Beatrixe Rouse did not wait very long for Beryl’s answer before she shut her eye and settled back into her bed, “Of course you’re not you. You can’t be you.”
Beryl was not sure he could answer honestly. The Beatrixe of this world could be asking the question if she was as unbalanced as his own Beatrixe. He tried to tell her that he was from a Babbage where there were no vine-wires, no rail-fields in Palisades, and the Gangplank didn’t take up most of Clockhaven. He described his Avariel Falcon as he had last seen her, as well as Erica, Tepic, and others he had met here.
Beatrixe listened for the most part, her eye opened and smiling as she replied, “So you are you?” At his nod she grinned, “Thank you for coming see me. Only Tepic has, and he’s not him either usually.”
“What do you mean?”
“Tepic was there when Doctor Bunny-corn helped me and later when she made my new leg. The Bunny-corn tells me that he’ll only be free after I go back home.”
Avariel Falcon approached, her right foot hitting roughly as it appeared to have originally belonged to a different clockwork. “Yes! The little foxy needs you to get better!”
Erica followed, though she had left Arnold’s head behind on a table. “Yes, you need to rest for now, and I think we should all step back and let her get that.”
Erica hastened both of them back, as they bid Beatrixe a good rest and regrouped at the table where Arnold was placed. Avariel sighed loudly and then let out something that might have been intended to be a neigh, but Beryl found it hard to describe the sound that came from the bunny instead. She turned to them with a look of pure frustration, “I know that we could have already saved the squirrely and the little fox boy if only I had all of my equipment!”
“All of your equipment?” Beryl examined Avariel and her mismatched frame. She seemed like a combination of the Steam Hare’s Flamethrower, her unicorn horn, her old bunny form, and was part of her made up of unit 3? “Avariel, I need to know what’s happened here.”
The last time he was here, Avariel had given him his quest to find his true name. Right now she was his only hope. “What is happening to this city? Why aren’t you a unicorn anymore?”
“I am as befuddled by that as you are! One minute I am a happy unicorn, the next I am under attack by strange clockworks and men! Before I know it, aether-cables have wrapped me up and I feel all tingly! Next, I am being put together by tiny clockworks! It was very confusing and distressing!” She stomped her larger foot petulantly. “Now I can’t even get back to the Power Station without fighting those doggy-wheels and those tricksy cables growing out of the towers!”
Beryl nodded very slowly. He should have known that the vine-wires were coming from the Power Station. Beryl tried to think of something strong enough to take out Avariel and smart enough to run the Power Station like this. It could not have been the Dobermans; they did not have the technical expertise.
He asked if there was anyone else there that might have been in charge, and Avariel thought about it for a moment before she described the same business man that had come to see Beryl’s lobotomy. “I think they were calling him Johnson.”
Philip Johnson, P.J.
Beryl found that the revelation was not surprising at all. He did not know the man, but he could imagine him ordering his men to paint “In the Name of Progress” everywhere. Now that he thought about it, Beryl was sure he had been the one who had taken Professor Rance, the only person who had offered to clear him with the asylum. With his help Beryl could stop running.
“Avariel, I’m going to need your help. I’m going to the Power Station.”