Chapter 1: An Unexpected Request
I lined up today’s news in front of me. Nothing in particular caught my eye.
Vessel had its very own newspaper that was sponsored by the royal family.
I was still young enough that the sight of me holding a newspaper felt so out of place it was almost comical.
My name was Ciel Migrateur, the son of the first “White Wing,” Akasha Migrateur. I had taken my father’s stream chart and continued on his legacy as a Swallow.
It was vital for me to be up to date with the news, especially since I often traveled back and forth between countries.
The news nowadays consisted of how the country was recovering from the war with Batoh and how they were securing new relationships with nearby countries.
Stella had said that it was intentional to deliver nothing but good news. People depended on Vessel to thrive, so they shouldn’t be burdened with the its problems.
The world we lived in was dubbed, “Noah.” It consisted of huge ocean streams that pushed around artificial and man-made “ships” that were so big they were essentially their own countries. These countries depended on Swallows who flew from country to country as middlemen to settle affairs and transport goods. Swallows usually acted alone, only relying on their seaplanes that were fitted with an engine that could essentially run forever.
The good news even got my spirits up. An organization had been formed between Vessel, Batoh, Nave, and Divel, the four major countries in the central ocean. Vessel’s representative to this organization was none other than its fourth princess— Princess Stella.
She even had a picture taken of her for the newspaper. As always, she flashed her patented innocent smile.
Stella may have been a princess, but through extraordinary circumstances, I did have a crazy adventure with her once before. And now, we worked together to protect the country we once risked our lives to save.
It had already been a few months since our grand adventure, but even now I had trouble believing the whole thing actually happened.
I laid out some other newspapers as well— they all had nothing but great news as wekk. However, that didn’t mean we didn’t have our own problems to face.
Just like how the darkness crept up on my cabin in Sunk Tierra, the real foe was still out there. No amount of light was going to outshine the monsters that lurked out there.
I thought about the legendary country of Boreas in the northernmost part of the world and the self-propelled boat they used to create chaos among our countries. While we did pass intel within the organization to a varying levels of success, currently we really only understood that Boreas was real and out there thanks to our Swallows passing on the news.
A self-propelling boat was inconceivable to most people. The boats we lived on were so big that they were considered countries by themselves and were only able to move by riding the ocean stream. As such, we didn’t know much of what was out there away from these streams.
Before, this sort of thing never bothered anyone. Countries generally never had to interact with other countries away from their path. If it was really necessary, Swallows would be used as a way of connecting countries together but still having them maintain safe distances from each other. Even the warring countries that crossed paths with each other were able to get a good read on when they had to prepare for battle by closely monitoring their position among the streams.
On the other hand, a self-propelling boat changed everything. Just the fact that such a thing existed meant that everyone had to be on guard from an attack that could come from anywhere.
This was a huge risk.
While news of Boreas and its self propelling boat spread throughout the countries, it was hard for many people to believe such a thing existed without witnessing it first hand. Most merely brushed it off as a rumor and didn’t take the threat seriously.
However, the four countries that made up the organization were well aware of the danger. Vessel and Batoh were direct victims as Boreas was the one who tried to spark a war between them. Nave, home to the pilot Klyce Alouette who witnessed everything first hand, and Divel, who had close relations to both Vessel and Batoh, all began to take precautions as well. In fact, while the organization certainly helped the four countries stand strong together, its true purpose was to be proactive against Boreas in case they ever attacked again.
I did say I had an epic adventure once before, but right now I was doing my usual duties as a Swallow. Maybe I should go search for Boreas and my father…
“But honestly, doing that is going to be difficult…” I said to myself with a sigh.
There weren’t even any leads to follow up on. The only thing I could do right now was to go around the different countries looking for clues. Of course, nothing seemed promising. I had no leads.
I took another sip of tea and noticed that the sunlight coming in from the window reflected off the tea in such a way that it kind of made it look like the sky.
I guess it was time to make another cup— I got up from my seat and headed to the kitchen. Now that I had an actual office provided to me by the royal family, I could do my work in a more professional environment due to its larger size and closer vicinity to the castle. I had already moved in, but it still felt too big to feel like home.
“What’s going on?” Stella asked as I returned to the living room. “You look troubled.”
She must have entered while I was brewing another cup of tea. Today, she was wearing a while blouse and an indigo dress with a large cap covering her eyes. We had bought both the skirt and the cap in order to hide her appearance when we traveled from Divel to Batoh a while back.
The fact that she was still wearing it to this day meant that she liked it.
“I look troubled because you scared me…” I replied. “Can’t you let me know when you barge in?”
“I did!” she snapped back. “I called out to you so many times, but you just didn’t answer!”
I knew this place was too big…
“Besides, I’m also an employee working in this office. That means I don’t have to announce myself every time I come in, right?”
“As a princess you should at least practice some good manners.”
“No, it’s fine. I come here not as the fourth Princess of Vessel, but as ‘The White Wing’s navigator. You can’t throw the princess card at me!”
She laughed, and I sighed.
Stella obviously couldn’t use her real name, so she registered her name as “Parsel” to the guild and used it whenever she flew as a Swallow. She was famous, but most people in foreign countries couldn’t recognize her on the street. Just a fake name was more than enough to hide her identity.
“You want some tea?”
She nodded happily, so I poured her some as well.
I still couldn’t believe that we had been travelling together as fellow Swallows. Of course, now that she was more famous she had other work as well, so it wasn’t like she was working with me all the time. She had become known as the “Princess of the Sky,” and often had to be the face of diplomacy and public announcements for Vessel.
“No work today?” I asked.
“Nope,” she said with a smile. “I keep thinking that I’ve become somewhat useful for our country, but I’m still not able to do anything. I’m more like a billboard, if anything.”
Ouch. Hearing her call herself a billboard actually stung inside.
Stella noticed and flash another smile while taking a sip of her tea.
“It’s okay,” she assured. “I had already decided that I’m going to do what I’m able to do and go from there.”
“You know, I doubt there’s anyone in this world that’s a Princess and a Swallow,” I said, knowing very well that I didn’t know what I trying to get at.
“Are you trying to cheer me up?” she replied with a smirk. “I really appreciate it.”
It’s not fair that she had the ability to cheer people up and not me.
“Ciel, what about you? Do you have work today?”
“Nah, I’ll probably be free for the next month or so.”
Vessel was heading south right now and was approaching the equator. Naturally, it started to warm up and would continue to do so until we headed back north in about three months.
As a Swallow there wasn’t much work due to the lack of countries around us. People didn’t have much to request when nothing was near.
I really should be looking for…
I snapped myself back to reality. No matter how thoroughly I thought things through, Boreas and my father’s unusual activities wouldn’t make any more sense.
“In any case, you’re right,” I said. “Just like me, we’ll stick with things we can do and work our way up.”
