TITLE: The Skylark's Song
GENRE: YA Steampunk
Robin shoved hard against the grating with her shoulder, wincing at the bruise that it was going to cause, and blowing a hard breath out of her nose to keep the little grunt of pain in. It wouldn't do to have attention called to her just because she had whimpered a little, especially now that she was so close.
She stretched her fingers, imagining for a brief second that somehow air could get between her joints, as if that could make her fingers go just that little bit further. Grit pressed against the cheek that she had on the ground. Cement dust and brick flakes stuck to the sweat there, giving her a smattering of new freckles in shades of grey.
Her fingers slipped over the roughened outer-casing, the texture of the dappling of rust scraping teasingly at the tips of her nails. Another hard shove against the grating, and she managed to close her hand around one of the input pipes and pull back. After that it was a matter of wriggling the piece this way and that and ease it through the grating soundlessly.
A soft hiss as she sat up and eased away the pressure on burning shoulder muscles was the only sound that split the still night air. She went tense and waited for any replying sounds of approaching soldiers or shouts from the warning neighbourhood watch. The seconds ticked by and none came. Robin let out a silent sigh of relief and sat back and inspected her prize.
The pulley box wasn't in top shape, by any means, but it was intact and that's what mattered. With the factories that made the components for the Benne airships the new target of the nearly nightly bombing runs, the Sealie mechanics like Robin had to start getting resourceful if they ever wanted to keep their charges in the sky.
Even if that meant illegal scavenging among the debris of the factory fields.
Tucking the pulley box into her satchel, Robin stretched up onto her feet, and began the tediously long trek back through the rubble of the fallen buildings and their scattered contents, towards home. She held the satchel away from her body to keep the internal gearbox of the pulley from clanking against her thigh, and before she had walked a few blocks her arm was getting tired.
"Omens," she hissed, and paused in the deep shadows cast against a half crumbled wall to adjust her grip. A soft swooshing noise plucked at her ears and instinctively she pressed back further into the gloom, and the camouflage it provided.
She lowered her head, the darkness of her dirty cap disguising the shine of her brown hair and her pale cheeks from the sweep of the searchlight that she knew would be coming next. Sealies who worked in the shipyards had a bit of an advantage against the low-flying night patrol gliders that other scavengers did not: they knew what the gliders sounded like.