Friday, 26 December 2008

The Rise and fall of Jason Moriarty and my part therein, and the saving of my life.

Three days passed with no contact from Rip or Orchid. I had resolved not to contact them, it was unfair to push myself back in to their lives, they had assured me of their friendship and I had been unable to assure them that I was strong enough to fight the burden that I carried in my head. I busied myself at home, ignoring the world outside. It was not until the fourth day, that the potential cost of my decision was brought home to me.

The house had been empty, Polly Anna had not been around for a few weeks. I could not worry excessively, she had left in a good mood and it was not unusual for her to take her leave like this. Equally I had not seen Miss Dagger, my house guest, for a number of days, her efforts to establish a new detective business is hard work and often takes her away for long periods; and so it was with some surprise that I emerged from my daily routine of bathing to here muffled groans and curses from upstairs.

I pulled on some clean bloomers and ran half naked onto the landing, calling out Jed's name. Another curse issued from the room and I ran up the stairs, as Jed lurched out, her face a picture of discomfort, broadly covered in a patchwork of red blotches, but more notably her hands swathed in bandages. Thinking suddenly to my less than respectable state of attire I crossed my arms but seeing the state of the poor woman proceeded to help her. As is her way Jedburgh dismissed the obvious problems that she was suffering with and simply replied that she was just fetching some tea. More worryingly , she accounted for her injuries with a single word, "Moriarty". I told her to make herself comfortable while I got tea for her and quickly ran down to the Bel ├ętage to prepare.

I had no sooner prepared the tea than there was a knock at the door and a shouting from the street. It was young Myrtil and another urchin, a young boy named Will who I had not met before. I grabbed a cardigan from a closet covering my embarrassment at least to the edge of decency and ran down to open the door. The children poured in.

"Miss Janus!, Miss Janus!, Please please!!! Miss Janus! Mr Rip would like to see you. Moriarty attacked Miss Orchid and him!". The children did not want to stay, I beckoned them in they needed to see Jedburgh too, but they were certain that delaying a call to Rip and Orchid would perhaps increase their danger. I was torn, Jedburgh clearly needed some care and attention and yet this mystery was deepening and, my friends, so recently the victims of a bomb had once again been attacked. I managed to persuade the two children to come and meet Miss Dagger quickly.

It transpired that Jedburgh had been walking by the theatre when an unseen assailant had attacked her from behind, holding her with an electrical force that sounded very like the power that Moriarty had attacked me with a month or two back. Jed had sought her gun but failed to get a close range shot before throwing herself into the deeper snow drifts, a quick witted act that probably saved her life, and certainly her appearance from the burning that engulfed her. It can only be presumed, but with a relative degree of security, that the assailant was Jason Moriarty, now possessed of the ability to become invisible to the human eye as noted in the reports from the Van Creed because not long after as Doctors Kaligawa and Watson had begun their treatment of her wounds, Moriarty returned to assault Mr Holmes. It seems then that he had fled out to the palisade to attack Rip and Orchid. Almost before this account had been concluded we were joined by Loki Eliot who had heard the earlier commotion and come seeking his friends.

At this point the story and events breakdown the children babbled about cloud angels, and apocalypse, and that Moriarty had threatened that we would all die tomorrow. IT was clear, I had to go immediately to see Rip and Orchid, I must abandon poor Jed to her wounds but if this was the event, the coming of Azathoth, the arrival that my unseemly bargain with Nareth had been established to fight, then all would be moot if things were not ready.

It was broad daylight, Nareth slept, my mind about as calm as it got, and since the confrontation, since her anger, I had started to develop some limited means of withholding the images, at least when she was sleeping and the stream was placid and calm.

I told Jed that I really felt I ought to go but that I'd return as soon as I could. True to form Miss Dagger put her injuries aside and assured me that she would join me. I raced upstairs to get dressed and then we hurried to Rip and Orchid's house.

Inside the house was charred and the furniture thrown to the walls. Rip and Orchid sat forlornly on a sofa in the midst of the devastation, surrounded by a group of concerned friends.

