I was recently asked to write a Steampunk novelette for an anthology (deadline 2011, so still off in the future). Almost immediately, the notion came to me to write a prequel story to the book I'm working on, set in the Steampunk era of Juno City. Once that idea took root, another piece my universe fell into place. I'm continuously amazed by what an organic process writing can be, especially when you're working within your own newly created universe. It's like discovering history books about places you never knew existed. Pretty damn awesome.
Here then is a small introduction from that story.
When the Starfarers came—first came fear, of course. They were different; how they thought, the tools they used, what they ate. Their craft specs completely boggled our scientists, who were used to the noisy airships that hovered in the air above the city. In the end, our differences were too great. We scared them; they made us suspicious. We endured one another for seventy odd years before they left. One morning we woke up and they were gone, leaving behind a lot of tecc and a lot of junk. Some say that's the reason the Aldermen first came. There were plenty of conspiracy theories about where they had come from, that they were in fact Starfarers that had stayed behind, hoping to amass and one day take over the planet. No one really knew. But the tecc was what the Aldermen loved. They did nothing to hide their inclination to the strange, foreign science. Steam meant nothing to them.
Wherever the Aldermen came from, they were here and didn’t look like leaving. Soon the scales will tip. You can feel it in the air, an unspoken balancing act of dread and action. There are riots and violence, everywhere things burn. Cycles; these things have happened before. The prophets say the city is cursed. And behind the smoke that seems to rise perpetually from its ten rings, the stronghold of the Spider Queen cowers behind walls that no longer keep anything out, but simply delay the inevitable. The Queen—she has gone mad. Thrown us all from her bed, her silken web. She has poisoned herself up there, locked away, haunting the dark halls of her fortress and not even dead yet.
She will die, eventually. And so will we. But the city will live again. Not even the desert of aeons has managed to permanently swallow its great walls. A new name will find it. Perhaps the Aldermen will succeed. Until then there is life here still, what little of it refuses to back down to the whims of an insane ruler. Before history ends and begins again there is time still for a story or two to be told.