Deryn's brain was on overload. The prince of Honenburg, Aleksandar Ferdinand, had asked her to marry him. Unbelieveable. SHe was over the moon with herself.
Since she had told him who she really was, Alek had been up her bum. SHe never had a moments peace from him, nor did she want one. After all the worrying htat he woudl rat on her, this was the most blissful time she could have asked for. Everything had gone so muh better than she ever expected. Alek loved her, too. He loved her, and he wanted to marry her.
She wanted to scream, run up and down the entire airship and tell every person she could. But, of course, that would be the stupidest thing she could ever do. She was still Dylan Sharp, after all, and she couldn't let anything slip.
But the days loomed closer to their arrival in Japan, and Deryn was having a hard time deciding. There were pros and cons to everything. If she stayed, she could continue flying around the world with the most famous living airship around. But she would loose Alek...And if she left, she'd be leaving her home behind, but would get to live out her life with the man she loved, the man that wanted her, too.
Each choice was tempting. SHe wanted Alek, but she wanted the Leviathan, too. Her head pounded every time she thought about it, the choice too hard to make. But it was only a week before their arrival, she needed to decide now.
"Alek, come to my cabin after supper." Deryn caught up with Alek in the hallway. RIght away, Alek could tell she was distraught. Her face must have looked terrible.
"Of course, no lets go now, you look aweful." his face was concerned and he directed her to her room, locking hte door and sitting with her on her bed. "Whats wrong? Did something happen?"
Deryn shook her head. "No, nothings happened. Its just....Alek, I can't decide waht to do."
He sat quietly, his arm around her. "I know. I hate doing this to you, I don;t like ot see you like this." he brushed her hair out of her eyes. "Oh goodness, your very warm. Are you sute you're well?"
She nodded. "I'm fine, just confused. Alek, I don't want to loose my home, but the thought of loosing you is worse."
He sighed, rubbing her back. "I understand. I don't want to leave this ship either. It's the best thing I could have asked for. I got to meet he love of my life, and I got to see the world like I've never imagined it could be. But I must, I have to escape. If I'm caught, it'll be the end of me."
"Don't say that! No, I can't let you get hurt. I have to make sure your okay. If I don't, if I'm not there, I'll sicken myself to death with worry, and the Leviathan won't be the same. I have to go with you. I can't let you go this alone. No. We have to formulate and escape plan for when we land. I can't let you go it alone." she was clutching Alek's jacket, and his arms were around her, his face buried in her hair. He took a deep breath. She knew he was satisfied, and for some reason, she was too. Without Alek, the Leviathan would just be somewhere she was stranded, worry blocking her mind. She knew if he was alone out there, without her, she would slowly stop working until she got kicked off for good. She loved it on the great beast, but she knew Alek needed her more than ever now.
Alek held her close, his breath soothing her. The tears had escaped without her knowing it. Toughen up, you sissy, she thought to herself. After a while, Alek pulled back and held her shoulders, looking her in the eye.
"Thank you, Deryn. Thank you. I can't say it enough. I owe you my life. Whatever you want, I'll do it. Your giving up your life to help a fugitive, and I could never, ever do enough to repay you."
She smiled. "Yes, you could. But I won't make you do it right now." she smirked, and his eyes grew wide, wider than she'd ever seen them. He was like a statue, his hands frozen on her shoulders. THen he quickly retracted them and laid them in his lap, looking absently out hte window. Deryn laughed out loud, giving him a shove.
"Come on now, don't tell me your scared."
He was silent, only his eyes shifting to look at her. SHe laughed again, his face too funny to hold it in. "Your too much, Alek. Let's get planning, we haven't got much time.
By the end of the week, Deryn and Alek had not constructed a suitable escape plan. There would be a huge guard when they got there, and Alek's face was too well known to just walk out in the street. If they could manage to get out unseen, getting out of Japan could prove to be extremely dangerous. They would need to have sheer luck on their side to escape alive, and even then, where were they going to go? Alek had no money left, after having spent it all on the revolution in Istanbul.
The ship would be landing in a day, and both of them were jittery as butterflies in a bag.
It was all Deryn could do to keep working and taking orders. With the arrival so soon, the boffin was in constant need of help, and Mr. Rigby was ordering her and Newkirk around like mad. It was a madhouse on the Leviathan, everyones nerves at the breaking point.
