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Smoke was pouring into the central chamber, causing Louis to cough and splutter. The Telescopic Diagnostician whirred, attempting to get a lock on any object but unable to do so due to the thick black cloud. The Count crouched down and covered his lower face with a handkerchief, raising his new pistol as he attempted to gauge the situation. Something had gone horribly wrong, this much was clear, but had it been sabotage or was it merely the malfunction which the staff would later attempt to ensure they all believed.

“Captain!” Davenport’s voice was muffled, but loud enough that Louis was able to turn in his direction. “We need to get out of here!”

Of course, his breathing apparatus would make this a lot easier for the Lieutenant. Louis rerouted two wires on his analogue computer and the Telescopic Diagnostician suddenly focussed to the Count’s left, indicating a thin area where the smoke seemed less dense. He had programmed the device to search for light, as he had done in the past in a cave he had been trapped in. It was working and he placed a hand on Davenport’s shoulder as he stood once more and led them both towards it.

What had gone wrong!?

* * * * *

Charles Davenport smirked as he found himself in the military-specific wing of the Exhibition. This was where he felt at home! All around him walked men of rank and honour, medals glinting in the light, weaponry had been checked at the door which was a shame, but understandable.

“There’s a show ‘ere in a half hour. You watchin’?” A female, obviously London-bound voice caught Davenport’s ear and he turned with an astonished look on his face.

Tabitha Rose Skylar, known to everyone she met as Skye, was stood to his right, stretching her arms above her head. The brass wings on her back were retracted, the radio antennas useless this far from the Valkyrie. The modifications were new, reverse-engineered from the device Captain Celeste had left Louis, but it made communications between herself and anyone else on the ship much easier even when away from the speaking tubes. It also meant that boarding parties could communicate with the Valkyrie at distance…or so they hoped!

“How exactly did you get in here?” Davenport asked with a raised eyebrow. “They asked for my military credentials at the door!”

Skye smirked, “Not that I couldn’ta gotten in ‘ere wivout ‘em, but I ‘ave my own military credentials now. First Mate of a Royal Navy ship after all…”

A chuckle escaped Davenport’s lips. That much was certainly true and if what he had heard was correct, Louis was even a Commodore in the Navy, which would mean even more of the crew of the HMS Valkyrie.

“Do you have any idea what kind of show?”

“Some kinda new weapon that’ll bring about a new dawn of warfare. Somethin’ like that anyway. I read it on some flyer over there.” She waved her hand lazily to the right before crossing her arms and nodding directly ahead. “But I’m goin’ over there anyway. They’ve got a new fire engine wiv legs!”

Davenport was sceptical, but thought that it would be worth it to have a look. Although he would not admit it, had he never established his military career he knew that he would have wanted to become a member of the fire brigade. He had not heard of a showing here or any new technology which could be used for them. Still, if they were showing something and the major military-based show was still thirty minutes away, what harm could it do?

The room was separated from the rest of the show by a large partition, larger than any he had seen in the main exhibition and the doorway was also both larger and wider. They could have driven a large vehicle through the draped curtain if needed!

As he pushed through the curtain, he understood the vast size! In the centre of the room sat a large red and black…contraption. It was hard to class as a vehicle as Davenport did not see either wheels or any kind of flying engine. There was certainly no envelope attached either. The vehicle was around six metres long and at least two metres high, shaped almost like a miniature galleon or, well, a giant bathtub came to mind…

After a few more people had come in behind Davenport, a thick screen was pulled over the entrance to keep anyone else out. From the back of the vehicle a man climbed up, his yellow helmet appearing first and immediately alerting everyone to his profession. His black tunic appeared next, held around the waist with a dark belt. The trousers that appeared next were also black and ran down until they tucked into his black boots, quite an intimidating sight considering the gas mask that covered his face.

As he approached the front of the vehicle, he pulled the helmet and mask from his head and smiled. Beneath the mask was a man in his mid to late thirties, his chiselled jaw covered in stubble. A scar ran down across his left brow and continued on his cheek.

“Welcome, everyone, to what we hope will be the first showing of the future of fire fighting!” He smiled, shaking his head so that small pieces fell from his brown hair. “Many of you have already had a quick look at this strange looking fire engine.”

