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Casefile: 08-KE-04021500

Location: Krakenwell & Co, Babbage Square

Synopsis: Complainant Mr. Benjamin Briggs states that sometime during the period between Wednesday and Friday Instant unidentified subjects removed 11 barrels of small beer from the premises of Krakenwell & Co.
The investigation is ongoing.

Case Status: Open

Ms. J. Dagger, Senior Investigator
Terranova Investigative Services
#25 Merryman Way
New Babbage, New Babbage
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The two men stood at the front of the building and exchanged quizzical looks. The directions had been simple enough, as the young officer at the Militia Barracks had said. “Just down there to the street, turn right, go straight past City Hall, cross the tracks, right at the monument, and it’ll be on your right.”

The building they found was not quite what they expected, and neither was the office they found within. Somehow the two of them had decided ahead of time that they would find something a bit more elaborate, and something in a nicer part of town. Still, they had come all this way…

The taller of the two men looked at his companion and shrugged, then rapped on the door. A curt female voice answered from within with a reply of “Come in”. The men opened the door and walked into an office that was as Spartan in decoration as the surroundings would portend. The occupant of the office remained seated behind a large rolltop desk.

“What can I do for you, gentlemen?” the voice asked. The shorter of the two men harrumphed, but was cut short by the tall man.

“We’ve come to inquire about the possibility of speaking with Commodore Dagger,” he said, “if that is possible. Is the Commodore in?”

The voice stifled a laugh, and stated “I think that can be arranged…”

The shorter man stamped his foot and exclaimed “This is quite enough Miss. Please inform your employer that we wish to see him immediately. We are under a tight schedule and this…”

Jed stood to her feet with a very displeased look on her face. It was the taller man’s turn to bite back a smile, and while this did not pass unnoticed to the redhead, her ire was directed solely at the other man.

“State your business.” She said. The taller man placed his hand on the shoulder of his associate and smiled. “Please forgive us for making a presumption based on your resume. My name is Crandell, and I would like to discuss hiring your services for a matter that my employer feels you have a particular experience in dealing with.” He smiled again and removed his hat. The shorter man followed his lead, but retained the displeased look on his face. Jed inclined her head and gestured towards the interior of the office and a trio of chairs.

“As I said before, our employer is looking to hire a team of individuals for a particular task, and through our resources your name was mentioned as a potential member.” Crandall said. He pulled a notebook from inside his jacket and leafed through several pages before continuing. “While there are quite a few things here, it also seems that there are quite a few gaps as well, possibly some official omissions…?”

Jed smiled that sphinxlike smile of hers, and leaned back in the chair. “Of course statements like that lead me to wonder how your employer would be privy to such things in the course of normal business?”

Both men cut each other a glance before Crandall began speaking again. “Our employer is very well connected and has significant means at their disposal. We were both told that securing your services was of the highest priority, and that we should use whatever we could to get you to say yes.”

“Now I am very intrigued,” she said “so just what do you have in mind?”

Both men cut each other a quick sideways glance before the shorter man spoke. “So Ms Dagger, how much do you know about zombies?”
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Personal Journal

10 April NByr7

It was a nice enough day, until the word came of a mass fish kill down at the port. Decided to wander by and take a look. It was as bad as I had imagined it would be. The fish were piled into the spaces between the piers, driven in by the tide. They were all open water species, with a few I recognized as deep divers. Nothing really stood out as a cause for them being dead, so I took a few samples with the intention of getting someone who had more depth in biology to take a look. The boys down at the fertilizer mill were all too happy to claim the carcasses. I hope this isn’t a sign…

13 April NByr7

I expected that it was going to be a slow afternoon, and in spite of my best efforts to make it that way….
The city messenger charged in and nearly plowed over the welding cart I had left out on the floor, before sliding to a stop to rap on the door. I was up on the loft patio, relaxing with a drink and the new issue of Brunel’s Gazette. I dropped a couple of pence on the runner for his effort, and he managed to leave the note before collecting his tip and running off.
It didn’t take too long to hoof it over to the Patent Office in Wheatstone. Well, what was left of the Patent Office. It looked as if something walked or pushed though one side and walked out the other. I went over the place pretty carefully, and came up with nothing other than a headache from the stink of canal water. It reeked as bad as the docks did, but there were no floaties that I could see.
I sent out a few quickly written notes, and assembled a team of porters to carry the files from the office to City Hall. Civic duty, City records, etc etc, and let Ozzie worry about where to put them. Took a few pictures, and wondered what would have caused such a localized phenomenon.

15 April NByr7

Word on the street is ‘Brother’ Effingham is back in town. Lovely.

Spoke too soon. Apparently he nailed his demands to the City Hall door.
Someone saw him skulking around on Abney. Why won’t the nutters stay gone?

16 April NByr7

The old “temple” plot on the hill is getting busy. After posting his missive downtown, he apparently went up to the old foundation and did some chanting and arm waving.

I walked up there and found that someone decided to up the oogy-boogy ante and do some chanting of their own. I have come to the conclusion that Mumsy should have roped the joint off and charged admission. Folks come by, many fingers were pointed, many tales were told, many speculations were aired.

