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Author Topic: Between the Threads(WIP)  (Read 7038 times)
MWBailey
Rogue Ætherlord
*
United States United States


"This is the sort of thing no-one ever believes"

rtafStElmo
« on: May 12, 2009, 03:33:37 am »

This began as an effort of mine to create some kind of bridge between the old Steam London thread and the Newer Steam London: Realms of Aether threads, by telling the stories of some of the Adventures of Dreyfuss, The crew of his newly-re-acquired  hybrid airship the St. Elmo, and Dreyfuss' Ward and Cousin, Irene Frost, between the defeat of the Cold One Queen and the Rescue of George Lewistine.

Steam London has been over for awhile now; there's no longer any need for backstories, but I still want to write a few more pieces to populate this thread, so I'll be gradually adding more posts to form at least one, if not several, new stories of Dreyfuss and his cohorts before the events of Realms of Aether.

The first story, and originally the only one that was in this Topic for quite a long time, concerns the first mission of Dreyfuss, Jock Lough-Malley, the Elmo's Fireman (and only rank-and-file crewman for this first mission) and the St. Elmo, with Her Britannic Majesty's Secret Service. in that story, they rescue the son of a peer of the Empire from former-mercenary pirates, regain a lost article, and learn the value of a watchdog...

The second story concerns the Second Mission of the St. Elmo, In which Dreyfuss, Irene, and Cleopatra are required to confront and destroy a supernatural menace First on the Dartmoor Heath, and then in London Proper itself.

So without further ado, here it is:

Between the Threads
-or-
what came after the Cold One Queen
And Before
The Search for George

-------------------------------------------------------------
Book 1
Shanghai Knife


TABLE OF CONTENTS
__________________________________
Steam London Resources:Steam London:Realms of Aether Resources:Foreword: Chapter 1: Endings and Beginnings Chapter2: Heavy Traffic: Chapoter 3: Regarded From Afar: Chapter4: An Incomplete Binding: Chapter 5: A Shock to the Enemy: Chapter 6: Rather More than They Bargained For:Chapter 7: Pursuit and Chase: Chapter 8: Chinese Fire Drill: The Passing of the Juan Seguin and the end of Admiral Tzeda Chapter 9: Monkey See Discarded Pistol...:Chapter 10: Mission Accomplished -- Just Not By Us...:
_________________________________





Chapter1: Endings and Beginnings
Dreyfuss stood in the steering room of the St. Elmo, looking out at the Chinese countryside that he had not thought to be returning to so soon. Steering a straight (or straight as possible, anyway) course toward Shanghai, still at least two hours away, he thought back to the events leading up to this "mission,' as he supposed it would be called.

It had been a beautiful spectacle, that knighting ceremony. Exciting, even Exhilarating, to be called forward to receive a title and a medal or medallion commemorating the event. it had been beautiful, but then they had to go back to their various places where they were going to live, or at least rest up for the trip home, wherever home might be.

As they were escorted to their carriages for the ride back to Tinker's Row, Madame Arachne's for some, the Boheme for others, The St. Elmo for himself, Dreyfuss, and cousin Irene, and Abe and Rosie, who were to stay over for a few days and nights until Abe could get a good, comfortable passage back to America, Dreyfuss was handed a folded missive from a Whitehall address by a man who identified himself as Richard Tayle, saying he was a representative of "Her Majesty's Government," and then just as abruptly, disappearing into the crowd. Dreyfuss pocketed the letter, thinking no more about the matter.

That night, after Jaisen had regaled his guests and Irene with a few tunes on a new banjo, (the instrument having been popularized and sold in England under the auspices of a Mr. Sweeney, who was also considered a virtuoso on the instrument, they having become quite the rage among the performing public and their audiences) they had all finally gone to bed in their various staterooms.

After Abe fell fast asleep, exhausted as was every other human in the company of the Boheme, Rosie, his pet albino emerald asp, slithered away from his bed and stateroom, into the bowels of the boat portion of the airship, and laid a clutch of eggs right under the clinker-box of the boiler furnace, which Dreyfuss and his scant few crewmembers were destined, she felt, to always keep lit and pressured up, just in case. Which made the hold under the clinker box an excellent place for a clutch of eggs. By the Mother, she would see the old Hunter-man protected, if she had to birth an entire new generation of her kind to live on board. There were many kinds of Queens in the world, and one had chosen to keep Dreyfuss and his people safe...

Later, at the Queen's ball held in honor of the crew of the Boheme, after all of the political and societal niceties had been observed, Dreyfuss went out on the terrace all by himself, using the ancient excuse of wanting a smoke. He did light the cheroot, a wiry thing that smelled actually better than any he'd tried before, but did not puff it more than once; he did not actually smoke. He came out here not to puff on a smog-stick, but to think a bit, and that was what he did, turning over various thoughts.

When he had left with the Boheme so many months ago, he had been about at the last knot of his rope before the rather greasy several at the end; he really had not completely expected to come home alive.He realized, then, that he missed the frenetic, near-suicidal pace of life-and-battle that pervaded that kind if an existence. Thank God he accepted that Liaison job, and the reinstatement with the Republic's military, he thought. More than enough intrigue and cloak-and- slightly-bloody-dagger-ness to last a whole lifetime, or perhaps more. He took out the letter that the Tayle gentleman had handed to him at the curb and read it for the first time, in the light coming from a window to his left.


Quote
To Commodore Sir Jaisen Santiago Dreyfuss, Esq.

March the 7th, in the Year of Our Lord 1889

Dear Sir,
In light of the acceptance of your Reinstatement with the Government and Military of the Republic of Texas, and in recognition of the bonds of friendship, goodwill,and mutual aid borne between our two countries, as well as your acceptance of the position of Liaison with Her Britannic Majesty's Secret Service in matters Political, Unrestful, and Potentially Untoward in the Occult and/or Spiritual sense, I bid you welcome.

It is our fervent hope that this missive finds you in good health in both mind and body, and we likewise extend our hopes for the best of the aforementioned health in future; unfortunately for our mutual comfort, it has come to our attention that a certain peer of the realm has suffered the kidnapping of their eldest son and heir, apparently by three of your former colleagues within the now-defunct organization formerly known as the Bayou Marauders' Mercenary Company, who have now taken up the flag and penalties of Piracy. Former Admiral Murillo Dwight Tzeda has emerged as the leader of this Triumvirate of Evil.

For further Information and Instructions on how best to approach this crisis, Please stop by my office in Whitehall tomorrow morning at eight of the clock. Until then, anything you do in service of queen and country in regards to the receipt and discreet guard of this document shall be deemed acceptable, even to the point and beyond of committing breaches of the peace and pursuing unto death the miscreants responsible for spying upon your occasion to read these contents.

It is advisable that The extraordinarily deathless Miss Frost accompany you on this venture...

He folded the letter and put it in his inside greatcoat pocket, as he sensed a presence, very close, paying almost unwavering attention toward him. he glanced up and found himself face-to-face with a simian countenance, which suddenly sprang away with shocking speed and a strange cry into the shrubbery, and into the night, to escape and choose its moment. Strange, Dreyfuss thought, replacing the Webley in its shoulder holster, prior to leaping the railing and pursuing the simian miscreant, I could have sworn that was Admiral Tzedas' pet Orang...

The memory made him smile; there were so few ways to trace his old comrades-in-arms, and their pets was one that had never yet failed to bring forth fruit. A pet that required plant matter and did not hunt, such as an Orang, was relatively easy to trace by what it consumed, and thus forced its master to procure for the sake of its happiness and its survival. In Tzeda's case, Dreyfuss had only to trace purchases and shipments of a certain variety of Papaya grown only in Borneo and only in minuscule amounts. It seemed that inordinately large amounts of the fruit had been going to Shanghai, China, and that delivery crews were often surprised by a strange animal with dark orange fur and long, knuckle-dragging arms; in other words, an Orang, or Orangutan monkey.
Critiques/comments/suggestions are appreciated!
PM me, or send to
mwbailey@hotmail.com

---=====<[[/{{"<(|)>")}\]]>=====---
« Last Edit: May 13, 2017, 08:18:37 am by MWBailey » Logged

Walk softly and carry a big banjo...

""quid statis aspicientes in infernum"
MWBailey
Rogue Ætherlord
*
United States United States


"This is the sort of thing no-one ever believes"

rtafStElmo
« Reply #1 on: May 16, 2009, 03:29:25 pm »

Between the Threads
-or-
what came after the Cold One Queen
And Before
The Search for George

-------------------------------------------------------------
Book 1
Shanghai Knife




Chapter 2: Heavy Traffic
When the Boheme had come this way less than a month earlier, there had been very little air traffic in the area surrounding Shanghai; Now, however, more than thirty minutes outside of Metropolitan Shanghai, it was as if flocks of zeppelin-shaped birds, multiple-gasbag Russian Type airships, Underslung-boat airships, flying ironclads...name any of the myriad types of airship invented and used for trade in the world since the mid-1700s, and you'd find it in the swirling morass of air traffic surrounding the Chinese trade hub That Shanghai had come to be in such a short time.

There did not seem to be, this far out, any kind of speed regulations in effect. Tiny, slow-moving private craft mingled with giant, fast-moving cargo and military zeppelins, lots of ornithopters, and also fixed-overhead-rotor ships, some as big as the Boheme had been; and even three or four motorized hot-air balloons, barely making any headway at all against the winds and weather, and lo and behold, an expatriated Hell Galleon! --All travelled the same Headings, governed by the compass point headings drawn from the other major cities and/or destinations within the area stretching From the Hindu Kush in the South, to the far-eastern Siberian wilderness to the north, the Pacific Ocean to the East, and The Russian Steppes to the West, thus causing great, congested lines of traffic, which existed despite the fact that there was no actual ground-level network of roads for the airships to follow. Ground-level roads did exist, of course, and in many instances they were crowded by the standards of the region, but nowhere near as much as the lanes in the sky overhead

Finding these lanes of traffic was relatively simple for anyone with a little Navigational know-how; one simply dead-reckoned ones way in to one of the main  compass-heading lines of traffic, aligned along one of the many conventionally agreed-upon "Great Circles" of longitude, latitude,  or Spherical Triangulation, and simply followed either the other ships, or their own nose, into the even-more-chaotic mass of traffic just outside the walls of the ancient city, or in fact, any other city on the globe; it was simply a case of the lowest common denominator becoming the norm; everyone knew the Standard Compass Heading/ Great Circle System, so everyone used it, and everyone who travelled was expected to know it and use it.

Or, as in Dreyfuss' case, One simply kept ones ship between two of the major lines of traffic, in roughly the middle, and if ones ship had a very good and powerful power-to-lift-to-mass-inertia ratio, (and the St. Elmo did, in the extreme) one could roar along as fast or as slow as one wanted-- that is, provided that no one else got in the way. Unfortunately, within sight of the city's walls, Dreyfuss encountered what could have been taken for a confused melee' of gigantic proportions, but was in fact the interchange of airships arriving, leaving, and making passenger sightseeing excursions for the tourists (the tourism business having burgeoned already in the months since the destruction of the Cold Ones' nest in - or rather, under - Shanghai). Steam whistles, air horns, gongs, bells, all were used as ship seemed to jostle ship for position within the concentric lines of traffic that spiraled into and out of the city (now that they were in the traffic formation itself, the traffic patterns settled into exactly that; spiral and concentric lanes of traffic, moving in a fashion that seemed chaotic when viewed form the side or above, but actually synchronized by the necessity of mutual movement and (at least) the avoidance of collision into a massive, mechanized waltz.

The rest of the St. Elmo's arrival into Shanghai was relatively without incident, although once or twice a a zeppelin or a souped-up underslung would cut in front of them. But then they stopped to call at the headquarters of the Aether League in downtown Shanghai, and they (or Dreyfuss, at least) were there confronted by the aftermath of their own actions; or at least, Dreyfuss was himself confronted with that harsh reality of that aftermath. When the crew of the Boheme had left Shanghai on the leg of the journey that he was a much more active part of, Dreyfuss had already been at least partially responsible for the destruction of the Aether League Airdocks and departure/arrival lanes alongside the Aether League headquarters, not to mention the underground Hangar beneath those features, and much of teh Headquarters building...

Well, suffice to say that it was even now being restored, and the downward wash of The  ducted fans of the St. Elmo's propulsion system drove choking clouds of dust and ash across the site, until he was able to find the signage and to decipher it, thus finding the short-term Airship storage area, and land the St. Elmo there, so that they could go and see the officials in the newly-built/restored Aether League towers and get their passports validated and their papers and letters of marque processed so that they could begin the job of finding Tzeda and his crew of flying thugs, and rescuing the peer's boy from their clutches.
Critiques/comments/suggestions are appreciated!
PM me, or send to
mwbailey@hotmail.com

---=====<[[/{{"<(|)>")}\]]>=====---
« Last Edit: January 21, 2010, 08:38:28 am by MWBailey » Logged
MWBailey
Rogue Ætherlord
*
United States United States


"This is the sort of thing no-one ever believes"

rtafStElmo
« Reply #2 on: May 23, 2009, 11:34:25 pm »

Between the Threads
-or-
what came after the Cold One Queen
And Before
The Search for George

-------------------------------------------------------------
Book 1
Shanghai Knife

Chapter 3: Regarded From Afar
As the St. Elmo settled into its temporary parking position at the Interim Headquarters of the Shanghai Aether League, the tube of a telescope protruded from the window of an eight-story hotel about eight blocks away, one of the many structures built after the depredations of the Blood Mage Brian O'Landry. many such buildings had been erected in the devastated areas, to re-attract tourism, and the gamble had worked out; many tourists had begun queuing up even before the Boheme got back to London; people wanted to see and tour the places where the battles occurred -- or, truth be told, just battles in general, Mankind's lust for vicarious thrills once again making itself evident.

The city was so popular as a travel destination, in fact, that that fact made it an Ideal place for transient criminals to congregate, perform their depredations , and then move on. That fact, in turn, made the city a perfect place in which to conceal the hideout of a group of kidnappers, and keep any authorities from catching or even keep an eye on them. It was therefore necessary to employ thief-catchers, an ancient and oft-maligned profession, but one which ultimately proved profitable for those who proved to be talented at it.

And now the lookout for the kidnapping group looked across the burnt city lots to where the St. Elmo had landed, and watched as two figures begin to descend the ladder on the side of the odd little boat portion of the zeppelin. "Aha!" cried Mortono Torquada, Former Admiral Tzeda's first officer on board the David Crockett, an underslung flying Ironclad of the first-rate variety, and the vessel which stood guard in the only underground hanger not destroyed by the fire which exploded into being the night the Boheme's crew attacked the cold ones secreted below the League buildings. The Peer's son was now being held captive in that same hangar, on a pallet in the far corner, in room off tyo the side with a metal cage hastily erected within for the purpose...Or so he had been the last time that Torquada saw him. Captain Torquada, a true "bravo," was built heavily but strongly,his muscular frame swathed in the Combat Dress uniform of a Flag -level first-officer of the now-defunct Bayou Marauder Mercenary Company. His thick black hair was slicked down on his head, forming a helmet that his ears poked out of as if by virtue of an afterthought by the armourer.  "Admiral," The heavily-moustachioed man called back into the depths of the hotel suite, "they have arrived."

