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EV: Steaming up the Thames!

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GM

8th July 2011

Ting a ling a ling!

The Earth Victoriana medal seemed to have a different chime every time it went off.

"Hello, hello! This is 'M' to Lady Carrie, 'M' to Lady Carrie" said the Tinny voice.

"Sorry to bother you again madam. We do know how busy you are in your colonial dimension, but us here at the ministry have amassed quite a file on you. Very impressive work, you know, very impressive. That work with the Russians, the train, and a personal recommendation from Lord Lockwood on your capabilities! all spiffing! enough to give you a honorarium post here at the ministry of extraordinary affairs, I know you will be delighted to accept!"

"Having a spot of bother down at the docks. Damn immigrants, nobody can get in or out of those warehouses without them noticing, and we haven't any eyes or ears in the place. Lockwood says nobody can sneak around better than you. Need your help, what do you say? of course, delighted to give you some gold sterling for your bother, and medals all around, of course..."

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Instinctively, Carrie reached to shut off her alarm clock to find that the annoying voice wasn't the radio. Well, wasn't her alarm's clock radio, it did sound radio in nature, but it was coming from farther away. Lifting her head she glanced at the clock, nine twenty. Groaning she forced herself up and dragged herself over to her purse which was sitting on her dresser. Fishing it out of her purse she pulled out the medal, she held it up to her mouth with a yawn,

"You guys have any machines in that realm which might give you any idea about the time dilation, or are you really just poking in the dark."

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GM

"Time dilation?" replied M "sounds frightfully fancy, kind of stuff those chaps at the institute of metaphysical engineering are always blabbering on about. Can understand a word of those boffins. Never needed to, either!"

"Having said that, they do come in jolly handy for interdimensional transport! we have made some improvements on the brit machine since its maiden voyage. I'm sending you the prototype now..."

With a spinning shimmering disortion, and crackling energetic sound, ending with what Carrie could swear was a steam whistle, a copper plated piller box appeared next to her. It was emitting steam and had various knobs on it. Inside it had just enough space for one person, rather cramped. Cogs and wheels littered its internal workings. It clearly could have come from no other dimension than Earth Victoriana.

Inside was one big brass button with a simple instruction leaflet.

"Press me!"

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Carrie's eyebrow twitched in irritation as the machine suddenly appeared next to her, and was just close enough to land squarely on her foot. She was able to flatten it and pull it out from under the machine's weight, but there was a light bruise. Counting to ten, she looked at the machine than the medal and let out a sigh,

"Given me a few minutes, I am not decent."

Which was fully expected considering her perfered sleeping apparel. Going to the closet, she grabbed some yoga pants and sneakers, as well as a t-shirt and hoody (just in case it wasn't summer in Earth Victoriana). She also reached into a box and grabbed a disposible camera she had about ten pictures left on. It was a gamble that it'd even work there, but at least she'd have something to give Viktor when she told them about it. Last but not least, she grabbed a bottle of ginger pills and palmed two before grabbing her purse and the medal,

"Alright, on my way."

Dry swallowing the pills she climbed into the machine keeping herself as crouched inward as she possibly could and clutching her purse so as not to lose any bits on the way before pressing the button.

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GM

Carrie stepped out of the Brit Machine v2 [Portable displacement chamber] into the offices of M. It was a posh, wooden panelled room, large, somewhat overdone, but classy all the same. Full of carpets, wood, leather furniture, and even two suits of armour and a few muskets on the wall.

"Ah there you are" said M, a rather fat, but well dressed man sitting behind an oak desk. He was obviously intelligent, with balding locks combed over his head, a silver monocle, and a bow tie.

"Pleased you could come. Jolly pleased. Take a seat..." he said, gesturing to the comfortable and well made leather chair opposite him.

"And welcome to the ministry of extraordinary affairs. You are now an member honararium!" he said, sliding over an official looking parchment which looks liked it had the wax seal of King Charles stamped on the bottom.

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Carrie was not very prompt on her seating, in fact, she was not very prompt at all as she nearly stumbled climbing out of the small Brit Machine. The more compact size definitely did not make for a smoother ride and she had to give herself a moment before the disorientation left her and she could stand. The surroundings around her as such were a bit lost on her, though she recognized the chair and pulled herself into it before sinking in and quietly looking at the man called M.

