The Continuing Adventures of Othar Tryggvassen
ADVENTURE THE SECOND: I TAKE THE TRAIN
Beautiful day. Perhaps I will go to Paris. There is a little coffee shop I enjoy, and I could use a dose of the simple pleasures. Onward!
My pocket meteorological station tells me to stay off the roads. Sure enough, I dodge meteors all afternoon. Perhaps I'll take the train.
What luck! A Corbettite Train depot in the next town. I get a good price for Spooky(he comes with his own spare!) and buy a ticket to Paris.
Have a few hours before the train arrives. Help the stationmaster patch a leak in the watertower and fill the coal bunker. Obligation clear.
The stationmaster's wife makes an excellent lunch and brews a fine mead. For a bit extra, I get a long hot bath and my laundry done. Nice.
Train whistle sounds as it arrives. Magnificent engine, provided by the Master of Paris. Ultimately he must die, but a fine craftsman.
Shown to my compartment. Only one other passenger, a brass merchant from Istanbul. Trip should take 2 days. Should have brought a book.
Another passenger in our compartment. She's a professor from T.P.U. on sabbatical. Easy on the eye, but rather prim. Good conversationalist.
New passenger. It's a Jagermonster. He's a courier for the Baron. He tries being horrible and is surprised that no one leaves. Gets slapped.
Not that I try to be combative, but he was being overly familiar. The usual parade of vendors, food, drink, cushions and religion. Good tea.
An endless afternoon of stopping at small towns. Help load freight just for something to do. The Jager joins me. Good worker.
Invited to eat with the train crew, as is the Jager. Aside from drinking from the gravy boat, he behaves himself. Great gravy, I will say.
Whistle alarm and emergency brake. Unhurt. There is a tree blocking the tracks. Deliberately felled. Shots from the dark. We're under attack
The train is armored of course, but the firing pins down the defenders long enough for attackers to climb aboard. They have green cloaks.
My mistake. They ARE green cloaks. At least that's what they look like. Bullets are useless. Flamethrower time! Luckily, I brought my own.
Green cloak creatures are supported by humans with guns. The Jager and a rumbletoy squad from the train deal with them. I'm on the roof.
Flame works well, and lights up the night. The Conductor joins me, and proves quite good at hucking bottles of oil into groups of monsters.
Suddenly a flare goes up from the train. The conductor's surprised. The attackers stop and we see them retreat. They leave their monsters.
The monsters were easy to destroy without their controllers. A form of giant slime mold, with embedded electronic collars. Taste like cheese
I aid crew in removing fallen tree. No further attacks. Conductor informs us that there is no significant damage, so we can proceed at once.
A hesitant, frankly incompetent attack. No real damage to train. Freight cars untouched. No one kidnapped. What was the point? Bad feeling.
A nightcap at the bar car. Our T.P.U. Professor allows herself a small glass of sherry. Tightly wound, that one. Conductor comes through.
Everyone must produce their tickets again. Annoying. The porter has converted our seats to beds. Really wish I had a book. The Jager Snores.
It's dark.The professor is beside me. She is slowly letting down her hair. As she does so, her clothes are drifting down like autumn leaves.
She's unbuttoning her corset, urgently telling me that I have to get up. What? In my bunk. Train porter is shaking my arm. There's trouble.
The conductor has been murdered. Nasty knife wound. His body had been stuffed out a window, but had caught on a ledge. Time to get to work.
Why? I am informed that The Baron has a payroll shipment onboard. It is untouched, as is all the freight. Conductor still has his wallet.
The Best bet is to stop the train. I am informed that this is absolutely impossible. Which was when the Jager pulled the Emergency Brake.
He says that the trainmen can't blame him, as they claimed it was impossible, thus nothing should have happened. How smart ARE they, really?
The Assistant Conductor insists that this sort of problem is usually dealt with by the Barons Questers. How lucky for them that I am here.