They both seemed pleased to see me and explained, doubtless for the fourth or fifth time what had happened, they had had a very lucky escape. Moriarty had arrived and attacked the pair, Rip, his skills and training as a fire bender allowing him to absorb much of the energy of the attack had thankfully shielded Orchid, leaving them both shocked, charred but alive. Rip was clearly exhausted, Orchid had suffered some damage to her arm, a sprain or twist of some form caused as she was thrown across the room during the initial attack, and minor burns.

The assembled group consisted of the three of us, Miss Dagger, Miss Trafalgar, Mr Holmes, and the two doctors as well as an assortment of urchins. We discussed much about the proclamation of the end of New Babbage and resolved to enact what plans we had made. We would lay a Faraday cage in his path, trap him and deal with the then weakened, near powerless form. A simple plan that would require careful coordination. We agreed that he would have to use the major source of electrical power in Babbage for his attack and thus a meeting was arranged at the Tesla plant in the Canals for the following day where we would lay in wait. We left shortly after and I escorted Jed back to the house, certain now that the poor lass was suffering more than she would allow her "hardened detective" image show. I wished that I had had her inner strengths in recent weeks.

But what now of my choice, was this perhaps my own last day? If this was the threatened event then it stood to reason that my joining with Nareth was about to pay us back. At the end of this, all was unknown, "her lady", Azathoth, the void, Labyrinth, so many names it is hard to know which to use; she would "decide my fate". Even in my naivety I had recognised that that rarely suggested a good outcome. Yet it was my choice, and if by this union Babbage and all that I love was spared then the choice would be repaid many times over, and if no one ever came to know of my part in the events, I would hope that at least Orchid and Rip could remember me for my friendship and not for my weakness.

As soon as we arrived back home I sent Jed up to the 1st floor lounge, the fire there would be warm and the room cozy. I went to the bathroom and collected cotton gauze and a bowl of warm water, and a collodian salve for the burns. I removed my boots and knelt behind Jed, who had sat on the rug and was staring motionless into the flames. Placing the gauze, water and cream on the floor beside me I proceeded to examine her.

"Right, let's take a look at these burns"
"like I told Watson, so much for the tough girl image". I smiled, she had shown the exact opposite but clearly felt her facade had slipped.

"You seem pretty tough to me.", I looked at the marks across Jed's shoulders, I took a small piece of gauze, soaked it and starts to dab lightly.


"...and he ruined my new dress, the wretch."

"I'm just glad he didn't ruin anything more important.", Jedburgh turned her head slightly and smiled weakly up at me.

"I knew he was powerful, but I didn't know he could become invisible."

"These burns are quite extensive, there is some slight blistering on the back of your shoulder here.", I prodded a red patch gently, testing the sensitivity and Jedburgh grimaced

"How was Orchid?", the question took me by surprise.

"pardon? Oh, Orchid, I think she was actually in better shape than you, her arm looked to be hurt and I think she'll have bruising where she was thrown but it looks as though Rip took most of the energy.". Without making eye contact I worked gently round Jed's neck and shoulders. I picked up the pot of salve and daubed a piece of gauze with the cream. "This is a mixture of collodian and castor-oil, it might sting a little but it'll help take the heat out.", I looped an arm underneath and across her stomach, her hair smelt sweet, and she relaxed a little. Supporting her with this arm, my right arm was free to gently spread the lotion. I gently pulled the fabric of Jed's top away from the skin, at the back of her shoulder blades, the burns went further down, not limited to exposed skin. I dabbed further down her back beneath the line of her clothing but was unable to make much progress. With an uncomfortable reflection of my seduction, for I can think of no other word, of Orchid, I found myself once again in close proximity to one I cared for. I steeled myself, thankful that Nareth was still sleeping, and leant forward.

"Jed, I think you may have to take this top off", I shivered as I said the words. Images even now came unbidden to my mind. But Jed made no response. I smiled to see that Jed has fallen asleep in my lap. A relief came over me, she was comfortable enough to sleep, the treatment could wait. I whispered, "maybe not then, wouldn't want to wake you" and taking a fresh cloth and started to wash along Jed's arms, frowning at the assorted red patches. "poor poor Jed, you sleep honey.", I leant her back, her head lolling softly against me, her face looking up to the ceiling, stray hairs in her eyes. "yes sleep is good". I brushing the hair away from her forehead, then leaning forward rested my head on hers, closing my own eyes for a while.

