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A Wolf of Steam and Fire: Part 2

This is part of an ongoing steampunk fantasy story. See the introduction to get at the story from the beginning.

When I jumped, the world fell from under me. A plunging sensation dropped through my stomach. The clouds and sky mixed together in a whir of black and blue. Smoke and bits of airship whizzed past.

Well trained, I had no room for fear. All I could think was: mission accomplished, mission accomplished. . .

I threw out my arms and legs to stabilize myself and flipped over to face the jungle below. Chaos churned around me: other troopers, shrapnel, exploding war machines. Air boomed in my ears, cutting me off from all of it. Though surrounded, though on a mission, though falling from an exploding airship, I couldn’t help but feel a different sensation wriggling through me. A delicious sort of freedom.

Flying. Just flying.

Reluctantly, I pulled my rip cord.

The rope came out in my hand. The chute refused to deploy.

My freedom gave way to panic. The ground was coming up fast.

I’d trained for this. I swallowed my fear and repeated my instructions. My fingers ripped the second cord – jammed.

Cold and hot.

Loud and silent.

My mind couldn’t process what was happening.

I am going to die.

In all the rush, I almost didn’t notice my serpentine coming to life. It unlocked from my wrist and battled against the wind, slithering down my arm toward my pack.

One second. Two.

The serpentine stopped moving. My vision was black now. I tried for a breath but found nothing but empty, rushing wind.

This can’t be it. I am Cabbot. I am . . .

Instantly and painfully, my harnesses yanked me upwards. My shoulders popped and my gear broke away. My head snapped back and blood filled my ears. I didn’t even have time to be grateful before I blacked out.

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A Wolf of Steam and Fire: Part 1

This is part of an ongoing steampunk fantasy story. See the introduction to get at the story from the beginning.

“Wolves are not made. They are born from blood”

– Grey Wolves Handbook

The jaws of the mech serpentine clamped around my wrist, its slim, metallic body wound  tightly around my forearm like a man-made snake, four feet long and inlaid with brass. Click. Whir. Whizz. The automota’s clockwork guts slipped and moved beneath its skin, pretending to be a heart and brains and bone. Breaths of steam escaped from slits near its head. The skin was cool to the touch, matching the temperature around me. Here, in the belly of the great Airship Keroshi, the atmosphere was crisp and cool – a taste of home. Outside, I knew, the air was thick and humid. Anwari air; a far-flung savage land.

The airship rocked. Explosions sounded outside. None of the other twenty soldiers in the launch bay flinched, so neither did I. We were Ground Pounders. Paratroopers. The best the Ilsan army offered. The best in the whole world of Anadell.

I went through the equipment check my training demanded: rifle, chute, survival gear, cartabugs, lightning flare, knife, and serpentine. Then, silently, I rehearsed my own secret mantra.

Davies, Angela, Sergeant, I recited to myself. ID number: 1713. Real name: Marissa Cabbot. Age: 19. True identity: secure. Family: my breath caught neutralized. I thought about my sister’s execution after she’d been found using majick. The disgrace brought on by the worst offense in Ilsan law led to Father’s suicide and Mother’s insanity. The Cabbot curse that destroyed one of the great Ilsan families. My secret: secure. My role: unknown by anyone. I alone had refused to be brought down. I became Angela, but just on the outside. Beneath, I was still Cabbot. I am Marissa Cabbot, I finished. I am strong.

The bay door opened on schedule. Enemy fire blazed outside the cabin. Rockets blasted and bullets ricocheted inside, tearing around the bay and punching holes in the walls. It wasn’t supposed to be like this. These rebels were a rag-tag, unorganized group with no big guns.

Whatever the situation may be, all that mattered was accomplishing the mission: capture the rebel-held city of Gavin to prepare for the assault on the Second City.

The paratroopers in the bay stood and filed into line, myself at the end.

Another explosion sent the airship dropping sideways and spinning. Everyone jostled but stayed on their feet.

I spoke to myself, holding my place in line and waiting for the jump light. “I will make something of myself. A name for myself – by myself. No matter what it takes. Because I am strong.” I am Cabbot!

The light signaled a “go,” and the ranks of paratroopers began their jump. I was last, though it wasn’t my first jump. Not my first battle.

The line moved fast. The fire intensified. I got close enough to glimpse outside and chewed my lip.

We’re way off the DZ. Too fast. Too low.

But it was my turn. My heart pounded. Anxiety burned. I had orders.

So I jumped.

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A Wolf of Steam and Fire – A Steampunk Fantasy Adventure

Steampunk. Magic. Airships. Jaguars. Spies.

All my favorite words.

Lost in the Twilight Jungle on her first mission for the Ilsan Army, sixteen-year-old Marissa Cabbot uncovers a dangerous, outlawed majickal secret. One that only she can destroy, if it doesn’t eat away her sanity first.

Table of Contents

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7
Part 8
Part 9
Part 10
Part 11
Part 12

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