IWAKU: Steampunk Millionaires

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  1. IWAKU: Steampunk Millionaires

    Voyage to the Lost City of Moonwings

    Iwaku City - a place for the desperate, the privileged and the cutthroat. A place where people insult you unprovoked, invite you to collaborate, dare you to speculate. A place for fools who think they've seen things, for bitches and snitches who long to be adored. A place where you have to know the right people, get the inside joke, play the system and pull the puppet strings. A place where you can rise and fall on the knife-edge of a single comment. A melting pot. A rat race. A scrabbling mountain of personalities and prejudice.

    A place where a man called Asmo can exercise his reputation...

    No one could recall where this reputation came from. It was known he was once a ruthless politician, and that much was official knowledge; but the other stories were as unofficial as they were preposterous. They said he could kill a man with a single witty comment. That he could recite the dictionary in under 30 hours. That he excreted pheremones that made you more intelligent if you stood near him.

    Publically Asmo himself neither denied nor condoned these rumours, but worked in secret with every fibre of his being to embellish and disseminate them. Most of the money earned from his archaeological expeditions was used to pay agents in every corner of the land to uphold his mythology. Convicts on death row were told that Asmo had put them there. Teachers were given lesson plans written (allegedly) by his own hand. Ghostwriters sent satirical letters to newspapers and graffitti artists signed their defacements with his name. Private collectors and prodigal artists would call him mentor, in return for a handsome fee.

    It was an easy way for up-and-comers to make money, and an easy way for Asmo to seed his infamy.

    And why did he do all this? For the simple reason that he feared the world would be a darker place if everyone stopped talking about him. It was his way of keeping control of an uncontrollable world.

    Standing on the deck of the HMS Firefox, an aerial/aquatic paddle steamer, with his fiery red beard freshly clipped, the Captain made an impressive sight. Dock workers scurried beneath him, rolling crates and steam assemblies into the cargo hold and whispering various comments about how Asmo had killed so-and-so's grandmother or infilitrated the palace in such-and-such a suit or rewritten the constitution with this-and-that law and various tripe that the commonfolk are wont to gush.

    "YOU THERE!"

    One of the dockhands dropped a crate and shielded himself with both arms, yelping as the Captain extended a finger at him from the foredeck above.


    The dockhand glanced at the crate he had dropped, marked 'SHOES', and trembled as a bead of sweat dripped from his nose. "Er..."


    The dockhand glanced at the cargo hold, then at his fellow workers. "Er..."


    "YES SIR!" the dockhand screamed back, before dragging the crate to the edge of the cliff on which the skyport was built. The boy was certain that his internal organs had been ruptured by the Captain's words, but it was better to die doing your job right.

    And up on the deck, Captain Asmo straightened and lit his pipe, satisfied that he had done his part in curtailing the indulgences of his special passenger for another day. Another crate of shoes consigned to oblivion - another space freed up in the cargo hold for food and fuel. Some would call him a monster, but history would remember... oh yes, it would remember...

    He checked his pocket watch - an antique piece set to Republican Time (a timezone he had invented during his brief period as Prime Minister, which was as brief as the time it takes for two guards to drag you out of a room). It was almost noon, the deadline he had given on the flood of posters, chinese-whispers, sealed invitations, radio commercials and adverts he had sent forth into Iwaku City in the days before his arrival. Throughout the morning about fifty or so volunteers had arrived to seek a place on his crew, while about twenty times that number had come to the viewing platforms around the skyport to stare at him. It was quite the public spectacle - some had even brought picnic tables and binoculars.

    Asmo had waved to them, of course, tracing an arcane symbol in the air which he had come up with. He would have an agent start a rumour next week that this was a demonic curse. After that he had merely stood on the deck, keeping his back straight and occasionally adjusting his pipe or moustache. There were cameras going off along the streets around the port, the flashes making them seem paved with glinting gems.

    History was being made today. The greatest expedition ever mounted to the Lost City of Moonwings, by the Mad Captain and his Ice Maiden.

    In fact, most of the spectators had come here hoping that Queen Diana's navy would blow him out of the sky and be done with all this sillyness.
  2. [size=+1]
    “Oh, mother, I have no heart, and I live outside the world and have no share or part in it; its joys and sorrows alike pass me by and are never mine;” and she started on her way.

    “No heart!” the woman said sadly. “Ah, poor lassie! Then the world must indeed be a riddle of which you have forever missed the answer.”

    - Lucy Lane Clifford, ‘FROM OUTSIDE THE WORLD’


    This den of desperation and loneliness shall serve as a respite from my pursuers for a while longer.

    I have seated myself near the back of the vast, dimly-lit room in one of the darker cubicles offered; if someone comes looking I will not be immediately obvious. All around me there is activity; patrons shouting and jeering at the girls on-stage, servers bringing wine to the tables scattered across the room. The overture to all of this is the drunken pianist sitting to one side of the stage hammering away at the keys like some sort of madman.

    Like some insane musical accompaniment to a bizarre play I will never truly grasp the meaning of.

    The girls who work for Myrnodyn are wise enough to give my table a wide berth; they know what sort of clientele a brothel in the Underworld can attract and they have learned to avoid those who are too strange even for them. Very wise. The Underworld is the ultimate example of the survival of the fittest; those who are able to learn fast and adapt to these cruel streets and those who cannot are quickly swallowed up by the smoke, noise and unpleasant residents.

    It is a good thing, then, that I am a fast learner.

    My coat is pulled up tight around me, collar high in a vain attempt to hide the cloth-sack mask upon my face. What visible skin I have is wrapped in bandages. I am forced to hide myself even more so than the patrons here, with their high-collared jackets and hats that hide their faces. I fit in perfectly; this is a room full of people who do not want anyone to know that they are here.

    Though I think I have different reasons from the rest for wishing to remain unseen.

