Author: Smonorkith PM
Hundreds of years into the shadow of the apocalypse, humans survive, thrive and advance once more. They build airships and skyports - towns in the sky. On the ground, land raiders inhabit the wastes; cities and towns are spread thinly apart. In the skies of the new world, Galland and his crew find themselves at the dawn of a new age, mired in revolution and conflict.Rated: Fiction T - English - Adventure/Sci-Fi - Chapters: 17 - Words: 44,041 - Reviews: 7 - Favs: 3 - Follows: 2 - Updated: 05-06-13 - Published: 09-08-12 - id: 3056732
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Astreios awoke to the sound of his steam powered alarm clock. The device had been built for him by his engineers, at his request. The crew in the engine room would divert steam through a pipe that led directly to Astreios' quarters and into his alarm clock, this would spring the device into life and awaken the slumbering emperor. He ordered his crew to wake him when the Victory was thirty minutes away from docking at her destination, which in this instance was the skyport Constantinopolis.
It was mid morning when the alarm clock rang, and the sky was washed with the pale grey light that was so characteristic of a late winter's day. The emperor swept out of bed immediately and readied himself for the day in an orderly fashion, quite calm in the knowledge that his next move against that sylph, Galland, had been planned. The Constantinopolis was not yet under the influence of the empire, so he decided to only take his personal retinue aboard, five handpicked men, armed with pistols crafted by Anubia's finest gunsmiths. Each pistol was a revolver; unique to the man it was made for, with the initials of each man etched in the cylinder and grip. The barrel of each pistol also featured many delicately engraved roses. With grips carved from bone and a frame of shimmering steel, the weapons were unlike anything commonly encountered anywhere else. These guns were almost identical to the pistol carried by Astreios, save that his had his personal seal engraved on both sides of the frame, and a red rose that adorned the bone grip. To be given the privilege to carry one of these weapons was the highest honour a man of the empire could hope to receive.
The Victory was the empire flagship, and as such was much larger than even the largest of trade ships, meaning that she required the space of two docking bays, much to the Constantinopolis harbourmaster's annoyance. Although large ships were quite common as far southwest as Anubia and the skyport Helios, the people of the Constantinopolis had never even heard of a ship so large, and so naturally regarded the Victory with much suspicion. However, even the most suspicious of eyes couldn't deny that there was something incredibly regal about the Victory, as she gracefully sailed in to dock. With a great hiss, hydraulic clamps secured the ship in place, as a gangplank was lowered, connecting the Victory to the great skyport. Astreios led his guard across the bridge onto the skyport, where police officers awaited with high powered rifles at the ready. The security forced had been put on alert due to the size and uncommon nature of the Victory. Astreios and his men complied with the search and were told sternly that people would be cautious of them, and that they should stay out of trouble. Astreios humbly thanked the police officers for letting them pass, acting as though he were genuinely well meaning. The emperor set off down through the streets of Constantinopolis in search of Eliphas.
The hunt was over shortly, Astreios had a few agents aboard the skyport, and they radioed the whereabouts of Eliphas to the Victory shortly after they had docked, the Victory then relayed the message to Astreios. The emperor stopped outside a shabby looking warehouse, examining it until he was sure it was the place. He glanced around in all directions, making sure there were no security forces about. Once he was sure it was safe, he gave the order, and his men stormed the warehouse. With pistols raised ready to eliminate any resistance, they swept through the main floor, which consisted mostly of shelves stacked with boxes labelled 'documents'. Eliphas was an information dealer, which is why Astreios was sure Galland would have visited him. Astreios led the men up a flight of stairs to an office room, the only remaining place Eliphas could have been. A single mighty kick from Astreios was all it took to smash the lock asunder and send the door flinging inward. Eliphas was stood at the other end of the room, hands behind his back, as though he were expecting this visit. The room was a bright yellow, and an old ceiling fan spun idly as Astreios' men restrained Eliphas, putting him to his knees and holding his arms firmly in place behind his back. Astreios began questioning about Galland. Eliphas would not answer. After all the questions the emperor had to ask were ignored, Astreios let out a great laugh.
"You foolish old man," the emperor began," you did speak to him, it's obvious. You see, you're an information dealer, you can't tell a lie! It's just not in your nature. Your silence only speaks to convey the truth." Without a moment's hesitation Astreios drew his pistol and shot Eliphas in the chest. The old man fell on his face and drew a few raspy last breaths, gazing at the boots of Emperor Astreios. The emperor gestured for his men to follow him out of the warehouse. They exited out of a side door through an alley, the very same alley used by Galland just days before. Someone might have heard the shot, and Astreios wasn't going to take any chances just yet.
He led his retinue with great haste towards the heart of the skyport. The heat rose the closer they got to the centre, and before long they were outside the engine district, which was guarded by skyport police officers who were on edge due to the port-wide alert. At the core of the skyport lay the mighty engines that kept it in the air, powered by a combination of biodiesel, solar and wind power. Also at the heart, sat the bridge of the skyport, and it was here that the mayor of the Constantinopolis oversaw the operation of the port. The emperor and his men sat in a shadowy alley, out of sight of the police officers guarding the entrance to the engine district; he was going to use the edginess of the policemen to his advantage. Astreios radioed to the Victory, and ordered them to disengage from the skyport, and to circle round until they found the long range radio antenna, and then to fire upon it and destroy it.
