Thursday, November 3, 2011

Tricks from the Past

This was on Hallow's Eve.

Everything was quiet in Steelhead. I had spent the week asking people around, trying to find Margo December, with no luck.
Tired and hungry, I had decided to find a place to spend the night, as it was getting dark. I would resume my quest later. I approached the entrance of the tunnels, not far from the city centre, thinking it would make a good hideout to sleep quietly.
The tunnels were looking quite dark and eerie in the night, and I hesitated.
A sound resonated in the silence, like the cry of an owl, startling me. I was ready to turn back and head towards the deserted city centre, when a huge fireball of flame lit up the entrance of the tunnel, splashing up and around the arch, like a firebomb going off. Blown away by the explosion, I fell on the side, in the grass.
The flames were already flickering away, but the atmosphere was filled with smoke, rising from the ground, and between two fits of cough, I spotted a smothered shape at the tunnel entrance.
"What... what was that?" I stuttered, while squinting to distinguish the tunnel entrance.
Slowly, the smoke cleared out, to reveal a short human shape, dressed in urchin clothes and wearing a big bakerboy hat. As he stepped forward towards me, I noticed his bare feet, and, looking up to his face, I recognized the black mask with a pointy beak that was covering it.
My heart missed a beat.
I couldn't believe what I was seeing. Him? Him! Right in front of me!
"T... T..." I hiccuped.
 "Are you ok?" asked the boy. "What you doing in the mud?"
Suddenly, all the feelings that had been building up during those last two years exploded inside me and I ran to him to hug him, shouting his name.

"Hey wotchit!!'" he screamed, as I was smothering him. "You missed me then?"
My eyes were blurred with happy tears. I stepped back from him but still holding onto his arm to make sure he would not disappear again.
"Not a bit, you idiot!", I replied, sweeping away the humidity in my eyes with the back of my free hand. "How on Earth is that possible???? How are you here???"
 Triky stepped back, his cheeky grin changing to a smile of thoughtful adult demeanor.
"I dont know, I... She... All I know is that I'm allowed one hour with you. A gift... I guess it's important somehow."
 "One hour?" I repeated, arching an eyebrow. "That's not much!" I glanced at him, suddenly concerned. "Do you mean that you are a kind of... ghost?"
But Tricky was already darting off towards the town centre, giggling. He turned to shout back: "I GUESS THAT'S WHY THEY CALL IT THE WITCHING HOUR!"
"Dammit!" I muttered before running after him as fast as I could. "WAIT FOR ME!!!"
 "COME ON I WONNA BURN SOMETHING!" he shouted back.
 I couldn't help a smirk, remembering all the things that had been burnt in the past when Triky was around.
We spent the next half hour running around town, me mostly trying to stop him from burning stuff, and laughing as he was knocking on doors before running away, but in the end, we somehow found ourselves near the watermill and decided to take a break and sit by the riverside.
The moon was out and full, lighting up the river side in silver light.
I put a hand on Triky's shoulder and gave him a serious look. "Now we need to talk."

"Talk?", he replied, "What about? Arnt you having fun? Did you see the look on that guy's face when his cat ran in with its tail on fire... PFFT hahaha... i crack myself up."
I couldn't help smiling at the thought, but tried to recompose my serious face. "That was very funny and we had a really great time, but time alas is going quickly and you will soon disappear again... I would like you to tell me what you remember, what happened before you met me in front of this tunnel. You were saying "she" gave you one hour back here. Do you know who that is?"
" Oh man, ..." sighed Triky..."I dunno, it was just a feeling. I just woke up and that's the feeling i had."
I stayed quiet a few moments, to observe him closely, before asking :
"There is something else... Triky, do you remember Willard Steamweaver?"
Triky reacted at once : "But that's my name, how did you know my name?"
 "Because I met you when you were an old man." I explained.
" No one calls me Willard, thats a duffuss name", he stated.
"I couldn't agree more", I nodded.
Triky frowned slightly : "Myrtil you are being strange, what's wrong with you?"
I sighed. "I would like to just play all day like you, but my friends' lives are in danger. The whole of Babbage town is in danger. And I think you could stop that, just by telling me something, but I don't know what..."
 Triky paused for a moment. "This is like a dream, I'm not dreaming am I, you say I'm a ghost?"
I tilted my head , looking at him sadly, before slowly nodding. "Yes, I think you are... You must be... "
"Two years ago, you see", I continued quietly, "Willard, your other half, came back from the moon and found you. You were reunited, and you died together... I thought I would never see you again..."
"This is Hallow's Eve, and here you are, but just for one hour..." I finished, my voice trembling.
"I dont remember" said Triky softly, "but now I feel something else...I miss you, and I miss other people. I can't remember them but I miss them so much... I didn't want to go... but I had to?"
I shook my head : "No, no you didn't want to go and I don't think you HAD to! This Willard, HE wanted to die, and the only way he had to was to take you with him..."
I tried to fight back the need to cry again. "Everyone misses you Triky. I miss you every day. Every day I regret not having managed to stop that..."

