I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that so much has happened since I returned from my vacation last week. And yet I was, as things had been relatively quiet, and there hadn’t been any stirrings or rumors of trouble in the offing.
The first thing, last Saturday, was the visit by Beryl. It was so good to see him up and around again, and he does seem to have learned some good lessons from his admittedly-strange experience during his coma. I just wish he’d waited a *little* longer before coming to tell me about it.
The next day, I was in Militia headquarters, looking through the few reports that had been submitted while I was gone, when someone came in with news of multiple smoke plumes to the north. Sure enough, when I went outside, I could see them – and they seemed to be multiplying. I thought it best to get to the scene as quickly as possible, so I donned the old personal flying machine by Miss Ember that I’d won years ago, and flew off.
There were indeed multiple fires burning throughout the Gut district, and growing eastward. Flying that way, I soon found the source – several mechanical monsters, looking something like a cross between a hippopotamus and a dinosaur, were roaming the streets, breathing fire onto nearly anything they could find. I tried firing my revolver at one of them, but it didn’t have any effect. I wished that I’d thought to bring something of a larger caliber.
Then again, if I’d tried firing something larger while flying in that contraption, I probably would have been cartwheeling all over the city. We also discovered during this incident that Captain Kuroe was gone… as was much of the heavy weaponry stored at the headquarters building. I look forward to having words with Mr. Underby about that…
In Port Babbage, I found several citizens fighting back, including Mr. Mornington, who had a most impressive weapon that appeared to take out one of the monsters. I decided to leave their destruction in such capable hands and go organize the firefighting, when who should fly into view but that villainous Professor Parx?
As I myself was still flying, I was able to converse with him a little. He admitted the things were his, but blamed faulty parts for their rampage. Pfft. As if he would have used them for constructive purposes even if they hadn’t malfunctioned. I thought of arresting him, but he must have sensed my intention, for he took off back toward his lair. Miss Ember’s contraption was unable to keep up with him. (I must consider asking her if she has any improved versions.) So instead, I returned to my original intention of organizing the efforts to fight the fires, as well as finding the other monsters.
Thankfully, the rest were also, by that time, in pieces. Later scrutiny seems to indicate that at least some of them exploded on their own, possibly due to the faulty parts Parx mentioned. It took several days, and the efforts of the entire city, to clean up the mess they’d left.
By Saturday night, we were will on our way to restoring all the damage, and I rather felt justified in attending Mrs. Carver Fabre’s ball. But even there, trouble was in the offing.
About an hour into the ball, Marshal Ortega from Steelhead arrived. I was quite surprised, as he rarely attends functions here. And, as it turned out, he had come on business. He told us that a valuable ruby had been stolen from his safe, and that he’d found small, purplish handprints at the scene. Based on that, he wanted to inspect the hands of any urchins he could find. Imagine our dismay when Jimmy Branagh and Myrtil Igaly were discovered to have purplish stains on their hands!
The marshal insisted that they be locked up on the spot. Thankfully, our citizens stepped up and helped to free them by paying a fine ((thus putting New Babbage over the $300K mark for RFL!)). In the meantime, I continued to question both them and the marshal, trying to learn more about what had happened. Like most of the other New Babbage citizens, I was unconvinced that they’d done it – especially when I saw both Professor Parx and Dr. Obolensky at the ball, and remembered that both had stolen rubies for their own nefarious uses in the past.
Clues from the two children led me to suspect Dr. Obolensky – and, indeed, when I looked more closely at him, I saw a faint reddish glow beneath his shirt. Marshal Ortega noticed it too, but he seemed… reticent to take any direct action. So I did, ripping open his shirt to reveal a metal chest stuffed with mechanics, with the ruby where his heart would have been – if he’d ever had any.
It was quite obvious that the ruby was powering the machinery that was giving him life… which made the prospect of retrieving it rather awkward. The Marshal and I decided to lock him in the cell in Militia headquarters for the time being, until a plan of action could be formulated.
Though it won’t at all surprise me if he manages to escape before we can figure that out. I did order a double guard on him at all times, but I don’t know how much help that will be when he decides he’s had enough.