Taking a minute or two before she deemed herself functional, she looked at M in the eye,

"Alright, two questions, am I getting paid for my time, and as a full member can I ask the service to provide me with breakfast as you guys have pulled me out of bed three hours earlier than my usual waking."

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GM

"Why of course, Lady Carrie" smiled M, who rang a bell. In a flash, a smart middle aged lady had appeared at the door.

"Full english breakfast for the Lady to be served here, Mrs. Sterlingcoin" said M, politely. The secretary nodded and smiled courteously, and backed off.

M turned back to Carrie and lit up his pipe. "His majesties goverment will of course pay honarium agents quite well. 12 Sterling Gold coins is standard practice, plus of course the much more valuable honour of serving the empire and the thanks of his highness. We can throw in another medal of course. And a life times supply of tea!" he said, pouring Carrie a cup of what was, it must be conceded, an exceptionally fine cup of tea.

The full english breakfast was, when it arrived a few minutes later,also large and of fine quality.

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"The one you give me surfices."

She looked at her bag and shrugged waiting quietly as the breakfast was set in front of her. She made herself a plate of sausages, hashbrowns, gravy and rolls and started to butter one as she spoke,

"The compensation is good, so what's the job. You said trouble at the docks, what is the expected practice for handling such troubles. Or maybe an example of the personality I'll be facing so I can think about how to handle the situation. In Freedom such things are pretty clean cut, but it seems to be that there is a lot of lower class oppression in this world and negociations might be a favorable alternative."

Setting the biscuit down she spooned with probably the most shiny silver spoon she had ever seen some gravy in a hole she had made with her thumb on top before taking a bite.

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GM

M dabbed his chin as he finished off the remainder of his tea.

"Well" he said, leaning back on his chair and pressing his fingers together.

"You may not be well acquainted with Deptford. Its a small area of London, a dock area. Its not a vital economic spot, but it does its bit for the machine that is London. One cog that we would rather keep spinning, if you catch my drift. Unfortunately, its a bit of a slum area. Lots of immigrants, some legal, many illegal, work there - in conditions varying for adequate to disgraceful. Its a bit of a political blind spot, to be honest. It seems some degree of tolerance for the boil on the face of the Thames is allowed, as it soaks up the illegal immigrants and provides some economic output..."

He shifted a little uncomfortably.

"Be that as it may, the police patrol the place, but never really penetrate the place, if you catch my drift. All sorts of rivalries, deals, backstabbings and truces between various families and gangs. The Chinese, the Africans, the Italian, the Spanish, the Russians... to name the main players, although there are plenty of others - and allegiances seem to drift hither and tither like mercury. "

He continued on. "Anyway, it seems there has been more violence than normal down the docks, and some Chinese gang has been implicated. Also, they seem to have trebled there work in terms of loading and unloading, whilst people report the gang lying around gambling and drinking - or starting fights. We don't know what's going on, and its getting ugly. Slave labour is the rumour, and that's a step to far even for the most hard hearted of parliament. "

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She took a smell of her tea, not really fond of the stuff herself, but added some cream as well as a lot of sugar before taking a sip and it was pretty bearable. Turning to the sausage, she started to cut it up since they were very plump,

"So, gang wars and human traffiking is what it takes for government intervention, well I can't say we're any better where I'm from on that front. I'm guessing that you don't have any suitable replacements at Scotland Yard, or is it far to white washed to properly infiltrate."

Taking her fork and poking the sausage she dipped it in the excellant gravy and took a bite which she chewed over for a second,

"You know, this does sound right in my area. I speak Spanish, so I can pose as an mixed immigrant, though I'm almost certian my accent is a bit more North American in any language I speak."

She shrugged, it was probably better than speaking with an English accent, she doubted that area really liked anyone who sounded to o proper.

"I'll need clothing that looks like I'm something like a merchant's daughter, or even a prostitute if it'll help me blend in. Also, need to verify the objectives. I'm guessing find the gangs, gather information, confirm information, find those responsible and if possible find and free those subject to the human taffiking."

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GM

"Clothing we have" replied M "In fact, the entire resources of Q department are at your disposal. But the thing is, the docks are a pretty tight knit organisation. It won't be easy to sneak in, or fool anybody. Lord knows, we have tried. Two agents came back and are in the infirmary as we speak. One wasn't fortunate enough to come back. Fished him out of the Thames three miles downstream with a hatchet in his back. "

He sighed.

