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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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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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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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(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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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)

Read more... )
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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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Since being given the command of the New Babbage Naval Squadron, I have found that my time has been progressively eaten by administrative tasks. Sadly, even in light of what happened in town with the Obolensky affair, I still am running the squadron with a shoestring staff. I am wearing a lot of hats, to include Chief of Intelligence. There are days when I wish I could spirit the Duchess away from Hotspur, because I could use a second set of eyes when going over all the briefs and notes that come across my desk.

I had just finished my second cup of coffee when I saw the pile of paper neatly dropped from the repeating telegraph in the office. Typically all of the reports from inbound and outbound shipping are sent to me for review, and so I read through them classifying them for possible action, whether it means increasing the coastal patrols, checking on harbor watch or any of the other myriad things that come from 'someone somewhere saw something'. The Caledon air packet made a report into harbor control that they saw an oil slick with debris out by the Vernian Deep marker buoy. I made a note to send someone out to check, and looked at the forwarded port entry/exit log. Debris could mean anything....the log didn't indicate anyone missing, but it could be smugglers or some private craft that failed to check in. I happened to reach for my cup when I saw the byline on the copy of the Primgraph Reporter..."missing correspondent". I grew more concerned as I read the article. I knew Miss Janus had been going on an assignment, that it had been a while since I had seen her in town...

I quickly telegraphed the pier, and told the watch officer to get my Seahawk ready to sail. The Seahawk is small, in comparison to the other gunboats in the squadron, but is fast enough to get me out where I need to be. Once I arrived at the docks, the harbormaster already had the message that Black Queen was outbound for the Vernian. We got underway, and after a short run at speed found the debris field. It wasn't much to see, litter, odd bits of flotsam...and then I saw it. A jacket. I fished it out with a gaffhook, and it didn't take much to know who it belonged to. It was hers. If it was as I thought, she'd have taken the Seahorse out. It was a sturdy sub, but even so didn't have an air supply that would last for this long.

I fired off a telegraph to the harbor office for distribution, warning of a possible navigation hazard. This should give me a little time to reroute shipping, and keep traffic out of the area.

Now to find a submarine...
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Captain's Log: NBS Charger
Cde J. Dagger, commanding.

While I was in the hospital after the last battle with Obolensky, I had time to think about things. I had gotten the last security brief, and knew that the man posing as Tenk was not the mayor. It also included the logs from Lupindo's submarine, which gave the approximate position he torpedoed the milk bottle. As soon as the doctors on board the Solace let me go, I went back to the Topographical Service offices and found what I needed...charts of the ocean currents.


I made a few notes, worked out the navigation, and headed for the docks. The repair gang had finished with the Charger, so once again she would be carrying me into the unknown. We rounded the point and headed south into the open sea. I watched the binnacle, kept the helm steady and made Mr Phalangis keep his engineering crew busy...

We are well past where Lupindo claimed to have destroyed the bottle, and the watch is shouting that they see something off the starboard side...


It was him. He was lashed to a cork, and was quite thin and burned from exposure.


We pulled him aboard, put him in my bunk, and made our way back to New Babbage at flank speed. I had the Clockwinder, and he was on his way home.

We made it to the docks in Port Babbage in relative quiet, but it did not take long for the crowd to gather. We took him to city hall, and told him what had happened while he was gone. I noticed that while he was attentive, he was also distracted. He left us, and went to his tower, where he rests in the bosom of his clock. He will need time to heal, but the city is whole again.
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The petty officers sat in a huddle in the back of the bar, and I managed to slide into an end chair before of them noticed me, and then noticed who it was. Luckily for all of us I managed to keep them from saluting....

I clustered up, and told them my plan. They had only been leaving a single automaton on the pier after 10 PM, and the alert crews only left one or two men back on board the active watch ships. Each petty officer would lead a section to storm the alert boats simultaneously originating from a different direction. 4 ships, 6 teams. The "Charger", one of the Kotetsus I bought right before the occupation was moored in back, next to the "Stonewall" a Lavanco we traded a rum smuggler a load of machine parts for. The "Tarheel", my Cuthbert ram was next, and a Vanguard that was being used as a harbor boat was at the end of the slip. If we were lucky, the Vanguard would be ready to sail which would allow us to sail her out of the way and hopefully get the rest of the ships moving. If we were really lucky, more than one of them would be under power, and that would let us tow the rest out. Or they could all be cold, or gone. We agreed on the recognition signal (blue rocket followed by a blue light) and that I wanted the guns double-shotted with canister (since I wanted to discourage followers from on-shore). They all looked at each other, comparing notes, asking about hatch combings, doodling on the counter working out figures for gun crews...

