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Oct. 30 – Confusing Plans and Certain Actions (Dark Aether) (Part 2)

After that, Gadget took them below to his lab, and introduced them all to Unit 9, the surveillance unit Miss Falcon had provided him. Gadget talked about portals, and monitors, and aetheric receivers, and Lisa didn’t understand it one bit. He also showed off his gas chamber, first asking for volunteers among the urchins before sulkily sending in Unit 9. Lisa didn’t see or understand much of that, either.

But then Gadget went on to discuss something she *could* understand, though she could hardly believe it. Gadget wanted to capture Moriarty in the gas chamber, instead of killing him in cold blood, and then transplant his brain from its body into a clank that could be controlled. “It’s a plan wot renders ‘im incapacitated to do bad stuff,” he insisted, “and leaves us with clear consciences. I just need to find someone with the know-how to transplant a brain…I reckon Mrs. Falcon and ‘er coggy friends could whip us up the clank, and I’m quite a dab hand at putting stuff in formaldehyde jars to keep it fresh…ish.” He kept insisting that if Moriarty showed signs of escaping them, he’d turn on the lethal gas.

The others–thankfully, in Lisa’s opinion–were very much against this idea. “He wanted ter bring in the Old Gods, killed off lots of people, experimented on urchins…. errr… have I missed anything?” Tepic protested. “We ain’t killers, we vermine eradic… erad… taker care ofs.” Jimmy was also vehement in his wish to see Moriarty destroyed.

Gadget showed no signs of backing down, though. Finally, Tepic said, “We’ll help yer, Gadget, but yer knows where we stands…”

“Well, the plan stays the same anyhow, and the first sign of trouble we just open the valve and that’s that,” Gadget replied. Tepic and Richardus left at this point, but Gadget capture’s Lisa’s attention, and Nat and Jimmy lingered to listen.

“Lisa, I was wondering if you ‘ad any ideas of who might ‘elp us get ‘is brain in the clank if ‘e chooses that option,” Gadget said.

“I…do you mean the one who did this to me?” she asked hesitantly.

“Well, ‘im…or someone wot knows how ‘e did it. The…procedure.”

Lisa shook her head emphatically. “He’s dead. He can do nothing to anyone now.”

“Bugger. Well, it’s skills which is beyond me. There’s some great minds about ‘ere; it’s a case of finding someone wot knows ‘ow. I can’t very well put a classified in the ‘erald.”

“Ya moight ‘ave a hard toime foindin’ anyone willin’ ta do anythin’ wit’ ‘is brain but feed it ta rats,” Jimmy commented.

“I wonder if theres any papers or such we could get ‘old of,” Gadget continued. He looked keenly at Lisa. “Did the fellow wot did…er….wot ‘e did ever keep notes, Lisa?”

She flushed, and turned her face away. “I…I don’t know.”

“I mean, it can’t ‘ave been easy keeping yer brain alive and all to transfer it and join it all up again.” Gadget nattered on, oblivious to her discomfort. “I would ‘ave lost my place if it weren’t for notes. Did ‘e leave any belongings, boxes or any such wot might contain ‘es work?”

Lisa kicked at the ground a little. “There…there were things in his laboratory. I don’t know what happened to them.”

Jimmy headed for the lift to leave the lab, but he tossed back a comment. “Oy think yer makin’ Lisa uncomfortable, Gadg.”

“Am I?” Gadget asked, surprised. Curiosity and awkwardness fought on his face. Finally, he said, “Umm…would it ‘elp to tell us wot you know with a nice cup of tea?”

Nat shook his head in exasperation, but Lisa shivered, conflict plain on her face. Gadget and Nat started arguing again, until Lisa finally burst out, “But what would you *do* with the knowledge afterwards?”

“I would prevent Moriarty from doing bad stuff without killing ‘im. It’s the…humane…thing to do.”

“But would you…would you do other things? Later?”

Gadget drew himself up straight, looking offended. “Like wot? I ain’t a bad ‘un! It’s science fer the good of the people and all.”

“That’s what *he* said,” Lisa replied, more anger in her voice than she’d ever used toward any of the urchins. Gadget frowned.

“Yeah but, ‘e didn’t trap the beest!” Gadget looked down at his shoes. “Admittedly, ‘e got away, but that’s not the point! I were doing it fer the good of the city,” he concluded sulkily.

“But…where does that end?”

“It ends when the city is safe, and Moriarty is assigned to sweep City Hall. It will be a triumph of engineering and bio-mechanics over evil!”

“But after that…you would still have the knowledge. What if you decided that you needed to use it again, for the “good” of people, or the city? Would *you* do what Ambrose did?”

“No!” Gadget shouted. Then he turned on his heel. “I will be in my lab.” He stalked away, insulted pride evident in his stiff spine.

Lisa sighed, and looked at Nat. “I don’t *know* him. How can I be sure?”

Nat looked uncomfortable. “Gadget has a good soul and the best of intentions. But…he is very, um…keen. I don’t think he thinks about the consequences as clearly as he should all the time.”

“I…I need to think,” she said. But then she started, as Gadget came out of his lab again. As if nothing had happened in the previous minutes, he said, “Right, I’m bored. Shall we go check out this place out back? Or shall I send Unit 9 in and we watch from here? I need a reason to test his aetheric flux resonance tunneling system.”

Lisa looked at him, completely confused by his words. “Why don’t we go?” she said. “If the man is there, then I can see what he looks like.”

Gadget looked disappointed, but said, “OK, might as well see it first.” The two of them took the lift out of the lab area to an office room upstairs, then descended an outside staircase to the street. They walked carefully through the growing dark, silently approaching the large building behind Gadget’s own establishment. They walked up a few broad stairs to the entrance.

((To be continued))

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