Unlike most of the country,
we've had a fairly cool (by L.A. Standards) summer this year. Oh, there were a couple of weeks of high-90's temps, but mostly it's been in the high-80's, low-90's.
[And not three days from writing this, we went into a block of three 100+ days in Pasadena – including the hottest day of the year at 106. OTOH, at the same time, Irene was heading for/hitting the East Coast, so I guess we're still ahead, weather-wise...]
Apart from enjoying not being too hot, though, we haven't done too much of anything. Well, try a lot of the gourmet food trucks that are out there now, but not too much else.
been watching the latest Torchwood
series – “Miracle Day” – on Starz. Not bad, almost as good as the “Children of Earth” series. It suffers though, IMHO, from being a bit too drawn out – I think it was a five or six episode idea, not a ten episode one. It's nice, though, to see local spots enter into the Whoiverse, if peripherally, and it's also nice that the locations they say
they're at are actually the locations they are
at – an unused military base in San Pedro, for example, is played by...an unused military base in San Pedro (Fort MacArthur
I haven't done any in (quite) a while, in spite of, you know, still reading
a lot. Therefore I give you the following set of reviews. Note: For series, I'm only list the books of that series I've
read – there are often others (and there are always planned sequels...):
The Clockwork Century Series
) by Cherie Priest. Steampunk is really big right now, and this is one of the steampunkier. Interestingly, it also seems to be one of the few not
set in England.
It's 1880. In the east, the Civil War still bores on, the stalemate ramping up as the North and South pit airships and giant, steam-powered mecha against one another. In the Northwest, however, the war is barely noticeable, if only because, Seattle, the area's biggest city, has it's own problems.
Several years before, a “mechanical mole” experiment (the “Boneshaker” of the first book), designed to create a tunneling machine for the Alaskan goldfields went horribly wrong2
and tore up several blocks of the city...by “coincidence” right near several banks. Leviticus Blue, it's inventor, then disappeared. Unfortunately, that wasn't all it did. It released a strange gas – now called the “Blight” – and now Seattle proper is a wasteland surrounded by a massive wall, designed to keep the Blight inside so that the survivors could, well, continue to survive.
What does this gas do? Well, primarily it kills people, slowly. And what it leaves behind are the undead, mindless zombies whose only impulse is to kill the living.
Ezekiel – son of the man who built the Boneshaker and released the Blight – sneaks into the walled city of Seattle in order to find some evidence that his Father didn't
create this disaster on purpose – because being the son of Leviticus Blue amongst the survivors of Seattle is pretty much hell.
His Mother soon follows him inside – her
only desire to rescue her son.
Once within the walls, they find that there are still some groups of living humans, eking out an existence by using pumps to pipe down “pure” air to their buildings, fortified against the still roaming zombies, and selling the concentrated “Blight Gas” to passing airships, who then sell it as the additive drug “sap.”
Meanwhile, a criminal overlord, wielding fantastic weapons, is trying to bring all of the walled city under his thumb...and he just might be the missing Levitcus Blue...
we follow a Confederate nurse, Mercy, as she heads from the battlefield hospitals of Virginia west towards Seattle,3
where her long lost father lies dying. Surviving an airship crash and march though the war-torn border states she finally makes the Mississippi, where she can catch a train to the Pacific. Unfortunately, the only train available is the Union's armored super-war-train “Dreadnought” which is hauling a load of war-dead back to their home states in the west...
...at least, that's what it's supposedly
But this “seeming” doesn't last long. With spies on the train, a Confederate war train following and disasters at every turn, it soon becomes obvious that whatever the Dreadnought is hauling, it isn't just bodies...
...it might be the Union's newest weapon.
I'm actually unsure how to react to this series. It's extremely well written, but – quite apart from being a steampunk AH of wild
unlikeliness – it manages to break the laws of physics along with those of history. Now I know in Steampunk, “steam” is a wonder substance that can pretty much do anything (*grin*), but Priest's descriptions of airships have vehicles you couldn't keep in the air with cavorite,
let alone hydrogen.4
The “Dreadnought” and war mecha are similarly unlikely – though at least they don't have to fly. Meanwhile, the gas “Blight” is just plain impossible. It's described as heavier than air and
water-soluble – they have to filter it out of the local water supply – which means there's no way it could exist as
a gas on Earth.
And zombies? Especially ones that can survive for over fifteen years with apparently no
food? It's disbelief suspendor overload time.
Still, like I said, it is
a good read.
