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Five men had died on board the airship. The Captain thought it had something to do with me, and she was probably right.
I met her eyes across the table. “My intent is to build toys. Clockwork diversions. Not — Not this.” I gestured at the burned-out shell, distant cousin to my own carefully crafted flash-bang.
“Nevertheless,” said the Captain, “your presence has endangered this ship and her crew. I am not accusing you of anything.” She held up a hand to forestall me. “But I must know who brought it aboard the Dragon, and how it came to be in my tiller hold. Could it have traveled the deck on its own? Or would someone have brought it in?”
I was already shaking my head. “No, no, of course not. It might have been hidden there before we launched, or rolled into the room later, I suppose. But it has no means of independent ambulation. See here –”
I picked up my flash-bang and twisted it, splitting into two pieces. “This spring here drives the gyroscope, and this one the lifting mechanism, but it is all completely self-contained. The shell unwinds, like so, the hammer strikes here, and the spark ignites the powder.”
The sharp keening of metal against metal startled me. Several of the crew were sidling carefully towards the back of the bridge, and the Lieutenant had drawn his sword halfway from its sheath. All eyes were on the flash-bang.
“Oh, no,” I hastened to reassure them. “There’s no powder in the chamber. I keep the combustible components separate from the mechanisms. I am not foolish enough to risk fire on an airship.” A silence followed. Of course, someone had done exactly that.
“Captain,” said Jax suddenly, a moment before the ship lurched.
I watched in horrified wonder as a glorious wave of red and gold sand swept like fire across the eastern sky straight towards the Dragon. Five crewmen were dead, and we needed to outrace a sandstorm.
This post is part of the Jade Dragon series. Though I try to make these installments enjoyable as individual pieces, I highly recommend that you read the series from the beginning to really get what’s going on.
This post was written in response to the Trifecta Writing Challenge weekly prompt:
You should write a creative response using the given word. You must use the word in your response, and you must use it correctly. Your response can be no fewer than 33 and no more than 333 words. This week’s word is:
1a : a cause of astonishment or admiration : marvel <it’s a wonder you weren’t killed> <the pyramid is a wonder to behold>
b : miracle
2 : the quality of exciting amazed admiration
3a : rapt attention or astonishment at something awesomely mysterious or new to one’s experience
b : a feeling of doubt or uncertainty
If you like this piece, you can vote for at the Trifecta Writing Challenge site through 7:00 AM Eastern (US) or 4:00 AM Pacific (US). Along the same lines, I’m always eager for comments and constructive criticism, so feel free to state your opinion here!