So, the written word goes on… Or so I’ve been led to believe. I’ve been working on the more fun of two projects and kicking around another one becuase I need a publisher to do more than give me lip service or just ignore me.
Sound impossible? Could be. Probably, it’s a lot more likely as I gain steam. It’s a numbers game and I may be winning with quality over quantity. But I digress…
Scales and Hearts Vol.2 is WAY behind in getting a publisher. I refuse to give up or in, though it has crossed my mind.
Now for a story interlude before I get overly sappy or angry and vindictive!
From the Dragon tales book ~ Scales and Hearts – Get yours from Amazon, B&N or Kobo!
The Sea Dragon
© Jon Corres Pirate Poet 2018
all rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including photocopying, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system, without the express written permission of the copyright holder, except where permitted by law. This novel is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination, or, if real, used fictitiously.
“ And when the sky grows dark, the wind howls and the waves become choppy it is said you can see a creature. A great beast of legend and myth, sounding from the depths.”
Longfellow Phineas Eustice read the placard slowly, as if he wanted to memorise it for some reason. His eyes danced over his half – moon bifocals as he did so. He made to straighten himself out when he noticed that he was alone on the pier on the isle of Mann. It was a mid October and the tourist season had long passed. Why he thought anyone was with him was truly a mystery. He leaned on his walking stick as he got his barrings and began to walk parallel to the railing. His gnarled hand pulled his pocket watch out, which informed him that it was four in the afternoon.
His mind began to wander, as it did often in his declining years. After all this time, all the adventures he’d partaken, you’d think that he may have better recollection than this. As he put his timepiece away he noted the inscription on the back;
“ For our Longfellow, though not of our blood – our son none the less! You did us proud dear boy!”
It was signed Henry and Alice Flattery. Longfellow sighed as the fond memories of that old couple came to mind. He was one of 14 children in the Eustice family of Holmfirth, Yorkshire. He was the youngest and easiest to forget. Even his father, Jacobi, would think him merely a friend of the family – and he helped deliver him into the world! The only people who ever paid him any mind were a middle aged couple. Alice Flattery ran a boutique and Henry was a part – time inventor, barber and farmer. Of the three, he was best at being a barber sadly. Mind you, it was Henry who managed to light the fire of curiosity in Longfellow and encourage him to finish school and go to college in London to study to be an engineer.
The old man just smiled as the images of him in his dorm room doing homework and revision at all hours, being nagged by Alice to eat before he wasted away… ah, those were the days!
The only down side was when his two estranged siblings; Paulette and Prudance wrote him in his third year that their parents had died three months prior to them sending this letter. Their excuse for the late correspondence was that they didn’t want a contested will. Longfellow never read the letter completely and could have sworn that there were remnants of a cheque in the ashes of his stove when he cleaned it out, but he didn’t care. Those two shrews could have the lot, for all he cared!
He did recall, after a bit, that an old paper mentioned a freak accidental drowning of a near entire family when a ferry to the Isle of Wight got hit by a sudden wave and washed said family overboard along with around twenty other people. Prudance and Paulette were mentioned by name as the survivors. A notice a week later declared them sole heirs to the Eustice estate and all the accounts there in. He never thought anything of it as Henry and Alice were his true family now – not them.
As Longfellow stopped to wipe his glasses he recalled that the one time he did see his slightly older siblings was two years after the Flattery’s died. They were being served notice of eviction for outstanding debts. Both women looked like dirty great rodents wrapped in black mourning dresses.
He was glad they never recognised him as he passed, let alone hear him laugh over their just deserts! Longfellow stopped as he nearly walked off the end of the pier. He found himself staring into the cold black water of the Atlantic Ocean looking at his reflection. What he saw truly made him shudder with bitterness. He was old! How did that happen?
There was nary a sign of his brown hair as it had turned mainly white with obvious signs of thinning. His good jacket, waist coat and trousers looked threadbare and well worn. Even his prize pocket watch and chain appeared to have seen better days. The lines on his face and the bags under his eyes – atrocious! Longfellow wanted to cry, it was that awful to him. He looked out on the horizon and tried desperately to remember why he decided to come here in the first place.
It was at that moment that he heard something, like a song, being carried over the waves.
Slowly, he scanned the waters around the pier, but saw nothing. A few moments later the sound become louder and clearer; It was a voice calling his name! The water before him roiled and frothed before a sleek and serpentine neck attached to a remarkably sleek body the colour of electric blue appeared before him. The head was the size of a small auto-mobile and the eyes were the same as sapphire crystals. Longfellow blinked and the creature was gone!
In its place, however, was a woman – young, beautiful with caring crystal blue eyes and raven dark hair wearing a woman’s blue tartan kilt with white, red and green, white blouse and blue wool coat .