I sat like that for perhaps half an hour, listening to Jed's murmured dreams, content in my own way. The sun was sinking lower in the sky and in fear that Nareth might wake, that somehow she might be able to wreck another friendship. I moved around, and lifting Jed as best I could carried her up to her room. Leaving her on her bed and heading out for an early evening walk. I decided I would pay another visit to Rip and Orchid, I took an assortment of additional bandages with me to support my excuse.

I walked up to their door and knocked cautiously, hoping not to disturb them should they be sleeping. The door swung open and I looked once again upon the devastation of the attack. There was no one around, but Rip appeared from the bedroom shortly after.

"oh Rip!", I span around startled and embarrassed, "sorry, the door, err it swung open"

"We were just resting, probably blew the hinge this morning"

"I'm really sorry I'll go, leave you two alone"

"No you are here now"

"I brought over some bandages for you", I indicated the small bundle I carried with me. Rip smiled uncertainly.

"have a seat and I will get her", he paused. "Thank you for your thought". He went to summon Orchid and returned, we sat in silence for a time. "Have a lot to clean", he mused as Orchid appeared.

"Hi Beq", I smiled slightly at Orchid

"How are you both feeling?"
"At least a bit more rested now...", Orchid replied, "I won't lie and say I'm not terribly frightened."

"I don't blame you, you have gone through so much recently, both of you and your lovely new home too, this is horrible. I think that arm should be supported better than that Orchid." I nodded to her arm that she nursed gingerly.", I began to root through my assorted bandages.

"Do you have something I might use?"

"I do.", I looked up at her smiling, pulling a large triangular cotton bandage from the bundle. I paused looked at Rip, then back to Orchid. "err would you rather Rip did this?". Orchid McMillan glanced from me to Rip. "I-it doesn't matter to me... Rip?".

"If she doesn't feel comfortable doing it then I will", I stepped forward and knelt nervously by Orchid, folding the bandage to the right shape as Rip watched me intently. I took Orchid's hand passing it across her chest, swathing it in the cotton bandage, finally reaching up to pass the bandage behind Orchid's head and back. Orchid and I both deliberately looked away as our faces came closer, we both giggled slightly at the silliness of it all. I looked nervously back at Rip and smiled as I knotted the bandage and then stood back up. Orchid smile, letting the sling take the weight of her arm.

"Thank you Beq."

"That should allow it to rest"

I felt Nareth stirring in her casket, she would wake soon. I had much to discuss and I didn't need her to be angry again.

"Beq?", Orchid, prompted, I had paused too long.

"Sorry", I blinked away the images, "I was ... was thinking". I returned to my seat. Rip looked at Orchid then back to me and raised an eyebrow briefly. "Rip are you OK, is there anything I can do for you?"

"I think the best thing for me right now is to rest, today drained me."

"My head and ribs will be fine.", I smiled sincerely at him.

"That is good to hear, truly I am so pleased that you are both OK. You could so easily have been killed today, I could not bear the thought of losing either of you despite what I have done.", Orchid smiled awkwardly

"Beq, do you think Nareth has a shot? Against him, I mean?", Orchid looked at me searching for an answer. I sat back.

"I don't know. Its my shot remember, she is mine as much as she invades my mind and bends my emotions she is mine to control but I have not been prepared".

"Yes, sorry....Do you have something planned?"

"The Faraday cage right?", interjected Rip. I nodded. "How do you plan to get him in there?"

"That will be up to Nareth I think, he trusts her", it was Orchid's turn to raise an eyebrow now. "He thinks that he summoned her, which is true but he does not realise that he lost her."

"Well, I suppose that's to our advantage."

"Perhaps, but I don't know that I am ready. Nareth, has told me that I have much to learn before I am ready. She plays with my mind, makes me see things, feel things,", my mind wanders to recent memories and I dismiss them, "she tempts me to join her. I resist, and she laughs telling me that I am learning, but weak.".

