2 7

INT. A DARK, LONG ROOM WITH A LOW CEILING—LIKE PROBABLY UNDERGROUND OR SOME SHIT

Representatives from various other small resistance groups are gathered around a long table, talking quietly. As the Aether's crew enters, there is silence for a brief moment. Fox gestures for them to continue.

Michael Harrel: "So," says Newton to Marshall. "You're saying we need a…hobot detection device? At this point, I think we should leave that to the experts," he says, gesturing to the croud gathered around the table

A shoddy looking man in rags, clearly a hobo of some sort is seated near a group of similarly attired men. He continues speaking after acknowledging the crews presence. "As I was saying, the American deligation is prepared to assist you in your fight against the Enlightenment. My men and I have been operating in secret across this country for some time and we have agents in discreet locations of interest."

A respectable looking gentleman is seated across from him and to the side, he eyes the American reprovingly and asks, "We appriciate the need for disguise, sir. But why do you insist on dressing as a vagerant here where your identity is secure?"

"What do you mean?" The man asks, puzzled, "This is how we always dress in America."

"Reckon that's just certain parts," says Marshall.

"Really? Newton asks, taking a seat a distance away.

"Dr" Evelyn Higgenbotham: Evelyn sighs in relief, "I knew hobos didn't really exist."

Luka Arlexi: "I don't think… ah… nevermind."

Michael Harrel: "That's just the fashion of dressing in the more trendy places," says Marshal. "They're tryin' to dress like our emperor."

The crowd in the room is becoming unruly, so Fox determines a way to quiet everyone down.

TWHIP!

"ROAAAAAAAR!"

Shwip! (reverse of thwip). The room is silent.

"Captain Sparling?" invites the Fox.

Captain Genevieve Sparling: Sparling clears her throat. "Right. My crew and I have just returned from Sicily, where the Enlightenment has nearly finished construction on a floating weapon of staggering power. This rather limits our options for battle strategies. The thought of approaching it in flight and somehow going aboard to destroy it fills me with an odd mix of dread and giddyness, but it's becoming increasingly clear that suicide missions are the only kind left to us, and we have only the slightest control over how much we sacrifice to do this."

"In any case, we have absolutely nothing on our side that can rival what the Enlightenment can wield, and as usual our plucky subvertiveness will have to see us through."

"Dr" Evelyn Higgenbotham: At this point, Evelyn stands up and clears her throat.
"That's not entirely true…"

Captain Genevieve Sparling: "A few phials of exploding fluid and a mechanical chair won't do the trick this time, Doctor."

Newton Falk: Newton shudders.

"Dr" Evelyn Higgenbotham: Evelyn smiles, "At this time, I would ask that all non-essential personnel leave the room immediately."

Captain Genevieve Sparling: Sparling folds her arms.

"Dr" Evelyn Higgenbotham: There is grumbling, but compliance. Soon the room is filled with only the faction leaders.

Evelyn procures some rolled up blue prints and spreads them out on the table.
"I have managed to procure some blueprints of said floating weapon and even added some improvements. I have spent quite some time re-designing, mostly from memory, this weapon and I know one thing…ours is better." She smiles, wickedly even. So! Where shall we begin construction?"

Captain Genevieve Sparling: Sparling's knuckles have gone white at the table's edge. She gazes at the blueprints in a fuming silence.

Michael Harrel: "So that's what Doc Brandon's been working on all this time," says Marshall. "One of those could come in pretty handy."

Captain Genevieve Sparling: "Absolutely not," Sparling says, her voice dangerously low.

"Dr" Evelyn Higgenbotham: Some random chap pipes up, "I don't see how we really have a choice in this."

Michael Harrel: "We could put it to a vote," says Daniel. The Americans in the room scoff. "A vote! what a stupid way to decide something," says the head…er…American.

Luka Arlexi: "We may want to at least consider it, Captain. Bring a knife to a fistfight, a gun to a knifefight, and an airship to a gunfight. We may need to bring a Higgenbotham to an…" she gestures at the plans. "Whatever-that-is fight."

Michael Harrel: "Mad bloody scientist fight?" says Felix.

Luka Arlexi: "Yes, that."

Newton Falk: "Don't go to mad bloody scientist fights…"

Captain Genevieve Sparling: "You've obviously been spending too much time around Mr. Falk," Sparling tells her, a little more sharply than she probably actually meant it.

