The gentleman had a pistol aimed at who he’d taken to thinking of as just Stove-Pipe, guessing he was in charge of the cadre of the pennyfarthing riders that had surrounded him and his companion. With two riders sprawled on the ground next to their bikes, the gang from behind closed in on the couple. The lady reached into her jacket and withdrew a menacing looking dagger, crouching and ready to spring on the first comer.
The gentleman pulled back the hammer and called out to Stove-pipe, “Call them off. Now!” Stove-pipe looked to the oncoming riders and gave a slight shake of his head. They veered off just a few feet from the couple and returned to their post.
“Ya oughta be careful, mister.” said Stove-pipe with that same ice cold tone, “Ya can’t shoot all of us now, can ya? Wavin’ that gun around might be the last thing ya ever do.”
The gentleman sneered, “I’d be more concerned about the first thing I may do with this. Now, get your boys and leave us be.” Bowler growled at the gentleman, but directed his comment to Stove-pipe, “Are we just gonna sit here and take-“
“Shut it!” Stove-pipe barked. The command made everyone jump, including the couple. Bowler and Top Hat wobbled dangerously on their pennyfarthings before getting themselves reoriented. The two at the end of the street, now joined by three more riders, looked up in alarm but held their posts.
The gentleman wondered if Stove-pipe knew how close he had come to getting a hole in his head, but he pressed onward, “I’m giving you a chance. Leave now and no one has to get hurt.”
Stove-pipe considered the ultimatum for a moment before relenting. His life wasn’t worth it when there was much easier prey to work on. He brought his fingers to his lips another piercing whistle. The riders behind them cycled off, and the two on the ground had finally managed to get to their feet, attempting to right their contraptions. The gentleman, with his pistol still aimed at Stove-Pipe, gave a shake of his head.
“Leave one,” he said, his eyes darting between the two and then tilting his head left toward the least damaged pennyfarthing, “That one.”
Stove-Pipe, who was already seething at being caught off guard, simply glared at the couple, burning every possible detail about the two into his mind. The couple realized that this could still end very badly and each tightened their grip on their weapons. Finally Stove-Pipe roared out, “Go on then! Take it! But I’m warning ya, if I ever see ya ‘round here again…”
Stove-Pipe left the words hanging and the gentleman merely nodded, fully understanding. The lady left the gentleman’s side and started for the bike. Its owner tensed, but relented when she waved the dagger at him. He backed away and circled around to help the other rider with the twisted frame of his pennyfarthing. They limped off as the trio joined them, Stove-Pipe looking over his shoulder at the couple occasionally with a look that could have set them on fire.
When they were all out of sight, the gentleman helped the lady right the pennyfarthing and they hurriedly made their way back out of the Gut and into Babbage Square. The lady kept watch as the gentleman walked the monstrosity past City Hall. Finally, she turned around, her cheeks flushed and her eyes wild with excitement, “So, can I ride it?”
The gentleman shot her an amused grin, “Do you even know how?”
The lady rolled her eyes and pulled a couple of ties on the back of her dress. The entire skirt fell away revealing the pair of pants she’d been wearing underneath along with a sword bound to a belt hanging just below her hip. She kicked away the remnants and reached for the handlebars. Planting her left foot on the peg above the rear wheel and pushing it along with her right. When she gained enough speed, she pulled herself up and reached with her right leg to the pedal of the enormous tire before settling into the seat.
The gentleman’s eyes went round with surprise as she wobbled dangerously along the cobblestones but managed to find and keep her balance. He ran after her, casting a glance behind him to make sure they weren’t being followed.
They were in front of Loner Lane, when she dismounted and came to a stop. Laughing merrily, she tilted the bike toward the gentleman, “Okay, your turn!” He looked at her and shook his head quickly. “Oh, come on! The frame’s a little bent but it rides easily enough. See?”
Again she climbed aboard and rode around in a very wobbly circle before hopping off. It looked easy enough, so the gentleman took the handlebars and gave it a go.
The patrons of ‘Cuffs heard the clash of metal and meat against cobblestone, quickly followed by male cursing and female apologies through her fits laughter. Some stepped out to determine the cause of the commotion, and one ship’s captain stood agape at the scene.
Sky was shaking with laughter as she pushed the now even more twisted pennyfarthing up the street with Scottie in tow. He held his left hand against the side of his head while his right nursed some ribs, wishing he’d had that cane because now he really was limping.
When they reached ‘Cuffs Sky set the pennyfarthing against the side of the building near the open wall and skipped up the steps while Scottie dragged himself in behind her. Once inside, the two shifted gears and Sky held out her hand to the captain without a word, all business.
“I-, uh, You…” was all he could manage. Sky stepped closer to him, her hand still out and her next words very clear, “A bet is a bet.”
The captain sighed and reached into his pocket, pulling out a rather hefty pouch of coins. He set it on Sky’s hand and grumbled before leaning back against the half elliptical counter and reacquainting himself with a mug of beer. Scottie leaned in close and whispered into Sky’s ear. Her brow furrowed at first and then her face lit up in understanding, nodding quickly.
Scottie broke away and approached the liquor counter pulling one of the better slips and a stunted pencil, scribbling away quickly. Sky counted out their winnings and poured half into her own pouch. Scottie rejoined her and while she set the original pouch one the counter and pushed it toward the captain, Scottie handed him the note.
The captain read the note. Once. Twice. A third time. Finally he just shook his head, and looked at the two, “What in the hell would want all of these for?”
Sky smirked and Scottie chuckled, “We’ve got other bets we intend to win.”