Friday, December 7, 2012

The Icarus Incident


(Note: It is recommended, but not altogether required, for new readers to go back and reader "Icarus and Daedalus" or the redux of it.
http://eclipsingdream.blogspot.com/2012/12/icarus-and-daedalus-redux.html
Otherwise, enjoy...)



            The ramparts of Stahlburg Castle, usually stark and bare, now hummed with the small talk of investors and employees. Dove Ravenclock looked down onto the walls from the observation tower above. There was a brief pause in the chatter as the guests looked up to see the young heir, but the whispers resumed after, mostly with admiration for the machine harnessed on Dove’s back, the Icarus. A set of mechanical wings, with small round turbines connected by golden limbs holding blades, linked to an engine on Dove’s back. Their appearance had all the grace and beauty as an actual pair of wings. It was truly a sight to behold, even from a distance. 
Dove looked through the crowd of strangers for the few familiar faces he could recognize. He first found his father, Archibald, standing on an elevated platform, towering over the crowd whilst grimly scanning it. At a pace separate from the crowd, the guild master looked up at his son. Dove assumed that most fathers would look upon their children with pride on a day such as this. Archibald’s callous gaze was one of stern warning, meant to dissuade rebellious thoughts.
            Dove broke eye contact and continued to search the crowd. There were other faces he recognized, quite a few employees he’s seen in passing, but he hardly knew any of them. He found one of the familiar few he did know, his sister, at the edge of the crowd. Unlike their father, Phoenix did not even look at him. It wasn't unexpected, but there was something new in her face. It seemed to be a kind of anxiety. Of what, Dove could not tell. Regardless, he felt a small comfort that she was there. He did not expect her to come at all given how their last discussion left off. But he couldn't give it any more thought as Archibald began addressing the crowd from his perch.
            “Loyal members of the Ravenclock Guild, welcome!”         

            “Come on, Icarus,” Dove called out, bird feed in hand. The raven hopped out of the cage and began nibbling the food from his owner’s hand. Dove withdrew with his pet on his wrist, stepping out onto the balcony of his study. The view of the sea was a fair sight from his study, glistening beneath the shifting horizon and crashing against the cliffs Stahlburg was situated on. The sun had begun its descent, changing the sky’s color as it fell. Dove could spot two birds, wings on the wind, not a care or worry grounding them in low spirits. He could not help but to envy the sight.
Turning to the raven in his own hand, Dove lamented, “Well Icarus, this is the day. I fly my invention, the world sees I’m my father’s son, and then my life becomes the family’s.”
            To be sure, there was prosperity and power as the head of the family and the Guild. Of the states of the Corporate Territories, the Ravenclock Guild was the largest and still aggressively expanding their borders, buying out smaller groups and cutting others out. They even had strong ties in the traditional nations of Regalia, Sabre, and Faust. But it also meant what little freedom Dove had was dispensed, as he would be expected to serve his family and guild before himself. It meant a joyless life to him, a prison of obligations and contracts. And he wasn’t even halfway through his teenage years. Not to mention that his “success” would cement the bitterness his sister felt towards him.
            Turning away from the balcony, Dove spent a moment inspecting the Icarus once more. A device he had been inspired to make by his raven, and even named after, Dove’s passion went into the machine since he was ten. It was something of a fantasy he wanted to fulfill, to fly as freely as the birds he so routinely observed.
            In particular, he looked at the pressure tank, the most crucial component of the invention. The tank consisted of twin vials of water, connected to a dense construction of valves and clockwork within a square golden casing. Once active and placed in the engine slot, the water would become pressurized steam that would flow into the wings and fuel the turbines, shifting the blades into motion and allowing the wearer to lift off the ground. Fuel was not a problem, as once the tank was emptied any source of water would be adequate to replace it, disregarding the required sanitization. Above all else, this singular part of the machine was vital.  
            “Dove.” The unmistakable baritone of his father’s voice came from behind, and Dove turned to see his father waiting in the doorway.  Archibald was dressed formally, wearing his glossy black justacorps with golden macaroni and cog shaped buttons. The Ravenclock family emblem, a raven holding a clock in its beak, blazed on the shoulder of his cloak. Solemn face framed by long dark copper hair and goatee, Archibald stood tall and stoic, studying his heir’s magnum opus.
            “Father,” Dove responded respectfully.
“I see you’re looking over your devices again. Good.” Archibald’s praise was without a hint of cheer, simply being matter-of-factly. Hands joined behind his back, the guild master stepped into his son’s study, looking over his child’s work. “A fine feat of engineering. Is it ready?”
“Yes, father.”
“And there are to be no incidents?”
“No, father.”
“Excellent. Come to my study in half an hour. There are some matters I need to discuss with you concerning your invention.”
            Dove answered with a respectful bow, and as quickly as he had appeared, Archibald departed without another word. Left behind him, Phoenix stood in the hallway, partially concealed by the shadows.
“You don’t need to skulk in the dark, Phoenix,” Dove said. “Father is looking particularly stern today. What’s going on?”
Phoenix briefly told him that Lord Baloff, a lord in the territories and one of the Guild’s most prolific business partners, had arrived and requested an audience. Dove guessed that Baloff wanted to negotiate the split in profits. The man was sleazy to the core, and didn't shy away from shady business practices. His treatment of employees also left much to be desired, giving no support to victims of industrial accidents, binding them by contract, and dissolving strikes and unions with hired guns. Evidently his presence was not desired by Father either and Phoenix had a bad taste in her mouth from the subject as well, so Dove changed the topic.
“So how goes your machinations? Got any new designs?” He added a smile to that last question.
Phoenix glared. “Why is it any of your business?”
Dove was saddened but not surprised by the hostility. “I’m just curious. Maybe you've made something that’ll impress father. Was that why you were accompanying him?”
Judging by the expression on her face, Dove realized that indeed that was what happened, and apparently Phoenix’s invention once again failed to impress. By the time he could muster up an apology, she stormed out with a fury. The door into his study slammed thunderously, and Dove’s only company was now the cawing bird perched on his hand.

