Author : Kate Runnels

Torque gazed down at the clouds scudding past below in a breeze she couldn’t feel. She sat at the edge of a rusting support beam. The beam, one of many that needed repairs, helped hold up the roof of her father’s Mechanic shop.

The constant thrum of the engines kept the city of New Perth in the sky, droned on in the background as she fiddled with her mechanical right arm. The tiny gears and joints sometimes clogged with dust and she liked to keep it clean; running smoothly. The small screwdriver tightened one last bolt and she slipped it into a side pocket as she flexed her right arm, watching the interplay of gears, pulleys and the fluid that represented blood pass through tubes.

Her chores finished, she stayed out of sight of her mother and the bastard of a new man she called husband, Malcolm. A drunk, pretending to run the shop: her father’s shop; her shop!

The same accident that had taken her arm had taken her father, and half the populace of New Perth.

The steel vibrated under her. Sark, Malcolm’s oldest son, two years older. He grinned at her. “Torque the dork. What are you doing? I’m sure father will love to know your shirking work.”

“If Malcolm’s not too sloshed.”

“What was that?” he demanded, stepping one foot out onto the beam. Scared, he kept hold of the hull wall, as there was only the starboard engine housing and the clouds.

She had been sitting, but a pitch in the background rumble caused her to stand, easily balanced on the 10 inch wide beam.


She cocked her head slightly to one side to bring one ear upward. He opened his mouth then stopped, he’d heard it too. Another airship!

Torque glanced up in time to see a sleek fast moving airship streak out from above the bulk of the city and then it was past and diving down into the clouds.

It was followed by a ship that made the last look like a rusted old tug boat. As it fully emerged did the colors and the sigil penetrate into her astonished mind.

“A Royalty Air Cruiser.” She’d only seen the medical boat after the Blast.

It continued, following the other down into the clouds to vanish into the white.

What was it doing here? They chased pirates and brought order among all the floating cities.

The beam shook slightly and she glanced back to see him as Sark pulled back a meaty fist for a punch with a wicked gleam in his eyes.

She stepped back off the end of the beam. Torque dropped, her right arm catching the lip of the beam and she smiled as Sark, off balance, wind milled to keep himself from falling. Torque only used the beam to slow herself and change trajectory, swinging in toward the hull she released her grip.

Torque landed lightly on another beam that was part of the floor. She gripped a rusting hole in the hull, and metal on metal screeched in her grip. She didn’t stay long, but ran the length. Torque leaped off to fall into the gaping hole, a legacy of the Blast. Barely any light penetrated the shattered part of engineering. A moment of free fall then she landed, rolled to shed momentum and stopped with a bang as her right arm hit the inner wall.

She smiled at the memory of the look of his face as she leaped off. Let him try and follow her now.

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