Skip to toolbar
Press "Enter" to skip to content

A Little Resolution never hurt (Epilogue)

Beryl looked out over the frozen lake, the party for the end of the year about to begin.  She was looking forward to the celebration with friends despite recent events. Lisa had looked at her with fear akin to when she was newly ‘human’.  Bookworm had been cold and unwelcoming. Tepic and the others…well there was no use dwelling on all that negativity now. She had no doubt that she would feel welcome tonight.  

Word spread of her innocence quickly, and her shift in demeanor had managed to sway a few who had condemned her.  The familiar had privately apologized to Lisa, explaining she had not attacked Kasa but had held her muzzle to prevent a scream only.  The fear melted away from her friend and Beryl surprised her with a hug. 

Lisa liked the hug, Tepic however kept trying to get away screaming about how he couldn’t breath.  She wondered if the lad ever grew up how he’d look in a corset. Oh no, even as a joke the lad did not like when she mentioned that at all! That only made it funnier, of course.

Beryl went to the dance floor and was welcomed quickly, ‘Beloved-again’ said one of the children who had recently thought her lost to the darkness.  Despite everything she had done to them, the familiar felt nothing from them but warmth.

And still, she did not regret anything that she had done if it had led to this.  Count Bologna still had a scheme to play out no doubt, and some of the conspirators remained at large.  However, that meant little since her part in this farce was over. The urchins could deal with their own fallout, whether it finished crumbling or repaired itself. It was time for this kitty to finally relax and indulge a little.

***

Felina looked over herself in the bedroom mirror at the green dye that covered her fur.  She had asked Santa for dye, and the Boiler Elf had suggested green. Christmas morning the clockwork found some in her stocking over the fireplace.  She had feared her existence would be seen as pale imitation despite her best efforts, but Santa had proven as wonderful as ever.

Green was good for her.  An affirmation of what she was, and a rejection of what she was not.  She would not be mistaken for Beryl again, so long as the dye lasted a few days.  The clockwork had enough dye for several applications.

She was happy with the result and yet guilt stabbed at her again.  She knew the guilt had been planted there by Otis now, but that did not make the feeling vanish like the wind.  Cyan, her, and others may have to sit with that watch again to be set to rights.  

Getting fully dressed, she made her way to the party. She was starting to get the hang of dancing in her new bones, but it was mostly discovering what she could not do anymore. Phillip Johnson may have wanted slaves out of his duplicates, but she was determined to be more than he had ever bargained.  

***

Ming stayed in that night, with no thought of going to the party which would have the loud fireworks and bustling dancers.  Too many scents, movements, and people for her taste at the moment. Instead, she looked over her pups with pride in her eyes. 

When this year started she had been trapped in a human form.  But during the encounter with the duplicates her wild side had emerged and refused to retreat completely.  The wolf in her was freed from its shackles of anxiety and lies. So many lies told by others, and to herself. The tragedy that forced her to run from home, the duplicates over the summer, the mad attack in the Fells, she had put behind her as she looked at the new life before her.  A mother, a mate, a woman who had something to live for again.

***

Otis sat in his cell willingly, tossing a ball at the opposite wall in boredom, but often missing it and diving for it over again.  He had come to his senses sometime after arriving in the facility. Out there Winter, the fox, had some presence in his mind. Here she was out of his head and that was for the better.

His watch had caused no end of trouble, he could admit that.  Scrounged together from parts in the junkyard from villains of the past, he had always used it to help people undo detrimental effects caused by such devices.  A way to unbrainwash people who were suffering from that terrible process.  

He knew that he was not to blame for the actions he committed while under, but he could regret not keeping it a secret.  His escape attempt had backfired rather terribly as he had put first Beatrixe under, and then the fox. The one thing was…he did not remember the fox lift the watch to his head or what came afterwards. 

He could wait.  His wife still visited most days to keep his spirits up.  He had not been surprised how readily she had believed him about the dynamite as a fashion statement, and needed to return the matching jacket she got him for Christmas. 

He only hoped Kasa and the others would forgive him someday as quickly as she did. 

***

Kasa seethed as the name Otis was muttered by one of the staff.  She was sick of hearing that traitors name. He was barred from the hospital even if he got out of the asylum by some miracle. 

