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Long Delayed Echo pt 3

 “Wots an angel upside down in the air
With his hair gone crazy, and his eyes so fair
One by one; they fall like pinecones
Two by two; they ride the mare
Down to the ground, inside out
Swim if you can, cause there’s no one about
 
“Wots the moon spin dizzy down in the air
With night turned day, and round gone square
One by one; the angel dances
Two by two; they ride the mare
Down to the ground, inside out
Swim if you can, cause there’s no land about!
All Fall Down!”
 
Spires heard the old children’s jumping rhyme in his head and roused himself. It has been a long day, and he’d just caught an hours of sleep, or so, whether he wanted to, or not. Stupid Babbage child’s rhyme. Never made any sense, any of them, and it would be at least 30 years till some clever Frenchmen got around to inventing surrealism. He was laying precariously on the tower platform next to the giant alternator drum. Must have given him bad dreams, but apart from the old nonsensical rhyme, “Upside down angel” he couldn’t remember a thing.

He put his thoughts together. Last night..

Awaken longshoremen and winos pulled off the street were rushed into attaching ropes to balloons even then being filled with cheap coal-gas. Before long they’d lifted the wreckage of the Mimi’s gasbag envelope into a strange silvery shroud above the airship docs of Palisades. Lister stayed to make sure they stayed that way as long as possible. The fabric wanted to tear itself to pieces in the wind, and it would, before long.
Spires and his team of wireless-operators worked once again to bring in the signal, this time aiming the rhombic antennas directly to the old gasbag reflector. It worked, consistently. But it was the same message over and over.

I M P E R I A L  A I R S H I P 2 7 9 1  C A L L I NG A L A R M C O D E 7 A N G E L S E E N S E C T O R 3 A L L A I R T R A F F IC O R D E R E D T O A R M S T O A S S I S T I M P E R I A L  A I R S H I P 2 7 9 1  C A L L I NG A L A R M C O D E 7 A N G E L S E E N S E C T O R 3 A L L A I R T R A F F IC O R D E R E D T O A R M S T O A S S I S T..

Over and over and over. There was no derivation off the message.

“Odd” someone opined strangely. Finally the gasbag fabric ripped entirely, and the signal faded.
Something about the cadence of the message, though,

Spires had them run the signal back through the difference engine exactly as it had been received, not as it had been decoded. What they found was even more curious. Rather than a series of long and short carrier transmissions, it was composed of much smaller bursts of signal, sent at incredible rates.

Overlooking them for a long time, Spires found that they seemed to form a sort of on/off binary code, but the difference engines, though they had a knack of deciphering some encryptions, couldn’t make heads or tales of it. He’d dutifully send off information as he had to the mayor’s office, and not hearing a reply, he’d considered his next options.

The day’s work had involved boosting power from the station in Clockhaven. He’d been fried a few times, but the rectifiers had to have been made by some balmpot from Caledon, but eventually had power ready to boost. The Telegraphy Office was shut down for all normal operations, while crews tried to repair the aluminum fabric for one more attempt that night.

He sat up, realizing evening had fallen. He could answer back to that signal. Perhaps he should. Perhaps he shouldn’t.

He stood on the platform, his back to the metal of the transmitting tower, and stared off in the distance past the rooflines to some point northwest and beyond.

 

 

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5 Comments

  1. Avariel Falcon Avariel Falcon May 26, 2011

    Avariel Falcon watched as the clockwork carried away the last of the aetheric regulators installed after the dinosaur attack. It was good to have the plant running on the original regulators again, the generator sounded so much happier somehow.

    Turning to other work Miss Falcon looked at the data cylinder with the strange encoded message someone had delivered earlier that day. With a shrug she popped it into the reader and sent the data to the giant analytical engine in the tower. As it was not marked as a priority job she set the engine to work on the data when time allowed.

    • Jonathon Spires Jonathon Spires May 26, 2011

      Miss Falcon works in city hall? Wasn’t sure how she would have obtained the cylinder.

      • Avariel Falcon Avariel Falcon May 26, 2011

        I have several laboratories, one of the most complex analytical engines in New-Babbage, a network of contacts among the clockwork and all manner of technological devices. But I have no idea who sent this cylinder.

        Its a low priority job, but maybe during the late night when there is little demand on processing time, something will shake out. Or maybe it will not. I guess we will see.

        [OOC: Its only a hook that you can use if you wish, or just ignore it and let it pass if you do not. Its all good. ^_^]

  2. Jonathon Spires Jonathon Spires May 27, 2011

    (ooc: nah go ahead and use if you like, just wasn’t sure. There’s so much detail its hard to know what’s what, sometimes)

    • Avariel Falcon Avariel Falcon May 27, 2011

      [OOC: No idea what Avariel would find, I’m certain that she would pass on the info to someone important if anything of note was found. If nothing is found then the cylinder would just end up in the library in the basement.]

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