Translated by Addis of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
The argument turned into a conflict. The conflict turned into a battle. The battle turned into a full-scale mutiny. From the mess hall to the bridge, there was gunfire everywhere.
Warrant Officer Reeves, holding his gun, cowered behind a corner. He was surrounded by a few of his comrades from the maintenance team, each of whom was covered in paint.
The adjutant attacked the crowd in the mess hall under the pretext of suppressing the mutiny. Warrant Officer Reeves and the others hurriedly fled through the back door, but an ambush was set up there as well. The adjutant had figured out their route and was waiting to take them all out.
From the beginning, he did not want to negotiate.
Warrant Officer Reeves and the others killed their way out of the mess hall and retreated, fighting and retreating, all the way to the bottom. The ship had exploded into such a commotion, and no captain had come out to quell the chaos, it seemed that the captain had…
He didn’t dare to continue to think. He also didn’t dare to speculate about why the adjutant and the others wanted to hide the news of the captain’s death. Were they planning to seize power? But having seized the Wellington, where could they go?
“Warrant Officer,” said a soldier from the maintenance crew. Half of his face was stained red with blood, one eye no longer open. “The leader across the way is Drass. I know him, he’s a reasonable man. I don’t believe he joined the lieutenant’s side. He’s just following orders. Do you think we can convince them?”
Warrant Officer Reeves shook his head, indicating that he couldn’t decide. He also knew that Drass was a good man, a man who respected his superiors and was extremely beloved by his subordinates. Colonel Freeman thought highly of him. If he knew that the colonel had been killed by the senior crew, he couldn’t be indifferent. But he was a man of honor…
Warrant Officer Reeves thought of his family back home. He didn’t want to die here, but at this rate, he was bound to die. He could only try.
“Drass!” he shouted. “Don’t you see? The captain has been killed! It’s the senior crew that’s in charge now! They are conspiring to take over the Wellington! Are you going to help the enemy?”
“Shut up, Reeves!” Drass yelled gruffly. “I advise you to surrender, and you might be court-martialed for life!”
“A court-martial? We can’t be court-martialed! The ship has been taken, so what court are we going to? You’re not a fool. You’ve sensed something’s wrong! If the captain was still alive, why didn’t he come forward? The only explanation is..” Warrant Officer Reeves poked his head out and tried to communicate further with the soldier across the way, but a bullet hit just an inch from his head. He hastily retreated. “Damn it, Drass! Don’t you have any thoughts of your own!”
“The orders I received were to suppress the rebellion!”
Warrant Officer Reeves kept hearing gunfire in the distance. They hadn’t mutinied at all. They just made a reasonable request, and yet they were being charged with this…
“Warrant Officer, why don’t we surrender?” one of the young engineers said. “Maybe the other side will give us a break…”
The others glared at him, “What are you dreaming of? Surrender is a death sentence!”
“But we’re outnumbered! We can’t win! Unless the captain himself comes out, there’s no way the other side will stop!”
“The captain is already dead!”
It’s useless, Warrant Officer Reeves thought in despair, Now we’re even starting to implode. In a short time, we’ll all fall apart…
“Who says I’m dead?” A ghostly voice came from behind them.
Warrant Officer Reeves jolted, and subconsciously raised his gun in the direction the voice came from.
“What, Warrant Officer Reeves, are you going to shoot me?” A man hobbled out of the shadows, as he held onto the wall. He was gaunt, dull, and woefully clothed, as if he hadn’t eaten for days, but his eyes still shone brightly. Those were the eyes that Warrant Officer Reeves knew so well.
“Captain…?” Warrant Officer Reeves couldn’t believe his eyes. Wasn’t Colonel Freeman supposed to be dead already? Who was this man? A ghost? A zombie?
“Drop your gun, Warrant Officer Reeves.” Colonel Freeman said faintly.
He knows me, Warrant Officer Reeves thought to himself. I’m just a small warrant officer on the maintenance crew, and the captain only asked my name during a tour of the crew’s equipment room. No one expected the top commander of an airship to remember an engineer’s name, but Colonel Freeman did.
Chief Warrant Officer Reeves suddenly felt his nose tingle. He thought to himself, Whether this colonel is a man or a ghost, he will follow him.
Colonel Freeman passed in front of the group of soldiers and turned the corner. Warrant Officer Reeves hastily pulled him back. “Colonel, the man across the way is…”
“I know.” Colonel Freeman shook off his hand and shouted, “Drass, you son of a bitch! Put the gun down!”
Colonel Freeman would be shot to hell! Warrant Officer Reeves thought in horror. But the bloody scene he imagined didn’t happen.
