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You're kidding me with this, right. When the fuck did dA become Facebook.
The trio raced through the house and into the basement to find Sprocket and Smokestack anxiously checking the control panel and the various meters of all kinds that lined the walls. The entire room was completely bathed in blue light from the glowing wires connected to a huge sphere in the middle of the room that was roughly the size of a smart-car and there was a shrill, piercing sound in the air that was physically making Berkley look anxious as he looked at it.

“This isn’t good.”

“What is?!” Faith snapped at him. “What the hell is going on?!”

“The Æthersphere is reacting to a time distortion,” Berkley explained quickly. “Hollow’s on the move again.”

“To where, exactly?!”

Berkley strode past her and walked over to a huge machine that looked like a gigantic telescope lens that was hooked up to the Æthersphere, the lens decorated with a swirling blue pattern that seemed to be alive and moving around like the distorted images of a kaleidoscope mixed with the almost hypnotic dance of an amoeba under a microscope, and in this ever-changing dance of swirling smoke behind the glass, images were beginning to form, though there was really no sense to be made of the swirling shapes, at least from Faith’s perspective. “Hollow still has access to the Ætherial doors,” Berkley explained. “At least the ones he’s corrupted with Equinox.”

“He’s not coming here, is he?!”

Berkley sighed. “No, no…we’ve been lucky this time.”

Eventually things calmed down and Berkley told Faith to go home. Though she wasn’t too sure as to whether or not that was a good idea at the time, Faith could tell the man was a bit tired and needed to be alone, so she left. Still, the incident left Faith rather perplexed, to say the least. This Ichabod Hollow obviously had a plan and he’d more than likely come a bit too close to crossing through that weird, swirling glass. Whatever other surviving member of the Order that had the misfortune of being visited, however, was more than likely dead. It would make sense for Hollow to hunt down the rest of them to exact revenge, but to what purpose? Surely there was some method to the man’s madness, so to speak. Vengeance wouldn’t just be enough- there had to be something else behind that, some ulterior motive, though what exactly escaped Faith’s reach long before she could think of it.

Dinner came along and stir-fry was served. Faith hated stir-fry, but she stayed quiet and served herself, making sure the bits of chicken didn’t touch the rice. She wasn’t that hungry, anyway, and didn’t really make a dent in her food for a good while or speak a whole lot either, other than to say thanks for dinner to her mother before going up to bed. Even as she tried to sleep, the shrill sound she’d heard in Berkley’s basement echoed in her head and made her anxious as she tossed and turned in bed and tried to block it out. None of this had anything to do with her, so why, she asked herself, was she getting worried about this ‘Hollow’ character Berkley had mentioned? Even if he came to this time through the Ætherial door, it was Berkley and the ‘bots he wanted, not her! And, more importantly, why was she worrying about Berkley? Yes, she was interested in forging a friendship with him, but other than that, he was a complete stranger. It was Anum and her Mum that Faith thought it better to worry about; she actually knew and trusted them and they were people that she felt were worth worrying about. What if there were more people in Sydney that would try to pull off Anum’s hijab? What if Mum’s coworkers were bullying her? Those were the questions she should have been asking, but instead, she was asking herself if Berkley and the ‘bots and Charlie, bless his prehistoric heart, were still okay. With a defeated sigh, Faith decided that she might as well make sure that Hollow hadn’t found them. After all, the possibility of a madman from a hundred years ago who could command brainwashed dinosaurs ripping up the present if Berkley and his unabridged encyclopaedia of weapons couldn’t hold him at bay was not one she wanted to think about.

Faith went the very next day to Berkley’s, pushing open the gate that was still missing its lock and chain like it had been the day before and knocked on the door that was still attached to the doorframe and a thankfully intact house. No answer came, so she tried the doorbell, pulling down on the handle that Faith supposed was attached to a normal doorbell that would ring prettily and summon someone to answer it, but she was instead met with a great BONG, as if she were standing next to a huge bell in a cathedral bell tower. The sound was dizzying, and Faith stumbled backwards until she tripped down the steps to the door and landed on her backside, holding her spinning head.

Faith could hear Springer laughing from the door, steam puffing out into the air in erratic patterns. “Have a nice trip?” He cackled.

Faith felt her face turn red and she grabbed a stone from nearby and threw it at the automaton’s head, satisfied with the clanging noise it made when it connected with the copper plating. “Good to see you’re still alive,” She huffed as she pulled herself up and dusted herself off. “Is the Professor home? I’d like to have a word with him.”

“S-sure thing,” Springer replied grudgingly. “Y-y-ya know, ya could learn to t-take a joke every once in a while.”

“I’m not fond of jokes.” Faith walked past him and into the house, thankful to find it still intact, but there was something missing off the wall where all the weapons were kept. “Did you have a break in last night?”

“We did,” Came another voice, and Sprocket came into the hallway looking a bit banged up. “We weren’t as lucky as we’d hoped.”


Sprocket shook his head. “No, ma’am,” He replied. “One of his agents came in the middle of the night to try and steal something from the Professor’s drawing room.”