"Good," the man so addressed said as he entered the room in which the telescope was mounted on its tripod, "very good, and soon we will have the Saint Elmo all to ourselves, and we will be the most-feared piratical force in all of the world. No one, not even Imperial air navies, will be able to stand against us," the man said, somewhat unrealistically, as he bent slightly to look across at the airship and the man and young woman who had descended from it. "Jaisen Santiago Dreyfuss," The admiral tasted the name on his tongue, "Commodore SIR Jaisen Santiago Dreyfuss," he said, derisively. "Some sort of charmed fate seems to protect you now, Dreyfuss," the Admiral said to the image across the reconstruction site. "You survived the Boheme Affair, despite several attempts by various powerful people to dispose of you personally; Madre! Even the assassin sent to destroy your troupe from within, you managed to catch and hold at gunpoint, and then subvert to your will. And now, here she is, with you, coming after us! Too bad you must die, mi Amigo, for your secret way with dangerous people I would gladly learn."

The admiral watched the pair across the way begin to ascend the hillside stairway leading to the Interim Aether League Headquarters.

"What are you, Jaisen? Well, no matter, by tomorrow evening you will be no more, and your ship will be mine after all. NO ONE buys out Francisco Tzeda!!" Not many knew it, but the primary shareholder of the consortium that owned the debt  levied upon Dreyfuss' airship while it languished in drydock was none other than Tzeda himself.

"Captain Torquada, is our assassin prepared?"
Aye, Admiral, sir.
"Then let us deploy him."
"Her, Admiral sir. It is a woman."
"Ah? The admiral said, surprised, "I do not remember being informed of this before now," his voice coiling dangerously.
"The man we had employed is dead in a tavern brawl, Admiral."
"Ah. well, good show in having a new one in place so soon, captain. My compliments."
"Thankyou sir."
"What is our 'gentle' flower's name, Captain?"
Torquada hesitated, then said the name. It did not explode in his face as he expected it to, but it was still an uncomfortable moment. "Harper-Chen, Admiral. Merovingia Harper-Chen."
"I have heard that name before, Captain. Who is she? one of ours, originally?"

"She is one of his, Admiral," Torquada said, silkily,"a former fellow junior officer, disgraced from the service. Nicely ironic, is it not?"
"Then let us hope she does not disgrace herself again! I have no use for irony when so much is at stake!" Tzeda turned back to The telescope, bumping it accidentally, and then realigning it on the target image... and received a shock when he looked at the hillside again --
Mis Irene Frost, Dreyfuss' rather deadly, notoriously-cold-blooded, and (reputedly)immortal Ward,  was staring across the intervening distance, her veil apparently no hindrance whatever, straight at him!

Dreyfuss paused in his ascent of the hillside stairway, sensing...something...someone watching. Irene paused as well, seemingly lost in thought, and looked across the barren reconstruction site at a tallish hotel building, done in a rather tasteless Western imitation of a Chinese pagoda. Suddenly, there was a flash from an upper window, akin to the reflection from a telescope's objective lens.

"Sense something, Irene?"
"That hotel, over there," she pointed. "Someone is watching us. Uppermost windows, third from the left." she said, dispassionately. Dreyfuss got out his spyglass surreptitiously; then, after determining where to point it, whipped it around and into focus on the window thus indicated.

Across the way, Tzeda recoiled. "MADRE DE DIOS!" Dreyfuss' tracking skills were legendary amongst the Marauders, but this was just too uncanny!

"Aha. That's Tzeda, all right." Dreyfuss grinned suddenly and predatorially, then he slid the spyglass closed, pocketed it, settled the boat gun more comfortably across his shoulders and its strap a ross his chest, continued up the hillside. Irene followed, cursing under her breath. "Why not just go ahead and get him, Dreyfuss? Then we can go home and leave this dungheap," she said, gratingly.

"Because we don't have diplomatic grounds yet, Irene, he said, patiently. "We have to have our letters of marque approved before we can set out against our prey."

Dreyfuss pulled his Marauders' Officer's coat back together from where the wind had blown it open, revealing his saber, and the Paterson holstered on the opposite hip. He still preferred the black Marauder uniform trousers tucked into the standard Marauder buckle-boots with folded-down sides. In that, along with his wide-brimmed palm hat and the high collar on the coat, he was an odd mix of styles, an almost-romantic figure viewed against the opulent dereliction around him; in truth, he looked like what he was now in the business of rooting out and disposing of --
An air pirate...

Critiques/comments/suggestions are appreciated!
PM me, or send to
mwbailey@hotmail.com

---=====<[[/{{"<(|)>")}\]]>=====---
« Last Edit: January 21, 2010, 08:54:58 am by MWBailey » Logged
MWBailey
Rogue Ætherlord
*
United States United States


"This is the sort of thing no-one ever believes"

rtafStElmo
« Reply #3 on: May 25, 2009, 03:28:43 am »

Between the Threads
-or-
@What Came After the Cold One Queen
And Before
The Search for George

-------------------------------------------------------------
Book 1
Shanghai Knife



Chapter 4: An Incomplete Binding
Timothy Lay in his cell in the basement hangar beneath the old Aether League Headquarters, which were now being used as the Interim Headquarters, The new headquarters being rebuilt by the new government of the city, which was, by all accounts friendly to Britain and her allies. All of that would have been lost on young Timothy, however, since the now-countriless Marauder Triumvirate of Admirals held him captive and hostage, not for politics or coin of the realm, but for a ship that few people had even heard of, captained by a man that almost everyone had heard of: Commodore Jaisen Santiago Dreyfuss.

The Boheme Affair, and the subsequent liaison with the Her Majesty's Service, made Dreyfruss' name a household word again, but for different reasons than the last time. The first time was because of the alleged disgrace of having survived his own ship's (The Mad Anthony Wayne, a Marauder monitor flying ironclad) demise., at the hands of a privateer zeppelin hired by a government that was mostly pirates itself. At least, that was what Timothy had surmised from reading a smattering of articles from that time, an assignment given to him by his tutor, supposedly to teach him to research things before quoting them.

Now, it seemed, Dreyfuss was famous yet again, as the man who was a commodore , yet captained a vessel and manned it all by himself, with only the help of a fireman to handle the engines,  and his ward, Irene Frost, to handle the unfortunate not-so-niceties of hunting miscreants. Or so the article he'd read said was the case.

He cut again at the horsehair ropes binding his wrists, the knife held between his knees. Funny thing, he'd found the knife half-buried in the dirt in this cell about an hour after they left him in it. It had created a lump under his bedroll, the lump had worked its way into his spine, and he  had dug down to the first solid object he found, and lo and behold, an old, rather huge-bladed knife, of the Texian "belly-ripper" variety, covered with rust and what looked like old blood, turned up at the bottom of the hole. It was rusted but still sharp, suggesting that it had not lain there for more than a few months, if that.

Timothy kept sawing away at the rope; he was nearly through when he heard voices coming form the other, unroofed, hangar, and quickly took the knife out from between his knees and with his bound hands still together, stuffed the knife under his bedding...
The door to the cellar (for such he believed it to be)swung open with a creak, and in walked Tzeda, Torquada, and two or three bravos from Tzeda's aerial battlecruiser.

"Ahhh, here is our little meal-ticket! " Still bound, are we? My, you Ingles are a lazy bunch! well, no mater, by tomorrow at this time, you will have lured Dreyfuss and his supposedly-immortal niece to their deaths! you, Trachmeier (he gestured to the burly b'o's'un), leave his food and, look at this my young friend, you get beer tonight! a little treat so you can be suitably well-maintained tomorrow. and now, good night, young lordling!"

Tzeda's laughter faded away down the hallway as the minions closed the cellar door and the lock creaked shut from the outside.


Critiques/comments/suggestions are appreciated!
PM me, or send to
mwbailey@hotmail.com

---=====<[[/{{"<(|)>")}\]]>=====---
« Last Edit: January 21, 2010, 09:01:01 am by MWBailey » Logged
MWBailey
Rogue Ætherlord
*
United States United States


"This is the sort of thing no-one ever believes"

rtafStElmo
« Reply #4 on: December 01, 2009, 10:17:25 pm »

Between the Threads
-or-
@What Came After the Cold One Queen
And Before
The Search for George

-------------------------------------------------------------
Book 1
Shanghai Knife


Chapter5: A Shock to the enemy
Dreyfuss didn't pilot the St. Elmo all by himself; True enough, there was only old Jock, the fireman for operational duty-sharing, but Dreyfuss, Jock, and Irene together managed quite well enough. The ship could be run quite effectively by one man from the bridge; the systems were not precisely automated, but their controls were all patched into the bridge, and with the addition of the new Primary Dynamo to the Whistle and Calliope Boiler, it was now possible to electrically monitor and control things that would have had poor Jock running madly around the engineering deck adjusting this, cranking this wheel, pulling this lever, pushing that one, coaling up the furnaces, and he and Irene (or Dreyfuss, they all did everything about equally, at least on this trip) loading the rocket tubes manually, replenishing the cylinders of the repeating cannons and the hoppers of the coilguns, et cetera.  

There was no longer any need to stoke the furnaces; they had been converted to a single furnace, fired by liquid fuel, although it could be converted back to coal if need be, simply by somewhat laboriously removing the burner from the firebox, and setting the flue and intake shutters so that they were open enough to allow good draft for the coal fire. most of the dials and other indicators were now easily monitored by reading the gauge array at the new Engineering Duty Station, where also was located the gearing controls that ran the gigantic centrifugal ducted fans that propelled the ship. Geared such that low numbers of revolutions could be used to keep up a decent amount of thrust, they, rather than the quadruple-expansion engines that Dreyfuss had originally installed before his departure to the Eastern Seaboard (and eventually to London), effectively "souped-up" the hybrid, pocket war-zepplin such that even if the gas bag were holed and thus deflated, the St Elmo could stay in the air and still be a threat to whatever enemy they faced, simply by blasting about on the fan-thrust.

Dreyfuss had tested the thrust capability of the fans alone by taking the ship out over the Medway, opening up the expansions all the way, and vacuuming the gasbag as if for an emergency descent.
The ship had stayed at 500 feet, the down-wash burrowing first pits, then furrows, in the water's surface, as Dreyfuss powered the craft out over the Bay, and around the Isle of Sheppey, abd then back home again to Tinker's Row Airdock. There had been complaints aplenty from residents and businesspeople, and Madame Arachne herself came into the Dock, loudly demanding to see "That Tom-Fool of a Dreyfuss" and managing against all expectation to climb the ledge-ladder, slide open the ship's door in the stern-castle of the boat portion of the ship, storm from the stern cabins , across the maindeck, open on both sides beneath the envelope, and into the fore-castle, and up to the bridge, where she stormed in and gave Dreyfuss a sound helping of what-for over the dust and ash flying in through the open windows of the Bordello. Irene, dressed in her customary skirts, veil, and workaday fineries, including the Colt and the saber, had come up behind the spider-legged Madame, and drawn her revolver.

"Uncle Jaisen, let me shoot this loudmouthed virago!" She kept advancing until Arachne had to back up against the Portside wall of the bridge, or risk her brass spider's legs being trampled by Miss Fury-in-Skirts. Irene held the gun a few inches from the other woman's face, not wavering or trembling in the slightest.

Madame Arachne spoke up and stomped all over Dreyfuss' sharp attempt to prevent any further scene between the two, and said, "Well, now, Mister Dreyfuss, looks like you've picked up a lovely little pretty of a trollop, and with a gun, no less! My word, dear, with an act like yours you could tun quite a profit in my bordello! What do you say? --"

She ended up flat against the wall with Irene's gun stuck into her mouth and her head against the wall.

"What do I say? I say, 'shut up or die with your brains splashed across the wall, Virago,' and you'd better keep your smart-arsed comments to yourself when I'm around!"

"Um... Madame Arachne," he said hurriedly, using the French pronunciation of "Madame" ( Had heard her story, and like most of his generation of native Texians believed in the use of titles when addressing people), "meet my niece, and my ward and heir, Lady Irene Frost, Dame of the Empire, and a companion of the Boheme. She's in deadly earnest, I'm afraid..." Irene's love of the act of killing, coupled with her irritation at her home's noisy violation by the prostheticized madame made for an interesting few moments; It took Dreyfuss several of those minutes to convince his ward that Madame Arachne was not pistol-fodder, but in fact a valuable ally, especially considering her bordello's hospital facilities, which operated for both the legitimate and the less-than-legitimate individuals of London and it's various over and under worlds.

Dreyfuss finally breathed a sigh of relief as the two began to actually get on well together, and politely excused himself, going down the semi-secret Bridge emergency exit hatchway to the gun deck, performing the shave-and-a-haircut heel tap that told the engineering people (well, Jock, that is) that he was a member of the crew, and not an interloper to be accosted and searched. He waited until he heard the customary two-bang slap of wrench or whatever was handy against some part or other of the hull or other structural member of the ship before he proceeded downward to the engineering deck.

----------------------

The guard, one Hiram J. Lickspielter, came to check on Timothy around 10:00 and to turn out the gaslights in the makeshift cell. he walked easily through a door that should have been locked, but was not; the why of it was revealed by a lock that had, along with the hasp that it held in check, been prized from the thick beams that comprised the door itself. Inside were all of the things that had been there when Admiral Tzaeda had left, save one crucial Item:

Their HOSTAGE!

Beside the pallet where the boy was supposed to have slept the night under the influence of the beer that came with his lunch, there lay the severed bit of rope that had been intended to hold him securely. It appeared to have been cut with a knife (?!).

Ten seconds later, the entire rebuilding site had rung with the alarums of desperate men , searching for their quarry. But Timothy had already spirited himself away, to hide aboard a certain hybrid airship that flew the flags of both the proud Republic of Texas and the British Empire...


