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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"
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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.

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Jedburgh Dagger

April 2014

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