Episode 13( 1 Comment! )

Scribed by: CB Ash in A Children's Tale

Hunter coughed then brushed at the cloud of dust that assailed his eyes. He staggered over broken stones and shards of wood, his mind clouded from the blast that had ripped the front of the building away. Blood teased the edge of his vision from a pair of cuts that traced grooves above his right eyebrow. Dirt smudged his clothes. Rough gravel peppered his hair. A light, cold wind tossed the torn remains of the colored cloth squares about him then lifted them up toward the heavens. 


There was no reply. Hunter tripped on a loose board and fell heavily into the dirt. With a grunt, he struggled to rise then felt a strong pair of hands grip his arm and help him to his feet. 

“Good show, William.”

“Not William,” Utawah replied firmly. 

The captain blinked, the grit finally free from his vision, and turned in surprise. 

“Your man is there.” Utawah pointed to where two of the Yeti slowly struggled with a heavy timber. Beneath it lay William, motionless with his eyes closed and limbs caught in a strange angle. A third waited to ease the young man from beneath the debris once it was safe to do so. It was plain to see that William had thrown himself at Utawah to knock the elder aside before the roof caved in on top of where the elder had been sitting. Hunter started to rush forward but Utawah stopped him.

“My people will tend him. Quickly, tell me, did you mean your words?”

Hunter scowled. Every instinct in him said to see to his crew, his responsibility. The captain’s anger flashed hot and bright in his eyes when he shot a glare back at Utawah. “Quite!”

The chieftain pressed a sharpened bone dagger into the captain’s hand. “Then do not squander the gift your man has given you.” 

A pause of a single heartbeat passed before the hint of a grin spread across Hunter’s face. He grasped the knife firmly. “Indeed. Lead on then.”

The two men raced from the ruined building to the chaos outside. Smoke poured out of holes in the roof numerous buildings. Other buildings were little more than burnt shells where the rooftops had collapsed in on themselves from the dynamite that had been dropped on them. Bodies lay strewn across the ground with smoke trailing from their backs. A lump caught in the captain’s throat, he tried to swallow it down but he found he could not.

“Utawah… your people…”

Suddenly, a pair of steambats buzzed overhead like a pair of angry bees. High pressure jets of salt water guided arcs of electricity across the ground. Villagers screamed, either in pain or anger at the fliers above while they scrambled for whatever cover was nearby. Those that could not find any jerked and screamed when the electricity struck and threw them feet from where they had been.

Perhaps it was a light spray of water, or the crack of electricity. Without thinking, Hunter shoved Utawah to the right and then dove to the left. A scant second later, a bolt of lightning cracked against the broken timbers, then ground where the men had stood. Wood soaked from the salt water, then dried instantly with a blackened burn mark left behind. Electricity grounded itself all around in the nearest objects from rocks, stones and people. Two of the Yeti were thrown ten feet from where they stood. Utawah jerked from only a touch of the blast, Hunter was lifted into the air and slammed down against the stones in a fit of electrical induced convulsions.

Hunter sat up slowly. His entire body shook violently from suffering his portion of the electrical blast. Blackened skin and a line of reddish-veined burn streaks ran down his right arm where the sleeve had burned away from the attack. Pain shot through nerves and his head ached with the residual effect of the small, but powerful, jolt of lightning. The captain took a long, slow, ragged breath in an attempt to regain control over his own body. Utawah – who had fared slightly better as he had been knocked out of path of the attack – slowly got to his feet. The elder shook his head to clear the cobwebs from them before he looked over to Hunter. 

“Are you well?”

His shakes subsiding, Hunter looked at the burnt and tattered glove that had covered his clockwork right hand. Bits of static still jumped between the fingers while he experimentally flexed it. Gears turned, miniature pistons flexed while his fingers moved a bit sluggishly. They had a willingness to adhere magnetically to each other. He took another slow experimental breath while his heart pounded hard in his chest, then winced while he looked at the unusual burn marks along his right arm.

“A few hard burns and a magnetized hand. Well, its not as if I fell from the back of a lightning drake at twenty feet off the ground.” Convinced he and his hand were still none the worse for wear, he looked around, then up at the retreating steambat. “A dagger won’t do. We’ll need range.”

Utawah offered a hand-up to the captain and shouted a command in his own language. Quickly a young Yeti warrior, perhaps no older than his late teens, raced off towards a smaller building that was no larger than perhaps a tool shed. Moments later the boy returned with a bundle. It was nearly as long as the young warrior, with bits of wood exposed at one end and wrapped entirely in a handwoven, woolen blanket. He dropped it on the ground and unwrapped it. Inside were several unstrung bows, quivers full of arrows and some leather bags beneath.

The elder chieftain knelt and lifted a bow and quiver of arrows. “This, if they are close enough. They have learned to stay away from our arrows … mostly. Sometimes we find a way to reach them. That is rare now.” 

“Then we’ll find a way to bring them closer.”