As AH though, even if you ignore the violations of physics, you just keep going “how did that
happen” and “why are people doing 'X'?”
As in “how does the CSA survive a 25 year war of attrition – an industrial
war of attrition – against a neighbor with ten times it's industrial capability?”
Or “why are people still living anywhere near
Seattle, given that the land around it is poisoned, the wall cuts off access to the sea, and there's tons of other
places they could move to?”
Or “how does a Confederate
train get onto Northern
tracks to follow the Dreadnought?
And what idiot thought moving one of their biggest weapons into territory that would be really, really easy to keep it from coming back
from was a good
And believe me, these are just a couple of the least
annoying questions the series brings up...but doesn't really answer beyond “Because!”
Basically, if you look upon it as pure fantasy (even by Steampunk standards, a genre where-in by mixing brass with wood, you can instantly
generate huge amounts of easily-controllable energy...) and just scratch out the word “steam” and write in “magic” or “mana” or something, this is an good series.
The Leviathan Series
), by Scott Westerfeld. Yet another Steampunky series...sorta5
...but this one at least tries
to keep some sort of reality going, in spite of theoretically being aimed at a younger audience.
It's set in a (way) alternate 1914 Europe, where what would be the “Central Powers” have gone heavily into steampunk (and diesel punk) style mechanical cultures – including the usual mecha – and the “Entente Powers” have followed a biological path, gengineering animals into all sorts of forms (and weapons of war) including the giant airship/beast Leviathan
. The two sides are commonly referred to as “Clankers” and “Darwinists,” with each side having a fair mixture of disgust and fear of the other.
The books mainly revolve around two characters: “Dylan” (really Deryn) Sharp, a young girl doing the pretend-to-be-a-boy thing so she can be a Midshipman on the Leviathan
and “Alek” (really Prince Aleksander of Hohenburg), possibly the next in line to the throne of the Austrian Empire – and chased by the Germans on the grounds he might screw up their alliance should he get that throne.
introduces these two, then puts them both through a series of adventures and trials until they meet in the Alps, where the Leviathan
has crashed on a mission to deliver something to the Ottoman Empire and Alek's long escape in a “walker” (along with his two guardians, Volger and Klopp), comes to an end. Now can these two sides put aside their differences long enough for both to escape the German war machines closing in on them?
Then in Behemoth,
continue her trip to Istanbul (which pretty much answers my question above), with the three Austrians half guests, half POWs on board. Arriving, they find their diplomatic mission has been futile, as the Germans have already wooed the Sultan to their side and “diplomacy” changes to “espionage” as Dylan is assigned to lead a small party to sabotage the “kraken net” – which blocks the straits – before Britain's newest wonder-weapon-beast arrives, the Behemoth of the title. Meanwhile, Alek must figure out a way to get off the Leviathan
before his identity is discovered and he becomes a pawn of the British, instead of the Germans.
Both youngsters end up on the streets of Istanbul – and then in the back alleys of the revolution brewing with the goal of taking down the Sultan. And as the revolution erupts (with mecha, of course), they must find a way to stop the Germans from destroying Leviathan
new wonder-weapon...a massive lightning gun...
The series is fun, if “young adult,” and worth a looksee just for the cool artwork. Yeah, there are problems in it similar to Priest's books – how does biotech advance so damn fast, who though diesel-powered war-mecha were a good
idea, etc. – and there's also the classic AH problem that you've got all of these changes in culture and technology – yet Ferdinand gets assassinated right on schedule.6
Still, the problems annoyed me less than with Boneshaker
– perhaps because they don't so obviously violate physics – and I'm enjoying the series, which is apparently supposed to be a trilogy (yes, another one...) and it's definitely worth a read.
[Hmmm, AH-seed here: If Tolkien's Lord of the Rings
had been broken up in some other
format than a trilogy – or not broken up at all, as he wanted – would trilogies be such a popular format today?]
Sun Tzu at Gettysburg: Ancient Military Wisdom in the Modern World
by Bevin Alexander is an interesting book of actual history, rather than fiction. Alexander takes us on a review of battles and wars from the American Revolution, through Waterloo, several Civil War battles (thus the title), the opening moves of WWI and finishes off with WWII.
Through it, he tries to show that generals/armies that followed Sun Tzu's “rules” of war did well – and those that didn't lost the day. Along the way he comes up with several viewpoints I hadn't seen before that would probably be good PODs:
- The British could have easily won the Revolutionary War simply by blockading all of America's ports.
