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Personal Journal

10 April NByr7

It was a nice enough day, until the word came of a mass fish kill down at the port. Decided to wander by and take a look. It was as bad as I had imagined it would be. The fish were piled into the spaces between the piers, driven in by the tide. They were all open water species, with a few I recognized as deep divers. Nothing really stood out as a cause for them being dead, so I took a few samples with the intention of getting someone who had more depth in biology to take a look. The boys down at the fertilizer mill were all too happy to claim the carcasses. I hope this isn’t a sign…

13 April NByr7

I expected that it was going to be a slow afternoon, and in spite of my best efforts to make it that way….
The city messenger charged in and nearly plowed over the welding cart I had left out on the floor, before sliding to a stop to rap on the door. I was up on the loft patio, relaxing with a drink and the new issue of Brunel’s Gazette. I dropped a couple of pence on the runner for his effort, and he managed to leave the note before collecting his tip and running off.
It didn’t take too long to hoof it over to the Patent Office in Wheatstone. Well, what was left of the Patent Office. It looked as if something walked or pushed though one side and walked out the other. I went over the place pretty carefully, and came up with nothing other than a headache from the stink of canal water. It reeked as bad as the docks did, but there were no floaties that I could see.
I sent out a few quickly written notes, and assembled a team of porters to carry the files from the office to City Hall. Civic duty, City records, etc etc, and let Ozzie worry about where to put them. Took a few pictures, and wondered what would have caused such a localized phenomenon.

15 April NByr7

Word on the street is ‘Brother’ Effingham is back in town. Lovely.

Spoke too soon. Apparently he nailed his demands to the City Hall door.
Someone saw him skulking around on Abney. Why won’t the nutters stay gone?

16 April NByr7

The old “temple” plot on the hill is getting busy. After posting his missive downtown, he apparently went up to the old foundation and did some chanting and arm waving.

I walked up there and found that someone decided to up the oogy-boogy ante and do some chanting of their own. I have come to the conclusion that Mumsy should have roped the joint off and charged admission. Folks come by, many fingers were pointed, many tales were told, many speculations were aired.

Despite my native cynicism, I dug up that box from my semester abroad in Massachusetts and pocketed a couple of old mementos. I know, I know. If it turns out to be nothing, no one will be the wiser.

18 April NByr7

Came home to Kimi on the roof with a bundle of equipment that I hadn’t seen out since we first met during the aftermath of the Martians. I asked her what was going on, and all she did was point. You could see it, even across the neighborhood. It looked like a heat mirage at first, then got…deeper looking. She told me that the new uprated version of the electrochemical rifle she built last fall was in my office. Once again, I tried telling her to go visit her aunt in Caledon, and once again I was told that she signed on for better or worse, and that worse included dimensional rifts or the end of the world as we know it. Who am I to argue with that?
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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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Casefile 06-GS12042012

4 Dec NByr6

Location: Szuster Works, Inc, Lindt Lane & Brunel Railway Babbage Palisade, New Babbage

Synopsis: On the evening of 4 December, the Fire Brigade was summoned to the factory complex owned by Gatsby Szuster. On arrival the structure was fully involved. Despite the best efforts of the Fire Brigade, the structure was a total loss. The fire was contained to the structure by the Fire Brigade. Initial on-scene investigation is complete, awaiting analysis of gathered evidence.

The investigation is ongoing.

Ms. J. Dagger, Senior Investigator
Terranova Investigative Services
#25 Merryman Way
New Babbage, New Babbage

