Summer Retrospective: Earth, 1892

"Oh the shark has such teeth, dear
And he shows them pearly white
Just a jack knife has old MacHeath, dear
And he keeps it out of sight "

Year of Our Lord 1892

Our story begins where the previous left off, with our heroes falling very fast through the swirling mists of space-time, dimly aware of a few others close by, unable to see anything beyond each other and the eternal fall through nothingness. Some of the other people briefly wink out of space-time, but then they seem to reappear a short time later, still falling. Finally, there is a great thump as Sophia, Max, and Sook land hard on the cobblestones.

Sophia begins to get to her feet, noticing that the remains of her backpack is in the hands of the guy with the razor, who promptly lunges for her. She dodges back out of the razor's path, and he notes the three new people, and runs, carrying the omnihedron. There is the tweeting of whistles in the near distance. Sophia shouts at the fleeing man "Come back here, that's very dangerous!" but he disappears into the shadows at the end of the alley.

A small group of men in long blue coats, carrying sticks, come and shout unintelligibly at the trio. About this time, everyone notices the body of a woman lying in the alley, with her throat slit. (She's dressed somewhat outlandishly, in enormous skirts and multiple layers). Max works on being not a problem, though as a murder suspect it takes him a while to drift out of their notice.

Looking around a bit more, the group sees that it's a somewhat dirty city at night, lit by what appear to be flaming lanterns on poles. The men in uniform try to interrogate Sook and Sophia, but nobody understands each other. Sook shows them that her neck is okay, and Sophia mimes being confused and that she's not the bad guy (who ran *that* way!). The police finally seem to decide that the three women were together, and one of them was attacked.

Max peeks around a bit, but sees no sign of the guy. There's a neat-looking bridge with towers, and a big tower with a clock off in the distance. A guy in a brown suit shows up and the guys in blue coats start to defer to him; they explain what's going on to him, and he is Shocked. Max tries to figure out if he's the detective in charge of these policemen, but thinks he has no official authority, nor is he a private investigator - he's just someone the police highly respect. He can tell what direction the omnihedron went, but it's getting farther away.

Sophia recalls that on one of her time loops, she had a device to make the team fit in. It worked better on voices than visually, and it didn't actually do translation, but it could be a good starting place for Mad Science translators. Max sets his tricorder up to record, configuring it to make guesses as to word breaks and sentence breaks with some comm analysis, for future use.

The police appear to give charge of the two women to the brown-suit guy, who leads them down the street to a door numbered 27. There is much excitement that the numbers appear to be the same. He has a very long iron key (surely it has complex electronics in it) which he uses to unlock the door. A woman dressed in black with a white apron bustles in and herds the two women towards the sitting area. Max decides that he's not sneaky enough to get through the door without being noticed, and knocks. The brown-suited guy is surprised, but Sook and Sophia point at Max as theirs, and he's permitted in.

Once ensconced in the living room, Sophia pulls out her device. The guy is fascinated, and pulls out his set of tools. Sophia and he investigate each others' tools, and then learn the words for all of them. The other two notice that he and Sophia seem to go into the same tightly focused concentrating mode - maybe he's a mad scientist too! Sook works on her laptop on writing a translation algorithm, which when combined with Max's data and Sophia's mad science toy of the week, does create an effective translator for three radios.

"But what does it do?"
"My word! That's marvelous!"
What language are they speaking now, Sook asks. The Queen's English, of course. Where are they from, the gentleman asks. The Well, says Max. He's not quite sure he heard it right - what well? Sophia says they're from the Hippocrates. This is nearly as puzzling, though he speculates that they're doctors. What year is it? "Why, it's the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and ninety-two." Sook wants to know whose lord that is - the guy is still baffled, but says "God." The Hegemon? What Hegemon? This goes on for a bit, until he decides (looking at Sook) that their ship the Hippocrates must be from China, and the Hegemon is a Chinese king.

Shouldn't they be getting their omnihedron back, anyway? This leads to a digression into what an omnihedron is - Sophia explains a bit, and he exclaims "Ah, like a megaplexer!" He unrolls for her a long scroll with drawings - first a square, then a cube, then a hypercube, and so on. Yes! Like that! She has one? He's astounded. Well, no, she doesn't have it - the guy with the razor stole it!

"Do you understand what it is? With one of those, you could build a time machine!"
"<gasp> I must see your time machine!"
"The guy with the razor has it!"
Sophia finally introduces herself (and Sook and Max) - the gentleman introduces himself as Dr. Herbert Wells, and wants to show her his time machine.

