New York City, 188~
The young man looked with trepidation at the gleaming hull of the I.S.S. Hercules Mulligan, the newest cruiser in the Empire's fleet. The airship was rumored to be twice as powerful as the next fastest airship in the fleet. It had been a while since he had seen a ship so... clean looking. It was almost unnatural. He began walking toward the ship, when suddenly he heard a voice shouting.
"Hey! What do you think you're doing boy?" The teen turned to find the largest man he had seen. The man wore a tight fitting airshipman uniform. A half chewed cigar hung out of his mouth. He had a weeks worth of stubble on his chin. "Are you daft boy? I asked what you were doing!"
"Sir, I was looking to inquire about booking passage on this airship. I know that it is flying across the Atlantic, and I wish to know if it is scheduled to stop anywhere near New Babbage?"
The airshipman scowled. "Why would you want to go to that place? It's a mess."
The young man frowned back at the man. "Sir, I mean no disrespect, but you are quite mistaken. There is no place on this great planet quite like New Babbage. You might not be able to tell from my accent, but New Babbage was once my home. It has been many years since I have been there, but I have urgent business and must return immediately. Now, I ask again, as you look like you are the man in charge. May I book passage?"
The airman laughed a hearty laugh. "Ha! Boy, you got spunk. I like that. We ain't takin no passengers on this trip, we're running cargo right now. But I could use some extra crew members. You ever work an engine?"
"Sir, you are in luck! I've spent some time in the engine room. Worked on a Lightening Bug class cargo skiff, as well as a Valor class steamer. You got yourself an engineer!"
The two of them shook hands, sealing the deal. "The pay ain't much, but it'll cover the cost of the trip to New Babbage. If you're good, I might even have a permanent spot for ya. Go pack. We leave tonight." As the boy turned back where he had come from, the man shouted, "What's yer name?"
"Angkarn. Orpheus Angkarn. Like the Greek myth." And without showing any signs of doubt, Orpheus walked back into the heart of the city for the last time.