Steampunk Family

Flight to Saigon

February 27, 2010
This entry is part of a series, Voyage to Antafrica»

Only the Schöneluft had the fuel stores and engine power for a run from the Himalyas across southeast Asia to the French capital of Vietnam. She could fly nearly 80 miles an hour under the right conditions, but those conditions had not been met in years. The more children they acquired, the more comforts the von Hedwigs had deemed desirable, and the slower the great airship had become.

With their children’s lives at stake, the von Hedwig parents took no chances. An hour’s work here, in the shadow of the mountain that had swallowed their offspring, could save them hours in flight. Ulrik was securing the Schmetterling inside the tunnel’s mouth to keep it safe from storm and avalanche in their absence. Herr von Hedwig plotted their course to Saigon, and Madame was in the Galley, negotiating with Chef.

They spoke in French, a language Madame spoke fluently, although despite rumors she had carefully started, it was not her native tongue.

“Monsieur, we leave within the hour, and the galley stays here. We need sufficient food supplies for two days brought into the ship in the next twenty minutes. And coffee. Lots of coffee.”

“But no, Madame, no! To leave my kitchen in the wild snow-torn mountains? No, no! It is inconceivable! I have such a pudding curing! Who will keep the fire? The cheeses will freeze.”

“Bring the cheeses. Damn the pudding. There are no children to serve it to.” Madame’s mouth was a thin line. She threw open a cupboard and began pulling baskets and picnic hampers from it.

Chef intercepted her between the cupboard and the cheese safe. “No, Madame! This is your ship, but it is my kitchen. This barbaric action must stop!”

Herr von Hedwig entered the galley a few minutes later to check on preparations there. Madame was filling basket after basket with essentials, working like a whirlwind. Chef was pale as a ghost, with a bright, thin line of red blooming on the skin of his neck. Chef kept his knives very sharp.

“Here, old chap,” Herr von Hedwig murmured, “let’s get a poultice on that little cut you’ve got.”

Chef raised a shaking finger at Madame, but said nothing, shaking his head. He took a handkerchief from his apron pocket and tied it around his neck.

“If you will pack the coffee service, Herr von Hedwig, I will attend to the meat.”

Twenty-three hours later, they were anchored above the administrative headquarters of the Armée Aeronautique of the Republic of France. Madame had sent one of her messenger pigeons ahead as soon as they were in range, so the Commander was waiting to receive them, despite the lateness of the hour. Because he was French, the frantic parents had to endure the compliments of the evening, congratulations on the speed of their flight, and a glass of excellent sherry before they could bring the fellow to speak to their immediate need.

“I regret, Monsieur and Madame, that after your remarkable time from Tibet to Saigon, that you are five hours too late. Capitaine, pardon moi, Madame Charette has resigned her commission. I have no idea as to her current location. I should be delighted, if I had it, to give you her address, as I am aware that you have rendered assistance to the Republic in the past. My duty is to France, and you, Monsieur and Madame, have ever been friends to France, more than that ungrateful devil woman. She has left her quarters, and shall not return.”

Madame von Hedwig looked at her husband, raising an eyebrow. He nodded, scooped up the Commander’s empty glass and strolled over to the sherry.

“Do excuse me, Commander,” Madame said, rising as well. “The events of the last days have been most distressing.”

The Commander bowed as she left the room. As she closed the door behind her she heard her husband offering him a cigar. Satisfied that her beloved would extract the necessary gossip from the Frenchman, she pursued her own inquiries.



This story began with On Grandmothers. The previous episode is The Search is On and the next is On the Streets of Saigon.
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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