If you’re new to this story, best to start at part 1. Otherwise, please continue…
The hulking beast shuddered to life. Nell waited a beat or two, listening closely for any signs of malfunction. Not hearing anything other than the groan of vibrating metal, she nodded. So far, so good. No screams, no explosions in engineering. That’s a good sign.
Reaching to her right, she tapped the button that would close the airlock and bring up the outer ramp. Silence. Nell frowned, tapping the button a few more times for good measure. Nope. Not going to work.
“I need someone to check the front airlock and raise the ramp!” she called out.
“On it.” Xendri, whom Nell hadn’t even realized was in the cockpit with her, suddenly darted away, swinging down the ladder to the airlock.
Bending slightly, Nell watched Xendri’s small, lithe frame exit out the front airlock and check the manual ramp mechanism. She grabbed onto the lever with both hands and jumped on it, using all of her weight to try and force it to move, but it wasn’t going anywhere.
Seeing her distress, Claw came running out of what must be Hank McGrath’s office and applied his strength to hers. After a moment the clamp came loose with a shuddering sound and the ramp started to rise. Xendri darted back inside and Claw backed up to safe distance.
Nell waited until Xendri was back in the cockpit. “Please tell me that airlock is sealed shut.”
“All green!” Xendri grinned.
Either she doesn’t see the danger in what we’re doing, or she’s genuinely enjoying the fact that we’re all risking our lives in this hunk of junk. Nell frowned at Xendri, who elected not to notice. She sighed. Either way, we won’t learn anything sitting in this scrapyard.
Nell turned her attention back to the controls and set about pre-flight checks. Then she checked it again. No errors showed on her end, but if the wiring was faulty, then that really didn’t mean anything and that front ramp control not working didn’t really give her high hopes for the integrity of the wiring. Here goes nothing.
She powered the ship for lift-off, gripped the steering column tightly, and tilted upwards. ‘The Majestic’ shuddered and groaned, creaked and whined, but it rose and there were no explosions or blinking alarm-lights. Nell let out the breath she was holding. Okay. Next hurdle…breaking atmosphere.
She gave the ship a bit more power, urging it up and out of McGrath’s Scrapyard. They quickly left the rust-coloured dirt of Mars behind, whooshing through the air faster and smoother than an upside-down turtle should really be capable of moving. Nell allowed herself to grin. It wasn’t like flying a fighter, or even the well-used Silent Serpent. It was bulky and awkward, but it flew. It flew straight and steady with no fluctuations in the engines’ power, and she knew that once she got it into space, the shape wouldn’t matter. That’s if I can get it into space, Nell reminded herself.
She angled The Majestic higher, taking the smoothest course she could give the ship into the outer atmosphere of the planet. I’ll get this thing into orbit and make sure there are no leaks before I take it any farther than that.
To her surprise, there were no leaks or warnings of impending disaster in orbit of the planet, or even beyond that, in empty space. She took the ship through its paces and was pleased to discover that it was maneuverable enough. Must be those Pentaurii engines, Nell decided. I guess McGrath wasn’t lying when he said this ship’s better on the inside than the out.
“Isn’t it great?” Xendri was beside herself with joy. “A ship of our very own!”
Nell had to admit that her new Captain’s joy was infectious. A matching grin spread across her own face and she was still wearing it when they touched back down at the Scrapyard once more.
McGrath’s sleazy grin was back on his face when he saw them return and it was quickly arranged that they would finalize everything in the morning and go their separate ways from there. Despite being back where she was faced with the Majestic’s rusty exterior, Nell couldn’t wait.
A ship of our very own…
Justine Alley Dowsett is the author of nine novels and counting, and one of the founders of Mirror World Publishing. Her books, which she often co-writes with her sister, Murandy Damodred, range from young adult science fiction to dark fantasy/romance. She earned a BA in Drama from the University of Windsor, honed her skills as an entrepreneur by tackling video game production, and now she dedicates her time to writing, publishing, and occasionally role-playing with her friends.