April 9, 2012

So it’s been a little while…

Last Thursday my laptop fell off the counter at Starubucks and my LCD screen ruptured. Since then, a friend has gotten me a temporary monitor so that I can keep using my computer and my roommate has loaned me an ultraportable so I can keep working when sitting at Starbucks (my only continual source of internet access). So I need to raise some cash to get a replacement LCD monitor for my laptop (~$80 it looks like, plus shipping, handling, etc) and I need to get it installed (which I should be able to do myself).

Here is the next chapter, though, of Out of Thyme. Again, this has no editing done to it so a lot of it is more conceptual than anything and is far from polished. I hope you enjoy it, though, and I hope you tell your friends and fellow readers about it.

Now to work on another post for today, to make up for the post I’m still missing for Monday. This time, I think, I’ll try to revisit Royan.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

My time in London felt hideously short, but I had to return to the Colonies as soon as possible. My first stop was The Vega, a flying airship and city over the southwestern desert in the New World. From there, it seemed, I’d be able to get recruited into Magus Lehrer’s support enterprise. Working wizards, as the Magi are sometimes called, frequently need able bodied assistants, whether because their project is always growing, they have new projects sprouting that need their own hands and eyes, or they keep losing the assistants they got last week. Since I have no little experience in engineering and general mechanics work, as well as my ability to memorize blueprints and operating instructions, I was bound to be a phenomenal asset to Magus Lehrer.
The rest of the time I had in London was spent going between meetings with Prime Minister Masterson, Her Majesty’s Chief of Intelligence, and the various MPs of the districts of the New World that I was operating in. When Her Majesty secured the New World again during the American-Canadian war, she promised that the Crown would extend right and propriety to the former American citizens that was denied to them by her forerunners, and which caused the American War for Independence, and gave them parliamentary access through the Commonwealth and making America a sister-nation to Canada, India, and Australia. Between the Masterson Trading Corporation in Hong Kong and Her Majesty’s control over the Bolsheviks, the Queen has had control over most of the world for nearly sixty years. Only the island of Japan, the reaches of central Asia, and Africa have resisted Her armies. Something to which she is continually trying to repair.
She has learned the lessons of the past, however, and refuses to war again in Afghanistan until the Thousand Tribes unite behind something. The Saudi Royal Family has had no reason to quarrel since she stopped purchasing their oil and switched to Victorinium mined from the Russian steppes and has become a firm ally against her current campaign – the war for the sahara. However, this is neither here nor there.
What does matter is that it was several days of meetings in London that hammered out the plan that the Crown had for me. I was to go to Masterson’s associates on The Vega and portray myself as an engineer of some quality, as well as one that’s willing to rack up quite a bit of a gambling debt. To settle this debt, I would agree to contract with the Magus, who would pay my debt and offer me a salary for a settled number of years of service. When I am transferred to the compound in the basin south of Neumunich, I will disable the defensive systems erected around the building and deal with the automatons that roam the estate. I must also find a way to neutralize the most dangerous parts of the Magus’ retinue – The Witch of the West and her personal cadre of defensive automata, the Knights of the Round Table.
There was also the small matter of the Magus’ gifts. First, let me explain some more about what it means to be a Magus, to have the Gift, and why nearly all of the great scientists of the recent decades have eventually been killed at the order of Her Majesty.
Every Magus is a genius in many ways. They all share a peculiar love of timing, of clockwork, and of order. They all share unique difficulties in relating to the people around them as well, seeing everything in very mechanical and precise terms. Everyone has a purpose, everyone is structured around rules, and everyone is oriented toward their purpose in personality and intellect. In essence, everyone is a cog in the great machine. The Wizards are inherently aware, more so than most, that they are but cogs in the grand machine and they seek to, in their own ways, improve the machine before they break. This attitude can be quite disturbing to normal people who presume to have automation and agency within the world, while the attitude and the curt speech of the Magi telling them that they are mistaken has more than once lead to a lynching or a witch burning.
Beyond these shared traits, every wizard has a Calling, a set of talents and skills that is nearly unique to them. It forms the basis of their signature as well as drives their purpose to create. Lehrer’s skills lie in the construction of household technology, the purposing and design of Victorinium, and bending of the laws of space and time using Victorinium devices. Two years ago, at the New Amsterdam World’s Fair, he demonstrated translocation using a Victorinium array in his Workshop and at the Fair itself. His entire mind and body are bent to these tasks and, since he is still young, there may be more skills and talents ahead of him. Since his accident he has also shown a powerful talent in body engineering and mechanical design when partnered with his lover, The Witch of the West.
The Witch’s talents are a little bit more dramatic than her partner’s. She was formally trained in Australia due to her peculiar penchant for weaponry and for chemistry. While Lehrer’s Workshop is the heart of where they live, composed of apartments, a massive cafeteria, and the necessary power generation for the various devices, most of the estate is taken up with her Brewery. A massive set of pipes and cathedral-like buildings that constantly produce everything from explosive liquids to healing draughts to artisan beer. The only person in the world that can tell any particular pipe and spiggot from another without labeling is the Witch herself, as she has some way of speaking to the liquids inside. Understanding their various intricate machinations. Most of her free time away from maintaining the Brewery is spent devising new ways to outfit the Workshop’s many mechanics and guards. She is a brilliant designer of mechanical exoskeletons and was instrumental in making Magus Lehrer walk again after his accident. Some of the guards at the Workshop are more dangerous than any Imperial soldier due to said mechanical enhancement. She also runs the kitchens beneath the Workshop and, if rumors are true, has a complex social experiment that no one but her, the Magus Lehrer, and their closest compatriots have any access to.
There are rumors that there may be more going on at the Workshop than any of the spies have been able to tell. Her Majesty hopes that I will be able to shut down any truly dangerous systems that have escaped their notice before her army marches on the estate, an army that was quietly massing in the desert and in Neumunich in preparation. This is far from the first time that Her Majesty has decided it was time to discard a tool that had started to hurt its Mistress, and she has become quite skilled at their disposal.

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