The Battle of Charmelle: The Vhaen Project part 16

Above on the opposite side of the fort, the soldiers swarmed like masses as they searched for the missing attackers. Seamus, Audra, Wyatt, and Brother Luke, had found a precipice from which to watch the ongoing chaos. They could see the ship from where they were, but there was no clear way down to her.

“Even if we get to the Isabella, there is no way around that war ship hovering above her…” Wyatt mused to the others softly.

“Anybody have a plan?” Audra asked looking around quickly. No one answered.

“Well…that depends on what you consider a plan…” Brother Luke said after a moment running his fingers through the scratch beard he kept.

“That…sounds less than comforting…” Audra muttered.

“We can’t get the ship out of the courtyard without that warship gone right?” the robed man replied with a twinkle in his eye.

“That would seem to be the case.” Seamus replied.

“Then it seems to me that the only way to her, is to take the war bird.”

“And how, exactly, do you suppose we do that?” Audra questioned him with a tone of disbelief.

Within minutes the four were trudging through the lit corridors with Brother Luke at the head. Luke had cleaned himself up nicely despite the rough few months they had had and genuinely looked like any Order chaplain. He stood before a door and allowed his crewmates to disappear inside. Within, they found lengths of tables and seats, obviously some sort of mess hall. There were loud rumblings from within the adjacent kitchen area… like that of a large animal.

Audra slid around the doorway silently peering in to ascertain what exactly was going on. As she looked on the familiar form of Rottger showed itself, face full of food.

“Audra?” a voice called from the back of the room.

“Lulu!” The tinkerer cried, “Good, i’m glad we found you both! We need some coats, order jackets or something have you seen any like that?”

Luthiem tilted her head to one side and didn’t respond. Turning to a table she dug into the sack larger than her that lay on it’s corner. “Will these work?” She held out three orderlies jackets stolen from the dormitories.

“Yes! Actually, that’s perfect…where did you get these?”

“The soldier dormitories…” Luthiem grinned. “Along with enough money to keep us for a month! These new recruits are pretty green, leaving their wallets in their beds.”

“I hate to hurry you, but we have a ship to move!” Called in the brother.

“Moving ships! Come on, Zombie!”

Rottger appeared again and groaned in sadness. “But food!”

“Food later, help now!”

The mass of them quickly departed the mess hall and approached the courtyard. As they made their way, they too began to run as all the others were; seeming frantic and hurriedly on their way to a destination. Adorned in their  newly confiscated jackets and the confusion of the situation, these six had little trouble making their way into the tallest of the buildings and up to the tiny docking station above the fort.

Soldiers stood in formation all along the walls leading out to the runway where the warship was docked and prepped for flight. They came running up pressing past soldiers, apologizing for being late. Only lieutenant Michael, the worn and weary aid to the general stopped them.

“Hang on, stop there. I need your identification cards and numbers before you can access the Argon.”  The soldiers nearest them turned to look as the six order personnel stammered a moment.

“Lieutenant Michael. Let those people through! I want my ship fully staffed with these pirates on the loose! At all costs I want Cedric Whittaker’s head on a plate!”

“Yes sir!” the six pirates responded with a forced salute.  

The lieutenant stood completely beaten, yet again, by his commanding officer. His shoulders sagged a moment, but tightened back up and he turned with aggression in his voice. “You know, Sir, you’re breaking every rule set forth by our legislation. Security and command are tools that must be utilized properly!”

“Do I sense a hint of mutiny in your voice, Lieutenant Michaels!?” The general thundered.

“You’ve wasted good men’s lives, and spent valuable resources in this foolish witch hunt for these pirates, when you should be outfitting and training new recruits for efficient lives as soldiers and workers for the betterment of the people we serve. Now we have this…earth shaking event and you won’t even let us run our computer systems to find out what’s going on!!”

“Serving people, Michaels?” Liam laughed at the young man as he drew a pistol from his belt. “The only person you serve is me! Now get back to work, the lot of you!” The man in the opulent jacket stared into the face of his taller subordinate anticipating a cower. The six turned away to board the Argon, their mission still at large, but the young man and his general were still face to face. Luke peered back for a moment watching them from the catwalk.

“Your commanding officers will hear of your conduct, Sir. Mark me.”

Coult shook his head, “That’s a crying shame, Michaels, I really liked you.”  The general reared back and socked the young man in the mouth knocking him to the floor. “If you think for one moment I don’t know why they sent me out here to this god forsaken little spit of a world, then you’re dead wrong! I have the tactical mind of a computer and they waste me on sniveling runny nosed brats and weak minded fools like you?! I will have that pirates’ head and  gain back the recognition I deserve even if it kills me!” The pistol in his hand leveled, rage boiling in his beet red face,”And I can certainly do it without you!”

