The Candlesteam Adventures (continued)

“I said… going somewhere?”

Scarlett’s attention was drawn to the quick flash of gun metal near this man’s hand. With father still lying lifeless in the room, she reacted instinctively. Her knee moved upwards swiftly; although her skirt was quite full, she had always made sure that they were practical so she could undertake almost anything without being weighed down by lots of material. It also helped that father (being a practical man) had sought to ensure that Scarlett’s education had included both martial arts and fencing; two skills that father had picked up on his travels. The knee connected with its intended target and the air was driven from the very surprised man. Once the connection was made, Scarlett rushed forward, unsettling the thug who felt back with no resistance.

Outside, Scarlett started to head directly to the barn. She slowed slightly as she realised that the horses were no longer stabled there – but then she saw father’s new metal carriage; the steam still hissing from the boiler as the metal continued to heat the water. She hoped that there would be sufficient heat in the engine to drive her a little way from the house; if only so she could properly start the engines. She jumped onto the driving bench, grasped the hand brake and released it. The carriage lurched forwards and Scarlett pressed both pedals, causing an even bigger lurch as the engine fought against foot brake and accelerator. With a breath, she removed her foot slowly from one pedal, which she discovered was fortunately the brake – and the carriage almost launched itself forward. She grabbed the massive steering wheel to guide it towards the gates at the end of the gravel path. As the machine picked up speed, she heard the shouting and yelling from inside the house and saw that thug (now limping) come out. She glanced to see him raise his gun to aim.

Then Scarlett saw a flash of light, and then her attacker fell to the ground. She realised that father must have got to his own adapted weapon, a mixture of gun and portable energy that would fire a beam of powerful disrupting light which would kill without the need for bullets.

Scarlett could not dwell on the current situation any further. She reached the gates of the house and barrelling through them had to turn the steering wheel hard to change its course onto the roadway. She hadn’t seen Commander Barry’s own horse drawn carriage as it had been shielded by the brick wall, but the Commander’s horses rose up onto their hind legs in surprise. Scarlett realised that if she ever got the chance, she would need to explain and apologise to the Commander – but escape was the order of the day. As the carriage turned sharply to the left, she felt the wood and metal wheels bend, flex and crack a little under the change of direction. But she was away – and he needed to get further from the house so she could work out what needed to be done next.

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