"Everything has its time and place", said Tricky with a half cocked smile. "Don't be upset for me, where ever it is that I am... It feels nice, I don't feel alone."
I looked up at him, trying to find out what he was really thinking. "I... just wish it didn't happen, I don't know why it had to..."
I could not fight it any longer and started to sob silently, my shoulders going up and down, uncontrollably : "It is just so hard to lose a friend..."
I let those words die in the silence of the night.
"But..." I tried to smile, wiping my tears with the back of my hand. "But I am happy if you feel nice where you are. Just never forget that you will never be alone."
 Triky smiled. "Dont be sad Myrtil, you can't change the past because the truth is you live now, right now, and right now today you and I, we had fun, because when we are together we have fun, and everytime we ever meet, we will have fun. And in the future we will have fun and burn stuff, that's if we meet in the future, because I don't know if where I am now future exists, it's all a dream to me Myrtil, it's all a dream."
 As he was talking, the meaning of his words was slowly penetrating my mind, and starting to lift me out of my sadness.
I smiled back to him spontaneously and nodded softly: "You are right Triky, we will always have fun, wherever, whenever... Everytime you are here. And I am sure I will see you again, even if it is in a dream."
Triky paused, suddenly looking distant. "My time now is almost over... I can feel her."
I put a hand on his shoulder in reflex, as if to keep him back from "her".
"Wait, let me see if..." Triky lifted his hand up to his face. And for the first time, he removed his mask.

 His face was very pale, with rose red lips, a small round button nose between two pitch black eyes, from within which sparkled the brightest unnatural light.
Triky leaned close to my face, innocently peering into my eyes before whispering "Look."
My own eyes widened and it was as if I was under a spell, unable to move away from his look.

As I was looking deep into Triky's eyes, my gaze went further than I ever thought possible. I felt strange, but calm, while traveling into his eyes, from the darkness towards the light. The closer I got, the brighter the light was, until it broke up into smaller globes of light. My gaze traveled closer and closer to one of the globes, to the point where I could see within the floating ball of light, what looked like a small unborn child. All around me were other globes of light, and an overall sense of calm. A sense of female compassion.
I felt like all sadness and angst had vanished, to be replaced by serenity.
Then I heard his voice surrounding me. Triky's voice, soft and loving :
"There is a time and a place for everything Myrtil, but you still got choices, the future is not set in stone."
And with a gasp, the lights lifted and I found myself alone by the river side.

I stayed sitting there for a while, thinking about it all, over and over. I knew those globes of light, I had seen them before. I smiled to the moon. After two years of confused mourning, I had eventually seen Triky again. I had been able to tell him how much I missed him, how guilty I felt for not preventing what had happened. And he had brought peace in my heart at last.

