2 DAYS LATER. ABOVE THE INTERSECTION OF THE FORMER INDIANA HIGHWAY 14 AND INDIANA HIGHWAY 17. (DOMAIN OF CASTLE EARTHSTONE/NEW STATE OF WABASH). 12:30 PM LOCAL SOLAR TIME/1:15 PM EASTERN TIME. WEDNESDAY, APRIL 29, 2026.

The continuing cold and soggy spring had grounded Nancy Teirson for a couple of days, but today was bright and clear, and there was plenty to see. Two miles below her Acro Sport, Highway 14 was a river of tribals pouring west. She guessed that they extended a little less than seven hundred yards along the road, in loose ranks of six to ten abreast. She circled lower for a better look; rocks and arrows rose toward her, dropping back far below. The tribals were pumping their spears and axes up and down in rhythm; sorry, guys, the engine’s a little loud for me to appreciate all that ooga booga you’re doing.

She thought about buzzing them for fun, but the Acro Sport was unarmed and unarmored, and there was no sense pushing her luck. In the months after Daybreak, it had occurred to her that her old expensive hobby of building kit airplanes might be highly relevant to becoming rich in the new world, and she’d had the kit already, though she’d had to copy many parts in materials that stood up to biotes.

Her “all natural materials” Acro Sport was a great aerobatic biplane, a short-landing tail dragger she could set down on a short stretch of dirt road or even a large building roof, but building it without synthetic fabric, fiberglass, plywood, or plastic had added weight and cost structural strength, and her version of a bio-diesel flathead 8, running on modified kitchen grease in a fog of spraying lye, was badly underpowered. Poor old Acro, stuck as a mailplane with a part-time job in reconnaissance, she thought. Besides, right after Daybreak day, who knew I’d even want a mount point for a gun, let alone a bomb bay?

She circled, staying up out of arrow range, taking a good look before she turned away from them and headed back to the makeshift airstrip at Terre Haute.

Affectionately, she patted the cowling on the Acro Sport. This coming winter, she was supposed to spend a few months down at Castle Newberry, helping them start building the next-generation copy. You’re going to have grandchildren, she thought to her plane. Don’t you mind that you’re not a war bird; we’re going to win the war, get some peace, and go back to being a country where the mail must go through.

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