"Deryn, love, calm down, please. Your scaring the wits out of me." Alek sat with her that night, stroking her hair to calm her. Deryn hadn't stopped pacing all day, unable to shake off her worries.
"But what it..what if we get caught? what if we - "
"Deryn!" Alek's stern tone made her stop and look up at him, shaken out of her rouse. "Tomorrow, you and I will be free. Free! We can live our lives together, without worry. Just calm down, love. We've gotten out of stickier messes. I'm sure we will be fine. We're a team." he smiled down at her, his face wiping out all doubt.
She hated what his looks did to her, One smile nad she melted like a schoolgirl. She was a man still, and no matter what she did, Alek was still her weakness. I'm such a lovesick ninny, she told herself. But that was fine with her. He was right, soon they would be free from everything. If the plan went well...
That night, Deryn didn't sleep at all. Alek's arms were conforting, but the impending events of the next day were running through her mind. So many worries.
The would be over Japan tonight, the lights of the cities had twinkled on the horizon that evening, but they wouldn't be landing until midday tomorrow, just outside of Tokyo. Deryn's blood had been pumping at top speed for at least twenty four hours prior to the first signs of Japan, her worries too high to manage.
She had just managed to fall asleep when the alarm sounded. She sat bolt upright, flying out of bed, leaving Alek sluggishly sitting up. She dressed quickly, preparing for the worst Deryn and ALek had already packed their bags for the next night, everything filling up one of Alek's leather briefcases and a small satchel Deryn had gotten from her Da.
"What on earth is going on?" Alek said, the alarm clearning his head. Deryn could already hear the comotion out in the hallways, she was late.
"I don't know. The alarm just sounded. Must be bad. I'll be back, just prepare to leave if we make and emergency landing. You at least have to get out of here if it gets out of control, can't have you getting seen." She hoisted up her work pants and buckled her belt. SHe hurried over to Alek to kiss him, and rushed out the door, leaving him half asleep.
Deryn ran into Newkirk just outside her door. "Whats going on, Newkirk?" she asked, trotting up the hall along side of him.
"Emergency alarm, Dylan. Rigby will want us topside just in case. I hear we've spotted German aircraft, but I could be wrong. Let's get up there quick."
Sure enough Newkirk had heard correctly. As soon as the cold night air hit her face, she heard them. Clanker aircraft, a bunch of them. Their engines were churning the air, closer than Deryn liked. She clambered to the top of the ship faster than she did in any drill, and found RIgby shouting orders.
"You two!" he yelled at the two middys. "I want you two here with me, be on alert for anything. Theres at least five of them within range. The bats are fed and ready to go, just make sure no man needs anything. Good luck, gentlemen."
Deryn and Newkirk saluted him and began scouting the area for anything that needed to be done. Deryn ended up helping some of the men check the ratlines, Newkirk off to help prepare something else. Deryn clipped her safety line to the ratlines and began decending. She hadn't even gotten halfway down when she heard it, the sickening boom of a Clanker cannon.
Nothing happened right away, the ship didn't burst into flames, but Deryn hurried down to the gondola, determined to not get shot this time. There was too much at stake if she was killed. Instead she decided to go make sure everything was set inside the gondola with the boffin. She ran into the doctor sooner than expected.
"Mr. Sharp! Quickly! I cannot find Tazza! The alarm scared him and he took the leash right out of my hands!" the boffin looked genuinely distraught, so Deryn took off down the hall, in search of the thylacaine.
It didn't take long ti find Tazza. He was curled up in a corner, the clart quite literally scard out of him. Deryn coaxed the beast to her and picked him up, ruching back to Dr. Barlow's cabin. THe boffin was making sure all of her things were packed in case of swift departure. She exclaimed when Deryn returned with Tazze in her arms. "Oh! Taza! Thank you, Mr. Sharp. You are quite the hero."
Deryn nodded and left, but she barely made it to the door when the gondola shifted beneath her, the sickening sound of wood splintering shattering her eardrums. The glondola had been hit.
She rushed to the nearest window and looked out. From what she could see, an entire piece of the gondola had been blasted to pieces, between the bridge and the officer's cabins. She swore, taking off in that direction. She could feel the ship loosing altitude as she ran, wind rushing through the shattered windows. Deryn caught a glimpse of the city lights growing nearer as the floor shifted under her. The Captain must be trying to maneuver the beast away from the planes, but Deryn knew that wouldn't work. Planes were much more nimble than the Leviathan.