Despite my native cynicism, I dug up that box from my semester abroad in Massachusetts and pocketed a couple of old mementos. I know, I know. If it turns out to be nothing, no one will be the wiser.

18 April NByr7

Came home to Kimi on the roof with a bundle of equipment that I hadn’t seen out since we first met during the aftermath of the Martians. I asked her what was going on, and all she did was point. You could see it, even across the neighborhood. It looked like a heat mirage at first, then got…deeper looking. She told me that the new uprated version of the electrochemical rifle she built last fall was in my office. Once again, I tried telling her to go visit her aunt in Caledon, and once again I was told that she signed on for better or worse, and that worse included dimensional rifts or the end of the world as we know it. Who am I to argue with that?
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As of this date, the Port of New Babbage is open for business. For too long the petty ambitions of powerful MEN have been allowed to run amok in the city. Rather than see my fellow citizens either being starved or forced to pay extortion to receive goods by ship, I have taken control of the docks and brought in dock workers who will provide the services our businesses have become accustomed to.

The normal delivery of goods anywhere within the city will commence shortly. The porters will have escorts, to ensure that no one from any party will delay or impede the orderly flow of goods to and from the port.

J. Dagger, CDRE
New Babbage Navy
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Personal Journal: 27 Jan NByr7

It took a while to sink in. I was out checking on a few things, and happened to cut down the hill along Savory when I saw it, or didn't see it as the case may be.

The northeast corner lot at Abney Parkway and Savory Lane was empty. I walked across the cobbles and dirt to the spot I approximated as where my old favorite spot at the bar used to be and stood a while. I thought about how many nights I spent there, chatting with friends, or about that night a little over two years ago when I slipped a ring into someone's pocket.

Change is in the nature of the world, but it doesn't mean I have to like it. I headed off towards Clockhaven, the wind off the water seeming a bit colder than normal.

((bon chance & bon voyage melniks))
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Jed stood at the last undamaged spot on the viaduct and looked out over the newly blasted chasm in the rail line with a gaze that held a mixture of fatigue and smoldering anger. It was supposed to have been a weekend away, a time to concentrate on someone important and enjoy a delayed anniversary rather than this. So she stood at the blast site, her old dark blue peacoat pulled tight around her chest as the wind whipped the rich purple fabric of the ballgown around her legs since she did not stop to change once she arrived back in New Babbage. The courier had run in during the waltz, and Jed was not sure who looked more upset at the interruption, the courier or Kimika. He held an official telegram from the Mayor’s office, which was simple and directly worded. Explosion North Fells viaduct. Full investigation of destruction needed immediately. Status, urgent. Underby. They left after that, with a carriage ride to the aerodrome filled with apologies and a full-throttle flight home filled with the drone of the engines.

The crew had begun to sort out the logistics of using the north side of the viaduct as an impromptu rail yard, offloading cargo and carrying it by wagon across the Fells to the Palisade gate. Two of the viaduct’s pilings were destroyed; one was damaged but would probably need to be replaced. She looked across to the other side and figured a temporary timber trestle could be erected in the gap with a bit of work, but the stone would pose a considerable challenge at this time of year. She examined the scattered stones and the remains of the damaged pilings, making notes and sketches of the scene. Jed finally tucked the notebook back in her pocket and headed back towards the warmth of her office. She passed the gate and was nearly at the turn for the apartment when a young man with a bag over his shoulder came tearing around the corner, wailing “Extra, Extra…New Babbage Free Press!” They nearly collided, the youngster suddenly losing himself in a cloud of purple. Jed hoisted the paperboy out of her skirts by the collar, and bent over to look at what he was carrying.

“What’s all this about, hmm?” she said, with as much of a smile as she had energy for. “Special edition paper miss. Breaking news miss. Only a penny for the freshest news miss. I…” Jed cut the lad off mid-sentence. “You had me at Special Edition. Here.” She handed him tuppence, and he gave her two copies before tearing back off towards Academy. She opened the paper and looked at the masthead, then at the headline. Jed had heard someone was trying to start another newspaper in town, and here it was. ‘GANG RAMPAGES THROUGH ASYLUM’ the headline said, with the subheader ‘HEAD ADMINISTRATOR GRAVELY INJURED’ and ‘MAIN SUSPECT DEAD’. She read the article and despite the journalistic flair and misspellings Jed got the feeling that the local body count may have slowed for the time being.

She walked into the apartment and paused in the den to warm up in front of the fireplace. This was going to be the start of a long week, she thought to herself.
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Casefile: BB12182012

Location: #20 Abney Parkway, Bucket of Blood Public House, New Babbage, New Babbage

Synopsis: On 12/18 a body was discovered in front of the Bucket of Blood public house. The city coroner Dr M. Miggins made an initial examination on the scene. The body was transported to the mortuary for further examination. The crime scene was examined and evidence was collected for analysis.
The investigation is ongoing.

