Intermission: Tales from Cliffside – The Skyrail 1

Image: Steampunk Zeppelin
by Kimagu

“Full stop, Beechums!” Captain Tomas Vogel swung his body through the metal doorway, landing his boots on the steel floor with a loud bang. Beechums, the automaton that drove the Skyrail, reached out with his brass arms and hauled backwards on the large lever that controlled their speed. With a shuddering jolt, the engines groaned on the Skyrail’s wings, and the airship slowly stopped it’s forward glide to hover in the air.

Tomas’s first mate, Mrs. Jennings, turned to look him squarely in the eye. She was dressed in an elegant ball-gown, a deep velvet black with leather trim and bodice. Her blood red gloves linked fingers as she turned to face her captain, her mouth firm.

“Is something the matter, sir?” she refrained from smirking–quite uncharacteristic, in Tomas’s estimation. Mrs. Jennings hardly ever missed the opportunity to mock any overt display of emotion, least of all from Tomas. He moved to the windows that surrounded the bridge of the Skyrail, and looked out over the ocean. Off in the distance, a small plume of smoke was rising from the water. He pointed.

“Get your glasses checked, Mrs. Jennings,” Tomas grinned fiendishly. “We have a quarry!”

With a dismissive click of her tongue, Mrs. Jennings pulled lightly on a small crimson ribbon that was tied around her neck, and lifted a small pair of opera glasses from her bodice to her eyes. With a click, a small series of lenses snapped outwards, focusing on the distant smoke. After a moment, Mrs. Jennings dropped the glasses onto her dress, and shook her head.

“It’s German,” she said, resolutely, as though that settled the matter. “We should move on.”

“Phah!” Tomas spat, thumping the window with his fist. “The day we run from a German ship is the day I turn in my hat! Come about, Beechums, and head North! We’ve got a ship to catch!” And he was out the door and running through the hallways of the Skyrail before Mrs. Jennings could protest.

The Skyrail had been an old steam-engine–one of the first, by Gillingsworth’s estimation–before it had been modified by Gillingsworth’s genius, Dorathy’s sweat, and King Wilhelm’s kindly donated money. Now Tomas and his five crew lived quite happily in the airship, taking what they could from those who had too much, and giving it to those who had too little–namely themselves. Leaping down the hallway, Tomas could almost taste the gunpowder in the air again as he headed for the crew-quarters.

With a leap, he grabbed onto one of the metal supports that provided the bones of the Skyrail and landed both feet firmly on the door. The door burst open with a bang, causing his four crewmen to leap to their feet, cards and empty bottles scattering over the room.

“We have a target!” he yelled, grinning like a madman. He dashed across the room towards the large hat rack that dominated one corner. “A fat merchant vessel, too. It’s headed straight for Cliffside. We’ll be dining on caviar and wine tonight!”


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