Iwaku: Steam City

Discussion in 'THREAD ARCHIVES' started by Asmodeus, Mar 18, 2012.

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  1. Armand chuckled at the articles as he browsed the frontpage. THe UNderworld Denizen didn't care enough to continue reading and tossed the paper into a trashcan as he walked throughout the merchant quarter in his best cape and tattered tophat. he barely looked as an UNderworld man today, but underneath his mid-class coverings were the stained and old clothes of the poor.

    He snarled and turned his head as a butcher loped off the head of a chicken. the steam and smoke of the industrial revolution wafted up into the sky as Armand did his best to stay inside the shadows. He bumped into a well to do man, and took a step back, the freakishly tall man staring down at them before slowly walking onwards.

    "LO, SIentos..." he spoke in a scratchy whispering baritone. his hat bobbed over the crowds and his clinking metal heeled boots ticked off in time to his pace.
  2. Due to the lack of curtains in her dingy dwellings, light began to stream through the square opening on the wall opposite her door. Before the sky returned to its normal hue, removed of a vivid palette of oranges and scarlets, Beatriz, no, Acqua, arose. Sure, this dingy room of an apartment was not the best to live in, but the girl did not care. In these slums she did not have to deal with the unending drama of her older brother and his spouse, which used to drive her crazy before her parents' death. Her parents were merely more chains for her to begin with, the young girl having come to regard her nanny Acqua, whose name she assumed in her honor, as her true mother. A few moments of reflection on her current situation passed as she pinned her substantial curls back, dressing herself in her uniform for work. If she had to serve those who were her equals to have her freedom from the duties and pressures of an aristocrat, so be it. With that attitude Acqua gleefully pranced down the street, humming to a song, embracing those colorful moments preceding her work.

    She arrived at the City Center Café, ready for the often snooty customers that came her way with an unyielding smile. She scarfed down a slice of bread and cheese paid for with her own money and then she was off to the tables. Proceeding an hour of set up and cleaning with the other employees came the customers. Soon mere murmurs grew into light chatter, and eventually the place came alive with conversation throughout. Acqua would have easily become completely preoccupied with serving the customers, had it not been about chatter over a certain Lady Lycan's meeting, and the news that a package would soon be delivered to the owners of this very establishment. The speculations over both matters between the waiters only made Acqua more excited. Today'll certainly be out of the ordinary!
  3. The normally stoic figure of Zeneba Ona wasn't known to show much emotion. However it was hard to keep a smile on one's face when you're slowly falling to the ground on a flat bed filled with bags of coffee beans, and held afloat by a humongous hot air balloon. Zeneba herself was strapped in with a large hook, but also held a gloved hand on the chord. While it was always wonderful to be in the air, she had no intention of falling to her death. Still the view was gorgeous, if one didn't mind the soot and smoke that rose out of some of the buildings. And the aroma of coffee was very uplifting to say the least.

    As the lay of the land grew more detailed, Zeneba could just barely make out her destination. It would be a tight fit, but then again, she was landing in the city - a package this size would be a tight fit no matter where she landed. It was a good thing she had clearance, otherwise she would have been misconstrued as a sky pirate.

    A hard jolt caused Zeneba to frown. The corner of her flat bed hit the side of a building and as they slowly fell, the corner ripped up pieces of brick and plaster. The ensuing grinding noise was not pleasant at all to hear. Hurriedly, Zeneba righted her craft by pulling ropes and levers, releasing air and adding more heat. The hiss of her hot air balloon brought in onlookers, causing the woman to bite the inside of her cheek. It would be very bad indeed if one of the residents filed some sort of lawsuit against her for damaging property. God as if the paperwork for air clearance wasn't bad enough.

    She released a breath of air as the flat bed touched down on the cobblestone street. Other than the brief run in with a building, the delivery went smoothly. Putting out the flame, her hot air balloon deflated behind her with another loud hissss. A quick assessment of her package made certain that nothing was damaged. With a nod, Zeneba hollered out,

    "Delivery for the City Center Cafe!"
  4. Loud bangs echoed throughout the city, the signal of improperly tuned boiler pressure. The steam would often accumulate in pockets, sometimes trapped by water, and with enough built up back pressure would shoot forward, expanding and shaking the pipe in the process. Although indicative of maintenance, the constant groans and creaks issuing from the labyrinth of pipes snaking through the city was a sign that it was alive. A giant organism, with humans for cells and steam for blood. What a beautiful thing.

    A chute in the side of the wall opened, and a platform rose the opening, decelerating to a stop, perfectly aligned with the opening. A cup, pushed forward by a small piston at the back of the opening, deposited a gently steaming cup of coffee onto a table nearby.

