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

Father, meanwhile, discovered the yeti. He was navigating a small but promising volcanic tube, the fifth tunnel they tried to follow the children.  The Lucy Stone’s spotlights grazed over a boulder, catching his eye in the otherwise smooth tunnel. He was surprised when the boulder stretched, unfolding into a sinewy seven foot hairy man-shaped creature. It roared at the challenging airship, beating its chest.

The roar woke the ladies, who had been attempting (in the Captain’s case) or pretending (in Madame’s case) to nap. They joined Phineas at the fore window as he deftly back the airship away from the angry yeti.

“Isn’t it wonderful?” he demanded. “Dash it! Why don’t I have my photographic equipment with me? What a remarkable find.”

Captain Charette rubbed sleep from her eyes. “We still in that tunnel?”

“Yes. It hasn’t gotten any smaller, so I’m hopeful.” He answered without taking his eyes from the yeti, a manic smile on his face. “Do you know, I think it might be a hominid?”

“Hominid or not, it’s blocking our way to the children,” Hera said.

“We can’t push past it,” Captain Charette said. “Not if it attacks. It would take it a while to get to us, but those claws look like they could shred my envelope.”

It paced the cave floor, growling and challenging the Lucy Stone, which hovered seventy yards back from it in the narrow volcanic tube. They were running out of options. The other tunnels had petered out, too small for their ship to pass through. The tunnel they followed to find this one dropped sharply down and headed too far west. If tunnel number five did not put them back on the trail, they would have to abandon ship and follow the river in a boat of their own. And between them and the passage was the yeti.

The Captain loaded a short-barreled shotgun and offered her service revolver to the frowning von Hedwigs.

“Who’s the better shot?”

“There must be another way,” Madame insisted. “In fact, I brought a few things with me that might be useful, formulations of my own.”

She had, in fact, some three dozen vials of medicines, stimulants, sedatives, and poisons, wonders of the plant kingdom concentrated by her own hand to do the most good, or the most harm.

“What I don’t have is a dart gun to deliver the sedative I want. In my distress I forgot to pack it. Either it’s still with Ulrik or it was on the children’s ship.”

“Do you have a syringe, my love?” Herr von Hedwig asked.

“Yes. I keep several in the pharmacopeia.”

“Then I will see what help I can provide,” he said. “Captain, if you might take the wheel.”

The wild and distressed creature paced the tunnel in front of them, roaring and snarling its terrible fierce face.

Captain Charette watched it, clutching her shotgun. “I wish I had room to turn her around,” she said. “That thing would be a darn sight less likely to charge my propellers.” A sudden noise, or rather the sudden lack of one spun her away from the window and towards her passengers.

“Hey! von Hedwig, what are you doing with my gyroscopic regulator?”
“I’ll put it back in a moment,” he said, “just as soon as our furry friend is asleep. I needed a belt drive and it was the smallest.”

He tested the stretch of the purloined belt, pulling it against the ends of a large ornamental coat hook he had torn off the Captain’s elegantly lacquered cabin wall. Charette stood speechless, yeti forgotten.

“Dash it, von Hedwig!” She managed at last. “Is this why they call you the Fearless Fabricator? You’re certainly not afraid to tear apart my ship!”

“There’s plenty of lacquer in Japan, dear Captain, but only one yeti that we know of.” He smiled. “And there’s a slight chance this will work. I took a few ball bearings out of your gyroscopic compass, as well.”

Madame dropped the ball bearings into a large syringe, then dropped a loaded, smaller syringe into it. “Ready, darling.”

“Excellent!” Herr von Hedwig took the modified syringe from her in exchange for a kiss, opened the hatch, and leaped onto the cave floor. The yeti roared in fury.

“Was that… was that a slingshot?”

“Yes,” Madame beamed. “In theory, the ball bearings, being heavier than the syringe, will depress the plunger and deliver the sedative. Isn’t he clever?”

“He’s mad.”

“Well, really!” Madame pushed past the Captain to watch through the fore window. “All sorts of interesting people are called that.”

The yeti’s scream filled the cavern and shook the little ship. It attacked, rushing von Hedwig, who waited until the monster was fifteen feet away, and let loose the slingshot’s load. He did not wait to see what effect, if any, his mad, makeshift weapon had on the creature. He made his shot, dropped the slingshot, and sprinted up the tunnel the way they had come. The yeti did not even break stride, but charged after him, roaring and snarling.

“There,” said Madame. “That might have worked. If you don’t mind terribly, I’ll borrow that shotgun of yours, and see if he needs any help.”

Captain Charette stared for the briefest of moments, and handed over her gun. Madame took it and jumped from the ship, running after her husband and the furious yeti. The Captain inspected the chipped lacquer wall and what remained of the gyroscopic regulator.  Then she laughed, laughed until tears slid down her apple cheeks, took up her revolver and followed.

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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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