"Barking spiders, this is bad" she muttered as she hurried along. She came upon the shattered wall. There was literally nothing left, the wall ahd been obliterated by the German's guns. Thankfully, the ship hadn't been spilling a squick of hydrogen, or they would all be up in flames. Her stomach curned when she saw a few fallen soldiers hanging from the ratlines jsut above the gondola's missing wall.
Deryn looked down and saw land much too close for comfort. If hte Captain kept pointing hte ship down, they'd crash right into a town. But he must know at least a little bit of what he was doing, so Deryn backtracked towards her room. Alek....
He was still in her room when she arrived, their bags strapped to him tightly. He swept her up into his arms when she arrived, breathing like he'd just run a marathon.
"Deryn...I thought....What's going on out there?" he asked her breathlessly.
"German aircraft, shot a huge hole in the side of the gondola. I think were going ot crash land, again. The Clanker planes have done it again. Rediculous!"
He held her for a minuite longer, then released her, looking into her eyes. "If it comes ot that, we must escapoe then, before anything gathers too much attention. I know your going to want ot stay and help mend your ship, but we can't. It's too risky. DO you understand?" his eyes were serious, but in the frenzy of the attack, she had no time to fall into them head over heels like she usually did.
"Yes, Alek. I know. But right now I have to go. I'll be back as fast as I can to let you know whats going on. Just stay here so you don't get hurt. And don't let Volger find you, whatever you do." Alek nodded at her statement and she was back out the door in a flash.
The ship was chaos. She grabbed a soldier running by by the wrist, and asked him what was going on.
"We're crash landing on a field about a kilometer north. The gondolas been hit and its too risky to keep flying. We've taken out all aircraft with the bats, but there could be more coming and we need to get out of the air."
She thanked him and took off towards the boffin's cabin again. Dr. Barlow was inside, all of her things packed and holding Tazza on the floor.
"Dr. Barlow, we're crash landing on a field somewhere about a kilometer north of here. We're falling fast, so make sure your prepared for a bumpy landing. I'm not sure how hte Captain has planned it out, maybe we will jsut get low enough to where the Germans will leave us alone. Just get prepared."
Deryn turned to leave, but the boffin hailed her back. "Yes?"
"I just wanted to tell you what a pleasure it has been traveling with you, Mr. Sharp. Thank you for your outstanding assistance during this journey. Let's hope we get to travel back home safely after all fo this."
Deryn smiled, despite herself. "It has been a honor, Doctor."
With that she left the room, heading back down to Alek. The airship shuddered as she ran, the wind rushing past her even faster now. They were falling fast. She burst into the room to find Alek gone. She swore, turning on her heel and running again. She checked Volger's quarters. Nothing.
Deryn searched the ship high and low, trying to find Alek, searching for any trace of him. But he seemd to have vanished. Panic began to swell up inside of her as she hunted frantically for him, blowing past everyone in the crowded halls and neglecting her duities as a midshipman.
Her next look out the window scared the living clart out of her. The ground was close enough now to make out the shapes of houses and fences below her. There didnt seem to be a field in sight. Then she spotted it, what looked like an inky mass dead ahead. It was a field.
Deryn felt the ship lurch beneath her. The Captain must be tryign just to hover over the field until help arrived. But he was going too fast. They were going to crash. She continued down the hallways, calling out for Alek. He was nowhere to be found.
Just as she was begining to really panic, Deryn spotted him. HE was standing next to the great gap in the side of the gondola, seemingly mezmerized by the ground flying by below. SHe ran and grabed him by the jacket, pulling him back inside to safety.
"What in blazes were you doing Alek?!" she yelled, furious with him, but also so glad to see him okay.
"I...I don't know.....What's going ot happen, Deryn? We're...we're going to crash...."
"I know. I don't know what the Captains on about, but he's going to kill us all if he doesn't fix it fast. I..." Deryn stopped, her jaw dropping open. They were over the black expanse now, but it wasn't just a field. There was a lake smack in the center of it darkness, and they were headed right for it. The ground was so close now that Deryn could make otu the shapes of shrubs and bushes.
"Alek: she said. "I'm going ot ask you again, do you trust me?" she looked into his eyes, taking up every last detail, making sure it was the last thing she saw.
"Yes, of course."
"Then hold on to me, now." he took hold of her and she flung them out the gaping hole just as she felt the airbeast hit it's target.