Vengeful Seas – Picture It & Write

Written for Picture It & Write. A story about a fall from grace begins after the photo.

Genre: Steampunk

Vengeful Seas

Arteigna ushered him into the receiving room with a smile that could ignite a star. His leather clothes and overcoat were coated with dust and stank of engine oil, yet the extraordinary beauty was undeterred. She was one of many lovely women serving on staff for the Cardinal Pinnacle. The old man liked to surround himself with beauty, like the palatial stonework and gold filigree of his fortress, and the servitude of beautiful young girls taken from their families. Arteigna’s surreptitious wink told of one thing and the fire that blazed in her eye afterward revealed she was much, much more than beauty.

“Come in, come in!” called the Highest One. His chair rolled forward with a hissing and pulsing of pistons. Tubes of red fluid flowed into the ancient man from an elaborate machine that kept his heart beating and his blood cleansed. “Have you another victory to report?”

Hansen knelt before Cardinal Pinnacle and kissed the ring on a withered hand. “Not yet, father, but my greatest victory is yet to come.” He looked out the windows of the cliff side keep. It was said that the entire civilized world could be seen from Cardinal Pinnacle’s keep where God himself rested to view his creation. Hansen only saw his airship, Glory To Thee. The Q-ship, a massively gunned craft disguised as a merchant, unfurled flags–the traditional communication amongst ships of the air–which offered a simple message: standing by.

“Good, good, my boy!” cackled the old man. “I daresay your raids upon the commerce and industry of Elmaire have nearly broken their nation. They should fall within weeks.”

A bird screeched, horribly, like a creature damned to a hell filled with snakes. It called out in misery, again and again, until the ninth call was a pale gasp.

“What is that?” said Hansen.

The Highest One pointed to a clock with a caged bird mounted above it. “My latest creation,” he grinned. “Electrodes jolt the bird into song like bells of the hour. A living creature made into a bell.”

“An apt metaphor for what you really do here,” murmured Hansen.

“Watch your language, boy.” Cardinal Pinnacle’s face twisted with his infamous menace.

Hansen reached up and unhooked the bird’s cage. He carefully removed the bird and it’s electrodes and released it. It fluttered weakly and plopped onto the floor. It struggled a moment longer before before expiring with a relieved sigh.

“YOU HAVE NO RIGHT!” screamed the Highest One. “How dare you defile my creation!”

Hansen plopped into a velvet chair and lit a cigar.

“What is this? There is no smoking here.”

Arteigna flowed into the receiving room and elegantly lowered herself onto Hansen’s lap. “All is ready m’love,” said as she held his face in her ample bosom.

“Oh, a rebellion is it?” scowled the Highest One. He stabbed a finger at Hansen. “Ingrate! I saved you from an orphanage.”

“Thus the only hold you had upon me was your lies, unlike most of your staff,” said Hansen.

He jabbed a hateful finger at Arteigna. “But where is YOUR family?”

“Exactly where my lover put them,” crooned Arteigna, kissing Hansen deeply. She turned to Cardinal Pinnacle, eyes afire, “Out of your twisted hands!”

“I rescued them from that cesspool of a camp you kept them in,” explained Hansen. “I believed you were a good man, fighting for the good of the people, until Arteigna showed me the truth. Now her parents and those of the security men and gunners defending this keep are quite free. This fortress is completely defenseless. You’ve built a castle made of sand, Highest One, and now vengeful seas will reclaim it.”

Cardinal Pinnacle screeched for help on his intercom, but no one answered. He crouched behind his fortress-like desk as if to hide. “How?”

Arteigna walked past him languidly, ignoring him as though she would a beggar. She answered as she looked out at Hansen’s Glory To Thee hovering close by. “You give me documents to file every day, Lowest One. After Captain Hansen taught me the meaning of Latitude and Longitude, it was easy to ascertain the position of your disease-ridden internment camps.” With a grin, she pulled a hidden cord. A large canvas flag unfurled before the window. Though it faced away from the window, it was easy to see the concentric rings painted upon it.

She joined Hansen as they strolled to the exit, his hand claiming the hip of Cardinal Pinnacle’s erstwhile possession.

“The Lord Highest will always punish sinners!” wailed Cardinal Pinnacle.

“Yes, he will,” said Hansen at the doorway. “I believe that’s why there’s a target for my gunners over your window.”

Art By: Michael Tassie

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Each week, writers gather to write for Ermilia’s Picture It & Write. With an image prompt, we write to wherever imagination takes us. Here is this week’s prompt: http://ermiliablog.wordpress.com/2013/12/22/picture-it-write-23/

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About Eric Wicklund

I like looking at the serious subjects in the news and seeking the lighter side of the issue. I love satire and spoofs. I see the ridiculous side of things all the time, and my goal is to share that light-hearted view.
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20 Responses to Vengeful Seas – Picture It & Write

  1. Ah, what a great story. :-)

  2. Lyn says:

    Now there’s a story that could do with earlier chapters and later chapters – or have you already done that?

    • EagleAye says:

      No, I haven’t, but I see what you mean. There’s quite of relationship stuff that happened before this. I created quite a bit of world in my mind to arrive at this piece. Perhaps I’ll write more with these characters and explore it a little.

  3. Suzanne says:

    Fabulous story! Reminiscent of something Heinlein might have written. What an enjoyable read!

  4. Ted Strutz says:

    Now that’s some fine steampunk without being overblown by ‘steampunkness’. One of the best uses of a photo prompt I have seen lately. Loved the ending, Eric, I can picture that ship blasting away.

  5. Pingback: Gone Fishing – Sunday Photo Fiction | Momus News

  6. Joe Owens says:

    A nice beginning for an intriguing story. I am behind and just now experiencing steam punk.

    • EagleAye says:

      Thanks Joe! I’ve just gotten into it a little, but what I’ve read is very fun. It’s a certain degree of Scifi with all the charm of the adventurous Victorian age. Scifi got it’s start with folks like H.G. Wells, Mary Shelley, and Jules Verne. It only makes sense to pursue that dichotomy with a little modern verve. My story is inspired by H.G. Wells’ “War in the Air” and a recent steampunk writer. I’m having fun with it it, so thanks very much for your thoughts!

      • Joe Owens says:

        I do not know much about H.G. Wells. In fact I know much more about the actress Jaime Murray that portrays H.G. Wells in the Sci Fi channel show Warehouse 13.

      • EagleAye says:

        Jaime Murray is a goddess! I have a wicked crush on her. Loved her in Warehouse 13. She also plays a beautiful alien in the TV show, “Defiance.”

        H.G. Wells is one of the original scifi authors who wrote, “The Time Machine,” and “The Invisible Man.” These concepts didn’t exist until Wells wrote the books. He was well ahead of his time, and still worth reading if you’re interested.

      • Joe Owens says:

        I do love her in WH13, but felt she was wasted in Defiance. So was the young girl who was much more beautiful without that freaky make up.

      • EagleAye says:

        Oh yeah, she’s hot too, but for me I can’t get enough of Murray. She’s elegant and classy and that accent is a major turn on.

  7. Indira says:

    Great story. Title is very intriguing.

  8. Pingback: Gauntlet Run Pt. 2 | Momus News

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