“That’s not something I expected to hear from you, Ciel,” she replied cheerfully.
“You seem… maybe a bit carefree? Something like that?”
“That’s not a good thing, is it?”
“It is! I know you’re working hard as well!”
“I guess so…”
“Hmm, how should I put this… It’s a good mentality to have in my opinion. So it’s a good thing!”
“That’s nice to hear, Stella. Thanks.”
I wondered if it was my turn to say something to her. Maybe something like, “let’s keep at it,” after everything we’d been through together.
We accomplished so many things with our own two hands. We may not have been able to make big strides all at once, but little by little we were able to make a change. Perhaps it was not only my mindset that had changed since we had first met.
“Ah,” said Stella, “If you’re not working, then what are you up to?”
“I was going to stop by the guild. There may be Swallows arriving today.”
“Then let’s go together!”
Stella was overwhelmingly popular now. Every time she walked down the street, people would always call out to her and say hello. She would never get anywhere if she were to respond to everyone, even if it was to a nearby place like the guild.
“Sorry Ciel, I know this can be troublesome…”
I shook my head. “No, it’s fine. Besides, I feel more happy if anything.”
“It means that we didn’t risk our lives for nothing,” I said, speaking from my heart. “Look how everyone acknowledges you now… Even though we couldn’t protect everything, it was well worth it in the end.”
There was so much that went on in the battle between Vessel and Batoh that most people only knew a small portion of what happened. Despite that, they were well aware of Stella’s heroic actions that ultimately saved the day.
I couldn’t be prouder of her newfound fame.
“I appreciate that, Ciel,” she said with a smile. However, her tone quickly got more serious. “But I shouldn’t be the one hogging all the credit. You did so much more than I did…”
I laughed. “It’s cool. It was just another day in the office for a Swallow.”
“Look, normally I wouldn’t even be able to talk to you like this, much less walk with you side by side. If you were in my shoes, you’d think this reward was way too much for what I did.”
“I hate when you put yourself down like that.”
“It was because of our decision to fight until the very end that I was able to end up by your side. Call it fate, an act of god, or whatever, but I’m really glad you chose me, a Swallow you just happened to stumble upon on your journey.”
Stella blushed. “I—I also hate when you say that!”
“Say what?” I replied, but she had ran up ahead.
We arrived at the guild and were met with the usual secretary. Somehow, she had both a relieved and anxious face upon seeing me.
“What’s wrong?” I asked.
“Some Swallow just delivered a letter to you… but something’s off about it, I think…?”
“What do you mean? Can I see it?”
The secretary handed me the letter, and I immediately noticed that it didn’t have a return address or sender name.
Stella also peaked at the letter and noticed something else. “There’s three receipt stamps on there, you see them?”
Other than the Vessel’s guild receipt stamp, there were two others stamped on it.
“Multiple exchanges, huh…” I said.
“Yeah, they had Swallows from different guilds pass this letter among each other until it got here. Generally Swallows only had the stream charts near their own home country, so there’s very few—if any—Swallows who can deliver things long distance. So, naturally they would choose to relay stuff to each other, right?”
“I see, makes sense.”
I nodded. “Exactly. The respective guilds handle the relay by determining both the best route to the final destination and the Swallows who actually make the deliveries. In any case, this isn’t something done commonly. It’s usually reserved for highly important stuff.”
“Yeah, if you think about it, employing one Swallow is already expensive enough. But multiple? Not many people could do that. Plus, there’s a high chance that nothing gets delivered at all.”
Using this method was roughly three to four times the cost as just hiring one Swallow, due to the delivery and arbitration fees of the different guilds.
“But look at the path this letter took… it’s weird,” said Stella.
“Hmm… Batoh’s Swallow guild… then to Divel’s?” I paused.
“Wait, what?” exclaimed Stella. “Why was this delivered in such a roundabout way? It could have been sent here directly…”
I nodded. This was not a delivery that covered long distances. Why would anyone purposely do this?”
“To hide where it was sent from,” I said. “By doing it this way, this letter could get delivered anonymously.”
What could possibly be inside this letter? I cut it open. It may have been expensive to deliver, but inside was just a single piece of paper:
I have something that needs to be delivered by the Swallow Ciel Migrateur and his partner. I’ll tell you the details after we meet. If completed successfully, I will tell you everything that you want to know.
On the ninth day of the month of the Flower, I’ll be waiting on the holy island.
“Ciel, this holy island…”
“Yeah, it’s Sunk Tierra,” I answered.
I was certain this letter came from my father.
“Then what’re you gonna do?”
I shrugged and offered her some tea instead. We had returned back to the our office after receiving the fated letter.
There was no time to waste. This was the perfect opportunity to get more information on Boreas and it was likely that such an opportunity would not present itself a second time. The fact that they had a self propelling boat meant that we would constantly be in danger. Boreas had already shown to be hostile by purposefully trying to start a war between Vessel and Batoh, and there was no guarantee they wouldn’t try to do it again.
Perhaps I could get to the bottom of this by meeting my father. He was, after all, somehow a member of Borea’s airforce.
What was my father’s end goal? Why was he reaching out to me? It was fishy that he wanted me to delivery something he could do it himself but ten times better. And if for some reason he couldn’t do it himself, he could get plenty of help from his fellow pilots in the airforce. This way he could minimize the chance of an information leak and maximize the probability of a successful delivery.
So why me?
“I think… yeah, I need to go,” I said finally.
I needed to go and find the truth about things.
If completed successfully, I will tell you everything that you want to know.
Of course, my father wrote that knowing how much I wanted to wring that information out of him. I knew I had no choice but to go with it… but it was frustrating nonetheless.
Stella hesitated a bit before saying, “I’m going to.”
“I knew you’d say that, but no. This is way too dangerous.”
This was different than all the other trips I had travelling with her as a Swallow.
“I don’t want you caught up in all this, Stella…”
“Yeah? But you’re forgetting one very important point,” she replied coldly. “I am your navigator.”
“True, but…” Even though I knew how she felt, I had to make a stance. “I can’t knowingly bring you into something this dangerous,” I said adamantly. “If something happened to you, I’ll regret it for the rest of my life.”
Stella sighed. “Now who’s being unfair!” she said, annoyed.
“I could say the same about you. Think about how I would feel if I let you go alone? I also would regret that for the rest of my life if something happened to you.”
Ah, that’s what she meant.
“Ciel, can I ask you something?”
“I’m not being a nuisance, am I?”
Of course I didn’t think she was. Not only was Stella’s ability to navigate way better than mine, I felt far more confident with her in the back seat. There had been so many instances where her ability to instantly detect enemy aircraft saved us from certain doom. As a bonus, she was also getting really good at shooting the rear gun.
“Honestly, many times I’m glad you’re in the back seat.”
