My name is Zanya, and I remember my first visit to New Babbage some months ago.
I was visiting my beloved little gypsy, Lynn Mimistrobell, a refugee of the destruction of Cala Mondrago, who had just gotten a small apartment in the city. While visiting, I heard that Baron Klaus Wulfenbach himself was in attendance at a riotous display of feminine pugilism. I was intrigued, and hoping I might see my dear friend and sparring partner, Captain Stereo Nacht (who usually accompanied the Baron as both friendly companion and protection). We arrived in time to see the main event, as two women proceeded to pummel each-other with their bare knuckles, one eventually knocking the other unconscious. Lynn made no effort to hide her horror at the display, while my reaction was somewhat more… primal. It had been awhile since I felt a stirring like I did that day, and it reminded me a bit of my own early years. I felt a small bit of shame having felt such things (excitement, arousal?) at the display of violence, and it was not the first time I had felt the conflict of such feelings when I had so recently preached the virtues of a forgiving God.
It looked like things might go bad for a minute, as there seemed to be some dispute amongst the spectators. Stereo turned to me and asked if I could handle any trouble. Realizing I only had a concealed pistol and a grenade, and was thus thoroughly unprepared for Martians, Aether-specters, or an invasion of war-clanks, I answered honestly, “Depends what you mean by trouble.” There was a smack of disapproval in her tone as she took note. I think she might have misunderstood, as a worst-case scenerio in my mind always involved the appearance of some eldrich abomination or plague (which was admittedly rare, but one can never be too well-prepared). I was in no way concerned with any threat the other spectators might pose, as I was confident the three of us could have easily handled any normal incident, and that’s when it hit me like a fist.
There were three of us.
I had completely dismissed Lynn’s disgust with the violence of the spectacle as I watched, and now she was gone, no doubt back to her home. I was suddenly torn between chasing her down in a part of town I had now found to be less than safe and abandoning my friend if trouble should arise. In my moment of panic Stereo turned to me and told me that it seemed the situation had calmed down. I thanked her and made for the door. The Baron took a moment to tell me it was not safe to go out alone, and asked if I might need an escort. I stared a bit agape for a moment, and then realized he had never actually seen me spar with Stereo and her other students. I thanked him for the chivalrous sentiment, but it was not myself I was afraid for (Heaven help me, if I knew then what I know now), and flew out the door as fast as I could after Lynn. I caught up with her at her place, and scooped her warm and delicate form her off her feet and into my arms. Never before had I been so happy to have her so infuriated at me, as she had made it home unharmed.
This place, New Babbage, was beautiful, but also had an air of danger lurking about it…
…and I vowed to return.
A week later I made my way back, alone and slightly better equipped. I decided on my trusty katana (not as powerful as my broadsword, but quick and compact for close quarters), a heavy .45 pistol with various types of ammo (a habit I thankfully never broke), and a grappling hook with plenty of rope. I had arrived in town in the dead of night, and looking about to make sure I was alone and unwatched, I ducked into the dark alleyway and unfurled my rope. I swung the hook, and let it fly as hard as I can. Upon it reaching the roof, I tested it to make sure it had taken hold. Feeling satisfied it would hold my weight, I nimbly climbed the rope to the top and looked down to the street below. Even though I couldn’t have been more than 50 feet up, I felt the head-rush and wooziness kick in.
It was the strangest thing. How could someone have a fear of heights, and still be addicted to roof hopping? Maybe it was the fear that made it so intense. I had learned long ago how to shut out fear, to put it in a box and shove it in a corner until the mission was over (after which I would proceed to vomit, sob, and shake uncontrollably). Maybe that was the point. Maybe I still needed to overcome the fear itself, rather than simply shut it out.
I looked out at the other buildings and smiled. Steelhead was a wonderful, beautiful place, but it was not built up anywhere near to the extent this place was. It was like a dream. I sprinted forth, and building up speed, I leapt off the edge and landed on the neighboring rooftop, not even pausing, running from rooftop to rooftop, pausing only when a gap was so wide it necessitated the use of the rope. I kept going like a child with an entire city as her playground until I reached the edge of town, and came upon a strange sight. A church, but not quite like any I had previously visited.
I dropped down to ground level and approached. The whole property seemed to be bathed in an unholy death-light, and as I drew nearer, I could feel an overwhelming sense of dread creep over (and under) my skin. My heart beat faster as I nudged the door. Unsurprisingly, it was not locked, as it was clear only the most forgone lunatic would even think to trespass this place at night. Continuing to trespass, I took the sheathed sword from my back and girdled it about my waist, as I could draw it much more quickly and easily if I needed it to from that position (I could have simply walked with it drawn, but that would have made things even more uncomfortable had someone confronted me). Keeping my left hand on the holster of my gun, I walked into the building, and to my amazement (and revulsion) the church was actually a structure dedicated to Dagon, a monster worshipped by heretics as some kind of god. Behind the statue of the blasphemous entity was an even larger one of C’thulhu. I was a bit puzzled at this, as I couldn’t figure out why a church devoted to Dagon would feature C’thulhu so much more prominently, or why the two were even together at all. I wondered to myself if one of the cults had co-opted the other, and made a note to relay this info to contacts I still had in my old order. Such groups were usually not dangerous unless directly confronted by some would-be hero, so at most they would be a curiosity to be investigated later (by someone who was thankfully not me).
Exiting the church, I saw the sun was about to rise, and decided to walk about, admiring the city from street-level. The city-state of New Babbage had an old, slightly dangerous character to it, but it had character, and a lot of it. I smiled, and I decided I would have to visit it more often.