"I'm so sorry Beq.", Orchid frowned.

"No, it was my "choice", my decision. But if I fail because I am not ready I do not know what happens next."

"Then you will not fail, so we don't have to find out.", Rip was there once again, the optimism unbounded, his positive thought. All meant so well

"We won't allow it.", added Orchid smiling at me.

I looked down at my feet and shyly returned the smile.

"I guess I need to get ready then. If we are to fight him tomorrow we need to rest. You two more so than any."

"If you need my help tomorrow, you know it is yours", Rip stood, "take care then Beq, we will see you tomorrow. Do have a good sleep."

"Sleep well, Beq." added Orchid as I stood to leave.

"Do you think this is it? Really it? The arrival of Nareth's lady? I think Moriarty has made an error, I fear that this is not the last threat it is not the threat that I am being prepared to face. If I am not right and this is indeed it, then win or lose, tomorrow is likely the last time I will see you both. Please, if it comes to that, look after one another, I know you will. Your love is strong, never lose it. You do not want to be alone in life.", I looked away and headed for the door. "Goodnight". Orchid whispered goodnight and Rip moved forward to show me out.

I turned at the door, and looked back at Orchid and Rip.

"I love you both, I wish it could have been different", I looked nervously at Rip, who loomed close and now stood between me and the door. For a moment who simply stood there looking at me before stepping forward and putting his arms around me, hugging me tight.

"It will be OK, don't worry". I hugged him back, it felt so good to feel the touch of friendship returning. " Be safe". Orchid had stood up and come up beside me, and reaching her right arm out to me, smiled meekly. I took her hand and squeezed it gently in mine.

"Thank you both"

"I-I would hug you, but..", she looked down at her arm.

"I know, I understand."

"Don't forget Beq, we are here for you."

As I left, I felt Nareth awake. Perhaps she saw where I was, if so she said nothing. As I walked back to my house, I related a summary of the days events, and of the plans for the next day. She made little comment and left me feeling somewhat more confused as to what was happening. I suspected that she too felt that this was too soon, but she said nothing. It was not long after that I collapsed into bed and slept soundly.

I awoke the next day, fully refreshed and met the group at the Tesla coils as planned. The children had bought flutes and whistles which created a high pitched noise that apparently will drive away a werewolf. Others had lit fires at the entrance and it was between these fires that we erected the cage. There was no sign of Nareth, she was sleeping and so I decided that we might have to manage without her. Rip was to lead Moriarty through the cage, slamming the rear door behind him, even as I slammed the front door, trapping Moriarty. A neat if simplistic plan.

We waited...

A large group had formed, what would Jason do? After all if he was about to destroy us he could hardly show fear at the crowd and then all at once a shout went up, footprints in the snow had been seen, he was coming. It was young Jimmy Branagh, the urchin boy who first saw him.

"Jason where are you?!", Rip cried into the wind, drawing his sword

"Rip run through the access tunnel", I urged Rip through the cage, deliberately suggesting access to misdirect his thoughts on the cage., there was a flurry of action as Rip ran through in to the cage, but could not open the rear door, as he fumbled with the catch, the footprints followed him in. There followed an angry few moments as Rip managed to duck outside and push the cage door shut, as I ran to the front and shut the front door too. "We have him", I cried.

A chorus went through the crowds as the cage was lit with sparks and fury, as the form of Jason Moriarty blinked in and out of view.

"let me out", he screamed, he was clearly livid at being trapped so easily, and yet moments later, he stepped through the cage as if it were not there.

"Wait..."
"Wait...", it was the professor, Nareth, I had been so wrapped I had not not even seen her awaken, or perhaps she had not let me.

Another chorus went around the crowd, this time at the professors arrival, at the mention of her name.

"Where is he?"

We indicated that he was most probably inside, from within the plant Rip called back out.

"He is in here somewhere Nareth", only to be drowned out by a shout from within. The voice of Moriarty

"I AM A MONSTER!"

Nareth, walked through the fire and into the Tesla plant.

Jason...can you hear me?", no response, inside, through the flames I could see her moving around, "Jason!"