“Then I’m going to stay your navigator,” she said. “Besides, look here on the letter— It requests you and your navigator… that’s me right?”
She picked up the letter and eagerly showed me.
“It does…” I desperately attempted one last thing to stop her from joining me. “But will King Sole even allow it?”
“Yes,” she replied confidently. “He allowed me to travel with you as a Swallow, and it’s important for me to witness what’s about to happen as a member of the Royal Family.”
“So you can really convince him to go…”
“Without a doubt.”
I sighed and nodded in defeat. “Alright. Once we get his permission, we’re going.”
It had been about a month since I last visited Mehnert’s Garage, one of many garages that helped with maintenance and other things. While they only worked on airplanes and not ships due to their small size, their expertise on perpetual engines was second to none. Their work was so phenomenal that they even had a reputation in other countries as well. It wasn’t uncommon for Swallows to come here from afar just for their maintenance.
South of Vessel’s main street was the industrial district. Even more south of that was the seaport and various warehouses, along with an imposing control tower.
Usually every time before I go to Sunk Tiera, I would send Polaris in here for a week-long maintenance and overhaul. I had already done so a month ago, but I knew I should send it in again between everything that’s happened so far. Besides, there was no knowing what’s going to happen, so I might as well be as prepared as possible.
Upon arriving to the garage, I opened the door and called out to them.
“Hey,” I said.
“Sorry, but today we have no work so we’re off. Or.. I mean we’re on break today so we’re not doing any work. Unfortunately, we cannot accept your request to… Oh, it’s you, Ciel.”
A man inside the office took a pause from reading and looked up at me. He was Ursus Mehnert, the owner of Mehnert’s garage, and his huge, imposing figure was almost like a polar bear rumored only in legends. From a glance, it seemed that reading a book was the last thing he’d do.
In the past, both my father and Ursus had been part of Vessel’s airforce, and apparently Ursus was the only mechanic that my father trusted enough to go to. They quit the military around the same time, with my father becoming a Swallow and Ursus starting his own business. Even after they went their separate ways, my father still came to him for repairs and maintenance.
“You always say the weirdest things,” I said to him.
“Who cares?” he replied. “I’m my own boss, so I do my own thing and choose my own customers. Wouldn’t you do the same?”
“Sure, if it’d help me with my work,” I replied nonchalantly. I peaked at the door far behind the counter and said, “Is Genie in?”
“Yeah, she’s got some new toys to fix from the army since this morning. Go say hi.”
“I came here for an overhaul of Polaris, but if you’re on break today, is tomorrow good?”
Ursus laughed. “No work today, but I always welcome getting new toys to tinker with.”
He gave me a slight nod and headed out back where the actual work was being done. The hangar itself was quite small— it could store roughly three small seaplanes in it. On the right side was a huge door that led straight out into the ocean.
Right now it was relatively empty due to the day off. Genie Mehnert was nowhere to be seen.
“Hey Genie? You there?”
“Oh hey… Yeah, I’m here. I’m here!”
She popped out deep within one of the smaller rooms. She had rough red hair sloppily held together with a headband and had on a black tank top with some olive colored overalls. Around her neck were a pair of safety goggles.
“Ah, Ciel, huh? Back already?”
“You seem lively as always, Genie.”
“Heh,” she replied. She put away her tools back into her utility belt, and starting wiping away her oily hands with a towel.
“Your dad says you got some new toys?” I asked.
She didn’t even pause as she excitedly jumped up and down. “Exactly, yes, yes!! I was just tweaking it a bit! It’s an incredible thing, you know… clearly a cut above the rest. I’ll show you!”
I could tell she hadn’t changed one bit.
She took my hand and led me right back to the room she came out of. Inside, I saw a perpetual engine on top of one of the tables.
“Wow, nothing’s missing from it?”
“Yeah! Even the throttle has everything needed!”
Working on perpetual engines like this one was nothing short of foolish because no one alive understood how they were made or even how they worked. In fact, they were made out of the metal alloy adamant, an alloy no one knew how to handle. Adamant was not only lightweight, but incredible hard and durable. That’s why engines had to have everything working in order for them to be used. Just one missing or broken element was the difference between a piece of junk and a precious component.
Essentially, engines were a sort of black box that might as well have been magic.
“That being said, it’s defective. Here, look at this,” she said, leading me right up to the engine.
“A hole in the engine…”
“Exactly! You see how rare it is!?? The engine’s broken, but it’s basically perfectly preserved. I mean, pretty much all the other broken down engines I see are so messed up they’re hardly even recognizable. But this one is practically new! The army does find some good stuff once in a while, don’t they?”
She took out a small flashlight from her tool belt and shined it inside the hole.
“Yeah, I just need just need to take it apart a bit more to get a feel for this…”
“How can you even take this apart?”
Genie sighed. “I tried a lot of things… but nothing really worked. These engines man… who could have built them? And how?”
Engines were certainly a mysterious entity. The only thing anyone understood was that they could be made, as evident by their existence.
Nowadays, Genie and I were part of the new generation that knew how to maintain these engines. While we couldn’t create or really modify them, we knew how to fix the throttles and even the electronics that worked with them. In fact, we were even able to take an engine and shrink it to a more compact size.
However, Genie was the only mechanic I knew that could actually tinker with them and not ruin the parts.
“Anyways, why’re you here?”
“Ah, can you overhaul my Polaris?”
“You want me to take it apart? Isn’t it a bit too early for that?” she asked. “Last time there wasn’t any real problems with it, and I even touched it up, so there should be nothing to worry about?”
“I just want to be absolutely sure about this— Just this time,” I said.
Genie’s eyes sharpened. “You got a big job?” she said nonchalantly, but her eyes showed her seriousness.
I was never able to lie to Genie, so I just nodded.
“Probably. The request came… from my father,” I replied.
“Your father? Huh? What do you mean?”
“The request came from an anonymous sender with no way to track where it was sent, but the way it was written clearly showed that the sender knew a lot about me… Not to mention it told me to meet at Sunk Tierra. There’s no way it couldn’t be my father, who was also the pilot of that white aircraft I was telling you about.”
Even now I wasn’t completely sure. I mean, my father, who should have died a long time ago, was suddenly alive and came flying to me from Boreas, a city I didn’t even think existed.
But it had to be true. No matter how much I doubted it, I had to just go with it.
“Hmm… What did the request say?”
“Nothing. I have to meet him to find out the details first.”
“Sounds pretty suspicious,” she said, taking out another wrench from her tool belt and pointing it at me. “So? You serious gonna do this?”
“I know it sounds dangerous and way too suspicious… but I’m going— to meet my father, if anything. I’m going to take on his request as a professional and come back with a reward equal to all the trouble I’ll go through.”
My father did promise me with everything I wanted to know, so I was going to make him spill everything.
