Age of Bronze

Welcome to London, a city running on automatons and steam. A city where transportation is airships and hot-air balloons and electric horseless carriages. A city stuck in the past, but very much in the future.
The time is now. The year is 1892.
Kate Madeline, the Captain of the Good Ship Carmen and overall Steampunk Pirate, has made her name in this world. Even if they aren't very good names. But she isn't from this world--she is from the 21st Century England. She is a Time Traveller Pirate, able to move through time and, sometimes, space. Her family think's she dead, and have no knowledge of her whereabouts.
But in London, robberies and murders are taking place. These are swiftly followed by man-hunts. The Police has reined Kate into helping.
But when the DNA found on the body of a victim has traces of metal embedded into it and the DNA is that of a Sailor who has been dead for over a year, things aren't adding up the way they should. But this man is far from dead . .

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The air was thick with smoke as I made my way down the crowded docklands of London. Of home.

    The sign above the entrance, in bold letters, read:

 

Welcome to the London Docks. The home of your airships and trading market.

  

I was walking one way, and seemingly everyone else was walking the other way, pushing their way through to busyness. Beggars lined the wall on the other side of the brick dock, pushed up and sat down out of people’s ways under the usual sepia pictures and posters.

    Further down the dock I came to a halt next to a poster surrounded by gentleman smoking pipes and women hunching skirts. Just then, it started to rain and I opened my umbrella over my head.

    The poster had an image of the regular airship captain you saw on the other posters, the one that pointed straight at you and seemed to follow you with its eyes wherever you went.

 

WANTED!

CREW FOR DIRIGIBLE!

MUST HAVE FINISHED EDUCATION, UNISEX ROLE.

IF WANTED, REPORT TO CAPTAIN LEMMS OF THE GOODSHIP CAROLINA.

 

I laughed despite myself and carried on walking, listening to the brisk sound of the River Thames splashing against the wood columns holding up the brick dock under all of our feet’s.

    Captain Adrian Lemms was always looking for new rookies to join his airship crew, to teach them life in the sky and sometimes in the air. He was notorious for losing his crew in the deserts during journeys out to the far reaches of the earth. Only those with thorough experience in the field or wanted escape the life they had now would go with Captain Lemms.

    Speak of the devil, as I made my way down to the southern end where it was much quieter and where the larger ships were, Captain Lemms was stood leant over the side of the deck. He spotted me from the other side of the dock. His bowler-hat hid most of his black hair, and he wore an outfit of blue.

    “Ah, good Morning Kate,” he called, bowing from what I believe to be his waist, and then started down the gang plank towards me. “You’re looking as lovely as ever. A new outfit?”

    I lent him a gracious nod of my head. “Good morning, Captain. Yes, it is a new outfit—I thank you for noticing.”

    My new outfit from recently bought from Wanderers Emporium on Fleet Street. The skirt was a long bustle of red velvet, equipped to easily fit my waist holster. The top was a ruffle white blouse fitted with an under-bust black waistcoat. On my feet was a pair a faux leather Bathory boots. Atop my head I wore my gold-and-black goggles. My hair was platted to the side, and in it wore many ribbons.

    “I’m dreadfully sorry, Captain, but I must be on my way. It was wonderful to speak to you for a short while,” I said as an excuse to leave and hurried on my way down to stop in front of a large ship.

    It was my ship. My wooden airship that was the pirate kind of ship, the kind with a mermaid for its figurehead, the kind that had the three masts for sailing along the water smoothly and then the large balloon for sailing the air—just, right now, that balloon was deflated and laying bundled up on the deck.

    It was the kind that was stolen.

    The Good Ship Carmen—we’d kept the name, it  sort of had a ring to it—used to be a Victorian Merchant ship until my crew and I had plundered it off their hands some years ago. From there, we’d used it as a Pirate Ship.

    I noticed the gang plank was up, and so shouted “Boys, drop the plank” at the top of my voice with my hands on my hips.

    On the deck above came a fair-haired young man, looking down at me. “Ah, sorry Captain. We didn’t know how long you’d be, so we brought it up,” he called down before disappearing and ordering that the plank be dropped.

    Slowly, I heard the sound of gears working and the wooden plank dropped down onto the dock. I started up it and halted at the top to see my crew stood in two lines, shoulders pushed together.