At that, many of the crowd looked intently at the vehicle he stood upon once more. It was then that Davenport noticed there were what appeared to be three mechanical legs on his side of the fire engine. They were in three segments each, the first coming up at a forty-five degree angle before a joint, the next coming out almost horizontal with the joints reinforced by another bar connecting them. This then led down to another segment which ended in a three-pronged foot, two “toes” forwards and one back. Was this how it moved?

“I know, it’s very out of the ordinary but I assure you, it’s the best design for the job. It’s fast, efficient and with advanced steam lines and counter-weighting, very powerful too which is especially useful for rubble. Let me show you.” The Chief walked to the protective outer rim of the vehicle, his hand falling upon a crank. He began to wind the crank, causing a circular portion of the decking at the very front to begin to rise.

What was revealed was what appeared, at first instance, to be a small cannon battery. The fireman stepped onto a small platform that was exposed behind the cannon, taking hold of two rigid handles on either side, twisting to the left then the right to show that the ‘cannon’ rotated both ways.

“This is the main water cannon. It can fire high pressure water enormous distances. There are also four hoses which can be extended from the front panelling on ground level if this is too powerful or if more coverage is needed. The vehicle is almost ninety percent water, a tank at the rear supplying the boiler while the main tank provides water to the hoses. The best part is that either tank can provide water to the other.” The man stepped to the edge and sat down on the raised portion, his legs hanging over the edge. He looked incredibly proud of himself before he opened his mouth again, cutting the crowd’s murmurings short.

“As such, if a fire is still raging, we won’t be going anywhere, because we’ll divert water to the main tank. This also means that if we’re not dealing with a fire, but a cave-in or collapsed building, we can give extra water to the boiler, increasing power for these…”

The man pushed hard against a button on the inside of the raised edge and what had at first appeared to be a simple golden yellow band for decoration began to extend outwards on the right side of the vehicle.

“Step back please!” The Chief shouted, watching as the long arm extended outwards and simultaneously another panel rose up directly beside him. He stood and stepped behind the panel, pulling one lever back before tilting another to the side, causing the arm to retract a little before rotating to the left, avoiding the people easily.

“This is one of two arms which can be operated from the deck, the other being on the opposite side. Unfortunately,” the fireman kicked the button on the side again, causing both the panel and the arm to begin to retract, “it requires two operators for both arms to function. We still have engineers working on this and hope to have a single panel control both arms by the time this device is on the common market.”

It was at this point, as if working in a hive mind, that several potential investors began to move towards the vehicle, all barking questions at the chief. Davenport had been stood staring in awe for most of the demonstration but now his lip curled into a sneer of disgust towards the investors. All they cared about was how much money they could make from the new fire engine which was built to make saving lives easier and more effective. It was things like this which he hated about all of the Forces, be it military or civilian-based.

“Let’s get out of here before I lose my breakfast.” Charles told Skye, turning to leave. The first-mate followed, also looking with hatred towards the rich investors. Aristocracy, those with money who use that money to make even more money…it was horrendous!

Davenport looked up at the large, central clock which sat in the middle of the military wing and had a duplicate on the civilian side. That demonstration had not used as much of the time as he had been expecting, which meant that they had another fifteen minutes to kill before the main show inside. The sound of gunfire drew his attention and without thinking he moved his hand to his hip to a phantom sidearm. He had, of course, handed in his weaponry at the entrance, as had everyone else. This meant one thing…

“There seems to be a weaponry display outside.” His mouth curled into a joyful smile, all memory of the vultures from before erased from his mind as the thought of advanced weaponry piqued his interest. Without even much thought, his feet began to move, taking him walking towards the large double-doors which led out into a wide, open space surrounded by two layers of fencing that were at least eight feet tall.

The ground of the estate in which the great exhibition centre had been fabricated covered several acres. Originally plans for military side of the exhibition was to be entirely featured in the sprawling gardens,  however several of the exhibitors and manufacturers had voiced concerns over the possibility of industrial espionage demanding concessions from the fairs organisers. Now only the larger and more dangerous exhibits were to be demonstrated outside. Even so, in the distance the shapes of several airships could be seen hovering close enough to the demonstrations to be raising alarms, despite the best efforts of the security personal using their own airships and white phosphorous flares designed to make continued observation through a magnified lens most painful. One crew member with a telescope would be enough to spy quite adequately on the outdoor demonstrations. While others would no doubt be making fervent notes and sketches based on the descriptions of those who observed.

