Steampunk Family
This entry is part of a series, Voyage to Antafrica»

Steampunk twins on a mission

The twins saw it, too.  Gerhardt had promised to make them crossbows as well, if they would obtain marshmallows for him.

“Why don’t you get them yourself?” asked Mirabelle.

“I don’t think Chef likes me.”

Chef hates all us children,” answered Annabelle.  “That’s why any sensible person would sneak into the Galley and nick what they wanted while he’s napping.  He always naps after lunch.”

“But that’s stealing,” Gerhardt said.

“It’s not!” protested Annabelle.  “It’s our food.”

“We’ll go, Faintheart, we’re not bothered!” Mirabelle laughed.

As the girls flounced down the passage toward the galley stair, Gerhardt hit her on the back with a wad of paper shot with his new bow.  She didn’t feel it, but he nodded in satisfaction, nevertheless.

So Mirabelle and Annabelle were creeping quietly down the Galley stair, which was really more of a ladder, when they saw it.  The Galley stair was enclosed only in leather and isinglass, so it could be detached from the main ship in case of fire.  It was a short, cold trip, but the girls had learned from experience to tread softly as they entered Chef’s domain.  The isinglass made the white and grey world outside blur, but the twins were most observant, and likely to notice movement in any landscape.

They froze, figuratively, on the narrow stair, and peered into the snow below.

“Is it a man?” asked Mirabelle, just as Annabelle said, “Is it a bear?”

They watched it, whatever it was, glide over the snow-covered scree as though the rubble were a ballroom floor, until they could no longer see it.

“Did it go somewhere, or just disappear?” Annabelle whispered.

“I couldn’t tell.  It was hard to keep in my eye, even though I knew it was there,” her twin responded.  “If I did know it was there.”

“Finish the mission, then we’ll investigate.”

The girls had been sneaking in and out of the kitchen since infancy, not only for snacks and laboratory supplies, but to harass their enemy, the Chef.  Their animosity had been growing for years, its origin lost to time.   When they were younger, the twins mounted most of their assaults from the dumb waiter, but now they could only fit in one at a time.

Spying Chef asleep by the stove, the girls made their way across the galley ceiling, hanging from the pot and pan hooks.  Although this method was a bit rattley, as Annabelle often observed, “no one ever looks up”, so even if Chef woke they had a good chance of getting away.  It was harder than usual to keep quiet, because the airship was moored.  When under way the movement of the ship kept the pans rattling on their own, giving the children excellent cover, but now all was still, with shifts in the wind moving the ship to and fro, and causing sudden bouts of pan rattling.  Conditions were difficult, but the twins loved a challenge.

The larder, instead of being a separate room (as Chef insisted it would be in a kitchen “civilizes”), was floor to ceiling wooden shelves fitted with wire mesh doors to keep food from flying out during turbulence.  Mirabelle, in the lead, reached out for the hook that would bring her closest to the marshmallow tin, but it was not there!

Momentum carried her back, and she swung into Annabelle, who had a tenuous grip on a small copper saucepan.  The pan flew off the hook, and Annabelle flew with it.  She flipped in mid-air and landed on her feet, not 3 feet from Chef, who woke with a shout, his hand on his heart.  Annabelle whipped the saucepan behind her back and curtsied.  Mirabelle dropped to the ground, silent as a cat.

This story began with On Grandmothers.  The last episode was In Search of Ancient Angiosperms and the next is The Sorrows of Chef.

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Entries in this series:
  1. On Grandmothers
  2. With A Bang!
  3. In Search of Ancient Angiosperms
  4. Assault on the Galley
  5. The Sorrows of Chef
  6. Faeries, Helpful Siblings, and other Mythological Creatures
  7. Meanwhile, Back in the Lab
  8. A Day of Discovery
  9. The Children’s Hypothesis
  10. A Research Date
  11. Aboard the Schmetterling
  12. The Cave
  13. The Cage
  14. Knee of the Yeti
  15. Kidnapped!
  16. A Clue
  17. The Yeti and the Comb
  18. Fighting the Count
  19. Fighting the Yeti
  20. Falling
  21. Breadcrumbs
  22. The Search is On
  23. Flight to Saigon
  24. On the Streets of Saigon
  25. The Sad Man
  26. At the Grandiere Club Aeronautique
  27. If you Give a Count a Cookie
  28. Out of Cookies
  29. Stuck!
  30. Airships Float?
  31. Where is Claire?
  32. Drowning
  33. Into the Drink!
  34. Boat!
  35. Mushroom Trip
  36. Ambush
  37. The Variegated Strangler
  38. In a Strange Land
  39. Hand over Hand
  40. The Last of the Gouda
  41. An Unusual Breakfast
  42. Downstream
  43. What's for Dinner?
  44. Axe and Fire
  45. Meanwhile, Back at the Airship
  46. Over the Gobi
  47. Return of the Grandmothers
  48. Warning from Huang
  49. Anxious Hours
  50. Ulrik Prepares
  51. Destruction by Dawn
  52. Finding Philomena
  53. No Luck in Pekin
  54. The Children Rescue...Something
  55. Corndog Liberation
  56. The Fate of Corndogs
  57. Have you Tea?
  58. Antafrican Hosptitality
  59. Onion Porridge
  60. Homesick
  61. On the Hunt
  62. Farm Living
  63. Singing for Supper
  64. You Say Potato...
  65. Curiosity is the Foundation of Discovery
  66. An Awkward Position
  67. Trouble Comes Riding
  68. Capsicum Capture
  69. To the Palace
  70. The Death of the Lincoln
  71. War Wings
  72. A Long Way Down
  73. Enter the Lightning
  74. Before the Queen
  75. You are a Tomato!
  76. A Sunken Ship
  77. Eglantine Aubergine
  78. Children of the Soil
  79. At Night in the Nightshade Court
  80. At Night in the Nightshade Court
  81. At Night in the Nightshade Court
  82. The Price of Popcorn
  83. Ulrik and Chef
  84. Fire!
  85. Claire's Bluff
  86. Tomato Queen and Aubergine
  87. It's Going to Blow!
  88. Rhodri in the Gardens
  89. The Servant's Fountain
  90. History Revealed
  91. Fight at the Fountain
  92. Repercussions
  93. Father Discovers the Yeti
  94. Aboard the Lucy Stone
  95. Summoned
  96. The Queen's Accusation
  97. The Queen's Rage
  98. The Khan
  99. The Last War Wing
  100. Eglantine Departs
  101. Thumping Rhodri
  102. Bad News from the Boys
  103. Where's the Count?
  104. In Search of the Count
  105. Spying on the Queen
  106. Confronting the Count
  107. Orphaned?
  108. Orphaned?
  109. Montesanto's Experiments
  110. Montesanto's Experiments
  111. The Queen's Tantrum
  112. Bettina's Tantrum
  113. The Flaming Queen
  114. Uprising!
  115. Uprising!
  116. Escape
  117. On the Run
  118. The Mysterious Coach
  119. Red Racer!
  120. Revolution Reset
  121. By the Acid Sea
  122. Farewell Antafrica
  123. Home Again!
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