Steampunk Wenesday

    Groundwork has been lain and the major players introduced. Time for action.


[5]


    "People if I could have a moment of your time please!" Calm voice from a member of the ship's crew addressing the crowd of passengers. "Roughly twenty minutes ago we recieved a distress signal from the frieghter Quark's Treasure. We are the closest ship avalible and they are carrying medical supplies from Aztlan to Siberia. We apologize for the inconviniance but you are all asked to proceed to your quarters in a calm and orderly fashion and remain there until directed otherwise."
    This caused a wave of adgitation amongst the crowd. Weren't htere any better equipped ships in the area? What about ground transport to the nearest airship? How dare they ruin a vaccation that had been planned for years! Voices of outrage and confusion littered here and there by people leaving as asked, but these calm souls were the minority in an increasingly hostile crowd.
    A single defening boom reverberated throughout the room. It could have been a shotgun. It could have been any number of things that would be equelly bad to fire on-ship, much less into a crowd. There was no noise as all eyes turned to the sound's source and saw a man in crisp white with gold trim of the ship's livry. He bore no rank or decorations but held himself like someone accustomed to being listened to and obayed. He also held an absurdely large bore double barrled weapon in his hands.
    "Children! Bickering squabbling children, all of you! Do I have your attention now?" He calmly broke open the breech of the weapon, removing the spent shells and replaced them before flipping it closed. "This ship is going to do everything its crew can to render aid. If anyone has a problem with that they are welcome to leave immidiately."
    Several people moved forward before the man continued. "Those wishing to leave will do so immidiately through the rear cargo hatch without a parachute." Once what was said had a chance to sink in those people that had moved forward now moved as far back as the density of the crowd allowed. "My man here was polite. I will not be. Get to your cabins now or be thrown off my ship. You have five minutes."
    The room was emptied in three. The man exhaled sharply before calling for a ship-wide sweep before making grounding lines ready.





    "Still nothing." Julian's voice was touched with hints of static and worry when it came throug hthe earpeace Jack wore. "All I'm getting are ghosts and echoes."
    Jack adjusted how the earpiece rested before touching a silvered stud to turn his headset's microphone on. "What about their last message. Anything there that might make you think radio trouble?" Jack paced as far as the wire trailing between his headset and it's resting cradle by his chair on the bridge allowed. It was just him, a pair of navigators going over weather maps and the on duty piolt.
    There was a lengthy pause then, "No hint or trace of trouble. Checks regular as clockwork until an hour ago then nothing. Maybell and Sheraden Also getting nothing so it's not just us."
    "Weather related?" This to the two navigators. Something tugged at the edge of Jack's mind. The only answer he got was one of the men looking up at him and shaking his head. That's all the answer he needed to have that thin edge of worry move from the outer edges of possibility to the forefront of worry.
    Even so he took the headset off to check the weather charts himself. Then he re-checked with Julian. He'd even had the message logs read back to him before he allowed himself to act.
    Finally he unplugged the headset and plugged it into another hole, connecting it to the officer's lounge. The sudden connection tripped a bell ther that rang until a handset, similar to a telephone's, was picked up. "Deets speaking."
    "Deets," Jack kept his voice level, no sense in worrying his crew more than they might get without adding his unease. "Without making a show of it get to the weapons cache. We've gotten nothing but static for the past hour and if we're flying into trouble I want my men ready."
    "Aye sir."
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