    Within this place I remain for another twenty minutes, biding my time and waiting for the right moment. They are still out there, searching; I have to time my movements carefully if I am to reach the docks in time. It quickly becomes apparent, however, that this was not the best place to hide within; through the doors stride a pair of immaculately-dressed gentlemen. No hair, no eyebrows. I imagine that, if my skin was capable of crawling, it would do so now.

    These are the men who have been following me ever since I escaped.

    The appearance of such obviously wealthy patrons has the girls of Myrnodyn’s Parlour almost running for them; I, meanwhile, am looking for an exit and not seeing one readily available. Stupid. I should have anticipated this. The smaller of the bald gentlemen politely dismisses the attentions of the girls as his taller compatriot scans the booths and tables. For me, no doubt; I keep my head down and keep looking for an escape.

    My eyes fall upon the door through to the private rooms just as the taller man spots me; I am running for the door as he starts towards me. It is a race now, and unfortunately for them they cannot hope to match my pace. As I slam through the door I hear screams coming from behind me as they two men push through the throng to get to me in time.

    This is going to be close. Too close.

    Stupid. I should have anticipated this.[/size]
  3. Lulu gave an exasperated sigh as he tried, fruitlessly, to push through the throng of people that had accumulated around to see the take off of the Firefox. He was meant to be on that ship, and here he was, going to miss the biggest moment of his life because a few privileged people wrapped in their fat and coats would not deign to move out of his path. No no, he would have to move around them. Around them all.

    "Petch, this is going to take forever." He hissed, his shoulder's slumped forward. He could smell steam and engine grease through the stench of sweat and mix of all people. Oh how he wanted to be inside that ship, scouring through the workings of its flight mechanics. How all those intricate little pieces fit together. His fingers were twitching just at the mere thought of being near such a wonderful machine. The machine that would take him to Moonwings.

    Moonwings, the lost city. Full of the old, the antique, and the unknown. A scowl crossed the ginger's features, cracking his knuckles gently. No amount of overdressed, privileged people were going to keep him from getting on to that ship, and travelling to Moonwings. Bracing himself, the young man pulled his goggles into place from atop his head, and began to push his way through the crowd, doing his best not to run headlong into anybody, though there was the odd person that it just couldn't be helped. And maybe he stepped on one too many toes, but really, it couldn't be helped with how clumped together these people were. Besides, he apologized to anyone who gave him a dirty look or shriek in surprise. The closer he got to the edges of the crowd, the more he seemed to be apologizing for harsh bumps and stepped on toes. Could they not see he was in a hurry? How difficult was it to take two steps and let him by?

    Lulu struggled to push his way through a seeming wall of bodies, before the crowd finally began to thin out. "Well, that was an adventure all in itself!" He chipped to no one and everyone, replacing his goggles on top of his head, adjusting his bag to make it more comfortable on his shoulder as he made his way to the docking area. "Bah, I can't believe how late I am."

    His steps grew quicker, wanting not to waste more time. From all the stories he had heard about the captain he would be sailing under, Lulu was fairly certain being so tardy was sure to put him in a foul mood. The young man just hoped it would only be words that stung and not words that killed. Though, he did wonder if that particular story held any merit. He'd never witness anyone who had been killed by words. Literally, that is. Words killed all the time if they were to be taken figuratively.

    Green eyes flicked over to the crowd, all those people who stood on the sidelines and watched and jeered at the ship and the crew. Lips twitched into a small pout, the young man with the hair colour of flames wondering what their reasons were. Why they laughed at those who would risk themselves to seek knowledge or fame, while they themselves were likely burning in curiosity about whether or not Moonwings was true. Well, petch to them all, if they wanted to laugh and jeer than let them. It would just make it so much sweeter when they returned with proof from the city, and watched their faces drop and their spirits dwindle when they saw how wrong they had been. Well, he was likely to be too busy researching everything they had found in Moonwings to actually see all that, but the thought that it would happen made him grin.

    Of course, that was only if they actually found anything worth speaking of in the forgotten city. But that was almost a guarantee, so long as they made it there. It was a city thought lost forever. Anything they brought back from that place would suffice. At least, those were his thoughts on it.

  4. Karsikan laughed as the crate labeled Shoes was tossed overboard, "Feminine troubles mate?" he asked in a feigned cockney accent while passing by. He kept moving forward through the crowd and checked his watch he still had a few hours until he would officially come to join the expedition, and he had a few errands he needed to take care of beforehand.

    The first was lunch, he doubted he's get a proper bite anytime while on the ship; he ducked through alleys, cut through shops, and found his way to the markets. A prime hunting ground, especially during midday when few would expect a kindred to be active. Within moments he'd found his mark, the girl couldn't have been more than sixteen, but she smelled ripe and that was enough. He found her mind was especially malleable and she'd followed him into a deserted alleyway without a care in the world.

    Shortly after he emerged, wiping a trace of blood from his mouth. He'd allowed himself to gorge, and had drained her veins completely. Normally he'd have left her alive but alter her memory to erase the event, this however was his going away feast.

    Second up was to check on his ghouls, they were utterly loyal to him but not always the most competent, he quickly cut his way through town found his way into the undercity and to his businesses, after leaving fresh instructions and inspecting their supplies he left, with a somewhat uneasy feeling in his gut. He doubted that the ghouls would be able to keep up things for too long, but that was something he was prepared to deal with. He'd hopefully be able to rebuild after he returned from this expedition, on the ashes of his old business if need be. No matter what happened, he thought, he was a Lasombra so if it didn't kill him, it would soon learn it's mistake.

    With his business concluded, he returned to the docks to see a growing crowd of people gathered around the ship, he nudged his way to the front and waited for what the captain inevitable had to say.
  5. The gathering retinue for the expedition was a kaleidoscope of personalities and stories. Against such a backdrop, Theodore swirled through the melting pot as a shade of gray, nondescript and easily forgotten. His cargo - a peace offering of food and supplies to allow a much larger crate to be stowed onboard - had already been loaded prior, in the sotto before the hubbub. He ascended the boarding plank, stopped, and turned around once on the deck, standing beside the captain and resting his chin on his hand, the elbow on the railing. His eyes played across the spectacle, such a grand achievement of public relations and reputation! Yet, he felt a sullen disdain for such an over the top display of ... desperation?