Ms. J. Dagger, Senior Investigator
Terranova Investigative Services
#25 Merryman Way
New Babbage, New Babbage
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*******Aethergraph message follows*******

*Immediate traffic*

NBS Proteus

NBS Nereus

Maintain position off coast at Position Argo. Conduct refueling of alert ships while underway.

Dagger, CDRE

*******Message ends*******
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The petty officer stood at the door of the coal bin, watching the tall redhead in the dark blue peacoat pace back and forth inside the structure. Her anger was apparent, and the object of her anger was now obvious. Someone had built up a void space under the coalpile, to that to the casual observer it would look as if the bin was nearly full. The truth was revealed once the auger began transferring coal to the nearly empty bunkers of the Naval Squadron ship that had tied up for reprovisioning.

Jed pushed her hands a bit deeper into the pockets of her jacket, fists clenched. “Who has been in here? Has the watch been checking the gates?” The young sailor nodded “Yes’m, the only folks what been here have been workers from the city. Had papers signed by Mr. Underby, all proper like.” While he was speaking, Jed pulled a notebook out of her jacket and wrote a brief note. She tore the page from the notebook and placed it in the sailor’s hand. “Send this for me right now.” she said. Before he could say anything else, the Commodore was off and away walking towards the Depot. He threw a quick salute and headed back to the relative comfort of the wharf office.

In the distance between the Clockhaven docks and City Hall, Jed had time to think about what she was going to do. Underby was still the same weaselly paper-hanging bastard he had always been, but now he was in a position where he was a powerful and influential one. She opened the side door, tried to knock the majority of the snow off of her newly hobnailed boots, and began the climb up the staircase to the office that the Mayor’s assistant now occupied. The nails made an echoing click with each strike of the stair tread that reverberated through the largely empty building. Normally she would have tried to be much quieter coming in, but this time she really didn’t care if he heard her coming or not.
She pushed the door open, and found an unusually agitated Underby sitting in the corner of his office. Curiously, what passed for a look of relief passed his thin face as soon as he saw it was her.

“To what do I owe the honor of a visit Commodore?” he said, the voice exceptionally dry and scratchy.
Jed looked at him squarely

“You damn well know why I’m here Oswald. You owe the Naval Squadron a full load of coal for the victualing yard, and I will hold you responsible if there are any more shenanigans down there, and if you say ‘I have no idea what you mean’ I swear…”
The sound of her voice trailed off as she caught herself and stood back up from where she had been leaning over the paper-cluttered desk. She thought to herself that he almost seemed relieved to be dealing with her, and that he was not quite himself.

“I’ll expect a deliver soon, and the militia will take care of the ‘repairs’ to the coalyard.”
She saw it in his face, finally. There was something he wanted to say, an idea pressing so hard on his mind that it seemed he had to will himself to not say it. Jed paused for a short moment as the thought dropped back into the abyss of his mind, and the same old look returned to his gaunt countenance. He smiled at her as he shifted slightly in his chair.

“I’ll see what I can do to assist you. Now if you'll excuse me...” as he looked down and began shuffling a stack of receipts from one pile to another.

Jed stalked out of the office and headed back to the Depot, hoping the coffee hadn’t run as low as the coal had.
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Casefile 06-GS12042012

4 Dec NByr6

Location: Szuster Works, Inc, Lindt Lane & Brunel Railway Babbage Palisade, New Babbage

Synopsis: On the evening of 4 December, the Fire Brigade was summoned to the factory complex owned by Gatsby Szuster. On arrival the structure was fully involved. Despite the best efforts of the Fire Brigade, the structure was a total loss. The fire was contained to the structure by the Fire Brigade. Initial on-scene investigation is complete, awaiting analysis of gathered evidence.

The investigation is ongoing.

Ms. J. Dagger, Senior Investigator
Terranova Investigative Services
#25 Merryman Way
New Babbage, New Babbage

