Continuation from http://cityofnewbabbage.online/reader/node/6900
Mornington sat with his hooves up on the bar, brushing his beard thoughtfully as the former dock hands played a game of cards opposite. It had been 24 hours since he had given back the records of Academy of Industry to City Hall, 24 hours since he had given up on the Independent Free Township of Academy…yet there was no word from Underby, no word at all.
The past 2 weeks in the city had been utter chaos. The strike of the Port, Clockhaven, the NBTA, the Airship docks, the water pump house, the APE…and that was in only two weeks. By the time the 1st of February had rolled on Mornington had clean forgot about one thing…The Clockwinder. Since the end of Christmas and going into New Year when the Clockwinder had vanished and headed northwards leaving Underby in control it had been one massive grab of opportunity for Mornington, and in the past month that grab had started to whittle away, now it was just contempt for Underby.
Yes, thought’s of the Clockwinder was buried deep at the back of Morningtons mind…now it was all Underby. Mornington however was about to get a rude awakening.
It was just past 8 in the morning. The foreign workers that Commodore Dagger had invited in to break the port strike was now playing cards in Muirsheen Durkin. With the collapse of Cuffs it made Brunel Hall the closest pub by foot to port.
A few of the old dock workers was back working in port as well, even though Mornington’s stranglehold on the workings of the port was loosening, he still had a few contacts who managed to bring back some of the dock workers who decided to stay behind. Most, but not all of the old crew was sitting around Mornington, chatting about the events of the past two weeks and having a good chuckle.
It was around 8:12am when the basement doors of the pub creaked open, and a tall, thin man, wearing all black, and sporting an impossibly tall Top Hat walked in. Everyone turned to see who it was at this time of the morning, and when the dim gaslight of the bar flickered on the seemingly permanent frown on the face of one Mr Osgoode Underby…all conversations in the bar ended.
That scene stayed like that for a good 30 seconds, complete and total…silence.
A click of a lighter was the first to break the silence, as the face of Mornington, now sporting a strange combination of mustache and small beard was lit up by the flickering of the lighter to light his over sized cigar.
Mornington stood up and casually walked over to Underby.
“Well, well, well…if it isn’t the oppressor himself, his royal highness Mr Underby!” Mornington made a sweeping gesture to the dock hands who was staring intently at both Mornington and Underby. “Gentleman of the docks…your gracious leader!”
Still, no one spoke. It had been the first time that Underby was seen in the same room as Mornington since the strikes broke out.
Underby gave a slight, terse bow to the dock hands and turned to Mornington.
“Mornington, we need to talk…it concerns a subject which both of us need to…prepare for”
“Pfffffft, i don’t need to prepare for anything Underby”
With that, Underby spoke two words, only two.
What could only be described as a look of shock fell over the face of Mornington as the realization struck that it had been an entire month, over 30 days, since the Clockwinder had been away. Morington pulled the cigar from his mouth and said “More than 30 days already…how the hell did i become so damn complacent”. All Underby did was grin.
“You lot, out, me and the ACTING Mayor have something to discuss”.
A few minutes later, Mornington was behind the bar pouring Underby a chivas.
“So Underby… how long till he arrives?”
“Not long Mornington, possibly even this weekend”
“Do you realize what his reaction is going to be when he finds the state that this city is in? He’ll lock us both up, hell he’ll probably banish you, you caused all this in the first place!”
Underbys usual frown was now streaked with a slight tinge of anger as Underby replied.
“I done this all for the good of the city you fool. Murders, the asylum falling apart from within, more murders, it was getting to the stage where no one felt safe at night”
“Ahhhhhhhhh So instead you replace the murders with a bunch of tin pot little soliders who decided to shoot the place up. Good plan Mr Mayor”
“Incase you forgot Mornington things was starting to calm down… then YOU instigated a strike which has all but bankrupted this city! If the Clockwinder is gonna come down hard on anyone, it will be YOU not me!”
Mornington was just about to shout back a reply when the clocktower above Brunel Hall struck 13 o’clock.
Both men looked up, looked at each other, and then looked up again.
“Strange” said Mornington “That clock has always kept pretty good time…”
Underby turned to Mornington…
“We have got to come up with a way to clean this city up, or at least give an explanation as to why the city is in such a mess when he comes back, otherwise both of us will lose out…”
Mornington looked at Underby and nodded. “First time ive agreed with you about anything Underby”. Both men staring blankly at their glasses of Chivas, wondering about the furture.
“The story has to be believable, founded in scientific fact” said Underby “It has to be a presentable case to the Clockwinder and at least the majority of the populace otherwise it will NEVER stick, and most of all, both of us have to agree to it”
Mornington glanced up at an old painting of The Fell which hung up on the walls of the bar and started to grin. He took out a small piece of paper, scribbled a few lines on it, and held it to Underby.
Underby started to grin… “Perfect”
Both men raised their glasses, and toasted the Clockwinder.