Welcome Lords, Ladies and Gentlemen.

Welcome Lords, Ladies and Gentlefolk.

This blog will be devoted to my literary and cosplay interests and stories set in my own alternative historical steampunk background. I hope people enjoy the stories, as much as I enjoy devising and writing them and that it stimulates their own artistic interests, entertains them or if nothing else fires their own imaginations.

A special note to new readers of this blog, the entries "Nation States" are gazetteers of the nations as they exist in the An Age of Steam, Steel and Iron background, each with a few remarks/observations about each nation as they exist within. Any post headed by the title containing the words "Story Snippet" or "Fragments" is a stand alone, snapshot of the background, they will be developed into fuller stories in future, but at present they serve to give the viewer/reader a measure of what this world is like, what is going on in it and who some of the players are. Full stories, will be headed by their title and a roman number, as they will generally be in several parts.

Comments, suggestions or remarks by readers are welcomed.

I would like to thank the following people:

Yaya Han, for getting me seriously interested in cosplay at a time when things were looking very glum for me back in 2006 with several extended stays in hospital due to illness, and motivating me to get actively involved.

Ashley Du aka UndeadDu, for her unfailing friendship and cheerful support since we first met in 2014 at the Hamilton Comic Con, and for being my Cosplay mentor and advisor.

Sara Marly, for her interest in and support for my writings, since we first met in 2016 at the Hamilton Comic Con and incidently helping me make up my mind to finally do this.

Stephen Thomson, my friend, for his advise and assistance with creating and setting up this blog.

Daniel Cote, my friend and co-worker for his advise and friendship over the years.

The People of the The Aegy's Gathering (particularly Jonathan Cresswell-Jones, Scott Washburn and Jenny Dolfen, all of whom I have kept in contact with over the years), who were brought together in friendship by a certain randomness of chance and a common interest in the Honor Harrington books and stayed together despite distance and the strains of life.

The People of the Wesworld Alternative History website, who gave me the opportunity to sharpen my writing and story telling skills while directing the affairs of Lithuania and briefly France during their 1930s timelines.

My parents Mary Ellen and Logan, my siblings Adam and Danika and various friends both online and at work and play for putting up with me, encouraging and supporting me both in the very good times and the very bad times.

I remain as always yours very sincerely, your obedient servant, Matthew Baird aka Sir Leopold Stanley Worthing-Topper

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

The Man in the Red Mask (Part IV)

City of London, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, January 1889.

Lord Hood, leaned back in his chair at this bald statement as he considered Cassidy's response. He was all attention, as Sixer was not in the habit of just ambling over for an evening visit, even though he was a welcome visitor at any time as far as Lord Hood was concerned, certainly not at 3 am in the morning. It also explained Cassidy's vile expression and mood at the moment. Cassidy absolutely, positively loathed any and all constructs.

"Where is Sixer?"

"In the next room. He brought someone with him to see you, a girl."

Even more interesting. Lord Hood, thought absently to himself. In the past if Sixer came to see him, he always came alone. That he had brought someone with him was both out of character and extremely unusual.

"Did Sixer, say why?"

"No, the blasted oversized tin can, declined to discuss it with me, said it was a matter of business." Cassidy's rich tenor voice became tight with a mixture of both disgust and baffled frustration. His dark scowl deepened as he spoke.

Lord Hood was suddenly and inordinately pleased that he always wore a mask when dealing with people even his own underlings. The amused grin on his hidden face at that moment would have done absolutely nothing for Cassidy's mood.

Sixer was an industrial construct, a load lifter and general labour automaton who worked on the dockyards along the Thames, particularly those alongside the East End. Few people realized the old automaton was sentient, then again so few of his type of automata were, being of the oldest generation of such working machines. Few of them were even truly intelligent, let allow semi-sentient, but Sixer was and behind his dented, rusted and utterly non-descript exterior was a surprisingly keen mind.

Sixer's knowledge of the dockyards was invaluable to Lord Hood, he had after all been there for decades and knew all the movers and shakers within the riverside communities both legal and illegal of London. As everyone assumed Sixer was a dumb, mute piece of machinery, they often said a surprising amount of useful and confidential information in his hearing without them even realizing they were doing it. Information which, Sixer was prepared to sell for a price to those who might have a use for it and knew how to contact him.

Both men turned when a maid entered the room, through the study's main door.

"Yes, Arabella, what is it?" Lord Hood, asked as he swiveled his chair to look at the maid. His mask arched fractionally to one side in silent question. Cassidy he noticed looked away from the woman in barely disguised disgust, the fact that she was a servant had nothing to do with it. The fact that Arabella was a flesh construct did however.

"I have your guests, or perhaps clients would be more apt in the circumstances, comfortable and awaiting your convenience in the waiting lounge, My Lord. Are there any special instructions?"

Arabella Heterochromia had come into his service, pretty much on a whim, when he first established himself in London, some ten years ago. Lord Hood had never had the slightest reason to regret that decision, no matter the trouble it had caused him at the time. Arabella was a first rate domestic servant and an agreeable companion as well as a competent operative and a keen observer of people when needed, qualities Lord Hood rated very highly.

"Very good, Arabella." He paused a moment before continuing. "Neither are causing you any trouble, I trust?"

"Not at all, My Lord. Cora is keeping an eye on them, just in case. Though I do not think they are here to cause you problems, although I think it is very possible they are here to see if you can solve a particular problem for them."

"Interesting, I wonder what it is they could want? Sixer is not one to ask for favours, he does not like owning people anything if he can help it. The girl... do we know her?"

"I do not believe she is known to us, My Lord, at least I do not think she has ever asked for your services. Point of fact, I do not think she could even afford your normal fees, just by looking at her."

"In that case, I had better see them." Lord Hood said quietly after glancing at his watch, it was extremely late, and both Sixer and his young companion likely had business of their own to attend to.

"Your, not serious?!" Cassidy snapped, his disapprove and disbelief all too clearly written on his handsome features.

"I am not in the habit of turning down a potential client until after I hear what it is they want me to do for them, Liam - you should know that by now."

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