Aether Legions (Rough Draft) Chapter One

Cameron gazed through field glasses into the valley below. The magnificent cannon rising up the opposite valley wall set his heart pounding. The fruits of father’s clandestine collaboration, marvelous, and now mine.

     A single thunderous blast from the titanic weapon, only minutes ago, had made finding the site possible. Rumors amongst Luneville residents of armed men and recent gunfire ran off the only local scout Cameron found willing to venture closer to the enigmatic valley.

Without taking his eyes off the marvel he ordered his men. “Flannery, Baker, get down there and secure my prize. We’ll need an ‘all clear’ signal before we’ll come down with the papers.”

Flannery checked his holstered pistol before coaxing his horse down the thickly forested slope. Baker spurred after him.

Through the lenses Cameron followed Flannery and Baker as they circumnavigated the small industrial village. Minutes passed until Flannery waved his handkerchief.

Other movement caught his eye. From the gargantuan weapon, a dozen men fled. Cameron watched, awestruck, as the hillside flickered with a dozen tiny flashes before the cannon’s barrel and each ring of pipes and steam, exploded.

“That selfish old man,” Cameron cursed. Over his shoulder he snapped at the rest of his entourage. “Let’s hurry down there and find what we can before anything else goes up in flames.”

A narrow-chested, bespectacled man retreated from the crowd, steering his horse away. “You secured my services as a lawyer Mr. Dummond, not as a field hand.”

To his other men he glared before they descended into the chaos. Cameron turned his own horse to follow his lawyer away from the valley floor now behind them. With a broad smile and a polite nod he spoke softly. “Correct on all counts, but wise on none. Turn your back on me and the world turns its back on you.”

The lawyer scoffed. “You overestimate yourself.”

Cameron’s grin fell. “Test me in this. See if my global corporation cannot close every door ever opened to you before.” He cast his gaze back down at his dwindling treasure, a motley conflagration. “Deny me my fortune and digging through the refuse of others will become a daily necessity.”

An hour later, Flannery summoned Cameron to the main house with an excited shout. Through the smoky halls he stepped, surprised to see evidence of a violent struggle. Bloodstains, bullet holes and powder burns adorned the dining room and kitchen. As Cameron ascended the stairs a curious noise caught his attention; hums and whistles, and interwoven between, two tinny voices.

“Osashar, we’ve made it into orbit. After I pop down to the engine room, we will begin our journey to the moon.”

“Excellent Julian, I look forward to seeing you afterward.”

 

Cameron met Flannery’s bewildered gaze, clasped the man by the shoulders and spoke in a low controlled voice. “This house is off limits to all but you and me now.” He pulled a notebook out from his satchel, and a pen, and sat beside a desk beset by gauges, dials, and wires. “I’ll need this packed carefully, but not until I’m ready.”

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