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Private Journal (and all that entails)
2 Nov NByr5

I managed to walk home, and sitting here in the apartment I can still hear that thing ringing in my head.  I’m really surprised at how well my handwriting looks as badly as my hands are shaking now.  I moved down to the sitting room with my writing box, lights lowered, and I almost had to laugh as it reminded me of being back in school staying up past curfew.  Unlike those days, I have my back pressed to the corner, pistol at my side, eyes darting to the doorways with every tenuous word written.

The night had started off well enough, with a quick visit to Cuffs to see how the Melniks were faring.  We talked for a bit about the current goings-on around town, and Scottie mentioned that he was going to try something in respect to the pod that was underneath Loner Lane.  Kane flew in, and I was getting ready to follow them to the sewer, when one of the Clockhaven runners sprinted by jabbering at the top of his lungs.  I managed to catch him, and after a short bit of breath-catching was told that Kristos Sonnerstein was running around Clockhaven raving like a lunatic.  I told the runner to sit down for a bit, get a glass of Sky’s cider and relax before going back to work. He gave me a look, and I smiled and said I’d take care of it.  He giggled and smiled broadly.
 
I headed back to City Hall for a second and picked up a tranquilizer gun from the emergency stores locker, then headed back towards Clockhaven.  Walking up the stairs just past the Militia Building, I heard him talking.  He was standing next to the fountain, babbling about something or another.  Figuring that given his current state he’d need a little more help, I dialed up the ‘macho man’ serum setting and potted him with a dart.

He kept on talking and said something about the basement.  He pointed down towards the fencing salon of Dr Cyberfaustus, and then returned to the nonsensical sing song chatter he was spewing before.  I corked him with another dart at that point, and apparently 2 doses was enough to take the edge off of whatever had ginned him up.  He walked off towards the Gangplank, and I decided to see what was down the stairs.

It was another one of those podworms, that huge eye staring at me out of the slimy tube, mouth writhing.  This time, something happened. Unbeknownst to me at the same time I walked up to the pod to take a look at it the same time the Melniks were using Kane to dislodge the one on Loner Lane.  It screamed, screamed like nothing I had ever heard before.  I fell back to the wall and tried to invoke the Iron Keep, but that scream burnt through my head like a hot poker.  My legs did manage to keep working and somehow the unconscious part of my mind kept my feet moving and I was able to get more clearheaded the further I got away from it.

I wasn’t really sure how long it took me to walk across to Cuffs from Clockhaven, or how long it took me to walk to the circle of folks gathered around that manhole cover.  Everyone looked exceptionally shaken.  Both Scottie and Sky seemed particularly upset by what had happened.  Sky didn’t talk much as I walked up, and Scottie seemed unusually jittery.  Kane was lying on the sidewalk, steam leaking from rent spots on his glossy metallic hide.

Whatever had hit the humans there, it also whacked the automata as well.  I tried to talk to Kane and figure out what they had experienced, and based on what had happened to me, I came to the conclusion that the pods are like bamboo shoots or certain varieties of cottonwoods, many plants connected to a single taproot.  

Everyone seemed dazed, in shock.  Poor Kane was nearly shut down, to the point he repeated what seemed to be a blackcylinder recording stating that he should be delivered to the Europan Consulate for repairs.  I volunteered to go get the steam gurney at the shop to drag the poor thing off.

I returned to Cuffs and sat with the Melniks a while.  I finally asked them what happened, and Scottie explained what had triggered the scream.  He started to explain what he felt, but in actuality I was getting ready to see for myself.  While I had managed to protect my mind in the moment the scream began, I had no way of knowing that once I relaxed, once I felt comfortable with my friends that whatever had been stopped in Clockhaven would still be waiting to come out like shorting out a charged capacitor.  Scottie kept talking, but all I felt was anxiety.  Fear, dark and primal.  Long repressed emotion. Heartbreak.  Abandonment.  Death.  I saw Father leaving for the frontier, Mother’s funeral, Grandfather putting me on the train, dark basements, the smell of blood... The Melniks looked at me oddly as I staggered to the doors and vomited on the sidewalk.  Just as it came, it left.  All of us looked spent, so we went our ways to our own homes.

