by John Conway
Ronnie placed her chair in the center of the Station patio. For now their work was done. The heavy supply transport was months away. She had nothing to do now but pass the time.
She reclined and inhaled. It was a rare windy day at the end of the Luwen Valley. The warm breeze felt like a gentle hand brushing her face. She could get used to this … if the company were a little better.
She heard Hiram stumble to the doorway behind her. The jerk was almost happy today. A New Hope merchant offered him three cases of Second Spring Wine so he would stop making trouble about a traffic incident two months ago. The wine was good—considering how far in the boonies they were. And Hiram was on his second bottle today.
“I’ll let you have a glass if you take care of my laundry tomorrow,” he said.
“Give it a rest.”
God she wished Daniel was here to enjoy this downtime. With all his demons, he could use it. And besides, he could be fun.
“Your idiot boyfriend is not coming back,” said Hiram. “You understand that, don’t you?”
“They’ll be arresting him right about now, I would say.”
“Harass someone else.”
He stepped out and leaned his butt against the porch rail. With an ugly smirk he said, “You would do better to be more polite to the people that matter.”
“I am polite to the people that matter,” she said, rocking the chair forward and standing. “Think I’ll go inside now.”
He grabbed her arm.
“Let go,” she said. Her tone was sharp and clear. She glared at his clouded eyes. He seemed a bit beyond himself. Her heart pounded. If she had to, she’d crack his skull.
He stared back. His expression was angry, intense. He looked her up and down with seeming disdain. Then he scoffed and let go.
“Not worth it,” he muttered.
She heard a high pitched whine. “What’s that?”
“It’s the godforsaken wind in this godforsaken land,” he said, walking away from her.
But he was wrong. It was something else. She stepped to the end of the patio and looked up.
Three shapes descended fast from above. This entire station had been built using ground transportation. A no-fly zone was in force the entire time they were here. This was a first—and a clear violation of protocol.
“What the hell are airships doing near this valley?”
“Air ships?” said Hiram, turning. He followed her gaze.
“Yeah,” she said. “Who the hell do they think they are?”
Hiram’s eyes widened. “Holy crap!”
“What?” she said. But Hiram’s wobbling form was already sprinting away.
Alarmed, she glanced back at the airships just in time to see the telltale flame of a self-propelled, ballistic weapon.
(c) 2011 John Conway