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Dec. 8 – Reopening Cases

Bookworm was curled up on the couch by the fireplace in the library, engrossed in one of the books she’d bought while in Boston, when a persistent sound of meowing intruded on her consciousness. Wondering if this might be Beryl trying to get her attention, she set aside her book and went to the window to look outside. She did indeed see Beryl outside it, but his attention, and his cat vocalizations, seemed to be directed elsewhere.

“Beryl!” she called out, hoping he’d hear her through the window. Her cry got more of a response than she expected, as he nearly jumped out of his skin, emitting an awkward feline cry of surprise. “What?!” he yelped after he settled, looking around, and finally spying her in the window. She hid a grin as she gestured toward the front door. She hurried over and opened it, showing Beryl crouched on the step, looking to one side.

“Come in,” she said, hastily closing the door against the cold once he was inside. “It’s good to see you again,” she remarked with a smile as she watched him stare around him at her new home.

“It’s… an improvement?” he finally said tentatively.

“We’re still trying to sort out the furniture. But yes, I think it’s an improvement. I just wish we hadn’t been *forced* into it.” Bookworm smiled wryly a little.

“I know. The Man in Blue–and PJ.”

Bookworm nodded, glad for the opening. “Tepic told me as much as he knew about what happened on the submarine.”

Beryl tilted his head at her from his position on the floor, “Yes?”

“He couldn’t tell me of your escape, though–or what happened to the other two prisoners. Or the Man in Blue, for that matter.”

“You mean after he was… hurt.” Beryl frowned and wrinkled his nose, looking around, as if catching an unpleasant scent. “Do you know how that happened?”

Bookworm nodded. “His tail. It was nice to see he healed from that.”

“Well, Lenny–the man who hurt him–didn’t survive long after that. I was carrying Tepic, and that was when the Man in Blue arrived, though he looked like someone else.”

“Someone else?” asked Bookworm, startled.

“He wasn’t in blue, nor was he wearing the same skin or hair. He’s capable of being anyone or anything,” the cat warned ominously.

“Oh, wonderful.” Bookworm sighed, making a mental note to tell the ghosts to be on the watch for *any* metal man, or woman, not just the one she’d described to them.

“That’s why his men followed him,” Beryl continued. “Even if they escaped, how could they ever know he wasn’t there, coming after them, or their families? I think it’s how he got their obedience from them, beyond P.J.’s control. PJ paid them, but the Man in Blue was after something else–that’s what the two heroes thought.”

Bookworm nodded soberly. “What about those other heroes? What happened to them?”

“Doohan might be dead,” Beryl replied starkly. “And Mudfoot is definitely dead. He fought–shot the Man in Blue right in the eye, even tried to decapitate him. But he couldn’t stop him.” Bookworm winced, and he continued, “Mudfoot’s last words were, ‘Before you do it, just tell me one thing.’ The Man in Blue crushed his windpipe and then told him no.” He paused. “He was a good manipulator.”

Bookworm shook her head grimly. “Indeed. I wonder if he’ll return?” she mused.

“You don’t think he already has? If he’s alive, he could be targeting the city in any number of bodies.”

She hissed in a breath. “I hadn’t thought of that. But nothing untoward has happened recently–at least, nothing I’ve heard of.”

“They were planning to cut off food when the city froze. And the canals have only just frozen.” He shook his head. “But that’s not really the point, either.” As Bookworm raised an eyebrow at him, he said, “There’s more than one, I think. I mean, if the Man in Blue was created with Gadget’s journal…”

Bookworm’s mouth had been hanging open. Finally, she managed to say, “More… than… one. We couldn’t handle *one.* How are we supposed to deal with more?”

“Didn’t Tepic tell you? The Man mentioned Gadget’s journal. With that, I would assume that there will be more.”

“Oh, that journal.” Bookworm sighed with exasperation, an almost angry look on her face. “I’d love to know how it disappeared from Dr. Martel’s possession.”

“You know about him?” Beryl tilted his head again, looking a bit startled.

“I investigated his death.”

“Then I’m sorry, but you’ll have to live with disappointment.” Beryl’s voice was firm, even disapproving, as he moved toward the door.

“You know who took the notebook?”

“I know what happened, but it’s not my story to tell.” he replied shortly. “And it doesn’t matter.” Bookworm opened her mouth to ask more questions, but left them unsaid as Beryl quickly slipped out the door, closing it decisively behind him.

She had much to think about–including what she’d just learned. During the time of the Dark Aether, when she first learned that there was a missing notebook from Dr. Martel’s collection–one that was apparently circulating like a book from the lending library–she’d rather formed the impression that Gadget had somehow received, or taken, it from Dr. Martel’s laboratory. Apparently, though, that wasn’t the case. She resolved to dig out her notes from her investigation of the doctor’s death, and see if anything in them might give her a clue now.

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One Comment

  1. Avariel Falcon Avariel Falcon December 12, 2013

    *looks at the old data cylinder and ponders why it was not destroyed as she instructed*

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