Once again it was young Jimmy who saw the first sight of him.

"Oy can see 'im! 'ee's a werewolf now! Behoind the big coil."

"Jason...Listen.", the professors voice was loud and firm rising above the noises and commotion all around. Now...are you stronger?"

"I am what i was", the reply a growl.

"That is a start, yes?"

"but i lack what is needed to fullfill my Gods wishes"

"Now...how does this end? Do you live another day? We must decide."

"No, i am mearly the instrument, I shall show you."

"We are *all* merely instruments.", Nareth's voice trailed off as Moriarty transformed into another beast.
"My dear Nareth, dear sweet Nareth, I so want to show you everything".
"Jason...speak! Show me now, for I lose patience."

"Mistress...."
"yes Nareth"
"I am...I am burning. I have taken much...of him..into me."
"I will come for you"
"No! Tell eveyone...to stand away from the doors.

I could feel the turmoil about her, the heat of the flames and energies that passed through her. I shouted out her instriuctions in the confusion people didn't move.

"Stand away fromthe doors!", I pleaded and ordered. Nareth had taken to her demon form, her wings unfurled and Myrtil and others had noticed.


"Everyone now. Rip that includes you please. Breezy please stand back"

there was a surge in energy, I could feelthe tension in Nareth's mind as she shielded herself and perhaps me from the effects, yet still it was a deafening roar, a searing light in my mind's eye.

"Nareth!"

I think...he is gone.


The surge had passed, but the burning, a ferocious bruning had replaced it, I could feel it tearing at the shield that Nareth had built, but still growing ever stronger.

"have you absorbed him, or has he left us?"

"I cannot...yet say. But...it is not safe..near me..unstable.

"I feel the tearing around you"

"Yessssss..."

"Come to me"

"I cannot hold it."

"Who can help? I offer you my strength"

There was a pause

"It is..no small offer...you make..."

"We are joined, your loss would likely kill me I am helping myself"

At this I felt an immense and cruishing cold pass through my body, a darkness so complete, and black as to be beyond anything I had ever seen.

I started shivering violently. My mind was lost in the darkness. In the distance I heard voices calling out, then the world slipped away.

"helping us?"

"Smothering. Mistress..it is done. It is begun."

"so.... cold"

"Colder...to come."

"Nareth ..."

I fell to the ground shaking and unconsciouos, my body felt to be trapped in ice, my mind full of blackness, un relenting, unchanging cold, cold darkness.


I need...to release you...and I cannot."

"The cold, it is inside me"

"It is the Void."

"I .. am ...so tired, the cold burns"

"The port...the cloud angel..."

In my mind for moment I could see images, an airship, the cloud angel, the twins and Moriarty and with them all, Nareth.

"What is the will of my Mistress?"

"release it"

"I would...."

"can it leave this world?"

"I do not comprehend the question."

"I am too tired...."

I lost even Nareth for a time, the blackness abosrbed me, the world around me span and I was falling.

"warmth, they are warming me"

"Hold tight to them and to this world."


"Beq ... speak to me", I heard the voice, far away, and my hand, someoen was rubbing my hand, and I was rising again, the darkness subsiding. I opened my eyes and looked up to see Breezy Carver looking down on me, a look of terror and concern upon her face.

"sssoooooc c cc c cold", breezy, lent down hugging me to her.

"what did she do to you?"

"w w we we f ff f ought it"

"you did!!!!", a sound of confusion in her voice. Not unsurprisingly. "but but are you ok ??". Behind Miss Carver stood Miss Chernov, looking on with worry in her heart.

"i it w w w will pass", Breezy continued to rub my back.

"Miss Janus, are you alright?", Miss Chernov lent in.
"Miss Chernov she .. trembling so and .. soo cold. What did the Prof do to her ??
"I have no idea"
I tried to move but suddenly there was more energy, Nareth was fighting, she was sending them home, the twins.
I will not account for that which in all truth I have little recolletion of. The tale of the professor's bravery, the vanquishing of Moriarty and the return of the twins will live on for many generations. A new chapter in the heroics of Nareth Nishi. A glorious deceit of course, it was not her will, her direction. It was the choice, our bargain. She was fulfilling her role and soon, she would arrive, "her lady" and my fate would be decided.