She seemed to be weeping as she gazed upon him. The woman collected herself and spoke to him in a Scottish accent. “ Oh Longfellow! What’s happened to you? It’s me Naikeeah! Don’t you remember?” Her voice was urgent, troubled and conveyed not a little hurt. “Oh my one, it’s been too long hasn’t it. I’m so sorry! I didn’t mean to leave you in a lurch as I did. You were always the one, the faithful one, my gadgeteer and hero… please, let me…”
Longfellow noticed he was teetering precariously on his walking stick from shear shock and amazement of the moment when the woman took his arm and helped steady him. He looked into her eyes as a memories cascaded over him like a giant wave. It was almost fifty years previous, on this very spot. The vision of a woman that looked identical to this one dived into the surf as he sat, wounded on the pier as police and others rushed to the spot. It was an adventure, the likes of which he’d never taken before or since. He managed to steady his breath and stand without going faint or feeling dizzy.
He looked her in the eye and spoke the words he longed to all this time. “ So, it wasn’t a dream, was it? You and I, the trip around the world… Is it time already?” She took his hand and nodded with a smile and a tear in her eye. “ Yes. Yes, it is. I… your leg? You told me it was all right and yet I can smell the bronze gears and such…” Longfellow put his hand up. “ I thought it was. However, we both know what a dragon’s poison is capable of. The good news is; It only took out part of my leg – there, at the knee. Besides, until I met you my dear, I never believed in such things as your people or magic. I only knew science. True, that was foolish on the whole, but then again I’d only met you when I was on the ferry between here and Glasgow. That was two human generations ago…. remember?” She put her arm around his shoulders and kissed him, leaving the elder Englishman a tad breathless and smiling.
As he felt himself being taken off his feet, Longfellow’s mind seemed to drift of its own accord to a day in late November of 1928. The ferry from Glasgow to the dirigible port on the Isle of Mann. The sea was calm and the sky was clear. The only thing bothering him were the flies that seemed to accompany a group of farmers and the bratty children running around the deck.
He tried to pay close attention to them, the skiving little sneak thieves. They tried to half – inch at least 4 wallets while he watched. If it weren’t for the adults around them, they might have gotten away with it. However, they seemed to be trying to make up for the fact that they couldn’t get any quid by being obnoxious enough to knock people over. Longfellow had just turned to be sure of where he was standing when two of the larger ruffians caught him in mid stride and sent him sprawling, as they laughed, over the rail. His last vision was an off duty constable, who had it up to his teeth with the lot of the children, grab the two bullies by the ears and haul them somewhere – possibly the captains office.
Longfellow couldn’t believe his rotten luck! They were just going to leave him to drown! He knew he was a good fifteen miles from shore and all his things were back on the ferry in a storage area. Worst of all, he couldn’t swim! As he resigned himself to his watery fate a surge came from below him. Oh wonderful! He thought to himself, not enough to drown – but to be eaten by a shark or Orca now. He braced for an impact that never came. Instead, he found himself sitting on something large about ten feet out of the water! He looked down and saw a pair of sapphire coloured eyes looking at him quizzically. It tilted forward, whatever it was he was sitting on, and he started to slide off.
Before he hit the water, he found himself hanging in the creatures jaws. Longfellow was astounded, frightened and speechless. He slowly turned his head to see he was in the jaws of a very large reptilian creature and heading for the ferry. “ Oh, great maker, this isn’t happening… this isn’t happening!” He ranted to himself as they closed on the vessel. It would seem that the passengers were too preoccupied with the punishment being inflicted on the young miscreants to see what was coming up to the boat. The creature gently placed the stunned and wet Longfellow on the deck and seemed to disappear instantly. Quietly and with great care, Longfellow made his way to the storage area and got some dry clothes and then made for the W.C in order to change. He made it about as far as the door to the loo when a woman coughed to get his attention.
She was breathtaking! Sapphire blue eyes, raven black hair and dressed like woman of high society in a blue dress and low heeled black shoes and spoke with a strong Scottish accent.
“ Greetings mister…” He politely interrupted her by raising his hand before speaking.
“ May I be of service madam? My apologies, I’m not at my best…” She silenced him with a smile. “ I know, I just wanted to be sure you weren’t hurt.” He was taken aback – how could she know unless… NO! That was impossible! However, when he got his wits about him, he noticed that his clothes were dry. He mouthed like a fish out of water. “ Who are you? I didn’t see you on the ferry earlier. Wait a moment, you can’t be, can you? That, uh, that..”
“ Dragon? Or sea monster? I know. However, who’d believe there’d be independent flight on such a scale with you humans? You’re smarter than you look it seems, or in your case, handsomer than first thought.” Longfellow simply decided not to attempt to argue logic with this woman.
The idea that this would even be transpiring was enough to make a sane person think they’d gone mad. He decided to just quietly walk her up to the snack bar and get a cuppa and simply try to calm down. It isn’t everyday that something from a fantasy novel occurs in your life! It would be another hour or so before they reached their destination. Longfellow had many questions for her and she him. By the time the young English graduate student got off the ferry, he felt a lot more at ease around his new acquaintance.