---------------------------

Personal Journal
It had all the earmarks of a quiet evening at home. I had just settled down in the solarium to catch up on some correspondence when I started to smell smoke. Smelling smoke in New Babbage, along with explosions or strange flashes of light are not always a sign that one should be concerned or that you should panic. This time, however, I managed to catch a quick flash of light out of a window in Gatsby’s factory next door. The flash was followed by the characteristic SHAWHOOMP as the glass on several of the nearby windows blew out and was followed by flames and black smoke. I sat my book down, finished my drink, and hustled off downstairs to find my bunker gear.
I ran through the arch between the two buildings to find Sera with the old fire wagon in the alley next to the greenhouse. I grabbed a line and tried to start laying down a little water. The results were less than stellar. No matter how hard we tried, the lines were just not putting out much more than a trickle. I decided to go get the airship and see if it was going to help.
A few minutes later I was airborne and headed into trouble. I put the first bucket into the back building since it was closest to home, and headed out to the Fells to fill back up. Before it was over, I managed to dip out all the liquid water in the little pond next to Sera’s house, and make a severe dent in the little wide spot in the creek where all Kate’s girls like to go skinny-dipping. Finally after the 12th run or so, Sera flagged me in.
Apparently not only had we accumulated some spectators, we actually had some injuries. With me in the airship, and not on the ground to scream “MOVE YOUR BUTTS BACK!” someone got hurt when one of the walls turned loose.
Gatsby was looking concerned, as he normally does when something epic happens to one of his buildings. Lucky for me the apartment seemed largely undamaged, so I collected up my crimescene kit and began poking around the scene looking for a point of origin. Considering that one building was full of alcohol and god knows what else from the patent medicine factory, it was a miracle the damage wasn’t more extensive. I filed my report and headed back to the whirlpool to soak all the smoke out of myself.
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The map dominated one wall of the room, the expanse of the
Steamlands stretched out in all its cartographic glory. Jed reread the telegram
the city messenger had just deposited in her hand. The call for assistance was
not wholly unexpected, given the time of the year, the question was who was
close enough to head that way? She looked at the last updated roster of ship
positions, and drafted the message that would go out on the aethergraph.

“***************************

*flash traffic*

NBS Scylla

NBS Haven

NBS Barracuda

Hurricane Charles landfall in New Toulouse imminent. Move to
position off coast until safe to conduct inshore assistance operations. Marine
Detachment enroute to assist local authority.

Dagger, CDRE

******************************”



She sat at the desk and quickly penned a note destined for
the pneumatic mail.

----------

17 August

To: LT M Beckett, New Babbage Marine Det.

RE: Stingray

Assemble your squad and meet with Fleet Air Arm for
immediate transport to New Toulouse to assist with hurricane relief. Fleet
elements are enroute.

Dagger, CDRE

-----------

The forecast didn’t offer much hope one way or the other.
All anyone can do is pray that the storm passes without too much fuss…

(yes, it's time for the annual hurricane weekend in NT. If you haven't ever seen it, the water will be up and it will be storming hard for a bit. There also may be a party or two..)

hurricane season
new toulouse
RP
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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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Private Journal

10 Oct NByr5

I sat there at my desk, trying to form the words of what I'd seen...of what happened tonight. I told Tenk, and he looked at me with a look that dwelt between disbelief and fear. When I saw it myself, I knew at my core that something was happening that would be like that first winter in Babbage.

Tenk set off screaming for Effingham. I found him on the street after Tenk had returned to his tower. I simply told him the Mayor requested his presence, and he knew by the look in my eye that I meant it.

The word had come back to me, in the same whispered tones as before.

"Moriarty"

If Jason had made his way back, if what was said last year had come true.....

I worked the combination of the safe, then opened the second lock of the space in the bottom of the heavy steel box. The thick folder held the secrets of three years, letters, recording cylinders, notes, pictures. I had locked it away, hidden it under locks and bars. I hoped by keeping the secrets somehow I would have removed his power. I won't let him win.
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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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"STEAMLANDS UNION TELEGRAM

MOSSEVENO TENK NEW BABBAGE
ADMIRAL JEDBURGH DAGGER NEW BABBAGE

HURRICANE BERNADETTE APPROACHING NEW TOULOUSE LANDFALL IN NEXT FEW DAYS REQUEST ASSISTANCE FROM NEW BABBAGE NAVY

GABRIELLE RIEL"

Jed read the telegram, and scowled slightly. Last year they managed to arrive after the storm, but fought tooth and nail to make it inshore. She walked to the map, and looked at the last known positions of the fleet. It would be tough, but possible.