    Such thoughts swirled in his mind as he removed his chin from hand, elbow from railing, and walked along the ship. Although Mayhem was not the sole contractor involved in its construction (and every so often he tapped the walls, listening for the hollow ring of a undocumented compartment or passage), he was somewhat familiar with the technology that whirled on the other side of the rich, ornate wood panels that lined the passages below. Worm gear ports sprouted periodically on the wall near the floor. The screw-gears provided mechanical power, transferred through a steel cable (the "power cord", a registered trademark) to another terminating screw that could be used to drive flour grinders, spring winders, etc. This was a rather recent innovation that addressed the problems of piping superheated steam throughout the city. Lately, the aggressive expansion of the city in space, both vertically and horizontally, was causing an increasing amount of infrastructure problems that Mayhem was being forced to address with a distinct lack of efficiency. Small repeating boilers, thicker pipes, larger central boilers ... everything had stopped becoming a matter of ingenuity but rather a problem of scaling.

    Theodore felt that something was at a breaking point. The engineering department was working as hard as ever, but he saw a plateau rapidly approaching. At the end of the day, steam was merely a way to transfer the ability to do work from one point to another. There had to be another way, surely, steam was not the only way to do so ... his mind swirled as he made his way back up to the top deck, and leaned against the railing near the captain.
  6. I was dressed in my best clothes, the only luxury I had now in the world. It comprised of a black vest with white shirt underneath, matching black pants and a plain black coat that tickled the floor covering it all. It wasn't as good as the clothes I used to have but .. That was the past. Another time, another place. Another me. My customary cane was in my hand, and I held it regally like a sceptre of power as I stepped into the club, instantly beset upon by all manners of women willing to sell their bodies to every dark fantasy a man (or woman, to be politically correct) could have for a bit of money. I waved them all away after giving each of them a quick look down; they were dressed fancily and I could tell - there was something about them that told me that they were rather popular here.

    It didn't really matter to me, just that they would be missed if they went missing one day. I continued my elegant stride through the crowd, casually guiding people aside with the very tip of my cane as if their presence was not to be tolerated in my presence - I like acting like that. I like acting. It .. Helps. It adds a bit of colour to this routine I have been cursed to. It makes things different, at the very least. At least things weren't merely slash and kill ..

    My face darkened as the thought of killing came into my head again. Sigh. It gets tiring, after the first few decades. But it had to be done. There was an even greater price to pay if I didn't kill; a price I wasn't willing to pay, since it meant being freed from this boredom only to be sent into eternal torture, body, mind and spirit fractured.

    Nope. Definitely not worth it.

    A click sounded as I opened up my pocketwatch but I didn't notice the time. I noticed a few wrinkles and a liver spot that hadn't been there an hour ago. Damn. I was running out of time. Finish off this dreary deed here, then get on the ship. Get onto the ship that would bring me to salvation.

    A man can dream.

    I caught the eye of the young girl loitering in the corner. I could tell from her shyness and her awkwardness she wasn't exactly experienced here. That she was new. No one had seen her around that much, unlike the others, who were clamoring to be noticed. In short, no one would pay any attention if she vanished. Even if they did they wouldn't lose any sleep over it, just assumed that she ran away or something. This was Iwaku City. Shit happens.

    Nodding, I tilted my head towards the door leading to the private rooms and I walked on without her, knowing full well that there wasn't a chance she was going to pass up on someone dressed as richly as I was. Hah. It wasn't like I carried any substantial amount of money on me.

    I heard the door open and close behind me, and I took a deep breath. I spun around, the silver of my gutting knife flashing and her eyes displayed an expression of shock - there hadn't been any time to register the horror before the blade pierced her heart and she died. I stepped forward quickly, placing a bare hand over the mortal wound that had caused her instant death and I could feel her essence rush through me. Whatever the girl had, her age, her vitality flooded into my body - while my wrinkles smoothed out to once again display the handsome features of a young man her body turned to dust, aging decades in a matter of seconds.

    Another one bites the dust.

    I let myself have a chuckle for that. Not bad.

    I removed a piece of cloth from the table beside the door and I cleaned my knife, before burning the cloth with the flame of a candle from the same table and stowing my blade away. Another second was all it took for me to open the door and step out of the room.

    Once I was out, what felt like a rampaging bull hit me and threw me off my feet. I could numbly feel myself hitting the ground, and my head started spinning. Immortal and unkillable I may be, but there was still that inch of humanity in me. When my vision stopped swimming, I could vaguely see the hulking figure of a man, while a few others burst in after him, as if in deep pursuit.

    Within a fraction of a second I was back on my feet, picking up my cane.
  7. Etsy Street: A short distance away from Port Logout

    There was a minor disturbance in the crowd of shoppers and merchants as they jostled to allow the train of packages and boxes through. At first glance, the items seemed to be moving across the cobble stones on their own, but upon further observation, one could see that each package was held aloft by half a dozen or so tiny mechanical spiders. The Server Spiders moved quickly to keep pace with the two women ahead. One was a woman in strange dress, as if she was plucked from another time; she was followed by another woman with caramel skin and a permenant scowl.

    “You can take those packages back to the boat, lovelies.” The woman in white turned to coo at the spiders.

    “Ship, ma’am. The Firefox is classified as a ship.” The woman with caramel skin did not bother to turn around, she was busy scanning the crowd ahead and taking steady drags from her cigarette.
    “Whatever. Take those packages back to the ship, lovelies.” The Server Spiders responded with affectionate mechanical clicks and purrs, before scurrying back towards the docks with their luxurious burden in tow.
    Her companion took this oppurtunity to voice what she had been thinking six shops ago. “We should also get back to the Firefox, ma’am. It’s not safe here for a woman like you.” She checked over her shoulder once to take in the anachronostic get up the lady always insisted on wearing. She was starting to suspect the ice woman rather enjoyed the attention. That was the understatement of the century.