Oh-Ho.There IS something going on here. The A.C. brings me to the rear of the train. The caboose is a snug little armory. He hits a button.
Another train car shimmers into existence. Ah. A Von Bissel Light Folder & Stapler on the roof. The Baron has outlawed those. Interesting.
A collection of the monsters that attacked, as well as the equipment to make them, and their creator in a set of the Baron's best manacles.
I know they're the best because it takes me over twenty minutes to get out of them, and that's if no one has left any cookie dough near by.
So we were attacked by a group of the good Dr's minions and creations trying to free him. Fooled by the old invisible train car bit. Losers.
Remove the containment hood. The Doctor is a rather mannishly garbed woman. Personally I prefer my chained up women Sparks to be in corsets.
Introduce myself, get some water, explain that as a Spark she must die. The niceties observed, I ask her to explain herself. Oddly reticent.
She's embarrassed. No grandiose plans, no desire to rule the world, she just likes making ambulatory slime mold servants. She's not a Spark.
Hello? Making intelligent ambulatory slime mold servants controlled by electronic collars? This is not Gardening 102. A Spark in denial.
Oh I hate it when this happens.Now I have to waste time convincing her that I'm killing her for a legitimate reason and am not just a loony.
Discouraging. My ability to convey my philosophies is deficient. I'll bet Wulfenbach never has this problem when he has to kill someone.
The Corbettite tells me she is being taken to Baron Wulfenbach for the destruction of the town of Waffenhaus. I may be overthinking this.
Her name is Van Zekkertant and I can't help noticing that she's oddly calm considering we're discussing who kills her. I'm missing something
Damnation. I get it. Why would someone kill the train conductor? Because he's the one who would first discover someone without a ticket.
The ineffective attack on the train was merely a ruse to allow someone to get on. Probably to rescue Van Zekkertant. They'll be coming here.
Obviously they don't know about the invisible train car or they would have attacked it. So the killer is still searching. Time to leave.
No one sees us leave the invisible train car. Good. I'll go through the entire train and talk to everyone. Good thing I'm a 'People Person'.
I meet a water engineer from Baden-Baden. He's invented a new filtration system from carbon & spun glass. Sounds like a Spark, who must die.
Next up is a Musical inventor/salesman who designs instruments that can be played by farm animals while they work. A Spark who must die.
Every single person on this train is a Spark. Including the engineer, who is developing a locomotive that runs on fudge. Where to start?
Hmm. The Chasm of Svantz is about 25 kilometers away. Haven't had a good old spectacular train wreck in awhile. Could be fun. For me.
What am I thinking?! These trains cost tens of thousands of Imperial Dollars! I can't afford that. I blew the budget on that zeppelin crash.
They have a highly developed sense of smell. Perhaps he can detect the infiltrator. I cannot find him. I have a bad feeling about this.
The only thing these people had in common was that they were in my train compartment. But if they were worried about me, why not get me?
Why bother with them at all? What could a Jager, a brass merchant or a history professor do that could be dangerous to them. Or anyone?
The Jager was with me when I went to the rear of the train. Train is still stopped. Search around the train. I do find a body. Who is this?
Something is not right about this body. Crew clears freight car for an autopsy. Request medical assistance. 2 sparks respond. I know, I know
Body is not really a person, but it's becoming one. I believe it's one of the green cloaks. We are in big trouble. Even the Sparks concur.
My first instinct is to destroy it, but we must let it continue to develop, if only to find out how human it gets. Then I'll dissect it!
Creature is…ripening into a duplicate of the missing brass merchant. I have ordered the train crew to search for my companions. In pairs.
One other proto-person discovered. The chief conductor. It awakens as they are hauling it in. Seems like a normal person. Could be messy.
Interesting. It seems to think it is the chief conductor. My dissecting it will provide fodder for a lively ethical discussion sometime.
Ho ho, what a silly mistake. When you cut up something (or someone) that is still alive it's vivisection, not dissection. I AM distracted.
