Steampunk Family

Fire!

July 30, 2011
This entry is part of a series, Voyage to Antafrica»

Schöneluft Log, 1900.07.05

Ulrik Manfred Adler, acting Captain

I aimed back at him and fired. A sizzling orange ball of lightening fell in front of him, distracting him. His arrow flew wild and the lightening ball darted after it. I rolled into the passageway, grabbing Chef by the ankle and pulling him down. The arrow exploded. Flaming shrapnel splintered the wood paneling above us. I felt a burning in my left leg.

I stuck my head out the hatch to survey the damage. The envelope was ripped in half a dozen places, and still they were coming. And so was more lightening.

The next ball was a pale yellow, difficult to see. Something touchied my leg; I kicked out.

“Mon Dieu! Hold still, mon brave bête, you are bleeding!”

“You had better repair the envelope and leave me alone!” I rolled back to firing position, but stopped kicking while he bandaged my leg.

I had lost sight of the pale yellow lightening ball, but the Mongols gave me plenty to worry about. The next was upon us, two more following in the same draft. We were still moving up, which worked to my advantage. The riders’ Wings block them from shooting above their heads. As soon as I squeezed the trigger, an explosion rocked the ship. I killed him, but he had already loosed a deadly load.

Aiming for the next rider, I could not check for the damage done, but heard a string of Gallic curses behind me. The Galley, then. I took my shot; missed. Reload, aim again. A loud fzzap! I miss. A sizzling red ball hovered by the Generator, nearly a foot across and spitting sparks. I know it’s only electricity, but it had a baleful look, and I could not help but think it was considering its options.

I heard a rattling and banging off to my right. I should never have taken my eyes off the lightening ball, but curiosity ruled me and I looked. Through the cloudy mica windows I saw Chef tearing down the narrow stairs into the flaming galley. I think I screamed at him to stop, to come back, that I would jettison the galley whether he was on it or not, but he could not hear me, did not stop. There was a glow from the galley windows but no flame visible yet. I could afford him a minute or two, but I could not let the fire spread to the rest of the ship. I would have to jettison the galley.

I searched the sky for the red lightening ball. Gone! It might have dissipated, fallen to earth, or plunged into the envelope, heading for a gas ball or the engines to destroy us.

Two Wings soared below, searching for the draft that would bring them up to attack us again. Just east of me, the Khan’s airship launched a dozen Wings, then another dozen. I could hear my own heart, and feel the pulse of it throb in my wounded leg. I was panicking, and fought for self-control. The Khan’s ship rose up, pursuing the Schöneluft. The War Wings were both fighting troops and living ballast.

I fumbled for my monocular to look more closely at the enemy airship. The War Wing apparatus were suspended from underneath the wooden deck. They could be retrieved for the next rider using a simple pulley system. A handful of men bustled on the fighting platform around a central structure. I couldn’t tell what they were up to.

I looked down at the flock of War Wings circling, searching for a current to bring them up to kill us. Vultures, I thought. Hawks and eagles hunt alone; these are vultures. I looked back to the Galley, dread in my heart. Chef saved my life not an hour earlier. Could I bring myself to cut the Galley loose? To send him plunging to his death?

.

Photo by Fir0002 (Own work) [GFDL 1.2 (www.gnu.org/licenses/old-licenses/fdl-1.2.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

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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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