Born in an oil-drum south side of Chicago, it's Cogs! Brought to you by Dr. Aldridge's Miracle Salve, a patented concoction of engine grease, witch hazel, and Dr. Aldridge's secret ingredient! Guaranteed to arrest the effects of lycanthropic transformation or your money back!

Rome, night. The shivering gaslamps in the shadow of the Colosseum have not yet been replaced by electricks, not because of laziness on the part of the Enlightenment, but rather the snail's pace of the Italian bureaucracy—an object at rest which Enlightenment efficiency has been unable to supplant. At this hour in the early evening, the streets are already empty. It's not because of some draconian crackdown on civilian activity; it's because every civilian in Rome either operates machinery in the factories or oversees the people operating machinery, and most of them have just finished a sixteen hour shift and have no interest in nightlife. A quarter of a century earlier the area swarmed with tourists from all over the world, clogging traffic and reducing efficiency by at least three hundred per cent. Now even the rats have Enlightenment paperwork in triplicate authorizing their presence in the gutters.

But the streets aren't completely empty tonight. Two figures, not exactly skulking, but not exactly happy about the way they stick out on the street either, make their way past the structures of antiquity and turn off the Via Aurelia into an alley that's a lot cleaner than most other dark alleys they've found themselves entering over the course of their lives. They're Newton Falk and Luka Arlexi, and they're on a date. The alley leads to a door with a sign over it, which reads "Tonio's".

Newton Falk:"I hear they have really good noodly stuff here."

Luka Arlexi: "I'm sure…" Luka looks around, looking especially out of place in a long, multi-layered dress, shrug, and gloves. None of her scars are visible, but then not much of her is other than her face. "There are going to be other people there, yes?"

Newton Falk: "You think I have enough money to rent the place? Besides, it's our first date." Big smile

Luka Arlexi: "Because of a bet," Luka reminds him.

Newton Falk: Still Big smile

Newton Falk: As they reach the door, Newton leaps in front of her awekwardly to open the door. Luka abruptly stops, pushing Newton against the door, they enter with a rattle and a glare.

Captain Genevieve Sparling: A reed-thin man who appears to be the maître d', chef, and only waiter sits at one of the tables, filling the tiny space with a haze of cigar smoke. He turns to regard Newton and Luka as they enter, but seems to be in no rush to help them. He stretches, downs the rest of his chianti, stands, straightens his dress jacket, drapes a tea towel that used to be white over his right arm, and walks over to the podium before them. "And how many will be dining tonight?" he asks in tone of perfect disinterest.

Newton Falk: "Two." Big smile at Luka.

Captain Genevieve Sparling: "Buono," the man says noncommittally. He leads them to a seemingly random table and pulls a chair out for Luka. The menu is a single thin sheet of brass stamped with the selections (in Italian and English, so Enlightenment employees can order without embarrassment); he tosses two onto the checkered tabletop with a clang. "To drink?"

Luka Arlexi: "Whatever you're having," Luka answers dryly.

Newton Falk: "Ah, wine…?" Newton looks at the waiter a bit helplessly.

Captain Genevieve Sparling: "The chianti, then." He wanders through a door at the back of the place, and distantly they can hear him yelling at someone.

Luka Arlexi: "Efficient spaghetti?" Luka reads aloud, and with some dubiousness.

Newton Falk: "Yeah…" Newtons looks over the menu, then turns it right side up, "I speak Italian, can't a read a word. What's a Keyantee? Is that a native?"

Luka Arlexi: "It's a wine."

Newton Falk: "Ah. I'm guessing it isn't fortified."

Captain Genevieve Sparling: The man moseys back out of the room after a particularly vehement bit of shouting, a bottle of respectably vintage wine in one hand and two fairly clean glasses in the other. He uncorks the bottle without ceremony and pours. "Have you made your selections?" he inquires, and yawns.

"Dr" Evelyn Higgenbotham:

Luka Arlexi: "How's the Penne alla Autoarabiata?"

Newton Falk: "Yeah, that one," Newton says pointing.

Captain Genevieve Sparling: "It's quite spicy."

Newton Falk: Newton looks at the menu again, "I'll have that one then."

Luka Arlexi: "Likewise." Luka sets the menu aside.

