Airborn - Chapter 17: The Pit and Chapter 18: Ship Taken Summary & Analysis

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Chapter 17: The Pit and Chapter 18: Ship Taken Summary

Matt is given a hammock he knows will be almost impossible to get out of it without waking Crumlin or Szpirglas, asleep on the floor at his feet. When he thinks they are both asleep he begins the journey across the room to the window. Another body is asleep outside on the veranda, but Matt gets past him also. Then he is free and heads for the clearing where he hopes Kate waits. He searches the area, and then decides to go back where he discovers her fast asleep. He wakes her, and opens the door to find Szpirglas on the other side. Now, he knows the Aurora is near, and assembles a search party to find it. Meanwhile, Matt and Kate are thrown into a pit. The only air that hasn't been pushed out by hydrium seepage is on the ground, and they lie there until Matt comes up with a plan to get them out. Using Kate's harem pants, he creates a balloon and fills it with the escaping gas which is so pure that it is strong enough to pull them both to the surface. He knew they couldn't rest, and had to reach the Aurora before the pirates found them and all was lost. After a moment of rest, Matt and Kate head through the trees to the Aurora. They pass the cave and find the hosing still attached, but no one is there. They hear someone coming and hide, watching one of Szpirglas' men run by. Kate tells Matt he is a scout, and will bring everyone back with him. The Aurora looks ready to launch when they get there, and Matt carefully circles the area. The Control Car is empty and then Matt sees Szpirglas in the window of the starboard passenger lounge.

Bruce whispers to him, and tells Matt he saw the whole thing happen. His leg is still bleeding from the cloud cat's bite and he looks ill. He heard a couple of gunshots and then one pirate left again - the scout that Matt and Kate had seen. They know they have limited time, and Kate is convinced that they must find a way to kill the pirates. She tells them all they have to do is get one separated from the others, and bash him over the head, taking his pistol. Then they can shoot the rest. They begin by climbing into the tail fin and from there into the auxiliary control room. Matt can see that the ship is ninety-nine percent fueled and airtight. Kate opens the bandage on Bruce's leg, revealing infection. Matt makes his way to the infirmary, making no noise on the catwalk in bare feet. He stops at his own room first to pick up the pass keys to the ship and then climbs through an access panel, crawling along it until he can look down into where the passengers are being held. Then he follows Szpirglas and Crumlin as they leave the room, learning that the rest will be there in only three hours, and that they plan to strip and scuttle the Aurora. He also learns that Vlad will be making lunch for the pirates. He gets what he needs from the infirmary, taking a bottle of the sleeping draft that Kate had used on Marjorie as well. Using the dumb waiter, Kate sends Matt down to the kitchen where he drops the sleeping elixir off with Vlad who empties the entire bottle into the soup 'for flavor'. Then he sends Matt back down with a bowl of soup in his hands, but Kate is not in the room at the bottom when he gets there.

Chapter 17: The Pit and Chapter 18: Ship Taken Analysis

Szpirglas insists that Matt take the only hammock in the room, and Matt can't argue too strenuously without attracting attention to himself, so he tries to appear grateful and gets in. He waits for what seems like a long time, until he is sure they are asleep before he goes over his escape in his mind, all the while hoping that Kate hasn't fallen asleep. He reminds himself that he is lighter than air, and jumps from the doweling that secures the hammock to the window sill where he carefully and quietly opens it and slips outside, careful not to let it slam shut as he drops to the ground outside. Matt can't bring himself to leave Kate behind when he reaches the forest and she is not there. He goes back for her, finding her asleep in her bed, and when they open the door to make their escape, Szpirglas is waiting for them. He now knows with certainty that they are from the Aurora and assembles a group to search for her. Then he takes Matt and Kate to the pit where hydrium is seeping from the ground, and pushing out all oxygen. As he stands there, talking to them before putting them in, Matt realizes the truth of Molloy's last entry and the ship he had seen in the distance had been Szpirglas' airship. Szpirglas had killed Molloy. Crumlin shoves them into the pit and dropping some distance, he finally hits the ground below. Matt comes up with a brainstorm and using Kate's harem pants, creates a balloon to float them out of the pit. They lay gasping for a moment, and Matt realizes Kate is crying. Without thinking, he leans over and kisses her. She stops crying, and asks him to do it again, which he does without reservation. Kate admits that it is her first kiss from a boy. They hurry back to the Aurora only to discover it has already been found, and Szpirglas can clearly be seen in the passenger lounge window. The Control Car is empty.

Bruce calls out quietly from the forest, surprising Kate and Matt as he explains how he returned to the ship in time to see Szpirglas and his men take over. Kate is ready to kill them all, surprising Matt who tells her that he doesn't believe he can take a life - not even one as bad as Szpirglas. Bruce and Matt argue about who should be in charge, and Kate solves the debate by suggesting they simply get on board first. Once inside the tail fin, they make their way to the auxiliary control room and Matt leaves Kate and Bruce there while he goes to the infirmary for disinfectant, bandages, and whatever else he can find. He tries not to give in to the jealousy he feels at leaving them behind together, still enjoying the feeling he got when she slipped her hand into his and squeezing it, expressed her fear that something might happen to him. He stops to grab his keys, resisting the urge to climb into bed and pretend none of it ever happened. Fear and exhilaration keep him safe as he creeps around the ship he knows better than anyone else. His sense of direction, and knowledge of every nook and cranny of Aurora enable him to spy on the pirates, check on the passengers and crew, and get to the infirmary to pick up supplies for Bruce's injury and as an afterthought, a bottle of the sleeping elixir Kate used on Marjorie. Eight drops had rendered Marjorie unconscious. Matt and Kate bandage Bruce's leg, give him some aspirin, and discusses his idea to take the ship up into the air before the other pirates return. They separate, Matt and Kate going to deliver the sleeping elixir and to begin taking lines off forward while Bruce begins aft. At first, Matt is worried that Vlad may not know what to do with it, but when he sees Vlad empty the entire bottle into the soup, he stops worrying. When the dumb waiter gets back down to where Matt left Kate, he is stunned to find she is no longer there.

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