Serial Saturday: Nightmare Engine of Doom Part 2 – Mistakes Are Made

It wasn’t difficult to spot Enzo’s would-be assassin as he stood at the doorway of the lounge, steam hissing from the exhaust chambers of his personal harness recoiless harpoon launcher. There was a great deal of shouting from other patrons as they rushed for cover and the man in the doorway groped behind him where several more harpoons were strapped to his back.

Enzo, for all his braggadocio, did prove to be very quick, darting behind me in a flash even as he drew a pistol. He was also quite strong, I found, as one of his arms encircled my waist like a band of iron.

“Stop squirming,” he said, trying to draw a bead while peering past me.

“That harpoon will go right through both of us, you fool!” I shouted as I struggled to draw my own pistol and the harpooner worked a new missile into his launcher.

“Damn,” Enzo muttered. He evidently saw the futility of using me as a shield, however, releasing his hold so that we could scatter.

The harpooner hesitated for a crucial moment, shifting his aim between Enzo and me. We both fired, Enzo with the muffled crackle and strange smell of a radium weapon, me with the loud clank of my Rigby-Slozburn kinetic storage clockwork pistol. The harpooner fell, blood blooming from one portion of his chest even as another section blackened and fizzed.

“Got him!” Enzo said triumphantly, ignoring the fact that I’d got him as well. He glanced around, taking in the other patrons of the lounge, who were mainly crouched under tables or behind chairs. “Perhaps we’d best leave,” he said. We scooped up our suitcases and made for the door, Enzo reaching up to grab an abandoned glass of something and tossing it back as we walked. Enzo’s would-be assassin lay in the doorway, his steam harpoon hissing gently from its exhaust port.

“Do you know who that is?” I asked as we stepped over the corpse.

“Never seen him,” Enzo said after a glance. Uniformed security personnel were hustling past as we walked into the large central terminal, most likely drawn by fleeing lounge patrons, since the various projectiles and weapons hadn’t made a great deal of noise. “I have a lot of enemies, though, as I said,” Enzo continued as we made our way briskly across the bustling terminal. “Likely some disgruntled husband.”

“With a harpoon?” I asked. “Have you been wooing whaler’s wives? It seems more likely that it had something to do with our current job.”

Enzo shrugged. “Perhaps if you’d fired to wound we could have asked him,” he said.

“You shot him, too,” I said in exasperation. “You were just bragging about it.”

“You’re very argumentative, aren’t you?” Enzo said, leading the way through the large main doors to the airfield. “There it is, the Spirit of Omaha.” He gestured toward one of the dirigibles bobbing gently at its mooring lines near the ground on the field.

We handed our bags to a busy cluster of porters, and Enzo flourished a pair of tickets at the man at the base of the retractable stairs. We were nearly the last ones to board, and the well-appointed gondola was close to full, but we were able to find an empty booth. A steward appeared almost immediately.

“Gin and tonic,” Enzo said before the man could open his mouth. For a moment, I considered suggesting that he lay off the alcohol for a bit, but I thought better of it.

“Same for me,” I said. The steward nodded and moved off. For a time, Enzo busied himself making a little nest out of his bench, shifting cushions, then producing a small pillow from somewhere and moving it to and fro until it was adjusted to his liking.

“Can’t be too comfortable,” he said at last, as the engines of the dirigible rose in pitch and it began to gently rise. “It’s better than forty hours to Saskatoon. Saskatoon.”

“Pardon, sir, did you say Saskatoon?” asked the steward, reappearing and setting our drinks on the table between us.

“Yes I did,” Enzo replied. “Saskatoon.”

“But this airship isn’t going to Saskatoon,” the steward said. “This is the Spirit of Omaha, bound for Topeka, Kansas.”

Both Enzo and I stared at the man for a moment, before Enzo broke the silence.

“Why the hell would anyone want to go to Topeka?” he demanded.

“I’m sure I don’t know,” the steward replied, but if you wanted to go to Saskatoon you should have boarded the Spirit of Ontario. There she is, just rising now.” He gestured out the window toward another dirigible just getting under way.

“Well, it’s all these damn spirits of things,” Enzo muttered. “Don’t know how I’m supposed to keep-”

The Spirit of Ontario suddenly exploded in a ball of flame.


Copyright © 2011 SM Williams

~ by smwilliams on October 15, 2011.