It play acts a train conductor perfectly. Enough so that I feel a slight qualm as I begin to cut. Unnecessary. It's like cutting a mushroom.
No blood, no bones, no internal tissue differentiation at all. Ah-and yet it is capable of almost instantaneous transformation. Monster time
An amusing cross between a spider and an octopus. Hero Tip; Locating the nerve/brain is challenging. Try right behind (or through) the eyes.
Tricky. It crumbles when you attack it, and the smaller bits become autonomous creatures in their own right. With sharp little teeth. Ow!
Time for the monster hunters oldest friend; Fire. The carboys of spirits I placed around the car explode perfectly. No one will escape! um..
When Othar Tryggvassen builds a deathtrap he does a pretty damn good job of it. Some would call this irony. Everyone else, stupidity. Sigh.
I yell to my companions, "Our only hope is the hatch onto the roof!" The monster is intelligent enough to understand, and gets there first.
Which is why the monster is the one who sets off the boobytrap I placed there. This allows me to escape without too much effort. Excelsior!
My two assistants have apparently led a sedentary life (All too typical when you can construct monsters to be evil for you) They can't jump.
Whereas I would have had to destroy them later, their deaths at this point are inconvenient. How life mocks me! Know what I want? Fudge.
Luckily, the Corbettite Monks have traditionally supported their good works by selling fudge that they make from an ancient secret recipe.
I once foiled an evil plot to capture The Monastery of St. Emo's legendary Fudge Hounds, saving many a lost traveler from starvation.
As a result, I was presented a scapula that allows me to claim free fudge at any Corbettite facility. Luckily, I have a high metabolism.
Ahh. A fine block of Bavarian Black nut fudge. I need this. Wait. I can use this. Or should I eat it? A Hero's decisions are never simple.
It's hard, but so is being a hero. I walk through the train extolling the virtues of this fine fudge which I am about to eat by myself. Yum.
I am halfway through the third sleeper car when, with a rending of metal, a Jäger hand claws through the floor. "Say, ken I haze a bite?"
It's a proven fact that a Jäger will claw through solid rock to steal fudge. Not often that esoteric knowledge like this comes in useful.
He was stuffed into the sub-floor maintenance conduit. Wrapped in some sort of organic webbing. Time to check the rest of them. Quickly.
Found my TPU Professor, delightfully disheveled, but unharmed under the Observation Car. Only the brass merchant remains to be found.
Uh-oh. It looks like almost everyone on the train is actually entombed under it. All of the passengers are monstergangers. Should've walked.
Confound it! An entire train full of helpless Sparks AND dangerous monsters AND a handy chasm nearby. Someone is tempting me. So not fair!
At least I have figured out what is happening. It is a plot to destroy Wulfenbach, and, I must admit, a pretty good one. Should I permit it?
An entire train full of monsters disguised as Sparks. The Baron will no doubt want to see them personally. Even he would be in trouble.
This is the perfect opportunity to destroy the House of Wulfenbach. I don't have to do anything, except waltz in afterwards and clean up.
You know what I should do? Get off this train and take a vacation. Yes. Right now. Here I go… Wait. I never did find the brass merchant.
This is ridiculous. There were only two and a half innocent people on this train (Jäger =0.5 person). Surely I can skip the last one. Yeah.
No. I can't. This is what being A Hero is about. I should never have taken that aptitude test back at the university. I wanted to be a chef.
I think that as long as I do nothing suspicious, I will not "activate" the transformation of the creatures. Just gotta act normal. La-de-dah
What should I do with my two innocents? If I make them leave the train, the others will notice, they'll also be in the middle of nowhere.
Explain what is going on to them. They say they'll find the merchant while I stop the monsters and save the Baron. Slight miscommunication.
I explain that this is the perfect opportunity to let the Baron reap what he has sown. Let Mad science kill the mad scientist. Tough room.
The professor trots out the old saw that the Baron has given Europe a period of stable government and increased safety. That's an easy one.