I collapsed into unconsciousness once more.

"We need to get her to warmth right away, she is exausted"
"I have something here... it's an bottle of rum which belonged to explorer Magellan Linden... that should keep her warm"
"lets put it under her nose perhaps we can revive her yes ??"

I heard the voices around me and the scent of liquor, it raised my mind once again and blinking, I returned to them. Natacha Chernov was kneeling down holding a bottle under my nose.". Breezy reached down and took my cold hand in hers once again.

"Come on Beq", Breeezy pleaded with me as my eyes opened, Miss Chernov smiled.

"Breezy?"

"there there ..", she smiled warmly and looking up to Natasha beamed "You are wonderful Ms Chernov"

"Miss Chernov?"

"Well, thet's not me, thanks Magellan Linden... if anyone ever will find him"

"There you have been through quite an amazing .. thing here"

Miss Chernov handed me a shot of rum in the brass cap of a hip flask. I sat myself up, drank it and felt the warmth trickling through my icy veins

"I must say I don't understand most of it..."

The two discusse the events, they had hung back as the crowd had moved toward the port, held back to look after me.

"Thank you for your help, without you I would not have found my way back"

"Do you know what happened to Professor, Miss Janus? Or what she... become?", Ms Chernov aske the question directly, echoing earlier murmurs that I had heard from the crowd at Nareth's arrival.

"I must not say, I am sorry, she did not harm me, not without my permission."

"I shared my strenght with her, she was too weak alone"

"Oh... well, I hope you know what you are doing... after all, she saved the whole town last year, so maybe I shall believe her and did she defeated Moriarty this time for good?

"she .. is not all evil"

"I know... but she is not all just good either, is she?"

I looked down at the ground, at this moment I did not rightly know, she burned brightly agaiin in my mind, the shild she had used to protect us, keeping the intensity at bay.

"no though perhaps there is no such concept, no black, no white just grey.". Natacha Chernov looked towards the tesla coils.

"yes... maybe even Moriarty himself wasn't just plain black... who knows"

In my mind the events continued

you are with him ... I can feel him..he is scared

He is harmless now. The twins...I am sending them away..

home. send them home

Yes.

My eyes grew wide

"she has defeated him, he is harmless now"
"I hope he is...", Natacha Chernov looked over her shoulder up to the sky, than turned to me; "will you be alright? I think I'll try to take a look for this
Angel above Port..."

"I will be fine, thankyou I owe you a greater debt than you know"

"Oh, not thank me, thank Magellan Linden and his rum", she smiled and I smiled back. "Take care Miss Janus, hope to see you soon"

Nareth, will you be OK? They have left me now.

My mind was fille with light and happiness.

Beautiful. So..beautiful.

Is She with you Nareth, your lady?

She is...near.

The gateway is opened...

Was it her, is she the void? did she pass through me?

We will talk of it all.

I am going home Nareth, I am spent


With the surge of colours in my mind raging, I staggered through the streets, I must get home, restwas what I craved most. Rest and proper warmth.

I stumbled in through my doorway, climbed the steps and collapsed onto the couch.

I will fall.

fall? No not if I can help it.

It is...done..Mistress. Now, my Lady. Close the gate.

Do you feel my confusion Nareth, I cannot see clearly what is happening, it is jumbled

My head was suddenly filled with pain, Nareth's pain, a pian that burned through every nerve and synapse

I screamed out.

Nareth, what is happening? Nareth?

Closing...the..gate.

strength Nareth, be strong

So much fire.

My head was filled with flame, orange and red flames tearing at Nareth.

Quench it Nareth

it will not win out

The sea...The sea.

I saw water, in her mind, or perhaps in her vision. I have never asked. But it quenched the flames, dousied the tearing, clawing heat.

Home..Must..rest..now...I have..been..so burned...

Then sleep Nareth, sleep long, rest well. You have done well, your mistress is pleased

Then...yes...I may sleep.


Briefly I saw the inside of the casket and we both fell into sleep.


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