I walked into our bedroom, and sat there in dark for some time. Kimika stirred in her sleep, restively turning.  I sat, too shaken to sleep, listening to the slow rhythm of her breathing.

It was going to take a lot to stop these things, and I hope we can figure out how.
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You could tell it was fall. The wind whipped cold across Iron Bay, sending the familiar chill of impending winter over the Gut. The runner knelt at the pier where the body now lay, while the tall redhead adjusted the collar of her peacoat against the wind. Her skirt whipped against the petticoat, and she grumbled as she tugged it back into place.
Read more... )
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Private Journal

10 Oct NByr5

I sat there at my desk, trying to form the words of what I'd seen...of what happened tonight. I told Tenk, and he looked at me with a look that dwelt between disbelief and fear. When I saw it myself, I knew at my core that something was happening that would be like that first winter in Babbage.

Tenk set off screaming for Effingham. I found him on the street after Tenk had returned to his tower. I simply told him the Mayor requested his presence, and he knew by the look in my eye that I meant it.

The word had come back to me, in the same whispered tones as before.

"Moriarty"

If Jason had made his way back, if what was said last year had come true.....

I worked the combination of the safe, then opened the second lock of the space in the bottom of the heavy steel box. The thick folder held the secrets of three years, letters, recording cylinders, notes, pictures. I had locked it away, hidden it under locks and bars. I hoped by keeping the secrets somehow I would have removed his power. I won't let him win.
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Private Journal
1 Oct NByr5

(all the normal private journal caveats apply. Your mileage may vary. Results not typical. For external use only)

That was unnerving.

With the first bits of autumn chill in the air, the mind begins to wander. This fall harkens back to my first fall in New Babbage. While I cannot complain about my new living arrangements, this is the first fall in several years that I am without my loft in the Salon. I have my own shop, and the comfort of our apartment now, but I still miss the spartan little space on Academy Downs thet served as my office and loft.

Feeling rather melancholy, and not having any particular familial obligations at the time (Kimika was out at the steel mill seeing to some new girders she had contracted for a new project) I decided to walk a bit. Perhaps it was my subconscious guiding my steps, or just old habits, that led me to the front door of the Paleolithic Museum on the Square. I walked in and felt the rush of all those old feelings and memories run over me. Curious, that. This museum was one of the oldest buildings in town, one that managed to survive all the changes over the last few years. It also had a history, just like the old Imperial. It's funny now, being one of the 'old folks' in town. I walked in and turned to look up at the portrait that hung there over the door. Professor Nareth Nishi, the former owner...I recalled who she was before, what she became, how she left, and how dear Elleon ended up as the owner.

The new exhibits were very interesting. I know that Victor had helped with the new models, and I couldn't help but marvel at how realistic they were. I cut around the staircase, and stopped for a second. The new exhibit was a curious thing. A biped, much like a small Tyrannosaur. I looked at the longer arms, the claws...and thought to myself that this would not be a pleasant meeting if one of these was about. It reminded me of a bear in size, but a Moa or a Rhea in aspect. While I was lost in my reverie of thought, something happened. Quick, odd, curious. Perhaps a trick of the light. I shifted backwards and for a second, it seemed as if the eye of the beast was following me. I stood stock-still for just a moment, and the glimmer passed.

I walked upstairs, and selected a copy of Dr. Mallory's newest monograph on his last expedition to the Badlands. I need to speak to Elle about this. I mean I'm all for realism, but that is a bit too much.
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Casefile: BN083111

Location:

North bank of the Telford Canal, near the Lobachevsky Street bridge New Babbage, New Babbage

Synopsis:

On this date the victim was located in the waters of the Telford Canal, near the Lobachevsky Street footbridge. Victim was taken to the Wilde Hospital by local residents for treatment. Condition and identity of the victim has not been released pending location of next of kin.

Status:

Investigation is open.