    “Welcome back,” the fair-haired man, whose name was Jeremy, said and came to stand next to me.

    I ignored him and made my way over to the door leading to the Captains Hold. “I don’t want to be disturbed, Jeremy, I have things to do,” I told him instead as I opened the door and then slammed it shut after walking inside.

    Inside my office, I stood in front of the wall of diamond tessellated windows, looking out on the city on the other side of the murky river. Along the bank was the Houses of Parliament, half hidden in the smog created by the automatons of steam used to power the cities electric system. St. Paul’s Cathedral stood out over the low-rising buildings of stone and mortar, connected to London Bridge all the way out via a long metal closed bridge high above the city roads. Electric carriages and high trams transported people from one destination to another, but if you were quite rich—like, Government standard rich—them your carriages were pulled along by electric mechanical, android horses. In the air, many kilometres from the highest building which was indeed the Big Ben, flew our mighty dirigibles and zeppelins.  

    Though the energy automatons spread throughout the whole of the city, it was the Main Engine deep underground in the heart of the River Thames that fed the supply to those machines.

    This was Past-Futuristic London, a city swamped in the era of the Victorians. A city of the Victorians and the Steampunk getting on hand in hand in mingling societies.

    The world of Past-Futuristic wasn’t on earth, but it wasn’t virtual. It was a world in an alternate realm, one I’d stumbled on by accident after a woman I had known had told me about it but I had not believed her. Past-Futuristic was a world designed carefully and a place where time went past so slowly—one that was forever in the Victorian era.

    Past-Futuristic was stuck in the past, but so very much in the future. It was the Victorian era, but we had computers and phones and Electric Transport much the same as my old world had. We used holographic projection for most things, and most of our computers were merely transparent glass screens.

    In this world I was a Steampunk born-and-bred, Captain of an airship and a Pirate. But this world wasn’t the one I properly belonged in. Truth be told, I was from the 21st Century, and had come to this place many years ago.

    I was a Time-Traveller.

    I had not been actually born a Time-Traveller, in actual fact I’d been given a little trinket and after messing around with it a few times without much thought about what I was doing, I had started shooting from my time into the past and future. I hadn’t liked the future of my world, the craziness that would descend from no control and the fights to survive, and after finally finding Past-Futuristic and it’s peace I’d permanently moved there and made my name—even if for the most part they were on WANTED posters throughout the land, the only reason I was still alive is because the army kept hiding evidence that would prove that all the crimes committed by me were actually committed by me.

    Confusing, I know.

    Personally, I think they were hanging onto me for some reason. And anyway, if they sentenced me to death with an execution then I’d simply move from this world to the next with the trinket that allowed me to do so freely.

    That trinket was a golden pocket watch necklace, and was always either hung around my neck or locked up in my impermeable safe. Currently, it was around my neck.

 

 

“Where is she? Take me to Kate Madeline.”

    A rude awaking I received, all shouting and arguing from above deck. I’d fallen asleep at my desk, the ink from my pen blotted onto my hand from gripping it too tightly, and the typewriter style keys of my computers keyboard were indented into my arm.

    The clock atop a set of drawers pushed against the wall to my left had the big hand on the two and the little hand on the four, and looking out the window I saw that it was still light which meant it was afternoon.

    No sooner had I sorted myself out and cleaned myself down did the double oak doors leading into my office barge open.

    Standing there, the biggest and most muscular man I knew, a bull in human disguise, and clad in the usual red outfit was Patrick Lutz—head of the London army and police, so I should call him by his title which was General.

    “I’ve been looking all day for you. The boys down at the market told me you were in the main city, and the ladies in the main city told me you were in the market,” he moaned, catching his breath and looking at me meanly as I swung my legs up on my desk and crossed my arms over behind my head—the picture of ease. “So I thought I’d try here, and your crew told me that you weren’t to be disturbed but I couldn’t bother to listen to them.”

    I glowered at him. “To what do I owe this pleasure? What can I do for you today, General Lutz?” I asked, taking my feet off my desk. “We all know you’re looking for a reason to arrest me, but alas I haven’t robbed in almost a whole year.”

