Read Heart of Steam & Rust (Empires of Steam and Rust) Online

Authors: Stephen D. Sullivan

Tags: #steam punk - Steam Nations

Heart of Steam & Rust (Empires of Steam and Rust)

Stephen D. Sullivan

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HEART OF STEAM & RUST

An Empires of Steam and Rust Story

Stephen D. Sullivan

 

• Walkabout Publishing •

 

 

© 2012 Stephen D. Sullivan

 

I worked hard on this book, and I hope you enjoy it! I’m a real person trying to make a living, not some faceless mega-corporation. Your purchase of this book makes it easier for me to write more stories for you to enjoy. So…

 

This e-book is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This e-book may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each person you share it with. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then you should return to the vendor of your choice and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

 

*

 

Walkabout Publishing

S.D.Studios

P.O.Box 151

Kansasville, WI 53139

www.walkaboutpublishing.com

 

All rights reserved, including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, scanning, or any information storage and retrieval system, without written permission of the author.

 

Thanks to my first readers—Kifflie Scott, Vicki Steger, Christine Verstraete, Steve Rouse, and the Alliterates—for their invaluable insights and encouragement.

 

Cover art & design © 2012 Stephen D. Sullivan.

 

Get a free wallpaper of this and other stories at
www.stephendsullivan.com
–where you can find out more about me, as well. Thanks!

 

 

* * *

 

CONTENTS

 

HEART OF STEAM & RUST

One

Two

Three

Four

Five

Six

Seven

Eight

Nine

Ten

Eleven

Twelve

Thirteen

 

Samples of Other Stories

Kit Chapman Challenger & The Last Ranodon

Automata Futura

Forever Crimson

 

About the Story

About the Author

 

Alternate Cover

 

 

* * *

 

 

 

HEART OF STEAM & RUST

An Empires of Steam and Rust Story

Stephen D. Sullivan

 

 

Audio Report on Recovery of Captain Pavlina Ivanova, Russian Security Forces

Interrogator: Poruchik (Lieutenant) Vasily Yakov

Location: Fifth Section facility - medical building, Moscow

Top Secret — Royal Family & Top Advisers Only

 

What’s the last thing you remember?

“Waking up on an operating table. Somewhere moving, I think—maybe a train car or an airship. I assume a train, because of the rhythmic vibrations. I was strapped down. Big, glaring eyes stared at me. Two pairs of eyes … maybe. Then swirling lights and strange sounds. And then I blacked out. When I revived, I was here.”

No. I mean, what do you remember
before
that?

[Captain Ivanova shakes her head.]

Do you remember being shot?

“I was shot? Nyet. No, I don’t remember that.”

[Interrogator Yakov consults the attending physician.]

Can you tell me who you are?

“Ivanova. Pavlina Ivanova.”
[pause]
“Captain Pavlina Viktorovna Ivanova.”

Very good. Do you know where you are, Captain?

“I’m not sure.”
[pause]
“A hospital. A secure Third—
Fifth
Section hospital.”

Do you remember where you were before you came here?

“Where I was shot?”

Yes.

“It’s unclear ... The frontier, I think. Near Prussia?”

Yes.

“Hunting spies.”

Yes. Your … skills had led you there.

“Yes. My … skills. You’re not cleared to know about them.”

And you had found a traitor.

“Yes. I sent the Section a coded message to that effect.”

Do you remember who it is? Who is the traitor?

“No. I’m sorry.”

Perhaps it will come back in time.

“I’m sure it will. I’m very tired.”

[Interrogator Yakov consults the attending physician.]

Yes. You should rest now.

“How soon will I be able to go home, Poruchik Yakov?”

So, you remember me.

“Yes. We’ve met before.”

Not recently.

“No. I have a good memory.”

But not of what happened before you came here.

“No.”

That’s … unfortunate.

“How soon?”

As soon as you feel well enough, Captain.

 

 

ONE

 

The next day, Pavlina Ivanova convinced those attending her that she felt well enough to leave.

Lina smiled at the people she passed on her way out of the hospital, which was sparsely occupied and seemed outmoded to her. Her recovery room had no phone, no videoscreen, no radio, no newspapers, magazines, or any methods of obtaining current information of any kind. Her bathroom didn’t even have a mirror—just a blank space where one should have hung. Had the gunshot disfigured her somehow? A quick examination of her body—she didn’t dare more, in case she was being watched—revealed nothing shocking, not even a bandage; apparently she’d completely recovered while unconscious. So why no mirror? Why the limited access to the outside world?

The other rooms she noted as she headed for the main exit looked strangely bare as well. In fact, the whole building seemed more like a huge isolation tank rather than the state-of-the-art facility she would have expected from a government security agency looking after one of its own. Despite her growing apprehension, as she walked, she made small talk with the hospital’s doctors and officials—all members of the Fifth Section—calling each by name:

“Good to see you again, Doctor Mariyana … I’m feeling much better, Sergeant Dimitriev … Thank you for your concern, Nurse Alexov.”

She kept nodding, kept smiling, as she walked quickly through the building’s narrow, green-walled corridors, all the while concealing her terrible secret:

She didn’t remember
any
of these people. She didn’t know this hospital or this place she’d woken up in at all.

Nothing here was as it seemed.

She
wasn’t
a Captain, though she
had
been before she’d risen substantially higher within the Russian Security forces. Previous to her interrogation yesterday, she’d never even heard of the Fifth Section. In fact, her name
wasn’t
even Pavlina Viktorovna Ivanova—it was Pavlina
Alexeyevna
Ivanova, Colonel of the Russian Special Services, Cryptobiological Procurement & Development Division.

But she couldn’t allow these people—whoever they were—to know any of that. At best, they would think her mad. At worst … a traitor. And Lina knew very well what happened to traitors in Russia, whatever version of Russia she’d awoken in.

How did she get here?

She remembered falling … and cold … deep, bone-chilling cold … and darkness. She’d been on assignment … somewhere, trying to procure new cryptobiological specimens. She’d had an … an accident? Yes. An accident.

Or something had gone
terribly
wrong … though she couldn’t remember what.

That lack of memory disturbed her more than anything else. If Lina Ivanova knew one thing well, it was her own mind.

Though not
now
, it seemed.

The missing memories nagged at her, even as she headed toward the facility’s main entrance. “I’m hoping a return visit will not be necessary anytime soon, Katya,” she told the receptionist.

The girl returned Lina’s warm smile and wished her a good day. She never suspected a thing.

 Loss of memory: troublesome. Waking in this strange, archaic world?
That
Lina could cope with.

She’d heard of alternate worlds, of course. Science had speculated about them for more than a century. Their existence had never been proven, though.

Ironic that Lina had finally made a scientific discovery she didn’t intend to—one that she didn’t need to out-compete anyone to uncover, one that, at the moment, she could think of no easy way to profit from. Not without getting home.

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