frau_lowey: (Default)
Mr Sawyer is apparently no worse for wear, despite being struck on the head hard enough to induce unconsciousness for a quarter-hour. One might say uncanny, but for the fact my family has some of the same traits. I was too weary to safely take the train back to my home, but found my way to my brother's house down the street without too much trouble. With most of the family either in meetings, class or on patrol, it was quiet enough for a rest.

When I woke, I sent a message to the construction brigade to see about repairing the damage to Miss Burton's house, and headed for the lab. The samples from the bloodstain Miss Burton's house confirmed scientifically what Kitla had indicated thaumaturgically - the one who was injured was indeed the attacker. The samples matched the ones from the night before, indicating it was the same attacker, but there was that odd blurring to the samples, very similar to the differences between Herr Baron and Niklaus. So this could be another issue of copies, or "clones", as Dr Mason called them. Miss marion might be most formidable, if we could find a fighting style that would help to keep her from being injured again. Mr Sawyer indicated he could make the repairs with what he had on hand in his shop. Curiouser and curiouser, I set that chain of thoughts aside for later consideration.

I then turned to the shuriken, finding fingerprints on it - how sloppy. From what I understood of the watchers in the garden, this attacker's sensei would be appalled that the student would leave such traces. I would have to cross-check this with the prints on file in the Sheriff's office from the booking, but there seemed to be more than one type. I would have to eliminate the known ones to find out if there were others.

The pellet was a surprise. I found it on the floor, and from its location, would have expected it to show a slight grazing wound. Instead, in the clear light of the lab, it showed that it was covered in blood, as if it had embedded itself in Mr Sawyer's shoulder. It had been loose, on the floor, with no evidence of how it was removed from him. I had inspected the wound, it was just a graze by the time I got to him. the blood sample was... surprising, yet not as much as it might have been a bare week ago. I completed my analysis and finished the related reports, making the relevant copies for Herr Baron and the Sheriff.

I sent a note through the pneumatic system to my assistant to check on Niklaus, reminded that he had not been back to visit Miss Burton since the attack, which was very odd. He had been given protective status in the Consulate, and released on his own recognizance months ago. This behaviour of staying away, even in cases of attacks on his creator, was not in character. Dr Mason had also been rather odd of late, working all hours in the lab, rebuffing the usual social contacts. Was the underlying issue there the reason why Amarantis had brought the journal to me, and not her father? Of her five parents, he normally would be the logical recipient of such material. More to consider, and evaluate.

As I filed the evidence and copies of the reports in the Sheriff's office, I was shocked to feel a return. Ash had convinced his captors to return him to defend Steeltopia! Knowing there would be fire as well as gunfire, I quickly returned home and changed into an old uniform. Builder bless Herr Baron for insisting the senior staff train with the Jägermeister for emergency procedures here.

I chanced a slip between planes to the office, and found him outside, trying to convince a citizen to return to his home. The plaintive answer of "What home?" was evidence of the destruction. The Emperor's people were divided in fending off the usurper's troops, and protecting the people from the damage wrought. It was not going well, even with Gematria and her cohorts fighting the fires and helping with the rescues. The usurper's soldiers had no scruples, firing on the rescue patrols as they worked!

The Emperor himself found us in the Acclaim District, and reported the fires were nearing the Guard Compound. He was intent on retrieving the guards and the usurper, and making sure the fires were contained. Ash had retrieved the experimental exoskeleton, as he was one of the few people who could use it - normal humans usually ended up with broken limbs trying to control it. It was helpful, as one of the zeppelins from the air guard had crashed in the parade grounds. Luckily, the gas mixture was a stable one, and had not ignited when the gasbags had been breached.

Emperor SteelCobra attempted to contact the loyalists in the main base, but the traitors had tried to sabotage the equipment before running. The repairs were quickly done, so we had minor warning when the naval attack came. We took cover in the detainment unit below the guardhouse, to find StormFront Aristocrat had escaped. On closer inspection, his cell retained a puddle of material the Emperor unscientifically categorized as "goo". I collected a sample, as best I could in the test-tubes from my pack, one for the Baron and one for Mr Glineaux.

