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Blod in the Air (IC)

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Blodeuwedd was perplexed. She had spent months trying to track down the source of the statue but every lead led nowhere. She’d call in a few favour and gotten hold of some very secretive information but she was missing that one clue necessary to put all the clues together.

She’d got the dorm room to herself this morning and she’d spread all her evidence across the floor trying to will it to make some sense when she spotted it. Casually resting on her sword stand was a large golden envelope inscribed with a rather fancy V.

Inside was an invitation to the annual gathering of the Freedoninan Steampunk Convention. She’d heard about them, how they dressed up as Victorians and pretended that the last 100 years hadn’t happened or at least involved more brass and steam. The other thing she’d knew about them was that there was one guest they’d always hoped they could temp to attend…

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Lord Steam was perplexed. The statue was rather crude and stylized figure of a wing humanoid, it was also playing a tune. The tune was what had stopped Lord Steam just disposing of the item for it was playing a Music Hall ditty “I'm a poor hungry woman and I want a knob...†and tune which this world had never discovered. With the statue was an invitation, in a Golden Envelope monogrammed with a V, inviting him to something called a Steampunk Convention this very day.

Subito also had a surprise this morning, a package from back home, but the joy quickly turned to confusion at the contents. Inside was a very expensive looking Top Hat which appeared to be an almost perfect fit. He didn’t have long to ponder this before his phone rung, a call from Cerys.

“I think I’ve been handed a clue to that artifact's owner. I hope you’ve got something suitable to wear were going to a Steampunk convention!â€

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"Keep her running, Singh, I may need to beat a hasty retreat!" said Lord Lucien Lockwood as he stepped out of Bessie.

"Very good Sir" said Kamil Singh, his chauffeur, keeping the quite hissing of Bessie, the steam powered car, to a minimum. Kamil fave a little shared smile with Lord Steam. He understood that "conventions" could be a little overpowering for anyone famous. The magnificent engineering of Bessie was already attracting a crowd and applause.

Lucien wished, for a moment, he could have attended the function in disguise. But perhaps his status would serve him well. He tucked his cane under his arm and strode into the convention full of purpose.

What his purpose was, he had no idea, but he was intrigued.

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Subito was deeply baffled by the arrival of the top hat, as he knew for fact that none of his relatives would be caught dead in one. He had been just about to call his parents about it when the phone rang barely inches from his fingers. Swooping it neatly from its charger, he put it to his ear and listened with a look of total stupification to the news that the next step in the strange case of the non-mystical artifact was a steampunk convention. Glancing at the top hat, he answered "..Yeah, I've got a few things, see you there Cerys!"

Hanging up the phone, he stepped over to the large chest of clothes that had gradually accumulated over the months, searching through the neat piles for some very specific articles...

Arriving off the bus, he adjusted the hat on his head a little self-consciously, examining the con with a vague frown. "Just gotta keep relaxed, and this'll be fine" he muttered to himself as he entered, glancing around at the happily chattering groups of archaically-dressed people surrounding him, wondering nervously if his rough pants and well-patched brown coat(both of great antiquity) clashed too badly with the elegant top hat perched delicately on his head.

He kept a careful watch for Cerys, to the point where he almost walked into into the dapper-looking man with impeccable dress that set a strong contrast with the slightly cheaper-looking crowd. Raising his hat and bowing slightly in a confused gesture of apology, the stocky teen said "Sorry about that sir, looking for a friend...uh..." he looked up at Lord Steam sheepishly "...yeah. Didn't look where I was goin', I'll be more careful" he added, darting off into the milling convention-goers.

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The one advantage of going to a Victorian themed convention was that everyone was so polite all the men bowed and the women curtsied (and a few of the bolder one also bowed) as Lord Steam passed. To allot of them he was a bonafide hero they just played being Victorians for the weekend, he’d actually lived the part. As many people showed in an interest in Bessie a steam ages wonder in its own right. A small group of steam-heads gathered round the car and asked Kamil polite questions about its performance.

Into this sashayed Blodeuwedd glorious in a magnificent Deep Blue Gown looking for all the world like a Victorian lady. Even her normal goggles, perched on top of a long flowing hair styled into ringlets, looked perfect for the entire ensemble. She stood there gracefully looking around for Subito, and also looking for potential trouble spots and hiding places.

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Lord Steam scanned the convention. It was a curious mix of ghastliness and style.

This Dimension is Learning!...

He spent a few minutes observing some of the stalls, before deciding on a vendor who he judged most knowledgable.