Luka Arlexi: "I'd rather not go, myself, but you're the one who said we're running out of options."

"Dr" Evelyn Higgenbotham: "Oh, I will be bloody by that time, all right, but not with battle. Well, unless you count my bloody battle with my uterus."

Luka Arlexi: Luka is unfazed.

"Dr" Evelyn Higgenbotham: All the men look uncomfortable

Captain Genevieve Sparling: "Yes, we're running out of options. I don't know about the lot of you, but I certainly don't believe I'll live long enough to see a world without the Enlightenment. That doesn't mean I will lower myself to the level of our despicable overlords and actually condone the assembly of this… thing. If we make this, if we use it, we lose. Our children lose. If you want to give serious consideration to this idea, you may as well roll over and let the Enlightenment trample you."

"Dr" Evelyn Higgenbotham: Evelyn laughs, "Typicaly anti-science fear mongering. Have you lived so long under their thumb that you've forgotten to dream of the impossible? Stick with me and you may be able to see the day where Luka no longer has to run. Where no longer will you have to watch your friends' hairlines and temples for marks. Where you can finally rest your head in the knowledge that there will be no more gentlemen calling. Ever."

Michael Harrel: "Yes! No more gentlemen callers! Right, Luka?" says Scarlett.

Luka Arlexi: Felix sulks.

Captain Genevieve Sparling: "And the shadow of your great invention glides over hill and dale, keeping watch above your loyal minions, right, Doctor?" Sparling sighs, shakes her head, sits down. "I'll have no part of it."

Newton Falk: "I'll blow it up." Newton says. "We build it, but with a safety. When the enlightenments done, so is the weapon. I'll blow it up."

"Dr" Evelyn Higgenbotham: Evelyn giggles, "Minions? Me with minions? That's a very scary and unwelcome thought."

Michael Harrel: "I think we're all agreed on that point," says Marshall.

"Dr" Evelyn Higgenbotham: "Besides, that's what children and robots are for."

Michael Harrel: "Speaking of robots," says Daniel. "What about the Automatons? Shouldn't we wait to blow up the weapon till we've taken them out, as well?"

Michael Harrel: The Fox bonks him on the head.

Captain Genevieve Sparling: Sparling pinches the bridge of her nose and glances to Pavel, who shrugs sympathetically.

"Dr" Evelyn Higgenbotham: "Oh we could use the weapon to bring about peace through superior firepower. Or maybe, the enemy of my enemy is my friend? Any how, we should factor them into the equation somehow."

Michael Harrel: "There's always going to be just one more enemy," says Felix. "We'll always have someone trying to kill us. If it's not the Automatons, it's the exotic natives of the Orient. Or the savage natives of the dark Afric continent. Or the even more savage and unfathomable people of the American Empire. So where does it end? If we use it once, we'll find a need for it again."

Newton Falk: "So fuck it. We build the weapon, and we use it until someone else builds a bigger one. In between the mess we might just be able to live a few years decently. Not have to worry about this covert shit that steals your friends and turns family against you. Just good, honest, violent murder to worry about for once."

"Dr" Evelyn Higgenbotham: Evelyn looks a bit shocked, "I do believe this is one of the rare times that I am not opposed to Mr. Falk."

Michael Harrel: "You sure you've never been to America, Mr. Falk?" says Marshall. "You speak English pretty durn good."

Newton Falk: "So do you, I won't tell the Queen though."

Michael Harrel: "Now I'm never one to say that violence don't solve anything," says Marshall. "I've used it to solve pretty much every problem I ever had in my life. And I know I'm stepping in business that don't concern me, but I think the way things go is, if Doc Higgenbotham and the Enlightenment can come up with this thing, someone else will eventually too. A bigger one, too, like Falk here says. So I see the Cap'n's point, too, there — this road won't end once we start down it. On the other hand, I don't think we're going to bring down the enlightenment by talking nice at them."

Michael Harrel: "So here's what I think. I think that the Enlightenment needs to fall, and if we need Dr. Higgenbotham's weapon to drop it, so be it. But it ain't evil on its own. It's how it's used, and that's determined by who directs it. So if I have any say in this, which I don't, then first I say we bring down the government, and then my vote goes to Cap'n Sparling for leading the way with whatever comes after."

Captain Genevieve Sparling: Sparling slumps in her seat as if a great weight has just settled onto her shoulders.

