alive

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"Is there anyone here?" came a voice over the ceaseless whistling of wind rushing by outside.

"Clair! I hear you!" I activated the airship's propellers. Hope remained! "I couldn't reach you through the ionization but I did patch into the airships' control systems-"

"Whatever, I'm glad you're here! Which ship do we take?"

"We" meant she and Jesse. The upload from her lenses revealed a panicky scramble through the airship, with numerous close calls. But for Jesse's skills with a screwdriver, they might never have made it this far.

"Any of them," I told her. "I'll use them all to slow your descent, but once you're free that won't be a concern."

The docking tubes were flexing and twisting like snakes. She and Jesse negotiated their way to the nearest airship and fell across the threshold into safety. Clair clung to the pilot's seat, chest heaving. Jesse brushed past her and stared at the complicated controls.

"Do you know how to fly this thing, Jesse?" she gasped.

"You don't have to," I told them. "I will operate the controls remotely."

I closed the door behind them, fastened the locking bolts and detached the tube. The pitch of the engines changed.

"We can't leave yet," said Clair. "We have to check on the others."

"But the dome blew," said Jesse. "They must be dead."

"We don't know that for sure. And if they're alive we still need them. Q, can you take us to the top of this thing so we can check? Is there time?"

What could I say? I couldn't refuse her.

"I will make time."

"Do it. We have to try."

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