Striding up confidently, he placed the statue he had received on the table, where it started playing it tune.

"I'm a poor hungry woman and I want a knob....of butter on my bread..."

"Very amusing" said Lord Steam, clapping his hands.

"Now sir, may I ask you where this spiffy contraption came from? it seems to be a most remarkable piece! I was not aware that such intricate engineering was possible on this di...on this di-gree and scale" he said, bending his words at the last moment.

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Stalking away from the scene of the near-collision, Subito twisted his head around at the throngs of con-goers. Ugh, how am I gonna tell Cer-well, Blodeu, apart from the other people here? he stopped as realization struck him Wait...if nothing else, she's gonna look pretty different from most of the folks here. Yeah, I just need to focus on faces and...uh...wow he had found Cerys, and was busy being floored. Okay he thought seriously, unaware he was adjusting the hat keep it cool. We're all just friends here, don't make it weird and creepy thus bolstered, he set out across the floor, tapped Blodeuwedd on the shoulder, and when she turned bowing as gracefully as he could manage, sweeping the top hat off his curly head as he did so "Excuse me, m'lady" he said politely, vaguely remembering listening to Vicky talk about Victorian England "how are you and your..guv'nors?"

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The trader that Lord Steam had picked seemed to be a craftsman of some skill. Surrounding him were scale models of Steampunk devices including intricately crafted model of his own Bessie and Cressida.

“Well the design is all wrong the Art Deco styling is pure 1920, cheap stampings probably mass produced. Now this is more promising…†the artisan had removed a panel on the back of the statue “Self-winding clockwork, exquisite engineering. And the songs an actual recording on a minute wax disk. For such a plain exterior this is an amazing piece of work, no one has produced an item like this in this world, not even now. “

His face was a picture of wonder.

Blodeuwedd smiled at the sight of Subito, she wasn’t sure the Top hat suited the rest of the costume but it wasn’t a bad effort.

“Hello there Sir.†She gave a little curtsy and looked him over “You look good, and you’ve obviously spent time with someone from London that accent almost acceptable.†She gave him a cheeky smile “Someone sent me this…†she held up the Golden Envelope “…so somewhere here is a clue about our Avian problem, and someone wants us to find it.â€

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“Well the design is all wrong the Art Deco styling is pure 1920, cheap stampings probably mass produced. Now this is more promising…†the artisan had removed a panel on the back of the statue “Self-winding clockwork, exquisite engineering. And the songs an actual recording on a minute wax disk. For such a plain exterior this is an amazing piece of work, no one has produced an item like this in this world, not even now. "

Lord Steam nodded, very interested in what the man had to say. "So, the engineering itself is unique, placed in what, if you pardon my summation, can only be described as a shoddy shell! most peculiar. Normally, in my experience, it is the other way round. Easier for the trader to pass of tat that way, as I am sure you are aware..." he concluded.

It was a mystery, that's for sure. He should probably take it apart and look for fingerprints...but the other element was that he had been enticed to this conference for a reason, via the piece.

"I'll have one of those copper whistles, please, they look splendid!" he said, to thank the trader. He pocketed the little whistle, paid the man a hundred dollars for it, doffed his top hat, placed his goggles over his eyes, and wandered off to see if there was anything else interesting happening at the convention.

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Subito smiled a little foolishly at the compliment, telling Cerys "You look great too! I didn't know you had dresses that...uh..." he trailed off with an embarrassed cough as he hurriedly turned his attention to the golden Envelope. Examining it from several angles and peering at its surfaces, he tilted his head to one side and asked her bluntly "Okay, so..what does it say? Is it a riddle kind of thing?" his eyes lit up as he remembered the technological nature of the Avian artifact "Ooh, ooh, is it a detector of something? Does it point to where we can find the...thing?" he asked experimentally. He pushed the top hat towards the back of his head, unknowingly putting it at a rakish angle as he looked expectantly at Blodeuwedd for the unraveling of this golden mystery.

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“Invites to this prestigious gathering. Someone wants us to be here, I suspect that this mysterious V is showing off, we just need to find another clue. And I think I’ve found something…â€

She took of weaving through the crowd gracefully, counting on Subito to follow her through the crowd. She pulled up to the stall where Lord Steam had just finished his inquiries. As she traveled she fished out the statue they’d recovered a couple of months ago.

“Excuse me Sir it seems we have acquired similar statues. Could you tell me how you came hold of such an item?â€

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Lord Steam raised a quizzical eyebrow at the new player in the mystery.

The statues were indeed, to all apparent purposes, of similar make.