We emerged from the guardhouse, and found most of the parade ground, including the communications shack, in rubble. We were preparing to fight through the streets to get to the Government House, when a silence descended. The gunfire had ceased, but it did not mean we were out of trouble just yet. Reaching the offices without incident, the Emperor found more sabotage, vandalism and outright theft. He and Ash managed to get one radio unit working, while I watched an empty and silent street. Reports form the outlying units were fantastic, there were large numbers of the enemy soldiers that were melting before competent witnesses. I suggested to the Emperor that Herr Baron's manner of dealing with the troops might help, with amnesty for the ones who surrendered quietly. He agreed, commenting, "The ones that take that offer are likely not the clones. Which reminds me, we need to check the mines."

Ach, mines - I am to the point that I detest mines. However, I did agree to accompany him, as this was not a Cavorite mine. We found a false wall that was not evident before; after all, those of us down there last night were not familiar with the layout of the mines. A few more twists and turns, and we found where the opposition had stored their prize. The shell radiated gas, which caused us to retreat to the surface. I am not sure what we encountered above, strange carriages, odd peacekeepers and loss of contact with those we knew. It was the last of these that prompted me to follow the Emperor back down, and concentrating on the bond-links, we touched the shell again.

When I came to in the theatre, Ash confirmed we were in the space/time coordinates of home. The Emperor's battalion had initiated the mop-up operations, with his orders to allow surrender. I asked Ash if he were all right, and he nodded, disengaging his sarcasm circuits. he will be about, but not openly, I think.

I returned to Harborside, checking in on Miss Burton, and the work the crew had done. Sleep overcame me, and rather than return home, I slept on the settee in the parlor at my brother's house. My continued lethargy in the morning caused me to wander next door to the Folly Garden, and simply laze in the catnip patch. An unfamiliar cat joined me, but as I skritched behind her ears, she identified herself. Kira reported her strange adventures of the past day to me. No wonder Dr Mason's actions have not been standard. He quite literally has not been himself. I took Kira to the office with me, to see who we could find for additional help.

frau_lowey: (starlight)
Ash is a very good evaluator of the written word. His outline clearly stated the content of the elder Mason's journal, and I was right - this is not the same person we fought... was it only a year ago? Ach, tempus fugit.

What Ash did not convey were the emotions the man allowed to be exposed in his journal. This was not often, but the exhilaration of discovery, the determination to remove the curse from the family... the grief and frustration, watching his wife slip from him, in spite of all of his knowledge.

I still feel the need to see her side of the story, but when she refused the reanimation serum, he wrote that he knew why. He understood, and complied with her wishes though it grieved him to lose her. This is not the action of the one who would not scruple to use all that came to hand, in that artificial city in the stars.

Further research is needed to authenticate the events detailed in the journal. I would not put it past the master of manipulation to have produced this out of whole cloth. However, there is much here that rings true and is corroborated by what information the Caledon Library Newspaper Morgue is able to supply for the time and place this was written.

I think that I might need to find the other books the Emperor had collected for the Steeltopian Library. The warehouse where they are stored was not heavily guarded the last time I... obtained entry to the government offices there. There may yet be more surprises for us in those crates.
frau_lowey: (Office)
When I woke, Amarantis had been by, and recently, by the temperature of the fresh tea on my desk. There was also a package, wrapped in brown paper, with a note: "Given this by a third party, looking for the other half now." Upon unwrapping the package, I was shocked to find a large tome, bearing the markings identifying it as part of the Bloodwing Foundation Chronicles. It was the missing journal!

I could not reach Amarantis, she has gone to ground again, and none of the security devices could give an indication of where she had gone. She had departed from the roof and gone up until she was out of range of the sensors before continuing either in flight or slipping between the planes. I should have been proud of her security caution if I desperately did not need to know what path the book had taken!

