Monday, June 21, 2010

yesterday's news

I looked up from the faded headline towards the alley where the little "blind" girl had escaped. In the shadows, I saw her small luminescent green eyes blinking at me as she ripped away her soiled newsgirl apron, flooding the alley with the light from her gaslamp heart.


Before I formulate whether I should thank her or punish her, she darted down the alley and out of view. Her glow faded and winked out with the sound of clattering manhole cover.

Do not envy the time traveler, Dear Reader. It is a terrible burden with moral dilemmas behind every turn.

Do not ask me of the details of that newspaper. I scanned it completely, then set it aflame with my furnace. As the ashes floated into the wind, I systematically erased the details from my memory.




Relations between Steelhead and New Babbage continue to deteriorate as...

Except the data of immediate importance upon my return, of course.

...the weakened hive was finally repelled by the combined efforts of...
...the hydrogen-powered airships were especially vulnerable to...

I be ethical, but I'm not stupid.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

In the land of steel and chrome

While Nova and Six were repairing the ship, I took the opportunity to survey Seraph City. It is a beautiful place, for certain. . Cranes thousands of feet tall constantly add to sky-scraping buildings. There is powder on the concrete. It is rapidly expanding.

Everything, including the art and the architacture, is streamlined and industrialized. I even saw a machine called an automat designed to feed laborers in the manner of an assembly line! The fashions are...more basic and much more severe than back in Caledon. But I will have to wear something to blend in on my return trip.

I was surprised to see old faces here. Dr. Oblensky's face was on a poster! My goodness, is he immortal? I ran into a friendly face as well, Sir Edward Pearse! He was managing the construction of a new club of his there called the Seraph. He said I may even have an opportunity to host there, for old times sake! Beyond inquiring as to Lady Christine's health, I avoided asking as to the fate of the Masons and the rest of the Steamlands in this timeline, nor did he volunteer such information.

On the way back to the repair dock, I was blocked by a litttle girl in urchin's rags and pigtails, wearing the black glasses reserved for the blind. She was trying to sell a yellowed, frayed newspaper in an outstretched hand while shaking her cup. It was a sad sight indeed. I dropped a few New Babbage coins I had into her cup (I have a small compartment for change) and accepted the paper. She immediately bolted into the nearby alley with far more agility than a blind girl should.

I looked down at the newspaper and opened. It was...THE STEELHEAD GAZETTE? The headlines turned my furnace cold:


Tuesday, June 8, 2010

end of the line

"Qli, what's our jump status?"

Koen's voice sounded weary, and perhaps a bit deeper through the horn.

"We've shifted through the paradigm barrier and completed the fateline track."

"Good. My zero chamber is starting to decay. Prepare to phase!"

With his alchemical powers running their course, we had no choice but to land in the 20th century. I called behind me to Captain Aleister.

"Prepare to phase! Sixty seconds and counting!"

The Captain flinched as arcs of electricity again spread out from my frame across the entirety of the ship. He grumbled in an obscure dialect about not being able to reach his coffin (since Koen's zero chamber could not be disturbed) as he stowed away his wooden tools and buckled himself into the chair of the weapons systems for the Bloodwing's Revenge. The chair was bedecked with and surrounded by a bewildering array of dials, pulleys, levers and plungers that looked like they were purloined from da Vinci's estate sale. (He assured however that they were once Galileo's.) He began to furiously wind a large brass crank with both arms, drawing forth the hemispheres of a wooden cupola that would encase him and protect him from sunlight. That is, until the crank seized up halfway through the process.


"Thirty seconds, Captain! I cannot disrupt the phase!"

He pulled on the crank with all of his undead strength, bracing his boot against the metal column. A nut shattered and the crank came off in his hands.


He tossed the dislodged crank aside and ripped the rusted lock off a battered wooden chest. He pulled out a shredded mess of dusty black canvas surrounded by a cloud of moths.

"Mein Gott..."

"Phasing NOW!"

The swirling darkness around the ship evaporated as the midday of a cloudless sky bathed the ship in the sun's brilliance. I began powering down my Galvanic Tesseractor. I was suddenly distracted by an unexpected display of shimmering light from the cupola.

"Captain? You're...SPARKLING?!?"

With a weary and stoic expression he rubbed his pale cheek with a tattered glove. "Ja, das is vant to happen just before I..."

Before he could finish his sentence he exploded in a gout of flame.


The primary airbag above the ship, only barely repaired during the cross-time transit, immediately disintegrated. The cables that held the balloon stretched upwards with vestigal scraps of canvas like impromptu flagpoles, indicating we had immediately begun to plummet. I only noticed the gaping hole in the deck from the explosion when an ebony-and-scarlet furred neko floated helplessly upwards from it, flailing his limbs and staring back at me with crimson eyes in shock and terror.

At the same time in the dark place known as Lost Angels the androids Nova and Six were pulled into a vortex of time and energy. The cross-time tear opened a rift into their world and pulled them in, disrupting their physical shells and memories.

Nova's short interlude as Qli-2 allowed her to retain some memory of the Bloodwing family and its many relations, but her old powers and possessions were stripped from her as the many-fold realties played havoc with her systems.

One moment she was a human girl in a far away land, the next an elf warrior serving her Queen, still in another a mechanical swordmistress beloved of a minotaur. All of the realms of possibility and timelines changed and warped her until at last she was drawn into Seraph City and part of the team: Nova and Six's Salvage.

Six tumbled through the vortex, time tearing at her like the claws of a raging beast. Years ago some deviant had modifed her, by shoe-horning the pleasure/pain center of a succubus's brain into her systems as an experiment to make her a better pleasure model. This had grown and became a soul inhabiting Six's chassis. That was now ripped from her and cast out into the endless seas of time. Nothing had prepared Six for the vortex or time shifts or the shock of losing an integral system part. Her electronic eyes flickered wildy then went black as she entered a failsafe mode shutting her down until repairs could be made, and time became her repairman...

Six awoke in a junkyard looking down at the spanner she had dropped. She swore under her breath and looked back to find Nova had just wound her key again " I can not complete my work while constantly needing to be wound!" She reached down for the spanner going back to work on a small airship she had built specially to salvage and tow larger air ships.

Nova looked up to see the Revenge plummeting towards the bay and yelled for Six to, "Crank her up and lets go save that ship!"

Both droids, changed in appearance, function and indeed reality itself soared towards the Revenge and quickly looped their towing lines around the ship. A great shuddering of gears and a few curses from Nova later, and the "Sixes and Sevens" (named after each girl's unit numbers) pulled the Revenge out of its nosedive and brought it safely to rest on the tarmac.