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Subject: Bifford's Lady Blackbird IC Game B - Newbie Initiative 2013. rss

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Bifford "Bring back Ernie" (Sam)
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As Naomi lets the lad go and he receives the pat to the head the little scamp gives Lady Blackbird a smart kick to the shin then ducks and weaves away out of reach of Naomi's bearpaws and disappears back into the crowd.
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Paul
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"Oi! Well, that's gratitude for ya. Alright m'l—Natasha? We've had a bit of a rest getting here. I'm up for the hard way." Snargle watched the urchin disappear into the crowd, adjusting his own coinpurse to the inside of his pants.
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Lady Blackbird laughed as she saw Snargle rearrange his coinpurse. The mission's the thing Snargle. If the hard way gives me a better chance of success, risk or no, I'll take it. What I am attempting to do is too important for anything to get in the way. Still, in truth I know little about the Spymaster bar reputation. Man or woman, I do not know. Goblin perhaps!

I do know the Spymaster is an information broker with thousands of contacts all over Haven and beyond. Few know as much, and not a scrap is wasted to push and threaten and cajole and steer and turn things to the Spymaster's design. Noble houses, banks, law enforcement, military, political parties, all the way down to ordinary men and women just living their lives. So many caught in a vast web of secrets and half-truths. We will need information, valuable information, to even get close. Or what seems to be valuable information...


Winking at Snargle she set off, grabbing a hat from the bowing sycophant who had only just returned, ushering the group through customs and out into the world beyond. Jamming the large hat down onto her head, hiding her face, she grinned.

Shipyards it is! Either of you know the way?
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Bifford "Bring back Ernie" (Sam)
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As the lady goes to leave the area, two men hurry to block her path and one of them, glancing to the other as if to say, "Should I deal with this one?" says to her, My lady, if you would please stop and provide a donation for the hospitalities of the area, it would be very much appreciated."

The way that he stressed the word 'donation' left anyone listening in no way uncertain that he meant 'pay for the stuff you all had via a sizeable gift'.

As he finished speaking both men's hands moved down to their belts and near, but not touching, the tazar guns holstered there. The man who spoke also held out a "collection tin" for the "donation".
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Lady Blackbird looked them square in the eyes.

No. Her voice was firm, full of fire and noble entitlement. NO!. She spoke louder, making sure the passers coming out of the VIP area clearly heard her voice, all the while keeping her face hidden under the hat. How dare you try to extort money from your betters, you jumped up little shits. Oh, don't think I don't know how illegal this is. My deed was scanned, and the charges will be credited to my House account as well you know. We don't deal in coin! You are running a scam. Stealing from the Noble houses as they come through Haven, why it's shameful. I will have none of it, no sir. You will desist. You will slink back to your holes. You will not bother me, or my friends, again, or so help me the weight of shit I will call down on you and your families will be like nothing you have ever seen in the entirety of your worthless, penny-pinching lives. DO I MAKE MYSELF CLEAR?

Alive, Charm, Charisma, Presence, Command, Servants, 2 Pool. 8custom2{0;1} = (1 + 1 + 0 + 0 + 1 + 1 + 0 + 0) = 4

Looking around them, nervously, at the increasing attention the two men sloped off quickly, vanishing into the shadows. Lady Blackbird adjusted her hat to sit at a more rakish angle and winked at Naomi.

I never like being that person, I hope you know that? But sometimes it does have its uses, eh? Now then, does either of you know the way to the shipyards?
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  • Wed Jun 12, 2013 3:28 pm
Bifford "Bring back Ernie" (Sam)
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OOC: I *swear* that said she Poked them in the eyes...lol!

The two men cower backwards a pace. The one who hadn't spoken very quickly and easily slipping into the crowds and away while the woman's fury was directed at his comrade.

The remaining man went white and his hand fell back onto his tazar gun. For him this was purely as a way to make himself feel safer, but to others....well....

(tell me if you want to react to that, otherwise I'll carry on....)
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Lady Blackbird smiled, sadly at the man.

Really? You're still here? Put it away, before my friend pulls out your throat and wears it as a hat. I did you a favour, now leave. There will be plenty more gullible Nobles along on the next boat. No need to make a stand here. No need even to end your scam. But you make a move with that tazer and you will live just long enough to regret it.
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Bifford "Bring back Ernie" (Sam)
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The man lets forth a yelp! He hadn't even realised his hand had moved to the thing. He turns and also ducks into the crowd.

No doubt his friend will get an earful later for ducking out early.
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The All Father
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Naomi kept a watchful eye upon their environs as her Ladyship belittled and berated the two men.
She almost hoped that the fool, or some obfuscated backup, would be so brave as to draw weapons.