"Dr" Evelyn Higgenbotham: Evelyn thinks on this, "Seems fair to me."

Captain Genevieve Sparling: Sparling blinks at Marshall and Evelyn in turn. "You're both insane."

"Dr" Evelyn Higgenbotham: Evelyn laughs, "And this is news?"

Michael Harrel: "I think the best people to have power is them that don't want it none," says Marshall. "Long as they have the wisdom to use it right once its forced on 'em."

Newton Falk: "The whole damn world's insane, Capt. You just seem to hang out with the crazies you prefer."

Captain Genevieve Sparling: A bitter laugh escapes her. "Right. Look, the Aether is at the disposal of this council. We'll fly where you tell us. My plan was to go find a nice cottage on a heath somewhere afterward and retire with a pack of hunting dogs and a lifetime supply of vodka. But if by some miracle I make it through this revolution without having my entrails removed or my brain re-wired, and more than two lunatics agree in some official way that I should have a position of power and leadership, well… I'll consider it."

Michael Harrel: "Well we certainly weren't going to elect Pavel," says The Fox.

Luka Arlexi: "Don't plan your martyrdom in advance, Captain," Luka adds wryly.

Captain Genevieve Sparling: "Others have been planning it for me for years now," Sparling replies.

"Dr" Evelyn Higgenbotham: "Yesyesyesyesyes, ok, good, fine. Where are we going to build this?" Evelyn points to the blueprints.

Captain Genevieve Sparling: As the others begin to discuss logistics, Sparling stands and turns to Higgenbotham. "It probably goes without saying, Doctor, but just in case I die before I have a chance to tell you, you're fired."

Michael Harrel: CUT TO COMMERCIAL.

AND NOW BACK TO COGS.
Michael Harrel: INT. THE MEETING ROOM. There's awkward silence, as Evelyn doesn't seem to notice that she's been fired.

Captain Genevieve Sparling: Sparling clears her throat. "Right. Well, if we're all agreed that you should build this monstrosity, Doctor, there's a team of scientists from New Oxford who should be arriving this evening. What other resources will you require?"

Michael Harrel: "Good old American know how?" suggests Marshall.

"Dr" Evelyn Higgenbotham: "I've made a list," she hands it to captain sparling.

Newton Falk: A collective snort is stiffled.

Captain Genevieve Sparling: She scans the list.

Luka Arlexi: "I'll go see what they've got in the warehouse, Captain," Luka offers, looking over her shoulder.

Captain Genevieve Sparling: "I doubt you'll find a croissant despensor, Luka," she says as she crosses it off the list, "but otherwise, have at."

"Dr" Evelyn Higgenbotham: "Spoilsport," Evelyn mumbles.

Luka Arlexi: "They are rather hard to find outside of France." Luka exits.

Michael Harrel: "Hard to find in France, too, since Paris walked out on them," says Marshall.

CUT TO: Following Luka. She exits the meeting hall and…does what?

Luka Arlexi:
Luka stops at an intersection, hesitating a moment before heading right. She ends up ducking through a door marked "Hangar." Several airships of various sizes are docked inside. She eyes one very large ship in particular. "No… It can't be…"

Michael Harrel: DUN DUN DUN!

Each consecutive DUN is a closer-up shot of the skull and crossbones painted crudely on the side of the airship.

Michael Harrel: CUT TO: THE MEETING ROOM.

A bunch of rowdy pirates enters from the way opposite where Luka just exited. They've got a bunch of rum, brandy, and tavern wenches with them, and generally cause a scene.

There is some shooting into the air, and people dodge chunks of falling ceiling.

Captain Genevieve Sparling: Pavel passes Sparling's flask back to her. "I knew this meeting was too quiet," she sighs as she takes a swig.

Michael Harrel: Roland Devlin throws his arm around Newton's shoulder and offers him a swig of brandy. "Considering I'm a contact of yours, mate, you surely don't contact me a whole lot."

Newton Falk: "Hi Morgan, I see Roland is too chicken, er caustious, to show up
himself." He pushes the arm off, "How long were you planning to let the assembly think your boss was an uncouth bastard who can't hold his liquor? Or did Devlin have some sort of plan to sweep on later all dashing and act like his ruse was clever?"

First Mate Morgan: "Arr, well shit. You could have played along a bit you know…" He sulks off and sends one of his men back out.

First Mate Morgan: "You're never any fun, you know?"