Captain Genevieve Sparling: "Penne alla Autoarabiata for signore, e la signora. Subito!" He disappears into the back room and shouts for several minutes.

Newton Falk: "Wow, do they run this place on anger or what?"

Captain Genevieve Sparling: Whether a quiet, subservient cook is taking the brunt of his ire or the man is alone with a variant of Tourette's Syndrome is not readily evident.

Luka Arlexi: Luka takes a drink of the wine, and shrugs. She makes a face. "Never could get a taste for the fancy drinks."

Michael Harrel: From outside the resturaunt comes the sound of a steambike, roaring up at speeds most likely a great deal faster than the posted regulatory limits.

Following quickly on its heels comes the siren of a police carriage in hot pursuit. There's the pop! pop! pop! of gunfire, and as the sound of the steamcycle is just outside the resturaunt there's a sudden screech and a great crash as the flips over and slams into the building. The sounds of sirens close in, and there is the sound of carraige doors opening and a great clamor people shouting and running. Then, thirteen or fourteen shots in rapid succession. And then just the droning wail of sirens.

Then, heavy footsteps lead up to the resturaunt door, and a man enters wearing a leather vest, a Boss of the Plains hat, and riding goggles. He has a fancy two-gun rig and walks with a confident swagger. He strides directly to the maitre de, and demands "Whiskey."

Newton Falk: Newton seems not to notice at all. "The wine isn't that bad… a little weak."

Captain Genevieve Sparling: The waiter has emerged from the back room to see what the commotion's about, having somehow heard it all over his own shouting. "Eh… cosa?"

Luka Arlexi: Luka watches the man out of the corner of her eye. She pulls up her handbag and sets it onto the table with a faint clanking noise.

Newton Falk: Newton looks over his wine at the bag, the finishes the glass in a gulp.

Luka Arlexi: "Just in case," she says softly.

Newton Falk: He lifts the bottle, pours another glass, fills Lukas and gently tests the wieght in his hand.

Newton Falk: He shrugs at Luka and smiles. "Seems like trouble doesn't want to give us a night off, huh?"

Luka Arlexi: Luka nods approvingly.

Michael Harrel: "No, I don't want your damn cosa; whatever in the hell that is," drawls the man in the hat. "I want some fuckin' whiskey, or whatever the hell passes fer strong drink round these parts."

Captain Genevieve Sparling: The waiter scuttles off, having understood "strong drink" and "fuckin'".

He returns with uncustomary swiftness with an elegant glass of some kind of red liqueur and presents it to the newcomer.

The man takes the glass and downs it in one swig. Then turns and, with a tip of his hat in Luka's direction, he exits.

From outside there's the sound of a steamcycle starting up, and it roars off into the distance.

Newton Falk: Newton gives a disapproving glare over his shoulder. "The hell was that about?"

Luka Arlexi: Luka blinks, and sets her handbag bag onto the floor. "No idea."

Captain Genevieve Sparling:
"Cazzo," sighs the waiter, then goes back into his little room and shouts some more.

He had plans to drink that liqueur later.

Luka Arlexi: She muses, "His bike sounded in need of a tune-up, though. Tail pipe sounded loose."

Newton Falk: "Would that cause it, and him, to explode?"

Luka Arlexi: "Doubt it." She takes a drink of wine.

Newton Falk: "Pity."

Luka Arlexi: She shrugs. "Your mood seems to have soured, Mr. Falk. Is something troubling you?"

Newton Falk: "Eh, you're right." Newton brightens up. "Why be sad when we're on our first date, and the world could end any minute?"

Luka Arlexi: Luka nods. "That's more like you."

Captain Genevieve Sparling: With a shout, a clink of plates, and a squeak of rusty hinges, the waiter backs through the kitchen door and turns, plates balanced on both arms and laden with colorful pasta that actually looks and smells quite delicious. He arrays the plates on the table, showers them liberally with shredded parmesan (not stopping no matter how many times Newton and Luka say that's enough), and wisks himself away without bothering to ask if they need anything else.

Newton Falk: "Fresh, pepper… damn."

Luka Arlexi: "I've never had dinner remind me of St. Petersburg before."

Newton Falk: "Double damn."

