Search for Sherrinford Holmes
Week 3, Forward 100 Years
When last we left the crew they had reboarded the Silverwood Pantope from Classical London in March 1896.
We decide that we should go to London a century later, and look for Sherrinford 100 years after he left, which makes it October 1995. Monday, October Fifth, as a matter of fact. Regent's Park, along the edge of Regent's Park Lake, should you care. Alag steps out with the map of here. He flies up into a tree and examines the map.
Alag asks Ashleigh if she might be able to recognize Sherrinford even in disguise. Ashleigh is of the opinion that she can -- she has, but has never noticed not noticing.
He finds a small number of incidents in the recent past. The last one was a couple of days ago in southwest London, a rather nice neighborhood as he remembers. He heads back, and shows us what he's found. Alag wants to go retrocog the place, and Ashleigh and Kate go along, invisibly.
They do so, and Alag looks around. It's an alleyway, and not in as nice a neighborhood as we remember it. It's dark. Eventually, a door appears in the wall, and a dark, shadowy figure skulks out and walks off. The figure is wearing a long coat, and a brimmed hat.
Ashleigh is of the opinion that this is a bit too short to be Sherrinford, and not recognizable. We decide to check all the other incidents going backwards to a week ago.
The next one has three people who step out of nothingness, and appear to cover each other. They appear to be wearing some sort of para-military clothing, but are not out of period for what should be normal clothes. The leave the area, first one, and then a pair, and head off. We reckon that this may be Paratime. They are very non-descript, apart from being big and competent looking.
The last incident in the previous week is across town a block from Whitechapel. This one is a third type of appearing, simply appearing and walking into here and now. It is a lone woman. Tall, good-looking, athletic, and a bit memorable-looking. She walks off purposefully.
We go back to the pantope, and skip forward a fortnight, as that's the limit on the map. There's one glaringly obvious incident -- ours, with another incident a few tens of yards from where we were pottering around.
We go to retrocog there. A few hours after we leave, a vehicle arrives. It's Victorian, piloted by a tall, hawk-faced man. Good. He looks around, adjusts the instruments, and leaves without disembarking the craft. We examine what he did, and he fiddled with a device and took a reading of something that gave him some numbers. Then he fairly precisely sets some instruments, and then smacked two buttons. When he does this, the controls jitter and scramble. Then he vanishes. Ashleigh recognizes some of the controls, but not some things that he's obviously changed.
We decide to try to track him -- he seems not to have gone far. We head forward another two weeks. There are hundreds of pins, most either like the first or last of the original set of three. Alag advocates going back and observing. Ashleigh is not sure.
The pins are clustered in four or five regions. We filter out the type C ones, and they're most of them. A little more researching shows that the type C events are basically the same. Ashleigh scratches her head and notices that they are mostly clustered around Regent's Park, London University and the British Museum, the library, Whitehall and the government buildings, and University College. This is where you'd go if you wanted to do serious amounts of research.
We decide to change some money -- our bills are all old -- and then pop out of London, go back a couple of weeks and observe. Alag glamours up period clothing, and they go off in search of a coin dealer.
The coin dealer gives us a good price. The coins are not of silver or anything interesting, the shilling says 5p on it, and it's tiny.
We then grab Dafnord and Lorelei, and head back two weeks. We walk around to get used to the time and place. There's some odd stuff that's part of change, but the people are also just tense. There's something in the air.
So we buy a newspaper. We've come in the middle of a play. Something's happened, there's unrest and #10 says it will settle out this week. We decide to buy a news weekly. After a couple of these, we find that one of the minorities is upset over being ghettoized, and are in a certain amount of unrest -- the Toons.
They're both legally and cultural oppressed, and the Toon Question is to be settled this week. We spend most of a day researching what the Toons are. We go see a movie to see what's going on. The movie has a 12 minute short subject, and there's a newsreel. We even find that one Toon actor, Locksly Fox, will be signing autographs tomorrow along with his sidekick, Dippy Dog.
We find that one faction of the Toons want not only to get their civil right but to get their proper due.
At the media event, there's also a protest event -- both "Humans for Toons" and "Real World for Real People" are there. Things are moderately tense, and the actors arrive. Fortunately, a small girl with school uniform is the first to get an autograph, and other school children get their autographs, and things calm down.
But then another Toon arrives, diving from a fourth story window, splattering, congealing, and spouting nonsense at a mile a minute. He spews a bucket of something, and it must be acid or something, people scream, and the bobbies close in. Fights break out, Dippy Dog rescues several children, and photographers capture the heroic dog, and it all goes confusing. We all use levitation to move some children and people out of the way, and we manage to otherwise stay out of the fight.
