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by ~MM~
Rated: ASR · Other · Steampunk · #2008947
Steampunk flash fiction Prompt: 500 words or less steampunk
Ignoring the children making faces and blowing raspberries on the tempered glass, I peered through the viewing pane, hoping to catch a glance at my new home.  Blueness stretched into dull indigo; the only relief, the bubbles streaming up from under the manta’s wings.

I shifted uncomfortably, waiting for the stomach twisting moment the engines switched from low rumble to sternum-shaking shudder.  And, as the faint lights of Port Amabell’s undersea dock came into view, the manta’s engines let out a roar of pressurized aether and the entire ray shook as the captain prepared her for docking.

I grabbed a beam for support and willed my face not to blanche.  I have travel by ray before (albeit never in the intercontinental manta class), but the lurching and pitching as they lock-on still turns my stomach in a way land and air travel never does.  Needless to say, when the manta popped her hatches, I was one of the first passengers to disembark.  Scuttling through the narrow passageways to customs, I fussed and fiddled, clutching my papers and praying there would be no hiccup with luggage reclaim on the other side.

Soldiers armed with aether-goggles and sniffer dogs patrolled the customs foyer; the whirling and clacking of the dogs’ gears faint over the hubris.  Mechanics are just one area the Derowish mainland supersedes the Archipelago, but I still found it strange when seemingly random passengers where pulled aside on nothing more than a twitch of a dog’s clockwork head.  They made me nervous and did nothing to abate the general anxiety that persisted until I reached the other side of the customs barrier and was reunited with my trunk.

“Mikael Carther? Detective Mikael Carther?”

I looked up from the un-tampered lock on my luggage.  A pair of unfashionably thin legs blocked my view.  I continued looking up.  And up.  Towering high above me was a brown-black beard fastidiously knotted and plated in the Derowish manner, an aquiline nose, and hooded dark eyes.

I swallowed.         

“Inspector Nurhonen?”  I hazarded.  A curt nod and a sharp glance at my trunk.  Hands thrust deep in long coat pockets, Nurhonen walked away.  In ground-consuming strides.  Even without my luggage dragging behind me, I would have struggled to keep up with him. 

Not waiting for me, Nurhonen threaded his way through the crowd and I would have lost him had he not stood a head taller than any of the seamen, soldiers, or miscellaneous caravanserais there.  A paperboy jostled me, offered a newssheet; only to be shooed aside in turn by a modish ladies-maid, her corsets loose to suggest a stylishly plump figure.  I tore my eyes away and hurried after Nurhonen.  Time enough to admire, and hopefully sample, the local cuisine after I had established myself in my new barracks.  The Derowish policia was hardly going to take all my time, now was it? 

I straighten my face into forced nonchalance and, luggage still in clumsy tow, plunged back into the bustle of the street.

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