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

“Net yeti,” said Bettina.

“Yes, dear, it was a nice yeti,” Mirabelle said.

“Net yeti,” Bettina repeated pointing up.

Gerhardt looked up. In the dim light he saw the dark square of the open trapdoor, through which he had ascended many hours, or possibly days ago.

“The balloon net,” he said. “She means the balloon net.”

Annabelle squealed, grabbed her sister and tossed her in the air. Bettina giggled and Annabelle laughed with her. Adolphus was already adapting Gerhardt’s harness for use up top.

“I’ll go up and see about attaching balloons to the edge of the net,” he said, “it should only take a few. If we can lower it alongside the door we may be able to shove the yeti in.” He clambered up to the roof, calling down, “We still may not have time to save him, but the net’s more like to save us than these dashed harnesses.” This was a generous admission for him to make, as the harnesses had been his idea.

Wrangling the balloons from under the net to over the net turned out to be more than one twelve-year-old boy could handle, and they were soon all on the roof of the little ship that had borne them so far from home.

Forming a human chain, with Adolphus holding onto Mirabelle and Annabelle holding on to Gerhardt, they untied a balloon, dragged it and pushed it and otherwise flailed all over the sloping, wet roof to get it to the edge of the net. Then they tied it off there, grabbed the net and pulled it under and around the balloon.

Bettina stayed below, keeping an eye on the yeti. The ship bobbed in the water, shuddered and jerked as her siblings worked above, and lurched whenever Gerhardt succeeded in freeing another balloon. He and the twins had attempted a rough calculation to determine how many balloons it would take to lift all of them and float them above the level of the river but below the ceiling of the cave, but since they had no idea what the yeti weighed it was just a guess.

They tied the balloons evenly around the net, placing the second balloon opposite the first and the third between the first two. The launch was wedged along the wall of the cave, and they had worked on the driest sides first, where the spray wasn’t so bad. Now they were working on the fourth balloon, right over the door where the river met the side of the ship full on, and the cold water assaulted Gerhardt and Mirabelle in waves.

She was draped over the balloon using all of her weight to force it down so that her brother could tie it to the edge of the net. They heard the bump just before they felt it. The ship jumped against the cave wall with a hideous scraping sound and Gerhardt flew from Annabelle’s grasp, disappearing over the edge to the yawning black and rushing river. Annabelle screamed, and was left holding his shoe.



This story began with On Grandmothers. The previous episode is Drowning and the next is Boat!
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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