Critiques/comments/suggestions are appreciated!
PM me, or send to
mwbailey@hotmail.com

---=====<[[/{{"<(|)>")}\]]>=====---
« Last Edit: January 21, 2010, 09:04:39 am by MWBailey » Logged
MWBailey
Rogue Ætherlord
*
United States United States


"This is the sort of thing no-one ever believes"

rtafStElmo
« Reply #5 on: December 31, 2009, 09:05:54 am »

Between the Threads
-or-
what came after the Cold One Queen
And Before
The Search for George

-------------------------------------------------------------
Book 1
Shanghai Knife


Rather More Than They Bargained For
The wind was getting up as Timothy made his way across the newly-planted and -landscaped gardens that had once bordered (and would again, fate willing) the solidly-built Shanghai Aether League office building and its hangars, to the edge  of the makeshift, temporary Airdock Park. The glorified-fencepost mooring masts groaned as a few ships that were not tied down in any other quarter than the mooring pilings tugged at their tethers, many bouncing around to orient themselves to the gusts like huge windsocks, as the breeze became a zephyr, and the zephyrs became a wind; soon, it was very nearly a gale, as Timothy made his way across in the windy twilight, toward the berth at the far end, where the St. Elmo hulked upon the ground, tied down at three points, as Jock busied himself at pounding in stakes for five more stays. As a lull in teh wind occurred, Timothy dove behind a stack of provisions that had been stacked next to the odd-looking gunboat that comprised the control car, crew quarters, main battery, officers country and engineering sections of the airship. Several rough-sounding voices had sounded from the deafening silence that had replaced the general wind-shriek from the Aether League end of the airdock park.

"I's tellin yer, I 'eard somboddy walkin' over 'ere," said one voice.
"Now, Why'd some half-drunk, hopelessly lost kid go runnin' off inter th' darkest part o' the park, ah?"
"He's got a point Lammerly," another voice said. "Lets go and search over here for a bit, and if we don't find im, we'll come back over and look fer traces where you said to."

The voices faded back into the howling night wind, as Timothy made ready to move again. He turned toward the St. Elmo, and found himself looking down at two largish black-and-tan uniform boots. His gaze travelled up, taking in the airshipman's silver-seamed blue trews, cutlass stuck through the filthy, rust-and-grease-stained once-white sash, the worn Marauder coat, tight military weskit-and-broadcloth, the generally burly build of the man, then his jutting chin, bristling under-chin goatee and mustache, the half-smoked cigar in the incongruously white teeth, pug nose, florid but healthy , fattish cheeks and forehead, the startlingly eerie Golden-yellow pupils of the eyes, and the greasy old peaked officer's cap with silver edging on the bill. "sir, if you will just hear me out, he said, desperately, "there are several men after me! I cant tell you how many exactly. I can tell you they're pirates, sir, former mercenaries turned air pirate, sir,  they kidnapped me, my Da's Lord Sir Francis Frippington, you see, I'm 'is son Timothy. ... and...and..."

Jock looked him over, as the boy began to speak;  He'd already suspected he was in some kind of trouble, the girl-magnet handsome young ones always were, especially the...yes, aristocratic ones, yes. Thought so, he thought, this'un looks about like he's supposed to, an' that beer on 'is breath's prob'ly th' admiral's old trick of subduin' folk what was prisoners with alky-hol.

"Aye, we been lookin' to find ye, lad, " Jock said, his words in the classic cockney cadence and sound. Whatsay we ties this 'ere line down an' get you aboard an' some 'ot food in yer?" The boy nodded eagerly, and the two each pitched in on the final line. Then, they both found out that even dark, stormy nights abroad could have stars, as it was swiftly proved to them by the former-Marauder pirates who sneaked up from  behind and clouted both with truncheons.

Sometime later, the Pirates were all on the bridge; they had gotten through arguing about whether or not to steal the ship and take it back to Tzeda, so they could all get big shares of the profit. So intent had they been upon the capture of their two coves outside, that they had not taken the time to note the weather, and even now, as their fellows still outside slashed the St. Elmo's moorings, they still reckoned it to be a mere winter blow, not much strength to it, surely, right?
--------------------------

The "boat portion" of the St. Elmo had supposedly been an oceangoing rebel Texian blockade runner, christened Ariadne by none other than Jean Lafitte; back at that time, there were hardly any iron-hulled ships of either military or domestic sort, and gunnery was designed around the idea of destroying wooden hulls, so the Ariadne had been nearly impervious when finally run down by a rare Mexican paddle-boat. Plus, this one looked to be solid metal, not merely cladded timber, like so many ironclads were. Timothy sat, musing, as his head hurt like perdition and his mouth felt and tasted like the lowest end of a poorly-cleaned stable. Jock was still supine beside him , no longer trussed up just like the pirates had left him, but unconscious in any case. The ship lurched again, the engines clattering away like poorly-primed and irregularly-steamed expansion arrays will do, the howling wind outside sounding as if demons were flying along with it. It sounded as if the centrifugal fans that Timothy had read so much about were being mishandled by the pirates; they shrieked and groaned and made  BOOOMMmm -ing noises when the pirates tried to change gears, or increase or decrease thrust.

Timothy was glad he had befriended the snake; a rather smallish hooded asp, pale white-green in coloration, had shown up and instead of acting threatening toward Tim, who had once again taken out the knife he had found in that basement room (silly of the pirates to not search him, he thought), and used it to cut both his own bonds and Jock's, the snake instead looked interestedly at his actions, and then nudged Tim's food pan.  The guard had chuckled as he put it just out of the boy's reach and left, still chuckling. Tim had nodded to ward the food and urged the snake to help itself. The snake had taken one or two bites, then spat it out, and crawled, very nearly making it look like limping over to Tim, and looked up at him as if trying, heart-rendingly hard, to talk, and ask for help. Tim had picked up the little snake and lain back, trying to cradle the "poor thing," as it had seemed to him, in his arms. Jock roused enough to stare in disbelief at the boy soothing a snake in his lap, as he tried to think of why he was where he was, which was in the ballast deck (the bottom-most one) of the St. Elmo.

"HiissppPpp! it had hissed actually sounding grateful, and then lain in the boy's arms, as if it were resting. After a while, it began to slither out of his lap, hissing softly, almost like it was thanking him-- but stopped when the Guard burst in, saw the snake, the spilt food, and Jock laying wityh his eyes wide open. he walked over, cursing, and clouted Jock again, knocking him out cold. Again-- and then suddenly freezing when a small-but-very-angry HIISSSSS!! sounded right next to his head as he bent over Jock, readying the truncheon for a last, killing, blow.

He turned his head toward the little snake, and slowly moved to put his hand on the pistol in his belt...but he never pulled it. The little snake struck, the fangs sinking into the man's neck artery and injecting the baby-snake venom, which, true to legend, was ten times stronger than that of an adult. The venom reached The man's brain in seconds, and suddenly every body process
rebelled against him as his brain was quite literally scrambled by caustic biochemical fury.
-----------------------------

Above, in the main part of the dirigible, things were going about equally badly for the rest of the would-be airship-thieves. They had managed to fly the ship along with the wind, following the Yangtze River, but now had been blown up a side-valley,where the Elmo was trapped. They were barely a half-hour out of Shanghai, and reckoned they could return in the morning. That was before midnight, barely, and everything had seemed solvable. And then the first engineering pirate had turned up dead, two pinprick-like marks on his neck, and an expression of absolute terror and self-denigration on his face; it was as if he were in te midst of cursing himself for his own incontinence while in the grip of the poison when he finally expired. Then, Millie and Michael, who were engineer's mates on one of Tzeda's small gunboats. Then five more, all laying in a row, as if asleep in ranks. And so it continued all through that stormy, cold, windy, horrible night, and into the next morning. Finally, the last pirate had turned the ship around, and was actually making headway out of the valley, when he lashed himself to the ships wheel. He didn't have long to wait; soon, a sensation of having been bitten on the ankle by a very small dog (he was barefoot) became apparent. his pulse raced, and then, suddenly, his entire existence was bound up in a sensation of pain and desperation, and then blackness took him forever. He slumped, at the wheel and lashed to it, as he crumbled sideways, steering the St. Elmo against the grassy bluff. The ship became trapped there by it's rudders and the merciless wind, its remaining two human passengers still somewhat woozy, especially Jock, who was having trouble seeing things in groups of less than three... Thus, even if they could get all of the controls working perfectly, they probably would not be able to steer the ship effectively (timothy not being conversant with such a task). So, both just rested for a bit before going to the Aetherphone closet and trying to call for help.



Critiques/comments/suggestions are appreciated!
PM me, or send to
mwbailey@hotmail.com

---=====<[[/{{"<(|)>")}\]]>=====---
« Last Edit: January 21, 2010, 09:16:48 am by MWBailey » Logged
MWBailey
Rogue Ætherlord
*
United States United States


"This is the sort of thing no-one ever believes"

rtafStElmo
« Reply #6 on: January 01, 2010, 01:57:52 am »

Between the Threads
-or-
what came after the Cold One Queen
And Before
The Search for George

-------------------------------------------------------------
Book 1
Shanghai Knife



The Pursuit and Chase
Dreyfuss And Irene had already been on their way back to the ship from getting their letters of marque and warrant approved, when they saw their ship flying overhead, without them, and steered as if by an amateur, swaying and careering all around as she flew.,

"Lafitte's Bloody Bones and Thunderin' GUNS!" Dreyfuss shouted in rage, throwing his hat down, drawing the Paterson revolver and whipping the boat gun from his shoulder. He emptied the pistol into the tailplanes, and blasted the heavy pistol-ball load of the Boat gun at the receding form of the St. Elmo, as it began to disappear into the hills north of Shanghai, apparently following the course of the Yangtze River into Anhui province.

"Dreyfuss--?!"

No answer.
"COUSIN JAISEN SANTIAGO DREYFUSS!!" Irene yelled at him, shaking him violently by the shoulder. "WHAT in HELL d' you think you're doing?! Good thing She's out of range, if you had hit the tail-planes with that shot, we'd have a week's repairs to make. She's out of range, godsdamnit!"--And you didn't reload the blunderbuss yet," she said, grabbing his arm as he began to draw a bead on the ship again.

Dreyfuss yanked his arm away from Irene's restraining grip, and snarled, "Since when, recently, did that matter a hill o' farts 'n' beans?!" He poured all of his whitefire that he could muster, and then began adding from the other fires in the area, causing every burning flame in every kerosene or other-fueled lamp in the Airdock to suddenly go out in the gale-wracked dusk. The sudden darkness then flared brighter than daylight, the shadows moving in response to the abruptly-rising white sun that flew forth as Dreyfuss let fly with the massive bolt of whitefire. "that'll show 'em!" he cried.

Irene watched, horror-struck, as the foot-thick, five-foot-long bolt of whitefire struck and enveloped the the midships area of the boat portion, causing the yawing, heaving, clanking and booming behaviour that was soon perturbing Timothy and setting off the biting behavior of the little snakeling; the whitefire had gone directly to amidships and soaked into the metal in a horriffic-looking display of bluish-white arcs crawling over and then disappearing into the hull, completely un-synching the entire propulsion system. Not permanently, but just enough to make it difficult to make it it move forward and steer.  "Lets take a small ship  and catch 'em," he said, pointing his hand and throwing a long, crackling bolt of whitefire, like an arc, that grew and seemed to grow a hand-like appendage, which grabbed the controls of a nearby blimp and caused the moorings to fall away as if untied with unseen hands. The blimp's alcohol engine started and the light-arm piloted the blimp over to where they stood, Irene mutely (for once) climbing aboard, but rallying enough to finally man the forward gun. Dreyfuss held on with the light-arm until he was in the wheelhouse, yanking back on the throttles, opening up the tiny alcohol engine all the way, and steering the blimp away off to the north like a gassy, woody thunderbolt. There were several explosions in midair, close by, and Dreyfuss risked a look back, seeing a Tzeda's flagship, the S.S. Manuel Seguin, closing rapidly from astern.

"Irene!" he yelled after he had slid the windshielf panel aside, "Get back here on the rear gun! persude 'em ta back off!"

"Aye, Cap'n Obvious!" Irene snarled as she moved aft, and then began rapid-firing the tri-barrel 9-pound breechloading repeater. Ten shots burst against the armor, then five more severely dented it; then, a further ten shots began to knock tiny pieces of the armor off as the Seguin fell back, to avoid being brought down by such a tiny craft.

The former admiral had his pride, after all.




Critiques/comments/suggestions are appreciated!
PM me, or send to
mwbailey@hotmail.com

---=====<[[/{{"<(|)>")}\]]>=====---
« Last Edit: January 21, 2010, 09:23:48 am by MWBailey » Logged
MWBailey
Rogue Ætherlord
*
United States United States


"This is the sort of thing no-one ever believes"

rtafStElmo
« Reply #7 on: January 02, 2010, 03:20:11 am »

Between the Threads
-or-
what came after the Cold One Queen
And Before
The Search for George

-------------------------------------------------------------
Book 1
Shanghai Knife


Chinese Fire Drill: The Passing of the Juan Seguin and the end of Admiral Tzeda
BOOOM....buuuuzzzzzz...thwipthwipthwipthwipBAANG!! The rifled shells and bombs from the Juan Seguin barely missing them and exploding ahead, their own shot barely missing the St. Elmo, and the sporadic shots from the Saint Elmo flying wide on the turns and striking the Juan Seguin, the three ships continued their wild-haired, wacky chase up the Yangtze River, the locals ducking under anything they could find until the "crazy wide-eyes" in their bloody big flying noisemakers got past them.

The Beau Rosin, the blimp in which Dreyfuss and Irene were chasing the St. Elmo, and barely evading the Juan Seguin, had looked, and --now that he thought about it-- felt familiar to Dreyfuss. He didn't have much time to think about it, but it finally dawned on him that he knew it's owner, if it still belonged to the same cantankerous old fellow Marauder. What it was doing in Shanghai so soon after the Cold Ones crisis was not so easily answered. He hoped that old "Mad Jack" had not succumbed to the lure of piracy, but then again, the poor old fellow had been chased out of so many different places that he might have turned to piracy just to stop the run of bad luck. Jonathon "Mad Jack" Pulsifer was a Marauder who had had to be given his own command, this plucky little blimp that he had later christened the Beau Rosin, to keep him from getting into fights and other hot water on other ships.

Dreyfuss wondered what the old fellow would do when he found out someone had made off with his blimp. "probably take out on horseback after us, " he muttered aloud. Irene couldn't hear him, so busy was she on the rear gun. Funny thing about that gun; it looked like a revolver reproduced in a giant size, but it had three barrels revolving around a common axis, the three barrels looking like the cylinder of the revolver, and continuing on out under the cover of a cylindrical housing. thus, it was very like a gatling gun, and fired in the same manner, albeit from an electrical motor powered by a magneto attached to the axle of the crankshaft of the alcohol engine. It had only four of the original six broadside guns, but still had the ridiculously-huge steam/electric gatling gun amidships, just forward of the cabin of the scow that formed the suspended vessel of the tiny craft. With this same craft, Dreyfuss recalled, Pulsifer had logged more kills of enemy airships than any of his larger rival airships and crews within the Marauders, mainly due to his belligerent no-retreat philosophy. That philosophy frequently drove him to fly right into the very gun bursts of the enemy ships, deliver his broadside at even closer than point-blank range, and then "attack in the other direction" to wait and see what exploded...