----------------------------------------------------------------------
*flash traffic*

NBS Scylla

NBS Charybdis

NBS Haven

NBS Barracuda

NBS Hestia

Hurricane landfall New Toulouse eminent. Move to position off coast until safe to conduct inshore assistance operations. Marine Detachment to land soonest to assist local authority.

Dagger, CDRE

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

She looked out the window, hoping that this would be enough.
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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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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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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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I went down to the lockup and did a little digging in my file cabinet, and found the jacket on Mr. Mureaux. The advantage of being in the right place at the right time was I managed to liberate a few documents that the former administration was getting rid of...purely for safe keeping, and I had been given a mandate from City Hall to 'keep an eye on things in town'. Passing my dressing table I caught a look at myself, and realized I needed to get some rest and eat a bit better. Somehow I was looking as rough as I felt at the moment. I'm sure some of the new folks in town think I have some dread disease, and my old friends are thinking it must be another bout of 'case focus'.

I returned back upstairs to my desk, and started rereading some of the notes in the jacket. Several tepid cups of coffee and half a box of cigarettes later, the holes in the information loomed like canyons...there was a lot I did know, and even more I couldn't be quite sure of...I stretched, and yawned, gazing up at the sky through the skylight, when I noticed a tiny glimmer there in the rafters. I leaned back and feigned another big stretch to get a look at it, and could just make out the detail as I went back to the desk. My first suspicion was that it was a lens, attached to a prism. We used something similar to see into rooms, by use of a long distance telescope. Being surveilled didn’t annoy me nearly as much as having it happen in my bedroom. Call me old fashioned, but having some stranger watching my boudoir is just not cricket. So as to not arouse any suspicion, I dressed and headed out as I would on any other day.

It was a gamble. I could have gone ahead and looked at the device, but that would have tipped my hand, so I opted for the wait and see approach. In order for it to work, if it was what I thought it was, someone would need to be nearby. I changed into something appropriately dowdy, pulled on a bonnet and headed out the ‘bailout’ door. Circling back around, I saw folks doing their normal things, and then I saw him. A very average man, in a very average suit, sitting reading a paper. I managed to do a bit of shopping while keeping an eye on him, and we made several laps around town. He did circle by Wheatstone, and lingered a bit on a bench near Nell’s place. He then walked back around towards the Salon, and he ended back where I saw him first. Odd, yes, suspicious, maybe…but nothing I could really pin to anyone. I ducked into the music hall and changed again, and he had wandered off towards Clockhaven. He took a seat in the park for a bit, and walked off again towards the Mews. The odd bit was that he left his newspaper on the bench as he walked off. I made sure he was gone, circled the block once, and went back and had a seat on the bench. It took me a minute, but I found it. Carefully concealed under the slats was a small sealed cylinder. The bench was a dead drop. At this point, I decided to go ahead and play the hand I was dealt. I took the cylinder, and headed back to the office.

It was near dusk, so I slid into my darksuit and headed for the roof. It took a bit of looking, but I eventually found it. It was a small device, and it appeared to be some sort of recording device. Took a bit of doing, but I dislodged it and placed it in a bag. Just for good measure, I checked the rest of the skylights and once I decided it was clear I returned to my office.

Feeling a bit safer now that I'd checked the office, I moved down to the lab to take a look at what I had found. The container I found at the drop had a long roll of paper in it, written in a language I didn't readily recognize. It was in a tabular format, and appeared to be a list of notes. I made a photographic copy of the sheet, and figured to do a bit of research in the library to see if I could decipher the writing.

The device was a bit more complex. It was by my best determination some sort of optical recording device, with a cunningly small logic engine and some sort of transmitter. While it was unmarked, it did remind me of something...during the airship regatta I had the chance to look at the guidance and control systems on one of the Arcanian entries during the preliminaries, and somehow the mechanisms seemed very similar in construction.

