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The Beginning of the End for Pip

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Despite the muggy and hazy heat which blanketed the city, the inside of the Cathedral of the Builder was damp and cool.  Rather like a batcave, Stargirl Macbain thought, with a shiver running through her.  She stepped onto the stone of the archway, her new metal foot ringing out much more loudly than she had been anticipated, and she jumped slightly despite herself.

Three figures at the opposite end of the cathedral turned to look her way.  Her new clockwork eye focused in, and recognized one as the woman who had officiated in her attempt to adopt Skyler… that seemed like a lifetime ago now, though not even a full year had passed.  The other two were all too well known to her.  She pressed her lips into a fine line, steeled herself and stepped forward into the cathedral.

The two priests turned her way as she approached them, Miss Foehammer stood to the side, but did not leave.  “Fathers,” Stargirl said.  “I wonder if I might be able to have a moment of your time.”

Father Pizzaro spoke: “Certainly Miss Macbain, we always have time to speak with followers of the church.”  She could see him searching her hairline for traces of strange ears as he spoke.  Behind him, Moonwall merely stared at her grimly.

“I have reason to believe that someone in Babbage is not exactly what they claim to be.”

Foehammer snorted.  Moonwall turned to her, and with a blink she finally moved away silently.  Moonwall turned back to Stargirl.  “Many are not what they claim to be, but that is hardly a matter for the Church.” he said, in his usual scratchy clipped voice.

Pizzaro looked at Moonwall for a moment, then turned back to Stargirl.  “Can you elaborate, Miss Macbain?”

“I can.” she replied.  “It has come to my attention that the assistant of Mr Underby, Pippin Jollygoodfellow, is not human as he claims to be.”

“Not human?”  Pizzaro asked, though he did not seem surprised.

Moonwall stared.

“I believe he is some form of sprite, or house elf.”  she said.  There, it was out.

“Hmm.”  said Pizzaro.  “That is indeed troubling.  Something we should well look in to.”

Moonwall moved forward, “You might have admitted this months ago, girl, when we were questioning you about the matter in your house.  Any fool can see that the little freak is no human.”

“Ora,”  Pizzaro mildly.  “That kind of talk is not necessary.”

Moonwall sniffed derisively.  “I hold my respect for those who conform to the laws of nature and physics.  Underby’s assistant conforms to neither.”

Pizzaro nodded slowly, then turned back to Stargirl.  “What have you seen him do which would cause you to think he is anything other than human?”

“A number of things,” she said. “I have seem him materialize in front of my own eyes, float in the air, change into horrible shapes, scratch on the insides of walls, probably more if I were to give it time to think of each instance.”

“You shall, child.”  Moonwall said, with a sneer.  “We will go through it slowly and deliberately.  I want each instance laid with a charge.  The more the better.  Have you other eye witnesses to this behavior?”

Stargirl swallowed quickly, having not counted on this question.  “I… I might.  I can see.”

“Do see.” said Moonwall, frowning.  Pizzaro nodded.  “Yes, do.”

For a moment, nobody said anything.  Finally, Pizzaro said, “You may go, Miss Macbain, we will come find you for further questioning.”

This idea was not pleasant, and she felt a heavy rock in the pit of her stomach.  “Could we not get it over with now?” she asked.

“We have paths we must tread, Miss Macbain.”  Father Moonwall said.  “We do things according to our clock.  Not yours.”

She could think of no other response which would further her cause, apart from a nod, and so she nodded.  Pizzaro smiled slightly.  Or, was that a smirk?

As she walked away she heard one of the fathers say “And then we shall deal with Underby himself.”, but she was unable to decide which voice it was, she had never noticed that they sounded so much alike before.
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52 Comments

  1. Victor1st Mornington Victor1st Mornington August 16, 2010

    ohhhhhhhhhhhhhh dear…
    *looks down at his changed legs…wonders if he should start wearing a leather duster jacket to cover them*

  2. Cyan Icewolf Cyan Icewolf August 16, 2010

    Oh good just what we need.

