Captain Nik Ve stood on the bridge of his small Junk , The Ohm,
and scanned the shoreline for movement in the half light of the
He could smell wood smoke carried on the increasing breeze, that
had forced the landing in the first place, from somewhere in the
woods that surrounded the lake.
The drone of the small but powerful diesel engine and large
parasail wing always announced his arrival wherever he went, even
so he had seen no one though he had been on the lake several
One last look and he would get some sleep.
This was an unfamiliar place to him. He had flown over many
times but never used to lake to land as he trusted his instincts
and had never felt easy. There was a settlement about 5 miles
from the lake a religious sect, one of many that had sprouted up
out of the chaos of what had become to be known as the "The age
He was not sure who he despised and to a degree feared the most,
The religious fanatics, the military, or rather what the military
had become or the many nomadic gangs that roamed every inch of
the land in search of prey ! He was not altogether happy. The
wind, that had forced him to find a decent body of water on which
to land The good junk Ohm, was steadily getting stronger. He
was headed back to a flood plain a reseviour that had burst its
banks when the weather changed. He felt safe there and been
moored to a water tower in the center over the winter.
It was the first time the Ohm had flown in over two months, a
foray to replenish his dwindling supplies. Maybe he had become
No, nothing, only the smell of smoke. It was early spring and
the woodland was green, no chance of this being an unattended or
accidental fire he thought.
"Dam it !" muttered Captain Ve, only 10 miles or so from the
relative safety of the flood plain but he couldn't risk a take
off now. The weather had changed beyond being able to predict
with any degree the accuracy of its moods. No point in worrying
or moaning or cursing, something wasn't right. The wood smoke
indicated to the Captain people were abound and he was well aware
how curious, even in these times, people were.
It wasn't the military they would have been on him in a second,
the cultists ? maybe but they usually stayed in their
settlements tempting people to join with false rumours of food
Nomads ? well they are everywhere but they were crazy and would
have tried something before now. So who ?
The few sane people left would be not want caught out here alone
or maybe there were no sane people left !
Now the Captain could not only smell the smoke he could see it.
The lake was being slowly engulfed in white smoke from green wood
being burned and darker smoke now from what he assumed was
rubber, rubber tyres.
He had been observed coming into land ! and now was being
trapped by acrid blinding smoke.
He needed to get away NOW ! The smoke was getting thicker
hurriedly he pulled up the long bamboo pole he had driven into
the lake bed to act as an anchor and started the engine. The
Captain was no fool and always observed an escape route. "What is
the most important thing you need to know before you go in ? how
to get out ! he mumbled to himself.
Even so this would be a difficult and dangerous take off but the
alternative was to be trapped and blind.
Captain Ve pushed the throttle forward and the engine began to
power the twin fan propellers at the stern of the Ohm. He pointed
his vessel, blindly, toward what he knew to be a long enough run
to achieve the speed needed to lift off. It was a cross wind,
the worst kind, the sail would not be easy to raise and would
take longer than he would have wanted.
He was up to speed now slowly yard by yard he stared to release
the large white Para foil wing, blinking as he did so in the
thickening toxic smoke. The wind was billowing and folding the
wing as the Ohm got closer and closer to the banks of the lake.
Full throttle, wing fully extended now "come on! COME ON MY
BEAUTY !!" The captain was now screaming. He would rather crash
and burn than let someone else have his ship. They were linked,
joined on a level few would understand, he looked after The Ohm
and The Ohm looked after him. He had designed and built the junk
and knew what it could do and was old enough to know what he
himself was capable of..
The sail caught and filled he felt the distinctive pull as sail
worked to pull them from the lake. Captain Ve was totally
blinded by the smoke and had to trust that he had remembered his
escape route well. The engine laboured and was struggling,
working against the crosswind and trying to lift The Junk from
The wind was causing the Ohm to pitch and yaw but once enough
altitude was achieved Captain Ve knew he could compensate,
landing again however would be another thing.
The bow began to lift the drag from the water lessened, less drag
more lift, she was up.
The old Junk felt its way through the wind climbing up until the
Captain could start to fly with the turbulence rather than
against it. It was a rough ride and Captain Ve needed to hang on
to the wheel making adjustments, as best he could, with the lift
The Ohm was fully airborne, above the smoke above the Lake and
above the creatures that laid the trap. Captain Nik Ve and the
good Junk Ohm circled the Woods from where the smoke Was still
wafting onto the lake. Nine maybe 10 fires, he observed, had
been started deliberately and for the express reason as to trap a
vessel capable of flight.
The Captain circled once more but could see no one he turned The
Ohm toward the flood plain to safety.