Title: Hammer & Steam (1/?)

Author: Cyclone

Feedback: Please be gentle.

Distribution: Gimme credit and a link. Plus, archived at http://fanfiction.net/profile.php?userid=62966 or http://fanfiction.net/~cyclone

Rating: I'm gonna go say PG.

Spoilers: Up to Chosen.

Disclaimer: Some of the characters depicted herein belong to the almighty Joss. I'm just borrowing them for a while. The rest belong to me.

Summary: In a wartorn land, a carpenter from another world tries to survive.

Author's Note: This comes courtesy of my gaming muse, who is trying very hard to fill in for Rander.

* * *

Kira held herself still as puzzlement crossed her face. The war machine was clearly a command model, yet the pilot moved carelessly, sloppily.

She had seen it depart from the largest of the dirigibles, and it seemed to have overestimated its altitude, crashing headlong into the ground and tumbling over several times.

What was going on?

Her eyes widened, and she readied a spell as the machine turned and approached her. Her staff out, a spell rested at the tip of her tongue.

Then, the occupant spoke.

"Uh, hi?"

Kira stiffened. The voice sounded... _human_.

* * *

The guard was walking past Xander's cell when he struck.

His arm snaked out between the bars and caught the guard across the throat. He curled his arm around the guard's neck and yanked him against the bars. Adjusting his leverage, he snapped the orc's neck.

Grabbing two things from the guard's belt, he let the orc slump to the ground. He examined the Drahk'Nar autopistol and racked the slide before fumbling with the keys and opening his cell door.

Stepping out cautiously, he tried to remember where the hangar was from here and prayed to God -- assuming He even existed on this world -- to get him out of this alive.

* * *

Xander counted his blessings. There were few guards on the Dread Claw -- it was, after all, the flagship -- and he'd managed to make it to the hangar bay.

It was different from when he'd been brought on board. The cavernous space was two-thirds empty, the rest occuped by gearsuits, gearwalkers, and a pair of air skiffs. It also appeared they were transferring cargo, for the hangar was open, and they were loading crates onto one of the skiffs. His gaze swept across the available vehicles.

He glanced at the autoloader he'd appropriated from the guard and looked around. A plan began to formulate in his mind when he saw the unattended crate of whole cloth...

* * *

Bonecrusher was an ogre. He'd fought well in the conquest of the New World, but now, his injuries had relegated him to cargo handling. He was fine with that. It lacked glory, but it would help the slaughter of the ones who'd banished his ancestors from their home.

He heard something and raised his head quizzically. He barely had a moment to turn when the exploding hydrogen engulfed him.

* * *

Xander dropped the bundle of cloth and ran. Wrapped around the pistol, it had served as a crude and inefficient sound suppressor. Still, it was enough that the wind outside and the thrum of the skyship's engines drowned it out.

He popped the hatch of the gearsuit and clambered into the rounded steel body. It took a moment to warm up the furnace, and he didn't waste any time. He barrelled past the burning air skiff and took off.

"Oh shit, oh shit, oh shit," Xander muttered. "How do I deploy the wings?!"

Thwip!

With a jerk, his fall slowed considerably, and he sighed in relief. It looked like he had gotten away scot-free. He steered for the edge of the ruined city, shaking his head in disbelief at the amount of destruction wrought upon the place.

Suddenly, he realized he was awfully close to the ground, and he struggled to pull up, swearing profusely.

"God damned f***ing psycho preacher!" he snarled as the gearsuit slammed into the ground, digging a furrow in the dirt and tumbling ass-over-end.

When he regained his senses, he struggled upright and sighed.

"I _really_ miss my eye."

He turned his head and cursed softly. Aside from the eyeslit, it was difficult to see anything. He sighed and turned the entire gearsuit, then smiled as he _finally_ saw a human face.

Xander stepped toward her and called tentatively, "Uh, hi?"

* * *

Author's Postscript:

Short, but as I said, my gaming muse is trying. She's just not up to Rander's pure narrative standards. It's not her area of expertise.