Last of Summer's days!
So for the first time in... well ever, I actually had a summer vacation. You have to understand that growing up on a farm, summer is actually more work than the rest of the year starting with seeding in the spring, haying and harvest with spraying and everything else in the middle. The idea of taking time off in the summer is almost completely foriegn to me. So here I am after the fact, and I can say that I enjoyed two weeks of camping with friends and inlaws.
Couple things to report. Josh Alves(of Araknid Kid Fame) and I are planning, nay, plotting a Zuda entry. The plot will be Mirror Mirror and the art thus far has been awesome. Working with Josh via web video conference has been one of the highlights of my year so far. I'll post more news as progress... progresses.
Over my vacation I've found that I had more time to write, which is kinda weird as we were camping. Since Mirror Mirror is getting my patended 'scripting' treatment, I won't be posting any more of the novel here. Suffice it to say that if a novel form of this story does surface, it will have been changed by the process of comic conversion. That leads me to a different project I started up thats just, well, fun. It's inspired by Girl Genius and fans of that series will hopefully see the simularities. If anyone is wondering, I'm modeling Jonas after The Doctor. Here's the starting Chapters to what I'm calling "SteamPunk Mysteries". Its a project that I've wanted to start / make for a while now and will likely be a series of Novellas.
Err.. a short Writers NOTE when reading; when I started this story my only inspiring thought was 'Steampunk PI' Through the course of writing the first two chapters, the story has solidified quite a bit. This means that the first chapter is less realized than the second chapter. What this means is this is a first draft. Comment gently and don't worry if you're too confused. The next verion will be clarified and extended. Heres Chapter one. I'll post Chapter two after the phase one editing. Please enjoy!
The air crackled with pent up energy, blue sparks arcing from conductor to conductor. Jonas Mynfield stood over a bench of bubbling glass work tubes and flickering dials, heavy black gloved hands po'sed over panels of switches and toggles. His goggled eyes watched the dials that, to the casual observer, were spinning madly and without restraint. The gurgling of the beakers was drowned by the hum of electricity through thick cables, here and there sparking where the cables had been nicked. The entire confusion of wiring came from different places in the room; from the walls, power boxes on the floor or other strange equipment but in the end through splices and joins they all made their way to a table stood up on it's side where the frame of a metal man was strapped.
"Just a little more... ah, whats this?" Jonas spun his gaze over to a slot was spitting out reams of paper where a pencil on an arm was scribbling madly. "Oh! Oh.. ho... hmmm."
Jonas snatched the paper out of the slot and read through the lines carefully.
"Oh... hmm I see, I see. Not today I guess, not today..." His shoulders slumped and he threw a row of toggle switches. The lights dimmed, the electricity stopped crackling and the angry liquid stopped its bubbling, slowing into a happier state.
"I told you didn't have the right combination lad, too much of that and you'll wear that battery of 'is right out." An older man with skin like pale leather hurmphed from a seat in the corner. He heaved himself to his feet and waddled his way over to where Jonas stood, two of his four arms using canes to hold himself up. "The mystical sciences are delicate. Its all about balances. Too much any one thing and you end up with nothing!"
"Bah, to victory goes the .. ah, well I hope victory goes to me, eventually." Jonas cracked a wide smile and pulled his lab apparatus off, discarding the paper ticker tape along with rubber gloves, bandanna and goggles on a nearby table already cluttered with tools, parts and an assortment of unidentifiable objects. "Time is what I need, and real parts to get this metal man up and on his feet!" Jonas slapped his hand down hard on the metal frame strapped into the table. "Parts means money, unless, perhaps Paddy will go see her friends hmmm... no, no I don't think she'd do that for me, not knowing it was for me anyway."
"You can't trick that girl, she's sly to your games." Carver said, picking up a diagram that was half crumpled and examining it, shaking his head, "you can't get her to shake down underside merchants for your little games."
"Hmm yes, maybe not. Oh! Oh ho!" Jonas took a pocket watch from his jacket pocket to consult before quick stepping to a mirror. He brushed back his brown hair so that it stuck flat to his head and curled up a bit at the back and replaced the lab coat with a proper brown suit jacket. He was a tall man, with very little excess about him. Jonas had been told he was a graceful dancer, but he liked to think he was graceful in life as well. "It seems I have lost track of time."
