Wake of Kerberos - Chapter 2

Angels were decidedly peculiar aircraft. They had been designed very shortly after the beginning of the Burning Era, and had served the survivors well since then as rescue craft. Each craft had a captain, a pilot, and a navigator controlling it, as well as an in-flight mechanic keeping it airborne, a difficult task at best.

In virtually every design to actually make it to mass production, the Angels were shaped like long backwards dragonflies. Jutting out from the back were two spherical engines that could rotate 90 degrees on two axes, independant of each other. Feeding the engines the necessary air was a long intake filter that ran along the fuselage of the vehicle, directly plugged into the cooling vanes that extended below and slightly in front of the craft. Near the front was the cockpit, directly beneath the very intimidating main cannon, a lengthy rifled affair that launched charged spears the length and width of a man's arm.

Near to the back, barely in front of the engines, was the engine room, often called the ribcage. Extending from the sides of the ribcage were the wings, which could unfold to nearly the length of the fuselage. There were a wide variety of wing folding designs, some of the truly ingenious, though the craft Alex now inhabited used the traditional H-fold design, which involded the center of each wind splitting into two components and pulling the whole layout in towards the ribcage.

Alex sniffed the air, hesitantly. A small portion of the air intake was filtered into the craft, to provide breathable air, but even the enormous filters of a Angel would be unable to wipe out all traces of Kerberos. However, the hound was not present, and the air was gratifyingly clean.

Feeling relieved, Alex reached into one of his pants pockets and withdrew a small piece of folded paper. It had several small runes on the top that Alex carefully bisected with his fingernail, and then began unfolding the piece of paper. A few seconds later Alex was holding a tough but otherwise quite respectable loaf of sourdough about the size of his head. Alex grinned a bit, relived that his food had not been damaged in the recent escape, and ripped a hunk off.

Right before he took his first bite, Alex heard a sudden change in the noise of the Angel. More precisely, he heard most of the noise stop, because the main engines had shut down. Alex paused, waiting for panic to ensue, but instead heard the pilot make a grateful sigh from the cockpit. Reassured, Alex resumed his meal.

The navigator walked past Alex and stuck his head into the cockpit, gesturing with his right hand. A tired voice floated out of the doorway. "Oh, thanks Ixion. I've got it set to glide the rest of the way to Ravenswing, so if you could watch for a bit that'd really help me out."

Ixion walked into the cockpit and the pilot walked out, stretching. She began unbuckling the gloves that ran up to her elbox, but paused when she realized that Alex was eating just a few feet away. "Oh. Hello. Are you one of the ones we picked up?"

"Yeah." Alex paused his chewing long enough to answer, and then resumed busily, holding out his loaf as an offer to the pilot.

"Oh, no thank you." The pilot shook her head, making the tiny amulets that floated near her eyes zip around like hummingbirds. One of the amulets flared a bit in protest, which prompted to pilot to flick it with one finger. "I need to go lay down a bit, I'm a little tired. My apologies for the rough reception."

Alex watched the pilot head towards the back of the craft, where the tiny sleeping cots where. The girl very young for a job like this. Even her clothes spoke to her youth: she wore a pale, lightweight tunic that had two metal strips placed behind the shoulderblades. If Alex remembered correctly, this was essentially standard apparel for new pilots.

Ani walked past the pilot back into the hangar, with noticably less energy than when she had walked through it before. With a tired sigh she slumped down on the crate that Alex was sitting on, dropping a heavy piece of metal into his lap. Startled, Alex picked the object and turned it around gingerly in his hands.

"What's this then?" he asked, trying not to cut himself on a sharp corner. "It looks like you tried to shine it on the hound."

"Prac'ically did," replied Ani, her voice modulating disconcertingly as her vocal gear rotated beneath her skin. She paused for a second as the device tried to work itself out, imperfectly realigning itself to speak a language she hadn't spoken in some time. "That's our ba'kup wingstress 'ompensator. The primary was 'orrupted a few weeks ago and now this one is past what it 'an stand. Any high speed flying and we'll rip the hull in two."

"So I take it we're heading to Ravenswing then..." trailed Alex. "Unless you're avoiding it."

"Nah, we worked things out. I 'an do'k there without getting too many dirty looks." Scowling, Ani rubbed the base of her throat a few times, and the gear shifted again. "'ow about you? Got any problems wi' Ravenswing?"

"Actually, I'm doing a job for them right now. Hence the proximity." Alex scratched his stubble, well aware that his appearance could be translated into 'crossed half the continent recently'. "We were trying to find some leftover building materials down there, and get them back to Ravenswing before Kerberos swung around."

"Bad call, 'oever made it. You didn't even 'ave a paladin wi' you!"

"Well, we did, but he kicked it the first couple of days when we came across some Prints. We think the battle with them might have contributed to Kerberos' attention."

Ani nodded grimly. She and Alex had both seen Kerberos hunt down those who had erased his Prints before, but it was an unavoidable task. If noone took out the Prints they would accumulate into unstoppable waves of death and destruction, the golem-like aftermath of Kerberos stepping in blood. It took a pretty solid puddle of blood to make a Print, but once made they were a task to defeat, and they lived to echo their creator.

"Wait, why where you 'ere 'en?" Ani frowned a bit. "Last time I 'ecked, you 'ere a Librarian class?"

"Still am, there's no shortage of stuff to research and knowledge to disseminate. Also, I'm much better with Turn magic than I was last we met." Alex tapped his waistbook, shaking a bit of brimstone dust off in the process.

"'mm. You looking for a job in the next mon'?"

"Captain, after what happened today, I'm pretty sure I'm looking for a job right now."

Ani smiled a bit, and pulled her goggles down over her eyes. "Excellent. Welcome back aboard, Alex."

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Alright, so I hope you guys are starting to get the setting a bit more. I tried to flesh out some specific objects, so that people could have something to extrapolate other details off of, at least in terms of style and mood.