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Fifteen thousand.

Fourteen thousand.

Thirteen.

Twelve.

Rafe’s eyes jumped from the altimeter to the dome above him. A cerulean expanse, almost too brilliant to be believed as sky, remained unmarred.

Dear God, he thought quickly as he undid the buckles of his restraints.

Underneath his feet, a cloud raced towards them. He fought to keep his balance as he began climbing up the control station in the centre of their pod.

“Get back in your seat, man!” a crewmate shouted.

“Look at the altimeter, you git!” Rafe screamed in reply, his eyes fixing on the large pair of handles above them. “We are accelerating!”

His hands gripped the cool brass, and he pulled. Hard. He gave another yank. Nothing moved. Not even the slightest of budges. He flipped himself up, his grip tightening on the handles as he braced his feet against the dome. He was now screaming as he pulled, his eyes focusing on a new expanse revealing itself as the mist now dissipated. The Pacific was much like its heavenly counterpart, only this canvas appeared uneven and textured even from their quickly-disappearing height. Rafe heaved, and the handles remained steadfast.

Over his screams he could hear another crewmember unfastening his restraints. On his fourth pull, he felt massive hands grab his sides.

“Sir,” came a deep booming baritone, “let me.”

Rafe looked at the crewman, and gave a light start. It was no insult to his own manliness he realized—the man was a giant. His cheeks and chin decorated in crests, swirls, and dots that should have made him appear intimidating but in his dark eyes rested a calm assurance. Rafe knew him from the briefest encounters passing each other below decks, seeing him fighting on the open main deck of the Guy Fawkes, or on the odd occasion when his person was called for by the captain. Damned if he could remember the man’s name however.

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