"So I won't lie to you, its an ugly business, damn ugly. But Lockwood says he never met anyone more able to sneak around than you. And you have an impressive track record here anyway. So I have full confidence in your abilities. As soon as you have finished your breakfast, allow me to escort you to our operational facilities, you can pick up what you need there. "

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Carrie finished her sausages in a few more bites as she listened before draining her cup of tea and loading up another biscuit to go.

"Can't blame them for being tight nit, minorities stick together to survive. So yeah, gotcha, incredibly dangerous if caught, likely to gang up on me, so pretty much like every other night where I'm from."

Standing up, she pulled her purse up onto her shoulder,

"Lead the way."

She took a bite of the biscuit and started wondering back to a time where she might of thought something like this would be strange.

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GM

The Ministry of Extraordinary Affairs, Operational Division...

Two corridors, one lift, and a secret passageway later...

M strolled around the operational division nodding to various lab coat wearing scientists who were merrily beavering away with exploding umbrella's, poison-dart firing waistcoat watches, and weighted bowler hats.

"Here we are, all sorts of field equipment we have at your disposal... although from the sounds of it you will be wanting our costume department and madam Redpowder, the mistress of disguise. "

There certainly was no shortage of clothes, and madam Redpowder, an elderly aristocratic lady with a sharp eye and only slightly less sharp tounge was busy catalouging the various garments. She stiffly bowed slightly to M, a token of deference - clearly amongst the clothes she was the queen.

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Carrie had to hide the urge to smile at all the clothing, there was such variety, more so than any show she had worked with and she had no doubt in it's authenticity. The equipment was fine too, but she did have some issues with that.

"Okay, I need light, close fitting clothing. No stockings, no garders, no metal bits or thick buttons. Preferably with large amount of hidden pockets, however any tech I require I will like to have as thin as possible. If they are as close nit as you say, I'm likely to be thoroughly searched in any planned encounters and I don't want any unnessicary bumps that might appear during a patdown. The most perferable things I'll need will be tracers and microphones. Any fashion choices I leave up to you as you know the local trends better, if possible I'd like to wear something gender nuetral."

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GM

"Certainly madam" replied Madam Redpowder as M nodded and waved an honorarium contract in front of her nose.

"Lets see, a bit bony, need to eat some more...not enough fruit and vegetables I say...skin a bit sallow..."

She flicked through the costumes oblivious to any insults she was muttering.

"Hidden pockets...no problem there..." she added, clearly indicating it would be more of a problem to find garments without such additional fixtures. "As for tracers and microphones, not my department, my dear..."

She eventually pulled up a series of appropriate garments that suited Carries description very well.

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Carrie let out a snort,

"I eat plenty, M can vouch for that. Anyway, boney is good, boney means poor, poor means blends in."

Picking out some of the drabbest colored clothes from the rack she moved to a curtained changing area. She came out dressed in a pair of muddy brown slacks with a gray shirt and a dark brown cap pulled over her eyes. Looking over her arms she looked at Ms. Redpowder,

"You've got some dust and dirt to cover these with, also, I think my teeth are too white, you got any yellow dye, it should stain them enough for the day."

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GM

Madam Redpowder arched her eyebrow.

"Not as stupid as you look are you" she muttered, pulling out a make up box and giving Carries face a good dust over, filling her with pox marks and staining her teeth yellow. It certainly did little to add to her attractiveness, but it gave a thoroughly decent impression of making her look like a down and out of Earth Victoriana.

Even M nodded his approval.

"That looks rather good..." he commented "fine work as always, Madam. But I should ask you, Lady Carrie, to return the medal we gave you for now... not becoming a slum worker..."

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Carrie sat still for the make up and powder even though she really felt like fidgeting, even though she felt like coughing up a lunge with that thick powder. When they were done she had to also restrain herself from laughing at the image in the mirror. She looked like half the cast of Urine Town. Crossing her legs she looked at M and picked up and tossed her whole purse to him.

"Just keep the whole thing, be too exuasting explaining all that's in it if it's found. Anyway, flat tech, I wasn't joking about that. If they're as paranoid as you say I need something that won't be leaving an outline in my pockets."

