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Occupational Hazards at 30,000 Feet
Assessing the damage
Ran, Captain Herrick, Benedict the Pilot, Johann, and Bernard Martin the assistant engineer, all leaned out over the transom railing, staring down at where the airship’s rudder hung on like a stubborn tooth. Several hundred feet further, the Kell plains drifted by, drying under the baleful sun. The five exchanged worried looks, and Bernard’s face hardened.

“I ain’t going down there,” he said, crossing his arms over his chest.

“We need someone to get us a damage report,” Herrick began.

“You can see it fine from here. Land this damn thing and maybe I’ll do it.”

“We can’t land yet; there may be more of them behind us. And there are no ports around here to pull into.”

“You ain’t gonna make me dangle like a spider from a thread, four hundred feet above the ground,” Bernard said, his voice rising.

“All right,” Herrick capitulated, raising his hands. “All right. We’ll figure something else out.”

“I’ll do it,” Ran offered.

“Yeah, make the stray go,” Johann grinned.

Ran and Johann had instantly taken a disliking to one another, when she had first come aboard. Calling her “the stray,” Johann tirelessly voiced his dismay at having her along, disagreed with her constantly, and generally undermined her authority until one day after nearly two months she broke his nose with her bronze fist. Afterwards, they were sorted, and Johann took a liking to her, and persisted in calling her “the stray”.

Thus, it was decided between the five of them that Ran would be tossed over the edge to dangle like a spider from a thread, hopefully getting an estimate of whether or not the rudder could be salvaged along the way. Bernard returned to the security of the engine boilers and not hanging from a rope, while Herrick and Benedict returned to the bridge, though there was little to be done in the way of navigation. Ran meanwhile, was pulling on a harness, while Johann went to retrieve his brother.

Taking a length of rope, she secured one end to her harness, and fed the other through a pulley wheel she had retrieved from a storage locker. Johann returned with Peter, who was pulling on a pair of tanned leather gloves. “Ready?” he asked, scooping up the coiled rope.

“Looking forward to it,” she grinned. “That’s why I’m on an airship, right? To be up in the air?”

“You’re crazy,” Johann grinned back.

“And I’m your superior.” With that, she hoisted herself up on to the railing, and then as Peter began to feed her slack, she leaned backwards until she was nearly perpendicular to them. Nodding to Peter, she flexed her legs and pushed off, and as he gave her slack, she dropped down, swinging back like the broken pendulum of a clock. Her boots clunked against the side of the Lyrical, and she pushed off again.

The air was cool as it moved past Ran, the ship’s altitude well below where cold and ice became an issue. Her violet hair rustled as she descended past the officers’ quarters, moving down the transom. The stern of the Lyrical was large and sculpted of dark painted wood that was decorated with arches and curled embellishments. Two square ports hid a pair of rear facing canons. She glanced down as she approached the swaying rudder. It was much larger than she was; great planes of oak sanded smooth and coated in a resin of tar and tallow and held together by great iron bands. On each band was a large hinge, consisting of a pintle inserted into a gudgeon, which would secure the rudder to the sternpost. As Ran descended, she noted that only two of the six hinges were still intact, the others broken and clacking in the wind. The bottom hinge had been erased completely by cannon shot and had taken part of the sternpost with it, leaving only splintered wood.

Above her, Johann monitored her descent. Looking up, she made a swift chopping motion with her hand, which Johann relayed to his brother. Her descent stopped, and she dangled pendulously, swaying slightly. With her bronze hand, she caught ahold of the rudder, gripping a fragment of wood to steady herself. Having stabilized herself, she surveyed the rudder more closely, noting the areas of damage, and the twisted, hanging brackets. Someone had gotten a hell of a shot, she concluded with a grimace. It was going to be expensive.

fReemade Ran
Community Member
fReemade Ran
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  • [05/30/09 06:29am]
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