But, Davenport mused as he and Skye idly strolled towards the main boulevard, observing from afar couldn't hold a candle to actually being there, being able to get up close to the exhibits, ask questions to the creators themselves and being able to get hands on or at least be able to get a personal demonstration.
The outside of the exhibition was centred along a large thoroughfare stretching along some considerable distance. Running down the length of the exhibition centre and into the considerable grounds in which it now lay. On the side nearest to the exhibition centre a myriad of small exhibits and hands on demonstrations were located. On the right side, facing the grounds, a great number of weapons and vehicles were amassed, each designer and country having their own area in which to work and display their wares. Their great barrels facing outwards onto a cordoned off area of the grounds which the exhibitors were invited to use to demonstrate the various attributes of their weapons, such as range and fire-power. This vast open space was lined with range markers and already littered with shell craters.

He was surprised how busy it actually was out here, it reminded him of a busy day on London's Oxford Street. Everywhere he looked there were smartly dressed diplomats, stood in groups discussing affairs of state and other important issues whilst idly drinking glasses of wine and port, brought to them by waiters on silver trays. Slightly off to the side hovering in the background in the shadow of the dignitaries would be their obviously bored long suffering wives and servants clearly feeling like they would rather be elsewhere.  He also caught site of numerous military personnel, no doubt attaches to the various foreign consulates, the plumage and colour of their formal attire standing in stark contrast to the scrum of black and brown clothing.

The sun was bright and Charles put his hand to his forehead. In the distance he also could make out soot caked engineers and coal men walking to and fro between the assembled dignitaries, heading to whatever contraption they helped maintain. Occasionally in this thronging mass of bodies, the plain white coat of an inventor or scientist could be seen, no doubt trying to drum up support and funding, to encourage the crowds to come and see demonstrations of their latest creations. What set this apart from London’s streets, he noted drily, was the infrequent sound of heavy weapons fire in the background as new artillery pieces and cannons were being put through their paces. At the sound many meeker members of crowd would flinch, letting out small yelps of dismay. Many of the military personal present would smirk inwardly, almost involuntarily at these curious phenomena.

“S'like they’ve never been in a battle before, seeing the way the buggers cower at those ruddy great bangs!” Skye chuckled with considerable amusement.

“Indeed, I don't think many have ever experienced life at the sharp end, mores the pity!” Davenport said with a grin. “Right lets see if we can find anything useful!”

“You mean what makes the biggest bang?” Skye inquired.

“Yes, something like that.”

“What ‘bout that there? Looks like it’d be useful!” She pointed over to a nearby paddock ringed with spectators. Within it some sort of mechanical device was being tested.

“Well spotted… Let’s go have a look!” They walked over to the demonstration area and gently nudged their way through the crowd of onlookers to get a better look.

Within the cordoned area were several tables with various devices, the purposes of which were lost on both Skye and Charles. Towards the corner was what appeared to be a boiler of some description with several hoses leading from it to the items on the table. Stood next to the tables was a short man in a grubby white coat. He was hunched and considerably aged but had a fire in his eyes that belied his outward appearance. He was flanked by two younger men in boiler suits, heavy leather gloves and boots, both of whom looked even grubbier than him.

The old man cleared his throat and the murmurs of the crowd subsided.

“Good afternoon assembled worthies of Europe and beyond! I am Otto Stoltenburg from the Lillehammer School of Clockwork and Steam Related Engineering. These are my apprentices, Jan Trobek and Ludvig Swisgar.”

With that both the men behind the inventor waved awkwardly to the crowd.

“We are here today to demonstrate the latest in personal protection technology. Since wars began, man has looked for better ways to protect himself during conflict. Back in the days of old our ancestors used shields to protect themselves from harm on the battlefield, be they wood, or metal. In recent times with the advent of firearms these have become obsolete, bulky and useless. They are unable to stop an incoming bullet and those that can are too heavy to be wielded in the fluid combat we often see in modern warfare.”

With a flourish, he indicated a nearby table as Jan picked up one of the items upon it which appeared to be a heavy duty vambrace of some description. With deftness and ease of practice he closed it around his wrist and turned a key to lock in the device shut. He then turned to his master and gave a quick thumbs up.

