Clementine (Novel of the Clockwork Century)
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Maria Isabella Boyd's success as a Confederate spy has made her too famous for further espionage work, and now her employment options are slim. Exiled, widowed, and on the brink of poverty...she reluctantly goes to work for the Pinkerton National Detective Agency in Chicago. Adding insult to injury, her first big assignment is commissioned by the Union Army. In short, a federally sponsored transport dirigible is being violently pursued across the Rockies and Uncle Sam isn't pleased. The Clementine is carrying a top secret load of military essentials-essentials which must be delivered to Louisville, Kentucky, without delay. Intelligence suggests that the unrelenting pursuer is a runaway slave who's been wanted by authorities on both sides of the Mason-Dixon for fifteen years. In that time, Captain Croggon Beauregard Hainey has felonied his way back and forth across the continent, leaving a trail of broken banks, stolen war machines, and illegally distributed weaponry from sea to shining sea. And now it's Maria's job to go get him. He's dangerous quarry and she's a dangerous woman, but when forces conspire against them both, they take a chance and form an alliance. She joins his crew, and he uses her connections. She follows his orders. He takes her advice. And somebody, somewhere, is going to rue the day he crossed either one of them.
It costs money to hire the Pinks and get them to act as your enforcers. You’d think that people with money could just buy or build their own aircraft; but then I got thinking.” “Uh oh,” Simeon grinned. “What I got thinking is this: The Free Crow was the strongest bird of her kind in the northwest territories—or at least, she’s the toughest engine anywhere close to Seattle. And I don’t think I flatter myself too much when I say that nobody in his right mind would swipe that ship out from under
belly. It was mostly for show. He didn’t plan to shoot anybody for a couple of reasons. For one thing, you didn’t open fire inside a metal container if you could possibly help it. Bullets bounced in close quarters. And for another thing, the noise would summon everyone within the yards, security and otherwise. Simeon didn’t need the extra attention and he sure as hell didn’t want to make a stink before the captain was on board. For a third thing, and possibly most important thing, you didn’t
Pinkerton National Detective Agency. The captain recovered fastest. He let the unscarred side of his mouth creep up in something like a slow smile, and he said to her, “Lady, mine and yours, and everybody within a half-mile of this bird…if you don’t put that thing down.” She ignored the warning. “Disarm yourselves. Immediately. All of you, or I’ll shoot.” Hainey held out a hand that forbade his crewmembers to do any such thing. He said, “If you shoot, we’re all dead. You don’t know the first
dirigible someone who had been standing too close to the engine mounts screamed and probably died as the craft howled violently to life. Simeon adjusted himself in the first mate’s chair and reached overhead for the steering and undocking levers; he tested the former and yanked hard on the latter, and somewhere beyond their hearing a hydraulic clasp unfastened and began to retreat into the body of the ship. Lamar busied himself by bounding back and forth between two secondary crewmen’s chairs,
smaller than the Valkyrie,” she guessed. “It is,” he said. “Maybe half the size overall. Oh, she’s not so tiny that she’d be a snap to hide—don’t misunderstand me. But if the boys in blue are hiding a weapons facility, pretending it’s a hospital for the deranged, then I wouldn’t put a damn thing past them. For all we know, they have a…a secret set of docks. Maybe there’s something hiding in the trees, or maybe one of these hills isn’t what it looks like.” Lamar looked warily from hill to hill