"Boys, this is going to be dangerous, and not without some degree of personal risk to you should we fail." I looked at each of them in the eyes as I went around the table, and while I didn't know all of them by name, I knew their faces, and the looks they returned to me made me feel a bit more confident. I picked up a glass, and raised it. "Gentlemen, to you. Fortune favors the bold." I put the glass to my lips, and before I could drink, Tommy Malone, the gun-captain of my #1 guncrew reached over and touched my arm. Tommy was a ruddy faced little Irishman who was possibly the best shot in the fleet. He was another one of those sailors who managed to keep showing up on my roster, commission after commission.
"Lads, to the Rock!" He lifted the glass towards me, and the assembled knot of men responded in kind. I wanted to tell him to stop it, or tell him that was a long time ago, when I was a green Lieutenant Commander with something to prove. I drank my drink, nodded to the boys and headed to my place at the docks.

The park benches at Navy Pier were comfortable, and offered a clear view of the port. I sat down and took a long hard look at the docks, and was slightly surprised at what I found there. The Vanguard was gone, and the other three were preparing to get underway. The only thing that would save us would be if the alert crew had not arrived and only the engineer and stokers were aboard. A group of men in Obolensky's naval uniform walked across to the "Tarheel", and boarded. I could only hope now that the second division would be lucky enough to get to cover or scatter before the cannons opened up. She pulled away, sliding into the darkness when I saw the star and the light. One away, 2 to go. The division slated to take the "Stonewall" crossed the pier from the Arcade, and I could see something being tossed onto the pier as she lept forward into motion. Two away, one to go. A line of men ran out from near Loner Lane, and even in the dimness of the street, I could see the braid on the cuff of the leader. Palmer's division. My men. They should have been on the "Tarheel", and I figured at that moment that I would be curious to inquire once we were underway and not while we were still in town. They swept onto the ship, and for one long moment, all I could hear was the sounds of the town. Then two things became very obvious--that the Smashington at the opposite end of the pier was finally curious as to what was afoot, and the last two divisions would be needing a ride. I kicked out of my skirt to expose my boots and breeches, pulled the holster belt out of my handbag and headed to the pier at a run. I had to stop the "Charger" or I would not be able to carry the remaining men on the gunboat I had hidden in the canals. I crossed the last stack of crates onto the pier proper as the last two groups of sailors emerged from their hiding places and swarmed around me. Once again, luck smiled on our venture, as out of the shadows came the missing Vanguard. I quickly gestured for the men to hide where they were. This would again be another gamble, but I felt as if it would work...

The coxswain of the Vanguard shouted from out of the turret hatch "Ahoy the pier! What's afoot? Where is the fleet?"
He continued on his arc from the Vernian, drawing closer to the end of the pier....I could only hope he wouldn't recognize me in the light of the streetlamp.
"The port's under attack! We need help!"
At this every hatch flew open and most of the crew bounded out onto the deck, agitated but quite unarmed. The Vanguard touched the bumpers of the dock, and there was only one thing left to do. I drew my Colt, screamed "Boarders away!" and leapt onto the deck. The sailors followed, and within a few minutes were able to secure the little ironclad. I sent part of the remaining men to the "Charger" and sent both of them on their way. I crossed back over to Abney Parkway, and made my dash for the canals and the security of the patrol boat. I swept out onto the Vernian at speed, and saw the lights and heard the sirens. We were away, and at least now we could fight on our feet.

I signaled Officer's Call at dawn to assess what we should do next. Since Obolensky had taken the town government, we were technically outlaws by the strict letter of the law. Exiles, with no home. I laughed, so long and so hard that some of the boys got worried. There was only one place for the New Babbage Exiles Fleet to go.

East.