The Blackberry Memorials reconstruction had stalled, with the main builder now carefully tucked back into the asylum.  Fortunately, her blue prints remained. With the start of a new year there would be a new facility. 

It was the best change that had come this year, filled with others that were unwelcome. There was no time for fun or games at the party this year.  Too much work to get done. She hoped the urchins and others enjoyed themselves though. 

***

Tepic looked over the white moreau that had been half starved hiding in the walls near his camp and offered her another vole.  The poor thing ate it and seemed to be quite lost in her own mind. Arctic foxes were a bit peculiar from the tales he had heard, always doing weird nutty stuff, but he had never seen one before.

He had worked out this was the fox that the Militia, Book, and the others were trying to find.  She would be captured and then thrown into the asylum with that nutter Canergak in charge.  

The lad wouldn’t, couldn’t, turn over a cousin fox to the asylum.  Not even for Captain. Winter was just going to have to be his secret and he’d help her out.  From his talk with her he reckoned she needed that more than a cell anyhow.

***

You have until twelfth night to pay. 

 Her words echoed in Snow’s mind as he enjoyed his freedom. He had been asleep so long, and missed so much of the excitement.  Things had gotten pretty dark without him around. But Tepic wasn’t going to give her what she wanted. And the lad had only asked for Snow for ‘christmas’.  He had to find a more permanent solution before the Founders Day Ball…if a ball was held at all.

But a child at heart didn’t worry about a ticking deadline like that.  He was still enjoying his freedom that he had for now. He would not overly complain if she took him back.  A deal was a deal after all.  Still, he was positive an arrangement could be made.  She wasn’t as terrible as people seemed to believe.  

***

Cyan breathed in the cold Babbage air as he returned from Mondrago, the brief stint away having done wonders for his health.  He had learned many things this year. Was a little wiser in learning the ramifications certain deals and orders could have upon certain people.  He was ready to step out from this year and leave it all behind him.  

He got to the dance and greeted both Felina and Beryl happily. He ate some of the buffet, spent time with friends, and danced while ignoring the pain as it slowly came upon him, especially in his shoulder.  

It was New Years. He could push himself a little.

***

Candance felt they only wanted to use her when she first returned and encountered the Alice gang.  If Felina had not been in danger she would have abandoned them. 

But when Candance had been hurt by Alice days after, the hospital had taken care of her, and her visitors had been many.  Lisa though, had still avoided her. Still did not trust the jerboa simply because she had an ally in her.

“You warned them about Alice,”  Candance rasped bitterly from her damaged throat to her mirror.  She could only see her own reflection, but heard a response sometimes. Usually when out of Babbage.  She sat up in the bed in case that would help, “You helped Lilith and Kasa wake up, and Cyan too as you found out he was poisoned. How can they not see that you are trying to help in your own way?”

Do you think I concern myself with what other people think, child?’  Came the amused response. It sounded kind to the child, but others had grown to despise it and her from past dealings. ‘Enjoy yourself tonight.  I know you love your Turkish Delight in particular.  Sing your songs even if you cannot dance like you desire.  Have a wonderful New Year as you had a merry Christmas. I shall enjoy the extra Light brought by the indulgence of this time of year.

Candance nodded in agreement as she looked at the nearby table.  Her favorite guilty pleasure rested in a bag neatly tied nearby. She opened it up and popped a few, just letting herself enjoy the holiday spirit.  

Regardless of whatever else might linger, and how many threads may be unresolved, this year was over.  It was time for a brand new day.

***

Spalding sat in his cell calmly despite having been separated from his friends. He was afforded only iced tea now to his sorrow, and his friends were afforded little time to join him. His situation was otherwise quite pleasant.

It was a new year, and no cat would ever cross his path again. Until he saw her that day visiting the Professor. The cat! Here! What was she doing here!? What do you mean she used to work here?!

He demanded to see Time’s manager as he screamed defiance at the New Year! It couldn’t have him!

Mr. Spalding wouldn’t calm down until he had a calander that read quite seriously:

New Babbage Year
188X-1

***

Beryl looked about herself, having lost herself in the music and fun some time ago as the fireworks brought in the new year. This was going to be a good one she was certain. A good one because she had finally managed it. Whatever the troubles that had come their way, at no point had she thrown herself into danger intentionally. She had side stepped it and even gotten Felina to make the mistake she would have before. Her adventuring days were over.