The soldiers confronting them were all so surprised to see the captain slowly coming out from around the corner that they couldn’t even hold their guns.
It wasn’t that they didn’t doubt the orders of their superiors. The top had aid that a rebellion had broken out on the ship and had to be suppressed, and they rightly gave priority to obeying orders. However, they had also heard some whispers about the strange behavior of the senior crew.
When they began to suppress the rebellion, their suspicions became even deeper. With such a level of unrest breaking out on the airship, why was the captain still absent? Could it be that the captain had been killed by the adjutant, who had conspired with others to seize power, as the rebels claimed?
Now, the living captain appeared before them. All rumors of his death collapsed in an instant. But the captain told them to lay down their arms – not the rebellious group.
“You’ve all grown eyes and seen me alive and kicking, haven’t you?” The captain’s sharp gaze swept across the soldiers’ faces. “Now follow me. We have to recover the Wellington.”
He made his way through the wall of soldiers and headed for the upper level.
Warrant Officer Reeves’ group, with their weapons in hand, looked at each other and then at soldiers opposite. Both of them looked a little confused. In the end, none of them said anything, just followed the captain in silence.
The situation was reversed so quickly that Warrant Officer Reeves didn’t react for a long time. They encountered many counter-insurgents along the way, as well as many repressive forces. The captain ordered them to stop exchanging fire and join him. The number of people following him grew. They ascended to an upper deck, and then another deck, and Lieutenant Reeves realized they were heading for the bridge.
“Captain, did the lieutenant and the others betray you?” Warrant Officer Reeves asked cautiously.
“They are under control and out of their depth.” Colonel Freeman looked grave, “If you meet them, don’t kill them all, just disarm them. I have a friend who is looking for a way to get them back to normal.”
Warrant Officer Reeves didn’t understand. What did it mean to be “controlled”? Did it mean they were being held? And what did it mean to get them back to normal? He didn’t understand a lot of things, but he trusted the captain.
And so they went up to the bridge.
Colonel Freeman selected twenty of his best men, plus a representative from each group. Warrant Officer Reeves was among them.
The atmosphere on the bridge was so oppressive that one could not breathe.
All the senior crew members were here. The adjutant stood at the front of the bridge, and next to him were the navigator, the chief sailor, the chief engineer, and others. They all looked cold, hard and solemn. They reminded Warrant Officer Reeves of the statue of Death at the entrance of his old family cemetery.
“So, you guys are really under control, are you?” Colonel Freeman asked in a low voice.
No one answered him.
The Colonel made a gesture. “Do it. Be careful not to damage the equipment on the bridge.”
Twenty of his handpicked soldiers surrounded the bridge crew with their guns. The other side also drew their guns and confronted the captain’s side.
The lieutenant’s cold, frosty gaze was like an iron nail, fixed firmly on Colonel Freeman.
“There is no way we are going to let you have this airship.” The adjutant said, “Even if we have to destroy it.”
With that, he quickly pulled down a red lever on the console.
A bullet hit him in the forehead and went through the back of his head. It splattered blood and stained the glass behind him a bloody red. He took a step back and slid into a sitting position with his back against the console.
The other senior crew members were unmoved, indifferent to the death of their companion. Soldiers rushed up and pinned them to the ground.
The airship shook violently. It no longer remained hovering, but swooped down towards Nameless Island.
Warrant Officer Reeves immediately stepped forward and pulled the body of his lieutenant away to prevent his blood from seeping into the device. He pushed the red lever up, yet the airborne ship’s downward momentum didn’t abate in any way!
“How could this happen?” Colonel Freeman raised his eyebrows in surprise.
Chief Warrant Officer Reeves checked the console, then looked up in horror. “Colonel, the ship’s differential programming has been modified.”
Colonel Freeman didn’t understand the technical terminology and asked, “What happens then?”
“The airship will fly in the designated direction unless the program is changed back. But the only person who knows how to do that is the navigator.”
The Colonel’s eyebrows knitted together. “Wouldn’t it help to push the drawbar back?!”
Chief Warrant Officer Reeves shook his head.
The pinned down navigator let out a sneer. “Even destroying this airship won’t save you men. You could have all survived and started a new life in a new country, but you had to die. Now it’s fine. Let’s all die together!”
Along with his sharp laughter, the vibration of the airship became more and more violent.
At this moment, the sea directly below the airship stirred up a monstrous water splash.
A hideous beast rose up in the air, with a body as graceful as a dragon, scales as bright as steel, and wings spread out like a black cloud.
