Thursday, July 31

The United States of Erebus

"Arr? A strange name for an empire, that is if ye don't mind me sayin' Prince Rengent!" The captain of the Midas, a demon named Simull, was a scaly creature, its natural pattern a deep midnight blue. His smooth features were nearly indescernible except for the bright orange rags he wore.

Marcus did not respond immediately, as he was concentrating on assembling the salvage of a dozen factories into a massive device. The howling wind pulled at his his black toga, which was covered by an ill-fitting jacket borrow from one of the more humanoid members of the crew. He needed no tools, as his mind manipulated the pieces and screwed and locked each into place, seemingly of their own accord.

"It is one the citizens of this current empire are more likely to accept." His voice was measured and calm, despite the dangerous winds and the monsters that surrounded him. He climbed the rungs that were spaced precisely apart for his small frame, and slipped into the machine. Levers and dials shifted and spun without his touch. A series of greet glass lenses held together by a web of struts and cables stacked to bring vignette of a city to the foreground. "This is their capital, just south of here."

"A mighty palace that is, my Prince!"

"No, that is the Capitol building, where the people send quislings to speak for them. That small white house is where the ruler lives."

"EH? That lil' white house? How poor is this ruler?"

"His hold is rather week...I would build a palace across the river there. It would be the largest building on Earth, with five sides and a courtyard in the middle. I would call it...the Pentagram." A botton sank into the console, revealing a vellum diagram of an encircled star-shaped structure.

"Five sides? Aye, much harder to destroy. Very wise, Young Prince."

"The Treasury is right next door to the White House. Their vault is underground. That is where you will find a grand share of their gold."

"Buried or sunken, floatin' or flyin', the Midas will find it, Lad!"

"These are where the treasures I care for lay hidden. That castle is called the Smithsonian. Ancient talismans are stored there by collectors who have no idea of the power of what they possess. Their rivals for arcane knowledge hide in this other building...the Library of Congress. The secrets behind both shall be mine."

Simull muttered to the shorter avian humanoid who waddled by his side. It was a nauseating mix of badly arranged feathers of vile colors and a malformed beak that could barely close. "This kid's a sharp one, Braxius."

"Cap'n?" Squawked the First Mate. "Face jes' fot' unnya nye po' sai!"

Marcus leaped down from his platform. He stared at Braxius and furrowed his brow in confusion. "What did he say?"

"He sez we got company, Lad!"

The bird pointed some rotting feathers towards the port side. Simull and Marcus peered over, and the boy floated a few feet above the deck to get a better view. He saw spots of shining helmets and a circle of small dirigibles spread out from where a burst of energy was fading by the coast. A handful of boats with silver metal jutting from the sides cut throught the currents to aim jets of water through the windows of factories burning below. Formations of brass helmets traced through the blackened streets.

Marcus squinted. "Those ships...they bear Caledon colors..."

Wednesday, July 30

your city lies in dust my friends

The boy gently landed on a pile of rubble to get a ground view of the devastation he had caused. Infernos raged throughout the city of Baltimore from where the airships fell. Brown columns of smoke rose and floated towards northwards. He pulled the fabric of his black burial shroud closer to his cheest. His thumbs idly flipped the pages of the almanac he had found back and forth.

"Betrayed...and revived after twenty-five years...nothing left to one left for revenge..." A voice echoed from above, a deep rumbling pitch that strained for a higher register in its eagerness.

"Ahoy, Young Prince! Come aboard!"

Marcus watched in stunned silence as a black ship the size of a city block floated slowly downwards to nest in a pile of shattered bricks the was once a building. The profile resembled a trireme as depicted on ancient vases, but built on a frightening scale with an alien, sinister ingenuity. A Rows of oars rotated upwards and locked in place.

"We be the Midas! Last of the Founder's Fleet!" He stared upwards at the yellow banner high above the mast. The demon wings gules upon a ziggurat sable on a field or. "Ye did all this, didn't ya boy? Ye cut a swath from Mason Hill clear to port while wearin' the Black Toga of the rightful heir! We saw ye!" A figure leaned over the bow, head covered in a resplendent bronze helmet. Other figures lined the deck, a gleaming row of brass. "We'll be yer revenge! We'll be yer floatin' Foundation! Let us serve ye with the scrap of honor we got left and the choicest plunders of this orb we'll share with ye! Lower the gangplank, boys!"

The protesting squeal of ebon-stained wood and gears accompanied the platform that stretched from the deck, which suddenly dropped on one end to hit the ground with a thunderclap, leaving a footpath at a steep angle directly up to the demonship. Blue eyes stared upwards at the collection of monsters waiting for him on deck. Quietly, he nodded, and planted his bare feet on the edge of the plank. The timbers reacheted upwards, carrying him towards his crew as the monsters roared and cheered, their inhuman voices echoing through the ruined city.

Monday, July 28

Why you never look in a young woman's purse

I was ready to knock on Miss Burton's door when I noticed the ticking sound behind me.

I sighed and and asked "Sir Edward?" as I turned.

A manicured hand wrapped around my wrist. Her ruffles brushed against my hand. I stared into clockwork pupils that rotated into jade as I gasped.

"Not quite. Let's talk."

I tries to pull my hand away, but her magenta sleeve pulled back, drawing me closer. She smiled, baring porcelain fangs.

"Now now, Cousin! My new Daddy said I should play with my cousins..."

Her grip tightened like a vice, and I winced.

"...and I never play with my food."

I gulped. "Fair enough..."

"And don't even think about taking off, Junior Birdman. You'll scare the fish."

"What?" I looked up and saw a school of pink salmon swimming over the Steelhead Sky.

"Babbage has air kraken, Steelhead has air salmon. Koen and Kira are too busy fishing off the rooftops in Boomtown to notice us. Maybe the air kraken eat the air salmon? That would make things interesting, wouldn't it? When's the last time we saw a giant chicken or steampowered elephant around here, anyways? This place isn't as wild as it used to be, that's for sure..."

