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Bumpopolis Blues

Home. Or a drab shopping center, anyway, in a humdrum suburb outside of Babbage. That’s where the unicorn and the human touched ground from their portal journey. “Twin Spruces Mall” read the sign. It was night time, but the lights of the parking lot kept the area bright enough to read by. He’d gotten so used to Babbage he’d forgotten how dark the nights were, even by gaslight or the occasional edison bulb.

The first thing Spires had done was to expertly bash in a nearby soda machine and divest it of it’s money, then purchase two disposable mobile phones from a nearby convenience store.  He showed the Unicorn as best he could how to use the hands-free set and voice dialing. From here they had to split up.

Macbain could certainly have come no further than Bumpopolis. It was the regional center of government and one of the Emperor’s Five Abodes. “I have pledged personally to serve Emperor Crumb and his Mayor. Ms Macbain.. this Macbain, is one of his subjects,” he reasoned to himself.

A couple were making out in a personal vehicle nearby. Some gaudy two-door speedster. The windows were steamed.

He knocked abruptly on the driver’s side window, “Campaign for Moral Decency. Come on then. Out.”

He didn’t feel too bad about it as he sped down the turnpike leaving them confused and waiting for a paddy wagon that would never come. One had a ring on, one didn’t. Served ’em right. Car had a full capacitor too, which was good, as for some stupid reason he’d left the rest of the vending machine money with the Falcon. How was that unicorn supposed to buy anything, anyway? He turned on the stereo. Sweet Builder, real music for a change.

The mobile phone tempted him. He knew his son’s contact number by heart. He was stationed somewhere in Asia, last they’d talked. It would be daytime there.

He put the thought away. The only advantage he had so far was that everyone either thought him dead, or lost for good.  
There’d be time. It would all work out. 

The sprawling metropolis of Bumpopolis met him just before dawn when the sky is almost blue. He had a funny thought in his head, that the monk in Babbage, Malus was that his name? Had told him he’d be travelling the world to seek his fortune. He reminded himself there was no Bumpopolis in the other world. Brother Malus would never have went there.

By morning light, he was well in town, driving by the government center, stuck in traffic, realizing he really didn’t have a single clue.

Well, maybe just one.

He made a phone call to Captain Macbain.

“Pegleg, you’re not going to believe who this is..”

 (Feel free to control my person for story purposes, as needed, those involved)

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  1. Avariel Falcon Avariel Falcon October 31, 2011

    Avariel set to work stabilizing the portal.

    It was somewhat fortunate that the shoping district was closed for the night as the portal opened up in the middle of a large area set aside for powered conveyances. If it had been daytime she was certain they would have attracted rather a lot of unwanted attention.

    The clockwork unicorn rummaged around in her saddle bags and placed a shoebox sized box on the ground, which opened up and unfolded to reveal a small clockwork. The little brass clockwork looked like a walking crystal ball of the sort that travelling fortune tellers used, but the ball was made of brass and the base had six brass legs.

    After activation the little clockwork gave a few clicks and the portal shimmered as it locked on to the transresonance crystal carried by the clockwork.

    Avariel led the little clockwork and portal into a dirty and slightly overgrown allyway that appeard to have not seen much use in the last centry or so. Nudging the portal into a hidden alcove the unicorn studdied the area for a moment and then commanded the clockwork to set the portal location.

    The little clockwork clicked a few times then jumped up and lept through the portal.

    In Clockhaven Unit #6 removed the brass crystal container from the little clockwork and added it to the library. The little clockwork gave a few happy clicks and folded itself back up into a box.

    While Unit #6 worked with the crystal Avariel lept up onto the roof of the main shop building and setup camp. This was not the first time she had setup in a dangerous area and she had a few gadgets to help.

    Avariel placed a small hexagonal box shaped device on the roof and attached a circle of wire to the device. After activating the device the air around the machine shimmered and everything within the circle of wire vinished from view. Within the small circle of aetheric invisibility she placed the other items of equipment she had brought with her for safe keeping.

    With base camp setup the clockwork unicorn lept down from the rooftop and set out to explore this strange new world.