    “Oh, but this is ever so grand, Rasna! Everything in this time is so strange and new.” Tegan's coat swished dramatically as she spun in a tight circle, throwing her arms wide to take in the busy market place, eliciting more than a few raised eyebrows from passerbys. Rasna noted a woman usher her small, staring child to the other side of the street, she didn’t blame her. Crazy just might be contagious. “Besides, I feel like I haven’t been out in over two hundred years.” Tegan chuckled at her own joke, Rasna was not amused.

    “Exactly. No offense, but you stick out like a sore thumb in this place and there’s no shortage of Leaguers, Shifters and Underworlders who want to get a hold of you.” Rasna placed a hand on her hip and flashed Tegan her infamous no-arguments-scowl. “I think you’ve had enough fun compromising your own safety for one afternoon.” The shorter woman was non-pulsed.

    “You mean to say I’ve had enough fun spending so much of the good Captain’s money.” Tegan’s lips quirked up in a cheshire grin, obviously baiting the other woman.
    Rasna was wisely and tactfully silent. The public scenes Tegan could stir up were already becoming the stuff of legend. The woman was a slim thing but she had a set of lungs on her.

    “Don’t worry about that, Rasna darling. The Captain and I have an understanding.” The understanding that so long as he divested her of her garments and baubles, she would continue to purchase more with his money.
    “Ah yes, the untold riches that lie in store for us once we find the Lost City.” Rasna, with the air of someone who is not at all convinced, or at the very least skeptical of ladies who have been frozen in the ice for just a little too long to still be sane and leading an expedition, flicked the smoking remains of her rolled cigarette into the street. A seagull, thinking it to be a bit of cod, caught it in its beak before it could hit the stone. The poor thing had to land immediately to vomit in the street.

    “Precisely. Now be a lamb and concern yourself with the order that Captain Asmo did give you: protecting me from harm while I stretch my legs.” Tegan added casually, scanning the storefronts, letting out a little noise of delight when something shiney caught her attention. “And I think I’ll stretch them some more in that lovely jewelry shoppe.”

    Rasna sighed, defeated until she could regroup again. “Right. Don’t think I’m going call you ‘m’lady’ or anything like that. I’m a bodyguard, not a servant.” At least, that’s what it said on her resume.
    “I wouldn’t dream to persume.” Tegan placed the hatbox she was carrying in Rasna’s unwilling arms and set off into the throng.

    Rasna hoped Captain Asmo would approve her request to use tranq darts soon.
  8. [DROP=The place was hectic. The poor, the rich, and those in between stood and walked in every direction, the crowd tightly together. It felt almost claustrophobic. But of course, it was mainly due to the Firefox. A ship that was about to sail to legendary Lost City of Moonwings, doxa's destination. Oh, the riches she will enjoy if the 'paradise' was truly real. For once in her life, she would live the life of a luxurious woman a thought that tempted her and broght dreams of gold,jewelry, fancy clothes each night. The poor life was not meant for Doxa, it was clearly she had high ambitions. Looking back at the ocean of people was enough to let Doxa begin her walk to the famous Firefox. Her grip was firm on her messeger bag as it carried her thinkering belt along with her tools and the other in a small leather bag which carried her luggage. Right now, her googles rested at the crown of her head in case she might need it at any sudden moment. As Doxa tried to walk toward the awaiting ship, people carried boxes, ropes, and other objects she couldn't make out due to the moving crowd. It seemed that she would have to push past some and bump into a few. "Hey watch it!" someone yelled from behind her as she accidentally stomped on his feet "Sorry, you were in my way!" she yelled back absently, her mouth spreading into a grin.] steampunk female.jpg [/DROP]The place was hectic. The poor, the rich, and those in between stood and walked in every direction, the crowd tightly together. It felt almost claustrophobic. But of course, it was mainly due to the Firefox. A ship that was about to sail to legendary Lost City of Moonwings, doxa's destination. Oh, the riches she will enjoy if the 'paradise' was truly real. For once in her life, she would live the life of a luxurious woman a thought that tempted her and broght dreams of gold,jewelry, fancy clothes each night. The poor life was not meant for Doxa, it was clearly she had high ambitions. Looking back at the ocean of people was enough to let Doxa begin her walk to the famous Firefox. Her grip was firm on her messenger bag as it carried her tinkering belt along with her tools. Right now, her googles rested at the crown of her head in case she might need it at any sudden moment. As Doxa tried to walk toward the awaiting ship, people carried boxes, ropes, and other objects she couldn't make out due to the moving crowd. It seemed that she would have to push past some and bump into a few."Hey watch it!" someone yelled from behind her as she accidentally stomped on his feet "Sorry, you were in my way!" she yelled back absently, her mouth spreading into a grin. But too soon it faded as someone else came from her side and bumped into her hard. Somehow, she had manage to get her feet tangled together and as unstably as she was, Doxa fell to the floor. Luckily, the impact wasn't strong enough to have hurt her but still, the scene was pretty embarrassing. The people that had been around her at the time gave her accusatory looks "What are you looking at morons!? Keep walking!" she barked furiously.
  9. In her travels she always heard of one man's name. Sometimes it would be whispered in a dark corner of a tavern, or shouted out like some sort epiphany. Always the name was accompanied with fear or awe, and it wasn't by just the person who uttered or yelled the name, but the others around would also feel the effects. Melody didn't want to feel such emotions about a man she never met but it was difficult. In all corners of the world there would be something to bring her attention to him. Slowly it grew into a sort of resentment and at times she would dream of what would happen if she met him.

    One night, nearly a month ago when she was traversing through a pub in the desert did his name catch her full attention.

    "So Captain Asmo thinks he can find Moonwings eh?"

    "That's what he believes."

    "He'd probably die in the process. That great big loony."

