Clockwork 1888 Date: Saturday, December 1, 1888, through Wednesday, January 24, 1889
Archibald had a lot of work to do. He’d bought a theater and had been preparing for its grand opening, just in time for the holiday season. The Sensuous Sophia (Deborah Silberstein, the aspiring actress who used to work with the Amazing Anthony, the hypnotist from The Mind Murders adventure) was in the employ of his theater in whatever capacity she could perform (actress, hostess, etc.). He planned for the theater to cater to the all of the classes with shows covering burlesque, classical concerts and vaudeville with comic, dramatic and Shakespearean theatrical productions in planning.
Dracona signed on as an opening act, to sort of warm up the crowd, and promoted the opening at her street side performances. Fredryck drummed up interest in the upper echelons of society. In preparation, Archibald had Yermak Investigations make background checks on possible employees, which he was sure would save him in theft problems later. Evgenia had additional business investigating husbands and prospective husbands. Word seemed to have gotten around that Yermak Investigations caters to the female populace.
Bartley, from his family experience in theatrical productions, seemed to have a knack for the business end and helped with screening performers and acts. Bartley continued his regular arcane studies with Zhang Chin and he noticed that Zhang’s daughter, Fen, seemed to have taken a liking to his armadillo. He also noticed that perhaps she was even interested in the American Southern gentleman that had recently come into their midst. Of course, it wouldn’t be proper for her to approach him and he could tell that she was waiting, patiently, for him to act first.
As opening day grew closer, Bartley spoke with Zhang about Fen. He first inquired about her age because she looked youthful. Zhang informed him that she looks younger than her 27 years, a trait she inherited from her mother. A 10 year age difference was hardly unheard of in those times so Bartley proceeded to ask if he could take Fen to the theatrical opening. Zhang gave his approval and, later, Fen accepted.
Fredryck got his usual letters from Adoline describing her classes, studies and daily occurrences as well as how much she misses him, her devotion to him, etc. In her latest letter, she informed him that her mother was insisting she spend the holidays and university break with her family in France. She, of course, would comply without too much arguing with her mother, but insisted on seeing Fredryck before she departed for France. And, when Adoline drove up in her Motorwagen, Fredryck could see that she had brought her friend, Brina, from Oxford.
Brina Adalbjorg, unbeknownst to Adoline, had been hired by Fredryck to protect her. In Gibraltar, Edmund Fields had threatened to kill each of them and their families. After Fields escaped the Gibraltar prison, Fredryck refused to take any chances and hired protection for Adoline. Brina is that protection. Brina is a Slovene name meaning “protector” and Adalbjorg is an Icelandic name from the Old Norse elements adal “noble” and björg “protection” to represent “noble protection.” Although the guard came highly recommended, he had not yet met her.
As Adoline introduced Brina to Fredryck, she curtseyed and commented, “It’s nice to finally meet you, Sir Stanley. Adoline’s told me so much about you. I feel I already know you.” As Adoline took Fredryck’s arm, Brina took the other and he could feel the strength of her grip. He was amply satisfied with her in his employ.
It was Brina’s decision to covertly enter Adoline’s life and befriend her charge rather than present herself as her bodyguard. If Adoline was as headstrong as Fredryck had implied, she might find a bodyguard annoying or smothering. But, as a roommate, collegiate and steadfast friend, Brina would have constant access to her charge and possibly be able to dissuade dangerous behavior, as well.
According to Adoline, Brina is recently joined Oxford to study medicine, too, and she shares a dormitory with Adoline. The two are traveling to France for the holidays and because Brina said she has no remaining family, Adoline invited her to spend the holidays with her family. Brina accepted and, although she’s alone, she was left enough finances to more than adequately provide for her needs and leisure. And, as luck would have it, their short visit to London coincided with the grand opening of the theater.
With the grand opening in time for the holidays, Archibald had developed a theatrical adaptation of Charles Dickens’ 1843 novel, A Christmas Carol, to use as his opening show. It got good reviews and was planned to run through the holiday season and well into the New Year if it continued to draw. In the meanwhile, Archibald played the host and continued preparations for the next show on his schedule of events.
Dracona had noticed that the people who she was previously paying the protection money for would close up if they saw her coming. They were apparently afraid of what would happen to them if they were seen dealing with her. It was Friday morning, January 4, 1889, when Dracona got her first visit from Don Marco Marciano since her initial “lesson” in the alleyway.
As usual, he picked her up at Yermak Investigations in his carriage. He greeted her and bade her sit down before they departed. He reminded her that they were going to teach her about how the business runs so that she doesn’t make silly mistakes, again. He had an assignment for her and a mob enforcer was assigned to “help” her, make sure she understands how things are to be done. She wasn’t told of the specific location or date but was told that her “buddy” would know it and that the buddy would contact her, personally. Don Marco dropped her back at Evgenia’s without incident.
