nano practice

Still trying to get down characters, setting, and feel for my new novel. I’ve never written steampunk before, but this was immensely enjoyable.

“Are you certain that this is a good idea?” Paul asked.

Abraham’s hand, covered in grease smudges, did not waver. He had careful hands, good hands; a good mechanist could keep a level palm as the world collapsed around him. He paused, said, “Yes,” and flipped the switch. The wires trailing from switch to device swayed. Electricity arched, hit the grounding wires, and dissipated.

At the Soarin farm, Leo stopped halfway between the coop and the farmhouse, a basket of eggs in hand. It was all he could do to keep the basket held up as he collapsed. He hit his head hard on impact, but he saved the Soarin’s breakfast.

Fifty seven miles away, the lights in Maxwell’s secret laboratory shut off one section at a time as it lost power. Five blocks of white lights, then a panel of red glowing buttons, then one last green light by the back wall flickered and died. For a moment all was still.

Then a steel marble, freed from its magnet, ran along the metal track, into a cup, tipped over a weight, triggered a line, and turned on the backup generator. The emergency systems hummed, then roared back to life.

Uriel started the rebooting process. First his core functions, the platform that supported power, air intake, communication lines. His fingers moved on their own as the system checked each component of his rebuilt body. Red eyes glowed briefly in the dark, dilated in and out. Uriel looked down, where his hands were forced to rest at his side by electro-magnetic cuffs.

But electro-magnets needed electricity to run.

The beep behind his ear signaled the start of his auxiliary functions. That included links to the artificer, access to Maxwell’s private data files, locked tools… but it also included a behavior control procedure.

Uriel ripped his hand free of the cuff, grabbed the first tool on the nearby bench– a brass compass fit with a charcoal pen, and rammed the sharp point of the instrument though his temple, several inches into a mechanical brain. Uriel’s right half went numb, and he lost vision in that eye. Auxiliary booting halted mid-procedure.

He screwed off his head and placed it carefully on the table, pried out his left eyeball and navigated his way through the room to the emergency kit. He took two mirrors, four beeswax candles, a pair of candle-sticks, fancy matches, and set up his workshop: one candlestick for the light, the other to perch his red eye on. Uriel opened his own head from the back, pulled away the hair, and began to repair the damage, adjusting the angle of his eye by hand every few minutes. If he’d had his mouth, he would have whistled.

Free. Free. Free.

Back in the study, Abraham wiped his hands on his work pants. “Power off. I told you I knew what I was doing.”

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