Author : Sam Clough aka “Hrekka”, Staff Writer
“What’s that?” Cal asked, gesturing to the ornately patterned box resting on the mat in the centre of Petra’s cabin. His passenger had a southerner’s skin, and the wrist spurs that showed her to be a Kadian, a native of the desert.
“La boÃ®te de ciel,” she murmured, then paused, and looked up at him, “my sky-box. I am razir.”
“Skyhacker,” Cal breathed, examining the box more closely. It was a solid block of metal, fifty cents on each edge, the sides ornately inlaid with organic patterns. The top of the block was dominated by a giant circular dial, demarcated like a clock face, with sixty fine graduations. A disc of metal with a single indicator sat within the dial, and at its centre was a hole that would take a large, cylinder-style key.
The Razir — or more popularly, Skyhackers, were the only group to ever find a functional ’emergency weather controller’. Anyone with a telescope knew full well that the morning stars that encircled the planet were artificial satellites, and most scientists assumed that they had something to do with the very predictable weather patterns which covered the continent. Most of those same scientists refused to credit the claims of Raziran weather control — but most aviators worshipped razir as gods amongst men.
“Come see,” Petra beckoned him over, and fished a large key from the pile of clothing spread across her bunk. She knelt down by the box, and Cal copied, kneeling opposite her. She took his hands, wrapping them gently around the key. The key snicked into the hole, a tight fit.
“Eeks co-ordonnez.” She twisted the key, and the dial clicked round to thirty-five. A light pressure, and the key clicked lower.
“Egrek co-ordonnez.” She twisted the key again, this time setting the dial to thirty. Once again, she clicked the key lower, and twisted it to ten.
“Il pleut. It rains.” She smiled, and pointedly clicked the key down yet further.
She set two final digits, then rapidly pulled the key out.
Cal, realising that he had been holding his breath, slowly exhaled. The box remained where it sat between the pilot and his passenger, as inert as ever.
“Did it work?” Cal asked, slightly disappointed at the anticlimax. Petra shrugged, her limited english obviously exhausted. Unhappy with himself for getting so excited, Cal returned to the dirigible’s controls. The sky had been clear blue, to the horizon, now outside the shadow of the dirigible’s envelope, clouds were forming.
Petra had entered the cockpit behind him. He glanced at her, and saw her warm expression.
“L’art du ciel.”