Captain Genevieve Sparling: After a bit more shouting, the waiter emerges, returns to his table, and lights another cigar. He doesn't look at Newton and Luka.

Newton Falk: As they eat, Newton keeps looking around expecting trouble to jump out of any corner.

Luka Arlexi: "I've never seen the Captain so furious," Luka muses. "She actually set that man on fire."

Newton Falk: "Some people just need killin'." Newton says around a mouthful of pasta.

Luka Arlexi: "He might not… actually be dead," she adds doubtfully. "He was screaming an awful lot when we left. After Higgenbotham kicked him in the shins."

Newton Falk: Newton gives her an "Honestly?" sort of look, then turns back to his pasta. After a moment he looks up. "Sorry I'm not more chatty. I feel like I'm tanking the date."

Captain Genevieve Sparling: Very, very quietly, the kitchen door inches open and a large grey-haired woman in an apron pokes her head out and stares with unmitigated wonder, and maybe a tiny bit of fear, at the two foreign diners. She bears a striking resemblance to the waiter. She's almost certainly his mother.

Luka Arlexi: Luka hasn't noticed her yet. "Neither one of us is on fire. I'd say today's a good day."

Newton Falk: "You're right again, and the night is still young."

Captain Genevieve Sparling: The woman ducks back into the kitchen, leaving only the scent of marinara behind. After a moment there comes a faint tapping, arhythmic and somewhat metallic, from beyond the door.

Newton Falk: Newton perks up, a curious expession on his face. "Does that sound like morse code to you?"

Newton begins writing on the table cloth, working out the message…

Captain Genevieve Sparling: He's missed a few letters, but he catches A-R-E A-I-U-T-I T-O-N-I-O-S V-I-A A-U-R-E-L-I-A. L-A R-E-S-I-S-T-E-N-Z-A…

Luka Arlexi: "Well?"

Newton Falk: "Crap…" He says, still transcoding. "I got nothing, they don't swear once."

Captain Genevieve Sparling: Over at his own table, the waiter seems to have noticed the tapping sounds, or at least the lack of cooking sounds, and gets up to check on the woman.

Oddly, once he's behind the kitchen door, he doesn't yell.

Luka Arlexi: Luka glances over at his scribblings. "La resistenza… the resistance?"

Captain Genevieve Sparling: A moment later he comes back out, hands primly behind his back, and moves to stand at Newton and Luka's table. "More wine?" he asks, sounding as if he might actually care.

Newton Falk: Newton covers the table cloth with his hand and smiles at him "Sure!, Thanks."

Captain Genevieve Sparling: The waiter disappears into the back room and returns, only seconds later, with two glasses, already full of dark red liquid.

Newton Falk: "Ooo, what's this called?" Newton says a bit too animated.

Captain Genevieve Sparling: "Cavallo tranquillante," says the waiter with irrepressable smugness. He walks into the kitchen and props the door open slightly so he can watch.

Luka Arlexi: "Now they're not even trying."

Newton Falk: Newton gives Luka a half smile. He turns to the kitchen, "Excuse me! Can you come here a minute?"

Captain Genevieve Sparling: The man hesitates, just for a moment. Then he walks over, hands still behind his back.

Luka Arlexi: She looks over at Newton. To anyone else, this would be a look of mild irritation. To Newton, this look appears to say, "Knock this over onto my dress, so I can get mad and swing my strangely heavy purse at you, but hit him instead."

Newton Falk: Newton turns to the man as he reaches the table, "There seems to be something in the bottle here-" and bumps the bottle onto the table, sending a spray of wine toward the waitor, causing some to splash on Luka as well.

Captain Genevieve Sparling: The man flinches and looks with disdain at his now-stained trousers.

Michael Harrel: The man's trousers start to smoke.

Luka Arlexi: Luka stands, knocking the chair back. She swears in Russian, lifts up her purse, and swings it in a wide arc. It connects with the man's face, making a rather satisfying crunch.

Newton Falk: Newton looks at the man's pants, "You guys don't play, I like that!"

Luka Arlexi:
(Sum: 9)3xD6: 2 3 4

Captain Genevieve Sparling: 20:52:06

Luka Arlexi: The man crumples to the floor, pants still smoking slightly. "Brick?" Newton asks doubtfully, eyeing the handbag. "Collapsable pipe-wrench," Luka says idly. "I feel naked without it." She nudges the unconcious man with her shoe. "Let's get out of here."