            Dove found his way to his father’s study through the labyrinthine corridors of Stahlburg Castle. It was an ancient building, dating back to the days before the discovery of the steam engine and the technological revolution. Back then, it had been the seat of the emperor of Faust, but when the holy empire fell into an economic crisis after the Great War, Archibald made a move to purchase it. Its remote location on a cliff-side coast and surrounded by mountains made for an excellent place to keep company secrets and work in silence. Dove found the keep marvelous, but almost devoid of life. His father had a small host of servants and guards, but scattered as they were throughout Stahlburg, it left the dusty halls empty as a tomb.
Dove finally came to the doors to father’s study, massive and ornate. Just as he arrived, the door opened. A silver haired man with a brown duster coat and opaque glasses walked out, a big toothy grin frozen on his face. Baloff never stopped smiling. There was a time when Dove visited Baloff in Baloffburg, where he saw that even the Faustian tycoon’s closest advisers had difficulties discerning their employer’s mood, stepping carefully when in conversation.  
 “Ach! Dove! A pleasure, as alvays!” Baloff bowed, his flattery coated in his heavy Faustian accent.
“Hello, Lord Baloff. May I ask what business you have with my father?” Dove asked. 
“Oh, I haf no furzer business here. Your gracious fuzzer and I haf al-hready hreached an accord.” With another bow, Baloff continued, “I know you und I haf not alvays seen eye to eye, but I am hoping ve can put zat behind us! I, for one, look forvard to our future partnership.”
Even with those glasses shielding his eyes, Dove could make out a glint of mischief as Baloff walked away. Putting it aside for the moment, Dove pushed the doors open to his father’s office and walked in. It was a long room with a high arched ceiling echoing every step on the polished stone floor. It used to be the throne room, but Archibald had it renovated upon his acquisition, replacing the royal chair with his desk, though it still retained a majestic air. All Dove could think of, however, was how hollow the room felt with its Gothic architecture. Only three people occupied it now. Dove, his father, and their head servant, who left the room as Dove entered. As Dove reached the space before his father’s elevated desk, he could hear the close of the door far behind, leaving the father and son alone.
 You've seen Baloff on his way out, correct?”
“Usual negotiations, I take it?” Dove asked.
Archibald nodded. “The man is getting particularly greedy these days. That he hasn’t dropped his sense of humor regarding child labor isn't endearing him any further.”
“Yet you put up with him. Why?”
“You know as well as I that Baloff is one of the most powerful landowners in the territories, second probably only to the Ravenclock Guild itself. In any case,” Archibald leaned back in his chair, hands clasped together. “…I did not call you here to discuss our business partners.”
Dove then found himself wondering about Baloff’s departing words, and formed the question. “He mentioned something about my future partnership with him. What is he talking about?”
 “Actually, that is precisely what I wish to discuss with you.” Taking the wineglass on the table, Archibald continued. “I know very well that you have made this invention with the purpose of exploration, but tell me… have you given any thoughts to applications beyond that?”
Dove could see where this was going, and remained silent. So that was what Baloff meant. His father was already making plans to monetize the Icarus, and Baloff was in on it, likely to help with production. The idea of his hard work in the hands of that despot twisted his stomach.
            “It may be poetic to be able to soar through the skies as free as a bird, but we don’t live in a fantasy. Investors will require more pragmatic reasons to fund the mass production of this device.”
            “Father… I have no plans on adding the Icarus to production lines.”
            It was Archibald’s turn to raise an eyebrow. “Oh? I had long suspected your investment in this project was out of enjoying freedom while it lasted. I had hoped you would've put more thought into this design beyond such frivolous discourse.”
            Taking another sip from his glass, Archibald continued, “I suppose it’s to be expected. I wasn't dissimilar to you at your age. Ever the dreamer. You’ll grow out of it.”
            Dove paused for a moment. With resolve, he said plainly, “No.”
            Archibald paused for a moment at Dove’s response, and then slowly put his glass down, turning his full attention to Dove. Rising from his seat, Archibald stood two and a half feet taller than the average man, with broad shoulders and strong arms, but beneath his physical strength was a grim cunning and authority. Dove recognized that his rising was a subtle attempt to intimidate his son into backing down, but it wouldn't work this time. 
            “I won’t be what you want me to be, father. Not if I can help it.”  
            “I want you to be the head of one of the most powerful industries in the world, and a responsible man,” Archibald stated.
            “I never asked for that!”
“But you will accept it!” Archibald shouted over his son, words echoing off the walls. “At this point, I don’t care what your personal feelings are; the Icarus will go on production lines. Phoenix would do anything to be in your position.”   
            “If you’re interested in what’s best for the company, why not choose Phoenix? It’s obvious she’d be a better head than me! She comes up with designs almost weekly, most of them admittedly with flaws, but all of them have had potential. Most of all, she works tirelessly to impress you!”
            Far from being moved, Archibald retained that cold look, like a bird of prey eyeing its meal. “Exactly.”
            Dove was uncertain what his father said at first. “What?”
            “Do you think she’d work nearly as hard if I was appreciative of her efforts? Here’s another lesson of the real world, my son. Competition breeds innovation. For all the lackluster designs Phoenix puts forth to vie for my approval, she has the one thing you lack.” Taking another sip of his wine, he finished, “The mind set and dedication. If she only had your passion, however misguided…”
            The rest didn't need to be said. Dove found himself repulsed by this revelation. His father knew of Phoenix’s desperation, and he only fostered it.
            “We have discussed enough. I suggest you get ready for your demonstration. A great many investors will be there, and their support will depend on your presentation. Afterwards, you best start thinking of other uses than flights of fancy! You’re dismissed.”
            Dove gave a tense bow before departing, deciding against pressing the issues further. When Archibald dismissed someone, it was best to go peacefully, and Dove had pushed the conversation more than he should have. If he had been anyone else, he would've walked away with more than a scolding. As it stood, he was both surprised by his own audacity and his father’s lenience for it.
            He decided against going to his study immediately. Instead, he made his way to Phoenix’s, to try to apologize for his missteps and tell her the truth of their father’s opinion. When he arrived, though, she was absent. Letting himself in, he glanced around. The room was an utter mess, with an assortment of metal components, old machines, and concept designs lying around. He looked through the ones that had been drawn up in the last year. His father’s words began to play inside his head as he slowly looked through them, noticing that every new concept was better than the last one, and that Phoenix was gaining more and more insight with each one. Worse, it seemed as though every new design had more “pragmatic” reasons that would appeal to their father.
            He found the Daedalus, one of her more recent inventions, lying against a wall. In particular, Dove had been impressed by the automaton. But just as their father disapproved of it, calling it an unoriginal idea and worthless, so she quickly cast it aside. Dove wondered if he would've been so quick to do so if it had been his own machine. Part of the reason he developed the Icarus as far as he did was his own attachment to it and what it meant to him, working out the malfunctions rather than abandoning it. Phoenix had no such connections, as the dust gathering on the Daedalus demonstrated.
            It was then that Dove noticed a parchment on the nearby table, which seemed extensively detailed. Walking over, he judged it to be the drawing of a human being. However, as he stared at it more, he realized that it was actually a mesh of man and machine, with mechanical limbs. There was also another sheet beneath, which he inspected as well. This one dealt with organs within the body, marked independently and all artificial. A mechanical heart pumping blood throughout the body, lungs that operated automatically and separate from the throat, all this and more illustrated on the parchment. The drawings were not quite as sleek and natural as their authentic counterparts, but Dove could see how it all worked.  
Dove was both awed and unnerved all at once when he came upon this. A sharp gasp from behind snapped him back to the surroundings. He turned to behold a surprised Phoenix, whose face soon contorted into a furious scowl.
            “Why are you here!?”
            “Phoenix, I only…” Dove started, but couldn't finish. Quickly shifting the topic, “Is this your latest project?”
            “Get out!”
            Dove tried to divert the subject and ask more about the her designs, but Phoenix would have none of it. Departing quickly, Dove reprimanded himself for his intrusion into her study. It was unlikely she’d listen to him now about anything. He hoped she would calm down after the demonstration.
Returning to his room to get his machine, Dove found the door slightly ajar. Troubled, he pushed it open. Nothing seemed out of place… except Icarus’ cage was wide open, and the raven was gone. Dove felt his heart sink.
“Icarus?” He cried out, looking frantically for his beloved pet. But Icarus was long gone, and left not a trace. As if to taunt him, the 6:00 bell rang, reminding Dove of the near imminent demonstration of his invention. Depressed, and pressed for time, Dove hurriedly grabbed the Icarus and began a lonely trek to the observation tower, where he intended to reveal his device to the world. The thought to inspect his machine before going on his way did not cross his mind.