He still wasn’t sure about her being a dragon, as she professed. However, based on her knowledge, she seemed to be well versed in the sciences – at least the natural sciences. Longfellow discovered her name was Naikeeah and she was a native of Scotland – Inverness to be precise. She told him of how she was told by a seer that she would meet the man of her destiny off shore in her parents old hunting grounds. Longfellow believed that she was given a rather dodgy fortune from one of the ladies who ran questionable stalls near the carnivals that travelled the countryside – at least initially. The more he listened, the more it made sense for some reason. Something told Longfellow that this woman was being completely honest with him.
After checking in for his flight, he noted that he had a good two hours before his dirigible to Berlin would be taking off. The good news was, he would be getting a luxury suite for his troubles this time. Longfellow almost forgot about his companion when the ticket agent asked if his wife would be travelling with him and jogged his memory a tad. It seems she was just content to observe Longfellow while he made certain that he had all his travelling credentials and student paperwork.
Naikeeah was that quiet as he became engrossed in being ready. She just laughed at Longfellow and told the agent she would, indeed, be with him for his business trip as they had some catching up to do. The gent gave Longfellow a sly wink and proceeded to give what he believed were newly-weds a complimentary ticket for their honeymoon present.
The young man became so enraptured in his conversation that he nearly forgot he was going on a week long excursion to visit professor Max Von Klible, a noted mechanical engineer and pioneer of the ether powered automaton and prosthetics for veterans and victims of horrible accidents. Not to mention, after they hastily boarded he nearly missed the steward’s knock and ticket request. Like on a train, they still had to present their proof of paid passage before leaving the station or port as the case may be.
Mind, he also forgot about the sleeping arrangements for himself and his new lady friend – despite the fact that the two of them had been taken for a newly married couple – plus the idea of wardrobe for Naikeeah. Longfellow was raised a gentleman after all! All throughout his ordeal, Naikeeah watched him with keen interest and found his human manners quite endearing, if not entertaining. Thankfully, there was a shop or two in board, as they later found out, that catered to the female passengers clothing needs – and saved Longfellow a great deal of embarrassment, even though it cost him a pretty penny.
It wouldn’t be till dinner time that Longfellow finally got his wits about him and not do an impression of one of his favourite comedic silent film stars. As he and his new lady friend spoke, the more fascinated he became – even more so than earlier, not to mention enamoured. He discovered that she was of an ethnicity of dragons that were referred to as Sea Dragons; A sort of cousin or sibling to Cold Drakes and Ice Dragons. There was still a matter of whether or not she was an eccentric woman of wealth – say a dowager countess, for example. However, everything she said had a ring of truth to it. How he knew or understood this was beyond him.
Longfellow only knew this was the age of discovery and enlightenment and considering the wonders that the world has produced so far, why should he be cynical? There was no reasonable way to explain how he was carried back to the ferry, for one point. True, he could have been under the influence of oxygen deprivation, but on the other hand, how could he discount the speed of him drying out, let alone the fact he was whisked out of the ocean and carried above the water to safety.
There was also the matter of trust. He couldn’t put a finger on it, but this wondrous woman just exuded credulity, a level of comfort and ease of speaking to. It definitely made the week go quite fast – not to mention the sleeping arrangements less awkward.
When the duo arrived at Berlin, they were met by a rather abrupt, if not rude, greeting party.
Instead of going to the University as he’d thought, the two were taken out of the city heading towards Munich. One found, to his painful woe, that Naikeeah was far from a weakling or push – over. He and two of his compatriots got the stuffing knocked out of them when they tried to escort the Scottish lass to somewhere else on the property and the other three were highly hesitant to jump in! Mind, Longfellow wasn’t a wuss by any stretch as his immediate escort found out. The leader changed tact quickly to one of a more open and honest approach and led the two to professor Von Klible.
An elder gentleman sat looking warily around the room in almost paranoid fashion. When he saw young Longfellow, he nearly cried tears of joy behind his bifocals! He stood, dressed in a simple suit and waistcoat that looked practically off the rack new. His tie was looking as if he had been fiddling with it constantly. In a very rough German accent the old man spoke to Longfellow.
“ Mister Eustice!You have no idea how worried I was. You are the only man I can trust with this latest finding of mine…” He stopped and rummaged around a desk covered in file folders and note book binders. “ … this is the biggest breakthrough yet in Ether Technology. Please, take it and keep it safe! Don’t try and read it here. Hurry! I have no idea how long I have till the secret police arrive…” BANG! Gunfire rang out from the front of the building as Dr. Von Klible motioned for the duo to follow him to the other side of the room.
As the sounds of struggles and weapons fire got closer the old man picked a book on the third shelf from the bottom of the bookcase and pulled it. He motioned for Longfellow and Naikeeah to follow him with all due haste. The false book shelf closed silently behind them as the good doctor stopped about half way from the exit. Longfellow looked at him pleadingly as Von Klible put up his hand.
“ Now listen to me, carefully. Keep going until you smell the wharf and the nearby lake. I cannot go with you! No arguments! I have unfinished work to do and another way out. It’ll be a few hours before the new regime’s watch dogs find the secret exit from my study. By that time I will be long gone – as should you! Now remember, wait till you are safely away on the dirigible before looking at those papers. Keep your eyes and ears open – the both of you! Now hurry! HURRY!” He waved the two out as Naikeeah had to practically drag her charge to the exit.