Newton Falk: "I wouldn't want you to feel naked…"

Captain Genevieve Sparling: At the sound of the man hitting the floor, the woman from the kitchen emerges and sees what's happened. "Mio figlio!" she cries, and dashes back into the kitchen. She returns with a very dirty meat-cleaver. "Ribelli feccia!" She runs toward Newton and Luka.

Luka Arlexi: Luka takes her wine glass and chucks it at the woman. "Less talking, more running."

Captain Genevieve Sparling: Outside, the distant sirens have grown significantly less distant.

Captain Genevieve Sparling: Fortunately, there are two abandoned police carriages in the alley, surrounded by corpses!

Newton Falk: "No…" Newton says smiling brightly. He turns to look at Luka.

Luka Arlexi: "No."

Newton Falk: "No?"

Luka Arlexi: "I have no interest in being held responsible for people I haven't actually killed."

Newton Falk: "Fair enough." Newtons says. They run a few yards down the alley, then Newton turns, a pistol in his hand. "You didn't think you were the only one who goes on dates armed, sis you?" With that he sights the carriage and shoots the release on the main steam pressure chamber. The explosion leaves bits of the cart spread all over the alley, blocking any persuit vehicles. Big smile.

Luka Arlexi: Luka looks impressed. "To be honest, I hadn't given it much thought."

Newton Falk: "Let's finish this date on the run. Someone wants us dead and I'm running out of one liners"

Captain Genevieve Sparling: CUT TO: A dark, filty sewer. The depressing little brother of the aqueducts, Rome's sewers are equally stunning triumphs of engineering, but the difference is no one really wants to look at them up close. A slouching street urchin stands ankle-deep in sludge, vandalizing the bricks with a bit of chalk, but he stops and withdraws into a small alcove when he hears splashing. Newton and Luka (her skirt held immodestly above her ankles to prevent further spoiling) run straight past the boy's hiding spot, but he recognizes them and shouts, "Hey stupido!" after them. When they turn back, scowling, he selects a certain brick in the wall and wiggles it in its mortar. An entire section of the sewer wall, almost as tall as Newton, hinges outward, revealing light beyond. They enter and the boy goes back to his graffiti.

Newton Falk: Newton tips him as he enters. And gives him the rest of the first wine bottle.

Captain Genevieve Sparling: Inside is the headquarters of la Resistenza, whose
founders clearly took the term "underground" literally. The warren has been carved out of the earth beneath Rome, bordered on one side by the protective wall around Rome (which la Resistenza tunneled under from the outside), another by the sewer main, and a third by the catacombs beneath the Vatican, which la Resistenza would be using if they weren't claimed by the Enlightenment. People bustle from corridor to corridor with paperwork, supplies, food, and guns. Nearly any flat surface is fair game for a place to sleep. And in the center of it all is a large chamber containing several desks. One, surrounded by a hastily-erected wall of spare wood and earth, is Doctor Higgenbotham's. One, covered in annotated maps of Rome and hand-drawn maps of the underworld, is Felix's. And one is now occupied by two people, Captain Sparling and the leader of la Resistenza, Giovanni Onofrio.

Captain Genevieve Sparling: Onofrio is an old, thin man who could be considered frail if you failed to notice the iron look in his eyes. He has been leading la Resistenza since its formation two decades earlier. Seven years ago part of the wall around Rome was destroyed; this was Onofrio's brainchild. It's since been rebuilt, of course, but he's still known colloquially as Il Cacciatorpediniere.

Captain Genevieve Sparling: That is, they call him Il Cacciatorpediniere when they're not calling him Il Direttore, due to his former occupation in community theater.

Captain Genevieve Sparling: Sparling and Onofrio look up as Newton and Luka enter. Felix turns at his desk and takes in their formal apparel, flushed faces, and sodden shoes. "Captain," he says, "how long was that?" Sparling consults her pocketwatch. "Forty minutes." Felix brightens. "I win the pool, then!"

"Dr" Evelyn Higgenbotham: Evelyn is bundled in a blanket and doing calculations. It looks like she sleeps, wakes up and does science, sleeps, wakes up and does science. It cannot be told if she has left her "room" at all.