Dreyfuss decided to do the same thing to the Seguin, after the most recent shell burst buffeted the Beau Rosin so that she nearly ran into a canyon wall. He shouted a warning to Irene, found what he hoped was the broadside volley lever (the broadside guns were made like colt revolvers, each having five shots ready when fully loaded, operable from the central location of the scow's wheel.). He spun the wheel, gunned the engine, and the tiny craft shot like a highly-unlikely arrow toward the much-larger Airship. He flew down alongside the envelope, ignoring the small arms fire from the envelope's loopholes, and finally loosed the port broadside once, twice, three times into the control/bridge car, main gun-deck, and secondary and tertiary gun-decks, watching with amazement as something deep within the huge ironclad exploded, and then something else exploded as well, and another, and another, and soon the entire suspended ironclad started blowing up. It was just before dawn, now, and as the grey precursors of the sun lightened the eastern horizon, the portside cables holding the suspended ironclad to the envelope above gave way as their tackirons were jarred or blasted loose, men screaming as their home and fortress, still destroying itself around them, began to tilt crazily to port, finally dragging into the sounthern shore of the river, pulling the hydrogen-filled bag down on top of it, the entire assemblage then detonating in a giant fireball of orange and white flames. The ship had been fitted with the finest of the new Descent Arrestors, however, and there was a BUMPB!  The Beau Rosin yawed and swung about insanely as something fell onto her gasbag, held on, and then began, apparently, to hop and jump to the edge of the curved surface on top; Admiral Tzeda suddenly appeared, hanging onto the netting holding the gasbag to the ropes from the Scow, brandishing his huge Trantor revolver at Irene and blasting away, striking her in the left shoulder, eliciting a sharp cry of pain and rage from her as she pulled and suddenly dropped her left-hand pistol, the fingers of that hand and it's arm now gone limp. Dreyfuss roared in rage, burst out of the deck-house, whipping the boat gun from his shoulder, reloaded it, and cut loose at Tzeda's hanging form. The cloud of pistol balls emitted by the weapon obliterated the former admiral's left foot and much of his left leg, but left him with a still-dangerous pistol. Dreyfuss drew his own, but Irene beat him to the draw, and shot the admiral twice in the chest. A sudden gust of wind punched the blimp sideways as they left the cover of a clump of hills, and the admiral lost hold of the netting and fell heavily to the deck of the scow, and lay there, firing up at Irene and Dreyfuss, whose gun was knocked from his grip by a lucky shot from the Trantor.

The Admiral's gun clicked on one of the empty chambers of the spent cylinder, and then he dropped the weapon. Irene roared unintelligibly and sprang to his side and pressed her spare colt against his temple.

"Give up now, old fool," The immortal pistolera snarled, and Tzeda went limp. "Dreyfuss, I think you can take his gun now-- AAGGHH!" She screamed as the Admiral suddenly reared up and knocked her from the deck, and over the side toward the rocks below. Dreyfuss acted fast, unthinkingly, and shouted, DIE! and a bolt of white-hot fire shot from his fingers and slammed through Tzeda, liberating the old man from the inconvenience of having internal organs, and simultaneously blasting him to ash on the spot. Dreyfuss lost no time in throwing out a light-arm, using the blunderbuss as focus point, and grabbed Irene just before she would have struck the rocks below, and hauled her back aboard, and they both lay there on the deck, gasping like a pair of lungfish freshly caught. As they both lay there cursing each other between breaths, and smiling and eventually laughing at the utter pathos of the situation, Tzeda's Orang climb-walked down the side of the envelope and impossibly enough, appeared to be standing upside down on the underside of the gasbag and began whooping at them aggressively...
---------------------------

It was actually the gale that had awakened Jack Pulsifer; he was staying in a cheap hotel right at the edge of the airdock park, and the noise from the all-night bar downstairs had muffled any other noises in the town that might have awakened him, including the coughing and banging of the alcohol motor that powered his blimp. When he had finally awakened, the Beau Rosin was above the airdock park and heading for the range of hills on the Northern bank of the Yangtze River. If Pulsifer had not been looking out the window to see if "Beau" as he called his ship in his own head, was still there, he wouldn't have known that it wasn't... As it was, he noticed it wasn't there, then that it was overhead and flying off to the north. A double-take, and then he was throwing on his clothes, throwing his meagre possessions into his bag, and leaping down the stairs, tossing a handful of local high-dollar coins at the desk clerk, and pounding out the door, yanking on his pistol and backpack and unscabbarding his bolt-action rifle. He managed to get off one shot at the blimp before it disappeared over the topmost hill, and then the hills were momentarily eclipsed by none other than former Admiral Tzeda's SS Juan Seguin, that huge aerial Ironclad, as it tore out of the airpark after the Beau; followed, belatedly, by the former David Crockett and Moses Austin, all three of the aerial warships first-rates under the old standard. They and several other ships of varying sizes and rates had joined the charismatic but ultimately luckless Tzeda, the original intent being to form a Pirate fleet that would bring all of Asia under their sway.

 Pulsifer ran to the nearest Stable, again threw a bunch of coins that he hoped were enough, this time at a stableboy who stood looking after him as he grabbed the first horse he came to, and took off pell-mell for the hills on the river. The boy yelled something horribly unclean in Cantonese at him as the crazy Texian disappeared out of the North gate of the town; that had been the Lord Mayor's best roan! He would be flogged now, he just knew it!



Critiques/comments/suggestions are appreciated!
PM me, or send to
mwbailey@hotmail.com

---=====<[[/{{"<(|)>")}\]]>=====---
« Last Edit: January 21, 2010, 09:39:24 am by MWBailey » Logged
MWBailey
Rogue Ætherlord
*
United States United States


"This is the sort of thing no-one ever believes"

rtafStElmo
« Reply #8 on: January 02, 2010, 08:37:00 am »

Between the Threads
-or-
what came after the Cold One Queen
And Before
The Search for George

-------------------------------------------------------------
Book 1
Shanghai Knife



Chapter 9: Monkey See Discarded Pistol...
"Irene?"

Irene sighed, grumbled something unintelligible about second and third cousins and old relatives who thought they were smarter, and grated, "Yes, Drefyfuss?"

"There's an orang up there, and he's hooting at us in a decidedly threatening manner. I think he may have belonged to Admiral Tzeda..."

"Okayyy..." Irene pinched the bridge of her nose, realized her veil was askew, but left it alone. If that monkey doesn't like my face, then let him leap overboard, she thought.

"Does the monkey have a gun?" she asked out loud.

"Not as far as I can tell," Dreyfuss said, then jumped up and drew the Webley out of his shoulder holster, from under the greatcoat, as the Orang suddenly dropped from the gasbag to the deck. He fired at the Orang to scare it away; The monkey just sort of looked at him, and then picked up Tzeda's revolver, and pointed it at Dreyfuss, then at Irene. Irene said, "Ohhh, monkey wanna play?" Smiling evilly, she drew her spare colt (having picked it up, but not yet reloaded it) and shouted, DANCE, MONKEY!" and fired three or four times at the deck beside the monkey's feet.

The "monkey" just stood there.

And then the "monkey" pointed the pistol at Irene and pulled the trigger, the large-caliber pistol firing with a deafening BOOM.The bullet struck Irene in the chest, knocking her backwards against the scow's railing. Dreyfuss yelled her name and jumped to the rail to keep her from slipping overboard again (using as much of the whitefire as he had been was beginning to drain him, and he doubted he could save her again that way, for several hours at any rate). The orang, for it's part, dropped the gun, EEEEEEEP'd in pain, and shook its gun hand as if the wrench of recoil had hurt it. He ran to the deck house at the rear of the scow, and perched up on top, cradling its hand and crooning mournfully, as Dreyfuss picked up Irene and, carrying her, ducked into the deck house, ignoring the Orang on the roof. As Dreyfuss began to cross the tiny cabin over to the cot in the starboard stern corner, Irene woke up, realized she was being carried through the deckhouse and apparently toward the cot in the corner, and began to try to kick and punch her way out of Dreyfuss' arms.

"What're you doing, you damned pervert! I'm not some trollop you can take straight to...oh."
she suddenly remembered her chest wound, and went quiescent in spite of herself. Dreyfuss laid her on the cot, pulled her shirt to one side, careful to not reveal anything but the wound (trying to retain at least some degree gentlemanliness), and watched, somewhat embarrassed, as the bullet was pushed out, powdered away to dust, and the wound closed up and healed over in a matter of minutes. He had seen this happen many times, he realized, and threw the shirt back over the wound, blushing a bright red.

I-I'm sorry, Irene," he said, mortified. "I forgot. Again."

Irene buttoned up her shirt, smiled slightly, then saw the blush spreading around to the back of Dreyfuss' neck, and said, somewhat grudgingly, "Ohhhh... It's ok, Cos. I forgot too, for a minute." Then, as if it had been ripped from her throat, "Thank you, for-for your concern."

"De Nada, Dulcita, you stay here and rest a minute,' Dreyfuss said, remnembering a long-dead foster sister, and realizing that somehow, in the last few weeks, he had gone from a feeling of doting Wardership to a warm sort of familial affection for the foul- mouthed girl, who was sometimes, fleetingly, a very precious presence, and quite definitely an essential asset almost all the time. In short, they made a good team, and she seemed to, uh, like him somewhat -- as a relative and father figure, of course. He found that he frequently wanted to protect her, and was often slightly frustrated when she proved to not need the protection; indeed, much of the time she took it as an insult. Still, sometimes... 

'I'll go and drop the anchor and moor us to something; The Elmo's up ahead, caught on that bluff." The morning sun, having come up while they rested on the deck of the scow suspended under the blimp gasbag, shone fully now, the wind still blowing hard, the blimp beginning to drift despite its engine going almost full tilt, but nonetheless, a sunny daybvreak, presaging good weather later on, bore down on the scene as Dreyfuss went to the rail and dropped the anchor among a clump of basalt rocks, and rolled the rope-and-rod ladder over the side. There was still no sign of the other two Aerial men-o'-war; it was as if they and Tzeda had outrun them, which they probably had; the Crockett and the Austin were notoriously slow in the air.

A bit later, Dreyfuss and Irene (and the orang, trailing along behind, crying hootingly and cradling it's right paw-hand) had disembarked from the blimp, and were making their way toward where the St. Elmo was apparently "run aground" on the high, grassy bluff at the mouth of what looked like an overgrown box canyon.




Critiques/comments/suggestions are appreciated!
PM me, or send to
mwbailey@hotmail.com

---=====<[[/{{"<(|)>")}\]]>=====---
« Last Edit: February 20, 2010, 08:23:45 am by MWBailey » Logged
MWBailey
Rogue Ætherlord
*
United States United States


"This is the sort of thing no-one ever believes"

rtafStElmo
« Reply #9 on: January 05, 2010, 05:07:36 am »

Between the Threads
-or-
what came after the Cold One Queen
And Before
The Search for George

-------------------------------------------------------------
Book 1
Shanghai Knife




Chapter 10:Mission Accomplished -- Just Not By Us
Dreyfuss had liberated a grapnel iron and a very, very long coil of rope from the Beau Rosin, and had secured the grapnel to the end of it, splicing the tail end of the knot back into the body of the rope, as they walked along the shoreline of the river toward where the St. Elmo lay athwart the current, in a sort of narrows between two high, grass-covered bluffs. He took the boat gun from his shoulder, loaded it, put an extra bit of cotton batting in as a wad, bunched some batting (gotten from Mad Jack's bullet-riddled overstuffed chair in the rear of the  scow's cabin) around the eye on the rope-end of the hook, set the iron in the top of the boat gun's barrel, capped the lock, aimed at the Midship deck's railing, then up to slightly above it, and pulled the trigger.

BOOOMM!

The recoil was like one of old Sgt. Lightfoot's supply mules (from General Sam's army) kicking him in the shoulder, but it got the grapnel up and over the railing, and when he pulled downward on the line, the grapnel on the end caught and held. Then, they both shinnied up the rope, Irene first, then Dreyfuss, so he could catch her if she fell.

The scene that met their eyes the moment they struggled up and over the railing was macabre to behold, to say the least. Around the midship deck lay five or six pirate crewmen, all of them wearing faces frozen in expressions of fear and agony; former marauders all, many whom Dreyfuss had known, and had even served with in one or two cases. They searched the ship from the observation deck to Engineering then, including the castles and the bridge, and in every case, in every area vital to operational activity, they found the traumatized dead, their faces frozen in paroxyzms of fear, agony, and in some cases, the very extremity of rage, and in others the very pits of self-loathing, often having evacuated their bodie' wastes in the final moments -- But all dead... and all with a tiny pair of holes somewhere on their body, some in the most seemingly inaccessible of places. Another source of awkwardness was the fact that almost every pirate crewman they found that Dreyfuss had known from his time with the Marauders, was one whom he had thought would refuse out of sheer pride to become a pirate.  "Well, I always did say we were just two paydays away from turning pirate,"he mused out loud. "Poor bastards. Damn their eyes." He examined another four crewmen, and said, "Funny thing, I've never encountered a vampire that had a fang arrangement like that before,"  as they surveyed the mysterious, almost darkly supernatural carnage.

Even the pilot, who had lashed himself to the wheel, crucifix tied on and held with a death grip; in vain, it would seem, for neither he nor providence had managed to bring the St. Elmo safely to port. It was almost as if stealing a ship that was named for the electrical static discharge attributed to a saint who granted safety to beleaguered mariners in storms, thus made them unworthy of the saint's protection (although "Erasmus" was in actuality the name of the saint in question, "Elmo" being the bastardization of the name, caused by time and common parlance amongst ancient seafaring mariners), and the ship was kept from port by the wind-storm, as punishment for the blasphemy of applying a crucifix to a miscreant deed of piracy against a saint's namesake...

"Do you really think it was Vampires?" Irene said skeptically; "I'd think since we've been in dark and shadowy places a lot, we would have been attacked if it was the hunting bloodsucker type."

"Well, that's what has me flummoxed,"  Dreyfuss said, "the fact that there're two holes on every victim, so close together, and that its not even large enough to have been a human baby, let alone a human-adult-based Nosferatu... and even if it were one of those, surely it wouldn't have decimated the entire crew in so short a time!"

But where was Jock? Dreyfuss' blood ran cold, as he realized the uncomfortable possibilities. Then, they heard a faint tapping noise drifting up from under the engineering/barracks deck...

"Sounds like we're about to get our answer," Irene said grimly, as she reloaded her colts and headed out the door, Dreyfuss right behind her reloading the boat gun, and trading out the spent cylinder of his Paterson for a fresh, loaded one. Irene had come to like Jock as well as Dreyfuss, and perhaps a bit more so; if someone had done the lovable, incorrigible old cockney in, she would track them to Perdition's fuming rim and beyond and kill them - even if they were already dead, she thought to herself. She had a feeling that Dreyfuss would gladly aid in that endeavor, and also felt that he would do the same for both of them.

