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Endeavour’s Fall #30; New York

Jul 9, 2017

 

 

 

 

Not unlike the brazen giant of Greek fame,

With conquering limbs astride from land to land;

Here at our rocky, sunset wall lower’d

A mighty sentinel armed, with claim

To the imprisoned lightning, a hooded

Keeper of Secrets. From his tower

Flew death; his sharp eyes commanded

The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

“Keep, rebellious lands, your futile fury!” cried he

With silent lips. “Give me your iron, your ore,

Your coal-rich rocks yearning to burn free,

Keep wretched refuse on your teeming shore.

Send these alone, your riches all to me,

To the rest I close my door!”.

-The New Colossus, Constance Lazarus

 

New York Harbor is a natural wonder.  Its waters run deep, so the largest steamers with the deepest draft can safely enter and dock right up against rail lines rooted in granite.  Islands shelter it from waves on the Harbor’s seaward side.

The ocean-bound entrance to the Harbor through the Narrows is easily guarded with a few cannons.  To the north-west, the mighty Hudson flows from far inland and carries steamer traffic to and from the city.  The steamer traffic and rail-lines that crisscross the colonies converge here like the center of a vast spider’s web.

Three large islands dominate the Harbor.  All three islands are used to control the entrance.  The rock of Bedloe’s Island is especially firm and solid, and given its central location, supports a tall structure that is visible all around the harbor.   Perhaps for this purpose, or because of the Army fortresses already dominated the other two islands, Bedloe’s Island had been chosen years ago by the Royal Airship Navy as the site for a large aerodrome tower.

The tower was built shortly after a particularly violent uprising had been quelled in New York.  The Empire constructed the tower on the base of a stone fortress, in the shape of a large statue.  The statue stares at the colonies like a giant sentinel, perhaps evoking Saint George staring down the dragon.  The statue’s raised arm contains the airship mast, an elevating platform, and gas lines.   It is lightly fortified, but lit from top to bottom to attract incoming airships and warn steamers away from the rocky shore.

The statue filled the dark night sky and barely lit the Endeavour from below.

“What a monstrosity,” muttered Adams from the hatch.

“It’s a show of power,” replied Norris.  “They want New York to feel watched.”

“Well, it works,” said Sam from the winch controls.

“If your machine works, that visibility will work for us,” said Norris.

“It will work!” Sam wasn’t so sure, but he was excited to find out.

It was only a few weeks since Sam had first made sparks with his coil, but he had made great strides since then.  Meanwhile, the airship had buzzed around the colonies, while Adams hunted down and purchased long spools of coated wire from a man named Glidden. The Endeavour had stocked up on supplies from the Iroquois, who also swapped out some braves.

“Screws at half,” shouted Norris into the tubes.  “Bedloe’s Island is dead ahead.”

As the airship drifted closer to the giant statuesque mast, Norris pointed out the target to the Iroquois brave beside him.  The man held a large bow with a long arrow already strung.  The arrow was attached by thin line to a large spool of wire.

Sam had unlatched the spool so that it could spin freely.  He had also uncoiled a number of large loops that lay ready on the deck behind the brave.

“Just a bit closer” muttered Norris.  “We want this to light up the entire harbor.”

The airship dropped lower.  To any observer, it looked like a naval airship plotting a landing trajectory.  Norris waited.

On the ground far below, dark steam engines scurried around, waiting to grasp his landing leads in their metal pincers and ease the airship down.

Norris signaled the brave, and a lone arrow sailed out the hatch, down to the island below.  The wire hissed and Sam spun the spool rapidly so it would not deflect the arrow’s trajectory.

“Easy now…” hissed Norris.  The long cable ran out the hatch but the arrow struck and held to a large tank below.  It tugged at its spool as the wire blew in the wind below.

“Contact!  We hit it!” shouted Norris.

Sam braked the spool.  Too much wire could pull the arrow free.

“Alright, Sam, engage the mainspring.”

Sam reached back to the winch and released the air screws.  The wind and air screws started their dance, and the wind’s power turned the gears and shafts into the center of the airship.  The whine of Sam’s spool spinning rose up through the deck and bulwark.  The whine grew louder and louder, but Sam let it continue to build.

“We’re drifting…” said Adams.

“We can’t let the line get pulled loose!” said Norris.  “Now Sam!”

Sam, who was watching the line carefully, waited just a few moments longer.  Then he threw the lever that would connect the spinning wire spool to the line running out the hatch and down to the refueling tank.

Sam had warned them, so the crew all covered their eyes or looked away.  Even so, the bright flash nearly blinded them as it lit the airship and shot down the wire to the island below.

Norris peered carefully down through the hatch.  At first only a small spurt of flame erupted from the tank.  Suddenly it exploded into a giant fireball that followed the gas lines up into the statue and airship mast.   The fire raced around the island, exploding one tank after another.

The crew cheered.  Norris hurried to shout out new orders to keep the Endeavour clear of the blast.  Then he floated, broadside to the flames.  There, on the Endeavour’s hull, lit by flames, a large and angry flag of the Revolution was painted for all to see.

 

© J. O. Evans 2017. All Rights Reserved.