Luka Arlexi: "High or low better?" Luka asks.

Captain Genevieve Sparling: "I didn't think you'd make it out the door," Sparling says.

"Dr" Evelyn Higgenbotham: "I acutally agreed with the captain on that," she says not looking up.

Newton Falk: "What was the earliest bet?"

"Dr" Evelyn Higgenbotham: "Well, I honestly would have bet that Luka would have never agreed in the first place, but that just shows that you can't always depend on people to keep their wits about them," she giggles quietly.

Captain Genevieve Sparling: If Onofrio finds humor in any of this, he doesn't show it. "Were you followed?" he demands.

Luka Arlexi: "Unless unconcious men have learned to do so, no."

Newton Falk: "She's a got a hell of a reach with that wrench."

Captain Genevieve Sparling: "Well," says Sparling, "you're just in time. Costa just made it back from the boat with his report."

Michael Harrel: Light Brown VII, the eugengineered hydrorg dog-panther animal, walks over to Luka and sniffs. "How much did you pay for that chianti?" he says.

Luka Arlexi: "Nothing. Had a bit of a dispute with the waiter."

Newton Falk: "You could say it was on the house. And embedded in the walls."

Michael Harrel: "Ah. Well at least the parmesian doesn't smell like it was too bad. A bit too much of it, maybe." Light Brown VII pads off toward a corner to angst about how much his feline aspect hates his canine, and vice versa.

Captain Genevieve Sparling: Sparling glances at Onofrio and rolls her eyes. "Is anyone here interested in what the Enlightenment is doing with the parts it ships out of Rome?"

Newton Falk: Newton raises his hand.

Captain Genevieve Sparling: "Thank you. Right. Costa took his fishing boat and his telescope as close as he could get to the islands, but they're monitoring the water closely and he couldn't see much. He did see several airships maneuvering bits of machinery into place, which suggests they've finished the ground-level portions of this… project, and have moved on to something higher." She has not told Onofrio what the Enlightenment is building, though the man was well aware, even before the Aether's crew arrived, that something big was going down.

Captain Genevieve Sparling: "Onofrio and I have been discussing what measures we should take. The Aether can be ready to fly in a day, but of course the last time we tried to get close to the island we got chased off. La Resistenza has no other airships among its assets, so the easiest way to make an approach in force is by boat. And after the incident this afternoon and my… conversation… with Mr. Collins, we don't have many friends among the fishermen."

Newton Falk: "How many folks you looking to sneak in?"

Captain Genevieve Sparling: (Over the last hour or so, the younger agents of la Resistenza have begun calling Sparling La Fuoca, though never to her face.)

Luka Arlexi: "He really shouldn't have said that," Luka affirms.

Captain Genevieve Sparling: Sparling glances to Onofrio. It's clear the very idea of getting closer to the Enlightenment's doomsday machine sickens her, but she knows this is their best chance to destroy it before it's operational, and Onofrio is bolstered by the confidence of someone who has absolutely no idea what he's getting into. "I small strike team should be sufficient," the old man says. "Perhaps a dozen."

Newton Falk: "That all?" Newton gesters as though he's holding a large box. "Skycrane can hold a lot of weight. But it's just a light airframe with a couple huge engines and a winch. It's easier to hide something really big than sorta big."

Michael Harrel: There's a loud knocking on the door of the sewer entrance. It sounds urgent.

Captain Genevieve Sparling: Sparling draws her pistol instantly. The street urchin doesn't knock.

"Lights out," Onofrio hisses. Immediately other la Resistenza agents douse the kerosene lamps throughout the warren.

Captain Genevieve Sparling: The central chamber is now lit only by a faint glow coming from Doctor Higgenbotham's desk.

"Dr" Evelyn Higgenbotham: "Oh, right," she flips the light off.

Captain Genevieve Sparling: Sparling gets up and eases over to the door.

"Dr" Evelyn Higgenbotham: Another faint glow appears. "WE CAN STILL SEE THAT!" Onofrio hisses angrily. It goes out.

Captain Genevieve Sparling: Her hand on the door's lever, Sparling calls, "Avete qualche merda per noi?"