Michael Harrel: "Devlin's still aboard the ship, he'll be along shortly. Just making sure everything's tied down and no one can go running off with any of the smaller vessels."

Michael Harrel: CUT TO: THE PIRATE SHIP. Luka enters hesitantly.

Luka Arlexi: She looks around. "You have done well for yourself, Mr. Devlin," she mutters, and tries to sneak nonchalantly along the hallway. This is even more awkward than it sounds.

Michael Harrel: She "sneaks" along the empty hallway, eventually finding a sign marked "Hangar". This is the portal she's been looking for.

Luka Arlexi: She starts to open the door slowly, peeking inside.

Michael Harrel: The Pirate Ship, (which is named the Steel Eagle), houses a few other, smaller ships, mostly built for speed and maneuverability and firepower.

Luka Arlexi: "Hmm…" She scans the ships, and pulls the packet of papers out of her coat and flips through some blueprints of what looks like an underground complex. "I doubt anything here has enough firepower to get through a few kilometers of rock and sand. Speed it is."

Luka starts heading towards one of the smaller ships, but the sound of something metal hitting the floor makes her jump. She dives behind one of several crane controls (for assitance in docking the smaller ships), and peers around. The door into the room swings open, and a rather lanky man in a long sea-captain's coat takes quick stock of the room. "Sam! Was that you tramping about?" Luka swears under her breath and ducks fully behind the console, trying to hold perfectly still. The man's footsteps can be heard getting slowly closer, as he scans the room. "Sam?" Luka risks a peek around the opposite side of her hiding place, and spies faint movement near the ground. She pulls a screw out from one of her pockets, and tosses it in the direction of the motion. There is an indignant squeak, and a rat scampers out from between a few of the shelves. The footsteps stop, and Luka holds her breath. "There you are, Sam." There is another small squeak, and then a laugh. "It is rather irresponsible of me to lose my helmsman." Luka peers around again, as Roland Devlin picks up the rodent, places him on his shoulder, and heads out.

Luka Arlexi: Luka blinks a few times. "Right. Well. Back to ship stealing."

CUT BACK TO THE MEETING.

Captain Genevieve Sparling: Sparling and the American entourage are glaring with similar levels of disdain at the sky pirates. Sparling checks her pocketwatch. "Surely Luka should have been back by now," she mutters to Mr. Falk.

"Dr" Evelyn Higgenbotham: Scarlet ducks out of the room the way Luka went.

Newton Falk: "Well I'll just check, then…" Newton ducks out as well.

Michael Harrel: Marshall nods toward the exit that Newton and Scarlet just went through. "…Are they screwin' each other?" he asks Evelyn in a whisper.

Newton Falk: Felix: "No. I was…"

"Dr" Evelyn Higgenbotham: "…both of them?"

Captain Genevieve Sparling: "Oh, Christ."

"Dr" Evelyn Higgenbotham: "I always thought Felix was bit," she wagles her hand back and forth.

Michael Harrel: "I didn't take Mr. Falk for a…I mean..hmm..larn something new every day."

"Dr" Evelyn Higgenbotham: "Oh you didn't see it? I did…" she smiles.

Newton Falk: Felix: "Really Doctor, you insult me. I may have just been the victim of a harlot, but I can certainly do better than Mr. Falk."

"Dr" Evelyn Higgenbotham: "fair enough," she nods.

Captain Genevieve Sparling: "People, please, we have a bloody government to bring down."

Newton Falk: "Really? I thought we were having a summit to discuss my love life…" Felix goes back to sulking.

Michael Harrel: "Wait, I'm confused. Didn't I see Falk on a date with that engineer woman?"

Captain Genevieve Sparling: Sparling claps a hand on Felix's shoulder. "Don't let it get to you. You still… make a really excellent poached egg."

Michael Harrel: Marshall lights a cigarette. "Is *that* what they're calling it these days?"

Captain Genevieve Sparling: Sparling quickly removes her hand from Felix's shoulder.

"Dr" Evelyn Higgenbotham: Evelyn coughs, waves her hand in front of her face and gives a disapproving look to Marshall.

Luka Arlexi: Somewhere, Luka is suddenly happy that no one is talking about her ovaries.

Michael Harrel: "If you lot are quite finished?" says The Fox.

Michael Harrel: Her hand is on Daniel's belt.

"Fox…my belt is up here," says Daniel.

