Just Like Clockwork: Scene VIII -- Caelan, Erin, Rakesh

Just Like Clockwork: Scene VIII -- Caelan, Erin, Rakesh

9:14 PM, Tuesday, November 11th, 2003

"Wormwood's arrived. Get to the Museum of the Industrial Revolution as soon as you can. I'll be waiting at the west side entrance."

The evening began with Seventeen calling you. What was peculiar about this was that most of you didn't give him your number. Ilkin's cellphone rang. Rose's phone rang as well, which was more odd. Caelan woke up in the evening to find Ilkin's landline ringing. Erin and Rakesh were walking by a bank of pay-phones when they started to ring. Robert refused to talk about where he was when the phone rang, but he seemed disturbed.

Seventeen was as good as his word. Dapper as he had been at four in the morning, he had added a long winter coat to his ensemble, though he still had the cane. Whim came dressed in cargo pants, a striped, black-and-purple turtleneck. Cuchulainn was presumably somewhere inside, emulating Gary. Both the Mages wore their masks.

"Greetings and salutations one and all." The Guardian said, peering about. "It appears Marduk and the lovely lady are absent, so we'll just have to hope they catch-up in time. Cu managed to get away long enough to give a call, hence why I am so devilishly well informed on the situation. The Museum is deserted of crew, though it seems that Wormwood's brought a few garden variety thugs with him. They're in the Curio Room at the moment. No sign of anyone else."

"Did you find what they were doing to the air vents, Mr. Hammond?" Erin asked politely to the side.

"The security room is in the basement. If we take the elevator we can get down there. I reactivated the cameras in the Curio room, so we could spy on them. I mean, assuming there's no angry Russians waiting down there, or Wormwood isn't expecting us to try it." She shrugged. You could never tell with these sorts of things. "There's no sound, though."

Cae's face maintained a wary frown without her controlling it. Despite the partial recovery from her mood the previous night, she was anxious. They had dealt with monster trucks, forgotten gods and their servants, now a mechanical ghost...but a man not quite human that even mages cannot understand? Bad.

"Maybe we could catch a peek down there?" she suggested, glancing at Erin. She didn't seem eager to go afield.

Originally Posted by Erin
"Did you find what they were doing to the air vents, Mr. Hammond?" Erin asked politely to the side.
Hammond shook his head. "Closing them down, I think. Not sure why.

Originally Posted by Erin
"The security room is in the basement. If we take the elevator we can get down there. I reactivated the cameras in the Curio room, so we could spy on them. I mean, assuming there's no angry Russians waiting down there, or Wormwood isn't expecting us to try it." She shrugged. You could never tell with these sorts of things. "There's no sound, though."
Originally Posted by Caelan
"Maybe we could catch a peek down there?"
"Gathering intelligence. I like this idea. Less so the possibility of meeting someone along the way." Seventeen said. The Guardian glanced at Whim. "Would you do the honors?"

"Sure thing." Whim said, digging into one of the pockets on the side of her cargo pants. From it, she withdrew what appeared to be an honest-to-goodness Malaysian kris. Wavy blade, ivory handle in a pistol-grip, very cultic-looking. The Mage hummed for a moment, tonelessly and slowly, then drew the kris in a rough oval in the air. The air behind it seemed to shimmer, and what lay beyond... was cold, and dark, and altogether too grey. "All aboard for the Twilight Express."

"Thank you Whim. Let's us scout around where, I hope the enemy can't spot us." Seventeen said, passing through the portal. "Step lively now, the Door won't stay open all day."

Originally Posted by NeoTiamat View Post
Hammond shook his head. "Closing them down, I think. Not sure why.
"He had me shut down the automatic fireman alert. They might be intending to smoke Wormwood out?" Erin suggested, biting her lip. Not very well, from the way Rakesh made it sound. "I think we should all be very careful going down there."

Erin was used to mysterious gates and dark locales, though she drew her jacket around her and huddled slightly, as if cold. Of more concern to her was what waited beyond the gate and beyond the pale, in the basement of the museum, and she kept a sharp eye out for any things that might be lurking there that hadn't been before.

Cae shoved down her fascination for the portal. Most things Ilkin did you couldn't see, though they surely had some kind of effect in hindsight. So she stepped through eagerly, trusting that the mage fuzz weren't daft enough to mess something like this up.

