New Release Science Fiction/Steampunk – A Study in Temperance by Ichabod Temperance

Posted By Leisl Kaberry

This weeks Fantasy Sci-Fi Network new release offering is a steampunk science fiction, the 4th in the ‘The Adventures of Ichabod Temperance’ series, released on the 22nd of May 2014…

A Study in Temperance

by Ichabod Temperance

“‘Twas the hand of fate that brought Miss Plumtartt and me together, for, in truth, we have been happenstance-stricken and adventure prone ever since.” -Ichabod Temperance, For the Love of Temperance.

A Study in Temperance

What Readers Have to Say About the Series

 

“I call this book monstrously amusing, quirky, charming, and just a heck of a lot fun. 5 Fireballs!” 5 Stars

 

“The author has accomplished books with most pleasant characteristics, characters that are charming and easy to warm up to, funny and intellectual, prodigious in their minds and delicate in their manners.” 5 Stars

 

 Other Installments in ‘The Adventures of Ichabod Temperance’ Series

A Matter of Temperance - Cover

 

A World of InTemperance-2a

 

For the Love of Temperance

 

An Excerpt to Wet your Appetite

 

Clip-Clop. Clip-Clop. Clip-Clop. Clip-Clop.

This is the sound of the horses’ hooves on the pavement as our magic pumpkin pulls forward at a trot.

“I hate to let you open the door for Miss Plumtartt, sir,” I say to the epaulette clad outdoor host. “I prefer to do that myself.”

“Oi suhtainly caun’t blames ye for that, suh,” replies the magnificent old doorman. “’ow-ever, as Oi shall be holding the door, you sir, shall enjoy the privilege of assisting the beautiful young woman into the carriage with your own lucky hands then, eh?” says the charming gent with a wink.

“Hey! That sounds really good to me, sir. Thanks!”

Just as Miss Plumtartt steps inside the carriage, enormous hat and all, my doorman acquaintance gets a shocked look upon his mug as his jaw drops open and his eyes grow as large as tea saucers.

An itchy tingling just inside the base of my skull tells my body to drop and duck. My instincts have already asserted themselves upon my body of their own free will before there is a chance for a thought to pass between my ears.

That is fortunate; otherwise, a giant blade of steel would have passed between my ears as it cleaved my head in twain.

I narrowly escape the blow of a tremendous, broad-bladed scimitar as it smashes into the carriage where my head was innocently awaiting. My failed cranial bifurcation attempt came from a most outrageously appointed chap. He wears the split-toed boots of an Auriental secret assassin. He complements this with the voluminous pants of the Arabian Peninsula, the shirt of the buccaneer and the war paint of the American Indian. It is the India Indian head-dress that adorns his head. This is a wound up pile of shiny yellow cloth. I think it is referred to as a “Ture-bahn.”

At this moment, he is trying to free his big Eastern weapon from where it has become stuck in the woodwork of the Landau.

I avail myself the opportunity to offer defence of myself since this fellow apparently means to do me harm. My uppercut starts from the cobbles and does not end until it is well past the point of contact with my not so chummy friend’s chin.

It is unfortunate that I am unable to stop his mate from kicking me in the ear. As I am spun away from the carriage by the blow I see that my first intruder has several mates. They are all dressed in the same manner as the first, or at least to a certain extent. One wears the over the knee boots of some idealized fantasy pyrate below his Nipponese armor and Cherokee Indian head dress. Their chum has his head wrapped in black cloth but for a thin strip of exposure along the eye line.

“Hear, hear! Behave yourself, you rascal!” insists my doorman friend as he clobbers one Bucca-neenja with a stout clout. It angers me to no end to see him rewarded with a returning blow that sets him heavily to the pavement.

I try to cover up and roll with the punches and kicks that rain down upon me. Miss Plumtartt reappears in the Phaeton’s door to thwack a fellow with all her might utilising her parasol, but before she can get in more than a couple of strikes, another of the bandits has entered from the opposite side of the carriage and placed a hand over her lovely face. This hand contains a folded handkerchief that I surmise is soaked in chloroform since Miss Plumtartt’s eyes immediately begin a furious fluttering and then close altogether as she slumps and is pulled back into the buggy.

Another devilish dervish has mounted to the box. With a hysterical war cry, he callously flings the poor cabman from his perch, and takes up the reins. The fresh chauffeur whips the brace of horses that rear up in fear and panic and then break into an immediate gallop. The ruthless kidnap gang, one with a parting kick in the face to me, then board their stolen carriage and fly away down High Holbern, headed into the fashionable Western districts.