I began to read....
frau_lowey: (Default)
I returned from Steeltopia with little information - the new ruler has a sham office in the Emperor's former workspace. It is naught but window-dressing, and the place the regular day-to-day city-state management is handled. He has not made it his personal workspace yet.

It is the same in the Emperor's Residence - all for show, nothing personal here. Not so much as a fingernail-pairing... the place has been sanitized of even the Emperor's presence. It means there is nothing here for me to track the background of the one who mysteriously appeared to take over. It also does not bode well for their plans for the Emperor, should they gain control over him.

No, I do not believe the Emperor is behind the actions placed on his doorstep. To be sure, he is quite mad, but not that sort of mad. I also find the timing of the attack on Ash to be suspicious. Not only was he a trusted member of the guard, he was our link to the inner workings of the city... was I wrong to suspect the Bane of the Foundation?

That one died - we had proof, and yet, and yet. There was that unsettling rift I felt at the meeting, oh so many weeks ago. My suspicions are still not allayed concerning the new neighbor. He has not been threatening, nor especially odd, considering the other neighbors, but he still makes my shields twitch.

I have not been able to speak to Dr Mason about it, as he has become increasingly immersed in his work. From the information I gleaned in Pvt Steampunk's debriefing, his work may be turning to the path of his predecessor. But if he does not stop wearing his gluteal group for a hat We must find a way to make sure he does not follow the same well-worn path.

My investigations to find Ash's soul-piece have been singularly frustrating. The dolls I have met have been ever-so-polite, but not particularly informative. I hope Gematria has had more productive contacts. I must remind myself, that he is a Mason, and I cannot protect him from the world, but the instinct to shield him is still there.

I returned to the office to file my reports, and check on any messages. I also had to check on the Baron's newest recruit, who seems to be determined to destroy herself in her efforts to protect him. I suspect I know why. It is a pattern seen many times over.

We still have had no word on the disposition of Frau Skytower... there are those on staff that hope she still lives. Casting herself in the sea at that point in the battle, there is little hope, considering the currents in the area. The merfolk the frequent the area have been blunt on that point, but that Mongfish cow has died many times over. If she does appear again, I hope the new additions to the staff can help.
frau_lowey: (clan)
We were just wrapping up the general staff call meeting when Frau Skytower spoke up, all the while staring at her feet. "I was thinking that... I should.. . perhaps take somewhat of a break when it comes to the consulate. I... I feel like I am loosing my grasp on my senses. I find myself in places I do not remember going to."

Well, in light of her past difficulties, of course that caught my attention, and the Baron's as well, by his frown. She continued, "I feel like I could be a threat to you. The Nightmares and the calling stopped for awhile, but now... They're stronger than ever."

She had the full attention of those of us who had witnessed her difficulties, or had been debriefed. Miss Caladon, especially took note.

The Baron's frown deepened as he commented, "Ach. Didn't Lady Kitlalmina work with you on them?"

"We did, and things were fine for a bit. But... this woman.... this voice I hear...." Frau Skytower began tugging at her hair, a nervous habit of hers,"She is working to sabotage me in every way."

The Baron then asked, "Can we get Lady Kitla to visit again?" to which I nodded, and prepared a note to her in the next dispatch pouch, while Captain Veles reassured Frau Skytower.

"She wants you dead, Herr Baron, and she's even tried to manipulate me with Mr. Largo. It seems she is most fascinated by powerful folks." Frau Skytower's distress was barely controlled. She kept her gaze on the floor, shaking.

In a murmured aside in the discussion following the brash statement, Herr Baron consulted with Miss Caladon, and her sword, While I reminded Frau Skytower, "There are a number of us to fight through to get to him. Remember - she also has to get past you, Xandra."

Her response was a fervent, "I am willing to do whatever I might to rid myself of this, it is bad enough that I am running about as a Geisterdame."

Miss Caladon's sword spoke up, "Miss Skytower, I know you cannot see me, but please look at the sword. Hard." Alexandra did so, and a few moments later, Espah said, "It's as you thought, Herr Baron."

