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Rated: E · Short Story · Steampunk · #2100268
What if the Red Man discovered Europe?
Alternative history. Russian influence is felt throughout Europe. The America discovered at the time of Colmbus(Kruschev Columbine) is more advanced - they have steam technology Europe is till reliant on sailing ships.

Mostly about the first day for the white men in Sunning Bird's land.
The Chinese had kicked it all off. Until now most sailors stuck to coastal waters rarely straying from sight of land. The chinese had build a massive inland canl to join the summer capital with the winter capital. The Emporor had been pleased . The Empress was impressed. The Dowager Lady Li Sun Yat was absolutely petrified. She didn't like the disruption anyway. She had to be given two bottles of tonic wine and the restrained in a sedan chair when she became over excited. One of her servants had to hold her very close as shed was moved from sedan chair to chair in her onboard quarters, He was prpeparing to commit a ritual suicide because his low-born jand had touched the cheek of the Emperor's mother. He was stoopped just in time by on of the Dowager's personal bodyguards. He was escorted to her quarters where he prostrated himself om the deck and procededm on his belly in order to seek out the Dowager lady. She tired of waiting and called out for the son of an ox to come to where she sat, He approached. still prostrate. Had it not been for the silk rugs spread on the floor by now his chest would have been filled with splinters. She bade him stand. Even when he was persuaded to stand straight he was not tall, She could see that he was a little taller than her son, but would always bow in the Emperor's presence. He was at least a head taller than her husband had been even before his had had been chopped off when her son took power,

In the thin blouse and knee length trews worn by servants he was also visibly bigger than her husband had been, Perhaps the weeks long trip to the winter capital would be more entertaing this year, There were worse way to pass the time. She signalled two maids to take the boy, ...no man, she correctyed/

Sunning Bird looked down from the bridge of his lead airship. He smiled to himself. His navigation machine had worked well. He had crossed the great ocean and found land almost exactly where the white men had said it would be. He thought back to the arrival of these strange men and their arrival in his land a few short weeks ago.They had been welcomed ashore and given greetings in a traditional fashion. His warriors had danced for the white men.

Once the warriors had finished their welcome the elders brought out baskets of fruit and meats. The drummers, playing all the time in the background, now increased the pace of their drumming. As the tempo increased so did the volume until the sound was like thunder. Sunning Bird then appeared in the dance od a chieftain's welcome. Bent low as he entered and spiining so his robes flew around him. It was difficult to take their eyes off him. He straightened up as he approach the captains until he reached them and duddenly, as he drew up to his full height, both he and the drums stopped. The air still vobrated and Sunning Bird in a full warrior's regalia carrying spear, war axe and bow and wearing a mask towered over the white men. It was an impressive sight.

The white men had been stunned and terrified when they had met this giant of a man. He had laid down his weapons in front of him and waited for the white men to do the same. Their leader had taken only moments to comply. It had taken a shout from the leader to persuade his men to follow suit. "Put all your weapons on the ground!" he had ordered.

"But sir...?" an unknown voice, joined by muttering.

"Now! unless you want to feel the lash." There was no doubting the captain's resolve.

The tension in the air built and as suddenly drained away as the last weapon was put down.

Sunning Bird's people men and women warriors and elders brought tables out into the open space and set them around its centre. Sunning Bird took his seat at the centre table and indicated the captains to join him. He needed to know as much about these strangers as he could. Would he be able to trade with him or would they want war.
It had not been hard to find out all they had to know. His smile had tried to set them at ease but they were still quaking when he sat them down.

The women of the tribe, on a signal from one of the other warriors standing nearby, brought plates of food and basins of fruit juices. The women on their second trip also brought bunches of sweet smelling flowers which they placed around the necks of the white sailors.

After a few glasses of some strange tasting fruit drink the white men were intoxicated. They couldn't stop talking. Their leader was a short, bearded man dressed in some vile smelling garments made from animal skins it seemed. They called him Kruschev Colombine. He was apparently a great warrior and explorer in his own country, a very important man. He had been sent by the leader of his country to find gold and other treasures.

