Dr Ryne Beck

Snatched From Steelhead: Chapter 2 – When Justice Is Blinded!

Say No to New Babbage_001

A few days ago a man was taken by force from the streets of Shanghai in Steelhead. Now as this was Shanghai rather than Boomtown or Capital City and given that the man in question could at best be described as a pirate accused of arson & murder many may not raise an eyebrow too high, but raise them high I say, high and arched with concern for what happened to that man was an affront to our fair city and a threat to every citizen who calls it home.

Mr Undertone, the head of the New Babbage Militia, under the auspices of that sooty city’s Clockwinder Mayor Tenk sent armed goons to snatch one Ashiko Kuroe (accused pirate, accused firestarter, accused bunny murderer & odd-choice for an Ambassador for the floating state of Armada) at knife-point from a tea-house in Shanghai. He was spirited away to a New Babbage jail where, it is rumoured, his leg was amputated as part of a payment for a previous contract with Mayor Tenk who then ate it. Yes. Ate it. In discussions with the good bergers of New Babbage I have detected as much shock & horror at this outcome as would be expected among such civilised peoples, but I’m sorry to say that not every New Babbage voice is rational or reasonable – Mr Underby (whom I mistakenly took for the head of the militia) is one such unreasonable soul who has even begun to speak of, and I quote, “open war” with Steelhead!

Now if Mr Kuroe is guilty then I will be the first to say he must pay for his crimes, but to send hob-nailed booted thugs to our city rather than go through the offices of Mayor Eclipse and Sheriff Ortega is disgusting! Steelhead is a fair city, a just city, a law-abiding city. We have rules, regulations, protocols, laws! If New Babbage feel they can simply walk in and snatch people from under our noses, then what’s to say that you or I won’t be next?

Some less than rtional voices in New Babbage have accused Steelhead of wilfully harbouring a dangerous criminal, but I tell you here and now this is not true! Such talk, such mud flung in anger and, dare I say, shame by those guilty of strampling our city’s laws is a mere distraction to the actual matter in hand, to wit the illegal incursion by another city’s armed militia. Do let us not be continually distracted by the erroneous argument that Steelhead somehow condones vile crimes such as arson and murder and is happy to harbour the criminals who perpetrate them. It does not and is not. But at the same time Steelhead believes in higher ideals – the ideals of Justice for all not just those in power; Liberty for all not just those in privilege, and The Rule of Law for all not just those in High Office (or, indeed, clock tower).

Join me, good people of Steelhead, New Babbage and every Steamlands state, in a protest to hold New Babbage’s leaders to account! Take one of the posters below or go to Steelhead’s City Hall for a selection of placards and make your feelings known – if we don’t stand up now, who knows what evil will be perpetrated next?

****{}****

To be continued…
All the “Snatched From Steelhead” posts can be read here.

Links to other blogs and stories:
1) Mara Razor’s initial posts on the Steelhead Ning and the New Babbage Ning.
2) My posts on the Steelhead Ning and the New Babbage Ning.
3) Ashiko Kuroe’s post on the Steelhead Ning.
4) Reference to the affair was made in the June 1st Steelhead Town Hall Meeting, the minutes of which were reprinted in the Steelhead Sentinel.
5) Mr Underby meets the accused to measure his neck!

Steelhead vs NB 002 Steelhead vs NB 001

Steelhead vs NB 004 Steelhead vs NB 003

Snatched From Steelhead: Chapter 1 – What price justice?

Steelhead Protests Poster

****{}****

To be continued…
All the “Snatched From Steelhead” posts can be read here.

Links to other blogs and stories:
1) A list of New Babbage & Steelhead Ning posts can be found here.

*****{*}*****

Mutations: Chapter 5 – Night Callers

Hard at work into the night_001

Night had long ago set over Shanghai but Dr Beck had hardly noticed, engrossed as he was with the results of his latest tests. He sat at his surgery desk and scribbled hurried notes into his journal…

So busy. The fever is spreading through Shamian’s slums and I can’t stop it. I’ve looked at the slides, I’ve been out to the houses, I’ve done everything I can think of but I’m stumped, and whilst I sit here scratching my stupid head people – good people – are dying. I don’t know what to

Beck’s train of thought was violently derailed as the surgery door burst open, kicked almost of its hinges by a tong thug, “What is the meaning of this?” Beck shouted rising to his feet.

“You doctor, you fix!” the tong ordered with a wild look in his eyes. Behind him a second thug sporting a broken arm dragged a third whose flattened nose poured blood.