I watched Alexandra closely, as she twitched, then her expression and carriage changed entirely. I found myself standing between her and the Baron, with several others before me. As the Baron took my shoulders and steered me to his off-hand position, a different, shriller voice came from Frau Skytower's mouth. " Just WHAT are you trying to do? It's not like it's not obvious what's happening." She then smiled in what might have been a seductive manner, had she not also been sneering, "Klaus..."

He folded his arms and frowned severely, while Miss Caladon challenged the new entity in our midst, "I do not know who is possessing you, but if you so much as harm a hair on the Baron...I will tear you apart." The Jägerkin present made assenting noises, and flared a shield around the Baron, stepping in front of him again.

That thing inside Xandra grinned wickedly, "Oh, come now, I won't harm him." She glanced around the reception room, then addressed the Baron directly. "Quite a little army you have here." He shifted his stance behind me, and her poison-sweet smile belied her casual tone, Klaus, is that any way to say hello to an old friend?" She took a gentle step forward, eying everyone as she did so.

The company bristled, and she murmured, "I'm unarmed, what could I possibly do? I don't intend to fight anyone here...."

Klaus growled, "What do you want?" I could hear the rustle of cloth behind me - he was preparing the meteor controls, and I was afraid it might not be enough. I reached, and encountered adamantine shields, nothing like what Xandra had before.

"Well I have HALF of it." She smiled, "but a kiss would be nice too. Don't you worry, Klaus, you're not really involved in my plans.. this time."

"What are you doing to Xandra?" he growled.

She ignored the question but raked us all with a scathing glance, "Come now, are you the Baron's Staff or are you PEASANTS? Pitchforks and torches... and firearms..."

"Oh, if they feel like shooting you will make them feel better, I'll hardly stop them. Although I am concerned about your latest victim." he had the control in his hand, I am sure - but still we hoped to rescue Xandra from what held her.

Miss Em, who had been carefully out of the way of the major points of trajectory, sniffed. "I beg your pardon. None of us are holding pitchforks."

While she took a moment to examine the armament aimed at her, the Captain growled, "Let Mizz Xandra go, hyu vile ting."

"I will not."

"You will not have a choice." Herr Baron's tone apparently made Miss Caladon shudder and look to him. He reminded us, by telling her, "We know much more now than then, thanks to Lady Heterodyne."

"Then kill her," she chuckled, "I admit, you made it difficult. I would have had her much sooner if she had not told on me."

Victoria then spoke out, Leave my sister alone, you mean woman!" then horrified at her outburst, clapped her hands over her mouth again.

That thing turned to Victoria, huddled behind us with Miss Tanarian comforting her, "You know, I had a sister too. And I also once had a High Priestess. You could fill that role," and held out her hand.

Victoria held tight to Miss Tanarian and cried, "No, not ever. You give her back!"

Espah, glowing brightly, made one last attempt,"XANDRA! SNAP OUT OF IT."

She continued as if nothing had been said, "You have no idea the plans I've laid. It will be glorious."

"I do not care...they end here," Miss Caladon growled.

"I'm not speaking to you, upstart," and the thing possessing Xandra turned to Victoria, "Come here, girl."

Victoria shook her head and stayed put.

"Fine then," she pouted, "suit yourselves." Then she drew a weapon from her robes, fired a single round into the stone floor, and vanished in the smoke cloud it created.

A few moments of sorting out the injured, the Captain led the Jägers in the hunt for her. I had thought Miss Caladon would follow, when she collapsed. Herr Baron picked her up and placed her in the nearest chair, while Miss Em asked, "Is that who I think it was?"

He growled, "She does not have the grace to die and STAY DEAD." Then he noticed a bloodstain on his sleeve and swore. "Get the kit," he ordered, and I dashed off, leaving him to evaluate Miss Caladon's injury.

I was a bit shocked to find I had shifted sometime during the incident. Luckily, the waistcoat covered the rents in the back of my blouse from the wings when I shifted back, and put myself to rights as quickly as possible. As I returned downstairs, Miss Em asked, "Anything that can be done to help?"

