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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 J├Ągermeister 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.

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frau_lowey

July 2012

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