I have been working on a steampunk novel for a bit over a year now. I started, as most tales do, with a simple idea - I wanted to create a story about a dystopian steampunk future, but perhaps not one that had been heard before.
I started taking some notes while on downtime at work. Before I knew it, I had notebooks upon notebooks filled with details and information, new sciences and sketched maps. One night, I came home and took a map of the world and altered it to fit the story, and created some new communities to tell the tale about.
By the beginning of this year, I had redrafted the story outline. What was once about 4 pages of notes became 37 pages of reasonably detailed guidelines, on top of another dozen pages of maps, vehicles, back stories and more. At current, I am working on my first draft, and I would like to share some of it with you! (I am open to constructive criticism, but be nice)
The way I have set out the story is in 2 parts:
Part 1 is about 27 pages long (5 chapters), and details the events that lead to the dystopian world. Part 2 takes place nearly 300 years later as humanity continues to struggle to recover from the events of Part 1.
(Edited to include suggested changes by @rhondak)
Now, with all that said, please enjoy the first chapter of part 1 of my steampunk novel:
Thursday, May 17, 2096, Common Era – 2:38 pm – 90 minutes before “The Shattering”
As the red durabrick corner of the building ahead exploded into millions of pebbles, Francis jerked the wheel to steer the airvan away from the shower of debris. He glanced at the rear-view monitor, which showed a shower of dust and ash clouding the camera. The shot had come from behind him. The fog of grime cleared to reveal a drone closing in on his location.
The radio squawked for a second within the cab of his vehicle as the tailing drone tapped into the speaker system, and an automated voice filled the vehicle.
“This is the Orlando Metropolitan Police. Bring your vehicle to a stop at the nearest safe location and prepare to be apprehended.”
Francis banked the airvan sharply to avoid an oncoming skybike as the drone rattled off the charges through the radio. A fast glance over his shoulder ensured the crate hadn’t toppled over when he took evasive action. Whipping his head back around, Francis pulled hard to the left, narrowly avoiding an oncoming transport. He needed to get out of this situation before he worried about anything else.
A blinking inside the on-screen map caught his eye as a bright yellow arrow pointed right, signaling an upcoming turn. He swerved the airvan hard to the right to prepare for the turn, hoping to get lucky and lose the drone in the process. His eyes darted to the rear monitor and back forward. The drone was still closing on him. He sucked in a sharp breath and slammed the wheel to the left, turning the wrong direction onto South Street.
As the rear driver’s side of the airvan ricocheted off the southwest corner of the Grand Bohemian Hotel’s ninth floor, Francis expected a massive explosion to vaporize not only himself, but the entire state of Florida. The chorus of crushed duracrete rubble combined with the scraping of steel, ringing through the interior of the vehicle like a horrible, discordant song. He winced at the terrible noise, his shoulders tensing as his eyes clamped shut involuntarily. He opened them, met with the bellowing horn of another oncoming public transport. He pulled hard on the wheel, climbing the vehicle sharply upward, missing the upper deck of a transport by mere inches.
He gripped the wheel so tightly that the trembling in his hands translated through to the stabilizers. Francis took a deep breath, loosened his hold on the wheel, and exhaled. The trembling hadn’t subsided, but the airvan no longer shook like a leaf on the breeze. He quickly dabbed his brow with the cuff of his sleeve.
“This is your second and final warning,” the synthetic voice came again from the speakers. “Bring your vehicle to a stop at the nearest safe location and prepare to be apprehended.”
“Blow it out your exhaust,” Francis didn’t have much time before the drone would try to remotely access the airvan’s control node. And who knew if he’d bypassed it properly. He wasn’t a mechanic, after all. He was the Voice of the Almighty, and today, he would be the Almighty’s Righteous Justice.
