frau_lowey: (Default)
The early morning after the dance, Wolfgang was not as ill as before, and managed to put his gear together without too much supervision. He was still rattled enough by his transformation that he gave the barest of arguments when he was not allowed to pack his sampling kits. I honestly think it was a spinal reflex, but he knew the mountains about us. This was to be a trail trek, and he knew the drills from home. We would pack the barest minimum needed, for even if we were to be horseback, there could be the need for us to carry our own gear.

Yes, I am able to camp in the rough. I do not enjoy it - no one from home does, except perhaps Sparks and truly unbalanced people. The Wastelands are a dangerous place, where survival of the fittest includes things that escape from laboratories and rampaging mobs. No, it takes something very important to venture into the Wastelands, and it is usually done in large, very well-armed groups, or swift courier packs - never alone. I have trained with both, as have most of the group here. Captain Veles found me in the stable, checking the straps on the rifle scabbard and saddlebags. "Hyu going to be hokay?"

"I am not a fainting townie. You know that, even if I have not shown that here." I paused before turning to him. "I have to go. Griggs is not here. Amarantis has her hands full with school and the newcomer thinking he is Jeremiah. Mother and Augustus have their duties, and the other... it is too early to share that link. He needs a bloodline link with him." I shut my eyes, "...just in case."

He took me by the shoulders, "Hyu vill keep him zafe, hyu iz der mozt dangerouz creature in de forezt - a mother." His grin faded, and he continued, "Hy haff to tell hyu. Herr Baron, he told me to not zay ennyting. Vun zecret Hy keep, dun vorry - iz a nize surprize, bot de other hyu needz to know. There iz a verevolf hunter out there. Hy tink Hy got hiz scent, but not for schure. Only name Hy got vaz McGee. Ve ask der scheriff on der trail out, ja?"

"We?"

"Ho, ja - Herr Baron und Mazter Gil are packing now. Greegar, Maxim und Hy are on guard detail mit hyu."

I rubbed my eyes, tired from lack of sleep. "The Baron knows how to pack for the courier runs, the question is - did anyone tell him about the trails we would be following?"

"Hrm... no?"

I led the horse from the stable and spotted the wagon. I sighed, "Oh, ye cogs and flywheels, that man... if he does not have his camping gear separate on his horse, I do not think the sheriff will wait for him... and neither will I."

"Heh. Now, dot iz onfair. Herr Baron iz de Oldt Campaigner. Hyu knowz he vould chust haff hiz Scientifik Zuppliez un dot vagon, nut hiz bedrollz. Haz nut bin dot long zinze he traffelled mit der Mazterz."

Wolfgang brought his packs to the stable then. Keeping my voice low, for all the good it would do, I replied, "I know, I am just... nervous."

Veles helped Wolfgang with his packs, and continued, "Ja. Ja, notting wrong mit dot. Giffz hyu de etch." He watched Wolfgang mount up and head to the plaza. "Hyu iz nut alone, hey?"

I stopped fiddling with the buckles and climbed into the saddle. "I know, and thank you."
frau_lowey: (Default)
The news from Sheriff Ortegea was not entirely unexpected. He told me there was a possibility we might need to travel soon, but that Wolfgang might need to be restrained the night of the full moon. Despite my experience in dealing with out-of-control subjects, I have to admit, none of them were family. He has been evasive concerning what might happen, this full moon, and I had to restrain myself from using the stick on him. I have no idea if Lycans are as durable as Jägerkin when it comes to emphatic discussions.

It was a bit of a relief to discuss the situation with Captain Veles at last. "Of COURSE you should have told me, it is not as if I could not see something was WRONG, and FOR THE LOVE OF OFF-SET CAMS I OWE GENIE A DOZEN CHICKENS BUT SHE WILL NOT ACCEPT THEM!" At the last, the broom-handle shattered on Veles's shoulder.

Amarantis lighted on the ledge outside the window of my office just in time to see the end of the broom bounce off the casement. She waited to see if I was calm before opening the window, as Veles asked, "Hokay, hyu gotz dot out uf you zyztem, ja? Hyu going to be hokay for now?"

I nodded, "Yes, thank you." It is not often I lose my temper, and thankfully he understands when I do.

Amarantis checked my hands over for damage before saying, "Mama, it isn't as if we hid anything from you, it is just that we did not know for certain."