However, she pointedly ignored any prospect of having a "smoke-out" go awry, with Erin and her in it.

Originally Posted by Erin
"He had me shut down the automatic fireman alert. They might be intending to smoke Wormwood out?" Erin suggested, biting her lip. Not very well, from the way Rakesh made it sound. "I think we should all be very careful going down there."
"You won't have any arguments from me there." Hammond said with a barely-suppressed shudder. He stepped through the portal, followed closely by Rakesh.

The Twilight was the closest of what Mages called the Invisible Realms. It was an echo, a land made of whispers and smoke and shadows. In most ways, it resembled the Mortal Realm closely. You could see the Mortal Realm, though it was darkened and muted, a world on the other side of a blackened mirror. You could see the Museum of the Industrial Revolution, with its strange machines and uncertain contraptions. You could see the doors and windows, the floor and wall. And you could see other things as well. Places where the floor became different, where old machinery was replaced with a row of prosthetics, or a jar of formaldehyde. Places where the Twilight showed not a modern London museum, but a Genevan basement two centuries ago. Places where the world of Hippolyte Schafer bled into the present.

You passed no one as you ventured into the basement. No crewmembers, no thugs. If nothing else, you had proven successful in keeping the bystanders to a minimum. You reached the security room. Seventeen wiggled his fingers in a peculiar fashion, then confirmed that there was nothing with a mind inside it. Whim thereupon took out the kris and cut another door between worlds, through which you were ushered out hurriedly.

Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock.

"What is that infernal racket?" Seventeen said, pausing momentarily to listen. "Right then, into the room before someone spots us, let's see about those--- what the sodding hell?!"

The door swung across something, viscous and deep red. There was a dragging sound as it smeared the color across the floor, painting a broken arc of crimson across the entryway. The fluid led back toward the center, gleaming in the static glow of a handful of television monitors. There was no other light in the room, or little enough to matter. It was only by the anemic white light that you could see the giant, seven foot clock, towering in the center of the room, it's face shattered by bullets. The frosted glass door hung open, the lower half broken, the rest splattered with bloody handprints. Blood covered the bottom part of the clock, blood and pieces of broken glass. And there was a woman hanging brokenly, half inside the clock, half out.

Cruel, leather straps locked her petite form into the clockwork prison, holding her slumped, in ways no living human could move. Her blank, porcelain face stared forward emptily, her white eyes hollow and dead. Blood had been smeared across her white lips in a mockery of her lipstick, and her red hair stood out against the deathly white of her cheeks - all save for where it had been carefully cut away, to reveal the clockwork brain in her sawed-off head. A neat bullet hole had smashed through her forehead, causing a spider-web of cracks to spread across the woman's face.

Six of the television monitors for the cameras were shattered, their screens shattered by a hail of bullets. The remaining four merely showed a stream of static that arced and danced across the screens, in time to that abominable ticking sound. Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock.

Words lay scrawled across the floor in blood, broken by the pools and rivulets that gushed forth from the towering clock:

Erin completely ignored the bloody scene, shuffling over to the TVs. She tried to avoid the puddles of blood, but it was frankly impossible. squish... squish... squish...

"It's just stage blood. It washes right off," she said casually, as if that explained everything. She frowned at the monitors - hadn't she left those watching the Shafer Movement? - and leaned in for a closer look, her antenna tapping the controls. She turned back, looking askance, before looking at the camera switch. Provided she found nothing out of place, and provided none of the mages more knowledgeable about what Wormwood might be able to do tried to stop her, she flipped the monitors to look at the Curio Room.

"Ah...er..." Caelan simply stared. A very ambivalent feeling crept up through her stomach and spine and spread out to her head and extremities.

Gruesome murder was not her forte.
And neither was blood.
So how was one to feel when it's expeted to hate and love simultaneously?

It's like playing with your food, a tiny, horrendous part of her thought.

And then...she noticed the distinct lack of smell. It was nothing like the metallic aroma true blood. The woman was a mannequin.

Caelan sighed and followed Erin. "That is unpleasant," she commented, to reinforce her discomfort.

Originally Posted by Erin
"It's just stage blood. It washes right off."
"I am so very comforted to hear that." Seventeen said, looking at the mannequin and clock with a distinct lack of enthusiasm. Still, he lowered his hand, which had been to crackle slightly and give off a scent of ozone. Nervous wizards were never good people to be around. "Did you make this?"