As they made their way down to the 'midships deck, Dreyfuss heard the sound of a horse being ridden hard, and then loud curses that sounded as though Jack Pulsifer had finally come for his blimp. A lot sooner than expected, in fact. Dreyfus hoped that Jack wouldn't attack the Elmo out of sheer pique; he hated the idea of havng to shoot the old boy's ship out from under him. But, if that was what was necessary...

Finally, they reached the hatch that led from the engineering deck to the low-ceilinged, crowded ballast deck, the very bottom of the gunboat portion of the hybrid dirigible, where water and liquid ballast gurgled and glooomped in the tanks that lined the walls of the deck, and the heated/cooled tank in the middle of the deck, as the airship swung and wallowed gently in the now-slowing breeze. There, in the last ballast-maintenance compartment, they found Jock, and Timothy, the boy they had been sent to rescue -- and the crewman who'd knocked jock out again, dead as a stone, with the same horror-ruined facial  expression as the rest, while Tim and Jock seemed almost jovial. Several small, green, baby snakes and one milky white-green one,who lay close to and even close beside and up against the two individuals, reared up and hissed threateningly as Dreyfuss and Irene entered.

"You Oughter' seen 'em when they forst come outer th' vents," Jock chuckled. "Lil' Blighters all looked loik they'd been crowned queens o' England!" And they were all females, Dreyfuss realized. he wasn't sure how he knew it, but it seemed obvious.

"There's that one there, larger than all the rest, and they all bow to her, Tim said, a note of awe in his voice. "She attacked the pirate who came in and hit Mr. Fireman Jock, here, to make him stay quiet, and killed him with a single bite."

"So, you're Lord Frippington's son?" Dreyfuss asked the lad.

"Yes, sir," the boy answered.

Dreyfuss turned to Irene and said with a wry grin, "well, cousin, looks like 'mission accomplished.' Er, just not by us. Good thing there's the rest of the pirates to round up or shoot out of the air," he added.

From outside, through the metal of the hull, they all suddenly heard the report of a large-bore repeating deck gun, and a man's voice screaming, "DREYFUSS! GIT YER TAIL OUT HYAR, 'FORE I SHOOT YER BOW OFF!"

"Sounds like Mad Jack found his voice," Dreyfuss said as he rolled his eyes and chuckled."

"What!? Pulsifer's here?! Jock exclaimed. "What'd you do to tick 'im off this toime?"

Irene grinned at Dreyfuss' discomfiture and said, rather nastily and in a derisive travesty of a Texian accent, "Cuzzin Jaise hyar borrahd the BEAU Rosin 'thout per-mish-un, ta chase you-uns all dayown an' git th' shee-ip bayack." She laughed at Dreyfuss' glare, and said in her chuckling, normal voice, "Don't worry, Cos, I'll man the gun switches in case he tries a broadside."

There was a sudden banging on the hull, and the same voice as before, but louder and closer, yelled, "DREYFUSS!"

"QUIT BANGIN' ON MY SHIP!" Dreyfuss Roared back.



Critiques/comments/suggestions are appreciated!
PM me, or send to
mwbailey@hotmail.com

---=====<[[/{{"<(|)>")}\]]>=====---
« Last Edit: February 20, 2010, 08:36:11 am by MWBailey » Logged
MWBailey
Rogue Ætherlord
*
United States United States


"This is the sort of thing no-one ever believes"

rtafStElmo
« Reply #10 on: January 08, 2010, 06:37:20 am »

Between the Threads
-or-
what came after the Cold One Queen
And Before
The Search for George

-------------------------------------------------------------
Book 1
Shanghai Knife




Chapter 11: the Odds, Evened
A few minutes later, not nearly long enough for Irene to have made it to the bridge, she yelled down the foc'sle hatchway, into Engineering where Dreyfuss, the Peer's son, and Jock all were pitching in to load up the furnace with coal (the pirates had accidentally damaged both the automatic coal scuttle and the the liquid fuel feeds, so the boiler had to be converted back to coal firing, and then the firebox had to be stoked by hand). Irene sang out, "Dreyfuss?! DREYFUSS!"

"Lafittes bloody BONES, girl, what's got you so riled up all of a sudden?"

"It's Pulsifer, cousin dear, he's facing down three pirate first-rates!"

Dreyfuss ignored the sarcasm in Irene's voice, and turned around to Jock and Timothy. "Jock, and beggin' your pardon, young sir," he said to Timothy, "but we need to get underway pronto! I'll use the whitefire to force the ship back to normal, but we have got to have at least a semblance of a head of steam in about eight minutes at most."

"Aye, Commodore," Jock said stoutly.

"Aye for me as well, and drop the 'young sir,' it doesnt fit a stoker."

"As you wish, Tim. Okay, lets get some steam up, ok?"

As Dreyfuss left for the Midship deck, Jocksaid to Timothy, "tha's 'nough coal fer nowe, Tim. lend me a 'and on dis 'ere bellows, roight?"

They began to crank the rotary bellows, causing the flames in the firebox to leap up and blaze into a flameso bright it hurt to look at it; before long, the steam dome was roaring in, and the bell for minimum pressure had sounded.

"Someday we won't 'ave ter load coal or pipe fuel or crank the bellows," Jock said as they took a short breather, and then started shovelling more coal, "I 'ear they're workin on that problem at a shop in white'all just for us. but so far i's jus' a rumour."




Critiques/comments/suggestions are appreciated!
PM me, or send to
mwbailey@hotmail.com

---=====<[[/{{"<(|)>")}\]]>=====---
« Last Edit: February 20, 2010, 09:05:50 am by MWBailey » Logged
MWBailey
Rogue Ætherlord
*
United States United States


"This is the sort of thing no-one ever believes"

rtafStElmo
« Reply #11 on: January 09, 2010, 10:13:51 am »

Between the Threads
-or-
what came after the Cold One Queen
And Before
The Search for George

-------------------------------------------------------------
Book 1
Shanghai Knife




Chapter 12: Battle Rejoined
"On second thought, lemme go ahead and fix the engine now," Dreyfuss said, and thought to himself, thank the Powers Patrick didn't mind me bein' a white flamer. He let the whitefire build around his hands, and then Grabbed the side of the (still cold, but warming) boiler, and concentrated on fixing the machinery of teh engines. There was a moment when the entire construct shone with a white light, and then the scuttle screamed like a metal banshee, and there was a blinding flash mixed with the sound of metallic grinding and crunching. When their eyes had readjusted, Jock and Tim saw that Dreyfuss had already left for the bridge -- but now the automatic scuttle was fixed, the gearing was no longer out of alignment, and the steam expansion cylinders and water conservation system were all back in synch and in working order. Jock brought the engines online when the full head of steam was available, and left the gearing for the ducted centrifugal fans at Revolving Idle. Then, he noticed that all of the bodies were gone as well; in their places were small piles of fine, white ash.

When Dreyfuss entered the Bridge, Irene was threatening right back at the aetherphone, on which one of the Pirate captains, Malcolm Dermott of the former RTAF James Fannin, which had seen the other two aerial ironclads beating against the wind upriver, and had come to investigate and join th chase. The Fannin had turrets fore and aft, and Hullbuster (A type invented by an early Marauder gunnery technician in the previous century for use against ocean-going line ships) deck-guns in angle-armored casemates between them; it was both larger and faster than either of the other two ships. The voice of the Fannin's captain was saying, "Listen, Girlie, put Dreyfuss on and let the adults talk awhile. I'm sure he can work out a reasonable surrender."

Irene belted back, with absolutely malevolent sweetness, "oh, come on, now, you shouildn't let a girl win so easily. At least put up a little bit of a fight!"

Incoherent vocalizations and what sounded like curses in Nepalese, of all lingoes, were all that could be heard from the other end. Dreyfuss gently took the handset from Irene, and said, "she speaks for me, Mally, and by the way, you're still a jackass in a blue 'shipman's coat," and turned the Aetherphone transceiver set over to Pulsifer's usual frequency, and said clearly, "Scrambling transmission now. Stings on twice and three, make it six hundred and twelve,"  He thumbed the Interruptor switch over to setting three, and the Delay Cylinder control to speed 4. Dreyfuss and Pulsifer had figured out and used the "scrambling" trick to great effect, in the years after the Mad Anthony Wayne Affair, when they started their own careers away from the Marauders; When Pulsifer testified as to Dreyfuss' character at the inquest, he'd made mortal rivals and enemies of everyone else in the Marauders, and when Dreyfuss resigned rather than take a desk job, Pulsifer was one of the few who stood by him, and even privateered with him, and helped him to scrounge up money to build the St. Elmo and modify her gunboat portion.

Of course, the cost had exceeded Dreyfuss' ability to pay, and the ship had been impounded in Galveston, whilst Dreyfuss worked his way across the North American Continent, signing on for brief assignments with various air privateers, a couple of expeditions to the Dark Continent & back again, and finally worked his way across teh atlantic to London, England, where he ultimately signed on with the Boheme, and passed into the pages of history along with the rest of her congenial (to him, at least) crew.

It was interesting to Dreyfuss that he had assumed that the pounding on the hull signalled the snapping of the back of Pulsifer's "camel of patience" under the final straw, thinking that the fellow was finally snapping and calling him out, when in fact  it was to warn him of impending danger. Classic Mad Jack Pulsifer, that; the fellow was as unpredictable as a black bear with bees on his butt!

"Dreyf, old bean, I'm a little mad about you takin' Beau without permission, but we're still comrades," Pulsifer sent, via aetherphone, once he had his own set calibrated to match the St. Elmo's device. "How do you want to do this?"

Dreyfuss noted that the Pirate 'clads were falling into the old line-of-battle formation. "Let's give 'em a 'Full Nelson,' Jack," he replied, knowing that, if they had figured out the scramble or lucked onto the same frequency, the opposing captains wouldn't have the slightest clue what the order meant. But Pulsifer would; he had been there, after all...

With no more being said, both Dreyfuss and Pulsifer, and Irene as well, knew what was to be done, and so they turned the St.Elmo and the Beau Rosin toward the enemy, and slammed their engines into Ahead Full, while Dreyfuss pulled a lever, and forward of the Steering room, the Ramming Blades, a mask-like cluster of serated, giant-saw-like blades and horn-like giant sickles, angled such that they would rip through the fabric and support members of an opponent's envelope, and smash through anything lower, if it had not dropped due to the demise of the gasbags, swung down from it's resting position beneath the forward portion of the St. Elmo's envelope.

"Irene, If you wouldn't mind, could you still man the gun controls?"

"I'm already here, Cos, you could try looking around a bit more," Irene answered, smirking nastily, but not in an unfriendly way. Much. She was unsure whether or not to mention the body of the helmsman flashing into white ash; she decided it was moot, and that Cousin Jaisen was a man much like Caractacus, the Patriarch of the "Clan of Dreyfuss," was purported to be.

Dreyfuss rolled his eyes, and said, "Okaay...here we go!" He grabbed the speaking tube as he took control of the engines and slammed the levers to Ahead Full, blew into the mouthpiece, blowing the plug out on the other end and making the whistle in the plug shriek just before it popped out, then yelled into the tube, "Ramming Maneuver! Brace for Impact!" And they braced against their consoles as the St. Elmo smashed into the envelope of the Fannin, whose  hydrogen  lofting caught a spark from the smashed boiler-smoke exhaust funnels, and whooshed into flame as the stricken aerial battlewagon drooped toward the earth. "Starboard broadside, full numbers, on the Crockett! spray with the coilguns!"

:"Aye! On it!!" Irene called back, then reporting, "Crockett on fire, but still flying, she's attempting retaliatory fire, but most shots going wild-!" Irene cut off as she saw Pulsifer literally land on the top of the last flying Ironclad, the former RTAF Moses Austin, and pour whjat looked like coal oil ove rthe sdie of the scoww, drenching the top of teh gasbag forward of the Beau Rosin's position on top; he lifted off suddenly, then dropped what appeared to be a rag-tipped torch, flaming wildly, down onto teh Austin's envelope, the huge gasbag suddenly erupting in flames. Then Mad Jack, living up to his name, dropped down even with the ironclad's casemates, and traded broadside for boadside, until something exploded inside the pirate dirigible, and the outer hull plating around the stern gunports blew outwards in a huge gout of flame and flaming timbers and torn plating. The Austin's envelope finally caught, and the FMOOOSH of igniting hydrogen filled their ears, and the suspended ironclad fell to earth, smashing itself to splinters and twisted iron on the river rapids below. "Before the Gods, he really IS mad!" she breathed, almost as if she admired his apparent insanity.

Irene fired the forward three guns on each side of the bow of the gunboat, the bow's pointed shape and the half-turret mountings allowing a devastating fusillade; the automatic, recoil-actuated ten-pounders, and the constant-feed hopper-magazined coilguns blasted away and made large holes in the surprisingly thin plating of the larger flying ironclad. "WhaHOOO" she crowed, as the shells began exploding deep within the larger vessel.

Dreyfuss grabbed the speaking tube, and yelled, "Jock! Tim! You two OKAY? Give me a damage report!"
-----------------------------------
Jock and Tim were both strapped and clipped into place beside the Engine Console when Dreyfuss sounded the warning klaxon, and blew through the Engineering speaking tube, blowing its whistle-plug and popping it out of the mouthpiece, his voice shouting through, "Ramming Maneuver! Brace for Impact!" they grabbed an extra bit of safety, and held on for dear life as first they were thrown forwards against the pull of their straps, then bounced up and forwards as the third hit from the Crockett detonated, harmlessly, against the starboard stern keel-plates.

"No dammage, Commodore, sir, ' Shouted Jock back through the tube, and followed the report with a stout "Give 'em HELL, Dreyf! -- Uh, er, Sir, I mean...how many enemy survived?"

The answer came back, "Don't worry about it, Jock, and there's only one, badly damaged, but the Crockett's still fighting back. Going to give 'em two rockets to play with..." And the sound of the rockets THUMPing in their tubes as they were fired sounded loud in the engine room, from teh gun deck above, then the rapidly-fading roar of the rockets exhaust as they arrowed toward their target.
-----------------------------
Down below the clinker-box, the snakelings and their leading sibling crouched, the larger albino Queen hissing a crooning hissssp! of comfort and reassurance. "Mama-queen loved hunter-man, she say so in our mind. Hunter-man will win battle, you will see, we safe here with hunter-man. Bite not hunter-man's big friend and little friend and girl cousin friend, they all good people, not bad like others who stole our home with us inside." The Eldest spat in disgust, "stupid thief-people! They even taste bad!" one of the underlings hisp'd a question, and the Eldest hissped back, lovingly and reaassuringly, "Yes, I will stay with hunter-man. Mama queen and Muscle-man come back for rest of you, take you to good-homes..."

A short time later, the Eldest slithered off, to find the sleeping-place of her new charge, and guard it against all enemies...