Genie nodded in agreement. “I thought so, huh. Swallows are all about the adventure.”
“You aren’t worried…?”
“Huh? Why would I be worried?” she replied. She pulled a lever and opened the garage door.” Besides, if there’s one thing to be worried about— its Polaris. I’ve worked on it for so long I feel like Polaris is also a part of me, you know? If somehow you got Polaris sunk, I’m going to beat you silly, so even if you die make sure to get it back here!”
I sighed. Wow, what a terrible way of sending me off.
“If I die, there wouldn’t be anyone else to pilot Polaris…”
“Ah right, that’s gonna be bad,” she said. “Okay, just at least come back somewhat alive then.”
I sighed again.
“In any case,” she continued. “I worked my ass off for Polaris because I think its cute, and people do say you’re a top rate pilot, so with you two combined you’ll never die, right?”
I smiled. This was her way of showing she believed in me.
Genie moved in front of the now open garage right in the middle of the sun shining down on her.
“Alright, time to get to work. Get inside.”
“Wasn’t today your day off?” I asked.
“Working on Polaris never counts as work… Just make sure you help out, okay?”
“Next, number 20.”
“Just say yes, please.”
We had stripped the armor plating and the engine cover from Polaris before tucking it safely inside the hangar. Right now, Genie was standing on one of its wings and tweaking its internals. I was behind her giving her the tools she requested and putting them back when she was done using them.
I accompanied her like this for almost half the day. It was Genie’s day off but she worked restlessly all morning, which meant that I also had to keep up without taking a break.
I’m supposed to be a customer here, aren’t I…
“By the way, Ciel,” she said. “This job you have to do… does it involve the princess?”
All morning she hadn’t uttered anything but the tool numbers, so I was taken aback by her question. I didn’t even notice that she was taking a break.
“Princess… you mean Stella?”
“Who calls a princess by her first name…” she muttered under her breath. “Number 30.”
“Ah, sorry,” I replied frantically. I was not following her rhythm at all.
“You know, I was in the Vessel’s Guild of Swallows during the battle with Batoh,” she said.
“You didn’t evacuate to the castle??”
“Well you can’t see anything inside the castle!” she said like I was the one who was crazy.
I was flabbergasted. She really only thought about airplanes, huh…
“I could see the whole battlefield through my scopes. Princess Stella was riding through all that chaos, wasn’t she? As a princess, that’s amazing. I mean, you’ve fallen for her, haven’t you, Ciel?”
“No, I haven’t!”
“Sure, sure… Okay, screwdriver number 3,” she said, handing the wrench back to me. She didn’t look too pleased.
“W-What’s with your expression?”
“Nah, it’s nothing…” she replied. “It’s just that I thought you really didn’t care for anything but flying but now I see you blush at the slightest mention of a girl’s name.”
Yes, I knew I was blushing, but I tried to convince myself I wasn’t. Stella was a princess with the weight of an entire country on her shoulders, and I was a mere Swallow trying to help her just a bit with her burden.
We didn’t fly because we had feelings for each other. We just didn’t.
“You have the wrong idea… You really do.” I whispered back.
Genie shook her head. “I was just joking! Sorry, just don’t make that depressing face anymore…”
She immediately got back to work.
“But you know,” she continued. “If that were the case, I don’t think it would be a bad thing.”
I sighed. “It’s not about whether we like each other or not. Here, number twenty.”
I handed her the correct wrench before she even called it out. Surprised, she gave me a few words of encouragement before handing me back the screwdriver.
“Are you sure about that? Not mattering whether you two like each other or not?”
Genie was not convinced. She continued to work, but suddenly stopped, turned around, and laughed.
“Well, what about me?” she asked lightheartedly.
I sighed. “You don’t even like to fly…”
“You got me there.”
Genie was a girl who didn’t care about what she wore or what she looked like, but despite that she was still cute. In fact, her charm might come from precisely that. Supposedly she was very popular with the Swallows and other air force personnel because of that very charm.
I knew many people were fond of her, but she never really told me anything regarding that.
“Okay, I can handle the rest,” she said.
“Alright,” I replied.
We waved each other goodbye as I took my leave.
Six days later, it was finally time to head to Sunk Tierra.
“So you actually got permission to go, huh?” I asked Stella nervously.
Stella was not fazed at all. “I’m true to my word!” she said confidently. She had already changed into her aviation clothes, but unlike the baggy ones she wore before that were clearly too large for her, she had new ones that fit just right.
She looked like a proper navigator now.
“How’d you even convince him to let you go?”
“Easy,” she replied. She grinned and gave me a thumbs up. “I just reminded him that I’m a Swallow now and I was going no matter what!”
I laughed. It seemed less of her persuading and more of her father just being okay with it.
Either way, it worked out for me. I turned to Genie.
“So uhh… Genie, why are you here too? In those clothes too?”
Genie was wearing aviation clothes with the same olive color as her overalls. She had also swapped out her safety goggles for aviation goggles.
“I thought I would go as well,” she replied.
She nodded nonchalantly. “Yes I’m going! If Akasha flies for Boreas now, that means he uses a Boreas aircraft, doesn’t he? I need to tear that plane apart!”
Planes really are all she thinks about…
“You know, you’re the one who was really suspicious at this request?” I said, annoyed.
“Exactly!” she said. “The more allies, the better, right?”
“But what would Ursus say…”
“He told me to do whatever. In his words… If I died there, then that’s all I could do… Or something like that.”
“Umm… Hold on a second,” Stella interrupted us nervously. “Can you please introduce her to me, Ciel?”
“And me to her too!” Genie added on.
I gave them both a nod. “Uhh sure… This is Genie Mehnert, one of my friends from when I was just a little kid. She works as a mechanic in the Mehnert Garage, and did a lot of work on Polaris here to prepare for this trip.”
Stella’s eyes widened. “Wow, such a young girl was working on Polaris? I’m surprised.”
“Skill has nothing to do with age!” Genie replied triumphantly.
Genie was certainly considered incredibly young to be working on perpetual engines, but many Swallows trusted her with their planes. Perhaps she was the only mechanic they trusted…
“And this is Stella Parsel— Parsel being a fake name. Her real name is Stella Vessel Canal, Vessel’s Fourth Princess.”
Genie ignored my introduction and eagerly ran up to Stella with a smile. “So, you really are Princess Stella?!?”
“You’re so cuteeeeeee!!!” Genie yelled out. She looked like she wanted to hug Stella right there and then.
“So this is a Princess’ aura… Even with those clothes on I can still feel something different about you. I’m actually shaking!”
I quickly ran in between them before Genie got even more fired up.
“Sorry Stella, Genie is… Genie, as you can see.”
“Hey, Ciel is actually the weird one between us you know,” Genie said with a smile. “I should apologize for him… he can really only see the sky and the planes that fly in it.”