- Far from being a military genius, General Lee was in a lot of ways incompetent, and only really looks good now because almost everyone else on both sides of the Civil War was even worse.
- Speaking of the Civil War, if you want to shorten it a couple of years and still want a Union win, kill off Jackson much earlier.
- The Schlieffen Plan could have actually worked...had anyone in Germany actually understood what it was supposed to be.
- Had Patton not slapped a man for “malingering” (or as we now call it, “Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome”), then he possibly could have ended WWII in Europe nearly a year early.
I disagree with some of his potential “what-ifs” mind you. For instance, I doubt that if Jackson had been allowed to pull off his smash & burn raid into Pennsylvania it would have caused the North to pack it in and go home (make the war longer, yeah. Make the peace harsher,
definitely). And Napoleon winning at Waterloo just means there are more battles to fight against him until he loses, not that he gets to rewrite Europe.
In fact, if there's one thing I noticed (apart from his almost deification of Sun Tzu – who apparently lives in a world where the old saying “No battle plan survives contact with the enemy” has, in fact, never been said...) is that Alexander tends to ignore a lot of the stuff going on around
the war as if it could just be changed by the same kind of orders the Generals involved were giving to their troops. Should
Eisenhower have concentrated all his resources in one army rather than splitting it between the American and British? Probably. Could
he have? Almost certainly not
and remained in command. What Alexander sees as an incompetent (read: non-Sun Tzu) decision by Eisenhower probably ends up in reality the best one he could have made given the circumstances.
Still, the book is a fresh look at a whole flock of major battles and just chock-a-block full of potential PODs. Definitely worth the read.
(Into the Storm, Crusade, Maelstrom, Distant Thunders, Rising Tides
It's 1942. WWII is in its opening acts in the Pacific and the WWI class destroyers USS Walker
– now a part of the U.S. Asiatic Fleet – are running for their lives from the disaster of the Second Battle of the Java Sea. Trying anything to escape the Amagi
they plunge into a huge squall and end up... somewhere else.
It initially looks
like the East Indies, but they can't get anyone on the radio. They don't see any other ships. The islands they sail by are huge masses of jungle with no signs of any of the cities and towns that should be there...
...oh, and there's dinosaurs on them.
They eventually begin to figure out that it's not their
East Indies...and then meet up with a huge sailing vessel crewed by humanoid creatures that seem half cat, half monkey, but which turn out to be an intelligent species of lemur. Joining up with the “Lemurians” (not that they have much choice) they find that their ancestors left Madagascar centuries ago when it was overrun by a species of intelligent dinosaur,8
And the Grik have found them again.
Now the crew of the Walker
has to teach the Lemurians as much modern warfare as they can, before the Grik hordes pour over them, leaving nothing behind but the gnawed bones of their enemies...
Anderson's series is actually quite interesting, even if the premise (“modern” people are transported to a place where their skills may mean survival for the locals) is an old one (heck, it goes back at least to Lest Darkness Fall
if you're talking AH!)
. The characters – Human, Lemurian and Grik – are interesting, the action is well paced, and you really do want to see how it all comes out.
It's discovered early in the series (book one, in fact), that the Walker
is not the first shipload of humans to get sucked into this world. In fact, the Lemurians owe much of their navigational knowledge to some human ships from the 18th
century that arrived and left them charts and knowledge of the stars before one ship headed east, the other west. The Grik, meanwhile, got their ship designs
from that westward vessel. And as the series progresses, we see that at least one earlier
group of ships came through and headed east towards the Americas.
The world is an interesting one. The story is interesting. And physics have not – that I've seen – been broken once.9
And if it can actually come to a proper conclusion, rather than drifting off into endless-series-hell as so many others have, then bonus points all around. Check it out.
on with the show!
Divergent Opinions - Comments on P.O.D. 66
And now, more of
RoC and the Sea, pt 2
There's a man on a boat...
In the South Pacific, a thousand kims from anywhere, a ship called the Monterey
slowly follows a long, zig-zag track across an endless plain of empty waves. The Monterey,
a thirty meter ketch built in the late 1880s, was – in spite of its name – out of San Pedro, RoC, and had spent most of its career hauling passengers up and down the west coast of the Americas. Mostly between the Republic and British Canada, but occasionally as far as northern Novy Russ or southern Peru.