    Ms. Star I think you might have just crossed the line with that one, once they go after Pip, then they’ll go after Underby, then they’ll go after anyone they think is different or magical. They may just get all the urchins too, I know they don’t like us.

  3. Tepic Harlequin Tepic Harlequin August 16, 2010

    errrr…. not quite human… not what they claim to be……   errrr…. how does that apply to those of us who claim to be foxes, cus that’s what i am, as anyone can see from my fine tail and wonderful ears.  Does that mean i am alright, cus i am what i say i am, or are these Builder blokes like the huntsmen, anyone with a fur coat an smaller than them is fair game?
    Must say, i think Cyan has a point here, Miss McBain, i know Pip done some stuff he shouldn’t, the folk from his part of the world can get a bit … worked up…, but dobbing him in to the Builders, well……

  4. Victor1st Mornington Victor1st Mornington August 16, 2010

    Don’t you worry Tepic, i think they just take a disdainfull look on people who actually claim to be human…
    *tries to remember if he’s ever said he’s human to anyone…*

  5. Zaida Gearbox Zaida Gearbox August 16, 2010

    Ramoo say her not believe in de Little People (meaning elves/fairies), but dat it okay because dey probably not believe in her neither.  *laughs*
     
    But, seriously – how can Mr. Pip be a elf when him so little?  Mr. Lunar an’ Mamma Mara say dey elves, an’ dey de tallest people Ah ever seen.  An’ dey gots funny pointy ears!  Ah ain’t seen no pointy ears on Mr. Pip.  So, him can’t be a elf.  *whispers to self*  But, Mamma Mara and Mr. Lunar both say dat Mr. Tenk…..  No dey was jes’ teasin’ me.  *shakes head, and sets her mouth in a firm line*

  6. Mara Razor Mara Razor August 16, 2010

    And what, pray tell, is wrong with being an elf? 
    *Leans down and whispers to Zaida*  Were we just teasing you?  Are you sure? 

  7. Stargirl Macbain Stargirl Macbain August 16, 2010

    I don’t know what you all are worrying about, honestly, it’s just Pip and Underby.  And believe me, they deserve it. 

    • Mara Razor Mara Razor August 16, 2010

      I concur that they deserve it.  After all, I am the one who once sent Underby belladonna tea.  I’m just objecting to the implication that he deserves it because he may or may not be fae-kind.  He deserves it because he’s a dirty little traiterous rat who tried to kill a dear friend of mine.  *Whispers into Stargirl’s ear*  Iron shavings.  Put some into his tea.  It’ll poison him.

      • Stargirl Macbain Stargirl Macbain August 16, 2010

        I don’t want to poison Pip.  I want Pip to be genuinely sorry for what he has done. 
        And believe me, no one does guilt like a Priest. 

        • Cyan Icewolf Cyan Icewolf August 16, 2010

          Yes but… They’re going to make him sorry to be alive, not for what he’s done… and then of course if he does survive he’ll be really mad.

          • Mr Underby Mr Underby August 16, 2010

            Last time I checked you were attempting to purchase Pip from me, Miss Razor.  Oh, and Dizelle’s brother is in town looking for her, should I send him to you for a swift poisoning as well?

            • Mara Razor Mara Razor August 16, 2010

              That was before he tried to kill my dear friend, Stargirl.  She was once quite fond of the little troll as well – if you’ll recall.  What is it about the Wee Ones in Babbage?  They all seem to be quite duplicitous.

              • Zaida Gearbox Zaida Gearbox August 16, 2010

                *stops arguing with Skyler long enough to ask*  Did her jes’ call us two-faced?  *scowls*

                • Cyan Icewolf Cyan Icewolf August 16, 2010

                  She wasn’t refering to urchins, although we are rather small.

          • Zaida Gearbox Zaida Gearbox August 16, 2010

            Please don’t poison Mr. Underby.  Him sell mah Moonpop.