I sat back and thought about what evidence I had. Yeah, it was thin, and very circumstantial. The most conclusive part was that it corroborated the story Zac told me, even if it didn't have the 'smoking gun' linkage I would have liked. My guts told me that if I didn't move on this that it would become much harder to trace once my watcher found out I had his little device. I packaged up the device and the cylinder, and wrote a note which I attached to the package. I went out the front door, and walked to Moses' office. I went inside, and left the package on his desk. Returning to the salon, I bolted the door, and curled up under my comforter.

"Moses,
I believe this is yours. We need to talk. Now.
Jed"
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What do you do when you are told someone you trust may be lying to you? It has been a while since Zac told me his suspicions about Moses. Somehow I think he was shocked that I hadn't been more surprised. I still remember the day that Nell took me aside and said "Jed, I know you're not going to believe this..." and I laughed. Poor thing seemed genuinely upset that I wasn't amazed when she told me her story...but come on. Everyone in Babbage has a story, someone they are hiding from or looking for, or a strange past, or skeletons in the closet. The only really normal person in town is Book Hienrichs, and Lord knows sometimes I even doubt that. In the two years I've lived here, we've had vampires, werewolves, shape shifters, alien robots, pirates, Martians, local robots, villains, mysterious devices, Elder Gods, merfolk, plots, plans, coups, arcane magic, murders, thefts, and a swath of other things that I can't readily recall. With this in mind, telling me that you are a fugitive member of a noble house from another dimension may not raise too many eyebrows or seem very shocking...

What does bother me is telling me someone I fought beside, someone I trust with my life is actually an evil despot with an armed battle fleet poised to invade my city and that this same person has spies all over town. I also know that for all his training, Zac is still young and green, prone to those reactions borne of youthful enthusiasm. I don't have that luxury anymore. It was at that point that I decided to do something that I swore I wouldn’t do…investigate a friend.
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“Curiouser and curiouser!” cried Alice (Alice in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll)

(egads, please insert the standard Bookworm private journal disclaimer here. "waves hands")

I'm back at my desk, to recount all of this...while part of me is saying there is nothing going on, part of my mind is screaming and pointing that something is not right. Maybe I am getting old and complacent.

It all started earlier this weekend. I was feeling rather like taking a walk to get a bit of air and to enjoy the warmth of the spring air, so I headed out of the salon and worked my way along Academy Downs towards the depot. As I passed the MacBain house, I caught a bit of music from a cylinder machine floating out the window, so I figured I'd be social and stop in. Proximity and circumstance had given me an opportunity to become friends with Stargirl, and since Kaylee moved in I like stopping in and checking on the both of them.

I knocked, and heard Kaylee's voice say come in. I walked upstairs, and what I saw was disquieting funny ... odd? Kaylee sat in the chair by the fireplace, dressed in a very fine dress, ankles crossed demurely, reading a book. As long as I have known her, this was not a typical pose, or behavior. I was really willing to give her a pass on the dress, since I myself have tried to wear skirts a bit more often myself. But this was almost beyond the pale...I mean, I have seen Kaylee in ballgowns for some of the Piermont affairs, but she always kids me that it was almost under duress...the running joke was that you can't recalibrate a throttle governor in crinoline. Yet there she was....the other bit was the reading material itself. I know she reads penny dreadfuls, or technical manuals...but this was proper literature.

We chatted for a bit, and I felt like I was talking to a stranger in many ways. I noted a touch of fear and apprehension in her voice...not so much from things, but it felt like she was scared of me. It was like we were strangers, not friends who had fought invasions, disarmed devices, and rescued people from merfolk together.

I looked at my watch and decided that I should go. Just before I did, Star walked in and sat down on the couch. She was dressed in workboots and trousers, and sat in a casual sprawl that I would have more expected of her roommate. We exchanged cheerful hellos and goodbyes, and I walked out and immediately headed to the cafe for some coffee.

