The hours past as A.J. and his crew washed down the mighty Comanche, the pride of the Gunpowder Falls Railroad Locomotive fleet. The Comanche was a one of a kind locomotive, designed buy the GFRR itself and custom built by the Baldwin Locomotive Works. The engine was delivered back in 1885. The locomotive was built with radically new methods and entirely new designs in its mechanics. Unlike the other GFRR locomotives the Comanche used a completely new kind of piston known as a Piston Valve. All the locomotives valve gear was exposed instead of being hidden inside the frame. It was also the GFRRs first; and currently only all steel cab. About the only thing made of wood were the locomotives pilot and the seats in the cab.
The Comanche was also unique in the fact of her paint scheme. The Gunpowder Falls RR has what they have called their Forest Scheme. This color scheme consists of a forest green boiler jacket with polished brass boiler bands. The wheels are a reddish brown with white tires. The pilot, cab, and headlight also are colored in the same reddish brown. The smoke box is of a very light graphite gray and the smoke stack is painted black. The domes too are black but had their middle section also painted in the reddish brown and are bordered with polished brass bands. All the lining, livery, and lettering are in gold. The scheme allowed the GFRR locomotives to stand out and be admired but all who ride behind them, but also these colors allow them to appear as one with the landscape the engines traverse. What was unique about Comanche was her scheme, the Bumble Bee. When Comanche first arrived she did don the Forrest Scheme upon delivery. Although she did look becoming the Forest Scheme just didnt seem to fit. A shop worker pondered on the matter and walked about the rail yard trying to think of a new color scheme. It would be considered an Experimental scheme that may be used on future locomotives. Then the worker noticed a bee buzzing around. The worker took a seat on a few Ties left in a pile and watched the be land on a flower just a foot or two away. It was a big bee, a VERY big one. A Bumble Bee. The shop worker watched for a time when a flash of inspiration hit him. He hurried back to work on a concept of the scheme to submit to the Top Brass of the GFRR.
About a week passed and the decision was made to paint the Comanche in the shop workers proposal. The Boiler Jacket would be painted black with polished Brass Boiler Bands. The headlight, cab, and tender would be painted in a bright, warm Sunny Yellow. Though the Cab and Tender would have matching black Stripes running along the sides horizontally. The pilot and wheels would be black with white/silver trim and the lettering would be in black. The day the Comanche left the shop for test trials in her new scheme she became an instant celebrity! Everywhere she went she stood out and heads turned! Even A.J. was wowed by the engines looks!
Though currently the Comanche looked nothing like how she appeared when she was a virgin locomotive on narrow rails. For decades shed been working hard on hauling everything from fright to passenger and everything in between! A.J. was determined to get her to look as she did when brand new. And he and his crew were getting close! Jewel had stopped glaring at A.J. and actually tried to gussie up her own engine for the next days events. She stared by sweeping out all the coals and fuel dust from the cab. She took extra care to sweep it out on the side that faced A.J.s Comanche. She wore a slick smile on her face, relishing on making A.J. have to rewash areas of his loco. But A.J. paid no heed and smiled gleefully as he again shined up the dirty spots for the umpteenth time! And as expected, that frustrated Jewel more. But the hours continued to pass and Jewel still gave futile attempts to frustrate the Tiger, but they were in vain. If only she knew A.J. as well as Aleu, if only
It was now around 3 in the after noon and Comanche was virtually spotless! Even in the shadows of the roundhouse she gleamed. Jewel had only just gotten to polish her gauges. A.J. was once again paying special mind on the side rods. No longer was the pure steel coated in accumulated gunk and dirt. The bare steel now too shown with the rest of the locomotive. A.J. even polished up the oil caps on the side rods, valve gear, and cross heads! Literally, no bold or nut was left untouched! A.J. on the other hand was filthy! His fur was wet and dirt was rubbed in deep. Oil spots were all over his clothes along with any and all other grime from the locomotive. Leach and Fiesta were in similar shape.
Hey! Well take car a thins from here! Why dont ya head on back to town and the Bath House. I know youd be wantin ta to be with yer lady tanight! Leach said with his usual goofy smile.
if you guys are sure. Much Obliged! A.J. replied as he ringed out a rag. He set the cloth down on a bucket rim and smiled to his friends. Ill meet up with you guys latter! A.J. also said and he picked up his personal effects and headed towards. Town.
Sakura was in their Hotel room and Aleu was there too. Together they played with Mirra. All of them were happy and smiling together. A few hours back Aleu had stopped by the Hotel to deliver A.J.s message. Not wanting to confront Jewel again Sakura let her stay in the room, to use it as a place of refuge. Outside the tell tail sound of locomotives whistle echoed throughout the valley. Sakura stood up and walked over to the window. She could see the Rail Yard and in the distance she could make out her husband heading towards town.
What is it? Aleu asked. Sakura smiled and turned around.
Oh its just a certain feline in need of a good hot bath. Sakura replied.
Your husband I wager? Said Aleu.
Yeah, even from here I can tell its him. I havent seen his fur that dark in a very long time.
Well then I bet the Comanche looks better than when she first graced those slim rails! Aleu laughed. Hes probably heading for the King Street Bath House. Sakura then turned around towards Aleu.
Aleu, would you mind doing me a favor? the feline asked the wolf.
Ah, sure. What is it? Aleu said. Sakura headed over to the dresser where she had earlier put A.J.s clothes. As she did she turned her head to keep Aleu in view.
Would you mind watching Mirra for a moment? Id like to meet A.J. at the Bath House. All he probably has to change into is another pair of overalls. She said just as she opened the drawer.
Yeah, thats not a problem. Besides I think Mirra would like to get more acquainted with me. Aleu smiled.
Thank you Aleu, I shouldnt be long. Said Sakura as she put some clothes in a small bag. She thanked Aleu again and headed out the door. Mirra and Aleu sat on the side of the bed and they looked at each other.
So, what do you want to do? the wolf asked.