    A metal humanoid, hooked up to an outlet near the bottom of the wall by a cotton hose, picked up the cup with its hands (it did not fear the heat), and delivered it into the waiting finger of a man, who sat in a huge, ostentatious chair that overlooked the city. Its every movement was punctuated with small hisses of steam, shooting out from fingertips, elbows, and knees as it carried about its business.

    "Tripe!" Theodore shook the newspaper and opened it to another page as he took a sip of the drink. His eyes scanned the pages.


    The giant construction machines built by Mayhem Industries walked along the city. They were towering spiders, walking on huge metal legs that easily rose fifty meters into the sky. Their movements were slow and labourious, moving between giant footholes embedded in the streets. Getting them into position was the most tedious, as every so often the massive steam lines would have to be switched to another outlet. Once in place though, they did the work of a hundred men, smaller tentacles descending from the belly to lift, position, and rivet metal beams together to mass produce homes. The rivets were heated red hot in the coals of a small boiler in the beast, and were belt fed down to a gun which used a high pressure piston to drive them through holes in the steel beams.

    A large team of humans still had to operate the machines from within, but soon ...

    Soon they would not be needed anymore. Theodore allowed a small, conspiratorial sneer to flicker across his features. This was immediately followed with a hacking cough. He had allowed cigarette ashes to fall into the coffee from which he drank.
  5. Then came a loud hiss of a deflating air balloon, barely audible over the many conversations coming from the café. Acqua was free at the moment, and the owners were in the back of the establishment tweaking a prototype coffee brewer to ensure its efficiency. In a matter of seconds the woman delivering the package entered, assessing the package to make sure it was in one piece. I wonder what's in it?

    "Delivery for the City Center Cafe!"

    "Good morning! Ah, that must be for the owners," Acqua approached with a smile, despite the lack of emotion on her face. "I'll take it to them, thank you," Acqua extended her arms out for the package. "Oh! Would you like to have something to go?"
  6. Harma set down the newspaper and went back to looking out the window.

    Harma coughed as smoke drifted in from the window. It sucked living in the industrial district of Iwaku City. Smoke was literally everywhere, especially now that the industrial revolution has begun. Harma wished he could live in the air-ship harbor. He loved going to high places. His most favorite the sky.

    But, he was not the boy he once was. He ran Clavicus Shipping now. He had to take things seriously. So, he decided to impress the people working for him... by signing up for Lady Lycans expedition, wherever it may go. Hopefully not somewhere dangerous, but with Harmas luck, that was going to happen without a doubt.
  7. Lady Lycan (open)


    It was a beautiful day for business. Lady Lycan loved the gentle breeze that swept across her face, standing on the balcony of the second floor. Said balcony had tables set up, where the various servants were preparing them with tea cups and utensils. Despite the bright sun, lazy clouds above and cool weather, inside the leader of the Shifters was a storm of emotions. She kept up a warm smile, walking around the various tables and inspecting them. As usual, everything was laid out in a neat and proper manner. After giving them her approval, she walked through the balcony door, into the mansion proper.

    Inside the large estate, she paused, glancing around her once to make sure there was no one around. There, her smile slowly faded, feeling the weight of it all sink into her. This house, passed down from her now gone parents, was her home. It was here that the Shifter Foundation was born, here she collected all kinds of rare and powerful artifacts. They were displayed behind glass, most too broken down to be properly used, and others, while interesting, had no real benefit in an age where steam and technology were performing all kinds of miracles every day. Yet with all that came a price she didn't want to pay. The arranged marriage had been her parents' last wish, something written for her long before she could truly understand it.

    She wished she was Fluxx, she wished that it was so simple. Just run away, forget the riches, the home, the memories, and live the life of the adventurers she often sent others out on. Walking briskly through the halls, navigating herself down the stairs and to the main hall, right before the entrance. It wasn't that simple, and as much as she wanted it to be, that was not her life. Putting on her best smile, she waited for the guests, which should be showing up soon.
  8. The sound of a hammered dulcimer could be heard over the slight hissing of steam, nudging Camilla awake. She picked her head up and groaned, stretching the kinks out of her back and neck. She'd fallen asleep at her desk again. It was an all-too-common occurrence for her; indeed, she fell asleep just as often at the desk in her workshop as she did in her own bed.