Beck hated the tong almost more than the Mechs, they were predators feeding off the misery of their own, condemning decent people to a life of fear and servitude. He didn’t care a jot about his oath, these animals didn’t deserve any help and he’d be dammed if he’d be bullied into giving them any. He stepped up to the thug, looked him straight in the eye and said “I will do no such thing, now get ou…”

The punch to his stomach smashed the breath right out of his body and he doubled over and fell to the ground, his mind spinning with nausea. “You fix bastard! You fix or kill you!”

“No,” Beck wheezed. The kick lifted him off the floor.

“Fix!”

“Nnnn” he managed to say, the pain was blinding. Another kick.

“You fix or we burn!”

“No. No fix, get out!” Beck hissed through gritted teeth.

The tong animal was wild with fury. He kicked over the desk, threw supplies across the room, tore a cabinet off the wall until the one with the broken nose spoke, his voice thick and pained. He spoke in mandarin and whatever he said had an immediate effect on the wild one who calmed down and turned back to the figure curled on the floor, “You fix or we burn family, understand? We burn Chinese.”

Beck looked up at the tong and knew from his eyes that he meant it, “You bastard,” he croaked, he had no choice and he hated it.

“You fix!”

Beck struggled to his feet, “Yes, I fix, I damn well fix,” he said, “and then you get the hell out of my surgery.”

Broken nose made a strange choking sound and it took a while for Beck to realise he was laughing, “You find something funny?” he asked, furious.

“This our town” the bleeding tong said spitting a wad of blood on the floor, “Mean this place ours too. Now fix or Chang start many fire, you understand Doctor Beck.”

It was not a question. Beck nodded sharply once and reached for his leather bag…

****{}****

To be continued…
All the “Mutations” posts can be read here.

Links to other blogs and stories:
1) The mysterious callers hail from Darien’s blog here.

*****{*}*****

Mutations: Chapter 2 – Dreams of War, Part 1

The sounds that drifted in from the night spoke of war. Men and beasts being made ready, swords and armour prepared and handed out. Countless campfires held the night at bay and filled the air with sweet camphor smoke that whipped along with the breeze and crept in through the canvas of my tent.

I opened my eyes, unsure and lost and found myself looking into the face of a beautiful angel.

At first I thought it was my angel, the one who had tried so hard to save me from the explosion and had watched over me in Babbage. The girl in the meadow who’d risked more than her life to pull me from the flames of a collapsing reality. I thought it was his granddaughter come to my aid once more, but it wasn’t. She had wings as red as blood and eyes of shining purple stars and her voice was a chorus. No, the angel I stood before me had white wings and eyes of shimmering grey, and whilst its voice may have been beautiful it was not a chorus, “My beloved?” it said. No, this was not my angel.

I looked around the tent and recognised nothing; from the writing desk to the carved wooden bed draped in animal furs, nothing was mine. The angel was dressing me in ornate metal armour, by its feet a sword lay across a shield. “Where…?” I said, my voice sounding small and far away. The angel must have sensed something, seen something on my face, for its expression changed and its eyes flicked back and forth across my own. “But, you are not He…” it started, suddenly glowing brighter and brighter, “I do not understand? Who are you?” it demanded becoming a star falling to Earth.

I tried to answer but my mind seemed slow and tired. I tried to shield my eyes, squinting against its light “Please…” I croaked dryly, “the light…”

Immediately it dimmed, dying away until I could look at it once more. The angel looked scared; it took my hand in its own, turning it over and over looking at my wrist, feeling the flesh. “This… this is not His!” I gasped as I noticed my hands were unburnt and whole again.

“I don’t understand…” I said unsteadily.

“You are the Other. This can not be! You can not be here! We need Him! We need him to find Bloodw…”

The tip of the spear that erupted through its chest tore the final word from its lips. It fell into me with blood foaming from its mouth and nose as its eyes stared imploringly into mine. I watched as they dimmed and the life behind them finally vanished. Outside beasts roared and men screamed as war erupted…

“And that’s all you remember?”

“That’s all I remember Doc.”

“And how long have you been having this dream?”

“I dunno. Two. Maybe three weeks. Since I started the cabin I guess,” I sat on a log, Beck sitting across from me with a steaming cup of tea in his hands. He looked around at the fruits of my industrious labours and nodded to himself. “And no other dreams? Just this one?”

“Just this one, at least since it started,” I answered. There had been others. Dreams of fire and pain and people with mirrors where their faces should be. Dreams of green light and monsters in flying boats. Dreams of being erased again and again piece by piece by piece. I dreamt those every time I closed my eyes, sometimes even when I didn’t, but I didn’t want to talk about those dreams.

“Well, I’m no alienist Antfarm but I’d take a stab at anxiety and painful memories rising at a time of change as you begin to rebuild your life,” Beck didn’t sound as confident as he’d have liked to. “Look at what you are doing out here? This cabin is wonderful, you are putting your life back together piece by piece just like this cabin.”