Michael Harrel: CUT TO: THE PIRATE SHIP. Luka is in the pilot seat of one of the smaller aircraft.

Luka Arlexi: "Okay. I know how to start this, now I just have to not run into anything."

Newton Falk: "You need to prime the engine manually. It used to have a nice automatic job built out of clockwork but… I broke it." Newton says, slipping into the seat next to her.

Luka Arlexi: Luka stares at him for a moment. "How did you…"

Newton: "Ready to go?"

Luka Arlexi: "You don't even know where I'm going. You don't care, do you." It's not really a question.

Newton Falk: "Nope. but there is a tooth in my boot and I get my socks will get wet if I step in a puddle now. So I hope we're going some place dry."

Luka Arlexi: Luka sighs and pulls out the pump to prime the engine. "We'll see." Very faintly, she smiles.

Newton Falk: "I'll fly if you don't mind." Newton says switching seats while Luka is up. "Oh, and before I forget, he rummages under the console and pulls out a sawed off shotgun barrel first. "Little present from the boys for anyone who trys to take her." Newton sets the Security System next to the Autopilot.

Luka Arlexi: Luka pulls out a map. "Let's go, then."

Michael Harrel: The ship blasts off, leaving Dublin behind in its wake. On the ground below, someone dressed in red watches sadly before turning away, back toward the meeting.

Michael Harrel: CUT TO: The meeting room.

Captain Genevieve Sparling: Sparling tires of glowering at the cavorting pirates, and goes above for some air and alone time with her flask, just in time to see the ship depart. "Huh," she muses.

Newton Falk: Roland Devlin steps out as well. He looks at the disappearing plane and says, "Oh bother. It seems someone has stolen my runabout again."

Captain Genevieve Sparling: Sparling hands him the flask.

Newton Falk: "Thank you." He says, "Roland Devlin, Privateer Captain of the Prevenge." He hands it back.

Captain Genevieve Sparling: "Captain Genevieve Sparling," she says, and visibly considers whether to offer a hand, but decides the flask was enough. "It could be worse. I've just been elected future ruler of Europe by a bunch of people with no political sway that I can discern, for the sole reason that none of them want to think for themselves."

Roland: "Really? Would you consider issing letters of marque?

Captain Genevieve Sparling: "I don't think any options are off the table at this point."

Roland: "Speaking of options, my men tell me that the summit seems to be running out of them. Any ideas as the plucky Captain who flies literally in the face of fear?"

Captain Genevieve Sparling: Sparling barks a bitter approximation of a laugh and takes another swig from the flask. "As of now, we're resorting to the use of a superweapon that, by all rights, ought to be impossible to build, except the Enlightenment has one of their own, and… Oh, hell." She takes yet another swig and brushes past Devlin and back inside to interrupt whoever was speaking in the meeting. "Right, you lot. Pirates, shut your bloody mouths and go take inventory of what we have in the warehouse. Pavel, go with them. You're good at that kind of thing. Fox, Daniel, get your best fighters together and arm them. We need to start making strikes at key Enlightenment locations. Nothing too close to Mechanus until Doctor Higgenbotham's device is ready, just enough to make them realize that we have a hell of a lot of people on our side. Mister Briggs, you and your fellow Americans can start infiltrating the streets of Mechanus. Get the underclass riled up, chimney sweeps and drunks and whatnot. Doctor Higgenbotham, I'm told there's a marvelously equipped laboratory here, and Eason and his men will join you shortly to begin construction. The Aether will make a quick run to St. Petersburg to retrieve Tasha and her people. Well, why are you all still staring at me like a bunch of cadets? Let's get moving."

Newton Falk: Assembled: Aye, Capt.!

"Dr" Evelyn Higgenbotham: "Captain, I'll need someone to pick up Edouard along the way. Not only is his research vital, but I'd rather much like him to be near his child when it is born," she's not asking, she's politely informing.

Michael Harrel: Everyone heads out to do what Sparling says.

"Mr. Falk, I —" Sparling stops short realizing Newton is gone. "Luka, have you seen — ah…oh bloody hell."