“Gentlemen, I trust you are familiar with my son…”
Atop the walls, the gathering clamored. Among the crowd were investors, employees, and even a few renowned inventors. Yet Dove felt awfully alone up on his perch. He knew so few of them, and he doubted any of them had an interest in him beyond a potential profit. He remained silent as his father proceeded.
“For some time now, he’s been designing a novel machine, capable of granting a man the ability to fly as a bird. It is our hope that we can produce this marvel en masse, and change the world forever! What we require, though, is your investment in this project. If you are hesitant, allow my son to show you the potential of this device!”          
That was Dove’s cue. He didn't have anything to add to his father’s speech, he  just made sure the Pressure Tank was firmly inserted, and turned the dials on the machine, sputtering to life. Despite it’s size, the Icarus’ harness diverted most of its weight to the wearer’s body, allowing Dove to carry it relatively well despite slowly. During flight, that weight would all but disappear. Despite his depression and his testing the Icarus many times before, he knew today he’d have to push the limits further than ever. The crowd would be awed by the display, he judged. He wasn't so concerned about that though. He cared neither for these strangers, nor even his father.
But looking through the crowd, there was one face absent that he did care about. Phoenix was nowhere to be found. Probably to be expected. This was going to be Dove’s chance to shine in the eyes of the world, whether he wanted to or not. She, on the other hand, would continue to be ignored by their father to spur her inventions. The fact she was being manipulated like that infuriated Dove. He hoped she would listen to him after this was all finished. She needed to know.  
            Making sure his goggles and pilot’s cap were firmly in place, Dove stepped atop the ramp built into the side of the tower, which would serve by allowing him to gather speed and momentum. This was probably the trickiest part of the Icarus, taking flight. Beyond that, it was surprisingly easy to keep in air, more so with his improvements. All he would have to do was glide down. He’d done this many times before, this flight would be no different.
            Before taking those last steps, he carefully observed his surroundings. In front of him was the seemingly infinite expanse of the oceans and sky. Behind him, the sharp mountains Stahlburg was built against like talons jutting from the earth. Both served to complete Stahlburg’s prison. And once again, he found those birds, flying without care. Was Icarus among them, he wondered? He was conflicted about whether to feel glad or sad about his raven’s freedom. Shaking the painful subject from mind, he commenced with his task.
He ran down the ramp, with the wings whirring as they prepared for flight. At the very edge of the extension, he leapt towards the golden sky, departing from the stone bricks of Stahlburg Castle. The thunderous roar of applause was only surpassed by the wind splashing the rest of Dove’s face as his wings lifted him higher in the sky as its blades whirred furiously, and its turbines intermittently sprouting founts of steam. His machine was working! It was a success!
            The sensation was far more than he could've imagined. Testing this device at low altitudes did not invoke such thrill and adrenaline. For one of the few times in his life, Dove felt truly alive. The thought of simply leaving this life with his machine, of leaving the family behind and pursuing his own desires, crossed his mind suddenly. He was genuinely tempted. There’d be nothing his Archibald or his minions could do to stop him. But still…
            Abruptly, his thoughts stopped as he felt a powerful jerk mid-flight. He looked at his wings, and was alarmed to find that the right had malfunctioned and caught fire. It took just a moment in order to figure out what had happened… The engine had been tampered with, causing the pressure to be uneven and excessive on the right side. The resulting combustion now jammed the turbines and blades, ceasing its flight. Though the other wing was perfectly functional, it could not hold up Dove’s mass alone. It only spun him round and round as he quickly lost altitude.
“What? No, no!” he cried out, trying to think of something. His first instinct was to reach around to the back of the engine and attempt to correct the tanks, but even if he could manage that, it didn't change the fact that the damage was done. Perhaps he could help break the fall by tilting so the wings hit the water first, but the device was flinging him around so turbulently that he simply couldn't control it. As the blurred body of water below threateningly loomed, he simply resigned to his fate. He hit the waters below with such force, it was as if he fell on stone, and the weight of the wings pulled him down further. In excruciating pain, the world went black for Dove.

