Chapter One – Lighter Than Air

Andrew Kilgore – Kilgore Clockworks
Michelle Lockheart – Lockheart Lighter Than Air Shipbuilders – Protagonist
Colonel Jacoby – Government Office Of Secret Services (GOSS)
Annabelle Lawrence – Theoretical Engineer – Oxford University – Protagonist
Marigold Twinings – Assistant to Miss Lawrence
Captain Parker – US Army Infantry – Antagonist
Tamara Richards – Lockheart Lighter Than Air Shipbuilders
Benjamin Banner – Lockheart Lighter Than Air Shipbuilders

CHAPTER ONE

He had worked at Kilgore Clockworks ever since he was a child, and now it was all coming to an end, it was a place he grew up in, learned a trade in, his uncle was his mentor, the Father he never had.

“S’cuse me sir” the mover said as he carried one end of the workbench past him, with the other man remaining quiet as he passed by with the other end in tow. “Shall we go”? The gentleman in the black trench coat said, with his right arm at half mast, the hand suggesting that Andrew lead the way. “We will need to hurry if we are to get there by dark I suppose.” Andy said with a sigh, looking back one last time, one last time at a world that he could not return to, ever again.

The Lockheart Lighter Than Air Ship Builders had been purchased lock, stock, and barrel just 2 weeks earlier, much like Kilgore had, but with much less public attention. “What exactly do we do with clock makers?” Michelle asked the man with the handlebar mustache who had asked her to come out and meet the man in charge of the latest acquisition.

“Mr Kilgore, this is Miss Lockheart. Andrew… Michelle. Now that the formalities are done, why don’t we adjourn to the office” Colonel Jacoby said as he twisted his black handlebar moustache. “we are just waiting on our last guest to arrive, then we can get started.” the Colonel said abruptly as he began to lead them down the hall, walking at a quicker than usual pace.

“Why exactly are we here Miss Lawrence?” the assistant asked of Annabelle Lawrence, the most well-known theoretical engineer of her day. “It appears the military has a lot of money for us, as if that was ever an incentive.” Annabelle told Marigold, her assistant of the past three years. “We are interested in their proposition Mari. They have new technology, and we need to be a part of it.” she said smiling as Marigold sneered… “It is not electricity is it?” Marigold quickly replied. “Let us hope not Mari. I doubt the government is going to take the step backwards from steam to electricity.” Annabelle replied with a sneer, and a raised eyebrow of her own.

“Annabelle Lawrence my good man. Oh yes, and my assistant” she said to the two soldiers guarding the hangar door at Lockheart. “This way Miss Lawrence, the Colonel has been expecting you.” the corporal said, motioning to the two women to follow him into the hangar.

“And here she comes now…” Colonel Jacoby quipped as he looked through the office window, with fists propped firmly on hips. Turning to the other two people already in the office with a smile on his face. “She is a bit odd, but she is very important to what we are doing here.” as the Colonel picked up a brown paper folder looking through what appeared to be photos inside.

“How long are we going to be here Miss Lawrence? Mari said in a rushed tone as she tried to keep up with Annabelle. “Not long I hope, I need to get home, and back to the preparations.” Anna replied. “Are you sure a séance is a good idea Miss Lawrence?” Marigold asked…

“Not now Mari, I am not in the mood for a debate. Lets just see what these people want, so we can get back to more important things.”

Colonel Jacoby sauntered to open the door of the small office that Michelle used to occupy, ever since her father died, and left the company to her. “Well there you are Jacoby” Annabelle shouted as the echo of her words rebounded against the walls of the empty steel hangar, for everyone inside of it to hear. “Good of you to spare us the time, I know you are busy Miss Lawrence” the Colonel said as she flew in through the door, having to stop quickly, after nearly crashing into the others sitting inside the office. “Ooomph… Mari, will you be careful..” Annabelle sputtered as her assistant plowed into her from behind, just as abruptly as her boss had stopped.

“Now that we are all here, lets get down to business” Jacoby said rather calmly for such a gruff but sophisticated soldier.

Colonel Jacoby had been with the Government Office of Secret Service Services (GOSS) for 10 years now, and this was his chance to either make the step up to Brigadier, or end up busted back to a Sergeant, depending on the outcome of this assignment.

He had originally been recruited back before the scorching of the western seaboard of America. Back before the major economic upheaval in Europe, back before the deforestation in the center of South America. Back before the US Army was no longer trusted by its people, back when Jacoby was in charge of Infantry operations, back when the now commander, Captain Parker, was still just a Lieutenant.

“Can someone please explain to me why the government is interested in a clockworks? You people obviously can’t tell time from the state of the world today, and your not recognizing evil until it is too late, but one would think a schoolmaster would be more beneficial to the application of time as it relates to world events…” Andrew Kilgore proclaimed from the spot behind Michelle, that he was using as his official spot to hold the wall up.

