Another snippet of an idea of a thing that never went much further. Maybe one of these days…
The Captain watched with growing consternation as the stranger pranced across the deck of his airship. His long, ungainly legs carried him from the port railing to the starboard and back, his spindly arms flailing about as he muttered to himself.
The stranger had come aboard in Cardiff with a letter of marque signed by the newly-crowned Queen, although he was certainly no pirate. “I’ll be going as far west as you’re sailing, Captain,” he had said in a cheery tone, adding “perhaps a tad less.” He had kept to himself, mostly, studying the stars above at night and staring at the billowing clouds below during the day. The only belongings he brought with him–other than the outlandish clothes on his back–was a battered leather satchel covered in grease stains and scorch marks. The Captain was certain he had seen the hole from a musket ball, as well.
“Sir!” The Captain had emerged from the wheelhouse moments ago and was now slowly making his way towards the bow. “Sir,” he called again. “Please. We’re heading into a nasty patch of weather.”
The stranger paused mid-stride. Spinning on his heel, the tails of his too-large overcoat twirling about him, he turned to face the Captain. “Really? Are you sure?”
“Aye,” was the only reply the Captain gave. He started barking orders at his crew, who jumped into action without question.
Dodging the crewmen as they ran about their duties, the stranger approached the Captain. “Thunder? Flashes of lightning? Swirling, howling winds?” The Captain narrowed his eyes and nodded once in reply.
The stranger shook his head of bright orange hair, swatting away the Captain’s response with a long-fingered hand. “Nothing as commonplace as a storm. Something magnificent. Something wondrous,” he said, his green eyes wide with excitement.
“You’re a madman.”
“Professor Reynard Quincy Filibuster is many things, sir. A madman is not one of them.” He stormed off, stopped after a few steps and turned around. “Actually, now that I think about it, maybe you’re right. Yes, yes. I like it. Professor Reynard Quincy Filibuster: Madman. Very good. Thank you, Captain.”
Professor Filibuster returned to the port railing. He reached into the pocket of his pinstripe trousers and pulled out a pair of goggles. Once the goggles were in place, he leaned over the side. He hung like that, head over the side of the ship and skinny legs pointing up toward the sky, for several minutes. Eventually his head popped back up, a wide grin showing off his slightly over-sized front teeth. “Irregular,” was all he said.
The Captain couldn’t argue with that. “Did you hear me, Captain? I said it’s too irregular. The time between what you think is lightning and what you assume is thunder.”
The Professor took a pocket watch from his vest and studied the face. He glanced up at the Captain for a second before returning his attention to the watch. “Three seconds,” he said, holding up a finger. He continued to announce the time between each flash of lightning and the corresponding clap of thunder. “Now six. Four seconds that time. Oh, ten seconds.”
Scurrying across the deck, the Professor collected his satchel and checked to make sure it was fastened before throwing it over his shoulder. He attached his pocket watch to a strap on his wrist, so he’d have both hands free, but could continue to keep time. He picked up the airship’s mooring line, played out several yards, and then tied it around his waist.
“What are you doing? What’s going on?”
“What’s going on?” Filibuster asked. He had climbed up onto the portside railing, his arms stretched out at his side to help him balance. “Dragons, my good man,” he said. “Dragons.”
And he was gone.