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Orpheus and the Dark Aether – Chapter 11: A night out

Monday Night

Orpheus sat at his console. Life aboard the ship was starting to get dull. Each day, dozens of Babbagonians (?) departed for safer lands away from the Dark Aether. He wondered how much longer the lands outside New Babbage would be safe. Even yesterday he received a letter from overseas; cracks were starting to appear in Boston, although with different side effects because of the absence of the Dark Aether. Orpheus’s daily routine was starting to enter a rut. Research, read the Book, avoid the creatures. At least the entries were starting to come slower and slower. Although that was probably due to the fact that the event was getting closer and closer, although still many years off by his calculations.

He couldn’t take the monotony anymore. He decided he would go out for a walk. Tonight the ship was docked near the Wheatstone district. He had taken to moving the ship to avoid crab monsters (or Moriarty and the Van Creed for that matter). He made his way past the Piermont. “Curious,” he thought, “that I know events shall occur there, but I haven’t made myself familiar with the layout, just in case. Another time perhaps. A stroll through the garden sounds more relaxing however.”

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As he strolled through the park he became aware of the smell… not the flowers that he expected, but something much more foul. As he passed a large tree he heard the moaning call and saw the one-eyed monstrosity off in the distance. “Of course!” he shouted, immediately covering his mouth, hoping the thing hadn’t heard him. He remembered that Miss Falcon had mentioned a canister surfacing in this park. How could he have been so careless?

He remembered hearing that the crab monsters usually hung around the canisters, and so he hid behind the tree, keeping an eye out. He saw no crabs, but he saw something much more worrisome. An elderly woman dressed all in black was also walking through the garden. She moved as if she were unaware of the danger she were putting herself in.

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The creature focused its large, glossy eye on her and let out a moan. Orpheus tried calling out to her, but she ignored him. The crabs would certainly be here soon, with all that wailing going on. Orpheus ran from the tree to the well. He would act as a diversion, allowing the lady to escape. [img_assist|nid=4092|title=|desc=|link=popup|align=left|width=640|height=330]

 

He charged the monster, throwing clumps of mud at it. “Hey One-Eye! Go home, you ain’t welcome here!” A thick glob of mud hit the thing squarely in the eye and it let out a mind bending scream. Instantly a swarm of crabs made their way towards him. “Please let this work,” he thought as he turned to run. This was the first time he had seen them up close. He had seen the drawings in the factory, and heard their horrid scratching and ticking in the sewers, but to see them this close was WAY worse than he could have imagined. And for being mostly crab, as well as no depth perception, they moved very quickly![img_assist|nid=4093|title=|desc=|link=popup|align=left|width=640|height=330]

 

Orpheus ran back towards the Piermont, hearing that ticking growing closer and closer. There was no time to try for inside, so he did the next best thing. He held his breath and leapt into the canal. The murky water shielded him from those beady eyes; hopefully they would get bored and leave before he ran out of air. “God, I hope these buggers can’t swim,” he thought. After a minute he heard the ticking trail off as they went back towards their guardian.

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Orpheus climbed out of the cold water and sloshed his way up the street, until he found himself at Emerson’s place. Strike that; Sir Sir Emerson’s place. He had heard that he had returned, and wished to discuss his travels. Orpheus knocked on the door, to no reply. He knocked again. Again there was nothing. “Emerson must be out celebrating still, but shouldn’t Arnold answer the door?” he wondered. He went around back and heard the horrible moaning. “Right…. damn….” he muttered. He looked around the corner and saw the creature, as well as that damned crack.

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Suddenly without warning a swarm of crabs climbed over the larger beast and ran towards Orpheus, leaving him no choice but to run faster. He found the back door to the lighthouse locked, ran around to the front, and found it open. He let himself in and slammed the door shut, barely locking it before the crabs made their way up the stairs.They clawed and scratched as Orpheus tried to catch his breath.

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After checking that the lock was holding (as well as sonic-ing it for added protection) Orpheus looked around. The place was mostly spotless; Emerson had apparently not spent much time at home since arriving back in Babbage a few days prior. Orpheus climbed the ladder to the top of the building. He crossed the gap to the next building and made himself comfortable. As the sun rose over the horizon, he watched the streets below. Now he knew the crabs occupied each canister location. It was going to be more dangerous to find them all himself now.

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Hours later, when he was sure things were calmer, Orpheus made his way back down. Neither Emerson nor Arnold had returned. He opened the front door and looked out on the city. His time at the cannon had given him plenty of time to think. He would leave the crabs to the Militia. He would focus on the Cracks. Reality was tearing itself apart faster. He needed somewhere to keep an eye on the cracks. “Hmmm…. This place is pretty close to one of those cracks…. This would be a perfect place. But how to do it….”

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  1. Orpheus Angkarn Orpheus Angkarn November 18, 2011

    10, November 188~

    Mr. Angkarn,

    I write to you in hopes that you are well. It has been too long since we have had the opportunity to converse as we once did. I have taken up residency at the University since last we spoke. I find myself greatly troubled; this is why I write to you now.

    There have been certain, shall we say, events occurring which give me great stress. I have tried to alert the police, but things are far stranger than they appear, and the police have been unable to provide any assistance. People are disappearing. Not in the normal sense mind you, rather it is much more sinister. I do not understand what is happening. I do not even have tangible proof that this is occurring. I fear that I am going mad.

    Let me begin again. Two days ago, I was meeting with some fellows at the local pub. Things were going splendidly, when I had to excuse myself to attend to some business. I stepped outside for a minute and when I returned, Mr. Chadwicke, one of the men I was out with had vanished. His plate, still half eaten, was where he had left it, but he was no where to be seen. When I asked Mr. Mills where he had gone, Mr. Mills had no apparent recollection that we had been dining with a third. He seemed to not even know Mr. Chadwicke, though we dined together every week. I asked a few other patrons about my friend, and strangely no one could recall him being there either, or even recall what he looked like. I went outside to look for him, perhaps he had slipped past me somehow. Alas, no such luck.

    I went back inside, only to find half of all the patrons missing! What’s worse is that again, no one could remember anyone else being there. As far as the other patrons were concerned, it had been a slow day, nothing to worry about. And yet I have the distinct memory of a full house! I also became aware of a large crack in the rear wall, one that I am sure was not there a few moments before. As I stared at that crack, I became aware that I had seen other cracks in walls around the university. Is it possible that people have been quite literally slipping through the cracks and somehow disappear from memory? How many people have been lost? And why do I have memory of some?

    I remember from when I travelled with you in that strange contraption of yours and you said it might have some side effects. I wonder if it had made me mad. You must come to Boston and help, as these cracks seem to be right up your alley.

    Sincerely,
    P.J. Burrell

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