A flash of orange lit up the dim room, a match flare against a dark pipe.
"I don't understand how you can fill your lungs with that smoke, Mister Carver" said the taller of the two men.
"Where I work, I'm breathing smoke no matter what, Doc. At least this way, it tastes sweet." Carver took a long pull on his pipe and shoved the matchbox back into one ofthe numerous pouches on his work belt. "Clean living is not entirely appropriate to my station."
"Hmm. Well, I suppose that is one of the reasons we work so well together. My education in the Sciences, and your experience in the more... gritty elements. I daresay neither of us would have been able to get this thing off the ground otherwise. If you're quite ready, it is, I think, time to check on our progress. "
The tall doctor pulled dark goggles over his eyes and picked up his walking stick, the odd dials and gauges on it twitching. Carver tucked a stray lock of sandy hair back under his bandana, and strode out of the cabin onto the main deck. The stream of pipe smoke from his mouth melted into the clouds drifting off the starboard side as he checked the secondary phlogiston pump. At the port side, the doctor looked over the railing.
"Hell of a day for a flight!" Tugging on his close-cropped beard, he turned to Carver. "Did the mercury salts solve the problem with the phlogiston crystalizing at the higher altitudes?"
"We'll find out momentarily, Doctor Gaveston - check your altimeter." Carver grinned savagely as he yanked hard on a wrench, tightening a bolt the size of his wrist.
Gaveston peered down at one of the dialed instruments hanging from his watch chain, and tapped his walking stick lightly on the deck. "Ah. Well, then," he said, his face paling almost imperceptibly against his dark jacket.