Author : Kate Runnels

Torque stood before the captured pirates, a few years older, in their late teens. What daring to try and capture an airship. And Torque had stopped it. Oh, how they glowered at her. But they were chained together, hobbled and Captain Makoto sent them to Torque as laborers.

She was very glad that Mountain Mel and Pig-face Jace were standing to either side.

Her right, artificial arm, pointed to the hatch that allowed access to the starboard inlet for the intake manifold. They glared at her shiny metallic arm. Especially the young woman. Toque could feel the hatred from her, like she could feel the heat from the reactor. “Get that hatch unsealed.”

Torque didn’t like having them around while she worked. The next few days were the same, running maintenance checks, upkeep on the engine, the reactor, intakes, exhaust, stabilizers, thrusters, the cranks and pistons, with everything else. But at least she wasn’t in New Perth with a drunk step-dad.

She left the engine room one morning, leaving Pig-face with the prisoners.

Coming back, she stepped over the hatch lip and stopped. Pig-face lay face down on the deck, blood on the back and pooling slightly on the deck around him. The prisoners, had cut away their bindings. All three glanced up as she entered.

“What are you-?”

She went for the emergency button near every hatch. The thrown cutters hit her artificial arm, but the emergency sounded. The three were free and the two young men raced toward the aft landing deck.

Issa faced her, picking up a large wrench. Torque skipped away. “Oh, you’re not getting away that easily.”

Issa came on swinging. Torque blocked with her right arm. The metal clanged together. Where were the others! The kick came out of nowhere, trying to sweep Torques legs. The scream filled the air, as Issa’s leg connected with Torques artificial one.

“Abomination!” She limped now. “You won’t win!” With a great heave, the wrench went flying – at the port stabilizers and blew threw the wiring and tore the fuel line mixture opening it to oxygen and torn wires. Sparks crackled, and then the explosion boomed.

Torque gripped a girder as the airship bucked. It heeled, no longer having the ballast to keep it level. Again, and the deck split from the port side behind the stabilizers. Metal screeched a protest at this unwanted twisting. Wiring snapped, and pipes burst. The liquid from the pipes flowed out the widening hole, toward the earth thousands of feet below.

Issa stumbled, then shoved violently off Torque. It moved her toward the ever widening hole.

Torque reached out with her right hand to Issa struggling to stay inside. She spat at Torque. “Abomination!”


Smiling, she jumped out the hole. Torque stared, shocked. She glimpsed a Wasp zip past toward the falling pirate girl.

Mountain Mel rushed in and tied a safety line around the two of them. Torque had a ship to fix. It took hours to get a patch together, but they could limp into Manjaro Port.

Pig-face was in the med bay, but she couldn’t stay, seeing him without his bouncing energy, laying there. In the engine room, Torque stared out the black hole, she couldn’t fix. She felt a hand on her shoulder but didn’t look. This had been her fault.

“This isn’t your fault,” said Makoto. As if reading her mind. “They’re pirates. I should have kept closer watch on them. This is on me, Torque.”

Like the engine rumbling, he growled, “It’s on me.”