Before he could fire, the pistol flew from his hand; knocked away by a shot that clipped the general’s arm. His cries of pain were answered by the soldiers both rushing to his aid and others readying to fight the attacker. Luke, large a man as he was, rushed this grouping of soldiers throwing them off the sides of the walk. His pistol fired four more times before he reached the tall man who the general had knocked down. Luke grabbed him by the shoulders and quickly hauled him down the catwalk.

Luke tossed him onboard and locked the entry gates behind him firing several more shots. He drug Michaels into the main control deck of the Argon and dumped him like a sack of potatoes..

“Luke, what the…What’s he doing here!?” Wyatt yelled.

“Never you mind, get  integrated to the system and lets move this puppy out of here!”

“Michaels?” another officer asked eyeing the people who had just barged into the deck unannounced.

Michael, suffering a broken nose could hardly see. “I’ll be fine.” He waved the officer’s concern off.“You six are the pirates!?” the young man beamed through blurry eyes.

“Well a few of them,” Seamus replied.

“Now, Mister Michaels, is it..” Luke began picking the man back up from the ground, “I just did you a great service in saving your life…an’ to pay me back, you’re gonna tell all your friends on board to stand down or jump ship, do I make myself clear?”.

“And what if I don’t!” the private retorted, “What then!”

“Well…knowing me an’ my friends here, we have to move this ship and get our home back, so anything you don’t agree to help us with earns you a ticket overboard. But seeing as how I did just save your life…I’d prefer not to have to do that.”

The tall man’s eye were beginning to clear. He looked at his people on deck and at the pirates who had saved his life for no reason other than they needed help.  This moment lasted what seemed like an eternity. He made his way to a PA and dialed into it. “This is Lieutenant Michaels, all personnel are to abandon ship! Repeat, Abandon ship!”

Lights overhead went off as alerts rose to full alarms. The ships around them seemed to scramble in concern for the warship’s safety as officers rushed the gangplanks and catwalks in a dash to exit the ship. General Coult turned from his place at a medic’s table to see the ship float free of it’s magnetic docks and turn its guns upon the base itself.


The service bay below led up to the courtyard where the Isabella lay hidden under Order ships close watch. Cedric peered up from the hatch door just under a heater. Those stooped there warmed themselves in preparation for the exit. The captain’s communicator buzzed with static. Katherine’s voice cut in and out for a moment before calling in loudly.

“Captain, status report… The Sah is open…the Vhaen can’t recoil the base any closer to us…have you made it?”

“That’s an affirmative, Mrs. Tellius. How are things on your end?”

“The…box…let go of me…but just before it did…I recieved a message…” the static rose and fell as she spoke. “You must hurry.”

“Mrs. Tellius?! Katherine!” Cedric recoiled quickly. “we have got to get those guys out of there. Now. No more waiting.”

The hatch came open and the crew came flying from it with weapons at the ready. Dozens of armed soldiers were packed around the bow of the Isabella waiting for her owner’s to attack. The hail of bullets began. Kitty, ready for another brawl made use of the cover of her crew to launch high above them and sweep into her enemies like a dervish. Amelia and Cedric fought back to back, cutting a path with bullets and blades through their opponents. Projectiles whizzed past them but thankfully found no mark. They were hard pressed to move as they stepped towards their home as the enemies fell in behind them, attacking with whatever seemed to be at hand. One woman even came after Javert with a wrench which did not protect her from the butt of his rifle.

Then they saw the ship. High above them the warship Argon floated from its high precipice down to the top of the isabella and readied its guns. As they turned to look up, the hearts of the crew sank, knowing that there would be little to do if the ship were to fire on them now. The fort cheered with success lowering their weapons to raise their hands in victory. The general leaned over the railing from high above them on the docking tower, hurling obscenities at the Argon and down to the courtyard below.

“No! you fools shoot them now!!! Shoot them now!”

The Argon turned as it hovered, firing rounds upon the horde of soldiers gathered near the ship and raising nearby buildings to the ground. From the overhead loudspeakers aboard the Argon came a familiar voice, “Howdy Capt’n! Need a little back up?”  Brother Luke boomed. With simultaneous grins the crew was refreshed, and charged forward into the fray yet again. From cobble stone to gangplank they rose. Javert was first onto the Isabella’s deck, met with a slew of soldiers.

“It’s just too clean!” The blade of his sword  splattered the innards of a man unto the deck as he shot another.”Have to start all over!”

“What is all this crap on the front of my ship!?” Cedric cried hacking at a soldier who was fairly light on his feet. Cedric took a deep breath, the adrenaline may have still been there, but his body was fatigued. The younger soldier took the opportunity to strike back, brandishing a sledgehammer in his wake.  One blow, two, three, they were moving ever closer to flesh, even grazing the captain with their close proximity.  The last stroke, Cedric couldn’t dodge, and he knew this was going to hurt.