Minutes passed and then finally Astreios was treated to the sound of the Victory's mighty guns firing. The ensuing explosion sent the police who were stood by the entrance running to see what was happening, just as Astreios wanted. The Constantinopolis' aerial defence batteries swung into action, spitting fire at the Victory which was impressively nimble in spite of her size. Astreios seized the distraction and rushed through the gates of the engine district and headed up to the bridge. With all the officers scrambling to man defence batteries, Astreios made it to the bridge completely unhindered and smashed through the door into the mayor's office. The emperor's retinue quickly dispatched the few police officers who guarded the mayor at all times, and Astreios calmly walked towards the mayor's desk.
"We're in charge now," he said, before shooting the mayor in cold blood, right between the eyes. With the Victory overhead, annihilating the defence batteries, Astreios activated the mayoral announcement system and began to speak. "Attention, citizens of the Constantinopolis! Your mayor is dead, and I, Emperor Astreios, am in charge now. The Constantinopolis is now property of the New British Empire. You have three options from here. You can carry on living as you were, under my rule. You could leave, and find a new home. Or you could rebel, and die like dogs. My ship has enough firepower to tear your skyport out of the aether. Your emperor has spoken." Astreios deactivated the announcement system and listened. A few defence batteries continued to fire, but after a few thunderous volleys from the Victory, they were soon silenced.
After five minutes of eerie quiet, the silence was broken by a knock on the door of the mayor's office. The emperor's retinue opened the door with a readiness to lay their lives down if need be. The chief of police, harbourmaster and head engineer were stood outside, hands up in surrender. They were ushered in by Astreios' men and forced to kneel before the emperor. Astreios made the three men swear allegiance to the New British Empire over the announcement system, so that the entire skyport would hear. The three men who made the skyport run were bowing to the authority of Emperor Astreios, and so too did the citizens of the Constantinopolis. Astreios radioed for the Victory to dock once more, and to unload ten soldiers of high rank and send them to the bridge, he also told the radio operator to contact Anubia, and tell them that the skyport Constantinopolis was now part of the empire, and open for trade.
Once the men arrived, Astreios introduced them to the chief of police; they would work with him to make the skyport safe. He dismissed the chief, soldiers and head engineer. The emperor then explained to the harbourmaster the perks that being part of the empire could bring. The most obvious being a lot more trade and protection. The harbourmaster didn't take much convincing to see the benefits of the empire, even if it did mean extending the docking bays to accommodate larger ships, and after seeing how much damage a single empire ship could do, he was glad to be on their good side.
"One last thing before you go, harbourmaster. A few days ago a ship named the Hyperion passed through, did they not?" Astreios asked. The harbourmaster nodded, recalling the name. "When they left, what was their heading?" The harbourmaster took a few moments to think.
"East, if memory serves. And another thing, I heard that the captain said something about an Eliphas and a Thummim, if that means anything to you, sir? I had a couple of officers eavesdrop on him, he looked disreputable."
Astreios tensed at the name. Thummim is supposed to be dead. He thought. He dismissed the harbourmaster with a wave of his hand and sat down to begin plotting. Over the next hour the mayor's office remained completely still and deathly silent. The emperor sat still in his chair, planning the next step while his men stood guard silently, like great motionless statues casting their iron gaze over the room. Eventually Astreios rose out of his chair. Gesturing with his hand, he ordered his men to follow and set off back towards Eliphas' warehouse.
It was noon now, and the sun was out, glinting off of the brass walkways of the Constantinopolis. Upon arrival at Eliphas' warehouse, the emperor ordered his men to search every document for any mention of Thummim, and without a moment's pause, they began. Astreios himself also took time to search through some of the documents, of which there were boxes upon boxes full of. A few fruitless hours of searching passed. Astreios grew restless. He threw a box across the length of the warehouse in anger. Each minute they wasted was a minute given to Galland. Astreios' entourage didn't flinch at the display of rage, they were used to his foul temper by now, and instead, they doubled their efforts. A thought suddenly struck Astreios. He bolted upstairs to the yellow room, the white carpet, stained red with Eliphas' blood. The emperor began to check Eliphas' now cold body. Much to his dismay he found the old man's pockets empty. Trying not to despair he continued searching the room, checking through a couple of desk drawers unsuccessfully.
Astreios let out a sigh. He noticed a chill in the room and resolved to turn off the fan while he sat and thought a while longer. Pulling on a cord that was by the door, Astreios couldn't help but notice the fan didn't stop spinning. Instead he could hear the faint sound of gears working. In an instant a panel in the wall dropped away, revealing a hidden room. Astreios' face lit up with delight. As he stepped into the new room, he saw a bed against the far wall, with a cabinet next to it. So this is where the old man slept, he thought, as he stepped up to the cabinet and began to rifle through it. At long last he found what he was looking for. Eliphas' journal! He began to skim through the pages until eventually he found the entry he was looking for. There was a passage that detailed how Thummim had grown tired of life aboard the skyport and decided to go and live with the nomadic tribe. Astreios let out a manic laugh, elated that he'd found exactly the information he needed. This was where Galland would be heading. He leapt down the stairs and ordered his men to return with him to the Victory at once. Astreios radioed ahead with the ship's new heading, the last place the nomads were seen; the great eastern desert. The emperor reached his ship and immediately gave the order to set sail. Time was of the essence, already had the emperor given his quarry too much ground. Astreios retired to his quarters almost immediately, giving instructions to only be disturbed if either the Hyperion or the nomads were sighted.