|Beware the steampunk girl who carries a big cane!|
A little excerpt from THE CLOCKWORK DETECTIVE. Here, Constable Sterben and Aubrey are being confronted by a “street tough” with a grudge. How he’s out of prison so early baffles Sterben and is part of the mystery Aubrey later untangles. For now, she and Sterben face a fight they may not be able to win:
“Anders,” Sterben said as he rolled his shoulders inside his coat, “you don’t have the stones to pound that little girl, much less me. But if you’re determined, tell your brothers to go home, and you and I can settle this like men.”
“Like men? Is that what you tell yourself? You needed five officers to help take me in, Constable.”
Sterben gave a quick laugh and smiled. “I needed three, and that’s because I didn’t want to hurt your pretty face and take away any chance you had in prison. I’m sure they gave you the same loving embrace as your brothers.”
Sterben was intentionally goading Anders and the other men – it was the only thing that made sense of his actions. He hadn’t looked in her direction once, and neither had anyone else. She was essentially forgotten in the confrontation, which was what Sterben wanted. He was giving her time to get away from the brothers. It was a good tactic, but with her bad leg, she would quickly be caught as soon as someone remembered her. No matter how well the boffins in Grazburg had designed the leg, it was only good for the daily use of walking. Running was beyond Aubrey’s physical abilities.
Anders growled at Sterben. Aubrey twisted the handle of her cane, and felt it rotate a quarter turn. She measured the distance between herself and Anders, and knew he was a pace and a half too far.
It’s never easy, she thought.
“Is that true, Anders?” Aubrey brought the full weight of all five men back to herself. “And here I could have used a good pounding too!”
Anders’ face flushed red with rage. Aubrey could see Sterben’s look of warning but ignored it.
“You’ll get yours,” Anders told her. “How about now?”
He moved forward, and Aubrey had to stifle her smile. She twisted the cane’s handle again and pulled. The soft scrape of metal on wood was completely lost to Anders as he came at her. The cane’s blade wasn’t as sturdy as her boarding saber, but it had a wicked sharp point, which she thrust under Anders’ chin and held against his throat. The skin broke and a small line of red ran down his neck. He tried to back away, but Aubrey moved with him.
“Don’t move. Not an inch.” Aubrey’s gaze fixed on Anders, but her voice was pitched to carry to his brothers. “You lot, either.”
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