The hammer thudded to the floor, blood spraying as the body collapsed amidst the noise and clamour.  Amelia stood squarely behind him with the pistol she had taken off the Order soldier on her flight there.

“Don’t touch my stuff!!!”

For half a second, Cedric smiled with deep affection at his wife, and turned to knock another soldier from his feet. Only a short distance farther until they were home.

At last, the doors into the first deck flew open.  The crew plunged down the stairs and into the depths, back through the hall and up into the command deck. “Javert, Amarante, engine duty! I need vitals now!” He rushed forward to the helm and gripped it with such certainty that the ship jarred in it’s place. The pair he called rushed in after him and down further still into the engine room.

“Captain! Uh… Everything is working perfectly…It’s just really clean.”

“Good, let’s keep it that way!” He chuckled to the intercom.

“They’ve got us on a gravity lock, Captain. We aren’t going anywhere till that’s been removed.” Amarante replied the sound of switches and mechanics thrumming in the background.

“Lovely.” he growled. “Where are the rest of my crew?! Luke, role call!”

“I have Seamus, Audra, Wyatt, Rottger, and Luthiem, Captain.” The man in the warship called over his radio happily as he sent bullets hailing down over the crowd.

The static cut into Luke’s sentence. “I have Amelia Ruth, Vale, Suzeaux, and Attica…” Fox added drolly. “We’re in the control tower just above you to your right. DId I hear something about gravity locks?”

“That’s affirmative, can we get that taken care of!”


The doctor nodded and called back, “I’ll have you loose faster than a–” the sound of gunfire cut him off. “If people will stop trying to shoot me with bullets!”

“Give us a minute.” Fox replied dropping his wrist to his side and moving himself out of the way of an oncoming attacker. “It should be that computer on the left!”

Suzeaux shot the man before he could try for Fox again. “These folks just don’t know when to quit.”

“Well, we did wander into their briefing room.” Fox muttered.

“Good thing I brought these!” Suzeaux exclaimed holding up two chains of hand grenades.

“You brought those on a tiny, dingy that crashed into a wall….”

“Oh relax, mister worry wart. They only blow up if you pull the pin on them.”

Attica took one from the chain and quickly drew a chalk circle onto the exterior of the device. It buzzed with a short flash of light and she pulled the pin, hurling it back down the corridor where a new wave of attackers emerged. Instead of a loud boom, electrical static buzzed violently, shutting the metal doors emphatically, and dropping the soldiers into contorted shapes up the hall.

Suzeaux frowned, “Hey!”

“It shut the door and saved bullets…” the alchemist replied with a slight smile.

“So would have a regular grenade!” Suzeaux whined.

“And taken out the only exit with it!”

“You’re no fun at all.”

Fox pushed a body off the edge of the balcony with his heel. Spinning around to aid the doctor with the computers but was met with a confusing sight. “What are you doing?” Amelia stood with Vale watching the computer run through a variety of files. “The grav locks need to be turned off, remember?” the cook restated.

“Yes, yes, right. On that!” The doctor quickly tapped away at keys and the power of the entire facility flickered. “ I was just running a backup of these files…good for some light reading…Hm. Oops.” The power flickered again with more definite results, “Not that code.”

Attica rolled her eyes violently at the doctor, “Genius.” She folded her arms across her chest.

“Says the scientifically inaccurate chemist.” He retorted.

“Oh, like that’s new.”

“You would know! Your practices haven’t evolved past the dark ages!”

Amelia Ruth watched them banter back and forth as Vale typed faster and faster. Fox’s face had a less than pleased look on it .

“Fox! I need those locks lifted!” The captain roared.

“I’m working on it!” He replied gruffly and glared at the pair, “Any day now, Vale.”

As he spoke the door up the hall fell in on itself and soldiers rushed the computer control room. Vale entered the final strokes of his code slipping one hand from the keys to pull a pistol from his gun belt and fired. The alchemist simultaneously moved around Amelia Ruth and grappled with a woman, breaking a vial over her head and scattering a toxic smelling liquid across the entryway. The man behind her attacker caught an unfortunate eyeful of the substance before falling to a second bullet placed by the doctor. Suzeaux shot at the man who was chasing her, but missed twice before the grenades came back out.

“Say bye!”

The soldier turned to run as she tossed the grenade into the hallway, but he tripped over a fallen body and disappeared in the blast. When the smoke and dust had settled the sloshing liquefying sounds that remained were less than pleasant. They turned to look at the source and simultaneously grimaced. Amelia Ruth covered her eyes.

“That’s nasty…” Vale muttered.

