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(Back to The Irregulars In Cyberia)
Grubby Sleuth calliaphone and her gang of Irregulars make their way into Cyber City, half-dragging and half-pushing the cart along with them.
Grubby Sleuth calliaphone and her crew are in a sorry state indeed, soaked and sneezing and generally complaining about the cold and how long it's been since breakfast.
Grubby Sleuth calliaphone looks round hopefully. She sneezes, and turns to her ginger-haired lieutenant. "there y'go, Bert. New Home. i said it wuzn't far atishooo away. Now, where's ATISHOO that diner"
Grubby Sleuth calliaphone 's lieutenant offers her his sleeve, for nose-wiping purposes. But she shakes her head. "keep it, Bert, you're gonna need it. i'll use me own." heroically, she drags her cuff across her nose.
Ono NotAgain cavorts and gambols into the Outpost, grinning from ear to ear. "Hickory dickory dock! The mice all go tick-tock!"
Grubby Sleuth calliaphone turns to the gang. "alright you lot, cigaah-ahh-ahhTISHooto the first one to find the diner." But rather than swarming the town, the Irregulars just mill about listlessly, sneezing.
Grubby Sleuth calliaphone and the Irregulars look up as a guy in a kilt cavorts into town. Albert sneezes spectacularly, knocking himself off his feet. Callia attempts a wave. Perhaps cavorting panthermorphs have breakfast.
Ono NotAgain blinkblinkblinks at Calli and her crew.
A derelict gobot, shuffling around a nearby brazier, takes pity on the sickly youths. He shuffles a bit more and beeps tonelessly - gesturing with a broken solenoid at the fire.
Ono NotAgain chuckles and cocks his head to one side as he watches the sneezing. "Bless you!" he murmurs.
Grubby Sleuth calliaphone says "thank you" and sneezes again, as if trying to out-do Albert. Her lieutenant has spotted the gobot, though. He struggles back to his feet, and draws a bit nearer to the fire.
Ono NotAgain is curious about the sneezing. He slips a handkerchief from his sporran and offers it, asking "Have you been pollinated or somethin'?"
Grubby Sleuth calliaphone and the gang eye the handkerchief a little doubtfully. They're more accustomed to using sleeves. But Albert, who has better manners than the rest, accepts it. And "aaahhptshoo" uses it.
Grubby Sleuth calliaphone shakes her head dolefully, as the entire gang shifts a little closer to the fire, shivering and trying to dry their snow-soaked rags. "nope, not that"
Grubby Sleuth calliaphone doesn't know this for sure. she's not really sure what pollinated means. but she's willing to take a bet it's not why she's sneezing. "we wuz camping." not lost or anything. "but it snowed."
Ono NotAgain doesn't use hankies himself; except for wrapping munchies in. He sincerely hopes there were no gummy bears still in it.
Albert may or may not have found a gummy bear. He's not talking. Which may or may not be due to the presence of gummy bear in his gob.
Grubby Sleuth calliaphone is drooping visibly. She takes a last look round the outpost, in the vain hope of locating Joe's Diner. A nasty realisation is nudging at her consciousness, and she does her best to ignore it.
Grubby Sleuth calliaphone flops down beside the brazier, and the rest of the Irregulars follow suit. Except Albert, who busies himself (between sneezes) distributing blankets from the cart.
Grubby Sleuth calliaphone mummbles drowsily to the gang, "alright, jus' a little nap an' then we'll find breakfast, i promise." but the others are already dozing off into stertorous snores and snuffles.
Ono NotAgain shakes off a persistent lag gremlin and removes a large hip-flask from his sporran. On opening it to take a large swig, an odd but strong strong scent of catnip & brandy permeates the air.
Ono NotAgain frowns as he realises that's all that's in the flask: a scent. Shrugging, he ambles down the path towards the CG for a refill.
Grubby Sleuth calliaphone is awake before the rest of her gang. she huddles under her blanket, listening to the sounds of more than a dozen stuffy noses, snuffling in concert.
Grubby Sleuth calliaphone sneezes violently, and when her head has stopped ringing, she shuffles a little closer to the brazier. it has at least done some good while she was sleeping. her clothes are mostly dry, now.
Grubby Sleuth calliaphone casts a baleful eye around town. New Home's gone downhill since she was here last. no more diner, museum gone, and as for the weather. . .
Grubby Sleuth calliaphone sighs, or rather, snorts catarrh noisily. and rubs at dry eyes with hot hands. no diner, but an army has to have food. she gets up, tugging her blanket around her like a cloak.
Returning Contestant Sneaky screams into the receiver: "TRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAINS"
Grubby Sleuth calliaphone leaves the rest of the Irregulars still sleeping around the brazier, and totters off across the square, to search out a vendor of something - anything edible.
Grubby Sleuth calliaphone 's Irregulars are startled awake by a sudden scream. there is panic in the ranks! ragged snot-nosed urchins (and their dogs) break out into a protesting cacophony of coughs and yips and sneezes!
Grubby Sleuth calliaphone 's lieutenant, Albert, soon has things calmed down, however. Even Little George (who had set up a persistent ear-splitting wail) and Rover (ditto barking) are pacified. Then Albert looks around.
"where's calli" he demands of the rest of the gang. but they can only answer with blank looks. Albert frowns. sneezes. and shakes his head. "mebbe she's beed kiddapped!"
Returning Contestant Sneaky slams the receiver over and over and over on the hook, not quite getting it to stick.
