I sit on the bow of the bright colourful boat and listen to the sounds of the bright and lively city, I flip a silver coin to the boats man who catches it and nods his thanks, I pull on my pack and jump onto a passing pier, I open my coin pouch, I’m down to my last five silvers I needed some work, new work, not from my old trade. I walk up onto the street and am instantly engulfed by the bustling crowd of people.
I sit at an open air café and sip from the hot chokolait, made the way it always has been in south America entirely melted chocolate seasoned with chilli. The bustling crowd of people parts as a steam wagon passes through, the pipes and main valve are leaking steam, and I’m guessing one of the pressurised seals has deteriated to a point where it has almost completely disintegrated. I put the drink down and walk over to the man walking in front of the wagon he appears to be a successful merchant, his clothes are worth more then most people would make over a couple of months.
“Hello sir?” I ask walking up to him, he gives a start at the sight of my Flick fighter fatigues, he regains his composure almost immediately, but to someone who makes a living and stays alive by reading people it was painfully obvious.
“Yes soldier?” he asks polite and better then me, so he thinks.
“The pressure seal on the side of your wagon has broken, the steam will erode all the finer components further inside and will cause you problems and huge expenses later, or you could pay me a few copper and I could fix the problem now.” I can see him begin to protest and know exactly what he’s thinking “watch me the whole time if you want to make sure I won’t steal anything but to be honest the whole thing wouldn’t be worth more then twenty silvers, really not worth the effort to steal a component or two.” He looks out raged but then the whole machine gives a belch of steam nearly searing a handful of gawkers.
“Ok you’re on, come to my stall and buy any of the parts you need on the way, I’ll reimburse you” I nod and he starts walking, the wagon following at the tug of a rope.
I fit the seal onto the pipe after removing the remains of the old one and screw the piping back on. I wipe the grease off my hands on a rag and stand up.
“The seal cost me five coppers and it took me half an hour to fix” he nods and hands me thirty five silvers, a steam mech charges 50 copper an hour he paid me double the seal I guess. I give him a nod and a smile.
“Back at my homestead the main boiler and some of the cotton harvesters are giving us grief, it’s a two hours walk from here, about two five hour days work, we’ll supply you a bed and meals.” It was a good offer and I could make five or six silver, enough to get some new mech tools and maybe start over as a steam Technician, I was over fighting, to flick fight you must be slightly talented, flick fighters “flick” by shifting out of this dimension for a second or two to avoid damage or obstacles or to get an upper hand on an enemy, they fight with daggers and short swords in pairs or one of either. But I didn’t want that any more, I was sick of the bloodshed, I wanted out so I’d run from my squad and headed south, I needed new clothes desperately before someone told the crew in town that the dancing shadows had been seen in town without asking first, I head to the closest clothier and buy a grey linen shirt, woollen trousers and some leather gloves and boots almost making me broke, I head back to the merchants stall.
“Yes the new clothes where a good idea, though the hair gives you away as a flicker or a steam tech” I raise an eyebrow at the merchant, Flick fighters and Steam techs spike their hair viscously. “Good point I guess” he mumbles and starts the boiler in the wagon, after a few minutes it has gathered enough pressure to start moving.
“Jump in the back and sleep if you want” he suggested “You look like you havn’t slept well for awhile.” I nod thanks and jump in the back, for an old hunk of junk the machine had been tended pretty well except for the lack of new parts so it moves along the cobbled road smoothly enough for me to sleep in the back.
I awake in the back of the creaking steam wagon and the first thing I realise is we have stopped moving, the sky has gone dark and I can smell fire and roasting rabbit, my stomach taking lead and making me stand and walk to the small blaze.
“Hello my young talented friend” the Merchant says greeting me.
“Hey there, can I have some of that?” I ask pointing at the rabbit he nods and hands me a plate after cutting a hunk of meat off the spit and onto it, I rip into it with gusto, he chuckles approvingly and approaches his the same.
“So what’s your’ name young renegade?” he asks, it doesn’t surprise me that he knows I’ve run away from my past.
“Levi Stephenson, and you?” I ask offering a greasy hand, he offers his own greasy mit and shakes, good firm shake.
“Leo Fisher, merchant in fine cloth and woodworks.” He says with an extravagant flourish,
“Those two do not usually go together do they?” I ask
“No I was a carpenter before I took on merchanteering so I’ve always stuck close to my roots.” I nod and lean against a tree trunk.
“So how does a flick fighter get to be so gifted with steam machines” he asks, trying to keep the conversation going.
“Someone had to learn how to service the man carriers and wagons, but if it runs on steam I can fix it just about.”
“Are you a good fighter?” he asks, that is a deeply personal question.
“Aye, what of you, ever carried a sword?” I ask, hoping to strike a blow at his dignity.
“Aye, fencing champion for the last seven years.” He starts looking around the clearing, I know just what for, he finds what he is looking for under a tree, two sticks. He walks over and throws me the smaller one, good man.
He backs off, his pose suggests formal training, a huge minus but the way he stands and holds the stick I’m guessing some street fighting background, this will be interesting.
He backs off and starts to circle, I cut the crap and flick behind him and jab him once in the kidney, he falters and stumbles.
“OK” he throws of his jacket and adopts a jungle fighter stance, this keeps getting more and more interesting.
“There’s more then carpentry in your background isn’t there?” I ask, he nods and smiles like a tiger. I flick behind him and faster then should be possible he slashes the stick at me, I flick again just avoiding the blow and slash an his side, he brings his stick up and parries the attack, I feint to his right then stab for his stomach. I just nick him but at the same time I feel a tremendous impact in my left arm, the whole arm goes dead, he hit me. He grins again.
“Come on kitten you can do better then that.” I snarl and flick in and out slashing and stabbing not standing still, this is called flick storming, my stick comes down into his stomach, then into the back of his knees and finally pointing the sword and his throat while he kneels.
“Well the kitten has claws then, come on we have to get back to the stead soon.”
a steam punk story, inspired by my little brothers obsession for robots