Some new art and a teaser of book 2.
Tesla had just left the airship Divinity when the siren sounded out. The alarm was an ear-splitting wail that rose to a peak and then ebbed before rising again, undulating like a wave. The akh navigator had given her consent to assist the team with the airship’s operation but only reluctantly and after a great deal of persuasion. While the akh appeared to be well-meaning, they still did not trust the humans that now inhabited their ship.
But now, the ear-splitting wail was ringing her brain out like a sponge. Her heart felt as if it had jumped up into her throat as she suddenly understood the meaning of the jarring racket. The base was under attack. The crews of the docked airships rushed back to their vessels as armed airmen responded to the call of battle stations. Tesla paused, uncertain of what to do or where to go. Her training had not covered this scenario, and she tried not to give in to the frantic chaos surrounding her. Half her brain gave her the reasons she should report back to billeting while the other bombarded her with speculation on where she should go instead. Then, just as she was about to make a decision, the siren stopped, replaced by the echoing sounds of a loudspeaker barking out instructions across the underground complex.
“All aircrews, report to your assigned stations! Response Team Seven, report to airship alley on the double!”
On the far side of the underground lake, Tesla saw the airship Relentless start up its engines as the massive vessel prepared to depart. The dirigible was like a massive elongated football but with fins and a pair of massive propellers at the back end. Underneath hung the vessel’s main body, a wooden structure reminiscent of a Spanish galleon, beautiful yet powerful. She watched, almost transfixed, as the electric lights on the ship turned on in a series of calculable patterns.
Forcing herself to turn away, Tesla ran through the increasing crowd of men, back toward the Divinity. The streets, empty only a few moments ago, were a fury of activity as the steam trolleys dropped off the crews near their mooring towers. It appeared as if every airship in the base was preparing to launch in response to the unknown threat.
The Divinity sat alone near the rear of Airship Alley in a restricted area reserved solely for the Research Department. Its boarding platform was still lowered, allowing her to run straight up into the belly of the ship.
Walking briskly, her footsteps echoed on the steel deck plates as she navigated through the dimly lit corridors towards the main bridge. A faint smell of diesel filled the air, a remnant of the latest series of tests performed by the Ministry’s scientists in an attempt to discover the operational workings of the ship’s mysterious engine. As she passed one of the windows near the galley, she saw a steam trolley emerge out of a blast of steam on the road below. Dante and Shylocke jumped from the transport, running toward the airship’s entrance. Picking up her pace, she ascended the final flight of stairs and reached the bridge. Her heart was racing as Tesla reached her destination. Taking the pilot’s position between the control pylons, she engaged the electrical systems that controlled the ship’s propulsion. The pneumatics hissed as the whole room resonated with the deep growl of the engines sparking to life. The circular holographic displays appeared in front of the control spheres just as Dante Laveau stepped onto the bridge.
“Tesla, take us out! We have the priority to launch. Once we are out, set a course due north to rendezvous with the Relentless.” His voice was deep and stern, yet there was a tinge of nervousness.
Tesla paused for a moment, wondering if the rest of the crew was on board. Looking back over her shoulder, the Captain nodded. It was not a time for questions.
She placed a finger on the left control sphere and moved it backward as she pressed on the deck pedal. The pitch of the Divinity’s engine increased as the airship ascended and moved forward. As soon as the bow was clear of Airship Alley, she turned the vessel hard to port to align it with the concealed access tunnel. Only then did she turn on the airship’s forward light beacons to avoid blinding the other airship pilots preparing to depart.