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Dec. 15 – Exhausting Good Will

A scratching at the front door brought Mrs. Pritchard to open it. She looked down and saw Beryl there. “Is Miss Hienrichs at home?” he asked.

“She is,” Mrs. Pritchard said, nodding. “Do come in and warm yourself in the library while I get her.”

A moment later, Bookworm entered the library, to see Beryl stretched out on the hearth in front of the fireplace. “Beryl!” she exclaimed. “How are you?”

“Tired,” he said with a yawn. “Very tired.”

Bookworm nodded sympathetically as she sat down on the couch. “I’ve heard that Kasa’s been rescued–is that true?” She did her best to keep any exasperation or resentment she felt out of her voice. The searches she’d undertaken had been quite fruitless, and she was sure now that Beryl had kept information from her to ensure that.

“Yes, we did that,” Beryl replied, almost sounding like he was talking in his sleep. “We planned all night, prepared a few bombs. And faked my death, taking out Ray. That made the Steam Hare go crazy, without a purpose, and the others apparently returned it to its regular programming. They’re now below in Avariel’s chess room. Just… playing chess.”

“Wait a moment–Ray?” Bookworm asked, baffled.

“The big round one,” explained Beryl. “Its name had been Ray. Another robot that tried to kill me once.”

“Is there anything that *hasn’t* tried to kill you?”

“Yes,” Beryl replied, musing. “String has never tried to kill me. I like string.” As Bookworm smiled, he turned over, mostly away from Bookworm, letting his belly warm at the fire.

“It got worse, though,” he continued, “because we still didn’t have Kasa. The Hare and the other automata had been working in the Power Station, but the Mecharaptors took Kasa elsewhere–the Hare didn’t know where. I had to surrender, or they’d kill her. So I did. But those helping me had a way to follow me–we’d had that ready, anyway. My rescue was just later than it should have been.”

He flipped back over, looking at Bookworm intently. “And we found out why they wanted me. They believed Doctor Dinosaur would return if they had me. I wasn’t aware that they really did have a way to do so. He’s back–alive again.”

Bookworm frowned. “Dr. Dinosaur… that strange lizard thing that kept threatening to take over the city?”

“That’s right–you were away for most of that, and when I killed him, weren’t you?” Beryl asked softly, thinking back. “Well, when Arnold killed him. Dr. Dinosaur had a plan to take over the city. Never would have worked. Not really why Arnold got involved.”

“Things do seem to just… happen to you,” Bookworm commented, smiling wryly.

“You have no idea,” Beryl mumbled softly as the fire crackled soothingly behind him, though it was starting to get too warm. “Anyway, they needed Doctor Dinosaur’s blood to bring him back. That’s why they wanted me.” He suddenly sat up, then leaped up onto the fireplace, curling up in front of the books stacked there.

“But you were able to find and free Kasa?”

Beryl nodded. “They were in a coal mine up north. “After Doctor Dinosaur was revived, he was apparently going to eat me and Kasa. But with Jimmy and Myrtil and Cody and other armed urchins on the way, as well as a few others–well, he ran. He only had a few bots left.”

Bookworm nodded thoughtfully. “You think he’ll be back?”

“He probably still wants to eat me–He hates me. But I don’t mind that. I hate him, too. As far as what he may want with the city… well, that’s your job, isn’t it?” He sat up, his relaxed stretching belying the sudden sharp tone of his voice. “Not the protection of people like me.” He leaped down from the fireplace and made for the doorway.

“Wha–wait!” Bookworm said, wondering where that had come from. She followed, and caught up with him at the front door.

Beryl looked up at her, looking exhausted though there was no way to tell if their eyes were sunken. “What?”

“Yes, my job includes protecting you, as I would anyone in Babbage,” Bookworm said impatiently.

“No, it doesn’t,” he replied tiredly and with a shrug as he opened the door. “If you think the militia is willing to protect me, then read the last article the Free Press printed. The editorial six months ago said quite clearly it wouldn’t.” With that, he closed the door behind him, nearly in her face.

“What did *that* mean?” Bookworm muttered. She looked at the light outside and decided she had enough time to cross the city to the library, which stored back issues of the various newspapers of the city. After its not-so-accurate coverage of the events at the asylum, and the related events afterward, Bookworm had read very little of the Free Press. Digging through the stacks of papers, Bookworm quickly found the issue Beryl had referred to–and the anonymous letter printed within. She read it once, and then again, and finally shook her head.

‘I guess I can’t blame him for distrusting the militia now,’ she thought with some worry. ‘But surely he knows that isn’t ever how I would view things?’ She sighed, setting the paper back in its file, and headed back home in the twilight gloom.

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One Comment

  1. Avariel Falcon Avariel Falcon December 27, 2013

    Doctor Dinosaur has returned?

    I still have a bone to pick with him after he killed me a few years ago! *nods*

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