Innocent Darkness by Suzanne Lazear Contest Winner

For our July Book of the Month featuring Innocent Darkness by Suzanne Lazear, we asked you to submit your own writing that combined steampunk and another genre — much like Suzanne did in her book! (Steampunk meets faeries!)

One lucky winner gets a finished copy of Innocent Darkness courtesy of Suzanne herself. And that lucky winner is Susan Burdorf, and her steampunk-pirate story “A New Breed.”

“Intel came through, Captain,” I said keeping my eyes locked on his.

Wiping his mouth with the linen napkin he took the folded paper I handed him. I stepped back, nearly clipping the end of Brennan’s booted foot in the process. I still had not gotten used to my cyber leg. I felt it tremble and lock slightly before allowing me to step sideways to get around the crush at the table as the crew of the steam driven airship Breed leaned in over the captain’s shoulder hoping to catch a glimpse of the newest orders. We were a sorry lot I thought; the war had taken so much from all of us. Limbs were replaced by hydraulics and clockwork on the majority of the crew in one place or another. I tapped my leg, reassured by the dull sound of metal echoing back.

I had read the letter before bringing it to the captain. Who wouldn’t? But I had been sworn to secrecy by the telegrapher.

The captain leaned forward as he placed the letter partway under his plate. He stroked his scraggly gray beard as he thought. Periodically he made grunting noises before finally standing up so abruptly the crew and I took a step backward, almost falling over each other to get out of his way.

“Come on,” he said shooing us up the stairs in front of him, “up on deck with the lot of you. I have an announcement to make.”

The crew scrambled up the steps as fast as they could go. I reached out to take the note but found my hand blocked by that of Brennan who had beaten me to it.

He opened the letter, read the contents and raised an eyebrow in surprise before handing it back to me. He left the room before me, I think to keep from watching my slow progress on uncertain limbs, and as I climbed slowly up the stairs, trying to keep my legs’ mechanics from locking too badly I pondered the contents of the letter and what the captain would do about the orders.

“Take your places men,” he said to us as we gathered on deck. Overhead mechanized crewmen were working diligently on necessary repairs. Some were working so high up the ropes they looked like busy black ants.

“The war has ended, the ship is to be returned to San Francisco to be decommissioned,” here he paused, pacing the deck with a strong stride that I envied.

“We are not going home, men,” the captain finally said looking at his crew, “I fancy an adventure, how about the rest of you?”

His answer was a unanimous roar of approval.

Brennan and I looked at each other and even Brennan, hardened and war weary as the rest of us, surprised me with a tear falling from his ice blue eyes.

He gripped my shoulder hard with his silver hand grinning widely, “We are going to be pirates, boy! Arrrrgh!”


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