Dec. 14th, 2011

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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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Jedburgh Dagger

April 2014

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