His mouth twisted as I helped unpack the bandages. "You... have connexions with the Fae and others. Frau Xandra is possessed in a scientific manner. What can your acquaintances do with that?"

"Not much," Miss Em admitted, "And the only scientist I know is more interested in mutations at present, thus."

He muttered as he evaluated Miss Caladon's wound, "A bit of a slice here, hmm... She heals unusually fast, I might not need to stitch. Ja, let's ensure it's clean and bind it tightly. Caladon... Caladon, can you hear me? Wake up. Espah - ah, there you are."

Miss Caladon stirred a bit, not quite coming around as I checked her belt for her first aid kit, "I would rather use what she is used to...."

Espah said "In her pack. Which...she forgot."

She groaned softly in pain "Damn you..."

"Espah, bitte, what's going on?" he asked as he gingerly untucked Miss Caladon's jacket and shirt.

Miss Caladon groaned louder "Damn you, Klaus! That hurts!" as Espah said, "I do not know. One second she was on my radar...and then she was on the floor."

As he cleaned the wound, applying a the anti-infection powder and a layer of gauze, "Sehr gut, you're awake enough." I assisted in helping bind her up enough she would not need stitches. He braced her shoulders, taking her weight as I wrapped, and murmured, "Are you ever not going to need bed-rest for three days after we talk?"

She looked up at him, a slightly glazed look in her eyes, "I'll be okay...it's not deep."

He grinned, "Blood is supposed to stay inside the body." He helped her up out of the chair. "You are going upstairs and you will stay here overnight." Rubbing the back of his neck, "Ach. We all need to rest at this point, not just the injured."

Settling everyone in to the post-operative rooms in the laboratory, I spoke quietly, "Sir? Are you sure you do not want to move everyone to one of the safe houses?"

He shook his head, "There is no such thing as 'safe' around her." He continued, "I want to be here in case Caladon has any issues, although it was not a very deep cut."

I nodded and bid him goodnight, headed for the boathouse, when a courier in Steeltopian colours intercepted me, presented a cable to me, and dashed off into the night. It read, "NEW TRACES FOUND - ARISTOCRAT'S OFFICE - G."

I gathered my skirts and ran the rest of the way home, hoping I would not be needed to hunt the Other, as I had to find my foster son's soul.
frau_lowey: (studying)
I received the call from Gematria concerning Ash, and hurried to the Steeltopia office, arriving just in time to help put him in the stasis chamber. At least we can preserve the chassis for his return of his soul chip. My first question was "Can you sense him at all?"

Gematria's negative response was as emotional as I have seen her since her last transformation. As we moved him upstairs to the chamber Gematria murmured, "His robe is open." I blinked, and realized she was speaking of the protective cowling over Ash's central mechanisms. "Checking the log... 'maintenance'? He was tricked into offering access to his soul chip?" She was unable to access who was the one to request maintenance access, so we returned to analyzing the notes.



I turned my attention to the desk, where I found his notes. " Augh, his handwriting is neat, but I can make no sense of this outline." I puzzled over the fact that though they took the book, the notes remained. The handwriting was Ash's - or at least I recognized it as his style - very neat and precise, but written with a hand that first learned to handle reed and papyrus, rather than fountain pen and paper.

"Time travel?" she asked, reminding me of the family's braided Möbius history.

"Even so, that does not account for much of this." I shook my head, "Jeremiah must have had drugs stronger than normally available."

When she had fully scanned the notes, she handed them to me, and we puzzled over the contents. "Factoring out the journal outline... This... contradicts Jeremiah's personality profile." Gematria murmured, analyzing the content against the wealth of information stored within her memories. "Yes, he defeated Aleister... we know that... Mrs. Rachel Mason was his... sidekick...?"

"Assistant." I absently corrected, penning a note for the research division to search for evidence of her memoirs, if there were copies that were not in the Steeltopia Library. Perhaps we could cross-reference with the Council records concerning actions on the power nodes on the steppes.