It's down in the basement - it's just mad science, in its purest and non-electronic form. There's a whoozher, and some fiddly flanges, and a huge spinning wheel, and what looks like a Jacob's ladder, and some paddle-pinwheels... and a small set of clamps, empty, which could just fit something like an omnihedron. Sophia prowls around it, fascinated, and notes something that looks like a perpetual motion machine. Dr. Wells confirms this - there are actually three. As she knows, having a (single) perpetual motion machine is impossible. And having two which wind each other is similarly impossible. However, if you have three, you can set them to wind each other and it will actually keep going, once you've spun them up.

Half an hour later, Max and Sook finally pry Sophia's attention away from the time machine - they want to go look for the guy with the razor. Wells thinks it's far too dangerous, and won't hear of it. He'll have Mrs. Medlock find them some clothes to wear.

Sook calls for Tsugi to come in through the window, where he's been skulking outside. Tsugi offers his own opinion on the guy with the razor: "Bad man, very deadly."

A bath is poured, leading to some discussion of showers and sonic recyclers, which the Wells house is sadly lacking in. While Sophia and Sook take turns in the bath, Max talks with Dr. Wells about London ("the best city in the world"). Max asks about "Terra", and Wells notes that he must be an astronomer.

After their baths, Sook and Sophia examine the clothes laid out for them. There seem to be quite a number of them. There's no pants, except for these poofy things, and this horribly stiff skirt. They wash their old clothes in the bathwater, just in case, and ponder where this mysterious "Orient" is that Wells thinks Sook is from. Perhaps it's a planet with lots of computer programmers.

Max shows off his tricorder (moving pictures!) and his Photonic Pistol to Wells, who is quite impressed.

Mrs. Medlock comes into the upstairs and notes the women's trouble with their bedthings, and helps stuff them into more clothes. Then they're taken to a bedroom. Max calls them on the radio, very excited to have discovered that they're on Terra. They ponder whether it's modern day Terra (in which case it's definitely regressed) or in the past. Sophia notes that the room with the bathtub didn't have a toilet, nor has she seen anything else like a bathroom yet... she decides to wait until morning.

Sook starts making a hedgehog, and she and Sophia consider that this is all a mysterious psychic brainwashing plot by the Terrans. But it doesn't make a lot of sense for the Terran fake scenario to have no electronics and no plumbing, of all things.

The night passes uneventfully, and in the morning, Mrs. Medlock helps Sophia and Sook into the ridiculous corsetted clothes she seems to expect them to wear. Sophia asks about toilets - Mrs. Medlock shows her the chamber pot. Everyone is appalled, especially with what appears to be the "and then throw it out the window" finishing step. Breakfast is a very finicky meal, with much scrutinizing of the food to determine if there is any possibility of river water having been involved. Eggs and toast are deemed safe, with a tasty purple spread.

Wells suggests that that evening, there is a reception at the palace, at which he can introduce them to the Chamberlain of Police. Is he with the police, they ask? No, he's just been... helpful to them in the past. There is another digression into the fact that the policemen seem to be armed only with sticks. Does nobody have any weapon other than a stick? Wells says that the army has muskets and pistols, which sound a little more dangerous. And the guy with the razor had a razor.

Come to think of it, do they want to find the omnihedron, or Jack in particular? Or, should they be trying to Help the People of Terra? Wells corrects them: London, not Terra. Wait, is the planet London? No, that's Earth. Very confusing. A second digression concerns itself with if the queen is ruler of the planet. No, just the Empire. How big is the Empire? The sun never sets upon it! Oh, so it is the planet after all, unless celestial physics are particularly odd here. Wells admits that the Empire doesn't include everywhere. Like the Orient, or France.

Wells is a little dubious about whether they should be pursuing this investigation on their own. Perhaps they should hire a consulting detective? Ahah, but Max is a consulting detective! The question is, though, will they be able to leave once they find the omnihedron? That's not clear. And, if they do, will they just be stuck in space-time the way everyone else is?

Everyone heads for the scene of the murder, to look for Clews. Wells begins to fuss with a pipe, asking if Max smokes. No, he doesn't. Sook pipes up that she does, and Wells is quite flustered. Surely only in private? Sook is confused, and Wells puts his pipe away. The fact that the sewers seem to be in the middle of the street is a bit distressing - Sook declares that it is Not Okay to stay here forever, in case anyone had been planning to retire to London instead of return to the Linked Worlds. Sophia points out that she and Max will die of Kaufman degeneration long before forever, and Sook contemplates whether she can shapeshift into a tree.