    Yawning and rubbing her eyes, Camilla rose and trudged into the water closet of her apartment, which took up half of the third floor in the east wing of her family's estate house. She pulled a lever, which started the bath filling with hot water as she continued through the room into her bedroom, and on into her kitchen where she opened the steam valve for the room, setting her steam staff into action. The main valve fed into individual valves which controlled each machine. By shutting off individual valves and feeding in punched cards detailing recipes, she decided her breakfast for today. Smoked salmon with petit suisse cheese and dill on fresh bread, a soft-boiled egg, marmalade on toast and coffee with cream.

    Satisfied with her choices, she returned to her bath, shedding her work dress and minimal night undergarments and depositing them into the laundry chute before climbing into the tub. It took a moment to remove all the pins from her hair before she could relax in the water and begin to clean herself up. She had a meeting later today, and it wouldn't do to look as if she'd slept at her desk.
  9. It was a familiar path to him, make no mistake. The manor in the distance was familiar to the white haired gentleman walking towards. It was there that most of his work was provided and it was there that he'd found more leads on his own interests than anywhere else.

    Zeon smiled lightly, the pay wasn't bad either, and while the adventures were sometimes a bit dangerous, it was rarely bad enough to cause him to much concern. Still, the headline in the paper today had troubled him a little. Someone he knew was indirectly mentioned. He didn't care for it when people he knew went and got themselves in trouble. Then again, when it came to the news, he didn't believe everything he read in the paper.

    However the article mentioning his employer he had no difficulty believing. Partly because the newspaper rarely falsified things in regards to Lycan's announcements, but more importantly, he'd received a personal letter from her about it in the days before requesting his presence.

    The manor drew closer as he walked, he'd asked Fluxx if she'd gotten a letter as well, she had indeed, he recalled her saying that she might show up. With her you could never be entirely sure however. He wouldn't say she was undependable, just a little...flighty? He couldn't think of a gentlemanly way to put it, so he decided to push it from his mind. If she was there, lovely, if not, then he still had plenty of business to tend to.

    He knocked a couple of times on the heavy brass door knocker on the front door. He stood back a couple of steps, waiting for someone to open the door. Invitation or no, he wasn't the type to just barge in on someone else's front door. He waited with his hands gently entwined.
  10. The thin blade of the rapier made rapid 'thwack' sounds of impact as it made contact with the armoured dummy in the center of the room. Xion Caranthacus, the heir to the corporation named after his family danced around the figure, his body like a shadow, forever elusive and fluid. His sword was in his hand all along as he went through his morning workout; although he had been robbed of the many aspects that made up his childhood, the swordsmanship that he picked up was something he practiced daily with great gusto. It was the least he could do for his gone caretaker, who had fallen into obscurity after being sent away.

    "It is time to get ready to leave, sir." Came the voice of his butler, a blocky, stony-faced, balding middle-aged man. Xion nodded, not gracing the man with a verbal reply. There was no need, or desire to. Xion was the employer and the butler was his employee.

    After a quick shower, Xion donned his clothes - A white shirt embroidered with gold patterns, a pair of simple brown coloured pants held firm by a belt with an add-on holster and hole to slot his rapier through and a long black coat with multiple pockets and buckles on it. Once he holstered his pistol and added the blade to his side Xion was off, walking out of his mansion to the car that awaited outside, to drive him to the Lycan Estate, where his fiancee was.

    Xion meant fiancee in the most technical sense of the word. The marriage between the both of them was an arranged one, by his parents. They wanted Xion to have a strong woman for a wife, yet still in their class and so their eyes came upon the leader of the Shifter Foundation, Lady Lycan. They didn't love each other, they barely knew each other. Xion knew that this marriage was a necessary evil, however, to ensure his position within the hierarchy of the Upper Class.

    The young man mused over the newspaper, raising his eyebrows in interest at the section about his fiancee's invitations to her estate. Perhaps he would look, and maybe, just maybe take part in this 'venture' if it interested him enough. He abandoned the piece of paper after a while for a business report regarding the sales of their newest product. Xion was kept busy trying to balance the mug of coffee he retrieved from the holder inside the rapidly shaking car. It was something he had gotten used to, in terms of motion sickness but he didn't want to spill the dark brown liquid all over his clothes and his documents. It wasn't a fitting way in which a rich man paid his fiancee a visit.

    As he reached the gate of the estate, the door swung open and a man appeared, dressed in a formal manner. The man's attention was first drawn to the car at the front of the gate, bearing the emblem of Caranthacus Corporation and he immediately opened it, allowing the fiancee of his mistress into the estate.

    His car trotted by, as he reclined back in his seat. He opened up a small compartment under his seat and he drew out the box - Inside contained a diamond necklace that was to become a gift for the Lady, along with a bouquet of her favourite flowers that nested in the front seat.

