Flying the Storm(78)
Author:C. S. Arnot


    He was furious. Giddy that he had survived, but furious. And he didn’t think he liked the thought of the Enkidu being used to ‘unify’ the Caucasus, either. Not one bit.

    “So,” said Fredrick, “What do you think?”

    Aiden turned and considered his friend. His expression didn’t lean either way. Not that it mattered.

    “We should go to Tbilisi just so I can punch him in his big, fat face.”

    Fredrick let out a roar of laughter and slapped his knees.

    “Not Denmark then?” he said.

    Aiden smiled at that. Denmark did sound good. Fredrick’s father was an excellent cook.

    “So we are decided,” Fredrick continued. “We are going to Tbilisi to beat Teimuraz.”

    Aiden’s smile widened. He had a warm, fuzzy feeling that may or may not have been the morphine. Everything would be fine. They had work. They had the Iolaire. She would keep flying. That was all that mattered.

    The three of them sat in contented quiet for a few moments. Aiden wondered if Hammit had a clue what they had been talking about. Aiden himself was having trouble digesting Teimuraz’ message. A question boiled up out of the confusion.

    “Will she take it to him?” he asked then. “To Teimuraz?”

    Fredrick shook his head slowly, his smile disappearing. “If he really believes she will do as he says, he is as foolish as he is fat.” He breathed deeply through his nose and got to his feet. “That woman is loyal only to her father,” he said quietly.

    There was still pain there, clearly. Fredrick picked the monitor from Aiden’s lap and folded it away. As he leaned close, Aiden saw creases in his friend’s face: lines that hadn’t been there before. A toll had been taken on everybody.

    “That airport Teimuraz loves so much?” Fredrick continued, a mirthless smile touching his lips. “I don’t think it’s going to stay his for very long. I think Armenia is about to become much, much bigger.”

    That made sense. The warship would give Tovmas the power he needed and then some. Aiden tried to piece out the consequences of that, but the soft haze of the pain drugs were making it difficult to think past the present. He leaned back onto the pillows and let his eyes close for a moment.

    There was a shout outside the room, and running footsteps along the corridor. Another shout. Someone talking quickly, urgently. Aiden opened his eyes.

    Fredrick went to the door then, slipping out. Hammit was on his feet, his fists balled by his sides.

    A few seconds passed and Fredrick returned.

    “The window,” he said, pointing. He reached it and tugged the blind open.

    Aiden turned his head to look. The white daylight was painfully bright for a moment, but his eyes slowly adjusted to it and the glow faded. The window looked out over the city; northwards, he reckoned by the line of hills in the distance. It was in the north that something looked wrong. A cloud darker than the rest, maybe, above the hills. He squinted and let his eyes focus.

    Fear, so sudden and strong that it caught the breath in his throat.

    High above the hills, wreathed in smoke, the Gilgamesh was coming.

    ###

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