“I disagree…” Attica panted as the corners of her mouth turned up into a smile.

“You would.”

Behind them the computer beeped, accepting the doctor’s code. The deep resonance of gravity locks falling from the bow of the Isabella to the pavement followed shortly after.

“Right! Everybody to the ship!”


Wild Wild West Con 2

And we carved our name in the sands

And we carved our name in the sands

We are finally home from an epic trip across the country to venture into the wilds of Arizona for the second Wild Wild West Con at Old Tucson Studios just outside of Tucson, Arizona. With over 3,000 miles logged on the odometer, this was one of our longest trips to date. The first time we made this trip, we didn’t leave ourselves enough time and drove the entire length of the journey in one shot, both ways. Wise to our mistake from two years ago, we broke the trip into two days on the way there and three days on the way back. It’s been quite a while since some of our members, including myself, have had the chance to see their families, and we took this opportunity on the road to make some much needed visits. On our way there, we stopped in to see Mr. Fox’s family and celebrate his grandfather’s 90th birthday. I can not say enough about how incredibly awesome these fine folks are, not that I am surprised. I’ve known their grandson for over a year now, and he’s pretty cool too. They graciously let us stay in the house that his aunt is building and met us with wonderful food and all the cookies in the world. I will say that I was really proud of us this trip. We planned ahead. Saved money for some side trips. Made lists. Prepped the cars and got out on time which was no small feat as the departure time for each day was before 7am. I thought we had remembered everything…right up until the point that the tire blew out on the trailer on the side of I-10 outside of El Paso. Right. About that. You always forget something. This trip, it was forgetting to buy a new spare tire for the trailer after it blew out the last time. Oops. But these are the moments that define us, and true to form, the crew was up to the task.

Lulu and Zombie at Old Tuscon Studios

Lulu and Zombie at Old Tuscon Studios

Attica, Luthiem, Zombie and Mr. Fox departed on an epic quest for a tire in the middle of nowhere, Texas. Cap, Suzeaux, Kitty, Wyatt, our often times travel mate, Joe and myself defended the van and trailer. And by defended, I mean boredly sat on the side of I-10 watching the fires in Mexico from the highway. A nice DPS officer stopped by to check on us, poke around the trailer and warn us to stay on our side of the highway. No real warning was necessary as the big fence and lights within visual distance of the other side of the highway was enough deterrent on it’s own. But we thanked him, and heeded his warnings. After the first hour, we were bored to tears, but apparently Budweiser in glass bottles is the highway drink of choice around there, and the previous travelers in the area left us copious numbers of bottles to create our own carnival game on the side of the road. Joe, Suzeaux and Kitty decided that it was the perfect time to build and fly kites, and after discovering a plastic bag, some sticks, duct tape and tearing apart some old headphones, they were happily running up and down the embankment of I-10 flying their new creation while the rest of us kept score at our makeshift pitch and toss. Two hours passed and our scouting party returned victorious. Trailer tire in tow, the crew came bearing tales of visiting Novac, waiting in a strange junk yard nervously waiting for ghouls to jump from behind the derelict cars. The place they found the tire wasn’t listed in any phone book and I’m not entirely sure that it would exist if we tried to find it again. But it was there when we needed even if it had to appear from the Fallout universe to help us out. Dr. Nightshade, I imagine you had something to do with that. 🙂 And as night was falling, we were off again. The rest of the journey was pleasant and uneventful.

Even air pirates need a break

Even air pirates need a break
Cap’ and Attica at Old Tuscon

We arrived at Old Tucson Studios early Friday morning and it was every bit as breathtakingly beautiful as I remembered it to be. I’ll be honest. Wild Wild West Con II had a lot to live up to. The inaugural event is a trip and and convention that

Our friend Joe Hernandez of Penny Dreadful Productions and Suzeaux Ryette exploring Old Tucson

Our friend Joe Hernandez of Penny Dreadful Productions and Suzeaux Ryette exploring Old Tucson

those of us who had the honor of attending talk about to this day. Big shoes to fill. But the event lived up to even our inflated expectations. It was fantastic. The programming was more streamlined than the first year, and we had the opportunity to work with some of the other guests on panels. We never pass up the opportunity to share the stage with Steampunk Bobba Fett, John Strangeway and Penny Dreadful Productions maker, Joe Hernandez. With them in the room, you know it’s going to be fun. We also got to meet and work with some of the members of L.O.S.E.R.S, a steampunk villians group out of the west. It’s always great to see and hear what other groups are thinking and talking about. And I have to give it up personally, for the people who attended the Character Building panel. I’ve done this panel I don’t even know how many times, and it is always entertaining. The participants at WWWC2 took the cake, and came up with probably the most fantastic, dynamic character that I have seen to date. Most panels end up with pretty interesting characters, but these guys went above and beyond and created a character that could have walked into the Percy Jackson universe and kicked his behind into Hades. Yay for a large group of people with knowledge of Greek mythology and a tremendous sense of humor. Bartholomew “Bart” Randy Jenkins, I will remember you fondly. Another plus this year was that the vendors were given more space and a number of all weather tents to gather in which was a good thing. The weather the first two days threatened to turn this event into the kind of story that everyone wants to tell, but no one wants to be a part of. It threatened to snow. There were thunderstorms. But the big winner was the

