A lot of people ask me, “Robyn, what’s your favorite scene from The Guns Above?”
Okay, actually, a lot of people don’t. In fact, no one has ever asked me that. But they should! By all rights, that should be the second most common question people ask me, just behind, “How do you cope with being so talented and beautiful at the same time?” The answer to that one is, I don’t. The pressure tears me up inside.
And to answer the other, please enjoy the first scene of chapter 3, in which one of our heroes contemplates the age-old question of why we fight.
As the first light of dawn crept over the windowsill of his hotel room, Bernat lay in an empty bed, somewhere between sleep and alertness, waiting and hoping for a knock on his door that would bring the semaphore reply from his mother. As dawn grew brighter and anxiety slowly won out over slumber, he finally opened his eyes and stared at the plaster ceiling. At length, the bell towers chimed out the hour.
Ten o’clock. Dreadfully early. Surely no one with any sense would be found out of bed at this hour. But he couldn’t sleep for worrying, so he rose, dressed, and went downstairs. After breakfast, with too little money for real entertainment, he passed the time by reading the morning paper in the hotel’s stylish parlor. Whenever the front doors opened, he looked up to see if it was a semaphore messenger with his money, and each time he lost his place and couldn’t remember a thing about the story he was reading.
“You know, that same newspaper had an article the other day. They said women ought not to be allowed in the air corps at all.”
If not for the thick Sotrian accent, Bernat might have taken the gentleman sitting across from him for an inhabitant of Arle. He wore the white robe and tight embroidered cap popular among tradesmen and other petite burghers in this city—popular here because they were popular in the neighboring land of Sotra, and the locals still thought themselves half-Sotrian, though it had been centuries since Arle sat inside those borders.
“I beg your pardon?” Bernat asked.
“That woman all the papers are talking about,” the Sotrian said. “They didn’t even want her in an airship before. You Garnians are so damn fickle. I think if I ask any person on the street out there, they can’t even tell me why you’re fighting Vinzhalia in the first place.”
Bernat had never been burdened with excessive patriotism. National pride was a habit better suited to the commoners, and simply wasn’t proper among the ruling class. But propriety was one thing, and this jackass giving insult to his country was another. He put his paper down and said, “We’re fighting them, sir, because they are a bunch of godless royalists who scheme to take our lands, rape our women, and destroy our very way of life.”