    Xion got out of the car, with the box in hand and he was handed the flowers by his driver, who promptly drove off to park the car and spend the rest of the time lazing away until he was needed again. Word must have been sent forward, as the gates to the house opened to reveal Lady Lycan standing there, and Xion walked up to her.

    "Mother Nature has no beauty that come close to rivaling yours, my lady." Xion said softly but audibly as he stepped in front of the Lady, presenting her with both the flowers and the gifts, a light smile on his face. It was all a formality, of course. Nothing less was expected of him.
  11. The aroma of coffee was much stronger here, Zeneba realized as she walked in, clipboard in hand for the owners to sign. Looking around her everything was bustling with activity, most of it was talking, but there were several servers dashing here and there. It would have been amusing to watch if she weren't already working.

    A woman approached her with a big smile, to which Zeneba responded with a bit of a frown. She stated she wasn't the owner, that they were presently preoccupied. Well it wasn't like the package was going anywhere - It was almost 500 pounds worth of coffee. Jabbing her thumb towards the front door, Zeneba said, "Package's outside miss, I just need you to sign here, here, and here. And no thank you I don't -"

    The latest newspaper caught her eye, although Zeneba had more interest in a particular article. She herself hadn't been reading the papers because of this week's latest deliveries which included a cargo of exotic animals, a crate full of explosive and some new boilers. But judging from what this article said, Zeneba wouldn't have to continue with this life style. Oh sure, she enjoyed flying, that was the best part. But she would prefer flying without delivering something massive or dangerous to people. She reached over to the table, reread the article quickly and looked to the woman in question, without lowering the paper. She still had the clipboard outstretched for her to sign.
    "This meeting with Lady Fiona, is it legitimate?"
  12. Armand made it to his destination at the last trolleystation before the higher class fo town. he coudl see Lady Lycan's mansion from here with his deftly precise eyes and waited int eh shadows for his man.

    "I trust all is prepared." he muttered into the alleyway.

    "yes. our spies have been stationed as butlers. none of them know who their workign for, but for te right price, they'll get the information back to us proper, boss."

    Armand smiled a littel just then and turned tot he murky man in the alleyway. " Excellent. Can't have them getting a one up on us, can we? Information afterall, is half the equation." he chuckled, makign his way back through the dingy streets of the city, his eyes glowerign red in the darker shadows.
  13. Theodore eventually abandoned the coffee, all two sips of it, and stood up, dropping the newspaper into a small chute that led to the incinerator (boiler). to The steam man removed the cup of coffee with no uttered word and deposited it back on the chute, throwing a lever to send it back down.

    He ran a hand through his long, messy hair. It had been a while since he had washed it. His attire though, was clean and neat, waistcoat, tie, dress shirt and pants.

    Prior to disposing of the newspaper, a rather particular item caught his interest. Although he had managed to secure many of the raw materials for Mayhem's contracts through independent suppliers, he was never the less reliant on the Shifters for rare elements that were needed for the more advanced alloys. Without them, the new advances in boiler technology would not be possible.


    The giant clockwork bird fluttered its wings. It was a massive ornithopter built in imitation of the albatross, thick leather hide stretched along steel wireframes. At the center of its head lay a great parabolic dish, through which it could record, grainily, conversations carried out at a distance. It was tempting to do a trial run, but he was greatly, greatly assured by his engineers that all it would do was crash in a massive wreckage of lawsuits and fines. Thus, he would not be able to spy today. The bird continued to roost in the spire topping Mayhem building.
  14. Once in a while, there are certain things that grasp one's attention, and refuse to let go. Perhaps it is an image of beauty personified, dancing through one's thoughts endlessly no matter how dire or reverent a situation may be. On occasion, it is a matter of grave importance that has integrated itself so thoroughly that its phantom looms in the recesses of one's mind endlessly. Perhaps a physical imperfection. Possibly the tone of one's voice. A particularly charming animal. All possibilities. For Exvind, however, the present warden on his active thoughts...was the way that a particular lesser noble's extensive chin flapped "Wouldn't you agree, Commodore?" and jiggled for moments after each laugh. It was grotesque, and made worse by the fact that Lord WhateverHisNameWas seemed to be the jovial sort. "Commodore?" Every few moments, he would laugh that obnoxious, hearty laugh, and the chins would begin their bouncing again. And again. And again. It was maddening - and he simply could not focus.

    "Commodore? Are you well?"