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Personal Journal
It had all the earmarks of a quiet evening at home. I had just settled down in the solarium to catch up on some correspondence when I started to smell smoke. Smelling smoke in New Babbage, along with explosions or strange flashes of light are not always a sign that one should be concerned or that you should panic. This time, however, I managed to catch a quick flash of light out of a window in Gatsby’s factory next door. The flash was followed by the characteristic SHAWHOOMP as the glass on several of the nearby windows blew out and was followed by flames and black smoke. I sat my book down, finished my drink, and hustled off downstairs to find my bunker gear.
I ran through the arch between the two buildings to find Sera with the old fire wagon in the alley next to the greenhouse. I grabbed a line and tried to start laying down a little water. The results were less than stellar. No matter how hard we tried, the lines were just not putting out much more than a trickle. I decided to go get the airship and see if it was going to help.
A few minutes later I was airborne and headed into trouble. I put the first bucket into the back building since it was closest to home, and headed out to the Fells to fill back up. Before it was over, I managed to dip out all the liquid water in the little pond next to Sera’s house, and make a severe dent in the little wide spot in the creek where all Kate’s girls like to go skinny-dipping. Finally after the 12th run or so, Sera flagged me in.
Apparently not only had we accumulated some spectators, we actually had some injuries. With me in the airship, and not on the ground to scream “MOVE YOUR BUTTS BACK!” someone got hurt when one of the walls turned loose.
Gatsby was looking concerned, as he normally does when something epic happens to one of his buildings. Lucky for me the apartment seemed largely undamaged, so I collected up my crimescene kit and began poking around the scene looking for a point of origin. Considering that one building was full of alcohol and god knows what else from the patent medicine factory, it was a miracle the damage wasn’t more extensive. I filed my report and headed back to the whirlpool to soak all the smoke out of myself.
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Jed sat atop the Palisade wall in the little alcove overlooking the Fells. It had been a busy sort of week, with watching Beckett begin to square away the new squad of Marines, getting things ready for Fleet Week, and the general hubbub that seemed prevalent this time of year. So while everyone was otherwise engaged, she went to the armory, picked up her rifle and a few boxes of ammunition, and headed out to the wall. A quick circle around to the chip shop completed the provisioning for her expedition, and after a bit she found herself up on the wall overlooking the broad expanse that stretched out to the creek. The good news was her longstanding instructions were still in place, as curious as they seemed to anyone who might have observed it from the outside. On the edge of the creek there was a remnant of a brick wall, and on that wall stood a neat even row of objects. Old bottles, discarded bowling pins, oilcans, pails, and various other things stood there on the wall. One of the likely lads who wanted a bit of extra money would come by and say that the wall was in order to the tune of tuppence, and the tall redhead would return to her perch and clear them away.
She uncased the rifle and laid it on the sandbags she kept there as supports. This was the older of her two long-range Sharps, the one that signaled the end of the little surveillance episode that old Mureau tried to pull. It had been rebuilt since then, and fitted with a fine German made telescopic sight. Jed snuggled in behind the rifle, dropped the breech open and picked up one of the cigar sized cartridges, slipping it into the chamber. She pulled the stock into her shoulder, and looked into the eyepiece of the long ‘scope. She lined up on the dented KrakenOil can that sat at the left of the wall, then leaned back to examine the elevation settings on the base of the scope. Jed added two clicks up elevation, made a note in her notebook, and leaned back into the rifle. Her breathing slowed, deep in, half exhale, squeeze…
THOOOM!
She dropped the breech with a well-practiced downward flip of her wrist, and waited a bit for the smoke to clear. The can had been removed from its place, and the large tonic bottle next to it remained in situ. Her hand was on a second cartridge when she noticed the line of black clad folks walking in from the Academy side of the Fells. Jed rolled the rifle around and looked at the line of students carrying all manner of crossbows, followed by Brothers Lapis and Rudyard.
“Well well,” Jed said to herself “what are you boys up to now?”
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The map dominated one wall of the room, the expanse of the
Steamlands stretched out in all its cartographic glory. Jed reread the telegram
the city messenger had just deposited in her hand. The call for assistance was
not wholly unexpected, given the time of the year, the question was who was
close enough to head that way? She looked at the last updated roster of ship
positions, and drafted the message that would go out on the aethergraph.

“***************************

*flash traffic*

NBS Scylla

NBS Haven

NBS Barracuda

Hurricane Charles landfall in New Toulouse imminent. Move to
position off coast until safe to conduct inshore assistance operations. Marine
Detachment enroute to assist local authority.

Dagger, CDRE

******************************”



She sat at the desk and quickly penned a note destined for
the pneumatic mail.

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17 August

To: LT M Beckett, New Babbage Marine Det.

RE: Stingray

Assemble your squad and meet with Fleet Air Arm for
immediate transport to New Toulouse to assist with hurricane relief. Fleet
elements are enroute.

Dagger, CDRE

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The forecast didn’t offer much hope one way or the other.
All anyone can do is pray that the storm passes without too much fuss…

(yes, it's time for the annual hurricane weekend in NT. If you haven't ever seen it, the water will be up and it will be storming hard for a bit. There also may be a party or two..)