Grubby Sleuth calliaphone 's Irregulars look horrified at this possibility, but Albert is adamant. "id happedd do Declad. id could happed do her." he sneezes again. "we have to orgadise a search."
Albert pauses to glare at the loudspeaker which has now set up some kind of rhythmic banging. But he swiftly returns to business. He divides up the ranks. "jib ad jod, you go wid rover."
Grubby Sleuth calliaphone: "ad, jack ad tob, you take liddle george ad ve cart." he pauses, to snifff dramatically. "i'll take fido ad stidker".The named individuals nod and/or bark assent, and the gang scatter across town, to search for their captain.
soon afterwards. . .
Grubby Sleuth calliaphone returns to the brazier, with her arms full of ration packs, to find her cart and all her Irregulars gone. She blinks. sniffs. wipes her nose on her sleeve. and looks round confusedly.
Grubby Sleuth calliaphone tries to figure this out. it's tricky though, without Albert's steadying influence. and with a temperature that's nudging triple figures. she wobbles, and sits down. where are they?
Grubby Sleuth calliaphone is struck by a sudden, awful thought. Kidnapped? She grips her ration packs fiercely, and glares . . . vaguely around the town.
Grubby Sleuth calliaphone sees no sign of a struggle - but that doesn't mean anything. The ground is iron-hard with frost, there would be no imprints. And what if they'd been coshed on the head or something. All of them!
Grubby Sleuth calliaphone realises there's no time to lose, she must discover the kidnappers' lair at once! Lurching to her feet, she zigzags towards the gate, still trailing her blanket like a cloak, over her shoulders.
a few minutes pass, and then. . .
Abundantly Ari stumbles out of the factory clutching a handful of ciggies and grinning.
From an alleyway opposite the factory, there is a sound. A sort of snffffrrrrrrtAPTISHOO sort of sound, then aYIP and then a "shhhh" and a "sorry Bert."
Abundantly Ari peers at the alley "hello?"
Two pairs of eyes peer back at Ari, scrutinising her for signs of kidnapperyness. No, wait, make that three pairs. Although the 3rd pair is rather close to the ground.
On closer inspection, these eyes appear to belong to: one ginger-haired urchin, one brown-haired urchin and one dog whose colour is hard to discern under the mud.
Abundantly Ari waves to the floating eyes and looks behind her, no convenient alleys for her to be mysterious in
The owners of the eyes, apparently deciding that Ari does not present an immediate threat of kidnap, emerge fully from the alleyway. The ginger one speaks up. "h'llo biss."
He sniffs loudly, and wipes his nose on an unspeakably dirty sleeve. The other youth follows suit, and the dog says "YIP"
Abundantly Ari waves again "Hello Calli's friends, is Calli here too?" she looks deeper into the alley
Brown-haired urchin looks startled at the mention of his Captain's name. He nudges Ginger who says, "do, it's alright, loog, she's god de GERB badge fingy." His comrade relaxes, but the dog sets up a fearsome growwling. just to be on the safe side. Ginger ignores him, and steps forward. He says, "we'b god ad lost her, biss. we fink she's beed kidnabbed!"
Abundantly Ari blinks and her eyes widen "she's kidnapped! That is no good!" she didn't do it so she can't be sure its a nice kidnapper!
Ginger nods. He says, "be ad stidker ad fido here, ad de rest of de gang, we'b searched eberwhere!" it is not clear which of his companions is Fido, and which is Stinker, but perhaps it doesn't matter too much. especially as the rest of the Irregulars are now crowding into the town square, so it's hard to keep any of them apart.
Ginger urchin says, "bud we godda find her." he taps his chest, "or by dabe's dod Alberd." The rest of the army nod and sneeze their affirmation.
Abundantly Ari nods "well she has to be saved! She must be somewhere" she looks over the crowd "I am Chief Inspector Ari by the way"
Abundantly Ari looks around suspiciously "I will help investigate if you want"
A look of ineffable relief crosses Albert's face, on hearing that the matter is now in the hands of none less than Scotland Yard. He salutes, and sneezes.
Abundantly Ari digs out her deer stalker and plunks it on her head, she has a new case to solve, never mind all the ones she has yet to solve, they can wait
Albert then adds, "she's dod id dis towd, adyways. shall we bedder search de judgle?" he pauses to blow his nose into his sleeve, and looks up, awaiting orders.
Abundantly Ari nods "jungles and the other outposts too, maybe a few suspicious homes too, only if they are unlocked though" she drops to a conspiring tone "gotta be careful not to be caught then"
Abundantly Ari adds "could have taken her anywhere!"
Albert nodnods, his eyes big as saucers. Then he pulls himself together, and whistles sharply. The Irregulars form up into an untidy gaggle around the cart.
Albert says "you heard ve policelady. we'b godda find ve Cabtain. quig MARCH!" he saultes Ari again, as the Irregulars straggle across town towards the jungle, in search of Callia.
Albert pauses only briefly, to add "we'll repord do you ad HQ!" and then he's gone in a flash, after the gang.
Abundantly Ari grins, feeling official-like "you are all junior officers now, unless Calli gave you titles, then you are that instead" is it within her authority to do that? Oh well
Abundantly Ari looks arouund, she need to look for clues and Calli's, but where to start
Abundantly Ari heads into the dark alley to hunt out clues, her eyes are peeled for candy wrappers, cookie crumbs or something Calli like.
(Back to The Irregulars In Cyberia)
(Forward to The Telegrams)