A Minister of Prims...Undercover Part II

Author's Note: The alternate title for this should be "How Gabi became a Prim Minister and resident of New Babbage". This is my "history" from November until the present from a storyline perspective.

Continued from yesterday...

I woke up the next morning in Mama Cree's guest room, head throbbing, and not quite sure of where I was or what I was doing there. Ow...ow ow ow. I sat up and looked around, praying to find some water. There was a pitcher of water and an empty glass, and a stack of papers on the nightstand next to the bed. I thanked God and the person that had left the water there and poured myself a glass and drank deeply. Now what were these papers? I set the glass down and picked them up to read them.

I let out a shriek and then clamped my left hand to my aching head. I rubbed my eyes and then looked at the papers again. Oh good lord...Azul is going to kill me. The papers stated it quite clearly: I was now the leader of New Toulouse. Curses on New Toulouse "whisky"...if that is even what it was!

I had 7 days on a train heading north to think about how I was going to explain the situation to Azul. Taking over New Toulouse was definitely not something I had planned, but amidst the crazy whirlwind of it all, it felt right. Like it was meant to be. It pulled to the French in me, in my soul and my blood...and the music...well, music is how I communicate with the Universe.

Upon arriving back in Edison, I told Azul that I had agreed to take over the leadership of New Toulouse. She just looked at me and laughed. "Of course you did", she said, "As if you did not have enough on your plate!" Thank goodness My Dragon knows me well and loves me just the same. :-)

There was also a pile of mail for me from all of my correspondents! I loved going through each letter, reading them all several times, and soaking up all of the news my friends had for me. I saved the letter from Ambassador Baroque for last. I started reading it, and then I dropped the letter on the floor, I was so shocked by its contents. First of all the Ambassador had resigned his post from AoA to Caledon, so he was now just "Mr. Baroque". And one of the reasons he had done this was to assist Mr. Tenk. Mr. Tenk, who had quietly walked the streets of New Babbage, winding its clocks and keeping the city "on time"...had been elected Mayor of the City of New Babbage! Mr. Baroque was going to have his hands full with working on the city finances. I read the letter a second time, simply stunned by this odd turn of events!

I pulled out a pen and paper and began to write a response to Mr. Baroque. I conveyed my congratulations to Mr. Tenk, whose response I imagined would be something like "Heh" or simply a grunt, when Mr. Baroque relayed my good wishes to him. I also told him about both Edison and New Toulouse.

Thus began a sporadic and odd correspondence. Some letters, some telegrams. Some sent directly by Mr. Tenk, some sent by Mr. Baroque when The Clockwinder was too busy. It was in this manner that we kept each other abreast the developments pertaining to our communities. It was comforting to me, to know someone else was in a similar situation to me, just setting out as a "Baby Land Baron". It was also due to this correspondence that I learned that Mr. Tenk was expanding the City of New Babbage.

In the midst of my adjustment as Prim Minister of Edison and New Toulouse, I had been thinking about a new location for Radio Riel. I had decided that Radio Riel Headquarters would be in Edison. The Radio Riel Reading Room was still going strong in Orcadia, but I wanted a "steampunkier" satellite location as well. When I heard there was new land in Babbage, I knew it would be an ideal place for the next Radio Riel venue.

Time had seemed to stop in October when the Linden soldiers arrived on the doorstep of Coughton Court to end my life as I had known it. And time had remained limbo-like after my arrival in New Boston Station, the trip out west to Edison and then the trip south to New Toulouse. When I made the decision to add a Radio Riel location in New Babbage, it's as if time fell back into its proper groove and all of a sudden it was flying! I suppose this is what happens when one moves to a community run by a Clockwinder!

To my utter and complete joy, Edward and Christine had made the decision to leave Caledon and cross the ocean to make their home, Primbroke Manor, with me in Edison. It was such a comfort to have my cousins with me; it made the strange new place feel more like home. It also gave Edward and I the opportunity to work on the plans for the Radio Riel building in New Babbage. Well, let me rephrase that...it gave me the opportunity to tell Edward what I wanted and for him to execute it. :-)

The Spring months flew by as I began dividing my time between Edison, New Toulouse and now New Babbage. Azul had found a University in North America that fit her needs for her Doctorate work. She joined me on my long, circuitous travels when she could, and spent the rest of the time holed up at the University pursuing her studies. I missed her when we were apart, but I was so thankful and happy that our abrupt departure from Caledon was not going to end her dream.

Edward supervised the building of Radio Riel's radio tower and venue in New Babbage. I was delighted with it each time I visited and saw how much progress he had made since the last time I was there. He executed the greenhouse/Conservatory to perfection, the one part of the building that had some of my old Duchess flavor. Before we knew it, Spring was turning to Summer, and Edward completed the building in time to hold Radio Riel's Second Anniversary party there. We named the venue "The Clarendon" after polling the residents of New Babbage for ideas and deciding on one that was a suggestion from Mr. Trilobyte Zanzibar.

It was now June, and I decided to remain in New Babbage for a few weeks to relax and visit with friends. How could I have known that that decision was going to trap me there like a Nightingale in a cage?

I had been in New Babbage for about 2 weeks when the evil Dr. Obelensky lured Clockwinder Tenk into a giant milk bottle, trapped him inside of it, and then pushed him out to sea. Of course noone knew that this had occurred, until Obelensky, supported by rogue militias, announced that he was assuming control of the City of New Babbage...as it's Overlord. There had been no one to stop him, as Mr. Cleanslate, the Mace Holder of the City was traveling the Steamlands on diplomatic business.