“I might need some help,” Dracona informed as she joined others in the breakfast area. She explained her situation and they decided that they’d stealthily follow Dracona around until they determine what was going on. If Dracona deemed the task worthy of stopping, she’d pretend to choke on her flame fluid as a signal for the others to spring the trap. Of course, Dracona was probably already under suspicion by the family so if they interfered they’d have to make it appear as if she was not with them. With as much a plan in place as possible with the limited information, they waited.
Three days later, as Dracona was completing her street performance when a large man dropped a sovereign, wrapped in a paper note, into her donations hat. After finishing the performance, she retrieved the note. It told her to meet him on a specific street corner at midnight that evening and was signed “Buddy”. She told the others and they prepared for the evening.
Meeting her contact, he told her that they have to teach somebody a lesson. Dracona and he walked from the corner, her following Buddy and the others stealthily a safe distance behind. “They’re a troublemaker for the family business,” he said as he turned a corner and then stopped at the rear of a place. A light still shown through the crack under the rear door and Dracona recognized it as the building of the seamstress. From the looks of it, the seamstress was still inside. “The lesson is not for the seamstress,” Buddy informed in a whisper. “The seamstress is the lesson for others. We kill her and burn her business to the ground.”
Buddy quietly explained that he was going to burst through the back door and knock her unconscious. Then, while he cut her throat, Dracona would prepare to set the whole place on fire as they left. Dracona nodded understanding and took a swig from her flask.
Suddenly, she spat it out as if she was gagging on the liquid. “What happened,” he asked in a hushed voice as they stepped away from the door enough to not alert their prey. “It happens once in a while,” Dracona whispered through gasps. “I’ll be fine in a minute.” Buddy waited but prepared to burst through the door.
Unbeknownst to them, Evgenia and Bartley had heard Dracona’s signal. Sending a hand signal to Fredryck and Archibald who were further down the street, they moved up to the front door of the shop. Bartley skillfully unlocked the front door and Evgenia entered, making sure to jingle the door bell as she did. “Hello?” Evgenia called as she entered.
Buddy heard the tinkle of the door bell and looked to Dracona. Dracona shrugged to indicate that she had no idea what was going on in the shop. So, they waited and tried to listen.
The seamstress heard the door bell, got up from her desk and went through the curtained doorway to the front area of the shop. “I’m sorry, miss, but I’m closed,” she said as she spotted Evgenia in the dim light from the gas streetlights. “I just need a drink of water and your door was open,” Evgenia feigned. Bartley came inside. “I’m sorry, I’m closed,” the seamstress repeated. Evgenia put a finger to her lips and whispered to the seamstress. “You’re in danger.” Bartley silently nodded confirmation of that information and pointed toward the back of the building.
The seamstress’s eyes grew wide and she made a questioning gesture as if asking what to do. “If I could have a drink of water I’ll be on my way,” Evgenia repeated. “I’ll get you a glass,” the seamstress answered, still wondering what to do. Bartley moved up to her and removed his coat. “Go with her,” he whispered as he took off his coat to drape around her in the cold outside weather. “I’ll be the decoy,” he informed. The seamstress removed her shawl and exchanged it with Bartley. She poured a bit of water into a glass and Evgenia thanked her aloud. “Have a good evening, now,” the seamstress said. “Thank you for your hospitality,” Evgenia answered.
Evgenia and the seamstress left, letting the door slam closed behind them. Evgenia escorted her down the street a way and had her stay in the doorway of another building. When they were out of sight, Bartley wrapped her shawl around his shoulders and cast a spell to make him look like the seamstress. Then, he went through the curtained doorway and sat down at the desk to feign working on paperwork.
It seemed like a long time but Buddy and Dracona waited until all was quiet, again. They’d heard the seamstress return to her desk and no more interruptions were had. Buddy signaled to Dracona that the time was right and she took out her flask of oil. Buddy burst through the door and into the room. The seamstress shot him from where she was seated but he continued forward and struck her hard. But she didn’t fall and Dracona followed him in.
Archibald moved through an alley to come out near the back of the building. In the dim light he caught a glimpse of men quietly moving forward from a short distance. He noticed that they were policemen but no bobby whistles were sounding. Evgenia and Fredryck moved up to go through the front door. “Help me kill her,” Buddy demanded as he drew a knife and struck the seamstress persona.
Dracona pretended to accidentally blast him with fire but didn’t catch him as off guard as she wanted. Bartley (in the guise of the seamstress) backed up to beside the desk and fired, again. Archibald arrived at the back door, put a gun to Dracona, claimed to be an investigator and demanded she surrender and exit with him. Fredryck got inside and slashed Buddy with his sword, demanding that he surrender. Evgenia arrived and took a shot at Buddy. Bartley the seamstress drew a sword from a cane and swung. Outnumbered and outgunned, Buddy surrendered.
It was only moments before Norrington and the police arrived. They put both Buddy and Dracona in darbies (handcuffs) to keep up appearances and took them into police custody. After the excitement died down and they were alone, Norrington got the story from them. The criminal organization may be unhappy with Dracona so Norrington suggested she stay out of the public eye for a while. He could “lock her up” for her involvement in the recent event, if she felt it necessary.