“As I have mentioned, shields have been long since obsolete on the modern battlefield, the protection they offer is outweighed by the lack of ability and practicality. I intend to readdress this balance! If you would care to observe? Mr Trobek now if you please!”

On this command, the young Norwegian braced himself and held his arm in front of him, his other hand reaching over to flick a switch in the recesses of the vambrace. With breathtaking speed the bulk of the device on the man's wrist telescoped out into an elliptical shape, obscuring the man behind it almost instantly with the large shape. It was accompanied by a sound that Charles speculated a guillotine must have sounded like. It was so quick that some of audience involuntarily took a step back in amazement, some gasped. Jan’s head was temporarily hidden from view but with flick of his arm, his cheerful and now grinning face could be seen.

“There you see! This is the next evolution of the mighty shield of old, ladies and gentlemen! I have re-imagined this ancient design into something that any modern soldier can use and carry with the minimum of effort!” The man’s face was red with the effort and excitement.

“It is made of a strong metal alloy that folds out in much the same way a viewing glass might! The mechanism is spring loaded with a clockwork operating system which can be activated with the flick of a small switch. As you can see it is light weight and easily manoeuvrable while leaving the hand itself free to carry a weapon or any other tool!” The old man was literally hopping from one foot to the next in excitement.

“Being able to wave it about and run around with it is all well and good, but will it stand up to modern weaponry?” A gruff voice came from the crowd. Glancing over, Davenport saw the outburst had come from a man in the uniform of French Army Officer, resplendent in his white trimmed blue uniform.

“Ah ha! My learned friend has come to the most important issue and of this I am happy to alleviate his fears! Ludvig, fetch the S-Class rifle from the table if you would, and we shall give our assembled worthies a demonstration!” Stoltenburg’s face was filled a strange glee as he announced this.

Ludvig had obviously been keenly anticipating this moment and he caught up the steam powered rifle from one of the tables, disconnecting it from the pipe leading to the boiler before he checked the pressure gauge on the side.

“Ready when you are Sir!” The apprentice called with a grin.

Torvald however, judging by the look on his face, was considerably less excited at the prospect and obviously had been hoping the initial demonstration would have been sufficient. Nevertheless he brought the shield up to protect most of his person and turned to face his colleague.

“Ready when you are Mr Swisgar!” The inventor announced, putting his fingers in his ears.

There was a loud crack as the weapon fired and an ear splitting clang followed as both apprentices in the paddock were obscured for a second by the steam and smoke from the discharged weapon. As the smoke cleared, the audience could clearly see a rather relieved looking Torvald still standing, only a tiny dent in the shield betraying the punishment visited upon it.

“As you can see it is resistant and I dare say impervious to many of the smaller calibres of bullet used currently but the world’s armies! Once the shield is not needed, it can be retracted using a large Allen key…after the dents are hammered out of course! A key will be supplied with every one of these we sell!”  With that the old man and his assistants bowed and began to prepare their next invention for demonstration. Meanwhile the assembled crowd clapped excitedly, clearly entertained! Several of the military observers gruffly nodded in respect at the concept of such an invention and turned to converse with their aides on the merits of such a device.

Skye turned to Charles with excitement, ideas already forming in her head.

“Jus' think what we could do wi' summit like that onboard the Valk! I imagine we'd never need to worry about bein' boarded again!”

“Yes I suppose it would, I shall make sure to mention this contraption to the Captain when we eventually rejoin the others later on, let’s see what else this event has to offer.”

With that the pair made their way through the still enthralled crowd and continued down the boulevard.

As they continued down the bustling thoroughfare, a whooshing sound and intense heat permeated the air as they passed a demonstration of some sort of flame based area denial weapon. It resembled a agricultural muck spreader that could be found in barns throughout the world, except this contraptions contents were even more of  hazard than potent pig slurry. It was obviously very popular and had attracted quite a crowd, but the Valkyrie crew members continued on.

“Some how I ain't thinkin' we'll be needin’ onea those…” Skye muttered sardonically.

“Aboard an airship?” Charles asked, raising an eyebrow. “Yes, I think you might be right there, besides Swiss is resourceful I heard he's been working on something similar anyway, not sure why but its best not to question him when he’s in one of his design 'frenzies'!”

