Episode Three: The Railroad Underground
Copyright 2011 Benjamin Jacobson
Previously in SteampunX:
Teenage twins, Funk and Puck, from the Ten Hundred Nations discover poachers hunting the Birch Stag automaton. Risking their lives, they run to inform the machine’s creator, Thunder, about the trespass of this “Buffalo Man.” The poachers follow and a battle ensues leaving Funk without his hand and all but one of the poachers dead. Before their deaths the poachers revealed their origin as the Marquisdom of Chartres in New France. In response, Thunder and the twins, Puck and the newly renamed Red Hand, embark on a mission into New France to discover the truth behind their actions, find the missing poacher, “Crane,” and avert a war between the two nations.
The crew arrives in New France at the time of a cotillion and an uprising. The Marquis denies involvement with the “Buffalo Man” and asks Thunder’s assistance in harvesting his new dangerous crop, coca. Thunder refuses, but stays for the cotillion to gather information. Meanwhile, Gustave, a house slave, and Jean, a field slave, plot a coup. When the party begins so does the massacre. In exchange for his life the Marquis reveals the truth behind the “Buffalo Man,” insisting that the Ten Hundred Nations have been attacking New France. Thunder convinces Gustave to spare the Marquis’s life and the newly freed slaves, Thunder, Red Hand , Puck and Isabelle, the Marquis’s captured daughter, head for the freedman state of Liberia.