And she didn't let her guard down after he scurried, either, knowing that danger continued to lurk like a Scarti in the reeds.
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Paul
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Nice Skyfall reference, Robbie.

Grinning, Snargle had flicked his toothpick into the "collection tray" while the Lady lectured. The moneygrubbers gone and Naomi on the lookout, they got back to business. "Now, where were we? Ah yeah, shipyards. They're on the other side of town, like the squirt said. We could hop on a train going that way, or hire one of them fancy, steam-powered autocarriages…"
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Lady Blackbird managed to look excited. There was something child-like about the enthusiasm in her eyes. Oh, an autocarriage would suit me perfectly! Naomi?
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The All Father
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Naomi nodded with a smile, "Absolutely".
After all, a private auto-carriage would be largely bereft of threats.

Naomi, still guard up, couldn't help still but take in the mechanical magnificance of this place ... and the populous of once-chained.
In both respects, she found it marveling.
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Paul
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The three made their way through the station, bypassing the multi-track passenger lines enclosed in a soaring, glass-roofed atrium to finally arrive back outside. A sprawling square spilled from the airfield station's main portal. Cobblestones paved the ground, and a market had sprung up to glean what it could from the masses that passed through constantly. Autocarriages, gleaming in polished brass and veneer were lined up along the building's facade, their drivers awaiting wealthy patrons.

"A face so lovely deserves the best heliograph portrait," a goblin in a tweed suit and top hat gestured to a box atop a tripod (he'd addressed Natasha in passing, but Snargle thought he'd spoken to him). "No time to wait around all day I'm afraid, sir! Though I have always wanted one…" The other, a bit surprised, explained it was a revolutionary new technique; something Snargle heard as "pharoh-type," taking only minutes, not hours!

Seeing that the Lady was speaking with the drivers (and imagining Naomi's superstitious reaction to such a device), Snargle paid the heliographer for a small portrait. The goblin adjusted a multifaceted eye on the front of the box, slid in a plate and after a moment of posing (and another waiting while his keepsake was assembled), Snargle had his portrait.

"Bit smaller than I'd imagined," he squinted at the tiny image of himself within a locket on a fine chain, all in silver. The other bobbed his head politely before quickly moving on to his intended quarry. Snargle peered at the image a moment longer ('a right handsome fellow!') before slipping the locket around his neck and rejoining the women. It seemed their passage had been arranged with one of the drivers, and everyone was eager to be off.
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'Five yer Ladyship, s'only fair. I work ever so 'ard, I do. Ever so 'ard. Five is only fair.

Lady Blackbird laughed and turned to leave. The main wailed.

'Did I say five? Must be gettin' old, don't you mind me none. I meant three.'

Lady Blackbird grinned, broadly. Three, and you will forget you ever served us.

The man nodded and gestured to a huge metal box in front of them. The outside was painted in garish greens and yellows, decorated with a pattern of stars and moons like some Gypsy caravan. Pistols whirred and thrust back and forth from perfectly cut holes, spinning in dizzying circles sending an endless cascade of barely-visible cogs tumbling like water over a cliff. Pipes huffed plumes of black smoke that drifted lazily into the air to hand above them in a thick sooty cloud.

The man inserted a vast key into the top of the box and Lady Blackbird watched the hissing, clanking contraption unfold like the petals from a flower. Long concertinaed protuberances lifted up into the air - leather stretched over a skin of telescopic brass poles - expanding outwards to form a long skirt or shell around the huffing engine at the center. A small set of steps fell from a concealed compartment, jangling to the floor leaving a staircase in their wake. The front of the box harrumphed, and a large glass shield rose majestically out of a slot, capped by a huge brass horn attached to a gas bladder. Large round holes opened up in the base and juddering wheels fell out, tinkling like bells and forcing the base of the machine up off the floor. One became stuck half-way leaving the whole thing listing dangerously to one side, belching smoke and growling like a caged animal. The man screamed angrily at it, flailing his arms in great windmills.

'No bertie, yer tempremental ol' cow. No I say. Not for these nice guests. Fix yerself now.'

He started kicking the wheel, laying into it as though he was determined to murder his vehicle. Somewhere, in the depths of the machine there was a thunk, then a gurgle. The wheel fell into its proper place and the autocarriage shuddered and righted itself. Then, with a comical 'BOING' a huge spring popped out of the side, wobbling forlornly back and forth. The man looked sheepish. One cog fell out. Then another.

'Don't mind her quirks, in you get, in you get!'

