Monday, September 2, 2013

Day Five-Twenty-One: Onward and offward and outward and upward

(Author's note: I forgot to toss in an extra picture last Friday. That has been remedied. Hop back one post and it'll be at the bottom. Enjoy!)

Pubton awoke to the sound of a massive rumbling.

Daena, down on the engineering deck, admitted that she may have pumped her pedals a bit too vigorously.

I, up in the cockpit, was just happy to learn that the damned thing worked properly.

Harold, once again inspecting his precious wall, wailed as the Dauphine rolled over a section that was repaired last week. Sorry, Harold.

For weeks, Libby, Plato and I have been hard at work at cobbling together the massive transport that would carry us across the world. For a while we worked in the abandoned rat warrens under Pubton. (No sign of the rats. Shrug.) Later, when the project got too big, we moved the work to a spot in the forest. Everyone was too frightened by the Non to come poking around the worksite.

Consequently, when the enormous clam-shaped Dauphine appeared on the edge of Pubton and cast a shadow over the ruins of the Matriarch, everyone had reason to be impressed.

 If the Matriarch was a work of art on Libby's part, the Dauphine is a ridiculous summation of her career. Taller than the Matriarch and twice as long, it's basically a mobile village. There are three decks, an observation post, living quarters, guns on all sides, a set of fore sails for extra speed on windy days, and a frame of metal and wood that can withstand even the strongest attacks. It's a sailing ship that ambles across the countryside. If anything can get us through the Imperium, it's the Dauphine.

It also has two entrance and exit ramps, one at the back, one at the front. The one at the front accidentally destroyed a chicken coop as it descended. Sorry, chickens.

Much like the arrival of the Matriarch, the appearance of the Dauphine brought everybody, and I mean EVERYBODY, out for a look. There were oohs and aahs and claps and shouts and, from Harold, screams of impotent, polite rage. I'm pretty sure crashing down part of his wall made him angrier than I've ever seen, which is… roughly as angry as Libby gets on an average day. 'Irate' is a better word for it.

Standing at the top of the ramp, I greeted the assembled crowd. "Hey, folks! Sorry for the mess! This is the Dauphine. See? Look!"

I pointed at the nose of the transport. The word 'Dauphine' is stencilled onto it. More 'oohs'.

"I know. Pretty awesome." I jabbed a thumb over my shoulder. "We're headin' out. I know I didn't offer much warning, but everybody who's comin' along better grab their stuff. I'll give ya an hour to say your goodbyes and whatnot."

Most of Pubton continued to gawk at the Dauphine, admiring its sleek hull and lobbing questions at me. I made up most of the answers, because even though I helped build the damn thing, I have no CLUE how it works. Libby would've been better off answering the technical stuff, but with her belly still growing, she's… kinda restricted to her quarters. And a giant hammock. At least she's comfy.

People loaded up in good order. Jeffrey and Celine came aboard first, as Daena was already onboard and they were forewarned. Jeffrey was quite happy to ditch his chains, as well as the presence of my overbearing father. Edmund wandered on second, striking up a lovely ballad on the spot to christen his rolling home. Grylock ambled up the ramp atop his boar, drunk as a monk and barely conscious of what was going on. Others joined the procession, and by the end of the hour everybody who'd signed up was settled in, picking out sleeping spaces and exploring the Dauphine's innards.

As the rest of Pubton watched and I offered a last minute hug to my mom (and a handshake to my dad - no hugs between us), I mentally prepared to give the final speech of my political career. In that moment I would toss aside my floppy hat and say goodbye to the town I loved so much.

Before I could, though, two things happened.

First came Evangelina and Harold.

Wearing their own floppy hats, my co-mayors stepped out of the assembled crowd with a large package between them. Evangelina cleared her throat.

"Dragomir the Co-Mayor, formerly Dragomir the Mayor, formerly Dragomir the Guard, we, the people of Pubton, salute you for all you've done. You gave us homes, you gave us food, you gave us hope. You even gave those of us who didn't deserve it a second chance. You are the greatest amongst us."