When they got outside they discovered a motor boat awaiting them. Silently, the two got on and Longfellow got their escape vessel started. Behind them, smoke plumes rose into the air just beyond the tree line that separated the lake from the estate they left behind. It took them almost an hour to get to the nearest town. Longfellow hardly spoke, but he did make some odd purchases.
Naikeeah noted he got a soldering iron, some gears, two small vials of Ether fuel, string and a pair of automaton dolls – the kind children would use or rich families would have to assist with the baby sitting said children. Each doll was the size of a toddler – around 2/3 of a metre tall.
Longfellow then bought some wine, rubbing alcohol, flexible hose pipe and some copper tubing – around 1 meter’s worth plus cutting tools. The human formed sea dragon was perplexed to say the least. When she attempted to ask him about this he merely put up a finger and stayed angrily silent till they made the zeppelin port in Berlin.
Naikeeah noted by the scent she recalled back at the estate that there were more of these secret police positioned around the port. When she looked around she saw them discreetly watching for anything they deemed suspicious. Both noted an official distributing leaflets to boarding and disembarking passengers that described two people; A man and a woman with instructions to notify authorities immediately as they were tied to the disappearance of one Doctor Max Von Klible – a suspected traitor. Longfellow absent mindedly took one and noted their descriptions were vague and not a little bit off on the look.
It would appear that Von Klible’s men were loyal and true to the end – to all three of them! He silently prayed that the men either died a quick and painless death or were spared for their cooperation and released on their own recognizance. Either way, he and Naikeeah made their way on board the New Excelsior – one of the newer models of dirigible. The balloon was slightly more compact, but was strong enough to carry up to 200 passengers safely at the same speed, if not faster than the older models.
Naikeeah let Longfellow know that about a half – dozen of those secret police had come aboard. She overheard them discussing their orders that included keeping an eye peeled in case the two fugitives they were looking for had changed their appearance in an obvious fashion. Longfellow merely nodded and never looked up from a newspaper he acquired in the lobby of the dirigible.
When the entered their cabin, Longfellow let out a sigh of relief and began to sit and work on the automaton. Naikeeah watched in amazement as he opened the backs of the small mechanical wonders and replaced a few items and added a couple of others. In a matter of minutes, the gadgeteer extraordinaire had fashioned what appeared to be matching fuel tanks – except made of the bottles that held the rubbing alcohol – and ran the copper tubing so it would be hidden behind the mouths of the innocent faces of the dolls. Longfellow turned to her after opening the bottle of wine and pouring each of them a glass.
“ I know this looks mad. However, when I was in university I made a few of these. We called them battle – bots. We would have contests to see who could out – do whom the fastest and most cleverly. Basically, I’ve created an artificial flame thrower. Mind you, they can still communicate if needed to and no hint of the surprise behind their artificial smile. You see, the copper piping is set to deploy and act like a nozzle to spew fire! A bit like a flame thrower, but smaller, understand?”
Naikeeah merely smiled and surprised him with a warm kiss. “ You mean you’ve made artificial dragons – mechanical ones at that! Brilliant! Are those for defence or attack?” He smiled at her as he recovered. No woman had ever kissed him so tenderly or warmly before and it took him a moment to recover from the pleasant shock.
“ Both Naikeeah. Thus the string. If those secret police chaps try to rush us,well, these little beauties will give them pause or set them alight to buy us time to escape or take them out and make it look an accident. Those brutes didn’t exactly strike me as the type to be anything, but blunt. I’m just hoping they make their move when we’re near a custodial room or near the engine room – for example. It would make sense for them to try and shoot their intended targets in an effort to make it appear that they had no choice except to use lethal force – for propaganda purposes. ” He reached into one of the boxes the dolls came in and handed a clunky sort of box with 4 buttons and a toggle.
“ This will control…” He looked at the number on the underside of the controller quickly. “ … the one with the brunette hair and beret. Keep it on you in case we have to discreetly put my plan into motion. I’ll have the other one in my trouser pocket. So, for now, we can nap and possibly have enough time for a shower before we make for dinner in the restaurant on the lower deck and promenade.” He smiled wearily before collapsing on his pillow.
Naikeeah gave a half sigh and half chuckle before cuddling up. She kept her ears peeled for any shenanigans in the corridor, but thankfully only families and children were active on their deck.
She mainly watched Longfellow as he slept peacefully and felt better and better about their chance meeting. If this was the love foretold to her by her grandmother, then she knew she was truly blessed by the all mother dragon! Later, the couple got a fair few strange looks – mainly from children as the parents were bound and determined to ignore the strange young couple with the boxes in their arms. Most muttered about newly-weds and how young people were developing odder and odder habits these days.