    [Similarly, for those involved with this story line, feel free to write me in as required. ^_^] 

  2. Avariel Falcon Avariel Falcon October 31, 2011

    Gaining entry to the power station had been easy, unlike the Clockhaven plant there were no security clockwork, in fact no sign of maintenance personnel at all.

    The machines just operated themselves!

    The control systems were amazing, some kind of computational engines operated the systems directly without need for manual intervention. All of the pipework and electrical conduits were in immaculate condition, there was not even any dust on the floor.

    Walking around the plant Avariel was struck by not just the differences, but the similarities to her power plant. She had visited many power plants and most were essentially giant steam engines, a big furnace burnt some manner of fuel and heated water to make steam and drive turbines or pistons. But not here.

    This plant was very similar to the power plant in Clockhaven, a giant rotor span inside a large cavernous room and brushes collected the raw electricity from the rotor directly. It even had the massive counterweight array, although this power station had shiny looking steel wheels instead of huge iron cogs. The entire design looked simplified, slimmed down to its essential working essence, and maybe somewhat lacking in character.

    Another difference was the lack of windows. The Clockhaven station had windows everywhere, as if the architect had some manic window fettish, but here there were just plain walls made from sime kind of seamless grey stone.

    As she scanned the room Avariel’s eyes were drawn to the intense glow around the rotor, far more intense than the glow around the rotor in her power station. The glow looked somewhat more energetic, more sprightly and enthusiastic. But that was not the strangest thing… The rotor in her power station had a song, a rhythmic song that always seamed satisfied and content, the song of a well oiled and much loved machine working to a wonderful purpose. But this rotor was different, the song was familiar, but strangely discordant, and maybe slightly melancholy…

     There was something unsettling in the song of this machine, something that the clockwork unicorn’s cognitive systems just could not analyse and compute.

    Avariel Falcon wandered out of the power station that was so familiar and yet so unfamiliar and set out in search of further adventure…


  3. Stargirl Macbain Stargirl Macbain October 31, 2011

    A series of clicks, a buzz and the phone rang. A maid answered it with a sleepy, “What?” and heared the man’s voice, “Pegleg, You’re not going to believe who this is…”

    She squeeked, “Please hold!” 


    “Wake-up!” A man prodded Star with his baton.

    “I’m up, I’m up.” Star snatched her dressing gown and pulled it on, “I’ll dress and be right down.” She yawned, her teeth snapping shut. 

    “No, you need to come down right now. You have a call.” 

    “I have a…a what?” The man hauld her down the hallway a bit too fast for her peg to keep up and pushed her into the chair, handing her the reciever. She stared at it “What is this?” 

    The guard stared at her then pressed it to her ear. 


    Star nearly dropped the receiver but fumbled it back to her ear,”That’s not a very polite thing to call someone, you know.”

    “Where are you?” He asked at the same time she said, “Who is this?”

    There was a long pause Star cleared her throat, “You’ll have to forgive me. They probably didn’t tell you that I’m ill. I was told they had explained the situation to my, er, family.”

    “Right. Just calling to check on you for myself, then. Where’s the other?”

    “Other men, you mean?” She coughed, “I seem to be the only one.”

    There was a long pause, “Ah.”

    “I’m sorry.” She offered, then realized how stupid that sounded, “I’m quite all right here in Bumpopolis. I’m told they will be sending me home to Falun tomorrow.”


    “Not sure,” Ward walked in, looking annoyed and gestured to one of the men that was hovering over her, “I’m afraid I have to go, Dr. Ward is wanting me back in bed. It is a bit early, you know.”

    “Are you well?” He asked.

    She shrugged, “For the moment. I’m ready to go home.”

    “Right.” The line went dead.

    Ward snatched it out of his hand, “Who was that?”

    “I, er, he didn’t give his name.” She smiled, “A brother maybe? I have one of those, I think I saw him in that clever file you gave me. You said he’d been told I was going home…Do I have a lover, maybe?”

    Mr. Ward turned, “Get me a transcript of that conversation.”  

