Bookworm was down in the kitchen talking to Mrs. Sawyer when they heard a knock at the back door. She opened it, and saw Gadget standing there, fidgeting as always. “Hello, Gadget,” she said, motioning behind her back for Mrs. Sawyer to leave them. “Do come in.”
“Good day, Miss,” Gadget replied, stepping into the warm kitchen. Bookworm was about to offer him something to drink, but he burst out right away with, “I bring news of matters of concern.”
Bookworm almost brought her hand up to her face for a nosepinch, but restrained the impulse. ‘I should have known,’ she thought wryly.
“You got my note about Moriarty?” When Bookworm nodded, Gadget continued, “Well, ‘e is out of the picture, but I think we ‘ave something else to worry about, something wot ‘as been keeping me awake at night.”
“Keeping *you* awake?” Bookworm interjected. “I don’t like the sound of that…”
“Thankfully a lot of folk seem to ‘ave forgotten about something wot ‘Opkins said in that warehouse. It’s probably for the best, ‘cus if they realized the significance there might be a panic.”
Bookworm reined in her impatience as she waited for him to get to the point.
“‘E mentioned that the ‘new clanks wern’t delivered yet.'”
Bookworm nodded. “Yes, Arnold mentioned that at the time.”
“It is my belief that those clanks pose a very grave threat, perhaps more so than even the monsters of the aether. They do not eat, they do not rest, they are….ruthless and relentless. And they will stop at nothing until the town is razed should they be given such an order”
Bookworm shuddered a bit. “Do you think the Van Creed would actually do that?”
“It is my belief that the VC are in disarray after wot ‘appened,” Gadget said portentiously. “But… I ‘ave been making some discreet enquiries. I ‘ave an… agent… in the field on behalf of us, the UDWR.” At Bookworm’s look, he explained, “My department of the Below 13 Club, urchins sworn to protect ourselves and the city through science. My department is the Urchin Defense and Weapons Research department.”
Bookworm nodded, her lips twitching a bit as she hid a smile at that.
“My agent has uncovered evidence that the VC may have used somebody else to provide them with the Clanks. That person may now be acting independently. And Miss Book, if I am right, this person is a very serious and credible threat to this city. his capabilities are… not to be underestimated.”
Bookworm sighed and frowned, thinking furiously. “Do you know where this person, or the clanks, are now?”
“Alas, no,” Gadget replied. “My agent is working to uncover that information as we speak.”
Bookworm nodded. “Please let me know if you hear anything more. I’ll see if any of my contacts can learn anything, too.”
“It is a difficult task, though; the VC have covered their tracks well.” Gadget frowned. “I feel it would be prudent to plan a defense, and to that end I am planning to seek volunteers. But I am anxious not to cause widespread panic.”
Bookworm nodded. “I’ll certainly want to help.”
“Might the militia take an interest in this operation?”
She pondered that for a moment. “If the threat to the city is certain, I’m sure they will,” she finally said.
” I think secrecy would be for the best, we would not want to pre-empt any plans the enemy might have by alerting them to our preparations before time. I am producing a leaflet for distribution on a person-to-person basis, requesting volunteers. Might I pass it to you for distribution through your own channels discreetly?”
“Please.” Bookworm took the leaflet Gadget passed her, doing her best to keep a solemn countenance at the somewhat childish scrawl.
“I shall be doing the same throughout the Urchins,” Gadget continued. Then he headed for the door, saying, “Ok, Miss, I shall keep you informed of any progress.”
“Thank you,” Bookworm replied, letting him out as he touched his hat to her. Bookworm watched him go, and sighed. And yet, it wasn’t really that much of a surprise. The quiet that had descended on the city for the holidays was too good to last.