“Aye, crazy bugger always did like that kind of thing…” the young first-mate agreed.

Off to the left side, as they continued onward, a strange squeaking noise could be heard and over the heads of the crowd some sort of generator being tested, closer inspection revealed it to be powered by several dozen small creatures that Charles strongly suspected were Guinea pigs, all of them frantically scurrying in a great bank of clockwork wheels set into the machines itself. Above all of this, great arcs of electricity cracked and sparked between two Tesla towers. Before Davenport could guess at what a purpose such a strange looking device could have Skye grabbed his coat and pulled him onwards.

“No!” she exclaimed simply.

“But-” Charles attempted to reply

“Just no!”

They walked for a while, passing some sort of thresher with its harvesting blades replaced with something more sinister, a whirring searchlight on a great clockwork mount revolving slowly before a crowd of onlookers tracking a weather balloon which one of the crew had released into the air. Even in the daylight, its light was blinding! A quick glance at the placard revealed it to be from the Prussian Aeronautical Institute of Hamburg. Nevertheless, the crew were seen to be in deep conversation with dignities from various nations.

Suddenly the air was permeated by a loud detonation which immediately drew their attention and another amusing whimper of fear from some of the attendees. Skye's eyes flashed with mischief when she saw the source of the noise.

“Now THAT’S more like it, Charlie, look at that!” Skye exclaimed, pointing excitedly to a very large and complicated looking artillery piece. Smoke wreathed the end of the barrel betraying its recent firing. It was of a type that Davenport had not seen before in both his days with the Royal Artillery or his secondment to the Navy. Where the breech should have been, instead a large armoured box lay, on which a panel opened outwards and this revealed a conveyor belt of sorts which a number of shells were being placed. At the pulling of a lever the shells were cycled into the machine and the panel was shut. It seemed a great many others were intrigued as well. There were numerous military men watching the demonstration, the uniforms of several Prussian, French and Dutch officers and aides were present. Even the odd Darmanian and even an American Colonel could be seen! All of these men were watching intently and taking notes. As they moved to the front of the crowd to the paddock boundary, Davenport caught sight of the placard set in the ground next to the exhibit.

“Now that's interesting, it seems these chaps are ours.”

“How’d you figure that ‘un then?” Skye asked with interest.

“It says so right here,” Davenport said, pointing to the placard. “These chaps are from the Royal Ordinance and Steam Weapons Research facility based up in Perthshire. It’s fascinating, I had no idea they were up to anything like this!”

“So what does it do? Apart from make a crackin’ bang that is!”

“Good question! Actually, I'll ask!” With that Davenport waved over one of the engineers who didn't seem too busy.

“What can I do for you Sir?” The man asked, coming to attention.

“Good day to you private. I was wondering if you could enlighten me with an overview of this wonderful device.” The young lieutenant said, nodding politely.

“Certainly Sir, this is new Mark Seven, Twelve-Pounder Auto Loading Cannon,” he announced proudly, reciting an obviously memorised spiel, “basically Sir, it loads itself!”

“What? How'dya mean?” Skye interjected.

“Well Ma'am,” the young engineer replied, “it’s fairly complicated but I'll try and simplify it…We found during testing that one of the major delays in a weapons firing was the time taken to remove the spent cartridge and insert a new one. Even for a practised team of gunners it can take nearly twenty seconds. We were tasked with finding a way to cut down this time, making even a smaller calibre of weapon more deadly due to increased rate of fire. You may have just noticed the shells being loaded into the machine, when this happens they are stored within the weapon on a series of shelves one above the other.”

The engineer smiled proudly, clearly excited.

“As the weapon is fired, the recoil forces the barrel back and this pushes the shell onto a mechanism that propels it out a slot on the side. Using the same momentum, another mechanism lowers the next shell into the breech as the barrel comes forward, essentially loading itself!”

“Bloody marvellous…” Davenport murmured lightly to himself. “How many shells can it fire before it must be reloaded?”