Critiques/comments/suggestions are appreciated!
PM me, or send to
mwbailey@hotmail.com

---=====<[[/{{"<(|)>")}\]]>=====---
« Last Edit: February 20, 2010, 09:00:01 am by MWBailey » Logged
MWBailey
Rogue Ætherlord
*
United States United States


"This is the sort of thing no-one ever believes"

rtafStElmo
« Reply #12 on: January 21, 2010, 06:20:35 am »

Between the Threads
-or-
what came after the Cold One Queen
And Before
The Search for George

-------------------------------------------------------------
Book 1
Shanghai Knife




Chapter 13: Survival by Escalade
Merovingia Harper-Chen stood to one side of the Crockett's observation deck gun platform, as the guns that were still operational fired back as fast as they could be made to do; muzzle-loading Whitworth rifles, such as these five remaining guns, Merry remembered, fired a special "bolt" of solid iron, or in rare cases, a hollow bolt of iron, shaped to fit the hexagonal bore of teh weapon.it wa thus a tricky maneuver to speedily reload them, and teh lack of available tim eto aim before firing meant that many of teh shots went wide instead of striking the St. Elmo with the devastating force and flat trajectory that the guns were noted for.

Instead of ramming the Crockett, the St.Elmo flew just over the muzzles of the guns, knocking several men to their deaths on the near-vertical cliff-slope below. Harper-Chen took her chance, and threw her grapnel up and through the bay window of the port stern gallery of the St. Elmo as it passed just overhead, and rapidly scaled the distance, two crewmen following closely behind, belaying the line but also falling to their deaths when a sudden gust snatched at the oddly-built pocket warzeppelin and whipped the end of the grapnel-rope around like the strap on the end of a bullwhip. Merry slauted the fallen men,  handtip to forehead and then out to one side, honoring their attempt to aid her in carrying out her mission. She had missed her first chance, when the would-be airship-thieves stole the St. Elmo, and precipitated this pell-mell chase up the Yangtze River. She had grabbed at the opportunity when the Crockett's CO, former-admiral Torquada, via signal paddles he kept in his greatcoat breast pocket,to pick him up "along with Miss Chen," as he had mouthed when he made the patterns. She climbed into the port stern officer's country cabin, and marvelled at the arrogance of a commander who did not fly with a full crew on such a large vessel...

At the same moment Merry threw the grapnel, Irene opened the starboard embarkation/exit door in the aftercastle of the ST. Elmo; she reached into the pouch she habitually wore, much the same as Dreyfuss always carried his possibles bag, withdrew two Mondragon grenadesm, as Dreyfuss and the rest of teh Boheme's crew had come to call the thaumic overload grid explosives invented and perfected during the final leg of the journey to St. Petersburg.she pulled both rings, the scratches left on the thaumic grid's copper surface  completing teh cabalistic engraved mathematical matrix, and setting in motion the horrifically-powerful explosive chain reaction that made the devices so devastating. Irene slide-slammed the EmDe port's door closed and leaned against the dorjamb, resting for a moment. She had had quite a run from the bridge to the stern castle. Suddenly, the door of the portside officer's cabin opened, a sliver of daylight broadening to a beam, silhouetting a female form, wearing trousers instead of a bustled dress - and bearing what looked like all five feet of a chinese longsword! Irene straightened, shouted "Intruder in Officer's Country! ALERT! ALERT! and drew both of her colts and fired each of them once, knocking the figure back, but not knocking  her down. the silhouette seemed to fumble in a bag at ther waist, then the right arm jerked in an odd direction -- and SMACK went the impact of a heavy projectile (a grapeshot, as it turned out, later) that hit Irene square in the forehead, stunning her and causing her to fall to the deck in the corridor, inexplicably close enough to the other woman to touch her as she passed. Irene shook her head, then leaped up, ran to the aftercastle ship address speaking tube where it protruded from the wall next to the starboard (captain's) cabin, and blew forcefully into it, then shouted into it, "INTRUDER ALERT! INTRUDER ALERT! swordswoman on her way to midships deck or possibly gun or engineering decks! I 'll be there shortly, wherever she goes!" and Irene ran for the spiral stair that communicated between the officer's country deck and the rest of the after section of the gunboat portion of the ST. Elmo.

Behind the St. Elmo, now, even as she began to turn to port, the Crockett disappeared in an almost-iridescent cloud of dark smoke, flame, and what in an earlier age would have been called "wild magic," to the tune of a shattering "BBOOOMMM"





Critiques/comments/suggestions are appreciated!
PM me, or send to
mwbailey@hotmail.com

---=====<[[/{{"<(|)>")}\]]>=====---
« Last Edit: February 20, 2010, 08:38:51 am by MWBailey » Logged
MWBailey
Rogue Ætherlord
*
United States United States


"This is the sort of thing no-one ever believes"

rtafStElmo
« Reply #13 on: February 05, 2010, 06:28:48 am »

Between the Threads
-or-
what came after the Cold One Queen
And Before
The Search for George

-------------------------------------------------------------
Book 1
Shanghai Knife




Chapter 12: Immortal Meets Immortal
Timothy askedJock whether he figured the intruder would try to cross the 'midships deck  just above, the gubn deck, and two levels above engineering, but before Jocjk oculd answer, they heard teh characteristic "booommm...thump-thump, thump-thump, thump-thump," of someone trying to be stealthy on teh midships deck, and both went up the two ladder-stairs to each end of the main hatchway on the 'midships deck between the fore and after castles of the St. Elmo, and cautiously raised the hatchway lids. Timothy spotted the intruder first, and loudly cocked  the peppermill revolver lent to him by the big engineer, shouting "HALT! STAND AND REPORT!" which the figure answered with another hurled grapeshot.

Timothy ducked, but the grapeshot bounced off of the banister that encircled the top outer edge of the hatchway wall, and Tim fired the pepperbox once, recocked it, and fired again, knocking Merry momentarily backward and into the wall of the forecastle, stunned that such a youngster had the pluck and utter audacity to fire on a veteran such as herself -- and then she drew her longsword and what appeared to be a shortened cutlass, and ran at Timothy, screaming some kind of Asian war-cryand slashing the swords around in front of her, but somehow, Irene suddenly appeared between them (Tim thought she had perhaps materialized overhead and fallen upon the other woman, running her saber through the Eurasian woman's shoulder, and firing her left-hand Colt into Harper-Chen's  forehead. Irene dislodged her saber, then, and holstered her pistol, wiping disgustedly at the blood and brain matter now bespeckling the front of her makeshift uniform.She jerked Tim to his feet, and ordered him back down into the hold, "so you don't get hurt or killed. if you're dead, we don't get to haul war for Whitehall anymore."

"First, you should worry about getting yourself out of this alive, little girl!" said the dulcet tones of the voice of Merovingia Harper-Chen.

Irene spun around, redrawing her pistol and her cutlass in one smooth two-armed motion, and both fired and stabbed into the body of teh assassin one more time, only to see her crionge slightly, but thenslowly regain control ,while the blood stopped seeping, and where bare skin showed, the bullet wounds had all healed...

To be continued tonight or sometime tomorrow...




Critiques/comments/suggestions are appreciated!
PM me, or send to
mwbailey@hotmail.com

---=====<[[/{{"<(|)>")}\]]>=====---
« Last Edit: February 20, 2010, 08:29:13 am by MWBailey » Logged
MWBailey
Rogue Ætherlord
*
United States United States


"This is the sort of thing no-one ever believes"

rtafStElmo
« Reply #14 on: February 20, 2010, 07:01:26 am »

Between the Threads
-or-
what came after the Cold One Queen
And Before
The Search for George

-------------------------------------------------------------
Book 1
Shanghai Knife




Chapter 14: By The Sword
Timothy ran down the spiral stair to the Engine room three, two steps at a time, shouting, "Jock! Commodore! Irene is holding off a boarder on the Middledeck!

"Oi! Is she now?" Jock said, reaching for his  largest spanner (In his tool-pouch on his belt), and drawing his blaster (operating off of ambient aether energy, collected in a grid much like that of the Mondragon grenades, but which Jock modified to include extra capacitance sub-patterns and safety relief lines) from his tool-pouch. He kept it disassembled in three separate pieces which he himself could assemble with blinding speed, but which another person would have difficulty coming even close to figuring out. The now-assembled weapon began to whine keeningly as the power built up. He grabbed the speaking tube beside the Engineer's cabin with a couple of fingers and the thumb of the hand with the spanner, and blew into it and shouted, "Irene's got a Boarder! MIDDLEDECK!" And then set off at a run for the spiral stair to the Aftercastle, after telling Tim to "mind the pressure," and to "pull that lever there, blue handle, if the needle on the gauge gets into the red, and the red one on the opposite side of the boiler if it drops down into the blue..."

Dreyfuss heard the call, and tied the wheel to the current heading (meaning, of course, that the St. Elmo was headed in an angle to the wind designed to minimize "bucking" in the headwind, and still sail across it, while simultaneously staying on course),  set the engine, levers to the current settings, and then brought the ship up to 10,000 feet; as they were out of the gorge and the mountains, over the river valley, and had knocked from the air the last pirate ship in evidence anywhere near them, there was no danger of hitting anything other than an unwary fellow aircraft (or perhaps an oblivious bird or three).

He then ran to the middle-deck hatch, not bothering with the stairs, but launching himself out of the hatch and down to the deck in a single, foot-smarting leap. He landed just as Jock came up the Spiral stairs, brandishing his blaster and firing three banshee-screeching, gold-and-white-braided bolts of thaumic force into Harper-Chen's chest. She staggered, and then just stood there, staring at him, and Jock at her, as recognition dawned on both their faces.

"Jock...!(?) How do you come here? are you member, this crew?
"Aye. lass,  And I could ask the same of ye?"

Irene saw the chance while both were distracted, and began firing into her shoulder and the side of her chest, just as Dreyfuss pointed the Paterson and fired thrice into Harper-Chen's abdomen. When she collapsed to a sitting position on the floor, arms akimbo and revolver in one hand  and katana in the other, Dreyfuss walked swiftly to her side, and pointed the Paterson revolver at her head. "Drop your weapons, Merry," Dreyfuss said. "I remember you as a mostly-sensible girl. There's no need to continue fighting for bad masters who run off and get killed , leaving you in the lurch."

"Just mostly sensible?" she answered, and then began to laugh, as the wounds stopped bleeding and bits of crushed bullet crumbled from the holes, the  wounds closing and healing over (though they could not see that because of the young woman's apparently newly-generated clothes.

"Why is she laughing?!" Irene snarled, and kicked Harper-Chen over from her right side. Harper-Chen responded by raising her pistol from her supine position and firing twice into Irene's face; the bullets tore the veil way and revealed -- but completely missed -- the weirdly-reddish glow of her Brass  construct prosthetic eye., but smashed teh bones on the right side, and--then the wounds closed, the lead showered out, and the bones reset and remade themselves "WHAT?" Merry shouted, then, shouted once more, "You are not an undead! What in the seven hells are you, child?"  

"I'm an enigma!" Irene shouted, "I might ask you the same question! And my cousin, there, is a white-flamer, who is able to kill with the fire! I've seen him do it, that's how he killed your precious Admiral Tzeda!" Dreyfuss obliged the apparent urging, and flames, Pale Yellow-white and incandescently Kelvin-hot, spewed forth, apparently from somwhere in the vicinity of Dreyfuss' outstetched fingers (he had holstered the pistol). The flames surged forth, scorching and then burning Harper-Chen's neck and upper torso, her skin, then her flesh, exposing the bone in some places-- but then, suddenly, The tissues, muscles, and skin (and even the clothing!) began to reform in places but were quickly set alight and burned away yet again. The steel wall behind the young woman was charred, then set to glowing a dull cherry-red. Still, Harper-Chen endured all, and then the oil lamp on the portable sconce nearby overheated and exploded, filling the deck with fire, smoke, and shattered crystal; Irene was not, of course, affected once her wounds from the initial blast healed themselves, and Dreyfuss was protected by the fire of his own anger. Jock, however, retreated to the gun deck below, where he set the ship's sprinklers spraying, to eliminate the risk of the fires advancing beyond the Em Dee corridor.  
There came a moment when Irene had unloaded both of her pistols into Harper-Chen's side, and Dreyfuss had to stop and lean against the wall for a moment, holding out his saber to keep his obviously-not-human adversary at bay. Then, Miss Harper-Chen finally stood, once again fully and inexplicably clothed and healed, even though her original clothing had been burnt away. She both saluted and challenged Dreyfuss with her sword...

And so began the longest duel that Dreyfuss had fought since the duel with the Tsar in St. Petersbugh's Winter Palace. Up and down, back and forth, corner to corner and in circles and other figures they circled, thrust, riposted, parried and on and on, each within his or her own preferred system, but neither countering the other sufficiently to defeat them. They pushed each other and gave ground, down the deck to the stern-castle bulkhead, then back to the stair landing, then up the Stair-and-exhaust-stack landing pipe, leaping and jumping about, then into the pipe itself, and onto the landing of the central exhaust duct from the engine room. They fought back and forth across this several times, until Dreyfuss managed to saber-whip Merry around so he could begin backing up the Spiral again toward the top Obs deck on top of the shiip's envelope, drawing Harper-Chen behind him and up, up, up....

When they had gained the top deck, the clear but darkening sky full of fire and color off to the west, but star-dappled and stygian overhead, they remained oblivious to the spendor of Nature's display and continued to attempt to slay one another. They dodged and weaved among the pair of deck guns on their swivelling mounts, each trying to fire the guns at each other, but realizing (Dreyfuss with relief, Harper-Chen with frustration and then resignation) that the guns were not loaded and could not be loaded, the ammo elevator in the side of the Stair House empty, the shelf-car having been lowered down to the magazine level. They both collapsed for a moment against opposite railings of the top Obs deck, and Dreyfuss asked, "How did you come to be immortal? The Cold Ones?"

"Nie, this one is sired by the first "offspring" of the woman you almost married,' she said, relishing his discomfiture. "My sire, Morgantha, reaches out to you in vengeance from the mists of your dim and sordid past... You murdered her!"

"I did no such thing," Dreyfuss returned, hotly. "She was already turned and had killed and drained more than twelve people already, and had my eldest foster sister in her foul embrace, mouth wide open and fangs showing, very near, too near, to my foster-sister's neck! I rescued my sister from Hell's fires!"




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---=====<[[/{{"<(|)>")}\]]>=====---
« Last Edit: February 20, 2010, 08:42:16 am by MWBailey » Logged
MWBailey
Rogue Ætherlord
*
United States United States


"This is the sort of thing no-one ever believes"

rtafStElmo
« Reply #15 on: May 31, 2010, 08:04:43 pm »

Between the Threads
-or-
what came after the Cold One Queen
And Before
The Search for George

-------------------------------------------------------------
Book 1
Shanghai Knife



Chapter 15: Burnt Into the Sky

Dreyfuss clung to the side of the stair house atop the St. Elmo's Envelope, full of anger and feeling the whitefire build, but unable to stand; his legs had turned to rubber after the long climb and the interminable duel. Before him stood Merovingia Harper-Chen, his former first officer from the days aboard the Mad Anthony Wayne; Something was not adding up, but he couldn't quite put his mental finger on it.

