The Rebellious Half Turn
It was a brilliantly crafted golden precipice. It ticked as if any clock would. Yet she knew this was no ordinary clock.
Clouds brushed just out the cockpit. The endless cacophony of metalwork proved ever present here and oddly charming.
It was a wonder to any untrained mechanic as how anything so small could hoist an entire ship.
“First time seeing one, cadet?” Grumbled an old man.
“Yes sir.” Straightened the cadet.
The old man was a walking iron ball. He had stubby legs and arms and the face of a rock toad. His blue hat was worn and adorned with four golden stars by the band. “You’re new here. Ricci’s Daughter?”
“Do not stutter around me, cadet.”
“Hmpf. Well it is marvelous isn’t it? This is the latest line of clock engines, the Minute Hand if you will. With it we can stay air born for thirty minutes. Forty if the timelines are stable enough. In my day that would have been the work of Hours.”
“Permission to speak, sir?”
The man frowned, “No.” he glanced over his shoulder. “Sergeant Webly!”
The girl whiffed the scent of cinnamon and lavender. A brass man with a pointed chin and blue hat appeared by the end of the hall. He saluted squarely at his rounder counterpart, “Yes General.”
“What have you?”
“A bit of a ruckus, Sir. Multiple brawls, some wounded and a stolen ship.”
“Well yes. Two citizens, a half turn and full turn claimed there may have been a young boy implicated in it. A third member is suspected to be involved. It left two days ago. Reports also mention –“
“By the Hours, Webly I don’t need the details, just tell me if that man was on it.”
“Sir. As I was about to say, reports mention of a man dressed in uniform being the main perpetrator.”
“That’s all I needed to hear. Send this ship and the Sevens after him. I expect word from you in a week.”
The old man grumbled and stomped out of the cockpit. The door then spun and clicked shut.
Webly surrendered his posture the moment the main gear on the door stopped spinning, “Curse that man a thousand fold. Damned bastard. You, Niss Remy Le Ricci was it?”
“Prepare the engine for immediate travel.”
“But sir, we’ve yet to gather the troops.”
“Don’t need them. If we capture him with the few dozen we have the better. Merit’s what ranks us soldiers higher, Niss Ricci. Perhaps you’ll understand that when you’re a full turn.”
Webly grumbled and took up the captain’s seat. He ran his brass hand along the velvet arm cover and tensed.
“Why?” He asked after a moment’s pause. “Why is it that a rich merchant’s daughter chose to undergo mechanic training?”
Remy cleared her throat, “I enjoy machines sir.”
“You could have gone to the best schools to learn of it.”
“With all due respect, Sir. My father would rather have me marry than pursue proper schooling.”
“Naturally. How would you produce an heir as a full turn?” The man waved his brass hand when Remy failed to respond. “A rebellious stage I see. Pah, half turns. Well go on then, you have your orders.”
Remy saluted and quickly left the cockpit.
Her heart raced. The blood she aptly held back now rushed to her face. Finally. At long last, finally. She treaded the narrow clockship hall, her boots clanking on the metal frames. Upon the dirty glass that sided her, she noticed her own fleeting image.
She had an unwavering look. Her black hair was tied back and her pale face, for once, looked almost joyous. It vanished when she saw her eyes, the only parts other than her hands that had gone mechanical. She snapped her black goggles over top of them and scrunched her nose. That man had the answer to everything, and now, after finally entering the navy she had the chance to pursue him.
She slowed as a commotion stirred at the far end of the hall.
The voice of a woman reverberated, “Let me through!”
The woman sounded urgent. Remy ran. The far door spun open.
The owner of the voice wore a white hat, red hair bundled down.
The woman spoke as Remy paused, “Crickets. You’re as old as ’im.”
A man entered the hall with a disgruntled soldier holding him down by the arms. He wore a violet hat. A full turn.
“Wilma, this will get us nowhere, better we head back now--”
“No.” snapped Wilma, “They ’ave to know, Martin.” She focussed on Remy who straightened her posture. “Find the stolen ship, please, I beg you. I know for a fact he’s on it, please.”
“Who?” asked Remy.
“Tiguak Trimbly. Old as you, love. I thought it be good for ’im to ’ead out, but not after this.” She searched in her robes and pulled out a letter.
The man behind her shook off the soldiers grasp and crossed his arms, “To think he should fail at a simple detection spell, but manage a letter spell so easily? That Tig will never seize to surprise me.”
“What my brother means to say is that Tiguak Trimbly sent this letter while on board the stolen ship.”
Remy gestured for it, and, when Wilma handed her the worn parchment the girl unfurled it. The edges were jagged as if ripped out of a book, the ink was smudged as if it had been rolled immediately after writing.
She scanned the words briskly. Her grip tightened at the end of it. She flipped to Wilma and breathed, “Is this true?”
Wilma nodded, “I don’t doubt ’im. Please, love, stop ’im before he regrets it.”
Remy gave her a salute, “We will. Sergeant Webly is the best at what he does. I promise you we shall catch them all the moment they make landfall.”