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#10: A Pile of Red Tape

Inspector Giles Newberry was officially going crazy. In the bureaucratic fallout following the takedown of the group of men soon to be known around the Yard as Mad Baron Listorton’s Brain Stormers, MDOPFGIASA was effectively benched.

Not due to the casualties, of which there were several—Prof. Perrigordon included. (The gentleman was recovering nicely if not quietly in his home in Chelsea.)

Not due to the improper involvement of private citizens in Official Policework. (Though each and every violation had prompted both censure and commendation.)

Nor was the team’s removal from the field due a lack of steady work.

No, Newberry and company’s quiet relegation to office work sprang from the mountains of paperwork their first case had generated. Two dozen men and women were to be processed and admitted for treatment at local hospitals, doctors of said patients had to be vetted and cleared for classified work. Additionally, as the criminal element could be found everywhere—including the healthcare industry—the team was beset by problems arising from purported medical experts who were no more than charlatans.

As if this weren’t enough, the city had reclaimed the scene of the crime. Embarrassed by the inappropriate uses to which its abandoned hospital had been put, the authorities had quickly decided to curb further shady opportunity, forcing MDOPFGIASA to remove all evidence to the safety of its offices.

Now surrounded by the assorted outfiture of a rogue medical lab and up to his eyeballs in paperwork, Giles deeply regretted having taken the mantle of leadership upon himself. Though ostensibly a desk monkey, Reginald had proven as woefully inadequate with a pen as he was with a pistol, the gentleman creating more problems with mis-filed Requisition, Acquisition, Relinquition, Inquisition forms than he was solving. And as for the rest of the team—such as it was—he’d lost them to training, Superintendent Blushton insisting that both Spreenkerton and Temble be properly brought under Yard supervision and Dr. Perrigordon simultaneously recovering and schooling Yard officers on topics such as the working of airships and basic safety around high-voltage and tesla-powered mechanics.

With a grateful sigh, Giles allowed himself a moments’ reprieve from worry as he turned his thoughts to the good Doctor’s rather remarkable recovery. Oh, it had been touch and go at the beginning and for the first day following the raid, James’ life had hung in delicate balance. But it seemed the fates would be kind this time around, leaving the rotund Professor ample time to inspect and exclaim over the curious energy weapons that’d nearly finished him off.

“Scientific advancements like none I’ve seen!” he’d been heard exclaiming robustly, even through the shut door of the side office where he was attempting to bring twenty-some Yard officers up to speed.

Yes, it seemed the team had made it over their first hurdle. Now, if only they could hit stride and rid themselves of all the mechanical, medicinal clutter they were choking on.

Refusing to find fault with Dr. James Perrigordon’s temporary limitations, Newberry cast a weary eye over the mountains of tagged evidence that haunted every corner of their already cramped office. Goodness, it could be months before we’re able to sort out half of what all this does, never mind how they’d managed to use it! he despaired. The sudden urge to smoke overtook him and he capitulated to the craving. Twice around the block to clear his head was what was needed!

Donning the necessary protection for going out of doors, for the weather had turned two days prior, Newberry took his leave of his sullen officemate, praying the gentleman had no further questions to stall his escape. But no, he was free to go, to soak up the crisp air—snow tonight, if he wasn’t mistaken—and clear the cobwebs from between his ears with the fortifying dragons-breath of a good cavendish.

Once outside, collar turned against the fitful wind, Giles allowed the pent-up energy to vent. Click. Click. Cane methodically keeping time to his footsteps, Giles revelled in the exercise.

“Ha!” the barked exclamation drew curious stares, which he ignored, preoccupied as he was by the ornate cane he now held at arms length. Staring at it as if the answers to all life’s problems lay within its smooth lines, Giles regarded the walking stick with thoughtful cunning. The idea of enlisting the cane’s maker had occurred to him before . . . and yet . . .

“I’ll never get him out of his house,” Giles murmured, turning the stick in his hands. “But he’s not forbidden visitors . . . Yes, I suppose that’ll have to do!”