Faith looked over at the drawing room, and it was a right good mess- shattered glass and scattered books and the globe had been knocked over. “What was he after, then?” She asked.

“I have a few ideas,” Came Berkley’s voice as he walked into the hallway. “But whatever it was, he didn’t find it here.”

“Tin-horned coward got away before we could get any answers out of him, too,” Grudged Sprocket.

“But I thought you said Hollow hadn’t found you!” Faith exclaimed. It was then that the ground started to shake, and all those present stood still, save for Faith, who stumbled back into Sprocket’s arms. The automaton helped her stand again once the shaking had passed, and Berkley balled his fists and set his jaw.

“Damn him!” He growled. “Faith, come with me. Sprocket, Springer; find Smokestack and fortify the house and don’t let anyone in except for Charlie!” He started to storm off, and Faith followed after him while the two automatons raced off to carry out their orders.

“What was that quake?” She asked. “This country’s nowhere near a fault line, there’s no way we should be having an earthquake!”

“That was no earthquake,” Berkley told her as they ascended the stairs. “That was a sign of a time distortion!”

“Wouldn’t the Æthersphere be going crazy if that happened?!”

“The Æthersphere in my possession only alerts me to Hollow’s movements through time. However, I can hear the Æther’s shriek whenever time is distorted or damaged!” As soon as they were at the top of the stairs, Berkley had pointed a large telescope at the nearby Jamieson Valley. “This is bad.”

“What’s bad?” Faith asked frantically. “Move over, would you?!”

Berkley stepped aside and let Faith see for herself what the problem was. “Hollow must have found another member of the Order who was hiding here without my knowledge, he’s started opening up Equinox Wormholes in the valley!”

Faith could see it- that same swirling pattern that looked like a kaleidoscope crossed with the wriggling dance of an amoeba, but there was no colour to it, just huge, swirling black clouds with lightning coursing through them over the canopy of the rainforest and spires of swirling black had plunged through the leaves and into the forest below. “Professor…? What’s happening?”

“He’s found us.”

Faith backed away from the telescope. “I have to get home, I have to warn Mum!”

Berkley caught her arm. “Don’t be a fool, girl!”

“But Mum works in the next town over,” Cried Faith. “From downstairs it looks like a thunderstorm, there won’t be enough time to evacuate! I have to warn Mum, now let me go!”

“Pull yourself together!” Berkley snapped at her. “You’ll be putting yourself and your mother in danger!”

“You’re putting everyone else in danger just because you want to run away!” Faith snapped at him, trying to wrench her arm away from him. “I knew I couldn’t trust you!”

“Would you just listen to me?!” Berkley had to grab hold of Faith’s other arm. “If you step outside those doors, you’ll be radiated by the Equinox that’s hanging around in the air. Listen, girl, listen--!” Faith listened, and there were air-raid sirens going off in town. Someone must have noticed a Geiger counter going off, thank goodness. “Faith, I know I may sound mad to you, but when I say you must trust me, then you must trust me!”

“Why should I?!”

“I’m your best chance if you want to live.”

Faith’s frantic mind managed to calm down just enough for her to start being able to think straight again, but it didn’t change the fact that she still didn’t trust Berkley. This was his fault, and she wasn’t about to change her mind about it, but there was the equivalent of a nuclear bomb going off in the Jamieson Valley and now really wasn’t the time to argue if the guy knew what he was doing. What use is anyone to anyone if they’re dead, after all. So, hesitant and still unsure if she was doing the right thing, Faith made her decision.

“If I go with you, are we going to find a way to stop Hollow and fix this?”

“We can try.”

“Trying isn’t good enough!”

“It’s as best as you’re going to get if it’s Hollow we’re talking about.”

That, Faith decided, would have to be enough. She stuck out her hand to Berkley. “Shake on it.”

Berkley took her hand and shook it firmly. “Good. Now, there’s no time to waste. We have to get moving!” He took off down the stairs with Faith at his heels and hurried into the drawing room, where he took a rifle and a pair of revolvers off the wall, then passed another to Faith, who didn’t even question why he was giving her a weapon (like it was even the time to be asking!). The two then hurried down into the basement, where the robots were hovering over the machinery. “Springer, Sprocket, Smokestack,” Berkley barked to them. “Make ready the Ætherial door- we’re getting out of here!”

“Professor, we don’t know if it’s safe--!” Springer began to object, but Faith cut him off.

“Just do as he says, you stuttering rustbucket!” She snapped at him. “We’re in a hurry! The valley’s filling with radiation and you’re worried if the exit isn’t safe?!” She had no idea why she was being this forceful, but she didn’t want to know what would happen if they stayed. The robots began preparing the machinery with Sprocket shouting the orders to the others. Soon, the giant glass began to glow and the blue substance behind it began to dance faster.

“We’ve set the co-ordinates for the nearest active door that can receive us,” Sprocket reported.

Berkley nodded, then led Faith over to the Ætherial door with the ‘bots behind them. “Everyone ready to jump?”

“Wait, jump?!”

But Faith’s remark fell on deaf ears as she was dragged through the door with the others.