The man, though, while nearly the same age, was from the small town of Auberry in the Californian Sierra foothills and had spent most of his life within fifty kims of the place, the last few as the supervisor of his father's gold mines. Prior to twelve months ago, the ocean was just a uninteresting, far-off place to him and the largest body of water he'd ever seen was on a lone vacation trip to Tahoe.
But then, his world had changed.
It had been a fine Autumn day, fading into an equally pleasant Autumn evening when Bradford Luevano had attended a lecture by one James Churchward, former engineer, former inventor, former tea planter, currently historian and writer. The lecture had been on Churchward's amazing discovery of actual evidence of a lost Pacific continent, the motherland of civilizations, the birthplace of the human race: Mu.
At the lecture, Luevano had seen writings from around the world that told of this lost land. Pictures of huge monoliths that showed evidence of Murian origin, carvings of world-altering disasters from spots as far apart as Mexico and India. Evidence of Mu's former colonies was shown to exist on all the continents, in dozens of countries – even right here in the Republic!
And he was told how, finally, Mu was completely obliterated in almost a single night after a series of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions dropped the broken continent, to fall into the great abyss of fire below. What was once the golden land where the “Naacal” ruled and civilization grew was now a hundred million square kilometers of open Pacific, great green waves its tombstones.
Bradford had never heard anything so amazing in his life.
After the lecture, Bradford stayed to meet the amazing old man who had opened up an entire new world for him. This began a series of conversations, diners and long hours spent in museums and libraries for the two, searching for further clues of the sunken Motherland.
Then Bradford had hit upon an idea. An expedition. An expedition to parts of the Pacific rarely seen, to search for islands, reefs, small remnants of the sacred land. Remnants where ruins might still stand...jewelry or household goods might still exist...maybe even carvings and texts might still remain, untouched by humans since the great catastrophe itself. And he would be the one to find them!
Less than two months later, Bradford Luevano was at the docks of Monterey ready to board his chartered boat, staring out over the grey-green waves of an ocean he had never before seen, but seeing instead only the grassy fields, the sharp mountains, the sparkling towers of a land long since pulled beneath those waves.
Six weeks of sailing those waves passed before the Monterey
reached its destination: Halfway between Easter Island and New Zealand, more than six-hundred kilometers from the most southerly of French Polynesian islands, where finally,
he could begin his search where no island was to be found on any map.
Every day, Bradford stood at the bow, telescope to eye, and searched the broad horizon for any sign of even the smallest of lands, and every night he carefully recorded the day's findings – or lack of findings – in the expedition log, marking off the sections of his carefully planned search grid.
In many ways, it was the happiest time of his life.
The ship's crew thought, well, they basically thought he was nuts. But he was a well paying nut, the weather – a sailor's main worry at sea – had remained favorable and, quite frankly, this had been one of the easiest cruises they'd ever made.
Two months later there was a great deal more grumbling, as “easy” had long turned into boredom and – worse – the cyclone season approached, which could easily make both “easy” and “boredom” vanish in a wall of thirty-meter waves.
Bradford remained at the bow, scarcely even putting down his 'scope to eat or sleep.
Finally, the captain told him: “This is our last pass. When we turn around at the end of this one in six days, it will be to head for port, not to cross off another thousand kim long line on your map.”
Bradford said nothing, but stood there on the deck, arms so limp he nearly dropped his 'scope. He had less than a week...
If Bradford's presence at the bow had been near constant before, it became just shy of permanent now. He barely allowed himself the time at night to do his log and mark his grid, a process that no longer marked his progress, but instead was more like the counting down to a doom. He was not even half done. What would he have miss in that other half – and what might he have missed in the half he had supposedly “finished?”
The days – hours
– counted down. Finally, it was his final day, then final night
of searching. Bradford was so tired that he had to press the eyepiece firmly against his eye to keep it from closing and it took all his concentration to see more than a blur as he looked through that eyepiece.
But blur or not, something about the ocean off to port looked...odd.
The Moon had set a couple of hours prior and most of the ocean looked like a vast pool of ink covered with small, bluish, dancing reflections of the stars that shown through the partial cloud cover. But that one patch seemed more...disturbed. It seemed, well, frothy.
The ship gradually grew nearer, until the patch was straight to port, and barely half a kim off. And in it, Bradford could see waves crashing.
It took a long time before he could work out what that meant. And when it did, all tiredness vanished. His voiced rang out “land ho!” as if he were in some novel about the Age of Exploration. He ran for the Captain's cabin - pausing only briefly to order the helmsman to stop the ship – and pounded on his door, gleefully yelling that he had found the Motherland.