As far as charges go, he could charge Buddy with breaking and entering, assault, and attempted arson. If he can get a witness to testify that he said he would kill the seamstress, he could add attempted murder. Because it’s Dracona’s first offense, and really because off the record Norrington vouched for her, she’ll have no sentence and eventually, after it blows over, they’ll dismiss the charges.
They asked Norrington how he was in the area so soon. Norrington confided that he tends to follow his hunches and he had a hunch about tonight. But he’d never had a hunch like this before. It was like somebody was whispering in his ear but he’d turn to find nobody there. Like his other hunches, all he had to do was act on it. He had gathered some men and went where his hunch told him to go. Then he waited until his hunch told him another place to go. They ended up nearby when they heard the gunshots. Norrington confided that he’s been under scrutiny due to the frequent gun battles involving people acting on his orders. He was referring to them. Still, with the evenings events concluded they parted ways.
On Sunday, January 20, Norrington called them together for a meeting at Yermak Investigations. “Strange things are afoot in Winslow, Arizona,” he informed. “On January 16th, strange lights and sounds were witnessed by several townsfolk in the vicinity of Coon Butte, a local landmark. One of the witnesses, a Spaniard named Armando Escobar, went to investigate, and did not return. Three days later his friend, Pablo Ramirez, went to look for him. He has not returned."
“Since then, animals in and near the town have been behaving strangely. Domestic animals are skittish and spooked. There’s an unusual amount of birds in the sky, and many more predatory birds than are usually seen. The local telegraph operator, Armin Krantz, reported these strange happenings to the fellowship. We’re sending you to the USA,” he paused before adding, “where gunplay is not so unheard of.”
With that he drew papers from his pocket and distributed them. “You leave on Tuesday, January 22, via train to Liverpool to catch a ship early Wednesday. These are saloon class (first class) tickets on the White Star ship lines SS Britannic. After a stop in Queenstown, Ireland, you’ll go to New York, USA. It’s could be 10 days by ship and you should arrive Saturday, Feb. 2.” They noticed that the SS Britannic was part of the White Star Line and their tickets had a symbol on them of a red flag with a white star, very similar to the fellowship symbol. Fredryck made note of the similarities and Norrington confirmed that the fellowship owns and operates the White Star ship line.
In addition, Norrington provided the British citizens with USA visitation papers (a visa) signed by the British Commander-in-Chief of the Forces (Prince George, 2nd Duke of Cambridge) and some ranking USA official. “You can show these papers if local constabularies wish to know your business,” Norrington said. “They state that you’re to be given the utmost cooperation as you’ve been requested by, and are working for, both the British Empire and the USA.”
After he left, Archibald spoke up, “The SS Britannic has a sister ship, the SS Germanic.” Evgenia chimed in, “both were built to carry 266 Saloon Class Passengers and 1,500 steerage passengers. They’re over 460 feet long, 45 feet wide and 45 feet deep, steam powered, single screw, 4 mast ships with a speed of 15 knots and a crew of150.” “I hear that Britannic’s saloon accommodations have a large, spacious dining saloon and a large number of two and four berth cabins located in the center of the ship on the main deck. The steerage accommodations are divided into two main sections at either end of the ship. Berths for single men are in the bow and berths for single women, married couples and families in the stern,” Frederyck added.
“On June 25, 1874, Britannic made her maiden voyage from Liverpool to New York,” Archibald continued. “In the autumn of 1876, she captured the westbound Blue Riband and a month later set the eastbound record as well, becoming the only White Star ship ever to hold both records simultaneously. She lost the westbound record to the Germanic in April 1877 and the eastbound one to the Guion Line’s Arizona in July 1879.” “On July 4, 1881, Britannic ran aground in fog at Kilmore, County Wexford, Ireland, and remained stuck for two days,” Evgenia contributed.
“And,” Fredryck added, “On May 19, 1887, at about 5:25 pm, the White Star liner SS Celtic collided with Britannic in thick fog about 350 miles east of Sandy Hook, New Jersey. The Celtic and 870 passengers were steaming westbound for New York City while the Britannic, with 450 passengers, was on the second day of her eastward journey to Liverpool. The two ships collided at almost right angles with the Celtic burying her prow 10 feet in the aft port side of Britannic. The Celtic rebounded and hit two more times, before sliding past behind Britannic. Britannic was repaired at New York and was out of service for nearly a month.” Satisfied with their knowledge of their coming transportation, they began their preparations for the trip.
The train trip to Liverpool and overnight stay there were uneventful. They boarded in Liverpool without incident, although the captain asked all saloon class passengers to keep any firearms stowed for the journey. He’d tell them if they were needed. With that understanding, they traveled to Queenstown, Ireland, to pick up additional passengers, especially 3rd class passengers immigrating to the USA.