"Again." Carver said bluntly.
"And my presence is expected elsewhere. it would not due to keep a beautiful woman waiting." He smiled into the mirror and adjusted his collar's clasp. " A man of my upstanding reputation as a, er... well I have a reputation of being very upstanding."
"More like you have a reputation for standing people up!" Carver coughed into his hand.
"Never the less! I do try to be on time, it is not my fault that alot of the time situations arise that demand my attention!"
"I think if you had less things that demanded your time this little project of yours would be up and running around by now." Carver grumbled, "why back in my first years as a student the boys and me had a little dog that we set to do tricks at a girl's feet. That was an in, you see, they thought it was cute and broke the ice with us lads. Got us a B+ with the prof of Mystical Animation as well. Best you could do with this thing now is tie a chain to it and anchor down a boat! You really think you can take it to the field with you when it's done?"
"Yes, as a matter of fact, I do." Jonas sniffed, plucking his handkerchief a little more out of jacket pocket until it sat there like a delicate rose, "There are many monstrous threats that we deal with from time to time and a mechanical man is just the ticket to help this agency combat them. This city needs defenders of the little man!" He punctuate with his finger, "Not just those who can afford to pay to be safe! And this agency is just the ticket for them! Top notch service for bargain prices!"
"Hrumph, no wonder you keep me on as tenant to help pay the rent." Carver said, making his way to a lift that sat in teh corner of the lab. "if I paid you lot more, do you think you could bring an old man up from the basement and give him a room with a view?"
Jonas finished with his reflection and joined Carver on the platform, "out of the question. The offices need to be ground level and open for all size of common man. Paddy 'requires' private rooms, it is part of her employee package and quite frankly I would be loath to lose her employment on such a simple thing as breach of contract."
"With all your comings and goings I wouldn't want shared quarters either." Carver coughed, "and I lived co-ed in the Thimble barracks years two through six. Those were good years, used to be in old Thimble that you couldn't turn around without staring a pretty lady in the face. Why there was a sisterhood of Qua'lee priestesses taking introduction to Tourism staying on campus that had tentacles halfway down their trunks!"
"Er, yes... I see."
"I tell you lad, four eyes are twice as good as two for staring into."
"Hmm well logically I suppose thats true..."
"And those Slven Forkil they wore."
"I'll tell you when you're older."
Carver sighed, "they don't grow them like that anymore, makes an old man reminisce, it does."
"Ah... hmm, indeed."
The lift bumped hard and then lowered swifly, both occupants swaying with the motion as they fell to the lower levels of the old housing complex that both called their home. The lab took up the top two stories, and could only be reached by the lift or, if one cared, the back stairwell that had been condemned by a building inspector two years ago. Jonas had not bothered to repair it. To the back of the building were two stories of windows, the private apartments of Padilla Nimmers-Sach and Jonas himself. To the front the space was open with several small partions to act as meeting rooms and offices. One even boasted a magical hush that distorted the air around it making those inside blurred and their words. Shelves along one wall housed tropheys from previous assignments; a large bucket shaped mechanical head, its red eyes lifeless, a vase from the Jordan Su collection, handkerchief's and tokens from dozens of damsels. Artifacts both technologically and magical filled teh shelves, even a small collection of shrunken heads that Jonas had won in a game of cards with a headhunter. Swords and glaives, pistols and rifles, the volume and selection was staggering. A sign announced the whole offices property of 'Mynfield Investigatory Services'. It was through the large open offices that the lift dropped, puttering white smoke while it's bottom glowed the healthy blue of gavity defying devices.
"Hey, boy!" A voice called out from one of the offices as the lift settled into it's main floor cradle. Jonas cringed and his collar popped out a little bit. Carver patted him on his shoulder, nodding with a sympathetic way that said 'well she's right mad at you, glad its you not me!' and hobbled off to the entrance of his basement suite. Jonas smoothed down his collar, put on a bright smile and turned to face his co-worker.