The breaking of dawn saw Bradford eagerly urging the ship's small rowboat forward as two crewmen rowed the gently rocking craft through the low surf that surrounded a small S-shaped curve of land, about fifty meters long and ten wide at the thickest, that had been revealed as the tide went out. Barely above water even now at full ebb, waves continually swept right over it, the water then draining off in all directions. As land – even as a lowly reef
– it was a piss-poor example.
Bradford saw only a mountain, shining in the light of the rising sun.
The hull of the boat scraped against the rough rock of the “shore” and Bradford nearly leapt out, every instinct, every need
calling out to place his feet upon this tiny remnant of a once mighty continent. Clambering across the sea-soaked rock, he soon reached the highest point of his mini-isle, nearly a full meter above the endless ocean.
Laughing – crying – he slowly turned to survey the glistening stone.
“Mu!” He cried. “Oh Motherland, your children have not forgotten. You children have returned!”
He stood there, the occasional wave soaking his shoes and trouser legs nearly to the knees, for almost half an hour, his eyes seeing not ocean but his land's mighty mountains and broad valleys surrounding him. Till the end of his days, this would be his finest memory.
Finally, his attention caught by one of the crewman tapping on his pocket watch and looking meaningful, he returned to the boat, which returned him to the Monterey.
He made his final log entry, carefully entering the thrice-checked latitude and longitude, while sitting at the stern, watching his island fade in the distance as the ship headed east towards South America.
In Sacramento, an old man's eyes grew teary as he read the telegram handed by the young messenger:
There's a woman on a shore...
Out from between scattered clouds, the low evening sun sparkled across greenish waters. Here, behind the breakwater, only toy waves rolled against the narrow strip of rocks and gravel next to the Navy Pier.
The pier dated from the teens, built during the fears that the Eurowar would spill over to North America. The breakwater came from thirty years before that. Though older, the breakwater had been kept up. The pier...not so much. The piles seemed to be more barnacle-encrusted black sponge than wood and several of the thick decking planks were missing, lost to the big storm three years ago. And in spite of its name, no naval vessel bigger than a torpedo boat had docked there in the last decade – nor was likely to in the next.
Maria gave a start when she realized her husband had been born within sight of this pier when Mother Cambell had gone into early labor on a visit to relatives then living in San Pedro. Now, nearly four decades later, the relatives had moved a few kims north to the more upscale Del Puerto, the pier was decaying and James was...
...gone. James was gone.
The telegraph currently in her purse told of the French navy finding the ship Naacal
capsized, half-wrecked and barely afloat, a hundred kims south of Tubuai. It had been badly worked over by storms and had been drifting for at least three weeks. No one had been aboard, not James, not his father – the boat's owner – not any of it's five man crew.
Not even any bodies were found.
Sitting in the slightly damp rocks by the edge of the harbor she could feel her skirt slowly wicking up the faint, cold moisture as she fished for the telegraph to read it yet another time. The locations listed on it meant nothing to her, in spite of twenty years of listening to her husband and father-in-law go on and on about the South Pacific and plan their expeditions to it to search for a place anyone not raised on stories of it knew was about as real as a Grimm Fairy Tale.
But she loved him anyway and always just smiled as he talked about his lost land. A smile that had become strained as he and his father had left on two previous trips out into the far Pacific...and almost disappeared during those times he was gone.
Now the third trip had taken her smile forever, as it had taken her husband. Lost in a broad expanse of water she probably couldn't even find on a map.
She tried to avoid shredding the telegraph.
That telegraph had made its own expedition. James's trip should have ended over two months ago, with word reaching her soon after he touched some inhabited land, even if he was still far from home. When first one month had passed, then another was half finished, she had taken the train south to check with the Naval Office in San Pedro to see if they had any word, any
information about her husband's ship.
And as she had boarded the train, the mailboat had delivered this telegraph to their small, mid-California island. Because of this, Maria's seventeen-year-old daughter had known that her father was dead before Maria had.
No, that wasn't quite true. Maria had known James was dead weeks before. She had merely been denying it.
Elena had then sailed her own small boat to the mainland and forwarded the telegraph south to their Cambell relatives, believing her mother would be staying with them. But Maria hadn't wanted to impose upon the family on such short notice – and hadn't really wanted the company either – and instead had stayed at a small hotel halfway between the Naval Office and the fishing docks. Three days later, she had run into one of her cousins by accident while strolling near those docks and he mentioned a telegraph was waiting for her at the Cambell house. Even offered to run home and get it for her...it wasn't far...just one trolley...no trouble at all...they could meet again at that restaurant over there for lunch...
