[PDF] Airborn Book by Kenneth Oppel Free Download (544 pages)
Kenneth Oppel His crew erupted into raucous laughter, as though this were all the best of fun. They only want things. I left him to his work and proceeded down the corridor. By this time, with the alarm and noise, many were already awake, opening their doors and sticking out their heads. I reached the end of the corridor, at the Topkapi stateroom.
AIRBORN KENNETH OPPEL FREE PDF