(This is my first foray into the Steampunk genre – stories about fantastic steam-powered times, civilizations, worlds. Pardon the brevity [500 words, you know]) Keywords: skillet, skin, intense
I had been dreading this mission for some time, but it had to be done, and I was the fool to do it. Our commander was now a captive and there turned out to be only one way to gain entrance to his place of captivity. It would be necessary to go in through the city power plant, right in the heart of the massive machines that gave the city life and breath. My briefing had been very vague, and the whole thing was a nervous session of averted eyes and shuffling of feet by the officers in charge. I’m pretty sure they didn’t expect me to make it back. I didn’t expect me to make it back, either.
I found the loose panel right where they described it and managed to wrestle it open so I could slide through. I drew my force pistol and went through the cocking procedure – it wouldn’t be smart to need it and not have it ready to go. It was a complex mechanism of springs and gears that could drive a silent projectile 50 yards and slice up the innards of an unlucky target. It was somewhat heavy, but it was the right weapon for the job.
I kept low and sprinted over to the main line of machinery, marveling at the huge gear wheels and monster flywheels, whirring and roaring. I rested for a moment, my back against a generator pod. I could feel the thrusts of the gigantic pistons as they slithered along their greased tracks and clanged at the end of each cycle, reversing with a great whooshing sound and a floor-shaking shudder. Fantastic amounts of intense heat were radiating from the boilers that towered over me and my skin shone with sweat. Even the floor was superheated – my special boots protected me from the heat of this skillet.
The whooshing and clanging, all the cacophony of sounds made it difficult to think. I managed to scale the first line of machines and could see the central office cubicle where they were holding my commander. Now, could I make it – time would tell. I shinnied down a greasy support pole and prepared to make my run. I had to time it just right to dodge the deadly pistons that would be coming from both directions. Whoosh, clang, whoosh, clang, never ending.
I felt like a schoolchild trying to time the run into the jump rope and I was unconsciously leaning forward and back. Then I gritted my teeth and ran the full distance to the office, counting on surprise as I burst through the door. The surprise was complete, but it was I who was surprised. As I entered, I was confronted by my commander and two other men, all aiming their force pistols my way. “We’ve been waiting for you,” they said. I dropped my weapon and sagged to the floor.