A few weeks back I asked for some Flash Fiction prompts. I did several in one day, and then had some other life stuff happen. Continuing on with that theme, here's Lenora's request: tryst, petticoat, morose and bonded.
“Oh, spare me the morose look, Reston,” Jo said. She shut the door to the map room. “You know as well as I that we'd have been following Archibald Kernagan anyway, no matter that he seems to have drawn the professor into our little intrigue. The War Department was very clear on that; Kernagan is a traitor and a spy. While I can't quite figure out what he's up to – certainly I can't comprehend anything that Landers has invented would be of use to the French – we can't let him succeed, regardless.”
“It's more'n that, and you know it, Cap'n.”
Jo glared at her first, lips pressed together tightly. “Explain what you mean.”
“Permission to speak freely?”
“Would it matter to you if I said no?”
“Probably not, Cap'n,” Reston said. “If I wanted to follow orders blindly, I'd have taken up with the Fleet. You an' I both know you need another set of eyes and ears, and a damn fine brain on this vessel. Ain't no use in complainin' about it, it's the simple fact of the matter. You have an agenda; one that's not ordered on you by the War Department, and the sooner you accept that revenge, not patriotic duty, is what's steerin' this airship, the better off we'll be.”
“There is no need that personal needs and duty cannot be served by the same winds, Reston,” Jo said. She twisted her fingers together. “Bronze Petticoat murdered my parents, you know that. We suspect that Kernagan knows something about them.”
“Stupid name for a secret organization, if'n you ask me.”
“I don't recall asking, but I think it's brilliant. No one takes them seriously, they sound like a ladies knitting circle. You know how hard it's been, just getting the War Department to listen at all.”
“Still, I don't reckon I'd like to run about committing treason under the standard of belonging to a bunch of skirt-wearing sissies.”
Jo snarled at her first, “I believe we've covered this point, Reston. And rest assured that while your captain might be skirt-wearing, I know I've proven to you already that I'm no sissy.”
“But I didn't mean you, Cap'n.”
“Whether you believe you meant it or not, Reston, you're lumping me in with a group of bonded gears and broken spokes with one off-hand remark. You want to be the extra brain on this ship, then, Mister, I advise you prove to me you know how to use it.”
“Now, if I've reassured you that we're pursuing this course in the interest of the War Department, would you care to give me your thoughts on Kernagan's course. Portsmouth?”
“Rumors, sir, that's all.” Reston said. He searched through the scrolls, then pulled out the map of southern England. “There's been stories, that's all, just stories, of a great whale of a beast, or maybe an enormous clockwork, rising from the water, just south of the city. Few people have seen it, and some that reported it turned up dead not much after. That's suspicious enough. Dr. Merrit Westcliff managed to obtain a very blurry daguerreotype of something rising from the seas. The plate later was stolen from her office.”
“You think our double-agent is headed for some mysterious sea creature?” Jo looked up from the map to frown at her first.
“Perhaps not, sir, but it gives us a place to start lookin',” Reston replied.
“Worth a try, I suppose. Follow the Haliphron, by rumor or by sight as long as we can,” Jo said. “Anything else, Reston?”
“Just tell me, Cap'n,” Reston said, glaring darkly in the direction of guest cabins, “are ye planning on havin' a tryst with the man?”
“Ah, Quade old friend,” Jo laughed, “don't you know? The best affairs are never planned.”