I scrubbed at my face, frustrated. "I know, but everyone being so careful not to say anything around me, and knowing the tales from home..."

"Ja, vaz to keep hyu from vorrying," Veles said as he picked the splinters out of his hair. "Not to mek hyu opzet. Zumtimez dhese tingz dun vork az vell az ve plan." He picked his beret up from the chair and dusted it off, and settled it on his head. "Der scheriff sayz he haz a plan, vun dot iz less draztic dhan der schtuff Dr Mason zuggested."

"Yes, Dr. Mason... I do wish we had more information on this new 'Jeremiah', though he is not at all like the other incarnations." I straightened my desk and picked up the stray bits of broken china.

"Ho, de antelope guy - he don't schmell like de schtuff Sawyer left, not to any uf der boyz. He alzo dun schmell like der ting dot kidnapped Koen eidder." Veles looked over to Amarantis as he used the broken broom to sweep up the rest of the detritus.

Amarantis shook her head, "I had a look over him while he was delirious, Papa. You and the boys are right - that is not Zaideh. He is not the Jeremiah the sheriff remembers either." She shrugged, "I don't know who he is, but he has been messing with some pretty strong stuff. I am going to need his cooperation to find anything of his past." The mantling of her wings must have been unconscious, as she seemed surprised she brushed the vase of roses. Steadying the vase, she added, "I will check in with the sheriff and let him know, and make another patrol before going to bed."

I nodded as Veles dumped the last of the broken bits and the broom-end in the dustbin, "You are still staying at the lab?"

"Safer than leaving the place empty, and the aetheric transmission antenna is there. If Father calls with anything else for Wolfie, I will let you know." With that she tumbled out the window and glided down to the city hall front doors.

I watched her enter the building and sensed Veles watching as well. "Sche vill be hokay, und zo vill Volfgang, vith der scheriff'z help," he said.

"From your lips to the Builder's ears," I murmured in response.
frau_lowey: (Default)
Things have been busy in the office, while I recover from the marathon that is the Relay. Records were broken, and the fight moves on as the research continues. Life goes on here, with one of our own fighting and moving forward.

There is just so much to do, from standing over the bottle-washers as they re-wash and sanitize the lab glassware they glossed over while senior staff were out, to organizing the Jaegerkin for a hat drive, and sending out reports home and to allies, including the diplomatic packet to Madame Tensai.

Sending the declassified formula book on concretes and mortars used by the Baron's construction battalions may be unnecessary, as she is a Spark. I realize she likely has over a thousand explosive compound recipes, but repairing the moon... I just want to make sure she has all the options open to her.

Wolfgang has been not better or now worse, but he is not eating, still. At the same time, he has not lost weight, that is worrying. Amarantis has been in touch with her father, who suggested adding silver nitrate to the field surgeon's packs for future incidents. However, with the infection so far in the past, he was not able to suggest a treatment he would try with such a young patient.

Dr Mason also gave her a list of books to look for in the second-hand markets, checking for his library. Some titles on the list I recognize from the Baron's library, though others might require a trip to the Biblioteke. I have sent a request to Master Callimachus with Mother, in hopes that some might be available for reference, if not copies.
frau_lowey: (Sunrise)
Wolfgang is almost entirely nocturnal, now. I have caught him several times sneaking in his bedroom window at dawn, and there have been too many times he was asleep in class. Even though his marks have remained high, I still worry. He has been switched to independent study under the regular conditions: reports every week, at least three substantial papers per quarter, and no property damage. I have also asked him to either stay in town, or stick with the Jägerkin on night patrol, if he takes to the hills.

We still know so little about the wilderness beyond the city's reach. It does not take a long hike to lose the view of the town, just over the next ridge, and at night, there are not many sources of light that penetrate the forest. One can spot the lighthousen from a high point, but the forest is mostly untouched. I am still nervous about the woods here. Anyone raised with the dire lectures of the dangers of the Wastelands would be, I think. The glimpses I have had of something moving in the woods beyond the house in Harborside, generally when we have had excitement in town, have compounded my nervousness.

Most of the children from home are loathe to leave the pavements, with some exceptions. Anya is curious, but is still not quite comfortable here, even though she seems to happy to be living with her father. Some of the bolder ones have struck up friendships with the more daring Steelhead children, and luckily their exploits have been viewed as normal childish pranks, save for the incident that created the new sub-basement. Even that turned out to be beneficial, once the new artesian well was properly capped and the water pressure was under control.

