In Arkangel the engines never sleep, the wind howls through their giant pistons as the city rattles along across the ice. Beneath hundreds of meters of steel lay 100,000 bodies, mostly half-naked and freezing to the metal that they call their bed. Another 100,000 shovel the coal into the giant furnaces that power the pistons. These are Arkangel's slaves.
Among these slaves who were now sleeping sat one, a young boy. It was his first night there and he couldn't sleep. He missed his parents; he missed his bed, the comfy four inches of goose feathers. He looked at his tattered trousers. They were once bright red. The boy liked red; it reminded him of his father's armies. Their bright red uniform for fighting. They said it was to hide the blood, but the boy knew it just because it looked pretty.
He huddled up to WakTu. WakTu was the only survivor of the crash. He was the boy's friend, his only friend. WakTu's warmth made him feel better and he began to drift off into a sleep dreaming of his father's armies marching to rescue him their dark green shields and their red togas. One way or another he would survive.
Timbuktu whistled along the sands of Afrika. A specially designed rod in front of the city melted the sand into glass which the giant lumbering city then skated along. His grandfather's top alchemist had developed this many years before: TipooSun. His own alchemists were of no match, there chemical excellence was poor, they barely understood the principles of flight and black powder yet alone how the adapted Old Tech melted sand so quickly and thoroughly.
The Old king was sad, his Grandson, his last surviving heir was missing. The airship which was to carry him to Kairo then to Alexandria was missing. Last contact with the Koramba Prize had been some 13 hours ago. The insta-message had read:
**Mayday, Mayday, Mayday**
**3 Black Airships, size category 12**
**5 Black Airships, size category 2**
**Loss of engines 1, 2, 4**
**Severe damage engine 3**
** Co-Ordinates, A123, B943, C754 **
**Gott Steh Mir Bei**
It wasn't looking good the sultan confessed to his chief of staff.
"Sir, we dispatched Sultan Topaas to the scene 3 hours ago, she should be reporting back any minute soon"
"They were hundreds of miles of course, no, even thousands..."
"We know nothing yet sir, I am sure it was a simple misunderstanding, he will be fine"
"You know we are all loyal to your cause sir, the legions of Sultan Timbuktu will stop at nothing to get him back"
"It might be too late for that... Now leave me in peace I wish to relax"
The Sultan entered his bed chamber. He looked around at all his wives and smiled. He wandered over to Tara. She automatically widened her legs for him revealing no underwear beneath her skirt. She giggled as he lent in to kiss her.
4000 miles away in the gut of Arkangel a sharp boot awoke WakTu and Emir Timbuktu. WakTu was up far quicker than the Emir and Helped the young boy up. Despite being fourteen years old the boy was weak from a life as an Emir. A burly man walked along the rows of people and clamped them together into chain groups of eight.
"Lucky you're with me eh? Emy?"
Emy, was Emir's pet name from WakTu, though he disliked it he preferred it to Emir Timbuktu especially in this place. Emy liked being around WakTu, it made him feel safe. He imagined WakTu taking on and killing all the people around him, then after a hair-raising chase up through the city to jump onto the Sultan Topaas and to be taken away home to his bedroom full of all his toys and bits of old tech. Emy was nudged out of his daydream by WakTu. WakTu had a unique knowledge of when Emy was daydreaming, for once it was useful. The man who walked out, Emy first thought was a beast, but he quickly realised the man had the strangest blue skin Emy had ever seen. On closer inspection it transpired that the man had lots of symbols written all over his skin in the strangest blue ink. Emy was scared by this man, he didn't even look scared by WakTu like most people were.
Emy had never held a shovel in his life, he picked up the blunt instrument and began, as best he could, to follow what everyone else was doing. Shovelling black stones into a roaring fire. Emy began to think to himself that he was going to be fine but after less than five minutes he was soaked in sweat and his back hurt. Emy sat down. Almost instantly there was a searing pain across his back. WakTu turned around to try and stop the man but WakTu was stopped by five other men. Another blow across Emy's back, then another, and another. It all went dark for Emy
As Emy woke, he found the most beautiful face staring over him. Short black hair with a white streak running down over her fringe and covering one of her eyes. The face smiled at him.
"Hello, don't worry, my name's Anna, Anna Fang" This face said to him
Emy said nothing transfixed by the beauty of her face, her narrow eyes seemed to be penetrating him, reading him just like a book.
"What's your name?" asked Anna trying to get something out of him.
But still Emy said nothing, staring at her beautiful lips so thin and dark they almost blended into her face. He longed to kiss those lips. He had kissed his concubines before but never had he so badly wanted to kiss lips like these
"Do you speak?" Anna asked stifling a giggle.
"Yes, yes I do... just..."
"Have you seen WakTu?"
"My friend.. Big guy, dark skin, you wouldn't want to mess with him.."
"Don't worry he's still working, still you haven't told me, what' your name?"
"Emy" Emy replied his eyes returning to hers
"What a funny name, is it short for something"
"Yes, well it's a bit embarrassing..."
"Go on, please!"
"You come from Timbuktu!" Anna almost shouted with a look of delight on her face.
"Yeah, but our airship got attacked by.."
"What's it like in Timbuktu, eh?" Anna said interrupting him
"Oh it's beautiful..." at this Emy's eyes began to well up. He felt himself go redder, through embarrassment, shame and sadness.
"Oh don't cry, I didn't mean to upset you just.. Come on, here here" Emy felt a warm pair of arms tighten around him, this made him feel happier. "Do you want me to tell you a secret, I am leaving here soon, and I will take you and WakTu with me, if you promise me to not tell anyone, not even WakTu. I will come and get you when I am ready to leave, we shall leave by airship then drop WakTu off in Timbuktu and travel of from there. We will go to Nova Maya and live our lives on the Trade winds, okay!" It all seemed so fantastical to Emy that he couldn't believe it were true. Was she just saying this to make him feel better.
"That sounds fantastic..." Emy began as he tried to sit up before crying out in pain.
"Here let me look at your back, ooh dear he did give you a nasty whipping didn't he.. Here let me put this ointment on it... there that should help but, there is some good news you can't work for a few more days! I must be off now I have to meet someone, you get some rest, and remember, tell no-one!" With a wink and a smile she was off leaving Emy smiling and happy. Emy closed his eyes and fell back to sleep, a lot happier than before.