Miss Rebbecca Pannicot

Rebbecca, part 7

January 12th, 2009 - No Responses

Hart’s workshop was a small place set a block back from the city’s edge. Parts small and large scattered the benches lining the walls; the only clear flat surface was the table beneath the window where Hart sat working on the turbine of a sensor platform.
“These the plans?” Rebbecca asked, examining the blueprints tacked to a corkboard by the door.
“That’s them. Still think you’re crazy.”
“You know as well as I that it’s necessary.”
“I surely do, Becky. Wasn’t an insult.”
Rebbecca smiled. “I’m going before the council tomorrow. I’ll need you there, if you can spare the time.”

Rebbecca, part 6

August 3rd, 2008 - No Responses

Back outside dawn was breaking, and Rebbecca made her way down to the edge of the city to watch. Down by the low perimeter wall, out of the maze of streets, the air was brisk. Rebbecca was used to the sweltering temperatures of the engine room, and she shivered slightly, not entirely without pleasure, as she leaned on the wall and watch the sun burst over the clouds.

Here above the clouds there was no weather. Days were always sunny, nights were always clear. Only the wind changed, but it seemed that the city had been designed with that in mind. The streets were short, and rarely straight, so as to baffle the air and keep it from howling unchecked amongst the populace. The city itself sloped upwards from the edge, the staggered rooftops dotted liberally with windmills wheeling in the breeze, using the energy to grind grain or to pump water, or storing it in giant flywheels and steam batteries.

Rebbecca stood for a time with her eyes closed, feeling the warmth of the sun and the cool of the breeze on her face. After a few minutes she opened her eyes and started walking again, this time towards the airship docks. Hart’s workshop would be open by now, and that was her first stop.

Rebbecca, part 5

August 2nd, 2008 - No Responses

Rebbecca woke before the dawn, and breakfasted heartily. As she did every morning she made her way down the street to the engine room in the cool pre-dawn light and walked and walked amongst her charges. Everything was normal as she checked pressure gauges and nodded to the skeleton crew working out the end of the night shift. Satisfied, she went looking for the night foreman.

“Miss Pannicot,” Robert straightened up as she approached, “Sarah tells me things didn’t go so well with the council.”
“About as well as I should have expected, really,” she gave a small smile. “There is a meeting called for tomorrow, do you mind working these hours for another day?”
“Not at all, Miss. Sarah and I have already arranged it.”
“Thankyou, Robert. I’ll make it up to you two, or see that the council does.”
“It’s not like I have a wife or kids to get back to. Besides, you’re always here twice as long as we are.”
“Ah yes, well I don’t have a wife either,” she laughed. “I’m not sure how long my errands today will take, but I’ll stop by a couple of times if I can.”
“There’s no need, everything should be smooth sailing. There’s not even any maintenance planned for a couple of weeks.”
“I know. I’m on edge with this whole situation is all, just indulge me.”

Rebbecca, part 4

July 17th, 2008 - No Responses

“You’re back early, Miss Pannicot. How did it go?”
“Not well, Sarah,” Rebbecca sighed. “Hopefully it will go better tomorrow. Any trouble here?”
“No, Miss.”
“I’ll be down below then, if anyone needs me.”

Rebbecca sat dangling her legs over the railing, watching the giant shadow of the city scudding over the clouds far below. The seven enormous propellers carved great gouges with their sweeping turns. For as long as she remembered this had been her peaceful refuge from the noise and bustle of the city and the engine room. Now there was a dull grating noise audible over the wind, louder again than it had been yesterday. The damage was not visible from here, not without clambering from ring to ring across the underside of the city, dangling in a harness over miles of empty space, but it was clear that it was getting worse every day.

Rebbecca, part 3

July 11th, 2008 - No Responses

“I do apologise, I’m quite sure I misheard you.”
“You did not mishear me, sir.”
“Then perhaps you misspoke,” Councilor Proom frowned. “The city cannot be landed. Such a thing is not possible. Were it possible, it would not be safe. Even were it to be possible and safe, I can conceive of no reason why it would be neccessary.”

Something in the tone of the Councilor’s voice snapped the patient, subservient air Rebbecca had been adopting all morning. “Just because something has never happened in your lifetime doesn’t make it impossible! And it certainly doesn’t make it unneccessary! Do you think I would be here if I was not sure? Have I been one to trouble the council with inconsequential problems over the years? I have been beneath the city and I have seen the damage and I tell you that we will be on the ground within the month. If you would prefer a crash to a landing, then on your head be it!”
She turned to leave. Councilor Proom called after her in a flustered voice, “Wait! This is… I can’t… I have no authority to make a decision like this.”
“Then point me in the direction of one who does.”
“No one person does, that’s the point of the council. I will have to call an assembly. Can you return next week?”
“I can return next week,” she said, “but I can give no guarantee that it will not be too late.”
“I… The day after tomorrow, then?”
She nodded. “Make sure the Guild of Engineers is present, too. I don’t like having to repeat myself.”

Rebbecca, part 2

July 6th, 2008 - One Response

In the eleven years that she had been in charge of the city’s engines, Miss Rebbecca Pannicot had not once set foot in the council chambers. She could hardly be faulted on it, of course, for neither had a councilor set foot in the engine room. Once they had determined that she was the only one who could look after the engines, the council had dealt with the embarrassment of the city’s reliance on an eight year old girl in a typically Victorian fashion: they had simply never spoken of it again. She inherited her father’s bank accounts, and so the wage was paid as always and nobody besides small children and the few people on Rebbecca’s crew ever spared much thought for how the city stayed in the air.

That morning, Rebbecca had scrubbed herself cleaner than she could ever remember having been, and had dressed in the finest clothes she had ever owned, bought just the day before. Even so, it had taken her three hours to convince someone to let her in to see Councilor Proom. Despite his best efforts to the contrary, Councilor Proom still remembered the day he had carried out the council’s wishes and told little Rebbecca Pannicot that she could take up her father’s job.
“Ah Miss Pannicot,” he looked up as she entered the room. “I trust all is well? We do not see you here often.”
“You do not see me here at all, sir,” she said. “This is the first time.”
“To what do we owe this honour, then, young lady?”
“I’m afraid there’s a problem, sir. We’re going to have to land the city.”


July 4th, 2008 - No Responses

The city’s engines were old. Decrepit, most people would call them. Miss Rebbecca Pannicot called them vintage. The engine room was her domain, a job passed down to her by her father and his father before him. The council had expressed a concern when she, at a bright young eight years of age, had shown up to work the day after her father’s death. The problem was, nobody else knew the engines like she did. Much to the council’s dismay it turned out that nobody else knew the engines at all. So she was back the next day, solemnly ordering about boys twice her age.