Arcadia Snips Sequel (Help, maybe?)

I'm having trouble with the opening to the sequel of Arcadia Snips and the Steamwork Consortium (which is, to no surprise, entitled 'Arcadia Snips and the Clockwork Heart'), a steampunk novel set in a retro-Victorian setting (think Jules Verne).

The opening starts with a flashback, just like the previous work; this one calls upon William Daffodil, one of the MPs from the previous novel, only here as a child in his boarding school. The school's put together a little science fair, and William has decided to try and steal the show using a series of mirrors to reflect beams of light into a parabolic reflector which he'll use to prove the potential of solar power. The results are devastating, and involve the destruction of several other students' exhibits ("Only a Daffodil could create a death ray *on accident*!").

What I need is an opening line that really sucks you in--I think (perhaps a bit arrogantly!) that the opening to the first book--the first few paragraphs, to be specific--are really great for setting the mood of the book and simultaneously setting the mood of the first chapter, as well as setting up a very simple, very easy-to-understand visual joke (flying pig!). I want to recreate that sense, somehow, but I'm at a loss of exactly how to do it--the 'perfect opening' has eluded me so far. Something that hooks, sets the scene, and sets the mood--all in one stroke.

I'm not expecting someone here to write my opening line for me, but I was curious if anyone might have any ideas--or suggestions as to how they figured out their particular opening lines. I might just leave it alone for now--there's certainly a lot more work to do elsewhere--but the lack of an opening I feel really confident about has been bugging me for a while, so I thought I'd air out my grievances here.

Thanks for reading!

Why not just use "Only a Daffodil could create a death ray - on accident"? It's a heck of an opening sentence. :)

Hm. That's actually an excellent idea!

I appreciate the input!

It is a hell of a line, but shouldn't it be "BY" accident?

Just be careful:

Well, not /necessarily/--grammatically, 'by accident' has precedent, but 'on accident' is not generally perceived as incorrect (as far as I'm aware, anyway). As I'm writing a retro-historical narrative, though, 'by accident' would be the much better choice, because I *want* the prose to sound old (and 'on accident' is a recent renovation). So, yes, probably.

Also, I long to write a story who's introduction could win the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest.