Gregor rotated the brass cup in his hand as he stared out of the window. He watched the busy coffee shop move about, ignorant of what was going on around them. The landing of the Splendid Victoria had made the news and every kid on a street corner had a stack of papers with a picture of the mostly-intact ship.
The crew hadn’t made the news though. Captains get their pictures taken and war heroes get films made about them, but engineers made things happen and if they were really good they might get some notoriety in their obituary.
“Sir?” Lively was the first to speak up.
Gregor shook his head like he was coming out of a dream and looked at her.
“What’s the word from command? How bad is it?” She knew it was bad, but Gregor clutched his brass cup and took another drink of the sweetened black coffee before he spoke.
“Discharged. All of us. For ‘endangering fifty-five enlisted soldiers and service men and women, defacing one of the queen’s flagships,’ and apparently the frame of the gasbag landed on some cows so we’re being held for that too. Been nice working with all of you, but our military days are done.”
Silence reigned at the table for a few seconds before Pepper snorted, “Cows. We saved half a hundred lives and get the shaft for killing moo-cows. How divine. How bovine.”
Digger finished his tea in a long pull and slammed the tin cup on the table, making Pepper jump. “So then sir, what’s the next move?”
Gregor raised an eyebrow, “Next move? There is no next move Digger. We’re done and we’ll be lucky to find work with a dishonorable discharge from the Queen’s Air-Navy.”
“There’s always a next move sir. If you can’t move forward you turn, if you can’t turn you jump, and when you’re good enough at jumping you fly. So what’s the next move?”
Everyone at the table stared at Digger for a few moments. Then they turned to each other, uncertain what could or should be said to that.
Bigger placed a hand on his brother’s shoulder, “You’re right. We keep moving. We find another ship. If we can’t work military we can work civilian. No matter what command has said, we took a failed engine and landed a massive ship ourselves with a crew of six. Way I see it we’re the second-best damn engineers in the British Empire.”
Jonas chuckled, “And who’s the first?”
“I have no clue Jonas, but I don’t want you to get a big head thinking noone’s better than you.” The whole table had a laugh at that, even Jonas.
Gregor cleared his throat, “Alright then team. We find a ship that needs a crew, and we keep on flying. We may be stuck in a giant, hot, steaming cup of it, but let’s see if we can’t turn this into a little brown joy.”
“And that analogy sir,” Chimed in Lively, “Is exactly why we don’t let you brew tea.”