 Finally rising up on my feet, I walked towards the tree my pigeon had elected as a temporary home and called softly, waking the bird from his sleep : "I have a job for you, Bob."
Dipping into my pocket, my hand found a piece of paper and a small pencil, and I scribbled a few words before rolling the paper into a really tiny tube. The pigeon stepped onto my open palm, and I installed the roll of parchment inside the small metal canister attached to his leg. "Here, bring that to the others!"
Bob took off and my eyes followed his little silhouette, growing smaller and smaller against the full moon.
I smiled again.
Tomorrow at dawn, the first airship departing for New Babbage will have a stowaway.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Leaving my hometown

Things have gone too far this time and Jason Moriarty attacked Nat and Gadget with blue lightnings.
The Thirteen and Below are scheming in secret, Tepic working hard to find some equipment, and Gadget recruiting Miss Avariel's help to build the aetheric trap in which we hope Moriarty will fall...
Strange capsules have arisen all over the city, seeming to be grown from the ground, and change at dark into horrid growling monsters full of teeth, their big eye following you...
The story written by the automaton displayed at the City Hall is appearing gradually, but backwards. And the closer we get to the beginning, the more people are dieing... Parts of it make me think something is wrong, or something is going to happen. The newest page describes Mister Tenk handing over a sack to Mister Mornington. A sack that Sebastian gave him. And in the last page of the book, I wish I had listened to Triky. Both events, as far as I remember, did not happen yet. I can't recall Triky saying anything to me in the context of a disastrous future, and Triky died two years ago... As for Sebastian, I have no knowledge of him giving a sack to the Mayor. And Sebastian disappeared after the Beast was used to host Moriarty's brain. I believe he might have returned to his tomb, along with the other knights of Malkuth.

I will be sneaking into the next airship departing to Steelhead... I want answers, and think Miss Margo December, Loki's grand-ma, could give them to me. I have not seen her around New Babbage lately, and Steelhead was the town she came from, so this might be my best chance to find her... Triky was a part of Willard Steamweaver, who Margo was engaged to. And she was a member of the Thirteen Club, before becoming slightly nuts... Even if the trip leads to a dead end, at least I would have tried something. I just can't stay sitting around knowing that my friends are marching to their death.

Wish me luck.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Visions from a future

It's been almost a year since I last wrote in here, and I think this may be because I have been too shaken up by what happened.
Whoever would like to relive the Black Heart mystery should be able to do so by following the clues scattered around town, but the conclusions drawn by those events are that the monks of Malkuth resuscitated to fight the Beast have been destroying all of the Van Creed places around town, and that the Beast itself is at last gone. Well, those are the good points... In truth, I hate having to admit that I have been used by this creepy insane man to "fix" the Beast and call back to life the most dangerous Evil that Babbage has ever known.
I have trouble to sleep at night since Jason Moriarty came back. I wake up from my nightmares and see shadows creeping around me. I do not only fear for myself, but also for all of my friends.

I guess he stayed quiet and hidden during the last months, because there was not more trouble than usual in the city. He had been spotted a few times though, at the Oiling festival, and more recently in the Port, where he had an apparently courteous conversation with two other gentlemen, although anyone knowing him would get shivers running down their spines listening to what he said.

A few days ago, a coded message came to the attention of Mr Tenk, and many citizen gathered at the Town Hall yesterday to find out what would be happening.
Gadget thought it was all a trap, but we just were all too curious to stay away.
Suddenly, the vision of a door flickered right in the middle of the meeting room before vanishing. It was like a ghost door, appearing for just a few seconds in our world and then going back to limbo.
I looked up to see if someone was playing a trick on us. I heard you could make a big image appear in the air, with some light and a smaller image. Just like making animal shadows on a wall with your fingers maybe. But there was nobody in the gallery, and soon we heard Tepic screaming outside.
We all ran out of the Hall to see a big shiny twirly sphere of light right up in the sky in front of the City Hall's stairs.
I s'pose it was a kind of a gate because a huge airship came through it and landed at the bottom of the stairs in a roaring noise. A very old looking man got off from the vessel and walked up to us with difficulty. He asked for the Mayor and as Mr Tenk stepped forward, he gave him a little box.
We were all quite puzzled, but we couldn't ask many questions as he seemed to be in a hurry. He just said "Do not believe him." and then went back into his ship, speaking to himself, hoping he would be able to make it.
We just watched him flying back up and disappearing behind the City Hall when suddenly a loud BANG noise resonated in the air. Loki rushed towards the corner of the City Hall and we followed him to see the wreckage pieces of the strange airship cluttering the cobblestones, smoke billowing from the burning metal.
We looked amongst the pieces, but no body was to be found... He must have desintegrated completely, or burnt to ashes...
Back at the bottom of the stairs, Mr Tenk somehow opened the box the old old man gave him, which liberated a kind of bot. With an open book in front of it.

