A continuation of Out of Thyme – Today, an Agent is Equipped!

April 4, 2012

This is mostly just a gearing up chapter, introducing you to what will, I think, be Donovan’s standard load out in the stories I write about him. The science I’m using in this universe is very loose and is predicated on the unique metal Victorinium which has unique properties based on harmonics that affects the state of various other materials. My only reason for doing so is that the laws of physics are a little different in this alternate universe. Also, Victorinium has a purple sheen to it. This is an artistic decision.

Anyway, the primary differences are that Victorinium can “remember” shapes when attached to certain harmonic frequencies in the right conditions and when it is vibrated it can do a few interesting things to other materials; it can boil water, it can change the color and shape of certain crystaline matrices (such as causing Mercury to persist in its liquid state but develop random angles instead of being perfectly smooth as it tries to harden, or turning iron a deep blue color and making it cold due to how photons interact with the harmonized steel). It is my Applied Phlebotinum. Or Unobtainium. Depending on your trope preference.

Anyway. Here’s Chapter Three of Out of Thyme!

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 Many Agents within Imperial Intelligence have offices, including me. They’re your normal sort of office, with two chairs for visitors, a nice desk of Teak or some other foreign wood that reminds employees of the Empire how vast Her Majesty’s reach is, a Lovelace Analytical and Computational Engine, a nice chair for the office holder, and datagraph for recreating documents from the LACE. Most of the hive under Parliament is full of offices like this for various officials and agencies, each working like busy bees for Her Majesty’s glory. There are few places where these little cells are not the office of choice, and one of these is the Toy Shop. The laboratories and offices of the Imperial Special Detachment of Engineers and Scientists under the direction of Magus Charlize. Her office, if it could be called such, is instead one of the smallest and most adaptable assembly lines on the planet.

When we entered this marvel of engineering, in fact, that same assembly line was in the process of adapting to a new construction order for what appeared to be LACE systems built out of wire too thin to see with the naked eye and trigger systems packed in Carlize’s breakthrough cooling oil. Despite the groans and pounding thunder of the equipment operating, it was not difficult to find her or her current project, as the poor girl has a habit of cackling loudly when she’s discovered something new and novel (something that is an odd and expected side effect of Magus training and capability).

Charlize was standing over what looked like a gentleman’s outfit covered in motor oil and brass fittings. She turned to us with a rabid gleam in her eye and grinned wildly, “Ah! You have arrived! Just in time, I have finished the last of your equipment just this morning! Ignore the outfit there, failed prototype but with materials that may be useful to you in the future. Come, come. Let me explain for you what I have made.” There were still hints of her accent, having spent her formative years in Afghanistan with her mother, a Commandant in the Imperial Army, and her father, a local smith. After spending over two decades in London between education and employment, it’s hard to find her early accent except when she’s excited. Or when she’s building.

She lead is through an intricate jungle of brass and steal armatures hanging from the ceiling and bolted to the walls that were constructing a multitude of complex devices. Each was attached to a rubber hose that threaded along the wall to the floor to bolt into steam ports that we danced around, each placed with seeming indifference to the necessity of a path to the back of the workshop. The only clear space down the middle of the room was dominated by huge workbenches that the armatures were working on, each full of drawers of parts and equipped with small torches and other tools. Above the work benches were hanging gardens of raw materials, from rare Victorinium to simple iron filings and steel nails. Smartly, on a plaque near the door there are rules advising visitors to leave their hats on the hooks at the front of the room lest they wish to wear home the latest in technology built into their hat haphazardly.

After hundreds of feet of twisting and ducking over messes of cables, she stopped in front of one pristine workbench with a small plaque that identified it as her personal workstation. Mechanical attendants stood to either side of the table, one holding a suit over each arm that looked perfectly normal and the other was holding a messenger’s bag that was already packed, a belt, a pair of boots, and a hat. Sitting on the table itself was a small folder of some sort (and it appeared to be made of wood, which seemed odd to me), a pair of goggles, a brass cylinder, walking cane, and a pocketwatch. All patterned after clothes I already owned and in the latest Neumunich styles.

“Now then, my wonderful coworker, you have been a wonderful challenge. I have full specifics on your personal equipment, that is your subvocal recorder and your pistols, and have built your new gear to enhance what you already do. Now, the suit is rather nice, I think, as it is armored with a very light weave of impact-hardening Victorinium and Steel fibers as well as self-cleaning and self-silencing. It can even re-arrange itself as you’re moving so that your suit doesn’t fall into disrepair while you’re scaling walls or falling from airships or whatever it is you Agents do. The hat, similarly, is reconfigurable for the situation based on several popular styles, will stay on your head using small wires that thread into your hair, and has the same armor mesh that the suit does. The boots, as well, are armored and built into the soles are powerful Victorinium magnets that can keep your feet rooted to ferrous metals so long as you press the ball of your foot against the bottom of the boot. Now, onto the truly interesting things. The first is the cane. It’s made entirely of Victorinium with an attractive design of warriors from across the world standing on each other’s shoulders with good ol’ Saint George on the bottom standing atop the dragon that makes up the base and at the top is the famous traveling swordsman from Japan, Miyamoto Musashi, with a sword over his shoulder to make up the pistol grip that all your canes have. When the sword is folded in, the cane reconfigures itself into a sword for you and when it’s slid out of Musashi’s hand, a thin chain unwinds from the interior so you can use it to climb. The belt is the next interesting piece of technology here. It has hidden within it the small dials and controls for the suit and such, with a lever on the back of your right hip for the boots’ attraction. As well, the two pouches on the back will use harmonics to reduce any metals you put in them into the blocks used by your pistols. The belt is self-cinching and adjusts as needed to keep you comfortable and the buckle is a locking version of your family’s Crest, just for fashion. The pocketwatch is a favorite of mine. It’s a wireless transmission device for sound as well as data using an electromagnetic version of Marconi’s original work and can transmit through any telephonic facility within ten miles. As well, it keeps perfect time, is self-winding through weight differentials, and can measure barometric pressure, tells you sunrise, sunset, moonrise, moonset, and is a compass. I ran out of ideas to squeeze into the little thing after that, but it still has plenty of space should I ever have the inclination to expand it. Finally, that wooden notebook is a brand new LACE system, portable and self-contained. It uses a standard Imperial keyboard, just like your LACE at home, and uses harmonic-sensitive crystal arrays to power the screen. Some of the colors are a little washed out compared to your analytical-screen at home but it’s far thinner and uses a smaller generator to work. A generator so small that it can be built into the back without any apparent difference to the weight or feel of the LACE notebook. Since it is still a LACE system, it requires winding when not attached to a steamcable or an electricable. The bag, though, makes up for that. The bag will wind the notebook while the two are together and acts as a mobile document graphing engine that uses standard writing inks. As well, it can repair your clothes when they’re placed in the bag and contains many useful tools that were too difficult to put into the mechanical multiwrench. Speaking of which, this nice brass cylinder right here is the multiwrench! By turning the various dials on it you can produce any standard hand tool you need as well as screw-centric drills and drivers, ratcheting drivers, and the attachment on the back is for connecting torch-heads or similar expansions to the multiwrench system. It’s my best work to date! My entire workbench line is shifting to it next week!”

Note that she continued talking after this but I tuned it out as it was mostly gloating over her own brilliance. I do have to say, though, that all of these things were brilliant designs, genuine wonders in their own right, and I’ve since heard that she’s gone on to design a self-cleaning home and is working on making LACE systems lighter-weight, more powerful, and easier to use. As well, trying to figure out what, exactly, she can squeeze into a pocketwatch before it is both too heavy and too complicated to use.

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