The Battle of Charmelle: The Vhaen Project | 7

The levels of displeased shouting had yet to subside. The captain, enraged now at the thought of both his ship and his wife in the hands of the their enemies, had paced around with a great deal of vehement protest.

“Where are those blueprints?! I need a ship now!”

 

Katherine in her most soothing voice attempted to quiet the man, “We’ll have them as soon as we dig them out. We’ll catch them, Captain Whittaker. If they had meant to harm the Isabella, they would have destroyed her in the hangar.”

 

“I’m more concerned what they will do when they get to the ‘verse knows where and they board her!”

 

“I’m sure Amelia will be fine…”

 

“Oh, she’ll be fine alright!” Cedric slammed his fist into the table top violently.

 

Brother Luke watched this transpire from his seat atop a crate nearly ten feet from the pair. Dressed in his dirtied red robes he stroked his beard thoughtfully. Looking over the wreckage of the camp, His stout stature was alert and drawn up like a string. His soft and usually kind eyes were steeley as a thought dawned upon him.

 

Everyone was so tense. Without the ship there would be no way home, and that would definitely be a bad thing. Amelia sat gently on the edge of a crate near Brother Luke. She clutched at the edges of her skirt and wrung them a bit.

 

“Sure do hate feeling helpless.”

 

“Aye, my girl, it does a horrid thing to the soul.”

 

“Isn’t there any way we can help?”

 

Luke scrunched his face in consideration. The idea that consumed him was dangerous…it was crazy…and it might very well work.

 

“Care to try?” He asked her shifting his eyes back to her suddenly. “We could take the rover back there apart…use the scrap they took off the Isabella… Surely it could get us to the nearest port at least…”

 

“How would it fly?” Amelia asked with furrowed brows.

 

“That little rover has an old fossil fuel engine in it…It wouldn’t get too far on its own…but if we rerouted the exhaust into a aether filter…I bet we could get some speed.”

 

“That sounds dangerous…”

 

Brother Luke nodded and stroked his beard. “It does. Doesn’t it?”

 

“Captain would like it.”

 

“I thought so too. Wanna help me get started?”

 

Amelia grinned and nodded quickly.

 

“Good, now I need you to get Seamus, Audra, Rottger, and Miss Tellius over near the rover we went to visit the tunnels in. ok?”

 

“Yes! of course!” Amelia smiled, doing anything to help her crew was enough to lift her spirits.

 

Rottger was the first she collected. Tugging at his sleeve and smiling at him was all it took to get him to follow her. Rottger liked Amelia. She was quiet and usually calm…and sometimes she had cookies.

Seamus and Audra were easily convinced. They had been staring at a pair of blueprints trying to listen to the captain’s discernable orders when Amelia approached them.

 

“I think we have a plan.” She whispered. “But we need your help!”

 

“What kind of help?” Seamus mused looking tentatively from the captain to Amelia.

 

“Brother Luke said he had an idea… and he needed your help over at the rover…and…can you bring your welding torch please?” Amelia’s smile was broad and the two shrugged and nodded yes in reply. Javert overheard this and looked from the young passenger to the pair leaving and turned to look over his shoulder at the rover. Already it was being broken into with haste.

 

“Captain.” He called in a great enough volume that nearly the entire hangar heard him.

 

Cedric looked up and to him at the call and made a less than happy face.

 

“I believe the plan is already underway.”

 

The captain and Mrs. Tellius abruptly ceased their chatter and made straight for the girl. When the pair stood over her, waiting for the plan, Amelia found that the intimidation level surrounding her  was a might thick.

 

“Well, I…uh…You see.” She took a deep breath, “Brother Luke said it’s a shame we can’t do anything and I agreed. So he just kind of had an idea and asked me to collect everyone while he tore apart the rover. He thinks the engine can be modified to make a small lighter than aircraft capable of making it to the nearest base.” The breath was pressed hard to make it all in one go, but Amelia succeeded.

 

The three around her blinked a moment and Cedric made an impressed kind of face.

 

“Not a bad idea. But next time, Miss Amelia, come tell me first…I like tearing things apart.” He smirked a bit as he watched the girl visibly relax.

 

The group left the tents and quickly made their way to the back of the tunnels where the rover that had made it out of the skirmish unscathed was being rendered into parts. Vale, who was never far from any kind of experiment, tinkered with the gasoline engine in an attempt to make it compatible with Aether technology.

 

“Status report.” Cedric demanded as he walked into the middle of his crew busily at work on their project.

 

Brother Luke’s head emerged, hatless, from the carriage of the rover grinning widely. “There is a high possibility that this little hunk of aluminum will fly captain. Seamus and Audra are making some wings from the fallen debris, Vale is tinkering on the engine, some of the others are working on a balloon from the canvas of the tents…all said, Captain, it’s looking pretty promising.”

 

“How long before we know?” He replied.

 

“Give me five, six hours and we’ll have a solid answer.”

 

Mrs. Tellius had hung back with one of her science officers, receiving an urgent call from outside the station.

 

“Cedric!” The few talking around her looked back, “Just got word from our base camp 50 miles from here…They made visual contact with the Isabella. They’ve got her headed to the largest flying base on world. At current speed and heading, they’ll make port in three hours.”

 

The captain rolled up his sleeves and rubbed his forehead. Looking up suddenly he took a step towards a welding torch, “Brother Luke, You have one hour to get this hunk of metal in the air, do I make myself clear?” He spun the nozzle of the torch and the gas escaped with a hiss.

 

“Transparently, Captain!” The shining face grinned.

 

“If you don’t mind, Captain, I have another plan in mind.”

 

“By all means, Mrs. Tellius. I don’t usually work in plan B’s but I’ll try most anything once.”

 

Katherine suddenly strode away from the crew so busily at work.

 

“ I need all departments to ready. We’re going to mobilize and leave this hangar…and the findings here. It is no longer safe to conduct our research…and those Order ships will return, I’m quite certain.”

 

The Teams of archaeologists and scientists gathered in mass around her.

 

“How are we supposed to move the injured, Ma’am’?” One questioned.

 

“It’s those pirates fault!”

 

“Yeah! If they had never been brought here we never would have been discovered!”

 

“And if we leave, what about all our research! Some of us have devoted our lives to the Vhaen complex. We can’t just leave it now!” The company erupted into displeased turmoil, each voicing their opinions all at once.

 

Katherine, dirty and spattered with the blood of her friends and colleagues raised her hands over her head to quiet the din of voices.

 

“That’s enough!!” She cried above them, “Now, I am aware that I have brought these pirates into our lives and our work. I am aware that things have befallen our camp that may not have happened otherwise. But, are not the lives of our friends and families more important?! We are all on the same side, and those people are just like us. Cedric Whittaker, and the crew of the Isabella, are as much our concern as our project. Just as Captain Chambers was our hope, we have been the hope to them and we aren’t done yet.”

 

“Even still!” One young man replied to her, “How can we possibly move? The Marcelle was our only transport available and it’s been destroyed!”

 

“ Then we make do, Mister Gritch. Gather all the research notes we have, as of this point forward the confidentiality agreements are void. Bring me the generators. We’re going to use the Vhaen.”