Faith had thought she’d feel like taffy on a puller, or socks in the washing machine going through that door, but she blacked out the second her head was through the glass, and she woke to muffled voices and a ringing in her ears, and an unnatural buzzing in her bones. How long had she been out? Where were they? Was there even a ‘they’ to be asking about? The most she knew was that she was absurdly dizzy and lying on a couch.

“What happened…?”

“Well brand my hide an’ call me Daisy, sugar!” Came a voice as a figure leaned over her, a woman with red lips turned up in a smile and long, wavy hair the colour of black coffee hanging over her shoulder in a long plat. “I was just about to get to reckonin’ you weren’t comin’ round!”
Prof Cuthbert Q Berkley's Fantastic Contraption 4
Oh wow, it's late again. Ah well. Is anyone even reading this? Anyone? If you're reading this, could you maybe give the chapters a :+fav: so I know? I want to keep posting this here because I'm really proud of it, but I don't know why I should post stuff if no one's reading. 

In any case, this makes 4/7 chapters for Act One. If you don't want to wait for a new chapter every week, go to SparkaTale and throw the title in the search bar to read ahead.
When Faith White moves to the Blue Mountains, she instantly despises her god-awful, immature and illiterate classmates and her new High School. However, though she's no daydreamer, once she comes across a beautiful old house on her way home from school, her imagination begins to make her curious of it. Unable to stop herself from daydreaming about it, Faith decides to put the matter to rest by going into the seemingly empty house, but is scared off when she is chased by a man with a rifle. A week later, the man shows up at her house. His name is Professor Cuthbert Q. Berkley; Archaeologist, Inventor, and Adventurer extraordinaire, and apparently, he's her uncle!

Faith is suspicious of Berkley, but visits his house anyway upon invitation, where Berkley tells her that he is apart of the Order of 
Æther, an organisation committed to monitoring and encouraging the advancement of technology and magic throughout time. However, the Order was betrayed by one of their own, and it seems that the same traitor is back to finish the job!
Professor Cuthbert Q. Berkley (c) Elizabeth McKeown/D-Chan416
After school, Faith came around at exactly three-thirty in the afternoon and was sure not to be late to find the gate unlocked and ajar, just as she'd left it when she'd bolted out of there like a greyhound after a rabbit the week before. The garden was exactly the same as she'd seen it the first time, still overgrown with flowers and foliage, ivy still hanging in curtains, the statue still there- everything as she left it. Faith supposed that this was because Berkley either forgot she was coming, or just didn't have guests around all that much in the first place and felt no real need to do anything about the garden. Besides, she'd already seen the gardens beyond the imposing structure of the house- surely the immaculately kept fruit trees and flowers were enough to win over any guest Berkley entertained, if he ever did at all. The door was, again, wide open like a dark, gaping maw, but the faint glow of the glass pipes lining the walls inside was enough to remind her that she had nothing to be afraid of. Besides, with a man who had the A to Z of weapons lining the entrance hall of his house, knowing she could pull a dagger off the wall if things got ugly made her feel much safer than she did when she first wandered in here.

She walked into the drawing room to find Berkley standing by the fire with a cherry-wood pipe in his hand, the fire at his feet glowing some sort of ethereal bluish-green, and it seemed like he was communicating with it, but with the next step she took, it was back to a cheery orange-red and Berkley greeted her with that same smile as he gave a hearty chuckle. "Ah, Faith!" He greeted. "So glad you could come." Then, he clapped her on the back and sat her down in one of the rather plush looking antique armchairs. "You're just in time. The boys have been dying to meet you!"

"The boys?" Faith parroted warily.

"Indeed! Come in, you three!" Then, three robots, eerily human in appearance, entered the room. One was tall, handsome-looking and made of a silvery metal, the second, a bronze robot who was not as tall, but still gangly, almost like a jack-in-the-box, and the third a portly fellow who seemed to be crafted from copper, though Faith could tell at a glance it was iron. All of them looked pleased indeed to see Faith, just as Berkley had said. "Go on, boys," He prompted, gesturing to them with the stem of his pipe. "Introduce yourselves."

"Of c-c-course, Professeh!" Said the bronze robot, and Faith would have smiled had she not been mystified as to how they were even talking like actual people, let alone how this one seemed to have a Bostonian accent. "M-my name's Springer!" He said enthusiastically, taking Faith's hand and shaking it so feverently, she was sure that her arm would fall off. "It's a pleasure t' be havin' ya! W-we haven't had a visitah in over a century!" Okay, if her arm didn't fall off, then Faith was sure that, with how wide her eyes went, that they were going to fall out of their sockets.

"Never one for subtlety, are you, Springer?" The silver one quoted matter-of-factly as he approached with a gentlemanly bow. "Sprocket. At your service, ma'am." Sprocket had a southern drawl that was undeniably charming, and he even took her hand as if he were going to press a kiss to it with those black silicone lips of his, or at least that's what faith thought they were made of.

"Ooh! Ooh! Me next!" The portly robot hurried over and did a rather dramatic bow that nearly ended with him landing face-first on the beautiful persian carpet. "I'm Smokestack," He said, sounding almost like a child as he took Faith's hand from Sprocket and shook it just as hard as Springer had. "Or Smokey for short."