            As he woke, Dove glanced about with blurred vision. He was in his room, with doctors busily rushing about him. No one seemed aware that he was awake. He was only partially aware of it himself. Everything felt strange… new. As his head tilted to one side, his eyes widened with horror. Rather than an arm of flesh and blood, he saw a mechanical limb reaching up to his shoulder. He noticed that he was not in control of his breathing either, but felt his ‘lungs’ pump air of their own accord. He couldn't even feel his legs, assuming they too weren't replaced.
            “Lord Archibald, we have news. Your son will live, thanks to his sister’s invention.”
            Dove was certain his blood would've chilled at the mention of his father had he not felt cold already. He managed to spot his father talking to the doctor, accompanied by Phoenix who had evidently joined in the procedure from her red-stained hands.
            “Very good. Seems she has finally shown her promise,” Archibald said, not even looking at his son. Not even the doctors looked at his face. But Phoenix looked at him right in the eyes. She was the only one who regarded him in the room.
            “It seems we were premature to declare him dead,” the doctor proceeded. “We can quickly remedy the mistake if we...”
            “Change nothing,” Archibald waved dismissively. “Phoenix will prove more than worthy as my heir. As the investors flee from my son’s failed project, they flock to invest in hers. The replacement of limbs and even organs… Yes, that is the future of the Guild! Perhaps even the world.”
            At that point, Dove spotted something in Phoenix’s face, contrasting her fortune. Was it pity? No, he realized, it was guilt. Somehow, that expression pierced his heart deeper than any hateful glare she had ever given him.
“Phoenix, come! We have much to discuss concerning your breakthrough.”
Even as Archibald turned his back on his broken son, Phoenix could scarcely pry her eyes off of the brother she had made before leaving. After a few moments, the doctors departed as well, leaving Dove all alone to agonize over his reversal of fortunes. But then he heard a caw at the window. Managing to turn his head, he glimpsed a single black bird.
            “Icarus?” The name came out hoarse. The bird flew onto his bed and hopped over, having returned to his master. Dove was happy that everything was not so bleak… until Icarus suddenly bit at his chest. Through the pain, the boy understood why Icarus had returned. The bird thought him a corpse, and came to scavenge. As Icarus continued to bite at his exposed flesh, Dove slowly lifted his new right arm for the first time, and reached for the bird. Just as it realized its intended meal was still alive, he snatched it in his iron grip, and after a brief moment of contemplation, crushed it. 

Icarus and Daedalus (Redux)


Phoenix triumphantly put her wrench and hammer down, having just put the finishing touches on her latest invention. The girl just knew that her father would be impressed by this device. Hardly able to contain her excitement, she threw a sheet over the machine to veil it, and ran off to find him. Despite the grandiose size of Stahlburg castle, she was never lost, having memorized its dust colored corners and turns from the years in its Gothic halls. It wasn't at all long before she found her father, Lord Archibald Ravenclock, sitting in the grand hall.
“Father, father, you simply must come…”
            “Silence, girl!” he shouted.
            Archibald was an imposing figure, especially to his daughter. He stood eight feet tall, but contrasting his powerful build was a civilized appearance. He was draped in a fine black coat stretching to his knees, with gold buttons like cogs, and macaroni lining the jacket. His shoulder length dark copper hair and goatee framed a very stern face. The weight of his glare alone was terrifying.
            “In case you haven’t noticed, I am conducting business of the utmost importance,” he reprimanded further.
            Phoenix looked across the table to see a second man present. In contrast to her father, this man was thin, and quite old. He sported a long and shifty brown trench coat over a gray vest and blood-red shirt, and brown trousers. His short hair was ragged and tangled, with nary an effort to tame it. Phoenix could not see his eyes. They were hid by wide and opaque glasses.
            To this man, her father bowed his head and apologized. “Forgive my younger daughter, if you will, Lord Baloff. She’s an impulsive youth who lacks proper manners.”
             “It iz no bother to me, Lord Archibalt. I ton’t mind ze children,” Lord Baloff said. “In fact, I haf hundreds of ze little ones vorking in my factories.”
            The odd man went off into a fit of laughter, while Lord Archibald remained collected. Phoenix saw he did not find the joke very funny, but was unoffended. He simply continued from where he left off. “All the same, she should at least be dressed for company.”
            Phoenix looked down and felt her spirits drop. She hadn't change out of the clothes she was working in which were not only informal, being a shirt and breeches, but filthy. Oil and grease stained all over, and powdered with dust from head to toe. “Presentation, girl!” he drilled her. “Presentation is half the work! Einhardt!”
            As if he had been standing there all along, Einhardt Octavius, the Ravenclock family’s butler, emerged from the shadows behind Phoenix.
            “Hreally, I tidn’t notice her filth. I know very few children back in Baloffburg who are polished,” Baloff jabbed again, his joke just as pungent as the last, but that didn’t stop him from erupting into a fit of chuckling.
            “Take my daughter to her quarters so she can make herself appear presentable, at the very least,” Archibald ordered, waving Einhardt and Phoenix away. With a bow, the gaunt man took Phoenix by the hand, and led her away from the room.
            “Now, if we may continue our trade negotiations without any further interruptions,” Archibald spoke up.

