[IC RP thread] The airship to Carcassonne

Esther hums one of the songs she heard at the gypsys’ taverna and breathes on the glass of the window. She then traces her star into the fog with her finger and smiles to herself, before glancing back at the other passangers who have, for one reason or another, chosen to catch a ride on the queen’s personal vehicle.

The airship’s flight from Skye is slow, though it’s growing dark and the view from the air doesn’t quite provide a clear look at the devestation on the ground as the ship moves over England. Accepting that her morbid curiosity about the state of the land below them isn’t going to be satisfied at the moment, Esther turns to more immediate matters.

“Where’s Artemis? He was looking tired, did he fall asleep? And if he has, did anyone see where I put my pen?”

“Mr Cole is currently on the upper deck cleaning zombie off of his weapons.” Jane pipes up from nearby “The Queen asked that everyone do that outside because of the stench.” She looks thoughtful “It was pretty rank.” Jane sits down in a chair next to Esther. “So what will you do now?”

“And your pen is on the window sill”

Esther regards Jane with affection. “Thank you, O drunkenly-declared Best Friend For Life.” She reaches for her pocket watch, no longer functional after the battering it took over the last few days, and runs a thumb along its cover. “I’m not quite certain yet. I’d barely left London, before this week, and Artemis seems to think I should be making up for lost time.” She smiles at the ring on her finger. “And since it seems like Skye is no better than anywhere else after all, I might as well see something of the world. I’ll feel safer with his ridiculous, arrogant face around no matter where I am anyway.” She sighs a little. “I’m hoping to see if I can find anything out about the whereabouts of my uncle as well. What about you? Is there any chance of you joining us for at least part of the trip?”

Jane smiles in return and tugs on a braid from her hat. “We’ll probably see each other. I’m joining the long range robins. There aren’t too many of us, so you’ll likely get your mail from me if your travelling.” she lowers her voice conspiritally “'Specailly if I tell the sorters that we’re friends. Those guys are amazing, they’ll take that into account.” Jane shifts a little uncomfortably “Hopefully we we next meet, I’ll be less of a coward. Nothing like treking alone across europe to instil some backbone, I’m told.”

Artemis slowly makes his way below deck, desperately clutching the banister the whole way. He carefully seats himself next to Esther, briefly nodding acknowledgement to Jane as he sits before taking a moment to calm himself.
“Fear is the mind killer. Fear is the little death. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. Only I will remain” He rehearses the mantra taught to him years ago silently in his head.
His mind calm again he turns and give his wife a quick kiss. “'ere dove, next time we ‘ave ter get on a bleedin’ airship, please remind me ter clean me weapons afore 'and, bleeding fings give me da willies, wifout 'avin ter go on deck” he states, keeping his voice low so as not to disturb anyone else

Esther rests her head against Artemis’s shoulder and grasps his hand, a fierce look of love mingled with concern flashing across her face- For all the joy she receives from casually tormenting him, it seems that her protective instincts flare the second any form of real distress is present. “I didn’t realise they bothered you so much,” she murmurs. “We can avoid them from now on, if you like- Well. As much as it’s possible to do so. Anyway, there are other ways to get around, aren’t there?” She kisses his cheek. “Ever tried train-hopping?”

Esther turns to Jane.

“Jane, you’re one of the bravest people I know. Anyone who says otherwise is a fool.” She scowls momentarily. “Anyway, I don’t know who’d be sending me mail- Perhaps I should send something to myself under a false name to ensure that we’ll be able to meet to catch up.”

She smiles, obviously pleased with herself for having thought of a way around this drawback.

Jane blinks. “Yes.” she mutters “that would work…” she shakes her head and laughs. “Don’t do it to often though, there aren’t many of us so It wouldn’t be good to clog up the system with letters that you don’t need.” Out the window red glows can be seen though the darkness, fires still burning from the demon invasion. “Thank you for saying I’m brave, but all I’ve ever done is run and hide. I mean” she waves her gloved hands int he air “I’m not going to go out and attack demons and the like, just maybe I won’t scream as much when they do.” she adds quietly “And I’ll think to go get help from people who CAN attack demons.”

