Hello, Benjamin from Brother’s Campfire here!
Gather ‘Round and I will spin you a tale.
The launch required quite a bit of ballast and Petra’s scrawny frame in the little wicker basket was dwarfed by the twenty-four-foot craft held together with tightly sewn linseed canvas.
The balloon was tethered by four ropes attached to stout posts driven deeply in the ground in JB’s metal scrap yard.
Jaydon Bluntbasher’s men sprayed water on the craft to keep it wet. Bubbling the gas through water to refine it made the hydrogen much more reactive to static, and too much was at stake.
It was time for a safety check.
Launch Site ×
The weather ×
Hydrogen Spheres ×
Load secure ×
Basket Integrity x
Straps Secure ×
Valve release line mount x
Balloon at equilibrium x
It was irrelevant really. These things just extended the time she would be alive if anything went wrong as it would be a long way down if she fell.
A small crowd was gathering and there was some stir as to whether a lady should pilot a gasbag. The Violets Are Blue Foundation, a victim’s rights counsel for women supported her efforts as did Bluntbasher Fabrication. If she pulled this off, they would have a cash business and possibly a military contract.
A group of ruffians, not of the dock area, assembled. Rabble rousers, and probably Carsiolian. They were no good, and it was regrettable they knew of the event, but funding requests spread the word to unsavory sources.
JB’s failed fence install * freed his entire week up for the event and he was worried. While relatively secure, bad things could happen to balloons if a projectile struck them from a distance. With the high volume of hydrogen, she would be in a flying deathtrap. *(Issue #2)
“Petra, you don’t have to go through with this if you don’t want to.”
Petra was exasperated.
“Whatever do you mean by that? I have planned this for years and we are going to succeed! “
The Carsiolians, if that is who they were, moved closer to the fence and started shaking it. JB reached into a toolbox and slipped a hammer in his sleeve, fingers resting on the head. A blacksmith by upbringing and trade, he was handy with its use on numerous materials but he did not wish to bring any Constables to his doorstep.
JB changed his mind. Perhaps a little organization to the chaos outside the fence would be desirable.
Petra stepped into a specialized harness meant to keep her attached if the wicker wavered and looked to be praying. The crowd was silent.
Motioning for the tether bearers, she gave a thumbs up and everyone cheered, except for the rabble-rousers.
“Throw rocks at the wench!”
“That’s no place for a woman”
“Give her an apron!”
“And a bonnet!”
Petra was unable to concentrate. So much depended on a balanced ascent. She raised a closed fist to stop the flight sequence they had rehearsed.
A rock hit the canopy and The Carsiolians began climbing the fence. JB let the hammer handle drop into his hand and held his ground.
“Stop! La Longi Watch!”
It was Constable Nixon, strolling casually over to the trouble causers.
“Go on home, get out, the lady has a timeline.”
The suspects froze and then turned to face the Constable.
The leader of the group jeered. “Typical La Longi, a Pig without a pistol.”
A broad smile flashed across the constable’s face. “Aye, I’m but a Constable with a club. Now be good or go on, this is a first, and a must-see.”