She couldn’t have been happier.

Spread the love

3 Comments

  1. Lisa Fargazer Lisa Fargazer December 31, 2019

    Lisa hurried north to the frozen lake where the large stage had been set up for the party. It had taken her a while (cats, after all, did not use calendars), but she had finally started to attach some of the same importance to the end of the year that others did. And as she joined Babbagers in the dance, she let her mind range back over the year past, and the hard lessons she had learned.

    The events of the summer, of course, dominated those thoughts. She’d come face to face, not with her own mortality – she’d lived with that as a cat, and had faced it again many times since – but with her own recklessness and foolishness. Her pursuit of Hartschlagel hadn’t been much more rational that Miss Domino’s, and she’d nearly paid for it with her life. As she’d recovered, more than one person, or entity, had impressed on her the importance of her life. She knew that now, she’d never take such risks again, unless she had no other choice.

    Her thoughts also drifted to Mr. Canergak. That relationship was so upended now, she didn’t have a clue how she felt about him. He’d allowed her to leave the asylum to begin training as a nurse at the hospital. He’d visited her when she was recovering after her ill-advised trip after Hartschlagel. And even before that, he’d told her that he viewed her as his ward – almost as his adopted child. In the face of all that, it was impossible for her to feel even the same level of hatred she’d had at the beginning of the year, let alone the hatred she’d had for him at the beginning of their association.

    She hoped this coming year would be quieter, but she was sure it would be no less interesting This was New Babbage, after all.

  2. Nellie Wilde Nellie Wilde January 1, 2020

    Nellie leans against a wall in a manor in London, out of the way and eying everyone around. A group she has grown very fond of, once very unlikely friends and should be enemies, now she wouldn’t trade a one of them. To remove one would break the whole set. They are not why she is here though, she came for Alek. His mother lies possibly dying in the next room, or so they say. Nellie’s not fully convinced, but convinced enough, more than she was before they arrived. Majik Dmitriev, one of many reasons Nellie is always looking over her shoulder. Now she could be dying and Nellie can’t help feeling very sad herself. She shrugs if off and chalks it up to this room full of sadness.

    She also thinks of the last few months, maybe more than a few. She wonders what everyone back in Babbage is doing, Erebus, how he was coping, if he was out of the hospital, if anyone was keeping him company, if they had retrieved Snow…if he was getting plenty to eat now, and the right stuff. Felina, if she got her dye and what she looks like green. The other urchins…she shakes her, the urchins, not the other anymore. She had chosen to grow up. Bittersweet decision. She’ll always look back on her urchinhood fondly, and miss it, but she feels much more comfortable now, she hopes they understand. She thinks about them all, and Wright, Ming, Dave, the doctors and nurses at the hospital, even Beryl…she still didn’t quite understand what happened or why, but she rarely did and as usually she decided to just let that one go. Was more headache trying to figure it out than just admitting she loved the cat too much to be too sore with her forever. She smiles faintly to herself then moves on, going through her list of everyone…Lunette, the only one she actually knows where is and what’s doing. Her ‘twin’ had made her own big girl decision. She had decided to make home in Babbage, much to Nell’s surprise. Dawson was surely having a rotten New Year, if he was even awake for it…Nell had climbed up to his airship to show him how to maintain the engines, a quick crash course, no pun intended. He seemed quit lost without his little engineer. He’ll adapt…in time, she thought to herself. He’s sturdier than he thinks. She moves on. What is Mum and Da and the boys up to, Fisher and Uma, the rest of the pack? She hoped they was having a pleasant night.