He handed out three cushions and Lady Blackbird hopped aboard, seat in one hand leaning down to offer the other to Naomi as the driver made for the cab and began to crank the starter noisily, cramming the errant machinery into the pockets of his grubby waistcoat. He brushed his vast, white moustaches into a rakish curl, let out a long breath and set to the starter again.

chuggachuggachuggaChuggaChuggaChuggaCHUGGACHUGGACHUGGA went the autocarriage as it burst into life in a throaty cacophony of industry and wonder.

So, anyone got any bright ideas? Lady Blackbird yelled over the din.
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Paul
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"Bright-eyed eels? Huh? OH, ideas! Hmm. Maybe we're going about this wrong. Maybe, instead of finding Flint, we should make him find us. You mentioned bait earlier, Natasha?"

The autocarriage chuffed along through the city. Its racket made conversation difficult, so they soon fell to thinking instead. They all drank in the sights, sounds (those they could pick up over the noise, anyway), and smells. Most engrossed was Naomi. Snargle'd marked the way she observed people here; noting ex-slaves. She must be wondering about their new lives here, thinking about her own future. Good. Snargle was happy for any opportunity for Naomi to distance herself from the blood-bathed nightmare that was her past.

They crossed squares bounded by opulent buildings (banks, museums, and government seats, Blackbird had said), and wended through narrow, back streets filled with smog and seedier establishments (brothels, poorhouses, skeletons of burned-out buildings). Night was falling when they finally arrived at the shipyards. It would have been faster to take a train, but less scenic.

They disembarked, thanking the driver. "I'll wait 'ere a spell if yer need a lift 'gain soonish." The shipyards weren't exactly a rough part of town; honest work was done here during the day, and by evening most of the factories were quiet, their workers holed up in nearby pubs. Snargle could make out the shapes of airship hulls at various stages of completion. Scattered among these were foundaries (for churning out boilers, pipes and plates of metal), buidlings for making rigging (for balloons and quaint, sail-based airships), textile mills (for making said balloons and sails), and sawmills for shaping lumber.

A few lights twinkled in the gathering gloom; windows on gaslit interiors of pubs across the way, and ember dots of tobacco pipes where two or three gathered outside. Some ideas for improving operation of the autocarriage had occurred to Snargle on the way over, but that conversation would have to wait. Right now they had bigger fish to fry. Where to begin looking for this Spymaster? The shipyard was almost uniformly dark now, but something caught Snargle's eye.

He thought he'd seen a light spring up in a window in a nearby hangar, then go dark. It was as if a curtain had been pulled aside, then hastily dropped. Was it really dark inside there, or was some clandestine activity being masked? Snargle pointed it out to the other two, suggesting cautious investigation. As the three approached the hangar, a thin crack of light shone from where a bay door had been left ajar.

They entered quietly and cautiously. Inside, an immense spherical shape was largely concealed beneath acres of tarp. No hatch was immediately visible, but faint mechanical sounds emanated from within the sphere. Snargle spied a small porthole of thick glass, and motioned for the others to come look. Inside was a jumble of cogs, bellows, schematics, and half-finished mechanisms of all sizes. They glimpsed hunched figure at work on one of them, goblin by the shape, jeweler's goggles over his eyes.

Snargle jumped nearly a foot in the air when from behind them a hissing, popping, recorded voice issued. "Halt. Who goes there?" The click of a pistol being cocked told them that the someone was armed, but Snargle puzzled over additional, faintly whirring, hissing, and grinding noises. 'Could it be? But they were all destroyed or banished!' Forgetting most of his fear in excitement, Snargle turned slowly, arms raised in surrender, and beheld a real, "live" clockworkman. "Tools and tinkers! Easy there, fella; we come in peace!"
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Lady Blackbird blinked. She had never seen anything like it. It was human in shape only. At its heart a cradle of gears and cogs whirred ceaselessly behind clear glass, tiny pistons and miniature levers spinning and dancing setting cascades of gears moving throughout its body. There was no face, not really. From behind a perfectly and intricately carved surface without eyes or mouth a large and regular clicking came, like the beating of a clockwork heart. A white wig sat askew on its head, the sides worked up into curls, and a fine coat with frilly sleeves was draped over its back. Legs, bent backward at the knee, seemed to adjust to the uneven floor perfectly. The hands were brass, fingers made of telescoping tubes that seemed to pivot on tendons of spun steel. Attached to one arm was a pistol, cocked, pointed straight at them.