Mrs J. Dagger, Senior Investigator

Terranova Investigative Services

New Babbage, New Babbage
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"STEAMLANDS UNION TELEGRAM

MOSSEVENO TENK NEW BABBAGE
ADMIRAL JEDBURGH DAGGER NEW BABBAGE

HURRICANE BERNADETTE APPROACHING NEW TOULOUSE LANDFALL IN NEXT FEW DAYS REQUEST ASSISTANCE FROM NEW BABBAGE NAVY

GABRIELLE RIEL"

Jed read the telegram, and scowled slightly. Last year they managed to arrive after the storm, but fought tooth and nail to make it inshore. She walked to the map, and looked at the last known positions of the fleet. It would be tough, but possible.

----------------------------------------------------------------------
*flash traffic*

NBS Scylla

NBS Charybdis

NBS Haven

NBS Barracuda

NBS Hestia

Hurricane landfall New Toulouse eminent. Move to position off coast until safe to conduct inshore assistance operations. Marine Detachment to land soonest to assist local authority.

Dagger, CDRE

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She looked out the window, hoping that this would be enough.
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(private journal)

26 July NByr5

It's been a long month. Since I managed to get myself out of Bump, I have spent a bit of time trying to get the Naval Squadron in fighting trim. I mean it wasn't like I was doing much else. The spirit was willing, but the flesh was still healing. Spending more time down at the docks ended up paying more dividends than I could have expected-it was a chance to get back to work, a chance to get the canal gunboat project back on track, and to be seen out in public doing what I do. Someone had started saying I was broken and bedridden. True, I was still not all the way back to 100%, but far from being beaten or done.

Apparently something else has been going on while I was indisposed with our friends to the north...Mr Underby has been acting as Mr Tenk's clerk and 'man Friday' for a few weeks now, but his demeanor and his involvement in city business has gotten a bit too deep for my liking. This was brought home today, do a fine point. I had been out with a training crew on one of the 'Ducks', exercising the guns and basically getting the little ship ready to take up duty on the canals. We put into the City Pier in Clockhaven, and after coaching the coxswain on his approach, I did what I normally do when we put in for resupply in Clockhaven...stop by Chief Coster's office, grab a cup of coffee and leave my maintenance instructions. The Chief had an exceptionally foul look on his face when I walked into the office. I did manage to get my coffee poured before he lit into me like a green ensign.

Needless to say, after he calmed down and ran out of expletives I found out that the collier had not come by in quite some time, and the coal bunkers were very low. Very low. I knew that all I ever had to do was drop off the forms by Tenk's office and the colliers came. The story was that it was some deal with his cousins in the mountains, others said it was some contract he had written up that was some exclusive deal with his family. Whatever the case, I didn't care. My fleet runs on coal, so coal I must have.

The elevator to Tenk's office was locked. As I cut around to the upper landing, I found Underby parked in one of the offices, busily working on a stack of papers.

"Underby." He looked up and smiled that painful smile of his.
"Commodore." I nodded slightly.
"Looking for Tenk, is he around? The coal bunkers are getting low."

He looked contemplative for a moment, and tapped the pen to his lips.
"I wasn't aware he took care of that. Oh of course." He smiled again, and held out his hand. It was a good thing I still had my dark glasses on.

"normally I see Moss more, so I get him to sign them. I left the coal requisitions on his desk, and he hasn't signed them yet." I watched Underby shift in his seat a little. Nervous bastard. He cut me another look, this time he was beginning to get a little annoyed at my insistence. Good for him.

"He is still indisposed, but I can get him to sign them for you. That's what he hired me for....Perhaps the memo didn't reach Militia HQ." He smiled again. I clenched my fist hard enough that my knuckles cracked, and somehow that little auditory reminder of the night last September made him jump just a little. He caught himself, but I saw that little annoyance that I still had a little bit of space in that big shiny head of his.

"I also have a report for him that is confidential, eyes only. You understand, rather urgent, matters of National security." This time I smiled that old sphynx-like smile, and he frowned that old pasty frown he used to wear at the Gangplank.

"The other reports will have to wait then. Of course, I understand the importance. I will mention it to him. Good day Commodore."

I turned and walked out of City Hall. Of course, I'd be back later.
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The bathwater was warm, and scented with lavender. I slid back, and let the water wash over me as I stretch out and relax. Stepping out of the tub, reaching for a towel that is warm and soft, I dry off. The floor is cool to the touch as I walk over to the bed. There is a freshly laundered silk chemise on the foot of the bed, and I slip it on, the fabric cool on my skin. I slip onto the bed, stretching out on my tummy, the sheets crisp and fresh. I hear footfalls on the floor, and smell jasmine and cherry blossoms...


