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Egregore 7/1/2021 11:31pm
There was one thing in common about a lot of the higher functions of the glasses. They let you see streaks. Streaks in how the wind's blowing. Streaks in time. Streaks in position. Streaks in probability.
Mweek used them to mine even more data on Uhrenfabrik AG from my library. I had been using them to track movement probability when I discovered the automatic mannequins. And after I heard we were going to Grimaldi, I wondered if they could help you win at Baccarat.
It turns out they can help you win at Baccarat. A lot.
But apparently it was a scheme they'd run across before.
"Will you come with us, sir, madam, or other?"
The swarm of multi-colored streaks and arrows and dotted lines still swoops over the table--over the cards and banker and the plank and my chips. I'd seen the dark red vectors of these security guards coming ages ago.
More patterns emerge. It's like looking at a global thermal weather patterns map, making multiple projections upon projections, fractally predicting futures, maximizing value outcomes...
...and drawing me a bright yellow line of instructions to follow.
Some of my chips spill to the floor as I scoop them into my bag.
"Oh, I'm sorry, let me get that."
The security guys bump heads, their bowlers tipping off their heads.
I scramble under the Baccarat table, between a pair of legs, and hitch a ride on a passing hors d'oeuvres cart.
Egregore 5/17/2021 9:22pm
"I am sorry madame, but creatures such as this are not allowed at the tables."
"And especially when they are wearing ornate mechanical reading glasses. It tends to make the other guests... uncomfortable."
"What? Oh yes, he does like to play. Here, give me those, you. Hey! Careful! Now you let mommy have her glasses back..."
"Perhaps I will leave you to have your domestic discussion in private..."
"No! Er, no. It's fine. Now, listen little guy, you head back to the ship and mommy promises she'll bring you that nice Monte Cristo you've been looking forward to. Sound good? Ok! Run along now. Shooo! GIT!"
My little black, five-hooved furry friend lurked off into the crowd, looking back plaintively. I would have preferred to have him along for this, but the glasses alone should be enough.
"Thank you for your respectful patience, Monsieur Concierge. I am now ready for you to escort me to the Baccarat tables."
Egregore 4/5/2021 11:28pm
The library was a mess. Which was inconvenient by it also being the bridge.
Books were strewn about all over the tables and floors, my little furry friend still shuffling through pages with its five little hooves.
"Hey, be careful. These are all very rare. Don't hurt the pages when you turn them. Flick them carefully from their edges. And stop standing on them or you'll break the spines."
It did seem to understand. But more importantly, it was an excellent researcher, and had an uncanny nose for knowing where to look for references to Uhrenfabrik AG in my collection.
A note in an industrial history book about a fabled gala at the headquarters.
An old shipping news ledger with 4 different lines regarding shipments inbound and outbound from a factory.
A co-publishing credit for a coffee table book of Hymergian mind crystals.
It was really remarkable there wasn't more. You could tell by the references that Uhrenfabrik AG had quite a reputation, which made the absence of any real information that much more odd when you realized it. Like it had been meticulously (but not completely) erased from the public record. But we had enough to triangulate on for the general region now.
Plus, we had the Uhrenfabrik AG glasses. Just no manual.
"Well, I'm not sure they'll really fit... what? Ok, here you go little fella..."
Egregore 2/21/2021 12:59pm
@Billy Sabab was hopeless. Well, he was full of hope, actually. Too much. But he didn't have any idea where to begin.
He had a barnacle encrusted box, gifted by the King of the Fishmen in thanks for the role he played in reawakening the ancient spores of the Hymergian Man-Fungus. I guess I played a role in that too. It is perhaps the best example of the kind of trouble @Billy Sabab has caused in my life since I met him.
And in that box, @Billy Sabab had a token from a long gone game arcade. Some lost memory from his youth.
He didn't have any idea where to begin.
But my little furry friend did.
I had taken a rubbing of the old worn token. @Billy Sabab wasn't going to give it up, and frankly I didn't want it. But I have a deeper background in ancient haunted artifacts than he does.
And so, apparently, did my little furry friend.
As we looked more closely at the rubbing at my magnifying table, we could make out the markings. Stars in a doorway, like a constellation, framed in a very particular way.
A very familiar way, if you knew how to look at it.
My companion pointed at the tails side of the rubbing of the coin with a tiny hoof. Its yellow-green eyes grew brighter. The tiny letters were almost worn down.
It read: Uhrenfabrik AG
Egregore 1/9/2021 8:16pm
It didn't take long to locate @Billy Sabab and the Matte Kudasai. Warnings all up and down the AV band about steering clear of the Verts -- a no fly zone within visual distance. I took the Egregore in low, in the direction I assumed they'd try and make an escape in. I was right.
There was the Matte Kudasai skimming just above waves, covered in broken glass and drywall and twisted window frames. What? Had they collided with a building? Because there was only one building around out here in the middle of the ocean.
"Matte Kudasai, do you read? This is Egregore, over."
"..... zzzzcrrrkkk... shhhh! Don't answer! Don't let her know we're... what? Oh. This is on?"
"Matte Kudasai, you are in need assistance, but I can see you're also on the run. I'm going to pull ahead of you. Follow me if you want to get away."
Why do I keep digging myself in deeper with this clown?
Egregore 11/26/2020 11:31pm
When I came back to Old Habitsform, this wasn't the kind of business I was hoping to drum up. In fact, this wasn't "business" at all. This was "getting away with my life."