Then it suddenly clicked into place; She was a vampire? But, for her to be a vampire now, by Morganta's attack, Merry would have to have been her fledgling since before the Mad Anthony was shot down, and in fact before the Marauders were hired by the infant Republic!
"You were a vampire during your tour of duty on my ship!" he said, a note of incredulity in his voice. "Why did you not take your misguided vengeance then?"

"I did not know, then, what I know now,' she said, raising her sword and rushing him.

Dreyfuss stood and took her attack head-on, even stepping forward into her swing; thus, he arrived early, and was able to duck and to deflect it to her left as she swung around, and in a sudden inspiration, shoved Merry against the railing, using the fire to power his exhausted body. the result was that the rope that formed the top line of the railing snapped, and she fell out off of the topdeck and onto the envelope, grasping the broken end of the rail-rope. she stood, mountain-climber style, still gripping the end of the rail-rope, and Dreyfuss did as he had done to the sinister clown, Pezmysł, back during the charge across Siberia aboard the Boheme: he lashed out with the whitefire and burned Merovingia through the heart, burning it out from the inside as the unfortunate vampiress screamed in agony and frustration, and was burnt to a cinder before she finally let go and tumbled, smoldering and trailing ash and soot into the harbor of Shanghai far below.


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---=====<[[/{{"<(|)>")}\]]>=====---
« Last Edit: July 19, 2010, 03:48:12 am by MWBailey » Logged
MWBailey
Rogue Ætherlord
*
United States United States


"This is the sort of thing no-one ever believes"

rtafStElmo
« Reply #16 on: July 19, 2010, 04:00:29 am »

Between the Threads
-or-
what came after the Cold One Queen
And Before
The Search for George

-------------------------------------------------------------
Book 1
Shanghai Knife


Chapter 16: Epilogue
When the St. Elmo landed once again at the temporary Dock of the Aether League's Shanghai Chapter, They were met at the ship's door with a gangway stair steam lorry and a contingent of the local police,a squad of Royal Marines from the British Embassy, and a black-suited fellow named Reeves from the Foreign Office. Reeves was cursed with a small lopsided moustache, a large, ugly steamer trunk of an official diplomatic valise, and a monocle which seemed determined not to remain in place; it kept popping loose during Dreyfuss', Timothy's, and Irene's accounts of their exploits both within the environs of Shanghai and in the Chinese countryside -- and every time Irene threatened to shoot him for his 'impertinent questions.'

"Unbelievable!" was a word dear to his heart, apparently, as he kept repeating it by all appearances as often as possible, along with such linguistic artifacts as "My Stars," "blimey," and the imperially ubiquitous, yet somewhat obscure "Great Scott!" As he finished his report, he asked one final question.

Commodore Dreyfuss, Milady Irene, are you acquainted with a 'Sir Charles?'

"Yes, I am," Dreyfuss responded, warily. "What does he want now?"

"Your presence is somewhat unfathomably requested at an outpost known as White Island in the South China Sea, as close to the 15th of this month as your refueling and reprovisioning will allow. For the purposes of effecting such, He advises you to proceed to a neutral station en route called ..." The fellow opened the huge black leather-covered valise
and pulled forth a typewritten document, and read the name of the station aloud:"Silver Cavern Station." he continued, "Co-ordinates and orders are included on this document, which I am instructed to deliver to you." So saying, he handed the paper to Dreyfuss, who read it and then folded it and put it in the breast pocket of his greatcoat.

"There being no further business, I leave you to return to your ship and to carry out your new orders." The fellow got up and left, and the Aether League officials informed them that they were free to leave, preferably as soon as possible, and were told not to return unless in a dire emergency. "Your presence is, how shall we say it, 'too exciting,' perhaps?".

Timothy stayed behind, and was escorted to a different airship by the Royal Marines, but the Sergeant in charge of the squad paused for a moment and asked, somewhat querulously, "But how in blazes did you manage to train the snakeling to bite only the right people?" Dreyfuss looked at Timothy, who had paused along with the Marines, and Timothy looked back at him, and both smiled.  Timothy answered, "Well, that's classified, Leftenant. Her Majesty's Service and all that, you know... Oh, by the way, Commodore, I hope that knife never gets lost again! "

"So do I, Tim, So do I..."




->|FINIS Book 1|<-

Critiques/comments/suggestions are appreciated!
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---=====<[[/{{"<(|)>")}\]]>=====---
« Last Edit: July 19, 2010, 04:37:47 am by MWBailey » Logged
MWBailey
Rogue Ætherlord
*
United States United States


"This is the sort of thing no-one ever believes"

rtafStElmo
« Reply #17 on: August 28, 2010, 09:31:50 pm »

Between the Threads
-or-
what came after the Cold One Queen
And Before
The Search for George

-------------------------------------------------------------
Book II
Under the Cobbles






Book II: Under the Cobbles

Prelude: Landfall
White Island turned out to be a massive pumice, bauxite, and sulphur-mining operation, coupled with a gunpowder mill, in the middle of the South China Sea. The whole thing was a volcanic flyspeck of an island that was barely large enough to hold the entirety of the mountain itself, the miniscule fishing town, and the mining operation, along with a surprisingly good hospital and a small contingent of Sepoy troops to guard the mill. There was a fisherman's harbor, where a large ferry-type boat also docked, and an aerodrome, where three or four heavier-than- and two lighter-than-air ships were parked and moored.

The St. Elmo was moored to a mast, then the mast , mounted on odd-looking, gear-toothed rails and powered by a small steam locomotive integrated into the tower's construction, towed the St. Elmo over to a berth, and a crew lashed her down and detached her from the mast. The odd thing about the tracks, Jock noted as he helped the Commodore and a certain singularly truculent third person disembark, was that the geared teeth were located at the inside bottom of a folded-over top edge of the rails, apparently an attempt to build a system that could not simply be blown  off the tracks in a gale.

They disembarked onto the bit of dock, Irene dressed in roughly a Texian airshipman's uniform, her colts belted on about her waist and her sword at her left hip. She glared dourly all around as if looking for something to slash or shoot full of holes, and had to be held onto by either Dreyfuss or Jock to keep her from decking several of the officers and men who saw only the unveiled part of her face and assumed the rest of her was equally comely. If they only knew how well-protected the rest of her is, and what t' other 'alf o' her face looks like, Jock thought wryly, most of 'em'd piss themselves.

That was often the case when an unsuspecting 'prospective suitor,' As Dreyfuss chose to call them, was confronted by Irene's guns, and her attitude -- which at the best of times bordered on absolutely psycotically murderous. In the worst of times, and when her blood was boiling for any number of a myriad of reasons, and in battle, she was uncaringly lethal; she literally did not care about anyone beyond Dreyfuss, Jock, or, apparently, herself. She would tolerate Ishmael, their new nominal 'captain,' and Tim, loudly proclaiming she spared Tim only to protect their payroll; but anyone else, including their immediate superior Sir Charles, she would just as soon shoot as look at. Dreyfuss secretly hoped she would never be given an award by the Queen; he feared regicide, or any one of a number of equally horrifying possibilities, should such an event take place.

"Idiots, I hate idiots.' Irene grumbled, at almost a low shout, "All idiots should be dragged out and shot."

"You keep calling me an idiot, does that --" Dreyfuss began, before Irene cut him off with a glare and a low growl, then barked back,

"I do not! I say you do idiotic things. There's a difference. Besides, you're Family."

"Well, thanks," Dreyfuss said, not without a slight tang of sarcasm, and then added, "just make sure you're not the one does the dragging out, or the shooting."

"Oi, remind me ta go look up me cousins fer the 'oliday,s when 'ey come, Commodore, sah." Jock said, jovially, earning an ill-tempered glance from their resident harridan, and a slightly perplexed and rather jaundiced one from Dreyfuss.

They had left Captain Ishmael aboard the ship, with instructions to keep up the boiler pressure and instructions for how to do so. Tim , who had jumped ship in Shanghai just as his airship was about to depart and managed to leap aboard the Elmo, had accompanied them to Silver Cavern, then left with them after a duel with two large pirate airships and an aeronef, now went off in search of the local "airpark bar" to see about posting a letter home. Dreyfuss supected the firefight, and the storm they flew through to get to White Island, had put him off of 'globetrotting' for the present.

"what're you implying, you dirty-sashed lout?" Irene barked at Jock.

"Why, nothin' me li'l passionflower," Jock said, getting a boot in the shin from Irene in response. "OI! That 'urt, Irene," Jock said. He was also laughing a little too hard for it to have been too bad. The two could go on for hours, Jock baiting the veiled young immortal harridan mercilessly and she right back at him, seasoning her responses with blows and horrific insults that would cause someone not in the know to think there was a lethal situation developing.

But, both seemed to enjoy the sparring, and they kept at it out of an apparent liking for the pastime, and in a rather twisted way, one another, so as long as Irene didn't hurt Jock permanently (He doubted either would ever admit it out in the open, but Dreyfuss suspected that there was a sort of bond, dysfunctional and twisted though it might be, developing between the burly, ebullient fireman and Dreyfuss' wasp-waisted, wasp-tempered deathless hairtriggered autopistol of a cousin and ward), he usually did little more than scold them in response.

"OK, you two, pipe down," he said not unkindly, as they were approached by a toppered, official-looking fellow and a uniformed assistant.



->|Book 2|<-

Critiques/comments/suggestions are appreciated!
PM me, or send to
mwbailey@hotmail.com
---=====<[[/{{"<(|)>")}\]]>=====---
« Last Edit: November 27, 2011, 07:41:21 am by MWBailey » Logged
MWBailey
Rogue Ætherlord
*
United States United States


"This is the sort of thing no-one ever believes"

rtafStElmo
« Reply #18 on: September 27, 2011, 05:01:36 am »

Between the Threads
-or-
what came after the Cold One Queen
And Before
The Search for George

-------------------------------------------------------------
Book II
Under the Cobbles






Book II: Under the Cobbles

Chapter 2: An Odd Assignment

"Another foppish idiot," Irene growled as the betoppered youngfellow approached.

"I happen to agree, Irene, but lets keep civil tongues in our heads for now, at least until we find out what the fop wants; he might just be important --" Dreyfuss cut off as the tophat with attached greenhorn diplomatic type stopped a couple of feet away and offered his hand, saying, "Ah, Commodore Dreyfuss and crew, I presume? I am Clapham Foulshire, Aide to the Director. Right this way, if you please."

A horsedrawn landau with the folding top raised drew up alongside the little group as the fellow spoke, and they all climbed aboard, Irene somewhat uncharacteristically allowing the young gentleman to hand he rinto the vehicle. What a name! Let's hope he doesn't get any ideas, or we may have a vacant tophat to deal with, Dreyfuss fumed to himself. He glared at Irene warningly as her hand ghosted to one of her pistols. Whatever he did, Cher cousin, pray let it be 'til after the meeting, he thought. Irene looked up at him suddenly, as if having heard his thoughts. Such might come in handy, Dreyfuss thought, but dismissed the idea immediately. Uncle Caractacus'd have his hide if he found out.

The ride through the (rather few) streets of the island town was like a trip to several corners of teh Orient at once; the nose alone reported the scents of a hundred different cultures. unnumbered stenches and fragrances, aromas and miasmas made themselves apparent, while coliors of saris, kinonos, business suits and robes clothing brown bodies, white bodies or black or yellow, sometimes in succession and sometimes all at once in a nearly overpowering assault on the senses.




->|Book 2|<-

Critiques/comments/suggestions are appreciated!
PM me, or send to
mwbailey@hotmail.com
---=====<[[/{{"<(|)>")}\]]>=====---

« Last Edit: November 27, 2011, 07:38:35 am by MWBailey » Logged
MWBailey
Rogue Ætherlord
*
United States United States


"This is the sort of thing no-one ever believes"

rtafStElmo
« Reply #19 on: November 27, 2011, 07:28:54 am »

Between the Threads
-or-
what came after the Cold One Queen
And Before
The Search for George

-------------------------------------------------------------
Book II
Under the Cobbles

They pulled up before very long at all in front of a wooden edifice that was obviously built to resemble the stone becolumned pile that the Home Office resided in in London -- though very much smaller. They were ushered within, up the central Stairway, and into a second-floor flat resplendent with decor and objects and gadgets typical to a British South Asian diplomat's demesne, right down to the huge waving carpet-tapestry overhead, providing what was supposedly a cooling breeze.

The fop had left them upon entering the building, and they had been conducted to the apartment by a young Sepoy in a satin uniform, who now went to the far end of the room, opened  a door, and spoke to the person within. He stepped out and back, then to the side, and out the room stepped  a familiar figure: Sir Charles Tayle, Head Minister of Her Majesty's Secret Service. "Good show in Shanghai, Sir Jaisen, he addressed Dreyfuss, "and also in that Silver Cavern affair, but I feel I should caution you to be careful whom you ram with your fierce little aerial man o' war; it's not always as simple as sinking the ship that attacks a liaison."

"I was  only doing my duty as I saw fit,  Charles," Dreyfuss said, "and I did follow your advice in sending Irene and Jock as boarding party, much though I would have preferred to go along as well. My boat gun itches for a good battle."

"You might have such an opportunity in the near future, Jaisen," Charles said matter-of-factly. "We have for you what you might at first see as rather an odd little assignment. Tell me, you do know about vampires, do you not?"

Dreyfuss put down the cup of Earl Grey that he had had handed to him, lest his reaction cause him to drop it -- or to use it as a hurled weapon of indignation. "Do I know about vampires?" he said hoarsely, his southern American accent coming out strong and thick, "Come on, now, your intelligence is so very good on everything else, I cannot believe that you, sir, do not know of my history in that area. I had to, with my own hand --!"

"shoot with six rounds of silver your fiancee Miss Morganthe De La Vigo, because she had become a most powerful vampiress and held your younger sisters in a glamour, preparatory to turning them," Charles interrupted in a slightly singsong voice. "Yes, I do know, and I also know several other things." His voice took on a harder edge as he proceeded. "Including your duel with Miss Harper-Chen over Shanghai Harbor, for example. You seem to be awfully free with  your fire-throwing, Jaisen. It gets a bit hard to explain away after several incidents. That fireball you cut loose with in the Aether League airpark will live in dubious fame for many long years, I fear, as an example of an utterly impossible-to-explain incident."

" I also have a bit of news that, to you, may be a bit of a shock, but first, here's a milder one. You remember, of course, that sensational bit of a diplomatic fiasco involving a certain Transylvanian  count a while back? Well, he is certainly utterly destroyed, thank the heavens, but his ... heiress, shall we say ... has relapsed from Dr. Van Helsing's cure, and now leads a an entire coven, hundreds, maybe even thousands strong, in the tunnels, sewers, and other underground complexes beneath London Proper."

