Airships & Alchemy 12.7 – Hailing

9 February, 2014 by katelaity

molasses“What?” Edgar had drifted off to his own dark thoughts and didn’t hear what his brother was saying.

“We should hail them. I think they may be close enough for the horn now.” Israel brandished that instrument aloft with an expression of delight. Having so few airships about, he had not yet had time to try it out.

His face practically glowed with the excitement.

“Are you sure that’s necessary?”

“We owe it to posterity to set up the norms of airship travel and interaction, modeled—as I have argued extensively—on the rules of the sea, although perhaps not slavishly so, water not actually mirroring the behaviour or dangers of water.’

“You can’t drown in air,” Edgar said dryly.

‘True, but a man overboard is a serious issue and even more dangerous in most cases.” Israel nodded his head in that way that irritated his brother so, mostly because he was never aware of doing it. One nod was sufficient to convey the attitude of agreement, but Israel often went on nodding for minutes altogether, unconscious that he had continued to do so.

Edgar found it vexing. “Can you even be heard over both engines?”

“We shall have to find out.” Israel turned to his task, taking in the wary expressions on the faces of the other airship’s passengers. Wary with good reason, if one were to consider their last encounter and the rough challenge offered them in the newspapers.

Israel had considered his brother’s brash flaunting of the challenge most unhelpful. “Why can’t we combine our efforts and advance things that much faster?” he had asked for the umpteenth time.

“Because innovation doesn’t have room for many names. We know Watt, we know Newton, we know Faraday. We do not know those who came after them.”

“Or those who came before them but didn’t manage to interest enough people to invest in their ideas.” Israel started nodding again. “That happens a lot, I would imagine.”

“Precisely. It shall not happen to us because we will make sure the name Linton sails much higher and longer than that of Rochester.” Edgar smiled. He never looked his best when he did, as there was something rather chilling in the expression that it was difficult to identify. Perhaps it was his rather large teeth, perhaps it was only their feral shape.

One would be hard put to define it, but few would not feel some misgivings at meeting such a smile in a dark wood.

“Halloo!” Israel had apparently decided not to worry too much about what his brother thought and instead concentrate on what the meeting of minds might bring. The happy look of anticipation lit his features, which while they were not markedly different from his brother’s offered a much more welcoming visage altogether despite his rather sizable teeth.

He had just put the horn to his lips to halloo again when he saw Mr Rochester put a similar instrument up to his lips. It looked wider and less curving than the horn and Israel squinted to see if he could make out its construction. He could tell by the way the man hefted it that it was very light.

“Halloo!”

“Halloo!”

“Well, we can hear each other at what remains a reasonably considerable distance,’ Israel said to his brother with evident satisfaction.

“Do you have anything else to say to them other than idiotic hallooing?” Edgar grumbled the words, uncharitably thinking little of his brother’s contribution and bristling in advance at having to deal with Rochester.

After giving it a moment’s thought, Israel called out, “Are you just taking the air?”

“Taking the air?” Rochester replied with what the brothers had no trouble realizing to be irritation. “We are demonstrating the fine qualities of our ship to a rather large contingency of observers.”

He turned to say something to Helen, who seemed a little agitated with him, but then she often found herself so, as they well knew.

“Shall we challenge them to a race now?” Israel asked his brother.

“Don’t be an ass. Look at them. Loaded down with extra people. It won’t look good for us to beat them now.” Though it will make no difference with fewer people. We shall trounce them just the same! “Ask if they want to discuss the match on the ground.”

Israel turned and prepared to ask, but stopped and pointed. “Oh look, that’s jolly. They’ve named their ship!”

Edgar looked over and made a face. This would never do. It certainly raised the stakes and they would have to come up with a name swiftly. But what?

             

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