I think the City was initially stunned, the residents shocked. As for me...it was like a living nightmare. It took me back in time to the crisp October day on which the Linden soldiers met me at the front door of my home. Only this time Azul was not able to save me. She had been at school and not with me in New Babbage, and Obelensky closed the borders tightly, ordering that his forces destroy any vessel that attempted to break the blockade. Azul might be a Dragon, but she is mortal and did not stand a chance at making it through with the amount of firepower that the Obelenskidonian forces had.

Obelensky's goons came to The Clarendon on the day that he announced the takeover. They disabled the Radio Riel radio tower so there would be no "unapproved" communications allowed in or out of Babbage. I stood by, trying to control my temper as they shut us down and locked up the main control panel so it would not function after they were gone. I was shaking, and so afraid that I was going to just snap and fly at them and attack them physically...and then I heard a calm voice as clear as day in my own head, "Gabi...do not let your temper get the better of you. Do not engage them. There are better ways to fight back and not put yourself into direct harm." I became very still then. I recognized the voice.

It was my own.

But it was my voice from a part of me that I had thought was gone...destroyed 8 months ago when my home was stolen from me and I became a woman exiled.

It was the voice of The Duchess.

The goons took no notice of the tears streaming down my cheeks, they just assumed I was crying because they were shutting down my radio station and its tower. They had no idea that I was overcome with emotion and realizations. The Duchess part of me still existed, the part of me that is steady - the part that thinks before I act. The part that is a bit nicer than I actually am, a bit more polite than I actually am. The part of me that wants to welcome everyone to my big manor house so we can all have a good time! The part of me that loved Caledon and that would have (and did) *anything* for it and its residents. The part of me that feels compassion for people that are in so much pain that they project their own negative feelings and thoughts on to everyone around them, viewing the world through a dark, twisted kaleidoscope of their own making.

The Duchess in me still lived. And it was that part of me that took over at that point. I'd come full circle. I had lost the Duchess piece of myself the day I lost my home to evil goons...and I had found it again as a new set of evil goons were disabling Radio Riel. "Wait...just wait it out." my logical internal voice said.

Obelensky's thugs left, and I immediately went to the office on top of The Clarendon. I pulled out some paper for notes and every map of New Babbage that I had. I knew that I could find Engineers (this was New Babbage after all!) that would have the skill and knowledge to repair the tower and set up a new control panel...but that would be fruitless. The tower and its signal were just too big. Obelensky and Company would know immediately if I put us back on air, and they would just come and disable the tower again. They might even tear it down, which would put Radio Riel in an even worse situation.

No...no. It was going to have to be something else. Something small...hard to track. An idea started to form. I was going to need Edward to help with this. He had been trapped in New Babbage with me when Obelensky took over. In some ways this was good, because my plan would have been so much harder without him.

For 2 weeks, Edward and I worked non stop in the office with parts and pieces from equipment in The Clarendon and from anywhere else Edward could find them out and about in New Babbage. We built 7 "mini" radio towers. Heh, "tower" is too extreme a term. They were little 1 m. contraptions, small enough to hide in a variety of unsuspicious looking containers. Then, the third week, we put the plan into action. Edward took 4 of the baby towers and I took 3. Each day we dressed in disguise so as not to be recognized by the Obelenskidonians. And so, I became a maid quietly going about her business in the City, taking packages home to her employers. Or so it appeared.

In actuality, Edward and I were placing one baby tower in each section of New Babbage and then activating them for an hour a day so the Resistance could use the airwaves to get messages to the outside world, and supporters from the outside could get messages in. We selected a different hour every day and passed the broadcast window times to other members of the Resistance. By the time Obelensky and Company realized broadcasts had occurred Edward and I had already shut down the system, picked up the baby towers and hidden them under the Clarendon. It was actually comical when the Obelenskidonian goons showed up at The Clarendon to find me lounging on the fainting couch in the Conservatory eating chocolate truffles with Champagne centers...and the tower still disabled and the system locked up as they had left it. Then the next day, Edward and I would do our part for the Resistance once more...and our part was making a difference! There had been several people, some known like Mr. Cleanslate, and some anonymous that had taken advantage of our broadcast windows.

Thursday, July 2

After making the finishing touches to my maid disguise, I climbed to the top of the Radio Riel radio tower and looked out over the City of New Babbage, stretched out beneath me. Such a different view from the top of the tower than my view from my "penthouse" in Caledon Carntaigh. Once upon a time it had been rolling green fields, sparkling blue water and pretty homes that I saw from this height, and now it was a landscape of Tesla towers, industrial buildings and a smoky sky.

I don't think I could have ever dreamed that I would feel like I would belong here. That I would be happy looking out over this City. But the month of June had changed all that. Being part of the Resistance had changed that. My heart used to belong to one land...to Caledon...and my Duchy of Caledon Carntaigh. Now it held 3 dear places to me: Edison, New Toulouse and New Babbage. These 3 places were ALL "home" to me now. I was no longer a Caledonian...but a resident of the Steamlands, the 19th Century Grid.

What the...?

I stared and pressed myself to the glass in the tower lookout, looking south east towards the Vernian Sea. I gasped. Why that was an incoming fleet of Ironclads!!!

I clambered down the narrow tower stairs as fast as I could, breaking into a run once I hit the ground, headed for the jetty that Edward kept moored beside the Clarendon on the Canal. I hopped in and immediately pointed the boat on the path to the Vernian Sea, hoping that this would be the time of Obelensky's downfall.

It was: http://primgraph.blogspot.com/2009/07/breaking-news-battle-for-babbage.html . :-)

Long live free New Babbage and all of the free Steamlands!


Lady Gabi, it is so very good to read of how you've been, what you've been up to, and how very well you are now. Caledon may have lost a Duchess, but the Steamlands gained one, and more. We are all fortunate that nothing... ~nothing~ can keep The Nightingale down!