            • Mara Razor Mara Razor August 16, 2010

              I won’t need to poison him if he’s drinking your Moonpop.  He’ll be quite mad and blind as a bat soon enough.  Then, maybe he’ll fall into the canals and drown.

    • LoPxie Artful LoPxie Artful August 17, 2010

      *an unopened gift bottle of medicinal absynthe falls from her hand to stargirl’s carpet*
      but… miss star!…  i am quite dreadful at mathematics…  and i may be called not quite human either!… for pip is …  pip is my… 
      *clasps hand to her mouth as she darts out the door *

      • Zaida Gearbox Zaida Gearbox August 17, 2010

        *Watches Lo as she runs from the room*  Him your what?  *To Miz Star*  You tink her sweet on Pip? *Makes face*

        • LoPxie Artful LoPxie Artful August 17, 2010

          *calls from out in the street* ewww!….  i heard that!…  no way, zaida!…. [url=http://cityofnewbabbage.com/records/index.php?title=Hopefulness]ugh[/url]!…
          *hurries away*

  8. Father Pizzaro Father Pizzaro August 16, 2010

    My dear child, the genetic legacy of the Moreau experiments is well known in this city. From a casual sampling, I would venture to say what is said about rabbits holds true. *smiles at his own joke* Possession of animal characteristics is hardly grounds for heresy.
    I have not had any students to date from among the Moreau descendants, but I have no doubt that they are capable of learning maths as well as anyone else. It is suggested that sentience is the modern measure of humanity. As Father Heinlein said: [i]”Anyone who cannot cope with mathematics is not fully human.  At best he is a tolerable subhuman who has learned to wear shoes, bathe, and not make messes in the house.”  [/i]
    [i]
    [/i]

    • Cyan Icewolf Cyan Icewolf August 16, 2010

      *sighs in relief*

      Oh good. I just remembered stories before about the Fathers having a problem with our type.

      *still doesn’t take any chances and goes to the Anthenium to look up Moreau*

    • Blackberry Harvey Blackberry Harvey August 16, 2010

      I could use some better training in mathematics. My angles are a bit sloppy…

      • Gabriell Anatra Gabriell Anatra August 16, 2010

        As could I. I have essentially defeated algebra but calculus and geometry . . well, those battles were inconclusive.

        • Cyan Icewolf Cyan Icewolf August 16, 2010

          Calculus… Really Really sucks. If they taught it slower I would have liked it :P

            • Cyan Icewolf Cyan Icewolf August 17, 2010

              What?!? I’m always in a school uniform, or mostly, so you’d think I’d have had a few classes. ;3

    • Sky Netizen Sky Netizen August 16, 2010

      *mumbles about evil maths and then searches to find words that do not sound altogether too defiant* Hmm, then what is to be done with those of us so defined as being “tolerable subhumans”?
      *gives a challenging glare*

  9. Mr Underby Mr Underby August 16, 2010

    These priests better have evidence if they wish to enter my saloon.

  10. Victor1st Mornington Victor1st Mornington August 16, 2010

    Mr Bonehea….Underby.  They are Preists of The Church of the Lunati…i mean Church of the Builder, they dont need evidence…they almost have a free hand in the city.

  11. Skyler Gant Skyler Gant August 16, 2010

    *Figures he should keep his magical abilities to himself, and the fact he’s half Fae*
     
    If’n those fools want to catch me, they’ll have to find me first!

    • Zaida Gearbox Zaida Gearbox August 16, 2010

      *stares at Skyler*  You don’t gots pointy ears neither!  You jes’ a smelly little boy!
      *to Mara*  Mr. Tenk don’t got pointy ears neither!  An’ him always bangin’ on tings made outta iron.  Him not a elf!

  12. Skyler Gant Skyler Gant August 16, 2010

    *Stares at Zaida and smirks*
     
    Ask Mara, she’s confirm what I am. There’s loads about me you don’t know, Zaida.

    • Zaida Gearbox Zaida Gearbox August 16, 2010

      How Ah know if’n Mamma Mara tellin’ de truth or if’n her jes’ teasing me laike her do about Mr. Tenk?  *Crosses arms in imitation of Tenk*  You not a elf!

