Author Topic: "STEAM LONDON" Game Thread  (Read 244136 times)

Vienna Fahrmann

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Re: "STEAM LONDON" Game Thread
« Reply #125 on: January 08, 2008, 03:15:30 am »
     The occupants of the lounge had introduced themselves as Captain Ben Hudson and Miss Jessica Butler.  They explained, as politely as possible, that they were working on a tight deadline for a very important employer, hence the "security".  They were very sorry about the inconvenience, but her round-trip passage had been paid for by an unknown person, so she WAS going them, as their other job had now made her leaving the ship impossible.  Lilli get the impression that the woman was a little bit, well, odd, but the man looked as if he could handle himself well in a fight.
     Lilli would have dearly loved to storm out of the lounge and have it out with the ruffian at the doorway, but was prevented by the distinct impression that if she made too much fuss, the security would take stronger measures to ensure she stayed aboard, and she wanted to avoid that indignity.
     When she learned that the crew essentially had carte blanche for any repairs to the ship, she made her way back to the hatch and opened it slowly.  The guard was not amused.
     "Look, 'pet, don't make me mad at you.  You don't want me mad at you, trust me".  He looked anything but trustworthy, except in carrying out certain, probably violent instructions.
     Lilli assumed a meeker than usual demeanor.  "No, I'm not leaving.  I just wanted some clarification on a point or two".
    This seemed to interest the man a little "Awright 'pet, wotcha want "clarified".  Wasn'T I clear enough about me orders the first time?"
     Your, er "boys" are supposed to fix up everything on this ship, right?" THe man nodded.  Lilli took on a little more spirit.  "Well, then, if I'm stuck on this ship, your boss can damn well "fix-up" my wardrobe!  I need underthings, day clothes and a nightgown, shoes; oh, and a sewing kit.  I'm not going to write this down for you because I doubt if you can read.  Just get them for me, Now!,,,and nothing PINK!" she yelled, before slamming the hatch.
     On the gangway, the ruffians made amused grimaces at each other.  Joe called an urchin standing about kicking at the dust on the floor "'Ere, Alfie", he tossed the boy several coins "go get "'ur Laidyship" up there some clothes.  An' make sure they don't got no vermin in, em, y'hear?  Her poor little Laidyship is probably afraid of de crawly critters, not being used to them, like".  He laughed coarsely.
     Some time later, the hatch banged open and a thump sounded on the floor.  The guards voice called down the passageway.  "Joe says 'e took away d'scissors out the sewin' kit.  "E says that wif a temper like yours, 'e don't trust you 'round anyfing sharp".  THe hatch slammed shut again.
   "Well" Ben thought "she's going to be a handful, but at least arguing with the guards is keeping her out of My hair for awhile".
     
     
     
« Last Edit: January 08, 2008, 05:22:39 am by Vienna Fahrmann »

Vienna Fahrmann

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Re: "STEAM LONDON" Game Thread
« Reply #126 on: January 08, 2008, 04:42:24 am »
     The Scotsman, hearing the exchanges between Lilli and the guards, nodded his head approvingly "I like a lassie w' spirit" he commented to nobody in particular.

     Most of the clothing, naturally, was pink, and looked as though it had been through several owners.  Lilli had expected that and didn't care.  With the thread and buttons in the sewing kit, and some fabric torn unobtrusively from the already ragged garments, she could begin to construct one of her specialties...garrotes. 

     Although she had calmed down a bit, she had continued to play the temperamental redhead until she had flounced into the women's cabin with the bundle of clothing, pulled the curtain closed and shouted that she didn't want to be disturbed.  Once she was alone, she quickly checked the materials she had to work with.  Not good, but they would have to do.  As she set about "repairing" the clothes, she contemplated her situation.  She was certain that her corset had been on over her chemise when she first felt the dizzying effects of the gas.  The fact that it had been removed indicated that her abductor knew about the secret pockets containing lockpicks, a letter of credit, cash, and other useful items.  That, and the amount of money needed to pay this crew considerably narrowed the field of her possible abductors.  She didn't know how long repairs would take, but she would stay alert for another opportunity to escape the ship.  Unfortunately, given the obvious professionalism of the thugs outside, that was going to be very, very difficult, if she could manage it at all.  It was unfortunate, she thought, that her temper really did get the better of her at times.  Dealing with these ruffians would take a cool head. 
    Once she was satisfied  that she had constructed a passable weapon of self-defense and stowed it safely away, she turned her attention to her room-mates belongings.  THe contents of the travelling bag proved to be most interesting, if somewhat esoteric.  She "borrowed" a couple of hairpins.  These she could turn into lockpicks.  When she had stowed these next to the garotte, she strolled back into the lounge to see if anything interesting was going on.  From the comments she picked up about the weaponry being installed on the ship, a good many interesting things were going on, with more expected in the near future.
« Last Edit: January 08, 2008, 05:15:27 am by Vienna Fahrmann »

Vienna Fahrmann

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Re: "STEAM LONDON" Game Thread
« Reply #127 on: January 08, 2008, 05:56:23 am »

     Lilli didn't have long to wait for developments.  A lot of shouting seemed to be going on outside.  The captain strode toward the hatchway to see what was going on.  Lilli followed, trying to look casual about it.  As they neared the hatch, the voices began to resolve themselves.  As Ben opened the hatch, Lilli picked up something about a "Ministry" writ to stop the unauthorized additions to the airship and to take the crew in for questioning.  She stood on tiptoe and peeked over the captains shoulder.  A few of the urchins were running off in different directions, presumably to gather re-enforcements.  THe ruffians now looked menacing and deadly efficient.  THus far, none of the "Ministry" personnel or their bobbies had gotten anywhere near the ship.  The guard turned to say something to the Captain, and spotting her, growled "IN!" in a voice that chilled her blood.  Lilli beat a hasty retreat to her cabin, retrieved the garotte and the hairpins, and made her way to the bridge, guessing correctly that it would at least have a good view of the action.