"The three of us did." Robert said, indicating Rakesh and Erin as well as himself. "Though it was mostly Erin's idea."

"This is so awesome." Whim declared, poking the mannequin of the corpse with a finger. She looked at Erin with open-eyed admiration. "Can I get you to decorate my place? I'll be your bestest friend forever."

"Whim..." The senior Mage said with a significant clearing of the throat. His green-haired companion pouted for a moment, then went to help Erin with the monitors. A few moments passed as the static cleared, revealing the Curio Room. Whim looked at the screen closely, then wiggled her fingers in a complicated arrangement. Sound appeared from not quite anywhere, and you all went to watch and listen.


There were seven people inside the Curio Room, which marked it as rather crowded compared to the rest of the Museum of the Industrial Revolution this evening. Three of them you didn't recognize. They were young, and had a certain air about them that bespoke of crude violence and petty rivalries. They gawked openly at the Museum and at the other people within the room. They themselves were mostly clustered around the door, surrounding a large something on a moving trolley. Whatever it was, it was covered with a white cloth, but seemed to be roughly the size and shape of a good-sized upright piano. Or perhaps a coffin on a stand. Wits+Empathy

Also in the room were the two Russian guards. Aleksander lounged near the organ, a tough brute of a man who still wore his customary sweater, while a scrawny, rabbity fellow, Sergei, paced about in a rain-jacket. They were a study in contrasts, this much you could tell even now. Aleksander calm, paying little attention to anything else. Sergei twisting his head every which way, and watching the cameras from time to time.

Then there was Gary. Or rather, Cuchulainn masquerading as Gary. It was a good disguise. He looked perfect. The spitting image of Gary Fletcher, down to the very last element. A lean and athletic, with disheveled brown hair and a spattering of freckles across his nose. He was speaking with the last inhabitant of Curio Room.

"Wormwood..." Seventeen breathed, a slow smile spreading across his face. "Finally..."

Oleg Chernenko, better known as Wormwood, was a tall, cadaverous man in his forties. His salt-and-pepper hair was cropped close and neatly cared for, his beard carefully trimmed. His skin was deeply lined, much more than would be appropriate for his age, and his face was pockmarked. Chernenko wore a suit, the kind of bespoke tailoring that cost more than most men's salaries, the jacket casually thrown over one shoulder, the sleeves rolled up. He wore heavy golden rings on every finger of his hands. He was speaking, and his voice had a heavy accent, though his grammar was perfect.

"---You cannot call them here? Even for a party of some kind?" Chernenko was saying. "I do not ask for much, but surely, to meet the crew is not too much to ask for?"

"Ah, you see... we had some problems with communication, and, well, my cell's broken so I can't even fix them." Cuchulainn-as-Gary said, spreading his hands. This had the sound of something he had said before. "Look, I'm really, really, dreadfully sorry. We'll do something tomorrow, alright? Maybe lunch, everyone, we'll figure something out."

"But not tonight." Chernenko finished, regarding the supposed director with a cold, grey-eyed glare.

"Sorry." Cu-as-Gary said, trying to shrink back.

"Fine." Chernenko said flatly, then suddenly smiled. "I guess they shall miss my present. Their loss, our gain."

"Present?" Cu-as-Gary asked.

"Present. Sergei, Aleksander, leave the room please." Chernenko said suddenly. "Wait for me at the car till I summon you."

Aleksander nodded his head and made for the door. Sergei, after a last quick look at the video cameras, followed him. Once they were out of the room, Chernenko put an arm around Cu-as-Gary's shoulder and guided him towards the large, cloth-enshrouded object on the trolley.

"Present. You see, I had come across this at auction, and so I thought, perhaps my friend Gary can use this." With a dramatic flourish, Chernenko whipped the cloth off the object. It was a metallic bed on legs, a queer combination of surgical table and vivisectionist's slab. A wooden block formed a pillow for raising a head, the wood scarred from accidental runs of a surgical saw. There were leather straps on the table as well, broad straps to keep someone still. It was the surgical table you had seen when Hippolyte Schafer had materialized. But then, it had been a construct of ghostly ectoplasm. Now it was real. Very, very real. "Perhaps you can use this in your movie, eh?"


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