Curiously the mention of an unclaimed waif bore klout with the inn up the hill. Since he’d arrived, he carried apprehension over what name to use. He tried several throughout the years but they never suited him. How ironic, he thought, that one of mankind’s greatest envies – to name one’s self – should be so problematic. He signed the register quickly before he could change his mind.
“Right this way, Mister Henly.”
He sighed and followed the innkeeper up a set of creaky stairs, and was left in a modest but clean room overlooking an alley. He recognized the back of the bakery a ways over, with its single flickering window.
Henly turned his attention back toward the task at hand, reaching for his device as he removed his coat. The child’s flesh had amphibious properties; it was possible that many people here came from somewhere else. He accessed the scanner settings and turned them up. What he detected supported his notion. Tiny pockets of low level chronoton emissions were everywhere. Widening the range, they could be detected to the farthest reaches of New Babbage. Borrowed technology? An accidental discovery? Whatever their origins, their intensity appeared controlled and consistent throughout…
…with the exception of his objective. Whatever was down there emitted an inordinate amount of radiation, with the potential to displace a large portion of New Babbage out of time, not with just the rest of the city but with the rest of the universe. He was not fully versed in temporal physics – it wasn’t part of his initial orientation – but it didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out the consequences.
He took stock of his paraphernalia, quickly relearning their camouflaged interfaces, with their tangible switches and levers. He couldn’t help but admire the elegance of their design. This was truly a clever people: a cultured and civilised people. Henly smiled.