    Freedom! The Commodore, Exvind Constantine Delacroix, blinked rapidly, sharp grey eyes quickly coming into focus. All it took was the nagging of this small herd of Industrialists and their wives to free him from the siren song of that bloody chin...but still, they had been talking about...something. Had it been the potential profits of a mass transit system, or had one of them been talking about the gossip and infighting of another family? Bismillah! It was aggravation at its finest! He wasn't made for politics - but all must suffer for duty. He cleared his throat, and took a moment to smooth his uniform. Every fold crisp and clean, the crimson tassels and tie standing starkly on the lengthy brown coat he wore - distinguishing himself from the common Officers. The role of Commodore was one of dignity and refinement - even in the jaws of Hell that was the social circles. He raked his mind for whatever the conversation had been focused on, rattled off a quick answer then excused himself. Brandy sounded nice. Very nice, especially if he were to face not only the Industrialists, but the other League socialites who invariably wished to have the Browncoats police a more focused area (namely their own) or wished a tweaking of policy, or worst of all the varied fathers attempting to marry off their daughters to him.

    Bismillah, he could just hear them again as he raised a glass to his lips, ' Commodore, please let me introduce my dear: Susan/Lilian/Ivy/Rose/Alice/Sally/Sarah/Jane/Lucy/Mina/Victoria/Christine/Elizabeth/Joan, my pride and joy.' Every time he would be introduced to some waif of a girl who clearly had no merit of her own and certainly had not the courage, tenacity, and assuredly not the interest factor that appealed to him in the very slightest. Any woman who could take it upon her own to march up to him, state her own opinion, and at least show some sort of finesse for understanding the glorious differences between the Mayhem Mk.VI Inquisition Rifle and the Caranthacus Model V Long Pistol (which he had purchased enough of to make them standard issue for his Browncoats) was NOT worth his time or affections. The Commodore surprised himself only somewhat when he realized that he had already drained this particular glass of brandy. Alas - always too quick to part ways, brandy and he.

    Exvind needed at least a few minutes more of respite before facing the League anew, so he made a tactical retreat from the lavish parlor, complete with a rather impressive lighting system that could be adapted for all sorts of weather and mood, to the veranda, to look out upon the City he had sworn himself to.

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  15. Juliette was enjoying the usual morning, looking out the window of her room and into the world outside.

    As she watched the trees sway, she could hear her family reprimanding her chaperon, a man by the name of Nikolas Planter. He was a nice man, but he was never fast enough to grab her before she would slink away into a crowd or find an alleyway to duck into. She just couldn't stand being constantly watched- it wasn't like she was dangerous to herself or others. It wasn't like she was a child.

    She had been sent to her room five hours ago, and that was when the reprimanding began, and it was just now getting close to ending. Her creature, currently unnamed, rubbed against her cheek- its soft white fur brought a smile to the woman's face. That was enough to bring her from her daydreaming. They couldn't blame Nikolas this time, at least. She opened the window of her room quietly, cringing with every quiet squeak before it was finally open. There were iron bars blocking the way, but, after having secretly working on them for weeks, all it took was another couple swipes to each of the bars with a file and they clanked to the ground below- which was both good and bad.

    Good, because the sound happened and would draw attention away from her room, which was on the second floor- bad because as soon as they saw what it was, they'd know what was going on. She ripped at her thin skirts and made it so it was easier to move, then gabbed her pouch, the little creature jumped in without being coaxed and she grabbed at a small bag and slowly made her way out of the window, balancing on the edge of the molding, trying to make her way to the slope of the roof only a couple of feet away. She held herself tightly against the wall as she slowly moved closer- one step revealing a piece of molding that had come away easy- so she moved more carefully- finally finding herself of the roof, she crawled quickly up it and down the other side, where it conjoined with the covering for the patio. Her skirts were already smudged with dirt at this point. She jumped and rolled as she hit the ground, the drop was only ten feet, but it caused a couple scrapes and bruises.

    Juliette could already hear shouting- her absence was discovered and they knew where she was by the movement on the roof- and they would be here any moment. She couldn't stay in the house anymore- and she couldn't stand to be watched every second- she had to make a break for it now. She ran- her flat-heeled shoes came away from her feet, and she left them behind, feeling giddy as she ran faster. It was exhilarating to break away- but she wasn't done yet. She cut through some thick bushes and through one of their neighbor's yards. Finally she was within sight of the town, and kept running- cutting through the bushes put herself ahead of her tail by ten minutes- they'd have to journey though the path, which was a bit out of the way. She laughed, happily as she walked, laughed at her appearance- she looked like a begger at this point. Her feet were covered with mud and dirt, her body was scratched and her clothes were torn and dusty- her hair was a mess, but she was happy.