At the scene of the crime, Max uncovers a Clew: a small silver button, not too trod into the muck of the street. He picks it up carefully and puts it into a transparent plastic bag, which Wells is fascinated by. Sophia explains plastic to him.

Max thinks that the omnihedron is off in that direction - he tries to lead that way while Wells tries to show off the sights of London. Both end up taking them to the palace. It has tours on Wednesdays, which is tomorrow. Everyone gawks at the guards with the fluffy hats and the rifles with knives. There is also a brief digression into shoe jealousy - Sook notes that Max's Victorian shoes look much more comfortable than hers do. Sophia, sneakily, is wearing her Skyguard shoes. They also note that the other women appear to have frilly sticks (again with the sticks! What is it with this place and sticks?)

Then it's back to the house for tea. The Clew is examined. It's a button of solid silver, which Wells says would be expensive. It has an ornamental cross on it, and black thread on the back. Wells thinks it could have been made in bulk, but probably for someone with money. Max's instincts are to talk to different jewelers - is there a directory of such? A what? Like a guild registry, Wells guesses? No, the guilds aren't in power the way they once were. But he knows a couple of jewelers, they can talk to those.

Before leaving to talk to the jewelers, though, it's time to change. Their current clothes are morning wear. Mrs. Medlock is summoned again to help with this. (Where Dr. Wells is getting all these womens' dresses is not clear, and nobody dares ask. He seems a little cheery for a widower. Maybe women fall out of the sky onto him often.) Dr. Wells asks Max about Dr. Symphony-Hayes. Is it common for universities in the Orient to give degrees to women? No, they're not actually from the Orient. Ah, where are they from? Wells produces a globe, which fascinates everyone. The place they're from isn't on the globe yet. Sophia admits to being a professor at a university in Ganfrey (which, alas, is not marked on the globe). Wells wants to know if she's a professor of time - she says no, time travel isn't her main thing, there are still a few wrinkles in it.

The question of where they should say they're from at the reception is raised - "Ganfrey, Gateway, and the Well" will probably not be understood. The group, with some coaching, settles on New Zealand, as very far away but not wholly populated by criminals.

It's off to the jeweler's, finally. This particular jeweler didn't make these buttons, but he could. Surely Max would like something finer, though, with a monogram? A second jeweler is no more helpful, and a third mocks Max for asking so many questions, like the great Holmes. Who? He's a consulting detective. Ah, says Max, perhaps they should hire him! The jeweler laughs, and Wells makes shushing motions at Max. It turns out Holmes is fictional.

Then, it's back for dinner, and more changing of clothes, for the reception. Max waffles about bringing his blaster - will it cause a paradox if he shoots someone? Sophia notices that Sook is thinner than she used to be - she's been shapeshifting to fit the corset better. Hey! That's cheating! Tsugi hides in a bustle of the skirt, Sophia straps a knife inside her sleeve and a first aid kit in her bustle, and Max locks his heavier armaments like grenades in Wells' lockbox.

A horse-drawn carriage takes them to the palace. There are more of the fuzzy-hatted guards, and pages dashing about taking people's cloaks and walking sticks. Various people are introduced, including Arthur Conan Doyle (the writer of the fictitious Mr. Holmes), and Wilfred Huxley, the Chamberlain of Police. A long pause later, Jules d'San Mer, the ambassador from the court of France, is introduced. He has an Outrageous Franch Accent and complains about the lack of dancing.

Introductions to the Chamberlain of Police are arranged. He is glad that the police were there to be helpful, but is sad to hear that something was stolen. Normally Jack goes after ladies of the night, but the most recent victim was a little higher class. Max shows him the Clew. Huxley thinks that it must not be related - this is more of a gentleman's button, and Jack is surely of the lower classes. Max suggests somewhat haphazardly that where Max is from, sometimes higher class people pretend to be lower class. And where is that? New Zealand. Oh, of course. Still, the brutality of the murders makes him seem not in the least bit refined.

Max decides to examine the room and collect his thoughts. While looking around, he finds a nice old painting of an ancient battle in front of some sort of large palace-like building. The exciting thing for him, is that the building has on it's door the same symbolic cross on the Clew. Asking around, he finds that the painting is of a battle outside the Canterbury Cathedral. In fact, there is a contingent of Canterbury monks here in London. Well, isn't that interesting.