WHACK!


The handle of the broom came down on Jed's back again. She hung there, breathing raggedly after the latest series of beatings. The cycle in the basement was very routine, feedings in the morning, the mucking out in the evening, the handlers checking on the living and the dead, the culling, the trying, darkness among the moaning and the gibbering. She could only see on the right side of where she hung, as her left eye was still badly swollen from the initial beating that saw her here. They hung by their wrists, and rested on their knees. The shackles held her feet apart at nearly shoulder width, and at least once a day they were hoisted up onto their feet. She couldn't be sure of how many others hung there, beyond Screaming Girl and The Reverend. The Reverend sounded like a middle aged man, and he was constantly repeating the litany to the Builder, non-stop. Screaming Girl was just that, and Jed reasoned after listening to her last exchange with one of the handlers that begging and screaming was what he wanted out of his girls, so she hung there enduring all his whippings until he moved on to someone else. The room was small, and stunk of sweat, waste, and despair.

The other thought that began to weigh heavily on her mind was how she would get out of this place. There were only 2 ways out, from what she had gathered in the last few days. Alive in chains, and dead....and dead was not the easy way.

Apparently Bump has a reputation for barbecue.
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Private Journal

2 July NByr5

It must be that time of year again.
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When I started this LJ to record the stories of mine from Second Life, I never expected for it to last this long, or for there to be a need to start a second blog for stories that happened outside of the steampunk world I was in at that time. 
Nearly 3 years later, I am in need of a bit of tidying up.  I will be going through all the posts in the blog and retagging and fixing titles, so that I can start adding in the stories from the world of Seraph City and tales of the pulp noir “dieselpunk”  Jed. 
To accommodate the new posts, the tags will be adjusted, and the titles will have the friendly tags up front:
NB-New Babbage ‘Steampunk’ stories
SC-Seraph City or Adventure Brigade stories, set in the 1920s/30s ‘Dieselpunk/Pulp Noir’ genre
OC-Out of Character or “other crap”
I looked at the profile on the journal, and it will get a makeover as well, to include the short bios from each era and a few other bits.  I haven’t touched it in forever…
I had considered a retitle, and that is still up in the air. 
I will work on the format and display. So, those of you who are still out there reading this…just wait, there’s more to come.
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10 April NByr5
Our return from Cala Mondrago was quiet, and it was marked with a certain degree of restlessness on both our parts. In spite of Kimika’s normal predisposition to fly ourselves, I opted to get passage on the Air Packet back home, since it would give both of a little time to relax before returning to the normal pace of life. I’m not sure how many times I nodded off during the trip, but I do know my new copy of The Army-Navy Journal spent more time in the floor than in my hands. Having managed to break the point of my last sharp pencil, I absently fished in the pocket of my traveling coat for my penknife, and instead came out with a lovely piece of silk cloth, the cloth that had so recently contained the prize money from the fencing tournament. Rolling the cloth between my fingers, I recalled my feelings from earlier in the trip about even bothering to enter. I hadn’t been back on the piste since Dr Dayafter left town, and perhaps I wondered if my lack of practice would put me at too great a disadvantage. I found my answer written in weathered ink on the flyleaf of my journal, “Fortes fortuna adiuvat”. Fortune favors the bold. As if to add punctuation to my thought, Kimika stirred in the seat, leaning her head over onto my shoulder. The dance contest had been an ever greater gamble. Granted, I had watched my step-mother dance, and have had the opportunity to see others dance while I was working for the Foreign Office, but it was wholly another to do it myself. I hastily repointed my pencil and made a note to check on the workshop when I returned home to New Babbage. It would be nice to have a space of my own to work on things, and the looks of the new place would give us the room to work on whatever things we had in mind, given the ceiling height of the factory and the various shops I had been borrowing for my sundry few projects. I put everything back in my travel case, and tucked myself in for the rest of the flight. Given the pace of my life, I expect a little quiet time is not a bad thing at all.
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The disappearance and rescue of Miss Beq Janus from the Darkmer of the Vernian Deep


