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Lucy Marlborough liked long journeys on her daddy’s airships. She particularly liked them at night time. She would pretend to fall fast asleep, then get up when everything went quiet. She put her mob cap on over her long red hair and a dressing gown over her nightdress, slipped her feet into her favourite fluffy slippers and ran down the corridor to the cockpit.

The night pilots all knew her well, and kept her secret. They were glad of the company, usually, and she was a very quiet child. She would sit in the co-pilot’s seat and gaze out of the big window at the sparkling lights in the night sky. The pilots would point and tell her things, like, “That’s Beijing, down there,” or , “Do you see that star? That’s Sirius, that is. The Dog Star,” and she would nod and look.

Tonight was different. She ran into the cockpit and stopped dead in her tracks, staring at the two unfamiliar people in front of her.

“Who are you?”

The man turned. He had long bright white hair flowing out from underneath a pilot’s hat, and big goggles covered his eyes.

He stared at her. “Um. We are…”

He looked around, looked at the woman bending over the control panel, then looked back at Lucy, pointing one finger in the air as if it were an exclamation mark.

“Maintenance!”

Lucy blinked. “Main tenants?”

He shrugged. “That will do.”

“You’re not allowed to be in here,” she said solemnly.

“Oh yes we are,” he retorted, folding his arms.

“No you’re not.”

“Am too!”

“Not!”

“Listen,” he said, “Do you know what ‘jettison’ means?”

Lucy shook her head.

“Well, it’s what happens to little girls who argue and don’t behave like proper little ladies,” he said. He bent over suddenly, putting his face rather close to hers and grinning. “And you wouldn’t like it one bit. It’s exactly not like toffee. Or ice cream.”

“Or lollipops,” the lady said, straightening up and looking back at them. “The panel’s off, Havelock.”

He straightened up, waving both hands high in the air in an excited manner. “Excellent!”

The lady turned around, holding a piece of the control panel’s metal covering. Beneath her simple top hat she wore her hair in dark ringlets, and a brass framed monocle sat over her right eye.

Lucy stared back at her. “What are you doing with that panel? What are you doing to Daddy’s airship?”

“We’re fixing things,” the lady said.

The man bent over almost double, his head right inside the panel. His muffled voice drifted out. “Is it the red one or the black one? I can never quite recall. Oh, no, I know, liquorice!”

“Fixing things? You mean it was broken?”

The lady closed her eyes and held her breath briefly as the sound of a wire being cut came from behind the panel. She took a deep breath, sighed, and smiled.

“You could say so,” she said, turning back to the panel. She reached inside and helped the strange man pull out a brass alarm clock, a little bundle of wires and some fat reddish brown sticks.

“All fixed now,” she told Lucy.

The man stood up and grinned, tapping on a little panel attached to the back of his glove.

“You are very interesting people,” Lucy said, looking at them closely.

“Interesting? Hah! I should coco,” the man said, taking hold of the lady’s hand. They began to shimmer in a strange way. “You know what else is interesting, Lucy? Pirates!”

They vanished. Lucy looked around for them in some confusion. In doing so she finally spotted the night pilot, unconscious, tied up and gagged on a chair behind the door with a sign pinned to his chest.

“Hello Lucy,” it said. “I am a traitor and a very bad man. The evidence is in my pocket. Please go and wake your daddy.”

Lucy frowned and stared at the sign for a moment, before running off to do exactly what it said.

© Kari Fay

(Author’s Note: I had hoped to use this week’s Three Word Wednesday prompt for part of my NaNoWriMo and get a last-minute boost to my word count, but it didn’t fit, so you have this instead- an early incident in the life of Lucy Marlborough aka Captain Lou Marl the infamous Sky Pirate. The words were Mob, Jettison and Behave.)

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