Mal: “Well, look at this! Appears we got here just in the nick of time. Whaddya suppose that makes us?”
Zoe: “Big damn heroes, sir.”
Mal: “Ain’t we just!”
Malcolm and Zoe; Firefly
It is so good to be back on the drift again. I know it’s a job for Christine, and that we’re kinda stranded until we get the Device back, but I’m still having a great time. It took a little explaining to set Cat right on what we do, but once she understood – or at least thought she did – she agreed to join us on the run. So far, she seems to be having a great time too.
Christine got us to the new reality in a 1930s milk truck – gotta be something else to the trip though, ’cause she just left it there when we arrived. And the trip itself kinda screwed me and everyone else up for a while – made me feel all kinds of sick. At least no one threw up.
The Manhatten we found ourselves in was just awesome! I mean, it was the 30s of course, but the buildings were towering, and there were more than a dozen zeppelins in the sky – one was even hooked to the mast atop the Empire State Building. We looked around a bit at first and quickly realized we needed to get some change – all any of us had were hundred-dollar bills from the gnome at Mike’s. (I think he’s some sort of cross-dimensional banker; good to know if we keep on drifting, but his rates (10%) are steep!). That done, we found out where we could catch a ride to Chicago – Grand Central Station of course – and bought our tickets to Chicago. We had four days to kill before our flight so we checked into a hotel and settled into waiting.
By settle in, I mean we enjoyed ourselves a little. This world wasn’t quite what we expected – history had gone slightly awry after Prohibition, and the US had Balkanized. Now, there were several smaller countries on the continent – we were in the Empire State, and Chicago was in the Industrial States. There were ‘issues’ between these two, so border skirmishes were quite common. And most of the skirmishes were air battles – seems planes are the primary method of travel in this world, at least in North America. Without a central government, no interstate highway system was formed, which led to the predominance of aircraft for travel. That and the ready availability of helium meant the age of the zeppelin was in full swing. And these zeps are huge! We haven’t seen one yet, but we’ve heard some of them can carry full squadrons of planes in them.
The Luxor – the zeppelin we were traveling to Chicago on – wasn’t quite that big though. We found out later that it could have carried maybe a dozen planes (still bigger than the Hindenburg, which was the zeppelin we saw at the Empire State Building), but it only had one lone plane in it at the start of our journey. It was supposed to be a three-day trip to Chicago, and the only real obstacle would have been pirates attacking – a common occurence, apparently, for commercial flights between the two nations. Well, it happened, and we had a ringside seat for the beginning of the battle. The crew of the zeppelin fought well, but in the end they were just out-classed by the pirates. Eventually, the Captain was forced to surrender and asked the passengers to return to their cabins to await the arrival of the pirates. We’d lose our valuables and would have to be ransomed back to freedom.
Well, that didn’t sit too well with us, as you can guess. After a quick strategy session, we decided to ambush the boarders at the hangar. We bluffed and snuck our way back there and set up. Knucks used some sort of spray he had on the catwalk where the oncoming pirates would have to disembark their planes and we waited. Well I don’t know what that spray was, but each and every pirate that tried to step there was on his or her ass in an instant. I guess Steve wasn’t paying attention, ‘cause after the first two boarders hit the grating, he charged and nearly flew when he hit the slick part. Luckily he didn’t go over the edge, ’cause we were still 5,000 feet over the mountains. It was no work at all to capture the three planes that came on board, but we still had a major problem – there were still a dozen or so pirates flying around outside, and they would be expecting to hear from their fellows shortly.
The next part of our plan was basically suicidal, but those are usually our better ones. Sam would take the plane that had been on the Luxor – a Bell Valiant – and would seem to be trying to escape. The rest of us would use the pirate planes we just captured to make a show of trying to capture her. When the other pirates showed up to help shoot her down, we’d then be able to ambush the pirates. Thing was, even if that went precisely to plan, we’d still be outnumberd 2-3 to 1. Thankfully, the Captain of the Luxor helped us out, so that when we sprung our trap, the zeppelin’s guns and rockets wreaked utter havoc upon the pirates.
During the dogfight – my first one! – me and Cat managed to shoot down one plane in our Warhawk, John and Corey scrubbed one in their Kestrel, and Steve – the lucky bastard – dropped two in his Avenger. Sam got shot down and her chute failed to deploy. I didn’t see it happen, but both Corey and John swear they watched the Rocketeer save her, and deposit her safely back aboard the Luxor. So basically, we’re in a world where planes and pirates rule the skies, and at least one pulp hero is alive and well! Talk about one of the sweetest possible realities to come to!
We’re in Chicago now, celebrating our first victory and good fortune. We got a small bounty on the five pirates we’d captured, and managed to keep the three planes. Steve has an idea to sell those planes and get three new one – sounds good to me. Caitlyn’s having a good time and is really happy, so I’m on cloud nine! I know it’s eventually gonna get harder, but until then, cheers!