"Uh…it's…nice to meet you all," Faith said sheepishly. "I didn't know that Uncle Cuthbert had robot house-servants."

"The correct term is "automaton", sweetie," Springer corrected her.

"And we're not servants, either," Added Sprocket. "We work here of our own accord."

"Out of gratitude to the Professor!" Finished Smokey.

"Gratitude for what?" Faith asked them, looking to Berkley, who kept smiling.

"I think we'll take that discussion out to the garden," He said, shifting his weight a bit from one foot to the other. "Sprocket? Prepare an adequate lunch for my dear niece."

"Right away, Professor." Sprocket gave a curt bow, then walked off, telling Springer and Smokey politely to get back to work as he did. The other two automatons then walked off, Smokestack giving a cheerful wave as he plodded off to continue whatever work he'd been doing before Faith showed up.


Out in the garden, the scent from the fruit blossoms nicely complemented the aroma of the earl grey tea and Faith was happy to munch on an apple in between sips of her tea. Berkley smoked his pipe, deep in thought as he puffed out slow steady streams of bluish smoke.

"I suppose I should explain myself," He said eventually.

"Oh, you think?" Faith returned haughtily.

"I'm not from this time period, you see," Berkley explained solemnly. "So you can understand why I told you that I can understand your position."

"Pull the other one," Faith said boredly, taking a bite of her apple.

Berkley just sighed. "I'm telling you the truth. I have never lived in the colonies and I have no desire to, but this time and place is what protects us from those who would otherwise do us harm."

"This coming from the man who has the complete unabridged dictionary of weaponry on his wall."

"If only they were of use to me." Berkley leaned in a little. "This enemy cannot simply be stopped with such simple things as an axe or a sword."

"Or that rifle of yours?"

Berkley had to chuckle. "It's a net-gun; Charlie didn't want to have his bath, so I had to go looking for him."

Faith's brow creased. "Who's Charlie?"

"A triceratops."

"Get out."

"It's true. I'll show you later, though. I have better things to speak to you about."

"Well, start at the beginning. And when you get to the end, stop." Faith set down her apple and crossed her arms like an abrasive parent who was allowing their child a chance to explain themselves.

Berkley took a sip of his tea, then began his tale.

"As you can probably tell, I did not build Springer, Sprocket and Smokestack. They are the creations of a man known as Jebidiah Radcliffe, and, nineteen years ago, the two of us belonged to an organisation known at the Order of Æther, a society of the greatest thinkers, inventors, scientists, sorcerers and even pirates and thieves that the nineteenth century had to offer. It was up to us to monitor the safe advancement of technologies, and to guard a substance known as Æther, the lifeblood of this planet- yes, the glowing substance in those pipes inside.

"Jebidiah was not my only comrade, though. My greatest ally and friend was a man named Ichabod Hollow, one of the greatest minds of the British Empire, and it is he who becomes our protagonist in this tale. Hollow was experimenting with Æther, and it was through this experimentation that he invented a deviant of Æther, Equinox. It was twice as powerful as Æther and provided new opportunities in many different fields. However, the residual energy was found to have severe narcotic effects, and the mice we used in the experiments went insane and started attacking each other. Fearing that this madness would upset the natural balance, the Order exiled Hollow from our society. We never heard from him again.

"Years later, it became apparent that Hollow had continued his research, but the Equinox had corrupted him as a price for his achievements. He created frightening war machines and turned them against the order, hunting its members down one by one. I am one of the few who have survived."

"So you travelled through time to find somewhere safe?" Faith asked.

Berkley nodded gravely. "This time period is far from where Hollow can find me. I fear for the others who may have survived, but I'm sure they have managed to hide themselves well."

"And I'm guessing that Springer, Sprocket and Smokey are here because Radcliffe's gone?"

"Jebidiah was one of the first to die, so I took his automatons with me by his request." The cheerfulness just seemed to have disappeared completely from Berkley's face. It didn't seem natural.

"And what happens if Hollow finds you?"

"Then I'll be dead and no one will be here to take care of the house, or the boys, or Charlie."

"Is that why you said you were my uncle?"

"I am your uncle, but that was not the reason, dear girl." Berkley emptied the bowl of his pipe and packed it with fresh tobacco. "Since we are both somewhere unfamiliar, I merely wanted to offer friendship. You have been past my house many times and I could tell you were only curious. We are family, my dear. I only want to help."

A little later, Berkley took Faith into the gardens where she had been last time, and whistled and called for Charlie. Faith just sort of stood there and shifted her weight uncomfortably. Weren't Triceratopses supposed to be as big as buses? However, instead of the earth-shaking sound of huge footsteps that she expected, Faith was soon presented with a scurrying sound, and a triceratops nosed his way out of the bushes, but this one was the size of a dog, not a bus. Berkley let him prop himself up against his leg and began petting the Triceratops, much to Faith's surprise. The triceratops was even panting and wagging his tail like a dog!

"So that's Charlie?" She asked.