Stella shook her head immediately. “Not at all. Ciel is a fantastic pilot and an even better human being!”
She was embarrassed saying that, but I of course felt the same.
“Oh really?” Genie said in wonder. “To be able to say that to a helpless guy like Ciel here… I hope you’ll take good care of him.”
“You as well, Genie.”
“Hey you two, we have more important things to talk about…”
“Speaking of which,” said Stella. “We only have two seats on the plane— How are you going to come with us?”
“Ah, not a problem. Genie is a mechanic and a Swallow.”
“Swallow… so she can also pilot a plane?”
“I can!” said Genie. “Wanna see?”
She ran out to another seaplane parked right aside Polaris in the water. Unlike Polaris, her plane was incredibly sleek looking and painted in a dark green color.
“This is Spica, my plane,” she said.
Stella couldn’t help but walk to get a closer look.
“Interesting,” she said. “It’s built completely different than Polaris…”
Oh boy, here we go…
“Well, the base archetype is fundamentally different,” Genie replied. “This one here is a SGTO archetype, an archetype mainly used in the West. The SGTO archetype is known as a “minor” archetype because over there they really haven’t done much in terms of improving the engine, so the main engine can only run up to 1,200 horsepower. Of course, this means that it’s really hard for this to compete with say the Spitfires or the Focke-Wulfs of the world… But engine speak aside, I know the build itself has potential. If I knew how to, I would totally add in an even higher output engine than this one here, and then I could outperform and outlast any other aircraft in the air and it’ll be perfect! Oh by the way, this one is already retrofitted with a 1,600 horsepower engine compared to the Polaris’s 1,500 horsepower, so yeah, and don’t tell anyone else, but there’s also a 800 horsepower engine working in tandem, which you know, is probably like the only plane out there that could work with two engines…”
She continued on for a good ten minutes before slowing down.
“Anyways,” she concluded. “Just a quick explanation, I guess.”
“T-Thanks. I learned a lot,” Stella replied.
It’s unfortunate I didn’t get the chance to warn her about Genie’s habit of rambling on and on about airplanes.
“But you really are coming?” she asked.
Genie as a pilot rivaled my skills and experience. She was even reliable on long distance missions— no doubt learned from her countless hours of experience on the job as a Swallow. She would be a great help and certainly wouldn’t drag us down.
I glanced at Stella to see if she was comfortable with it, but she noticed my gaze and just stared back. Somehow having both Stella and Genie on this trip would be troublesome in a different way, but for now I tried not to think about it.
“Alright, Genie can come with us. You’re really okay with it, Stella?” I asked.
“Of course! If not I would drag her with us,” replied Stella.
I didn’t expect Stella would be this pumped.
“Alright, then us three it is.”
Stella and I would go with Polaris, while Genie with Spica.
“Sweet the, Stella, I’ll leave the usual up to you.”
We did our usual final checkup on Polaris before hopping in.
“Mic check, mic check.”
“Sounds good Ciel, and everything back here looks normal.”
At the same time, I also did a mic check with Spica.
“This is Polaris… Spica, can you hear me?”
“This is Spica— I can hear you just fine. I’d expect no less from my work. There’s no way you should be having any abnormalities.”
She was right. Polaris seemed in the best condition it could possibly be.
I radioed to the Vessel’s control tower to get permission for takeoff.
I couldn’t see a single cloud in the sky.
“This sky feels good doesn’t it?” Stella said. “We’re so high up.”
We were heading north under the bright, glaring sun and only a few hours away from the doldrums, a zone also known as the Intertropical Convergence Zone where the northern winds collided with the southern ones.
“For now, yeah. But once we enter the doldrums it’ll probably be pretty cloudy.”
“True,” replied Stella. “Every time Vessel goes through the equator there’s always heavy rain. I wonder why that happens…”
“The warm air rises up and creates the clouds.”
Somehow her reply made me think she wasn’t really paying attention.
“Nothing, I just got something on my mind,” she said.
After a while, she finally asked me a question.
“Hey… What kind of person is Genie?”
Her question reminded me of some things that I wanted to discuss with her.
“You said you were childhood friends with her, right?”
I wondered how far back we went.
“I think so… I don’t remember when exactly we knew each other,” I said with a laugh. “I mean, our parents knew each other because my father used to go to her father for maintenance.”
“Your parents, huh…” she replied.
“As you could see, she’s a weird girl who thinks nothing but airplanes. She had been tinkering with parts ever since she was little, and would be so invested that she would burst into tears when she couldn’t put things back into their original form after taking them apart. Back then I guess I was a smart kid, maybe even a little smarter than her, because when she cried I would help her put things back together.”
It was nice to talk about something nostalgic since it was like a nice change in pace. Stella also seemed to enjoy it.
“Even back then, you were so nice, Ciel,” she replied lightheartedly.
“That’s not true— then or now.”
Stella laughed. “If that were true, you wouldn’t have risked your life for some random girl.”
Speak for yourself.
“But you know what?” I said. “She caught up to my skills in a second. It wasn’t long before she started reading things that were way out of my league and messing with formulas I had no clue about. By the time I was just old enough to ride in the backseat, Genie was already helping her father at work. She even wanted to try piloting to help her understand the planes better, so she built Spica and became a pilot.”
“Wow, she’s amazing too…”
“To me, you’re just as amazing.”
“Well in any case, speaking from a purely mechanic point of view, I don’t know anyone who can fix these perpetual engine planes better than Genie.”
Stella seemed so deep into thought she didn’t hear my words. “Genie was your partner from long ago, huh…” she whispered to herself.
“You say partner, but it wasn’t like she was only working on Polaris.”
I say that, but I probably wouldn’t go to anyone else to work on Polaris, and Genie definitely wouldn’t let that happen. She would probably be fixing Polaris for the rest of its lifespan.
Suddenly, Genie pinged us through the transmission line.
“This is Polaris, what’s going on?” I asked.
“Eh, nothing… It’s just kind of lonely by myself.”
She sounded pretty out of it.
“You called because of that?”
“Don’t give me that tone,” replied Genie. “You have Stella there to keep you company, while I don’t have anyone.”
“But Swallows fly the sky alone, so it shouldn’t be a problem,” I said.
“Alone for me! But not for you! It’s not fair for you to have someone to talk to any not me! Yes, Swallows are supposed to fly alone, but you being the one exception to that rule is so unfair. Princess Stella, ride with me too!”
Stella and I couldn’t help but laugh.
“When the time comes I will be glad to ride with you,” said Stella. “But no need to call me Princess. Once I’m in the air, I’m no longer a Princess but a fellow Swallow.”
“Really? That would be great, because calling you Princess Stella is a bit awkward for me, honestly,” laughed Genie.
What she said was pretty rude, but Stella just laughed it off.