And all, apparently, because of that stupid book I'd bought from an idiot sky sailor junkman @Billy Sabab. Trouble seems to stick to him like dorf poop on a shoe. And somehow now it keeps sticking to me too.
"The Traits, Features, Characteristics, Peculiarities, Mannerisms, Qualities, and Attributes of the Hymergian Man-Fungus." The book important enough for an automatic mannequin to die for. Or at least become radically disassembled for, thanks to my new found cute and furry quasi-bovine friend. I never spent much time trying to decipher it. Mostly because you'll go mad if you do, maybe even with the special glasses you're supposed to wear while reading it. Which I never got back after my kidnapping. They never did me much good anyway. I could never really figure them out without a manual.
"Mweeeeek!" My little furry friend had found the book on my desk. Head butting it with its three little horns. "Weeeeek week week week. Mweeeek week week week."
Yes, indeed. That book. Where had it really come from? And if it's so in demand, why did it end up with me? Where was it really from?
We didn't have to share the same language to come up with the plan. I'd seen real Hymergian Man-Fungus creatures before. I knew where they lived. And if I was lucky, @Billy Sabab might have left a trail. And knowing him, it would be a trail a mile wide and littered with destruction.
I was headed back to the open sea, off the coast of Desitiny City.
Egregore 10/8/2020 8:50pm
The flurry of claws turned out to be tiny hooves. Attached to five legs and a tiny tail. And a furry black torso with a head with three horns and two glowing yellow-green eyes.
Hooves or claws, they turned out to be mighty sharp, and with such an explosion of fury that they tore the face right off the automatic mannequin. Then it sunk its tiny fangs into one of sockets and pulled out a glass eye at the root, trailing a bundle of wires and lubricant.
The automatic mannequin began to shudder, then have a full blown seizure on the tarmac.
The little black creature squealed and hopscotched back up into the open hatch of the Egregore.
"Mwweeeeeeeeeeek?" it squeaked out at me.
Guess it was time to get the show on the road.
Egregore 8/28/2020 11:59pm
The automatic mannequin wanted to see the book, "The Traits, Features, Characteristics, Peculiarities, Mannerisms, Qualities, and Attributes of the Hymergian Man-Fungus." Well, "demanded to see the book" is more accurate, and I was still in no position to argue. After releasing me from his mid-century Iron Maiden, he walked me back through the warrens and stairs of the ghetto of the automatic mannequins, a sharp but steady point held to the small of my back. Somehow, when we arrived on the street, he had changed his clothes, and was now wearing the familiar drab jumpsuit of the Airshipman's Union.
"Hail a cab," he whirred through his birdhouse head. "To the docks."
There are good points and bad points to working alone. Mostly I appreciate the independence. But there are times when I wish I had some backup, someone holding down the fort, someone waiting for me back at the ship. Not an entire crew, but even just a "man Friday" or similar help. A valet?
Of course, not some bozo like @Billy Sabab. How did he end up with a whole crew?
Finally, the cab arrived at the docks. He followed me close, the stub of whatever he had still stuck in my ribs, as we checked in at the terminal and they let us onto the field.
At last, we came to the Egregore, moored at ground level. I noticed the hatch was ajar. And a shadow moved.
The hard point in my back poked harder.
"No surprises..." he whirred.
HISSSSSSSSSSSS! and a flurry of claws and black fur leapt from the door and onto the face of the automatic mannequin.
Egregore 7/19/2020 11:57pm
"Honestly, I've never heard of Uberfabric 9."
"Uhrenfabrik 9!" whirred the automatic mannequin. "The same shop that created your glasses? They are an older model, but clearly Uhrenfabrik work. The Wilden Krötenfahrt, if I'm not mistaken..."
"I do not know these words you are saying."
"You can't just buy these at the Uhrenfabrik store. There IS no Uhrenfabrik store. These glasses are incredibly rare and their access is strictly controlled." The automatic mannequin's syllables fluttered out of him like chimes.
"Now tell me about your Uhrenfabrik contact or you will find your setting increasingly uncomfortable."
The chair clicked in a notch tighter. Including the blade against my neck.
"A book. It came with a book. About fungus."
The automatic mannequin cocked his head.
"What kind of fungus?"
"A... a 'man' fungus?"
The automatic mannequin's eyes grew large. Such perfect glass eyes.
He slammed his fist down on the table.
My chair cage relaxed a notch.
"Waiter! Check please!"
Egregore 6/7/2020 11:01pm
I don't appreciate restraints. I find them really violating.
In this particular case, I walked right into them. And in retrospect, my nonchalant approach could have been interpreted as creepy, if not downright sinister. Can't a dangerous and haunted artifacts trader let her guard down once in while?
"Ahem. I will ask again: Why are you following me?" said the automatic mannequin, adjusting his wow and flutter.
"I... I... I'd never seen an automatic mannequin before. So, I just..."
"... wanted to see how they live? In the wild?"
"Yes! No! ...I mean..." I strained against the metal restraint chair.
"You wanted to see them in their quaint little hovels? Their exotic rituals? Their strange family structures?"
"It's not like that! I mean, well..."
"Or were you fact in trailing me as part of the ongoing surveillance from Uhrenfabrik 9? With these!!!?"
The automatic mannequin held up the glasses I'd gotten from @Billy Sabab.
What trouble had that bastard gotten me into now?