tagSci-Fi & FantasyWings of Fire Ch. 02

Wings of Fire Ch. 02

bySwirlingJedi©

Author's Note: Another two-and-a-half weeks and another chapter drops! I'm getting there in both speed and consistency, which is a good thing! Having everything come together as it should be, is a spectacular feeling and I can feel it working here too!

This chapter was a fun one to write and I'm glad I finally got it cranked out! With everything going on, I'm thrilled with the result of how this one came together. Now, shall we begin?

Jim stared with his mouth agape in horror, surprised to see that someone had caught him! He sat there, like a lump on a log, searching for something to say, but coming up empty. He had absolutely no idea what to do at that moment as his mind was blank. He knew this could happen but was unprepared for it. Luckily for him, Laura broke the silence by saying something he did not expect.

"Well, by looks of things, you, Mr. James Brighton, have robbed us blind," the young woman stated, her alto pitched voice staying in a neutral tone. "I only have one thing to say to you about this; what took you so long?"

"What?!?" he choked as he stared at Laura. If his jaw could have it the floor, like those cartoons that kids watched, it would have done so. Despite his shock at her words, Jim couldn't help but get an eyeful of the gorgeous woman before him.

She was a classical Italian beauty, her features appearing to have been sculpted by the ancient Roman artists. She stood at maybe five foot five, with long black hair that went to about mid back. Her eyes were a stunning cobalt blue, and she had the full-blown curves of a woman. Her breasts stood proudly on her chest, easily a forty D cup, and her hips were lush and plump, looking to be about forty-four inches around.

"If we're both being honest here, I was expecting something like this to happen sooner or later. My father and brother are absolute bastardi(bastards) and I was wondering who would punish them for their arrogant and self-serving ways. I'm glad you found your balls and did something about the way they've been treating you," she said evenly, as she walked into the office, her floral pattern spring dress swishing around her legs.

"Doesn't this effect you, me stealing from your family?" Jim asked incredulously as he stood to face her.

"It does, in some way, but I'm past the point of caring right now. I'm just as pissed at them as you are," she stated as she surveyed Jim's belongings.

"You know with all that gold in your duffle bag, you'll barely be able to lift it, much less carry it, unless you have a car nearby. If I know my father, he'll be sending the police after you, once he's discovered that he's been robbed. You won't get far, maybe the next county before they catch you," Laura said almost sadly.

"They won't catch me," James said with a smirk.

"Oh? So I assume that you have a plan then? Please, do share it with me," she demanded of him.

"Honestly, I am not in a sharing mood at the moment, so you're going to have to deal with disappointment this time Laura," he addressed her.

"I ask because I want to know how it is, we are getting out of here," she told him.

"Wait, 'we'???"

"Si!(Yes!) I've suspected that you had some kind of plan since you got here, else you wouldn't be standing in this office. You've been rummaging around, looking for something and have found it. Wherever you are going, you are taking me with you," she said matter-of-factly.

"OK, hang on! You want to leave here, with me, a man who is soon to be a fugitive and leave all of this behind? Leaving everything you've ever known??" Jim asked, stumped why such a woman, who literally had everything she wanted, would want to leave.

"Yes. I have my reasons," she said.

"Well, let's hear them. I won't be taking anyone with me until I know the how and why of them wanting to leave such a lavish lifestyle behind," he said, skeptical of her intentions.

"Wait, you are leaving??" a familiar cantankerous voice said out loud. Both Jim and Laura whipped their heads around to see Ezio standing there in the doorway. Jim mentally cursed himself for not remembering that Ezio lived here on the airfield, in a small shack just out by the main hangar. "James, I understand, but why do you want to leave?"

"That is my business," she said haughtily, feeling like she owed them no explanation.

"It is 'our' business now missy. You want to tag along, I need to know why you're throwing everything away like this," Jim stated in a hard tone.

"Si, si, si! Why are you leaving??" Ezio put in.

"To get out of an arranged marriage!" Laura told both men with a sense of exasperation.

"You? In an arranged marriage? Doesn't your father know you're too hard-headed to simply obey his whims?" James snickered. His jibe earned him a hard look from Laura and Jim shrank away a little from her gaze. "Well then, who's the lucky loser?"