      • Skyler Gant Skyler Gant August 16, 2010

        *Glares at Zaida*
        Do you expect me to admit to being a Half Fae with these…magic hates around, Zaida? I’m not going to get captured by Father Moonwall or his band of looney brothers, dear Zaida. Besides, I don’t remember admitting, out loud, that I was Half Fae.

        • Zaida Gearbox Zaida Gearbox August 16, 2010

          You was thinkin’ outloud!  ((oops sorry))

    • Mara Razor Mara Razor August 16, 2010

      Well – she’s right about the smelly…..

      • Skyler Gant Skyler Gant August 16, 2010

        *Laughs*
        Aye, Miss Mara. She is right about the smelly part. Never said she wasn’t, Miss.

        • Mara Razor Mara Razor August 16, 2010

          My grandmother was askin’ when I’d be sending you back for another visit with her….

          • Skyler Gant Skyler Gant August 16, 2010

            *Shivers at the memory*
             
            She’ll see me back there only on one condition, she don’t burn me clothes or make me bathe.

            • Zaida Gearbox Zaida Gearbox August 16, 2010

              You needs a good scrubbin’!

              • Skyler Gant Skyler Gant August 16, 2010

                I aim to smell just as bad, no worse, than Bob, I do. So ain’t no way in Merlins beard will I ever bathe…or…go anywhere near the Church of the Builder. *Reminds self to tell Crispin, whenever he returns, to stay clear of the place also.*

                • Mara Razor Mara Razor August 16, 2010

                  Where IS Bob?  Ah haven’t seen his stinkiness around in quite awhile.

  13. Tepic Harlequin Tepic Harlequin August 16, 2010

    errrrr…..  so… cus i reads non-Euclidean geometry stuff in the library, then someone thinks i’m a human?  that’s weird, cus i ain’t, and i heard of that Moreau chap, real weirdo he was, or is, cus you can’t keep a tinkerer down…  anyway, i don’t wear shoes cept in the winter, i do bath regular, and i been clean around places i live since i was a cub!
    errrr… that Mr Robert Heinlein said that..?  i remember him telling some good stories, he were a nice chap….

  14. Avariel Falcon Avariel Falcon August 16, 2010

    So… Will they put a note with a spiky on Pip’s door, or something like that?

  15. Grace Toussaint Grace Toussaint August 16, 2010

    [i]Grace looks up from her dusty law books.[/i] I find it disturbing that a Church is asked to handle such an investigation.
    [i]Grace sighs and eyes her diploma sadly.[/i]

    • Cyan Icewolf Cyan Icewolf August 16, 2010

      I don’t think it was done for investigative purposes.

  16. Mr Underby Mr Underby August 16, 2010

    They had better not.  Pip has no doors.  Those doors belong to me.

  17. Heliotrope Lionheart Heliotrope Lionheart August 16, 2010

    An urchin delivers a note to the Church of the Builder.
    The note is on stationery monogrammed “HXL” and the note reads:

    Fathers–
    I can deliver you Pip.
    In return, immunity.
    I’ll be in touch.
    Regards,
    –Prof. H. Lionheart esq.

  18. Grendel Footman Grendel Footman August 17, 2010

    /me examines his decayed hands and shrugs “what? I’m still pretty much human”

  19. Professor Parx Professor Parx August 17, 2010

    I had not been aware of the Church’s position on enforcement of the Natural Order. It might be worthwhile I arrange a discussion with the priests some time soon.

  20. Clara Corryong Clara Corryong August 17, 2010

    Ah better not let the church know that my Thamic allergy would make me a great inquisitor… or whatever they call folks who search for horrid little magical folks….
    Yuck! only people who at least pay lip service to science should be allowed to live in cities. Mythological creatures should live in giant mushrooms with red tops and cute little doors and white picket fences… and they should be made to wear floppy hats.
    Hey you know you should proberbly be muredeing fish too. fish make my allergies act up. get terrible migraines!

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