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Book 1: The Siege of Fort Vagabond

Chapter 2 Part 2: A Practical Plan

“Anyway, if you all could pay attention,” Hadrian called while dodging a thrown wadded paper projectile sent his way from the rankled Goggles,” Let me get to the point as Prez wants.”

“So, our request to take out the Pride of Icarus on a maiden voyage to the Florida Keys this year was denied on the grounds that she hadn’t been tested in rough seas, and thus too dangerous and too far away for recovery if the worse were to happen while attempting to submerge. Something we would have to do to remain under the radar out on the Keys. She is over a thousand feet long after all.” As Brainiac spoke he pulled out a laser pointer remote and flipped through a powerpoint showing the artistic rendition of a massive airship’s blueprints and hull.

Now Hadrian had his President’s full attention, and he was kicking himself because he now realized where the kid was going with this idea. Why hadn’t he thought of this sooner?

The Committee had been training on the Pride for the last two years ever since their fathers had finished the project, and started on their next secret airship. Half the town had helped bring the sky whale into completion, and now that the Poseidon’s Bane was nearly completed they wanted to pass this airship down to their boys to master.

Moreover, there were several features, upgrades, and systems that were experimental, and needed more testing before they were fully implemented on the heavier, much more expensive, and heavily armed Poseidon’s Bane. One of these features was submersible capability.

Not long term by any means, but since these were secret projects that required the government's eyes to be none the wiser, various ideas had been proposed on how to use these assets without being discovered. Here their head engineer, Hadrian’s uncle, had proposed a wild solution. Make the airship capable of submersion of up to hundred feet. Not very deep. But deep enough to hide the massive airships from prying eyes. They weren’t designed to travel far under the waves by any means, but they were capable of a slow sickly jog through Poseidon's depths. In theory.

They had tested the Pride on more than one occasion. The Committee had even made the record for the hottest splashdown which translated to hitting the water at just shy of eighty miles per hour. She’d held integrity with zero hull breaches. That of course was in their local lake in a very controlled environment.

Still, they’d been dreaming of taking her out on a proper voyage ever since. The adults, for better or worse, had decided on caution fearing what the waves of the Atlantic might do to such an experimental hull. Bohdan had argued that they would never know if they never tried, but he couldn’t deny the logic on how if something did go wrong there would be no recovery of the airship, and they would be stranded at sea swimming back to shore. Not a good situation. But if Hadrian’s idea was what Bohdan thought he was shooting for they might convince the City Council to let them take her for that maiden voyage at last.

“Here is the beauty of switching locations from the Keys to Tenkiller lake in Okie land. The lake is over fifty feet deeper than our hull and visibility is a nice clear 8 to 28 meters. As long as we push that 30 meter mark all the folks on the surface will see is a dark shadow in the water. Better yet, we won’t be pushing that 100 foot ceiling even in the slightest.”

“The water is clear enough to confirm no obstacles in our path. That and Tenkiller is far enough away to make this a proper voyage, but not so far away that we couldn’t attempt recovery operations if the worse did happen. Not to mention in the absolute worst case scenario we would only have twenty to thirty meters of water between us and the surface. Goggles could clear that in ten seconds flat.” Gregory just glared at Hadrian in response. The younger member just smiled back full of mischief. He also knew he was frustrating the Viking Cousins who hated the metric system, but hated jumping back and forth between feet and meters all the more.

“Now that the technical reasons for going to the lake are established, let’s talk about the meat of the matter. We have some Adventure, some Hunting, and Liquidation to complete if even half of these rumors coming from outpost Vagabond can be verified.” Bohdan leaned back into his chair, and finished off his iced coffee.

Fort Vagabond was their fugitive colony mostly full of draft dodgers who didn’t want to shoot Russians or China men for not wanting their kids to be fags. World War Three had been raging for half their young adult lives, and things were not going well for Globohomo. The slow to increasingly fast demise was to no one’s great surprise except for the Fuds at the surrounding ranges in the neighboring towns their shooting team sometimes frequented.

The Committee, no, the entire town was lucky they had fathers like these. Their dads had seen this outcome of the global conflict a mile away. Some, like Bohdan’s old man, had sensed it coming from ten thousand miles away, and so they’d been prepping.

The draft boys would swing into town every now and then, but all the young men were properly hidden away either underground in their bunker network or off at Fort Vagabond with wonderful excuses that the bureaucracy couldn’t deny. For the local mercs who were known to drag people away excuses be damned there was nothing, but quiet streets and very angry looking old women.

Of course, if any of those government pukes did get lucky enough to get through their security screen, and nab a poor sod not paying attention there were plenty of shallow graves between here and Little Rock to get lost in forever. With the whole town insisting the fellows left, and no one knowing what happened to them on the road there wasn’t much a fed or state trooper could do. Most didn’t bother anyway.

Draft Hunters weren’t popular men. Not even to the Feds. The roads were far from safe as it was, and an entire town worth of elected officials with connections all over the state of Arkansas proclaiming innocence meant most of these government dregs didn’t feel like tempting fate over their cushy careers that kept them from getting evaporated by a cruise missile fifteen thousand miles from home. For the more persistent there was always a need for compost in the ever hungry orchards and farms around New Venice.

Bohdan had been in on a few of their informants' info dumps after having to come back in town to avoid their own draft or wrong think crime prison sentence. The state and federal authorities didn’t come to town anymore. Enough feds had disappeared mysteriously in the woods that they’d taken the hint about how unhealthy a thing it was to show up unannounced in New Venice.

Thanks to the surrounding wildernesses already infamous reputation the more supernatural reasons were being blamed by the locals, and the extreme conditions being the culprit officially blamed by the Feds even if some of the local sheriffs had suspicions. Then again, most of them were playing the same games...

The Story Will Continue Every Saturday.

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A Practical Plan panel 5
Bohdan Blood was a busy young man. Being the President of the AH&L Committee in the middle of World War Three did that, but now rumors of witchcraft and Cartel incursions around his Ozark home were making things downright unhealthy. Together with his wily friends Bohdan and company will dodge drafts, hunt cryptids, and burn witches in style to keep their neck of the woods from looking like a New York hellscape. Just another day for the Adventure, Hunting, and Liquidation Committee.
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