Michael Harrel: COMMERCIAL BREAK

Captain Genevieve Sparling: "Hi! I'm Roland Devlin, and when I absolutely, positively, need to get someone drunk enough to cheat them out of their money, I serve them one hundred percent naturally-brewed Concider. Made from the finest non-synthetic ingredients, Concider will convince even the most suspicious of drinkers that you're a trustworthy individual. Someone offers you a flask? Spike it with Concider! Warning: Concider may induce periods of extreme leadership and delusions of grandeur. Concider, Incorporated is not responsible for any death-defying plans concocted while under the influence of Concider. Belief that hare-brained schemes may actually succeed is an acknowledged side effect of Concider. Do not operate heavy machinery while drinking Concider. Concider! Get your way, every time, with Concider!"

Michael Harrel:As the camera fades to black, he pulls out Capt. Sparling's coin purse and starts counting.

AND NOW, BACK TO COGS

Luka and Newton are in the pirate airship, speeding along towards their mysterious destination!

Luka Arlexi: Luka is looking through the papers she's been carting around for… forever. Or whatever. "Keep heading north."

Michael Harrel: They keep heading north.

CUT TO: The aether. It's slow going without an engineer or pilot. Humphrey appears to be flying the ship; to some degree of minor success.

Captain Genevieve Sparling: Sparling's eyes dart manically between the artificial horizon on the console and the real horizon outside, and no matter how long they correspond and stay comfortably in the center of her view, she doesn't seem to relax.

Michael Harrel: "Course, captain?" says Felix. "Although I'm not sure how to tell that thing where to go."

Captain Genevieve Sparling: "I think it reads punchcards. Barlow, in any case."

Captain Genevieve Sparling: "Should have hired a pirate to fly us there. It would serve both of them right," Sparling mutters.

Michael Harrel: "Aye…" Felix makes some calculations. Looks for punchcards. "Where's Dr. Higgenbotham?"

"Dr" Evelyn Higgenbotham: Evelyn is in her room, sitting in a comfy chair, sipping some tea.

Captain Genevieve Sparling: "In her quarters, I expect, doing whatever it is women do when they're in a family way. Hopefully attempting to not give birth on the ship," Sparling adds under her breath.

Michael Harrel: "Right. Um…you want to go ask her how to direct the…uh…pilot?
I would, but…I don't know nothing about birthing babies."

Captain Genevieve Sparling: "Oh, right, and I do." Without tearing her eyes away from the controls and the view outside, Sparling backs over to the speaking trumpets. "Doctor Higgenbotham," she says into one, "does your magnificent creation know where we're headed?"

"Dr" Evelyn Higgenbotham: "Yesyesyes, I set his coordinates already. Just try to relax…I can guess the success of that, however," she mumbles at the end, still audible.

Captain Genevieve Sparling: Sparling clenches her jaw.

"Dr" Evelyn Higgenbotham: "Oh, unclench, captain…really…You're going to give yourself a toothache. We would never have had this problem if you hadn't stomped on my remote control back in that fight with the Pierre."

Captain Genevieve Sparling: Sparling rubs her jaw self-consciously. "Yes, what a shame I didn't let you keep that abomination. Also, why are you still on this ship? I seem to recall firing you."

Michael Harrel: "Technically I think you fired her after this whole war is over," says Felix.

Captain Genevieve Sparling: Sparling covers the speaking trumpet. "Thank you Felix, that's very helpful." Glare.

Michael Harrel: BARLOW!
The Aether swoops in, hovering above Edouard's location. "ARRIVAL COMPLETE," spits out Humphrey in the form of punch cards.

Captain Genevieve Sparling: "If only we could all read holes," Sparling sighs.

Michael Harrel: It takes a few moments to decipher the cards, but Felix finally brightens and says, "Oh, I suppose we've arrived, Captain."

Captain Genevieve Sparling: "Thank God! No more need to look out the window."

Michael Harrel: "Dr. Higgenbotham! We've arrived at Barlow," calls Felix to Evelyn.

"Dr" Evelyn Higgenbotham: "Excellent," She says. The next hour is spent getting Dr. Brandon on board with the equipment he'll need. "Ok, we're all ready to go," Evelyn punches in their new destination into Humphrey.

THE AETHER GOES BACK TO DUBLIN. CAPT. SPARLING IS KIND OF PISSED.

Michael Harrel: Fade to: Dublin. Sparling storms into the Fox's…uh…den.

Captain Genevieve Sparling: "Right, I don't know where you got your doctorate in spying, but you're shite at it. I saw you and Luka trading suspicious looking envelopes. You know where she's gone, and before she and Mr. Falk waste any more of our time and resources, you'd bloody well better tell me."

