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“We aren’t going to hurt you,” said the woman’s voice as the sack was pulled off his head. He didn’t believe her. Nolan blinked, but the compartment was dim, and it didn’t take long for him to make out the figures of those around him. The Atlantis Pride was like very much like big steamer ships, even though the Pride was a locomotive that moved back and forth across Noristrad. It contained a first class, an economy class and a steerage. From the smell, Nolan was in the steerage. They were the passenger cars closest to the engine, as they often were covered with soot and ash from it. The first class cars and Nolan’s private coach was towards the rear of the train, by the caboose.

Nolan’s blue eyes moved from face to face, memorizing them. Though he was not comfortable being around those in steerage, he did not want their filth and stink on him, he wanted to remember his captors’ faces for he fully intended to see them hanged for thinking that they could even consider kidnapping Nolan Clarke, the owner of the Atlantis Pride.

He was still feeling groggy from being drugged and mostly dragged to the front of the train. Nolan wasn’t sure how they had managed to move him from his private coach all the way to the steerage without being noticed. Now that he thought about it, his last memory slightly before the sack being pulled off his head was sitting in his favorite chair, sipping his favorite single malt. The Pride was crossing the Placid Plains, a very flat grassy area of the continent, populated mostly by large hoofed animals and the annoying Bachtoohai, savages that have not only refused to embrace technology but often sabotaged it. When traveling the Placid Plains the Pride would have to slow down, and place guards on the roofs of the cars to protect it.

“If you wanted me dead you would have used poison,” Nolan stated coldly. He tried to jerk free of the two men who held him between them. His hands were still cuffed behind him, but he wasn’t going to make whatever plan they had for him any easier. Nolan was not a young man, his hair had long gone silver, and crow’s feet had become a permanent feature around eyes that didn’t see as well close up as they used to. He was not sixty yet, but he was no longer a spring chicken. He hadn’t gone fat and blubbery like many older wealthy men. Nolan was still lean, and though gravity was taking its toll on him, he believed he could still hold his own in a fight.

“You are correct,” the woman replied. She was as dirty as the rest of the soot covered steerage. She looked to have once been wearing a yellow dress with lace trim. Her hair was greasy and had once been pulled up into a bun on her head, but most of her long locks had fallen loose and fluttered around her face. She was thin to the point of emaciated, those in steerage were all thin, and barely enough money to afford the already cheapest ticket on the Pride usually could not afford food also. Steerage were full of people traveling from one side of Noristrad to the other trying to find a better life. She was young, a good thirty to forty years younger than Nolan and seemed to be in charge of his kidnapping. “We intend to ransom you.”

Nolan tried not to let out a sigh of relief. Owen McMahon, Nolan’s protégé, business partner and former lover would pay any sum to get him back. This wouldn’t take long at all and once Nolan was back in the safety and comfort of his private coach, he’d had his wait staff fired, or hanged, and he’d see this lot hanged along with them. Throw them off the train, let the Bachtoohai make sacrifices of their corpses or whatever the Bachtoohai did with dead outsiders.

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