“Well sir the version we are demonstrating here is the prototype of the export version which is a slightly trimmed down model we are preparing for the foreign markets. It can take eight twelve pounder shells with warheads of various types. However, the version we are developing for Her Majesty's Forces, which I suspect you will be interested in, is projected to be able carry a full twelve shells due to increased mechanisation. Its range will be slightly superior too! I take it you are not from the Army high command…?” The private asked, nodding over to a group of British officers talking with another of the engineers.

“No, I am here on behalf of a different buyer, although we are still on the same side.”

“Ah!” The private exclaimed, scratching the back of his head absent mindedly as his eyes brushed over Skye. “I thought as much! I don't believe bronze wings are standard issue yet, mores the pity! With all respect Ma'am!”

“Cheeky bugger, I’ll…” She began, raising her hand as if to slap him. The engineer flinched but Charles had caught her arm.

“Skye, behave!” Charles told her with a grin.

The first-mate shook out his grip and scoffed, turning away for a moment.

“Right my good man would you be able to have a brief of this marvellous weapon sent over to the ship I am stationed on? It’s parked in the civilian sky port on the far side of the fair. Someone will be aboard to receive it.”

“Right Sir!” The Private replied scribbling a reminder onto a notepad he had pulled out of one his pockets. “Would you care for a demonstration? We are due for another test firing as I recall. If you would excuse me, I best get back to work and prepare.”

“Of course my good man, I eagerly anticipate seeing what this weapon is capable of!”

With that the man rejoined the crew of bustling engineers and gunnery crew that were preparing the gun for firing.

“Make ready! Prepare for firing!” Shouted the officer in charge of the team, with that the non essential crew scurried behind a pile of sandbags in the corner of the enclosure while the gunners took their places.

“Ready, Aim, FIRE!”

With that, the weapon roared, then again and again, each report equally spaced from the other. Skye had turned around inquisitively, her curiosity getting the better of her and she counted the number of shells as they were fired, watching the shells impact down the range with a spray of earth and a lick of flame. Each blast made her teeth rattle inside her head and made the ground beneath her tremble, but she was enjoying herself immensely! This was what she had come here to see, none of that boring nonsense the others must be looking at, mechanical cutlery and automated furniture or whatever these crazy inventors had cooked up!

The shell count reached eight before the weapon fell silent. The assembled onlookers removed their fingers from their ears and applauded rapturously, many in deep discussion amongst themselves and members of the weapons crew. It was revolutionary, that much was clear, but this was still a prototype. Satisfied he had seen enough, Davenport had one final look at this revolutionary weapon before him and was about to leave when he heard a voice behind him.

“That was definitely…interesting.” Louis remarked with a smirk, placing a hand on Davenport’s shoulder to get his attention. The lieutenant had seemed rather engrossed in that last demonstration and now he shook his head, as if attempting to pull himself out of a stupor.

“Count, it’s good to see you again. Sorry, I was enjoying that rather too much!”

“We can get some if you so wish it.” Louis smiled and then winked. “One of the benefits of having an aristocrat bastard around is it not?”

Skye looked over to him, clearly realising that the last line was aimed in her direction. She blushed a little and then nodded, adding hastily, “T’be fair, you’re diff’rent than mostuv’em!”

“They’re not too bad when you need funding…” Aurora’s voice cut across them, causing both Skye and Davenport to turn to her with a raised eyebrow.

“Lieutenant Charles Davenport, our military presence and First-Mate Tabitha Skyla-“

“Name’s Skye!” Skye interrupted.

“Quite…Meet Aurora Ebeltoft, a new addition to our crew. She will be working with Genevieve as our Scientist on board. She has some incredible ideas and with both her and Genevieve, I think we might have the most advanced ship on Earth.” Louis smirked and stepped back, allowing them to greet.

“A pleasure.” Davenport nodded in her direction and then raised an eyebrow to Louis as soon as she had turned away. A shrug and a smile from the Captain was his answer.

Skye smiled, at least this one seemed like she had come from a similar background.

“I am sorry to cut this hello short,” Aurora stated, pointing back into the exhibition hall, “but the main event is about to start…”

The Norwegian led the way, Skye laughing a little as she followed. Davenport fell in beside Louis, talking quietly to him.

“Louis, seriously? How many crew members are you planning on taking with you this time!? How can she help us? And what’s more, how the hell did she even get into this part of the exhibition!?” Davenport shook his head in desperation.

