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 spring evening.
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 hours now.
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 of poison"
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 complacent.
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 and
Nomads ? well they are everywhere but they were crazyand 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 water.
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 webs.
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.
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