Felisa Fargazer hurried down the street in the New Babbage district, thinking over the two pieces of news she had to tell Gadget. She glanced up into the cold sky, wondering if it was going to snow again, and saw a figure on the rooftop of Gadget’s building. Its darker outline against the sky, though, and the way it bounced around a little, told her that it was Gadget himself. She waved, but he seemed to be looking in another direction, so she hurried on. He’d shown her, about a week ago, how to use the “lift” to get between floors, and though she hadn’t been up on the roof herself, she thought she might be able to figure it out on her own.
It took a few tries, and a few stops at strange floors, before she finally found herself up on the roof. She saw Gadget looking in her direction, panic plain on his face, before he relaxed at the sight of her. “Oh, Lisa, thank god. It’s only you.”
“What’s wrong?” she asked, concerned at the barely suppressed fear in his voice.
Gadget had already turned around again, scanning the streets below and the rooftops all around. “We ‘ave been found out. It’s not safe ‘ere until I can move our base. I’m getting everyone to meet at the safe houses in a couple of days. Then we will move our base somewhere safe.”
Felisa paled a little. “Found out–by the Van Creed?”
Gadget nodded. “‘e knows we’re up to somethin’.”
“Did he…say something to you?”
“Yes. ‘e wants me to work with them.” Gadget turned to her, looking very serious. “But I shan’t, Lisa. I ain’t a traitor to this town.”
Felisa nodded reassuringly. Impulsive he might be, but she knew he’d never knowingly do anything to harm the city. “There’s something–well, two things–I can tell you now, before we all meet. I don’t know how important they are, but I thought you should know.”
“Oh?” He continued scanning the streets, seemingly only paying half his attention to her.
“First of all–I know who wrecked the Writing machine in City Hall.”
Gadget spun around, his attention now completely undivided. “You do?”
Felisa nodded. “It was the Clockwinder.”
Gadget stared at her a few seconds, dumbfounded, then burst out with “Bugger!” After a few seconds, he calmed down enough to ask, “But why?”
“I don’t know that,” Lisa replied. “But one of the Folk–the cats–who likes to hunt in City Hall saw him come down. He was acting very upset. And my friend said he smelled…scared.”
“He went into that room. Now understand–my friend didn’t see him actually wreck the Writer. But the Clockwinder went inside with a small hammer. When he came out, he didn’t have it anymore.”
Whatever Gadget might have said to that was lost as the lift mechanism shuddered to life. “Someone’s coming!” Gadget hissed. “Quick–hide!”
They both ducked behind a small wall on the rooftop, using it as a parapet. In a moment, a figure was brought into view, a decidedly feline-looking figure.
“Phew!” Gadget said. “It’s Cyan.” He stood and greeted Cyan, heading back to his vantage point to resume his watch on the streets.
“Hope I wasn’t intruding on anything,” Cyan said. Gadget told him the same thing he’d told Felisa, that the lab wasn’t safe anymore, and would have to be moved as soon as possible. “Especially the Clanks,” he emphasized. “I can’t let them fall into enemy hands.”
After several minutes of that discussion, Felisa was able to tell them her other piece of news. “I was walking down the main street a little while ago, and I heard voices from a side street. One of them mentioned ‘angels,’ so I…I stopped to listen, out of sight.” She paused, blushing a little.
“Go on, Lisa,” Gadget urged.
“There were four people talking. I recognized three of the voices–Mr. and Mrs. Melnik, and one of the men who work in the Church. I don’t know who the fourth person was, though. Anyway, I think the important thing from what I heard is that the Melniks, and the Brother, were talking about blinding the machines. They wanted to try…” She closed her eyes, trying to say the word correctly. “Mag…mag–ne–see–um flares. I think they wanted to attack the machines, and they think that will help.”
Gadget nodded. “That’s that stuff wot burns super bright. Hmmm.”
“Mr. Melnik also mentioned wanting to invade the other side,” she added.
“That don’t sound like a good plan,” Gadget remarked caustically.
“No, it doesn’t,” Cyan said.
Felisa shook her head. “I don’t know that they will, but they seemed to be sounding it out as a possibility.”
“It does remind me,” Cyan interjected. “I ran into Margo December again when I was heading to the Gangplank. She seemed to be saying that everyone needs to work together on this instead of dividing our powers and attacking on different fronts.”
“Mad old crone,” Gadget muttered.
“Yes, she is,” Cyan replied. “But right now…we need a little madness.”
“I agree we need to unite against a common foe, but you gotta remember we ain’t exactly sure *who* that foe is, and the VC have people everywhere. Some things is better kept secret for now.”
Felisa said, “Well, the fourth person–the man whose voice I couldn’t recognize–he said something about them.”
“Something about the VC?” Cyan asked.
She nodded, and half-closed her eyes, reciting from memory. “The Van Creed are not to be confused with evil. They believe they are doing right for the betterment of the Town.”
Gadget did not look at all convinced by that, and he and Cyan soon began arguing about what, if anything, the Van Creed should know about the clanks in the lab. Felisa knew a discussion like that could go on for hours, and began drawing away to leave them to it. Gadget, though, interrupted the debate long enough to escort her to the lift and call for the car. While there, he patted a slight bulge under his shirt. “Don’t worry Lisa, I ‘ave got Ambrose’s notebook on me at all times. Even if they were to steal Unit 8, it’s useless without me and this notebook.”
She nodded, feeling a little better, and left them there on the roof, while she made her way back to the Imperial Theater for some sleep.