Chapter Four, Page Three, The City of Locked DoorsMature

"Yes sir!"

"You can stop with the saluting."

"Yes sir!" The Undertaker girl, Adrian, managed to change her salute into a self-conscious head scratch at the last moment.

Noir returned his attention to the circle, "What are the rest of them here for?"

"I was assigning control of the Dollhouse to Lieutenant Dorian and discussing prior engagements with Temaria. Gregorio's here because he's the house Necromancer and, seeing all that's been happening lately, I thought it would be a good idea to have him on close call."

"You mean the tension with Grim?"

"Yeah, so be careful over there, Grim's been known to hire some rather vicious thugs."

Noir drew out from the circle, preparing to leave, "Don't worry about me; I can handle myself and the boy."

"One last thing before you go, they say a new species of Umbran has shown up."

Noir paused at the door and glanced back, one hand resting on the handle, "What are they called?"

"I don't know what they do, but they call themselves the Architects."

Noir considered this for a moment then shrugged, "They have nothing to do with me." He opened the door and Adrian slipped out, her red and black feline ears twitching excitedly. He closed the door and followed her up the stair, reaching out to grab the collar of her white coat, "Stay by me kid."

Ahh, you like the cute little baby girl!


But her ears are so cute and fluffy!

That doesn't mean a thing. A whistle split the air, drawing Noir gaze upward. The Trolley's here. He tugged the Undertaker girl's coat, "This way."

She pulled up short and followed him to the right, "Where are we going, the Grim District is the other way?"

"We're going to take the Trolley." Noir crossed to the building that stood adjacent to the Dollhouse and began his ascent and its attending stair.

Adrian followed him, her ears pulling back, "I'm sorry sir, but I don't have any money for the Trolley.

"We don't need any money, kid; we're on official Inter-District business." They arrived at a suspended platform occupied by two rows of seats and small number of pedestrians. The screaming whistle sounded again, heralding the Trolley's arrival as it trundled around the corner. It drew to a shuddering halt in front of them with a belch of fumes and a groan of subsiding gears. The conductor, a young Engineer with spirited red hair, named the District and issued a call for the occupants to disembark.

Noir took Adrian by the shoulder and pushed her toward the quivering vehicle's entrance. The Engineer extended a hand to them as stepped aboard, "Passage for the both of you will be two Quarter Pieces."

Adrian glanced back up at Noir and he continued pushing her forward, pointing at his Lieutenant's Tails with a thumb, "We're on official Inter-District business."

"Very Well," The Engineer retracted his long, many jointed arm and pulled a lever, causing the Trolley to lurch violently with a cough and still again, "Go on in."

Someone had painted over the Trolley's original black Shadow-Steel with a copper hue, making it gleam brightly in the sun. Who did this had also added cushions to the Trolley's two rows of double seats and implemented a thin Shadow-Steel grate atop the banister, presumably to prevent people from leaning too far out. Little else had changed, however; the translucent glass floor still provided a perfect view of the city below, the boiler entombed in the Trolley's stomach still heated the floor and the carriage, and the propelling gears still shone black in their housing lines along both adjacent skyscrapers.

Adrian slowly spun in the center aisle, her gaze roving up, down, and across, drinking in every minute detail, image, and adornment that had been given to the Trolley all those years before. Noir slipped into the foremost outside seat on her left and leaned on the banister, watching her marvel. "This is incredible. How is it able to stay suspended with so little support?"

"There's a boiler under the floor which provides both heat and upwards pressure, alleviating the burden and powering the gears. How long have you been out in the city?"

Her ears flicked back and she glanced at him briefly before looking away and sitting on the opposite bench, "Only a week or so, and most of that was spent in the Dollhouse getting to know everybody there."

Noir rolled his eyes and leaned his head back on the seat, "You don't have to answer my questions if you don't want to, kid, I'm not going to bite your head off."

"Yes sir." 

The End

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