Berkley just smiled at her as Charlie ran over to study this new person in his garden before he jumped up and licked her face. Eugh. "Would you look at that, he likes you," Chuckled Berkley, but Faith just glared at him and tried to get Charlie to get off of her, but the Triceratops refused to budge when she hadn't even given him pats yet. Eventually, he answered to a very strong and a very loud "OFF" from Faith and sat back on his haunches, making a noise akin to a very canid-like whine of apology. "Rather strong, don't you think?"

Faith started brushing off her uniform. "He's a puppy. You have to be strict with them or they'll never learn."

Berkley just shrugged. "Fair enough, I should think."

"Where'd you get him anyway?" Faith asked.

"That's...well…" Berkley cleared his throat. "Unfortunately Hollow brought more than just war machines into the world. It was rumoured that he was trying to bring the dinosaurs back from extinction. Charlie was brought to me as an egg, and I've taken care of him ever since." Faith gave him a 'pull the other one' look. "I'm telling you the truth."

"Yeah, you can say that so easily, but how do you bring back dinosaurs? Time travel?"

"That was the general gist of it based on our intelligence."

"Right, yeah. And there's such a thing as the Loch Ness Monster."

"There is."

Faith just rolled her eyes. "Okay, analogy wasted, but you get what I'm saying, right? There is no such thing as time machines."

Berkley laughed. "Time machine is such a loose term. Now, the word you would be looking for is 'Ætherial Door'. We used those to travel to different periods in history and to different places in the world, which is how we travelled often. The order did not just exist in the nineteenth-century, you know."

Faith nodded slowly. "Right…so that's how you got here. And that…Æther stuff you were talking about powers it…?"

"Right you are," Berkley replied. "It's a renewable power source, depending on what you use it for."

"And Hollow used it for the wrong reasons."

"Right again." Berkley gestured for Faith to follow, and she did so willingly with Charlie trailing at their heels. "Æther was never meant to be tempered with. That was a law that was set down by the founding members of the Order that it should never be experimented on or used for a reason that it should not be used. It's very potent stuff."

Faith's brow furrowed for a moment. "But if Hollow was able to make it like, twice as powerful, I don't think it would matter if you got radiated."

"It was considered at one point or another. But again, Æther is powerful enough on its own."

"How powerful exactly?"

"You recall the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki?"

Faith shrugged. "I know about it. We probably won't cover it 'til Year 9."

"Then imagine if you will bombs similar to those that were dropped, but it was only one, and within that shell was the force of every kind of bomb on the planet." Berkley analogised. "Æther begins at the burning cores of the many planets and stars. Should all those planets and stars explode, reality itself could be undone."

Faith gulped audibly. "Okay, so you guys were playing around with something that's about as powerful as a black hole. Awesome."

"I am sure it will pose no threat to you, dear niece-"

"Let's get one thing straight here." Faith stopped and narrowed her eyes up at Berkley. "We can be friends, but I am not your niece. You're making this whole uncle thing up to convince my mother that you're to be trusted and no matter how much you try to convince me, I will not believe you until I have cold, hard evidence proving otherwise. Unless of course, my Grandmother never spoke of you to Mum because you were the "Black Sheep" of the family."

Berkley raised his hands in defense. "It is a delicate subject, I will admit. But in time, Faith, perhaps I will tell you."

"Good. I can give you time to make up a good story, but be warned- I'm a very good critic."

"P-P-P-PROFESSEH!" The two turned to see Springer running towards them. The poor Automaton looked like he'd had all the bolts and screws scared out of him. "Professeh, come quick!"

"Out with it, man!" Berkley told him sternly. "Whatever is the matter with you?!"

"Th-th-the Æthersphere!" Springer told him frantically. "It's goin' c-c-crazy!"

"Has Sprocket checked the angle of the radials? Are the Balancers in check?!"

"E-e-everythin's fine, we checked!"

Berkley's hands balled themselves into fists. "Let us pray this is merely a false alarm."

"What is?" Faith asked.

Berkley gestured for both girl and Automaton to follow. "There's a good chance that Hollow may have found us," He called over his shoulder as they all ran back through the gardens. "Let us hope I am wrong."
Prof Cuthbert Q Berkley's Fantastic Contraption 3
Oops it's late, my bad.

Anyways, I've started posting this up on my FictionPress (… and SparkaTale (…. I also have the first act finished, so I have to refrain myself from posting the whole thing as I go or I'll just get lazy. 
When Faith White moves to the Blue Mountains, she instantly despises her god-awful, immature and illiterate classmates and her new High School. However, though she's no daydreamer, once she comes across a beautiful old house on her way home from school, her imagination begins to make her curious of it. Unable to stop herself from daydreaming about it, Faith decides to put the matter to rest by going into the seemingly empty house, but is scared off when she is chased by a man with a rifle. A week later, the man shows up at her house. His name is Professor Cuthbert Q. Berkley; Archaeologist, Inventor, and Adventurer extraordinaire, and apparently, he's her uncle!

