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Steampunk Christmas Story. Anwin wants wings for Christmas, part 2

Steampunk doll anwin chasing a Ball
Preview Anwin! Adventures in Responsible Doll Ownership

Hello Everyone,

It's almost that time of the year again. So here is the first part of our Steampunk Christmas story with lots of adorableness in which Anwin makes a new friend. If you enjoy Anwin's shenanigans, on January 5 Anwin goes live on Amazon.      

A doll held by Steampunk Girl is reaching for Christmas ornementation
Merry Christmas

Snowflakes glittered in the Machine’s blue light. Igraine left footprints in the icy layer, blanketing Arkology’s streets before she went up the stairs. Entering the rooftop parlor overlooking the city’s lower decks, she smelled the scent of seafood and cooking oil.

The Fry Pan bar was crowded with people seeking shelter in a heated cloud enveloping the food vendor.

Igraine forced her way to the front of the crowd, squeezing herself between two scavs eating Boell’s famous snail-like shrugs, and rested one elbow on the counter. “Boell!” she cried over the hissing of boiling oil at the cook standing in front of his stove.

“Wait in line, scav!” said the burly man without looking away from the shrimp things-things he was stirring inside his wok.

“Boell, it’s mae! Strixy! I just have a question.”

He looked over his shoulder. “Make it quick,” he grumbled while shaking the pan.

“I want to catch an avian for a special dinner. Do yae have any suggestions?”

“An avian? You want to climb up to the Bird’s Nest?”

“I mean, I could. But I need to know what to catch.”

He shook his head. “Just have some shrugs. Can’t go wrong with shrugs.”

“But I want this to be special.”

“Wat? My shrugs not special?” he said, offended.

“Special in another way. Please, I need something good.”

“How about Gia-Gias,” he suggested.

The name didn’t ring a bell. “Wha are those?”

“Birds. Flightless ones that walk on fat legs and have glowing crests.”

Her curiosity was piqued. “Fat, like turkeys?”

Boell squinted one eye. “Like wat?”

“Never mind. Where can I find them?”

Boell shrugged. “How should I know? Now, yea buying, or wat?”

She shook her head. “Not today. Merci, Boell. I’ll ask at the Bazaar.”

“Save yourself the trouble and get yeaself some shrugs,” he insisted.

“Later, Boell,” she said and walked off, wondering if this was all worth it. Maybe she should just-

She received a tap on the shoulder.

When Igraine swung around, a scav with a toothless smile winked at her with his lazy eye. The herbal scent of smoke weed wafted on his breath as he spoke. “Hae. I overhead yae talkin’. I‘ve knowledge aboot where da Gia-Gias graze.”

Igraine sighed, knowing full well where this was going. “And what yae want for this information?”

“Juss some Lexirands for lunch.”

“Fair enough,” she said and reached for her purse to hand him the money. “Where are they?”

“Beyond the Bird Nest,” he said while sorting the coins in his hand.

Igraine looked over her shoulder at the ridge of the notorious breach overlooking the city. Because flocks of avians used it as a corridor, it gave the impression the place was crawling with them. But in reality, it was just another hole in the bullhead.

“They’re nearin’ the end of the breedin’ cycle,” the scav continued. “The trappers are waitin’ the Great Machine’s gears to align before huntin’ them again.”

Igraine's eyes grew larger. “Quell? They use the mechanism of the Machine for that? Really?”

Nodding, he put a fag between his lips and lit it with a lighter crafted from a bullet casing. “Yeah,” he said, puffing up a plume of amber smoke, and peered at the colossal array of gears turning overhead in the sea of vapor. “Yea could wait for the Machine to align.”

“But I need it in a couple of cycles,” Igraine insisted, to which he shrugged indifferently. “Fine. I’ll get it myself. How hard can it be?”

The next cycle at Cheff’s barracks, Cutter sat with his feet resting on the common room table. As he was wrapping the handle of his knife, he heard the tapping of tiny feet running across the floorboards. To his side, he saw Strix’ doll running through the mess, holding a bag of trinkets she’d gathered from the ground, and watched it crawl into Strix’ room through the door’s catflap. Cutter turned to his Oberst who just came in with a mug of chuffee. “Cheff. Wha’s that thin’ doing, man?”

