Author: Johnsoneer PM
Sequel to Goliath. Alek and Deryn have been doing fine in London, but something has forced them set off on a journey across war-torn Europe on the back of a new beastie. New friends, suspicious strangers, battle, war, love, loss, and all the steampunk-y goodness of the series I love. Its going to be a long one so get reading.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Adventure/Drama - Alek F. & Deryn S. - Chapters: 36 - Words: 72,261 - Reviews: 126 - Favs: 21 - Follows: 38 - Updated: 03-15-13 - Published: 07-07-12 - id: 8297496
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
At least at the moment, that was the thing Deryn missed the most about living on solid ground. A simple piece of cheddar on a small cracker that had been laid out on the boffin's coffee table. The decadences and pleasantries like cheddar were only ever given to the middies aboard the Leviathan when there were rations to spare. Looking back on it, there was hardly ever a time where the beastie's need for food was not dire.
Deryn sat and began to drift dangerously into a nostalgic trance before she was quickly snapped back to reality by the sound of chomping. Tazza began munching on what little cheddar was left on her plate. She shooed the beastie and cleaned up the crumbs. That had been close. She almost thought back to the Leviathan.
That was all she seemed to do after they had departed here in London. Deryn decided that the best way to distract herself from the airbeast was to focus on the small things that she could never enjoy onboard. Cheese, baths, and a house that wouldn't explode if she lit a match. This life isn't so bad.
Deryn collected her mess and stood up to face the kitchen when the Lady boffin's gaze stopped her.
"Those refreshments are for the guests, Mr. Sharp" she stated calmly.
"Sorry mam', just thought I'd check to see if they were sorted properly."
"I'm glad they pass your inspection" Dr. Barlow said as she walked passed her into the main hall. "But if you recall, I asked you to tend to the animals before they arrived. Once your done, meet us back in here."
The room was always neat in case surprise visitors came along, although that rarely ever occurred. It was a small but fervently decorated room with antique furniture and yellow walls. Sketches of finches, pigeons, and lizards were framed on the wall and staircase that led up to the office. The whole house was littered with these drawings. Oddly enough, none of the drawings were of fabricated species. Each specimen was natural.
"I was actually hoping I could head back home for the night once I finished, m'am" Deryn said quickly, as if the farther away the boffin was, the more likely she'd decline.
"Please Mr. Sharp, These are not simply Zoological Society patrons. These guests are family and I would very much prefer if you could talk to them about your encounters with your Loris." The boffin waved her hand around as she spoke as if she was being obvious.
So that's what was going on. But Deryn had met Dr. Barlow's husband and parts of his family briefly before, so who were these new guests? It then dawned on her that she'd best be on her behavior tonight because the Darwin's were coming over for dinner. "Barking Spiders," She whispered before she quickly turned and left out the back door and headed for the stables.
"Oie! Come an' get it beasties!" she bellowed in the birdcage as dozens of winged beasties fluttered excitedly. Some flew down to peck at the feed she placed in the feeder, others decided to bide their time. These birds were similar in size to the strafing hawks she used to feed aboard the Leviathan but that is where the similarities ended. Each one had different life-threads sewn into its genetic makeup. Deryn could see a macaw here, a buzzard there, and one bird that opened its beak side-ways. Oh how that would make a monkey-luddite shudder.
She finished up and put her gloves down. The stables behind the boffin's house were a smaller, cleaner version of the ones at the London Zoo. But these beasties belonged to Dr. Barlow. Each one was one of her original fabrications and was at the forefront of Darwinist creation. Some were designed for military purposes but most were designed for more peaceful purposes like communication and transportation. They were all kept in her own private stable behind her house, which was on the outskirts of the city just next to the river. A miniature elephantine brushed its trunk on her shoulder as she passed. She rubbed the trunk affectionately.
"Already fed you. Sorry beastie" she sighed. Before she left, she ran over to the cage at the very end of the stable. She knew she had to make it back to the boffin's house before she began to stink of stable-clart, but this beast deserved a visit. She made her way to the cage and greeted the beastie that loomed over her.
"Hello there girl" She smiled. Standing above her in a large cage was a pearly-white lupine-tigeresque. The beast stood a proud nine feet tall and had hypnotic emerald eyes. Gigantic shoulder muscles seemed to take up most of its hide. Her paws seemed larger than normal, almost like a bear's, and her claws sat sheathed inside except for the ones at the back. Each paw had one large claw that protruded out the backside in the opposite direction of the others. Deryn suspected it was meant to act as a vice or even a very sharp thumb in case the beastie wanted to destroy something properly.
As terrifying as the concept was, Deryn was not the least bit intimidated by the creature. Its face was bright and almost happy as it gazed down at Deryn. From her first day working in the boffin's animal house, this particular beast seemed to favor her. Its eyes went wide and it nudged its large pink nose to the bars of the cage so that Deryn could reach it. It closed its eyes as she began to rub it affectionately. Deryn guessed that some of the threads had been altered to make it a quiet beast, otherwise it would be purring like a housecat.
Deryn knew how dangerous it was creating an attachment to a military fabrication, but Dr. Barlow never seemed to mind. She said the beastie was a concept she'd been exploring for the war. It had been designed to be able to cross vast wilderness at speeds to out run a storm walker. Put a few of these in a VIP's house and it could get them across Europe in a fortnight without having to pass any dense cities. Trouble was, no politician was willing to mount the beast. The beast was good enough with people, but riding the saddle was barking uncomfortable, even by a military man's standards. The beast could travel just fine; it was the people who could not make the trip. Dr. Barlow had said it was back to the drawing board but kept the tigeresque for references. Recently, however, the boffin had found a newfound interest in the fluffy white creature and was inspecting it many times a week. Deryn wondered what she was up to now.
"I wish the darn boffin would let me take you out again but she's got her family over tonight. So you'd best behave if they come to look at you ok?" she asked. The tigeresque simply laid down and turned its head so she could stroke the back of its ears, which were each the size of soup bowls. "You're getting lazy beastie" she scolded and turned to leave. The lights were on back at the house and the sun was setting. She began to jog back and shouted back "See you tomorrow girl!" She slowed down before she got to the boffin's door so she could catch her breath. She wanted to leave the most important boffins in the country with a good first impression.
A/N: My first fanfiction. Most Authors Notes I read are at the beginning and I find that irritating. All I have to say is that this one will be long. It won't even get exciting till the 9th chapter or so, but I can promise you it'll be done. So many Fanfic's out there are either incomplete or take forever to get another chapter so here's the deal; I am releasing the first 3 chapters all at once as a treat. I can also promise you a chapter or two each week until its done. Why? Cause I've already written them! I just want to stagger them so you guys can tell me how I'm doing.
It's a long epic piece. Review it if you want cause that's cool.