Andrew Girle's Blog

Crime and Speculative Fiction Blooking

Setting the scene for some coal fired noir…

Posted by Andrew Girle on December 2, 2009

After a week or so of scribbling (yWRITER5 is quite useful for helping to organise my thoughts, it is easy to get diverted into world-building with it!) here is the opening scene.

The first rays of the morning sun speared through the dawn msits, barely clipping the rocky peaks of the band of foothills and casting their shadows to the western horizon.

Grasping the narrow wooden rail of the fighting deck, Fletcher stared at the nearest gap in the range, still a dark pool of shadow despite the gathering light. He spared no attention to the glory of the new day, and only the twitch of the corner of his eye betrayed the fact that he had heard the gentle cough from the man who had walked quietly up behind him.

“If it pleases, all banks are fully charged and the superstructure is fully grounded.” The speaker wore the braid of a First Officer on his imperial blue jacket. A ray of sunshine struck the gold of the braid complementing his fiery red beard. A betting man might consider an origin from north of the border.

Fletcher twisted his face a little towards him, yet still kept his eyes fixed on the pass.

“Very well Macdonell. Cast off, and make way as planned. We have just over an hour before they are due to reach the plains.”

“Aye sir.” A hint of a burr on the r’s would add to the suspicion of Scottish heritage. He leaned over the rail and called “Cast off the heater tube! Unfix the cables, and stow the tethers!”

Thirty feet below on the ground, the engineers and firemen together grasped the heavy mouth of the heater tube that funnelled superheated air from the firebox up to the hot air cavity of the dirigible, and lifted it off the flu. A well practised heave lifted the cast iron base of the the oiled canvas tube up and free, followed by a hearty “Heater tube safe!” as it was shoved onto the sward. There was a sharp scramble as the ‘black crew’ of grease monkeys, stokers and engineers hastened to get away from where the upper end of the broad canvas tube might fall. It was not unheard of for mischievous midshipmen to try and drop it on one of them, and serious scalds would be the likely result.

Simultaneously, heavy electrical cables were unhooked and thrown to the ground, as was the main tether. The lighter guiding tether, permanently attached to the gondola, had been brought in the instant the dawn breezes had subsided. The ground crew began the hard labour of coiling all the cables by hand into carts, while the engineers damped the fires under the boilers and let the steam turbines begin their slow winding down. It would be a slow journey back to town and good ale.

Freed of its earthly concerns, the privateer Rogues Redemption began the slow climb towards the hills.


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