"Paulo Santorini," Laura spat.

"Oh, that asshole! If that's the case, then I will consider your request!" Jim said jovially. Laura had smirked at the loser comment but broke out into laughter at this characterization.

"Now wait a moment! Paulo isn't an asshole! He is a fine young man from a good family! You'd leave such a match behind?" Ezio protested.

"Ezio..." James started, but Laura cut him off.

"He isn't the man that everyone thinks he is. I have seen a darker side of him come out from time to time and it's not something I would wish on my worst enemy. Do you remember Ottilia Natale and what happened to her?" Laura explained. "It was Paulo and his 'friends' who were responsible."

"He did that?!?!?" Ezio said, scandalized. "How do you know this?"

"Ottilia told me, before they sent her to the looney bin. Her parents sent her, but I don't think it was their idea. I think Paulo's parents leaned on them to make her 'go away'," Laura guessed.

James remembered the woman in question that Laura was talking about. She seemed to be an upright and upstanding type if a little headstrong. He'd heard rumors circle around with the boys. about how she was a floozy. Because of this, many of the agreed that she was not the woman any of them should go near. There were worse things said about her, but Jim didn't care to recount them. Though if Laura was defending her, then the rumors about Ottilia must have been false.

"Well, hearing all of this has cemented my decision. If you really want to come along Laura, then I'll take you with me," James stated.

"Really??"

"Yeah. But you have to be willing to listen to me when it comes to things I know. No overriding me just because you think you know best. We clear on that?" Jim asked her, his tone deadly serious.

"As long as you're talking sense, I'll listen," Laura replied. "So, back to my earlier question; How are we getting out of here?"

"Well, we are on an airfield, aren't we?" Jim said with a smile.

"You can fly?" Laura asked, shocked.

"Yup."

"Now wait just a minute! You two are going to steal a plane and run off?" Ezio declared, having been forgotten by both Laura and Jim.

"Ezio..." James began but the old man cut him off.

"I will admit that the two of you have sound reasoning for leaving and doing what you are going to do, but I cannot let it happen!" Ezio stated vehemently. Laura opened her mouth to protest, but he continued on undeterred. "You both know how I stand on these kinds of things and in good conscience, I cannot allow you to leave. You will stay here while I summon the police."

"I am sorry old friend," Jim said regretfully.

"For what?"

"This," Jim said as he launched a haymaker straight for Ezio's jaw. In the dark of the room, lit only by the hallway light, Ezio never saw it coming. Jim's fist connected with his jaw, snapping his head back hard. The old man went down in a heap, knocked out by that punch.

"Mio Dio!(My God!) Why in the name of God would you do that?!?" Laura cried out, appalled by James' attack.

"It's a guy thing," Jim said nonchalantly.

"A guy thing?!?!?!"

"Look, there's no time to explain right now. I'll tell you later, after we're airborne," James promised. "You might want to change out of that dress though, because you need to be able to stay warm when we're up in the air. I know that it's spring right now, but up high, it's much colder than it is on the ground."

"Where would I find such garments?" Laura asked icily, checking her rage.

"In the locker room downstairs. A few of the guys here are on the smaller side, so their clothes should fit you well enough," Jim supplied.

"Where will you be?"

"Getting the plane ready for takeoff. Go on, I'll make sure we're ready to leave by the time you're out there," James said. Nodding grudgingly, Laura walked past Jim and headed for the stairwell, but not before cuffing him upside the head. Startled by the action, Jim shook himself before he asked "What?"

Hmmphing to herself, Laura disappeared down the stairs as Jim picked Ezio up and tucked him into the corner, out of sight. He shook his hand from the impact of the punch as it still stung a bit. It amazed him that the old man's jaw was still intact, as he hit his friend hard. Ezio must have been made of sturdier stuff than James had thought.

Picking up his duffle bag with a heave, James walked out of the office, with the plane key in hand. He closed the door behind himself and turned out the hallway light as he navigated his way to the ground floor. Jim let himself into the hangar and made for his plane. It was strange to think this aircraft, which he had designed from the bolts up, was now his! Well, it would be, after he'd taken it from those who'd stolen his design in the first place.