     Vienna

AFGNCAAP

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Re: "STEAM LONDON" Game Thread
« Reply #128 on: January 08, 2008, 06:07:36 am »
Meanwhile, back at the pub...:D

Demetri's face did not lie; he wasn't worried because Edward had made two sad mistakes--he had neglected to restrain Demetri's hands, and he was still blinking. During one of said blinks, he jabbed the underestimated parasol upward and knocked the dagger over their heads and away. The youngest of the pub's customers landed upon the intricate jewel of a blade like seagulls; when they cleared, someone had it, and someone had bled a bit on the floor. The rest of the people payed no more attention than a short glance; this was becoming more and more common the longer Edward worked here.
"We started with such a simple matter, boy--death--" He dropped to the floor and reached languidly for his sword, which was too shabby to be stolen so fast. "--but that was my brother's," he said darkly, rising again to face a steely Demetri poised and holding the parasol like a rapier, keeping its distance between him and the crazy one. "Before he got on the bad side of one of his men. And that will not happen to the last of our family because of my failure to quiet a foolish..." He decided that he would make himself clearer by lunging at Demetri with the sword, who was backed into a table.

Suddenly, his target's face disappeared behind an explosion of blue material and lace; Demetri had opened the parasol, giving him just enough time to leap backward onto the surface of the table-his one escape route. "Pardon--", he muttered, knocking over the half empty glasses of a couple whose ruddy skin and patchwork clothes made them seem to blend into the woodwork. "I don't want to hurt you, Monsieur..." Demetri peered over the parasol's edge, right near where the sword had punched an ugly hole. "You're only imagining things; calm yourself...!"

"It's no use, young master!" The patchwork man had put the elbow of a brass arm on the table and looked up at him. "It happens all the time; you've got to tire him out to screw his head back on."

Another patron turned spectator encouraged him, "You can do it!" from the other side of the bar.

"Have this--!" The patchwork man popped open a gnarly switchblade and offered it to Demetri, but Demetri pushed it back and closed the parasol.

"I have enough--" He took another step backward to parry Edward's jabs with a cornflower blue blur; one move, to the observers, whipped into another, and they could not tell one from he next; though he inched backward across the table, Demetri had created a formidable wall of motion between him and the manager.

"My God..." gasped the patchwork woman, "I daresay he does...!"
The other patrons, jaded before, were now watching with similar looks of astonishment--they needed this strange young man in here more often!
By now, Demetri had stepped halfway down the long table, and Edward was stabbing at him over and between its amused occupants' heads, muttering deranged incoherencies; his strikes were random and blind, clearly no match for Demetri, whose parasol he shifted from hand to hand so swiftly that it appeared at times to be in both at once;he caught the sword every time. I'm getting tired myself...surely he must be--
Click!
Something chilled his left foot--the inside of a pitcher, to the startled laughter of the patchwork couple, and he lost all control of a high block, catching the parasol's hooked handle tightly upon a rafter. He would have been impaled through the heart if not for the thickness of his coat, which was slashed between the buttons with Edward's sword--but it went no deeper. Not this time.

"Move aside," hissed Edward, who took the opportunity to stagger forward and put his own foot on the table, prepared to climb up himself. "We'll make this good and quiet..." He smiled a doomed man's smile. "Before anyone knows..."

"Unfortunately..." Demetri's voice was as steady as ever as he shook the pitcher off his foot, one eye fixed on Edward's hand, and one on his lost weapon, which was just out of reach--unless he jumped. He did, catching the middle of the parasol and swinging upon it toward Edward, whom he kicked squarely in the head with both feet. "We've already failed!" His weight was also enough to dislodge the parasol; both fell, missing the table and flying head on into the floor, where the dusty floorboards blocked out his sight. All he could sense for a second was the sound of applause...but then something pricked him between his shoulders; he knew just what when he lifted his head and saw Edward's pointed black boots inches from his eyes. He could not move beneath the sword; anything he did would drive it deeper. "Don't harm Scott after me...not Horatio..." Demetri whispered; if there was any technique to avoid being beaten now, he had forgotten it. "They did nothing..."

"Only if I must. So unfortunate that I must lose a customer..." It pricked harder, threatening to become a stab, but a shout interrupted its progress.

"Great Scott, Ed!" cried the patchwork woman. "They're here this time...!"

Edward stumbled backward, allowing Demetri to breathe and get up again, which he ignored; his eyes had turned ghostly and saw nothing but the door when he turned around...which was closed, no one there.

"I'm sorry, Ed, my friend," said the woman, and he fainted into her arms. When Demetri looked at her and nodded gratefully, she reassured him, "All that's over now...he'll be up in just a moment, wondering if he fell asleep; he never remembers...and perhaps it's a good thing. Poor Edward, you see, is the one sensible man in a family of right outspoken souls against the...in a word...control down here, and just as well, the last of them. The terror of their reputation following him has done him no good..." She patted him on the shoulder. "You did all right, little one."

Demetri knelt beside Edward and looked him over, willing his hands not to shake.

"It's okay," the woman said; "Worst it could be is you've bruised him a bit."

"Is there ice anywhere here to put on it...?"

The couple laughed. "Here? I know you're a kind soul, but no, and it would be best if you made yourself scarce before he wakes up, if you want him to be comfortable."

Demetri nodded, but did not walk away until he had withdrawn every last piece of money from his various pockets and put it on the table between the couple. to his chagrin, there was a footprint on it, but no one had yet noticed. "Give him this."

The man smiled disbelievingly. "Heh, that's more than this whole place is worth..."

"Please." By now, Demetri had collected himself back into his usual placidness, even if beneath was a tempest. For all he had heard about the dangerous nature of Lower London, he had never begun to truly understand, not until this moment...he approached Scott, who still lingered here, perhaps out of shock. All he said to him, giving the half shredded parasol a nonchalant sideways glance, was "This will never be any good in the rain again."
« Last Edit: January 08, 2008, 06:20:58 am by AFGNCAAP »
"An eruption!" I said. "We're in the chimney of an active volcano?"
"I think so," said the professor smiling, "and that's the best thing that could happen to us!"
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Leonard Lightning

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Re: "STEAM LONDON" Game Thread
« Reply #129 on: January 08, 2008, 10:40:39 am »
For perhaps the fourth time Leonard was disrupted by noises outside.  'While they were no where near as bad as the first disruption it still irked him.  How was he to work like this?  After all he'd only just finished adjusting the room into a lab.  He'd find out what was going on and put a stop to it.'  At least that was what he was thinking of before he entered bridge.  "Oh excuse me miss."  he flushed, the memory of this young womans arrivall springing to mind on seeing her again.  "I uh um... really must be getting to work.  Yes thats it!  Excuse me!"  he practically runs from the bridge before even this astute woman can reply.  Once outside he realises the full extent of the damage to the ship. 

While Leonard is eyeing the ship the guards eye him.  They snicker and elbow each other in the ribs.  They've all seen mechanics who where scruffy and grease stained but Leonard took the cake right now.  From the chest up he was coated in a thick substance that looked like a cross between grease and soot.  The only part of his face even visible were his eyes where his goggles had been raised and his teeth as he smiled.  "Excuse me!" he yelled to the scotsman.  "What are you doing?"