(this is the account of an RP adventure that was partially documented on the Primgraph blog in September of 2009. My thanks go to the other members of the RP who helped make this possible)

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Home again

Aug. 3rd, 2010 10:11 pm
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(Once again, work conspired to delay the blog entry. So, if you were curious where I was, here you go)

The “Deerhound” rode quietly at anchor in Clockhaven, the gangway packed with departing passengers headed ashore. The crew was especially pleased with the departure of one particular passenger, one that raised such an unusual level of fear none dared speak her name, simply referring to her as 'Stateroom 5”. The Purser and the Chief Steward watched as the black-clad lady walked quietly towards the ramp, her pale skin in sharp contrast to the raven braid on the back of her head. The tulle veil shaded her features, but they knew the icy eyes could cut as well as her thin cruel mouth. The Purser mustered up a cheerful greeting, even though just being near her made the hair stand on the back of his neck.
“Good day, Miss...”
She turned, smiling.
“It’s Mrs.”
The purser stood transfixed for a moment, as she glided down the ramp, valise in hand. He watched her walk off into the crowd, to be swallowed up by the back alleys of Clockhaven. He shifted a moment, then headed back to his cabin for a rare morning drink.

The woman slid quietly into the back entrance of the Aether Salon, and moved with a silent swiftness in spite of the heavy fabric of the gown she wore. She moved along the rows of shelves in the long hall, and came upon the lone occupant of the office. The redhead sat at the desk, making entries in a well-worn bound journal. She wrote with a deliberate slowness, so as to insure that each word was perfect and correct. Pauses were interjected with a finger tap or a quick sweep of her hair at the temple, and a return to the measured cadence of pen to inkwell to paper.

“Well, well, what have we here?”
The pale woman’s voice reverberated with a shrill rattle, like a cat’s claws on a chalkboard. The redhead leapt to her feet, fluidly drawing the dagger at her side and dropping into a fighter’s edged stance, the bare steel of the blade lying ready against her forearm.

“What are you doing here Un…” the redhead questioned, her voice rich with malice.

The dark clad pale woman slowly raised her right hand in front of her, and reached up with her left to remove the veiled hat. She began to chuckle, the voice changing to one that the redhead was much relieved to hear…
“Easy there chica, you don’t want to cut the boss do you?”

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Personal Journal
16 July NByr4

It feels good to be back home.

Of course, I’m lucky that Sky has a sense of humor.

The airship ride out of REDACTED was not bad, but being the paranoid soul that I am…it was time for a little track coverage. So, before starting the final leg home, I made a stop in the station’s lavatory. Where a comfortably dressed ruddy skinned redhead entered, a pale raven-haired spinster exited. I even took the time to cobble up a set of travel papers, to complete the illusion. Hopefully, if official inquiries are made, our favorite baker will have a few irregularities in her background. I played it up, even going so far as to parrot her voice. I’m sure Star wondered why I spent so much time imitating Phaedra while we were sitting in the Gangplank. Too bad she wasn’t there to see all that effort bear fruit. Of course, I may have overdone it a bit, because I’m sure the crew was fairly traumatized by the gaunt visage I displayed on the transit back to Babbage. Poor blokes. Knowing what I know about your average sailor, and how superstitious they can be helped me to draw just enough attention so they left me alone.
I suppose it was a good thing, as I needed more time to decompress after the mission. Damn those bastards at the Ministry for dragging me back in on their problems. I’m sure that this may be over, but I also know that this may not be the last time they pull the Queen and Country bit back out on me.
We made landfall in Clockhaven, and after the last parade past the staff, I cut back across the old familiar alleys of home. The Gangplank was unusually empty, but I decided that showing up there would be pushing my luck a bit too much, so I cut back across to the office.
I slid up the back entrance, and saw Sky at my desk working on some paperwork for the agency. I was relieved, and it made me happy to see that I had called that one correctly when I took her on as an associate. Of course, I wanted to see just how good I had done on the dye job and the make up, and lucky for me I didn’t end up having to fight my new employee.
I used the voice on her while she was engrossed in writing, and she reacted as I expected she would. Sky shot out of the chair like I had electrocuted her when I used the Phae voice. I so wanted to go one more step at that point, but I was so amused I broke back into my normal tone and pulled off the gloves, so she saw the scars on my forearms.
I went up to the loft, scrubbed off the makeup and changed back into something a little less severe. The only thing that bothers me now is that the hair dye was a touch stronger than I expected, so I may be a brunette until it grows back out. Sky wanted to know what I had been up to and what I had done. I couldn’t tell her all the details, other than it was business. Somehow that managed to placate her for now, but I know that eventually, she’ll ask again.
For now, it’s time to get back to Babbage business.
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Personal Journal 4 JulyNBy4

