CAMPFIRE – Mechanics

September 15, 2017

The greaseweed charoot hung loosely in the corner of his mouth, captured but still able to move weakly whenever he spoke. His face was burried in the goggles that looked down at brass cases sized for his pistol and a ring of tiny shaped hammers posed above it. His hand hovered over a complex, poorly arranged keyboard of symbols and strange punctuation arranged in groups that implied cohesion but outwardly made no sense.

“I hate these old models. They’re always so…indiosyncratic.” His voice was once smooth, only now hardened by the constant smoking. Each syllable was puncuated by small bursts of black, oily smoke from his mouth or nose.

“I’m sorry, if I had known a connoseiur was coming I would have invented my own that’d make even less sense. You wanted a bullet press and I found one, got it working, and I’m working on your arm and leg. You could be a little thankful.” Her voice was almost melodic, as if someone who learned how to sing not with drums and strings but with the sound of brass on bronze and steel on iron. Someone who sung while they worked rather than while they played.

“I didn’t say I wasn’t thankful, I just hate what you found.”

Drestin typed out a series of symbols that hammered themselves around the outside rim of the shell he was looking at through the goggles on the machine. “It’ll be fine, though. I can still undersatnd this one, it’s not using non-Guild inscription stacking.”

Passa had his leg fully disassembled and was cleaning the actuation pistons on the other side of her workshop, a room that wasn’t small but felt like it due to the clutter of tables, benches, and mechanical detritus that seemed to follow every steamwright. “Do you have all the materials you need?”

Another burst of smoke, “Most of them grow around here and the rest I always carry a decent supply of.” He swapped out the current shell for another one and pulled down a large lever that both settled it in place and pressed out the last spell engraved on the back. “I’m going to go collect what I need once you’re done, since I’ll need to get used to how the arm and leg move before I head out anyway. It’s been a long time since they’ve been cleand thoroughly. Price of the road.”

“Kind of a steep price for mecka like this. It’s kind of fragile.”

“Don’t I know it. When you get to the inside of my arm, look at the tertiary piston for the rotational snap. I had to patch it with brass.”

Passa finally reached behind her back almost absent-mindedly and turned on her ventalation fan and sighed audibly, “That’s going to take an hour at least to repair then. I’m amazed you could still move it. That’d leak pressure from the entire system.”

Each shell started getting faster and easier as he worked the strange typewriter. “Yeah, it’s not even something I’m particularly adept with, nor comfortable with. But when an orb stabs you in the arm, you gotta do something about it.” He had finished a dozen now, with only two dozen left to go.

Passa began sliding the components to his leg back together and priming them with the steam hose attached to the vent in the center  of town. “You know, I could convert these to a collar rather than the spines.”

“Nope, I don’t trust the translation lag time. I need it connected directly to my nerves.” Eighteen left now. The machine was well maintaned, even if she insisted she dug it out of the mess of her workshop.

Passa threw a leather glove at Drestin as she pulled his arm apart. “This is a mess! What did you do? This…argh, I need to go machine some new parts.” Before he could even respond she had disappeared and he could hear her clambering down a set of stairs outside the workshop’s main door.

“Guess it’ll be a few hours then.” Having finished his inscription he started filling each of the shells with black and white powders and placing small copper bowls inside of them ontop of the powder load.

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