The place: New Babbage. Clockhaven, to be precise.
The time: Early April, 188~
It had been a long, cold winter in New Babbage, but now the snows were finally melting. The
town had held another successful Oiling Festival celebration. They had much to celebrate, for the festival did not only represent the chance for industry to once again flourish in the warming air, but for the town to move on from the horrors that had plagued it last autumn when the Van Creed nearly destroyed existence in their attempt to harness cracks in the aether. The town had banded together to protect the City, and after many months of recovery, the residents were ready to return to their normal activities. Spring, it seemed, was indeed a time of rebirth.
(1) Deep below the cold water of the Vernian, a submersible cruised silently through the clear blue world. Its pilot navigated the calm waters in secrecy. He was on a mission of utmost importance, and no one would be able to get in his way. He looked through the reinforced glass enclosure surrounding him. Off in the distance, a great white whale swam. Fish darted back and forth in front of the smoothly polished sculpt of the mermaid that made up the bottom portion of the ship’s hull. He maneuvered the vessel into Clockhaven Bay and waited for his contact to arrive. (2) After maintaining absolute silence for what seemed like hours, he received the designated signal and surfaced, revealing his presence for the first time. His associate informed him that a temporary location had been chosen underneath the museum. The current mission was to keep the artifacts secure as they arrived in town. (3) As the new arrival made himself comfortable, his associate boarded the submersible and departed.
(4) That evening, the man went for a short walk to investigate the area around his new hideout. He was no stranger to New Babbage. The Man had been present during the
events pertaining to Moriarty and the Dark Aether, and although it had only been a few months since those events, the Man had not been here for many years. Non-linear temporal physics will do that. In the time since he had last been here, the museum had been forced to move. This worked out well. It was evident that the exhibits were still being moved, so no one would notice a few crates being loaded into the “basement.”
It had been explained to him months ago when he joined the Ministry that often times throughout history, seemingly ordinary objects somehow developed “unusual” properties. It was up to the Ministry to locate these objects and store them
away where they could not be used to cause harm or devastation. The Maestro learned that many of the items were mostly harmless, mostly. Others, such as Hrunting, the sword believed to have belonged to Beowulf, were far more dangerous.
One afternoon, before he returned to New Babbage, his boss called him into the Archives.
It had been decided that some of the more “active” artifacts were in danger of becoming unstable and needed a new location to store them. New Babbage, with its network of “reality enforcement devices” seemed a perfect choice to set up the new warehouse. The Maestro was chosen to be the head of Warehouse VI. Unfortunately, reports arrived that a sinister organization had engaged in rather dangerous experiments and New Babbage was quarantined. The Maestro knew that, for reasons he kept to himself, he would not be able to head back to New Babbage until the quarantine was lifted, despite the urging from his boss that “quarantine be damned!” Anyways, it would take a while to arrange for items to be shipped in a manner that would not arouse suspicions. After all, if organizations like the House of Usher or the Van Creed were able to get a hold of any of these items, it would prove to be quite dangerous for all. The winter months passed slowly as operatives moved to the City and began to make the proper arrangements.
It was now the start of spring. The Maestro had begun to place the artifacts into storage in this makeshift warehouse. (5) It was not the most ideal location, but most people seemed not to know that it was even there under the museum. Plus, as long as items arrived for the museum’s dinosaur exhibit, no one paid much attention to the occasional crate moved below. Eventually, he would have to get a perception filter to ensure absolute privacy, but that would have to wait. For now, he had other matters to attend to.
The Ministry’s primary objective had always been to catalogue and lock up items with unusual or dangerous properties. In the months following the Dark Aether incident, there began to be incidents where items which should not have existed; a history book written detailing the Confederacy’s defeat over the Union Army, a set of journals detailing a certain
president’s secret past; began to appear. Although it had never been officially announced, it was believed that New Babbage had become a sort of “transdimensional hub.” This was a secondary reason for establishing a new warehouse in the City. The Maestro now examined a map of the City. (6) It was time for him to start looking for the thing which supposedly lay somewhere within City limits.