Steampunk Wenesday

Continuing from last time.

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Sky Pirates of the CSA

[2]


"Think of every conveniance, comfort, and advantage of our world. Now take all of it away except for what can be scraped together from centuries old debris or traded for every spring when prospectors and 'historians'," Edward loaded the word with as much contempt and loathing as he could possibly manage without feeling too theatrical, "come each summer." He was somewhat in a bind in that he had to hide his true origins from his audiance, so he came up wit hthe most reasonable excuse he could think of for not knowing basic social graces and the odd bit of obscure knowledge tucked here and there. Growing up in the ruins of one of the older cities that had only, compaired to other places, recently been charted by salvagers and the like.

"We lived in a mostly intact place that was probably mostly supported by the overgrowth more than the original structure. "It was hard. Medical care that were hard to find if not impossible if any of us got hurt. Hard winters with nowhere to turn for aid except eachother. Plus," His voice dropped to an almost conspiritorial tone while he motioned for everyone to lean close. "People would sometimes just dissapear. Out one morning to do laundry, go hunting, or just walk. Poof!" He spread both hands as he spread his arms to put motion to the sound effect. "Gone Missing. Could be because of a building collapse. Rival groups. Predators... or just gone." He grinned evilly at the look of horror on the faces of his audiance. "Some folk get found if they're really lucky. Sometimes it's just pieces that get found."

He leaned back in his chair, huge arms folded over an equelly huge chest. "In the end it was just me and my parents in our group and when the two legged vultures packed up for the season we left with 'em."

An older man, the ship's radio man by the lightning bolt crossed airship pin on the left breast of his uniform, shook his head. "Things up north must be real bad. I grew up a half day's walk from one of the old places. Kids would used to make little play houses and forts at the edges." There was a look in his eyes that didn't match his easy tone. "Dangerous if you went in deep enough, but not this here-today gone-tomorrow business you speak of."

"Indeed. Around the coast was where all the bad business of the War focused." Edward's tone was grim, and he seemed to be at ease in the role of storyteller. "Even without boogymen from the past many of the streets that aren't grown over collapsed into the old sewer systems to leave canals in thier place." This raised eyebrows from several others, including the radio-man. "I'm sure you've all seen your share of the Old Places. You," He pointed to the ship's engineer. "Didn't you brag that this ballon's frame and envelope were scavanged?"

The engineer in question looked halfway between angry and puzzled. "The word you're looking for is Airship lad." He pulled a plane dark wood pipe from his mouth and snorted. "They couldn't make 'em like this back then. Well I guess they couldda but they always seemed to like those great metal birds better." He snorted indignintly, "Might get you there faster, but you'd be shoved in tight as sardines and we can't make the fuel to run 'em anymore even if we wanted. Which I don't. Uncomfortable death traps that'd fall outta the sky at the least problem."

Edward quirked an eyebrow.

"Half a day to get 'round the world. Ha! Can't manage that anymore, but could they manage to enjoy themselves on the way where they were headed? Did they eve nstop to enjoy the view?" He clamped his pipe between now gritted teeth and snorted. "Too many people in too big a hurry."

"Amen that." Edward smiled. If only they knew.

The navigator, a short man built almost like a stick-figure, made a short clicking sound with his mouth. "What of your," He seemed to search for the right words for a moment, "unusual color and stature?"

"Who can say?" Edward met the small man's stare briefly before turning his attention to the rest of the group. "God? Allah? Quirks of nature? Poisons leaking from cracked and crumbly vaults? My parents were small like yourself." He motioned to the navigator, "I started small then just kept growin' Been kindof useful in keeping people from trying to mug a lone stranger late on the road." It also brought men and genome alike that wanted to prove how tough they were by trying to beat the life out of him, but he decided not to mention that.

For a time there was little noise outside of those directly related to eating. After the dishes were taken music was piped in to play backdrop to a night-long poker game. Edward lost, so did the navigator and radio man. The ship's captain, a strange fellow everyone called Jack, cleaned house. Thankfully for the losers the stakes had been low and it was all in good natured fun anyhow.
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