Out of the corner of his eye, Longfellow noted that 3 of the men sent to keep watch for him and Naikeeah were sitting catycornered to them, around 5 tables away. They pretended to look at the menu and eat, but one was on the radio speaking with the other three presumably and eyeing the out of place couple. Naikeeah made to go to the ladies loo when two of the secret police followed a moment or so after. The one with the radio seemed to become frenetic as he noted he was alone now and so was Longfellow! Within minutes, the missing trio of the band of thugs came in as if they were being fashionably late. Longfellow looked at his watch as this part of the observation and apprehension squad sat to his left two tables over.
After what seemed for ever, Naikeeah waltzed in looking refreshed and quite ready to order dinner. Longfellow noted that she was clean and no sign of being waylaid or attacked! Mind, the duo that followed her never returned and the man with the radio wound up excusing himself as the meals were being served. An odd thing Longfellow noted was, all the men had armbands with a symbol on them. If they were any more obvious, it would be comical. On the other hand, none of the other passengers even remotely hinted that they could see this. It was as if whatever the men stood for was someone else’s problem or they felt that if they didn’t notice, it wouldn’t draw undue attention to them.
As soon as Longfellow finished his main course he made a subtle bee line for the exit at the other end of the room. Naikeeah was perplexed about this as he came back almost as fast, just as their would be assailants noticed he had gone and just returned. From the other end of the dinning room, the radio man made a fast march to the trio at the table and began a heated, one sided conversation. Occasionally, he’d point at the pair from behind his left arm as if he was trying to be sly and clever about his report or trying not to be noticed by anyone else.
Naikeeah observed that Longfellow’s box with automaton was missing. He barely looked at her and gave a covert wink as he casually looked over at the four men at the other table. All three that were properly seated would, as a group, look at Naikeeah and then give the hunched over apoplectic speaker a pitying look or a shake of their heads. By the time the secret police were able to finish their own meal and check in on their suspects – the duo was gone!
One of the seated men grabbed the one hunched over and said something in his ear to make his eyes bulge out before taking the shocked man roughly by the arm and escort him out with the other two. Near the back of the room, Longfellow popped out silently from behind the exit door to watch the four men make for the elevators. He took a silent breath of relief and then politely escorted Naikeeah to a hallway just down and to the left of the corridor they were in. In German, a series of doors were marked “ Maintenance”, “Engineering”, “ Custodian” and “ Engine Room – Authorised Personell Only!”. Longfellow guided Naikeeah into the one marked “ Engineering ” . Inside was a tinkerers dream! Spanners of all sizes with all sorts of screwdrivers, wire clippers, Ether canisters and enough machine tools to make Longfellow think he’d died and gone to engineering heaven.
The young female sea dragon could see the appeal of choosing this place for whatever plan Longfellow had in mind. Longfellow made stealthily for the door and attached a string to the doll while occasionally cocking his head to one side listening for anything going on in the corridor before going back and sitting with Naikeeah.
“ All right then, I know you think I’ve lost my marbles, but hear me out. I have no idea how much time it will be before they discover we’ve not gone back to our suite. It will be, maybe 15 minutes before they or their harried comrade in arms realise the connection between me and this part of the ship. Note; I’ve got my automaton positioned near the door, but not on top of the Ether or other highly flammable gas… yet. It would take quite a bit, such as one opening up one of the valves on the containers to cause a near disastrous combustion or a powerful enough explosion…”
Naikeeah rolled her eyes and shook her head signifying that Longfellow was going into boring engineer speak. “ Sorry! Anyway, I’ve placed some rubbing style alcohol bottles over the door on a precarious shelf. With both our dolls in action and a quick knock down of the shelf, the alcohol should provide enough flammable liquid to give our would be killers quite the awful burn…”
Longfellow caught Naikeeah quietly laughing till she noticed that he saw her.
“ I’m sorry! It’s just you keep forgetting I’m still a dragon! I’m a sea dragon, most certainly, but still a dragon! You want them fried so they can’t report in or send for reinforcements – even in England – then, you should have said something! Mind you, I like the idea of using your skills to hide the fact I exist. Now quit doing an impersonation of a cod fish for a minute!” She kissed him squarely on the lips for emphasis. After another moment of blushing, looking confused and bewildered, Longfellow recovered and gathered himself.
“ Okay, so, can you fly as well? No? Fine, don’t look at me like I insulted you. I know little of dragons and just wondered if I needed to knock – up a personal flight device for us in case we needed a quick getaway. I’m sure you saw the emergency doors for the miniature dirigibles? Anyway, it was something I was working on before I met you and… are you crying? I’m sorry if I hurt your feelings… * mmmf! * ”
Naikeeah gave him a sly grin and whispered. “ You are too easy to get wound up! It’s what I love about you, you’re a gentleman through and through. Now, let’s just worry about getting your marvellous contraption working and then tell me about your artificial flight devices for non – flying types. I’m sure my mother would find it a hoot!” He nearly asked her about the last remark when he heard the men from before outside – they were systematically checking the doors and rooms and were now making their way towards them!
Longfellow muttered something under his breath, at least so it sounded, about women in general and how confounding the lot are as he activated the doll by remote control via radio waves. Just as the door was being tested to see if it were locked, the magnificently resourceful Longfellow grabbed a handy spool and prepared to hurl it through the air at the shelf after finding the end of the string on his belt attached to the doll.