My foolproof argument remains; THE BARON IS A SPARK AND MUST DIE! (Repeat until they change their mind). Silver medal Oslo Tech Debate team.
The Professor breaks a chair over my head. Ow. Maybe I'm wrong. Damnation! I had always wondered what had happened to the Gold medal winner.
We come to a dialectical compromise. First we will find the brass merchant, then we will decide what to do. A stimulating discussion. Ow.
The Jäger assures me that the merchant is nowhere on the train. Seems he was fond of fenugreek tea, which causes a distinctive body odor.
The train has started moving again. I suspect that any attempt to stop it will result in monsterage. By my calculations, we have 20 minutes.
That is my best guess as to when the train will pass the switch that will send it into the crevasse. If we miss that, it'll reach the Baron.
Wait! There's one place we haven't searched, the secret car at the end of the train. Uh-oh, the controls to reveal it have been smashed.
This is unnerving. I KNOW there's a train car there, but it appears that I must step out into empty space while going 60 klicks an hour.
No. This just doesn't feel right. Hero instincts. You learn to listen to them. I grab a brakeman's pole and poke. No train car within reach.
The car is uncoupled, but still connected by brake cables & chain (by the feel of it). This is a pathetic attempt to kill me. Exhilarating!
If this is the best they can do then this should be a cake walk! I easily scramble across the cable and burst in the door. Ah. A trap. Oops.
They counted on my having a false sense of security for cracking a weak trap, and thus walked into a much better trap. Ah, hindsight.
Van Zekkertant is still chained (I'll admit it, Wulfenbach does good containment systems) and here's my brass merchant, trying to free her.
And here's four creatures waiting to grab me. I call that overkill. On the other hand, my reputation demands no less. Ah, the price of fame.
Yes, I am quite captured. Oh dear, oh dear. As I expected, they gloat. Ah, this explains much. The brass merchant is Van Zekkertant's dad.
That was the final piece of the puzzle. Time to escape. My captors taunt me for being so silent. Do I have a reputation for talking a lot?
It's hard to talk with a mouthful of fenugreek tea. I spit it on myself. As I thought, the monsters recoil, freeing me. Time to hit things.
You ever tried fenugreek tea? I'd rather eat monsters. It was obvious there was a reason he drank the stuff. Ooh, it makes monsters melt!
Thank goodness for waterproof boots. Zekkertant's dad appeals to me. What parent should see their child die? Even if they are a Spark. True.
Impeccable logic. I am moved. So even though he is a lesser threat, I shoot him first. Then I shoot van Zekkertant. Call me Herr Sensitive.
Now all I have to do is get to the switch before the train does. Tricky, as the train is the fastest thing in the neighborhood. A challenge!
Five minutes left. I find the Jäger and the professor and explain my problem. They agree that we have a problem. How very helpful.
I pull the emergency brake. The train shudders to a halt. I charge the professor with throwing the switch and the Jäger gets to protect her. ...
I pull the emergency brake. Train shudders to a halt. I charge the professor with throwing the switch and the Jäger gets to protect her.
Off they go. Now, my job is to distract the engineer, while not allowing myself to be torn apart by a train full of monsters. Aerobic!
Luckily I still reek of Fenugreek tea. This allows me to stroll unmolested to the engine. The engineer is preparing to move- who's this? 1
A hail from the tracks-That badge-He's a Wulfenbach Questor. They are annoyingly resourceful fellows. This could cause a lot of problems.
I grab "The engineer" and stuff him into the firebox. Then I slam the train into forward. Now I have only the coal stoker to worry about.
The stoker wields a mean shovel, especially once he starts sprouting extra arms. They are deadly fighting machines once they get mad. Drat.
Into the firebox with him as well. Now it's just a simple job to tie the throtle of the engine down, and then leap gracefully-ow! What the?