            Phoenix stepped out of her room after washing, clad in a white silk shirt with black trousers. She had tied her damp hair into a pony tail, a style she wore to keep the strands out of her face during work. Completing her ensemble was her coat, a miniature version of her father’s. The coat actually once belonged to her older brother, Dove, and was passed down to her when he had a new one specially sewn for him every year.
            Dove always seemed to get the special privileges, always Father’s favorite. If it was he who had interrupted the meeting with Lord Baloff, Archibald would've simply invited him to join in the discussion. Meanwhile, Phoenix was scolded for interrupting and then scolded once again for not being spotless. But no matter. She was not disheartened by this incident. After today, Archibald would look upon his daughter with newfound appreciation.
            “Hello, Phoenix. What have you been up to?”
            Phoenix grunted and walked onwards, pretending not to hear the voice of her elder brother. Sliding down from a pillar, atop which he had been sitting, Dove ran to catch up with his sister. While she grew her blonde hair into a long ponytail, he kept his cut short and parted down the middle. His clothes were the inverse of hers, a black shirt not tucked into his khaki pants, and a newer coat of course.
            “Come on, give me a hint?” he pried, genuinely interested. “I couldn't help but overhear that you had something to show Father. So what is it?”
            “I’m not telling,” Phoenix snapped.
            Dove seemed slightly disappointed, and looked up in thought for a bit as he continued to walk along. The only thing missing from his next expression was a lit bulb hanging over his head. “How about I show you the latest draft of my project?”
            To Dove’s satisfaction, this got Phoenix’s attention. “I show you my work, and then you show me yours. Fair trade?” Phoenix admitted to herself that she was very curious as to what Dove was working on. What was it that made Dove the favored child despite all her efforts? She had made many more inventions than her brother, and yet his one project was the only thing that held their father’s interest. After a few moments of thought, she nodded.
            Dove was practically jubilant, and eagerly took his little sister’s hand as he led her through several corridors to his study. He took the winged key that hung around his neck, and placed it into the lock and turned it. Phoenix could hear the mechanisms that held the door tightly shut twist and click, until it cracked open. Dove’s study was laid out before them, the balcony opening up to the ocean in the back, and the large cage housing his pet raven, Icarus.
            Phoenix quickly noted several easels with schematics on them. Schematics of wings. The early ones were of natural wings, of birds and bats and the like. As they went on, they became more elaborate, becoming detailed drawings of the mechanisms to create artificial flight. The designs varied immensely. Some had canvas wings, others feathered.  On the floor all around were discarded prototypes of these very drawings.
            Dove ignored them, and went straight to his as of yet unrevealed version concealed by the same cloth Phoenix hid hers. In an overly dramatic fashion, he grabbed the tarp covering it.
            With pride, he boldly shouted, “Behold, the Icarus, Mark 20!”  
            Phoenix tried to hide her awe as the cloth was thrown off, to no avail. In front of her was a pair of wings, each spanning six feet, connected by an engine with a center piece of two glass cylinders of water. At first glance, one would assume that the wings were large silver feathers, but Phoenix noted that they were in fact blades, and many of them. It was a beautiful piece of machinery, without a doubt. She could see why her brother prized it so, though she felt the name bland.
            “So you named it after your pet?” Phoenix crossed her arms, looking at Dove mockingly.
            “ I've got the idea when nursing him back to health. It’s a shame that I probably won’t be able to use it to its fullest potential,” he said, some sadness replacing his cheerful mood.  
            Phoenix couldn't help but ask, “Why not?”
            “It’s like I keep saying, Phoenix,” he said with a shrug. “When I come of age, I’ll be in charge of all the Ravenclock affairs. I won’t have the time for such ‘frivolous ventures,’ as father puts it. I honestly wish I was in your position.”
            Phoenix scoffed. The same old nonsense that being the heir “ isn't what it’s cracked up to be.” He was the one with father’s approval, his blessing, and his love.       
            “Ah, how fortunate,” bellowed the familiar baritone.
            Dove and Phoenix turned to see Archibald standing in the doorway. Evidently his meeting with Baloff was finished.
            “I was hoping your brother could tell me where you were, but it seems he’s seen fit to show you his own designs.” Archibald stepped closer to inspect his son’s handiwork. “I’d expect no less from my heir,” he concluded, obviously impressed.
            “Thank you, Father,” Dove said, with a bow.
            “As for you, Phoenix…”
            Phoenix looked up and met her father’s gaze, expecting more reprimanding for her previous intrusion. “Well? Did you not wish to show me something?”
            Did she hear right? Did he really ask to see what she had crafted? Phoenix practically beamed, and nodded quickly. “Well, what are you waiting for? Hurry, before I lose interest!”
            Phoenix didn’t even register the threat, she was too happy. Now was the time she would most surely win her father’s approval. Sure, Dove had an impressive invention, but it was to be expected after how long he had been working on it. She had completed her project within a week.
“Yes, Father!” she said immediately.
            She led the way, only just managing to not skip with glee. Archibald and Dove, curious as well, followed her as she led them to her own workshop. Unlike her brother’s, this room was piled up with many types of machines rather than a single design. All had failed to impress Archibald, but this time would be different.
            She nearly tore the cloth veil right off of her presentation, but calmed down. Facing her father and brother like a performer, she announced proudly, in a fashion very similar to Dove’s, “Behold, the Daedalus 1.0!”
            Again copying Dove’s dramatic form, she pulled the cover right off. There, beneath it, was a chrome and copper replica of a human. From the elbow to the shoulder of both its arms were thin metal limbs, as were the thighs, and both shins and forearms were almost like gauntlets and armored boots. Its torso also looked like part of a suit of armor, complete with the silhouette of a raven’s head holding a clock in its beak. The crest of the Ravenclock family, of course.
            Dove himself looked upon the robot with awe. Phoenix smugly grinned at her brother’s expression, and continued with her demonstration. “Daedalus, awake!”
            Its eyes opened, and black glass windows stared at the three. Stepping off the small platform it stood on, the head turned to Phoenix with a whir. “Yes, mistress?” it asked in a metallic voice void of all emotions except respect.
            “Fetch me that wrench.” She pointed to her instrument on the workbench across the room.
            Without hesitation, the machine turned and reached out with its right arm. After a quick snap, the forelimb shot out, tethered to the elbow by a thick cord. The detached part gripped the wrench, and quickly retracted as quickly as it shot. As the arm clicked back into place, the Daedalus turned and handed the tool to its creator. Dove made no attempt to hide his amazement. He clapped his hands enthusiastically. But Phoenix only now noticed that her father was far from moved.
            “This is it? Your great invention? Another automaton that our factories produce hundreds of by the day?” he sighed. “That it’s a well-polished version means little in its value. What does this contribute to our family?”        
            Phoenix felt her world being crushed. She desperately thought of what other features to show that would win him over, but Father would not let her.
“Nothing. Your brother on the other hand, has conceived a valuable asset. The ability to fly like a bird through the skies, without the need of bulky zeppelins. Compared to that, this… I dare not even call it an ‘invention’… Now if you are done wasting my time, I wish to discuss with Dove how he’ll demonstrate his own device.”
            Archibald’s coat fluttered regally as he turned and walked out of the room with the same cold and distant posture. Dove, staring at his sister with sadness in his eyes, followed along shortly and quickly, closing the door behind him. Phoenix found herself alone in her workshop, filled with disappointment and bitterness.
            No, not alone, the winding movements of the Daedalus reminded her. In a fit of rage, she shoved the mechanical humanoid to the floor, and screamed. As it collided with the solid stone surface, its head popped off and rolled across to the pile of her previous inventions. Her previous failures. Staring at it all robbed her of what strength she had, and she fell to her knees on the floor, covering her eyes as they streamed tears.  

Saturday, June 4, 2011

A Visit to Baloffburg (Part 3)

((Seems that this update is going to be rather small compared to the last one. But the point which I stopped seems natural. Maybe this should have been part of the last post. Ah well, Part 3 everyone.))


