Hello again. Here is chapter 3 of the Addy and PD collaborated Steam Punk story.
Chapter one is here
And Chapter two is here
So lets do this thing!
The Kingless port, cloudy, dark, and an often wet town, is situated at the bottom of the Dragon Mountains. It is also one of the many homes to the Unruled. Volcanic vents are harnessed, their energy pushing the large wheels and cogs that power this seaside town. It is a place of industry, as large machines controlled by the smiths forge weapons, tools, and anything else the Unruled would need. Factory chimneys lead to the sky, filling it with white steam and black smoke. And people rush about, working hard.
If you’re looking for work, you wouldn’t be looking long. Every smith and factory needs able bodied men and women to do jobs a machine can’t. But if you are well educated and have a great imagination you wouldn’t even need to look. You make your own work.
Inventors, mechanics, architects, and scientists call this place home. Many of the people work on new inventions and modifications both to their equipment and to themselves. To see a man with steam powered appendages or driving horseless carriages is not uncommon. The mountains provide steel and the vents, power.
The airship flew gracefully onto its landing platform, a hastily constructed surface of rustic sheet metal and flaking paint. Robes were thrown to a boy below who would earn a bronze rook, and the anchor fell, hitting the floor like a gong.
“Okay, one more time,” the captain said, grinning from ear to ear.
“One hundred and fifty thousand gold kings.” The gunman answered, carrying the heavy sack on his shoulder.
“One hundred and fifty! Fuck me royally, Peri, we could live like bloody kings!”
“Not to mention giving the Ruled the first middle finger since Cyanide’s death!” They were both interrupted as Musket pointed to an oriental woman with two metal arms and two swords strapped to her back. “We’ve got trouble, Captain.”
“Well, well, the great airship captain finally graces me with his big ugly face,” the odd-looking woman called out as she reached them.
“And good afternoon to you, too, Miss Schnee.” The captain gave her a mock bow: “And what do I owe the pleasure?”
Schnee is part of the shadier sides of a shady town. A loan shark/blade for hire, she doesn’t care who she hurts as long as she gets what she wants. Her two metal arms where either blown off in a steam engine accident or, as rumour has it, she cut them off herself when she grew tired of the limitations of a human hand. Now she wields a short sword in each hand and can spin them faster than rotors. It’s often told how she can block bullets and shred a man to pieces.
The captain went to her when he needed coin to build his ship.
“You know fine well. You owe me quite a bit of money for the construction of your flying monstrosity; shall I take your new toy for myself?”
“Take the stick out of your arse, Schnee. I have your money here.” He handed a small bag of kings.
Schnee studied the contents, looking through a few coins and biting others. After weighing one coin in one hand and the bag in the other she seemed satisfied. She never did smile unless she got her money.
“Well, I heard the rumours that you were planning a little heist, I just didn’t think you could pull it off. Especially after the last one.”
Peri looked at his feet and mumbled how it was a successful heist.
“But knowing your style,” Schnee continued, “I doubt it was quiet-like; violence will only take you so far, Captain.”
“You know what they say, Schnee: ‘If violence doesn’t solve your problems then you aren’t using enough,” Musket announced, fingering a pistol.
Schnee laughed at that. “Even still. You’ve drawn attention to us. None of us have done anything this stupid since our grandfathers tunnelled out the walls of Cyanide’s Keep. You weren’t followed?”
As prosperous as the Kingless town was it was like many Unruled homes: a secret kept from the Ruled. Otherwise fleets of ships would have wiped them out years ago. The Unruled may have had the advanced technology but the Ruled had numbers and weren’t afraid to expend them.
“No one can track a flying ship. We were too fast and we sailed above the cloud barrier. That, and this town has come a long way. We can defend it easily,” said Musket.
The town’s breakwater had long been fitted with automated sonic cannons linked to volcanic vents deep below the water. The town walls are also equipped with repeater cross bows and cannons. Any ship unmarked with the town’s brand would be blasted before reaching the dock. So long as they have power it is near impregnable.
This makes the sky the only weakness, but that wouldn’t be the case now.
“Fine, but keep your head down. You may have a flying ship, but you’re not invincible.” With that she left them.
The captain stared after her as she left, lost in thought as she walked away.
“This is why you don’t have a girl, Capt’n,” a small voice chirped.
Shaking the captain out of his trance he rounded on the perpetrator. “Damn it Bombs, were have you been?” Bomber looked up, as innocent as ever and with fresh paint on her face. “Don’t change the subject. You can’t get a woman because you always look at the crazy ones like her.”
“What, are you my mother? Don’t you lot have some celebrating to do or something!”
On the back of the breakwater three large cogs spin, each one powering a sonic cannon. These cogs are also pushed by heat and steam, except they are powered by sub-oceanic vents.
One man checks the pipes connecting the vents to cogs. He suits up in a whale skin dry suit, fitted with lead weights and a metal air tank. A brass helmet is fitted over his head and a torch is clipped onto his helmet and arm.
When he is as comfortable as he could be, he jumps into the ice cold waters and sinks slowly to the bottom.
The first danger comes at thirty feet, where he might experience narcosis, a condition where the water pressure and nitrogen in your body gives you a drunken state. Once, the diver became anxious and panicked, nearly swimming to the surface too quickly. Another time, he sat at the bottom laughing. He knows how to avoid it now and he is always cautious.
When his boots touch the bottom silt it billows out, clouding his vision. When it passes he starts his journey to the first pipe. Breathing deeply, he maintains peripheral awareness of his air gauges. It’s dark down here. Only a little light breaks through, and visibility is poor.
The first pipe is intact. Slightly rusted but without leaks, and he enjoys its warmth before moving on.
The second is leaking hot air bubbles; an easy fix soon remedies that. He takes out a welder and seals the breach before moving on.
Last one; he is getting tired now and by the time he reaches it he can hear something: sonar. Whales once lived here but they left when they realised their brethren were being hunted. He marches on, mindful of his depleting air supply.
He hears ticking, and stomping.
He stops and breaths, its narcosis, nothing is down here but fishes and dust. “Just breath,” he thinks to himself.
What little natural light was above him is extinguished as a shadow passes over him. He looks up and sees it! Cogs spinning and joints bubbling, it was faster than lightning. It grabbed him by the air tank. Flailing around he tried to break free, but it was useless.
The metal tank hissed as it began leaking, and then it blew open. The diver watched helplessly as his air supply rushed out of his tank and made for the surface. His helmet filled with water and the cogged giant released its victim, letting him sink to the floor before turning its attention to the pipes.