It's The Quester! What is he…He's trying to stop the train. Of course. He doesn't know they're all monsters. How vexing. To work!
I try to explain that everyone on the train is a monster and must die. He can trust me, I'm Othar Tryggvassen! Uh-oh, now he looks mad.
What a double edged sword a reputation is. Save thousands, thwart evil, bring peace…kill one corrupt quester and it's all out the window.
Now I'm just "The Guy Who Killed A Quester." It demonizes me, and ignores all of my finer points. Bit of a resume stain, to be honest. Sigh.
Questers are usually pillars of honesty. Therefore it's understandable that people are skeptical when you badmouth one. My rep vs. theirs.
A whereas people say hurtful and misguided things about me, at least no one doubts my veracity. Usually. Except when I get philosophical.
Oooh. Nasty thought. Is he a real Quester or is he yet another monster? I stick a knife in him. Yes, that's a real person. Now we can talk.
Seems disinclined to talk. A quick peek out the window. I see the professor at the switch. The Quester is going for the brake cord.
We are past the switch! The chasm is dead ahead! Another job well done! Oh. I appear to have been hit in the head with a large coal shovel.
Can't move! Got to move! The chasm is around the next turn! The Quester doesn't look worried…He doesn't know! Got to save him. The dope.
This is going to hurt. A full body slam to throw him from the engine. Unfortunately, it'll leave me exposed to-yes, a knife. Predictable. Ow
At least the Quester is safe. Despite working for Wulfenbach, they're heroes in their own right. I appear to be floating. That's not good.
Freefall, my old nemesis! All I have to do is activate my compressed gas rocket boots and I will cheat you once again! Belt control ON!…On? ...
Oh look, there goes my suitcase, soaring off to safety. I forgot to change my boots. Okay, plan 'B'. First, find some honey…
The Jäger, my TPU Professor, and the Quester are all lined up on the rim of the chasm. Indeed, it was quite a crash. Why, she's crying. Aw.
I love the childlike look of wonder on their faces when they see me. It gives me a chance to cold-cock the Quester before he gets feisty.
Our first order of business is to reset the switch. There is a high probability that the next train won't be filled with hideous monsters.
Now we have to wait for the next train. I have to report what happened to the Monks. This could take some time. We construct a shelter.
The next train won't be by for at least 24 hours. A good roof and chinked walls. The professor builds a sophisticated firepit & chimney.
The professor built some snares and we have 3 rabbits and a squirrel for roasting on the fire. The Jäger decides to build a swimming pool.
We lounge about the pool after dinner, but it's getting cold. I volunteer to take the first watch, as the Jäger is sleepy from catching bats ...
A cold clear night. The stars are beautiful once you get away from the glare of the towns. It's good to be alive. And not mad, of course.
The Jäger shows up eventually. Strange creatures. The dip in the pool certainly helped, but I'm afraid he still has bat breath. Sleep now.
Bedding is a huge pile of cedar boughs. I burrow in and relax. What's that? Oh-it's the professor. She's crying in her sleep. Understandable
Held her all night. Slept very well. She bit my thumb when she woke up and found me with my arms around her. Apologized very nicely later.
The Jäger and I construct a simple barrier to stop the train. It works, and the train crew comes out. Armed, of course. I introduce myself.
Cheering. How rewarding. Explain that the previous train was infested with shapeshifting monsters. The professor and the Jäger back me up.
I also explain that since the Quester helped me send it over the edge, they can no doubt bill The Baron for the lost train. More cheering.
The Quester is still tied up in the shelter. No doubt he's a resourceful fellow and will easily free himself before the bears get to him.Adventure the Third: I Love Paris
Girl Genius is written by Professors Phil & Kaja Foglio of TPU, with drawings by Prof. P. Foglio.
Volume One was inked by Brian Snoddy. Volumes Two and Three were colored by Mark McNabb. Volume Four was colored by Laurie E. Smith. Cheyenne Wright is our current colorist. His work begins with Volume Five.
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