“You don’t understand how people work -you don’t mind me saying that, I hope? I’ve heard you say it enough times yourself, and you’re quite open about it. It doesn’t seem to stop you from doing anything you need to do, though, and though people can be so hard to understand, even when you’ve not lost all sense of context. And you volunteered for a position that helps to ensure that civilisation carries on as best it can,” Esther tells Jane. “That’s bravery. It’d be all too easy for you to give up, but you’re out there all the time, carrying on, even though no one could fault you for choosing to look after yourself above everything else. Anyway. Are you stopping in London? I have a few errands I want to run there.”

Jane looks a little embarrassed. “Yes. There’s a royal mail bunker outside the city where most of the survivors who didn’t make it to an airship will have gone. From there i can make my way to wherever Chief Emerson is, and I can get myself reassigned. I can run some errands for you along the way if you want.”

“No, I’m quite happy to look after my own errands, just hoping for extra company- After losing touch it’s nice to see you again. I want to see if my house is still standing -I’ll bet you anything my old bat of a housekeeper is still guarding the place. I inherited her from Uncle Dennis along with everything else, she was a bit of a fixture in the house.” She pokes Artemis in the shoulder. “She never trusted this one- She was always insinuating that he was out to corrupt me.”

Jane looks interested “Was he?” she then realises she’s being a little rude and turns to Artemis “Were you?” she asks directly.

Esther bites her lip, unable to fully hide a grin as she waits to see what her husband’s defense is.

Francesca sits against the side of the ship, watching the friendly exchange. She smiles at Esther’s antics and youth, and remembers better days on the front, remembers HIM. Her eyes focus occasionally on Jane. It’s going to be an awful lot of trouble when the Professor does what he’s going to do with that demon. But then again, he almost had me convinced, too, she says to herself lightly. Ah well, here’s hoping that it turns out for the best - it would be a shame to waste the lives that have gone into that dreadful machine.

She has scraps of paper held down by iron nuggets in front of her, describing the blueprints for the machine she intends to build on Skye. Forcing her mind away from idleness, she makes a few calculations as to how much of the stuff she’ll actually need. The number is staggering. She doesn’t know how long it will take, but for some reason, she’s intent on the completion of the project - if only to find her place amongst the refugees on Skye.

“Jane, remember that you said you’d keep an eye out for iron for me…” she puts in to no one in particular.

“Were I wot?” Artemis responds coyly, apparently trying to determine the verticalness of the walls as he answers.

“Trying to corrupt Esther?”

“Now why in da world would I wanna do somfing like dat eh? dere were nofing innocen’ enuff lef’ fer me ter even try, time i met 'er” Artemis wondered whether he’d receive an elbow or punch this time

“Oh that makes sense.” Jane nods thoughtfully and glances around the ship. Quite a few poeple had chosen to leave the Isle of Skye. Possibly becuase of all the death there, Skye had made it clear to everyone that there was no safe harbour anymore. She see’s Francessca frowning at her and waves uncertainly.

Esther stares solemnly at Artemis for a moment, then a smile blooms across her face. She kisses him with as much enthusiasm as she can get away with in public, and reaches for his hand, intertwining her fingers with his.

“She really was an insane old harpy,” she tells Jane. “Arty wasn’t the one anyone should have been worried about. All the while he was ‘corrupting’ me, I was carrying on behind everyone’s back with Uncle Dennis’s lawyer’s son.” She frowns. “Bastard that he turned out to be- He saw me in the throes of one of my fits and called me unnatural, and that was the end of that.” She shakes her head, but the momentary bitterness subsides within seconds as another thought occurs to her. “Uncle Dennis seemed happy when we became friends -I think he hoped that he’d help bring me out of my shell. After all, we met just after I’d started talking again and I wasn’t really used to being around people very much. He always thought highly of you,” she says, turning to Artemis. “I remember one night, I must have been about seventeen, when you’d walked me home and after you’d gone he started to talk about how even though how life for my generation was so much more difficult than it had been for my parents in so many ways, society had changed and that I should keep in mind that in certain significant aspects, I was freer than they were.”

“I didn’t quite understand what he was talking about.” She laughs and squeezes Artemis’s hand, then rests her head on his shoulder, an expression of deep contentment on her face. “I really was a bit dense.”