They haven’t got far before I am up and making pursuit. They’ve got Perse… I mean, they’ve got Miss Plumtartt!

I will never catch those frightened horses on foot. I cast about to see if I can procure alternative transport.

There, across the street, I think I spy what I require. A Hansom cab driver is just finishing the rewinding process for the spring of his mechanical horse. He has just finished struggling to get the last few clicks of a final rotation on the turn key and is in the process of removing the shaft of this long key from the upper intersection of the creature’s hind quarters when I unceremoniously knock him out of the traces. I lower the tail, disengage the safety lock and then pull the releasing lever.

Climbing up on the driver’s platform behind the cart, I take up the reins and work out the mechanics of engagement. Two hand levers present themselves with linkage travelling down and to either side of my spring-loaded Palomino. Where the one on my right extends upward through the coachman’s platform through a metal plate. This plate has channels fashioned into it in the shape of a capitol ‘H’. At this time, the rod that extends through it is in the centre beam. I push the left hand lever forward and then follow by manoeuvring the opposite lever to the left and forward to the top of the ‘H”s high left position. I allow my left hand to ease back into its former state. The horse accepts the command and moves into a walk.

Clink. . Clonk. . Clink. . Clonk. . Clink. . Clonk. .

Clink. . Clonk. . Clink. . Clonk. . Clink. . Clonk. .

“C’mon Bessie, pick it up a little. We’re in a hurry,” I always wanted to try driving one of these, but not under these circumstances.

My pleas of a faster pace fall on deaf, brass ears.

The dastards are getting away with Miss Plumtartt! I need to quickly work out the controls of this engineered equine.

Perhaps a pull directly downward upon the ratio engagement lever in conjunction with the left lever will encourage the golden girl into a trot.

Clink-Clonk-Clink-Clonk-Clink-Clonk-Clink-Clonk

Clink-Clonk-Clink-Clonk-Clink-Clonk-Clink-Clonk

That’s a little better, but I need a lot more.

So far my mechanical instincts are working pretty well. My next move will be to push the spring’s ‘holder’ with my left while I shove the spring engagement ratio rod forward halfway, across the bar and then forward again to the top of the ‘H”s high right quadrant.

With the engagement of this mechanism, the cadence of my steed takes on a three part synchronisation and a dramatic increase in speed.

Clinkety-Clonk! Clinkety-Clonk! Clinkety-Clonk!

Clinkety-Clonk! Clinkety-Clonk! Clinkety-Clonk!

Now that my friend Flicker is moving with a purpose, I concentrate on how to control her directions. The regular pull of the reins to the left and right seems to do the trick.

We’re making better time, but it ain’t enough by a long shot. I have one more stage of increasing my pace to work through. I hope I can control this brass beauty. We are already moving faster than the rest of London’s traffic and it is all I can do to control this clockwork charger, but I gotta do, what I gotta do.

I engage the next acceleration level. TinBiscuit achieves full gallop stage.

Clinkety!-Clonkety! Clinkety!-Clonkety! Clinkety!-Clonkety!

Clinkety!-Clonkety! Clinkety!-Clonkety! Clinkety!-Clonkety!

Clinkety!-Clonkety! Clinkety!-Clonkety! Clinkety!-Clonkety!

I fight to keep this steel stallion from crushing my fellow London traffickers. I have limited luck in this regard. Other carriages seem to be standing still as I fly past, with Scout’s hooves kicking up sparks from her steel moccasins’ fleeting contact with the London cobblestones. Women scream, children chase and men look on disapprovingly as blue helmeted bobbies blow their whistles and shake their truncheons at my reckless passage.

Now I can see the pirate infested Hansom kidnap carriage! As they see me in return, they, too, increase their speed.

The wide axles of the Hansom cab I pilot catches another carriage and nearly capsizes us. Miraculously we remain upright and continue the chase, but that was a near thing.

{ ! } {I think I’ve got an idea.}

I climb over the roof of the cab and lower myself down the front until my feet rest on the wooden gate. I turn to leap out and onto the horse itself. Kicking the linkages loose from either side of her flanks, I draw my Bowie knife and cut the traces loose that bind this horse to its burden. The hansom takes a terrible tumble as it is freed from behind us and I now ride Silver bare back.

