The strong wind from the north, now a tailwind, and the wide visibility under the full moon made this the easiest trip for the frequently flying passenger airplane. The latest 200-meter-long passenger ship, filled with passengers, glided smoothly forward.
A short while ago, the cumulus clouds that had torn in the east did not bring thunder, and the tension in the cockpit that had temporarily heightened was now back to its original relaxed atmosphere after slightly lowering the altitude.
The captain, who had been called out from his room, no longer needed to be in the cockpit and was idle.
“Oh, it’s cold. It’s time to switch.”
The crew member, who also served as a lookout in the Gatling gun turret, came down blowing breath into his hands. Seeing the captain’s face, he let out a shy smile. Normally, the person taking over should go up before the other comes down.
The person getting up to take over wasn’t tense either.
The captain gave a brief lecture about the sailor’s mindset. There was reassurance in knowing that it was a ‘military alert area’ and that on such a clear night, there had been no instance of ‘pirates’ appearing.
It didn’t have to be that noisy. “I have experience too,” the captain thought, feeling unusually lenient tonight.
“Well, shall I go to the salon and check on the gentlemen and ladies’ moods?”
It’s not slacking off. This was also one of the daily tasks of the captain of a passenger airplane.
The salon located directly below the cockpit, spanning across the ship, was unique to this ship, and the captain was proud of it.
At the completion, it was rumored to be like a “palace moving,” and it was not entirely a lie. The chandeliers, sofas, and tables, though slightly compact, were modeled after those in a palace.
Because of this, the ship’s weight was considerably heavy, but this passenger ship was equipped with four rotors, and there was still enough buoyancy.
In the salon, dinner dishes had long been cleared away, and several boys were moving between the sofas, serving brandy and cake.
“Captain, it’s a good voyage.”
“Ma’am, you will soon enjoy the night view of the textile factory group. It should be clearly visible tonight.”
The captain, while greeting other guests appropriately, approached the two people in the back who were probably the most prominent guests this time.
“Are you enjoying yourselves?”
“Oh, captain, it seems a good wind is blowing.”
“Yes, it seems the wind chooses the guests to blow upon.”
The two rosy-faced individuals, perhaps pleased with the utmost flattery, laughed shaking their big bellies and invited the captain to sit down.
“How about a drink? There’s nothing to do until we land.”
“No, no, I’m on duty.”
The captain, looking at the two who were quite drunk, thought it would take long but the two, with a face saying “You can’t refuse our invitation,” invited him again.
If things do not go as they want, the rich quickly get in a bad mood.
“Then, just one drink.”
The captain sat down with a forced smile.
“Even on a day like this, Grandma Dora might do it.”
What he was about to say jokingly flitted through his mind. However, while tuning into the two’s conversation and keeping them in a good mood, he had forgotten about it before he knew it.
At the next table, there were ladies in long dresses, seemingly with these men, whether to be called plump or just unnecessarily fat. This table was the noisiest, with endless gossip about the social world, completely unrelated to the night view.
“And, beyond that, despite the bustle of the entire salon, there’s an oddly quiet corner. The <Ladies> seem curious as well, occasionally glancing at the three men in black glasses and black clothes, who are ‘obviously of a different class,’ with faces as if they are about to click their tongues.
<Why are such men on this ship?>
Without speaking or laughing, the expressionless men, and the oppressive atmosphere around them, were doubly unpleasant.
‘Sorry to keep you waiting.’
When the boy hands over some sort of package, the men stand up without a word.
As the men leave, the <Ladies> began to openly badmouth them as if relieved.
‘In the first place, it’s wrong to let such people on board. Hey, Captain, just who are these people?’ The captain at the next table answered with a troubled look.
‘I don’t know well myself, but apparently, they are on some urgent government business.’
‘I see… But I can’t believe that shabby girl is an important government figure.’
The <Noble ladies> laughed loudly, remembering the girl they saw at Gondoa airport, who hadn’t come out of her room since that day.
After his subordinates went out for a meal, Muska sat on the sofa in a guest room in the center of the ship, absentmindedly gazing at the side profile of Sheeta, who was looking out the window.
Although she hasn’t spoken at all, at first glance, he thought she was a clumsy girl, but looking again, an elegance that did not seem like she had grown up struggling on the frontier was drifting about her.
The handmade smock was simple, but it felt clean, unlike the adorned women in the salon. The hanging hair suits her well.
And her tightly closed mouth well expressed this girl’s strong will.
That’s right, she had to be strong to be able to live in that northern valley, Muska thought.
In that valley in Gondoa, preparations for the coming winter were in full swing. Each sparse house was collecting tribute, mowing pasture, and repairing roofs. This girl had been doing it all by herself…
At that time a knock sounded, and three subordinates entered. They opened the package they had received in the salon, placed sandwiches and drinks on the table, glanced at Sheeta, and returned to the next room in silence.
Muska stood up and brought the plate of sandwiches close to Sheeta’s face, but Sheeta showed no signs of moving.
Since Gondoa, it’s been like this the whole time.
<The spy from the neighboring country I interrogated last year was still easier to handle,> Muska faintly smirked.
<Well, it’s fine, we will arrive at Tedis soon anyway.>
Muska sat down again, gazing at the lights of the spinning factory town shining in front of him beyond Sheeta’s head.
While her heart was captivated by the night view, Sheeta was thinking how wonderful her first ‘journey’ would have been if it weren’t with these people.
The bustle of the town at the foot of Gondoa she had heard about, the airship, she surely would have been excited to see.
Until arriving at Gondoa airport, she had tried to escape several times. The man she spoke to at the hotel in the city of Gondoa listened to her story seriously.
But as soon as Muska showed something like a notebook and talked about something, the man left as if he didn’t want to get involved.
She had made a fuss, but seeing the calm men, no one took her seriously. After arriving at the airport, she had no chance to talk to anyone.
She had asked about the destination and purpose only once,
‘I cannot reveal the top-secret information now,’ she was coldly brushed off.
‘I will not harm you,’ such words alone could not make her believe these men. Firstly, why do they have such cold eyes…
‘Sheeta, there are many things I want to talk to you about when we arrive.’
Whether he’s doing it on purpose or not, his voice is lacking in emotion, it’s not something she could get familiar with.
‘My home, you see, lived in that valley a long time ago. A few generations ago we moved down the valley and started living in the city. This is something I haven’t told the government or the military. I’m telling you because it’s you. So no matter what happens, I am your ally.’
If what Muska says is true, is that related to why she has been brought here…?
Sheeta felt as if she had touched something slippery and eerie lurking behind this man’s emotionless mask, and she involuntarily shuddered.”