...and over the remains of a “Sardine Escabeche” lunch, James's death arrived.
Now she was waiting for the train that would take her back home. It would be leaving in just under an hour, but the Pacific Electric depot that was the “Ventura Express's” starting point was just a quarter-kim north along the shore and only marginally farther inland than she currently was. A ten minute walk at worst. And any time she didn't
have to spend with other people right now was a blessing.
The sun dropped behind the hills backing Point Fermin and night began to march west across the sky as she watched to the sound of endless tiny waves breaking.
The train pulled into Buena Ventura depot at just before ten that night, delayed by an accident on the tracks. Stiff winds tugged at her as she left the car and as she headed across the platforms to catch the “C” line to the harbor, the first ice-cold sprinkles of rain dotted her jacket, falling from a sky that boiled with barely visible black clouds, rolling in from the north.
The rain continued to sprinkle during the twenty minute ride to the Municipal docks, where the family motor-sloop Le Plongeon
was tied up, waiting her return. Getting off at the stop, she hefted her small case and slowly made her way through the misty sprinkles to the ship where she planned to sleep until morning. It's cabin was small and the bunk in it smaller, but it would do – had done
before – in a pinch. Besides, she couldn't leave until morning anyway – the trip to San Miguel was between six and eight hours after all – and her funds were getting too low to waste on another hotel, even just for the night.
The sound of rain – drifting from mist to downpour and back again – surrounded her all night as she fitfully slept on the tiny ship.
Dawn the next day fought through still mostly cloud-filled skies, but it looked as if the storm had passed. A couple of hours of work preparing the ship, a quick meal from the dockyard taquería and at just after nine that morning, she was maneuvering the sloop out of the tiny Ventura harbor and west into the still choppy waters off the California coast.
It was more than three long hours later and almost past Santa Cruz Island that the rains came back. Unlike the night before, they avoided the whole “sprinkling” routine and went straight into a full, heavy rain. The clouds that had been teasing the day with leaving instead locked solid together from one horizon to another and the early afternoon skies became nearly as dark as they had been late the night before.
The chop began rising. Soon Maria's ship was climbing through three and four meter seas and they only rose higher as she headed on. It took two hours beating her way west before she saw the tiny light on Williams Point, the northern-most tip of Santa Rosa, barely leaking through the clouds and rain. That meant she was still a good twenty-five, thirty kims from Churchward Harbor and it's narrow fifty-meter pier. Three to five hours from home, through an ever worsening storm.
Already tired from the trip back from Los Angeles and a night spent barely sleeping, her arms, legs, back
ached as she held the pilot wheel, struggling to keep the “Plongy” on course. The the need to get through...the need to get home...the fear
the rising storm was creating struggled valiantly with her exhaustion, but exhaustion was still winning. She could barely keep her eyes open, her hands on the wheel.
I'm not going to make it, am I?
She thought. Then the tepid flash of the William's light brought another thought.
Santa Rosa was right to the south of her and even in this storm, the big Carrillo Rancho cattle pier in Rosa's Bay was just over ninety minutes sail away. And for a third that time, she'd be in the lee of the island, out of the worst of the waves and wind. Exhausted as she was, she could still manage that. She turned the bow south, towards the light. It seemed the sensible course.
That was a mistake.
To be fair, if she had been less tired, less distracted by her husband's death, less...hollow
feeling, she never would have done this. Running west into the waves had been hard, every rise and fall tearing at her exhausted, sore muscles a little big more. But turning to the south put those waves straight onto her starboard side.
The first wave hit. The ship shuddered, listing, then slowly began to roll back, shedding hundreds of liters of water from her deck. Instantly realizing her mistake, she tried to turn it back west. Another hit, tipping it a bit more. Adding a bit more water to the load.
A third hit.
Maria felt the ship begin to roll over. She felt the icy-cold water roar into the pilothouse, tearing her from the wheel and out into the sea. She managed to get a single quick breath before the crash of waves pulled her under.
Battered – only the freezing of the water keeping her from feeling a broken leg and shattered hip – and barely conscious, she hardly noticed as she slipped deeper into the water, as her last breath leaked from her lungs...
...for there was James.
He stood, somehow, on the bow of his boat, waving, growing closer. His hand out to help her on board. And Maria realized that she had been wrong the day before...
...for she smiled...