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

Eight hours later, the captain and passengers of the Lucy Stone were out of the dark at last, working in the muted, violet-tinged sunlight. They were clearing a tangle of vines that blocked their passage from the cave mouth. The Captain wielded a machete, Herr von Hedwig  mangled his sword cane, and Madame, rather more efficient than her companions, attacked with her trusty pruners.

“I’m beginning to envy that yeti,” Herr von Hedwig grumbled. “A sedative dart sounds better and better. Have we slept, at all, recently?”

“I don’t know,” his wife answered. “I can make more coffee if you’d like.”

“I’ll have one of your tasty espressos, Hera,” Captain Charette said, “just as soon as we’re flying. Then von Hedwig can have a nap while we get the lay of the land.”

Herr von Hedwig slashed through a thick vine, then grimaced as he inspected his sword blade. “I’m not as young as I once was.”

“What of it?” Hera said. “As enthralled as I was with you in youth, I find I love you even better now. Youth isn’t everything.”

“Perhaps. But with one ton of angry muscle, claw, and tooth inches behind you, youth has much to recommend it.”

“If we can focus over here just a bit,” Charette interrupted, “I think we’ll be clear.”

Shortly they were, and Herr von Hedwig forgot his nap in the discovery of a new land. The Lucy Stone rose gingerly, her envelope scraped by branches. Captain Charette took her up slowly above the trees. At last they floated above the canopy, between the trees and swirling purple clouds. They mountain range they’d emerged from curved in an arc to the southwest, crowned in its center by a smoking volcano. Most of the mountains were covered in trees, and the ship floated above a sea of dark green.

Herr von Hedwig consulted their compass and log.

“I believe we’ve come out somewhere in the south Pacific,” he said. “Not so far south as Australia, not so far east as Hawai’i. Wonder how big it is? Has anyone been here before?”

“Is anyone here now?” Eve said. “There’s no sign of life – no smoke.”

“Well,” Madame answered, “no industry, perhaps. We’re so used to columns of coal smoke – there may be a pre-industrial society.”

“We won’t see much through these trees,” Phineas said.

“We should skirt these mountains,” the Captain said, “and look for the river your children followed.”

She steered her ship along the curve of the hill, Hera studying the flora beneath, Phineas scanning the landscape but also peering at the sky above. The found the river within the hour, and, finding no children camped at the cave mouth, began following it. The violet sky darkened to purple.

“We won’t see them in the dark,” Hera worried.

“My love, we won’t have to. They will see us.”

“And hear us, I imagine,” Eve said. “Even though it’s gotten dark, there are still no signs of fire – no light, no smoke. This land is uninhabited.”

“Good,” Hera said. “If only there are no large predators, then the children should be fine. The lush vegetation should provide them with food, the river with water. Since there are no hostile natives, they have nothing to fear.”

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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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