The coming storms

The coming storms

wind and the sand. The wind was strong enough one day that the larger vendor tent was very nearly airborne. But the participants, entertainers, vendors and staff were all wonderful, and jumped up to pitch in and help. In the end, the tent was saved and everything was business as usual come Sunday morning.

On Sunday, we brought together a small group of friends and crewmates and welcomed into the crew our two newest prospects, David Orenday and Rebecca Harrison.  They had survived and thrived during their six month probation period and (perhaps foolishly) didn’t run for the hills screaming into the night.  These two accepted positions in a time when ASI was in one of its most hectic , crazy and heartwrenching moments.  They walked into the fire willingly, stuck it out and experienced perhaps one of the hardest prospect trials that any member has had to face since Gen 2.  Guys, its been a long time since we’ve had a trial by fire like the six months you had to experience and learn in.  We could not be prouder of what you have done and how you have held yourselves.  Welcome to our dysfunctional, crazy, creative family.

Really, you can't be super serious all the time.  :-)

Really, you can’t be super serious all the time. 🙂

Joe and Lulu at White Sands

Joe and Lulu at White Sands

At the event, the level of costuming and gear was outstanding. Everyone really did bring their best and brightest and it made for a beautiful setting for the event. As Sunday wound to a close, it was the first event in a very long time that I was sad to see coming to an end. We met some wonderful new friends and were really pleased to see some familiar faces so far from home. We ran around and grabbed some last minute snapshots, and then prepared for the journey home.

Crew enjoying the dunes

Crew enjoying the dunes

On the return trip, we stopped at the White Sands National Monument and spent a few hours sand sledding and just being silly before crashing for the night at Mr. Fox’s family home again. The next morning brought bone hunting and exploring and saying good bye to the Austin crew before heading to my family’s house to visit my newborn niece and her big sister.Oh and her mom and dad too :-).

Examining our finds from the bone hunting expedition

Examining our finds from the bone hunting expedition

The whole experience was wonderful and we can’t wait to do it again next year. I really can’t say enough good things about this con. I want to thank a few people specifically for making this event something really special for us. First, Amber Solis was assigned the thankless task of taking care of us for the weekend. Poor poor girl. She was awesome and funny and just a joy to be around the whole bloody time. Thank you for putting up with dirty wayward pirates with a smile. It really means a lot to us. Second, Diane and John, you made my little girls whole event. The fastest way to a mother’s heart is through her children, and you have me firmly in your debt. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. If I can ever return the favor, you have but to ask. Finally, Ryan and Jason, you guys rock. The event was wonderful and I appreciate everything you did in putting this together.

Mya and Emma.  Well worth driving 3000 miles.

Mya and Emma. Well worth driving 3000 miles.

Fire in Austin – Aid for Jenn Allison

We awoke this morning to a phone call from one of our members.  Her apartment was on fire.  She is safe and she was able to save her cat, Diana, but other than that, she ran with only what she could carry.  A change of clothes, her dolls, her laptop, her cat and her purse.  Everything else is gone.  People have been asking what they can do to help, and we have set up a paypal donation button that links directly to her paypal for those of you who would like to send her monetary help.  If the button does not appear for some reason the link below will take you to the site.  If you would like to give physical donations, our first officer, Rick Cape and the illustrious Dr. Vale (Mike Abernathy) will be coordinating those efforts.  I will post more information about that as soon as we have it.  Please keep Jenn and the other residents at the apartments in your prayers.

UPDATE: 12/21/2012

I can not express how humbled and grateful we are to all of you.  Your kindness and support has spoken volumes that all of us here at ASI and the community can hear for miles.  Thank you for helping our friend and giving her hope.  It’s the kind of Christmas gift that stays with you for a lifetime. Rick Cape and Chelsea Borgman are now running a facebook group that is coordinating relief efforts for Jenn.  For information on sending physical donations, contact Thaddeus Vale or Rick Cape on facebook.  An official ChipIn page has been created to coordinate further monetary donations.  All donations still go directly to Jenn’s account.  I have included links to all of the relevant sites below.

Again, thank you.