The Kilgore Clockworks was the oldest operating factory dedicated to all things time. Andrew’s uncle, Mason, was considered the ‘Father of Modern Time’, as an innovator in many devices as well as his private machinations of machines that people found too complicated to understand, and mostly had too little interest about even having it explained.

Tall and skinny, with a wardrobe of mostly brown woolen suits, Andrew was a quiet, well groomed man who did everything slowly, methodically, and in painstaking detail.

“Clockworks? Oh no you don’t Jacoby, I didn’t sign up for what you are thinking. Annabelle snapped as she turned on her heel towards the door. “Come Mari, our business here is complete.” Mari, not prepared to turn around, found herself bumping into her boss yet again, but this time face to face, dropping the pile of papers she had in her closed arms. “His uncle is Mason Kilgore, what if he knows about it Miss Lawrence?” Pushing Marigold away from her, in the hopes of spinning her around to face the door, she quickly tried to hush her as she was picking up papers. “Yes, yes, yes. We will get your watch fixed tomorrow, I promise. You will never be late again, come now.” Annabelle said with a smile on her face, looking over her shoulder at the assembled group. “Nice meeting you all, enjoy the rest of your morning…”

Annabelle could not do without her both personal, and laboratory assistant, Marigold Twinings. An average sized girl with a love of everything Gingham, having a polite, but skittish disposition. Mostly because of Annabelle’s incessant reliance on her being two steps behind her at all times, something that no matter how practiced Marigold had become, Annabelle always found a way to generate chaos, in any environment she found herself stomping her way into, which always caused Marigold to somehow remain off guard unfortunately.

“Annabelle Lawrence? You wouldn’t happen to be Annie Lawless would you?” The slim Kilgore questioned just as she was about to push Marigold out the door. “I should have slammed the door in that corporals face the second he told me that Jacoby requested my presence.” Annabelle said as she bowed her head, closed her eyes, and pursed her lips before lifting her head back up with a sighing deep breath, spinning back around to face the clock maker replying with a smile, “Why don’t we save that conversation for another place and time, where we are not having to involve folks who have no interest in fixing Mari’s watch, now shall we?” she said only to purse her lips again, furrow her brow, and look upwards at him as to say shut up please with her facial expression.

A theoretical engineer from Oxford, she was one of the few women on Earth that had been educated in such a prestigious institution. Women of her IQ were not even believed to exist, let alone be acknowledged, but Annabelle was the exception to the rule.

Black, Red, and Purple silks, satins, velvet and lace were the trademark looks of ‘Annie Lawless’, along with enough leather goods, and silver accessories to break the back of any porter loading her travel trunks on a train. With hair as black as the midnight feathers of a raven under a gas lamp, and a face that she took pride in spending much time in front of the mirror to apply with great perfection, before leaving the house, Annabelle Lawrence was one that could be described as a ‘beautiful narcissist with a penchant for the dramatic’. A little over five foot and one hundred some pounds, she made for a small footprint in the room, but her personality made sure to give her the ability to overpower even the largest in her general scope of influence.

Growing tired of the back and forth of the party members, Michelle Lockheart stands to lean forward on the front of what used to be her desk… “You forced me with your rescue the world story, to hand over my family’s business, to have to sit in what used to be my office, and be pummeled with the ranting of a harlot and her babysitter?”

“Well at least I am someone a man would care to spend the evening with, and not being paid to do so, but because I happen to be a woman of distinction, unlike you, who appears to be nothing more than a balloon seamstress. Tell me, do you make the most lovely baskets for tourists to ride below of your slapped together heated balloons?” The loud woman in black and purple silks retorted.

“I’ll have you know you perfumed screech owl”… Michelle equally screeched.

Where Annabelle used leather and silver as nothing more than an accessory, Michelle used them as the core of her trousseau. She was never much for femininity, but she had always secretly wanted to be more of the Annabelle type. A girl that always had her hand in some sort of construction, at the same time, she was a clean freak. Not just because her family business that started as a wagon builder, graduating to ocean bound ship builders, and finally settling in as lighter than air craft manufacturers, required a clean workplace, because foreign object damage was the most dangerous of the transportation construction business, but also because of her longing to be the feminine type she had always dreamed, required her strict attention to not appearing as the local chimney sweep.

“Are we about through!?!” the colonel bellowed, slamming the folder he had held the entire time, and reading through, as the members of the group systematically introduced each other unintentionally. “If you plan on remaining not only alive, but retaining your freedom, I suggest you all pay attention, while the world has yet to either be destroyed, or come under the dictates of THIS MAN!” the frustrated soldier in his plain brown uniform, grey hair, and scraggly beard growth sternly spoke, making sure to get the attention of the people in the room, putting the focus of the moment on a picture of Captain Parker, Infantry operations command, of what was left of the still powerful US Army.

Daddy Rose
A single Father of 8 Daughters, with 4 elementary school aged girls still at home. A Music Producer, Fashion Designer, and Author from the 80's...
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