Men Not Afraid: War Powers

  1. Chapter 3: The Side Of the Ship
  2. Men Not Afraid
  3. Chapter 5: The Spanish-American War

Let them, if they so please, become merchants, barristers, politicians. Let them have a fair field, but let them understand, as the necessary correlative, that they are to have no favor. Let Nature alone sit high above the lists, ‘rain influence and judge the prize.’

And the result? For our parts, though loath to prophesy, we believe it will be that of other emancipations. Women will find their place, and it will neither be that in which they have been held, nor that to which some of them aspire. Nature’s old salique law will not be repealed, and no change of dynasty will be effected. The big chests, the massive brains, the vigorous muscles and stout frames, of the best men will carry the day, whenever it is worth their while to contest the prizes of life with the best women.

—T. H. Huxley, Emancipation—Black and White, (Roman Year 2619)

“Raise the wings!” Sam cried.

The crew unfurled the stabilizing wings of the Athena’s Horn. Laura, seated in the smoky gloom of the needle room, heard and felt all that was happening on the ship. She was the ship. Her body was but another appendage, and a useless one compared to the flying Horn.

“Flier!” her sister yelled, standing at the wheel—purely for its decorative value, for the wheel would only be useful on the water.

“Flier, to the skies!”

Laura gingerly reached out, and lifted herself—the Horn—out of the Lunar sea. She pushed into the ether, and she lurched forward. The dry air rushed against her wooden sides. On her deck, Sam and Roger watched the ground recede. Someone had awakened John as well. She could feel his tension as the Horn lifted under another’s control.

She pushed against the ether, and she moved herself upwards. She took the round, disc-like Earth as her pole, and pushed herself towards it. Below her, she saw the Lunar sea recede, and she saw the mountains surrounding it.

On the disc of the Earth, she recognized Florida jutting out from the southeastern edge of North America. She used that as her guide. Stars glared from the sky around the Earth; they shone steadily, without a twinkle.

Below, the mountains and craters and seas grew smaller. Sam ordered everyone below decks. The crew grumbled, but followed her orders. Soon, her deck was empty, and the crew was inside her.

Below, she watched as the great expanse of the Lunar surface shrank, while above, at the center of her vision, she continued to guide herself towards the tip of Florida.

When the Moon became a mere disc in her field of vision, it was as if a veil were lifted from her eyes, or fog that she had never seen was burned away by the sun. Weights she had never felt were lifted from her shoulders. It was like shooting out of a cannon.

The moon below receded to its normal coin-like size, and the Earth grew to engulf her vision. She saw the storm on the ocean east of Florida. She felt the horrible shift as she tumbled towards the Earth, as she pushed against an ether that had shifted a hundred eighty degrees around.

Her crew yelled as they tumbled to her ceilings.

With a light touch at the ether, she righted herself and sailed through the damp, twisting, glorious air of Earth, to the Florida Keys.

After the ship was righted, Sam returned to the deck. She breathed Earth’s air with a renewed sense of wonder.

The rest of the crew came out also. The Athena’s Horn was higher than any ship—except now, for itself—had ever flown before. The Americas were outlined against the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. White clouds here and there obscured parts of the Earth: the bay area of California; British Columbia; the Elfen Northeast. The hurricane still tore its way across the Atlantic, now nearing the southeastern coast of the United States.

Daltrey walked up beside Sam.

“I can’t believe it’s so easy,” he said.

“Pierre measured our speed this time,” she replied. “Eighteen seconds to travel two hundred and forty thousand miles. A thousand-thousand times faster than anything we’ve done before. Why, we could even travel to Mars in a matter of days!”

“Perhaps we should visit Percival Lowell in Arizona, and ask if he’d like to see the canals in person?”

“I don’t know. I never realized how different things could be. On the moon we were helpless. Nothing was familiar. How much different will Mars, or Venus, or Jupiter be?”

“You don’t want to go?”

“I don’t know. There’s so much happening right here. If Spain is trying to regain power over the Americas, they’re probably allied with the Irish. Britain is taking Arabia, but losing Africa.”

“I was thinking,” she continued, “of going down to the Indian Nations. I’ve some friends there who might need help against the Spanish.”

“The Incas?” Daltrey replied, “I’ve never even been there.”

“That’s what I mean. I’ve been so many places on Earth, and there’s still so much to do and explore. The Moon… Mars… they’ll always be there. There’s a lot to take care of right here at home first.”

“Well, Captain… ”

He faked a yawn.

“I guess I’d better get some rest.”

Outside the Dade County constabulary the fat palm fronds slapped against the columns of the building as the breeze began to build. The heat was a palpable thing. Sam still wore her leather coat and breeches, while Laura had changed into a free-fitting toga.

The twins walked past the guards. The guards were armed with swords and six-shooters. As they walked past, the twins heard one whisper to the other, “Hey, that’s those two Amazons always get in the dailies. I thought they’d be bigger”, before they were out of earshot. Sam nudged Laura’s side.

“Yeah, Laura, the nerve of you, not being six foot tall spitting nails.”

“Good thing they never met Mom!”

The constable walked out of an archway and fairly jumped at seeing the twins. He wore the official Dade County, mid-length black and red toga.