"So what's your game, Gematria?"

"I figured you would come crying to Genie when you realized your bag of tricks hadn't dropped yet, along with your..."

I looked away. "DO YOU MIND??"

"Do you?" she asked sweetly. She twisted my wrist until I looked back at her again, and she swatted me across the face with a small black leather handbag. She then tugged me across the street and sat me down at the steps of where my Steelhead home had once been. She drew me down to sit with her.

"Here, hold this." She pulled her arm back. Her wrist clicked as her hand detached from her forearm, staying clamped to my wrist. I stared at the hand, and when I tried to pull it off it squeezed hard enough to make me scream.

As I flailed my arm in protest, she unlatched her purse with her remaining hand. She slid the stump of her arm inside, and after a series of fast clicks she withdrew a new hand, this one pale porcelain that contrasted the flesh tone of ther current frame. The white hand already clasped an envelope sealed with wax and a ribbon.

"My friend Alice passed this to me. This is a new contract from Novem."

I looked up in stunned silence, and the hand relaxed its crushing grip on my wrist.

She unsealed the envelope and begna to read it, giggling to herself. I tried to grab it with my untethered hand, but the I felt the fingers dig their nails into my flesh.

"Get this thing off of me!"

"You keep struggling and you won't have a hand left to sign! Now behave!" She spread the paper out on the flagstone and fished a mechanical pen from her purse. "Sign here." The mechanical hand dropped to crawl like an insect onto the document, holding it down as a breeze carried the shadow of a salmon school overhead. As I signed in the best handwriting I could muster with a sore arm. she fished a bundle of satin and lace from her purse. "Your handwriting for prescriptions is worse."

"That's supposed to be illegible."

"Then how does the pharmacist read it?" She squeeazed the bundle, and steel rods expanded upward and spread to form a parasol shielding us both as well as the contract from errant fish droppings.

"It's in code or something. I can't really remember right now."

"Of course, Sweetie." She patted my wrist with her porcelain hand, and I flinched and held it to my body protectively. "Aww...poor baby. Since the contract doesn't kick in for another week, I'll host the next event for you."

I stood up and stamped my foot in protest.


Her parasol telescoped downward and wrapped around my head like a claw, pulling me down to a prone position. The scent of cloyingly sweet perfume assaulted the back of my nose.

"I said behave!"

I had a narrow tunnel of light and air edged with lace, through which I saw her purse tip over. The porcelain hand crawled back in as I heard her original hand reattach. The purce tipped back upright and a daguerrotype rose from the opening. She snatched it from the pale manicured fingers and held it in front of my laced aperture.

"Do you know these people?"

I frowned. I hated to look at family sepias, especially when features repeated themselves exactly from one generation to the rest. The stern man with the handlebar mustache had to be Jeremiah, dressed to the nines with the family crest in the background. Two children stood emotionless at his feet, flanking him. They both looked exactly the way I do now, minus a year or two.


"One of them is you. The other is your clone-brother, Marcus."

"WHAT?!?" I sat up with a start, and the parasol retracted to give me a dizzy view of the world again.

Gematria smiled sweetly again as she adjusted her auburn curls.




The salty Chesapeake breeze runs cold over the barren farmland atop Mason Hill. Past the scorched timbers of Jeremiah's mansion lay a grove of twisted trees, shrouding the sight of a mausaleum from the outside. The sky darkens, painting blood red across the canvas of clouds as the stars awaken to behold the pulsating green light growing deep within the grove.

Hidden behind the marble and cast iron, life pours into dessicated flesh. Dark blue eyes open in confinement and see images of betrayal in his mind projected onto the inside of the casket lid. Forgotten pneumatics squeal and scrape as a panel lifts up. Gears crank as the boy is drawn out on a platfrom into the chapel area within. Like the machinery, he groans as well from being awakened. He opens his aching eyes as the glowing green muck sliding off of his pale body, his only illumination. He convulses as his lungs expel more liquid light then seize their first breath of stale sepulchral air tainted by acrid chemicals. Without warning the platform hinges downward, dropping him onto the cold floor with a wet splatter from the spilled chemicals coating the mosaic tiles. The sharp pain against the back of his skull shakes him into angry wakefulness. He gazes up at the image embedded in mausaleum roof.

At one time it had been painstakingly removed tile by tile from another chamber of death uneathered in the remains of Pompeii and carried across the sea. It was reassembled and restored to dark magnificence. An albaster face marked with black and red features shrouded by flowing red locks and burning eyes stared down at the boy in silence. Wings of blood unfurled behind marble-white shoulders, revealing inhuman details of demonic anatomy that an artist must have directly beheld.

Ancient fresco crumbles as the boy shrieks. Pigmented stones and plaster fall on his soaked and unkempt hair as he depserately searches his confined space. The glint of brass a foot from his face catches his eye. The letters trigger a new level of terror.


He hears the hinged lid above him begin to rotate upright. He wraps his fingers around the metal edge, and lets the iron pull his untested legs up to a stand. His legs quiver as they struggle to remember their purpose. The blood rushing through them stings like liquid fire. As the illumination from the reanimation serum begins to dim, and he chokes down the last gulp of breathable air in the crypt, he makes out his own name on the lid as in slams back into place.


On the other side of the river, two men sit on a bench on the pier. The older man, his grimy face tanned and wrinkled from a life on the river, cracks open a bottle cap and passes a beer to his son, who just became of age. They both turn their heads as they see the ball of flame rise in the thickening darkness. A split second later they hear the echo of the explosion at the top of the hill.

"That was the Mason house, Son! There's more monsters diggin' out from the ground tonight!"

"Quit yer tales, Pa! Ain't nobody livin' there no more, Hell ain't nobody been up there since them wierd Caledonians came a'huntin..."