It seemed like a nice enough morning. Deciding that I felt far too lazy to make my own coffee, I dressed and walked up the block to the Cocoajava for my normal morning repast. Near the entrance of the Brunel, I saw a young man that appeared to be looking for someone. He was dressed in a plain but well-tailored suit, and he had a single flower in his hand. As I approached, he smiled at me and doffed his hat. I smiled briefly and continued to walk. He cleared his throat and offered me the flower. Before I could refuse, he smiles and said something I hoped I wouldn't hear.

"Good morning miss. This is for you" He smiled again, and offered the rose to me. "I hear that the roses in Covent Garden are very lovely this time of year."

I subconsciously cursed.

"The gardener is a singularly talented man, but the topiaries at Hyde Park are very large."

He smiled again, and offered me his arm. I took it and we walked toward the Academy.

"Hello Miss Dagger. Your aunt sends her greetings." He had the pleasant airs of a young up-and-comer, and that, plus the fact that the Ministry sent someone with the recall code after all this time did not make me any more comfortable. Plus, I hadn't had my coffee.

"It was my impression that my dear aunt was no longer speaking to me. It must be a pressing family matter for her to send someone all this was just to exchange pleasantries..."

He stopped, and the smile fell away like an autumn leaf.

"It is, and it was felt that this was a matter that your particular talents would be best suited for. Need I remind you that you do have an obligation to..." I cut him off, mid-sentence.

"Do not presume to lecture me about duties and obligations. I've paid that account a few times over, while you were still in grade school."

"You have a train to catch. Good day."

He stopped, handed me a matchbox, doffed his hat, and walked away. Bastard. He knew, and damn that scoundrel at the director's office for knowing I wouldn't walk off. The box contained a locker key, and a slip of paper. It simply read Caledon Victoria City Station.

I returned to the office, and packed my bag. I wrote a note for Sky and left it on my desk, quickly wrote two postcards and headed for the station.

"Sky,

I have been called away for business out of town. I am not sure when I will be returning, so please keep an eye on things at the agency. The open casefiles are in the upper drawer of the file cabinet, and please take care of any relevant correspondence. I will get word back to you as soon as I can. If you don't hear from me within the month, feel free to assume the worst, because you're probably right in thinking so.

Take care of yourself.

Jed"

OOC updates

Jul. 3rd, 2010 04:01 pm
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Since the New Babbage Ning will be going away, I will be interleaving all the posts I made over there that never got posted here, so expect some new entries, and some topic juggling..
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Private Journal

It's been a while since I had my little chat with Moses, and I still wonder where this is all going. I'll have to give it to him, he managed to raise as many questions as he answered. The investigation is still moving forward. It amazes me even now seeing the tendrils of House Mureaux coming to the surface where they have lain just under the surface. His boys continue to monitor the comings and goings in town, and the grand irony is that I know they are still keeping tabs on me, but now they know I know. Luckily now, it isn't the old cat and mouse game. I see them, they see me, we smile and carry on.

Byron is deeply involved with the Kuroe matter, so we haven't talked much beyond the conversation we had when he came back to Babbage. The irony is his being volunteered for the Magisterial duties, while a great drain on his time, is giving me time to finish before he begins what I suspect will be his next step. Byron is convinced that Moses tried to have him killed. He can't be dissuaded from what he sees as his path in this, and God only knows what will happen.

Nell and Zac have been out of town, so that bit of the equation has been missing. I doubt their feelings have changed, and I doubt that their desire to get me on their side has changed as well.

