"Oi!" Hatchet shouted, jogging down the street. "You! You can't put that there!" He gestured almost rudely to a cart that had stopped in front of an ally. The man who was busy unhitching the cart's two horses turned, a concerned expression on his face. One of the horses also turned and gave the watchman a dirty look. Hatchet grimaced and winced as light from the midday sun bounced off of the brass goggles slung around the man's neck, the horse's bridal, and every other shiny surface in the vicinity. Once again the Watchman cursed being drafted into daylight duty to babysit the attendants of Her Ladyship's technology fair.
"Sorry?" The man said, though it came out as more of a question than an apology. Hatchet noted that he did not move to reattach the horses.
"I said you can't put that there," he repeated. The man looked Hatchet over, probably noting the slung rifle, sheathed sword, fancy uniform, and annoyed expression. The last two came together to form an almost universal image of an officer of the law.
"Um, yes," the man was obviously calculating his words carefully as he spoke, "I heard you, officer. What I mean was, why can't I put it here?"
Because I bloody well said so and now you're off to lockup for giving me lip, was Hatchet's first thought. But he checked himself and took a deep breath. "Look, you're in front of an alley, see?" He flung his almost rude gesture in the direction of said feature. Many years of dealing with people who didn't quite understand why you wanted them to do things gave Hatchet the insight he needed to cut the next question off short. "Fire code," he added promptly.
"Oh?" Hatchet narrowed his eyes at the one syllable response, and strongly considered the possibility that this man was intentionally being obtuse. He settled for nonchalantly placing a hand on the pommel of his sword, noting with satisfaction that the man's eyebrows raised ever so slightly.
"Aye," he replied with his own single syllable. "Fire code," he said again. Even if the man was being intentionally annoying, it was still the duty of the Watch to educate the populace so they didn't make the same stupid mistakes twice. Cut down on the workload, overall. "If a fire starts back in there somewhere, the brigade can't get in there to put it out if you've got this big heaping pile of... whatever it is, in the way." Now that he was looking more closely at the cart, he did wonder what was underneath that huge white tarp. "And just what is this a big heaping pile of?" He started towards the cart, curiously reaching out a hand to lift up the edge of the tarp.
"Careful!" the man exclaimed, and made the mistake of reaching out towards Hatchet's arm. The Watchman's sword was out in an instant, and the begoggled cart parker's hands teleported into the air. "Woah, now," he said, "I just meant you should be careful there. I spent years on some of that, and I'd rather you didn't just rip the tarp off and send it all falling to the ground. That's all."
Aware that he was making a bit of a spectacle in the street, Hatchet sheathed his blade. "Yeah," he grumbled, "Well. You take it off, then. I'm havin' a look."
As the man bustled about the cart undoing tie downs in what appeared to be a very specific order, Hatchet sighed and rubbed at his eyes. He wasn't used to this. Years on night shift meant he only saw daylight a few hours at a time. He'd become a creature of the night, and he ought to have been asleep.
"Ta-da," the man sang, and with a whoosh of material the tarp lifted off and floated to the ground. Hatchet's eyes were again assaulted by bright reflections, this time coming off of the very shiny surface of whatever was under the tarp. For a moment, he couldn't tell what it was because he was nearly blind. Once he'd recovered and there were only a few spots left floating in his vision, he still couldn't tell what it was. There was certainly a lot of metal, though. And gears, he could see gears. There were levers, too.
There was an awkward silence. Clearly, the man intended for Hatchet to be impressed. "It's... very shiny," he said at last. He cleared his throat. "What's it, exactly?"
"The transportation of the future," was the enthusiastic answer. "Once I get it all assembled, anyway. Right now it's sort of in pieces."
"Don't need anything to transport you to the future," Hatchet mused. "Wait around long enough and it'll come to you." He though it was a rather philisophical thing to say; very profound, very intellectual sounding. It yielded another awkward silence.
"Not... no, not like that," the man said carefully. "I mean its... the thing everybody will be getting around in, soon. I hope. Like a horse and cart, only better."
Hatchet looked from the confusing pile of metal to the horse, which had stopped giving him the evil eye and was now happily pooping on the cobblestones. "Better, eh?"
"Yes," the man replied, following Hatchet's gaze. "It won't do that, for one."
"Very good. Yes... well, you'd better move the cart," he said, getting the conversation back on track. "Fire code," he reminded the man.
"Yes, fire code. Of course." The man nodded his understanding and went about putting the tarp back on his wagon. "Just down the street there will be fine, I hope?" He gestured to a spot against the side of a building that was generally occupied by a seasonal market stand, now gone to make way for the participants of the technology fair.
Though he didn't really see it since he was squinting and rubbing his eyes again, Hatchet could guess. "Yes, there," he gave a nod.
"Right. Say... you look like you could use these," the man said, and Hatchet peered through squinty eyes at something that was being held towards him. It turned out to be a pair of goggles, not unlike the ones the man was wearing around his neck. The glass lenses in them had a smoky color, though."I use them when I'm dealing with things that glow a lot, or spark, or when I'm welding. Or when it's bright out..." the man trailed off. "Anyway, they shade your eyes and you can still see through them."
Hatchet took them and strapped them over his eyes, adjusting his helmet slightly so they fit. When he was finished, he looked around at the world through different eyes. "Wow," he said, genuinely impressed. "Now this, this is ta-da worthy!"
The man laughed and shook his head. "I never really thought of it like that. It was just something to make my job easier."
"That's all anybody wants," Hatchet said. "Something to make life a little more bearable. I were you, I'd sell these instead of that future cart. You sure you don't want these back?"
"Nah, I've got an extra."
"Very good. Say, what's your name?" Hatchet asked. He wasn't one to forget a favor, and his new shade goggles certainly rated.
"Frod," the man replied. "Heinrich Frod."
"Hatchet," he introduced himself in return. "I'll see you around, Mr. Frod." He watched the cart move off and shook his head. "Tourists," he muttered. This festival was going to be long, and it was going to be a pain in the ass. But maybe it wasn't all bad. He wiped a smudge off of his new goggles and smiled. Nope, not all bad.