Naikeeah sat looking as if she were watching a very entertaining street magician, not a care in the world as four men made to rush in yelling in German for the duo to give up or come out so they could be shot without fuss!
In one fluid motion as two of the thugs drew tommyguns from out of their coats, Longfellow threw his spool sending a buckets worth of alcohol onto the surprised quartet whilst pressing the activation button and toggling his automaton forward. In the confusion, he pushed the talk button for the doll and pulled the string that activated the flame thrower!
WHOOSH! “ AAAAAAAGGGGGHHHHHH!” and “ AAAAAIIIIIIEEE ”
“ DUCK NAIKEEAH!”
The good and bad news was; It worked! Good because Longfellow routed the thugs. It was bad because they shot their weapons out of panic and pain! Naikeeah didn’t seem half as concerned as her human counter part.
In fact, the Inverness woman didn’t even have a hair out of place as Longfellow grabbed her hand and made a mad dash for the doorway! They jumped over the burning, rolling would be assassins and made a break for the emergency life boat area. Alarms began in earnest as the crew rushed to the source of the small explosions and fire. Emergency medical people rushed passed the duo along with several pyjama clad onlookers moving to see what the fuss was all about.
It was pure luck that the duo achieved the hangar deck where the mini dirigibles were kept. Longfellow made to breathe in relief when he realised he left the papers doctor Von Klible entrusted him with back in his stateroom! He left Naikeeah sitting, looking politely quizzical as he dashed like he was on fire back to their room.
He just reached the door when a hand grabbed his shoulder and spun him around! It was one of the two waylaid gents that Naikeeah had taken care of. “ You will come with us now… Herr Doctor, preferably resisting all the way as I look forward to letting you know how much trouble you truly are!”. The one with his hand on Longfellow’s shoulder said as the other half of the pair limped over with a club raised over his head and began to swing when out of nowhere, a female hand caught the man’s arm and …
BANG! SLAM! SMACK! BONK!
Naikeeah stood over the unconscious pair of thugs as Longfellow looked on stunned and once again acting like a fish out of water for a moment. “ How did you… oh never mind! Give me a moment and let’s put these two in the stateroom while I get what I came for…” Naikeeah smiled and chuckled quietly as she picked up both men as if they were mere small children! Longfellow nearly broke his neck doing a double take barely believing what he just witnessed!
This time, he used the remaining string to bind the two blackguards before taking Naikeeah gently by the arm so they could make good on their escape. They chose the stairs to get to the emergency area. It took Longfellow less time than he imagined to disengage the moorings and silently slip out the back of the massive zeppelin.
Almost as soon as they got two ship lengths away from the zeppelin their radio went haywire with French landing personnel and the crew of the air ship hailing them. The Germans were wondering if this was an act of sky piracy, an accidental launching or panicky passengers. The French were simply trying to be sure that whomever was flying the mini dirigible knew what they were doing and if this was an emergency try and talk the pilot and passengers down as safely as possible.
Longfellow did a cursory look through the windscreen of the flying machine and reckoned they were somewhere near the English Channel! He shut off the radio and began to work the controls to get them as close to the ocean as possible.
The young engineer just took a moment to catch his breath when a humming sound of engines caught his ears! He peered out the side portal and saw a small squadron of Germain fighter planes coming their way. Longfellow cursed under his breath and made for the controls again. He motioned for Naikeeah as he set the life raft mini dirigible on an angled dive towards the ocean.
“ Sorry Naikeeah, old thing! When we get near enough to the water we’ll have to dive in…
probably from around 100 metres at best, 1500 more realistically… When I nod my head, we make for the main hatch and jump! I’m certain those Fokker tri – planes of theirs can’t pull fast manoeuvres while trying to shoot us …”
RAT – A – TAT – TAT! RAT – A – TAT – TAT! RAT – A – TAT – TAT! RAT – A – TAT – TAT! BRRRRP! BRRRP! PING! PING! PING!
Suddenly, bullets were cutting through the cabin and seemingly, indiscriminately hitting anything, but the two escapees! Longfellow took Naikeeah by the arm and crawled across the floor littered with broken glass, bits of wood, plastic and metal before arising and kicking open the hatch impressively.
As he looked down he saw water coming towards them! Before the mini dirigible hit and exploded the duo leapt for their lives! Longfellow felt himself being pulled by gravity at least 100 feet or more before he passed out. When he awoke, he was on the head of a.. sea dragon!
The beasty just winked at him as he passed out. When he awoke again he found himself on pier in Bournemouth! Naikeeah was standing over him looking a tad worried. Longfellow recovered just in time, coughing and spitting up water, to see if his precious cargo was safe.
“ Oh heavens! Did I lose it? Where is the.. you have it?” Naikeeah smiled and nodded.
“ Indeed my one! You truly are resilient and are a lot tougher than I could imagine. No need to worry, it’s night time…” Longfellow finally got his wits about him to notice that it was late at night and the pier was definitely empty.