McGonnigle laboured on the noise from his work masking Leonard's shouts.  "Excuse me I said!"  Leonard yells again while clambering up a rope.  "I intend to make some adjustments and don't aprove of all of these changes!  Those weapon mounts for one!  The ones at the rear are taking up nescessary room for additions." 

Finally Mcgonnigle Notices him and raises his head from bolting on a brace. "Aye?"  the bearded man asked.  After Leonard repeated his complaint McGonnigle merely laughed uproariously and went back to work shaking his head from time to time.  This left the gaurds nearbye laughing and slapping their knees.  Flusstered and a little confused Leonard weakly tries again, "Um please stop?  This sort of addition really isn't necessary."  the laughter just gets louder so Leonard comes back down and re-enters the ship.  "Really what sort of louts do they hire on as mechanics these days." he mutters as he steps back onto the bridge totally forgeting his earlier discomfort or perhaps the exsistance of the young woman who had been watching bemusedly the entire time.

Jessica Butcher

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Re: "STEAM LONDON" Game Thread
« Reply #130 on: January 08, 2008, 04:44:10 pm »
Miss Butcher was in Oliver's cabin, attempted to tell him her theory about how the Freemasons had been controlling the outcome of every presidential election for the last hundred years, and making obligatory references to an individual she referred to only as "the cowgirl." He did his best to ignore her, as he was squinting with both goggles and ordinary spectacles (being an albino, he was extremely nearsighted, but would not admit it) at the glowing screen of a device of his own invention. Finally she got the idea and asked him what he was doing.

He replied that this was a miniature analytical engine, and that what it was used for was access to an experimental new power called the "global aetheric web." (It sounded very sinister indeed.) He had been seeking further information on Maxwell's Demon, but so far anything that could possibly be useful was highly classified and not accessible to the public, and the rest was hype from disheveled loonies that the English, American, and French governments all possessed such technology and were prepared to use it against their own people.
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Ben Hudson, Esq.

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Re: "STEAM LONDON" Game Thread
« Reply #131 on: January 08, 2008, 05:28:04 pm »
Before, the Bohème had been a hive of calm, fast activity. Now it was a scene of chaos. Hiram's men scuttled about on the gangways and beneath the airship. He supposed that they were putting in the repairs and 'additions' that had been mentioned in the letter. He pulled it out from his desk drawer and looked over it again. It was just as mysterious as before.

To Captain Hudson of the Bohème,
 You have my thanks for accepting my little errand. To that end, I offer you a warning, and some assistance. I have information, recently received, that indicates that extreme danger awaits should you cross into Russian airspace, or that of any of her satellite countries. There are forces there that would see your ship destroyed and you and your crew dead, as well as my errand fail.
  To that end I advise you take the southern route, and use only British East India Company Ports. I would advise that your first port be Gibraltar. I have enclosed several documents that you will find useful. The first is a Company license waving docking charges and port fees as well as guaranteeing a secure berth and port clearances, as you see fit. The second is a letter of credit for fuel and supplies at any Company Port.  If you accept my advice, and call at Gibraltar directly, it would be adviseable to deal at Bertram and Sons, Airship Chandlers. They are a small company of mine, and will have at your disposal four quick firing one-pounder Hotchkiss revolving cannon, and a supply of shells for the same. These should be of use, should you run into a situation. Should you need small arms, these will be made available as well.
  As far as routing, if you use Company ports, I would advise Cairo, Kabul, Lucknow, and Mandalay, thence to Shenjing. If you keep south of the Hindu Kush, you should have a safer voyage than the more direct route across Europe and Asia Minor. You should find the those countries... "interesting and educational"
 Do not concern yourself with the Air Ministry when you file a new flight plan, all issues there will be dealt with by my agents.
 I trust you will find my assistance acceptable, and not begrudge the help. The device you fetch is of great import, and the extra costs incurred through a route change, by no fault of your won, are a small
price to pay against such a great reward.
 Destroy this letter in the presence of my man. I will watch the telegraphs in case you have need of a message to me. Code the address as "Gandamack Lodge -1-1" that will reach me, and me alone.


In the hand that was becoming very familiar, it was signed Hiram.

This matter seemed more cloak and dagger by the minute. They had come under fire from the Russians, and were now to avoid Russian airspace. This, and the delay of the repairs meant that the flight plans had to be totally changed. Instead of one long direct hop, they now intended to stop at various ports, firstly Gibraltar, then onwards to Shenjing via Cairo, Kabul, Lucknow and Mandalay. Gibraltar he had been to before, but the others were alien locations, shrouded in mystery and romance.

More unusual, the unconscious woman had woken up. She had found herself some clothes, and now swanned around the ship, being unable to explain her plight. Regardless, she seemed a good enough person.

The usual noise of the working ruffians rose notably to a roar. Ben looked out of a side window. Unable to see anything, he headed for the entry hatch, tucking a small revolver into his waistband and hiding it under his waistcoat. He noticed that Lilli was following, but ignored her. There were more important things than her at this moment. Opening the door, he could see a senior worker cuffing a younger, scruffier one around the head. 'What d'ya say?'
The younger one ducked under another blow. 'A Ministry cove! Wif a writ prohibitin' the works! I spied 'im round the corner, and left Sykes an' Kel to slow 'im down.'
'You're lyin', ya dozy git...'
'Nah, nah, swear!'
Ben swore under his breath. Now the work was getting them into trouble with the Ministry. Before he could intervene, Leonard burst from the gondola and eyed up the outside of the ship. It was a mess to be sure. The mortar-rounds had burst through the skin, and while they had only done superficial damage to the gasbags, a few struts were bent and one ballonet was torn. Leonard seemed more interested in the weapon mounts on the belly. 'This sort of addition really isn't necessary,' Ben heard him say, before he returned inside. Ben walked over, and addressed McGonnigle. 'What did he want?'
'Sum rubbish 'boot the mounts taking up too much room. Wanted to put in sum additions'. Ben paused. Leonard was a clever man, and he probably had something up his sleeve that would be more useful than mere guns. 'Move these mounts here. Leave a space for whatever Mr Lightning wants. Those can go somewhere else without any trouble.'
McGonnigle scowled. 'My instructions are to put these 'ere. So that's woot I'm ganna do.'
'Your master may give you instructions, and for the most part, those are fine with me. But this is our ship, and I'm the captain. If I want those somewhere else, I'll have them somewhere else. You can tell your master that.' He doubted that Hiram would mind anyway. It was this jobsworth that was getting in his way, not the mysterious Colonel. 'Now, as to what we need. Four Hotchkiss RCs was what Hiram said. Two on top, two on bottom. If he thinks we're going to come under fire, I want some extra armour. Nothing too heavy, just some thin plate or antiballistics foam. A Kempson four-inch grenade launcher on the upper observation port would be useful. Bill your master for what he wanted, the rest to me if you think it'll be trouble. Be quick about it. We have a deadline to make. And tell your men to give the ladies the courtesy they are due.'
He strode back inside, knowing full well that the fiery Scot would be glowering at his back enough to singe his ponytail.
Quod me non necat me confirmat