    ((Uh…ditto. *grins* Sorry I vanished! Had a big weekend :) Mostly back now))

  4. Jonathon Spires Jonathon Spires November 1, 2011

    “Falun? I’m certain she is not from the mines.”  Spires let the phone drop in the seat as he drove onto the sidewalk, chasing pedestrians into shopfront as he navigated out of a traffic snarl and moved again. Never a copper when you need one, was there?

    Ward. Never heard of him. Spires knew military security in the area, and doubted she was there. Must be some internal branch, or maybe higher up. If so, they’d be on to his phone in awhile. Fortunately he’d written Avariel’s number onto a scrap of paper first thing. It seemed risky at the time. Passing by a Dept of Works project, he tossed the phone down an open manhole, leaving before he heard a subterranian worker, cursing.


    He drove past an open air cafe where a stockbroker was leaning back in his chair and having a very showy and loud conversation for apprently the benefit of the entire universe. He grabbed he phone from the man’s arm and passed on, “He’ll call you back,” he said into the phone, and hung up on a perplexed client.


    “Good sir, Falcon… yes.. yes its me. No I changed cell.. No it’s actually the ME me. How can you know? Um.. nothing gets you drunker faster than the stuff the call absinthe at Loki’s. There?  Listen, we need a diversion. A big one. Can you do anything to affect the power supply in the city of Bumpopolis?”

    Swerved to avoid traffic. It really wasnt safe driving and phoning. There should be a law.

    “The entire regional grid? That’s excellent my fine fellow! But do be careful, you’re likely to anger a few people in the process, don’t you know.” Click.

    Whatever he’d done, Bumpopolis, Falun, the Fells, and Babbage went dead and dark. The angels were seemingly on strike.







  5. Avariel Falcon Avariel Falcon November 1, 2011

    “A diversion…”

    The clockwork unicorn pondered this…

    “Hmm… yes… I know just the the thing, and maybe I can put some things to rights and advance science at the same time!”.

    A little while later at the other world power station Avariel and Unit #6 entered the main generator room.

    Unit #6 looked at the large rotor, “Impressive… at… least… twice… the… size… of… our… rotor…”.

    Avariel listened to the song, it was impossible to ignore. It was obvious now that the aetheric anomaly within the rotor was alive in some way, and terribly sad.

    “Unit #6, I think it is time for a jail break!”.

    Unit #6 walked up to the rotor and placed a small three sided pyramid shaped box on the ground. The box was an artifact of a bygone age, highly ornate with detailed engravings in gold and silver on each side and little jeweled windows in each face.

    Avariel approached the box and touched the little button on the top with her horn. With the faintest of clicks little doors opened up at the very tip of the pyramid box.

    Avariel and Unit #6 waited a moment, nothing happened…

    Unit #6 ran through the instructions, “There… is… another… step… we… must… play… song… of… the… aeather… one… from… the… musical… box…”.

    Avariel looked at Unit #6, “Ok then, let us setup this musical box!”.

    Unit #6 shook his head, “Musical… box… lost… during… destruction… of… north… wing…”.

    The clockwork unicorn stomped her hooves, “Drat!”. 


  6. Avariel Falcon Avariel Falcon November 1, 2011

    Avariel was about to give up and do something more energetic to stop the power plant when something caught her eye… It was almost imperceptible… She looked more closely at the box and wondered at the impossible precision required.

    Along the edges of the box were engraved musical notes, tiny musical notes, so small that only Avariel’s enhanced clockwork eyes could make them out.

    The unicorn looked more closely, scanning each song, there were three in total, one on each upper face.

    The engravings on each face were different and suddenly Avariel put the pieces together.


    The clockwork unicorn danced and pranced.

    Unit #6 rumbled, “What… have… you… discovered… that… could… make… you… so… happy?”.

    Avariel pointed at the box, “Each face is a musical recording device, like a wax cylinder!”.

    She pointed at the first face, “This one has pictures of angels in the clouds, and look there is the box in the engraving! The angels are flying into the box!”.

    She pointed to the next face, “On this one there are pictures of angels flying around a cog wheel!”.

    Finally the unicorn pointed at the last face, “And this one has angels flying out of the box into the clouds again!”.

    Unit #6 clunked for a moment, “How… does… this… help… us?”.