hurricane season
new toulouse
RP
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3 June 188x,NByr 6
Jed sat up in bed and ran her fingers through her hair. This was not what she wanted, or expected, but it seemed that the boys from the Manor would have their pound of flesh one slice at a time. She noticed that she was wearing some sort of gauzy cotton nightgown in place of the silk chemise and underpants she was wearing under her gown at the party. The man noticed her change in expression and he already had a razor thin smile at the ready when the obviously annoyed redhead turned to look at him.
“Before you ask, your maid Lupe changed your clothes while you were asleep. She’s been seconded to you from our Latin America bureau, so you won’t be by yourself for the duration.”
“Lovely, already assigned me a handler to keep me in line?” Jed scowled.
The man shifted in his seat again. “She is also well aware of who you are and what you are capable of Morrigan. You keep thinking that we mean you harm, when it is the furthest thing from the truth. You may not know this but there is a new occupant in the Master’s chair.”
Her eyes narrowed as the man rose and began walking to the table at the other side of the room. She stood and walked across the floor to stand next to him, where he had already busied himself opening a thick folder sealed with scarlet tapes and numerous wax seals. Jed read the title on the folder and was suddenly gripped with a feeling of nostalgia and dread. Written there in her own hand was the legend “Operation Thunderbolt” and underneath was the box stating “prepared by Dagger, J 186..”. At that instant the silence in the room hung thick like a New Babbage fog.
“You may recall this man, Dr. Ramon Cortez, was working on several projects related to an advanced weapon system that you had determined would be sold on the open market,” he said, tapping the engine-printed picture of the man, “and the end brief said that the files and journals had been confiscated and that the good doctor would not be resuming work on this project.”
He opened a second folder and placed it on top of the first. “What we have learned now is the good doctor is working for an Eduardo Aguilar, a local industrialist who is flush with cash from a recent success in the regional markets. Mr. Aguilar fancies himself as becoming the Krupp of South America, and he feels that Dr. Cortez can give him the edge he needs to step into the arms market.”
Jed leafed through the new folder, reading the briefing materials and making mental notes of what she read. The doctor had come to the island a few months ago, and was living alone in a cottage adjacent to his workshop. Alone? This thought ran through her head as the man continued.
“The mission is pretty straightforward, assess the threat, observe any activity at the lab, gather any actionable intelligence or any materials about what the doctor is up to now, and take those actions necessary to ensure that there is no threat to Her Majesty’s interests in this area.”
Jed looked at the man as those words danced in her mind, the old bugaboo “any actions necessary” meant that she would have to decide, and the higher ups could walk away and say that it was merely the actions of an overzealous agent, or worse yet deny that she was even associated with the Ministry at all. New tune, same old dance.
“The overt cover is you are on holiday with your maid, and you will have the proper introductions to get you in to Mr. Aguilar’s evening get together. It seems he has a taste for English noblewomen, so Lady Burnley will be making a reappearance. He also has a taste for blonds..”
Jed swore under her breath.
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3 June 188x,NByr 6
Jed scooted down a little further under the covers and stretched. Builder’s square but my head aches, she thought. The party had been formal but impromptu, and while for the life of her she could not recall meeting the host before the hearty handshake at the door of the place, he acted as if they had been friends forever. The music was light and the crowd very eager to see just how far the host’s bar tab would run, and she did her duty to assist in that endeavor.
She rolled onto her stomach and stretched her arm across to the other side of the bed. Her outstretched limb and questing fingers found the space on the other side to be unoccupied. She’s probably still at Aunt Aki’s house, Jed thought. Kimika said she might stay for a bit longer just to catch up and somehow Jed knew the poor thing would be listening to her go on about that kōmōgaijin her niece was living with. Rather like when Father brought Surima home to London for the first time, way back when…and then, it hit her. Maybe it was the hangover, or old age, or maybe even becoming complacent, but suddenly in a rush Jed had a feeling that something was horribly off in the world at the moment.
Her arm snaked out from the covers and reflexively aimed for the watch that sat on the nightstand beside the bed. It was a part of her daily ritual, to retrieve the silver cased railroad chronograph and wind it before getting out of bed, to sit for a moment and listen to the precise ticking of the movement, knowing the world was in order. Jed started awake, mind racing, because her hand found only air where the nightstand should have been. Suddenly attuned to the world around her, she knew that everything was not as it should be. She was not home.
“Good morning Morrigan. I hope you slept well?” The man’s voice was smooth and low, with the clipped intonation that betrayed an expensive English education. Jed rolled to her side and looked out from under the blanket. The room was plainly furnished and had adobe walls. It was unoccupied as far as she could see save for herself and the man who sat in the chair opposite the bed. He was wholly unremarkable in dress as well as appearance, and her experience taught her that this was done as a specific means to an end. His suit was plain, but had the alteration to the right side to more easily conceal the object that rode unseen at his hip. Jed didn’t recognize the man, but he had all the hallmarks of someone who worked for her former employer. Somehow she did not take this as a positive sign. She looked at him with a long hard look that did manage to get the point across. He shifted in his seat as she sat up.
“Care to explain this? Was the recall code not enough last time?”
The man smiled a very unconvincing smile, and uncrossed his legs. “I believe it was when you told the after action team what they could do with what and when and to whom that forced us to take a less conventional approach to enlisting your services again.” He gestured off to his left out the window. “Welcome back to Santa Marta. It seems that you will finally get to finish that assignment from twenty years ago.”
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The little airship sounded as if it was about to fly apart. Next time, the pilot mused, I’ll steal one that isn’t on the repair line. Next time. The thought that there could be a next time was an annoying thought, but was shuffled off to another part of the mind as a new mountain peak loomed large in front of the struggling flyer. Skimming valleys, running along ridgelines, threading though passes. This flight had been one of constantly being ‘up on the stick’, no pleasure cruise here, and with the constant threat of pursuit it had been a long nerve-wracking time. The sun pushed through the low clouds, and there was a very welcome sight of the Two Sisters and the Finger. This meant one turn through the pass, a short run along the edge of Bone Valley…then the Fells, and home. The reverie of being close to the end of this flight was interrupted by an increase of noise from the airship’s engine. The pilot cursed again, as that sound could only be made by the main bearings. It vibrated and strained so much the pilot feared it would come loose from its mounts, and all that could be done was turn up the oilers and pray they didn’t run out before the wall came into sight.
A few moments later, the ribbon of tracks along the aqueduct pushed out of the growing haze as the struggling little airship fought its way along. Just when it seemed the engine would finish the task before expiring, the envelope decided to raise the ante. Despite the best efforts by the weary pilot to keep the little ship in the air, it was losing altitude just as surely as the destination stood just out of reach. With a determination borne of desperation, the pilot pushed the throttle full open and pointed the doomed little ship towards the wall of the city. In a last desperate act to cling to the sky, the ship turned sharply to avoid the looming walls of Szuster House and raised its nose before coming to rest tail down in the dirt next to the Academy parapet. The pilot shut down the engine and moved away sharply from the wreckage as what little hydrogen was left in the envelope met the last of the heated metal of the now seized engine. The pilot stood watching the fire consume the flammable bits of the wrecked airship and thought that this way there won’t be any need to hide the evidence.
A solitary figure walked into the Muirsheen Durkin wearing a Prussian Fliegertruppen uniform. The bar was empty, and the figure walked to the counter and began to peel off the heavy layers of clothes that had been such a godsend while flying across the mountains. Once this was done, it took another bit of effort to locate where the proprietor had stashed the good rum. Devoid of the flight helmet, goggles, and scarf, the pilot took a long draw of Pussers from the bottle and pushed a tendril of blonde hair back behind her ear. She looked in the mirror and smiles that old familiar smile.
“Jed darlin’,” she said to herself, “nobody will believe this, even if you could tell them the truth.”
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The Stranger in a Strange Land shtick is a hard road to follow.  If you really want to try and play the ‘I am an alien in your culture’ card in a community RP, please try and temper your enthusiasm for the plot with the patience of the audience.  You may be having fun playing ‘Amish refugee’, but the rest of us may not be.  The example of this was entering the ‘alien’ into an average steampunk town.  The topic of conversation that killed the fun was the explanation of individual property, theft, and money.  The coup de grace was when I tried to ask about individual property ‘in your world’ and got an answer that was contrived, nonsensical, and acted as the final stake in the heart of the evening.  I tried to ask the alien about property ‘in their world’ and got the explanation that property was owned communally by family units.  I then asked what would happen if someone took something that belonged to the family. The alien told us the magic wouldn’t allow it to work for the outsider. I wanted to ask how that would make a hammer 'not work', but by then I was too tired to keep fighting.  It was at this point the last few stragglers who had managed to hold on walked off to preserve what little sanity and patience they had left.