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HAC

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Re: "STEAM LONDON" Game Thread
« Reply #132 on: January 08, 2008, 06:41:43 pm »
McGonnigle followed Ben inside...
'Aye, you're the Captain, ahright, an' I reespect tha', an' ye most likely ken your ship weel.. Tell ye what, I'll do as ye ask, and no charge, tis on the Master's slate, but if ye'll tak an auld Scots advice, I can do better for ye than that puny peashooter of a Kempson,
Master's boys have a better one, light as a Kempson, but a repeater wi' six shells to a magazine. Fires as fast as ye can crank, and better range, aye, and a full inch more bore. Fer the armour, aye, we have just the thing, Master's boys have a new alloy, light, and veeery studry stuff..."
  McGonnigle turned and headed off to supervise his lads in making the changes..
Ben heard shouts from the gangway. Lamont had arrived, with a lawyerly looking fellow, and was confronting the Ministry flunky..
Ben could hear bits of the conversation over the noise of the work..
  "Writ non-withstanding..... plans approved.. Ministry.... lawsuits and compensation,  High Courts.."  from the Lamont's lawyer..
 Ben glanced out and saw the lawyer remove some documents with ornate seals and pass them over. It also looked as if Lamont passed
the official a small object, a purse?
  "Misunderstanding, surely, departmental error, to be sure.. all in order"... from the Ministry official...
Then the Ministry people turned and left.  Ben was sure a bribe had taken place, as well as some chicanery with Ministry documents, well, not his problem..
 
Just then, a shot rang out, followed by cries of "Gotcha, ya bastahd". There was the sound of running as Lamont's boys caught up with a wounded individual.. They dragged him down to Lamont, who gestured to bring him aboard..
 Shortly, Lamont appeared before Ben.. "My lads found a fellow down at your fueling valves. He is not one of ours, and  we stopped him before any damage could be done. I have needs to ask him some questions, is there a workspace with a stout table where we can be, ah, undisturbed?"
  Ben indicated there was a storage room in the engineering section, and began to object..
Lamont smiled,  "ah but Captain,, you see I must know who sent him, and I fear that a discussion over tea will not work.. No, I have my
little tools.."  Lamont reached into his bag, and pulled forth a roll of bright surgical tools...." My father was a surgeon,  I would have been too, but I discovered far more interesting ways of using the skills he taught me...."
  Lamont heads off, whistling softly, to discuss matters with the hapless captive..
 
 
 
You never know what lonesome is , 'til you get to herdin' cows.

Vienna Fahrmann

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Re: "STEAM LONDON" Game Thread
« Reply #133 on: January 09, 2008, 04:22:44 am »
     Lilli watched the action outside be swiftly de-fused.  Whoever was backing this ships crew obviously had a great many resources and connections.  She had ventured back into the lounge for a moment, but the faint sounds of some very unpleasant screams and howls had sent her fleeing back to the bridge, the furthest point on the ship.  This, she reflected, was not her milieu.  She was at home in the world of ballrooms and country house parties and the various chicaneries of the upper classes, not this sort of raw violence. 
     She fingered the garotte in her skirt pocket, knowing it would be absolutely useless against these sort of men.  Her memory flashed back to the woman who had taught her its use.  The Thugee of India are renowned for never failing to complete an assasination.  Female Thugee are rare, but they do exist.  It had come about that she and the Thugee discovered that they had "business" with the same man, but neither could complete their task alone.  While she could not break her vow not to reveal the secrets of her trade, the Thugee woman
had drilled her in the basics of the garotte.  The Thugee had posed as her mute ladies maid as they worked their way closer to their quarry.  Their aquaintanceship had culminated in a dead nobleman, a flaming bedroom, and Lilli in possession of three small objects; a box, a globe, and an obelisk, all ancient Egyptian.  This had been the one time in her life that Lilli had lied to her father about the outcome of an assignment.  When she had examined (but not opened) the objects, they had repelled her.  She had taken great care to separate and hide them.
    A disturbing thought struck her...had someone ordered her removal from London, in fact from Europe, if she had understood their destination correctly, so they could search for them without her knowledge?
« Last Edit: January 09, 2008, 04:30:56 am by Vienna Fahrmann »

Vienna Fahrmann

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Re: "STEAM LONDON" Game Thread
« Reply #134 on: January 09, 2008, 06:35:53 pm »
     Lilli's thoughts continued to dwell in the past.  Laila had looked so odd that night, her eyes had barely blinked, and there had been a strange, exalted look about her.  Several candles had been knocked over, as the nobleman thrashed out his life.  The fire had greedily licked its way up the varnished wood of the walls and furniture.  Lilli had frantically searched for the objects she had been sent to retrieve as the flames grew higher.  A wild laugh had caused her to turn.  Laila had finished her deadly work and her mad eyes gleamed in the firelight.  Although they had agreed not to terminate their partnership until each had achieved their goal, Laila had leapt from the bedroom window, still laughing madly, leaving Lilli alone in the blaze.  It was fortunate that Lilli had found the objects a moment later.  Strangely, despite the blaze, she had taken a moment to grab something to wrap them in, being somehow unwilling to touch them herself.  She had then steeled her courage and followed Laila out of the window, dropping to the damp grass and rolling over and over.  She had been lucky, she thought, that her stealth suit was of wool, otherwise she might have been a human torch.  Laila was nowhere to be seen.  Lilli damned her silently as she staggered, coughing, away from the country mansion.
     When she had at last had time to examine the items at her leisure, not touching them with her bare hands,she found they contained an intricate sequence of locks.  She guessed that the box would have to be opened first, probably providing the key to open the base of the obelisk.  The obelisk, in turn, likely hid the key to the lapis and gold ball.  She could not put her finger on why she felt there was something, well, evil, about these ancient artifacts.  She had allowed her father to think they had been destroyed in the fire.  It had taken her some time and travelling to find suitable hiding places, in three separate countries, for the unpleasant little items.  In fact, she had just hidden the last one in London.
« Last Edit: January 09, 2008, 06:51:49 pm by Vienna Fahrmann »

Vienna Fahrmann

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Re: "STEAM LONDON" Game Thread
« Reply #135 on: January 09, 2008, 07:16:51 pm »

     Lilli returned her thoughts to the present.  From what she had seen in her cabin-mates travelling bag, this woman seemed like somebody she should talk with on the subject of ancient artifacts and the conspiracies surrounding them.  She decided not to search for Jessica until the horrid noises from below had ceased.

