[A half-sheet insert loosely tucked into most copies of The Careless Whisper and several other papers based nearby. Non-Whisper newsmongers seem quite perplexed at how something clearly designed for one paper ended up in so many others without anyone noticing.]
As before I have enjoyed the myriad responses to my latest publication. Some, however, have suggested my logic was faulty. You may continue to feel the premise of the question is somehow invalid because you disagree with the logic, but for the sake of argument, let us assume that the so-called assumptions I made during the description were not assumptive in nature, but descriptive. It is not that they must logically follow, but rather that they simply are, as in a proper mathematical proof. Consider them to be givens, won’t you?
In the interest of awaiting what promises to be fascinating data, I will not discuss the Gears scenario for another full week. Meaning, I suppose, it is time to talk about mirrors again. I know, dearest audience, I know – they are a dangerous subject and my research is, apparently, some small abomination against your deity of choice. And yet… I believe we as a people find ourselves crippled by our lack of understanding. Please, calm yourselves and hear me out.
What size mirrored surface is ‘safe’? Is it only items designed to be mirrors that function as mirrors, or can sufficiently polished shoes and wedding bands also have these anomalous properties? Does breaking a mirror solve a problem or does it merely create scores of smaller problems with sharp edges? We need data to answer these questions and so many more. I want to help us get that data. And that means… I require volunteers.
While I obviously cannot predict all possibilities, I can promise the presence of highly trained marksmen to ensure any ‘accidental visitors’ are appropriately dealt with, as well as certain feline and avian presences to deal with unexpected snakes or spiders. All study participants will be named in any publications that come from said research, unless they do not consent to the attribution. There will also be monetary recompense.
And for the last time, no, I am not collecting or donating souls. Yes, the Embassy made an offer of partnership, but I rejected it. If anybody tries to tell you otherwise, ask them to produce the contract because I assure you, any such smugly brandished article will be a forgery.
Don’t let them blind you with their truths!
Leaving the newspaper offices, Saevitia wandered aimlessly for a bit before making up her mind on a destination. Might as well check in on some side projects. Maybe afterward she would swing by the docks, see to stirring up a small fight, then catch up with some of her zubmarine crew. But first…
“Right, lads, good work. Seein’ as the ‘Eadmistress is ‘ere an’ I don’t want you makin’ a mess while she watches, take five!” The grizzled rat shouted his apprentices down, sending them back inside the community centre. That done, he executed a smart about-face. “Righto, ma’am, wot can I do for you?”
Vitya squatted down to avoid towering overmuch. “Just checking in, Chief. How’re they doing? Frustrated enough to burn the place down and quit?”
The L.B. chuckled. “Not yet, ma’am, though not for lack of tryin’. I’m thinkin’ the first class’ll be graduatin’ next week. Wouldja care to be there?”
“Of course!” She nodded emphatically. “I’m really excited about it! Do you have caps and gowns and tiny diplomas and all that sort of thing?”
He looked puzzled. “I, er, no, ma’am, I don’t believe we do.”
Shaking her head, Vitya smiled. “Don’t worry. I’ll place the order, make sure they’re delivered ahead of time. How’s everything else going? How are you?”
“Not bad, not bad. To both, ma’am. The centre’s doin’ well, we get more an’ more takin’ a gander erryday to see wot we’re all about. The engineerin’ school is gettin’ more students all the time, too. Speakin’ o’ which…” He glanced about, making sure there were no stragglers listening in. “Word is the Scutterin’ Company and you have reached an agreement.”
Her eyebrows went up. News traveled fast among rats, apparently. “Of a sort, yes. They’ve detailed out a small squad – temporarily, mind you – in return for a small favour I did. Why, is that going to cause trouble here?”
The chief shook his head. “No, no, naught like that. I was thinkin’, though, maybe we should be talkin’ to the Company. Like, we could be an auxiliary. Surely they could use some engineers to help out. Sappers, demolitions, maybe even plain old armoury work.”
It wasn’t a bad idea. In fact, having a small army of highly capable rat engineers on hand during a heist could be fantastic. They could provide distractions, blow open vaults… The possibilities were endless! “I hadn’t thought of that. Sounds like a bloody good idea to me, but I don’t want you all to become conscripts. I don’t want the mercenary life to be all your youngsters can look forward to.”
“Me neither, ma’am! We’ll just… establish contact, let it be known we could maybe hire out some of our folk for certain jobs.” His mouth opened in what she presumed was some kind of satisfied grin. “A few of the lads were talkin’ about the Company already, see, so I’m thinkin’ if they know they could get a special place wot with the trainin’ they’re gettin’, maybe they’ll make sure to finish their course. Then they can always fall back on repairin’ machinery if somethin’ happens.”
Sounded good to her. “Good thinking. Let me know if you need anything to help out with that. Also, I can start working on ingredients for gunpowder and firearms if you were planning on starting a little weapons design work.” His eyes went wide and his body was literally quivering with anticipation at the thought. “I’ll take that as a yes. It may take a few weeks to get everything sorted, but we’ll make it happen.”
“Ohhhh, thank you, ma’am. You’ve no idea how excited that makes me.”
Vitya laughed. “Actually, I think I do. Anything else for now, Chief? I should be getting home, starting work on those requisitions if not.”
The head rat performed a snappy salute. “No, ma’am! Have a smashing night, and I’ll send a lad ‘round with a note when we’ve settled on a graduation date.”
Her whole walk back to the hotel, Saevitia was smiling. The Hjalmar Memorial Community Center and Engineering Academy was turning out to be one of the best investments she’d ever made.