Warrant Officer Reeves’ heart sank. It was all over. The airship was about to crash, and now there was a monster. They would be destroyed. Maybe someone could escape in time on a small skimmer, after all, one of the functions of a skimmer was to escape. The captain was certainly qualified, but as for the others…
The ship shook again so violently that Warrant Officer Reeves nearly bit his tongue. The tremor came from below, similar to an earthquake, and everyone was unsteady, falling left and right in a heap.
Was the monster attacking them from below? If it was so big, what kind of metal shell could stop it if it crashed into the airship recklessly?
But strangely enough, after that jolt, the Wellington stopped falling. They were still moving forward, but their direction returned to horizontal.
The men on the lookout and survey teams had their noses almost flat against the glass.
“Report colonel!” the lookout practically screamed. “The beast it…It’s under the ship…Bracketing us!”
Red eyes stared into red eyes.
The pulsations in its chest followed the pulsations in his chest.
He couldn’t hear the sound, but wonderfully, he seemed to understand the other’s meaning. It was as if the other creature’s thoughts as they appeared directly in his mind.
–-There are Ether Crystals inside you too. That’s the power of the Lord, the beast said.
–What Lord? Which Lord? he asked.
–Our Lord. The master of the world. He gave me power and formed crystals in me. He has been gone for a long time. I am sealed here. Cursed by His enemies. I cannot leave this place. I lost my freedom, lost my Lord. I…Slept for a long time. So long that it has been forgotten by the world.
There were many parts of what the beast said that he didn’t understand, but it could feel the his pain. The soul was trapped in a cold, stiff shell, bound in a small, crumbling vessel.
— You can help me. And I will return the favor, the beast said.
–You don’t have a choice. Either die here, or help me. Then I’ll take you back to your world.
–I can’t free you. You will attack humans, and you will destroy the world.
–I only attack those who hurt me.
That was ridiculous. He had accepted his imminent death from the moment he fell off the airship. The fate of their kind was much the same. To die in the middle of a battle and not even have their bodies recovered. He had seen such an ending too many times. If his end was the same, then he had nothing to complain about.
The only thing he couldn’t let go of were those eyes. Not the red pair, but the golden green ones. Like a spring field, or an emerald poured over with gold. The fragrance of the Maypole. The city where it rained incessantly. The salty Mediterranean wind. Clockwork spinning, pendulums swinging, models spinning round and round the ceiling. The glorious sunset over the sea of clouds, like a dream that never ended.
He wanted to live. To go back to that colorful world.
–How can I help you? he asked.
–I have a scale with a spell painted on it. Destroy it for me, and I’ll be free.
–Why don’t you destroy it yourself?
–I can’t touch it. But you can.
He swam deeper into the ocean. The thing was so large that he felt like he was not swimming in the ocean, but walking on a hill. He found the scale the beast was talking about. It was located on the tail of the behemoth and was a slightly different color than the other scales around it. Only after swimming closer did he realize that the scale wasn’t a different color, but was carved with dense spell formations and incantations.
A sharp blade popped out of his only remaining hand and stabbed at the scale.
The beast let out a painful wail, which sounded extraordinarily thick and long in the sea, like an ancient trumpet. He stabbed the sword over and over into the scale, and large streams of blood spread into the seawater, like rising smoke. The surrounding seawater was dyed a divine color, obscuring his efforts. But he kept moving, each move stabbing deeper than the last, until he finally dug the scale out raw.
As soon as it left the behemoth’s body, the scale turned into countless flying ashes, and dissolved in the seawater.
The beast’s body curled up and its huge head turned backwards, as it turned its red eyes on him.
He didn’t know where to grab it. The beast’s body was covered in naked scales, and he couldn’t grab them. After a moment’s thought, he swam to the top of the beast’s head and grabbed its curved, hideous horns.
The beast rose up like an arrow. It split the waves, leapt out of the sea and soared on its wings. In a flash, it flew from the deepest depths of the sea up into the sunny sky. It was just like the rise from hell to heaven. He could feel the joy of the giant beast. The joy of regaining freedom spread outward like a ripple, and washed over his brain.
He lifted his head and looked at the golden airship. Even someone like him, who knew nothing about the principles of airship flight, could see that the man-made sky overlord had lost its balance and was about to crash on Nameless Island.
If it fell in the lake or the ocean, it would be fine, but if it fell on land, it would end in destruction.
—Since I helped you, you should help me too! he said to the behemoth. Go after it!
— You’re going to save that steel monster? The behemoth didn’t care. Why? It’s the one that hurt me, and I’m doing the best I can by not destroying it.
—Because up there…there’s someone very important to me.