Her bridle is all that remains of Beetlebaum’s former garments. It’ll have to do for keeping me aboard and controlling this mighty mare. Okay, I need to figure out quickly how to control this wonder from this position. For the most part she operates like a standard horse, responding to the normal manner of horse commands with bridle reigns and heel encouragements. My ‘giddy-ups’, though, are pretty much called in vain. So far we have not done too much damage to fellow street travelers, but riding this horse is a bit like trying to pilot a charging rhinoceros.

I am gaining on the fiends! I can now make an accurate assessment of my adversaries. I can see two of the banshees up front, perched upon the box in control of the calamitous carriage. Two more villains cling to the back luggage boards and there is presumably a fifth member of these insidious criminals inside the compartment with the delicate Miss Plumtartt at their cruel mercies.

The fellows in the rear attempt to dissuade my efforts. The first wears a black silk sash about the top half of his face. The disguise comes down over his nose and leaves the rest of the face open. Two eye holes have been cut to allow vision. He puts a short tube to his mouth. His body language indicates that he has taken in a great breath of air and forcefully expelled it into the tube. I hear a slight tink and see where a tiny dart has been embedded within Trigger’s ear. The dread pirate robber’s partner reaches into a wide sash that is tightly bound around his waist. He has retrieved something that I cannot see. He draws his right hand back across his body, turning his right shoulder to me. He then violently flings his arm toward me in a backhand manner. I get a momentary flash of silver as several steel objects are hurled in my direction. Hugging the horsie’s neck and trying to gain cover on the opposite side, I hear a whining buzz pass overhead as a stinging sensation touches my right upper arm. I see where there is torn fabric there. There is also a small thud. Sitting back up, I see a metal object stuck into my horse’s flank. This is a heavy flat of steel, approximately three and a half inches across. It is cut and fashioned into the shape of a multi-pointed sun, or star. The weight and razor sharp points allow it to be flung, and thus utilised as a throwing weapon.

The driver makes as if he is going to leave the wide thoroughfare, but then makes a last minute course correction in an attempt to shake me from pursuit. I am becoming more adept at the handling of my chevalier and have the advantage in manoeuvrability. No matter what the fiends try, I stay with the maddened marauders.

Our wild chase has led us up New Oxford Street. The buildings and homes become steadily more fancy as we progress. Our progression comes to a swift conclusion as we are met by the unavoidable obstacle of the entire roadway being in an upheaval due to subterranean railway construction.

My carriage driving counterpart has pulled his team of horses hard to the right while simultaneously engaging the brake. The carriage impossibly turns sideways, going into an uncontrollable slide as the insane driver whoops in crazed exuberance. They smash sideways into a pile of unearthed cobbles and dirt.

I am jealous. His stunt was actually the product of some rather admirable driving skills. I have no such luck with my little pony. I neutralise the drive, pull in the reins, and do everything I can to get Petunia to sit down. With sparks flying in all directions from her fiercely resisting hooves of her locked out front legs, and cobble riding rear end, Man o’ Woe and I inexorably slide towards the open ditch until we are unavoidably flung off and out into open space.

With her four spring driven legs madly scrambling at the all too thin air, the flying mechanical wonder horse gives an inhorsian ‘neigh!’ in a chilling whinny of terror before slamming into the freshly laid, wide rail tracks. This difficult landing is followed by an explosion of innumerable springs, gears, shafts, rods and a gazillion other pieces.

KRRRAAASSSHHH!!!!

SPROINGITY! SPROINGITY! SPROINGITY! SPROINGITY!

KERG-SPROING!!!

 About the Author

ickyandkitka

“Like the protagonist in A Matter of Temperance, I am an Alabama knockabout. In my 49 years, I’ve been a punk rock drummer, a construction worker, a wrestling referee, a sushi chef, an inveterate tinkerer, and a long-time martial arts enthusiast. I’ve been an avid reader since I could barely walk, but never did I dream of putting pen to paper until I performed stunt work on the soon-to-be-released Steampunk indie film, “Engines of Destiny.” As a result of meeting these welcoming, generous people, I fell in love with the Steampunk genre and world. After joining The Steampunk Empire, I suddenly began to write, and I couldn’t stop. Ichabod and Persephone (and a cast of really nasty monsters and minions) became real people to me, and their story had to be told. I am currently working on a sequel.”

Available from;

Amazon.com

Amazon.ca

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.com.au

Ick-Ick at Barnes and Noble

See more from Ichabod;

Ichabod on Facebook
Ickster on Goodreads
Ickety on twitter
Icky on ‘The Steampunk Empire’
A Blog of Temperance

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