Continuing his searh, Max finds that the omnihedron, as far as he can tell, is past a big set of double doors that has guards in front of them. He ponders not being a problem to get through - the trouble is that the doors are their problem, and they'll hardly be able to avoid noticing if they open.

Max shows the Chamberlain the cross in the painting. Ah, so the Clew is just a dead end, how unfortunate. After all, those are monks and such in the painting. Max asks if he can see the other Clews that the police have. As it turns out, they don't have very much physical evidence, just circumstantial things such as the area of town, that the murders occur once every few nights, and the use of a very sharp knife (like the razor that Sophia saw). Max indicates that he knows some interesting New Zealand detective techniques that may not have made it back to London yet. Might he be able to see the body? An appointment is arranged for half an hour before tea, tomorrow.

Jules is still complaining that he has been unable to convince anyone to dance (and there is no orchestra). Sook considers playing some classic shatterrock MP3s (they're classic, right?). Finally it's time to head back to Wells' house. Tomorrow, the plan is to tour the palace, view the body, and visit the cathedral where the Canterbury Monks are staying. As it turns out, Drs. Symphony-Hayes and Wells stay up ridiculously late talking mad science (he recommends Cambridge if she stays); Wells fiddles with his pipe for quite a while, but never lights it. Sook takes this as the closest thing to an invitation that she'll get, and lights one of her cigarettes. Wells and Mrs. Medlock are utterly scandalized, but don't say anything.

Then, it's off to the tour of the palace. They see a number of public galleries with art lining the walls, a blue dining room, a Chinese room, any number of impressive setups. Sophia has the vague feeling that something familiar is hovering around, but she can't quite put her finger on it. The tour passes through the gardens and the coachroom where the grand golden coach is kept, and then back into the palace proper. Max still thinks the omnihedron is off in the area they haven't been - the tour guide says that's the private museum, the Tower, and so on. Sophia thinks hard and finally decides that it's the paintings of the royal family that are teasing her memory. Oh dear. Sook scans in all the paintings and attempts to come up with a composite; the nose is the most common between them, and Sophia is pretty sure that's the nose that Jack had. None of the paintings look amazingly like Jack, but they could be prettied up.

Next stop is the church where the body of the most recent victim is laid out prior to burial. She was supposedly a student in a boarding school, and shouldn't have been out at night. Max is briefed by Sophia on what to do in the medical examination (since it would be too shocking to have Sophia look). The main thing he notices is that he thinks she gave or received several kisses before being attacked.

Where is the razor that did this wound? Back towards the palace too. Great. Before leaving, Max takes a blood sample from the girl, though it's not like it will convince anyone from this century.

Then it's time for tea and the ritual clothes-changing yet again, and off to the cathedral to talk to the Canterbury monks. There's a choir singing (in some other language that the translator doesn't understand). A monk (in a cassock with buttons matching the one Max found, though none are missing) asks if he can help them. Max is interested in the order's interaction with the royal family. Well, the Canterbury order is an ancient and well-respected one, certainly, but he has no specific royals to mention.

Well, then, have any cassocks been stolen? No, the monk doesn't think so. Max says that a missing button was found at a crime scene. In a stroke of luck, the monk allows them to examine the cloakroom. There's a cassock with a missing button in the laundry bin! They agree to loan Max the cassock, after much persuasion - it has blood on it, though it's hard to see against the black of the robe. They go to talk to the abbot, to find out what visitors there were the other night, when the girl was killed. No, no, there weren't any visitors of note, not at all. Right.

Shall the abbot send the cassock to the Chamberlain of Police? Actually, Max would like to keep it for a bit, but he suggests sending a message to the Chamberlain saying that he'll be bringing the cassock by. The abbot is clearly not going to confess to anything incriminating, but perhaps there are altar boys who can be bribed with ice cream. Max asks for some time to "pay his respects", as does Sophia. This seems to involve kneeling and muttering, so they do so. Eventually Max spots a junior monk who looks crackable, and tries to find out more about the previous couple of nights, claiming that he was here two nights ago and picked up a ring someone had dropped. The monk says that that was the night that Good Prince Albert was here for mass, so it was a large turnout.

Max points to about where someone important would have been sitting, and says he picked the ring up there. The monk suggests that Max give them the ring to deal with, but he says he doesn't have it. Well, that's inconvenient. If he brings it, they'll look into it.

By now, it's time for dinner, though Max skips it to try to recover Clews from the cassock. Sook and Sophia ponder the etiquette of smoking after dinner. Wells didn't actually smoke his pipe - maybe smokes are just for playing with. Max does a forensic analysis on the cassock, and confirms that the victim's blood is on it, and finds a couple of partial fingerprints; Sook mashes them together into a couple full prints.

