As the free show/audition looms, Captain Clara asks two of her crew to join the ranks of the star performers: a NeoBedouin traveling strongman by name of The Great Alexander and a refugee NeoVictorian Lady with anarchist leanings, Miss Carlotta St. John-Kent.Carlotta’s specialty seems to be public relations and she drums up quite a bit of an audience by posting announcements and dropping a bug in just the right ears. Of course, she doesn’t refrain from handing out some of her more subversive political tracts(written under the nom de plume Lottie Sangrie) wrapped in the playbills she hands out at the show in her role as ticket taker(though this particular performance is gratis). p. The big show is a resounding success as the entire crew rallies behind the captain’s stirring introductory speech. Jacquard-3 functions without error as the mesmerizing emcee for the show. The Captain’s dance number and Annabelle’s feats of prestidigitation both leave the audience speechless, hearts caught in their throats. When The Great Alexander takes center stage, oiled muscles rippling in the setting sun, the audience thrills to his show of might. In the finale, all the heroes join together in a breathtaking display of animal handling.
The crowd goes wild, showering our heroes in adulation and coins! The afterparty is at The Crooked Girder, a local watering hole for some of the more passionate and sensitive steel workers. Here, Anna and Alexander cannot resist(and why would they?!) a friendly game of Airship Quarters. The stakes are money and drunken unconsciousness. Anna attains the dubious honor of being the last player to maintain consciousness. Even in her ‘Plastered’ state, she is still quicker to swipe up the coins from the table than Carlotta, who had been eyeing the contestants like a hawk all night, waiting for just such a chance. As it is, they split the pot.
Alexander does not fare quite so well. After drinking well beyond his capacity, Captain Clara-May auctions off his passed out charms to the highest bidder. Unfortunately, he doesn’t go for much, but he does get dragged off by a seemingly amorous admirer who is tentatively identified as Alderman Willis.
The next day, having seen neither hide nor hair of their strongman, the crew begin to sense something amiss and make inquiries. Indeed, it seems the “alderman” is in fact a bounty hunter who has been tracking Alexander for some time. Dark whispers indicate his route to be a northerly one by barge.
Meanwhile, The Captain and Jacquard-3, after an obligatory free breakfast with their adoring public, make their way to Wiley’s office to cut the deal. Wiley offers them a secret bonus job if they are interested. Of course they are! This is to be a very discreet delivery involving a crate that is not to be opened under any circumstances.
Shortly before the Captain and robot’s return, Anna Bellweather is rudely interrupted from her morning coffee therapy by a message from three scraggly strangers. It seems, she has once again been mistaken for her accomplished and very charitable twin sister, Lulubelle! Even so, Anna manages to turn the situation to her advantage. Or does she? The three strangers introduce themselves with a secret handshake and arcane signals as members of a furtive cabal of revolutionaries who are expecting her sister and a certain Everglades anarchist to deliver a donation of special weaponry. After Anna’s moderately successful bluff/negotiation, the three agree to her request for payment but defer authority to their cell captain who will be present at the agreed upon midnight rendezvous at a warehouse in the Eastgate District.
At or about noon, the remaining heroes(all those who have not been abducted the previous evening) set out for the Crooked Girder to seek clues as to Alexander Ursa’s whereabouts. These investigations lead our intrepid adventurers to the Northgate docks where they ascertain that 2 barges left that morning; one at 0800 and one at 1030. The game is afoot! Off they go back to the Sky-Whale for a hot aerial pursuit. One of those barges has to contain their friend.
Meanwhile, awakening from a drunken stupor, Alexander fights for his freedom against a menacing villain and his five henchmen. After awing them by breaking his chains, he presses his advantage with a daring barefisted attack using his shattered fetters to lay about him good and all! Alas, even after besting the henchmen, he is still laid low by the bounty hunter whose flashing katana blade draws gouts of spurting blood from the mighty-thewed tribesman. Although slightly cowed by the dastardly villain’s command to surrender, our hero vows he will not be held for long…
And so things stand as the jolly crew of the Sky-Whale make ready to sail into the ominous northern wasteland to rescue their good and true friend and mate!