It had been quiet for me for several weeks. Not that New Babbage itself was quiet all that time--there was apparently some sort of trouble with the Van Creed again, among other things--but other matters kept me out of most of it. I wasn't complaining--not this time--as I knew such a state of affairs couldn't last.
And sure enough, they haven't. First the graffiti denouncing Mayor Tenk and Mr. Cleanslate, then the explosions at the bank and the Clockhaven power station. Not to mention Dr. Obolensky's giant mechanical has reappeared at the western edge of the city. But worst of all, Miss Ceejay's cafe was heavily damaged--by Mr. Footman! He says he was chasing the "Scribler," but...
Oh, I don't know what to make of Mr. Footman. I don't know that he necessarily intends to cause so much havoc, but he certainly has a knack for it.
Anyway, I spent much of this afternoon and evening walking throughout the city, inspecting the damaged sites, and keeping an eye and ear out for more trouble. And sure enough, as I walked by Loner Lane, I suddenly saw and smelled more smoke coming from Clockhaven than could be accounted for normally. After a little searching, I heard cries from a couple of the urchins, and found the source--Mr. Sixpence's shop was on fire! Thankfully, it hadn't grown too large, so I was able to extinguish the flames myself. Hopefully, Mr. Sixpence can salvage the building and his possessions.
After that, I stopped in The Gangplank--just for some water to wet my throat after all that smoke. I'm pleased to write that I didn't even think about having anything else. Then I came back home to change, so I could air out my clothing. I'd thought about going out again, but I do seem to be quite tired. I think I'll just go lie on my couch for a bit.
Had anyone been standing outside the Mechanix Arms soon afterwards, they just might have been able to hear several voices whispering together.
"Well? Is it time?"
"Yes, I think so. The machine's been draining her energy for several days now. And she was obliging enough to exhaust herself by running all over the city today. It's time. You'll let me go first, as we agreed?"
Several voices murmur in assent.
"All right, then. I'll be back soon."
Soft cheers, and several voices speaking all at once.
"Now, now, just wait. You'll all get your turn, I promise. Be sure to take things slow--we need to monitor how she reacts, and this will take some getting used to on our part. Sofie, go ahead--it's your turn."
A few hours later...
"Mac, you're up. You're the last, right?"
"Yes. See you soon."
A few minutes pass...
"Mac, you're back already?"
"She woke up. But don't worry--I sensed her starting to wake long before she could have noticed me."
"Good! So long as we're careful, we should have plenty of warning, then. What's she doing?"
"She's going into her bedroom. Looks like she's going back to sleep."
"Can we all go again? Pleeeeeeease?"
"Well...all right. But why don't we let Mac go first? He only had a few minutes, after all."
"Aww, let the kid go first. I can wait."
"Well, this was an excellent first night! I think we've made a lot of progress. We'll have to check tonight to determine if she sensed anything, but I rather doubt it. Did you all glean information from her?"
Nods and whispered agreements.
"Good. We'll need that information later, to make sure no one learns what we're doing. Until tonight."
"Until tonight," the rest of the voices reply.
((Back to private journal entry))
Goodness! I slept--I know I slept--but I don't feel much refreshed. I do hope I'm not coming down with anything. I'd best dress more warmly than I did yesterday. The snow may be melting, but it's not that warm yet.