     Vienna

Ben Hudson, Esq.

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Re: "STEAM LONDON" Game Thread
« Reply #136 on: January 09, 2008, 07:41:21 pm »
Ben too heard the noises from the engineering room and tried to block them out. They repulsed him. For a moment he considered interrupting, stopping the despicable Lamont in his tracks. But he reminded himself of the people that he was dealing with. The voyage hadn't even started yet, and he was sure that he was in over his neck.

Mercury Wells

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Re: "STEAM LONDON" Game Thread
« Reply #137 on: January 10, 2008, 02:51:48 am »
Last night...
Blenkinsop was awoken from a deep sleep, by the sound of his bedroom door clicking shut. Turning the bedside lamp on, he noticed an vellum envelope and on it was his name written in a exquisite hand.

Trembling and breathing heavily he opens it and read the massage contained inside...

"My Dear Blenkinsop.
 
To give you fair warning.

Just to prove that no matter how high you rise in life and safe you feel, this is the first of many items, the second item I have left something in your office which I have no doubt that your superiors would look unkindly upon (I wonder how you manage to work in that office of yours, its seems that your superiors do not think highly of you, giving you a broom cupboard), which I must say befits your station in life, despite taking bribes from that criminal Merriwether. So you must have learnt something from your days as a dirty street running rat.

yours, Sincerely on behalf of Sensi,

Anton."


Blenkinsop drops the letter from cold clammy hands, rising, he reaches out to radio dial the Yard's number, within seconds he's through to the Front Desk, asking for a underling to check his office, then get some armed officers round to his house as soon as possible. The Bobby (PC Allan) comes back to the radio and mentions that a picture of Blenkinsop and a known lady of the night, was found standing upon the desk.

Blenkinsop gulps loudly puts down the receiver, then quickly dressing and grabbing the letter he leaves the house. On the way out he meets a couple of armed Bobbies, snarling at them to guard the house.

Blekinsop makes his way to the Yard, storms in, collaring PC Allen with a shout of "YOU, come with me now!". As they're making their way to Blenkinsop's office, He says to Allen, in low menacing tones, "Whatever you saw or will hear, you are to keep quiet otherwise...".. Allen nods starts to sweat at the implied threat that was left hanging.

Back at Sensi's house, Daniel is telling Sensi about what has transpired over drinks in the library.

"You have done well Daniel", Daniel looks up sharply at Sensi.
"Yes, your name is Daniel not Anton, I am very sorry that I had to use subjecfuge, but to the world you are dead when you 'crashed your ship'.
"But why?" snarls Daniel.
"All will be reveled in time, but all I will say is that I need to scare Blenkinsop into doing something rash, plus I want revenge for something he did to me when we were kids.
"May I ask what he did?" Daniel murmers in a low voice
Shaking his head, Sensi answers "Go and rest my friend, because I need you to complete a very important mission within the next day or two".

In the dieing light of the fire, Sensi finishes his drink stands up walks towards the door, passing Daniel, puts his hand on Daniel's shoulder briefly and whspers "Good Night".

Daniel nods absently and then after the door closes, sits nursing an almost full tumbler of Scotch until dawn. 
« Last Edit: January 10, 2008, 02:57:53 am by Mercury Wells »
Oh...my old war wound? I got that at The Battle of Dorking. Very nasty affair that was, I can tell you.

The Ministry of Tea respectfully advises you to drink one cup of tea day...for that +5 Moral Fibre stat.