“I feel the same,” she said.
“Then I’ll call you Stella, and you call me Genie, okay?”
“See, like this Ciel, like this!” Genie suddenly yelled at me.
“This kind of back and forth you can do with two people! You really do have it easy!!”
“I guess…” I replied.
“Even I can have great conversations like this!”
Stella laughed in the background.
“We’re nearing the doldrums,” she said. “Before that, let’s take a break.”
“Yes please…” said Genie. “We’ll be sure to talk plenty!”
“I look forward to that.”
In the midst of their great conversation, I searched for a place in the water to land.
Luckily there hadn’t been any problems so far. We spent a night after getting close to the equator and continued onwards the next day. After we made it to Divel, we spent another night there.
Soon enough, we finally made it to Sunk Tierra. The whole trip had taken just about three days.
“Don’t let down your guard,” I warned both Stella and Genie.
It had been around two hours since we departed from Divel.
Even now I still wondered whether my father would even come.
“Wait. That’s probably him…”
On the pier inside the inlet was a mysterious sand color lump, which was probably a plane in camouflage.
I had to remind myself not to rush things. I kept my altitude at 1,500 meters and confirmed there were no other airplanes nearby.
I knew that it would be illogical for Boreas to set up this elaborate plan to attack us, but that was no reason to lower my guard.
“I don’t feel any movement,” Stella said from behind.
I checked with Genie as well just to make sure.
“This is Polaris. Spica, do you notice any unusual movements?”
“Nope, I don’t see anything.”
“Alright then, let’s land.”
We took a deep breath and landed on the water before proceeding slowly inland. Once we were close enough, we were able to confirm that there was indeed a plane under that mysterious sand color lump.
“So it was Sirius…”
I didn’t notice the floats on it when we were fighting, but somehow it was floating elegantly with two, almost leg-like, apparatuses.
I went around Sirius and parked on the other side. From a glance, it did seem similar to Polaris in many ways. However, on a closer look, everything was different. Size-wise it was much bigger, but it was sleeker, more aerodynamic, and even overall more polished. The wings were also a different shape, which made me wonder why it was built that way.
“Wow, so this is a fighter from Boreas! How is it floating? I don’t recognize the material its made out of! And wow… I’ve never seen anything like it!”
Genie swarmed over Sirius immediately after landing. Before I could warn her about touching it needlessly, a voice came out from behind.
“Hey, I don’t care who you are,” he said, “but can you keep your hands off of it?”
It was my father.
There was no doubt about it. My father was literally standing before me. I had his silver color hair, though he had grown his out.
“Mr. Migrateur? Really? Is that you?” Genie whispered from behind.
My father’s eyes widened. “You… You’re Ursus’s kid, Genie?”
“I am… I didn’t think you were alive, though.”
He turned back to me.
“Hey, I said partner, not partners…” he said to me. “Why did you bring Genie here?”
He was actually talking to me. This was not a dream, nor was a nightmare.
I sighed. “I didn’t bring her… she brought herself.”
He chuckled. “It’s not a big deal. Anyways, it’s been a while, hasn’t it, Ciel? It seemed you really put the Polaris I left you to use, haven’t you?”
I still couldn’t believe this person was my father. I mean, all this time I was certain I wouldn’t meet him again, but here he was!
I couldn’t believe it. Was my whole life a lie?
I wanted to scream at him with everything I got. I wanted to him to understand how much I suffered through his absence with my rage.
He had to know the pain I went through with him gone.
But at the same time, I wanted to know what he was doing. Why was he going to Boreas? How did he even reach there in the first place? What did he see there? What has been his experience since he left?
I wanted to speak to him. No, I needed to speak with him.
Yet one look into his eyes brought me back to reality.
His eyes stared back coldly in an almost judgmental manner. These were not the eyes of a father looking at his son, but rather of the soldier and Swallow, Akasha Migrateur. They were the eyes of a professional with a request. Any other emotions were unnecessary and would only hinder me back.
Right now, I was a Swallow and not a son.
“Genie,” I warned sternly. “I understand you wanna jump on Sirius and check it out, but hold back for now. As for you,” I said, turning to Akasha. “I want to hear more about this request.”
He nodded. “Sure. But it might become dangerous to stay here long.”
“Are you the requester?” I asked.
“I am,” he answered. “I did that roundabout way to hide my tracks. So I will make it clear now: As Akasha Migrateur, a member of Boreas’s special aviation unit Hyuuga, I am the man behind the request. Though I guess saying my name again was unecessary.”
“I am Vessel’s Guild of Swallows, Ciel Migrateur, The White Wing,” I responded, pretending that this was the first time we had met.
However, when I mentioned that I was “The White Wing,” Akasha chuckled.
“Something funny?” I asked.
“Nothing, sorry,” he said. “It’s just that you certainly changed even in this past half year.”
Akasha then turned to Stella, and it was Stella’s turn to introduce herself.
“I am Ciel’s navigator, Stella Parsel.”
“Parsel… I thought you were Vessel’s Princess, were you not?”
“I ride with Ciel as a Swallow, not as a Princess,” she answered confidently with a smile.
As always, her innate ability to exude this amount of confidence was something I could never achieve in a million years. I was just glad she was here with me.
Akasha was satisfied with her explanation and turned his attention back to me.
“Well then, Ciel,” he said. “Let’s get down to business. Am I correct in assuming you will accept my request because you came?”
“I came here because of what you promised, but I need to hear from you first before deciding.”
“Okay, fine. I know you’ll accept eventually, anyway,” he said. “Come.”
He got off the pier and walked back to the hut.
“The details are simple,” he said. “I give you something now, and you give it back to me in seven days, here in Sunk Tierra.”
“Uhh, Hold on. First of all…”
“I’ll answer what I can.”
“Why not just keep it yourself? Wouldn’t it be safer than leaving it with me for a week?”
I didn’t want to admit it, but Akasha was a better pilot and even had a better airplane. If there was something that was needed to be carried, he was by far the better choice.
“I could probably do it if I could continue to fly,” he said, “But unfortunately, I’m stuck on the ground for a while. I stood out a little too much to get here and got marked. At this rate, seven days will be too much for me to handle… If you see what I’m talking about, you’ll understand.”
We arrived in front of the hut and upon opening the door, I was finally able to see the “cargo.”
“Are you serious?” I said.
“That’s right. She’s what you need to carry.”
The “cargo” was a little girl, around ten years old, sitting right in front of us inside the hut. She was wearing olive colored aviation clothes, and seemed like she was expecting us.
She stared at us with her large, amber eyes without saying a word. She had a bob cut that just made her soft hair seem even softer. Nevertheless, it was neatly styled front and back. In contrast to her dark hair, she had light colored skin that didn’t seem to have spent much time in the sun.
