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Nov. 21 – Not the Best of Weekends, Part III (Dark Aether) (SPOILERS)

((If you haven’t gone into the Van Creed building to read the notes for yourself, and still wish to, don’t read too far.))

Bookworm woke up Monday morning with no more rest than she’d had after the ball Saturday night.  ‘This isn’t going to work,’ she thought, stumbling down the stairs.  ‘I wonder if Miss Elleon has a spare room in the Mechanix Arms…’

She arrived at Militia headquarters to see the note from Commodore Dagger that militia members should no longer patrol alone, as the crab creatures were becoming more aggressive.  She nodded grimly, remembering their scratching sounds as she worked in her shed developing photographs.  She’d ended up rushing through the process, and the photographs were not up to her usual standards, but better that than staying in there any longer than she had to.

She also saw the note reminding volunteers to only use the desk on the first floor.  She flushed.  ‘I only used it once,’ she thought.  ‘Or twice…or…’  She sighed.  There had been times during the week when she’d really wanted to work uninterrupted, and working at Commodore Dagger’s desk upstairs had seemed the perfect solution.  But, evidently, not anymore.

With another sigh, Bookworm settled down into the desk on the ground floor, and pulled out her notes, along with the missive Gadget had given her.  She was still trying to make some sense of it all, though that was feeling more and more like a losing proposition.

‘No, I mustn’t give up,’ she thought.  ‘Reacting instead of planning is probably what gets us into this mess in the first place.  We *must* figure this out!’  With renewed determination, she spread her notes out, trying to set them in order, and scribbling her own notes and reactions next to the copied texts of the letters found in the Van Creed building.

Article No. 5034-a
The Aether Project

As you know, after Alexander Eliot’s device was activated over New Babbage, cracks have appeared in various locations in the town.

Upon investigation, it has been discovered that these cracks are, in fact, crossing points between worlds/dimensions.

With the prospect of the original Eliot Device project once again a possibility (That is, the real possibility of endless supplies of fuel that will propel the Van Creed into a future of dominance through dependency), a team was sent to ascertain whether any of the cracks could be used to further our research and lead to a possible result.

After two years, the project’s team discovered a working hypothesis that could result in widening the crack in the world, allowing us unlimited resources.

Initial testing revealed that a substance in the ‘Aether’ world brought through to ours resulted in a transformation, the byproduct being a highly combustible oil that can be used in a new form of engine.

B. Hopkins – V.C.

Article No. 5038

Alexander Eliot was right on all accounts.  He truly was a genius.

But unlike Professor Eliot, we are taking a smaller, more careful approach.  Whereas Eliot’s device punctured a large hole into the aether world, we plan to confine the crack to a much smaller, sustained size.

Large enough for the aether pump to extract the resources, but not big enough for anything like what we witnessed emerge from the hole created above the Imperial Theatre five years ago.

Also with the advances over the past five years, and the fact that we are not actually puncturing a new hole between worlds, we have found that only part of the original Eliot Device is needed.

(“Not actually puncturing a new hole?”  So the original “hole” created five years ago has never actually been closed?  A rather disturbing prospect…)

The Eliot device is still one of the most advanced machines ever conceived, and we will harness its power to stabilize and control the size of the aether crack.

B. Hopkins

Article No. 5048

It is with pleasure that I can inform you that Sebastian Verwood and his companions have been killed in what appears to be a tragic accident involving an Airship and a few tonnes of steel.

After founder James De Bourne the first, founder of the Van Creed, and many other loyal members were mercilessly slaughtered by these two terrorist monks, it comes as some relief that justice has been dealt.

Now, perhaps, the Van Creed can rebuild itself without interference.

(We know, however, the true fate of this Sebastian.)

My search for James De Bourne’s long-lost kin and possible successor continues.  I must admit that the documents stored in the Van Creed vault did rather shock me, but you can count of me to follow through with my mission.

(One wonders where this vault is…and what could shock a member of the Van Creed.)

D. Mawatt – V.C.

Article No. 5073
Team VC1 expedition results

Team VC1 spent one day in the aether world, but the surviving members report being there for a period of three weeks.

During their time there, they were attacked by creatures whose descriptions match nothing we have on this earth.

They reported that three of their team had been attacked and killed.

