The sky filled with black smoke. The ground shook and Quincy felt his horse wobble. Goblin Spires, the greatest fear of any pilot, sparked to life in an attempt to ground the far too loud biplane buzzing over head. Quincy flashed to his own days dodging the explosive rocks shot from ground to air with astonishing force. During the war, goblins were not known for their poor aim. That the Spires had not yet connected with the biplane meant they were being nice.
The horse was too young to know how the ground rattled with each blast. Too young to know that rocks rolled and the slightest fissures opened in the earth with each blast. The older horses in town remembered what happened when Spires made their presence known. They knew that when the fissures starting ripping through the dirt, it was time to slow. Quincy’s mount had no concept of the danger presented by the blasts. No one new to the Prairie knew what awaited them.
“Try to slow?’ Quincy pleaded with the horse. He was pretty sure he heard it laugh at the suggestion. “That wasn’t very nice,” he said.
The biplane zipped in and around the clouds of smoke dotting the sky. Quincy would have been impressed if he was not so annoyed. The plane was unlike any he had seen before; wings mounted near the back and twin engines, one on either side of the pilot’s seat. He did not envy having to work on the machine. Pipes and tubes wrapped around the machine taking exhaust from the engines and pumping it behind the tail.
“A showoff in Port Plain. Fantastic,” the sheriff said. He was having a very long first day back on the job.
The horse continued its wobbly run and the airfield appeared on the horizon. “The town never feels so large as when you’re in a hurry to get somewhere,” Quincy said. He was quite enjoying his conversation with the mare.
A nearby Spire fired. The ground shook and the horse neighed. The rock flung to the sky exploded beside the lavish biplane knocking an engine off the body. Quincy turned to watch the cylinder hit the ground with a loud enough thud to rival even the Spires. The biplane spun and twisted its way downward.
“Stop already you,” Quincy shouted at the horse. It obeyed, but was obviously displeased with no longer running.
The plane hit the ground softer than the engine, but still hard enough to launch its own plume of dirt and dust upward.
Quincy turned the horse around. The Spires began their retreat to ground; their objective complete.
“We’ve only a minute to get to the pilot before they do,” Quincy told the horse as he ordered it back to a gallop.
The ground quaked once more. During the war, this was known as the “welcoming party” response. Downed pilots went below. Quincy was glad to be on a horse that feared no speed. Time was shorter than expected.