To the Stars

London has grown her heroes and stories.

She has declared her supremacy across the Zee.

But now, London turns her might to the ageless- the stars themselves. A smooth vessel, akin to a luxury locomotive stands as a symbol of her strength and ingenuity.

As with all things, this is unobtainable for many. The poor, the dead and dying.

Yet even some among the powerful also cannot follow. But no matter their profession or wealth or standing, every Londoner knows of this invention. For many, it brings pride. Some, envy or even anger. The people of Nidah and even the Presbyter listen in shock. But under the Zee, Seven plot against them. The Khanate forbids speaking of it, while those in the Khan’s Shadow happily cheer at the news.

The Longshanks Gunner reads the news happily. She puts the Gazette down, and buys a round of drinks for the entire pub. She asks for a toast for a Zee Captain that helped her, long ago. &quotThey probably caused this.&quot She mutters to herself. They had a way of finding themselves in important mischief.

In the Palace, there is open, but quiet celebration. A succession of plays proclaim the glory of London. But it is tinged by bitterness. There are many visits to the Palace cellars. One visitor goes left, the other continues straight ahead. They open the doors that hide their loved ones. One struggles to explain the development in an ancient language. The other explains her ambition, her pride, her sorrow. She promises to find them a lead container so they might see the stars. She leaves them to their feast.

In the spires of the Bazaar, quite a few Masters are angry or impatient. These Londoners achieved their birthright without sacrifice. They were cast to the Earth, and now beings lower on the Chain may fly, while they are exiled to the Neath.

Mr. Fires listens calmly to their meetings. Wines is calm, and states that they can still return if they fulfill their debt. The others protest. Pages remains nonchalant at the news, though he is excited by the literature that would be created by space travel.

Stones is angry at the ‘hubris’ of the Londoners, and declares that London’s time is at an end. Cups nods in assent. Fires objects, but Stones simply ignores him. Fires and Stones argue much less frequently, but their anger at each other festers longer and more powerfully. Wines steps in, and Stones questions his actions with the Empress’ Shadow, how his mission could succeed if Wines rejects such a notion himself? Wines simply departs.

Veils laughed during one of these meetings. He noted he is not tied by the same debts. While the other Masters fear Veils, they do not respect him. Insults and arguments followed, with accusations of being a traitor. Veils spent more and more time away from the others. His teeth grew more stained. After the meeting, he returned to find his rooms ruined, his guards killed by Cantigaster Venom.

The Vake begun targeting several of the Masters’ industries, carrying off terrified Neddy Men, Special Constables, anyone that he can find. Veils begins to smile more frequently.

The other Masters talk less and less, preferring to stay in their spires. They had settled in mutual distrust long ago, but now hatred blossoms among them. At their last disastrous meeting, Fires realized this had hastened their decision to begin the next Fall. Wines would head to the Surface soon, through bombed and war torn cities to Paris. Fires clutched a River-in-a-box as he looked onto the Stolen River. The end would soon come. He felt a pang of something, not quite guilt, as he remembered the Second City, and their betrayal. So this is what he felt. No! We are nothing alike! He opens his window and tosses his candles through the window. The cycle will continue. The Masters will join wearily in their duty. But nothing more. London is lost.

Wines dreams of a long road. It asks a twelfth Master if they will succeed. But their voice is blotted by the roar of a star- Correspondence. Wines hefts his sack- filled with scraps of paper, journals, mementos of love. It is weightless in the High Wilderness, but Wines finds difficult to walk, or to fly. He knows he travels alone as he walks into the blazing light-

February checks her timepiece as she watches bats fly over the Flit. &quotThe delivery was supposed to happen 30 minutes ago.&quot

Her lieutenant nods. &quotOur lookouts reported a bombing, as well as a foray of undercover Constables into the Flit. They were most likely delayed.&quot February is not unpleased. Three of the delivery teams had made it, while the others could be freed if necessary. And of course, the most crucial part of their plan is already secured. &quotIs my Zubmarine ready?&quot She asks. She is prepared to see the fruit of her, and many others, plans. She has seen hints of what is to come- blackened stars. A murderer waiting in the depths of the Zee.

It is time for Liberation.

When the rocket launches, the Tireless Mechanic will have to say goodbye to her wife, the Dauntless Academic.

She cannot go. The Fall took that from her. The Tireless Mechanic died rescuing workers from a collapsed factory. She remembers being pinned by machinery, then being consumed by blackness, and waking up on the boat.

She tries to hold on to the days she has with her. If the Dauntless Academic is to fly, she is to do so on one condition- to return to the Neath.

The Regretful Soldier gave the newspaper to Agnes, and sank into the chair next to her. She read, and turned and smiled. Her emotions had come back, after they had received a package with the hook and cross of the CVR. He asks if she would like to see the exhibition, and she nods eagerly. The shadows of their past, left in the disarray of the house, of the empty bottles she finds under furniture, remain. But something better lingers. Hope.

The locomotive is three compartments long, lined with silk. The windows are covered with lead shutters, and gas lamps adorn the walls, next to cannons. Several foremost inventors of the Neath are invited to take cannons and weapons and fire at the vessel. There is a furious protest when a man suggests using an Icarus in Black, and he is firmly shown the door.

Around the exhibition is a small circus set up by Mrs. Plenty. There is wine and honey, provided by the Masters. Mechanical devices stamp inkpads and then paper to create postcards of the High Wilderness. Urchins hand out free copies of the Magazine Formerly Known as the London Magazine. There is wine and song, and many notable Londoners mingle in the crowd. Even the Mayor comes to look at the vessel. There are even spies sent by the Presbyterate, asking obliquely for help in sabotaging the vessel- and quite a few Constables and Admiralty agents keep a careful ear out.

Here stands London’s future.
edited by Ixc on 9/30/2017