    "But what if he does make it? All of the gold and precious jewels in the world would be his!"

    "Oh suuure, but it's just a pot of gold. It's not like you can't find gold 'round here. Nah what would be really incredible is if he found something better than shiny metal."

    "Like what bub? The Fountain of Youth?" The man guffawed, chugging down a tankard.

    "Hey who's to say that's not possible! You don't know what's there, what if we find some sort of technology that we could use? Maybe we don't have to use steam anymore... And maybe, just maybe they found a cure all. We may be just be rid of the damned Underworld."

    "Aye and maybe someday pigs will fly. You're losing it man."

    She didn't set off for the city right away. The idea ate at her for a week but even then her legs did all of the thinking for her. So even though her mind was still in the pub her body carried her to the entrance of Iwaku City. There she saw the posters, advertising for crew members for the voyage. Hesitant she signed up, although a big part of her didn't believe a cure would be found in Moonwings.

    The morning of their departure she stood with the many other souls with her hat, her cape and after much debating she decided to wear her more provocative attire. Under the shadow of her head wear she observed Captain Asmodeus, sizing him up and wondering if any of the rumors she heard were indeed true.
  10. She shivered; Selenite shivered. Her pupils dilated and contracted whenever her eyes focused on any object. Everything was so beautiful, so graceful, so magnificent. Her hands moved hectically across her sketchpad, her charcoal piece slid over it, screeching softly, held between her black, dirty fingers.


    ''OH!, PEOPLE!'', she hissed out loud, to herself more than anyone else. She was, after all, talking with herself.

    She rushed, as she turned the page over, leaving her sketch of a young man throwing a heavy crate to the sea. That had been interesting and beautiful, but that had been five minutes ago. Now her attention was set on the crowd that gathered below, this time, especially on some girl that tripped and fell. Because it was not the first sketch she did about the crowd.

    No, not there you idiot!
    I mean, THERE!

    ''A SEAGULL!'', she said, and ran towards it, the charcoal tracing the contour of a seagull just as it flew away.

    No, not that- I mean, yes, but also look at... THERE!

    ''STEAM...!'' she said, looking at the vapour that came out of the chimneys. It swirled and moved in a peculiar way; Selenite knelt down, never closing her eyes, and stared at it for some seconds. Hundreds of fantastical figures formed and meld together there; Selenite watched in awe how the steam griffins turned into steam warrior horse riders, and how each of these in turn turned into all kind of animals. Her hands sketched everything on the paper surface, capturing the essence -the gesture, as it is called- more than anything in detail.

    Like she could, in less than two minutes.
    The voices in her mind returned, not lulled byt the steam anymore.

    We meant that, that thing there.

    ''CRATES!'', she said, moving closer to the group of crates, sketching, of course.

    You were right- look at how well placed things are! How harmoniously stacked together, those crates! Look at that bit of rope, on the left side! And that crumpled piece of paper perfectly balances the composition! It adds the missing bit of a white, neutral tone tha-

    Just, look at the paper, Sellie.

    Selenite approached, and lifted the piece of paper. Someone had stepped on it, several times. It was one of her charcoal sketches. A quick portrait of Captain Asmo, now blurred out thanks to some careless feet.

    Careless feet? What about you?
    I'm NOT careless!
    Shut up you two- look!

    ''HEY- it actually looks more int-''


    ''...Fine,'' she said, folding the paper in half and walking inside the ship. ''But later. DON'T TALK TO ME!'', she yelled out loud, before entering the mess hall. She carelessly placed her sketchpad on the table, and sat there, frowning, holding her chin with one hand as she scribbled nothing in particular with the last bit of charcoal that still remained between her fingers.

    Because, just as she had been happy and excited and feeling like capturing the essence of things on paper, now she was feeling annoyed and slightly angry, and soon, she knew, soon she would feel like taking her medicine again, before the world became a place too depressing to live in.

    For now, scribbling worked.
  11. Captain Asmo watched a stange chap in a cape talk to one of his dockhands, before walking away for a few moments and then returning again.

    He then glanced to see Theodore slump against the railing next to him, before walking away for a few moments and then returning again.

    It must have been a new Iwakuan custom.

    That and poor crowd navigation. The horde of spectators on the dockside were being vexed by lone jostlers and people with exotic headgear. No doubt the reprobates seeking passage on the Firefox had become embroiled with the generic lollygaggers. Such was the nature of crowds in Iwaku City.

    Asmo pressed a button on his deck console and turned on the lights around the gangway.

    This not only served to draw the crowd's attention, but also the captain's attention to the convoy of floating crates that were moving alongside the ship and towards the cargo ramp.

    "No! NO! BAD!" he yelled at the boxes, before leaning towards Theodore. "Bring me a rifle!" He then ran off, dodging an angry-looking Selenite who was storming below deck. Asmo rushed down the gangway and flung himself into the path of the floating boxes. "BY ALL THAT IS GOOD AND HOLY, I COMMAND YOU TO HALT!"

    There was a chirping sound from underneath the crate, and the giant block continued on its course, nudging into the captain, who spread his arms and legs whilst trying to stop it. He was steadily pushed back, his heels scuffing the boardwalk. "OBEY ME, YOU INFERNAL MACHINES!" he growled.

    Finally there was a hiss of clockwork springs and the crate stopped. A mechanical spider peeped out from underneath it, chirping at its master.

    "What in God's name has she brought now?" Asmo clambered up onto the top of the box, drew his rapier and began prizing off the lid.

    All this was watched with great interest by the hundreds-strong crowd of aristocrats and reporters.

    "Aaaaaagh!" as the lid was cracked Asmo's hand slipped inside and was grabbed by something. There was snarling from within and Asmo thrashed and twisted. "THEODORE! SHOOT THE CRATE! BLOW IT UP! AAAGH!"

    He was released and fell off the top of the crate, landing on the gangway with a thud. At the same time the lid of the crate slid away and seven blurs of white and ginger fur spilled out of it.