Her appearance was so exotic she almost seemed like a doll. The fact that she had such a cold stare and wasn’t talking didn’t help her case, either.
But alas, she spoke.
“These three are taking me in?” she asked.
“Yes,” Akasha said, introducing us. “This is my son, Ciel, and his navigator, Stella Migrateur, and finally, she is Genie Mehnert.”
Upon hearing our introductions, she stood up and walked towards us in a way that kind of reminded me of Stella. She had the same forceful energy that Stella always exhibited.
“My name is Shuri,” she said. “Please take good care of me.”
I shot a dirty look at Akasha.
“I haven’t said yes yet…” I said, wondering why I was always somehow stuck with transporting people now. I mean, it was even on this very island where I decided to take Stella aboard.
It goes without saying that carrying around people was risky. I couldn’t imagine this girl was being brought around for recreational purposes.
“Okay, I know. You have the final say on whether you accept or not,” he replied.
“I do have a question, though.”
“What is it?”
“Who is she?”
“She is Shuri Saginomiya, a princess under the Saginomiya Imperial Family in Boreas.”
At first, I didn’t fully process what he just said.
“Yeah, she’s the same as Stella— A princess in line to become Queen.”
“She’s also… a princess?” Genie asked in shock.
Shuri nodded. “From an objective standpoint, yes.”
“Wow, two princesses!?!”
Genie couldn’t contain her excitement, but I wasn’t too keen at the idea.
“Why is she here then?” I asked suspiciously.
Surprisingly enough, it was Stella who answered.
“There’s only one reason why she would flee her country, then. There’s a high chance her country is unstable and her life was in danger.”
“Impressive. You’re very sharp,” replied Akasha. “But yes, I’ll make this brief. Shuri has fled her country. She is being pursued by Boreas’s army.”
“Uhh, aren’t you part of that army?”
“I am indeed. So what do you think happened?”
I paused to think about it… There had to be some internal conflict within the army.
“I think Boreas isn’t united as we may think, then. There is one side that supports her, and one side that doesn’t.”
Things are starting to make sense for me. That’s how he could still be in Boreas’s army and yet helped us in a way that prevented the war between Vessel and Batoh.
Then was it the anti-Shuri faction who wanted that war?
“There’s no point for me to go into the specifics since it’s information you won’t get and more importantly, won’t need. Besides, I said I’d tell you everything as a reward, right? There’s only one thing left I need to say, especially to you, Stella,” he said. “Boreas surpasses all the other countries in technological innovation. And there are many in Boreas who are ready to use that superiority to invade the southern countries. The only saving grace is that Boreas is not united— Shuri here is proof of that. If she were to fall into the enemy’s hands, your country and many others would be in great danger.”
“That being said, if you protect her until the end,” he continued. “There’s no doubt we could become your ally. They do say that the enemy of my enemy is my friend. So I’ll only say this with certainty: Protecting her will protect Vessel as well. Have I made myself clear?”
No wonder he said that I would accept this quest. He had this planned all along when he said to bring Stella along. He didn’t care if I accepted it or not because his main focus was with Stella.
If he really planned all this into an offer that we couldn’t refuse, then he really was a terrible father.
“Hey, Stella,” I said. I was sure Stella had already make up her mind to go, but I had to double check. “If we accept this, then it’ll be even more dangerous than anything we’ve ever done. It’s no easy task taking care of a child from professional soldiers… Not to mention they’re soldiers from the most advanced country out there. They’ll definitely come at us with airplanes similar to Akasha’s Sirius here. Obviously I can’t guarantee anyone’s safety if we go.”
Genie nodded as well. “I have to agree. I mean, from what I’ve heard, they have the upper hand in every way possible. I don’t even know how much better their equipment is! Surely we’d lose in a straight up fight.”
There was a chance they could be so technologically superior that we stood no chance at all.
“I understand what you two are trying to say,” said Stella. “But as Akasha said, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity. By the way, Akasha…”
“What is it?”
Stella’s eyes were sharp. It looked like she could see through everything that was going on.
“Earlier you said that protecting her meant protecting Vessel, but that wasn’t a lie was it? If you do betray us in any way, shape, or form, I’ll do everything in my power to bring you down. Do I make myself clear on that?”
Akasha looked like he wanted to say, “What can you really do to me?” but he didn’t.
Stella’s words were like a dagger thrown straight at him. It was clear, direct, and threatening. No matter how much Akasha wanted to talk back, Stella stood firm with her words.
“I swear as a pilot that what I said was the truth. We really can help each other.”
Stella nodded and turned back to me, but her eyes were troubled.
“Umm… Ciel, I know that I can’t do much without you, and getting Genie involved is also…”
She acted so strong in front of Akasha, but I was not seeing any of that confidence now.
“Stella, don’t even start.”
She should know better that I couldn’t refuse.
“I’m also not dropping off,” said Genie. “This is gonna be a great chance to peak at some more aircraft from Boreas or even that self propelling boat.”
Looks like this is the crew…
“Alright,” I said to Akasha . “We will accept your request. But before we go I want to confirm one last thing. Princess Shuri, are you okay with us three?”
“I’m the one who’s asking the request, so no need to be so formal with me. Please call me Shuri.”
She spoke similar to how Stella did when people referred to her as a princess, but she seemed so emotionally distant. Even if she was in front of us physically, she just felt so far away, almost like an illusion. She exhibited an inhuman calmness that extended far beyond her age.
“Then, Shuri. You’re really okay being under our care?”
Shuri didn’t know how to respond.
“Honestly speaking,” I said. “This is gonna be a hard journey. I can’t guarantee that you’ll be safe when they find us, and I want you to understand that.”
“That’s not very professional of you, Ciel,” interrupted Akasha.
“I’m not saying I won’t try— because I’ll give my best. I will protect her to the best of my ability. And I’m not saying I won’t take responsibility for what happens to her— because I will. But she herself should have a say in all this. You may be the requester, but she’s not a piece of luggage.”
“No, I am,” she said nonchalantly. “I have no complaints if you agree to take me. Sorry for the inconvenience.”
Shuri bowed her head to me, which made me feel really uncomfortable given her position. Yet right now there was no more time for chit chat. I knew it was best for us to leave as soon as possible.
She’ll be with us for a while, so I could always talk to her later.
“Then, everything’s settled?” asked Akasha.
“Yes. Now where should we head to?”
Akasha nodded and brought out his stream chart. Even Boreas’s pilots carried one with them.
I was shocked to see the size of Boreas on his map. If what I saw was indeed true, then Boreas was just on a whole new level in terms of size. It was hundreds of thousands of times bigger than any country or even island out there. Perhaps this was what the world looked like in ancient times. Legends did say that Noah had lands that extended far and wide.
