Steampunk Family


December 25, 2009
This entry is part of a series, Voyage to Antafrica»

Claire, Adolphus, Gerhardt, and the twins were watching through the launch windows as Ulrik and the Chief patched up the injured crewman. They saw Bettina walk around the ship to the door, and heard the door open. A rank animal smell assaulted them.

“Good Lord, Bettina,” Adolphus exclaimed, “did you roll in something?”

He turned to see his sister frantically biting the glove of a strange man, hooded in a furry parka. Behind him loomed what could only be a yeti.

“Do not move or speak, vonHedwig children! It would be extremely unpleasant for me to have to strangle your baby sister, and feed her to my servant,” said the strange man. “Yes,” he cried, shaking off his hood, “I know who you are, for I am Count Montesanto!”

“Who?” asked Claire.

“Montesanto! The famous botanist!”

Claire looked at Adolphus, who shrugged.

“Surely your parents have mentioned me! I am famous! Your mother believes she can rival my genius, but of course she is only a woman, and I cannot consider her a true rival.”

Gerhardt advanced, crossbow in hand. “Unhand my sister!”

“No. I need your vessel. You, boy!” He wagged his chin at Adolphus. You will fly this junk heap up, where that strapping young man and his pets cannot reach us. Now.”

Gerhardt fired, and a marshmallow bounced off Montesanto’s forehead. The botanist shook Bettina like a rag doll. “Annoy me again, and the little girl gets it!” he growled.

Claire met Adophus’ eyes and nodded her head slightly. He glared at Montesanto, then made his way to the controls.

“Let me off!” Gerhardt protested. “I’m not riding with hi-“ He was cut off as the twins grabbed him.

“No noise, little ones! We are off!” Montesanto handed Bettina to the Yeti, speaking a short phrase in a harsh language unknown to the vonHedwigs. Adolphus found a cluster of engine controls, and fired up the most important looking ones with a riotous cacophony.

Claire watched to see that the creature did not hurt her sister, then turned to the window as Ulrik and the boiler crew looked up with varying expressions of surprise and annoyance. She heard the intruder fastening the launch door, and risked signaling to Ulrik. Quickly, she breathed on the glass, and wrote KIDNAP in the condensation. Ulrik ran towards the launch, but he was too late.

Montesanto stood by Adolphus, forcing lift-off.

Claire turned on him. “You can’t leave those men down there to die!”

“Not my problem. Besides, it is only one freakishly haired man, and a bunch of mon-”

Claire cut him off by opening the window, and firing commands at her siblings.

“Blankets, rugs, anything! Out the window!” Gerhardt and the twins complied (for how often is one encouraged to throw things out of a moving airship?) but Claire kept her eyes locked with their captor. She had acted without thinking of Bettina, but now she was afraid for her sister.

“You have our ship, and us as helpers, and hostages,” she said, struggling to keep her voice steady, “you can spare a few blankets to keep those fellows alive.”

Montesanto narrowed his eyes and looked grim, but suddenly smiled. “I am no killer! You may carry out your pathetic little rescue mission.” He turned to the front window and pointed the way to Adolphus.

“Thank you,” Claire said. “Now please have the yeti release my sister. We are quite in your power, you know.”

“Ha! If you are anything like your parents, you will require more watching than that! And you, young lady, can think quick, as you have shown.”

Nevertheless, he spoke again to the creature, and it put Bettina down. She came away with a handful of its fur in one hand, but bore no grudge. She patted the creature’s knee.

“Poor Bear-man.”

“Now you children will congregate at the back, back there-”

“Aft, you terrafirmer,” muttered Adolphus. “And my servant will keep you there while this impertinent boy flies for me this inelegant vessel.”


This story began with On Grandmothers. The previous episode is Knee of the Yeti and the next is A Clue.
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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