Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Gregor's Winged Gas-Bag

Silence was something Gregor had never been accustomed to. His life had been a blend of grinding gears, pistons and pumps, whirring fans, and shifting metals of all kinds accompanied by the release of steam and smoke from exhaust ports.

An engineer for the queens royal air fleet, Gregor lived a daring, dangerous, and wholly unsung life of diligent work and upkeep. He worked for the captian who worked for the queen, and he in turn had a crew of five men beneath him. Together the six of them worked day and night to keep the Splendid Victoria in the air and up to snuff. If you’d asked Gregor if he thought himself a hero he’d have laughed at you and walked away without another word.

Gregor took pride in three things in life: his work, his crew, and his mustache. Well waked, perfectly shaped, and beyond reproach were three qualities he expected of all three.

However today he stopped dead in his tracks for only half a second as he heard something he’d never known before: nothing. An utter silence which struck to the very soul of his being washed over him, but only for that half a second before he himself broke the overwhelming barrier.

“Jonas, Lively, Pepper, Bigger and Digger what in blasted nuts and bolts is going on? Get those gears turning or we’ll fall from the sky as sure as a stone!” His boots slammed the hard metal flooring as he ran through the machine pulling levers and toggles trying to find what had caused the beheamoth of an engine to quiet.

“Can’t say as what the problem is sir! All the gears just seem to have stopped rolling over.” Pepper was the first to call back. Her blonde hair dirtied and streaked in the grease between the gears as it hung down from the pipes her legs gripped so assuredly.

“Well keep looking, this machine is our lives right now and if we don’t restart it we’ll lose them for it.”

Bigger called back next, “It’s just too large Gregor. even if Digger and myself were to start turning the main gear we couldn’t turn it fast enough to do anything but slow our descent!” Bigger was the largest man Gregor had ever known, but his body would need to double to match his brain. Second in command on the crew, and brother to Digger, who was much smaller, Gregor took Bigger at his word on most any occasion.

“Then give me another solution, we can’t let the girl crash and burn!”

Lively came running around the corner, also tall for a woman and with her long red hair held back in a tight braid, “Sir, we could try for a winged gas-bag. It may be out only hope.

“Madness,” Gregor thought for a moment and realized that madness was the only thing offering survival right now. “Let’s do it. Gear jockies call out!”

“Pepper!” “Digger.” “Bigger!” “Lively!”

Gregor’s thick brows furrowed, “Jonas?! Where are you boy?”

The intercom buzzed and cracked before Jonas’s voice came over it, “Working instead of shouting sir, I’m moving to cut the gas-bag. Why don’t you focus on telling the other’s what to do?”

“Blasted kid is gonna get himself killed one of these days, but he’s right. Pepper and Lively use any piping you can find to build structure poles. We’ll need you to fasten the wings as fast as possible once they’re freed. Bigger, you said you and digger could slow the descent of our lady?”

“Aye sir, but not for long.”

“I don’t care if you only buy us half a minute, get on it!” The ship was already begining to lean as it was rapidly losing momentum. Lively and Pepper took off in opposite directions. Gregor took off at a run for the back of the ship to find Jonas.

“Jonas, report!”

Jonas was already halfway out of the window with a parachute strapped to his back and a heavy hooked-knife in his teeth. He took the sill in one hand and the knife in the other, “About to start the cut sir, care to join me on top of the bag?”

“No, I’ve got to release the frame, you be careful out there, I’d hate to lose you lad.”

“Stop worrying about me and start worrying about the girl, this could very well be a spectacular way to die.”

“You talk too much for someone of so few years. Just don’t screw this up.”

“Yeah, yeah, relax old man.”

Gregor took off running again, pulling out his omni-wrench and reaching the front of the ship in less than a minute on the narrow cat-walk beneath the gas-bag. He began loosening the nuts from the bolts attaching the gas-bag’s frame to the ship-proper.

Minutes later and fighting a distinct lightness which came from the falling air ship, not to mention shouts from the captain and non-engineering crew, Gregor released the final nut and the bolt screeched as it tore from it’s holding. The whole ship shuddered as the iron frame came off nose-first and went tossling back into air behind it. Meanwhile the crew, true to their skill as their word, snapped the heavy canvas of the gas bag into the new frame of stout wings, caught the air as the ship descended and leveled out the ship.

Gregor came to his feet and nose-to-nose with the captian. “Engineer, explain yourself!”

“Sir, the engine failed for unknown reasons and so we converted the ship into a glider.” Gregor turned away to shout, “Good work crew, Bigger and Digger we’ll need manual control of the rudder if the gears aren’t working. Lets make this as smooth a landing as possible!”

“Someone is going to hang for this Gregor, and I intend it to be you.”

“You may try sir, but I think it’s better that one man sway from a line than that six dozen men die in a crash.”

The captain’s mustache bristled with frustration, “Dismissed Engineer Gregor, best make sure we don’t all die in the landing.”

Gregor turned and walked away, Pepper and Jonas fell in line beside him. Jonas spoke up first, “Sir?”

“You heard the captain, let’s land his ship.”

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