I looked around at the felled and shaped logs, each one the product of my sweat and blood, and smiled. I’d let the doc think what he wanted, but putting my life back together was far my mind; I just needed somewhere to live that didn’t flap in the wind was all. We sat in silence for sometime, each lost in a private world of memories.

Beck made the first move. He downed his tea and stood up “I’m sorry to cut this visit short, but I better be heading back if I want to be back before nightfall.” Ever since that Chinese kid had been killed he’d been on edge about the slums at night. I guess I couldn’t blame him for that, those kids were family to him. “Look,” he said as he gathered his things and packed them away on his horse, “you’re doing well but please, please! take it easy. You’re doing an awful lot of hard and dangerous work and one slip could be serious.”

“You can say that about any of the settlers out here, Doc” I chided gently. He smiled back and shook his head as he got on his horse. “How about you take it easy, eh?” I said, “It’s a tough route back now the spring thaws are here. Don’t want to have to fish you out of the river as you bob past, do I?”

“Ha! I promise my friend but with Frank here,” he patted the horses’ neck “I’m sure I’m in good hands. Or hooves.”

We said our final farewells and Beck turned to go only to stop again and look at me, “Eyes,” he said.

“Eyes?” I repeated, feigning mild confusion.

“In your dream, you describe their eyes well.” A question disguised as a statement.

“Do I? I hadn’t noticed,” I batted away, aiming for the long grass.

“Hmm,” was all he said but he fixed me hard in his gaze. I looked back into his eyes, eyes I recognised all too well. I should. They were mine. More than that, they had been my creator’s and now it would seem they were my brother’s too.

Mutations Mutations

****{}****

To be continued…
All the “Mutations” posts can be read here.

Links to other blogs and stories:
1) For more on the return of the Bloodwing, read Darien’s, Jeremiah’s, Qlippothic’s, Koen’s, Wren’s and Ama’s Blogs
2) For more on HBA and the Mason mythos, read the previous tales The Lost Journal, Lost & Found, and Far From Home.
3) For more on the death of the Chinese Boy, read about Creaky Gloom on this blog here and on the Steelhead Ning here.

*****{*}*****

Tiny Little Blimps Sighted Over Shanghai!

My but what sights you see when cycling through the city, whether it’s half sunken houseboats or bodies suspended in strange squiddy creatures, Steelhead certain keeps you on your toes. But even with all that, I was still surprised to find a small, wee blimp bobbing about outside the shops in Shamain near my home in the slums.
Mini Blimps in Shanghai!

Mini Blimps in Shanghai!

Look what a leaky tap can do!

I was on my house calls and cycling through Port Harbour when I was horrified to find that Miss Eugenia Burton’s houseboat had sunk!
Steelhead: Sunken Houseboat

Steelhead: Sunken Houseboat

I hear on the grapevine later that the flooding was due to a bit of DIY on a leay tap, but I can’t help wondering if her endless pursuit of the handsome Herr Baron had anything to do with it…
Steelhead: Sunken Houseboat

Pop over to Steelhead Port Harbour & take a look for youself. You’ll be in good company.

Steelhead Stories: Something Creaky This Way Comes…

A gloom has fallen across Steelhead! A foul creature by the name of Creaky Gloom (a supposedly indestructable spirit called a Slaugh*) has followed the Scamps into the city and is preying on our children. It would seem that he – it! – has already stolen away little Li Fe from the slums and if the tales of this swine are true then the poor boy may well have been eaten!

No one is entirely sure what this Creaky Gloom wants, but there are reports from New Babbage (where the monster was first seen) that he is on the hunt for a scamp named Quill, but for what nefarious reason no one knows.

I’ve had some posters printed and hopefully we can get enough of them around town to warn the children. Get a copy here and spread the word!
Steelhead: Creaky Gloom

The sheriff has asked for people to remain calm and not take the law into their own hands, but I seriously doubt he can stop parents desperate to protect their off-spring from taking drastic steps. I have a horrible feeling that things are going to get much worse…

* He’s unlike any Slaugh I’ve encountered before – back in Manchester, the Slaughs came across the water from Ireland at Feg’s call as massed clouds of screaming, hungry ravens that stripped people of their flesh (and more) leaving terror in their wake.

Goodunnit: Chapter 7 – In the arms of a Dragon…

Dr Ryne Beck Gravatar “Ahh Doctor, come in come in.” The small Chinese guy at the door was paid not to know me and I shot him a glance to remind him of that fact, “So sorry, Mister Smith.” His wide, thin smile was as genuine as could be expected for a low paid goon in the drugs trade who thought he was worth more than being nice to the smoke-fiends. I’d let the Dragon Lady know, let’s see how he smiled after she’d booted him down to gutting fish in the cannery for a month. His smile twitched cruelly as he opened the door for me and I crossed the threshold between worlds.