The bag was a bit on the heavy side, so Jim dropped it by the cockpit while he went for the cargo compartment. Once the storage bay was opened, Jim placed his duffle inside it and left it open, as he didn't know if Laura would bring anything. He jogged over to the doors and pushed them open, providing enough clearance for the wingspan.

As he finished with the doors, he did a quick check on the ground for any foreign objects that could get pulled into the propeller. Finding nothing, Jim did a quick check on the engine and found that everything looked ok and well oiled. He then checked on the Flash reactor and found it fully functional and topped up, for which he was thankful.

The aircraft itself had a long fuselage, aerodynamically designed for any resistance to wash right over it. Its propeller was twenty percent larger than most planes its size had, but that was part of the cleverness of its design. With a larger propeller it could hit speeds much faster than what most current aircraft could manage safely.

He saw that they'd kept the additional air intakes, which would help its overall top speed. They'd also kept his initial two man cockpit design, to free up the pilot to focus on just flying, while the navigator kept an eye out for any threats. Also, unlike most of the planes in service, its wings were of an angular design, to reduce wind resistance while in flight.

The one thing he was thrilled to see was that they'd successfully constructed the wings so they would 'swing'. That was a dilemma that Jim had faced when first designing the plane. He was torn between a broad wingspan which gave the ability to glide without a running engine if needed, or a narrow wingspan which increased maneuverability.

That was when he hit on the idea of the wings being able to 'swing' in and out from either position. It not only solved his design problems but added a degree of versatility when it came to the possible roles that the aircraft could fill. He smiled as he surveyed it, despite not having built it himself. Since it was his design, he might as well have.

After closing most of the compartments, Jim was running his final checks on the plane when Laura came out of the locker room. She had a small duffle bag in one hand and an improvised Molotov cocktail in the other. Dropping the bag by the luggage compartment, Laura turned and hurled the lit wine bottle at the wall of the hangar. It ignited in a blast of shattered glass, bathing the wooden walls in flames.

"What did the hell did you do?!?" Jim cried out.

"My final Vaffanculo!(Fuck you!) to my father. Are we ready to leave?" she asked, calm as the sea after a storm.

"Yeah," Jim said tentatively, handing her one of the two bomber hats. "Stow your bag and hop in. I'll get us ready to leave."

Laura did what was asked of her and James hurried along, sealing the luggage bay, then hopping into the aircraft himself. As he got inside, he tucked on his own cap and lowered the canopy down atop of them. Once it was seated, he had Laura lock the latches that would keep the cockpit sealed. He did the same and after that; he ran through a couple of quick checks before inserting the key, starting the plane.

It took a couple of tries but the ignition caught, and the engine roared to life. The propeller turned and spun faster and faster until it became a blur. The engine hummed loudly, and James knew for a fact that someone nearby would come to see what all the commotion was at this hour. Wasting no time, he eased the throttle forward a little, before taking the stick to guide them out of the hangar.

"Why can't we fly right out of the hangar?" Laura asked loudly not knowing much about planes and how they worked.

"We have to build up enough speed to get ourselves airborne and to do that, we have to taxi out to the runway first," Jim shout over the drone of the engine. They cleared the hangar easily, even with the wings at full extension and Jim had guided the plane to the end of the runway. He cranked up the throttle until he could feel the familiar thrum of the engine building to takeoff speed.

As the plane began its run down the tarmac, he saw a car crash through the gate, turning straight towards them. James didn't even need to look at who was driving to know who it was. It was Manfredo Marino, as it was the same car that the man always drove, and he let no one else drive it. It didn't stop as it continued on across the airfield, heading straight for the runway.

Although he was redlining it, there was no way Manny could hope to catch the plane. They were already more than halfway down the runway by the time the car reached the end of it. Not one for taking chances, Jim pushed the throttle to full.

Once he felt the familiar lift from the aft of the plane, he pulled back gently on the stick and they were up. Clearing the tree line easily, Jim did a quick loop around the airfield to get his bearings, before settling on a course of two-seven-zero. As he passed over the airfield, he spotted what looked like someone dragging someone else out of the burning building.