ChipIn donation site for Jenn Allison


Facebook GroupFire in Austin - Aid to Jenn Allison

Facebook Group
Fire in Austin – Aid to Jenn Allison

Personal Responsiblity and Fighting Silence


I wrote this article almost two weeks ago, and it has taken on a whole new meaning to me since then. Between the Aurora shootings and the massive upheaval in both our personal and professional lives, it couldn’t be more relevant. I wanted to post this last week, but the world started falling down around our heads (in at least one example, literally. Our roof is trying to mate with our floor in the NOLA shop after massive damage from last Friday’s storms. Their relationship is problematic. 🙂 But we do live by what I am about to say, and after a week of systematically pulling away the fallen stones, we have already seen the first rays of light. Your life is what you make it and your troubles are only bumps in the road. They can only knock you down if you let them. Be our fate, torn and frayed, still we forge on. I just wanted to let everyone know that this was not written in response to these events, but in fact, pre-dates them. With that said, I humbly submit my opinion on personal responsibility and fighting silence. Amelia Whittaker


Written July 19, 2012


I have read article after article after rant after article about the problems concerning the steampunk community recently. I have fielded personal messages, phone calls, and facebook complaints both positive and negative. These occasionally bordered on threats and always boil down to one thing…”The sky is falling. DO SOMETHING!!!!” First, the sky is not falling. Get that out of your head now. Second, I’m working on building this as fast as I can…what are YOU doing? Yes, there are a handful of people out there causing problems and unnecessary drama. They exist on the east coast, the west coast, the south, the north….they exist everywhere….and they always will. Welcome to steampunk meets the real world. It was and is inevitable. We have a great message and a beautiful aesthetic. We’ve been fighting for years for it to catch on in the general public, and guess what? Good job everyone! It worked! The line of “hipsters” leaving the movement is getting longer because they didn’t care about the message of creativity in adulthood and the do it yourself mentality. They believed in being ahead of the fashion curve, and I bid them a fond farewell. If that’s what makes them happy, so be it. It’s not a sign of the end, but of the beginning. If those who only want to be out of the mainstream rather than to change the mainstream are leaving, it means we are succeeding! It also means that we will be inviting in new people who were not always part of a counterculture or the geek/outcast circle. Welcome to our next challenge. How do you teach/convince people who have always done well in the “real” world to accept the ethos of a subculture? Honor, loyalty, respect…behave like a civilized member of society. We love it at the outset, but the second it actually applies to us, oh hell no! Are you telling me that this means I have to be a bigger person and talk out my issues rather than just splatter them all over the internet? You don’t own me! You can’t make me do things! That person challenged my blah blah blah blah. I’ll do what I want! Adult conversation and action never work anyway! You have to be mean and nasty to get anything done! I’m not going to show weakness by acting in a civil and adult manner to a challenge! No one treats me like that and gets away with it! Ehem….are you done yet? Because you seem to be forgetting something. Bad behavior does not give you the right to behave badly, and slights, imagined or otherwise, only compound when you fail to address them directly. Perhaps they did something truly horrible to you, and that is not your fault. But remember, it is your response to those slights that defines your character to yourself and to the world. Unless you are in a situation that involves life or death or prolonged emotional abuse, no one made you do a thing. You chose how to respond. You. No one else. Simple rules to civilized society. I learned these rules as a child. And it was reinforced growing up in the geek world where constant taunting and social slights were common. Coping skills for such things were something all geeks talked about amongst themselves, but apparently it wasn’t taught to a lot people outside of that group. And I was apparently mistaken in thinking most geeks understood the lessons.


I have stated before, steampunks have some unwritten rules of behavior that we can’t expect all newcomers to know, so a lot of groups have started writing them down. I’m going to gank the guidelines that we have adopted for SCARS as written and compiled by Dan Wright and Airship Horizons to share with the world here as an example of what one group of steampunks have adopted as general principles of behavior. Many of you will recognize the underlying influences that created these. 🙂 Yes, we are burners.


SCARS Guidelines for Social Conduct 

The South Central Armada of Renegate Steampunks (SCARS) is comprised of Steampunks of all backgrounds. We are a community built on the love for all things Steampunk. We understand that because we are different, we cannot always agree. These are guidelines to help our community grow and communicate despite those differences. 

Respect Each Other

We must all respect one another. This can mean a lot of different things, such as respecting one’s wishes to be left alone or respecting another’s opinion on what is or is not Steampunk. We may not always agree, but we can always give respect to one another when interacting in the community. You do not have to like one another, but respect the community enough to not let that dislike bleed into the group. 

Personal Resonsibility

You are responsible for your own experience, your own actions, and your community. By following this philosophy, you help everyone to get out of the community what they put in individually. No one but you are responsible for your fun and your actions. 

Be Real First

Simple idea. Remember that you’re just acting out a role, and even if you don’t like a character in the game, the player might be a vastly different person. If you don’t like the way RP is going, step out of character and take a moment to talk with the players involved. We’re all here to have fun. 

