Excerpt the Epiphany Club by Andrew Knighton

Thursday, June 6, 2019
Title: The Epiphany Club
Author: Andrew Knighton
Gene: Steampunk
Publisher: Self Published
Release Date: Dec 1 2018

Dirk Dynamo is used to adventure. He's chased villainous masterminds across the mountains of Europe, stalked gangsters through the streets of Chicago, and faced the terrible battlefields of the Civil War. But now he's on a mission that will really shake his world.

For centuries, the Great Library of Alexandria was thought lost. Now a set of clues has been discovered that could lead to its hiding place. With the learned adventurers of the Epiphany Club, Dirk sets out to gather the clues, track down the Library, and reveal its secrets to the world.

But Dirk and his colleagues aren't the only ones following the trail. Faced with strange machines, deadly assassins, and shocking betrayal, can they survive the perils confronting them? And what will they find when they finally reach their destination?

Roaming from the jungles of West Africa to the sewers beneath London, The Epiphany Club is a modern pulp adventure, a story of action, adventure, and romance set against the dark underbelly of the Victorian age.

This book contains all five novellas in the Epiphany Club series.
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Prologue: Paris in the Springtime

Dirk Dynamo sat outside a small café, watching the people of Paris go by. He didn’t usually let himself sit idle like this. Life was short, and his time could be better spent improving himself. But he had to admit that, when he was forced to wait, there was a certain pleasure to these peaceful moments. Sure, the crowds might conceal men who wanted him dead. And sure, he was scanning them for signs of trouble, not simply letting the moment wash over him. But still, it was the most relaxed he’d been all week.

He smiled as a waitress appeared and refilled his cup. Coffee had been a rare treat during the Civil War, so now he made the most of it whenever he could. Just because he still wore his old blue trousers didn’t mean he had to live like a soldier.

“Thank you, ma’am.” He pulled a couple of coins from the leather jacket on the back of his chair. The waitress’s eyes widened as she saw what the coat concealed. The custom-built Gravemaker was a hefty revolver by anyone’s standards, powerful enough to stop a charging bison and worth many times more than Dirk’s well worn clothes. But if it shocked the girl then she didn’t show it.

“Can I get you anything else, monsieur?” She smiled at Dirk and tucked back a strand of hair, her gaze flitting across his muscular body.

“No thank you, ma’am,” he replied. There was a time and place for chatting up waitresses, and this wasn’t it.

As if on queue, Sir Timothy Blaze-Simms emerged from the crowd, clutching a briefcase to his narrow chest. He peered around him through wire-rimmed spectacles, as if this were some strange new world and not the familiar rendezvous they had agreed the day before.

Dirk leaned back, hand inching towards his holster. If their opponents were going to make a move, then it would come now.

“What ho, Dynamo!” Blaze-Simms sank into a wrought-iron seat.

“Tim,” Dirk said with a nod. “You oversleep?”

“I’m afraid so,” Blaze-Simms replied. “Am I terribly late?”

“You’re buttoned up wrong.”

The Englishman looked down at a tailcoat whose buttons were all through the wrong holes.

“I say, good spot.” He put the case down and started re-dressing himself. “Was I followed?”

Dirk nodded again, still watching the crowd. Four men had appeared discreetly around the street, all wearing nondescript grey suits. Theirs was the stillness not of calm but of expectation, their expressions as flat and dull as a thousand other hired thugs the world over. And just like a thousand hired thugs the world over, Dirk was going to have to deal with them.

“Same guys who were tailing us last night.” Dirk recognised one from the hotel lobby, another from the restaurant, a third from the street outside the museum. Of course, they were missing the four he’d tracked back to a cheap boarding house, and who were probably still struggling to escape their bonds.

“So what now?” Blaze-Simms nibbled at a croissant, dropping flakes of pastry down himself.

“Now they pounce.”

“What makes you say that?”

“They change shifts every four hours. By now, these folks have realised that they ain’t gonna be relieved.”

A shot rang out, raising dust from the ground by Dirk’s boot. The morning crowd turned into a whirl of screaming faces and running bodies, as innocent Parisians fled the sound of violence. Walking sticks and parasols were abandoned by their owners in the rush to get away. By the time the crowd cleared, all four grey-suited men had revolvers in their hands, the barrels pointing straight at Dirk.

Instinct took over and Dirk reached for his revolver. But that wasn’t the plan.

He eased his hand back around and layed it flat on the table, ignoring the tension that hummed through his body.

“The Dane says hello,” one of the men called out. “And that you won’t be leaving Paris with those blueprints.”

“Oh bother.” Blaze-Simms put down his half-eaten croissant.

“You got the Gauss Generator?” Dirk murmured.

Blaze-Simms flung his case onto the table and flipped the lid. There was a high-pitched hum, followed a split second later by the sharp retort of gunshots. Suddenly the table was surrounded by bullets, hanging motionless in a crackling halo of light.

Dirk stared at the sparks dancing in the air. Whatever his faults, Blaze-Simms never failed to impress.

“Better act quickly,” the Englishman said. “I don’t know how long it can-”

Dirk vaulted the table and slammed into the first gunman with both feet. As they crashed to the ground he rolled and rose into a punch, knocking out the next guy.

A hail of cutlery flew from the café, tinkling like a wind-chime factory in a hurricane. As it hit the glowing web around Blaze-Simms it stopped, sparks crackling from each knife and fork as they hung vibrating in the air. The inventor gulped as smoke trickled from his case.

Dirk caught the second attacker’s gun as it fell and swept a third man’s legs out with a low kick.  Still turning, he flung the pistol into the face of the last gunman. There was a crunch and the man sank to the ground, blood spurting from the ruin of his nose.

A halo of metal hung in the air, from butter knives to loose change to the thick disc of a manhole cover, all suspended in the glowing corona of the magnetic field. A steel bollard shook loose of its base and shot across the pavement trailing sparks. The aura flashed as it hit, then vanished. Cutlery clattered onto the cobbles and the bollard landed with a clang.

The case on the table burst into flames.

Dirk strolled back to the café, casually kicking one of the goons as he passed.  He sat back down next to Blaze-Simms, who was beating out the fire with a copy of the Times.

“Mademoiselle?” Dirk said, waving over the nervous-looking waitress. “More coffee please, and some water for the fire.”

Andrew Knighton is an author and freelance writer.

He writes science fiction, fantasy, steampunk and historical fiction, including comics, short stories and books.

If you’d like a taste of Andrew’s writing then just sign up to his mailing list to receive a free e-book. You can unsubscribe any time you like, or stick around to get a short story every Friday.

For queries about freelance work, please check out his other website, Words for Hire, or email Andrew directly.


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