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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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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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)
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Last night, the Iron Melee featured an infantry landing scenario as a modification of the scenario we ran last week. You might remember this from my previous post, where the Blue team was massacred to a fare-thee-well by the shore batteries. This week, the Blue team put together a landing party equipped with the MMCS sensors, and hit the ground to take the guns from the Red Team. The Blues had two ships in the water to take on the guns for the Reds, and the Reds had a guard force to protect the dockyard.

I can say with pride that the Blue Team won the scenario. I can also say that I died in a heap storming the gun positions 2 times out of 3. This was the first really effective 'combined ops' scenario we have run at Port Merrimac, and from initial indications it was not only fun but a success from an operations/tactical standpoint.

There were a few minor issues, from trying to shoot from 'no-rez' parcels (Don't hide behind the lucky chairs) to guns not working (apparently once you 'die' you need to sling and redraw the rifle to get it working again) to target identification (had a few cases of fratricide). The other point was that infantry begats infantry, iron begats iron. Ships can engage the guns, grunts can shoot grunts, but grunts can't shoot ships with rifles. Until we have a true universal system that works with vehicles and personnel, this is the lot we have to deal with. (we had a Tom Hanks versus the Tiger tank incident, apparently)

The basic MMCS system comes with a sword, and a Martini-Henry rifle, and is only 10L. There is a developers kit out, and I hope that more weapons will be available in the future.

The other bit of information I gleaned from this on a personal level was that had there been something like this in another scenario run recently, the outcome may have been the same, but the contention would have been eliminated.
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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 )
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Synopsis:
On 11-28 I was made aware by a confidential source that Myrtil Igaly had been attacked and detained by an unknown party. The information I received said that she had been drugged and was being held in a chest somewhere on the premises of the La Noisette bakery (Jefferson Way, Babbage Square). The information had initially been intended for the Bow Street Constabulary. Because of the dire nature of the information, and the threat to Miss Igaly's life, I decided to investigate the scene with the sole intent of insuring her safety.

I arrived at the bakery and met Ms B. Carver in the street by the front door. She had heard a rumor of the incident, and she assisted me in the initial search of the premises. Shortly after I began my search of the area, a group of individuals arrived with the same intent. Dr J. Watson, Mr S. Holmes and Mr R. Wirefly arrived and immediately went to the second floor of the structure. I did a cursory check of the building to make sure it had been cleared just before this, and there were no suspicious subjects located within the building.

I found a large bloodstain with a directional smear that was located under the staircase on the first floor in the area between the cafe and the kitchen. This was photographed (plate a) and a sample of the blood was taken.

The front area of the second floor was searched, and no relevant materials were found.
(confidential data removed)
The small room in the back of the second floor revealed another bloodstain (plate b) and a bloody handprint on a painting (plate c).
(confidential data removed)
The laboratory area on the third floor held various materials related to it's purpose, and a large wooden steamer trunk. Miss Igaly was located by Holmes and Watson within this trunk. She had defensive wounds on her hands and arms, and a laceration on the front of her right thigh. She had been drugged by an unknown substance and was comatose at the time of location. By the time I made my way into this room, several subjects were inside and had ensured that Miss Igaly was safe. Based on her condition, and the need for a suitable medical facility, we determined at that time to move her to the clinic of Dr. Hengest Whitfield.

Dr Watson treated her injuries, and I stood by with other concerned citizens while she regained consciousness. We decided to move her to Mr Wirefly's flat at the Mechanix Arms for security purposes, as it has only one entrance and was on the second floor. I took the first watch at this location while the other members of the party went out.

I was informed after the fact that the suspect returned to the apartment and shot Mr Wirefly before being shot by J. Branagh and F. Twine. The final disposition of the body is unknown.

The suspect, one Arthur Keenan, is the victim's cousin. This incident apparently stemmed from a longstanding family quarrel. From statements made by the victim and information gathered from other sources the suspect wanted to sell the bakery, and her unwillingness to sell precipitated the attack.

Disposition:
It has not been determined if the suspect had any confederates, or if anyone else was involved in the commission of the act.

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