comments_readers: This is the start of an ongoing story with some sci-fi and steampunk elements to it. Stories will be published in batches. Some of them introduce characters or plotlines while others are stand-alone set in this world.
The deck crews scurried about, intent on their job, and paid no attention to the slight figure approaching one of the lightweight, single-pilot courier craft parked near the starboard side. Like the others, the girl was focused on her job, which involved checking her vehicle. A blending of ores on Wendria produced a tough but light alloy suited to all air vessels.
Amelia carefully inspected the structural joins and utility connections before lifting the burn chamber cover to inspect the block of blue crystal residing there. There were no fissures and the color looked uniform - all good signs of integrity.
When the pilgrimage vessels had left the place they called Old Home two centuries ago, they did not have the capacity to bring fuel reserves to support the colonies to be made on Wendria. The travelers understood that much of the technology they brought with them would fall to the wayside as they made a fresh start. Within two generations, the assumptions were proven correct.
However, this planet produced a crystalline mineral the new arrivals named azurine. Although safe to hold, it possessed the capability of generating heat or direct current electricity when shaped and faceted and either encased in or connected to various alloys. While not nearly as powerful as the ion reactors the legends claim that propelled the pilgrims from Old Home, azurine was sufficient for the needs of the descendants on Wendria.
In Amelia's case, brick-sized azurine crystals powered the nimble vehicles used to convey packages and secure communications. They could stay aloft for hours and the pilots had a natural instinct for catching air currents to prolong fuel and to speed their journeys. Often, these talents included the use of clouds to bank from and catch another high breeze. This is what gave them the nickname, "cloud skippers".
It was thought that this cloud-skipping ability was one of the mutations spawned by the unique properties of Wendria. Not everyone had them and in this case there was little correlation between the cloud skippers and where they lived.
Finished with her inspection, Amelia stood and admired the view of southern coast of Anglia, her home continent. Her golden eyes were a nearly exact match to her blonde hair. While her hair was of an Old Home type, her eyes, so she heard, were not. It made little difference to Wendrians as Old Home increasingly became some world from the storybooks, residing in tales of long ago.
Beneath her feet, the flight deck throbbed to the beat of the massive propellers that moved the strato-ship. The mammoth vessel was a "dual-az" type, meaning it used azurine for both heat in keeping the dirigibles inflated with heated air and for the electricity that drove the propellers.
Having spent the night aboard the strato-ship while awaiting more packets to convey on her return to Yorkton, Amelia let her imagination run toward the future where she dreamed of sailing a strato to all of the twenty-six inhabited continents and the smaller island countries. Although she had once memorized the names of all of the larger land masses during her school days at the orphanage, she had forgotten some. But it was the exotic names of the big capital cities that stirred her imagination; Seattle, Mayaguez, Bucharest - they danced like spice on her tongue when she whispered them.
But at eleven, Amelia's orphanage days had been over for four months since she passed her cloud skipper qualification. Not that the orphanage was all that bad, but becoming a cloud skipper meant another measure of freedom and a move toward her wandering dreams. Article XIV of the Trinity Seas Accords had given autonomy to those under-aged people with certain skills, including cloud skippers.
In the orphanage, the girl's name had been Amille. But having read of a woman who explored the skies of ancient Old World, she had changed it to Amelia. Upon receiving her certification, Amelia resided in a cloud skipper's dorm near Heathrow, the aerodrome that served Anglia's capital city of Yorkton. Perhaps one day she'd join one of the guild-clans of cloud skippers who had their own group homes and made their own rules within. Opalline House, in particular, caught her admiration. It consisted solely of females and from even her orphanage days, Amelia had to endure the lurid attentions of some males.
She sighed as she rubbed the snug, brown leather seat of her pants where a bruise from a pinch on her left buttock still bothered her when she sat on it wrong. Of course, some males had been interested in her since she was eight. Maybe it would get better when she started to mature. With that thought, she briefly focused on the feel of the leather jacket across her flat chest and how it pressed against her nipples through the thin, short chemise she wore beneath it.
About a month ago, her nipples, while still completely childish in shape and size, had become more sensitive. That wasn't uncommon at this age although puberty wouldn't begin in earnest until she was sixteen or seventeen. Amelia had once heard that on Old World, girls at her age would begin to develop. Whether that was just legend or that later puberty was a result of Wendria, she didn't know or much care. But if she had started growing boobs at the age of eleven, right here and now, she'd be a freak.
This story is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
Mr Double's Palisade
A MrDouble Production:
Changes last made on: Monday, December 18, 2017