I followed the curved path down to where a darkly translucent curtain divided me from my goal ahead. I could feel the tendrils of desire creeping around it, wafting towards me, and all the nuns in Steelhead couldn’t stop me now. I breathed the thick air in deep and pushed through the curtain to a room of cots and smoke and beautiful women.

They pamper you there. They guide you, help you, lose you and leave you.

I was in the smoke. With the Dragon lady. In the curls of her hair. Wrapped in the folds of her dress. I was far gone. I was with them again. Back with my family. Back with my wife.

Goodunnit

**{}**

Through the darkness of impossible dreams hands found me. Strong hands. Cold hands, cold like metal. I was lifted up, borne aloft to fly safe from harm. Somewhere, in the night, someone was sawing a double bass in half. What a strange thing to do.

**{}**

The knock on the door was almost as unwelcome as the bright morning light assaulting my eyes. I stood, naked to the waist and with the face of a dead dog, and wobbled my way to the door. “Sister Sweetcheeks,” I growled at the shocked nun. Someone had replaced my throat with a bag of gravel and every word hurt like a punch in the tonsils, “to what do I owe this very great pleasure?”

The young nun tried to stop her eyes skiing down my chest and failed, she gulped hard and spun around to look out across the harbour, her face even prettier with some colour in it, “Another murder, doctor!”

Another? Once more she provided the slap I needed to wake up. When I had time, I’d like to think about that some more, but right now I had questions looking for answers, “Who? Where? Was it Dr Alter’s squid again?”

“No,” she replied not turning around but sneaking a sideways glance at me, “In the old tunnels, some poor wretch has been found hung! Sheriff Ortega has arranged for the body to be taken to your temporary morgue in the naval offices. He asks if you can get a report to him right away.”

“Does he now? Well tell him I’ll get on it right away, but I’ll be calling in these favours from the city soon enough.”

“Favours?” Sister Sweetcheeks looked round at me, her eyes alive with curiosity. God but they were beautiful eyes.

“You tell him Sis, the city owes Beck some overtime,” I smiled into her eyes, “and I intend to collect that cheque.”

Goodunnit

****{}****

To be continued…
All the “Goodunnit? Murder in Steelhead!” posts can be read here.

*****{*}*****

Links to other blogs and stories:
1) The murders are discussed at the weekly town hall meeting here.
2) Dr Alter discovers she’s not only in the frame again, but seems to have a publicity department she was previously unaware of here.

The Mysterious Note: Part 1 – Steelhead Town Hall

Dr Ryne Beck Gravatar It started so innocently. I had left the slums behind and headed over into Steelhead City to pick up vital supplies when I found myself passing the town hall. I had heard rumours of some new building developments and decided to pop in and study the town map. The town hall itself was quiet and empty, and I studied the map in peace for many long minutes before I turned to head back home. It was then that I saw the note lying on the floor…
Steelhead: The Mysterious Note

Feeling a little like a snoop, I bent down and read it…
Steelhead: The Mysterious Note

What on earth could this ‘delivery’ be? Why would it be locked in a cellar with a secret code? Could there be agents of the Bing Kong tong working this far out of the slums? And if so, what evil could they be spreading? I had to find out and my first port of call had to be this Slade Outfitters, of which the only branch I knew was over in New Babbage’s Clockhaven… I’d have to see if I could get a ferry there as soon as possible!

***{}***

To be continued…
All the “The Mysterious Note” posts can be read here.

**********

Re-Rezzing Ryne

Now that HBA is a crispy chip, I’ve decided to resurrect my old roleplaying av, Ryne Beck. I created Ryne  in 07 so I could RP in somewhere like Toxian City but I never found a place I actually liked so I retired him. He came out briefly for the CSI sims and for a murder mystery Enjah ran in Grignano, but these were brief excursions and all too soon he was one again consigned to the assert server of forgotten avs.

So when I decided HBA needed a rest (and a shit load of salve) I turned to Ryne. But he needed some work. The clothes had to go, and the hair and skin – the new Ryne was to be from a ruined Manchester in the 1880s, and his beefcake, tough, black NY cop look just didn’t fit. So here is a pictorial record of his metamorphosis…

Rezzing Ryne  4

Ryne Beck

Ryne Beck

Ryne Beck

Ryne Beck

Ryne Beck

Ryne Beck

Ryne Beck

Ryne Beck Gravatar 2

Ryne, or Dr Rynehold Beck, will be moving into Steelhead’s Shanghai slums to look after the poor of the parish – look out for his tales appearing here soon 🙂