“Hey. Human. Get up.”
How did Hans get here? He remembered being badly hungover and literally placed in a cart by one of the meercats the other day, but remembered nothing else.
Crumpled up over a sack of grain, Hans looked up at the source of the voice; a sleek, black, canine-looking “furry.” In his own world, Hans knew only of dogs and wolves. This one was neither. The wagon had come to a stop, and the faint smell of silty dry soil was the only hint of a location.
Hans rolled onto his feet, trying his best to shake off the hangover as the canine looked him over.
“Your master has a strange sense of fashion…” He mused at Hans, then stepped out onto burnt orange sand.
“Excuse me. Uh. Have you… seen a black airship in the sky?”
The black canine turned around to face the sleepy German. “No. I only heard that it flew low over Deltia.”
“Is this place Deltia?”
The canine looked at Hans as if he had just dropped out of the sky.
“… No, human. This is Urkan. Deltia is to the north of here along the river.” The furre then turned around and walked off without another word, leaving Hans to fend for himself, gear and all.
Urkan felt like a bazaar. Stone-lain streets criss-crossed into the distance and bustled with carts both horsedrawn and hand pushed. Chatter and whinnying of horses surrounded him on every side. Hans scanned the inhabitants. They too were canine, but didn’t much look like the man from the wagon. Instead, the natives of Urkan looked more like a mix between the canine’s species and a type of hyena. The women were not very attractive; nothing like Amalija, that was for sure.
His stomach growled. Scorching daylight was fast approaching. He reached for his mess tin, which he found had no food, but it did jingle. Inside were some shiny, minted coins stacked from bottom to top. The meercats of Oasis must have really liked him. He followed his nose to a nearby alley and bought some skewered meat from a stand. If he had to guess, it was lamb. Not too bad. None of the vendors had heard of a black airplane, though.
He returned to where the convoy had dropped him off, in search of another one that continued northward, but there were none. Sunlight scorched down onto him, and the gear he carried began to really feel like a burden in the hot sun. Confused and with no idea where to start, Hans made his way to the nearby river. A medley of boats streamed along the river as the soldier stood watching them. Perhaps flotillas were the preferred method of travel here.
With a little help, Hans finally found the dockyards. He asked around and found a northbound raft manned by another of the black canine species. The same race as the man Hans had talked to earlier. In exchange for free transport, Hans offered to help row the craft northward. They agreed and soon took off. It was a strange relief to be on the move again.
“Where are you from, Human?”
The question came from the man rowing ahead of him. Hans could only see the canine’s sinewed back.
“I’m from Mannheim.”
“Never heard of that place!”
“It’s very far away. What about yourself?”
“Deltia. We’ll be there in a few days. Looking for work there?”
“Actually I’m looking for The Black Airship.”
The canine turned around as if to look Hans over.
“You mean The Black Ship? You know it flew over our city, exploded a purple light over us and then went screaming off over the ocean and to heaven itself.”
It bombed the town? Who would do that?
“Which way was it going?”
“North. It flew right over us toward the ocean.”
Suddenly Hans felt relieved that he had his camouflage on, lest the canine notice on him the same swastika that graced the tail of the fighter plane.