Sir Nikolas of Vendigroth

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Re: "STEAM LONDON" Game Thread
« Reply #138 on: January 10, 2008, 09:53:53 pm »
Underwood was troubled. For the past few weeks, something, some indescribably little factor had been not so much wrong as...out of place....in the overworld. Granted, he had little enough to do with the overworld, preferring the dank seclusion of the slums, and the drains of London. Not being entirely reclusive, he HAD ventured up, but only at night, and only briefly.
He had never killed in the overworld, the risk of getting an aristocrat's daughter was far too great (though the underworld was practically littered with bodies, all with torn throats), but now, he prepared to venture up, and into the cool night.
The odd factor he'd been noticing recently was a smell. Indeed, London was a city of smells, but this one was different. It smelled good.
Aside for some odd dealings for the Colonel, Underwood was practically unknown in the overworld, so there was no real need for disguise, but he wanted to look presentable, at least. Dressed in a long coat and broad-brimmed hat, he began the long climb upwards, emerging from under an iron manhole cover in a grotty alley, deep in the slums of lower london.
Inhaling deeply, he caught the alluring scent, clearer now that he was away from the musty underground air. He turned, and strode upwind, knowing that he was moving ever-closer the the source of the delightful scent.
Thirty minutes later, he was in an affluent area. The scent was so strong here as to be almost intoxicating. From his knowledge of the city, he knew that the houses in this area were largely rented, being leased to foreign diplomats and merchants.
He stopped outside a particularly large house. This was it! This was the source of the smell! -he breathed deeply; the smell was.....Life! in its most concentrated, potent form!-
Underwood stood transfixed there for fifteen minutes, barely noticing the passing time, revelling in the fact that he'd finally found it!
A solitary policeman walked down the street, no doubt a courtesy given to the foreigners. He saw the tall, hatted figure standing in hte middle of the road, staring up at the one lit window in the house.
"Are you alright, sir?" Said the policeman, in a tone of voice that suggested that Underwood should quickly move on.
This garnered no response.
"I say, sir, are you all right?" Said the policeman, in a slightly worried tone.
"Sir, if you don't answer me-"
"Who lives there?" Asked Underwood, finally coming back to reality.
"Er, some eastern bigwig, i think, sir. He doesn't make himself known, i know that much"
"I see. Thankyou, my good man. Please; don't let me detain you."
The policeman was affronted. The arrogance of the man!
"I don't think so, mate. What were you doing, eh? Casing the joint? I bet there's piles of valuable stuff in there!"
Now becoming annoyed, Underwood said "You have no idea...."
"I'm going to have to ask you to come with me, sir. We can't have you standing around here."
"Indeed....very well. Lead on."
Without saying a word, the policeman darted behind Underwood, and manacled him.
"I say! I must protest!"
"Hush now. Can't have you disturbing the fine gentlemen. Walk in front of me, i'll tell you which way to go. The sergeant'll be interested as to why you're here."
Underwood allowed himself to be manhandled along the road, stealing only a single glance back to the house. With any luck, there'd be an oppurtunity to escape. After all, he'd already managed to slip the lock on the cheap manacles...
The pair passed a dark alley. Perfect. In a flash, Underwood had thrown off the manacles and ran into the darkness, his coat and hat disguising him perfectly.
"OI!" Shouted the policeman, drawing his truncheon, and stepping in. It was the worst mistake he'd ever made. Underwood's fist shot from the darkness, and caught the policeman in the middle of the forhead, rendering him instantly unconscious. Underwood cast around for something to restrain the policeman with....and saw the chain binding a nearby door. He pulled on it. It didn't budge. He pulled harder, but the chain resisted. Losing his temper, he pulled violently against the chain, as hard as he could, and it held firm. The cheap wooden door, however, did not.
Underwood tied the policeman up. That is to say: Underwood wrapped the chain around the policeman's ankles and suspended him upside-down from a cargo hook protruding from the side of the building. The policeman would survive, albeit with a terrible headache tomorrow.
Underwood backtracked, winding his way towards the big house, unaware of the time. He arrived outside....and felt a familiar and wholly unwelcome prickle on his skin
The sun was rising! He forced himself to keep calm. Panicking would only make him stay out longer. He weighed his options, quickly. He knew he had only minutes to act! A drain was out of the question, as was a warehouse.....
Cellars! Underwood literally sprinted to the side of the big house, and started examining the walls at ground level, and soon found what he was looking for.
He kicked a small window so hard that it shattered, and climbed through, not paying any attention to the glass that was cutting his arms.
He landed heavily on the stone floor of an expansive cellar. There were no crates or tarpaulins for him to shelter in, except for a large metal tank with a grated door in the corner. He wrenched the door open, and the interior was pitch-black; the perfect vessel in which to shelter from the sun.
He climbed in, and lay down...on a hard, lumpy surface. He was lay on the house's coal supply!
Marten Underwoon fell asleep....in the coal bunker of Fu Manchu's London agent.
« Last Edit: January 11, 2008, 09:40:51 am by Sir Nikolas of Vendigroth »

Vienna Fahrmann

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Re: "STEAM LONDON" Game Thread
« Reply #139 on: January 11, 2008, 06:06:25 am »
     Lilli decided to remain on the bridge until the repairs to the ship were completed.  She tried to block out the faint noises from downstairs.  At last they ceased with a despairing shriek.  She stayed on the bridge, not wanting to risk a meeting with the torturer. 
     It seemed to take hours, but at last the flurry of activity began to slow down.  A few workmen started to pack away their tools and equipment.  Members of the crew had been passing in and out of the bridge, nodding to her before beginning their various tasks.

      Elsewhere:

     Hiram knew he couldn't sleep tonight.  Pots of strong coffee had helped keep him awake, but his stomach was beginning to burn.  That was probably not just from the coffee, he thought.  Scraps of paper covered the surface of his normally pristine desk, now that messages were no longer being sent or received via Babbage.
     Uriah entered wearily.  His eyes were shadowed by dark rings.  It had been a long time since he and his old friend had been forced to keep these sorts of hours.  He had yet another scrap of paper.  "Excuse me, sir", he addressed Hiram, "but in view of the identity of the passenger aboard your courier, I took the liberty of stationing a man at the Savoy Hotel to keep an eye out for any activity regarding her.  This telegram" he indicated the paper on the salver "arrived about 15 minutes ago.  I have had it translated into English".
     Hiram took the paper.  It read "Dearest Lillie, Terrible News Estate Ransacked. Staff Alive Some Injured.  Take Care.  Will Finish Here Then Arrive London.  Your Loving Brother Michael."
« Last Edit: January 11, 2008, 06:18:11 am by Vienna Fahrmann »

AFGNCAAP

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Re: "STEAM LONDON" Game Thread
« Reply #140 on: January 13, 2008, 02:42:31 am »
Back in the pub, Demetri had already tired of the nervous glances he was getting. He quietly beckoned to Scott with two fingers and put on foot toward the door.
"Let's find Horatio...if he hasn't fled beyond our reach."

Ben Hudson, Esq.

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Re: "STEAM LONDON" Game Thread
« Reply #141 on: January 13, 2008, 01:42:29 pm »
Nearly two days had passed since the mortar attack, and finally the airship was ready to leave. The gasbags had been reinforced and armoured, the outer skin sewn and rubberised. Good to his word, the Scotsman had seen that six-shot repeaters had been bolted to the body. Ammunition and control lines snaked around the lower part of the ship till they reached the aft observation port, where (thanks to some technological tweaking by Leonard) they could all be controlled by one person sitting in the glass half-globe sticking out of her belly. The crude workmen had disappeared and taken their lewd comments and grubby demeanor with them.
Ben had spent the afternoon swinging on ropes attached to the skin adjusting the Condor engines placed either side. To improve power, he had filed the cams into a more dynamic shape to give a better cycle rate. This would give them another fifty or so horsepower apiece, and God knows that they needed the power. With the unexpected works and the new route, the deadline was fast approaching. The good thing was that with short hops, they could carry less fuel and be less economical. A cruising speed of 130 mph would do them good.

Ben returned to the bridge, wiping the oil off his hands with a cloth. He checked that everyone was ready to leave. On his second prompting, Oliver remembered that he had in fact left a piece of equipment in his apartment, and scuttled off to find it. Before long, however, they were ready to go. He dispatched a brief telegram to Hiram at his cloak-and-dagger address, then prepared to leave.

