The Autopilot

More than a tool, more than a weapon, the Autopilot has been a trusted aid to Newton Falk since early in his quasi-legal career.

The Autopilot began life as Australian steel intended for a bridge construction project near Alice Springs. Part of a much longer piece of reinforcement bar, the Autopilot was separated from the rest of the length when it was sized to fit the current project. Workers carelessly threw the Autopilot toward a waste bin, intending it to go in and be taken away with that days trash, but they missed. Thus started the saga of the Autopilot.

Long after the completion of the bridge and the removal of the waste bin, the Autopilot sat in the weeds and gained a patina of fine brown rust. It filled it's days by resting in the same location without moving. The local flora and fauna paid it no mind, much to the consternation of the ecologically minded.

Many people passed by the Autopilot without seeing it. Workers on their way to Alice Springs. Robbers on their way to Alice Springs. Robbers on their way quickly away from Alice Springs, frequently followed by the workers. One day Newton Falk fell out of the back of a truck.

He hadn't intended to be with the party that robbed the bank in Alice Springs, and for it's part the Autopilot gave him the benefit of the doubt. The towns folk and local law enforcement weren't so understanding and pursued Newton on foot until he tripped and fell on the Autopilot.

Coming to his feet he offered to hit anyone who got any closer, and not wanting to be hit with a rusty bit of construction refuse the crowd fell back. Initially. The Autopilot was indifferent to being referred to as construction refuse, steel being rather secure and resolute in matters of self understanding. As the crowd began to close in Newton made his offer good and jabbed a man in the stomach with the Autopilot. He then used the confusion of the crowd to run away before a melee broke out. Unfortunately he was headed back toward Alice Springs.

In his favor, Newton was in much better shape than the majority of the people of Alice Springs. Plus the folks that were more physically fit had already run the mile out to the bridge that Newton had had the benefit of riding in the truck to. So it was that he was able to make it back to town before the posse that was pursuing him, and now, the Autopilot. He reached a alley off the main street of the small frontier town and began heading for the most solid building he could see, his intention to hole up there until things blew over. When he turned a corner and found a heavy wooden door standing ajar in a thick stone frame he dashed in and slammed it closed behind him.

It was dark in the room, but that wasn't what worried him. He could hear the people rushing down the alley behind him, but that wasn't it either. What was now fully holding Newton's attention was the pattern of light on the floor, thrown from the sun coming through the window on the door. It was rectangular, which wasn't entirely odd. But it also had three vertical lines through it. Like the bars of a cell, he thought.

Newton quietly, slowly, turned around and inspected the door as best he could in the dim light. It was very like a cell door now that he got a batter look at it. He walked the small room and noted the presence of a small sink, toilet and cot; all very cell like. The final test came back at the door again when he tied the door and found that it would not in fact open. This confirmed for Newton that he had in fact managed to run from a mob of angry towns folk and into a cell no doubt maintained by the local police. He sat down the with the Autopilot and wondered how long the townsfolk would take to find him.

In the end he got hungry and banged the Autopilot against the bars to get their attention.

He had a hearing (with the chief of police and the mayor, from the cell) the very next day. There were a lot of questions, most of them from people who were trying to keep from laughing too hard. In the end it was decided that the locals would leave Newton in the cell and feed him occasionally until they figured out what to legally do, he stopped being so funny or he died. Whatever came first. Newton felt this was particularly unfair and was very vocal on the subject. Later he would feel he should have spoken less. The Autopilot felt rough, that was how it always felt.

The Autopilot and Newton Falk were not long to wait in the cell. The truck that originally carried Newton to his fateful encounter had managed to make it miles away by this point. The collection of two bit criminals on board were quite happy with the getaway, what with leaving the new guy to the law and thus taking the focus of the crime off of themselves. They were loudly talking about the possibility that they may in fact be more than two bit criminals when some criminals with numbered bank accounts and libraries named after them descended from the sky and over took them.

The now devalued two bit criminals explained to the sky pirate captain that they were simply migrant works on their way from Alice Springs to Brisbane. They happily offered their life savings ($4523 AU, several pocket watches, a full two pounds of fine jewelery and a half eaten apple pie) if the sky pirate captain would please put them back down on the ground. The captain was a clever man (this was a bonus to him in his pirating and business dealings, not so much with his romantic ones) and he decided rightly that the savings mentioned were no longer theirs to give. Not to mention obviously stolen as not a single man could recall the name engraved in their pocket watches.

The criminals took offense to being called such, and though he regretted it, the captain had the loudest of them thrown overboard. The desired effect was had however in that the rest were now much more forth coming and absolutely delighted in answering the captain's every question.

Two minutes later the pirate ship changed course for Alice Springs.

Newton was asleep when the man threw the grappling hook though the tiny window on the door. It was a fancy spring loaded affair with little hooks that popped out from the sides after passing through the slits. Newton turned over to look at the hook just in time to see it race to the window and tear the solid iron door from it's hinges.

Newton, not a man to look a gift hook in the mouth, was already in his boots and scrambling out the open doorway, Autopilot in hand. The first thing he noticed were the criminals that had thrown him out of the truck, minus the big loud one who had talked them all into robbing the bank. Being a some what reasonable man, and not one to hold a grudge he decided to let things be. Then Newton noticed Roland Devlin, so he punched him.

Newton was quickly bludgeoned on the back of the head and woke up some time later in a stateroom on the massive pirate ship, The Lady of Amsterdam.

The ship belonged to Roland Devlin and his crew of sky pirates. It was large enough to rival the flying fortresses of the Enlightenment, and frequently did when paths crossed. It housed a crew of over one hundred which mostly supported and serviced the fleet of fighter planes and three airships that called the Lady of Amsterdam their base of operations. Until earlier that week, Newton Falk had been the pilot of The Lightning, the primary attack craft of the fleet and personal vessel of Roland Devlin, who up until that week had considered Newton Falk his closest friend.

The Autopilot was unimpressed by all this, having been picked up by one of Roland's men when they dropped what was left of the criminals off in the cell in Alice Springs. Originally given the order "Grab his stuff" the man had interpreted the order as "Grab that stuff, and keep what you like", a basic assumption held by many pirates. So the Autopilot now found itself in the possession of a short hairy man with relations from the south of Italy who's duty it was to patrol the outer catwalks of the ship and act as look out.

Even more to come…

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