A Steampunk Farce

Trevor Ralley was having a very bad day. The voices in his head were at it again.

“Shut up, you self-inflated pompous twit!”

“Blow, blow, thou winter wind! Thou art not so unkind as man’s ingratitude.”

“What the devil is that supposed to mean?”

“You pay a great deal too dear for what’s given freely.”

That’s right. The obnoxious little prick that was the voice of the blasted metal plate he had to have inserted into his head so it didn’t fall apart like a cracked egg and ooze little brain bits out sounded like a ponce. Quoted Shakespeare all the bloody time, in fact. If he didn’t go mad with the near-constant cranial yammering, he would after hearing another sonnet to a summer girl-that-was-actually-a-boy.

Deciding he needed a distraction this very moment, he stepped out of his cabin and onto the deck of his airship. She was a grand old thing indeed, with her shiny hull and proud masthead, her propellers at full speed and her majestic helium receptacle (he absolutely refused to call that a balloon) floating along proudly. There definitely wasn’t a ship grander than good old Argyll. Or Aggie, as he lovingly called her.

“Cap’n, out so early, sir?” His first mate, Plankton. What the hell kind of name was that, and why the hell did he make it so Ralley had to keep repeating it to call him?

“Yes, Plankton, I thought it behoved us another gander at the old maps.” There. That should be a good enough reason to be outside and unbothered.

“If you say so, sir. Might I recommend the ‘81 to go with that?” Plankton leered, knowing exactly the type of mood Ralley was in. If he tried hard, he might even get the ol’ Captain to burst a vessel.

Ralley grunted and plonked his way to the map. They were looking for the famed city of gold, El Dorado. By and large they had seen absolutely no sign of it so far, even though they had already circled the ‘X’-ed area on the map twice. He was going to give it one last try, think of the Queen and all that, and then go back home and shake the rum right out of the wanker that had given his boss the map. And then snivel to said boss.

Hmmm, there’s supposed to be a lake somewhere nearby, why can’t I see that from up here?

This is very midsummer madness, croaked his little Bard.

Be serious, damn you. Have we been looking at the wrong clump of trees?

Exceedingly well read, sang the Bard.

Ralley made a few fancy looking dancing patterns with his compass and divider, and then turned to just catch Plankton whispering to the ship’s cat, “Capscallion’s gone nutters. At this rate we’ll all return to Britain barking.”

“Plankton, do be a good man and show the deck hand how to scrub properly, won’t you, the boy’s dreadful.” At least that wiped away the bastard’s smug grin.

***

Two days later, Aggie was parked near a large lake, the sailors some of them having a good swim, and some of them dozing peacefully. All except for the Captain, who’s voices were acting up again.

We should find the place in another day’s travel, load up the ship and get home in a fortnight.

We should find the place, load up the ship and make for America, chimed in the Bard helpfully.

A greedy little bastard, are we, not too high and mighty for a little gold, mmm?

I see you stand like greyhounds in the slips, straining upon the start, he chortled. Make hay while the sun shines.

Before the “discussion” deteriorated further, the Captain made for the lake, yelled for his crew to get on board and to have the ship airborne in under an hour. Plankton, who was reading some book or the other, straightened himself out and ran to the Captain.

“Sir, if I may, you look terrible. Perhaps you should have a lay down and I can wake ye as she flies.”

This sounded awfully good to Ralley, who promptly agreed and disappeared into his cabin. He was woken, as promised, an hour later, although now he was facing the wrong end of Plankton’s gun.

“If you would be so kind as to come out and step over the side of the ship, sir, I would be much obliged.”

There was something awfully crummy about the whole thing, and the Captain said so as he climbed out of his cabin. He came face to face with the deckhand, and behind him pretty much the entire crew.

“You see, sir, we are all like-minded people here on this ship, and we would very much like to share this generous treasure betwixt ourselves. You, sir, do not play a part in that future, being of the official service and all. So, you’ll have to go.”

“But, but, I was thinking we could just load the ship and make off with it all, you know, you don’t have to think me the enemy…”

There was no convincing them about it, though. Especially the deckhand, who had been affronted by the captain’s poor opinion of his hard work.

And so the Capscallion went. As he stepped over the side of his beloved ship, he saw a great, shining lump of something in the west. Was that… ? Oh, well, at least he got to see it before he went, he figured.

Some rise by sin, and some by virtue fall, said the Bard.

Oh, sod it.

***

Once more, for Chuck Wendig. Perhaps slightly reminiscent of Jack’s original mutiny, not shown in PotC?

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10 comments

  1. raptureistoday

    Big fan of witty banter and playful bickering…well done.

  2. Whatever it says about me, my favorite bits were when they simply yelled at each other. I have much catching up to do on professional Steampunk fiction, but this is a nice breeze into the sub-genre. Thanks for sharing!

    • Blot

      Glad you liked it. Did you like the head plate or the first mate yelling at him? I think my ending was brought on too abruptly, but I was always bad at word limits. :D

  3. Hee, oh I do love that the voice comes from the plate in his head. Who wants to make the first screw loose joke? I do!

  4. This was great. I really enjoyed it. Funny, ridiculous with just the right amount of steampunk-y details.

  5. This is the third in a line of amazing good stories I have read for Chuck’s Challenge June24, 2011.
    Very good story. I’m glad I read it.

    • Blot

      Oh, thank you for reading it. I’ve just started with Chuck’s prompts, some of them are really good! And that’s a wonderful piece you yourself have written. :)

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