New Babbage is on edge, its inhabitants held hostage to the prophecies of the robot Writer, whose tale is now many pages long. However many new pages appear in the book, the ending is always the same: the evil that Jason Moriarty unleashed win, and the town is in ruins.
Some have started to question the leadership of the Clockwinder, but no one has offered up a coherent plan to fight the monsters.
The New Babbage Militia is mobilizing to counter the threat.
Gadget and Miss Falcon are working on a plan of their own. Gadget and Nat delivered a surprising piece of information to Miss Hienrichs - a letter from the Van Creed that claims the society killed Alexander Eliot and framed Jason Moriarty for the deed. The twist: a Van Creed member gave the letter to Gadget and asked him to deliver it to the Babbage authorities.
So far, all the things foretold by the robot Writer appear to be coming true: Jimmy arrived in his airship/time machine, an old man; the machines scattered about town have spawned the crab-creatures; Sebastian of Malkuth appears to have Cloud Angels. However, our ability to glean clues about the future of New Babbage may have come to an end. As Miss Hienrichs reports, the Writer and its clockwork guardian were both attacked:
[Bookworm] sucked in a breath at the sight of the Writer lying on the floor, a few cogs scattered around it, and a hammer driven into its "ear." There was another pile of machinery next to it, the last remains of one of Miss Avariel Falcon's clockworks.
A hammer? Hmm...
As if things weren't bad enough, a crack in time itself appeared outside the Hotel Excelsior:
And yet, as Triky told Myrtil, "you still got choices, the future is not set in stone." Is that true?
I certainly wanted no part of the Dark Aether after my brief and frightening encounter with it. Still… Jason Moriarty was supposed to be masterminding the plot against Babbage, so it served to reason that finding him would be a good first step. It seemed quite odd, however, that my encounter with the Dark Aether was in the Van Creed warehouse. I decided that a stop in a nearby pub would help me sort this out.