Urging the Harlich riders ahead of them, she and her companions rode side by side once more, spreading a little destruction in their wake. They dropped a blanket of cluster bombs behind them. The mini mines were not much alone, but they were magnetic and clung to the shell of the tank. It wasn’t great, but it kept the gunners at bay, buying them a few precious moments to escape.
Dirk ordered them off road, leading them to a path through the woods Fiddlestix would never have found on her own. He took them to a deserted rest area so overgrown, not even a squatter would attempt to live there. He headed for the tumbledown building, slowing his bike to a crawl. Removing his helmet, he looked at Fiddlestix with a sly grin.
“We’ve got a decision to make. Do we continue on the road, or…?”
He held aside vines growing over the sides and roof of the dilapidated building, revealing a door. With a push, it swung smoothly open. Fiddlestix peered through the gloom several moments before deciphering what she saw.
In the dim light of the concrete room, was a contraption that seemed to be held together with toothpicks and duct tape.
“It’s a zeppelin, isn’t it?”
Dirk nodded proudly. “She doesn’t look like much, but I assure you she’s flight ready. Karl and I built her and tucked her away here for emergencies.”
“How soon can she be ready?” Blacksmith was examining the zeppelin skeptically.
“It takes about thirty minutes to finish filling the envelope. We keep her partially inflated so she’s ready faster. The roof is hinged to let her out.”
He chuckled happily, leading them to the gondola. It was quite spacious, able to hold at least ten people comfortably. Fiddlestix was amazed, this must have taken years to plan and execute.
Blacksmith came up behind her again, moving quietly despite the number of items hanging from his tool belt.
“You need something to eat.” He offered her some dehydrated combat rations. “You had very little breakfast, and it’s close to noon. Eat, it’s pretty good. Astronaut stuff, it keeps forever.”
He handed her a bottle of water and took a big bite of his dried beef. Making a face, he forced himself to swallow.
“Okay, I lied about this one being good.”He washed his mouth out with water, gargled and swallowed with great effort. ” Yours is good, but this one, Strawberry Beef Supreme, it’s disgusting. I am not a picky man, but even I find it almost inedible.”He made a face, forcing it down.
“Why are you still eating it if it’s so bad?”
“Where I grew up, even if the food was terrible, you ate. I never knew where my next meal would come from, or if I’d even eat the next day.”
“Nothing like a little starvation to make you appreciate the finer things,”she said, raising her water bottle in a toast.