Hunter had knelt to select his own bow when he saw a familiar tube of metal protruding from one of the small leather bags. Moving the bow aside, he opened the bag to find his gunbelt and pistol inside. Alongside that lay Moira’s pistols, O’Fallon’s knives, and other weapons of the crew. Hunter freed his weapon and belt from the bag and automatically checked the pistol to see if it was still loaded. Another Yeti warrior approached. Hunter recognized the man from the bruise still visible on the man’s face. It was the warrior he had fought in the woods. The captain tensed, however the Yeti merely looked at Hunter with a level, emotionless gaze and spoke a short comment in his own dialect. The captain looked to Utawah with a questioning look.

“He wishes you a good hunt.” The elder smiled and fastened the quiver around his waist. 

Hunter looked back to the Yeti warrior and strapped on his gunbelt. “You as well, sir. Give them the proper hell.” He turned back to the chieftain, “What of my crew? They’ll need to defend themselves and could lend a hand chasing off these bloody blaggarts as well.”

“It will be done.” Utawah issued a rapid string of commands Hunter had no hope of following. The young Yeti nodded repeatedly, grabbed up the bundle and raced off for the building Moira and the rest were kept.

The warrior, the captain and the elder looked around. Smoke rose from burned buildings. Here and there, the braver members of the village stepped from the shelter of ruined homes. Some cried at the destruction, others stared in stony silence while the wounded were led towards the shelter of the natural rock overhang. Another few searched the bodies on the ground for friends and loved ones. Above all, the steambats were not to be seen.

Hunter shaded his eyes against the afternoon light. “Now, where have the blighters gotten to?”

Abruptly, the two steambats broke into view overhead and began another strafing run at the village. Utawah, watching the angle of flight, turned to look at the arcing rock formation just behind them. He pointed and spoke to the warrior next to him. Immediately, the two men raced for the rocks and began to climb. Hunter did not understand what they said but understood the sentiment. Bows and arrows are not useful if the target remained out of range. One needed elevation to shorten the distance as best as possible. However, if the steambats pulled from their dive, the effort would be wasted.

The captain smiled while he finished his thought aloud. “Then the pirates need a reason not to change their attack.”

Hunter planted his feet, out in the open and plain view. It was a fool’s errand unless Hunter could distract the pilots and move fast enough to avoid the hungry tendrils of lightning. He drew his pistol with a deep breath and aimed. Twenty feet ahead of the captain, twin electrical bursts from the aircraft licked the ground, eating dirt in two blackened grooves. Hunter stood his ground, aimed and squeezed two shots, then raced for the safety of a ruined stone wall nearby.

The moment he reached the wall and threw himself over the side, the loud crackle of lightning stopped and the steambat banked overhead. Steam vented from holes in its side near the vehicle’s boiler. In the cockpit, the pilot struggled with the controls despite the gout of steam that threatened to obscure his view. With a wild turn, the steambat broke off its attack, veered far right and climbed for the safety of the clouds and higher altitude. The very moment the steam-powered aircraft soared over the rocks, arrows rained down in a deadly shower. More holes opened in the skin of the steambat that now turned and jerked even harder to escape.

Suddenly, a boom sounded once, then twice. Hunter jumped and spun to see Moira lower her pistols and swear violently as her bullets missed the second steambat. Despite its narrow escape, the second steambat flier banked left, then soared overhead without having fired at the village. The pilot shook his fist at Moira who snarled in return and spit in the man’s direction. Arrows suddenly peppered the aircraft, driving the pilot to climb to a higher, safer, altitude away from village, bullets and arrows.

Hunter grinned and reloaded. “Good show. Overdue to give back what we’ve been suffering.”

Utawah knelt on the rocks above them and grunted his disgust at the retreating flyers. “They stay away from our weapons and attack from far away. Today they’ve learned we can still touch them. Perhaps they leave us now.”

Hunter slid his pistol into its holster and flexed his clockwork hand again, still suspicious it was damaged. Sparks of static continued to dance over the brass knuckles and exposed gears. “While I’d like to hope as much, I suspect otherwise. We dealt them a hard sting but nothing more. They’ll return at some point.”

“Cap’n!” Moira shouted and pointed at a shape above the tree line.

There, where the clouds were parted in a rough ‘V’ shape, a large airship slowly descended. It was long, easily twice as long as the Griffin, at possibly over one hundred and sixty feet or more. The vessel was held aloft by a large, tight gas bag and a trio of large propellers at its stern, or rear, of the ship. Hunter knew the configuration, as it was more commonly seen among military vessels. Two pair of steambats flew in escort around the larger ship like an airborne quartet of bodyguards. While they watched, one longskiff then another was launched from the massive airship. Both were loaded with personnel. 

“Utawah, it seems we are about to receive some unwanted guests. We must be quick if we’re to prepare a proper welcome.”

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This entry was posted on Sunday, May 3rd, 2009 at 11:30 pm and is filed under A Children's Tale. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

One comment

CB Ash

A little commentary here …

Languages, dialect and accents are always such a challenge. For me if I’m wanting to give flavor of an exotic location background, dialect and accents are where I start. But… if its imaginary? Well the challenge turns to making something believable.

Often I lean on real world languages as my inspiration. Its a help to study not just how a sentence in another language aside from my own is made but how it sounds. This sometimes leads to some insight into where one dialect or another came about.

May 9th, 2009 at 5:02 pm

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