The Fox gives Sparling a besieged look. "Listen, if I'd known she was going to pull something this stupid, I would never have given her the information she wanted. Or at least, I would have given her the information she wanted and a ship of her own to go hunt this MIGDMP goon down. In any case, it was never my intent that she hijack the pirate's ship, as poetically just as that seems. Usually I'm fastidious about confidentiality, but in the interest of doing what we're all here to do… Take these." She turns over her copies of the same documents she gave Luka.

Sparling pages through them. "Oh, hell."

Michael Harrel: CUT TO: Ext. Mechanus. Marshall Briggs, Secret Serviceman is snooping around the Parliament Building.

Background: The parliament building is the seat of power in the European Enlightenment. An impenetrable fortress of political might and extra-indestructable armored plating, no one knows what goes on inside the building, and no one knows if there even really is a parliament, or if there's just some dude in there who orders the gentlement in black around. or maybe the gentlemen in black are the parliament. In other words, the entire govermental organization of the Enlightment is really kind of mystery up to this point, even to the characters. Marshall Briggs hopes to change that.

CUT TO: The Aether.

Captain Genevieve Sparling: Sparling shuffles through the papers for the squillionth time, visibly weighing the merits of pursuing Luka and Newton and possibly taking out a major Enlightenment target in the process or staying the course and waiting for the two errant crew members to sort things out themselves and come back.

Growing ever more frustrated, she gets to her feet, stuffs the papers into her coat pocket, walks out of the Aether, and heads across the docking bay toward the Prevenge.

Roland Devlin: She is greeted by the small contingent of armed men who just happen to loitering around the gangplank.

Goon "'Halt, who goes there?"

Captain Genevieve Sparling: "Good evening. I need to parley with your captain. Pirates still do that, right?"

Michael Harrel: "Par…ley?"

Roland Devlin: "Wait, that's that thing where we go get the First Mate."

Michael Harrel: "Orite."

Roland Devlin: "Ok, I'll go get you the first mate so you's can parsley." Goon1 stalks off.

Michael Harrel: Goon2 crosses his arms and glares at Sparling.

Captain Genevieve Sparling: Sparling glares back at Goon 2, relishing further opportunites to practice her glare, because it totally hasn't gotten any use at all lately.

Roland Devlin: A few minutes later a tallish gentleman steps down the gangplank. He has made an effort to dress like a gentleman, which appear to be no small feat aboard such a large ship so obviously full of such rough men.

Gentleman "I am Homer Fullton, first mate of the Prevenge. Sprry for detaining you here, what can we do for you?"

Captain Genevieve Sparling: "A pleasure, Mr. Fulton. I was actually hoping to speak with Mr. Devlin, as I have a favor of a rather personal nature to ask him. You'll understand, I'm sure." She gives him a smile that's meant to be both guileless and manipulative, but she's never been particularly good at getting her way through genteel charm, at least not in situations that don't involve negotiations about payment.

Roland Devlin: "Of course. The Captain expected as much. He's quite interested in the condition of his stolen craft and was hoping you'd wish to speak with him."

Captain Genevieve Sparling: Sparling seems surprised that worked. "Oh. Excellent. Lead the way, then."

Roland Devlin: He shows her into the massive ship, the gang plank leading into the side rather than up to the top deck far above. They pass through serveral tight passages and up serveral narrow stairs to eventually reach a larger metal door. It is opened as they approach and Sparling is lead into the bridge, which sits not on the top of the ship, but somewhere near the back and well covered by armor and floors of arngry cut throats. Roland Devlin in lounging in a massive captains stair while serveral teams of more inteligent looking crew busily try to look busy around them; everyone fully aware that the ship is in dock, has been in dock and there is in fact very little to do.

Roland: "Captain Sparling, nice to see you again. Welcome to the Prevenge."

Michael Harrel: CUT TO: Dr. Higgenbotham and Edouard
They're overseeing the construction of the horrible DOOMSDAY DEVICE.

"Dr" Evelyn Higgenbotham: "After you've finished plans for mass producing the fuel I have a personal project I'd like you to work on," Evelyn sits on Humphrey, who is now a rocking chair.
"Oh?" he looks over his shoulder at her.
"I need you to start working on a powerful anesthesia."
"Oh?…oh."
"Make it your top priority after fuel production. I don't want to feel a thing during the…process. I'm serious," she looks so.
"I gathered as much," he looks about nervously.

