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Return to Neverworld: Best Intentions


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GM

 

Some time between the story of then and now...

Heading to Victori...

 

Eira had left her companions behind

 

Her angelic form soaring across the skies of Neverworld, she had a first row seat to the destruction that the Hooked Man and his Sky-Pirates had caused across the world. Beneath her she saw ruined cities, displaced familes doing their best to survive in what had once been their homes. 

 

She saw slain beasts, passing by a capsized turtle the size of an island between New Avalon and Victori. 

 

And soon... she saw Victori, and Tham, the great factory city. The factories were still alive. Still producing the endless soldiers needed.

 

Perhaps she would find the Mad Doctor that the Great Detectives had mentioned, or perhaps she would make do on her own.

 

How long had the journey taken? It was difficult to tell. Time was, after all, strange in Neverworld.

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At the sight of the local center of industrial development, Eira accelerated her flight considerably, the high levels of steel and iron in the local construction allowing her to reach high subsonic speeds. She made her entrance in dramatic fashion, a three-point landing hard enough to crack the ground in front of the royal palace, spreading her silvery wings high. She looked back with silvery-white eyes the direction she'd come for a barely perceptible moment, then raised her ungloved hand, showing the silvery jointed fingers within, and called loudly enough for everyone to hear. 

 

"CITIZENS OF THAM! I HAVE COME TO AID YOU IN YOUR HOUR OF NEED! I AM EIRA KATASTROFF NATT OCH DAG - AND I WILL GIVE YOU SCIENCE!" She looked around and nodded, then walked straight up the steps of the elaborate vaguely neo-Classical building, nodding in cool satisfaction at the reaction of those around her. If this didn't get her royal patronage, hardly anything would. 

 

This will be a success! she thought fiercely, clenching her bare fist before blinking. Wait - what is - my thoughts are - she didn't quite have a word for it, and the moment was enough to unsettle her enough to keep her from storming straight through the front doors. 

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GM

 

To Eira's disappointment, steps before the castle were all but empty, manned only be automatons. Vaguely human looking machines, they were dressed in red shirts and blue trousers, with black bearskin caps on top of their heads. They were all armed with rifles incredibly more sophisticated than Eira would at first. The rifles were long, dark metal, with faint yellow power lines running through them.

 

As she touched down, the automatons, the metal men of Victori, were at first slow to react, but then they raised their rifles.

 

A voice called out from a large speaker placed above the steps to the palace.

 

"Go away. We have all the science we need, thank you very much miss Eira Katastroff Natt Och Dag."

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What Eira wanted to do was start crushing these primitive constructs with her bare hands, feel the oil drip between her fingers, but that wouldn't actually get her anywhere. So instead she said to the speaker: 

 

"I understand that as an outsider, you have no reason to trust me." She suddenly wished very much for Pan, or Micah, or for that matter Kimber or Miss Americana, any number of her mentors who could have solved this problem with a few well-chosen words. "I will offer a demonstration. Not of my puissance," she added, raising her ungloved hand, "but of my genius. If you allow me the use of one of your automatons, I will transform its capabilities five-fold with only what I carry on my person." 

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GM

 

There was an almost audible pause from the speaker. Eira had the distinct impression that whoever had talked to her were discussing what to do in an almost frantic and panicked manner.

 

"Five-fold, you say?" It was another voice. Horribly distorted as it might be, it sounded older, more learned.

 

There was a noise of some physical alteration from the speaker. "One automaton." The first voice returned. 

 

One of the armed automatons slowly approached Eira. It was a thing of clockwork and lightning. Crude at first look, but far more intricate and elegant once she looked past its exterior. The way its gears moved, the way lightning danced around them... It was science, that was for sure, but not anything that would work from the science of Eira's world.

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Or so one might think, if one had not looked into the face of Death and accepted it as your own, if one was not herself a living product of the greatest science of all. Eira had seen these machines in their first visit to this city and she knew they weren't sentient, so she thought nothing of deactivating it for her work.

 

When the creature got close she drove her bladed through its midsection with a slow, deliberate grip until she found its internal power source and squeezing. Lightning crackled around her hands and up her arm, and she lowered the automaton to the ground with her free hand. Smoothly she knelt down in front of the creature and began working her hands through the gears, pulling and rearranging at its works. 

 

She didn't speak as she worked, merely worked, lighting crackling up her arms and her body, sparkling blue light crackling through her hair and across her eyes. As she worked fine tools emerged from her fingers, thin, grappling wires that rearranged and tugged at the gears. Time went by, and she worked, and she smiled. 

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GM

 

*tick*

*tock*

 

As Eira worked her very own brand of magic, she could hear the sound of the automaton's beating clockwork heart.

 

*tick*

*tock*

 

It was calm and ever steady, continuing on, no matter how much she pilfered and crackled and removed and rebuilt. 

 

*tick*

*tock*

 

Inside, the automaton looked much a human, only artificial in every way. Clockwork hearts, lungs, stomach, intestines as cables that carried power through the machine. It was a marvel, in its own way, carefully crafted and put together. 

 

*tick*

*tock*

 

And yet, Eira would pull it apart with ease, rebuilding it for her own purposes, while the people that had allowed her to work on the machine watched in silence.