During this, Dafnord notices a shadowy figure in a window across the street, but we lose it. We also get thanked by the bobbies for our help in the brou-ha-ha.
We learn later that the maniacal Toon is one Norbert Noglethorpe. We also learn from the news reports that little human damage occurred. The papers also contradict each other, and we find that Locksly and Norbert get into some sort of fight. We learn that Locksly is a middle-of the road Toon, which may be why Norbert picked this fight.
It's now nearly time when all the pins appear. Something must be about to happen. The first few type C pins are scattered, no patterns, and we learn nothing that way. We hear on some radio that Norbert has been destroyed, and A Reputable Scientist restates that there's no known way to get rid of Toons.
We go to meet the first event, which is in Soho, and we stake it out. The dark figure suddenly appears not ten feet from Lorelei. The figure throws open his trench coat, which reveals a black duck Toon, who laughs maniacally, and runs into the alley, vanishing like our woman friend.
The next one's in 15 minutes, about 10 minutes' walk from here. We decide to go there. It's a shady place, and not so great, but we wait. A shadowy female figure coalesces from nothingness, strolls down the block and fades away. Lorelei is sure that it's our woman. Then in a alleyway, two type B men come in, look around, decide that don't like things, and vanish.
Lorelei opines that the Toons seem to have something and the officials are on to something. Another will appear in 2 minutes around the corner. Nothing we notice happens, and we're sure it happened inside a building. It's a British Museum press office. We start looking for someplace else to go, and then notice that there are a lot of sirens, all around. Not converging on us, just normal city sirens, simply too many of them.
On the map, many -- dozens of events have happened by now, and this is probably a lot of what's rousing the police. We go looking for something interesting, and notice a pair of close events that will happen back in the direction we came from. We go there.
We end up in a square, and wait. People look at us a bid oddly, but hey. All of a sudden, we see a small, rapidly moving dark figure approaching from a side street across the square, which cuts into traffic just as a light changes green. Traffic starts, stops and a few fender-benders happen.
The figure races about the square darting between legs, under skirts, and roars around. Alag decides that he'll use levitation to veer the figure into a wall. It bounces off the wall pinball-style, bounces around, back into traffic, causing it to veer all over the place. The Toon sits around dazed, then looks at its watch, gets up and roars off again, sort of in our direction and then across the street and into a door, vanishing without bothering to open the door. The start and end times on this match the events we were looking for.
We head off for another event. We notice we're on the same street as the theatre, and there's a commotion, there, some sort of protest or something with both people and Toons. We approach. There are a bunch of British-Viz-style Toons marching in protest of the murder of Norbert Noglethorpe, and the crowd looks ugly. We dodge down a side street and make the next event, which is a small army of quasi-humanoid small Toons that boil out of an alleyway, and head in many directions.
Dafnord tries to grab at them, and misses several. Kate reaches out and grabs one, handing it to Dafnord. Ashleigh goes over and says, "Can we help?" It replies, "Let me go, I'll be late!"
It pries on Kate's hand, sort of pours out of it, and then dashes off. Ashleigh follows, with other people behind. The hoard of Toons converges on a door, vanishing. The Toon we caught speeds up, but splats in the door. It weaves over to us and says, "Now look what you made me do, I missed it!" It then pulls a huge watch out of its pocket, consults it, and races off. We follow.
We manage to keep the pace, and end up near the University of London. We recognize our mysterious woman, who approaches a side street and heads to the campus area. The Toon heads into the alley right behind her with us on his heels. We get into the alley and they're both gone.
We rest. About fifteen minutes later, an event comes to us. The Duck. Maybe we're looking closer, maybe he's moving slower, but we see him. He's wearing a feather-tight black suit with a cowl with silver piping and a flamboyant silver crest. Ashleigh yells, "Stop!"
Interestingly enough, the duck comes to a screeching halt, and then says to Ashleigh, "What did you do that for?"
"I wanted you to stop," says Ashleigh, and the duck rolls his eyes skyward. Ashleigh quickly adds, "Are you with Paratime?"
The duck races over to Ashleigh, stops inches from her and says, "SHHHHHH!!!!!! No one must know that I am [cue echo effects] Duck Dodgers from the 25 1/2 century!" He then takes off again.
"Stop!!!" yells Ashleigh. The duck stops with a screech, bouncing all over the square. Ashleigh runs over to him.
"Why did you do that again?" the duck asks.
"Look," says Ashleigh, "I'm Ashleigh St. Clair, your people are looking for me." She hands him a calling card, and says, "Have your people find me."
"I will!" says the duck and takes off.
Somehow, we have trouble believing this.
