In the year of our Lord
Eighteen Hundred and Ninety One
This September Eighth
Rúa Pai Crespo, 30
Please forgive me for making it appear as if my journal were actually happening in real time. It was not. It is not. This is merely a way for me to impart my experiences without losing you in the process. Each day as you can see has been like a page of a novel, unfolding to reveal even more pages, more drama, trauma, death and destruction.
I do not say I like that exposition, but that is what it was. For when you fight against such superior odds, such cold intellects, there can be little hope of mercy and friendship. Death and destruction are the earmarks of the intellect, not softened by the heart's gentle strings. That is one lesson I have learned in my life, if no other.
I have never worked so hard, so feverishly as I did during those five minutes, fearing that even that number was too little. My hands have never flown with such grace, such accuracy, as I cut and snipped, drilled, and soldered, then clamped wires together and fused them. I did an hour's work in the span of four minutes and forty seconds.
"No. Bang. Drop the auxiliaries."
I felt the power go off. There was a long pause, during which I'm sure Wells was sweating as much blood as I was at that moment. Then a great shiver shook the Master of the World and all the circuits kicked back in, stronger and brighter than before.
As the corridor lights flooded my compartment and the overheads, I slumped to the floor, totally exhausted and stricken with relief, if such were possible.
Then the vessel suddenly dropped on the right side at a wrong angle.
"Yes, my Capitan."
"Get your butt up here. I need your help steadying the ship."
I pulled myself from the floor and once more let my feet rocket me down the corridor to the ladder. It was awkward as hell running at a thirty degree angle, but I managed it, just barely keeping myself from breaking my ankles from the effort.
I flew up it into the cockpit and threw myself into the co-pilot's chair. I saw his problem immediately.
"We've only got partials on the lifters."
"Fix it." Wells told me.
He didn't ask if I could. This was not in a situation of choice, but a choice of necessity. I began rerouting circuitry through the control panel, some of it manually, some of it through overrides. In a matter of minutes we had stopped listing and righted again.
Wells grinned at me. "Just like old times."
I sighed. "Sometimes I would settle for new times."
Wells tapped my right knee appreciatively. "I promise that day will come."
"Only God could know that."
He smiled at me, while adjusting our drift. "I believe in a kind God, despite all the pictures to the contrary."
"How do you explain him, letting these creatures overtake our planet then?"
"Jules, Jules, Jules." He repeated in that chiding voice he gained when he wanted to make a point with me when I was being stubborn or lazy. "God gave all his living creatures free will. To choose to do what is right and good."
"And these beings?"
"Have lost their way. Are we so different from them?"
I had to think about that a long time. Because I could remember no times when I would have blown up thousands of innocent people without the deepest of regret.
"I think so." I said, digging my heels in."
A cross current slammed into our right side and the ship flew off course a moment, with Wells and I both frantically striving to regain control as our vessel began to spin at an odd angle. Our ship is quite unique and obeys the laws of flight...mostly. But we are propelled by other forces of nature that with even the slightest imbalances of forces can cause everything we know and trust to blow out the window. This would not be the first time that we had to crash land to fix our work, learn from it, and hopefully improve upon it for the next time.
We continued at full speed reaching the Sierra de Guardarrama, a mountain range that runs southwest -- northeast, extending into the province of Madrid to the south and Avila and Segovia to the north.
We were approaching the highest mountain peak, Penalara, which stands at about seven thousand nine hundred and sixty five feet above sea level.
This time of year snow still capped the peaks and as we soon experienced, the air currents were quite frigid and we had to resort to small burners we had installed in the cabin to warm us, and to defrost the cockpit.
They used a form of radiant heat created by extracting energy from two different fuel cores twisted into metallic curves that intertwined together. One day we will sell them on the marketplace and make life more pleasant for our elders, but it is just one more invention among many, we never seem to have time to complete the refinement of and market.
So perhaps we are destined to be successful men, but never wealthy ones. Though I would have to argue that having a healthy, happy family is certainly wealthier than one could ever accumulate in francs or pounds.
We passed soon over the frigid peak and descended to pick up more speed and to drop below any kind of scanning devices that might pick us up. We traveled swiftly past Leon on our left and Salamanca on our right.
Avila was nearing swiftly.
"How long?" Wells asked tersely, adjusting controls to keep us balanced as we fled swiftly above the all too close landscape.
I was about to answer him, when a very large palm rose in our view and we struck it. Fortunately, it severed and blew off to the side, but the fright it gave the both of us was enough to cause Wells, always more of a daredevil than I, to pull us up into a more cautious space about ten meters above the land.
There should be no obstacles until we neared Madrid and then there would be the numerous windmills and the occasional barn, but we could dodge those. I had installed a kind of reading device that used batlike signals to ping ahead of us and form shapes on our scope so we could see possible obstructions.
It is a sign of the stress and distress, we were both going through that Wells missed the palm and struck it. But that was the past.
"Ten minutes to Madrid." I warned.
Then we both saw it.
As we passed over the tops of a range of windmills we could see where the fiery rent in the sky had spilled to the ground, funneling a huge cloud of debris into the air. Or was it worse. Was the machine already doing its worst?
Wells bit his lower lip in frustration and did a very uncautious thing, but very noble. He gave our ship everything it got.
That's when the second Invading ship to strike Spain passed nearby.
We could feel the heat of its passage through our ships' protective skin a moment as it rapidly adjusted to the murderous heat. Not enough to harm us, but enough to shoot the interior temperature to well past a hundred and twenty degrees.
For a few seconds, we seemed to keep pace with the second invader, and then it accelerated and left us behind, like a rabbit racing a turtle.
Wells and I looked at each other.
Wells veered hard to the right as another ray of the incredible power singed past, missing us, but the damage had been done. Our left side of the vessel was burning furiously, the metal, struggling to fight off the concentrated power of the Invader's weapon.
We were going down!
The Baker Street Universe Book Store