Michael Harrel: "Now," he begins, "What about the—" — but suddenly, a grappling hook shoots through the window, exploding shards of glass everywhere. It wraps around Edouard's foot, and yanks him out through the portal into the air. Evelyn rushes to the window, only to see — Assistant Professor Harriet Billingsworth piloting her Stealth-o-tronic Heliocopter!

"Don't worry, Edouard my love!" shouts the Assistant Professor from the cockpit. "I'm saving you!"

"Dr" Evelyn Higgenbotham: Evelyn waddles over to the window, "Good gracious, Edouard, what are you doing? You can't get away that easily. I thought you wanted to be a fa-oh…it's…you?…"

CUT TO: ROLAND AND SPARLING.
Roland Devlin:
"And you see Captain, it's not me requesting payment in this situation, it's my lawyers. There are three of them and as they stated the Lightning was part of my holdings in a very real and legally binding sense. I am sorry about this. What were you saying about your crew?"

Captain Genevieve Sparling: Sparling attempts to calculate the worth of the Aether, the likelihood of her dying before the Enlightenment falls, and the level of pissed Felix would be if she willed the ship to a pirate instead of him. "Erm, yes. Of course I understand your predicament, and I'm sure we can work out some sort of… payment plan in the event that the Lightning comes to any harm. That is, in fact, why I'm here. As I understand it, you don't own any ships that are faster than the one Luka and Mr. Falk stole, do you?"

Roland Devlin: "The Lightning is my fastest ship, and I'm sorry to say the Prevenge was not built to be quick. However I am willing to offer you additional crew to fill the possitions of Mr Falk and Lu -er, Ms. Arlexi."

Captain Genevieve Sparling: If the slip-up fazes her, she doesn't show it. "I appreciate that, Captain Devlin, but I have a slightly different arrangement to propose."

Roland Devlin: "Oh?"

Captain Genevieve Sparling: "The Aether has a chance of catching up with them, but obviously not with Dr. Higgenbotham's chair at the wheel. Unfortunately, merely replacing Luka and Mr. Falk wouldn't quite cut it, as I must also stay behind to oversee preparations here. Dr. Higgenbotham is fully immersed in her abominable project, and Felix spends sixteen hours a day following Pavel around the warehouse with a clipboard. If you want to hunt down our fugitives, Captain, the Aether will need a full crew, and I'm sure you'd understand my hesitance to put my ship in the hands of just anyone. Pardon my conventional prejudices, but I exactly didn't get where I am now by letting pirates onboard."

"However, if you were to lead the crew yourself, I would be quite satisfied that you would protect my interests while pursuing yours, and the Aether would return to Dublin unscathed along with Luka, Mr. Falk, and the Lightning, at which point you would be well within your rights to determine the consequences for their foolish and reckless actions. Those rights would be forfeited should my property be damaged en route. I'm sure your lawyers would understand."

As she says this, Sparling fidgets, tearing and dog-earing the edges of the documents the Fox gave her, and hearing, somewhere in the distance, the sound of her father's ashes spinning in their watery grave.

Roland Devlin: "Of course, Captain. I understand the situation. I can give you as many crewman as you require, from my executive staff. My master engineer and my personal steersman are at your command. Saddly I cannot offer you my helmsman as the position has become something of ceremonial one following the departure of Mr. Falk. As for the position of Captain I'm afraid my various agreements with several nations and organization preclude me captaining any vessel not properly insured. Under penalty of death I'm afraid. I would however be happy to act as you First Mate for the time being."

Captain Genevieve Sparling: Sparling considers the arrangement, the weight of her duties in Dublin and whether the Fox can handle them in her absence, and the relative wisdom of this bizarre mutual hostage situation. At last, hesitantly, she extends her hand to Devlin. "I accept."

Roland Devlin: "Lovely. In that case may I introduce Mr. Garrott Briggs, my master engineer and Ms. Dorothea Post, my steers- ah, woman. Yes." Two individuals have just entered from a door behind Devlin. They appear to be of the cleaner more sane types found on the ship, though Mr. Garrot wears the uniform coating of soot issued to all engineers. "This is Captain Sparling. For the time being you'll be under her command on the Aether. I'll be coming along as First Mate. Prepare your things and meet us at the dock in one hour." Turning back, "Mr. Fulton, you have the ship. Captain Sparling, I am reporting for duty."

Michael Harrel: TO BE CONTINUED!

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