Have fun and help others have fun

Everyone is here to have fun. So, it is the responsibility of each of us to make sure that everyone enjoys the community to the best of their ability. If you see someone frustrated or seemingly not having any fun, please take the time to interact with them and see if you can help them enjoy the community. 

Provide a Positive Image

Whether this is on the street or at an event, we will often get questions about “What is steampunk?” While our answers will always differ, the image we provide will have an impact on those outside of the community. We always want to be remembered in a positive way. 


Anyone may be a part of Steampunk. We welcome and respect the stranger. No prerequisites exist for participation in our community. There is no wrong way to do Steampunk. We accept all forms of Steampunk. 


Steampunk is filled with talented artists, performers, and engineers of all kinds. It’s a huge part of what makes up the Steampunk community. Everyone puts a lot of work and heart into their creations and many of us do this for a living. There is no “right way” to create art and self-expression. We should all respect each others art form, whether you like their work or not. 

Community Support

As a community we promote working together and sharing. Collaboration between people generate creativity and some of the best works of engineering and artwork the community has to offer. We also help promote and protect our social groups, merchandise, art forms, and our members. Without this support, we wouldn’t be a community. 


We encourage our members to participate; whether it’s going to conventions, making things, posting in the forums, playing in the LARP or creating stories, volunteering, etc. The more people that participate, the more fun and profitable our community can be. By joining in on the activities you avoid loosing steam! 

Dealing with Problems

We will not always like everyone in our community. If you have a problem with someone in the community, please find a way to resolve the issue privately or find a way to avoid airing out issues in public. Remember, it is sometimes best to sleep on an issue. Our outlook often changes after we’ve had time to cool off and think about it.


Seems pretty simple, right? You would be surprised how hard these are to maintain sometimes. Really there are two that seem to pose the most problems for people. Personal responsibility and dealing with problems. For whatever reason, society has raised an entire country of people who don’t know how to say I’m sorry. I think the same forces that created a society that doesn’t want to admit fault, created a society that gets a “holier than thou” attitude when someone is actually mature enough to throw off the shackles of that training and admit wrongdoing. Why would you apologize to someone who is going to use that apology as an admission of weakness and throw it in your face every few weeks. The reluctance is understandable. This is an issue we desperately need to address because it perpetuates an overall issue facing society and an underlying effect, choosing silence when faced with controversy. It’s time that we faced that we are all responsible for the shortcomings of this community whether it’s by refusing to apologize for wrongs, being unable to accept an apology, by reacting in an unproductive manner or worse, by not saying anything at all. I’m going to use a very controversial example to illustrate this that has nothing to do with steampunk, but everything to do with why we are fighting for this.


Recently, a good friend of mine has been dealing with issues of PTSD that have arisen from emotional abuse. I watch the pain, the hurt, the fear and the need to place blame, and I want to reach out and shake her. You are stronger than this! It doesn’t matter! What matters is how you respond! Dwelling on this will not help you! But I can’t because I know that she is not ready to hear it, and I know how much pain she is in right now. It struck a cord with me in relating to what I have been seeing in society and steampunk as a whole. The issues are radically different, but the problem in addressing them is the same.


I don’t mean to sound callus about any of this, especially my friend. I really do understand. I am a rape survivor, and as many others like me, I fell into the trauma cycle afterward. I spent years berating myself and felt I somehow deserved the emotional abuse that I suffered because of what had happened to me. It took me over 10 years embroiled in a terrible situation before I finally found the courage to stand up for myself. Predictably, psychological testing showed severe PTSD, situational MDD (major depression disorder) and suppressed emotional response. If psychobabble is greek to you, I’ll put it in layman’s terms. I couldn’t go to party’s or be in large crowds because I’d have flashbacks, and on bad days, in certain situations, I still do. Saying that I have social anxiety is a mild understatement, but loosing the ability to know where you are or when you are, i.e. flashbacks, is much, much worse. When I’m in situations that illicit these responses, I kick myself to the point of being a real problem. To deal with this and the emotional abuse I was suffering, I forced myself not to feel at all. So, I know you are asking yourself what this has to do with the personal responsibility issue? Let me explain. First, what happened to me at 18 years old was not my fault, and I no longer blame myself for it. What happened afterward, was understandable, but it WAS my fault. I was punishing myself though I had no logical reason to do so. Because I believed that was what I deserved, I continued and in fact, perpetuated the pattern because to leave it meant that I would have to admit that it was me who accepted the abuse to begin with. And until I was ready to accept that, nothing in my life changed. It only went from bad to worse. Personal responsibility is like that. Nothing changes, it only gets worse until you reach a point that you realize that in bad situations you have a choice. Continue with the patterns that you know are bad and destructive or make new patterns. You can not cling to past hurts, no matter how justified you may be. In doing so, you allow the person and situation that hurt you to rule your life.