    "YIP! YIP! YIP!" barked the pack of corgis as they hopped off the crate, trampled over Asmo, and dashed up the gangway onto the ship.

    Asmo rolled over, glaring up the ramp, with his bitten hand clenched in a fist. His shout sounded above the yapping of the dogs.


  12. Maybe it was custom, maybe it was boredom, like the calm before the storm that had Theodore pacing around the ship. The endless festivities and intrigue, while gleeful enough to be the talk of town for days, weeks, and maybe months to come, but all of was dull in comparison to what lay ahead. For all Theodore knew, the land was nothing more than the dust and ashes of a once great civilization. Perhaps they were still in the primitive stages of development, using wooden tools, barely learning metallurgy before the tides of war came and swept them awa ----

    He was snapped out of his reverie by the rather frantic sounding summons of Captain Asmodeus. For once, the captain sounded serious, and so he was serious as well. Striding rapidly to a nearby armoury, he hoisted a Mayhem Inquisitor off of the racks and returned, the cloth and steel hose clanking and bumping noisily on the deck as it trailed behind him. There was a loud hiss as he plugged the hose into a nearby steam valve - the cloth going taut under the steam pressure, small regulators and gearings clicking and whirring to charge the rifle for a shot. He worked the bolt, putting a slug into the chamber.

    And ...

    And ...

    Dogs! Dogs ran up the platform. Theodore sighted impassively down the barrel. The forehead of the foremost corgi lined up in his sights, his finger hovered, nay, trembled on the trigger ...

    "I can't do it!" The rifle fell to the deck with a loud clatter and Theodore spread his arms, the first corgi bounding into his welcome embrace as the rest dispersed onto the deck.


    "They're so cute!"

    Bark bark!
  13. There. Elyn pushed close the last of the dressers having just filled it, and then shoved her case under the bed. Everything was now settled. She had arrived relatively early, so early that there wasn't anything worth commenting on. But the downtime was a blessing. It meant she had time to sort everything out before they sailed off. And now that everything was settled, she could wander about. It was too bad there would be no way to transmit news home while they were on the trip, but when she returned, Elyn would certainly put out article after article about the trip. She wanted to miss no detail.

    There was just one more detail before she left her room and went out. Elyn grabbed the wind-up typewriter off the bed, and carefully placed it in the safe. Normally, she left the box at home and would wait until returning home to write up her stories, but this trip would be far too long to delay all that work. She was still a bit uneasy about leaving it in the room, but it would be impossible to carry it about on her person all day. She did, however, take her pocket writer as she stepped out of her room. There was an entire ship to explore! If she wanted to capture all the stories across the entire ship, she had to know the ship.

    It wasn't long before she found herself in the mess hall. It was mostly empty, but there was someone already there hovering over what looked like a notepad even though there was nothing remotely interesting happening here. Whoever she was, she looked frustrated. This puzzled Elyn. They were on the Firefox captained by a crazy man who was taking the word of an Ice Maiden (who might just be a scam), and they were about to embark on a journey to a lost city. And Elyn didn't do well with keeping questions to herself. She slid into the seat across the table. From here she could see it wasn't words being put down on paper, but drawings. "What are you working on?" Elyn asked Selenite.
  14. Pulling his scarf tighter around his neck, Aeris strode down the street with quick light steps. He sidestepped a crate and pushed his way through the crowd, ignoring their protests at being shoved and flinching as someone shoved him back.
    Late late late. Always late.
    Aeris cursed his luck. He had hoped he would be early but now he was lucky if he made it on time. More shoves and he was through, eyes searching for the Firefox.
    He stepped onto the gang ramp and onto the ship, right foot first, always right foot first. It was supposed to be good luck, and as Aeris mused, he needed all the luck he could get. He leaned against the rail and closed his eyes, feeling the cool breeze against his skin scales and breathed in the smokey air.
    I could get used to this.
    Yap Yap!
    "What th-" his eyes snapped open to find dogs- chubby little corgis- bounding past onto the ship.
    Well, that was interesting and..unexpected.
    Aeris stared at them stupidly, eyes wide beneath his googles and it was only when a voice screamed "Tegan!" that he started laughing, doubled over as he failed to choke it back.
  15. The tiny piece of charcoal had been reduced to a small smudge of black beneath her fingers; the piece of paper, to a, well, to a really dirty looking piece of paper. It was good, it was a good thing, letting go of her anger like that. Her multiplicity of personalities approved, almost completely, of the abstract pattern spread on the paper in front of her.

    It is good, it is a good thing, Selene. This is good.
    Better on the paper and not on someone else, Sellie. We approve of this.
    Actually, I don't. This has no aesthetic value whatsoever!
    Booo! Sellenity, you and your pesimistic views-
    Look, Sel, someone's coming!
    HIDE IT!

    ''Huh?'', Selenite asked, much calmer now, as she almost by reflex held the piece of paper away from Elyn and against her chest. She bit her lip; she was starting to feel awkward.

    ''No... nothing of importance,'' she answered, letting out a laugh of embarrassment. She's gonna laugh! She's gonna laugh!
    No! She's just curious! SHOW, SHOW HER!
    No, she admires you! SHOW HER, SHOW HER YOUR SKETCHES- NOW!
    She does not- don't....!

    ''A- Alright,'' she said, hesitating, but actually sliding her sketchpad towards her, slowly, across the table. All her charcoal sketches of the Firefox and the crowd that gathered below were there, including some previous work in ink she had done of some random passerby and seagulls. And a horde of mythical warriors riding griphons and brandishing their swords, as she had seen many times that day, on different places all around. These were all just quick sketches- nothing but ideas of what could become a much more elaborate work.

    She opened her eyes wide and stared, as she was actually observing the other woman's hair. The way the hair swirled and so subtly changed in shade according on how the light shone over it was mesmerizing, for Selenite's eyes at least.

    It feels just like the flight of a chocolate-feathered-owl, doesn't it?