Ezio, you stubborn, iron willed old goat, James thought playfully. He figured that Ezio had probably come to once the fire had been set and Robbie too. If his eyes weren't deceiving him, he was sure that both men were alive and none the worse for wear. He flipped the switch to retract the landing gear and both him and Laura flew on into the night.

"So, now that we're in the air, do you mind telling me why you had to knock poor Ezio around like a sack of beans?" Laura called up from the rear seat.

"It's simple, really. Ezio is from an older generation where doing the right thing often meant doing what everyone didn't want you to do. You heard what he was going to do and calling the cops was the worst thing he could've done. Despite our reasons that would have been the 'right' thing to do. He was honor bound to stop us," James explained as he kept an eye on where they were going, taking them up higher.

"So, he was really going to do that? Despite the reasons we gave?" Laura asked, surprised that Ezio would do such a thing.

"As I said, it's his way of doing things. By knocking him out, I gave him a convincing and convenient excuse why he couldn't do a damn thing to stop us. Remember, your dad is still his boss," Jim went on. "At least this way, he'll have a way of explaining himself and have the bump to prove it."

"Did you see him make it out?" Laura asked, as she saw just how large the flames had become after they were in the air.

"Yeah. I'm sure I also saw him drag your brother out of the building too," James replied as he kept the plane climbing.

"Oh, thank God! I was afraid for a moment they didn't make it out!"

"Well, you shouldn't have thrown that Molotov in the first place!" Jim griped as he continued to navigate the night.

"I wasn't thinking OK?!? I just wanted to do something that would fuck up things for both my dad and my brother, OK?? They've both been a couple of controlling culos(asses) and I wanted some more permanent payback," Laura stated, waiting for Jim to fire off another comment, thinking he'd keep the argument going.

"Point taken. I would have loved to get some physical payback for what your dad did to me, but you setting fire to the main hangar will do nicely," James said with a grin.

"My dad did that to your face? How?"

"He had the boys hold me in place and lock up my arms so I couldn't fight back," Jim said, growling.

"Codardo!(Coward!)" Laura spat.

"You got that right!"

"How is it you know what I'm saying?" Laura asked, curious about Jim's understanding of her language.

"Working for Italians for several years, you pick up a few things and what they mean. Plus, Ezio was also kind enough to tutor me a little whenever he could," Jim said.

"Wait, Ezio was your friend?" Laura asked.

"Yeah, he was. Not sure how that punch is going to go over with him but I'm sure he'll forgive me when I see him next. Though he had some ways of thinking I didn't agree with, he looked out for me whenever he could after your dad took over," James told her.

"Why didn't you tell me all of this when we were back on the ground?" Laura shot at him.

"Did I really have the time to do that, with what we had planned right off the top of our heads and the night already half gone?" Jim replied in a tone heavy with sarcasm. Laura would have said something, but she had no rebuttal for what he'd just told her. So, she clamped her mouth shut, chagrined.

"Where are we going?" she asked, changing the subject.

"To an old military base in Kentucky, that was abandoned about seven years ago. Back when the wall went up, to keep people in the US, a lot of military bases had to be shut down and soldiers relocated to keep watch on the wall," Jim explained.

"I remember when that happened. There were a lot of unhappy people back then," Laura remembered.

"Yeah, because nearly every man was a part of the military then. The cuts that were made sent a lot of men home and out of a job, so many people were rightly pissed. I'm sure that the country might have gone broke if they hadn't made those cuts in the first place," Jim surmised.

"But this is America, the land of plenty!" Laura said, indignant that what she'd been taught wasn't lining up with reality.

"It was, when the Coalition of Indigenous Nations and Republic of California was still part of the United States. Since they've seceded, it's been all downhill for the U.S. Only recently have things gotten better for the common man. It took those money grubbing idiots in Washington long enough to get their act together to make things bearable for people these days," James recounted for her.

"How do you know so much?"

"Despite being of mixed birth, I was raised in an upper class home and had tutors who taught me much of the world and the way it is. My mother paid well to make sure I was an educated man, growing up. I'm also an ardent student of history and I like to keep abreast of current events. That way, I can stay informed, rather than ignorant," Jim told Laura.

"Your mom sounds like she was a smart woman, making sure you were looked after like that. I heard about her passing and I'm sorry," Laura offered to James.

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