(this should have been done a while ago, but I was stuck with a dose of real life. More follows, so read 'em in sequence)

Sea Trials

Jun. 19th, 2009 03:31 am
jdagger: (Default)
Captain's personal log
NBS Charger
Location: Open ocean

We've been under way for hours now, and I had to go topside. So here I am, sitting on turret 1 watching the sea roll by and listening to the gun crew working underneath me. Looking aft, the other ships in the line plow ahead, running along into the twilight, towards...an uncertain future.

Earlier today, I woke up to a typical hazy New Babbage morning. Things in town were even more tense than when Doctor Obolensky made his move to take control of the city government. Given the state of relations between his goons and the remnants of the militia, I had been planning a way to move the remaining operational ships out of the harbor.The key was how and when.

The first thing was to secure my effects at the office. I placed the majority of the case files and company information in the safe, and packed the majority of my personal papers in a satchel, and delivered them to my prearranged hiding spot in the coal chute of Peacock Place. I slid the note under the door, and walked back over to the salon for a final cup of coffee.

"Dear Ladies, There is a package that I am entrusting to your safekeeping that is now in your house. If circumstances allow, I will reclaim it from you when I return. If not, I leave it to your discretion to do with as you see fit. As always, I hold you both in the deepest of esteem. Bon chance, Jed"

I changed into a plain working gown, pulled back my hair and donned a blonde wig, and topped it off with a rather austere bonnet. Armed with my shopping basket, I felt I favored one of the domestics that would be out shopping during this time of the day. The streets were largely empty, save for the Doctor's automatons. They were menacing, yet for all their ability, they were not inquisitive.

The docks were active with sailors, most of whom were milling about looking for work. Sadly, the fast packet ships were not operating as they normally did, since the Doctor had rerouted most of the traffic to his fleet of airships. This was most obvious in the market stalls, as the only foodstuffs I found were a few old tins of corned beef, wiggyfish chowder, and a sad lot of rapidly aging bread. I walked across the docks to the outfitting pier, and took a long look at the two flagships of the fleet, the Industry and the Commerce. Work had ground to a near halt since the occupation, and both of them languished there at their moorings. Luckily neither one of them would pose much of a threat as they had not been outfitted, fueled or provisioned.

I walked back towards the quay market, wondering what I would do next. The four operational navy ships were moored on the far end of the prier, under what I had estimated to be a very light guard. Luck was on my side, as the Smashingtons had not been programmed to detain ladies with shopping baskets. Armed with this knowledge, I walked towards the one place I expected to find some help. Sitting in the corner booth at the Gangplank, was a very disconsolate navy officer. Jack Palmer had been a newly promoted Lieutenant in the Wrath fleet when an angry redhead walked into Commodore O'Toole's office with a letter of introduction and a second-hand uniform. We had served together for a long while, and he had followed me to Babbage once he found out about my commission. He refused promotion, content to be my second, and I was very glad to see him at this point.

"Sir, may I have a seat?" I smiled at him, and he looked up from his beer in some degree of surprise.
"Miss? You..I.." He smiled back, and I sat carefully, adjusting the petticoats as I slifd onto the bench across from him. "thank God, Jed. I though you'd be in the jail by now."
"Not yet, bud. What's the word on the ships?"
"Not much. The goons that pass for the constabulary moved off most of the crews, and only left a few of those clanks to keep onlookers off the docks"
Not good, but still hopeful. "How many of the boys can you quietly round up?"
"Most of ours, with a few extra from the other boats."
"Jack, get them ready to move. See if you can find the Greeks, and have the bosuns meet me back here this evening. We're taking the fleet out. Tonight."
He grinned, tipped his cap and walked out into the street.

I returned to the Gangplank later that afternoon, and found that Jackie had managed to get six of the senior crewmen from the fleet together. They sat in the corner, and looked like any group of friends chatting over drinks. The boys knew what was at stake, and didn't make their normal show of jumping to attention when I slid in next to them. I relayed the plan to each of them...they would each take a group of men, secure the ship, make enough steam to get underway, and meet up on the edge of the Vernian once we were out of range of the Observatory. We would use the cover of darkness, and I hoped that the airships used by the pirates under the Doctor's employ could not track us once we were seaborne.

