12.2 A Nibble of Something

20 October, 2013 by katelaity

Piracy Fox Pockets

Israel shrugged. His brother’s failure to accept the reality of alchemy was not his problem. “If you say so. But I think we might consider employing a…chemist of some sort.”

“Nonsense!” Edgar sniffed with finality. “It’s quite patently a mechanical issue. The better engine makes the better flight. Fuel is just that: what makes the engine go.”

“But if the engine runs more efficiently—”

“It cannot physically go faster than its top speed.” Edgar was all out of patience. “Here. Take this.” He handed over the tools for the case. “We shall challenge her and win.”

“Messrs. Linton! Messieurs!”

“What is it, garcon?”

The young man arrived breathless, resting his hands on the gondola’s edge for a moment. “Your rival, she is in the air with a party.”

“How large a party?”

He shrugged uncertainly. “Half a dozen at least, so I hear from my brother. I think enough to maybe slow her down.”

“Well, that’s hardly sporting,” Israel said.

“We’re not racing them officially, we just want to put on a good show.” Edgar sniffed. “The superiority of our ship will be obvious enough. She may turn tail and flee back to England without a race and we can spend our precious fuel in other ways—and make far more of a splash.”

“Does that include our making commissions?”

“Indeed,” Edgar said with satisfaction. “We will doubtless be the engineers of an entire army by the time we go back to England.”

Israel frowned. “You don’t mean to give our technology away to the French.”

The young messenger frowned, too. “You are not giving away the technology, surely.”

Edgar looked down at him with all the scorn of a superior being that he could muster. “We do not give away anything. A gentleman may share his bounty, but not with his enemy.”

“Monsieur!” The young man’s mouth gaped. “We are not enemies.”

“I suppose M. Napoleon was a bit before your time, but rest assured, the English do not forget.”

“But Napoleon was a hero, vraiment?” The young man was completely confused. He looked from one brother to the other. The value of the general was surely universal.

Edgar smiled and there was more than a portion of the reptile in it. “You would do well to investigate the end of the little general’s career, courtesy of a man name of Wellington, the Iron Duke, proving once and for all the superior fighting know-how of the British.”

“I suppose, ” the young man said, though his doubtful tone suggested the Englishmen were entirely mistaken about the facts.

“Where is the airship?” Israel asked, trying to steer into more diplomatic waters.

“On the west side of the Pavilions. Although they are in the air now, I am not certain which direction they may be going. But I knew you would want the news as soon as possible, so boom boom, I am here.”

“You did right,” Israel assured him.

“We must get aloft at once,” Edgar decided. “Prepare to fire up the engine and cast off.” The flurry of activity this inspired made it seem like there were more than two brothers on the gondola.

The young messenger wondered if he was still wanted or if he should attend to his other duties, but he quailed before the peremptory Englishman. “Do you require anything further, monsieur?” he asked at last with considerable trepidation. His mother had warned him about the madness of that nation, but he had thought only of the money the position offered.

He was secretly a painter, but he did not wish to have his mother know this as she had hopes of his becoming a banker. She thought all Englishmen to be bankers of some sort, so had pushed him forward for the position due to his good grasp of their language.

All in all, he rather hoped they would win their race and return to their homeland very soon.

“Could you perhaps obtain some food for us?” Israel had his mind on practical matters even if his brother eschewed them. They would always need a nibble of something.


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