Bottom line: while it may be a part of your storyline development or totally in character, there is a point where different culture dives deeply into unable to be taught and not any fun. 

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To: Office of the Clockwinder

From: Dagger, J. CDRE, NBM

Re: Van Creed

After the actions of today's date, I would recommend the following:

1) Seizure of all attributable Van Creed society assets within New Babbage

2) Place all parts of the Porte Terrarum (aka Eliot Device) under city control.

3) Immediate demolition and clearance of the Colton & Co factory building, as same is a hazard.

4) Sealing of the foundation in concrete.

5) Issuance of a warrant for Barnaby Hopkins.

J. Dagger, commanding.
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The stack of reports on her desk had managed to grow quite a bit over the last few days. With  everything that had been going on in town, the field agents that Jed had employed were feeding a steady stream of information back to her, and the news was not good. The Van Creed had kept a pretty low profile overall, but they were still working in the warehouse. She'd need some more eyes on the building, and perhaps another look inside. After writing a short note, the pneumatic tube carried the request on it's way to the maze of drops that would eventually place the instructions in the hand of an operator.

It had become apparent a while back that in order to efficiently and swiftly gather intelligence, there would need to be a network of people out in the field gathering information and sending it back to be checked, verified and processed. She laughed to herself that while this was possible on her own a few years ago, it wasn't nearly as easy or simple now. While Jed could still operate in some places with the impunity she enjoyed back in her anonymous days, it just wasn't possible to do that in New Babbage anymore. So for once, she was the handler, and she had managed assets to do the fieldwork.

She'd been diligent, reading all the reports, putting together briefings for the Mayor, working on keeping him informed. Tenk would do what he always did, nod, fiddle with his pipe, make a few sotto voce comments, and say thank you. She had hoped there would be more firm resolute action, hoping he would say “take care of it Jed” or something like that. Instead he just looked distant and peeved that this kept coming up. The man was inscrutable.

The last two bits came in very close together. One of the people watching the port reported a large number of crates being unloaded and carried to the warehouse in the Gut. Loads in, empties out. They couldn't identify the exact types of cargo, only that some of it was heavy and there seemed to be quite a bit of it. The other was a direct action report, that made Jed more worried that the cargo going to the building.