"Caledonia? I heard it was one o'them cat-people lookin fer 'is kin!"

"They was in the inn, Pa! I saws 'em! They was this black cat-boy and a lady with a metal wig and a machine runnin' on her..."

The psychic wave radiated from the Mason estate, racing at the speed of though across the water to bowl the two spectators end over end. The foam of the bottle spilled onto the grey weathered wood of the pier and fell between the planks onto the gently lapping water.

A young man levitated above the burning trees, surveying the destruction by the light of the inferno. The smoke lingered in his nostrils as he folded space around him like a cloak, vanishing from the carnage.

Friday, July 25

and the calliope crashed to the ground

The boy emerges from beneath the shadow of the airship overhead, slipping behind the staircase. The envelope wedged between the cracks of the stonework stops him in his tracks. He slips out of his rocket harness and unfastens his head gear before he opens the letter.

Dear Master Mason,

We, the proprietors of Novem: The Muses Playhouse regret to inform you...

The letter falls into a puddle of acidic rain at his feet.

An Incubus can't be Sheriff. I'm going to have to take your badge back.

A jet of flame singes the edges of the paper that haven't yet darkened and blurred.

Even if I could separate the Science from the superstitious BABBLE in your equations your CONCLUSIONS are far too dangerous, doubly so if there's the slightest SHRED of truth in them!

The dial on his equipment quivers towards the red line as he barrels through cloud after cloud.

...and the Deadly Ringer incident proved it once and for all, Captain. The top brass doesn't even want to know how a demon got into the Capper Brigade, let alone why! Don't even bother to salute! Just take these discharge papers and GET THE HELL OUT!

He touches down in Steelhead. He walks straight ahead, never turning his gaze to the left as he passes the property that was once his.

If ever you find a situation that your Science or Magic cannot solve, you need only ask me for a wish...

Tears well inside his goggles as he closes the gate behind him and approaches the door of the farmhouse.


Arcana Base Security Override - BROADCAST


I served you faithfully for FORTY-FIVE YEARS, Jeremiah Mason! And THIS is how you reward your loyalty? Decree of torture followed by execution? One mad scheme after another I followed you without question! I was your damn BUTLER! I raised your BOYS while you went searching for your damn FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH!

*sounds of metal smashing against metal rhtymically, growing louder*

YES, I witheld the attack on the Wulfenbach ship to protect the scrap of your precious Founder. Are you going to erase all memory of me like you did your son Marc...

*smash and a clatter*


*shouts of "GRENADE" followed by the sound of explosion*

*distorted metallic voice*




Lounges? We don' need no steenking LOUNGES!!

Tonight at Novem rock out to the industrial mayhem of DJ NOVA SAKIGAKE at 7pm!

but the cat came back

The hours of the club had shifted earlier, making it impossible to see the main event due to make-work ("studies") the Consulate insisted I partake in. The music was still blaring in the evenings, and the staff maintained a presence, watching of those jubilant souls who were too dim or altered to realize the event was over. I kept my flight suit and rocket-pack on. It made for an interesting costume, it concealed my identity, and if worse came to worse I could smash a hole through the roof to escape.

The island's activities are expanding. They realized there was now a void in their community that needed to be filled. With the migration came the predators. Already someone offered me a sample of Seclamine. Nasty stuff...not for kids. Trust me on this.

"Hey kid! Nice rig!"

I distinctly heard that call over my shoulder. I lost my rhythm once as a chill went down my spine. Somebody wanted to talk shop? Fine. If they wanted to get personal? I'd already rehearsed the polite dispersal.

"Thanks! It's an Iguana Army Air F..."

I gasped. Of all the beings I was prepared to see, a Bloodtail Neko was not one of them.

"I'm Koen." He extended a red paw in friendship. I noted his signature bracers.

"I'm Doc...I mean...Marcus."

"Nicetameecha. Hey, wanna go get some sardi...oh...maybe you'd like some ice cream better. My treat."

I stifled a laugh. "Yeah. Sounds good. Hold the anchovies! Say do you mind if a girl I know comes along?" I looked over my shoulder at Ama.

"Hey why not. I got a date too." He gestured towards the entrance where a neko's silhouette watched with an anxious flicking tail behind the blue curtain at the entrance. Her coat didn't matter, I could already tell who she was.

"Great. Let's do this!"

Thursday, July 24

Pictures from Airship Night now on Flickr

Someone complained they couldn't see my face from my helmet, but Ama wouldn't let me break the sound barrier without it.

Onboard the Goodship Lily

Wednesday, July 23

we drink elixirs that we refine from the juices of the dying

A blurry form floats in a glass orb of Reanimation Serum, its eerie glow revealing the shape within. Rubber tubes are strapped bound to his arms and a brass device is strapped by leather around his face. There is the clanking of machinery and the yellow glare of gasfed lanterns forms a narrow vertical rectangle over the orb and widens to envelop it.

Twenty feet below, four men in black uniforms enter the chamber and stand single file. They each wear a yellow armband with the Bloodwing Foundation emblem. Their black tophats have Tarot cards tucked in their satin bands. Each entrant carries a metal writing pad under his arm.

A distorted metallic voice scrapes the ears with each syllable. "Page of Cups. Report on regeneration failure."

The first agent stepped forward. His face was grim as he raised the notepad to his chest. He looked down, reading succinctly, looking up intermittently to formally adreess the figure in the orb.

"The equations by the Regeneration Corps were completely off, Dr. Mason. There was an error in your medical records. It said you had made the jump to the Avaria dimension 25 years ago in an accident, as opposed to the controlled experiment you conducted six months ago. Furthermore, there was an inversion of the chronodistance factor variable. Those members of the Cups Division responsible for the error in your regeneration as well as the Rod Chief Archivist are in detention awaiting punishment, Dr. Mason."