Ben picked up the wireless headset. 'Airship APF Bohème, requesting permission to leave berth.' There was a brief pause, then a double squelch of static and a distorted message from the hangar control. 'Airship APF Bohème, you are cleared to depart. Launch rail locks disengaged. Leave at will.'
Above, the locks which secured the airship to the launch rails snapped apart. Ben pulled at a lever and released the auxiliary locks. The ship lurched forward. 'Miss Butcher, on engine controls, if you please.' Ben took the wheel and checked that the rudder and elevators hinged smoothly. 'Fire ignition and take power on both sides up to thirty percent.' There was a small pop as the gas-igniters fired in the belly of the engines. The regular drone of the propellers rose steadily then leveled out. The speed at which she was rolling down the rails increased, and they neared the exit. Within thirty seconds the nose of the airship stuck out into the air. There was a brief moment of weightlessness as they slipped off the rails and the ship's weight was taken up by her gasbags. 'Free of rails. How's it looking back there, Leonard?'
Leonard, who was right at the rear of the ship looking out, spoke, 'Fairly clean. Slightly to port.' Ben turned the wheel to compensate. 'Jolly good.'
'Right... here we go. Engines to eighty percent, and set a course of 210 degrees to Gibraltar.'
The sound of the engines grew and fluctuated as they set the course. It was three o'clock on the third day of the fortnight, and they were on their way.

Leonard Lightning

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Re: "STEAM LONDON" Game Thread
« Reply #142 on: January 13, 2008, 09:56:12 pm »
While Leonard set out on the Boheme another ship pulled into port.  It was obvious several recent changes had been made.  Assorted gantries and propellers had been added to the ship and an evil sounding crackle constantly sounded from within the depths of the ship.  As it berthed the few passengers rushed off while the crew cringed away from all the tasks that might bring them near the boarding plank.  After all the other passengers had fled the rail thin frame of Lemwith carried a ruck sack and dragged a boiler case behind him down the gang plank.  At its bottom he turned and smiled up at the ship as if admiring a job well done.  With nary a word to anyone he strode out towards the grubbier parts of the city. 

He walked the town eyeing the buildings as they became of poorer and poorer quality.  He cast about as he walked as if lost until some a pair of young ruffians began to follow him.  They didn't see his small smile as he caught sight of them.  After another block when he was sure they were following him he turned into a small alleyway.  Being the quick lads they were they rushed to follow him sensing easy prey.  Normally they might have been right given his slight build.  As they stepped into the alleyway the saw he had dropped his luggage and was looking around as if bewildered (he knew he looked so much like his brother right then it sickened him).

A soft snickering brought his attention to the lads, "Mornin Guv.  Lost are ya?  Mebbe me and me boyo can help." this drew a laugh from the young mans friend.  "Tell ya what give us your quid an we'll be happy to send you where yer goin." as he speaks the young man draws a small knife and draws nearer threateningly.

"I think I rather prefer you help find someone than some place." Lemwith said calmly as he reached inside his vest.  Pulling his hand out of the pocket the men could see a strange metallic glove covered in gears and cogs.

"Hey wasat?" Came the suddenly weary question.

"It is a static storage and redirection unit.  It kills things with electricty."  Came the polite and chillingly calm reply as Lemwith leaned out towards the leading member of the pair.  The thug tried to swat the strange glove away but that merely brought him in contact with the glove, which whirred with the sound of spinning and grinding surfaces and crackled with electricity.  A blinding white flash and the thug was thrown clear out of the alley.  "Now," Said Lemwith cooly as he shook smoking pieces of the mans jacket from his glove. "I am to be the guest of an individual named the Colonel who seems too be of some importance in this part of London.  I'm sure you wouldn't mind letting him know that I'm in town.  I'm sure he'll find me easily enough from there all on his own.  My name is Lemwith Fulmenius."  Smiling at the second man who could only watch dumbly and flinch as he passed bye Lemwith picked up his luggage and headed out of the alley.  He walked briskly back up to Upper London to a popular hotel of good repute and got a room.

The man on the other hand immeadiately ran to his boss to tell of the strange occurence.  His boss was smart enough to realise that he needed to pass this on rather than try and handle this himself.  The word was passed and eventually made its way to Uriah's ears.  "The American is early I see." he thought to himself as he hurried in to tell his master the news....

clockworkcoffin

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Re: "STEAM LONDON" Game Thread
« Reply #143 on: January 16, 2008, 04:27:58 am »
Sneaking into Blenkinsop's house had been thrilling and terrifying.  Daniel felt still felt pangs of anxiety through the fog of drunkenness he was working on.  Thrilling, terrifying, but good. 

"I've got to get it together if this is going to work out..." he thought to himself. 

He got up and made his way to the Inevitable.  He lay down, absently setting his tumbler on a side table.  The ice in it was melting slowly, and he watched it disappear along with his will to stay awake. 

Reflecting on his life and the events of the past few days, just before he drifted off completely, his final thought was "So this is what it feels like....to be dead..."

bluestocking

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Re: "STEAM LONDON" Game Thread
« Reply #144 on: January 17, 2008, 08:08:40 pm »
Miss Lakshmi Marleybone-Smythe was not in the least amused to be stuck in Gibraltar.  Misfortunately, the steam ship upon which she had booked passage from London to Bombay had developed severe problems in the second aft boiler as she rounded the Iberian peninsula, and had put in at the nearest port. The engineers pronounced themselves bollixed, with times for repair estimates ranging from 'days' to 'weeks' to blank, panicked stares. She'd resigned herself to the cessation of her sea voyage, harried the captain into returning her fare, and booked a room at a seaside hotel.

She gave a sigh for the fickle nature of modern machinery. Such a delay would not do, not at all. Under most circumstances, she'd delight in the opportunity to explore this corner of the world, but certain items tucked into her reticule needed to be received by her father in Calcutta in short order.

Perhaps she could take passage on a zeppelin? Gibraltar was off the usual air lanes for such a trip; she would have to get very lucky indeed.

"Om Shri Ganeshaya Namah" she whispered under her breath, a salute to Ganesh, the remover of obstacles.

Miss Gadget

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Re: "STEAM LONDON" Game Thread
« Reply #145 on: January 17, 2008, 11:59:24 pm »
"Hmmm." Horatio stood, scratching his head as he examined the great, cast iron fence around the tall and foreboding gothic architecture of the University.

He'd read about them in books, but never been allowed inside one, for some reason the librarians of such places were terribly protective of their charges. Not they had ever stopped that the right words with the right undergraduate from ensuring Horatio got what he was after.
So now there was a decision to be made, could he rely on the various literary depictions of such an ancient institution? Would his appearence be out of place should he attempt to blend in? Exactly where would one locate the library, would the library be the best place?
As he stood, puzzling his next move, a horse drawn cart with sacks of coal passed by then rounded the corner, making for the trade entrance to the building.
Piece by piece, snip by snip, croup, dock, haunch, shoulders, hip,
Tread by thread, primmed and pressed, yard by yard, never stressed,
And that's the Art of the Dress!