“She was originally selling some of her home-made technology in this part of the exhibition and therefore gets a merchant’s pass.” Louis noticed a small spark of interest in Charles’ eyes and thought this to be the best point to pursue. “She made this…”

Louis made sure no-one could see as he pulled back the side of his suit jacket to reveal a black leather holster with the Valkyrie’s logo emblazoned upon it. From that he pulled a strange looking pistol, the barrel was almost square in shape with what appeared to be two darts attached to the underside.

“How did you get that in here!?” Davenport asked, pushing the weapon back down until Louis relented and holstered it once more.

“Aurora brought it in as part of her merchandise so I got to collect it from her in here. Part of her initiation you could say! I asked her to utilise her talents with both engineering and science to create this.” Louis patted his now hidden sidearm with a smirk. “Remember my last stun pistol?”

“The one that almost got you killed? Yes, vaguely.” Davenport responded drily.

Louis ignored it. “This uses something similar, darts which are previously coated in either paralysis gel or this weird gel she created which creates waves of shocks through a person’s body. It leaves them in a lot of pain and also unable to control the spasms of their muscles. And since there’s none of the substance stored in the gun itself, no backfires!”

“Ok, that sounds mildly impressive but-“

“She made it in one night.” Louis added with a wink.

Davenport sighed. He was unconvinced but more impressed than he would let on. Louis’ big heart was probably leading him more than his head in this situation but Davenport had been appealing to Louis as a friend but knew he could not appeal to him officially. Captain de Theudubert was technically his commanding officer after all…

“Where are Gen and Swiss? I thought for sure that they would be enjoying this side of the show!” Davenport added. Swiss would probably enjoy it FAR too much…but Genevieve would have been reverse-engineering everything with her eyes!

“They are working on something quite spectacular back on the ship…Top secret of course and even I do not know the full extent of what they are doing. But something occurred yesterday and it affected them both. They have been holed up almost nonstop with various mechanical noises coming from the room.” Louis laughed. “Whatever it is, it seems to be big!”

“As long as Swiss does not end up having more weaponry attached to his body then all will be well with me!” Davenport replied, shaking his head.

“At any rate, this is supposed to be the biggest show of the entire event. What do you think it could be?” Louis asked Davenport as they caught up to the two women.

“No idea. I hadn’t even heard of it before now Skye mentioned it.” Davenport replied, looking up towards the room that the fire engine had been in. That had supremely impressed him and now that he was back inside, his mind was floating back to it, and with it, the dreams he once had of being a fireman.

“Shut it, we’re ‘bout to find out!” Skye told them, shaking her head in a way that caused Louis to smirk.
I want to apologise for how long this has taken to get up. Real life, as much as I hate it, has caught up with me and slowed me down LOL

At any rate, enjoy the next chapter of what has now become a Steampunk NOVEL rather than a mere story, Flight of the Valkyrie!

The rest of the chapters can be found here;

Prose, characters, fictional locations etc. are copyright :iconsjbonnar:
CO-AUTHOR OF THIS CHAPTER and Technical advisor :iconleadmill:
Count Louis de Theudubert is :iconsjbonnar:
Lieutenant Carles Christophe Davenport is :iconleadmill:
Bjorn "Swiss" Hauptmann is :iconjuggern0ught:
Genevieve til Baudfert is :iconwings-of-crimson:
Tabitha "Skye" Skylar is :iconefia:
Amelia Evelyn Hawkesworth is :iconefia:
Dr. Elizabeth Knight is :iconaliasdotcom:
Aurora Ebeltoft is :iconmtani:

The Valkyrie is no longer recruiting for main crew! HOWEVER, if you wish for a character to be written in briefly, I can do so as long as you give me the following information and express permission to use said character in the novel;
- You need a name for your character, a name which sounds quite Victorian but is also accurate. If you have a title of nobility (de, von, etc) then please explain WHY you have this title. Remember, there is no point having a British name if your character is Spanish!
- You need a brief background. How did they get where they are? Where did their skills come from? etc.
- You need some idea of how they met Count de Theudubert or got involved with the crew.
- You need an idea of how they dress and/or what they do!

Now, all of the above need only be basic as I will help you to flesh out the character more and more!
FullMetalWing Featured By Owner Oct 22, 2009  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
weapons what fun XD great chap onto the next
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