"My dear Paddy, you look well today! Did you polish your scales? No, wait, something with your spines?" Jonas said as cheerily as he could.
Padilla Nimmers-Sach was a tall woman, and looked even larger when she was angry. The dull green spines that ridged her head bristled and her eyes flashed red murder. It did indeed look as if she had shone the black scales that flecked the skin of her arms and ringed her flat stomach, but flattery did not earn anything with her. Jonas might have found her very attractive if she was not actually standing in front of him; Paddy's was the exotic beauty that one admires from the glossy pages of a magazine, not in a head to head confrontation.
"You will not leave this place, not yet! We have business to discuss, you and I. There was a call. A call on the red phone."
"A call? Oh I must have missed it, oh hmm. On the red phone? Royal red I always say, yes I must have missed it when I was... when I was..."
"Wasting time, yes you missed it. I took the call. They almost did not speak with me. You know how it is. They gave me a message for you. Our services are required."
"Required... yes of course, they never really ask, they always assume. It's their right I suppose. Er, details?"
"Something has gone missing. Something from a place called Jurrik Labs. They can not use their own assets, they deemed it a suitable task for us. They would like it handled quietly."
"Jurrik? Hmm Hmm Hmm, yes quietly?" Jonas tapped his chin, "the call must have come from the Paloscia family, they own all... well not all of Jurrik, but enough to be concerned by something that's gone missing. Or broke loose more like it, knowing that lab and some of it's lower levels."
"I'll be needing the big gun then?" Paddy said, a strange glint coming over her eye.
"Gun? What... oh! Haha, um, no." Jonas said patting her on the shoulder from what he hoped was out of arms reach. "You see I have a prior engagement and, though I'm sure this is a very critical job, I simply can not in good conscience put this meeting off."
"It is more important than a call from the red phone?"
"Much more so, yes."
"I will get my jacket."
"Err, you're going out too?" Jonas asked nervously. It was always a hassle trying to be delicate with Paddy. Any physical feat she executed with precision and finesse but her diplomatic skills were seriously lacking. Simply put, the same dense skull that made her resilient when wrestling a mutant wildebeest also made her impervious to subtle hints.
"I'm going with you. We are a partnership. This sounds important. Tell me where we are going so I may select the appropriate weapons."
Jonas rubbed his temples. "The truth will out." He muttered.
"Paddy, I must be honest with you. I am meeting a young lady. A royal young lady. I have been pursuing this certain lady for a meeting for several months and, after a period of time I thought indicated her complete refusal of me, she has suddenly agreed to lunch with myself. Now I know you do not fully understand the complexity of the Royals, but to refuse such an offer is to close doors of opportunity. I must make this rendezvous."
"Does not refusing a call on the red phone also close doors of opportunity?"
"Not at all! Frankly speaking, I'm sure whatever mutant animal is at this time rampaging through the city will still be doing so t slightly later today. At which point the Paloscia family will be even more interested in hiring our unique services and the price will go up." Jonas said pointedly, "simple economics, supply and demand."
"Won't people get hurt?" Paddy asked.
"Oh I doubt it. People in this city seem to have the mindset of ants when it comes to danger. As soon as they see a giant with a magnifying glass, they scurry for their holes. I am very sure everything will work out." Jonas glanced at his pocket watch again and snapped it shut with a very loud snick, "now that this is settled, I shall be seeing you in less than three hours hence and we will, together, face this new affront! Agreed?"
"You're sure you can handle this yourself?"
"Three hours?" The red of her spines was lessening to a more comforting blue shade that Jonas found much more appealing and, above all, safe.
"No more my good partner."
"In three hours then." Paddy said abruptly turning and walking back through their office. "I shall improve my capacity with the NumKali Stick sword until you return."
"Brilliant, those Num-call ee, marvelous people with their sticks and... well cheerio!" Jonas ran from the office as soon as Paddy's back had disappeared around a corner.
"A woman will be the death of me." He muttered to himself, then the image of Samantha Taras entered his mind and he smiled, "of course a life without them would be a fate worse than death."