As a community, the same thing applies. If we hold on to past hurt, and refuse to either accept apologies or to give them, the only thing we are hurting is ourselves. We cling to the patterns that society has burdened us with, and we will never rise above them. Shit happens. Life sucks, and everyday something truly amazing and beautiful happens. The only question is did you see it or were you too busy wrapping yourself in the negative. Maintaining a community is work and it requires conscience effort, an open mind and commitment. A commitment to fairness, to standing up for principles, to throwing in your two cents even when they are unpopular. A lot of times, the things no one wants to hear are exactly what needs to be said. Stop playing chicken little. Address the problems, find solutions then DO IT YOURSELF. This is steampunk, afterall.


For me in the community these last few months have been exhausting. Many times I have wanted to either, a)quit, b)resort to violence or c)speak out. It’s kind of rotated around the block a few times before I finally came to the realization that I was falling into the trap of silence for protection. Trouble makers and attention seekers count on societal training for you to avoid conflict. They know that most people will just quietly fall away rather than stand up for what they know is right or speak out against what they know is wrong. I’m not about to fall into that trap. I’ve devoted my life to fighting societal training that tells me to be quiet, to stay in my place, to place blame rather than take responsibility, to endure abuse rather than cause conflict. I had to face this long before I found steampunk and sometimes I just need to remember why I am here, in this community, fighting for these people. It’s for people like my friend who are suffering because they haven’t internalized the very steampunk idea that they are doers. They are builders. And we can build so many more things than goggles or toy guns. Self-esteem doesn’t build itself and happiness is not an outcome of some event or personal relationship or job. It’s something you choose to do every single day. Community doesn’t rise or fall on one persons whim unless you allow it to. Do, build, make. Not just your costumes, but yourselves. You really do have that power. Do it yourself.








Knights of Steampunk

Not long ago, the Steampunk World’s Fair announced that their very own Queen Victoria would be knighting five deserving Steampunks at this year’s festivities in Somerset, New Jersey! Our Captain, Cedric “Greyhawk” Whittaker, is in the running.

According to the site, the ceremony is one meant to honor and recognize those who have contributed to the Community during their time in the limelight.

Please, choose wisely, and vote your heart. Vote for the person you feel has given the most to the Community as a whole, who you respect and look up to, and who you would be proud to have as a Steampunk Knight at The Steampunk World’s Fair!

– Steampunk World’s Fair Website

Voters have before midnight on May 1st to cast their votes.

Over the past year, we of the Isabella have followed our Captain through thick and thin. We have been there through all of the sacrifice, the work and endless road dogging, and together we have seen the amazing spectacles of what we can do when we just put our minds to it. If it were not for him – none of this would be here. We deeply appreciate any and all support, and while all of the runners are deserving in their very own rights, we hope to see your vote. 🙂

Vote for Cedric Whittaker!

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Out of the Wild Wild West…


Recently, the crew had the opportunity to travel further than ever before in order to attend the first annual Wild Wild West Steampunk Convention in Tucson, Arizona. Perhaps the most phenomenal part? The event was to take place at Old Tucson Studios – a living, breathing, preservation of Americana and the Old West. Seeing as a good portion of both the Isabella and Neo Dulcimer are reduced to bouncing, overly excitable ten-year-olds at the mere mention of Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday, or Old Tombstone, you can imagine the reaction throughout the workshop when it was announced that we would be given the pleasure of appearing there March 4-6.

So after many grueling hours of travel, frolicking about Tombstone, sun-scorched work (including many pounds of sunscreen), a possible alien abduction, and dodging drug cartels along the Mexican Border – The Isabella and her crew have returned to her home port in Houston, calling the trip to an end.

And what a trip it was.

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Ikkicon V

I hope you all had a merry christmas/happy yule/Hanukkah/jolly whatever-the-dickens-you-people-celebrate… As I well know that I and the rest of the Airship did.

Egg Nog and fat-men in red aside, the end of 2010 draws near, as does the dawn of 2011. With the turning of the year also comes Texas’s fifth annual Ikkkicon and the Airship Isabella’s official “one year” anniversary! So get your resolutions in order, tie up this year’s loose ends, and meet us out at the Hilton Austin for a way to ring in the New Year you’ll nay soon forget.

Friday night, join us from 9:00-11:00 PM in “Salon F” on the 6th Floor for the official ASI Birthday Gathering. There will be music, dancing, prizes to be won in a dueling tournament, and of course a little something to help commemorate where we’ve been in the last year, where we’re going, and the amazing people who have supported, inspired, and encouraged us along the way.