The enforcers shoved their ways out of the crowd and pursued the pickpocket, guns at the ready. They took a few shots, rubber bullets launching out at their target, but at that distance they missed, bouncing instead off of the ground and into the bystanders. The thief disappeared the next second, with only the ripple of the crowd to indicate where he went. The enforcers did not hesitate for another second and quickly gave pursuit, the crowd dispersing for them as they charged, not at all desiring to be between the enforcers and their target.
             The street was in total chaos for an instant, with people colliding with each other to evade the enforcers. It was then that Dove realized he was provided an opportunity. “Phoenix, if you want to be father’s favorite, perhaps theres another way to earn his attention.”
            Phoenix looked at Dove with confused interest, and he continued, “Negotiations were never my strong suit. I tend to blather on and on when I should shut up, and I always seem to hit the wrong points. Perhaps you would be better suited to business talk…”
            His sister could not seem to decide upon a reaction, but at that moment, some of the fleeing civilians crashed into them. Einhardt was knocked back a bit, and Dove took the opportunity to run into the crowd. The butler tried to reach for him, but his charge was too far, and with the ruckus the crowd caused he could not rush after him. Soon enough, Dove had vanished from sight.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

A Visit to Baloffburg (Part 2)

((Right, now that school is out, I've got myself some more free time, which I hope to put into writing stuff, primarily this little series I've begun. I hope to make an update perhaps every 3 days until I get to the end of this little arc... So three cheers for my first self imposed goal for this blog. 

If you are a new reader just jumping in, you might want to start from part 1, or perhaps even Daedalus and Icarus if you want to get to know the characters of this setting a bit more. 


In any case, enjoy...))

             The station was bustling with activity, with many people coming into the city from outside. Not many people were leaving though. Dove guessed that this was because few people could afford to leave the place. Baloffburg had all sorts of rumors which detailed it to be a city of opportunity, where one can easily find work without the need for training and support themselves and families. What the rumors neglect to mention was how meager the pay was, how many shifts were required for a living, and the constant state of poverty that filled the streets.
Once people got into the city, it was difficult to get enough money to buy a train ticket, and the train was the only way to leave aside from braving many many miles of desert trekking. Of course, there were those that tried to leave by stowing away on the train, or even forcing their way through. And for that very same purpose, there were the Baloff Enforcers.
Patrolling the platforms were the Baloff Enforcement Officers, constables clad in brown military uniforms, their heads covered front to back by gas masks, which made them seem inhuman. In their hands one of two weapons were firmly held. Either a repeating rifle or a gas gun connected to a tank on their backs, meant to temporarily paralyze offenders, which was why they themselves wore the gas masks. It was rumored that they were truthfully machines, animatronics that obeyed their orders to the letter. This was further enforced by the facts that no flesh actually shown, and they were perpetually silent in any and all undertakings.
Whether the rumors themselves were actually true, Dove didn’t know. Maybe he’d ask Lord Baloff himself when given the opportunity… Though it was doubtful the man would divulge even a tease of a hint. He loved to blabber on about the conditions of Baloffburg, not even capable of telling good from bad or perhaps not even caring, but even he held his secrets. And even if the enforcers weren’t automatons, the rumors that they were would only work in their favor, and Baloff would not be one to let an advantage slip. He was a businessman at the end of the day, after all.
            One of the enforcers shot a glance at the Ravenclock siblings and their butler, but beneath the dirty emerald lenses though, it was impossible to tell why he was doing so. Regardless, another sight caught his attention. A poor man in rags was lying around, tired.
            “No loitering! Leave at once!” the harsh voice buzzed through the mask, as much a part of any of these guards as their uniforms.
            “Please, sir, I’m tired…” the man meekly begged, expecting mercy.
            The guard’s response was anything but merciful. Taking his rifle, he smashed the butt of it into the man’s head, shoving him from his spot and sending him rolling onto his back.
            “I repeat, no loitering! Leave at once!”
            The urchin did not need to be told another time as he scrambled to his feet and ran away. He ran so fast he fell over, but crawled back up and continued at his reckless pace to hurry away. The enforcer turned back to the Ravenclocks, and upon still seeing them there, snapped an arm out, pointing in the direction of the nearest exit to the station. There was obviously no kindness in his emotes, and Einhardt silently urged his charges to make haste.
            Outside the station, the aesthetics of the city were near identical to the interior. The only difference was the overflow of citizens at the bases of the filthy spires and skyscrapers. Stacks of smoke from the many factories in the city could be seen even behind these structures. Dove nearly gagged at the taste of the air itself. How this wretched place got its name as a place of opportunity was beyond him.
            Octavius signaled for a cabby to come with his gloved hand, standing half a foot above most of the haggard crowd. Despite that, not many vehicles were stopping to pick the group up. Dove was beginning to get bored and looked around the city some more… Then, in the corner of his eyes, something caught his eye.
            In the middle of the streets a fancy automobile paraded, starkly contrasting the rest of the city with its polish and shine. There were two men in it, one in a dark uniform with a trimmed cap. The other in the back wore a suit as extravagant as the vehicle he rode. Clearly this was one of the more fortunate men in the city that managed to make his fortune… as an executive in Lord Baloff’s own company.
            The man was loudly proclaiming everyone to make way, and no one dared not to comply. However, the man himself was clearly in no rush to go to anywhere, and his automobile cruised down the lane at a leisurely pace. Vehicles lined up by the road’s sides, letting the nobleman pass. At this rate, Dove, Phoenix, and Einhardt would be waiting for perhaps another whole hour. The thought brought a groan out of him.
            But then from out of the crowd rushed out a small shrouded figure, who ran straight for the automobile to everyone’s surprise. The executive himself had a look that was somewhere between being offended and being perplexed that anyone would have the nerve to approach him from this motley crowd with such audacity. When the bold newcomer was only a short distance away from the vehicle, he sprung into the air, above what a normal human could be capable, and landed in the car besides the businessman,
            “Get away from me,” the man cried out defensively, in fear.
            For naught, it seemed. His “assailant” reached into his coat pockets and pulled out the man’s wallet, and made a speedy escape by again jumping up high. Upon hitting the ground, the thief broke into a run, sprinting towards the crowd. The executive sat still in utter shock, before shouting to any nearby enforcers he could find, “That runt made off with my wallet! Find him!”