Within la Resistenza, Sparling is known as La Ambasciatore, and has been given the task of speaking with any non-Italians who may be useful to the underground. (Everyone in la Resistenza speaks English, but that doesn't mean they want to if it can be avoided.) This is great for Sparling, since her Italian is rather dodgy. But she can pull off the secret passphrase well enough.

Michael Harrel: Various resistance members in different states of woundedness pour through the door; there's about six of them. The last leads in a few other people, all of whom look rather dazed. The leader of the group comes in last; it's the resistance operative known as Il Vescovo, a former clergyman turned anti-state terrorist.

"We caught the prison caravan before it reached the compound," he says to Onofrio in Italian.

Captain Genevieve Sparling: Sparling relaxes, just a little. She checks the sewer and shuts the door behind them. "Have they already been reeducated?" Onofrio asks Il Vescovo.

Michael Harrel: "Potentially. I would watch them very carefully — those two especially have suspicious looking scars."

He points to two of the refugees, who are taking off their disguising cloaks.

Newton and Sparling both gasp at once.

The first prisoner is a middle eastern woman dressed all in red. The second is Pavel.

Cut to: Commercial.


"Dr" Evelyn Higgenbotham: The Red Baroness leaps at Newton, "Infidel!"

Newton Falk: "She's fine."

"Dr" Evelyn Higgenbotham: Evelyn looks up cheerily, "Well, thank god for that!"

Everyone else looks confused as some others hold her back.

Newton Falk: Newton pinches the bridge of his nose and closes his eyes, "I'm-so-glad-you're-both-alive-blah-blah-blah." He says in a quick monotone.

Luka Arlexi: "You are?"

Newton Falk: Newton looks at Luka, "No, not her. But the rules say that she's on our side now. Like it or not."

Luka Arlexi: Luka looks as though she is about to ask, and then thinks better of it. "Of course." She pats his shoulder.

"Dr" Evelyn Higgenbotham: The Red Baroness looks like she's trying to bite her arms off to get away.

Captain Genevieve Sparling: Sparling waves two la Resistenza guards forward. "Take the lot of them to the dungeons."

Captain Genevieve Sparling: The guards move to comply. While the Red Baroness resists, Pavel does not. Instead he gives Sparling an understanding look. "I'd do the same for you, comrade," he says, "until I was certain."

CUT TO: The dungeons. They're not quantifiably different from the rest of the underground base, but the doors are heavier.

Newton Falk: "Damn, this place is nicer than my roon… Capt, can I stay in the dungeon?"

Captain Genevieve Sparling: "Didn't your pirate friend have a story about the last time you had to do that?"

"Dr" Evelyn Higgenbotham: "Yes, can he," Evelyns voice sounds.

Captain Genevieve Sparling: Through a sliding hatch in one cell door, Sparling watches Onofrio interviewing the Red Baroness. She seems relatively sedate, since Newton isn't in the room.

Sparling is only delaying the inevitable. With a sigh she shuts the hatch and turns to a door on the other side of the hallway, beyond which Pavel is being held.

She checks that her pistol is loaded, unlocks the door, and steps inside. "If I'm not out in fifteen minutes," she tells the present crewmembers, "shoot him and drop what's left of me in the Mediterranean."

Newton Falk: "That's assuming something untoward happens, right Capt.? I just want to cover this first to avoid you gunning me down later damp and angry."

Luka Arlexi: "Understood, Captain."

Luka pointedly ignores Newton's question

Captain Genevieve Sparling: "Yes, yes, have Doctor Higgenbotham make sure I'm dead. She can even poke me with something sharp if she wants." This is said without any humor whatsoever. The door swings shut behind her.

"Dr" Evelyn Higgenbotham: You can hear a squee from behind closed doors.

Captain Genevieve Sparling: Sparling seats herself on the near side of a heavy table, to which Pavel is shackled on the far side. "Приятно видеть вас живым, comrade," she greets him. ((Nice to see you alive, comrade.))

Pavel: "And you, comrade." Pavel seems entirely earnest in this. But he looks tired, his time with the Enlightenment is still a weight on his shoulders.

Captain Genevieve Sparling: "You'll have to forgive the cold welcome. Onofrio and I have some questions for you."