    She had been planning the escape for months, and even if it only earned her an hour of freedom, it was worth it. She stuck to the alleyways, watching people from the shadows, curious as to the lives other people lived.

    And then- she spotted a news paper, dirtied by mud and puddles of water, and the article of Lady Fiona caught her eye. It looked interesting, and she couldn't help but think of what wonders were there- it only filled her with more excitement. Her family would never let her attend such a thing, the truth was, they didn't even let her know about these things- she wasn't even allowed to read the newspaper- they were afraid it would lead to more unbecoming behavior.

    She had to go, she wouldn't be in sight, not in her predicament- for one, her clothes were a mess, and two, what if someone spotted her and tried to return her to her family?

    She planned as she made her way through the alleys- a rumbling came from the pouch, and the creature crawled out, gripping onto her skirts as she moved. "Where do you think that estate is, hmmm?" She asked the creature with a wry grin.
  16. Meanwhile...

    Diana sat on her throne, getting a shoulder massage from a steambot. In her hands was a clunky, octagonal device covered in letters. It was mounted on an axle to a block of wood. She spun it with one hand. "An Arche-what now?"

    At the opposite end of the throne room stood a butler and beside him a small boy in ragged clothes. It was the boy who spoke up, with eyes large and desperate. "Arc-E-Type Writer!" he yelled across the chamber. Some of the rabbits on the carpet got spooked and ran away, earning the boy a slap on the back of the head from the butler. "Gaagh!"

    "Ruuuuurgh!" groaned Gibs the steambot as he continued massaging the Queen. The rabbits ran back in the opposite direction, chased by a second steambot in a maid's outfit. "Eeeeeigh!" whined Isabot nervously. The machine seemed to be in a state of anxiety, fussing over the rabbits and throwing worried glances around the room.

    Diana's eyes narrowed. "And what does it do?"

    The boy picked up his cap and rubbed the back of his head, dirty blond hair spilling around his face. "Er, well, your Highness, I...er... developed it at the orphanage where I grew up. I used to study the other kids, when they weren't punching me. And I discovered that there are eight types of people..."

    "SHALL I DANCE FOR YOU, MY LADY?!" A third steambot bounced into the room in a cloud of steam. It was dressed in a Santa Claus outfit and moved erratically, flailing arms and legs. "I HAVE MY GARTERS INVOKED!"

    "Eeeeeigh!" Isabot and most of the rabbits went running into the corner.

    Diana gave a sidelong squint. "Not now, Jinx!"

    "THERE'S A MOOSE IN MY BEDROOM! IT GIVES ME DETENTION! WAH-HA-HA-HA!" Jinx jiggled up and down, flashing fairy lights.

    "Muuuuurgh!" said Gibs.

    "Alright, settle down. You're scaring the bunnies." The Queen luxuriated as Gibs continued rubbing her shoulders. Then she squinted again, at the nervous-looking boy standing with his cap. "Who are you?"

    The boy stared back, horror in his eyes. There was a pause and then the butler beside him leant forward and bowed to the Queen. "Sebastian Dobson, Maam. He won the Diana's Den competition for young inventors."

    "THAT'S HOW THE BROCOLLI WAS HANGED! WAH-HAH-HAH-HAH!" Jinx screeched as he hopped around the throne.

    "Oh, that thing," Diana said, ignoring Jinx. "Well, what have you invented, boy?"

    Sebastian gulped and lifted a trembling finger to point at the device in the Queen's hands. "Er... the... the... Arc-E Typewriter, Maam?"

    "Oh yes." Diana gave the weird octagonal object another spin, whilst Sebastian crept forward a few steps. He was careful not to step on the Queen's pet rabbits. "See, I studied the other kids at my orphange, Maam. And I learned there were..."

    "Eeeeeigh!" Isabot had decided to hide behind a curtain.

    Sebastian stared at Isabot, then continued. "...er, yeah, there were eight different w-ways in which pre-school children d-developed writing styles. The Arc-E Typewriter has a s-s-switchable keyboard interface. Each one is ergonomically designed to eliminate er.. 80% of spelling mistakes in the given p-personality type."

    "Ooh stats. I like stats!"

    "THEY FED US HERRINGS SMUGGLED IN BIBLES! WE WERE BEASTLY CHILDREN!" Jinx was thrashing around behind the throne, doing an impression of a flamingo.

    "Nuuuuuugh!" Isabot made a run for the door and the butler had to give chase, tackling the panicky steambot in the hallway. Sebastian, meanwhile, gripped his hat tighter. "So...er... I was thinking... maybe, with an investment from the Treasury, these could be developed for schools and..."


