Steamscape

Steamscape by D. Dalton Read Free Book Online Page A

Book: Steamscape by D. Dalton Read Free Book Online
Authors: D. Dalton
cipher medallion into Solindra’s hand and raising her arm. “Stay back or she’ll turn the steam on you!”
    He kicked the nearest person in the face. The press of people around them lessened slightly as everyone in the car watched the glowing sancta.
    “What are you doing?” Solindra hissed.
    “Saving you so you can save me. Think you can burst the boxcar door open?” He dropped his grip on the medallion, brought up his gloved fists and eased into a fighting stance. “Now would be good.” People tightened around them again.
    She stared at the sancta in her hand. “But I don’t know how!”
     

Chapter Five
    The sagebrush scratched against Jing’s metal leg as he knelt in front of the tracks. He couldn’t feel it.
    His fingers, however, could sense the slightest vibrations across the sandy surface. He didn’t even need to touch the track to know the train would soon be in view.
    He fingered the hose leading away from his prosthesis and into the Pitchstone’s escape dinghy. “Time to hurry.” He pulled out the welding torch’s head from his leg.
    Drina nodded and dropped more coal into the box. “We were lucky to get ahead.” She reached down into the dinghy and retrieved a hatchet. She’d swapped out her skirt for her old uniform trousers and had braided her hair into a crown on top of her head.
    With barely a footprint left behind her, she walked to the nearest telegraph and telephone pole in a line of thousands that followed the railway, where the words effortlessly streamed across the vast desert. The entire wooden pole shuddered at the hatchet’s bite. Drina struck again.
    Jing attached the fuel tube from the dinghy to the welding torch from his leg.
    The hatchet hammered and, after awhile, Drina kicked the shredding wood over. The pole sagged forward on a broken back toward the tracks, tethered by the wires.
    “Drina!”
    “I know,” she called back, marching intently to the next pole.
    On the horizon, a pillar of smoke was beginning to come into focus. Jing laid a hand on the track and felt the vibrations travel up his fingers and his arm.
    With a thundering crack, Drina dropped the second pole. The first pole crashed down onto the steel rails. Jing lit the torch and knelt over the telegraph and telephone wires and the tracks.
    Sweat beads immediately crowded his forehead. He straightened the wires to the track and welded them into place along a good foot-long section, with them still attached to their poles.
    He slammed the torch against the sand to extinguish it and limped away from the track. With his free hand, he wiped his forehead. “Should cause trouble.”
    Drina frowned. “But not derail it. Just enough to make them to stop.”
    He grinned. “Probably. I know if I were the engineer of that thing what I would do.” He knelt back down to replace the tools inside their casing.
    “You’d speed up, expecting a trap.”
    “Hey now.” He stood up and shaded his eyes at the oncoming steam engine. “Just be safe, Cylinder.”
    ***
    “Kill the crypter!”
    Solindra stared at the sancta. Someone knocked it out of her hand. Others grabbed at her skirt and ripped at her hair. Fingernails dug deep and yanked back layers of skin.
    The shouts became so solid that her ears simply shut down. She tried to push back toward Theo, but too many hands pulled her the other way. Helpless, she was dragged like a fish caught in a riptide.
    Daylight suddenly brightened the room from above. Gunfire outshouted the screams of the captives.
    Solindra froze, her heart stopping for a second as the woman trying to pull her arm out of its socket died. Hot blood splashed her face from the gunshot wound. The woman’s body sagged and collapsed.
    The vessel craned her neck. Codic soldiers had popped open a hatch on the roof. More rifle barrels poked through the portal and more gunshots resounded.
    Solindra covered her head and ducked. More people went down, some clutching arms and legs. Others were gone before they

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