Hearts of Smoke and Steam

Hearts of Smoke and Steam by Andrew P. Mayer

Book: Hearts of Smoke and Steam by Andrew P. Mayer Read Free Book Online
Authors: Andrew P. Mayer
was mostly undamaged. Every part of her cried out to simply lie down. But there was no time to rest or to even begin to worry about her wounds—the most murderous man she had ever faced was only a few feet away. She dialed down the power on her gun and whispered a small prayer to herself as she turned to face the Bomb Lance.
    She felt sick when she saw that the gun's blast had blown the bodies of the dead men about the deck. For a moment she couldn't pick out the Irishman from the disturbed corpses, and it wasn't until he stirred that she could discern the living figure among the dead.
    The young Italian man had also been swept up in the weapon's blast, and he lay face down, unmoving. Had she managed to kill him instead of saving him?
    “That's twice, and the last damn time yer going to use that on me, lass.” The Bomb Lance had risen up to his knees, his clothes stained red with the blood of his victims. He swung his left arm directly at her and fired. His weapon shuddered and let out a click, but no deadly metal emerged from the end of it.
    “Damn,” the Irishman swore as he dropped his arm. A metal rod slid out pathetically from the end of the weapon and landed on the deck with a clunk. There was a pleading look in his eyes as he turned towards Sarah.
    She raised her gun, taking care to aim it slightly higher this time, intent on not disturbing the tangle of bodies around his feet—one of them most assuredly the Italian. She pulled the trigger, but this time the gun sighed instead of barking, the force of the blast managing only to knock the hat off the Irishman's head.
    Sarah felt her heart drop. She'd used up too much power with the previous shot. The gun was empty now, and another small piece of Sir Dennis Darby had died with it.
    Murphy opened his eyes and smiled. “Looks like we've both got a bum gun.” He lifted up his other arm, the harpoon at the end of it sharp and gleaming. “Lucky for me, I always carry two.”
    Sarah stared at the tip of the weapon. There seemed to be something awfully unjust about a universe that would let her fall to the same weapon that had killed Sir Dennis, instead of letting her use Darby's weapon to get revenge on the man who had killed him.
    She tried to will her eyes closed, but they refused. Instead, her gaze remained utterly transfixed on the tip of the sharp metal shaft pointed directly at her.
    “Cazzi!” yelled the Italian boy, throwing his arms around the villain's legs.
    Sarah watched breathless as the harpoon flew by her head, missing her by inches. It seemed to travel in slow motion as it passed, and she could clearly see that it had been modified from the version the Bomb Lance had used earlier, a ribbon of steel wire trailing behind it. The barb sunk into the main smokestack of the boat, easily piercing the thin metal tube.
    She approached the Irishman, almost but not quite completely ignoring the man who had saved her as he pulled himself up to his feet. He seemed to be basically unhurt, although it was hard to tell the true state of someone covered in blood.
    As she closed the last few feet between them, the Bomb Lance started laughing. “Seems like everyone's out of luck today.”
    Transferring the gun to her left hand, she curled her right into a fist and used her momentum to drive it into the Bomb Lance's face. She felt something a great deal like satisfaction as she watched his look of shock crumple underneath the metal-lined glove.
    He stood dazed for a moment, weaving slightly. “You're a fiend and a murderer,” Sarah proclaimed, and then struck him again. This time he collapsed to the ground, pulling taut the wire that trailed from his right arm.
    Surprisingly, instead of her rage dissipating, she felt it continue to grow. Sarah put the gun back into her hand. “Are you going to use that as a gun or a hammer?” the Italian girl had asked her. Now she knew it would have to work as both.
    She raised the weapon up high over her head. “You killed Darby,

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