Then there are the extreme examples. Rengerin has been had to be reigned in in defending the Baron, and - well, anyone who was exposed to the Jägerbrau at such a young age is likely to be fearless, and her combat skills have been well trained. But she has not shared all of her story with me, citing "paradox", and rapidly changing the subject. The Pensevey sisters would prefer to use telescopes to study anything outside the city, and considering the field their parents study, it is an understandable stance. Wolfgang used to be more cautious, like the Penseveys.

Now... he has been running patrol with Sgt Hellershanks, and when the sergeant is on long patrol, Wolfie has been following any of the patrols who would allow it. Captain Veles has been... cautious when discussing Wolfgang. It is as if he wishes to ask questions but is afraid of my reaction. I may need to get a large stick to discuss it with him.
frau_lowey: (Sunrise)
Wolfgang is sleepwalking again.

I had transferred him from the Muircastle Maximum Security Preparatory School for Young Sparks last fall when they found him prowling the halls after hours. They had been reluctant to let him return after the summer holidays, considering his history of new and interesting explosions. They said the crater in the north pasture would make a lovely lake, but it might be better if he stayed with family. It was all in a rush, and in so doing, Immigration gave him the wrong last name. The environment in Steelhead with the other Consulate dependents and the local children has been good for him, and I had hoped he was settled.

Things have been changing since the turn of the new year.

The botany class trip into the mountains last fall was well guarded. Just because this is not a town in the Wastelands does not mean that the untamed wilderness is safe. Builder bless the Captain for volunteering his patrol to escort us. The Consulate children have had years of training in what to do to survive if you are separated from the Castle or patrol, and we have been including the local children in the patrol exercises. So luckily, the children were not overly panicked when the wolf attacked us.

For a single wolf to attack a large group, even as spread out as we were, I originally suspected it was rabid. That was my worst fear as I bandaged my boy up and the Jägers got us back to the city. Captain Veles and his patrol tracked the beast, but to no avail. The samples we brought back ruled out rabies, to my great relief. However, there were other considerations.

I had given my report to Sheriff Ortega at the time of the incident, and managed to squelch my rising panic with the example of his calm. After all, he is a good example rather than a horrible warning; a city leader and upholder of the law. If this had happened at home, I am not sure where I would have been able to turn, as my information on lycanthropy in Europa is sketchy. The Baron has been supportive of my research, as I have endeavored to keep it from interfering with my duties, but he has deferred to the Sheriff as the local expert.

The information in the parenting references does not quite fit with what is happening here. Wolfgang is exceedingly restless, especially at night. I have found him in odd corners of the office and home, curled up in the oddest places to nap. I have hope, in that though he is watchful and wary of the approach of others, he still is sociable with family and a few of his friends. He seems fond of Anya, and has been helpful in helping her settle in to the routine of the school. Though he and Rengerin quarrel a bit, he is quick to defend her against perceived threats.

Hindsight being what it is, I now understand why he may have stayed away from the Mason Laboratory these past few months - he sensed what the rest of us overlooked. Since Dr Mason has been installed in a new body, Wolfgang has has been cautiously curious about the work there again. He has also been wary of venturing onto the pier at Port Harbor, and I do not think it is because of that horrendous carnival of the Emperor's.

Now to watch, and wait.
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: (Sunrise)
I have been awake for nearly thirty hours, but I felt I should put this down in writing while it is still relatively fresh.

Yesterday, I was seeing to some maintenance at my brother's house in Harborside, when shots rang out from the other end of the district! I ran down the street to Cockleburr Corner, and found Madame Kitla there as well, drawn by the noise of an apparent fight. With tensions so high concerning the upcoming trial, I was surprised to find Miss Burton's door open. The scent of gunpowder was strong, and upstairs, we found Miss marion and Mr Sawyer. Injured and broken, they lay sprawled in the parlor, near a large bloodstain on the floor. Miss Genie was nowhere to be found.

Madame Kitla began looking for clues as I checked over Mr Sawyer. The large bruise on his temple, possibly caused by the teakettle resting on the floor not far from him, indicated why he was unconscious, and suggested deeper hurts. After checking with Kitla to make sure it would not interfere with her investigation tools, I began a trance reading of Mr Sawyer. He had a concussion, and a hairline fracture, but also an injury at the hand and shoulder. The hand injury was a sprain, possibly caused by someone wrestling to disarm him - he likely did not even notice it at the time. The shoulder was worrisome, in that such a small pinprick should not be so inflamed so quickly.