His boss shrugged. “Iz been hoarding things since Stryx left for ihr hunting trip lass cycle.”

“Huntin’ wa?”

*Gia! Gia!* sounded from outside.

“Was da?”

“Keine ahnung.”

*GIA-GIA!* sounded from right behind the entrance.

They turned their heads as the door flew open.

Covered in stains, Strixy was standing in the opening, radiating frustration.

In the cage on her back, the trapped bird opened its nutcracker-like beak. *GIA-GIA!*

Cheff sipped his chuffee as he observed the flightless bird with a luminous mane running down the back of its neck. “Strixy? Was ist das thing?”


“Dinner,” she sneered.

“Ya just could’ve gone to da bazaar for-”

“I don’t wanna hear it!”

“OK, then.”

Igraine strode down the hall. Never before was she this happy with the noise-dampening effect of her padded cap as the bird had been screaming all the way home. *Gia-Gia! Gia-Gia!*

When she entered her room, Anwin was sitting inside her play area with a bunny doll in her lap, surrounded by glue stains and littered strings. Beside her stood a coral plant decorated like a little Christmas tree with berries, metal parts, and stars cut from leather.

Igraine was so happy that Anwin had stayed out of trouble. “Oh, good girl. Look what I brought,” she said while removing the cage from her back.


The moment Anwin saw the bird, she laid her bunny on a pillow and ran up to the cage. Pressing her face to the bars, she stared fascinated at the bird’s glowing mane.


“Leave it alone. Scaring it is bad for the meat.” Igraine grabbed the bird food she had already prepared. “We need to fatten it up a bit. You want to help feed it?”

The doll nodded.

Together, they put a bowl by the bird’s cage.

After being shown how to feed it, Anwin filled the trough with a big spoon and clapped her hands excitedly every time the bird ate some of the greasy substance.

“This way, we might have something tasting of shrugs after all,” said Igraine. But above all, she was glad the beast was quiet.

As Igraine checked the recipe once more, Anwin kept feeding the bird. She couldn’t help but wonder what went on in that doll’s head. Not being able to consume food, why was she fascinated with watching the animal eat? “Good. Keep on feeding it. I’m going to take a nap.” Laying down, Igraine took one more look at the doll running around the bird’s cage, hoping automatons didn’t get attached to animals.

By the time Igraine awoke, thankfully, the bird had fallen asleep.

Anwin was lying on a sheet of paper, her left hand plugged into a power cord while the other drew energetically.

Igraine bent over her. “What are you making, Anwin?”

The doll showed what she had drawn-- herself riding on the back of the Gia-Gia, spreading its graceful wings.

Igraine blinked sheepishly. “You- You want to fly?”

Anwin nodded, flapping her arms.

“Oh, this bird doesn’t fly. See? It has very small wings.”

The doll looked at the Gia-Gia’s rudimentary arms, reminding Igraine of plucked chicken wings that were barely visible between the feathers.

Anwin ran up to the cage and flapped her arms again. At first, the bird looked bewildered at the doll who was jumping from side to side. But then it spread its tiny arms while screeching. *Gia-gia. Gia-gia*

Igraine covered her ears. “Oké, that’s enough. You want to fly, Anwin?”

The doll stopped right away.

Igraine directed her to the middle of the room. “Alright, stand over there.”

When the doll did as instructed, Igraine reached out her left hand, activating her manipulator. Remotely, she lifted Anwin off the ground.

The doll spread her arms and acted birdlike as she glided through the air like a little angel.

Igraine couldn’t help but smile as she moved the doll around in circles. “Hmm, maybe we should give you wings to put on your back.”

Anwin nodded giddily.

The moment the bird woke up, it went bananas. *GIA-GIA! GIA-GIA!*

“Strix!” bellowed Cheff through the door. “Eat das thing, already!”

As Igraine swung around, Anwin fell to the floor. “Pardon, Cheff. I- Oh, Anwin!” She ran up to the doll, who lay face down on the floor. “Pardon,” she said, helping the doll up. “OK. I’ll take the bird to the garage.”

When Igraine was leaving with the cage, the doll ran after her.

