An Interesting Day

'…still your father refuses me permission to marry, but I will not relent. I will meet you in Maracaibo, even if to hold you with but my eyes once again. Until then, I remain,

Yours in faith and heart,
Baron Richard Devillaers.'

Setting the quill back in the Inkwell, Richard turned to look out the plastiglass window that was the front 'wall' of his quarters aboard the airship Nostromo. The Sargasso sea of the mid north Atlantic sprawled out before him, an endless expanse of wave top and seaweed. The ocean was a beautiful place, full of serene scenery, if you found beauty in trackless expanses of nothing. Richard was however, never such a person, used to a bit more entertainment in his life. Still, he found he found the quiet solitude somewhat pleasant, different, after the angry swarms of people and activity of Europe.

At an altitude of nearly 10,000 feet, the Nostromo was well positioned for sweeping vistas such as he had now. She equipped with enough amenities for a Baron to travel in style, in comfort while still retaining a modicum of defensive capability. Her decks were as well appointed as her engines large, her gally as well stocked as her munitions lockers. The Nostromo was Richard's home when he traveled, where he lived since the Nazi’s had driven him from his home in the Netherlands. The good Baron stood from the large desk, looking down at the letter now while he paced the room. With a shake of his head, he set the letter back on the desk.

His flight jacket was taken up with an annoyed sigh before he paused only to check a report from the maintenance men. 'Excellent', thought he. The de Ruyter was fully fueled and re-armed, repaired after his disastrous encounter with Otto Kittel, the Nazi ace of the famed Condor Legion Air Wing. He had barely been able to limp back to Great Britain without the plane falling apart around him. As it was, the plane was out of commission for weeks as his crew repaired it.

He moved along the interior walkway of the large Zeppelin, to the aft Flight Deck where the de Ruyter was stored in a hanging cradle. The Flight Deck, along the lower bottom of the massive zeppelin, was designed to allow aircraft to be dropped from altitude and be retrieved in the same fashion by means of a trapeze mechanism that he did not fully understand, but that Richard appreciated. He depressed the button on the clunky intercom, a newer addition to the ship. It allowed instant communication to the bridge Richard thought it simply stellar. “Commander Havalland, I will be taking the de Ruyter for a flight. Maintain current course and bearing for the Nassau Skyport."

Richard had traveled halfway around the world to come and visit with Johanna after she returned home to the Bahamas, but her father, Governor Axelrod of Bermuda, continued to deny his access British Airspace. It was a petty thing, the mark of a tyrant, but Richard accepted it, like all things, in the stoic grace of a nobleman.

That stoic grace however, did not stop him from dueling with the Governors airmen when they came to harass him. Every day when the sun reached its zenith over the Atlantic, two planes always came to buzz the Nostromo, taunting him, daring him. He often rose to the challenge and sent the British home with a few new holes in their planes, rarely trying to actually kill them. Sometimes however, he was the one who had to cede the field. Richard was a nobleman, he was a wealthy man, but he was anything but a fighter ace.

“Yes, Your Excellency.” Came the response from the bridge.
Climbing in to the cockpit, Richard settled the headset on, strapping the leather flight helmet in to place and performed his preflight check. Guns were loaded and ready to go, fuel tanks were at maximum, oil pressure was good. Pulling the cockpit along its slides, he locked it in to position, sealing himself in to the craft.

Extending a gloved hand, Richard grasped the stick. Licking his lips, a nervous habit, as he prepared, Richard pushed it to the right. To the rear of the craft, the rudder smoothly swung to the right. Pressure to the left produced an equal response from the plane. Satisfied with the results of the systems check, he keyed up his headset microphone. "Nostromo-Command, this is de Ruyter, We are good for launch position. Open the doors."

The ship’s response was immediate as red lights came on in the fighter bay, illuminating the small room like a womb. The klaxons sounded just as the womb's bottom cracked open to reveal the seascape far far below. A yellow light came on directly fore of the cockpit, flashing five times before the de Ruyter rotated in her cradle, now pointing nose -down. The surface of the Atlantic slowly drifted past two miles below.

The crimson lights pulsed twice as the powerful Rolls-Royce V-1593 Engine roared and came to full power. The plane struggled briefly in its harness, but on the third pulse, the clamps released and the world simply dropped away. It was an odd moment of sensation as gravity stopped having a hold on him.

The moment of weightlessness was short lived as the G-Forces mounted rapidly. The plane dropped altitude with all swiftness, pressing Richard back in the seat. This was the most dangerous part of the mission, the launch. It always was. One wrong move and you could black out before you realized it, and when you woke, Saint Peter would be admonishing you about how flying involved not slapping in to the ocean at 300 miles an hour. Keeping his hands firmly on the stick he started to ease it back, leveling the plane out.

The flaps changed position and air flowed in new directions. Moment by moment, the plane's nose started to come up. By the time the Altimeter read 5000 feet, the plane was flying level. A mile in just under a half minute, but it seemed like an eternity to the pilot. "Nostromo-Command, this is de Ruyter, we have achieved flight profile. What’s the horizon look like?" Asked the Baron over the Radio.

"Sir, the lookouts report nothing within horizon, which is 40 miles of our position. You are in clear skies." came the response from Commander Havalland. Grunting his understanding, Richard brought the engine to full power, the stick straight back for a few seconds before rolling the plane sharply to perform a split 'S' maneuver to be traveling the opposite direction at a slightly higher altitude. He would enjoy the flight today. No combat, no expectation, simple amusement.

It was perhaps ten minutes later, that the radio crackled to life. Richard had spent the time practicing his aerial maneuvers, burning off a small amount of fuel and feeling the plane’s return to full health.

"Sir, we are receiving an incoming transmission." Came the voice of Commander Havalland. Reaching over, Devante flicked a set of toggles to route his planes Squawker in to the Nostromo’s. The static filled his ears before he squelched it with a turn of a knob. "Confirmed, Nostromo-Command. I have it."

"….Bermuda-tower to Airship Nostromo, come in Nostromo." came the almost frantic voice over the tinny speakers.

A quirk of the eyebrow comes as Richard puts the plane in to a level cruising pattern. "Bermuda-Tower, This is Airship Nostromo, Baron Devillaers speaking. I read you, over."

The speakers buzzed for a moment before the reply came. " Baron Devillaers, Governor Axelrod requests you immediately change course for heading 225 South by southwest and make all due speed, over."

This was somewhat… unusual. Richard measured his response, trying to puzzle out the meaning of this. "And what is the purpose of this course change? Have I not been respectful of the Governors wishes to not enter his airspace? This will take me directly in to his lands, Over."

There is a long silence. A new voice enters the Captains ears. “Baron Devillaers said Governor Axelrod, forgoing radio protocol. "Johanna’s transport is currently being chased by unknown aircraft. My own fighters are…" A pause. "Low on fuel after maneuvers in the air and must land. You have permission to enter my airspace."

Whatever amusement the status of Governor Axelrod ‘s aircraft, which had no doubt been on their way to bother him, brought to Richards's lips died as he considered who and what may be trying to assault Johanna’s transport. Pirates, likely interested in the fine ransom she could bring. He reached for his map and started doing the navigation calculations. About 120 miles away.

"Understood, Bermuda Tower. Nostromo is in route. ETA is 18 minutes at top speed." With that, he flipped off the Radio link and comm'd back to the Airship. "Commander Havalland. Full speed. I'll be on fumes when you catch up to me. De Reyter out." Richard pulled the stick around and the plane banked hard, diving down to a lower altitude as he reoriented on the new bearings. Flipping another switch, the guns cycled to hot.

It was going to be an interesting day in the New World.

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