"Page of Discs. Report on chronological anomalies."

The second man feeds the pages from the writing pad one by one through a slot at the base of the machine nesting the orb. Magnified series of diagrams and text cascade on the wall projected behind the Agent, who quickly steps to the side.

The floating figure rotates backwards slowly to watch the presentation.

"Page of Rods. Intelligence report."

The Agent opens the metal writing pad to reveal a collection of punchcards. He sorts them in his hands and submits them through a second slot beneath the first. Pages of equations and maps flip past on the screen. Next, pictures Caledon, Steelhead, Steeltopia and New Babbage. Next, pictures of individuals, including members of House Wulfenbach and the High Tea & High Adventure Society. A final image remains after the presentation, that of a pale girl in a magenta and black ruffled dress standing outside a sturcture of ancient Egyptian design.

"Page of Swords. Submit report on the New Erebus mission."

"Our equipment registered that you regenerated three times during the Wulfenbach incursion, Doctor. On the third incident there was a complete dissolution of your psychic signature, requiring a reloading of your identity pattern from the previous year. Furthermore we noticed that the abnormalities in the Cups regeneration report matched the inaccuracies of the Control interrogation, which the Ruler of New Erebus did not proceed to correct."

"Why were the saboteurs not captured and destroyed?"

"There was intervention by the Council of the Cubi, Dr. Mason. They extracted the teams through non-linear space, bypassing the striking range of the near-orbit mass driver emplacements. Furthermore the King of Swords gave the order not to engage due to the onboard presence of the construct built from the Bloodwing artifact, pending your regeneration."

"To all Suits: All experiments are to be placed on hold until further notice. Make daily photostats of all records, including archives. Track any unexplained deviance between versions and submit them to me. Cups: Release the detained individuals. Remove mention of this error from their performance appraisals. Allow them a week in the Balance Chamber to recuperate. Expand production of Regeneration Serum 400 percent."

The Page's jaw dropped. "Sir! That requires a replanting of every seed of an entire bloodfruit! That endangers your immediate supply! The amount of hemoglobin to startd another entire orchard would take..."

"I have made the calculations. In light of experiment cessation, all available personnel are to find expendables to fuel the replanting effort. Starting with YOU for your outburst, Page of Cups."

A hollow note rang through the installation.

"Knights, report to the Emperor's Chamber. Escort the Page of Cups to the Death Chamber."

Masked soldiers entered the chamber from silently opening doors that merged back with the machinery, carrying the screaming servant off to his doom.

"King of Swords: You are immediately demoted for dereliction of duty! Report to the Devil's Chamber for inquiry!"

at least I have my arm back

*screen opens, Darien adjusts the lens downward to catch his face*

...but not much else. In this state, my Spark didn't emerge for another three years. I tried to build something in my workshop and came out with a couple of wind-up toys. I stare at the surgical tools and get queasy. The only ace up my sleeve is the magic my mother taught me. I didn't realize it back then, but now I know what to do with it...I only have the basics, but they are fresh in my mind.

My body seems to be recalling what was going on the last time. I find myself gasping and peeking down hallways thinking please please don't let him come back. One thing is different. I'm not looking under the bed for the Monster that hunted out family. I always felt him just out of sight. What I didn't realize was he was waiting inside. Now, that space is empty. The confidence I lacked before fills that void.

*He shuts off the camera. A moment of static and his face returns, closer, the soft glow of the screen of the portable aether transmitter in this hand shows his face blurred against the darkness*

Bloodwing led me down many dark paths when he "borrowed" me after final exams and on shore leave. Some corners he stumbled upon were so...unspeakable that even he would back away and take flight. Gematria is now somewhere in that labyrinth. She's playing the siren...prey that turns and consumes the predator. Yes, I've got Ash and the Consulate following me, but I still feel like the worm riding the hook.

*static...from the frame of an alleyway small sihlouettes lean against a gaslight, fighting to keep their confident poses over the exhaustion that darkens their eyes*

As a doctor, I've seen exactly what the back alleys do to the weak. There's a side to every city...even the best ones...that you don't read about in the journals. Things I dare not mention. Things that bring down the wrath of the gods.

*static...he adjusts his costume, then turns the screen towards the velvet ropes and the red carpet...shapes entering the shimmering blue curtain are too blurry to identify as the lens pans out to show the massive building...flanked by spinxes and etched with repeating rows of heiroglyphics, the crossing of spotlights wreaking havoc on the lens filters. The thumping of raucous music is heard*

I don't think they'll recognize me without the mustache. This was one of the best hosting gigs I ever had, this place. As long as you don't ask where the tips come from...

*turns lens back to himself and adjusts his baseball cap*

Wish me luck...this is "Marcus" signing off.

*blinks out*

Tuesday, July 22

misspent youth

(DM waves sheepishly to Ama as he hurriedly wraps a sheet around his waist)

DM: This was NOT supposed to happen!

ASH: I'm looking over your calculations... Did you go back in time at some point?

DM: We just discussed this.

ASH: I'm...Pardon...a message from Mr. Uggleh...

DM: The Ethereal Time Cabinet traveler?

ASH: Yes. Massive continuity upheavals detected here and where the Foundation once stood.

DM: This procedure couldn't have caused that kind of reaction...

ASH: No, Darien.

DM: You're not calling me Doctor now?

ASH: You are too young to be a doctor.

DM: Grrrr...wait...I look how old to you two now? Twelve? Thirteen? So I lost 25 years? Ow. I'm too young to be thinking this hard...So...

ASH: Darien? Are you alright?

DM: This is the age I was whem my Mother died...when the adult me arrived in Sumatra and defeated my father...

ASH: I see no such events in my records, Darien.

DM: Of course you don't. You only reference what's in the public record, which changes with the timestream. I remember my experiences even if they were undone!

ASH: Time Traveller's Tales, I believe they're called.