“ So, it was you? You rescued me after I botched saving us?” Naikeeah merely shook her head in the negative. “ No, you succeeded! It was a good thing I know water spells well enough to protect your precious paper! Now, my bold one, I got us a taxi a few moments ago, so if you’ll please stand up…” Longfellow did as he was bade and had the quietest ride to the train station he ever had. It was a good thing his money was still in order, or was that because of his dragon girlfriend?
He made to lay his head down for a quick nap in the cab before deciphering doctor Von Klible’s paper after boarding the train to Glasgow, when, a thought occurred to him; What sort of discovery could be so monumental that the Germans would risk open warfare, yet again, with England or the rest of Europe for that matter? He took a thinkers sitting pose as he caught his Scottish companions facial expression, breaking his train of thought. Naikeeah, looked at him in a concerned fashion as he then realised he had no change of clothing and more than likely very limited funds till he got a chance to stop in London before going north.
Longfellow quickly checked his wallet and emergency money pouch he kept on the inside of his shirt – a minor invention he and a French student came up with in college. He breathed a sigh of relief before they made the ticket counter and got their boarding passes. Naikeeah, hung close on his arm, she seemed worried about him for some reason.
After they got seated in their billet and he was able to take his jacket off, he noticed a tear in his shirt. Naikeeah became a little nervous as it looked like either a large scratch or a slash mark.
Longfellow looked at the female dragon for a moment confused. The wound didn’t hurt, but it didn’t seem that long for it to heal up as much as it did either. “ Could you possibly explain this? Naikeeah?” She looked away for a moment blushing. “ Well, my one, I was too weak to heal you further you see. A dragon such as myself can only do so much in one day and you took quite a jolt and got pretty cut up from your fall – or I should say after I retrieved you before you drowned!”
He looked at her incredulously. However, that changed as he recalled the fall was from quite a height and as the first time he met her, Naikeeah, he had seen the same blue dragon or serpent taking him towards shore! This was far from a coincidence. There were no other logical explanations, were there? He seemed struck dumb for a good few moments that felt like hours.
When Longfellow found his voice, it was with some admiration and bit apologetic.
“ Naikeeah, please don’t cry. I wasn’t completely sold on you being a dragon till now and that was my problem. You’ve been nothing, but forthright and honest with me since we’ve met and you saved my life. You professed nothing, but the truth to me and despite the overwhelming evidence I still found doubt over belief. In other words, I’m very sorry!” Naikeeah blushed and gave him a very big hug and whispered in his ear.
“ And one day, I’ll tell you about yourself – things that will astonish and amaze you! For now, let’s get some rest and when we get to London, you can buy me something for breakfast, maybe. That is, if you and I aren’t detained over the incident over French airspace. I’m sure that I saw some English fighter craft in the air coming to the aid of the French air control tower.” Longfellow made a face and hugged her back and even kissed her cheek.
“ After this whirlwind affair of sorts, I think I can handle questioning by my government. Now, let me see to this mysterious paper on Ether gas!” They lay together on the small bed reading all 50 pages of the findings of doctor Von Klible. It was astounding! Apparently, the good doctor was working on transference of conscience via Ether gas. The results weren’t permanent, but they lasted long enough so that the donated mind of the subject could utilise an automaton body for a good 24 hrs! The pair looked at each other as the conductor came round to let them know that Kings Cross Station was coming up. Naikeeah spoke up after the awkward silence.
“ This is the closest to alchemy I’ve seen in over eight centuries! Not to mention spirit transference from body to body – or possession if you will. If this is viable, this will change the world in ways neither of us could imagine! A nearly indestructible body with a human mind in control; No pain or suffering, a more efficient automaton. You could rescue miners, divers, the whole lot without risking human life. No wonder the Germans wanted this! In the wrong hands, this could mean an army of mechanical warriors with faster reflexes and no need for a conscience – ghastly to say the least!” Longfellow nodded slowly before they disengaged and cleaned up to make for the nearest café. As they made their way from the train station, they could hear the calling of the newspaper people on the street.
They were announcing an emergency session of parliament and the German consulate being dragged before the session and the prime minister to answer for their actions against their own zeppelin over French air space! There was also a massive search for him and Naikeeah on. It would seem that the French figured that whomever it was on the mini dirigible was fleeing for their lives for fear of the German secret police, who were identified as the ones who called for the Luftwaffe to fire on the life boat style dirigible. Longfellow and Naikeeah weren’t named specifically, but they were shown falling from the burning air ship.
There was another photo of boats scouring the channel. It would be days before the English could acquire even the passenger list, let alone be able to search the zeppelin. This meant that, to Longfellow anyway, they would have a week before they would have to reveal themselves to the local officials and then be prepared to answer many awkward and pointed questions.
More than likely they – meaning the government – would be at his flat back in Holmfirth in an attempt to discover what he, Longfellow, was on to in Germany. Longfellow felt a hand on his shoulder and he glanced to see Naikeeah had become worried. It was as if he’d stopped breathing for a bit. He smiled, half – heartedly, and gave her his best reassuring look.