Pavel: "Of course. I would be happy to answer you, if you trust me that is." There is a slight smile as he says this.

Captain Genevieve Sparling: "Trust is earned. You taught me that."

Pavel: "The Enlightenment are theives though. You and your crew know that first hand, no?"

Captain Genevieve Sparling: Sparling keeps her gaze steady. "So do you. How did you avoid sharing the fate of your warehouse?"

Pavel: "That was the easiest bit. I was the one who told the enlightenment about my operations."

Captain Genevieve Sparling: Sparling can't help but smirk at that. "That's insane, and exactly what I would expect from you. What did that accomplish?"

Pavel: "It helped them trust that the procedure was a success. I'm sure they would be quite disappointed to hear that thier little souverier (he holds his bound hands up to trace the scar) was self influcted." He places on the table a three inch retractable pocket knife, well worn. Meeting Sparlings eyes he slides it to her and retracts his hands.

Captain Genevieve Sparling: She takes the knife and places it in her coat pocket, next to her pistol, making sure the metal pieces clink together loudly enough for him to hear. "And in exchange for this show of good faith, they brought you to Rome… why?"

Pavel: "That was my idea. You see they are looking for you, someone in particular is quite interested in your and your crew. They believed that I would be able to disern your ways and track you down. Unfortunately, I proved to be quite inaccurate in my methods. After serveral weeks traveling to remote tropical islands they endevored to put me to better use. I suggested that my talents in logistics would be suited to a large facilately, perhaps Rome. And now I'm here. Exactly where I expected you would find yourselves before long."

Captain Genevieve Sparling: "Terribly convenient. I searched for you, of course, but this trip was a favor for a friend and we weren't technically supposed to be here so long. Obviously you've thought this through much better than I have. I suppose you were responsible for the prison caravan falling into Il Vescovo's hands, as well?"

Pavel: He shrugs.

Captain Genevieve Sparling: "Well, this has resolved precisely fuck-all," Sparling sighs.

Pavel: "I do not envy your position, though you know I've been there. You do in fact have an additional problem. The woman in red. When she is awake she talks only of killing your pilot. When she sleeps she talks of your engineer. I believe the enlightment may have made a mistake in programing her as an assassin. She was working here in administration when I found her. I believed it a good idea to keep an eye on her until we made contact."

Captain Genevieve Sparling: "Hell." Sparling massages her temples to ward off a migraine. "If they got to you, they haven't tampered with your personality—you're as infuriating as ever."

Pavel: He shrugs.

Captain Genevieve Sparling: "Onofrio and I will have a talk, provided the assassin hasn't seduced and strangled him yet. Doctor Higgenbotham might bring you a spot of tea later on. Try to disregard the taste." She stands, and raps her fingers thrice on the heavy door. As a guard unlocks it she turns back and says, "I missed you, you bloody fool."

Pavel: He smiles. And shrugs. "I will be glad to be away from the Enlightenments soft beds and warm food."

Pavel: "It is good to be back."

Newton Falk: "Capt?"

Captain Genevieve Sparling: Sparling steps back into the hallway. "Whole and hale, Mr. Falk."

Newton Falk: "Oh, good." Newton sounds like he may be a bit disappointed, but that could be the noisy hinges of the dungeon door.

Captain Genevieve Sparling: She steps across the hall and peers into the woman's room. Onofrio is still inside, and he looks like he's enjoying himself. "Right," she says, turning back. "Doctor Higgenbotham, if someone were to drink your marvelous curative serum when they were not, in fact, the Enlightenment's creature, what effect would it have on said hypothetical person?"

"Dr" Evelyn Higgenbotham: She peers out from her blanket, "Oh, hm. Which curative is this now?"

Captain Genevieve Sparling: Sparling rolls her eyes. "The one that transformed Felix back into a productive crewmember when he was trying to kill us all?"

"Dr" Evelyn Higgenbotham: "Oh, well, there's one way we can find out…"

"Dr" Evelyn Higgenbotham: "And besides, its not just the tea, its the whole process," she goes back to her writing. "Also, it's not tea," she seems annoyed that the captain got her to call it that.

Captain Genevieve Sparling: "The process… of… drinking the serum?" Sparling says, glancing to Felix.