Faith is suspicious of Berkley, but visits his house anyway upon invitation, where Berkley tells her that he is apart of the Order of 
Æther, an organisation committed to monitoring and encouraging the advancement of technology and magic throughout time. However, the Order was betrayed by one of their own, and it seems that the same traitor is back to finish the job!
Professor Cuthbert Q. Berkley (c) Elizabeth McKeown/D-Chan416

Act One, Chapter Two

School the next day wasn't as unbearable as the day before, but it didn't come without its problems. During English while the teacher was off getting their workbooks, some thick-headed boy thought it a good idea to be a moron and tell Anum, "You're in Australia, not Afghanistan. Take off the tea-towel", and tried to pull it off of her. Faith was about to deck him in his stupid face when the teacher came back and berated the class for being so inconsiderate when Faith explained to him what had happened. Anum was pretty quiet for the rest of the lesson up until recess, but she threw her arms around her new friend and burst into tears when they were in the library and away from where she would be seen.

"I'm not doing anything wrong," She squeaked once she'd gotten a hold of herself.

"Of course you're not," Faith replied. "They're the ones who were wrong. People like that are the scum of the earth."

"Is that why you hate them?" Anum asked her. "Did they do something to you?"

Faith just shrugged it off. "I had rumours spread about me that I was secretly a serial killer once," She said casually. "And that I threatened to kill my Mum and make it look like self-defence if she ever told anyone I killed my Dad. Which I didn't, by the way. He was a firefighter and he died before I was born."

"But is that why you seem so callous towards others?" Anum asked again.

"No. People are idiots, that's why I don't like them." Faith smiled a bit at Anum. "But you're okay. You're smart and you're nice to me."

Anum gave a chuckle, which was nice to hear after she'd looked so scared and hurt before. "You say that like you've never had a friend before."

You're actually my first real friend were the words Faith wanted to say, but she just laughed with her. It was a subject for a later time; they had only been friends for only a day and a bit, after all, and as nice as she was, Faith wasn't about to go telling Anum her secrets like that just yet. The rest of the day went on as usual with no further interruptions or people acting up in class, and life went on as normal for the next few weeks. Anum and Faith became closer as friends in that time, and were even starting to plan their first sleepover in the coming holidays, and Faith had kept passing that house, sometimes catching sight of figures moving in the windows and in the garden out the front of the house, but she never saw any faces, and she was beginning to wonder if the local council could send her any history about the house with the owner's permission. She was never the kind to wax poetic, but there was something about that house that spoke of a fairytale Victorian life that could only have existed in the works of Wilde or Conan Doyle, like there was a mystery there that she alone was meant to solve- she allowed herself at least that much in terms of a fantasy. Anything else was just far too strange for her to even begin to think about.

However, after their first sleepover and the second term kicked in, Anum had to go back to Sydney for a little while because of family issues, but promised she'd be back before the end of the school year. She'd even woven a friendship bracelet for Faith and a matching one for herself and gave it to her along with the address of the place she'd be staying at before she left. Faith didn't take off the bracelet unless it was to shower, and wrote letters to Anum that were always replied to, though Faith was sure Anum was making friendships with more interesting people than herself by now. None the less, the bracelet stayed on Faith's wrist, perhaps in some foolish, desperate hope that she'd still have her friend by the time she returned.

Weeks passed and seasons changed, and a school trip to the Katoomba National Park for biology rolled around. Faith had long since managed to shake her partner, some airhead she could have cared less for, and was now wandering around the understory with her eyes pointed up at the evergreen emergent that created a pleasant roof that shaded out the sun in such a way that it dappled the wooden boardwalk with flecks of its light. The clean, crisp air of the rainforest was giving her lungs a new sort of freedom that could not possibly be found anywhere in Melbourne- no tobacco smoke or exhaust from cars and trucks and motorbikes or that funny smell you usually find at train stations. Though she'd never say it out loud, the lucid 'high' she felt from such clean air was almost too good to be true. Still, her thoughts were on that old house. What if the gardens were like the rainforest, with clean air all around and colourful little butterflies and birdsong echoing from the canopy? What would live in those gardens? What manner of flora or fauna grew and flourished behind those walls? Did the person or people who lived there have garden parties there? Faith quickly shook these thoughts from her mind. Where was she getting off, she scolded herself, thinking all these impossible things. It was time to put them to rest- she was going to go inside the gates.
As she was walking home from school that day, she came to the house once more. There it stood, stoic and stalwart and still- but this time, the gate was just slightly ajar. Faith steeled herself. She was no dreamer, no silly child with her head in the clouds. A quick look, then home again. There was probably no one home and the door would be locked anyway, and she'd close the gate for the occupants who had apparently neglected to do so. And so with shaking hands, Faith White pushed open the gate. A shudder ran up her spine as the gate creaked and moaned as the rusted hinges began to turn and came to a stop only when Faith had made space for herself to fit through. The front courtyard was overrun with foliage that clogged up the path and ivy hung in a curtain around a statue of the Virgin Mary near a concrete table that might as well have been an altar (though Faith was sure it had once been used for something else), and a rose-like flower grew wild along the path, tangling with other flowers and plants. When Faith saw the door, she noticed that it was wide open, and curiosity kept its remorseless grip on the reigns as she stepped through, her fingertips tracing along a panel that decorated it.