The new wrinkle in all this has been Verlia and Sky. Verlia is an enigma to me in many ways. We have gotten a bit closer over the last few weeks, and I know that she has also come under the watchful eye of the House. I suspect that whatever her father was working on was important enough that it bore notice to both the party seeking to take it from her and the party from who she now seeks protection. Then there is Sky...I think hiring her was the best move the agency has made in a long time. I haven't had backup in a long time, and as long as she doesn't get herself killed....

Sitting here at the desk, writing, I look up and my eye catches the row of pictures on the shelf. It took a moment to realize that all of the faces there save one are gone from my world now. As I rise to leave, I pick up the last ambrotype and look at it. I can't be distracted now.

I close the case, and slide it into my bag. There's work to be done.
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I went down to the lockup and did a little digging in my file cabinet, and found the jacket on Mr. Mureaux. The advantage of being in the right place at the right time was I managed to liberate a few documents that the former administration was getting rid of...purely for safe keeping, and I had been given a mandate from City Hall to 'keep an eye on things in town'. Passing my dressing table I caught a look at myself, and realized I needed to get some rest and eat a bit better. Somehow I was looking as rough as I felt at the moment. I'm sure some of the new folks in town think I have some dread disease, and my old friends are thinking it must be another bout of 'case focus'.

I returned back upstairs to my desk, and started rereading some of the notes in the jacket. Several tepid cups of coffee and half a box of cigarettes later, the holes in the information loomed like canyons...there was a lot I did know, and even more I couldn't be quite sure of...I stretched, and yawned, gazing up at the sky through the skylight, when I noticed a tiny glimmer there in the rafters. I leaned back and feigned another big stretch to get a look at it, and could just make out the detail as I went back to the desk. My first suspicion was that it was a lens, attached to a prism. We used something similar to see into rooms, by use of a long distance telescope. Being surveilled didn’t annoy me nearly as much as having it happen in my bedroom. Call me old fashioned, but having some stranger watching my boudoir is just not cricket. So as to not arouse any suspicion, I dressed and headed out as I would on any other day.

It was a gamble. I could have gone ahead and looked at the device, but that would have tipped my hand, so I opted for the wait and see approach. In order for it to work, if it was what I thought it was, someone would need to be nearby. I changed into something appropriately dowdy, pulled on a bonnet and headed out the ‘bailout’ door. Circling back around, I saw folks doing their normal things, and then I saw him. A very average man, in a very average suit, sitting reading a paper. I managed to do a bit of shopping while keeping an eye on him, and we made several laps around town. He did circle by Wheatstone, and lingered a bit on a bench near Nell’s place. He then walked back around towards the Salon, and he ended back where I saw him first. Odd, yes, suspicious, maybe…but nothing I could really pin to anyone. I ducked into the music hall and changed again, and he had wandered off towards Clockhaven. He took a seat in the park for a bit, and walked off again towards the Mews. The odd bit was that he left his newspaper on the bench as he walked off. I made sure he was gone, circled the block once, and went back and had a seat on the bench. It took me a minute, but I found it. Carefully concealed under the slats was a small sealed cylinder. The bench was a dead drop. At this point, I decided to go ahead and play the hand I was dealt. I took the cylinder, and headed back to the office.

It was near dusk, so I slid into my darksuit and headed for the roof. It took a bit of looking, but I eventually found it. It was a small device, and it appeared to be some sort of recording device. Took a bit of doing, but I dislodged it and placed it in a bag. Just for good measure, I checked the rest of the skylights and once I decided it was clear I returned to my office.

Feeling a bit safer now that I'd checked the office, I moved down to the lab to take a look at what I had found. The container I found at the drop had a long roll of paper in it, written in a language I didn't readily recognize. It was in a tabular format, and appeared to be a list of notes. I made a photographic copy of the sheet, and figured to do a bit of research in the library to see if I could decipher the writing.

The device was a bit more complex. It was by my best determination some sort of optical recording device, with a cunningly small logic engine and some sort of transmitter. While it was unmarked, it did remind me of something...during the airship regatta I had the chance to look at the guidance and control systems on one of the Arcanian entries during the preliminaries, and somehow the mechanisms seemed very similar in construction.