Yet, while I observed, the injury was healing rapidly. I then helped the healing at that site, and was surprised to note an even faster healing rate. There was some familiarity about the way the body reacted, but I put that thought aside as I focused on the fracture.

Mr Sawyer became aware as I was pulling back from the trance and told us of the attacker - Miss marion's description of "a blue man in black" was recognizable as the attacker from last night, and Mr Sawyer confirmed the identification of at least one Chiss male wearing kurogo, perhaps more. Rapid movement and smoke bombs had made further identifications difficult. Madame Kitla reported that the one who Miss marion injured, causing the bloodstain on the floor, was still in the city, but Miss Genie had been spirited out of town.

The Baron had arrived just in time to hear that pronouncement, and rallied the rest of the staff. Mr Sawyer was somewhat stable, yet I did not think he should be out just yet. We wound Miss marion, and set her to watch over him while we joined the chase. Between Miss Caladon and Miss Kara, the assailant was handed over to the Sheriff, who had been patrolling in Boomtown when the attack occurred. The ones who planned the attack knew to watch him, but apparently not the neighbors.

The search for Miss Genie was short, but the self-styled Presidenté of the Steeltopian Republic had her in a cell that was booby-trapped. I honestly think that they planned for people to just stand aside and let the Emperor be pulled into the trap. We surprised them by reacting quickly, but I am afraid they will not underestimate us so again.

They also did not take into consideration the concentration of Timelords in the Steelhead City area. Bypassing the doors and walls altogether meant bypassing most of the traps. StormFront Aristocrat was following the usual pattern for the megalomaniac. However, when I arrived at the guardhouse, the recognition of the waves of fear Genie was radiating caused another unconscious form-shift. I... may have been a bit violent, especially after seeing how she had been treated. I do not think I did any permanent damage to him during questioning.

I was sent to escort the Timelords in their quest to find the particle that was causing the earthquakes. I could not see what they were doing in the mines, but there were many pockets of terror-memories down there. The Emperor arrived, with troops still loyal to him, to help us escape... but the battle was going poorly for him. He returned to Steelhead with us.

Back in Steelhead, we settled Miss Genie in, and tended her hurts. Emperor SteelCobra alternately raged at the usurpers and worried over Miss Genie, apologetically. As her parlor is not that large, when others came to see about her, I slipped downstairs to Mr Sawyer's room. He had allowed Miss marion to wind down, but he had come to no harm. I am unsure how much injury she incurred in the fight, and was wary of making her run all night without a proper check-up. Someone would need to stay to make sure they were both taken care of. Besides, his room was closer to the front door. After the last of the well-wishers left, I was able to bar the door and tyle the house.

Returning to Mr Sawyer, I gently touched his forehead, and sensed a long history of turmoil there. Well, that would fit with my original suspicions, but there were more regrets than malevolence - and a core of a deep need to help. Definitely not the same man as I thought, but the same man who wrote the journal.Throughout the night, he has occasionally murmured in his sleep, tossing about and radiating distress, but when I touched his shoulder, the distress dissipated, as if he realized he was dreaming.

Dawn is breaking now, and he is stirring as if to wake. We will see what happens next.
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.

frau_lowey: (adventuring)
I was called to collect experimental subjects. Subjects that were not volunteering readily, unfortunately - they never seem to understand. But since they were offered by the populace that were understandably put out by the uncivil behavior, I did attempt to go through with the intake. The annoying headache interfered with my ability to reason with them. Then Miss Genie Burton arrived.

As per standard battle maneuvers, she came in flying - and promptly dropped as a stone. Landing badly, she broke her ankle, and had difficulty with coherent thought due to the pain - not just from the ankle but severe systematic pain. Her agony clued me into why my headache was progressing rapidly - the bombs were "Reality-Enforcers", and were affecting those who had ties to the supernatural world.

I have not been active as such, save for the family patrols of trouble spots during the wheel of the year. Still, the family heritage is there, whether I use the skills taught or no. It was harder to hear the bond links, but they held fast, and were possibly the only reason I was able to remain upright as long as I did.