Sunning Bird's tribe were happy to give him gold in exchange for the vessels in which he had arrived. These were strange vessels that floated upon the sea and were propelled by bits of cloth hanging from trees erected on the deck. They were incapable of rising into the air and had to go where the wind permitted. There were no engines of any kind and they were cramped beyond belief. Kruschev called them ships but they were barely the size of a steam propelled jaunty.

Sunning Bird could not imagine what it was like to live aboard such a cramped vessel for weeks on end. The thought of being aboard during a storm was horrifying. He thought he would surely have died in such a place. He learned it was common for sailors, aboard such ships, to die and not just in storms. The diseases that were rife in their home country travelled with them and were intensified. In addition there were diseases unique to the seamen. Fortunately, tribal doctors could cure most of their diseases, some with plain good food.

When Kruschev was shown around one of our smaller airships he was astounded at the speed it could attain with total disregard for the wind direction. It had taken him 12 weeks or more to travel across the ocean. He thought that one of our airships would cover the same distance in less than 12 days. One third of his men had died on the way and another 2 officers crazed by the sun had jumped over the side of the ship and soon drew the attention of sharks. Their screams lasted almost as long as they did.

Thunder Cloud, Sunning Bird's deputy didn't think the white men would make much of a meal for a decent sized shark. In his own language he suggested to Sunning Bird that the white men would have left the shark's with a bad taste.

Once the feasting was over the white sailors somewhat subdued after the fruit were all led by one of the young women, from the grand hall. Each was also accompanied by 2 warriors. Whilst they had been in the great hall temporary shelters had been constructed from wood and some type of strong cloth, Inside each shelter was a large container of hot water. The white men were encouraged to disrobe and to enter the water.The warriors ensured that any who were less enthusiastic soon got the message and naked climbed into the water. The initial shock was soon replaced by moans of pleasure as the women scrubbed their bodies of the grime and sweat of years.

As the sailors appeared from beneath the grime the women cried out at the sign of old injuries and wounds on some of the white men. They were also concerned at signs of disease apparent in these young bodies. They called out and sent the warrior guards to fetch medicine men.

When these medicine men arrived it was clear they were not warriors but much older. However, despite their obvious age they moved easily and with spirit. Not one had grey hair and some had allowed their hair to grow long and then shaped it into fancy designs. They chattered among themselves and then set to examining each sailor in turn. The sailors, still naked, shuffled and wriggled before the gaze of the women. The women giggled at such bashfulness from grown men.

It was clear, by now to the sailors, that the new arrivals were medicine men of some sort and their chief was soon allocating healers to the more serious cases. The women were left to deal with the less serious whilst some of their number went off to obtain robes for the naked men. After some time salves had been applied, strange liquids, initially unwelcome, were poured down throats and poured into other orifices, and robes brought to hide their nakedness.

The men were allowed to rest for the afternoon whilst their captains were taken to talk to Sunning Bird and his chiefs. The initial talk was difficult as there was little common language. However, there was a strong willingness to communicate. Soon basic questions were being asked and answered. It was clear the white men had come prepared to take whatever they could by plunder if necessary. They soon began to realise Sunning Bird's people were far more numerous than anticipated and were more able to defend themselves. They had seen many airships propelled by steam engines and some were many times the size of even the Pinto. They had seen no evidence of cannon aboard but felt sure there must be weapons of some sort.

Immensely tired after the exertions of the day the sailors soon began to doze.They were taken from the main hall into a smaller hall with sleeping mats on the floor. Warriors stood at each of the two doors. Even though a number of the women stayed to administer more of the salves the men were all too tired to contemplate any romantic activities. Soon all that could be heard were the snores of the sailors.

Sunning Bird and his elders had gathered and discussed the new arrivals throughout the night. There were three choices left to them by dawn. The first was to give the newcomers gold and food and let them return from whence they came. The second choice was to kill every one of them. The third choice was to find out as much as they could and to take them back to their own country witha large enough force to set up and protect a trading post.

Nobody supported the first choice. They would just come back in bigger numbers. The second choice drew some support but would not guarantee that others would not follow. The choice was made to send a force made up from the nearby tribes. From the information they had gathered and by use of a calculating engine they had been able to determine the route Columbine had followed and the much shorter route they would have to follow to get him home.

Messengers were sent to the tribes to gather a
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