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Testing a Countermeasure

In the early hours of the morning, the longshoremen and women were unloading a Caledon freighter at Mondrago’s docks. If you looked carefuly, you’d see Erehwon Yoshikawa, the djinn Ifurita, and Marta, their servant, sitting on the wall overlooking the piers. Marta had a bulky contraption braced on a sling, pointing towards the docks. Erehwon balanced a switchbox connected by a braided cable to Marta’s burden, and Ifurita pulled candied dates out of a bag and munched on them, watching the other two.

“William Blake?” Ifurita dusted the sugar from her fingers, as Erehwon’s free hand danced over the switches, the other holding a large mug of coffee. 

“Why not, it’s innocuous.” Erehwon replied.

“And it’s a beautiful hymn,” added Marta, struggling to hold the device, with a bell-shaped emitter at one end a bulky box of tubes and wires at the other, assembled from Arnold’s sketches, the parts he sent, and Ifurita and the Doctor’s notes. “Please hurry, I’m not going to be able to keep this steady for long.”

“Okay, I think I have the message ready. Ready, Magda?”

“Yes, Magistrate,” Marta squirmed to keep the device pointed at the docks. 

Erehwon flipped a cover over a large red switch, and turned it on.

They watched the workers on the docks. 

There’s a song the longshoremen and women sing through the Steamlands. The lyrics and language vary from port to port, but it is the lament of a teamster, who came to the port to make some money to go back to his or her home villiage and marry their sweetheart, and now it’s twenty years gone, the sweetie’s married another, and they are still working the docks.

That’s what the dock workers normally sang, but the song broke down. 

“Do they even know the words?” Ifurita asked, watching through a pair of field glasses.

“Someone will.” Erehwon replied, “I hope.”

One of the forewomen paused from tallying boxes of Caledon pickled turnips and sang out in a beautiful alto:

“And did those feet in ancient time./Walk upon Englands mountains green.”

The other workers mumbled among themselves, some whispering to one another, and in turn they joined in:

“And was the holy Lamb of God,/ On Englands pleasant pastures seen!”

“And did the Countenance Divine,/Shine forth upon our clouded hills?”

The three women on the wall joined in the song:

“And was Jerusalem builded here,Among these dark Satanic Mills?”

The Magistrate turned the device off, and soon the teamsters shook their heads, exchanged puzzled glances, and returned to their regular working song.

Erehwon grinned and hugged her compatriots. “It’s time to go to Babbage.”

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  1. Lysana McMillan Lysana McMillan August 12, 2012

    Meanwhile in MariKesh Mondrago, Lysana pushed a lock of hair out of her face as she stared down at a clockwork mouse she’d been working on for what seemed like six months. Her eyes flicked up and out the window of her house, contemplating the view of Piper’s barge and the nearby buildings as the wind fans’ slow whump-whump-whump sounded behind her through the far wall. Her eyes clouded over as she stood, then began to sing. A clear soprano with a hint of an Irish accent emerged from her lips as they formed the words,

    Bring me my bow of burning gold!
    Bring me my arrows of desire!
    Bring me my spear! O clouds, unfold!
    Bring me my chariot of fire!
    I will not cease from mental fight,
    Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand,
    Till we have built Jerusalem
    In England’s green and pleasant land.
    Her eyes cleared and she shook her head. “What the devil was that?” she exclaimed to the window. Feeling oddly disloyal to something for reasons she couldn’t quite pin down, she found herself humming “A Nation Once Again” as she returned to investigating the mouse’s inner workings. ((Added link to the song in case someone cared to figure out what the devil she’s on about.))
  2. Felisa Fargazer Felisa Fargazer August 12, 2012

    ((~reflexively looks around for someone with a paper bag jammed on their head~))

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