    ''Sorry, I need this,'' she added, quickly snatching the folded paper out of her sketchpad.

  16. A hand grasped the rail of the gangway next to Aeris. Another gripped his robe as he doubled over in laughter. Captain Asmo pulled himself up, squinting at the reptilian man, whose strange features were concealed beneath his hood. Luckily, Asmo was not in the habit of staring too hard at the faces of cityfolk, and given that his own face was covered in muddy corgi paw-prints, he had his own distractions to think of.

    "Rats with rabbit ears!" he cried, whilst steadying himself. The puppies in question were dashing around the decks above him and yapping at the sailors. One of them had incapacitated Theodore. "Herd them towards the kitchens!" he yelled up, before turning back to Aeris and leaning casually on the railing.

    "Welcome to the Firefox, my friend. You seek adventure, you have found it. Passage is yours at the price of service rendered, so riddle me this: What skills can you provide upon this here momentous voyage?"

    Further down the gangway, several dockhands were cracking open the rest of Tegan's crates and finding consignments of squeaky chew toys, dog collars, fluffy cots and flea powder. With solemn discretion they carried each batch towards the cliff edge and sent the cargo tumbling into the ocean.

  17. On the other side of Asmodeus and Aeris stood Melody. She watched the antics of the sailors and dogs with an unwavering solemn expression. The dogs she noticed shied away, keeping at least a foot away from her exposed legs. She loved fluffy things, always loved them, but it seemed that as of late anything cute or lovable kept their distance from her.

    Delicate hands reached out and gripped the edges of her cape and drew them closer. Turning she faced away from the city. She heard the Captain bark an order about herding the corgis into the kitchen. Surely the man wasn't going to make a meal out of them? A smirk, one of disgust, appeared on her face. She wasn't sure of her companions but she had grown tired of eating dog. Cats she could maybe stomach once more. But not dog. She had far too many dogs. Still it wasn't nearly as bad as the many rat or squirrel meals...

    Melody wondered if the Captain was going to go around and ask that question to everyone. What could she offer? She supposed she could be the Captain's personal body guard. Yeah that answer would work.
  18. At first Aeris did not notice the man beside him until he cired out "Rats with rabbit ears!" and it was then his eyes snapped to him. His eyes widened beneath his googles as he recognised the man as the Captain. He'd expected a fiercer looking man from the descriptions he'd heard, not someone covered in dog prints chasing after the culprits. He wondered if he should bow but decided against it when the Captain spoke again,
    "What skills can you provide upon this here momentous voyage?"
    Aeris carefully considered ideas of what he could actually do. He discarded most, annoyed with himself that he hadn't thought of this before. Of course he would have to pay somehow!- and he didn't have any coin to pay with so what else could he do? But then, Asmodeus hadn't asked for that kind of payment. He'd asked for skill.
    Then an idea struck him. He mightn't have coin but he did have some skills.
    "I hevn't any money to pay," he said slowly, his words slowly rolling off his tongue, "but I'd be a damn good rigger, if that's skill enough for you. I wouldn't mind swabbing the deck for you either."

  19. [DROP=Standing up from the filthy floor, Doxa furiously gathered her luggage and started pushing against the crowd until she found herself in front of the enormous ship. That wasn't that hard was it? she thought with a satisfying grin on her face. A loud voice of a man drew her attention to Captain Asmodeus and a man. She should have known he would question everybody that would go in the ship. Being the nosy woman that she was, Doxa stood where she was pretending to be lost when she really was eavesdropping what was being said. Poor guy, swabbing the deck is a servants job. Then again, anyone would do almost anything to get passage to the Firefox. Having heard enough, Doxa turned around and went inside the ship. Where would I go? Her head went from left to right, the hallway stretching on both directions look almost infinite. Was there someone who would help every passenger settle? Should she just stay here and wait? Well I got time so waiting wouldn't be a problem.]

    steampunk female.jpg [/DROP]
    Standing up from the filthy floor, Doxa furiously gathered her luggage and started pushing against the crowd until she found herself in front of the enormous ship. That wasn't that hard was it? she thought with a satisfying grin on her face. A loud voice of a man drew her attention to Captain Asmodeus and a man. She should have known he would question everybody that would go in the ship. Being the nosy woman that she was, Doxa stood where she was pretending to be lost when she really was eavesdropping what was being said. Poor guy, swabbing the deck is a servants job. Then again, anyone would do almost anything to get passage to the Firefox. Having heard enough, Doxa turned around just to hit her head against a tall man wearing an odd uniform. Must be either a guard or crew of the ship."H-hey" she stammered as the man penetrating eyes glared at her in what seem expectation. When he didn't reply back, Doxa continued."I am guessing that you will ask me for some sort of payment?"she asked as she rested her right hand on her hip. The man nodded without saying a word."Alright, let's see...I examine rare objects and might tell how they work by their structure, I also repair almost anything. As a hobby I create small mechanism like pocket watches and such. Is that good enough for you?" she said almost running out of patient. She was eager to be in the ship but the guard that was suppose to either agree or disagree didn't make a sound. Figures.
  20. "I'm not supposed to take candy from strangers..."

    "Yes, but I'm a doctor. You want to be strong, don't you? Your body needs defense and I doubt your quack physicians are in a position to provide the care you need."

    "So this is special candy?"

    "The most special. It's like a shot, but sweet and delicious."

    "Oh! Ok! You're sure you're a doctor?"

    "Positive. Do you think they'd let anyone carry around a doctor's bag?"

    The docks were pressed with people, too confused to understand if they were coming or going. Jack would diagnose them all with chronic anxiety, diarrhea, identity confusion, cancer, anything to categorize their listless pacing. People, as a whole, were ill. In his experience there wasn't a body yet that worked perfectly. That mole could end up cancerous, that cough could be the preliminary signs of plague, that limp was the result of a bunion that might soon be infected. People, as a whole, were imperfect sick being. How fortunate, then, that Doctor Jack Surgeon was trained to handle any and all ailments that the human body could possibly cobble together. Now he was preemptively saving a child from...he glanced down at the lollipop before handing it to him, Scarlet Fever, it read across the wrapper. Yes...his candy immunizations would ensure that the clinics would never again be filled with the wailing of mini-people.