“Stay there, Anwin.”

The doll lowered her shoulders.

“Don’t worry. I’ll be back later. Tomorrow we’ll make wings together.”

Igraine left the bird in the garage with a full bowl of grease. Tomorrow was the day to slaughter the animal. She wished there was more time to fatten it up, but she’d been told the meat needed to age for a couple of days.

After running some errands, Igraine returned to her bedroom where a restless Anwin greeted her. “What’s wrong?”

The doll flapped her arms.

“Non, Anwin. The bird can’t play. Come. I’m going to bed. We’ll start on your wings tomorrow. You like that?”

Downcast, Anwin nodded and raised her arms to be picked up. After getting ready for bed, Igraine lay down holding the doll to her shoulder, hoping she’d forget about the bird before long.

At the dawn of the next cycle, Igraine woke up, realizing her doll was gone. Rubbing her eyes, she got out of bed. “Anwin? Where are you? I don’t have time for hide and seek right now.” But no Anwin.

When Igraine left her quarters, Cheff worked at the common room’s table with a steaming mug and an abacus in front of him.

“Cheff! Where is Anwin?”

“How should Ich know?” he said without looking up.

“Right, pardon.”

“Du are getting rid of das bird?” he asked sternly.

“Oui, oui! Right away.”

Dressed to face the cold, she went down to the garage. As she entered, she saw sheets of leather and hides strewn about the ground. “Oh, non. Anwin? Anwin? What are you-” Her mouth was agape when she saw Anwin had removed the glove to use her pinchers as shears to cut the leather into rudimentary shapes.

Meanwhile, the bird was out of its cage and free to stick its beak where it didn’t belong. “Are you- Anwin, what are you doing?”

Anwin held aloft her creation; a crude wing with bands to fit around the bird’s arm.

Igraine sighed. “Oh, Anwin. We are not keeping the bird. It’s for dinner.”

The doll tilted her head.

“We are-” Igraine squeezed her lips. “I’m going to set the bird free. Cheff said we can’t keep it.”

She jumped up and shook her head.

“Anwin. We can’t keep the bird.”

Anwin grabbed one of the clueless bird’s legs and shook her head profusely.

Igraine groaned. “Anwin…” She couldn’t enjoy Christmas dinner like this. But what would she tell the Associate?

Anwin shielded the bird when Igraine came closer.

“I’m not gonna hurt it, OK.”

Anwin looked at her sideways with a suspicious glare.

Igraine sighed and picked up the wings. “Get on the bird,” she said.

The doll looked at her.

“Come. Climb on.” While Anwin gripped the Gia-Gia’s glowing mane, Igraine fastened the wings onto the bird's arms. “Hold tightly now,” she said, unsheathing her manipulator. From a safe distance, she lifted the bird off the ground.

*GIA-GIA* The panicking animal kicked its paws and flapped its wings.

Anwin lay still on the bird's back, making Igraine doubt if she was having a good time, and lowered them down.

On its descent, the Gia-Gia’s paws scratched the floor as it tried to flee.

As Igraine let go, the bird raced off with Anwin still clinging to its mane.

The poor doll fell to the side but held on until the withers separated. The doll bounced off the floor as the bird stormed out of the garage.

“Oh, Anwin!” Igraine picked up the flustered doll to comfort her. “Pardon. I thought you’d like it. What do I tell 176?” Holding her little friend, she heard the distant clamor of falling objects, followed by Cheff’s boisterous voice. “STRIXY!”


The night of the dinner had arrived. Anwin was sitting dutifully at the far end of the tabletop. While plugged into a battery wrapped in a cloth tied up with a festive bowtie, she swayed to the carols, sung by the South Wales Choral Union, played in the background.

The leashed Gia-Gia, wearing its decorative wings, was gorging on mushrooms beneath the Christmas tree.

Igraine and her host, Associate 176, were having shrugs for dinner served in a black sauce.

176 took another bite and chewed. “Shrugs, you said these are called?”


“It's good,” he said, nodding approvingly.

“Merci,” she said, not mentioning it was all Boel’s cooking.

And so they continued the dinner.

As for the bird. Well, Igraine managed to find a home for it.


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