The halls were lined with paintings and antique weapons from axe to Zweihander, and as she passed by what she guessed was the drawing room, her fingertips disturbed the dust on a large globe as she dragged them gently along the surface of it while her eyes traced the glass pipes that glowed a soft, mystifying neon blue with whatever it was that flowed inside them. Eventually, she had somehow made her way out to the gardens by way of a double-door with windows in all of them that let in the sunlight, and Faith could see the huge trees and the plants outside. She quietly turned the handle on the door and stepped outside, marvelling at how well this garden was kept as she walked through a colonnade of arched trellises where climbing flowers of all kinds grew- some of these blossoms, she couldn't begin to guess the name of or if they were native or not. The colonnade led out to another courtyard, this one surrounded by fruit trees, from which grew apples and oranges, and the blossoms filled the air with the sweetest scent that reminded Faith of the coming summer and perhaps a song once sung long ago that had long since faded from memory but was starting to sound familiar again.

But the further Faith wandered into the garden, the more she was starting to be overcome with a feeling that she should turn back. This was still trespassing, open gate and door and curiosity or no, and she was more than likely going to get in a lot of trouble with the owner of the house or with the police or worse, both. She didn't need to be remembered as that one girl who broke into someone's house if her classmates ever heard anything of it, knowing how completely stupid they could be. A stone dropped in her gut at the thought of it- "Did yez guys hear? That new girl broke into someone's house!"- and she could feel the scowl that was forming on her face from the thought of them all spreading rumours. However, it was then that she stopped dead in her tracks when she saw a man, a very tall man, shadowed in such a way that she couldn't see him all that well, standing some several metres away, adjusting his weight and shifting it from one foot to the other. Faith wanted to say something, but when she caught sight of the rifle in his hands. She gasped and took a step backwards, but then there was a very loud snap and the man whirled round to face her as Faith took off, back through the garden with the man on her heels and shouting after her. Back through the courtyard and back through the house until she finally just cleared the gate with a little less than a few scratches from the branches and pulled it shut behind her, and she didn't stop running until she finally got home and was safely in her room with the door shut and barricaded with her desk chair and her bedclothes pulled over her head. She would definitely not be going there again.

Sunday rolled around and it was back to boring silence again. Faith had just been out with her Mum grocery shopping and had promptly dragged herself upstairs to do homework that she promised herself she'd do yesterday (even though the work was completely unnecessary since she was the only one who took notes during the excursion). Soon, just a few short questions and a graph turned into 'I might as well finish my math homework because why not', and before long, she had wasted perhaps most of the morning and early afternoon on it. She could almost hear her mother's voice in the back of her head…

"Faith? Come downstairs, there's someone I want you to meet!"

Okay, she was probably counting on "You need to make some friends", but this was new. Faith got up out of her chair and walked downstairs and out to the living room…

…and her stomach bottomed out.

That same tall man was sitting in the chair across from her mother, the two of them sipping oolong tea, and Faith's mind started to race. What if he'd brought the rifle he'd been carrying, she thought. What if she was getting in trouble for trespassing? What if he'd threatened her mother somehow?

Catherine smiled at her daughter. "Oh, there you are, darling. I'd like to introduce you to someone." She gestured to the man in the chair, dressed in what seemed like the sort of clothes you'd see on your stereotypical "safari adventure" character, but they seemed to fit this man. He had a pair of well-loved brass goggles atop his head and was dressed mainly in khaki. His hair was white, along with his beard and he looked old enough to be her grandfather. He gave her a nod as she crossed over to stand beside her mother and watched her with wise, clever silvery eyes when Faith's brown orbs began surveying him carefully as her mother's hand took hers with a smile which was soon turned to their visitor. "Faith doesn't say much, Professor. She's no good with strangers." Faith fought so very hard not to roll her eyes. She hated it when her mother said that; she didn't mind people, just not all the time.

The 'Professor' just chuckled heartily. "Not a problem with that. Much like the tiger, eh?"

"Actually," Faith stuttered, quietly cursing herself for it. "My favourite animals are elephants."

The 'Professor' roared with laughter. "Ah! Yes! Elephants! Wonderful creatures! I've come across a few in my time!"

"Have you shot any?"

"Faith!" Catherine pinched her daughter's arm. "I'm so sorry about that, Professor…"

But their guest just laughed. "No, no, Catherine," He replied, holding up a calloused hand. "She has every right to ask." Then, with a jolly smile, he added, "No, young lady. I haven't killed elephants before. I worked with preserving the numbers of the creatures of Africa, great and small in my day."

Catherine cleared her throat awkwardly. "Perhaps we should get to introductions. Faith, this man is my mother's great uncle." Then, to answer her daughter's questioning glance, "She had me young, dear. Go on, you two. Make nice."

As if on cue, the 'Professor' stood with a proud look on his face. "With pleasure, Catherine!" He puffed out his chest like some sort of bird. "Professor Cuthbert Q. Berkley; Archaeologist, inventor and adventurer extraordinaire." He stuck out his hand. "At your service."

Faith hesitated before putting her hand in his and shaking it firmly. "Faith White. Nice to meet you."

"And how old are you, Faith?" He asked.

"I'll be thirteen soon, sir."