DM: So in this new reality I never upgraded the Galvanic Tesseractor, and I never went back in time, so I overcompensated with the Reanimation Serum for the limb regeneration procedure. Yes...wait...I think I know how to use this to my advantage!

ASH: How?

DM: To rescue Gematria from Aleister Mason...that's still a priority, yes?

ASH: Correct.

DM: Without going into details...I know where she is likely to show up next.

ASH: How so, Darien?

DM: I used to HOST there! Now...SOMEBODY find me some clothes that fit? I'm going to pour a glass of absi...


DM: ABS-olutely refreshing Celery Soda! *sticks out tongue*

put my femur back, please


DM: Yes, Ash. I am speaking to you. Please reconnect that bone so I can finish the regeneration.

(ASH looks up, then carefully realigns the bone)

DM: Thank you. You're probably wondering how I'm still speaking.

ASH: Yes, we were.

DM: We who? I don't sense...well of course I can't with the mask on but...

ASH: Myself and the psychic entity that emerged from the gestalt of the recovery team.

DM: Oh, THAT gestalt psychic entity.

ASH: Your psychic essence is currently secure in the mask?

DM: You catch on fast, Son. Like I said, the regeneration process is a bit...traumatic.

(DM's body begins to layer blood vessels and muscle tissue)

ASH: But the squared chronomoetric variable...?

DM: That was the Alpha version of the Galvanic Tesseractor. You didn't finish reading the version history.

ASH: I'm sorry Sir. I was escorting Frau Lowey at the dance in Mini-Castle Wulfenbach over Mini-Steelhead.

DM: I'm sure you had a great *little* time. I'll give you a mulligan on that one. Please be careful with that vocabulary word.

ASH: Yes Doctor. What was the fix for the GT?

DM: I inverted the chronometric alignment axis.

ASH: So instead of aging the square of 25 years in Absolute Elsewhere you only aged the square root of 25?

DM: Within the standard deviation, yes.

(DM's skin grows over the completed frame, and the restraints click open. He sits up in the operating table.)

DM: And since I didn't age during the time I was possessed by Bloodwing...My cell structure development should be chronologically correct to my birth age.

(DM hops down from the table and looks up.)

DM: Ash? Why are you twice the size I built you?

ASH: I...think you need to review the standard deviation...

DM: How odd. My voice is cracking.

ASH: Doctor?

(DM takes off the Psychic Mask)

DM: Mirror please?

(A boy's scream followed by a string of Yiddish syllables echo through Regency from the Hospital)

dust to rust ashes on gashes

ASH: Recorder operational, Doctor.

(Camera focuses, Darien is lying on the operating table in Regency Hospital. His arms and torso are exposed. A glass tube is infusing green fluid into his right arm. His right arm is missing.)

DR. MASON: Thank you, Ash. Now, I will explain what I am doing. Aleister Lewis Mason, the same vampire that at one point turned my son Koen into a vampire, has now done the same to my daughter Gematria.

ASH: A vampiric construct, Doctor?

DM: Reference term: Blood Doll.

ASH: Yes Doctor.

DM: Now, the one advantage he has this time over me than from our last battle is this...he has the only known remaining supply of fermented Bloodfruit, which is the essential ingredient in my Reanimation Serum.

ASH: So he sought to blackmail you?

DM: Correct, Ash. The Serum allows me to revive patients who have ceased all bodily functions, but still have not dispersed their essences into other realms. It also extends my own youth and vitality.

ASH: And what is infusing yourself with the remainder of your supply of reanimation serum meant to accomplish, Doctor?

DM: I lost one of my limbs during a less-than-successful experiment back at the Foundation laboratory. I affixed a limb with dedicated surgical functions, including an installed syringe for the Serum...which allowed me to administer the serum at a moment's notice as well as provide a steady supply to myself.

ASH: And you will no longer need that function when your Serum supply runs out?

DM: Correct. I had planned to use my cloning chamber to regrow a new limb, but that equipment was destroyed in the Gygax takeoff incident. This megadose of Serum combined with the Neural Regenerator will quickly regrow my arm, and use up the rest of the Serum supply.

ASH: But then you won't be able to reanimate or halt your aging process until you find a new supply.

DM: To save's worth it if I never use the Serum again. Even without our family's greatest biological breakthrough, I am STILL a Surgeon with access to both TECHNOLOGY and MAGIC FAR BEYOND...!

ASH: Doctor? You're monologuing.

DM: Am I? Oh...thank you. Attach the Psychic Wave Inhibitor. I don't want to torment every Sensitive in the Realm of the Roses withthis experience.

(ASH affixes a mask to Dr. Mason's face.)

DM: Increase Serum flow to Maximum! Activate the Regenerator!

ASH: Yes Sir!

(The Operating Room pulses with electrical energy. ASH examines the noteboard hanging on the edge of the bed. DM writhes in his restraints as his arm stump sprouts new bones and sinews.)

ASH: Doctor? According to your notes, you expect to age 25 years from when you traveled back in time to masquerade as Jeremiah to preserve your own history...making you 63 years old...

(DM looks up at the fingers of his new arm. His eyes grow wide as his arm begins to wither.)

ASH: But the reason you never used the Galvanic Tesseractor voluntarily is because it is unsafe for use by organics...In fact the objective age of the traveller is squared by the chronodistance travelled...

(DM grows still as ASH scans the charts for further errors.)

ASH: So because Bloodwing blasted you into the past with the GT, you should actually be aging seven hundred and...Doctor?

(ASH looks down at DM's bleached skeleton, still wearing the Psychic Wave Inhibitor Mask.)


Saturday, July 19

The Strange Case of Bettye Dugan

Subject: Human Female - Central nervous system replacement into android body. Recalls waking from drastic medical procedure. Subject unaware of replacement until dermal layer repair required.