    Avariel looked at the large humanoid automaton for a moment, “Maybe a demonstration would provide the best explanation, time for an experiment!”.

    The clockwork unicorn began to sing…

    The song was complex, very complex indeed, it stretched Avariel’s vocal systems to the limit to produce the complex mix of harmonic sounds. As she sung the ancient song of the aeather she realised, the song was the sound of the portal generator, the sound of the rotors at the power stations, the three songs were essentially the same, just with different emotional overtones. This was the song of the universe, and its effects were dramatic.

    The power station shuddered, the entire building shuddered, metal surfaces began to glow with aetheric auras as the structure of reality began to break down, and the glow around the rotor shifted.

    The glow became imbalanced, tearing free from the rotor, and then with a rush like the sound of a mighty waterfall the glow poured into the little box.


    The box closed, glowing faintly through the little jeweled windows.

    As the clockwork looked at the box they became aware of two things. The first was that they had been part of a truly great scientific breakthrough, and the second was the incredibly loud alarm klaxon.

    The rotor began to slow and the lights started flickering.

    Avariel turned to Unit #6, “I think this would be a good moment to make a tactical retreat.”.

    Picking up the glowing aetheric box the clockwork ran out of the station, and as they ran they noticed the lights of the city going out, a few at first, and then whole sections of the city, until they were running for the portal in almost complete darkness.


  7. Jonathon Spires Jonathon Spires November 1, 2011

    Airships were appearing on the horizon. Ornithopters were scrambling as well. Armoured vehicles were knocking vehicles out of the way as pedestrians scrambled for cover and drivers abandoned their vehicles in the middle of the street. Angelic Escape sirens were blaring. The sum of all fears.

    “I am uncertain Avariel should have gone THAT far.” Spires said to no one in particular, pulling into a parking space to avoid an armoured land-fortress rolling down the road, but he’d certainly created more of a diversion than Spires could have dreamed of. He stepped out of the car.

    Where was Macbain? The Imperial Palace? Not likely. Cleon II certainly didn’t spend his autumns here, but the place was never a holding facility even while His Imperial Majesty enjoyed a warmer climate elsewhere.

    Where in Bump would someone be put. There was a mansion not far off the government center, some old noble’s abode that had a bit of a reputation. Such things weren’t talked about of course, but in a society like the Empire, often what wasn’t talked about, created a kind of vacuum of fear and doubt, a bullseye on a map that otherwise had no concentric circles.

    Imperial Security might well have her there, and they’d be largely undefended, now. The roads were nearly unnavigable at this point, and anything non military in the sky would be shot down while under this alart. Not to mention, if there was a raging angel run amok in the heavens, it was the last place he wanted to be.

    What to do.

    Some urchin had left his skateboard behind when he’d ran to the nearest Shelter during the alarm, some servicable hoverboard with various skulls, triskelions, a deathpolka band logo, and “Farg the Imps” scrawled onto it with permanent markers.

    “I am far too old for this.” he thought.

    But it’s like a bicycle, really, or making love.. one remembered how. He skated off between the wrecks and barricades to a forboding mansion.

    • Junie Ginsburg Junie Ginsburg November 1, 2011



  8. Stargirl Macbain Stargirl Macbain November 1, 2011

    Star actually hissed at the ceiling when the alarms started blaring. There were shouts in the hallway and outside her windows. She pressed her face to the glass and looked up and saw absolutely nothing. She seized a crutch and pounded on the door.

    “Oy! If we are under attack don’t leave me in this room! OY!” But no one answered, she tried the handle: locked, of course. She pulled a pin from her hair and knelt and pushed, prodded and pulled until the lock popped. 

    Lies she had told Jed and Sky: #1 I honestly have never done anything criminal. 

    She stuck the pin back in her hair and stepped out into the hallway and hobbled down it. A guard was rushing toward her, “Return to your quarters!” he commanded breathlessly.

    “To hell with that!” She shouted and stepped back, swinging the crutch at his head and catching him in the temple, he crumpled.

    Lie #2: I’ve never needed to learn self defense, honestly. I just don’t get in fights, so what’s the point? 

