“I think it’s my turn to owe you a story,” he said cautiously, eyes filled with the same sort of emotion she’d seen before. A strange, half-suppressed mix of sadness and regret, she supposed, and looked away.
He tapped out a few more staccato messages on the heliograph and stowed it away, then took the controls to steer them back to the Silver Skies.
“It’s always a shame to scuttle a ship as fine as this,” he remarked again, some time later, in a voice once again clear but heavy with restraint, “but we have no time for anything else, not if we want even a chance at stopping the Earl.”
They both gazed up at the clipper. Before long, a burly figure they recognised as Gladstone neatly sailed off its guard rail and extended squirrel-suit wings, banking for the Silver Skies below. There was a pause for one, two, three heartbeats and then the ship exploded into a spectacular red-streaked orange fireball complete with smoking debris.