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Feb. 12 – Shifting Alliances

A few hours after the visit by Jimmy and Fly, Bookworm, restlessly paging through a book, heard the warning bell ring. She stood up, and saw Daniel come into view beside her. “Theodore’s coming,” he told her. “He’s alone, and we don’t see anyone nearby.”

“Thank you.” Bookworm moved to the front door, listening intently. When she heard the crunch of snow just outside, she threw open the door before the man could knock. The last thing she needed was for Mrs. Pritchard or Mrs. Sawyer–or, heaven forbid, Mariah–to see him here.

“Follow me,” she said shortly, once he’d stepped inside and she’d closed the door. She edged around his massive frame–he actually seemed taller than he’d been when he’d attacked her home–and led the way to the reinforced library. Once inside the room, she closed the heavy door, though she made sure not to lock it.

“Have a seat.” She gestured to the one chair in the library. Theodore settled into the chair, and Bookworm felt a bit relieved not to have him looming over her. “So,” she said, standing in front of him, the revolver at her side visible. “I’m told you wanted to talk to me.”

Theodore stared at her quietly and nodded his head. “You aren’t scared, are you?” he asked slowly. “I did not want to scare you.”

Bookworm looked at him intently, wondering how to answer that. “Perhaps,” she finally said. “But if you can tell me anything about PJ, it’s worth the risk. Tepic believes you were… forced to do what you did for the Man in Blue. Is that right?”

“The Man in Blue is dead now,” he replied. “He will not hunt down friends, or family.” Bookworm nodded at that oblique answer. She supposed she couldn’t blame him for not wanting to reveal who is was that had resulted in the hold over him. “Philip Johnson never would.”

“Philip Johnson? He’s the one behind this?” Bookworm exclaimed, both surprised and gratified that she could now put a name to the initials.

Theodore nodded. “PJ–Philip Johnson. Rich, angry man.”

“Angry? Why?”

“Always screaming, always angry,” Theodore continued in his slow voice. “Always intent on causing revolution. ‘Revolts.’ Someone had to explain that to me many times. I don’t know everything. But I know he hides.”

“In Babbage? Or elsewhere?” she asked eagerly.

“Elsewhere. Frozen island north of here. Frozen all year.”

Bookworm couldn’t hide her disappointment at that. It sounded as though the man was well beyond their reach. “What else can you tell me about him?”

“Philip Johnson had two plans for your city. One was to starve you, create food riots. Man in Blue talked of it often.”

Bookworm nodded. “Tepic told me about that.”

“‘Hungry dogs,’ he said.” Theodore shook his head. “That makes no sense to me. People fish. Can’t kill all the fish. Man in Blue said he had plans about that, but he gone now. Philip Johnson said nothing, nor Mr. Doohan when we escape.”

Bookworm perked up at that. “Mr. Doohan is safe?”

“He hiding with me,” Theodore replied. “Philip Johnson sent more metal men after us. That was last we know.”

She nodded thoughtfully. At least one more man had been salvaged from that disaster on the submarine. “So what was Mr. Johnson’s other plan?”

“Doohan said he planned to shoot for the moon.” He shrugged. “I don’t get it. Ask Mr. Doohan.”

“That would probably be a good idea.”

“I will be back with him soon.” Theodore nodded, slowly getting to his feet. “Think on it. I will be back soon.”

Bookworm opened her mouth to say something, but decided to let it go for now. On the one hand, she knew he, and the others he’d worked with, needed to answer for what they’d done, coerced or not. On the other hand, Mr. Doohan might need his help still; she didn’t know whether the man knew Babbage, and trying to hide in a strange city would be very difficult. So instead, she opened the door, looked around to be sure no one was in sight, and waved him to proceed to the front door. She swiftly followed and let him out, watching as he slowly made his way up the street. How this would end, she didn’t know. But at least now, she had a name; that was a place to start.

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