I sat back and thought about what evidence I had. Yeah, it was thin, and very circumstantial. The most conclusive part was that it corroborated the story Zac told me, even if it didn't have the 'smoking gun' linkage I would have liked. My guts told me that if I didn't move on this that it would become much harder to trace once my watcher found out I had his little device. I packaged up the device and the cylinder, and wrote a note which I attached to the package. I went out the front door, and walked to Moses' office. I went inside, and left the package on his desk. Returning to the salon, I bolted the door, and curled up under my comforter.

"Moses,
I believe this is yours. We need to talk. Now.
Jed"
jdagger: (Default)
What do you do when you are told someone you trust may be lying to you? It has been a while since Zac told me his suspicions about Moses. Somehow I think he was shocked that I hadn't been more surprised. I still remember the day that Nell took me aside and said "Jed, I know you're not going to believe this..." and I laughed. Poor thing seemed genuinely upset that I wasn't amazed when she told me her story...but come on. Everyone in Babbage has a story, someone they are hiding from or looking for, or a strange past, or skeletons in the closet. The only really normal person in town is Book Hienrichs, and Lord knows sometimes I even doubt that. In the two years I've lived here, we've had vampires, werewolves, shape shifters, alien robots, pirates, Martians, local robots, villains, mysterious devices, Elder Gods, merfolk, plots, plans, coups, arcane magic, murders, thefts, and a swath of other things that I can't readily recall. With this in mind, telling me that you are a fugitive member of a noble house from another dimension may not raise too many eyebrows or seem very shocking...

What does bother me is telling me someone I fought beside, someone I trust with my life is actually an evil despot with an armed battle fleet poised to invade my city and that this same person has spies all over town. I also know that for all his training, Zac is still young and green, prone to those reactions borne of youthful enthusiasm. I don't have that luxury anymore. It was at that point that I decided to do something that I swore I wouldn’t do…investigate a friend.
jdagger: (Default)
“Curiouser and curiouser!” cried Alice (Alice in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll)

(egads, please insert the standard Bookworm private journal disclaimer here. "waves hands")

I'm back at my desk, to recount all of this...while part of me is saying there is nothing going on, part of my mind is screaming and pointing that something is not right. Maybe I am getting old and complacent.

It all started earlier this weekend. I was feeling rather like taking a walk to get a bit of air and to enjoy the warmth of the spring air, so I headed out of the salon and worked my way along Academy Downs towards the depot. As I passed the MacBain house, I caught a bit of music from a cylinder machine floating out the window, so I figured I'd be social and stop in. Proximity and circumstance had given me an opportunity to become friends with Stargirl, and since Kaylee moved in I like stopping in and checking on the both of them.

I knocked, and heard Kaylee's voice say come in. I walked upstairs, and what I saw was disquieting funny ... odd? Kaylee sat in the chair by the fireplace, dressed in a very fine dress, ankles crossed demurely, reading a book. As long as I have known her, this was not a typical pose, or behavior. I was really willing to give her a pass on the dress, since I myself have tried to wear skirts a bit more often myself. But this was almost beyond the pale...I mean, I have seen Kaylee in ballgowns for some of the Piermont affairs, but she always kids me that it was almost under duress...the running joke was that you can't recalibrate a throttle governor in crinoline. Yet there she was....the other bit was the reading material itself. I know she reads penny dreadfuls, or technical manuals...but this was proper literature.

We chatted for a bit, and I felt like I was talking to a stranger in many ways. I noted a touch of fear and apprehension in her voice...not so much from things, but it felt like she was scared of me. It was like we were strangers, not friends who had fought invasions, disarmed devices, and rescued people from merfolk together.

I looked at my watch and decided that I should go. Just before I did, Star walked in and sat down on the couch. She was dressed in workboots and trousers, and sat in a casual sprawl that I would have more expected of her roommate. We exchanged cheerful hellos and goodbyes, and I walked out and immediately headed to the cafe for some coffee.

Something's going on. I can sense it in my guts, despite the casual assurances from both of them that it is just a joke.

I need more coffee.

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Jedburgh Dagger

April 2014

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