Heart of Ash, Heart of Steam is set in the same universe as Escape Pod 436: Into the Breach.
Heart of Ash, Heart of Steam
By Malon Edwards
You squeeze through the doorway past the bouncer wearing the massive Conquest Knight XV exo and make way your over to Nyanza Swift. The Soul Queen’s blackout is spacious, but minimalist. Low sightlines. No shadowy alcoves. No jacks. No data exchange. No electricity.
This is the best blackout in uncontrolled airspace.
Your twin sister is sitting in the back near the chop shops. She stands and you kiss her on both cheeks. Her quicksilver skin is cold against your lips. You frown.
” It’s not that bad,” she says.
“Fout,” you curse, and you are surprised by the anger in your voice. “Ou malad prèt pou mouri. You’re dying.”
Nyanza Swift smiles, a wan, tired one, and new crow’s feet crinkle her eyes. “Mwen fatige.”
“E fèb,” you add, trying to keep the worry out of your voice. “You look like you’re about to fall over.”
“Mwen byen. I just need an hour or two of rest and some high quality coal dust.”
You shake your head. “M ka wè li. It’s all over your face. You’ve aged twenty years since we last saw each other.”
Your sister’s smile becomes more playful. “M ap fè dan zòrèy. I’m no spring chicken anymore, am I?”
“Sispann fè jwèt,” you tell her, wiping your eyes. “It’s not funny.”
Nyanza Swift’s smile fades fast. “Ah, sè byenneme mwen, my kind-hearted little sister, pa kriye.” She moves her chair to the other side of the table and puts her arms around you. The cold quicksilver skin of her fine jaw touches your exposed cheek. “Please don’t cry.”
You shake your smooth, brown bald head hard. “M pa vle al bwachat w. I don’t want you to die, but you will. If you keep doing this, w’ap mouri.”
You have no idea what she is doing to herself, but it scares you.
Nyanza Swift kisses you on the temple. “Se pa anyen ditou,” she tells you. “It’s nothing. M pa gen anyen. Really. M’anfòm. I’m fine.”
You take a deep breath to push back down the sob bubbling up from your chest, threatening to burst out of your mouth. “You look like Manmi.” Your voice is soft. It does not waver. “Age looks good on you.”
And you mean it. (Continue Reading…)