If the gonnery was the hand that watched over Teper, the five main gonnes were its fingers. Her mother told her stories of how the gonnes used to shine brightly, but now they were pitted and thick with rust, patched with steel plates and welds. The gonnes tracked the moon the way a sunflower tracks its brighter cousin, clicking and groaning, old metal squealing in protest each time the main housing shifted along the big cog.
Her home, and now she was forever barred from it. She’d grown up knowing that her mother would bare her neck to her when her apprenticeship had ended, and so she’d studied the crumbling charts, crawled into the dustiest corners with oil-can and metal rasp. She’d spent long hours on the battlements, watching the moon for movement, surrounded by the reaching towers of the big gonnes.
Aster, the first gonne Teper had raised, old and ponderous. Termut and Gadagain, the twins, always moving in concert, known to trick the shell-loaders into favouring them over the others. Clareud the fine, fitted only for the smaller shells but capable of reaching targets above the clouds, and perhaps to the surface of the Moon itself.
Finally, big Ruubar, the last line of defence should the other gonnes fail. Ruubar was squat and swift, and once the dead Monitor had let Amel try it out on a target balloon. From sleep to murder, the largest gonne took a little under five seconds, and Amel’s ears had rung for days from that one fusillade.
Now all of it was in the hands of the tooth-woman, the new Monitor. Amel mourned the loss of her future, but more so she was worried that the reaver wouldn’t work the gonnes properly. There were so many things Amel’s mother had taught her, and now it was all down to a thug blindly fumbling at the controls.
‘It’s up to me,’ she said. ‘I have to defeat the Monitor.’
This is an excerpt from my latest novella “Ladyflies”, now available over at Review of Australian Fiction. You heard right, 20,000 words of novella, so in this issue of RAF you are getting extra bang for your buck. This story is an open homage to one of my favourite books “The Gate to Women’s Country” by the late Sheri S Teper, and is an extrapolation of the ideas explored in what I think of as her seminal work.
This issue is now available via the following link: http://reviewofaustralianfiction.com/product/raf-136-volume-20-issue-4/
But hey! You can do one better. Why not try a three-month subscription to Review of Australian Fiction? That way you can show your support for a great fiction venue, one that has showcased bucketloads of great writers over the last few years.