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

A Visit to Baloffburg (Part 1)


            Dove looked out the train windows into the featureless plains stretching on indefinitely towards the jagged mountain range on the horizon. It was a sight he was very much unused to… Stahlburg castle was deep within the eastern mountains, and very much rocky and uneven. When the Ravenclock Academy was built, it had to be constructed over the sea on sturdy scaffolding and platforms in order for it to be built in sight of the fortress. The terrain of the mountains would never permit the building of a city without a daunting amount of terra-forming.
            Building the Ravenclock Academy would’ve been a much easier task out here, Dove thought to himself as the plains rushed by. Soon the sun began to be blotted out, but it wasn’t because of the sun setting. Looking to the left as much as the window would allow, he could see the darkened silhouette of Baloffburg jutting out from the land. The industrial city was a marvel of production, but it was the epitome of poverty and oppression as well. The heavy clouds of exhaust that looked as though it was pinned to a ceiling by the tallest skyscraper neatly represented that fact.
            Dove looked away to glance at his travelling cohorts. Phoenix sat right across from him in the apartment they were given glancing out the window more out of boredom than fascination, unlike Dove. Einhardt was sitting to her right, closest to the door. So in the case something should barge in with hostile intent, he’d be able to deal with it quickly. Every now and again, he would glance over at his wards. Beyond that, Einhardt maintained his usual stoicism, wearing no other emotion other than a look that would chill Dove if directed at him.
            Turning back to Phoenix, he tried to spark up a friendly conversation, “So what does the brilliant Phoenix Ravenclock have planned for the world next?”
“None of your business…” she said with bitter hatred.
            Dove glanced at the floor, trying to think of how he could salvage a conversation. “Look, I’m sorry that father didn’t like your machine…”
            Dove could tell right away he had used the wrong choice of words. Phoenix’s eyes contorted into a sharp glare, which actually made his blood run cold. His mistake was even mentioning the affair, even if he was apologizing for it. Since that affair, Phoenix grew even further from Dove, much to his dismay. He decided to shift the topic a little bit.
            “Hear me out, its really admirable that you want father’s attention, and in my own opinion I think you are infinitely more qualified for it than me… but you should be thankful that he doesn’t notice you.”
            Phoenix actually looked back, and despite how hard she attempted to mask it, her confusion and interest shone through her irritated face.
            “I mean, you have a whole life of freedom up ahead. You can travel the world with your inventions, have great adventures, and not be tied down by politics and obligations.” Dove then made another sad chuckle, and continued, “My life? I’ll inherit the family business… and all the nuisances and aggravations that come with it.”   
            “Oh please, being the head of the world-famous Ravenclock family?” Phoenix said in contempt. “That’s torture, is it? A lifetime of glory and renown is a death sentence?”
            Dove was about to respond, when a voice buzzed in.
            “Attention passengers, we are due to arrive at Baloffburg, station A21, in five minutes.”
            Phoenix turned away, gazing out the window, clearly not interested in further discussion. Dove, dispirited, dropped the conversation altogether, and began to put thoughts into the task he was given. Negotiating with Lord Baloff on the trade relations between Baloffburg and the Ravenclock Academy. 

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Icarus and Daedalus

((This piece is altogether much newer, and its in a different setting for that matter. Welcome to USW! Unnamed-Steampunk-World! Its not a strong name, but it'll have to do until my creative juices comes up with something more... Steampunk-y. ))


Phoenix triumphantly put her wrench and hammer down, having just put the finishing touches on her latest invention. The girl just knew that her father would be impressed by this device. Hardly able to contain her excitement, she threw a sheet over the machine to veil it, and ran off to find him. Despite the grandiose size of Stahlburg castle, she was never lost, having memorized the specific turns and such from key points. It wasn’t at all long before she found her father, Lord Archibald Ravenclock, sitting in the grand hall.
            “Father, father, you simply must come…”
            “Silence, girl!” he said harshly.
            Lord Archibald was an imposing figure, especially to this girl, his daughter. He stood six feet tall, draped in a fine black coat stretching to his knees, with buttons shaped as gold cogs. There was also a subtle pattern of swirls imprinted on the coat as well. Contradicting his powerful build, he had shoulder length curled brown hair, with a neatly trimmed moustache with two pointed ends and a thick but short goatee. And there was no glare more powerful than his.
            “In case you haven’t noticed, I am conducting business of the utmost importance,” he further reprimanded.
            Phoenix looked across the table, to see another figure looking at her. In contrast from her father, this man seemed thin, and quite old. He sported a long brown trench coat, with a gray vest and red shirt, and brown trousers. His hair was much shorter, and much more ragged, and over his eyes he sported wide glasses.
            To this man, her father bowed his head and apologized. “Forgive my younger daughter, if you will, Lord Baloff. She’s an impulsive youth who lacks proper manners.”
             “It is no bother to me, Lord Archibalt. I ton’t mind ze children,” Lord Baloff said in a most peculiar accent. “In fact, I have hundreds of ze little ones vorking in my factories.”
            The man went off into a fit of laughter, while Lord Archibald remained collected, not finding the joke very funny, but not offended either. He continued from where he left off, “All the same, she should at least be dressed for company.”
            Phoenix looked down and felt her heart sink. She didn’t change out of the clothes she was working in, which were not only informal, being a shirt and breeches, but filthy from her tinkering. Oil and grease stained all over, dust caking her head to toe. “Presentation, girl!” he repeatedly drilled her. “Presentation is half the work! Einhardt!”
            As if he had been standing there all along, Einhardt Octavius, the Ravenclock family’s butler, emerged from the shadows behind Phoenix.
            “Hreally, I tidn’t notice her filth. I know very few children back in Baloffburg who are polished,” Baloff jabbed again, his joke just as poignant as the last, but that didn’t stop him from erupting into a fit of chuckling.
            “Take my daughter to her quarters so she can make herself appear presentable, at the very least,” Archibald said dismissively. With a bow, the gaunt man bowed with his left arm, and took Phoenix by the hand, leading the girl away from the room.
            “Now, if we may continue our trade negotiations without any further interruptions,” Archibald announced.