My grip on my temper loosened as the migraine got worse. The leader of the band was a smug smarmy elitist - he is lucky I did not shoot him. Cornered as he was, he still made demands, even and Frau Xandra Skytower deactivated the devices as she found them. Her captivity earlier did come of some good - without it, she might not have been as familiar with the devices, produced by "Dr" O.

Really, one who is so blind as to the balance of the powers that be to think he could remove that element without repercussions... no, wait - he really is that thick. I still do not believe there is any legitimate institution that would have awarded him a degree, much less a doctorate. Must have been one of those sub-par fly-by-night school-by-mail organizations.

Well, after my collapse, I do not recall much, only that Genie and I were removed to the Consulate building, which alleviated at least some of the pressure for me. Miss Mara collected us to her home, and applied triage techniques such as feeding us. There were some words exchanged, regarding the exposure of the children to the other worlds. I may not have had proper balance to enter such a discussion, as the anger and pain from the devices was still there, and I may not have been in full control of my temper yet.

I rested, and Frau Skytower completed the deactivation of the devices she could find, and was able to attend the opening of Duke Argylle's new building with only a minor headache.

In the aftermath, Miss Burton has been unable to tap into her abilities, and Frau Skytower has had a startling transformation, though it is unknown if she has any fae in her background. I have not tried to shift since the incident, but there is one thing that has not changed - the bondlines are still there. Thank the Builder for that, considering how unbalanced I was before discovering them. There have been others that have been affected, though they both deny they have any physical link to the unseen.

There are some shielding techniques that do work, though imperfectly. The ones that tie the laws of the physical world together with the wyrd of the worlds seem to work the best. I shall be collecting the components for some experiments, though I cannot test them, and would not ask anyone to volunteer for such dangers.

At the core of this, is the simple question of "WHY?" Is it simple bigotry, or was there a specific target in the midst of the misery that we missed? Yes, there is one obvious target in the mess, but I do not think the attacker thought the consequences through. The balance would have been disturbed, and who knows what would have moved into the void that idiot tried to cause.

Magic is not free, it has a price - too many children do not get those sorts of granny tales. It is not a cure-all, no more than any snake oil sold at the medicine shows. While it has been pointed out to me that doubt can be a potent shield, it does not always work. Hiding under the covers will not make all of the haints in the dark go away, just the ones still in your imagination.
frau_lowey: (adventuring)
After the Pandorous had made a third attempt to grab Ash (and incidentally, myself as well), Veles shoved me to the back of the squad. Luckily, this left me clear to catch that horrendously heavy pack Augustus lobbed at me before disappearing further into the city. The Council had also sent a containment squad - which meant we were in more trouble than I thought. They immediately began setting up layers of shields around the dock to keep the beast from running away and regenerating again.



As soon as I touched the pack, I was surprised it did not glow from all of the blessings layered within it. How had Father Bert known to prepare this, and for that matter, how had Augustus gotten it? Questions could wait for later. Now I unpacked four liter-sized canning jars of holy water, each nestled in boxes with salt for cushioning, which had also been blessed, and some curious cartridges. Oh, bless his bones, I half-murmured-half-prayed, for Father Bert had sent us the full range of ammunition.



I glanced around, noticing only one of us was using a shotgun, and luckily it was one of Caledonian manufacture that would accept Europan ammunition. “Hotspur! More cartridges behind you!” I shouted as I slid the box across the deck to him. He performed some sort of slight-of-foot, flipping the box into his hand as I turned to the jars. We shouldn’t waste the salt, but how to deliver it? Mixing was easy, and Gotke close at hand when I closed the first jar. He needed no prompting to pitch it into the mass of tentacles.



The surprising reaction was the scream was more avian than mammalian, and then the momentary loss of motor control. In a normal animal, I would have called it loss of muscle tone, but in their collapse, the tentacles seemed smaller. Mr O’Toole had also reloaded with the new ammunition, and the surface area was mottled with discoloration; the blessed rock salt was helping to annoy it, at least. The new gashes from the shattered glass and the burns from the divine saline might have been mere annoyances by themselves, but we were wearing it down. However, I feared this would not be fast enough.



Veles took the last two jars from me as I finished sealing them, and moved in for attack, apparently hoping to get some of the eyes. He threw them true, but the abomination was able grab him and attempted to absorb him. It was less than a second – then, with a great *PTUI* Veles was spat out – and over the edge of the dock. There was a flash of red and white, as one of the guards from the squad did a wing-over and dove to retrieve the Jaeger, setting him gently beside our ship, before returning to hurl hexes with the rest of her squad.