Oh bother, she said.
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The All Father
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Naomi reigned in her surprise. This world was proving to be a most exciting and interesting place.
She stood still; well, mostly. As they had all turned, circumstance had resulted in Naomi being partially behind Natasha. And with the darkened, shadow embracing quarters of this place, she was able to slowly extend an arm, out of the clockworkman's sight, and wrap her fingers around a rather sturdy lump of piping nearby.

"You have no authority here," monotoned the tin man, "and are trespassers by definition. You will hereby surrender yourselves to my custody, and submit to a full enquiry before the owners of this establishment.
Proceed to divest yourself of any weapons, or weapon-like effects, and take a prone position upon the ground
" he said, motioning to the ground with his bepistoled hand.

Naomi decided, for now, to let Snargle and Natasha hand this ... but remained ready to 'handle it' if they proved incapable.
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Lady Blackbird racked her brains. This was all achingly, tantalisingly, fleetingly familiar, like a dream half-remembered or a song you couldn't quite recall. A Goblin, a Sphere, and a Clockwork Man. It went round and round in her head. End over end over end like pieces in some strange surreal puzzle that she didn't have the wit to see, a bad joke she didn't know the end to. A Goblin, a Sphere, and a Clockwork man.

Ignoring the gun, the threat, the automaton she let her mind soar. A trick her mother had taught her, many thousands of miles away and many years ago, before the woman had become damned and before Elisha had lost hope in her family. Flee to them her mother would say, your memories, flee to them. They will always be waiting.

So she fled. Embraced the merest hint of the Blood and let her mind float, high above the tangled mass of scrap metal that drifted into the corners of the warehouse. High above the structure's cold, hard walls, above the deep throaty rumble of the clockwork machinery that powered the docks. Above the steady vibration of the vast departing ships, above Haven itself where a network of defence satellites hung like jewels in orbit, above it all her mind fled to friendly places, to the Killing Time, Uriah's flagship. 

The Killing Time, where whispering clockwork trees danced in the arboretum, their vast arms spread above her head in an ocean of molten brass, embracing and embraced. The Killing Time, where she had truly met Uriah and grown to love his flamboyant grace. The Killing Time, where he had read to her from the writings of Roethke and asked if at the end she would favour fire or ice. The Killing Time, where they had returned, months later, after they had plundered and pillaged their fill, promises binding them fast. The Killing Time, where she had opened herself to him underneath a sheet of delicate satin as the Wild Blue Yonder sank lazily out of view behind the spiralling ship. The Killing Time where he had whispered to her of his greatest heist, his crowning glory. Of the Goblin, the Sphere, and the Clockwork Man.

Lady Blackbird smiled and, for the first time in years, Elisha smiled with her.
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"It won't harm us unless we pose a threat," Snargle whispered urgently, worried about Naomi's tendency to smash first and ask questions later. To damage such a mechanical rarity was unthinkable to him; he'd sooner destroy a stained glass window.

"My aural acuteness is equal to your own, master goblin. Your failure to comply increases the threat you pose by the second. I suspect you intend violence. Final warning; comply!" The clockman's pistol arm blurred upward with nonhuman speed, firing a warning shot through the roof, then leveled back on the intruders.

Another voice sounded behind them. "Nix! What in blazes? Need I remind you what these intruders are standing near! Ricochet! Not even your wondrous crystalline difference engine of a mind can predict those trajectories!"

The clockman's nixie tube eyes lit up with indignation. "My aim is accurate to within 3mm at this range. Their body mass would slow the projectiles sufficiently."

"Automata, they think they know everything! You three! Before my associate here puts a few holes in you (or anything else), who are you and what business do you have here? Thieving? Spying? Keep the snapper on 'em, Nix… and please, position yourself between them and the ship!"
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Automata eh? Rare things those, people would pay a fortune for them. Not that I care, honestly, I already have a fortune and you don't need two. Why I barely need one. Still, it does remind me of my old Grandpa, that man could really talk. On and on and on he'd go as though there was nothing more to a day than his rambling. He could tell a story though, he certainly could. I remember one particularly about an automata who wanted to be a real person...

Walking slowly backward as she talked, hands raised, gesturing to the others to follow Lady Blackbird continued babbling until she bumped up against the curving hull of the ship. She smiled, lounging against it watching the look of horror on the Goblin's face.

Relax, friend. We came here looking for something entirely different, someone entirely different. I can honestly say you were the last thing we were expecting to find here. Still, coincidence can be a cruel thing. Tell me. Do you know anything about Uriah Heap?

