Restart - A Steampunk Adventure

In the year 1814, The Empress, Maria Vasquez's, Senior Inventor, Kole Tasker, turned corrupt and fled from London. As he did so, he destroyed their security systems, leaving the ever-growing city undefended.
It is now 1856, and news has reached the Empress's ears that Kole is planning to destroy London, and use it as base for his latest invention, an inter-dimensional jumper.
Maria's daughter, Ariannya, or Anya, has been picked to find Kole and stop his plans. She is reluctant, preferring her aristocratic lifestyle.
Will Anya live to take her claim on the throne, or will she and London both go up in steam?


2. The Raffle

“Eliza, would you be a dear and run me a bath? I want to look good for the raffle, you know.”

Ariannya Vasquez, heir to the throne, settled into her favourite armchair, her book in hand. In a matter of hours, the bi-yearly raffle would be over, the “winner” exiled from London until they retrieved the famous Arcane Rune that Kole Tasker had stolen forty-two years a go. Anya had never bothered to join the raffle, despite her age. She knew that her duty to London was to be her mother's perfect little lady, ready to take the throne at a moments notice.

Eliza Tanase, Anya’s hand-maid came rushing back in.

“It’s all ready for you, my lady.” Anya removed her robe and sank into the hot water of the bath, giving a slight groan of pleasure as the warmth spread through her cold body. She lay there, her fire red hair pooled around her, floating on the surface like an autumn leaf on a pond.

Several minutes later, she was in her mother’s royal carriage, being taken to the atrium, where the latest hunter, as they were called, would be chosen. People ran cheerfully beside the carriage, waving and throwing in small coins. Anya smiled and handed them back to the poor, where they gave her a toothless grin. Her mother Maria’s noble face lit up with a small smirk as she saw her daughter giving the poor bread. Such a good child. Steam driven bells clanked in the towers dotted around London, letting everyone know that the raffle was today, and that there would be no work for a week, whilst people celebrated and feasted. It always seemed a bit sadistic to Anya, that they were cheering about the inevitable death of another amongst them. Maybe they thought there was some glory in it.

The carriage pulled into a specially reserved parking spot, and two gently types opened the doors for their Empress and her heir. Anya and Maria gave both the men a kiss on the cheek for their kindness, before climbing into an ornate pressure elevator, that sent them shooting upwards into a view box from above. Down below, hundreds of thousands of Londoners were crowded around a center podium, where Antonie Van De Vliert, Royal Communications Manager, stood, his wrinkled, kindly face glistening with the heat of London. He gave a little wave to Anya, and she returned it to him, her face breaking into a wide grin. Maria stood up and went over to a microphone mounted to one side. It was a ball microphone, surrounded by a ring of brass. Maria leaned close to it and began to make her speech.

“People of London!” She spread her hands, a soft smile spreading across her face. “I welcome you, to our bi-annual raffle!” She paused for a moment, to allow the applause which came as she spoke. When everything was quiet again, she continued. “Our brave candidates have submitted their names in what will be our 21st raffle.

“As I am sure many of you are aware, there is only a slim chance whoever is picked will return, alive or dead. Either way, we wish them luck on their journey, and pray for their well-being. All of those who have submitted, we owe you a debt, as bravery is what built London! We came nowhere without the bravery of our ancestors, who came and built our wonderful, thriving city!” She bowed her head, retreating from the microphone and taking her place once more beside Anya. Anya herself glanced at her mother. How could she have lived with this? She knew sending one person out on a suicide mission was hard, but all 20 before? She swallowed down her worry, returning her gaze to the bright lights beneath them. From up here, she could see so much. The Thames stretched out lazily in the distance, twisting and turning like a great serpent. The bright lights all around were like fireflies sparkling in the distance. It was beautiful.

“Good luck.” She whispered, shutting her eyes as the crowd moved into silence. Whoever was going out on this mission had so much courage. Everyone knew that no one had returned. Everyone knew that most died. Antonie wringed his hands, looking over the crowd.

“As you have heard from our great Empress, Maria Vasquez, the matter of the raffle is no laughing matter. Your mission is to retrieve the Arcane Rune, which, as you all know, was stolen from us by Kole Tasker.” A ripple of disapproving remarks washed through the crowd, which turned to more chatter. Antonie raised his hand for silence once more, before returning to his own little preparation speech. “Anyone who’s name is chosen, shall be exiled from London until he or she returns with the Rune, or until said candidate dies. In the case of death, and the body is found, said person will be returned to receive a proper funeral.

“Do you understand the terms, candidates?” A portion of the crowd yelled out their agreements, their oaths. Antonie smiled, nodding his head to a few of the more prominent ones. Before him, a section of paneling opened up, and through it came a large glass tube. After a few moments, a loud clanking sound was apparent, all were silent, listening to the sound of the mechanics working. Cogs whirled, pistons moved. Anya watched with fascination as various vents opened to allow steam past.

A minute or so after the noise had started, a secondary tube started rising from the first, a little slip of paper clutched in a little hand-like claw.

Antonie retrieved the paper, making a great show of unfolding it, before he scanned it. The way he froze up was easy for all to see, and the quiet whispers started once more. In a pained, croaking voice, he spoke.

“Ariannya Vasquez.”


Anya’s heart skipped a beat. Silence fell across the crowds. Maria went pale.

Everything was quiet. Everything was hushed. Everything was waiting to see what would happen. She felt a lump rise in her throat, and she looked down on the citizens of London. If she didn’t do it, who would? Just because she was of ‘royal’ blood, that didn’t mean she was allowed to sit around whilst people risked her lives.

The only problem was, she hadn’t put her name in. And if she hadn’t, there was only one question.

Who had?

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