Francis stomped down on the accelerator, G-forces pressing him hard into the seat. The airvan ducked and weaved through the stream of oncoming traffic, far more nimbly than the clunky vehicle had any right to. The hardwired speed control would keep him from going into subsonic flight within a metropolitan area, and Francis knew he had to keep the airvan’s altitude under 50 meters within the city, or he would be a sitting duck to the drones. He would have to play more ‘cat and mouse’ with his pursuant in order to lose it.
The yellow blinking arrow caught his attention again, pointing him left then right, down Rosalind Avenue then onto Jackson Street. Francis pulled back on the wheel, angling up and over a pair of cargo transports, then banked hard left. Narrowly missing a skybike as he fought to level the airvan, he jammed hard right on the wheel.
A second skybike wasn’t as fortunate as Francis clipped its rear fender. The rider crashed hard into the airvan’s windscreen. A large series of cracks spewed out from the impact point as the biker rolled up and over the top of the vehicle. The bike lurched into a spin to the left, angling downward, slamming into a parked car on the street below.
The sweat-soaked wheel began to slide from his strained grip, and Francis struggled to roll the vehicle enough to make the sharp right turn without colliding into vehicles in the oncoming lanes. As he brought the airvan into the right lane, the radio came alive with the drone’s transmission.
“You have exceeded your allotted warnings. Your vehicle will now be grounded under the Orlando Metropolitan Traffic Authority. Please remain calm as we assume control of your automobile.”
Straightening the airvan, Francis slammed his foot down on the pedal, his fists clenching tightly around the wheel. A gentle clicking came from the console. Francis could feel the beads of sweat reforming, sweat began to creep toward his temples.
“Please, Lord,” he whispered. “Please let me deliver your message unimpeded.”
The clicking continued, but the airvan maintained its speed. Francis fought the urge to flash a swift grin, but he knew he wasn’t out of this yet. The blinking arrow appeared again, highlighting an upcoming right turn. Francis pushed the wheel in and dropped to street level, below the aircar that he was hastily approaching, and pulled hard to the right on the wheel. The rear-passenger side end of the vehicle dipped as he rounded the corner, carving into the pavement as he rounded the bend. Sparks showered the street, and Francis pulled the wheel back to raise the airvan back to a more comfortable altitude.
Clicking came from the console once again, as the drone continued its attempt to override the vehicle’s controls. The airvan gave a slight sputter, and Francis felt the stream of perspiration slide down his jawline. Directly ahead was the underpass beneath the Spessard L. Holland Expressway. Francis clutched the wheel and gritted his teeth. He would need to work fast.
He hunched down and pounded on the accelerator. A thud came from back of the airvan as the drone fired off a salvo of blasts into the rear of the vehicle. As he passed under the expressway, Francis banked into the oncoming lane and shouted, “Protect me, Lord!”
Horns blared as both ground automobiles and aerial vehicles banked hard to avoid a collision with the madman. An aircar pulled upward and slammed into the roof of the underpass. Sparks and shattered glass showered him as Francis bolted beneath it. A sportscar lurched across the line into the wrong lane, smashing into a cargo truck. The cab of the truck twisted toward the wall of the underpass as the sportscar slammed into the driver’s side fender. Steel boxes on the trailer of the cargo truck began to topple as the chains tore apart from the sudden impact.
The drone banked to the right, attempting to bypass the cargo truck. As the metal crates overturned, the drone darted high and low to avoid them. The cab crumpled as it smashed into the concrete support wall, and the drone, unable to stop itself at such a high rate of speed, burrowed into the passenger door of the cab. The shattering of plastic and tiny components were lost in the echoes of twisting metal and fracturing plastic echoed beneath the expressway.
The clicking had stopped, and Francis allowed himself the victorious grin that he felt he had earned. As he exited the underpass, he pulled back on the wheel and arced the airvan onto the freeway. The Almighty willing, he could hide in the rapid stream of commuters and arrive at his destination without further incident.
I hope you enjoyed it! If this post receives a positive enough response, perhaps I will share the next chapter with you guys!