Out of Thyme Continues!
April 3, 2012
Ugh, so sorry about the three missing posts here. I spent the weekend in Texas and had a grand time. I think I’ve done some repair work on who I am and who I’m supposed to be, fixed some problems in my general emotional health, and took my first plane trip. On top of that I’ve picked up some very interesting skills at the retreat I was at and have potentially laid the groundwork for a much improved interpersonal life.
I did not, however, get any writing done as it was too hot in Texas to do anything worthwhile and I left my laptop at home. So I’m catching up now – there will be two posts today and one every day for the rest of the week. This is something I promise to you.
Three of these posts will be chapters from Out of Thyme, as I write them, and will be separated by chapter. This may be a once or twice a week story as well, at least until I finish it, as I plan to do a full novel. As my loyal readers you, of course, get the first whack at reading it and critiquing it before even the first editorial pass. Please don’t hesitate to do either of these things as I want this to be the best it can be no matter how lax my skills as an author happen to be.
Two of the posts this week will be chapters from the second part of the serial Notes From the Abyss. We’re introducing an important new character, we’re heading through the universe, and we’re getting into the Space Opera part of my Occult Noir Space Opera. Hopefully you enjoy that as well, but again, don’t hesitate to criticize it if you find anything amiss. I treasure your input.
Now, without further delay, OUT OF THYME, CHAPTER TWO – IN WHICH A TRIP IS TAKEN
It seemed to me that the best place to start was Imperial Special Detachment in London. I spent a quiet night with Kanta, once again going over what would need to be done if I don’t make it back from this one. Byron wasn’t home this time, so I couldn’t say goodbye to him…something that my heart still breaks about when I think back to it. The two of us haven’t had a quiet night together since long before all of this got underway. Luckily, though, while he was a poor partner romantically, he was a wonderful partner mechanically. The weapons he’s built for me were in perfect working order and he ensured that six magazines of ammunition were available for me before he disappeared into the ennui that consumes his daily life when he’s not creating. I still wonder why Byron became a steamwright when he’s clearly got an eye, and a passion, for art. Even my pistols, utilitarian tools of the trade for a spy and assassin, are covered in beautiful scrollwork and designed to be not only efficient but beautiful in mahogany and brass. I’ve even been complimented for them in the midst of a firefight on a number of occasions.
Incidentally, thinking back on that, it’s astounding how many times hired guns have complimented me on my pistols between bouts of shooting at me. But I’m getting off topic.
The important thing here is that I took the train to London. While there are aeroplanes that travel by flight from continent to continent, the trains are far cheaper to operate and to ride. Since I’m under no time constraints and I frankly do not trust the idea of hurtling through the air in a metal tube full of compressed air and hoping that it doesn’t realize that it’s made of steel and brass then fall out of the sky. I have been assured there is science behind the aeroplane and that it flies thanks to the complex interaction of air and curved surfaces, creating lift or some such. What it doesn’t have, though, is a great lighter-than-air envelope above it or a nice solid track beneath it and, so long as there are tracks across the Atlantic from Nova Scotia, New Amsterdam, and the District of Columbia, I’ll take the train to London, thank you very much.
For those of you who have never been through Neumunich, which is the city I am from, it was designed as a huge cultural hub by one of Her Majesty’s earliest Magus initiates, Herr Tolsin Gabinder who was a professor of social engineering at Munich’s University of Science and Design. His Great Work for the Crown is Neumunich, a city of towering and interconnected apartments, shops, and workspaces that overlooks the valley that the Spanish called Los Angeles for so long. Now, many of the native peoples of the Americas live and work in Neumunich or around it on the farms that support it rather than in the servitude of the Spanish Missions and the iron-fisted rule of Pope Benedictus XXIII. Those spaces in the surrounding country that don’t make for good growing are used by scientists of every stripe. Magus Lehrer has a research workshop set into some hills overlooking the beach south of the city, and in the nearby mountains there’s a massive celestial observatory built by the Magus Areana Constance. Many of the best and brightest students to the Empire’s universities spend at least some time in Neumunich with one of the great professors and visiting masters of the arts and sciences. Thanks to that, we have one of the largest transit systems in the Empire with trains leaving every two minutes. Not just efficient but fast as well; it only took me five days to reach London.
Reams of ink and paper have been consumed in documenting the enchanting allure of London in all of its finery, so I’ll not replicate them here. It has not changed much besides, with the most significant differences being the growing cathedral-like factories and soaring apartment blocks replacing outmoded designs from when Her Majesty was young. Soot and coal no longer darken the sky here, with large fans and filtration systems in the factories and on the edges of the city proper helping keep the air clean and blue for Her Majesty in case she wishes to open her cask and walk upon the earth again. Where I was headed, though, didn’t involve any of these new and modern buildings, but rather the extensive complex of government hives situated under Parliament.
The Office of the Imperial Special Detachment was part of Imperial Intelligence and located beneath the houses of Parliament almost directly. When I arrived in station, I was greeted by a rather genteel woman in a nondescript black suit and lead toward one of the numerous entrances to the Government’s underground light rail. While it was quite comfortable taking the train to London, the private Underground is an entirely different matter. It’s mostly leather-padded pews in rickety metal cars with just enough space for you and the two suitcases you brought along. Since you don’t ever need more than two, to have that much with you is just improper and unnecessary, at least according to the Crown.
The woman in the black suit (who is named Paige, I later found out, but apparently has no last name since one is never required when referring to her) lead me from the light rail station through the twisting maze of corridors that hides Imperial Intelligence from itself until we came to the lab of the Magus Charlize Varashinja, Chair of Research and Implementation for Imperial Intelligence within the laboratories of the Imperial Special Detachment. Or as Charlize and the Agents like to call it, The Toy Shop.