I blushed. I couldn't help myself.

"We pray that you will, soon, return to us - and when you do, we hope that you're wearing these specially-tailored travelling clothes that we bestow upon you now, to replace the tatters you've so diligently worn 'til today. May they match the nobility of your spirit."

Harold handed me the package. I handed him my floppy hat. I hope he threw it in the trash after we left.

"Goodbye, Dragomir!" Evangelina gave me a big hug, a kiss on the cheek, and a quick shake of the hand. "We'll be waiting for you, whenever you decide you're done with… whatever it is you're doing. Don't disappoint us!"

Pubton cheered. The speech left my lungs. Overwhelmed with happiness, I merely waved, walked a few steps up the plank, and pulled the lever beside the entrance. The walkway cranked to life, folded up to block my view of my town, and fell silent.

Everyone who'd been standing with me headed for the stairs, up to the command deck of the Dauphine. I moved to follow them - and that's when the second thing happened.

A hand caught my arm.

I spun, fists whipping up to defend myself in some futile marshal gesture -

- and I stopped when I saw who it was. "Bora?!"

The cook smiled as she stepped out of the small, darkened latrine set into the wall beside the walkway. "Hi, Dragomir. Surprise."

I took several steps back. She still evokes a strong, emotional response in me, but it's more revulsion than delight these days. "What the hell! You weren't on the list! You didn't even sign up!"

Bora bowed her head. "I know. You wouldn't have let me come along. You'dve cooked up some lame excuse to leave me in Pubton. Soooo… I might have taken the initiative."

I scrambled to open the door latch and force Bora out, but the Dauphine was already rumbling to life, its innumerable cogs and pulleys shifting six massive wheels into motion.

Bora pulled away. She tucked her hands snugly against her sides. "Please, Dragomir. I'm just here to help. You need a cook; I can cook. Simple as that."

I sneered and backed away a few paces, my eyes always on her. "We could've found another cook. Was plannin' on it."

"Well, now you don't have to look."

"I'd rather look."

"Why do you distrust me so much? Hell, only a couple of months ago, you, me 'n E-"

"DON'T," I rumbled, threat heavy in my voice, "don't you dare say that name. It wasn't her. It never was her. Everything between you, me 'n her, it was all a damned lie. So don't you say that name."

Bora nodded, her motions slight and prim, like a schoolgirl's. "Okay. I won't. If you want, I'll stay away from you. But I wanna go on this trip anyway."

"'n why the hell is that, huh? Your buddy Tobo waitin' for ya somewhere out there?"

Bora shook her head. "No. I'm not looking for anything."

"Then WHY the HELL are you on this trip?"

"Because the only thing I really care about is here, too."

I gaped.

She didn't offer any further explanations.

Bora's officially part of the crew, now. We made an extra bed for her out of some spare netting. Most everyone else likes her well enough… though Libby's in a bit of a temper over her inclusion. She didn't turn that temper on me, though, since she saw how put out I am by Bora's presence, and not in a flirty sorta way. I guess mutual suspicion breeds trust. Or something.

I don't know what that woman has planned, but I'm keeping an eye on her. She has connections to the Non. I just know it. And when those connections reveal themselves… by gods, I'll be quite content to see her out on her ass, dropped off in some podunk where she can't hurt anyone.

Great start to the trip, I gotta say.

Especially when you take my new outfit into account.

Yeah. Very spiffy.

Man, I miss my helmet. Life just ain't the same without a helmet.


Dragomir the Wanderer


  1. Dumbest hat you could find, eh Pubton?

    1. I'd seen The Three Musketeers on stage the night before designing that hat. I knew I had to go with something terribly stupid like the ones the actors were wearing.

  2. Ain't many hats could rise to the level of that one! That's silliness done right and proper, that is.