Felisa Fargazer hurried through the New Babbage district toward the secret lab. She was a bit late for the meeting–she was still more on a cat’s sleeping schedule than a human’s, and tended to sleep more than the others, especially now that the weather was turning cold. The trot through the cold, though, was waking her up.
Her first sight of the entrance to the lab completed her awakening. Rubble of stones and crates surrounded a ragged opening. She hissed a little, then picked her way down into the room, where she saw overturned chairs, and the trapdoor standing open. Poised on the edge, she heard voices from below, and peeked over the edge. She saw Tepic below, and heard him identify her to the others. They all started climbing up from underneath, and she edged away from the opening.
As Tepic climbed up, he said, “If we can’t get Unit 9 to move, an’ see where Gadget is, it’s best we go back to the safe house…”
Lisa looked around, concerned. “Gadget isn’t with you?”
Stormy Stillwater whispered to her, “Gadget is gone. It’s not safe to be here.”
With a sinking feeling in her stomach, Lisa followed the others to the safe house nearby. Once they were all there, the rest began talking all at once, wondering what to do, who to tell, what would happen to Gadget, who they could trust.
Lisa asked who had seen them last, and told the others that she and Cyan had seen him the night before last, when he had told them that the Van Creed person had talked to him, and tried to get him to work for them. Stormy had seen him briefly yesterday. But that seemed to be the last time Gadget had been seen in New Babbage.
The others told her that the lab had been ransacked; the clockwork units were gone, except for the large screen, and the dangerous gas Gadget had been working on was gone as well. They speculated that the Van Creed had taken him to force him to work on creating the brain-controlled clanks mentioned in the last page the Writer had created before it was sabotaged. With such new dangers hanging over them, Tepic passed out gas masks to those who didn’t have them. Loki, Tepic, and Nat also had special weapons from the Church.
“Didn’t Miss Falcon help Gadget build Unit 9?” Stormy asked.
“Yep, she might help…” Tepic replied. The others agreed, and they all began running across the city to the Power Station in Clockhaven. Lisa trailed along, feeling more and more upset. Why had she ever given in and given Ambrose’s notebook to Gadget? Now it was likely in the hands of precisely the type of people who shouldn’t see it!
They all straggled in, and found Miss Avariel Falcon and Dr. Kristos Sonnerstein there, deep in conversation. Stormy told them the news, and asked Miss Falcon if she was able to communicate with Unit 9.
Loki Eliot, meanwhile, was becoming more and more upset. “So who wants to tell the Mayor?” he asked. “I’ll fly you to him, but I ain’t tellin’ him. He’ll toss me off the wall–I’m sure of it!” He paused, then paled. “Should we tell the Mayor about the gas? What if they release it in the town?! Ohjeez, ohjeez, ohjeez…” He paced around. “I just had this feeling–storing tonnes of deadly gas, building brain-controlled clanks, setting bloody traps…we’ll be tossed from the walls for sure!”
Tepic, meanwhile, had focused his thoughts on the possibility that Gadget would be made to create the clockworks from the Writer’s book. “Hopefully, they don’t know how to make ’em work. I knows Gadget weren’t sure how to put someone in the clockwork…”
Lisa paled at that, and scuffed her shoe on the ground. Tepic noticed her unease. “What’s wrong, Lisa?”
She looked at him. “I gave Ambrose’s notebook to Gadget.”
“What’s in the notebook?” Loki asked.
Tepic paused a moment, then blurted, “Oh, goodness–*that* notebook?!”
“What’s in the notebook?” Loki roared.
Lisa took a breath, trying to steady her voice. “It…it told of how Ambrose transferred my cat brain to this body. I–I don’t *know* that it would help Gadget, but it might.”
Nat Merit gulped. “Oh, dear…about how to transplant a brain…”
“Ohjeez, ohjeez, ohjeeeeez!” Loki exclaimed. “I’m doing it! I’m going to throw myself from the wall now!” He ran off with Lisa’s startled gaze following him. The other urchins, though, didn’t react, beyond Tepic yelling after him, “Loki! Come back, yer daft bugger!”
At that point, a measure of sanity came back to their conversation, in the form of Miss Falcon telling them that she was able to get a reply from Unit 9. “Unit 9 reports that young Master Gadget is in a cell. He has been drugged and is babbling incoherently.”
That was enough to bring Loki back to hear more of the news. “Apparently,” Miss Falcon continued, “he can hear a locomotive passing by occasionally outside the cell.” Several of the urchins speculated that that meant he was being held near the station or the locomotive works, and they ran off to look. Lisa, though, and others stayed behind, asking if Miss Falcon could get more information about where he was being held. The unit, though, could only tell them about the cell itself.
Miss Falcon suggested they go back to the lab and see if the video feed was still working. Lisa told her she hadn’t seen it herself, but she’d heard the others say they’d seen Gadget on it briefly. With that news, she led Miss Falcon the urchin Nathan back to the lab.
Miss Falcon fiddled with the screen, and Lisa hissed at the image of Gadget, lying restlessly on a crude mattress. As they continued to watch, some of the others of their group came straggling back, having had no luck in their search. Under Miss Falcon’s directions, Unit 9 was able to slew its view around, so they could see the cell in which he was being held. Unfortunately, nothing could be seen out the one barred window set high in a wall, and the barred door only showed a corridor leading to some shelves. There was nothing to be seen that could tell them a location.
In desperation, they had Unit 9 carry out their suggestion of throwing small bits of bread through the window, in hopes they could find those before any animals or birds got them. However, some new information Miss Falcon related showed the futility of that. Based on calculations of sun angles, and other things Felisa didn’t follow in the least, Unit 9 had concluded that it and Gadget were not located in or near New Babbage.
“This may not be as simple as we had hoped,” Miss Falcon said, and the urchins nodded somberly, or sighed in agreement. With that, Lisa slipped away to go back to the Theatre, more assiduous than ever in looking out for danger.