Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Daily Story 111: Think Fast

Cinch pulled her goggles off and looked back past the giant propeller at the rear of the airship. They were gaining. She threw the goggles angrily at the deck and watched as they bounced and slid over the edge through the one hole in the net she hadn't gotten around to fixing yet. Of course. She sighed and collapsed against the rigging, out of options. She knew she couldn't fight off the pirates, and it was now clear she couldn't outrun them either. Could she land the ship as fast as possible and abandon it? Cinch pictured lighting it on fire before the pirates could take it for themselves - would the rigging burn through and release the balloon before the envelope could ignite? Either way it would be wonderful to watch. Of course after that she would be broke, homeless, and in the middle of nowhere. She would have to go back to being an assistant to some other mad scientist until she could afford a new lab. That was if they didn't just drop something on her as she descended.

Cinch stormed belowdecks and looked at the wall-to-wall jars, each containing a malformed brain that had grown to the shape of the container. She had been close, so close to making an airship that could fly without balloon or propeller. If it had only worked she would have been able to outrun and outmaneuver the pirates easily. The bird she had cultured the cells from was too large to fly, and after extensive testing she was certain it was using telekinesis to float through the air. She had the right part of the brain, she had kept them well fed... by all logic each jar should be ten times stronger than the bird was. The problem seemed to be one of focus. Her attempts to direct the telekinesis had proven futile - she could have made the brains more functional, but then they could have made choices on their own and that wouldn't do.
"Maybe if I played off of their instinct to travel in a flock..." she mused aloud, "No, no good. I'd have to re-grow them from scratch and I can't do that in ten minutes. Hmm. Ten?"

Doubting her own estimate, Cinch climbed upstairs again to check the pirate's progress. Sure enough, the massive airship was much closer, black balloon and cannon-laden deck looking almost close enough to touch. More like eight minutes, tops. They knew she had no weapons, they were coming right up to board. Hoping that it would be more therapeutic, she hefted the jar that was sitting next to the ship's wheel. It was underdeveloped, she had been planning on trashing it anyway - and it would surely smash in a much more satisfying way than her goggles. Cinch threw as hard as she could to the other end of the deck, and the jar shattered into a million pieces. The ship seemed to jerk away from her instantly, and she was barely able to grab the rigging as it flew past - the muscles in her arm tensed and her elbow nearly dislocated, leaving her dangling over nothing at all. Slowly, carefully, she pulled herself back up onto the deck. What the hell?

The ship itself couldn't have moved... Cinch walked over and looked at the remains of the tiny brain, just a puddle of goo. "Some sort of... death spasm?" She wandered belowdecks again and looked at the other jars, each with a brain five times the size of the one she had smashed. Carefully, she began to cart them upstairs along with the rubber tubing from the nutrient drip system. The slingshot was ready within two minutes, just as the pirates came into range. Pulling a jar back against the straining rubber, Cinch tried to aim as best she could and then released and fell backwards onto the deck, barely rolling and standing in time to see the jar impact the pirate vessel.

The crew was flung through the air like ragdolls, at least five of them being hurled clear off of the ship into the empty air. Two cannons crashed through the railings as well, and the ship lurched at the sudden change in weight. Cinch loaded another brain and launched, missing by a mile. "Gah! Too excited. Calm down." she told herself, and took a deep breath. The third shot hit a crew member directly, and caused the entire ship to shift. "Propulsion systems be damned," she muttered, "I'm going to be an arms dealer!" Just as she loaded a fourth jar, she saw an injured pirate pointing a cannon right at her ship. Cinch broke out in a cold sweat as she realized that if even one jar shattered...

She released the jar and squeezed her eyes tight as the cannon fired.