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#2: Oh sludge...

Sir Reginald Crothall looked about his desk for something to do, was tempted to rearrange its contents for optimal use. That exercise had already been deemed fruitless, however, based on the two complete desk overhauls he’d already done this morning. Blowing air loudly through his mouth, Crothall removed and inspected his glasses but nary a speck presented itself for removal. With a snap and a buzz, the entryway clock struck eleven, involuntarily drawing Reginald’s attention towards the front door to the office.

Lord, this policing is boring stuff, he yawned, positioning his hands behind his head and leaning back luxuriously in his chair. One benefit of MDOPFGIASA’s location and subsequent inheritance of all sorts of cast off furnishings—his cramped office was cozier than anticipated and allowed such informalities as feet propped up on desk corners. From his vantage point, Sir Crothall assessed the Department’s layout through half-closed eyes. Desks enough for a team of eight including himself and Giles in their attached offices, a corner with a large, heavy old table (“For experiments,” Giles had cryptically promised), not to mention the rather open foyer space near the door . . . Yes, their Department had cleaned up quite nicely once all the extra rubbish had been tossed. Reginald couldn’t say that the powers that be had done ill by his suggestion at forming the bureau, he just wished the resulting job wasn’t so dratted boring!

Eleven-o-six. Sigh.

Idly pushing inkwell left and then right, Reginald wondered when Giles would return from his investigation and whether the man’d be hungry. He could use some lunch.


"Downright churlish of him not to invite me along on one of our little adventures,” Crothall grumbled, dropping his feet to the floor and rising to pace the room and conveniently forgetting how he’d begged his way out of accompanying the Inspector, claiming a headache, had in fact, begged out of all their investigations since the Department had opened two weeks prior. He paused mid-stride—yes, the footfalls he’d just thought he’d heard were indeed not echoes of his own. Craning his neck to view the outer office, he caught sight of Giles Newberry just as he slammed shut the door and turned to regard the room with ill-disguised disgust.

“Ah hah! There you are, I was just thinking that it was time for lunch soon and I—yeeugh, good lord, man, what’ve you gotten up to?” Crothall stopped short of completing his warm greeting as he now noted Newberry’s disheveled state.

Coat, collar, shirtsleeves, and trousers—all were besmirched with a reeking sort of sludge . . . the sort of thing one picks up in sewers. Additionally, he seemed to be sporting some sort of blue substance spread across his shirt front, the color of which would have complemented his startlingly blue eyes if said eyes weren’t positively snapping with wrath at the present moment.

“What have, what have I gotten up to?” sputtering, Giles addressed the empty room stagily, larger than life and more than a little sarcastic. “I, Reginald, have been crawling about in a sewer. That’s what I’ve been doing. And you? Anything exciting while I’ve been out?”

“What were you doing in a sewer?” Reginald recoiled from the word, politely averting his eyes from the sodden, reeking mess that was his partner.

“Picking daisies,” Giles growled and stormed off into his office where, through closed doors, he shouted his brief report, “You know how they’d been complaining of the funny noises and power fluctuations on Mount Street? Turns out some fellow on one of the third floor flats had wired up to the system for experiments. Was channeling half the block’s power through his rooms three nights a week. Managed to make himself a neat little automaton actually. Would’ve been a simple warning and fine but the damned fool tried to hide the product of his genius and the blasted robot escaped on us. Tracked it all the way to the sewers and then lost it.” The door opened, revealing a mostly presentable Chief Inspector once more. “So, no, case not solved. Yes, I’ll need help catching the little robotic rat.”

“Ah . . .” Already the wheels were turning in Crothall’s head as he worked to find a way out of assisting Newberry, The sewers? I should think not!

Giles could see that Reginald was trying to evade him once more, debated letting him sweat it out then decided against it. “Yes. I was thinking that if you and I could take a look at that list again . . . I believe there was an expert in mechanics and autotronics on there,” he threw the suggestion out carelessly, hoping Crothall would rise to the bait in his distraction. So far, every one of the candidates in his list of potential officers had been vetoed. Giles suspected this was out of jealousy—for Crothall had not put forth any suggestions of his own—than anything and the stalemate had become extra vexing with his partner’s refusal to do anything but desk work.

“That Professor chap?” Giles was surprised to see Reginald remembered that much. Crothall took a long look around office, “S’pose we could talk to him, see if he’s as good as he claims to be. But then I get to pick the next fellow.”

What, are we twelve and picking teams in the school yard? Giles debated fighting it, then decided it was likely not worth it. Besides, if Crothall chose another pencil-pusher, maybe he’d never have to bother with paperwork again and could concentrate on more important things like saving lives and protecting the general populace.

* * *

While most of what Professor James Perrigordon said was completely beyond Sir Reginald Crothall's ken, the two managed to get along quite splendidly on the aristocratic level. Two impeccable backgrounds, families with all the usual connections, and equally genteel upbringings, the two men were surprised they’d never crossed paths before. Giles was surprised as well, though he supposed that it was likely due the very different circles in which the two men moved—one enmeshed in politics and social gatherings, the other a pinnacle in the scientific community. Their clubs were one block apart, some of their familial Connections were friends, and they, in fact, smoked the same brand of cigar and enjoyed the same brand of sherry.

Ten minutes into lunch, Giles wanted to take a butter knife to his throat.

Luckily, the good Doctor (Professor being an honorary title) was as graced with intellect as he was with social pleasantries. Yes, he could help with the Department’s little problem and, yes, he’d be more than happy to come work with the Department so long as the position met with his Superiors’ approval. (He did not stay long on the subject of his current work, said Superiors apparently belonging higher up in the Government than Giles or Reginald would ever hope to rise.)

Three glasses of port and one incredibly lengthy luncheon later, it was promised that the good Doctor Perrigordon would join them at their offices first thing tomorrow, thereby strengthening their team to three and providing MDOPFGIASA with the expert knowledge that Newberry had long desired.