            Phoenix stepped out of her room, her damp hair tied into a ponytail. She started doing so to keep the strands out of her face so she could focus more on her work, and it became something of a habit these days. She also now wore a white silk shirt with black trousers, as well as a miniature version of her father’s regal coat. The coat itself actually belonged to her older brother, Dove, and was passed down to her when he had a new one specially sewn for him every year.
            Dove always seemed to get the special privileges, always father’s favorite. If it was him who interrupted the meeting with Lord Baloff, Archibald would’ve simply invited him to join in on the discussion. Meanwhile, Phoenix was scolded for interrupting and then scolded once again for not being spotless. But no matter, after today, Archibald would look upon his daughter with newfound appreciation.
            “Hey, Sis. What have you been up to?”
            Phoenix grunted and walked onwards, pretending not to hear the voice of her elder brother. Sliding down from a pillar, Dove ran to catch up with his sister. While she grew her blonde hair into a long ponytail, he kept his cut short and part down the middle. Meanwhile, he wore a black shirt and khaki pants. Of course, he wore a larger version, as well as newer, of the coat she wore currently.
            “Come on, clue me in?” he pried, genuinely interested. “I couldn’t help but overhear that you had something to show to father. So what is it?”
            “I’m not telling,” Phoenix snapped.
            Dove seemed slightly disappointed, and looked up in thinking for a bit as he continued to walk along. The only thing missing from his expression a few seconds later was a lit light bulb hanging over his head. “How about I show you the latest draft of my project?”
            To Dove’s satisfaction, this got Phoenix’s attention. “I show you my work, and then you show me yours. Fair trade?”
            Phoenix admitted to herself, she was very curious as to what Dove was working on. What was it that made Dove the favored child despite all her efforts? She had made many more inventions than her brother, and yet his one project was the only thing that held her father’s interest. After a few moments of thought, she nodded.
            Dove was practically jubilant, and eagerly took his little sister’s hand, and quickly lead her through several corridors, to his workshop. He took out a winged key that hung around his neck, and placed it into the lock and turned it. The two could hear the mechanisms that held the door tightly shut twist and click, until it cracked open. Dove reached out to the right with his hand and turned a knob. The lights in the room sparked, and then the room was illuminated.
            Phoenix quickly noted several easels with schematics on them. Schematics of wings. The early ones were of natural wings, of birds and bats and the like. As they went on, they became more elaborate, with detailed drawings of the mechanisms to replicate the function of them. Some had canvas wings, others feathered. The designs varied immensely. On the floor all around were discarded prototypes of these very drawings.
            Dove ignored all of these, and went straight to a as of yet unrevealed version. In an overly dramatic fashion, he grabbed the cloth covering it and pulled it off.
            With pride, he boldly said, “Behold, the Icarus 25!”  
            Phoenix couldn’t help but feel awe. In front of her was a pair of wings, each spanning 6 feet, connected by an engine. At first glance, one would assume that the wings were covered in maybe silver feathers, but Phoenix noted that they were blades, and many of them. It was a beautiful piece of machinery, without a doubt. She could see why her brother prized it so.
            “It’s a shame that I probably won’t be able to use it to its fullest potential,” he said, some sadness leaning into his otherwise cheerful mood.
            Phoenix couldn’t help but pry, “Why not?”
            “It’s like I keep saying, sis,” he shrugged. “When I come of age, I’ll be in charge of all the Ravenclock affairs. I won’t have to time for such ‘frivolous ventures,’ as father puts it. I honestly wish I was in your position.”
            Phoenix scoffed. The same old nonsense that being the heir ‘isn’t what its cracked up to be.’ He was the one with father’s approval, his blessing, his love.       
            “Ah, how fortunate,” came the powerful voice.
            Dove and Phoenix turned to see Archibald standing in the doorway.
            “I was hoping your brother could tell me where you were, but it seems he’s seen fit to show you his own designs,” Archibald stepped closer, to inspect his son’s handiwork. “I’d expect no less from my heir,” he concluded, obviously impressed.
            “Thank you, Father,” Dove said, with a bow.
            “As for you, Phoenix…”
            Phoenix looked up and met her father’s gaze, expecting more reprimanding for her previous outburst. “Well? Did you not wish to show me something?”
            Did she hear right? Did he really ask to see what she had crafted? Phoenix practically beamed with a smile, and nodded both quickly and enthusiastically. “Well, what are you waiting for? Hurry, before I lose interest.”
            Phoenix didn’t even register the threat, she was so happy. Now was the time she would most surely win her father’s approval. Sure, Dove had an impressive invention, but it was to be expected after how long he had been working on it. She completed her project within a week. Without another moment of hesitation, she said, “Yes, father!”
            She led the way, only managing to not skip with glee, which father did not tolerate. Archibald and Dove, who still maintained interest in his sister’s machinations, followed her as she led them to her own workshop. Unlike her brother’s, this room was piled up with many types of machines rather than a single design. All had failed to impress Archibald, but this time would be different.
            She nearly tore the cloth veil right off of her presentation, but calmed down. Facing her father and brother like a performer, she announced proudly, in a fashion very similar to Dove’s, “Behold, the Daedalus 1.0!”
            Again copying Dove’s dramatic form, she pulled the cover right off. There, beneath it, was a chrome and copper replica of a middle sized human. From the elbow to the shoulder of both it’s arms were thin metal limbs, as were the thighs, and both shins and forearms were almost like gauntlets and armored boots. Its torso also looked like part of a suit of armor, complete with the silhouette of a raven’s head holding a clock in its beak. The crest of the Ravenclock family, of course.
            Dove himself looked upon the robot with awe, clearly impressed. Phoenix felt encouraged by this, and continued with her demonstration. “Daedalus, awake!”
            The lids on its eyes opened, and black glass windows stared at the three. Stepping off the small platform it stood on, the head turned to Phoenix with a whir. “Yes, mistress?” it asked in a metallic voice void of all emotions except respect.
            “Fetch me that wrench,” she pointed at her earlier instrument on the workbench across the room, really only wishing a demonstration.
            Without further details, the machine turned and reached out with its right arm. After a quick snap, the forelimb shot out, tethered to the elbow by a thick cord. Without missing its mark, the detached part grabbed the wrench, and quickly retracted as quickly as it shot. As the arm clicked back into place, the Daedalus turned and handed the tool to its creator. Dove was clearly impressed, and made no attempt to hide it. He clapped his hands enthusiastically. But Phoenix only now noticed that her father was far from moved.
            “This is it? You’re great invention? Another droid that our factories produce hundreds of by the day?” he sighed. “That it’s a well polished version means little in its value. What does this contribute to our family?”         
            Phoenix felt her world crushed as she heard these words. She desperately thought of what other features to show that would win him over. “Nothing. Your brother on the other hand, has conceived a valuable asset. The ability to fly like a bird through the skies, without the need of bulky airplanes and obvious zeppelins. Compared to that, this… I dare not even call it an “invention” as it is not new… is insignificant. Now if you are done wasting my time, I wish to discuss with Dove the uncovering of his own device.”
            Archibald’s coat fluttered regally as he turned and walked out of the room with the same cold and distant posture. Dove, staring at his sister with sadness in his eyes, followed along shortly and quickly, closing the door behind him. Phoenix found herself alone in her workshop, filled with bitter sorrow and despair once again.
            No, not alone, the winding movements of the Daedalus reminded her. In a fit of rage, she shoved the mechanical humanoid to the floor, and screamed. As it collided with the solid stone surface, its head popped off and rolled across to the pile of her previous inventions. Her previous failures. Staring at it seemingly robbed her of what strength she had, and she fell to her knees on the floor, covering her eyes as they poured out streams of tears.