(more once I get some sleep)
jdagger: (grr)
Yesterday afternoon, in spite of the typist's real life and family's best efforts to derail it, I took the stage in the New Champagne Room New Babbage and danced.  It was the "1001 Arabian Nights" show, so it was very Middle Eastern, and did not require the shedding of any clothing.  I shared the stage with the owner, the lovely, graceful, talented, patient, and forgiving Ahnyanka Delphin.  From all accounts, it was a lovely show.  I am still not a professional emoter, this may not be a career detour for me, and I doubt I will give up driving ironclads or being an investigator for it....but there for a moment, it was euphoric.  For that moment, I was desired by men, envied by women, and watched by both.  So today I go back to being your best friend’s tomboy sister.  Thankfully I have the poster. Before all of my friends start in on the “I told you so” Greek chorus, let me have my one wistful moment… Thanks again to Ahnya and Ceejay, whose patience and encouragement kept me going.  Love you two.
jdagger: (Default)
It was a typical morning at the office. I walked down to the postbox, and picked up the mail, returned to my desk and my coffee to review the day's correspondence. The normal letters were shuffled to the appropriate places on the desk...requests for information, bills, letters requesting updates on active cases...and then there was a large envelope on the bottom of the stack. It was sealed with an engine stippled binding, and the return address read simply "City Hall, office of the Mayor". The contents were dumped onto the desk, and I looked at them in turn, a certificate, a typed letter on official letterhead, and two handwritten envelopes, one which said "read me first" and the second stating "read me last".

"
Mosseveno Tenk
The Mayor of the City-State of New Babbage

To all who shall see these presents, greeting:

Know Ye, that reposing special trust and confidence in the patriotism, valor, fidelity and abilities of Jedburgh Dagger.
I do appoint her a Captain in the New Babbage Naval Militia to rank as such from the 14th day of April 18XX. This Officer will therefore carefully and diligently discharge the duties of the office to which appointed by doing and performing all manner of things thereunto belonging.
And I do strictly charge and require those Officers and other personnel of lesser rank to render such obedience as is due an officer of this grade and position. And this Officer is to observe and follow such orders and directives, from time to time, as may be given by me, or the future Mayor of the City-State of New Babbage, or other Superior Officers acting in accordance with the laws of the City.
This commission is to continue in force during the pleasure of the Mayor of the City-State of New Babbage for the time being, under the provisions of those Public Laws relating to Officers of the Armed Forces of the City-State of New Babbage and the component thereof in which this appointment is made.
Done in the City this 14th day of April in the year of our Lord 18XX"

I stared at the paper, and propped it against the cubbyholes on the back of the desk. I had not expected this, and wondered aloud how this had happened. Yes, I had been approached about joining, but..this.

The letter was next...
"City-State of New Babbage
Office of the Maceholder

To: Commodore J Dagger, New Babbage Naval Militia

You are hereby ordered to take command of the city's Naval Squadron, and make such preparations as you see necessary to ready those forces for any military contingency.

For the Mayor:

Aeolus Cleanslate"

I sat the letter down, and took a long sip of my coffee. I opened the first letter, and it contained a small handwritten note...
"Jed,

Congratulations. Now get to work.

AC"

This was just too much, so I wadded up the note and threw it at the bookcase. I pulled out a fresh sheet of paper, and began to write my resignation. As much as I wanted to take this on, I was too busy. Too much was going on with the agency, too many other things to attend to. The words came fast, and the text on the page was close and thready. Pausing for another sip of coffee, I stared at the second envelope.

"Jed,

Aeolus figured you would buck. I told him you'd say yes. Prove him wrong.

Tenk

PS Your uniform is at city hall. Get to work."

Damn.

I got my jacket, loaded the Remington, and walked to City Hall.
jdagger: (Default)
Location: New Babbage Gasworks, Wheatstone Waterways (Central Western Wheatstone Waterways)

Synopsis: On this date I was contacted by Mr Gatsby Szuster, who said that he has discovered an incendiary device at the gasworks. Mr Szuster had been present at the scene of the last fire at Undertone's Barbershop, and was familiar with the device that had been located in a nearby building at that time.

He said that he located the device while he was going to his office located on the second floor of the structure. He removed the fuse and left it in place prior to my arrival.

Once I arrived on scene I searched the area both inside and outside. No additional devices were located.

The device was identical to the previous located one. I took a sample of the contents for later analysis and disposed of the device in an empty lot nearby.

I was later advised that the suspect has been in contact with Mr Undertone by letter. The suspect is demanding a cash payment from the city, or he stated he will set more fires.