Research: Mrs. Captain Elmer Marion Forrester, Obvious Major-level Spark.
Known specialty: Underwater vehicles (cross reference: LIFE SUPPORT)
Empirically evident specialty: Construct creation, cybernetics.

Personal Note: If subject was unaware of procedure, all replacement sensory organs (ex: optic nerves intact) must function as base-level human. She must derive her energy from a system mimicking human digestion. Must test subject for above-level strength and reflexes. Is her system equipped to handle such stresses with minimal human "fuel?"

Image Update


Ash's new flight assembly is disturbingly...familiar.

Dr. Dodo at your service!

"Maybe it's just me...but I think we're going to have to get steampunk on your butt-ocks!"

Friday, July 18

my eyes divide the sky - a siren sound in heaven

As Bloodwing's body expanded, his wings did not. They fell away from his back and vanished to land elsewhere, folding upon themselves like a cloak as a final gift to a once-love. His grip on the chains tightened. He pulled on them not as a prisoner struggling for freedom, but like a charioteer guiding the reins. He looked up as the last of the shattered triremes fell. He knew one of the ships was torn free of destruction. "Good" he thought, "someone would survive to tell the story."

He sensed the Council's presence on the periphery, clinging to his orbit like barnacles, trying to contain him even as he steered a new course for his realm.


The structures of the Avarian city began to dissolve and sink like molten wax. New structures rose in their stead. Eons of memories reflected upon his domain. Dorian columns rose accross from black buttressed cathedrals. Gigantic trees erupted from the ground and locked branches with their bretheren in an exaggeration of Tanglewood. Sharp outcroppings of rocks grew Selenite claws, guarding ziggurats of black basalt that stacked themselves into place. Distorted copies of Victorian structures mimicked Caledon and Old Steelhead. A few buildings emerged resembling the ones that had just fallen, but twisted and sharpened.

In the black sky of streaking stars above him he saw the Wulfenbach ship vanish as it slipped into the space between spaces. He smiled calmly as a green light appeared overhead and grew in size.


He squinted at its brilliance. He admired it as an instrument of the Fates. An instrument now at his disposal.


The scene in the sky sank towards one direction as a new starscape took its place.


Great claws of stone exploded from the corners of the altered city. As the city was enveloped in a green glow the city shook as talons of rock sank into the surface.

He arched his back and his laughter echoed through his empty capital.

A female voice interrupted him. "Even as a god, you overstep your bounds, Ascended One" she said calmly and distinctly, even through the chaos surrounding him.

His faced turned grim as he lowered his gaze to the three hooded figures in undyed linen, female judging from the hang of the cloth on their bodies. They stood around him in a semicircle. A long, scintillating fabric was held in their hands. A silver orb rose from behind the fabric and loomed over Bloodwing. The shape of a black ring spread across like an invisible lid opening an eye to consider him.

"Ah, the Fates themselves! Welcome to my Kingdom!"

Monday, July 14

We're all quite mad here.

Blogger is on the fritz! Go see the lovely poster for Lewis Carroll night here.

Join us for the Mad Tea Party, Flamingo Croquet and the Lobster Quadrille! (Just beware the Jabberwock, my son!) We'll have Lewis Carroll trivia! We'll have prizes of a gorgeous tea set by Her Grace, Christine McAllister and a HUGE rezzable chess set to play with your friends!

Also, stop by for some revolutionary fun for Bastille Week! Don't lose your head!

Wednesday, July 9

BRAVO, young Mr. Eliot! BRAVO!

Re: Google Lively

I had assumed, given the vast resources and talent Google had amassed, they would come up with a virtual world that would be a serious contender for SL, if not a category-killer.

Judging from what I read, Linden Labs has nothing to worry about. It still seems better than The Sims Online (R.I.P.)

The dealbreaker for me is it only works for XP and Vista (at least something does!) Until they make it compatible with the Mac, you won't find an entrance to Dr. Mason's Lively Lab at the bottom of this journal. It might be a good diversion for SL addicts when the Grid is down for maintenance, but I'm not going to bother with it, at least until my laptop is fixed...

Tuesday, July 8

Paging Ms. Violet Schnabel and Mr. Phineas Matova...

A certain aether-journal has asked me to write an article concerning activities in the steampunk worlds, from the perspective of the resident avatar. If this article goes well, this could herald a new special edition of the journal appealing specifically to us Neo-Victorians.

I would like to write my first article about the arsonist unicorn sightings. Not to make light of Mr. Matova's raging psychosis malady in any sense of the world, I hopeful that getting him to talk about his troubles will help him ovrecome them. I am willing to meet Mr. Matova on neutral ground, or better yet near open water.


~Dr. Mason

Monday, July 7


until the day I see my kingdom has been won

[You have an annoying habit of surviving, Sixth Son,] said Bloodwing through the medium of thoughtwaves. His grip remained fused to the chains by which he navigated New Erebus on a more direct course with the Wormwood comet than what Augustus had devised.

Jeremiah smirked. "It is a family trait, Founder," A device in his pressurized helmet transmitted his speech as thought waves, even the glass face was large and clear enough for the Founder to read lips. "But now, at last, I have that which I have most desired before me! I have the strength of will to control your power after we are integrated, and not vice-versa as with my errant clone. And with the impurities of the Hydra parasite dispensed with, True Immortality..."

[Another family trait is your penchant for soliloquy, from which I demand you desist...] Bloodwing's tongue lashed out like a serpent, shattering Jeremiah's facemask and wrapping several times around his neck, [NOW.]

The crossbow fell from his grip. As the stock collided with the floor, the bowstring snapped, propelling the enchanted quarrel into Bloodwing's side. Black ichor trickled from between his ribs down his side. He hoisted the attacker a foot in the air in response. Jeremiah's limbs flailed violently, but not from the lack of oxygen. His mind was screaming as eons of experience inundated his psyche.