It is possible that these creatures could possibly interfere with the operation, so Professor Colins of the 13 has been commissioned to design a weapon that could repel them, if needed.

Unfortunately, Colins has gone missing, with no sightings in the last couple of weeks.

(Should we institute our own discreet inquiries about this Professor Colins?  We could use a weapon like that.)

B. Hopkins – V.C.

Article No. 5075
The Aether Pump proceedings

Work on the Aether Pump proceeds with great speed.  Far-flung members of the Van Creed have returned to aid in the financing and construction of the proposed Aether Pump.

It is predicted that within just 6 years, the Van Creed could position itself as the number-one producer of Aether Oil.

Other teams stationed in Steelhead and Caledon are ready to start their campaigns to push for the total replacement of steam engines with the new, refined Aether Oil-based combustion engines.

(With a motive like this, they’re not going to be easy to stop.)

J. De Bourne would no doubt be ecstatic about this turn in our fortune, if he had not met his end at the hands of the murderous Malkuth.

We will welcome his grandson as his rightful successor and look forward to a bright, profitable future.

(Do we know, or can we discover, who this grandson is?)

B. Hopkins – V.C.

Article No. 5081
Machines across New Babbage

There is word that strange machines have appeared from the ground in various parts of the town.

Investigations reveal these could be possible side effects to our tests in expanding the aether world crack.

I am monitoring the ones that have been reported, but it is possible that some residents of New Babbage will have kept quiet, out of fear of persecution.

Interestingly, these machines resemble creatures that share some features reported by the survivors of team VC1 of the creatures they encountered.

This could be rather startling if they are, in fact, related.

(Having seen their diagrams, and the creatures here, we know they are, in fact, the same.  How much proof do *they* need?)

D. Mawatt – V.C.

Article No. 5090
Results of Inquiry into workmen deaths

After the deaths of two workers, an inquiry was set up to ascertain whether the Aether crack had any influence.

John Boston, in a fit of rage, set upon young Joshua Barkly, bludgeoning his skull with a large spanner before wrapping a chain around his neck and jumping from the upper balcony.  The force caused his neck to snap.

The inquiry found that there was indeed some kind of possible psychic influence causing the workmen to suffer mental stress.

We find no choice but to halt work at the VC factory and move the main production to another site.

We are contracting the main parts of the pump from plants in Steelhead as well as New Babbage, in secret and with no description for their use.

(Can we find these plants somehow?  Can we stop production or delivery?)

Once all parts are finished, we shall return to construct the aether pump, and hopefully start production at the end of November.

(End of November?  There isn’t much time left!)

B. Hopkins – V.C.

Article No. 5092
Evacuation

Final record before evacuation of the VC Factory.

We are moving out immediately and with haste.

Agents shall monitory Factory while work proceeds at the various factories on the components for the Aether Pump.

(Well, now we know why the place was deserted, though still occasionally watched.)

And then, there was the undated letter:

The lodge has listened to the witnesses, and it has been decided Alexander Eliot’s current emotional state to be a risk to the future of New Babbage, and the future of our organization.

Therefore we have chosen that Alexander Eliot be silenced, in order to stop his research from reaching our rivals.

ORDER TO TERMINATE ALEXANDER ELIOT AND FRAME HIS PREVIOUS ASSISTANT, JASON MORIARTY.

By order of the Grand Master of the Van Creed Lodge
James De Bourne

Obviously, this was meant to have been written five years ago.  But, though it was written on paper with a Van Creed letterhead, it was unnumbered, which might well be a strike against it.  And the tone of Article 5038 didn’t seem to quite fit that of someone realizing the vindication of a wronged man.  Still, much could happen in five years…

‘No,’ she thought.  ‘I still think Moriarty is up to his eyes in all this.  He’s the one who activated the Eliot device in the first place.  I can’t think that he wouldn’t want to do it again.’

Still, more than her brain was needed on all this, that was certain.  But who should she tell?  She briefly thought of going directly to Clockwinder Tenk, but then shook her head, glancing at the note from Miss Jedburgh.  Better to respect the chain of command.  She copied all of her notes, then gathered the copies together, placed them in an envelope to keep them from casual sight, and hurried upstairs to put them on the Commodore’s desk, carefully not disturbing anything else.  Then she went back downstairs, found another militia member, and went with that temporary partner out on patrol.

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