    She turns an ear to a clock chiming somewhere in the manor, midnight. It brings her back to the now. It’s now a new year. Moving forward. Her thoughts shift to future plans. She doesn’t really want to think about it. The past is so much easier, it’s done, finalized. The unknown makes her edgy. Easier to live today and try not to think about tomorrow, but those twelve chimes set her thoughts spinning. Work, that was piling up nicely, she had plenty to keep her busy. Her family, they seemed happy enough. Mum a bit shaken maybe, but she’d be alright. The news hit her a bit roughly. Of course it did, even Nellie hadn’t let it sink in fully herself and she knew about it for a long while now, she’d made the promise years ago, years to her anyway. But it’s January now, and only two months left, she best get used to it, how can you plan for marriage if you ignore it until the day of? Her mind moves to Alek now, new thought…how will his mother dying, or not dying, affect it all? A realization hits her hard…she slides down to the floor and drops her head on her knees. A hand falling down beside her to her coat pocket to pull out a cookie, bringing it between her makeshift headrest and her mouth, she nibbles at it slowly…no, no thinking, no future thinking anyway…clogs up the works. She finishes the cookie and leans her head back up, she looks around and smiles faintly and whispers, trying to be some cheery in the gloomy room “Happy New Year.”

    *****

    Lunette sits on the sofa in Nellie’s home on the corner of the park. Nellie’s? She supposes she should call it hers, or theirs, now. She had moved in, and Nell was alright with that. “Jus don go rearrangin’ anymore…” she’d been told. She’d spent most her time…since becoming her own person…traveling. She had learned so much now. Having pushed out all she could of Nellie from her mind, she was left rather empty. It would have been easier maybe to keep all of Nellie’s thoughts and things, but how could she be her own person if she didn’t gather her own experiences? She thought of Candance, her first ‘as herself’ travels were with Candance. Then on with Dawson when something in Babbage had brought Candance back. Then she thinks of Dawson. Her captain. She felt bad for having abandoned him and the crew. She knows she’ll be sorely missed but she was done traveling for the moment. She’d learned enough and gathered enough thoughts to work up her own self, she could settle for a moment. They’d be fine. Anyways, she was still learning, her current lessons didn’t involve traveling. These studies she had to stay in one place for.

    She thinks about Nellie again and shakes her head. Her ‘sister’ had lost her mind. She was certain of it. But she had always been quite certain Nellie was addled from birth, and she was determined to love Nellie, but not be her. She nods to herself “I’m completely new. Not a new Nellie, not a Not Nellie, not even a new me…just new.” she smiles and nods again then thinks of Bryan, one of her current studies. She couldn’t quite get him, but she was determined to. And unlike other people she had planned to learn he wanted to stay. That makes it much easier to learn a person. So she stayed too. There were other people around Babbage she thought she might get a learning on while she was here as well. A man named Barnaby had taken residence in one Nellie’s buildings. He was interesting, and great with numbers. Perhaps she’d pick his brain during the day when not poking around the libraries and bookshops.

    She leans back on the sofa and sighs contentedly with her New Year’s plans. “I’ll be a great me. And spend every minute of this year learning something new. Starting with…” she looks over at the stove as the kettle starts to scream just as the clock dings midnight “…tea.”

  3. Tepic Harlequin Tepic Harlequin January 4, 2020

    It had been a few days since the Mad Alice Gang had been broken up and Tepic was down in his camp below the Palisade Gate when the faint scent of an unfamiliar fox brushed his nose. He followed the trail up to the top of the wall, where he found a very unusual white fox, who seemed surprised when he greeted her.
    From this distance it was clear from her scent that she was famished and scared, so he offered a vole, eating one himself to reassure her it was safe.

    Their conversation was – unsettling. This poor vixen was obviously confused, her thinking not what he expected from an adult fox, and she told him she had headaches which started when arriving in the City. There was something about what she was saying that was familiar to him, if only he could remember….

    It was also plain that this Alice creature had some influence over her. The boy tried to let her know not everyone in the City was really friendly and some would try to take advantage of her, while giving her the option of staying at his camp. The idea that there would be food always available seemed to appeal to her, though he knew there was no point pushing as adults always just dug their heals in, especially when a youngster was giving good advice.

    They exchanged names, which was a really good step, She was called Winter and was probably an Artic Fox, though Tepic was not sure if she knew herself. Before they parted, Winter asked if she could be his friend, which he was happy to accept, after all they were at least cousins, and foxes always helped out foxes.

    Back at his camp, he was fascinated to see out of the corner of his eye a faint, glowing blue thread running from him to wherever. He knew everyone was connected by such things, though they only usually showed up when people were close. This was something new, and the colour was rather nice. In all, he thought, it had been a good day.

Leave a Reply