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3 June 188x,NByr 6
Jed sat up in bed and ran her fingers through her hair. This was not what she wanted, or expected, but it seemed that the boys from the Manor would have their pound of flesh one slice at a time. She noticed that she was wearing some sort of gauzy cotton nightgown in place of the silk chemise and underpants she was wearing under her gown at the party. The man noticed her change in expression and he already had a razor thin smile at the ready when the obviously annoyed redhead turned to look at him.
“Before you ask, your maid Lupe changed your clothes while you were asleep. She’s been seconded to you from our Latin America bureau, so you won’t be by yourself for the duration.”
“Lovely, already assigned me a handler to keep me in line?” Jed scowled.
The man shifted in his seat again. “She is also well aware of who you are and what you are capable of Morrigan. You keep thinking that we mean you harm, when it is the furthest thing from the truth. You may not know this but there is a new occupant in the Master’s chair.”
Her eyes narrowed as the man rose and began walking to the table at the other side of the room. She stood and walked across the floor to stand next to him, where he had already busied himself opening a thick folder sealed with scarlet tapes and numerous wax seals. Jed read the title on the folder and was suddenly gripped with a feeling of nostalgia and dread. Written there in her own hand was the legend “Operation Thunderbolt” and underneath was the box stating “prepared by Dagger, J 186..”. At that instant the silence in the room hung thick like a New Babbage fog.
“You may recall this man, Dr. Ramon Cortez, was working on several projects related to an advanced weapon system that you had determined would be sold on the open market,” he said, tapping the engine-printed picture of the man, “and the end brief said that the files and journals had been confiscated and that the good doctor would not be resuming work on this project.”
He opened a second folder and placed it on top of the first. “What we have learned now is the good doctor is working for an Eduardo Aguilar, a local industrialist who is flush with cash from a recent success in the regional markets. Mr. Aguilar fancies himself as becoming the Krupp of South America, and he feels that Dr. Cortez can give him the edge he needs to step into the arms market.”
Jed leafed through the new folder, reading the briefing materials and making mental notes of what she read. The doctor had come to the island a few months ago, and was living alone in a cottage adjacent to his workshop. Alone? This thought ran through her head as the man continued.
“The mission is pretty straightforward, assess the threat, observe any activity at the lab, gather any actionable intelligence or any materials about what the doctor is up to now, and take those actions necessary to ensure that there is no threat to Her Majesty’s interests in this area.”
Jed looked at the man as those words danced in her mind, the old bugaboo “any actions necessary” meant that she would have to decide, and the higher ups could walk away and say that it was merely the actions of an overzealous agent, or worse yet deny that she was even associated with the Ministry at all. New tune, same old dance.
“The overt cover is you are on holiday with your maid, and you will have the proper introductions to get you in to Mr. Aguilar’s evening get together. It seems he has a taste for English noblewomen, so Lady Burnley will be making a reappearance. He also has a taste for blonds..”
Jed swore under her breath.
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3 June 188x,NByr 6
Jed scooted down a little further under the covers and stretched. Builder’s square but my head aches, she thought. The party had been formal but impromptu, and while for the life of her she could not recall meeting the host before the hearty handshake at the door of the place, he acted as if they had been friends forever. The music was light and the crowd very eager to see just how far the host’s bar tab would run, and she did her duty to assist in that endeavor.
She rolled onto her stomach and stretched her arm across to the other side of the bed. Her outstretched limb and questing fingers found the space on the other side to be unoccupied. She’s probably still at Aunt Aki’s house, Jed thought. Kimika said she might stay for a bit longer just to catch up and somehow Jed knew the poor thing would be listening to her go on about that kōmōgaijin her niece was living with. Rather like when Father brought Surima home to London for the first time, way back when…and then, it hit her. Maybe it was the hangover, or old age, or maybe even becoming complacent, but suddenly in a rush Jed had a feeling that something was horribly off in the world at the moment.
Her arm snaked out from the covers and reflexively aimed for the watch that sat on the nightstand beside the bed. It was a part of her daily ritual, to retrieve the silver cased railroad chronograph and wind it before getting out of bed, to sit for a moment and listen to the precise ticking of the movement, knowing the world was in order. Jed started awake, mind racing, because her hand found only air where the nightstand should have been. Suddenly attuned to the world around her, she knew that everything was not as it should be. She was not home.
“Good morning Morrigan. I hope you slept well?” The man’s voice was smooth and low, with the clipped intonation that betrayed an expensive English education. Jed rolled to her side and looked out from under the blanket. The room was plainly furnished and had adobe walls. It was unoccupied as far as she could see save for herself and the man who sat in the chair opposite the bed. He was wholly unremarkable in dress as well as appearance, and her experience taught her that this was done as a specific means to an end. His suit was plain, but had the alteration to the right side to more easily conceal the object that rode unseen at his hip. Jed didn’t recognize the man, but he had all the hallmarks of someone who worked for her former employer. Somehow she did not take this as a positive sign. She looked at him with a long hard look that did manage to get the point across. He shifted in his seat as she sat up.
“Care to explain this? Was the recall code not enough last time?”
The man smiled a very unconvincing smile, and uncrossed his legs. “I believe it was when you told the after action team what they could do with what and when and to whom that forced us to take a less conventional approach to enlisting your services again.” He gestured off to his left out the window. “Welcome back to Santa Marta. It seems that you will finally get to finish that assignment from twenty years ago.”

Home again

Aug. 3rd, 2010 10:11 pm
jdagger: (Default)
(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?”

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------
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"

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Jedburgh Dagger

April 2014

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