    She thwacked him a second time to be sure he stayed down, all the while muttering, “Sorry, sorry, it’s not you, it’s me, I swear.” she pulled his gun from its holster and hurried toward the front door. She was still blind in one eye and swore every time she turned a little too soon and rammed her shoulder into a corner.

    “God I hate this place.” She muttered, pushing the front door open and preparing to sprint across the grounds. Nobody seemed to be paying attention to her in the least, everyone seemed to be going to do whatever it was they did in an emergency without so much as a glance at her. She struck a straight line for the gate which was actually open. “Finally a bit of bloody luck.” She muttered.

    She was two steps from the gate when she heard a woman’s voice shout, “Macbain! Stop there!” Star turned and raised the gun and shouted back, “You’re letting me run off now.”

    “Stop!” The woman replied, raising her rifle.

    Lie #3: I’ve just never felt a need to learn how to use a gun. I always depend on my whits.

     Star aimed for the woman’s off shoulder and fired and when she failed to tumble-over dramatically as expected, Star fired a second shot at her knee and then she tumbled over, “I’m so sorry!” Star shouted and turned and slipped out the gates. Outside the relative calm of the walls the city seemed to be exploding into chaos. People were running out of their houses and into the streets, they all seemed to be running the same direction. Sirens blared louder-still, she flattened her ears against her head, her tail twitching in irritation, poised just behind the barricades that stood between the house’s walls and the city street trying to decide: south or east?

    An odd movement caught her good eye as she scanned the streets, a gliding motion amid all the runners and…

    “Spires!” She shouted and then wondered if his human ears would even catch that over all this noise. She glanced back at the house to see if anyone was watching and couldn’t tell if they were or weren’t, the few figures she saw seemed to be looking up, not down. She wondered at that, then dashed toward Spires, hoping she’d catch his attention before he passed her by.


    (Hahah deathpolka).  

  9. Jonathon Spires Jonathon Spires November 1, 2011

    Well that took care of the “how to charge in and get her out without getting killed” bit.

    Exhausted, he hopped off the board without much grace, and it sailed on until bumping into a postbox down the sidewalk. It wasn’t the dramatic opening he’d had in his mind, but any port in a storm..

    He ran up to her. “Are you (weeze).. hurt?”


    With power down and the city either preparing for war or cowering in subterranian shelters, the city had an eerie calm in daylight. The entire calm was punctuated by a nearby rumble of a train. The rails were maglev and ran off a seperate grid than the neaby cities. The freight cars ran automatically.

    Riding the board had almost winded him, already. He didn’t know what else to say. Felt he should apologize to her on behalf of his universe somehow but could only simply say in gasps, “Rails.. stock yard..have to get .. back.”

  10. Stargirl Macbain Stargirl Macbain November 1, 2011

    She lifted her head and listened, really listened, trying to decide what direction the tracks were, all the while too concious of the house looming behind them. 

    “Talking is for later.” She shoved the gun into her belt and grabbed his hand, “C’mon, catch your breath while we run, Old man.”

    With the crutch aiding her peg she could move along almost as fast as a person jogging at a slow pace. She paused at a corner, listened and crossed the street, “Where has everyone gone? We aren’t about to be bombed are we? Ah! There’s a train now…god’s blood! Look at that thing move, you know, I’ve never jumped a train before…” She realized she was starting to haver.

    “Sorry,” She grimaced at Spires, and looked anxiously over her shoulder, “You do have a plan, don’t you?”  

  11. Jonathon Spires Jonathon Spires November 2, 2011

    He explained about the portal and the possibilty an angel was about to get into a fight with Imperial forces and other things while they found a cargo depot outside a warehouse.

    Ann automaton was busy loading the last of some pallets into something like a metal boxcar. They hopped aboard while the automaton turned around. The box car was picked up by metal jaws and carried to the maglev entry track. It accellerated uncomfortably and was soon travelling smoothly south. Spires opened up the cargo door just enough to let a little air and light end. Opened too much at the speeds the railcar took, the wind would blast htrough too hard.

    Spires sat down against a pallet of cardboard boxes.

    “We’ll get you back. Figure this train will stop in the main railyard, in Babbage.”




