13 October, 2013 by katelaity
Edgar Linton hammered the last nail into the box around the engine, then looked down at it with satisfaction. That should secure things nicely. He looked around for his brother.
Israel was busy tinkering with the controls on the board at the front of their ship. He had decided to recalibrate the wheel to allow them to make more precise turns. Although it was a challenge to make a huge airship turn like anything resembling ‘quickly’ they had vastly improved the maneuverability of the ship.
“Shall we give it another go?” Edgar shouted to his brother.
Israel did not at first appear to hear him, but at last stood up and put his hands to his back as he stretched out his aching muscles. The two of them were about the same height with similarly chestnut-coloured hair. But while Israel’s eyes veered off into a mixture of bluish-brown, Edgar’s were a clear amber, like an owl’s. He always figured it make him look wiser than his brother, though he had never said such a thing to the hot-head.
“Do you think it’s ready?”
“If it’s not ready then we are already failures.”
“That Rochester woman is already here in Paris.” Israel scowled. “She fancies herself quite the captain since that day she was lucky enough to get the better of us.”
“Luck it was,” Edgar agreed. “Lightning might be an act of god, but it was not a reason to claim any kind of victory.”
“Admittedly her ship is rather sleeker, but we have the real power. When it comes to speed, we will win in the long run.” Israel finished tinkering with the case below the wheel, closed it up and returned his tools to the oak box on the floor of the gondola.
“So you don’t think there’s anything to the rumours of her using an alchemist?”
Edgar frowned. He hadn’t thought his brother had heard the rumours. “I think it speaks to a level of ridiculous desperation. Imagine! What is this, the Dark Ages? Alchemist!”
“You know, the Middle Ages were not really all that dark an age—”
Edgar cut off his brother before he got up on that favourite hobby horse again. “Yes, yes, I know. It was far more enlightened a time than the Renaissance folk gave it credit for, but in comparison to this bright modern era, all stages of the past look dark. Surely under the glorious reign of Victoria we have reached an apex of modernity that all past eras must envy.”
“I suppose most ages think that,” Israel said, his tone suggesting this thought had just occurred to him and offered a further complication to his usual fantacism on the subject.
Edgar was not amused. “There had never been a time like now. We have technology at our fingertips that previous eras would have looked on as witchcraft or magic. We can traverse the globe in shorter and shorter times with more people moving to new lands and taking up the riches they find there. Air travel will usher in a new era of peace and prosperity, the like of which this world has never known.”
“Although judging by previous technological advances—the printing press, for example—the mechanical advances end up being exploited by those who would make a quick penny for often nefarious means.” Israel frowned down at the control panel.
Edgar had no patience for his brother’s philosophising. “Don’t be an ass.”
Israel shrugged. “How long after Gutenberg’s bible did people print more salacious stories?”
“We are not here to talk of salacious stories.” Edgar huffed with irritation. “We are making the world a better place.”
“Well, yes, that’s what Gutenberg assumed, too. But the printing press works just as well for smut as for books of the bible.”
“There is no way that air travel could be used for improper activities.” Edgar tried not to shout but his patience was severely tried as usual by his brother’s mental meanderings.
“Oh, I don’t know,” Israel mused. “If the gondola were large enough…”
“Can we get back to the issue at hand?”
“Our pending race against the Rochester ship.” With an effort Edgar calmed his hair and spirits. “She must accept our challenge now that it’s been splashed across the broadsheets of Paris. To do otherwise would be to admit defeat—and the superiority of our ship.”
“And if she bests us?”
Edgar smiled. “Not a chance. After all the improvements we made? She will be lucky to spot us with binoculars once we get up a head of steam.”
“As long as she hasn’t really got some fancy new fuel invented by this alchemist of hers,” Israel said helpfully.
Edgar made a sound of annoyance. “There is no alchemy!”