The First Trebuchet on Mars
by Marie Vibbert
If you come to Mars you need to know that in the twelfth century a French engineer named Trebuchet popularized a model of sling catapult with a counterweight. The Middle East had been using ‘em for centuries, and probably got them from the Chinese who’d been using ‘em for centuries before that, but this dude got the publicity campaign, if you follow my meaning, and so the device to this day is called a trebuchet.
I’m getting to the Mars part.
The first trebuchet on Mars was built by Jill Cooper out of some broken PVC structural elements, rubber tubing, and Mars-grown hemp rope. Jill invited everyone over to debut her treb. We’re usually busy in our own habitats, and it’s not an inconsiderable walk from one to another, but there’s not a lot of entertainment to be had on Mars. Everyone came, even Ned Taylor, our local fussbudget.
“You’re not firing it there,” Ned said. “What if you hit a habitat?”
“Be a lucky damn shot,” Jill said.
Ned said, “A thousandth of a percent of a chance is too much.”
“Don’t care about your dating life,” Jill said.
“Jill,” I said, with a sideways look at Ned, who was going purple in the face, “won’t hurt to aim it away from the valley.”
She sighed heavily and used her foot to spin the treb around so it faced the crater wall behind her habitat.
“That’s not a solution! What if debris flies back at us?”