She continued with her musings aloud, "...Rescued her family's village from Baba Yaga...?" Her confusion in trying to align these notes with what we knew of history caused some odd exclamations, "...power ring???" When she pointed out the section concerning the scientific explorations, she said, "Here it states he conducted the cloning experiment to free the family from Bloodwing curse...opposite of his own statements..." My conclusion was this was not the Jeremiah we fought in Avaria.

My eye caught the brief notation that Jeremiah had reported to the Council of Clans, arresting enough in the fact that this had never come to my attention before when Gematria commented, " The narrative falls apart after Rachel refuses treatment for ailment with reanimation fluid...due to...corruption factor..."

I said what first came to mind, "She feared him by then, and for him, perhaps, but we will not know until we have her first-hand account." Another hastily written note, "I am advising the Baron, he might need to do without me for a bit. Not a great task for him, but he should be warned." I checked the security devices in the building, and nothing registered as out of the ordinary, so the one who had been here has been cleared by Ash. No surprise if it was someone he trusted enough to allow maintenance access. I had no idea he had a contact of that security level, it was as if we were discovering he had a secret paramour. Then I was struck by the thought, "There is one witness that is still here." and I turned to Ash's pet Yog.



The poor thing had no idea why Ash had not romped about since the "little white spinny" had come to visit. I comforted it as best I could, but the information led Gematria to show it a doll key, taken from her satchel. When she twirled it in her fingers, there was a flash of dim recognition, and the Yog started searching for Ash again. Settling Yoggy with a treat, I turned to her, "That would seem to be the clue, but I do not know the Doll community well. Could it be one of Dr Steel's cadre?"

"Ash would be wary of peri after our past connections with her. I will investigate that angle as well," she said packing up.

"I must check the wards at the safe-houses, and set protections for the staff that might be affected... and avoid telling the Jägers , for they are needed in Steelhead now." I tried to hide may fatigue by shuffling through the papers at the Baron's desk.

Gematria paused before leaving, "The rumors that Jeremiah is in Steelhead? Would the Jägers who journeyed with us to New Erebus not recognize his scent?"

"There was scuttlebutt that they did scent Jeremiah in Steelhead, but the one they suspected has a changed scent. I still do not trust that one entirely. It is exceedingly odd for a blacksmith to smell of incense, if he has not just come from Mass...wrong formula for the churches and temples nearby, as well."

Gematria tilted her head to one side in an approximation of the human puzzlement stance, "Changed? Incense would be explained by his residing in the djinn's house."

I nodded, "However, she no longer holds the scents of the Mideast about her. I am worried, for it also seems a trial for her to even smile anymore. The whole situation smells wrong."

There was a pause, and Gematria finally said, "I thought I detected sage particulate from that direction."

"I have not smudged her house, though she was present for Madame Kitla's smudging of Frau Skytower's residence." I thought a bit more, "Augustus smudges the Station whenever he comes home, but both sources are across the Harborside district from Miss Burton's house. Could you take samples from the Station and compare them? I will check with Madame Kitla and Frau Skytower for permission for particulate sampling."

Gematria nodded and left, to continue her investigations.

Alone, I rested my chin on my hands. The worries were compounding. Miss Burton's thaumaturgical healing seemed to be arrested, by what I did not know. The stress of waiting to go to trial was also wearing on her, it seems. She fatigued so easily, still. I wanted to trust her farmhand would help, but he turned up at such a convenient hour. Mr Sawyer seems to be more than a blacksmith, but why hide other abilities in a town of Sparks and Mages if there were no other factors? Now the attack on Ash, and I have not been able to reach Amarantis. The last time I saw her was shortly before the death of Marcus, when she mentioned something about finding Koen.

A small flash before my eyes, and a courier tube landed on the desk in front of me. Quickly reading the note, I knew things were going poorly on more than one front. The note was from Mother, letting me know Augustus and Uncle Nico are in chambers, and have been for some days. She said the indications are the Council is gathering forces - all clans together. The one thing in that pulled them all together in a unified front once before was horrifying.

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frau_lowey

July 2012

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