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When it was done, the modified creature looked very much unlike how it had started. Eira had methodically removed its limbs, one after the other, and used the displaced mass to build internal structures inside the torso. Eira sat back on a bench and watched as the drone rose into the air on humming internal motors, driven by redirected internal charge. Humming along, the drone hovered awkwardly in the air as it wobbled its way towards the front door of the palace it had left. It then turned, faced the wall, and fired a rapid-fire volley of gears in several lines against the marble. Flight wasn't the only thing Eira had used the thing's internal alchemical energies to power. 

 

By the time Eira had walked over to join her drone, it had blasted a large EK into the wall, the letters carved out by metal gears driven deep into stone. With an exaggerated smile on her face, he turned to face the door where she'd tried to enter a moment before. 

 

"Heavier-than-air flight. Magnetic railguns. These, and more, can be yours if you just open the door!" 

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GM

 

Everything was silent for a moment, as the people inside the palace just watched what the artificial woman before them had accomplished.

 

*tick*

 

"Oh, come on. Let her in, we clearly need her help."

 

There was silence on the other end, then the gates slowly opened. They were automated, driven by gears and clockwork, much like the robot.

 

A man with short blonde hair and a pair of welder's goggles over his eyes stood on the other side. He wore a once white uniform, covered in oil and grime. He was smiling.

 

"Hello, Miss Katastroff. It is so nice to meet you properly. Your work is inspiring."

 

*tock*

 

"Oh, but where are my manners. My name is Doctor Victor Frankenstein."

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"Charmed," said Eira, who managed a smile for the figured pulled from one of her favorite works of science fiction. If I am trapped here among refugees from the literary world of dead Anglophones, at least it is not all men. She shook his hand, deliberately using the degloved one so he could feel her true mechanical nature. Let them know. Let them all know. "Come, let us work." 

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GM

 

Victor pulled the goggles away from his eyes before he shook her hand. She could clearly see the admiration in his eyes.

 

"Yes, we must work. Time is short, after all. The Sky-Pirates will be here soon."

 

With a bow and a flourish, he pointed the way down a long hallway. For a brief moment, it seemed to stretch on forever. But no, it was not quite that long, after all. It must have been Eira's imagination. Victor kept stealing glances at Eira as they walked, before finally swallowing his pride and speaking up.

 

"Forgive me for being frank, Miss Katastroff, but why are you here? Why do you seek to aid Victori? You are... quite unique. I am a man of science, my dear, and yet you? You are beyond anything I have seen." He paused briefly, stopping moving entirely. "Why would a wonder such as you decide to support doomed Victori?"

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"Because..." Eira struggled, forcing her brain to process. The mental fog here was alarming - were her internal components being forced to obey the local laws of physics? A grim thought, to imagine herself transformed into one of these steampunk automatons..."Because this is the only place in this whole dimension that obeys the laws of science. And science can do anything," she said firmly, "if properly applied." She gripped Frankenstein's arm and looked him in the eye, "I am here to show you science as you have never dreamed.

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  • 2 weeks later...

GM

 

Victor looked at Eira, flinching slightly at the tight grip on his arm. 

 

His breath grew heavy, his lips twisting just ever so slightly into a slightly mad smile.

 

"I have dreamed of things you could not imagine, Miss Katastroff, but I will accept that challenge. Now, show me your science! Show me what you can do really do!"

 

Turning away from Eira, Victor hurried down the halls, leading her towards what could best be described as highly advanced steam punk laboratory. Machinery of all kinds, anything she had expected to find in a fantastical version of a Victorian fairy tale laboratory, it was there. Crude machinery, bubbling vats filled with strange fluids. A table covered in a white tarp, a row of automatons in half-finished states, more advanced than the ones she had encountered outside.

 

She would find what she would need in the laboratory, as Frankenstein watched with a careful eye.

 

*tick*

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  • 2 weeks later...

Primitive. Weak. But so too have many places been. Eira walked into the middle of the room and raised her hands dramatically. "You may have this one for free, Doctor. After this, I have a price." She paced into the room until she found a promising-looking automaton, then claimed it as her own She smiled and powered her hands into the automaton before her, fingers disappearing into its metallic guts. As she made eye-contact with Frankenstein, music seemed to swell in her mind. "Now. Shall we begin?

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GM

 

Work began.

 

And continued.

 

For how long did they work? It was difficult to tell. Time seemed to flow and ebb. Some times, they would accomplish great things, taking great strides, all in the manner of an afternoon. Others, they would be stalled for half a day, with no end in sight.

 

If Eira worked tirelessly, then the good doctor did the same. Somehow, he never seemed to need to rest, never seemed to sleep. He watched, he learned, and soon, he could work magic much like Eira, creating machines and wonders far beyond what he was capable of mere days before.

 

*tock*

 

The automaton army grew. Slowly, but surely, machines were transformed into something more, something greater

 

And on and on, in the distance, the drums of war marched ever closer. Some times, they could heard the sounds of explosions. Some times, Eira could almost swear she heard a clock, slowly counting down.

 

*tick*

 

How much time had passed? Days, weeks? It was difficult to tell.

 

The army stood ready. The army that had been created by Katastroff and Frankenstein. 

 

Ranks upon ranks of automatons stood before them.

 

Victor smiled. The same self-assured smile that Eira had seen so many times now. "The Sky Pirates stand at our door, Miss Katastroff. This... this will have to do." He brushed his hair back. "Time grows short, Miss Katastroff. You have aided Victori, so tell me... what do you require in return?"

 

*tock*

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