I’ve finished a novelette titled On the Salt Sea.  It’s a science fiction story, inspired by an old Scottish Border ballad my father sings.  It’s about a spaceship pilot contracted to two powerful brothers in the Rings and Moons of Saturn, a region made treacherous by rampant piracy, corrupt frontier politics, and the chaotic Rings themselves.  Our hero is piloting the brothers on an unregistered and possibly illegal mission when their ship is attacked:

Another chest-thumping thud, and the ship shuddered around me; not a direct hit this time, I guessed from the sound, but that might have been wishful thinking.  Not that I could hear anything clearly, wedged up the intestines of the ship as I was.

“Mr. Rackham, something damages to something?  Any something diagnostics on the transceivers?”

Captain Martin’s voice squalled up the access tube from the intercom in the Engineering Bay.  I raised my head as far as I could in the narrow shaft and shouted back an answer that covered the most likely questions.  “No!  Nothing that make sense, sir!”  My voice boomed in my ears.  Wincing, I scrabbled a few inches down towards the tube opening. “The diagnostics are all green, no errors.  But the transmitters, neither of them, are… uh, transmitting.”

I had wormed my way even with the thrumming cooling unit, and the Captain’s reply was lost under the the fan noise.  I twisted, fumbling for leverage.

A shock, as something icy, metallic, and irresistibly strong slid around my belt and along my groin.  A sensation like spider feet pricked up my belly.   Then, with a snick of servos, I was dragged, head bumping, down out of the tube.

Tasha tugged my belt back into place, and gestured at the intercom.  “He wants you back on the Bridge.”

State of the art prosthetics are indistinguishable from their anatomical originals.  The original of Tasha Bonny’s arm was, by that rule of thumb, a jackhammer; sixty centimeters of industrial mechanics tipped with a three-finger claw that could crush conduit.

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