"Dr" Evelyn Higgenbotham: "The serum is just the gateway. I need to talk them through the steps."

"Dr" Evelyn Higgenbotham: "If in trying to find out if Pavel is lying about being fine, we could always try a regular truth serum…" Her look says "Duh."

Captain Genevieve Sparling: "Of course," Sparling says drily, "why didn't I think of that?"

"Dr" Evelyn Higgenbotham: "I'm really not surprised you didn't," she goes back to her work.

Captain Genevieve Sparling: "Thank the fates you're on our side, Doctor, or untold thousands of rebel operatives would never have been forced to die in the act of keeping secrets from the Enlightenment." She goes to Higgenbotham's desk. "And I wouldn't have had to waste fifteen minutes just now. Please tell me you have some truth serum close at hand."

"Dr" Evelyn Higgenbotham: Evelyn fishes around inside her blanket, "I made some while you were wasting time." She hands a phial to the captain.

Captain Genevieve Sparling: Sparling takes it wordlessly, goes to the desk she shares with Onofrio, and takes a large clear bottle from the bottom drawer. "Another fifteen minutes," she says to Newton as she steps back into Pavel's cell.

Fifteen minutes and half a bottle later, both Pavel and Sparling exit the cell, slightly flushed, and mocking each other in Russian.

Onofrio, also slightly flushed, emerges from the opposite cell, and they all go off to plot together.

CUT TO: Much later that night. Felix knocks on the flimsy wooden door of Luka's room, softly calls, "Onofrio's called a meeting—five minutes," and then repeats the process at Newton's door down the hall.

Luka Arlexi: Luka pokes her head out of the door, and looks around. She glances back in. "You can stop hiding under my bed, now. She's not out here."

Newton Falk: "Are you sure I-"

Luka Arlexi: Luka waves a hand. "It's clear. And I don't want to have to try and explain why this isn't what it looks like."

Newton Falk: "Um, thanks." Newton breaks cover and sprints for his room. Half way down the hall grabs his pants from where they have been hanging from a wall fixure. A few moments later he emerges from his room as though nothing has happened.

Captain Genevieve Sparling: Felix had noticed the pants, but saved any potential comments for later, when others were around to laugh.

Luka Arlexi: Luka doesn't seem to have noticed.

Captain Genevieve Sparling: The central area of the underground headquarters has been cleared of sleeping la Resistenza operatives, and is lit only by a couple candles on Onofrio's desk. He, Pavel, Sparling, and Felix are seated around it, with two extra chairs. The absence of anyone else is a bit odd. Even for the most top secret of la Resistenza business matters, there are always at least three or four other Italians present, mostly because it can't be avoided, but also because Onofrio wants absolute transparency at all levels of the rebellion. That he has invited no one other than the Aether's crew and Pavel suggests this is a grave matter indeed.

"Thank you for joining us," Onofrio says as Luka and Newton seat themselves. He has angled his head almost directly above one of the candles, and eerie shadows fall across his aging face. "During my conversation with the young lady in the dungeon, I obtained information that dramatically changes the parameters of our mission."

"It turns out there is another way into the Enlightenment's construction facility," Onofrio continues. "Our guest has revealed that there is a tunnel on the far side of the island, and comrade Baranov has confirmed this." Pavel nods. "While this drainage spout provides effortless access to the center of the facility, it rules out Mr. Falk's skycrane, as well as your esteemed airship. We would be forced to take a single fishing boat to avoid attracting attention."

Newton Falk: "Sounds easy enough. When do we go?" Newton says trustingly.

Captain Genevieve Sparling: "The sooner the better," Sparling says. "Doctor Higgenbotham didn't answer our summons, but we'll take a few of her chemical bombs with us and use the space she would have taken up on the boat for extra munitions. Costa will be waiting for us at the docks before dawn."

Sparling, for her part, seems thrilled to finally be accomplishing something. There's about a tablespoon of liquid left in the clear bottle she took to Pavel's cell, and she keeps glancing at the Russian as if she can't quite believe they're finally working together again.

"Once we're inside," Onofrio says, "our objective is to sabotage their equipment to whatever degree we can manage, and get back out before they know we're there. Any objections?"

They wait a moment in silence, then Sparling says, "Gather what you need and meet back here in an hour."


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