Something's going on. I can sense it in my guts, despite the casual assurances from both of them that it is just a joke.

I need more coffee.
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Location: Victory Hall, #12 Academy Downs, Babbage Palisade, New Babbage

Synopsis: On 12 February subjects unknown flew an airship into the dome of the Victory Hall opera house. The crash started a fire in the structure, causing major structural damage to the building. The fire was contained to the structure by the Fire Brigade. The airship was a total loss. Current suspects unknown.

Personal Notes:
Some days a girl just can't get a break.

I had been out most of the day, and was looking forward to a long bath and a quiet evening at the Salon. I was in the process of undressing in my apartment when I head an airship pass overhead at full throttle. This in itself is not unusual, since we seem to be home to a great number of jack-leg airship pilots who substitute finesse with airspeed. I was pulling off one boot when I heard a thump and the peculiar sound of breaking glass. Looking out the window, I saw the long plume of smoke and the aft end of the offending airship sticking out of the opera house dome. Cursing my luck, I pulled on my bunker gear, pulled the remote alarm ringer, and ran down the street towards the crash site.

By the time I arrived at the scene, the alarm was going out to the rest of the Brigade. I pulled the hose out of the firelocker and began to climb the roof access. I hadn't been up long when the dome collapsed from the spreading flames. Between the engines and the gasbag of the airship, the roof was burning with some enthusiasm. What worried me more was what I saw through the bare ribs of the dome...stacks and stacks of whiskey barrels. Apparently Gatsby had been storing his reserve whiskey in the attic of the opera house. I tried to keep the hose trained on the fire, but it was apparent that one line was not going to be enough. Sera and the girls had arrived downstairs and were trying to get some lines running inside. Since they were there now, it dawned on me that we needed the fire service airship. Sera had the same idea, and she started screaming at me to get off the roof and go get the bird. So I slid down the drainpipe and set off at a run to the aeroport.

Luckily for me, the boys at the hanger were paying attention to the clamor and had the bird gassed and loaded when I got there. One short flight later and the first bucket of water was dropping in on the dome. I made three runs, loading the bucket from the pond on the greens side of the wall, but I noticed that the pond was not going to yield any more water, so I angled off towards the canals to refill. The fourth load was the charm, so I wheeled over and landed in the street to see how bad the damage was.

Poor Gatsby was beside himself. I expect he'd be well into whatever he had stashed at home once we had finished securing the doors. He asked me to take a look at the wreckage, so I got my kit and made the climb to the roof again. The airship was nothing but charred metal, and I really couldn't tell if anyone had been onboard at the time of the crash. I found several bits of paper on the roof...tracts and flyers from some temperance group. Ironically, most of them had been spared from the fire by my initial attempts to put it out.

I told Gatsby that I had found a few things, and that I had a few things to sort out back at the lab. He thanked me for helping, so I said good night and thanks to the rest of the Fire Mistresses who came out and went home.

So the question is where did the airship come from? Who was piloting it? Why the opera house? Who else knew the liquor was stored in the dome?

The investigation is ongoing.

Miss J. Dagger
Terranova Investigative Services
Aether Salon, 2nd Floor
#24 Academy Downs
Babbage Palisades, New Babbage
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(this was originally posted in three parts on the New Babbage Ning, as an RP lead-in for the Aether Salon in December of 2009. The topic was Shanghaied! and was held in the Steelhead Shanghai sim)

Read more )
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Just so I can say it, last night at the ball was the first time I wore all the 'stuff' that goes on my dress uniform. I typically just wear the plain jacket, with the Commodore piping on the sleeve.

As much as it pains me to use a Yankee as a role model, I offer the following quote about Ulysses S. Grant:

"Following his promotion at Chattanooga, Grant routinely wore "the uniform of a private with the straps of a lieutenant-general. In his dress, as in his dealings with subordinates, Grant was unpretentious."

So there you go, and now you know.

(besides, that stuff is sniper bait :P)

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