The suspect is a white male, possibly in his mid 20's, average height, slender build, dark hair. Based on his previous actions I feel that he may be disposed of a maniacal disposition, prone to assaultive behaviors.

The investigation is ongoing.

Miss J. Dagger
Terranova Investigative Services
Aether Salon, 2nd Floor
#6 Academy Downs
Babbage Palisades, New Babbage
jdagger: (Default)
(transcribed from notebook)
early January
I had been away from the Horta for some time on a surveillance case. it was pleasant to return to the snowy soot of Babbage, and chill of the morning air felt oddly comforting on my face as I walked up the street towards Miss Janus' house. While I had been in negotiation for office space within town, the hospitality she had shown me in giving me a room was a pleasant diversion to the day to day workings of the agency. Because of the hour, I entered the house through the housekeepers entrance in the basement, so as to not disturb the lady of the house. I headed up the back stairs to my room in the attic, and paused near the back door of Miss Janus' bedroom. What gave me pause was the smell that wafted out from the room. It was the smell of decay. Death. I slid the door open slowly, and drawing my pistol from underneath my coat slipped into the room. The room was unoccupied, but the bed told the tale. The coverlet was stained with sweat, and spotted with blood. The odor of slow death hung heavy there, and yet there was no one in the house. Something had happened while I was gone, and now I had to find out exactly what had happened.

I can't sleep.

The urchins are whispering about strange things, rats drained of blood, nighttime stalkers, dark figures who lurk in shadows.

I fear she has been taken. I fear she has been turned.

I know what I have to do.
jdagger: (Default)
I decided to start writing again.

The circumstances under which I had stopped writing here are now at an end. So I sit here at my new desk in the confines of my office, and start a new page. Three months ago, the journal was placed in an envelope, along with a few other items so that in the case of my death someone would know what had happened and would have some insight into my past. I had mailed three identical letters containing a sealed note to three of my closest acquaintances here in New Babbage, with a simple set of instructions...if I should be found dead or found to be missing for over a week, open the note. The note simply said “roll top desk, top drawer”.

The file jacket contained my past.
Read more )
jdagger: (Original icon)
Location: Undertone's Barbershop, Wheatstone Waterways (South Central Wheatstone Waterways)

Synopsis: On this date the Ladies Fire Brigade was summoned to the Undertone Barber shop on the report of a structure fire. On my arrival I saw a subject dressed in dark clothing running from the scene shouting “Let it burn! Let it burn!” The problem I faced immediately was that the fire posed a great risk to the adjoining structures, and as much as I wished to pursue the suspect my attentions were forced to turn to the fire.

Shortly after deploying my firefighting equipment, Mr Szuster arrived and he set off after the suspect. My initial feeling was that some sort of chemical accelerant had been used as the fire resisted any effort to be extinguished. The water that was sprayed on the structure only seemed to spread the flames around in the structure.

The Fire Brigade deployed several of its Firefighting airships to drop water on the structure, but this only served to contain the fire and prevent further damage to the nearby buildings.

Despite our best efforts the structure could not be saved. It is my determination that the building is beyond repair and cannot be salvaged.

Prior to the completion of the Fire Brigade's work, Mr Undertone searched the area and found a device that had been placed in a nearby building. He gave me the device for safekeeping and for analysis in the Agency's lab.

Based on my on-scene survey of the scene, I determined that there were multiple points of origin on the first floor. It appeared as if several devices had been set off both in the front and the rear of the structure. The intensity of the fire destroyed any evidence or materials at the scene.

Evidence: Small wooden cask, approximately 1 ½ gallons capacity. The cask had a simple time fuse ignition device, seated in a dry chemical initiation device. The cask contained a viscous liquid which chemical analysis showed was compromised of a mixture of coal oil, naphtha, quicklime, and sulfur. This combination would burn with a high heat, and also create an additional effect of burning with a greater intensity with the application of water.

The suspect is still at large at this time. The suspect has a knowledge of chemistry given his ability to mix and handle dangerous chemicals, and a strong desire to destroy property.

The investigation is ongoing.

Filed by:
Miss J. Dagger
Terranova Investigative Services
Aether Salon, 2nd Floor
#6 Academy Downs
Babbage Palisades, New Babbage

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Jedburgh Dagger

April 2014

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