“Doors are now intact and secured. What appears to be a storage tank and distillation equipment installed in the rear of the building. Mechanical noise coming from inside. Orpheus sited on grounds. No sight of any Pluto members. Continuing to observe, will ingress if opportunity presents, or orders to contrary. JdA”

Jed read the note and made a few entries into the bound book that kept the information on this whole affair. She had codenamed Moriarty 'Orpheus' since he came back from the underworld, and the Van Creed had gotten the moniker 'Pluto' since they apparently wanted to send us all to Hades...

She fired off a note in reply, and prayed it would be enough...

“Maintain your watch. If opportunity arises, send Orpheus back home, with expedition and prejudice. If Pluto's minions are afoot, seek to identify and potentially isolate a subject for closer conversation. Morrigan”

She thought about the Writer, what the book had said about the raid. Maybe it was right, maybe she would...somehow, in the midst of that thought, she caught herself in a new habit that made her stop for a moment. Jed looked down at her left hand, and noticed that she had been absently twirling the band on her ring finger as the ideas of what the Writer had said swirled through her mind. The ring, the silver of the band and the crimson of the stone sitting against the faint lines of the scars on her hands. When Moriarty had nearly killed her before, things were different. Now, she had a few more reasons to fight. Maybe the book will be fulfilled. But maybe, the book is only what could be. Jed leaned back and decided that she was going to make sure that the future was not written.

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The congregants filed out of the Cathedral of the Builder, shaking hands with the Brother who delivered the service and gathering in little groups there in the lee of the chapel. Many talked quietly about the strange goings-on in town, or the more nervous folk who decided to evacuate. One attendee had another plan and another reason for sitting through the sermon. The man slipped into the alcove of the chapel, and there found the object of his attention, a crate marked “For Clerical Use Only”. The crate was filled with squarish parcels wrapped in brown paper and string, and as he lifted it the contents made a muted metallic click. He slipped the package into his coat pocket and he joined the group outside, shaking the Brother's hand and complimenting him on the logic of his sermon.

The man walked off towards Ruby's Pub to see a friend, collect a debt, and have a pint.

………………………………………….

The deliveryman stood smiling, hand out at the door of the office as the tall redhead fished in her purse for the correct change. She looked at the large silver coins and was struck with a sudden pulse of generosity. Dropping 6 coins in the courier's hand, she smiled and cradled the bundle he had just brought to the door.
“Thankee mam.” He smiled and headed back towards the Post Office.

Jed opened the package, and after undoing the careful wrapping and the layers of crumpled sheets of newsprint, found what she had been waiting for...5 metallic cartridges of a caliber she couldn't recognize and with an oddly formed bullet protruding from the end. Smiling, she placed the cartridges in her pocket, stuffed the box into the stove, and headed back to the building that housed Ying Research. She walked in, kicked the snow off of her boots and looked around the shop for signs of what Kimika was working on today. The submarine was still in the main workbay and as Jed walked closer she saw a booted leg and the hem of a skirt protruding from an access panel on the aft quarter of the boat.
“Hello dear. What are you up to in there?”
The leg promptly disappeared into the access hatch and a few moments later the raven-haired head of the former Miss Ying appeared out of the hatch.
“Hello love. Remember how we were discussing the descent issue over supper? I had an idea to increase the flow rate to the ballast tank, so I’ve been working on the valves. How has your day been so far?”
Jed smiled that crooked little smile that indicated that she was up to something. “I need you to take a look at something for me. It’s a specialized cartridge that I would like to make in a caliber I can use. I need a full metallurgic breakdown, design analysis, and an estimate of how hard it would be to reproduce. I’ll just leave them on your desk.”
Kimika looked up at her, and nodded. “I should be done with this in a bit, and I’ll let you know what I find out.”
“Thank you dear.” Jed said, bending to kiss her forehead. She turned and walked back over to the office to continue sorting through the mass of paperwork associated with the matters at hand.

………………………………………….

Later that afternoon the entry bell on the entrance rang, and Jed saw a very welcome sight. Kimika walked across the workshop floor, carrying a tin lunch pail in one hand and a box in the other. She had that look on her face, so Jed stopped working and waited for her to walk into the office.
“There. I brought you some food since I know you haven't eaten, and I have a surprise for you as well.” Kimika sat the box on the desk, and pulled off the slip-fit lid to reveal 25 large brass cartridges.
“I found the unloaded casings you bought for the Greener, and used them. The bullets themselves had a few curious features, and a few extra things added to the lead, but it wasn't anything that took too horribly long to figure out. The physical design of the bullet itself was actually more difficult. Each one of them has writing on it. Almost a sort of incantation...I assume you'll want to test them, and I also assume you'll try to insist doing it alone, and of course you know I'll not let you go by yourself.”
Jed looked into Kimika's eyes and realized that this was going to be a no-win situation, and despite the fact she had worked very hard to keep her partner out of harm's way, it was apparent that there were two risk-takers in the Dagger house now.

…...............................................................