  12. Stargirl Macbain Stargirl Macbain November 2, 2011

    Star leaned her face into breeze and smiled, “I know this is ironic, given that we are shut up in a box at the moment, but good god is it nice to be free.” 

    She filled him in quickly on her last two weeks, glossing over a lot of details. She started to stretch and winced, curling in on herself with a hiss of pain, “I hate this place, Spires. You can bloody keep it. You know they are trying to find a way to block contact between the worlds? I am all for it. They think an Angel called me here. An Angel.”

    “Are you hurt?” Spires asked. 

    “Didn’t you say you were military cast? Can’t we just infer?” Star sat up carefully and lifted the back of her shirt to show bandages, “I hope they haven’t bled through again, all that running.” She tugged her shirt back down.

    “I…” Spires started.

    “Don’t bother,” Star interrupted, she curled up on her side, peering at him, “Have you contacted your son?” 

  13. Jonathon Spires Jonathon Spires November 2, 2011

    Spires looked out the window, patting his jacket for a cigarette that wasnt there. “I’ll find him. They’ll verify that call was from me to you, and I’m outlawed and implicated in the powerstation break. Maybe it would be better for him if I left, but to be cut off forever..”

    He looked back to her, “I can’t defend my world here. I didn’t create it, and neither do I condemn all of it, but I cannot forgive what they did to you. It’s better the two worlds were sealed off.”

    He didn’t say much else on the way back, and even took a nap for awhile, pulling his garrison cap over his eyes as best he could.

     The slowing of the cars woke him up. ” He opened the door. That large tar-macadam field with the large building beside it was the place. If Avariel is going to reopen the portal or if it’s still opened, that will be it.  For what it’s worth, I wish I’d gotten to know you better.”


  14. Avariel Falcon Avariel Falcon November 2, 2011

    Avariel waited on the roof, looking out for Mr Spires return…

  15. Stargirl Macbain Stargirl Macbain November 2, 2011

    Star let him sleep. Hugging her knees to her chest and watching the city roll past. She wondered if there was any land left that wasn’t covered in buildings. It made London seem like a quiet little village. She almost regretted leaving so soon. The fact that it was all powered by Angels made her skin crawl, but the vastness of it piqued her cat-like curiosity. If she could pass among them unnoticed…

    When the cars slowed and came to a stop Star hopped to the ground and froze as what Spires had just said sunk in, “You can’t be serious, Spires. You can’t stay here. Maybe we can…I don’t know.” She turned and looked at the building, home was so close. She hesitated, “Look, come with me. We’ll send Avariel back through we can…” she scrunched her eyes, thinking, “We can tell her to open it at a set time or..or better yet, bring her with us. She speaks the language of machines better than either of us, I’m sure. We’ll go get your son.”

    She cracked a sad smile, “I think you just saved my life, old man. I can’t leave you here to die.” 

  16. Jonathon Spires Jonathon Spires November 2, 2011

    What he said next wasn’t meant to come through icily, but it did, nonethless, “Wouldn’t you risk anything if you had the chance..” he let the question trail off. Wasn’t worth saying. He helped her out of the fright car and said, “Give me a minute”

    He walked off into the distance. It was more than a minute, but when he was done, he took the mobile phone he’d stolen from the was about to smash it, when he shrugged and put it in his pocket. One never knew. His face was a good one for poker.

    “Let us go home, then.”


  17. Stargirl Macbain Stargirl Macbain November 4, 2011

    Star let Spires lead the way and felt mean. She wanted to say something consolatory, something trite that was supposed to make hard choices easier. But she knew they didn’t work. She’d heard them all and even after all this time, long after she knew that there was no going back, she couldn’t help but wonder if somewhere on this world…

    She shook her head as if to dislodge the thought and smiled as they found Avariel, “Hey there! I understand you have the ticket home, eh?”  

  18. Avariel Falcon Avariel Falcon November 4, 2011

    The clockwork unicorn led Star and Spires to the portals hiding place.

    “I have deployed a few scout clockwork to watch this area when we leave, best to keep an eye on things with this huge technically advanced empire on our doorstep.”.

    “I think maybe it is time that we take our leave, preferably before they trace the missing ‘component’ of their power station to this location.”.


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