It rained in Gearford. It rarely rains in Antiford, but it was Gornuary on the eve of Moghs. It was chillier too, in the sixties.
Lucas stepped off the platform the meet with friends over by the docks. There was a big time-ball the sea ships and the airships would set their chronometers by that crowds would often gather around at New Year's Eve to celebrate the passing into the next year.
Off the train, Esther came along, adjusting her handbag, "I wish I had brought a light jacket now. It's rather grim tonight."
"All of course, but there is such a buzz in the air, can you feel it?" Lucas asked, offering his arm.
She took it and they walked on.
Meredith was placing the last of the hot chocolates into her carrier, "Tee, I'm assuming Mr. Allenthrope here isn't giving us these for free, unless the Black Leaf and Earl has re-organized as a charitable organization."
"Yea, yea, I'm diggin' for me money, dear," she said, "Thanks a bunch."
"Sure you ladies wouldn't rather stay here and rein in the new year in style?" Allenthrope asked.
"Sorry, we're off to see the ball drop with Buford and a few others," Meredith said.
"Well let him know I wish him, and you all, of course, a New Year!"
William tumbled onto the balcony, "Thanks for the wine and adventure Brady, but I must be off.
A gentleman, overwhelmingly underdressed stepped out to face the night, "but we've hardly started!"
"Sorry, my love is as fleeting as the rain in Gearford, and I fear neither are to return for some time."
And with that, William got his oversized coat and sauntered into town.
The docks were packed. There were captains with their ships, packed to the brim with the drunk and merry, mostly the rich. The streets were filled with the common folk: mill workers, seamstresses, and so forth. Meredith swung her newly christened airship, The Burning Arrow, around gently, so as not to spill the drinks. She lowered the ship by a park. It was not a legal parking spot, but she wouldn't be able to pick up her guests from the docks with all the crowds.
Lucas, Esther, and William collected by ship and began climbing up the ladder. As they did climb, Tee was ready to help up their guests.
A tea cart barrelled onto the streets below and slammed to a halt by the park entrance. a head popped out.
"Mr. Buford! You wouldn't believe the ridiculous things happening on these city streets!" Called Bird Von Wal.
Lucas shook her hand as William and Esther climbed up, "Glad you received my invitation, old friend!"
And so, they all climbed aboard, Tee handing, to each, a hot chocolate. William poured a little rum into his from a flask stashed away in his pockets. The ship rose up and moved over to the Gearford Timeball.
Meredith found even the skies to be a bit crowded, but they did put themselves into position.
Indeed, Lucas's head was swimming with thoughts. It had been a crazy year, filled with adventure and great change. He wished Phin had been able to take up his invitation to celebrate with them tonight, but the captain had important plans. He always had very important plans.
This woman on his arm, Esther, how nice his relationship with her had been this year, and how strange it was to him, that anyone was standing by him again. He smiled. This year was about transition and looking forward. The future was staring him in the face more than ever, now at the eve of a new year.
Meredith felt the rush of being at the helm. Sure, she wasn't going anywhere, but the power of flying the Arrow thrilled her. This had been a wonderful year for her. Her trip to Kuu revitalized her, and she couldn't feel more accomplished with the work done for the company.
Tee was playing with her patchwork dress, feet dangling off the ship, "Looking good, captain!"
Bird was trying to find which pocket she'd left her newest tea in to show Buford.
The whole city watched the timeball, as it slowly fell down the pole.
A distance into the ocean, fireworks were ready to blast off.
William was thankful to have some normal friends. It made him feel more exciting by comparison.
Esther sipped her chocolate one last time for the year.
"Happy New Year!" said the whole city in thunderous unison.
Friends, comrades, coworkers all hugged, shook hands, kissed, and variations thereof.
1896. What a scary thought, Lucas felt, that this was a brand new year of unknown ahead, for he and all his comrades.