"But the war, the Battles of London, and the Cold Ones, surely they wiped out all o' the underground nasties!" Jock exclaimed, "The 'ole city were devastated!"

"Aye, Jock, many were destroyed, and some were our allies --but now they've been joined by Miss Harker's ... offspring ... And those of another, one who has recently arrived from the New World, and yes, Jaisen, we known who Miss Harper-Chen's Sire was," Charles said, before Dreyfuss could blurt it out, "They are one and the same, the Newcomer and the Sire. I am sorry to inform you of this, Jaisen, but the ones you thought you had destroyed in fact survived. Your Morganthe is in London's Underground at this very moment."

"Your assignment, should you accept it, is to
1. locate and ally our government with Miss Harker's coven. Failing that, destroy, with fire, silver, salt and acid the entire coven or as near to it as can be managed without destroying the city.
2. Destroy utterly the new coven being raised by Morganthe -- and her new lieutenant: Miss Harper-Chen."

"That's..." Dreyfuss sighed, seeming to almost, but not quite, sob in grief and grievous foreboding, "gonna take one helluva lot of silver, Charlie."



->|Book 2|<-

Critiques/comments/suggestions are appreciated!
PM me, or send to
mwbailey@hotmail.com
---=====<[[/{{"<(|)>")}\]]>=====---
« Last Edit: November 27, 2011, 07:39:07 am by MWBailey » Logged
MWBailey
Rogue Ætherlord
*
United States United States


"This is the sort of thing no-one ever believes"

rtafStElmo
« Reply #20 on: November 28, 2011, 07:43:17 am »

Between the Threads
-or-
what came after the Cold One Queen
And Before
The Search for George

-------------------------------------------------------------
Book II
Under the Cobbles


Chapter 3: Will we, Nil We


"Not so fast," Charles had said, when Dreyfuss recovered and stood up, proclaiming there was no time like the present to "Hit London like a salvo of artillery" and "Root out Morganthe and her damned minions."

"First, return to your new berth at Tinker's Row, and receive delivery of a special weapon designed and prepared for the St. Elmo by Our mutual friend Ms. Emma Lewistine. After reprovisioning and briefly (and I stress the term briefly) laying over for same, we need for you and your crew, and a picked squad of Service operatives, to go to Grimpen Ward on the Dartmoor Heath, and determine what, if any, connection the recent disturbances there have to events in London; If anything hellish is going on, destroy or at least drive out those responsible. Suspicious activity has also been reported in Land's End, but seems oddly disconnected from these other incidents, or at any rate is not as pressing for investigation.

Charles handed Dreyfuss a thick pasteboard file bound with a gutta percha band, and said, "in there you'll find all pertinent information on the Squad; they are Blacksuits all, I assure you. Their commander is one Leftenant Watson."

An hour later, Dreyfuss, Jock, Irene and Tim had rejoined Captain Ishmael aboard the St. Elmo and departed for Kathmandu; from there they would set forth for Points West and Finally the Dock at Tinker's Row, London. Dreyfuss sat at the command console in the steering room in the bow of the gunboat section of the St. Elmo, staring into the sunset dead ahead as he thought back to the events of his past, in particular the chase and (he had thought at the time) final confrontation with his fomer and undead fiancee Morganthe. It's odd, he thought, looking into the Indian sun, What will come to be, will we, nil we...






->|Book 2|<-

Critiques/comments/suggestions are appreciated!
PM me, or send to
mwbailey@hotmail.com
---=====<[[/{{"<(|)>")}\]]>=====---

« Last Edit: November 28, 2011, 08:00:44 am by MWBailey » Logged
MWBailey
Rogue Ætherlord
*
United States United States


"This is the sort of thing no-one ever believes"

rtafStElmo
« Reply #21 on: November 28, 2011, 05:06:41 pm »

Between the Threads
-or-
what came after the Cold One Queen
And Before
The Search for George

-------------------------------------------------------------
Book II
Under the Cobbles


Chapter 3: Will we, Nil We


The arrival of the St. Elmo at Kathmandu was relatively uneventful. so too was the refueling and the forage trip to the city's market for supplies for the return trip to England, save for a trackside fortune teller at the railway station who took one look at Dreyfuss and Irene standing on the platform waiting for the Special Express to the Aerodrome and airdock, and started prophesying at the top of her lungs that "The Bright Ones will come again, and other "apparent arrant" nonsense, as Irene put it.

Neither saw the slight, furtive form that watched their departure from the cool shadows beside the ticket kiosk, and then bought a ticket for the next Special Express; Nor did they mark the takeoff of a dirty little tramp semirigid ship just after the St. Elmo's Liftoff later that evening. It was not until their execution of a traverse of the Caucasus Mountains (in order to avoid a massive stormfront that spanned the Eastern Mediterranean and Turkey) that they noticed the ship in the moonlit upper air a good distance behind -- but closing fast.

What would have looked like a suspended-ship blimp that had seen better days was revealed as a gunship of the old 'flying frigate' type, the gunports open and guns protruding as sudden lightning from the storm they were skirting threw weird light and shadows over both ships Dreyfuss had climbed through the inside of gunboat and envelope, up to the observation deck atop the ship, and saw through his spyglass that the envelope and rigging of the 'tramp' was swarming with strangely-moving and untethered would-be boarders, waving swords and smallarms. Bloody idiots, he swore to himself, Nobody's Boarded that way in a hundred years or more. He stepped over to the speaking tube rack and blew into the direct tube to the bridge. "Ishmael here," the Captain answered.

"Cap'n Ishmael, we have sword-waving company off starboard stern, about a mile and closing," Dreyfuss said. "I'll give 'em a warnin' shot with the deck gun. if they answer in kind, speed up, turn the broadside to 'em and give'em a good salvo in the face, will you?"

"Aye, Commodore Sir. Awaiting outcome of warning shot." Dreyfuss strode over to the ammo chute, and waited for the round that was coming up; he could hear and feel the munitions lift laboring away. A quiet squeal of metal on metal, and the ammo hatch opened, depositing the twopounder's brass cartridge in the hopper. Dreyfuss picked up the shell and carried it over to the deck gun, levered open the breech, loaded in the round, and shut the breech, and then aimed the gun at the pirate (apparently) vessel , which had gotten a bit closer in the interim, such that Dreyfuss could see the would-be boarderswithout the spyglass, and read the ship's particulars on the stained and patched canvas of her envelope: SS Demeter. He noticed with a start that some of the boarders looked like they were not only not tethered to the envelope of the Demeter, but actually floating above or alongside it! He shuddered and told himself that it was just a trick of the light, and aimed at the enemy ship, and then just ahead of it, cocked the firing mechanism, and fired the gun. The round passed within a hairsbreadth of the nose of the Demeter's envelope, and then blew a chunk out of a rockface far below.





->|Book 2|<-

Critiques/comments/suggestions are appreciated!
PM me, or send to
mwbailey@hotmail.com
---=====<[[/{{"<(|)>")}\]]>=====---

« Last Edit: December 05, 2011, 03:19:47 am by MWBailey » Logged
MWBailey
Rogue Ætherlord
*
United States United States


"This is the sort of thing no-one ever believes"

rtafStElmo
« Reply #22 on: November 29, 2011, 12:24:55 am »

Between the Threads
-or-
what came after the Cold One Queen
And Before
The Search for George

-------------------------------------------------------------
Book II
Under the Cobbles


Chapter 3: Will we, Nil We


The boarders of the Demeter Jeered loudly, egging Dreyfuss on to "make another shot, maybe you'll hit us this time," etc., and several other imprecations in Hindi, several Chinese dialects, and a few too obscure to identify. The pirate vessel rose in altitude and then returned a single shot that WHOOOSHHH'd  past Dreyfuss and over the nose of the St. Elmo's envelope, and struck a cliff on the other side -- and smashed to fragments, obviously a stone ball. "!-- Stone ball?!" Dreyfuss yelled in surprise as Ismael gunned the engines and the twin cetrifugal ducted fans drove the St. Elmo far ahead of the Pirate craft, and then turned to starboard as ordered, and opened up with all seven half-turretted casemates, the automatic guns' staccato reports deafening to hear, even up on the obs deck. The Demeter seemed to vanish for a moment in the midst of a cloud of cordite, flame, and shrapnel.

Dreyfuss yelled in triumph -- but the cry died in his throat as the Demeter pushed ahead and the cloud of debris and smoke cleared away. There was damage to the Demeter, no doubt; gaping holes in hull and envelope, and dismembered bodies littered the craft... and then the bodies began to move, and the Demeter came on again at great speed. There in the bows of teh suspended frigate stood a figure that Dreyfuss was loath to behold: Merovingia Harper-Chen, healed and in new robes, two katanas in her hands, screaming something barely intellible at him as the Demeter advanced: You're DOOMED Commodore! I'm Coming for YOU! Dreyfuss opened up the bridge tube again, and shouted down, "Get Irene and Jock up here in full battle kit, pronto! And make sure Tim's heavily armed and stays in the engine room just in case! We're about to be boarded! He fired teh deck gun again at the oncoming vessel, and scord hits that should have sunk her, but on she came, anyway. He heard teh others pound up teh stairway and out on deck, an he yanked out his saber and the Paterson, adn called out,"Now for it! HAVE AT 'EM!"




->|Book 2|<-

Critiques/comments/suggestions are appreciated!
PM me, or send to
mwbailey@hotmail.com
---=====<[[/{{"<(|)>")}\]]>=====---

« Last Edit: December 05, 2011, 03:28:40 am by MWBailey » Logged
MWBailey
Rogue Ætherlord
*
United States United States


"This is the sort of thing no-one ever believes"

rtafStElmo
« Reply #23 on: December 05, 2011, 04:22:16 am »

Between the Threads
-or-
what came after the Cold One Queen
And Before
The Search for George

-------------------------------------------------------------
Book II
Under the Cobbles


Chapter 3: Will we, Nil We
It was impossible, but the Demeter, blasted apart and her envelope full of holes, her stacks holed and spreading smoke more that shunting it away, her engines spouting steam from a hundred leaks, came on like a courser overtaking a farm cob, though the wind of the St. Elmo's passage nearly ripped Dreyfuss' Peaked cap off as he grabbed one of the boarding grapnels from the rack on the stair house, as did Irene and Jock, and ran pell-mell down the deck and leapt the railing, the reels spinning and shrieking like railway carriage wheels on an incredibly-tight turn in the track.

He began to swing the grapnel in the familiar old way, and as the Demeter hove in close and bullets and other missiles pelted the St. Elmo's aeroarmor around him, he, Irene, and Jock all threw their lines and yanked down hard when they struck. The grapnels dug in hard; they'd have to cut the lines to cast off, but that didn't matter now, as the fiends began to drop from above. Dreyfuss fired the paterson 'til the cylinder was empty; Irene unloaded both of her colts twice, switching the cylinders in a frantic rush, as jock and Dreyfuss covered, Jock with a spanner and his peppermill, and Dreyfuss with saber and occasional blats of whitefire.

The vampires were mostly of a low level; had to be, since the whitefire blasted them back to life and then to pieces, and they died and fell away from simple lead bullets, or when the saber or the spanner took off their heads. Captain Ishmael apparently finally noticed the grapnel telltales, and stopped hauling in the lines. Then Irene's pistols were spent, and there was no time to reload, as a fresh wave of fiends dropped from above -- and for the second time in a month Dreyfuss faced Miss Harper-Chen, she with her two long swords, and Dreyfuss with his saber and newly-reacquired Bowie knife.

Irene and Jock nearly disappeared under a rush of blood-thralls, and Dreyfuss and Merovingia closed. There began a rush of swordplay almost too fast for the eye to follow, as Merovingia spun her swords and fairly danced in her efforts to cut Dreyfuss down. H didn't spare a glance for Irene or Jock; he couldn't, not with Merovingia pressing so hard. he bled from a dozen minor, nearly-inconsequential wounds, and impossibly, Merovingia found the time to lick the blood from one blade while she slashed away at Dreyfuss with the other. Irene screamed in rage, then; Dreyfuss could spare no time to look, but he roared, "KEEP FIGHTIN'! REMEMBER YOU CAN'T DIE!"

"DON'T BLOODY REMIND ME!!" he heard her shout back, her voice a bewildering mixture of rage and almost ecstatic joy.

"Oh? Whats...this? --uh!" Merovingia grunted as Dreyfuss got in a telling hit that nonetheless healed up just in time to keep him from hacking that limb off. "Nice try, Dreyf, you've got quite an arm! Is your little niece already tainted? My, my, you don't protect your women very well, do you?"

"She's my ... cousin, you --bloodsucking ---harridan!" Dreyfuss shot back, "And she's plenty capable of defendin' herself, or hadn't you --NOTICED!" he yelled as he drove the saber halfway to the hilt in the middle of his opponent's chest. Merovingia screamed-- and then spat blood as she pulled herself off of the blade.

"Fool..." she panted, as Dreyfuss callously came for her, saber descending swiftly. "Old, AH! fool," she spat as he nearly took her in the neck, "...can't kill me...yet...I'm already --UH! Oh, you know..."

Dreyfuss' Blade sang as he gave a further cut with the saber, a blow to the head, and for the second time, Merovingia Harper-Chen fell and slid away off of the envelope of the St. Elmo, falling through the clouds below. He murmured almost to himself, "Dead?" He remembered how hard it had been to kill Brian, and how His separated alter ego had finally been the only one who could do it.

With the departure of their leader, the other vampires lost their will to fight; some even fell apart, as if Harper-Chen's fighting spirit, or perhaps her consciousness, were all that kept them whole -- but others stayed together, and swarmed back aboard their impossibly- tattered sip -- which had begun to sink, straining on the three grapnel lines that held her close. "CUT 'EM!" Jock yelled to Irene, who was standing dazed after the sudden cessation of the onslaught. "CUT THE GRAPNEL LINES!"

Jock and Irene's swords severed the connections to the tenacious derelict, and it began to fall, slowly catching more and more aflame as it descended, finally disappearing into the cloud cover below, lighting it from underneath, and then that light slowly fading away below and behind.

"Well, I'll say one thing for you, Unc," Irene said saucily, "life with you and Jock sure isn't boring!"

"I'll take that as a compliment." Dreyfuss was tired, and his stomach rumbled. "Let's go down and see what we can scare up for a late supper, shall we? Then, on to Dartmoor."
« Last Edit: January 26, 2013, 03:42:24 am by MWBailey » Logged
MWBailey
Rogue Ætherlord
*
United States United States


"This is the sort of thing no-one ever believes"

rtafStElmo
« Reply #24 on: December 04, 2013, 05:44:16 am »

I'm planning to continue this work. Within the next few days, to a week, I'll have another installment of the second story to post here. 'Til then, enjoy the previous story and the the other to this point.

I'm also thinking of doing a "steam noir" short story inspired by a semi-popular oldie song, in a new thread, but we'll see...
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