A second chapter will be going up this Sunday; I need a little bit more time for edits. If the chapter is not done to a degree I consider satisfactory, I will just post those scenes ready for public consumption. In the future, my schedule will be as follows: an analytic/theoretical post on Tuesdays and a creative content post between Thursday and Sunday. This will either be a short story or as much of a chapter as I can muster. Given that I write 6+ articles for varying websites every week, I don’t know how long I can churn out creative content, so wish me luck!
In the meantime, here is the first scene from Chapter 2 of book 1 of The Steam Wars; view the updated Prologue and Chapter 1 on The Steam Wars page.
Martin stamped his feet impatiently, blowing into his hands for warmth. The fog covered everything, sapping heat and morale alike, and while he stood ankle-deep in snow and slush, the gray sky promised more. Years spent training to operate an airship, even more rising up in the army, and here he was posted to guard duty in the middle of the bloody night in this blasted village in the middle of nowhere.
Not that he could have a real complaint about serving under Price. Price knew his men and asked only what he thought he could get, even if he always knew how to get exactly as much as he needed. On the other hand, the captain was always granted the worst assignments, and this was just one of many. Martin pulled out a brass pocketwatch and scrubbed frost from it. 1620. Time slowed to a crawl in this weather. He’d be better off measuring the time in shivers, rather than minutes. “Hey, Niklas, when’s our shift up?”
“Blast!” Another 40 and he’d be back in the ship. At least it was boring work. There was a time when he would have cursed that, but after the Border Wars – cannonfire and explosions and metal screaming all around him – he’d had enough excitement for one lifetime. Standing in the snow for an hour? Now there was a job. They were on short shifts, whether it was for sanity, morale, or just to keep the men warmed up. All they had to do was keep the ship theirs and running. The most exciting thing to happen today had been the dinner. That’s how a day should be, quiet and uneventful. Martin pulled his jacket tighter around him and huddled to the makeshift fire. And that’s when he heard the screaming.
“Fall back, men!” Price shouted out over the explosions and gunfire around him. “Fall back, to the Vigilante!” He fired at movement in the fog, slowly backing away.
He dropped around a corner and propped his torch up in the snow while he reloaded his pistol. The torches had seemed a good idea this close to the Mountains; fog cut your vision to five feet. The Kathari Mountains hadn’t exactly been an enviable post, but he certainly hadn’t expected this. He still hadn’t gotten a good sight on whatever was attacking them – bloody fog.
A round of gunfire rang out, ten shots, maybe more, all in a row. He didn’t want to think about how many of them that meant there were. It couldn’t be more than 40 feet to the ship…now is as good a time as any… He stepped around the corner, torch in one hand and sword in the other, and found himself surrounded. Blades flashed all around him and he struggled just to keep them at bay, unable to draw his gun. Whenever he did cut one down, another moved to fill his place, and he soon found himself bleeding from a dozen minor cuts. What a way to die, alone in this filthy snow.
And then Hawk, screaming charged past him screaming, her sword raised. She slipped in between them all, sword flashing. Her sword simply found itself in the right place time after time as she slipped from form to form. Nïssë, and a sword dropped soundlessly into the snow. Parco, a sword slipped past her along her own blade and her dagger punched neatly into a jugular. Uvwë, her dagger pulled back in time to force a blade around her. Price took advantage of the distraction, pulling out his gun and shooting into the fog. Then he leaped into the melee, torch in one hand and sword in another. He cut them down from behind, and when they turned to meet them, Hawk was behind them. A moment later, they were surrounded by bodies. Hawk, as calmly as though at a training session, moved to Thro, saluting, and Na, wiping and sheathing her sword in one casual movement. Price leaned over, gasping for breath, retching into the snow. A moment later, he stood up. The clanking was growing louder; there was no time to waste.
“Nice to see you, Hawk. Good timing.”
“Thank you, sir.”
“Although before the last possible moment would be appreciated next time. Looks like I owe you again, though. Now let’s get the ship out of here before it’s too late.”
They turned and ran, stopping only once they were back in the ship. He pulled down the transaurical in the entrance chamber. “This is Captain Price speaking. Take off, now. There is no time for the others, and Agrion must be warned. All free hands report to fire duty.”
The ships engines groaned as they came to life, compressed steam in the bitter cold. Slowly, the heavy ship rose into the air.
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