The Spark struggled to comprehend the emotions within the demon that clashed like whirlpool tides against jagged rocks. [There is a reaction to each conquest...a weakness!]

[That is called a conscience, Sixth Son. Something you were born without. That is why you were never fit to be my Host. With every feeding comes remorse. Another conquest left behind. More lamentations and screams. Another victim murdered just for failing to resist what no human was ever meant to experience. One suicide note nailed to your door. One more cold bundle hurled to your feet...]

The dictator pleaded, [Stop this! I can't bear...]

[On one condition.]


[Concede control of this realm to me. Proclaim my rule.]

Bloodwing willed a bubble of air around Jeremiah's head as he uncoiled his tongue slightly, and slithered the appendage to flip the switch on Jeremiah's aetheric voice broadcaster. The transmission of his trembling voice and gasps for air echoed through the shattered city.

"Hail Bloodwing...*cough*...King of...*wheeze* New Erebussss..."

Bloodwing catapulted the lifeless body away and retracted his tongue. His body erupted in flames as his features shifted like wax. His skin drained completely of its red color, except for his face where the visage of Dragon returned.

[This realm is mine. MINE!]

Black designs stretched across pale skin to assume familiar positions. His horns shrank and the crown that floated over him clattered to the ground.

[Do you hear that, meddlesome Council? Do you hear that, Blood Elf? Are you trembling now, Father, with the rest of your siblings high on Olympus?]

The arrow in his side disintegrated and the would sealed.

[Rejoice my surviving kin! You are now Royalty!]

His entire body grew to four times his original size as he continued to guide the reigns of the city that was now truly his. He laughed triumphantly in the throes of apotheosis as an ancient promise was fulfilled.

Thursday, July 3

Land for Sale - Novem Heights

Two 1024m double-prim lots in Babbage Palisade. May be purchased seperately or together. Perfect for private home, apartments, shops, laboratory, urchin hideout. Contact Misslily Nightfire inworld with a notecard containing your sealed bid, minimum 12L/sqare meter for each property. Winning bid will be chosen on Saturday July 5th at 7pm SLT.

Property use regulated by New Babbage Covenant. Mayor Shaunathan Sprocket has final say on transfer of ownership.

July 9th: Tesla Day at Novem, 7-9pm SLT

An event to make your hair stand on end...

Join us in celebrating the life of a brilliant and eccentric man whose ideas were woefully underappreciated inhis own time, now an icon to Steampunk aficianados everywhere: Nikola Tesla!

And event so brilliant you have to wear shades...

You do have a labcoat and goggles, don't you! Well wash the glowing green gunk off them and wear them out to Novem! Prizes will go to Best Male and Female Mad Scientist! Tesla trivia!

We promise this will be an ELECTRIFYING event!

An Anthropological Study of the Mermaid, for the Benefit of the New Babbage City Council

The species homo aquaticus sapiens, commonly known as Merfolk, are noted for possessing an unusual combination of qualities belonging to both Mammals and Fish. Most significantly is the addition of gills to permit underwater survival. They are also possessed of scales and fins for locomotion, and in most cases lack bipedal legs in favor of a single tail, though vestigial human leg bones are occasionally noticed in the anatomy. The humanoid with two fishtails in the place of legs is a variant called the Triton, and much less is known about that species.

Despite the fish attributes, the Merperson is defined as a mammal for possessing hair, distinctive bones in the ear shared by all mammalian species, and a mammalian reproductive cycle (as opposed to the laying of egg masses for outside fertilization), which includes the nursing of young. One need only look at the mastheads of the ships in our harbor to see know what every lonesome sailor dreams about.

Merfolk live in varied societies, like the human species. There are hunter-gatherer tribes, warrior clans, farming cultures (of seaweed and stationary sea animals as well as herding of fish), and entire cities (e.g., Atlantis, Mu). While there may be adornment of shells and such for ceremonies, and wear jewelry for ornamentation and indication of social status, Merfolk do not wear clothes as such. Their bodies are adapted to the temperature ranges of the ocean within their pressure range. The is no underwater equivalent of cotton or linen, nor a source of "wet wool". The hides of certain sea creatures may be used for securing personal equipment such as weapons.

The physics at the heart of the issue are that wearing of large articles of clothing will interfere with the process of locomotion and make the Merperson vulnerable to predators. Furthermore, because the breasts of mermaids are always exposed there is no taboo among their own kind about having them in open view.

My conclusion: Forcing a mermaid to wear a top is as illogical as asking her to wear pants. On a side note, if you want to try and start levying fines for sailors who don't cover up their mastheads, go ahead. I'll pick up your body on the dock in the morning.

Dr. Darien James Mason,
Licenced Av.Mdc, Av.Srgc
Miskatonic University, Class of 1828


Late Phase II Hand disease victim "Dredd Pirate Bob" escaped innoculation due to incarceration. Now roaming the streets of New Babbage. INNOCULATE SUBJECT AND DETAIN IMMIDIATELY!

Deguerrotype has surfaced of possible sighting of the "Hand Monster". Setting is confirmed as ANTIQUITY region. Corroborated evidence confirms cold forged iron is best physical defense. Energy weapons required to destroy all physical remains of creature should it be defeated. Hunting parties strongly suggested (HT&HAS)

Tuesday, July 1

To understand the End one must go back to the Beginning

(Recovered from a fragment of a medieval manuscript in a collection of works considered too dangerous for distribution, purchased anonymously via AEtherBay 26 years after a mysterious fire destroyed the abbey rumoured to have housed just such a collection. This passage is all that is legible from beneath layers upon layers of very rude interweaving drawings in a mockery of Celtic design of humans and humanoids doing things best not described.)

The Myth of Bloodwing and Persephone

Hermes had negotiated with Hades on behalf of the Olympians for the partial freedom of Persephone. She would return to the surface world for half the year, but because she ate the blood-seeds from the fruit of the Garden of Hades, the hunger would drive her to return more surely than an army of demons would in pulling her back. No fruit of this kind had ever been seen in the world above.