The squad leader shouted "WARE!" as Veles's rescuer rejoined the formation. This was the only warning we had before something large, red and smelling - of all things, remarkably like a seashore picnic - crashed into the center mass of the creature.



The screeching became more panicked, and then the Pandorous became more hideous, which - before that moment - I would have thought impossible. The screams were interrupted by wheezing and retching noises, and I understood what Dr Mason's allergy reference meant. It retreated, finally, but into the Gygax. No help for that, we would have to squeeze the lot of us into the Abwaschbecken. The creature's vocalizations became more distressed, and then the ground under our feet shifted abruptly.



Augustus was no longer close by, and from Ash, I felt a different sort of shift. It seemed Augustus had been able to take Qli:3 with him. If she was gone, the air would soon follow, and we should make haste. "KITLA! STARTING SEQUENCE!" I screeched, as the Baron ordered, "JAEGERS! EXTRACTION, NOW, MOVE!" Those of us not already ahead of them were then scooped up by the Jaegerkin and hauled bodily into the Abwaschbecken's passenger compartment. Sliding into the pilot's seat, I felt a bit of vertigo as Ash seemed distressed. Reacting to his warning, I called out, "Lifting NOW!" just as Veles slid into the gunnery seat.



Therefore, he had the advantageous view to call out the warning "INCOMINK!" over the roar of the straining engines. Those that did not heed his warning did finally strap in as sound of the trireme crashing into the Gygax reached them, with the pinging and clanging of debris hitting our hull.



We had just cleared the field, and were passing the tower, with the Council squad as escort, when there was a sudden, more violent shift of New Erebus. A sudden fear chilled me, I do not know why, before another wild shift knocked our ship for a loop. From this vantage point I could see the base starting to change, and sensed from Ash this was the hand of the Elder at work.



My fears were further confirmed when the squad leader spoke to all of us: [Right, that's enough of that – best if you all strap in and close your eyes]. Oh, red fire, I thought as I realized they were going to planes-shift the lot of us and the ship! Deuced risky, it meant a seasoned veteran of the Council was nervous about staying anywhere in the vicinity, I clenched my jaw and settled in to give the point-man our coordinates for Kittiwickshire.
frau_lowey: (adventuring)
My recollections of that day are still sharp vignettes surrounded by miasma. The swirling pattern of battle in the rolling donut formation is excellent for providing cover... )
frau_lowey: (adventuring)
The aerial Legion units swarmed the ship with more precision than insects, but that was their downfall. Ash has been able to pick up their patterns, and he broadcast those patterns to Kitla and me. She is uneasy in the link, but there is nothing to be done about it while we are under fire. The gestalt snapped into place as soon as we engaged the battle.



Cuban eight segue into the main theme



Poor Kitla - with the pitching of the ship, she turned almost as green as her adopted brother until she found the patterns as a focus. She has been feeding me alternate vectors as she found holes in their formations. I am not sure she realizes she has not spoken aloud since the first volley.


Snap roll with major lift




Ash is in his element, hand-eye coordination with tactical guidance and no other distractions; of course, that means he has completely ceased editing what goes from his brain to his mouth. In the back of my mind, I snapped at him, "Language, young man!", but, honestly - where did I think he was picking up those phrases?



Crazy Othar turn on a major fifth



Besides, I have been a tad busy trying to evade contact while keeping to the original score. Yes, it might mean our movements would be predictable for someone with knowledge of the piece, but it is also a message to those familiar with the music from home that another was on the way. Risky, but I have not heard Professor Winter's works since arriving in Caledon or Steelhead, not even his magnum opus, except at the Consulate Opening.




Drop spin through the bridge



I lost track of the squad as soon as they left the ship. The wobble of the ship as they opened the outer foyer door without bleeding off the air in the room let me know when the others left. I hope we are providing enough focus that they were able to make it to the broad expanse of glass we spotted without too much interference.



Tailstand flipped hammerhead into the final riff



Coming to the end of the Overture, and the drives are beginning to overheat, but the first act of the opera is far too ponderous for any sort of evasive manœuvres. Ash seems to have taken care of the bulk of them, we can pick off the rest on our way back...



Immelman with key change



Ah, of course - eine kleine böhmisch rhapsodi, I do believe that is the ticket....

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frau_lowey

July 2012

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