Akasha noticed my curiosity, but said, “I know you have a lot of questions, but I don’t have the time to answer them right now. Besides, I promised to tell you only if you finish the mission, right? Anyways, as you know, the self propelling country is going around the waters here, with numerous escort aircraft searching the area. As a solo aircraft, I had to stop through multiple countries to flee, so that’s why they have a close eye on the countries I passed through. There’s definitely some searching in the central part here…”
“I’ll start heading north and leave some trails for them to follow as a distraction. In the meantime, you guys start heading south in the opposite direction. I’ll leave the course to you, but try not to linger in one place too long.”
There was one thing that bothered me by what he proposed. I mean, barely anyone knew about this island, much less was it mapped on stream charts. Instead of risking it all out there for seven days, it was safer to just stay here.”
“What if we just hide here?” I asked.
“Not possible,” he replied immediately. “They know about this place… It’s very likely that Boreas has a stream chart that perfectly maps out the area.”
“A perfect stream chart? How?”
“I don’t even know myself,” replied Akasha. “It’s been said that it was created in ancient times, but it was the probably the other way around.”
“What do you mean?”
“We Swallows believe that we could achieve a perfect stream chart by combining everyone’s together, but that’s not the case. I think Boreas’s stream chart is the original, and copies of this original were passed to different countries that only contained a small part of it.”
No one could have even imagined that each country’s stream charts were mere copies of an original. If this was true, then Boreas was even more of a mystery than I had thought.
“Okay, no more information— the rest is for you when you complete the task. Basically, what you need to know that there isn’t a place on Noah that Boreas doesn’t know about. There is no place to safely hide from them.”
“But…” continued Akasha in a lighter tone. “We do have a trump card up our sleeves… and that’s Shuri’s strong internal compass. I’m sure your S-rank compass could make out some of it, but SS ranks like mine are able to sense the movements of literally anything around them.”
Internal compasses sense the change in magnetic fields as objects move through it. A S-rank compass like mine was able to sense where my plane was going to an accurate degree, but theirs was on a whole new level.
“Yes,” he said further. “It’s easy to picture how large objects leave large ripples around us, but smaller objects could leave the same ripple if they’re moving at extremely high speeds. Makes sense?”
“Shuri’s internal compass far surpasses even that of a SS rated one… she’s basically a SSS rated compass if there ever was such a classification. Shuri can even make out people’s movements around her.”
“Are you serious?”
Shuri nodded. “I can sense people within a twenty meter radius around me. For planes traveling at high speeds, I can sense them within two thousand meters.”
She’s basically superhuman…
“So basically no one has a better compass than she does. We’ll always have the first move,” I said.
Even so, even if we had Shuri, escaping would be difficult if they had a lock on us. We had to make sure they never find us in the first place.
Stopping randomly in the water was the safest, but doing so for seven straight days wasn’t realistically possible. We had to make some supply stops in the countries we crossed.
I didn’t know how big of a search party Boreas sent for Shuri, but there was no way they could cover everywhere. It wasn’t like their boat could go as fast as their planes.
Was there a chance to do this?
I started to think of a path to take.
“Well, that’s it for my explanation,” said Akasha. “Was there anything else you need to know? If it’s food she likes, just ask her directly.”
“No need to worry about that,” Shuri said immediately.
“Okay then, I’ll head out now. Wait a little, then go yourself. Good luck, Ciel. We will meet again.”
Akasha said that and walked out of the shack.
“Ciel, what should we do now?” asked Stella.
I opened up my own stream chart and laid it on the table. I had thought up of a path to take.
“First of all, I’ll ask Politis and have him get us back to Divel. We’ll resupply there and head west. Our initial target will be the country of Médecine.
Médecine was a small country slightly north of the equator. The area it’s located has multiple other smaller countries that we could get two in one or two days. So, we should have plenty of options once we get there.”
“What’d you think?” I asked Genie.
Genie preferred to do long-distance jobs as a Swallow and her detailed stream charts reflected that. Countries were more inclined to give their stream charts for Swallows with longer jobs, but there were a lot of countries in the West that I hadn’t visited at all.
“Once we arrive at Médecine, we’ll have a choice to make. We can go west and get mixed up in the islands there, go south to Accorasat, go to Vessel, or even go North to Nave. It’s not a bad place to be. We have to be aware that Médecine is not a big country though, so we’ll be spotted immediately if Boreas happens to be there.”
” I could say that for any country we go to,” I replied. “Plus, it might work in our favor if they believe we wouldn’t go there for that very reason and neglect it.”
“Alright, sounds good. At least we could set our course in that direction,” she said. She took a good look at us. “Now we have to figure out whose going with who.”
Both Spica and Polaris were capable of bringing one person each.
“Hmm… How about I go with Shuri then, and Genie you can take Stella.”
Shuri was my responsibility now, so it made sense for her to go with me. Besides, when it came down to battle, I’d feel a lot more at ease if she was with me.
“I’m cool with it,” said Genie.
Stella nodded with a smile. “Me too!”
Stella and I were on the same page.
“Shuri, that’s fine too right?”
Shuri nodded as well.
“Alright. We’ll leave immediately after we finish our preparations.”
“This is Polaris. Spica, please respond.”
“Spica here. We hear you loud and clear!”
Genie was certainly lively on the radio. We had just taken off from Sunk Tierra and had just crossed the 3,000 meter altitude. Genie was right on my tail.
“We will keep a simple formation,” I said. “I’ll be the leader, and Genie the wingman. Make sure to follow my instructions during battle, but if you ever think you’re going to be in any danger, don’t hesitate to break off.”
“Roger that,” replied Genie. “But when that time comes, what should I tell Stella?”
I heard Stella go, “What are you guys talking about?” in the background, and I just laughed.
“Shuri, are you comfortable?” I asked her. She was sitting in the back seat.
She sounded like she was ready, but long journeys always took a toll on the body, especially for children. It gets even worse after a few nights on the water as well. In longer journeys I was more susceptible to overlook enemy planes and make piloting mistakes.
It was imperative that we stayed in proper lodging as much as possible and reduced the amount of time in the air.
“I’m the one whose causing you trouble, so I’ll do my best to keep out of your way,” she said softly.
I guess I had no choice but to take her word for it.
“I understand. I’ll do my best take the load off of you as well. Shuri, if you feel another airplane coming near us, please let me know immediately.”
Afterwards, I radioed some more instructions to Genie.
“Spica, make sure to stay behind us and keep a lookout on anyone approaching.”
“Roger that,” replied Genie. “Stella, that’s you, okay?”
“Leave it to me!”
It was over if one of the their many scouts scouring the area spotted us. Even if we could get away temporarily, there wasn’t anywhere to hide. So, to counteract that, we had to rely on Stella and Shuri’s incredible internal compasses to spot them first and avoid contact.
Next stop: Divel. It might have been close by, but now was exactly the time to be vigilant.