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On a Distant Shore

A portal appeared. Not the violient angry rend in the world that had appeared once. It was small, and possible not noticed save by those who might be looking for such a thing.

An airship entered the skies in the fields north of New Babbage, a small thing, though oddly out of style with the craft of the region. It carried a number on its tail in romain numberals, 108, belonging to the Delator division of the Armada.

The captain of the craft surveyed the wall. There were defences but no one manned them, nor was any noticed seemingly taken. Whatever this place was, they had found no evidence of the person who had once attacked them and destroyed one of their battlecraft. The communications ship set their aetheric transmitters to cover all wavelengths being broadcast in the vicinity and began to attempt communicatin via a simple code.

“Send the message,” the captain ordered to his communications officer.


No answer.

Adjusting her cap, the captain frowned. “It’s just a small city of some sort. It could be anywhere. We may have wound up in Dakota for all we know.”



No responce.

Looking out at the terrain the navigator/mechanic shook his head. “I doubt it. Looks familiar but then again not quite. I would almost say.” whatever it was he was going to say, he didn’t finish.

The captain sat back in her chair and took the yoke. They began to inspect the city, at first only flying a perimeter over the wall and the powerful looking ray guns.  She knew what the navigator had wanted to say. That looked like the old wall, long since surrounded by suburbs, in the sleepy old town of Babbage.


“Either no one can hear us, or no one is loyal.” The Communications officer said. They were still transmitting overtop of some baroque music. The Captain thought she recognized the composer.


Still no responce. The city was not heathen, they’d seen the spire of a proper cathedral. They tramitted the same message again. By now there was little risk, and the exploration ship flew over the city without incident.

“A port town, does a lot of trade.” The Captain observed. ” Look at that, they seem to power everything with.. coal?” It seemed depraved, and disgusting, like a high civilization run by human-flesh eating cannibals, somehow. The other two crew members looked in revulsion.


Finally there was a responce .Of all things it was a sarcastic remark that they had called the wrong receiver. The reply was immediate




A short wait, and the reply came “What?”

The captain took over the code key, “DO YOU LEAD THIS CITY”

The responce from this Pseudo-Babbage was quick, “Do you land the city there?”

Everyone looked at each other, “This guy’s high” the Navigator offered.

“I think it otherwise. It could be our code did not go through, or there are differences in what we understand the code to be.”


The person in the city replied, “Did you receive”

“COPY LAST TX” the communications officer replied, almost habitually.

 “Whoever he or she is, they are toying with us.” the captain decided at last. “No further replies. Continue to copy their broadcasts and terrain. We leave in two hours before the portal may close. Make sure the filters are purging the air here if we have to take oxygen. I don’t want that sooty filth getting in our lungs!”


 The ship returned north of the wall and continued its visual, waiting for some sort of responce that would make sense to them.


(ooc; thank you Kristos for all the translating)




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  1. Jonathon Spires Jonathon Spires October 19, 2011

    Spires slept soundly in his cavern like home, with no radio, and no access to it, unaware of the sort of thing he’d been looking for, for awhile.

  2. Petharic Petharic October 19, 2011

    ((A very entertaining story arc, Mr. Spires. That is a really nice picture accompaniment as well.))

  3. Avariel Falcon Avariel Falcon October 19, 2011

    Avariel Falcon burst into the power station control room, “Unit #6?! What’s going on? Why are the alarms sounding?”.

    Unit #6 keyed in a sequence of commands, “This… is… generator… plant… Aquila… #013… ready… for… automated… power… transfer… Omega… Five…”.

    The clockwork unicorn blinked, “Unit #6! Snap out of it! I thought you had got over this obsolete programming!”.

    Unit #6 pulled a leaver, “Beacon… handshake… signal… received… synchronising… for… transfer…”.

    With a low groaning sound ancient machinery lurched into action. Huge switches engaged and power diverted to the old high frequency transfer system. Power flowed up the conduits to the high frequency transfer antenna on top of the observation tower and out into the aether.

    Remarkably the only damage done was to a weather experiment connected to the antenna, which enthusiastically caught fire.

    Avariel Falcon sighed….

    • Jonathon Spires Jonathon Spires October 19, 2011

      Shortly before going through the portal back to where they’d come the
      comm officer announced excitedly, “You’re not going to believe this
      sir. We have confirmation on available power couplings from a source
      bearing 165 degrees. It’s an old protocol..” The commofficer was checking his readout screen, clearly confused.

      “Focus in, and request source of transmission.” the captain barked out. FINALLY.

      “It’s gone”

      captain sighed. The portal still had time to stay open. It was all
      highly risky, but they’d been given an alloted time period for this

      “Welll land beyond that wooded area, over there. It seems to be fallow. Listen in and see if whatever that was responds again. The Academics wanted soil and flora samples. We’ll take some.”

      This was a strange place. Everything seemed 90 degrees to reality. All they could do was wait, and takes samples.


      (this gives some time to set up Macbain’s subsequent note)

  4. Avariel Falcon Avariel Falcon October 19, 2011

    Avariel Falcon surveyed the aftermath of the strange events. When she had first arrived at the Clockhaven station she had found the remnants of Unit #6 abandoned in a remote corner of the lower steam tunnels. He was one of the last of the automatons from the old era to have stopped working and what remained of his system logs indicated that he had been rebuilding and maintaining the station for decades while the world around him and the closed off power station changed.

    The early days after reactivating him had been tricky, he kept trying to run old programs that had no meaning anymore. On one occasion she found him trying to dig through the city wall to rebuild the lost north wing. It was rather hopeless, but after many months she had managed to retrain his cognitive systems to largely accept modern reality.

    But then today, in the middle of everything else that was happening in the city, the old clockwork decided to go on his biggest nostalgia trip ever and try to establish a power transfer link to an imperial scout ship!

    Fortunately she had been able to reset his systems, restore control of the station and put out the fire that merrily consumed Doctor Underwood’s weather experiment.

    The clockwork unicorn was just in the process of carefully trying to explain once again that there was no empire and that no modern craft used high frequency power transfer when she noticed something.

    With all the aetheric activity related to the Dark Aether events she had set the analytical engine to gathering data from all of the various detectors and systems within the power station, and at that moment the readout showed something remarkable.

    Someone had opened a portal, which was quite an achievement in itself, and they had transported a sizeable airship through the portal, an even more amazing achievement. But what was even more interesting were the aetheric transmissions…

    It was perhaps time to apologize to Unit #6… 

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