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Departing earlier than planned. (Dark Aether)

“As I said, I’m quite surprised they had not approached you about me before now,” Canergak said on Tuesday morning as Pippy had just finished telling him about her escapades the past few days.  She still had a mutated tail, but he was convinced they could reverse this if it did not go away on it’s own in the near future.

“Well, it’s not like you have anything to hide!”  Pippy said, and the old master nodded without bothering to correct one of the many naive notions that she held to be factual.

“You did not tell them where I hail from, correct?” 

Pippy nodded, “They asked, but you all made me promise not to.”

“What you say, and what can be taken right out of your mind are two different things,” Canergak explained. “Again I must insist you return home and forget about New Babbage and move on to another location.  That academy of learning you want to attend is a safer place for you, as I have previously stated on numerous occasions, but Babbage is simply too dangerous for someone of your size and disposition.”

“I know, but I just love it here!  I can’t really explain it, but it just keeps drawing me back.” Pippy said, though very quietly.  “And that’s why I’m really hoping that story about the future isn’t true.”

“Story?”  Canergak raised a single eyebrow.

“Oh, didn’t you hear about the automaton?” Pippy asked surprised.  “That horrible one that showed up at the town hall out of a vortex and started writing about Babbage’s destruction?”

“No,” Canergak admitted, he had spent most of that time completing his sound proofing and extending the wires so he could move the machines to new locations.

“Didn’t you go inspect the wreckage on Saturday?  The man who gave us the clockwork lost his ship in an explosion…you must have noticed that!”

Canergak shook his head, “On Saturday I did not venture forth until I was certain the plague had been resolved, and we heard no explosion from these walls.”

“But…surely you could have seen it at least?!”

“City Hall is a great distance away and even if it was not there is too much interference in between here and there, even without the walls to consider.”

Pippy frowned, and then motioned for him to follow her, “I think you should see it then…”

Canergak did not put much credence to what she had said, but he did follow the young woman to City Hall and saw several clockworks in the Hall of Records.  There was a thopter automata, the writer, and a rat which were all there though they did not interfere when he picked up Pippy and asked her to read for him.  He could read on his own, but ink on a page did not show up very well on any of his settings and he preferred to have something read to him if he trusted the reader enough.

“Lord Smashington’s arms rose high above and then came crashing down over the two large monsters pinning them close to the mechanical man’s sides.”  She read for him slowly, and continued to the last page.  The whole time he listened to the story he was evaluating the clockwork, but at the last line his attention was caught for a moment.

“You are certain it says Dark Aether?”  Canergak asked her and then let his eyes switch and stared at the last sentence himself though he could barely make it out. Sure enough it said that the city would surrender to the Dark Aether, and this was intriguing to the old man.

Pippy asked, “This isn’t actually going to happen, will it, Master Canergak?  I mean, if Doctor Obolensky is still alive then it’s not so far in the future!”

“I would say that the likelihood of these precise events occurring are minimal,” he said as he set Pippy back on the ground.  “And you said nothing about Doctor Obolensky being alive, only that his Smashington was there.  The doctor may die and leave a predecessor, or the city itself will confiscate his works, and use them for their own designs no matter what truly happens in the future.  I will admit that the last sentence could arguably become a reality regardless of any other discrepancies between this and-“

Pippy put her hands to her mouth and he realized this had not set her at ease, if anything she became more agitated, “Could you…could you please keep an eye on it sir?” She took off her hat and looked at him pleadingly.  “I really don’t want anything to happen to Babbage…”

Canergak paused for a moment and then shrugged since he did not have anything else to do at this particular moment, “I suppose I am due for a walk around town.” 

***

Macbain greeted him as he entered Ahab’s bar looking for Doctor Lionheart, “Good evening sir.  Welcome to Ahab’s.” 

He didn’t have time for anything else as he looked at Doctor Lionheart, who now had a much different reading than she had previously.  He ignored this for now, “Doctor.”

Dr. Maddox turned to see him and then lowered her eyes and sighed, “Mister Canergak.”

“Canergak?” Jedburgh asked, “The man who built the nuthouse?”

He continued to ignore them all, as he had to get moving as quickly as possible, “I will be departing tomorrow morning, and I do apologize if I am unable to return in time to help.  Good day.”

Dr. Maddox had been nodding to Miss Dagger at the time, “Yes Miss Jed. This is he.”  She then turned back to him, and asked, “Help?”

He had already turned his back on her however, he had other things he had to take care of for now.

***

Canergak went into ‘Cuffs in something of a hurry an hour or so later, the mayor departed shortly after he got there, but the child form of Dr. Sonnerstein growled at him unkindly and asked, “What brings you here?”

Canergak ignored him and all the others in the room as he stared at Mr. Melnik who was sitting on his fireplace, “Mr. Melnik, when is the earliest ship leaving tomorrow morning. As you are the undisputed expert of Port Babbage I would assume you would know.”

“Where to, sir?”  Mr. Melnik smiled

“Armada to begin, to catch a proper flight.”

“Ah, The Maiden’s Dawn is leaving at 6:00AM sharp for a rum run, headed straight to Armada, of course.”

“Good. I am not even sure I can make it back in the next month, or even two considering the distance, but hopefully that will be enough time.  Good day.”

The man sitting upon the fireplace nodded, “Good luck!”  Canergak departed quickly to book passage and to finish packing all of his things he’d need, but he did have one final matter to take care of before he left.

***

“But I don’t want to leave!”  Pippy protested as he stepped on her tiny house and took the choice from her.  “NO!  Please stop!”

He continued crushing her home in Babbage till it was nothing but splinters and turned to her without any feeling of guilt though he did know he’d have to reimburse her for the house.  Throughout all of this he had felt no real emotion, but his body still produced adrenaline that his mind had been putting into his system.  It still had some affect upon his actions and thought processes, “Get to that academy, and stay there, and convince all your friends to depart Babbage,” Canerak ordered her. “There is no way to determine if I will be able to return in a timely manner, or that my efforts to assist would be successful, or that I will even survive the boat trip this morning to Armada considering those who have long wanted me dead would have no qualms sinking an entire ship just to drown me alone.”  He coughed for a few moments before stifling it, he was too old to be doing this kind of work anymore.

Pippy looked at him sadly, tears begining to form in her eyes, but he departed without another word.

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