    After a few licks, the sandy haired child paused, wiping a hand across his brow as color flushed his cheeks. Doctor Surgeon watched, impassively, his beak-like mask twisted quizzically to the side as his patient pressed his back against a stack of boxes and slid down to the ground, panting. The candy fell from his hand, cracking on the cobblestone and trampled under uncaring feet. He coughed, sputtered, tears coming to his eyes as he grasped for understanding.

    Doctor Surgeon only watched, the gangly crow-man, at rest in a sea of people.

    At least until he was shoved aside by a concerned parent.

    "My baby!" She screamed, grabbing the child, "My baby!"

    "Curious," Doctor Surgeon observed aloud, brushing off the side of his coat, "I was not aware progeny was an excuse for a lack of manners."

    "Jethro!" She sobbed as her child gurgled on spittle and phlegm, "Jethro, what did he do to you? Help! Help! My boy has been poisoned!"

    Doctor Surgeon crossed his arms, inverting two fingers beneath the crow's beak in an upside down 'v'. Without the ability to show expressions, he had to improvise...but he far preferred his method. Simpler. "Poisoned? Madam you are ill informed of his condition, a most disturbing trait for a parent to have. Your boy is suffering from Scarlet Fever. You see, I immunized him with candy."


    "May I also be so bold as to suggest his reaction is directly related to his name? If you would read my research on naming people ambitiously, you'd note that 'Jethro' is naming your child only to succeed at farming or some far less reputable profession. Frankly I'm not surprised he's reacting this way. I imagine it's his body using this sickness as a way to rebel against your poor choice in nomenclature. Isn't that right, Jethro?"



    "You're insane..." the woman whispered, gripping her boy and pulling him away from Doctor Surgeon, "Help me! Oh help me please! Police! Police!"

    "If you would simply wait for the boy to tire of his dramatic seizures..." Doctor Surgeon sighed.

    But already a uniformed man was pushing his way through the crowd, whistle hanging askew from his mouth and club raised. He stepped back, startled by the dramatic appearence of Doctor Surgeon, then immediately went to the side of the woman and child.

    "What happened?" he yelled over the tumult of the crowd, people gathering around and staring blankly at the situation, enraptured with what appeared to be a poisoning.

    "He poisoned my baby!" She shouted, gesticulating wildly at Doctor Surgeon, "He poisoned my Jethro!"

    "Still a stupid name," Doctor Surgeon commented, tapping his cane against the ground, "And I was immunizng him against a legitimate illness."

    "Immunizing?!" She screeched, clawing at him, "You killed him!"

    The officer stood, approaching Doctor Surgeon cautiously, club extended, "You have the right to remain-"

    "Posh," Doctor Surgeon snapped, "What dead man breathes and whines so much? Madam, I simply must protest to your slander. The child is undergoing the rigors of my immunization drug. It mimics the symptoms of the sickness for a time to condition the body. I find it ludicrous modern medicine insists on immunizing without instructing the body with any idea of the symptoms. At least now your boy has perspective...perspective regrettably wasted on such a lowborn name."


    "Oh stop being such a baby," Doctor Surgeon snapped, "I treated you for free."

    His mother only screamed, cradling her unconscious child. The officer brought up his club and swung it at Doctor Surgeon, obviously in a heightened state of panic due to the slander of this ill informed woman. Without the ability to leap back against the wall of bodies, Doctor Surgeon held up his arm and took the blow across the forearm, stepping back with the pressure before pushing it away. This was ludicrous. No wonder the plague victims died in the street. No sense of education.

    Reaching into his outfit, he removed a badge and held it out to the officer, pausing the next attack midswing. "My name is Doctor Jack Surgeon. I am employed by the highest echelons of Iwaku Government. Interfere with my work at your own peril."

    The officer blinked, terror clouding his judgement as he stepped back, unconsciously moving between him and the child. The onlookers pointedly stopped looking, pushing past each other to be on their way. "There now," Doctor Surgeon sighed, sticking his index fingers together in a 'v' below his mask, "Was that so difficult?"

    "I'm...I'm sorry," the officer stuttered out, quickly putting away his club, "It won't happen again."

    "See that it doesn't," Doctor Surgeon warned, shaking his finger back and forth. "But for your willingness to cooperate, I'd like to offer you a reward." He rooted around in his coat, pulling out a lollipop.



    Doctor Surgeon did not bother speaking with the Captain. Asmodeus was no concern to him, cast aside remnants of a silly past era. Nor did he concern himself with the other passengers. Riffraff mostly, the only suitable candidates the disgraced captain could come up with appeared to mostly be the afflicted...lower class rubes. They all probably had names like Jethro...the poor creatures. He did not bother with the corgis, although he did make a note that maybe one or two might not be missed for a medical experiment or two.

    Instead he paused at the gangplank, cocked his head curiously at the ship, and walked aboard without so much as a word to anyone.

    He strode past Asmodeus, brushing against him on the gangplank amid the flashes of photography and reporters wisely choosing not to question the eccentric doctor, especially not after the incident before. Once on the deck, he promptly strode its length twice, paused at the gangplank again, then turned and pulled a paper from within his outfit, smacking it against the wall of a cabin. In bold letters, it proclaimed that a Medical Examination was necessary for all crew before departure.

    Leaning down, he began taking equipment out of his coat and laying it on the deck, including a handful of brightly colored lollipops, all labeled with various sicknesses in gold, bubbly, letters.

    Turning to the gangplank, Doctor Surgeon paused, thought, then posted another flier beside the first, standing next to them like some sort of awkward bird. Preparing, waiting.

    Names would be the first thing he'd acquire. By them he'd know who'd probably die this journey or not.
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