Mister Tenk transported it into the Hall of exposition, or Hall of Inventions, I don't remember how it's called... There we examined it better, and after the Mayor triggered it, its mechanical arm started to move and write signs on the book in front of it.
Miste Tenk was in awe at the details of the mechanics and I'm afraid he is planning on taking it all apart to see how it works... But we still managed to take a look at what the bot was writing and I have to say that I didn't really like that story...
In the meantime, a newcomer arrived, and introduced himself as the new supervisor for the Van Creed society. He said he was sent as a replacement for his predescessor. I guess he was talking about Jasper Renfold, who ended burnt by Willard Steamweaver in the middle of the City Hall.
That new Van Creed guy was interested in the Writing Bot and I think he wanted to take it with him, or maybe just to read what it was writing, but we were all around and not looking particularly friendly. He didn't seem to mind though, and said he'd just come back later.
By now, we have learnt not to trust the Van Creed bunch, even though they can be quite informative sometimes. We thought they had all been destroyed by the monks of Malkuth, but I suppose some of them had survived, or maybe they are all over the world anyway and the Malkuth couldn't find every of their little hideout... The presence of that new Van Creed supervisor does mean that they are coming back to Babbage though, so something big is certainly going to happen soon... Big and not actually pleasant.

After he left, we talked about what had happened, and what was written in the book. Zaida said that the very old man who came through the gate smelled like Jimmy, but Jimmy answered he didn't smell (which is true, except when he's been running in the sewers).
Then we started to question what was written in the book. Why was it talking about us? Why was there Mr Tenk, Miss Kaylee, Mister Cleanslate in it? Why Victor Mornington and why Jimmy, Triky and I? How did that old man know about us? And why that story talking about us described such an apocalyptic chaos in Babbage...?
Mister Mornington told us about the time gates... That would be just like the gate between worlds that Moriarty opened with the Professor Eliot's device, but it would link two different times instead of two different worlds... That is quite hard to believe really, but some details are very troubling :
1) The airship the very old man was flying looked a lot like the one Jimmy built for the AetherCorp. Except fancier, with more stuff on it.
2) In the book written by the Bot, Jimmy is sent back by Victor, in a kind of time travel capsule.
3) Zaida thinks the old man smelled like Jimmy.
So could that old man be Jimmy from the future sent back to us? And maybe the time travel makes you grow very older..? Or maybe he travelled a lot towards other times before finding the right one?
The idea of this old man being him upset Jimmy a little I think, but he's tough, he should get over it, and the Professor Kristos Sonnerstein said he could come to see him whenever he wanted if he needed to.

If we believe that time travel can exist, then the future described in the book written by the Bot is not nice at all... All of my friends dead, except Jimmy, who is gone somewhere in his capsule, Piermont Landing in flames, the whole of Babbage covered in crabby things that sound quite nasty, and a man, who appears to have triggered all of that. A man who can flash electrical energy from his fingers.
I know of a man whom I think would be able to generate this future world of chaos. That same man who already once brought Old Gods swirling like Doom over New Babbage with their huge tentacles. This man who was still thought to be dead last year, before being brought back to life in a new body, a new potentially invincible body...
Jason Moriarty.

If this is true, then we need to do something to stop him. The urchins will be having a secret urgent meeting tonight in the hideout, and hopefully, Gadget can tell us about this new society they have been planning with Nat, and the devices he has been working on.

While sitting in the hideout, waiting for the meeting to start, two questions keep circling in my head.
Who is this person that the old man told us not to believe?
And why, in the book, my character regrets not to have listened to Triky?

I guess the time is not yet to come when I will get some nightmare-free sleep...