Persephone bore two children by Hades, a son and a daughter. The firstborn was a pale son born in the darkness below, and thirsted for the blood-seeds. As he ate the seeds, small red wings began to grow from his back, the same color of the seeds. For this he was named Bloodwing. The daughter was born in the world above, and so beautiful was she that she shone as bright as the sun when she was born. For this she was named Lumina. As Persephone travelled back and forth with her children, Lumina would grow sick in the darkness and be well again when returned to the surface. Persephone and Bloodwing would stay above until Bloodwing was too weak to move, so sadly she would return with her children.

When Lumina reached her thirteenth year she begged of her father, "Even you cannot gaze at my light! My own father cannot look at me! I beg you let me stay in the world above, and you can keep your darkness!" Hades found wisdom in her words and agreed. Lumina never returned to Erebus again.

Bloodwing pleaded with Hades, "Father! Am I to only see my sister when I am too ill to play with her? I beg of you, may I take just one blood-seed with me that I may eat when I am weakest, so I may climb back to Erebus myself as a man? I grow bigger with each year, and I fear Mother may find me too heavy and drop me into the Styx!" Hades saw wisdom in his son's words, and allowed him one blood-seed for his journey above.

Bloodwing did not consume the blood-seed. Instead, he secretly planted it in the blood-drenched soil where men had died in battle. As autumn drew near and he grew weak, he begged his mother before he collapsed, "I have lost the seed! Please do not tell Hades!"

Bloodwing returned that year exhausted, carried on his mother's back. Persephone told Hades, "he tried so hard to journey down himself, but only made it half-way. He is still young. Next year he will be stronger."

In the years to follow, Bloodwing did eat the seeds Hades gave him. But he also tended to the sapling that grew on the battlefield where he had planted the seed. Disguised among mortals he would whisper to kings that that tree, that no living man had ever seen, was magical, and deceive them into waging war on that battlefield year after year just to claim the tree on that land as their own.

Soon Bloodwing grew strong enough that it was he who carried Persephone back down to the Underworld in his arms as he soared on crimson wings. Hades believed him loyal. He promised Bloodwing that one day, when he ruled his own kingdom, he would be accepted among the gods.

Finally the tree had borne its own fruit. Bloodwing had gathered the mightiest warriors who had survived the battles in his bloody garden. He gave each one a fruit and told them, "in being so mighty, you have been my gardeners. Now go and take these fruit and plant each and every seed, and be sure each seed is planted in bloody soil."

The warriors protested, "you would have us travel the world leaving a trail of blood behind us! What are we to gain by this?" The demon laughed.

"You each may eat one seed from the fruit I give you, and it shall make you strong, and unaging like me! But like the trees you will crave blood to live." And so they did, becoming what monsters that stalk the living as Afterhumans.*

One night, as Persephone was preparing to take the journey back to her cruel husband, the King of Erebus, Bloodwing presented her with a full pomegranate. She gasped in disbelief.

"How did you steal a whole fruit from your father without knowing, and keep it alive for so long?"

"I did no such thing! Do you remember the seed I told you I lost? I planted it, and now these fruit grow across this earth wherever the Apollo's chariot burns bright and the air is dry! We may feed on these to sustain us! We need never descend to Erebus again! We are free just like my sister Lumina!"

Over the centuries there were not enough Afterhumans to feed blood to all the trees, and they grew more selfish and saved the blood for themselves. The curse in the blood-seeds grew less potent until it was safe for any man to eat, and only stained one's clothes like blood. By then, Persephone and Bloodwing had outlasted the addiction to the fruit in the Garden of Hades.

When Hades discovered of Bloodwing's trick, he swore revenge. He sent heads of the Hydra to retrieve them... (End of fragment)

*An interpretation by a incompetent 13th century English monk of the Greek name for the demon, hman-aftera (blood + wing), which he mistakenly interpreted as revenant or undead. More savvy occultists refer to the progeny as the Hmanaftera Bloodline, but vampires of Cainite origin refuse to recognize them as "true" vampires and continue to refer to them disparagingly as Afterhumans.

Events in Regency and Babbage

I investigated the smoldering remnants of the Regency residence of Miss Schnabel. I haven't seen a conflagration this destructive since the fall of Polymath I. I found it highly unusual that a bottle of champagne still on ice was lying right next to the carnage. Mr. Fourway is preparing a bed for Mr. Matova to convalesce once we find him.

I'm also disappointed that the Caledon Volunteer Fire Brigade was nowhere to be found, yet a new neighbor was already on site with a food cart vending snacks to the gawkers. (I miss my daughters so...I don't have the strength left to build a Qli-4...)

Attempting to establish contact with the neko urchin Oahu. Observations indicated orange spotted secondary patterns as opposed to red and striped as in the Bloodtail tribe, but certainly from a neighboring tribe at the very least.

Pictorial evidence taken of a Phase III infection of the Hand pathogen (dubbed "Mr. Tentacles"), beginning mutagenesis away from human form. Investigating.

Extraterrestrial humanoid drones (Babbage Cuckoos) have made an appearance, number believed increased to three. Accompanied by construct conducting topographical scans. Ominous.

I finally did her back from "Gem", even if only to alert me of the plight of another. Somewhere there is a very young urchin with an infected amputation. The girl was directed to CRH and seen in Regency but got lost or was too scared to enter. Request a Search Party formed for the girl answering to "Amina".

Neurological damage reported of a party member from the Selenite expedition. Suspect damage from exposure to alien telepathic frequencies from "media station" artifact. Consulting with Dr. Fourway.

Preparing for Submersible Party at Novem tomorrow. Let's hope "Mr. Tentacles" doesn't show up. Will have vaccination gun on standby.

~Dr. Mason