AFGNCAAP

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Re: "STEAM LONDON" Game Thread
« Reply #146 on: January 18, 2008, 04:44:38 am »
As Horatio pondered, a man in a black cloak peeked cautiously from behind a tree--his name tag, which barely peeked from under it, said "Agrippa". Beneath his round silver glasses, his eyes darted across the scene--twice--and then he leaned slowly toward Horatio.
"Sir...have you, perhaps, seen one of my students around here? French, a bit tall, dark hair, carrying an unholy load of books, doesn't seem to know where he's going?"
He wrung his hands. Please please please say no...

Ben Hudson, Esq.

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Re: "STEAM LONDON" Game Thread
« Reply #147 on: January 18, 2008, 08:22:06 pm »
The journey so far had been uneventful. It had taken a little over a day to get within sight of Gibraltar because of the winds. The entire crew had been keeping a watchful eye out for any trouble. It seemed almost inevitable given the lengths that Hiram seemed to be willing to go to (and the expense as well) to arm the Boheme. With the extra weight of the repeaters, she had an entirely different feel. A more dangerous feel, loaded with explosive rounds and propelled by high-octane methanol in tuned engines.
Just after twelve that night, the lights of the Rock became visible from the bridge. A great searchlight, Rock's Eye, had been affixed to the peak of the great rocky outcrop. It scoured the night with over ten million lumens to pick out and identify any incoming airships. It was a oft-frequented port, but pirate attacks had been the cause of many a black-dressed lady, and the Port Guard were taking no chances.
The searchlight swung into the path of the airship, and caught her in its gaze. Ben flipped a pair of smoked-glass goggles onto his eyes to shield him from the glare. A few seconds later, a message came over the wireless.
'English airship, declare intentions and name.'
'Zeppelin Bohème here, Captain Hudson speaking. Our intention is to stop briefly and refuel before leaving towards the end of tomorrow. Flight plans were sent ahead. Special clearance.'
There was a heavy pause. Ben imagined the speaker flicking though a book of clearance chits. 'Clearance verified. Come on in. You will be escorted by two Bachman-Hoff monoplanes with red markings.'
Sure enough, as they drew near to the huge spars that allowed docking for scores of airships, two light fighters moved alongside and stuck close. They had machine guns strapped underneath their wings and crude armour aetherwelded to the bodies. The masked and begoggled pilots raised a hand in salute, then looked back to their control arrays.
'Berth 6, spar 9, Captain Hudson.'
Hudson picked out the right spar from the illuminated numbers affixed to them, and gently guided in the Bohème. The escorts peeled off and returned to their patrols. Oiled clamps seized hold of the docking hooks, and drew them in to the spar. The wireless sounded again. 'Good docking. You are clear to leave your ship. No need to attend to the usual formalities on landing. Thank you. Control signing out.'
The whole crew left the ship, and descended to the ground via a rickety cage-elevator. Despite the late hour, the popular town was still bustling with crews and their partners. Ben remembered the story about crewmen having a girlfriend in every port. 'Right. I'll go and sort out the fuel. We might as well find a bar, seeing as there isn't much else to do. I'll catch up with you.'

Sir Nikolas of Vendigroth

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Re: "STEAM LONDON" Game Thread
« Reply #148 on: January 18, 2008, 09:04:34 pm »
Underwood awoke with a start. The day had passed without a single disturbance, rather odd seeing as his hiding place wasn't exactly the best.
He immediately began to make plans to steal the concentrated elixir of life. After half a dozen failed ideas, he came to the conclusion that to steal it successfully, he'd need equipment, such as chloroform and lockpicks. Which would require money. He had no money, and was unwilling to sell any of his posessions through sheer bloody-mindedness.
"Well....", He half-muttered in the dark
"Time to talk to the Colonel again......"

bluestocking

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Re: "STEAM LONDON" Game Thread
« Reply #149 on: January 18, 2008, 09:59:45 pm »
Gibraltar did not sleep, and Lakshmi didn't either. Seized by a sudden need for action, she threw off her Liberty tea-gown and donned a respectable traveling costume of Harris tweed. Pinning her hat to her swept-up hair, she left her hotel room and headed for the aerodrome.

The streets were a riot of noise and light. Gibraltar was a cosmopolitan shipping town, a major stopover for both ocean and air routes. Gaslamp flares, hurdy-gurdy music, and the assorted sounds of sailors at liberty filtered from the many bars and taverns that lined the road.

The aerodrome, despite the clamor of machines, was a comparative oasis of quiet. Lakshmi found the dock-master in his claustrophobic office, dominated by the immense wireless array that was used to manage all the comings and goings of air traffic in the area. She enquired after any vessels making the trip to India.

The dock-master flipped through his clipboard. "Well, Miss, you're in luck. We haven't many airships come through here bound for the Subcontinent; most take the shorter route overland. However, a zeppelin just came in a little while ago: from here, her plotted journey is... let's see... Cairo, Kabul, Lucknow, Mandalay, and Shenjing, then a return journey on the same route. That do you?"

She sighed. "Have you no ships in port bound for Calcutta?"

He riffled the clipboard again. "I'm afraid not, Miss. Every other vessel here is bound for Africa, Europe, or the Americas."

"Well, Lucknow's better than naught; the rails in India are quite reliable. Where might I find this vessel?"

"She's the AFS Bohème, captained by one Ben Hudson. Well-set-up fellow, blond hair in a queue. Berth six, spar nine. She's fueling right now. You'll need to take the lift, down there. Shall I call one of my men to escort you?"

"No, sir, but I thank you for the offer. I'll be fine on my own, I'm sure." She reached into her reticule and pulled out a half-crown, which she tossed to the dock-master as thanks for his assistance.

Out in the main bay of the aerodrome, she followed the giant numbers painted on the floor to berth six, and found the advertised lift. Rickety though it was, the construction was far sounder than comparable ones in, say, the poorer quarters of Bombay. She closed the door and pushed the lever to the 'up' position until the pointer on the dial over the door stood at 'nine.'

This close, she could smell the eye-watering tang of zeppelin fuel. A crew of men stood around the zeppelin's fuel port. Most wore the aerodrome's uniform and were focused on the workings of the immense hose affixed to the airship's side. One stood slightly apart, gazing up at the hull's curved ribs, and occasionally over at the fuel price gauge.

Lakshmi cleared her throat genteely. "Captain Hudson, I presume?"