“ I’m all right. Honestly! I just, I realised the enormity of the last few hours. I wouldn’t be surprised if I found Scotland Yard in my flat looking over my work from the last couple of years or so. No worries m’love! They’re more concerned with dousing the fires of war than they are with putting me through the ringer, yes? So please, finish your breakfast. At least I don’t have to stop at my bank and we could even do some shopping – I’m sure you won’t mind helping me find something less ragged and maybe an outfit or two for you?” Naikeeah seemed to revive again. The colour came back to her face and she took a deep breath. “ Thank you. I’ve never been formally shopping in London before! Could we visit Herrods? Or maybe Selfridge’s? What I appear to be wearing is, in fact, a part of me – my scales you see – and I think It would be wondrous… if… I … Are you sure you’re all right?”
Longfellow was taken aback by the admonition that when she transformed into a human part of her was her clothing?! Naikeeah patted him on the back as they finished their meal and made for the shopping district.
True to his word, he did buy her two outfits. One of the latest from the new summer wardrobe complete with ankle high shoes, hat and parasol plus something for the explorer type with a pith helmet, tweed ladies jacket and riding trousers with knee high boots. When Longfellow went to try on his new wardrobe he discovered that his wound was not only fully healed – it looked like only his shirt got ripped!
The two ate lunch at Piccadilly Square before going to the train station and heading north. The duo stopped in Holmfirth and Longfellow showed Naikeeah his work lab, living area and garage where he kept some of his more adventurous inventions – including the personal flying machine replete with fold – away metal wings and steam powered engine behind a porcelain back plate.
He even showed her his version of a Caver Ship! His only dilemma was how he was going to launch the thing into space. Two days later, the government did come calling – someone from the ministry of Foreign Affairs plus two of Scotland Yards finest met him as he was attending to his post.
A mister Havershime, Ronald Marcus Havershime to be precise as he presented himself, was astounded at how he and his Scottish girlfriend were able to survive a perilous fall and make it to Bournemouth without any assistance. Longfellow was a tad sheepish as he answered. “ Well, mister Havershime, I’m just a really good swimmer and we did – Nikki and I – caught the odd lucky break. So, I’m sure you’re curious as to the reason why we were in such a predicament?”
Mister Havershime and Longfellow then got to the point of it all. Having memorised the material, he told the agent of the ministry about the formula he was entrusted with by the old professor and world renowned inventor. Both the men from the Yard were particularly riveted as Longfellow recounted how he managed to escape – leaving out the bits about Naikeeah being a dragon of course.
Havershime shook Longfellow’s hand after the meeting and assured him that if he needed to testify before the parliament that he would be contacted officially by Ronald himself! He then went on to tell Longfellow and Naikeeah to consider themselves conscripted in her majesty’s service.
The young inventor was somewhere between sacred to death and elated by the sudden news. He went to bed with Naikeeah hugging him for all she was worth, but just as he nodded off – his eyes snapped open. He was back on the pier at the Isle of Mann! It was a dream. But such a realistic one! He then became aware of the fact he was in the arms of … Naikeeah!
She looked at him with a warmth and kindness that made him forget he was in an embarrassing position. He put his face in his hands when he noticed something miraculous; They looked young and vital! There were no liver spots or signs of ageing what so ever.
Naikeeah put him down gently as his clothes now seemed too big. He looked at her as she smiled invitingly at him. For what ever reason you could imagine – he kissed her! He kissed her as warmly and lovingly as he could. If this was the after life, then it could only be heaven. When he broke his romantic embrace and caught his breath again, she spoke.
“ My gift for you my love! Your youth.” She bowed before wrapping her arms around him. All he could do was hug her back before speaking. “ All these years and you never forgot! I thought I’d lost you… I….” She silenced him with a slight cough. “ There is another reason my love…” She turned to the ocean and whistled. From just beyond the pier a small figure leapt out. It was a little girl! She had his eyes and smile. Naikeeah turned back to Longfellow.
“ Yes, Longfellow, this is our daughter! And she really wants to hear about our adventures – all of them. ”
The next day, the local newspaper led with two stories; One was about the disappearance of a known inventor and war hero who apparently fell off the pier, never to surface and a highly suspect to outlandish article about sea monsters – a family to be precise – seen by the same dock briefly before apparently heading towards Scotland… but that’s another tale, as are all of Longfellow’s adventurous endeavours in the name of the queen and country.
Okay, now that I’ve gotten my promo out of the way and my publishers probably giving me the evil eye…
To conclude on my future ~
The soonest that Camden’s Follies Series 2 is available will be in September. And YES! you WILL have to read the first 4 BOOKS – no skimming! – to keep up with the story… NO CHEATING!
The proposed Cable series or Nettflix deal is yet to be reached, though YouTube is still on the table with some of the others…
Just not Sy – Fy and their idiots.. EVER!
So, you’re caught up. Elder Offensive 2 is on its way… maybe…
Till next time,
~ The Pirate Poet