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As of this date, the Port of New Babbage is open for business. For too long the petty ambitions of powerful MEN have been allowed to run amok in the city. Rather than see my fellow citizens either being starved or forced to pay extortion to receive goods by ship, I have taken control of the docks and brought in dock workers who will provide the services our businesses have become accustomed to.

The normal delivery of goods anywhere within the city will commence shortly. The porters will have escorts, to ensure that no one from any party will delay or impede the orderly flow of goods to and from the port.

J. Dagger, CDRE
New Babbage Navy
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Jed stood at the last undamaged spot on the viaduct and looked out over the newly blasted chasm in the rail line with a gaze that held a mixture of fatigue and smoldering anger. It was supposed to have been a weekend away, a time to concentrate on someone important and enjoy a delayed anniversary rather than this. So she stood at the blast site, her old dark blue peacoat pulled tight around her chest as the wind whipped the rich purple fabric of the ballgown around her legs since she did not stop to change once she arrived back in New Babbage. The courier had run in during the waltz, and Jed was not sure who looked more upset at the interruption, the courier or Kimika. He held an official telegram from the Mayor’s office, which was simple and directly worded. Explosion North Fells viaduct. Full investigation of destruction needed immediately. Status, urgent. Underby. They left after that, with a carriage ride to the aerodrome filled with apologies and a full-throttle flight home filled with the drone of the engines.

The crew had begun to sort out the logistics of using the north side of the viaduct as an impromptu rail yard, offloading cargo and carrying it by wagon across the Fells to the Palisade gate. Two of the viaduct’s pilings were destroyed; one was damaged but would probably need to be replaced. She looked across to the other side and figured a temporary timber trestle could be erected in the gap with a bit of work, but the stone would pose a considerable challenge at this time of year. She examined the scattered stones and the remains of the damaged pilings, making notes and sketches of the scene. Jed finally tucked the notebook back in her pocket and headed back towards the warmth of her office. She passed the gate and was nearly at the turn for the apartment when a young man with a bag over his shoulder came tearing around the corner, wailing “Extra, Extra…New Babbage Free Press!” They nearly collided, the youngster suddenly losing himself in a cloud of purple. Jed hoisted the paperboy out of her skirts by the collar, and bent over to look at what he was carrying.

“What’s all this about, hmm?” she said, with as much of a smile as she had energy for. “Special edition paper miss. Breaking news miss. Only a penny for the freshest news miss. I…” Jed cut the lad off mid-sentence. “You had me at Special Edition. Here.” She handed him tuppence, and he gave her two copies before tearing back off towards Academy. She opened the paper and looked at the masthead, then at the headline. Jed had heard someone was trying to start another newspaper in town, and here it was. ‘GANG RAMPAGES THROUGH ASYLUM’ the headline said, with the subheader ‘HEAD ADMINISTRATOR GRAVELY INJURED’ and ‘MAIN SUSPECT DEAD’. She read the article and despite the journalistic flair and misspellings Jed got the feeling that the local body count may have slowed for the time being.

She walked into the apartment and paused in the den to warm up in front of the fireplace. This was going to be the start of a long week, she thought to herself.
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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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Jedburgh Dagger

April 2014

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