    Diana's left eye went large, almost popping from its socket. Gibs's fingers had malfunctioned and tightened into a death-grip.

    "Ruuuuurgh!" Gibs grumbled, oblivious to the fact that he was cutting off the Queen's circulation.

    Sebastian looked around anxiously, noting that the butler was still handling Isabot. He turned back and drew a screwdriver from his pocket. "Erm... I can fix that..."

    Diana was turning purple, her legs thrashing as Gibs killed her slowly. Sebastian hurried forward and clambered onto the thone, stepping on Diana's knees and using her head to pull himself up. "Sorry Maam, just..er... sorry..." He climbed across onto Gibs's shoulder. "I've seen this before. It's a contraction of the deltoid rods. It happens when the intake valve is cross-planed. The old Mark Four's weren't designed with the inhibitor..."

    "Gibs!" Diana spluttered.


    "WE SHALL DANCE FOR OUR GRAVY!" Jinx started doing an Irish jig in the background, belching clouds of steam. Ignoring this, Sebastian opened a plate on Gibs's shoulder and got his screwdriver inside. His legs were wrapped around the steambot's tophat, occasionally kicking Diana in the face. "Just need to tweak the.... there!" The Steambot's fingers retracted and Diana took in a great gulp of air. The Arc-E Typewriter went flying from her hands and fell in front of Jinx, who smashed it into the wall with a timely dance-kick.

    "Yuuurgh!" Gibs straightened up and the boy to tumble to the floor. Diana, meanwhile, was standing up and fixing her collar as blood returned to her cheeks. She nudged a rabbit away with her foot. "We are not amused!"

    "Eeeeeiighh!" squealed Isabot from beneath the butler.

    * * * * * *

    "WAAAAAAAAAAAAAGH! OOPH!" Sebastian hit the ground of the courtyard face-first, his hat and fragments of his typewriter landing beside him. The butler was dusting off his gloved hands as the boy got up on his knees. He looked back with tears streaming down his face. "But..but... my invention! It was all I had! What am I supposed to do now?"

    "Well honey," said the butler as he wagged his gloved finger at Sebastian. "I would start by accessorising. Because the street urchin look? So last season!" And with that, Zypher minced back into the palace.

    The doors thudded shut, leaving Sebastian in the royal courtyard with horses glaring at him. He was sobbing now, clutching the pieces of his invention. "I don't know what to do.... I don't know what to d-"

    There was a sharp breeze and a morning newspaper splatted Sebastian in the face.
  17. Camilla had finally finished with her bath and was settled down to her breakfast in the kitchen nook, looking over her notes as well as the morning paper. An advertisement caught her attention, mostly because she recognized the name of Lady Lycan. The shifters. Her family employed some to deliver coal and charcoal across the city. They were intriguing, but she did not have much use, unless she was expecting a chemicals delivery. Oh well, she didn't have time to stick her nose into anything else today. She had a meeting later, and there was always reading and research to do. She had to look over her experiments from last night again; the results were so promising, she was sure she was only days or a few short weeks away from perfecting her latest compound.

    A light went on next to her, and she flipped open the speaking tube on the wall next to her. "Good morning, mother," she greeted cordially.

    "My gatita, good morning. Your father wants to know if you'll be able to join us for dinner this evening. He's having guests and it would be nice to see your face at the table sometime this week..." Madame del Bosque chirped cheerfully through the tube.

    Camilla sighed through her nose, and rubbed her eyes wearily. "I'm not sure, mother. I have a meeting this afternoon, and if things go well, it may go on into the dinner hour. I will let you know in ample time, but please accept my apologies if I'm unable to attend. I promise I will make it up to both of you," she answered after a few moments' thought.

    "Well, alright dear. I hope you have a good day! Good luck with your meeting- oh! Did you read that advertisement in the paper? About the Lady Lycan? What do you suppose those shifters are up to? I hope for your father's sake that they aren't going to try something rash. You remember that last workers' rally gave him such a pain in his stomach, and the doctor had to dose him for months!"

    "I really don't know mother, but if you're so worried, why not send one of the boys to look into it? You know they always enjoy those little missions you send them on..."

    "Oh, that's a wonderful idea, Camilla darling! I think I'll do just that! Goodbye! See you this evening!"

