At sixty nine Michael was starting to feel his age creeping up on him. With all the trouble he and James had suffered through with the ship, he needed to have a break and get away. It had taken quite a bit of deception on the part of the various lawyers, but in the event that anything happened to him, his daughter and his business would be safe and secure. He had hoped that James and his daughter would become engaged and married, but with his own problems and that of the ship, no one had found the time to settle. Michael missed the old days of working the yard instead of paperwork as he would have remained in shape and not started to grow round. Michael looked as the small painting of his wife, his daughter Molly, then ten, and him and a tear welled up in his eye. He traced the picture with a finger, and spoke softly to the portrait, “I wish you were still here to help me push them together Cathleen perhaps they would have been married by now.” Michael had thrown himself into his work in order to provide for Molly and was damned sure that she would have a good life when he rejoined his wife at the village church.
Out in that quagmire that had settle into his yard, his men were working hard, there were some days when he could lift crates with the rest of the men, but lately he his noticed that some of his strength and wained. He stood up and walked over to one of the filing cabinets and opened up a door marked with a “W”, apart form the bottle of brown liquid that rolled around inside, the draw was empty. He pulled out the bottle and took a drink, “It’s purely to medicinal to help my back!” he said looking at the portrait on his desk. He replaced the bottle then sat back down to continue working. His hand bumped into something cold and long under a piece of paper and lifted the sheet to reveal the fully loaded Colt revolver he had relieved from the stock that the ship held. Michael hadn’t owned this gun for long as he was loathed to be in possession of them but with the trouble brewing with the ships previous owner, he wasn’t going to take any chances.
Michael took a deep breath to calm the sadness in his heart and looked up from the mountain of that littered his desk and shelves. The cabinets that should contain all the important records were all empty as he had made sure that all the important records and ledgers had been removed to the safe keeping of the airship where he knew they would be safe if anything would happen to him. The business and his daughter would be safe in the boys care and he was sure that he would be the perfect business partner for his daughter that he expected him to be. Events were moving faster then anyone could expect and Michael had made sure that the business would survive without him. There had been several acts of deception to secure everything with both his accountant and the associated lawyers when he had persuaded the boy to join in and become part owner of the airship. Despite the current piles of orders and request that currently littered up the place, none were more then a few days old. All this work was due to the hard work of the boy and the workers that were drawn to him. With all the poor lad had been through in the last twenty years, he had come back to work and gradually improved Michaels business. Outside his window, somewhere in all the fog lay his boatyard and the airship that was responsible for so much of the trade requests. As he turned back to the work in front of him, there was a Scuffle outside followed by a knock on his office door.
“Come!” Michael called out and watched as an army officer followed by two lower ranking soldiers entered his office.
“What is the meaning of this?” He demanded reaching for the revolver that was hidden under one of the piles.
An officer stepped towards Michael’s desk withdrawing a letter from inside his jacket. “My lord and commander wishes for your attendance in the most urgent of meetings.”
“What will you do if I refuse?”
“Your refusal is not optional. I have been sent to bring you, the captain and the airship to him by force if necessary.”
Keeping one hand on the primed revolver, he reached out, took the letter, noting the wax seal on the front, opened it and started reading.
Dear Messers McClay and Purcell,
You are cordially invited to this most important of business meetings. You attendance is not optional as I have taken this chance to send my chosen soldiers to guide you both to me. I hope you accept and arrive with minimal injuries.
Michael glanced up as the soldier then down at the portrait on the desk, “Looks like we may be together sooner then I thought, my love.” he said and in a blink of an eye, pulled back the hammer on the gun and raised it, sending paper’s scattering everywhere. When the papers settled, he found the men in front of him had also raised there weapons to point at at him. “I refuse his summons just like I have refused all of his insulting offers.”
“Sir, I would prefer to escort you without injury however, my men are more then capable of shooting you in a way that will not kill you if you so wish to refuse.”
There was a crack of gunfire outside in the yard and Michael instinctively turned towards the window. There was a subtle hiss of well oiled metal rubbing and he felt a cold steel blade against his throat. He gently reset the hammer and slowly lowered the pistol to his desk.
“That is the correct decision Mr. McClay.”
“I really do have no choice in this matter do I?”
“What about my daughter?”
“I have no orders concerning her, if she is not here then she is safe.”
“Can you pass me my coat?” Michael asked. One of the guards lowered his rifle then after searching it, handed it over.
After saying goodbye to the portrait on the desk, Michael stepped out of the office between his guards and was confronted with the sound of a battle field, all around him the crack of gun fire filled the air and the smoke of burnt gunpowder assaulted his nose. After all these years, he should be able to walk across his yard with his eyes closed but even with the office door behind him, but the fog scrambled any sense of direction he had. There was a shout from behind him and a large shape materialised out of the mist carrying something long.
“Michael duck” the voice shouted and a second later the object flew through the air, Michael dropped to the floor avoiding the weapon but the two soldiers on each side of his were not as quick. The fog parted as the object hissed through the air and with a sickening crack, it impacted the necks of his guards and sent them flying out of sight. The last soldier and officer were more fortunate and were able to miss becoming victims and as the man holding the long object was brought up for another swing, they raised there weapons and fire. For a long moment, his would be rescuer looked at them with confusion about what had happened but as the two blood roses marking the bullet holes in his chest bloomed, the object fell from his grip and he collapsed to the floor. Michael reached out to the worker and tried to close the eyes that looked up to the sky. As he leaned forward his other arm snaked out into the workers pocket and pulled out the folding knife that was always hidden there. As he withdrew the weapon, sliding it into his sleeve, he hoped his captors hand’s seen it.
“Stand up Michael.” The officer said pointing his sword towards Michael and with a sigh, he stood up, straightened out his jacket and followed the way towards his gate guided by his captors. As he walked under the wooden arch that had stood over the door for over thirty year’s, he wondered how long it would remain up there without him. The soldiers stopped and Michael turned his eyes to look at a black carriage drawn by two large black horses. The soldiers guided him in then climbed in behind him and rode away.
From the Short Michael McClay (coming as soon as I Finnish Mythology, Aethershadow and Kitsune ) Copyright Adam Bryant/James Purcell 2014