Something in her tone made me suspend my preliminary assessment of the damage to peri. I looked up at Gem, saw the tear-tracks, and paused in my repairs. Tactics aside, she needed to be active - and helping, not helpless. [Don’t apologize to us for helping family, Aunt Sis,] I said as I dabbed at her eyes with a clean bit of my work rag. [There’s a lot of similarities between both clans – the schism isn’t that deep in some places.]
Birdie chimed in, [God's Little Fish in Trousers, girl! We never said we would not help!]
[You just forgot to count all of the family available] Uncle Gus had finally stopped making disgusted noises about the taste of Oni. [The problem here seems to be that except for the niece, we have all been solitary warriors. You have the body, Gem - and therefore the con.]
I could feel her metaphysical head-tilt at Uncle's turn of phrase, but she continued, [About time we got that straightened out] Her psyche seemed to be better grounded than what Father had described from their last encounter. [Right then - Ama, can you get us to the Midas?]
I shrugged as I cleaned the last of the blood-tears from her face. [It will be easier if Father and Ash are together, and those of us who can sense them link the other end of the slide. I have limited linking with Ash, since he was in range when I was coalesced, and of course, the link to Father] I hesitated to mention the other one on board, but she needed to know. [I don't know if this has any bearing, but I... think we need to remove the one relate to Father. There's a hole in his heart where the rain gets in... and even though he may be technically family, there is something about that one that gives me the oddest foreboding] I started to wind her key again.
[We may still have to fight her to let her get away with the synthetic] Once her key was wound to operating parameters, she spoke in her "tea party" voice, the one she had used to address peri after the fight. "I am curious as to the nature of your mechanical abilities in relation to the rest of the family."
"You mean why I say I'm not a Spark?" I chuckled, "I am not quite normal, so we don't know the rules as applied to inheritance of abilities." Carefully adjusting the clockworks of our rescuer, I commented, "The assumption is not your fault - if I am a Spark, I haven’t had a breakthrough, or rather, I have not had one to my knowledge." Gentle pressure on the mainspring, allowing the temperature of the metal to equalize, "…and I understand about the synthetic. It wasn’t as if we were trying to recreate a fine vintage, more like using a middling-yet-hopefully-drinkable wine as the basis for a medicinal tincture – not the same application, but hopefully a substitute to bridge the gap between… my analogy is breaking down, sorry."
She rummaged in the toolbox for the pliers, "I believe I understand, and from the grumblings of the one inside, I understand he is a bit of a gourmet?"
I handed her my needle-nosed pliers, and chuckled, "The memories I have mark him as a gourmand in some centuries, but before he was shoved into the attaché's office, he had been a student of the new epicurean schools cropping up here and there."
"Ah, yes - that would explain it..." She frowned at the replacement leaf spring, shrugged, and installed it. "We need to make sure she does not strain herself," she muttered. "Why switch out the synthetics, though?"
"I don't know how much of a biologist Dr Steel is, but I did not want to risk him being able to synthesize demi-humans from the sample. If he is strictly a mechanic, why does he want it, anyway?"
She shrugged, and after she replaced the timing gear, she closed the panel on peri's back and straightened the pinafore. "So, we can get to them, and we need to stop Marcus," she said in a tone more suited to plans for going to the opera. "Do you see any other issues to address?"
"Not at the moment," I said, packing away the emergency kit and noting I was going to have to add some pieces if I was going to repair Dolls on a regular basis. "Let's get the site cleared before winding her; if we have to run, I don't want to leave anything her for another to trace... besides, we've been littering enough," I nodded towards the burning heap.
Back in the swing
11 months ago