He sized up Cerys carefully.

Young, but not inexperienced, welsh lilt, but not typical celtic phenotype. Exceptional build and poise, no doubt some martial art training, unimpressive intellect.... he concluded, rapidly sizing her up.

Not one to meet in a fight!

Why is she here?

"I confess, my dear I have no particular idea. It seemed to have been to me, alongside an invitation to this convention. The affair remains yet a mystery, but I hope to unravel its veil. I probably should have subjected said item to a more forensic analysis, but time was pressing...."

He bowed.

"Lord Lucien Lockwood at your service madam. A very fetching dress if I may say so. It augments your beauty still further, if I dare say so! One would not have believed your innate charms could be so enhanced, but it seems that the cut and tone of your cloth make you all the more resplendid!"

He bowed again.

"May I have the honor of your name? and, perchance, the origin of your delightful piece?"

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Subito had followed Cerys easily, sauntering along without much worry about who they might need to team up with. It'll probably be some guy with a long coat and a dark hat he thought as he swept around the trio of twentysomethings talking loudly about some kind of world where zombies had taken over Victorian England he'll probably have blond hair, and piercing blue-what? he struck himself smartly on the side of the head I have GOT to stop doing that. he looked up just in time to see Lucien before Cerys addressed him Oh...no..., giving the stocky teen plenty of time to wrestle with the urge to speak up and apologize again.

It ain't like he cared much last time, but maybe I didn't say it loud enough, it'll be weird and silly, what if he thinks I'm bein' rude and trying to get out of trouble?

He looked nervously at Lockwood, fidgeting at Cerys's side while glancing around for a potential answer to this internal strife. He sure looks like a cool guy he thought anxiously but how did he and us both get an invite to this con'? Is someone else behind this stuff?

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Blodeuwedd offered her hand to Lord Steam. “I do believe I have you at a disadvantage Lord Lockwood. We meet earlier on an unfortunate cruise, though I was wearing something a little more flowing at the time. Call me Blodeuwedd.â€

She paused for a few moments to allow the information to sink in before continuing.

“It seems that someone wanted us to meet up, hence the statues. So this mysterious V must think you have something we need. I have some knowledge about the Statues but I’m missing the final piece. So what do you have that could help us? Apart of cause from your infallible wit and charm.†She managed a cheeky grin.

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Lord Steam took her meaning and snapped his fingers.

"Yes, now as I recall, you do look a little familiar..." he smiled.

“It seems that someone wanted us to meet up, hence the statues. So this mysterious V must think you have something we need. I have some knowledge about the Statues but I’m missing the final piece. So what do you have that could help us? Apart of cause from your infallible wit and charm.â€

"Mysterious V?" he asked. "You seem to have a head start on me, young lady. I am only just beginning my journey in understanding this little conundrum..."

He hefted his statue.

"The statue's exterior is worthless, cheap material and craftmanship. Inside, however, it is a work of pure genius. I haven't seen any engineering like this outside the Royal Institute for Metaphysical Engineering in my, ah, home dimension. Either it is a smuggled good - and dimension hopping is no easy matter, or someone has been very clever! Perhaps your mysterious V!"

"Please elucidate! you have my full attention initially, and thereafter my full resources!"

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Subito spoke up immediately. This, at least, he could help explain. Beginning eagerly and rapidly before settling into a more steady pace he said "Well sir, it was recovered recently by a collector of things like this who's in with with m'lady here. It was thought to be some kind of mystical artifact until a couple of weeks ago, right before it drew a disgruntled Avian gentleman to it..somehow" he shrugged expressively "So...it seems fair to say that the Avians have some connection to them, though I have no idea if they could actually make things like this" he reached over at one arm of his old, patched coat before thinking better of it and simply removing and tossing the thing to drape over his broad shoulders.

Hey, you know what would be grand, O Dame? A-!

No, child, you may not have a cape simply because you want one

Fidgeting a little he glanced at Cerys, hoping he hadn't said anything she had wanted kept hidden. Urgh, should have asked! This'll teach me he thought in frustration.

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“My friend here has provided a good summary of the events. I managed to track the state back to a small antique shop in Nova Scotia, and there’s defiantly evidence of Avian activity. Look I’ll show you.â€

She pulled out a computer tablet, causing some tutting from the traditionalists in the crowd and bought up an image of a radar scan.