“Sam?! Laura?!”

“Betts!”, Sam yelled.

“We’ve got something you’re not going to believe,” said Laura.

“You always have something I don’t believe. After last time, you could tell me you’ve been to the moon, I’d probably believe you.”

Sam rolled her eyes.

“We’re not about to tell you that.”

“How’d you get back from France so fast?”

“That’s what we’re here about,” said Laura. “Remember how riled the Spanish have been getting lately?”

“There’s a hurricane coming,” answered Sam, “and behind the hurricane--”

“—is a Spanish invasion fleet,” Laura finished.

“What?!” he yelled. Then he laughed.

“Dead Adonis, girls, this isn’t the time for jokes. I’ve got an election coming up, and--”

“No joke, Betts,” said Sam.

“And if you call us ‘girls’ again, I’ll turn you into a newt,” said Laura.

“Zeus through a window, you’re really serious. Why can’t you ever bring good news? I should dread seeing you two.”

“And we should dread seeing you, too. But this is serious. First, there’s a storm,” said Sam.

“And behind it, a navy,” said Laura.

“Laura thinks the storm is magical.”

“I know the storm is magical.”

“When does the storm arrive?” he asked.

“Our astrogator says it’ll hit Miami tomorrow, late afternoon.”

“And it’ll be done at dusk.”

“And the Spanish navy is minutes behind it.”

“Zeus,” said Betts, “that’s good timing. We’re going to have to scuttle our ships and then bring them up immediately, in the darkness?”

“No, you can’t bring scuttled ships up to speed that fast,” said Sam. “Talk to the army, but they’ll probably decide to fortify the coasts with heavy artillery.”

“And bring any fliers above the storm,” said Laura.

“And warn the people,” said Sam, “so that they’re ready with arms.”

“I’ll have my men get the word out now,” said Betts. “And I’ll personally get the word to General Rose.”

“We’ll be staying at Darlene Connors’, down by Kings’ Road,” said Sam. “I can only assume they’ll want us to pilot the Horn and join the battle.”

“I’ll let him know.”

“Um… and we’ll need a new spyglass. We lost ours flying over the storm.”

“I’ll let him know, but you won’t be able to get one yourself? The militia is supposed to arm themselves. That’s the whole point.”

“Tomorrow’s a Sunday, Betts. Where are we going to get a spyglass?” said Laura.

“We’ll try, of course,” said Sam, “but it normally takes weeks to get one, and we need a spyglass to be effective in the fight.”

“I’ll let him know.”

Late in the evening, the heat remained oppressive. At Darlene’s Saloon, Betts introduced Sam and Laura to General George Rose.

“General, this Captain Samantha Smith of the Athena’s Horn. Her sister Laura is the ship’s mage,” said Betts. “Listen, I’ve got to go and make sure the warning’s gotten out. I’ll see you all later.”

Betts left. General Rose waited until Sam and Laura sat before taking his own seat.

“So you’re the two girls reported this to Collier.”

“Sir—” started Sam.

“He recommends you highly.”

“With all due modesty,” said Sam, “that’s because we’re the best damn fighters you’ll find in this state.”

“No wonder you get your pictures in the paper all the time.”

“Well,” said Laura, “they usually get the important parts wrong.”

“I have no doubt. Look, girls, I’ll be blunt. There’s a war coming up, and we’ll need all the arms we can get. Fliers will be at a premium, and--”

“Of course the Athena’s Horn will be at your service,” said Sam.

“I’m glad you understand, then. We’ll have Harry—Captain Harold Lash fly her tonight.”

Sam slammed her chair back and stood up.

“Excuse me?!”

The General looked confused.

“You have something against Captain Lash?”

“Sir,” said Sam, “if anyone flies the Horn it will be myself. No one else knows her as well as I do, and, with all due respect, you’ll not find in your service anyone with more experience than I.”

“Samantha, this is war, not a cheap novel. War has no place for women.”

“You—See here, General. The matter is not up for debate. The Horn flies under her owner, or she doesn’t fly at all.”

“I haven’t got the time to argue with you. All right, if you want to captain her, then captain her. But if any action of yours results in the deaths of my men, I’ll have you in chains, woman or not.”

Sam eyed him coldly.

“You’ll have nothing to complain of from us, General.”

“Very well, then. Meet with the rest of us tomorrow at dawn. If we have nothing else to discuss, I’ll see you then.”

Laura whistled three notes and said “a spyglass.”


“We lost our spyglass while… rushing back to warn you, General. We can’t get a new one tomorrow, it’s a Sunday. We’ll need, at least temporarily, an army issue.”


“Sir, we need that spyglass.”

“Ladies, we have manned ships to equip. Furnish your own ship yourselves. If you are going to wear the skin of men, wear their duties as well.”

He stood up.

“Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have plans to make.”

He rolled his eyes, turned around, and left.

Laura took a drink of tea, then hummed nonchalantly.

“One of these days,” Sam said, “one of these days, I’ll get even with his kind. Somehow, some way.”

“Let’s just do our share tomorrow, Sam. That’ll be payback enough.”

  1. Chapter 3: The Side Of the Ship
  2. Men Not Afraid
  3. Chapter 5: The Spanish-American War