    General Lutz shot me an incredulous look with a twirl of his moustache. See, the thing with him is that even though he looked out for me and treated me as closely to a daughter as he could . . . he hated me . . . well, almost everyone hated me—my people, the Steampunk society said I painted them a bad image because of my pirate ways, and the “classy” and snobby Victorians definitely hated me because I always targeted them for my thefts.

    “You know Kate . . .” he started and walked around my cabin, trailing a hand over the ornaments and books on the high-rise bookshelf, and his army bars flashed in the sunlight breaking through the glass windows behind me.

    “Can you hurry up, please? I’m in a hurry—more homes to rob and all that,” I said idly, messing around with the point of my table-top compass. The General turned around, open-mouthed and eyes wide. “I’m joking, of course,” I reassured him and stood up, leaning against the wooden beam column next to the round table in front of the bookshelf. “Honestly, I don’t see why you think of me as so horrid. The way I see it, I’m like Robin Hood—you know, robbing from the rich and giving to the poor and all that, which is exactly what I do.”

    “You do realize you’ve just confessed you’re a thief, don’t you?” he muttered, sitting down on my upholstery Chesterfield chair.

    “Oh come on. Don’t try that codswallop on me. We all know I’m a Pirate, a thief, whatever you want to call me,” I moaned with a roll of my eyes. “How else would I have acquired all this? Items of interest I keep, the rest I give away or sell. Heck, half my wardrobe is made up of stolen clothes. It’s a way of life.”

    I was a rich Pirate; I had about £20,000 stashed away in various locations—and that amount in the money of the 21st Century would be around an estimation of £45 million or something along those lines.

    He snorted. “A way of life? Steampunk is a way of life, and the rest of them are nothing like you. Piracy is not a way of life, it’s a crime.”

    “Yeah, yeah. Like I haven’t heard that before.” I yawned sarcastically. “Now, being serious, what did you actually want to talk to me for?”

    He nodded and his expression changed to a studious one. “I, well the police, have a proposition for you . . .”

    “Oh no!” I said and waved my hand in the air. “Stop right there. No, no police jobs for me. I’ve done with all that, after the last mission you sent me on where I nearly got killed by a deranged mass murderer.”

    “One who’s now locked up in Bedlam.”

    “That’s beside the point,” I shouted before calming myself down. “Out of curiosity, what is this proposition you were trying to tell me about?”

    “There have been many robberies ranging from Whitechapel outward to Moorgate,” he muttered.

    “Whitechapel has been under more than just robbery, Patrick. Have you caught him yet?” I murmured regretfully.

    General Lutz knew exactly who I was talking about. “No. I’m starting to think he’s left the city for the north, there are too many suspects and he’s stopped.”

    From starting with robberies, we’d gone on to talk about that notorious murderer known as Jack the Ripper and the Whitechapel Murders. A year ago the killings of prostitutes had stopped, and the women of London were only once again starting to feel safe. I’d learned all about Jack the Ripper and the Whitechapel Murders in History in my Home World, but living through that time had been terrifying nonetheless.

    This Earth went through the same history as the real Victorian era had done, but soon enough it would be reliving all of it over again. Soon enough it would be 1837 again, because time here went on a constant and endless loop.

    “So, first there are murders and now there’s robbery. I’m starting to wonder if Whitechapel will ever recover,” I murmured, tapping my chin with my index finger.

    “That’s what we want you for. As a highly-skilled thief, we want you—”

    “To try and catch this thief,” I finished before General Lutz had time to say. “But with robberies branching out so far, it’s likely to be a band of thieves instead of just one on his or hers own,” I told him as I looked at my framed Victorian map of London on the wall beside me.

    “See? You know much more about this than we do,” he said, trying to persuade me to help.

    “Okay, okay. I’ll help, but only for a short while. I have to sail south to Africa soon, but I have time to get my bearings of the area and report back to you with anything I shall find while out there in the main city.”

    “Thank you. Should I give you a police badge?”

    “Why?” I had to ask, but I wasn’t that stupid to not have an idea.

    “It will make your searches much easier,” he said with a sigh.

    I gave out a short “Oh” and face-palmed. “Go on then.”

    He handed me what looked like a black leather wallet, but when I flipped the cover a badge stared back at me. It was a five-point star with the crown and a laurel wreath, and said “Victorian” on the circular title band. All in all, it was made entirely of silver. 

    Not bad at all for the Bobbies, I thought to myself.

 

 

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