Jed decided to do the test at the pod in the old cemetery behind the Academy. This would give them a good route of egress should the rounds not work. Kimika stood back at the gate as Jed walked up to the cylinder and gave it a solid kick with the sole of her boot. The kick was rewarded with the appearance of three of the cyclopean little crabs, who rushed to defend the pod from the intrusion. She ran back to the gate, where it was quickly closed. She knew she'd only have a short time to shoot, because the crabs would use the bodies of their cohorts to climb over the fence to get at the two women.

Jed leveled the Greener at the first creature, the steel nosecap of the heavy police shotgun just inches away from the beast. The sound of the shot was punctuated by the scream of the creature, who lurched as the heavy slug punched through it is shell. She reloaded and fired again, the creature screaming as it evaporated into a cloud of slimy smoke. Jed fired and fired until the creatures were all gone, the barrel of the shotgun too hot to hold.

“Well, that proves they can be killed, and if they can be then maybe we still have a chance” Jed said. Kimika smiled, and nodded. “A chance is all we need.”
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Jed walked into the militia office with a mixed sense of dread and relief. Fleet Week was nearly over, and with the end of the Winterfell festivities, it was time to get back to work. The Smokes were safely back in port or back on their normal station, and now came the time to take care of whatever had accumulated in the inbox. She walked upstairs and settled into her chair behind the desk when she started to notice signs that someone had been using the facilities. The inkwell was woefully low, the paper box was nearly empty again and her favorite pen, the Esterbrook with the rosewood holder, was not on its spot by the blotter. This would not do. The final straw was the errant cup and saucer that had wandered onto the stack of invoices from the victuallers. She examined the cup, and the residue contained therein. Tea. There could only be one person who would be drinking tea at her desk.

After removing the cup to the side table, she removed a fresh pencil from the side drawer of the desk and pointed it with her jackknife. She pulled out the memo book from her jacket, and started a fresh page with the title “Militia Items to be done”. One, appoint an aide. Two, remind volunteers that they should use the staff desk on the 1st floor.

Satisfied that she was off to a good start on her list, Jed leaned back and began to read through the stack of papers that had accumulated in the Inbox while she had been taking care of the fleet. It seems that the incidences of vandalism were up and that the chatter in town was beginning to take a decidedly unfriendly turn with respect to the Mayor’s office. It was odd that the report seemed to use many of the same phrases that Scottie had the other night. Almost word for word in fact, so much that she checked who had sent the brief in and who had made the statement.

Jed picked up the memo book and wrote another entry. Three, prepare for civil unrest. Tenk was mayor, and while she had questions about some decisions he’d made in the past, he had given her the commission, and the authority to act not only as Commander of the militia, but in the other capacities in which she served the city. This was a matter that would require a bit more observation, and a bit more preparation.

The next few reports were concerning the strange crablike creatures that seemed to have appeared in concert with the pods scattered around town. They were getting more aggressive as time passed, and it seemed that only the strange gun she picked up at the church had any real effect on them. This would be another item on the list that will take more work, and more research.

The final sheet of paper bore a surprise that was not only unanticipated but rather welcome. There on an old piece of 6th Company (Ladies' Coy) letterhead was a request for reactivation of commission from one Stargirl MacBain. Jed looked long and hard at the words on the page, and caught herself looking at the bottom of the page. Capt. Beq Janus, Commanding, Sgt-Major J. Dagger Senior NCO. She realized that was a world away now, as far removed from today as the Moon from the Vernian. The greater irony was that now as then New Babbage was being threatened by Jason Moriarty. She looked at her hands, and even after three years you could still see the fine lines and scars where she had been burned on that cold afternoon on Jefferson Way.

Jed collected her thoughts, and returned to the matter at hand. Star had been a very interesting case, between the perils of laudanum and her issues with dear sweet Samuel, someone would surely question the command decision of not only returning her to active service, but what she was thinking now. I need an aide, she thought, and I need one I can trust, both in ability and in action. She leaned back and absently put her hands into her coat pockets as she thought. Her fingers touched something metallic, and when she pulled it out to examine it Jed found a medium sized nail. Sister Loxley had given it to her while the fleet was preparing to leave for Winterfell, saying that it would be a reminder of the Builder's plans. The nail was placed on the blotter, and a fresh sheet of paper was taken from the desk drawer. Once upon a time Star had hinted that she hoped that I didn't know everything about her past and what she had done. As she wrote, Jed hoped that everything she had heard wasn't a lie. This was about to be a time for people with scarred knuckles, a time where the city itself would hinge on having people in its service who would do what needed to be done to save the city, no matter the deed or the cost.

Jed thought back to a chat she'd had with Moses Mureaux in the old Topographical Service office, when he said that there are hundreds of things that must be done to preserve the world as most people know it, things that are necessary and distasteful, and might cause some to wonder why. He smiled that same old smile at the end when she gave him the package that contained a single rifle round and a household signet ring and told her she had learned well.
If Star wasn't sober or reliable, she'd be assigned as quartermaster to the detachment in Raimondo to deal with the warehouse and the marines at the coaling station. If she proved to be untrustworthy, she'd long to be sent to Raimondo.

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Jedburgh Dagger

April 2014

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