"Oh, there's no need for formalities, child!" Berkley clapped a hand on her back. "Now, tell me, Faith. How is school for you?"

Faith could see her mother's pleading look. Don't say anything callous. Don't be you. "Good," She told Berkley. "If you count the fact that I'm the only person who speaks the Queen's English in my entire year. Also, everyone else wouldn't know what an Archimedes' Screw is to save their lives." Catherine paled, but Berkley just laughed again and started asking more questions until Catherine excused herself to go and pick up a few things from the shops and left Berkley and Faith alone. The two sat and watched each other over their teacups. "If this is about what happened last week," Faith began. "I'm sorry. Curiosity killed the cat, I know, and I won't trespass again. Just please don't tell Mum, she's got enough on her plate as it is-"

Berkley held up a hand. "Curiosity may have killed the cat, Miss White, but satisfaction brought it back."

"Never heard that part before."

"That's because the saying was cut short to stop you young folk from finding out what's out there!" Berkley was still smiling. "Yes, trespassing on my property was wrong, but were you satisfied in knowing what was beyond my gates?" Faith nodded quickly. "There you are."

"Mister Berkley-"

"Just 'Professor' will do, my dear."

"Professor, then. You're not my real uncle, are you? You're just a stranger." Faith set down her cup. "Grandma passed away years ago. I never got to meet her, and as far as I know, Mum never mentioned any uncles or great uncles, especially not one that was an 'adventurer'." She made air quotes with her fingers. "Given the titles you gave yourself, Grandma probably wouldn't have been able to shut up if her 'Uncle Cuthbert' was so impressive."

"Was that sarcasm?"

"Oh, gee- why don't you figure it out if you're so 'extraordinary'?"

There was some silence before Berkley replied again. "Adjusting to new places isn't easy, isn't it?" He said nostalgically. "We leave behind everything we know and wind up in a place we only try to understand." He looked over at Faith, who had pursed her lips in thought. "I know how it feels, Faith. I see a kindred spirit in you. No, no, not like that, dear; it's more in the sense that we're in the same predicament. Nothing makes sense to us here."

"What are you talking about?"

Berkley just gave a knowing smirk and checked his pocket watch. "Why don't you come by my house tomorrow, say about…half-past three at noon?" Faith nodded. It's not like she could resist anyway.
Prof Cuthbert Q Berkley's Fantastic Contraption 2
Well no thanks to DeviantART's new way of pissing me off with the thumbnail previews, I'm afraid I can't put in a 'previous' or 'next' link. SIGH. Anyways, I almost have all of Act One finished, but I'll still be trying to put these up in a serialised way until I get tired of having to wait until next week to release a new one. 
When Faith White moves to the Blue Mountains, she instantly despises her god-awful, immature and illiterate classmates and her new High School. However, though she's no daydreamer, once she comes across a beautiful old house on her way home from school, her imagination begins to make her curious of it. Unable to stop herself from daydreaming about it, Faith decides to put the matter to rest by going into the seemingly empty house, but is scared off when she is chased by a man with a rifle. A week later, the man shows up at her house. His name is Professor Cuthbert Q. Berkley; Archaeologist, Inventor, and Adventurer extraordinaire, and apparently, he's her uncle!

Faith is suspicious of Berkley, but visits his house anyway upon invitation, where Berkley tells her that he is apart of the Order of 
Æther, an organisation committed to monitoring and encouraging the advancement of technology and magic throughout time. However, the Order was betrayed by one of their own, and it seems that the same traitor is back to finish the job!
Professor Cuthbert Q. Berkley (c) Elizabeth McKeown/D-Chan416
The Puppet Master by D-Chan416
The Puppet Master
HUGE SPOILERS FOR ACT TWO OF MY ORIGINAL STORY. I won't say who this is, so perhaps you're just going to have to wait~! Then again, since this is a pretty big spoiler, I might take this down later. I don't know how to make a preview image for this, so... *sigh*

Professor Cuthbert Q. Berkley's Fantastic Contraption is (c) Elizabeth McKeown/D-Chan416


Artist | Student | Varied
I love to draw and write and sing and
I don't like talking about religion 'cos
I don't wanna make anyone mad. :heart: I'll give a llama to anyone
who watches me or faves.
My first Llama given by::iconxsayarsa:
Super Llama given by::iconkrystlekmy:
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Super Albino Llama given by: :iconpenguinton:
Ninja Llama given by:
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SPARTA Llama given by:
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The above dragon is by:icondragoneldarfire:.

Request art for me
1.:iconssjmihoshi: Her drawing of my Beast Wars OC, Blackwing
2.:iconaustraliumsiren:Her drawing of my fursona…

"To Do" List (Since I still don't have a premium and can't use the 'custom' widget:
:bulletblue: Digital work on 'Mozaik Role'
:bulletgreen: Sort through dA gallery
:bulletblue: Make commissions sample list w. Prices (both $ and dA points)
:bulletgreen: Start next entry on 100 Song Theme Challenge list


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I'll draw Yaoi/Yuri, but I won't do anything NC-17/R-rated. I still do requests and art trades, but only 5 at a time. Same goes for these commissions.

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