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GM

M couldn't resist a little peek inside Carrie's wallet, and he arched his eyebrows and sniffed slightly at the contents.

"Flat tech...well, the flatest and most valuable thing I might offer you is a map of the city and the docks" he said, passing her a well made map full, albeit rather antiquated in style. "Seeing as you are no doubt unfamiliar with our city being both colonial and from a different dimension".

"And I imagine you will be wanting to make your way up there. I can offer you some money of course, too much would look suspicious, but some shillings and pennies for expenses. You could walk it, of course. Or take a ferry down the Thames. I wouldn't advise going for a swim, mind. Our lovely river is not, shall we say, the cleanest..."

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Carrie let out a sigh,

"I thought as much, well it's a good thing I don't need a gun."

Reaching into her purse she fished out a pill bottle which she popped open and took out about a half dozen little brown pills,

"For the ferry ride, not so good with boats. Anyway, money for travel and some spare coins to grease some palms would be plenty appreciated. Anything else I need to know?"

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GM

"I think that's all I can think of now" replied M, who lead Carrie back up to an elevator.

A short trip later, they both stepped out of a police box located only a few dozen yards from the main ministry building, on the banks of the Thames.

M showed Carrie the secret code to dial in the post box, which would lead her down back to the ministry of extraordinary affairs.

"Just press the receiver so, twice, turn this knob, and dial zero zero seven. That's the code to activate the lift..." he said, doing just that and disappearing from her view.

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Carrie made a mental note as she walked out of the police box only taking a second glance to chuckle and quietly wondering if a portable dvd player and a case of dvds from a certian old series would survive a trip in the mini Brit machine.

The trip to Thames wasn't long, she hailed a cab which she found rather hard looking like she did but when one finally stopped she gave him a thankful smile and a good tip before he dropped her off at the bay. The ferry was far less choosy of it's passengers and before long she saw the shore of what was probably Earth Victoriana's boonies. From afar she recognized the same amount of depressing dread she saw on her cab ride during the freeze caused on her first trip. Except the dress code was a little lighter. Stepping off the boat she let out a sigh and strode forward looking for a good place for information gathering.

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GM

The Deptford Docks, Eveningtime...

The chimes of Big Ben could be distantly heard. For all its poverty (And there was poverty visible), the Deptford docks were busy. Boats and ferries landed and departed, carrying coal, vegetables, and timber mainly - but livestock, fish, steel and iron too, from what Carrie could see.

The workers did indeed seem to be of different races and countries of origin - judging by their speech at least. They were usually to grubby to judge by virtue of their skin tone, although several oriental features could be seen. They seemed to stick to themselves, although she did witness a mini-brawl between some Irish and Russian workers.

A few slightly downmarket public houses littered the streets, and rowdy singing could be heard intermittently, along with a healthy sprinkling of drunkards staggering in and out of the doors.

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Carrie started down the street trying to stagger her stride a bit like she was hurt. She had an extraordinary amount of balance, but that was probably a little more than uncommon in such a place and the make up did suggest she was sickly so moving quickly and efficiently like she usually did probably wouldn't help the image. Heading into the bar, she pushed her way past the crowds expertly manuevering to a bar stool which had just been emptied of it's occupant and leaning on with her elbow on the bar trying not to take in too many smells. It was very strong smell, it was the first word that came to mind. It smelled of spilled ale, dust, burnt wood and sweat and that all seemed to mix with an unknown smell to make the one really strong odor. She hadn't even breathed but she can still smell it, it was only when the bartender came around that she noticed that she was holding her breath so she took it in slowly before trying to adjust but still found herself choking a bit on the odor. Almost coughing at it, she looked down and asked in a crumbly voice,

"Glass o ale if 'ou please."

She didn't know if she got any particular accent but she was going for either a Scottish or Irish ring too it.

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GM

"Certainly young lady" replied the slightly portly ginger haired barman, with a faint Irish accent and a red nose. He quickly poured her a pint of warm ale - of quite reasonable quality to ale lovers, and held his hand open for the money.

"New round here are you?" he asked, as a fight broke out amongst a game of cards in the corner, which required several people to hold back the two miscreants.

"Careful with the other, errr, working ladies, missus, they get a bit possessive around their turf if you know what I mean..." he nodded towards the other corner, where two heavily made up women where already eyeing Carrie up and down.

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