We follow the sirens to the southeast, and they always seem a little ahead of us. We run across a store that has radios for hire, so we hire one. We tune in the BBC, and pick up the end of a report on the Toon Riots, and one is near the theatre, the other off a ways. There's not much more detail.
We head off for another event, which again requires backtracking. We notice a commotion behind us, and it catches up with us: people being somewhat driven by Toons. There are Toons rioting, Toons trying to stop the riots, Toons trying to stop both sides, and the commotion boils past us, and an arrow with a plunger end lodges on Cantrel's face. A moment later, a short Toon with overalls and a cap comes up, pulls it off Cantrel's face, and heads on.
Ashleigh goes up to the Toon, hands him a calling card, and asks him to take it to whoever's in charge. He insists that no one's in charge, but takes the card (which has the proper corners folded down), and goes off after a larger, similarly dressed Toon.
We end up in the square, and notice there's a bunch of events about to happen here. It's chaotic, but not particularly violent. After a time, we notice Our Woman across the green. Ashleigh gets Alag to glamour her invisible, and levitate her over there. Ashleigh gets not 5-10 yards away, when the woman flips open a device, keys on it, and steps around a tree and is gone.
After a bit, Cantrel notices a couple of our type B fellows. They skulk about, seem to make measurements and head off into one of the University buildings.
We'd like to be able to do something like give a note to Our Woman, but the question is when and where. So we head off in search of another event. We find a clump, so we go there, and under Cantrel's advice, we split up.
We notice Our Woman peering into a window, after something. Cantrel wizard-locks her shoulder bag shut. A moment later, she ducks down. We notice a couple men skulking around with flashlights. Cantrel sees all this and says, "Let's take them." Ashleigh concurs. Lorelei tries to telepath the woman, and shields go up.
We all close in, and Lorelei stealths behind her, and asks, "Need help?"
She jumps, and tries to quiet Lorelei down. Lorelei assures her that we're here to help. After a moment, she agrees. Ashleigh, Kate, and Dafnord start skulking through the building with stunners drawn, and Lorelei sleeps the two fellows, then she and Our Woman go through the window and rendezvous with the other three.
In the meanwhile, Cantrel has been playing with her. First, he wizard locked her purse shut. After she noticed that it was stuck and finally opened it, she left the flap open, and Cantrel picked her purse of her device.
We stun the guys (several times by the time we're done), search them, strip them, and talk to Our Woman. She's not hep on meeting with us, but agrees to meet at the Green Bear in two days at 6.
After all of this, Our Woman discovers her device missing and accuses us of being responsible. Ashleigh pleads ignorance, but Cantrel tells her over the net to trade it for some information, like who she's with. We suspect she's Paratime, but we'd like to know.
She grouses, and finally tells us that the device is called a paracorder, and she is indeed with Paratime. Ashleigh smiles and says, "Ah. I hoped so. My name is Ashleigh St. Clair, and I believe your people wish to talk to me. Here's my card." She hands Our Woman a calling card (with correct corners turned down).
"Oh!" says Our Woman. "You're those people!"
"Yes, we're those people," replies Ashleigh. "My friend tells me that your paracorder is out at the tree where you dropped it. Shall we meet then the Green Bear?" She turns to leave.
"Wait! I need to talk to you, but I'm very busy tonight."
"No matter, we'll expect you at the Green Bear, at six, in two days. If you're busy, you should attend to your business."
Our woman sighs, nods, and then leaves.
After this, we decide to play with the other agents a bit. Ashleigh wakes one of them up, somewhat urgently. The fellow wakes and immediately throws a punch. Ashleigh ducks, but ends up taking it on the chin. Once fully awake, the fellow apologizes profusely, and wants to know who we are.
We give him a not entirely untrue story. We tell him all that happened, but we leave out the fact that we participated and didn't exactly chase the other agent off. It was more like shooing than chasing.
One agent calls the other one (who can't seem to be woken) George, but gives us little more information. We bore of the game, and usher him off. He is not very stable, and has to carry his companion off, banging the poor fellow against every door jamb he goes through. Once he's safely off, we get a good laugh out of it. Ashleigh confesses that she almost offered to give the fellow £5 of the money we stole from them for cab fare, but decided that would be adding insult to injury.
Alag follows from the air, and watches their progress. George gets put in a puddle, and our agent goes off knocking on doors, with a story about marauding Toons to the couple people that even answer. After a bit, the bobbies arrive, and don't exactly believe his story. George gets an ambulance, and he is taken off to the police station.
We're looking for a hotel after seeing the agent hauled off to the police station. Cantrel and Alag go keep tabs on the clowns who were searching. After a few hours, the agent is let go.
Copyright © 1998, Jim Burrows. All Rights Reserved.