    Camilla sighed despite the wry smile on her face. She had an odd affection for her mother. The woman had little in the way of scientific or financial intelligence, but she was a socialite of the highest caliber. The 'boys' they were referring to, of course, were the house boys who were sons of the maids. They grew up running about the house doing odd chores and occasionally going on little errands and 'missions' for the missus, for which they were always rewarded with an engel. They brought her all the tidbits of news and gossip that she craved. Camilla chuckled to herself. The little spies. They were not so little now, and were learning to be proper stable boys, groomsmen, house servants and the like, but they would be just the right age for this little foray.
  18. Lycan waited patiently in the main hall of the estate; it was still early enough in the day that she didn't expect everyone to appear immediately. That was the way she preferred things, for she enjoyed that calm quiet that permeated the air before things got into full swing. Time trickled by slowly, until finally the first arrival made his presence known. A present in one hand, a bouquet of blue orchids in the other, and a cold smile she had seen a few times before. This was Xion, the leader of Caranthacus Corporation, her fiance. She took both the flowers and the present gingerly, giving a warm smile to the man that would one day be her husband. An arranged marriage was something she didn't truly want, though she never blamed him or wished him ill. The two barely knew each other, and that was not enough to breed hostility in her heart, though she did not love him.

    But now was not the time to dwell on such things.

    "You flatter me, Lord Xion,"
    she said politely, "but thank you for the wonderful gifts." She turned to one of her servants, delicately handing him the flowers as she continues, "Take these upstairs, and put them in your finest vase." The servant gave her a small bow, heading upstairs to secure the blue orchids. With her hand now free, she began to carefully open the gift, revealing a beautiful diamond necklace. Giving a small gasp, she exclaimed, "It's exquisite!" In one movement she removed the necklace she was wearing, handing it off to another servant, and put the new one around her neck. He was truly a gentleman to give her such gifts, despite the pure convenience that drove them together in their engagement.

    "Thank you for everything, Lord Xion," she said with utmost sincerity, moving along as she spoke, "I take it the marriage plans are going well?" The day was fast approaching when they would be married, which made her current mission all the more urgent. She didn't know him well enough to know whether she'd be allowed to continue her work, or whether her new husband would take the Shifters for himself. This, above all else in her situation, made her the most nervous. Being in a loveless marriage was something she'd learn to live with, but take away her work, her life's dream? No way was she going to let that happen.

    "Lady Lycan?" a servant said to her, taking her out of her thoughts, "Sir Zeon is waiting outside, is he permitted inside?"

    This brought a smile to her face, and a pit in her stomach, though the concerns remained hidden beneath her smile. "Of course, of course," she said, "I've told him before that he is welcomed into my home, especially when I invited him in the first place." The servant bowed, moving along
    to get Zeon while Lycan continued to socialize with her fiance, waiting for more to show up.

    blue orchid (open)
  19. Zeon considered the possibility that he could have just followed the fancy looking fellow with the car in. But after waiting as long as he had, he supposed that a few more minutes to be certain that Lady Lycan was ready for his visit wouldn't do him much harm. He idly mulled over the possibilities of who the gentleman in the car was.

    As he stood at the door waiting Zeon deduced that the man in the car paying a visit was surely rich, after all, cars were not a toy for the poor. In his mind he considered the emblem on the car, he'd only caught a glimpse of it, was it Caranthacus Corporation? He scratched his chin in thought, he knew the emblem, but couldn't remember what they sold. Eventually he shrugged it off. The Man inside the car appeared to be fairly young, Zeon supposed if the man were older than him, it wasn't by much. Most likely he was here to either discuss business with Lycan, or...

    "Aha, flowers, yes indeed." Zeon spoke to himself when he saw the driver hand the man the flowers. Seems it was more of a supposed it was more of a social call. He didn't really keep track of Lycan's day to day life, but he always enjoyed a mystery. Of course, with this one solved his mind was about to pick up on something else to ponder when finally a servant allowed him entry as well. He nodded politely as he walked in.

    A short walk later and he saw Lycan and the man, Lycan wearing a lovely new necklace he'd not seen her in before. This was most certainly a social call, and judging by the make of the necklace, quite an expensive one. None of his business he supposed. He waited until they were done exchanging pleasantries before he spoke, giving a small bow to the lady, "Good day Lady Lycan, I trust you are well?" His voice practiced and measured. Zeon didn't really care for the games rich people played, but he knew the rules all the same, thus he turned his head towards the gentleman, giving a a polite nod to him, raising his hat slightly in greeting, "I do not believe we have met, Good afternoon sir, I am Zeon Twilight, a humble shifter in the Lady's employ, May I ask who you are?" He gave a measured pause, "I do hope I'm not interrupting to much?" The words were practiced, but genuine, while he didn't care for the verbal games the higher classes tended to, he truely hated bardging in where he did not belong.
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