“There evidence that someone is gathering in large numbers in the area. But no sightings in the nearby area, so they must be staying at altitude. But there no where they could land that high up or it would have shown up on the radar.â€

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"Nova Scotia?" replied Lord Steam. "Never been there. French Colony...ah...no...Canadian..." he corrected himself, clicking his fingers. Normally he wouldn't have mad the slip but something about the convention had placed his mind back in his home dimension.

"It sounds like that is the source of the mystery then? hmmm? Avians...sounds rather exciting!"

"Well I suggest we make all haste to Nova Scotia then. I have a modest little dirigible that can get us there in no time!" he said, a smile on his face, keen to take his airship out for a spin.

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A...dirgible? We're going on an airship?! Subito's eyes widened, and in a twinkling the nervousness had vanished, replaced by a jittery glee. "You do? That's awesome! Are we gonna fly over the sea while the sun sets? That is always a great time" he turned to Cerys and said eagerly(and quietly) "I can't wait to infiltrate the Avian's secret flying sky-base! When can we go?" he face fell suddenly and he glanced nervously at the two "Uh..wait. You guys sure this won't turn into an international incident or anything?" he began unknowingly twisting one of the sleeves of the jacket "I don't want to have to explain to my parents why I'm being accused of an act of aggression against their people"

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"My dear young man" said Lord Steam. "I am sure we can avoid a diplomatic incident. Air space is not anyone's property, there is plenty of room for everyone. Why, we are just taking an excursion you see. I can have some picnic baskets made up. You drink bubbly I suppose? Some caviar perhaps..."

He tucked his statuette under one arm.

"Cressida, as I call her, is not exactly fast. An Airship, you see. But unlike those ghastly plane things of you, she can hover. We will have an excellent view!"

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She gave a little smile at Subito’s stream of consciousness; he could be so adorable at times.

“I doubt if the Avians themselves are responsible, the technology of there we’ve seen was far to primitive to pull of something like this.†She held up the statue “I suspect that this mysterious V has been recruiting them for some purpose.â€

During her investigation she’d spend considerable time gathering as much information on the Avian and there technological achievements.

“I have to collect some equipment before we leave. If you’re fine to leave straight away? Were do you keep this magnificent airship?â€

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"At my mansion, of course!" laughed Lord Steam. He produced an exquisite calling card, giving his address and number.

"Just let the staff know when you arrive. I shall be expecting you!"

He bowed in parting, giving Blod a little wink.

"Fare ye well, madam, sir!" he started. "I'll run over there now, unless you want a lift. I'll get Molly to rustle up a picnic hamper, and I'm sure Blakely can find some suitable vintage from the cellar. And I suppose I better check the Gatling Guns are oiled, just in case we do run into a spot of bother!" he laughed.

And with that, he took leave, to make preparations back at his Manor.

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“Oh I won’t be long I just need to collect a few things. Shall we say within the hour?â€

She gave Subito a little look. The one thing she’d always liked was his boundless enthusiasm for things; he was like a big kid sometime. And she suspected she knew exactly what he wanted to do right now. She gave him a gentle nudge in the ribs to get his attention.

“Why don’t you travel along with Lord Lockwood? Just in case this mysterious V has other plans for us.â€

It was only a half lie, and one she didn’t feel any particular guilt over, they really didn’t know exactly what reach this mysterious V had. And it never hurt to be a little cautious in these things.

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Subito had been watching with no little admiration as Lockwood began to depart, and started at the bump. Listening to Cerys' directions in increasing excitement, he nodded vigorously when she concluded, saying eagerly "With right good will! Thank you, m'lady!" taking her right hand he pressed it briefly to his lips, added "I'll get some stuff together too, I won't need much!" and hurried off after Lord Steam.

Catching up to him at the door he tapped the man on the shoulder "Excuse me sir!" he began "Blodeuwedd wants me to go with you, just in case our mutual benefactor has something extra planned" he explained with a merry grin "if that's alright with you" he added quickly.

Catching sight of Bessie, his eyes went wide as saucers. "That's..is that..?" he breathed in awe.

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"Indeed it is young sir!" said Lord Steam proudly, as Singh opened up the passanger doors for him and his guess.

"It is an auto-mo-bile!" he explained "Running on steam! much more efficient and clean than your petroleum based engines!" he explained proudly.

"To Steam Manor, Singh!"

A few minutes later...

Bessie was fast, and Singh was an expert driver. It took moments to drive to Steam Manor, where Lucien Lockwood stepped out and greeted his staff.

"Singh, better fire up Cressida. Oh, and make sure the Gatling Guns are loaded and oiled, will you? I don't expect any trouble, but best to be on the safe side. I hope you don't mind driving again?"

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