Somewhere, far off, a klaxon started. Then another. Then another. Lady Blackbird shook her head. Seriously?
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Paul
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"Heap? Of course I know him! Or at least, I know of him—never actually met the guy—he commissioned the ship that you're standing too close to! Bathysphere, the ship of rumor, designed to descend through the Depths to the Other Side! You must be associates of Heap's, then? Work's moving along on schedule, I assure you. I'll deliver the goods. She's nearing completion! Still a lot of bugs to work out, though, tests that need to be run, etcetera. Heap did send you… right?"

"Wanted to be alive. Yes. I have the very story etched within my memory stacks… Pinoccio…" The clockman, Nix stood as if transfixed while all around, klaxons continued to sound.

"What in blue blazes now? Can't a goblin work in peace?" The tinker moved to a large radio array, adjusting dials with an ear held up to a small trumpet. "Aerial security breach… presumed to be pirates—the fools—coordinates… oh grudding Jove. Nix, into the ship! Help me fire up her defense systems!"

As pandemonium unfolded, Snargle glanced from the odd couple entering Bathysphere to the Lady, an inexplicable smile on her face. "Uriah Heap? I thought the pirate king's surname was Flint? Somebody mind telling me what's going on?" At that moment, there was a groaning of metal girders, popping rivets and shearing metal as the roof was torn clean off the hangar.
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Lady Blackbird laughed and flashed Snargle a wink, whispering conspiratorially. Quite so Mr. Snargle, quite so. But how many Uriahs do you know? I doubt our Goblin friend is a well red man, familiar with the 'ever so 'umble Mr Heap, and this way, if things had not worked out, no one would have been able to tie us to a certain Pirate as we would never have mentioned his name. We were simply on a book tour of Haven, do you see?

She watched the sphere gout huge huffs of scalding steam as it wobbled against its supports, a smile drifting over her face that she seemed wholly unaware of.

Now we three have a dilemma. I would guess our quarry has come to us. Pluck always was his way, but the Haven security net is a new level of daring with risks all its own. The Killing Time is sure, but getting away clean will be difficult assuming we even make it aboard his ship without being shot. I do not wish to endanger anyone who entertains the slightest doubt concerning what I aim to do. The law is mutable, I will break it and reshaped it according to my design.

She half-disappeared inside the sphere, her head and shoulders leaning out.

Seriously though, the Other Side! Who's coming?
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The All Father
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Naomi had remained quiet during, but now moved with snake-like alacrity, into the vibrating sphere alongside her charge.

And still, she held that lump of piping.
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A stream of thoughts flooded Snargle's mind as Blackbird, too entered the ship. This was it; her reunion with Flint, the passage for which the crew of The Owl had been paid. Where did Snargle's responsibility end? Or Naomi's, for that matter? She'd never been one to flee in the face of danger, and yet, would she ever know anything beyond the master/servant relationship in her life?

Snargle watched as Naomi, too, made for the ship. Try as Elisha might to befriend the woman, Snargle suspected Naomi's sense of duty went beyond friendship; loyal protector, yes, but ultimately a servant with a life debt. It was Naomi's life to choose what she would, but Snargle felt she at least needed to know her options. Elisha was a friend, but not the kind Naomi needed. She needed to know friendship unfettered by coercion, positive or negative.

Blackbird was a brick, but Snargle boarded Bathysphere for Naomi. And for the other half of payment still owed on delivery. "Portholes and pirates, wait for me!"
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Lady Blackbird hopped into the Sphere, ducking through the narrow entrance hatch. It wasn't particularly large, but it was quite possibly the most complicated looking thing she had ever seen. Everything about it was breathtaking, intricate and full of grace. Swathes of tiny cogs and pistons rose whisper-quiet, then fell behind sweeping clear reinforced glass walls. Finely etched brass plates whirred and shuffled and moved with a logic all their own, seemingly rearranging their very geometry before her eyes. At the front banks and rows of levers and knobs and dials and switches stretched from the floor to the curved top of the sphere.

Strapping herself into one of the free seats by a large brass buckle she grinned at the Goblin.

Yes indeed, Uriah sent us ahead to make sure the Sphere was operational. We're to deliver a full report, and I must say so far it looks wonderful. You are doing a capitol job, sir, capitol. I think he wanted to see it first hand rather than reading a report, you know how Pirates are? All pluck and action. Which explains his arrival in orbit as we speak. Best make it a good demonstration eh?

Alive, Cunning, Deception, Misdirection, Disguise, Silver Tongue, 1 Pool 7custom2{0;1} = (0 + 0 + 0 + 0 + 0 + 1 + 0) = 1

The Goblin nodded and started to flip switches, sending streams of lights cascading down the control panel. He stopped, hand hovering over a large button and turned, frowning. Wait a minute, Uriah quite clearly said.....
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  • Thu Jun 27, 2013 10:57 pm
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