However, neither of these will really convince the Chamberlain of Police, and he'll hardly believe that it's a prince. They'll just have to catch him in the act. They brief Dr. Wells, who is horrified at pretty much everything - that it could be Prince Albert, or setting the ladies as bait.

Perhaps a deal can be arranged with the Chamberlain of Police; they can get their omnihedron, the prince can be locked away, but they won't cause a public scandal. Well, that's possible. Dr. Wells whips up a copper gorget for Sook to wear, as she's volunteered to be the bait; Max, Sophia, and Herbert will be not a problem nearby.

"It's a very brave thing you're doing. But we'll be right there, don't you worry." - Dr Wells
"I wasn't really." - Sook
They decide against telling the chamberlain first; he'll just say no. Max works on trying to synthesize a police whistle noise; Dr. Wells turns up two tin whistles, which work better. Max records it anyway.
"We don't have a good way of breaking into the palace yet, do we." -Sophia
"No, we don't, because they're built that way." -Max
It is suddenly remembered that the dead girl was kissing Jack. While the idea of having her throat slit in the line of duty was okay, the idea of kissing him is right out. Especially if he brushes his teeth with river water.

Max cloaks himself, Sophia, and Wells, and sets up his tricorder to record the scene. Sook goes and dangles herself on a street corner, with Tsugi hidden under her skirts. Quite a lot of time passes. A gentleman wanders by, and remarks to Sook, "It's quite cold to be out, young lady." Max thinks the razor is off in his general direction. Sook stalls: "There's some who say it is, and some who say it isn't." Tsugi scoots to the nearest wall, and up and around to try to smell the guy. He smells like fear. Which sort is Sook, the man asks. She decides to blow him off: "Warm enough for me, I think." He puts his nose in the air and heads off. More time passes; the razor hasn't moved appreciably, so that guy probably didn't have it.

Another guy wanders in Sook's direction, again remarking on the cold night. This one, Sophia recognizes, and Sook thinks he has that nose from the paintings. Sook is briefly startled to see, over his shoulder as he approaches, a peculiar pattern of five stars - Cassandra's constellation! In that moment of surprise, he lunges, slashing for her neck with the razor. She is badly cut, but the gorget protects her from the five-points-per-round bleeder.

Max and Tsugi go for Jack, who notes that this is more of a trap than he expected. He is a whirlwind with his razor, as well as being able to attack Tsugi twice, but even as terrifying as he is, he finally falls.

Sophia doses him with Turquoise, and Wells confirms that it is in fact Good Prince Albert. People are healed up a bit, and Wells heads off to get the Chamberlain of Police, while everyone else watches the unconscious Jack/Albert.

The Chamberlain shows up, and is shocked, utterly shocked. It can't be! They show him their high-tech New Zealand moving picturemaker, which actually shows a small blurry Albert attacking. The suggested compromise is broached, but the Chamberlain insists on keeping the evidence - the cassock and the picturemaker. They'll be given their "heirloom" back, as well as a sizeable fee, but they really do need to go back to New Zealand and not hang about London any longer.

Sook breaks into the tricorder and downloads the data before Wilfred smashes it and throws it and the cassock into the river. Then they're given back the omnihedron, as well as a chest of a thousand gold, and are escorted back to Wells' house to pack for New Zealand (there are constables outside now).

Now that they have the omnihedron, Wells' time machine will work! Should they go now? The party is a bit surprised - doesn't Wells have to stay? But he's the only one who can fly the machine!

"Let's take him! How important can he be to space-time?" - Sook
There's one chair for the pilot, and lots of room to stand on runner boards. The visitors change into their old clothes, and Wells has a long leather coat and pilot's goggles. Sook, Sophia, and Max each take a small handful of gold for souvenirs, leaving the rest to Wells. The omnihedron is plugged in - the two doctors think that it'll probably only last for a single trip to the future and back, without running out of steam.

The machine starts up. The triply-redundant perpetual motion devices are cranked up to speed, and begin spinning up the great flywheel and the whoozher. The etheric wings extend, and the machine is off. Space-time is a little hard to see many landmarks, though, and it's up to Max to provide direction as to how to get the rest of the party. Eventually, everyone is gathered onto the running boards of the time machine; Wells says he's going to fly by their correct time, but he won't be able to stop - they'll have to be ready to jump.

On the count of three, everyone prepares, and then leaps into space-time...