It was an unbelievably cold day in Mechanicsburg, and much too early for anyone to go out and about their daily rituals. The general populace was still indoors because of the latest winter that had just finished bombarding half of Europa, with pillars of snow and ice that could cover miles on end. Many shivered in disbelief over the nature of the storm, giving rise to a faint hint of foul play.
The mist was still so thick barely anything was discernible nor could anyone bare to breath it in lest they risk freezing their lungs; you could even cut a piece of it with a knife if you liked (if just to prove the myth). However, this tale is neither myth nor fiction for it has actually happened; in another world, another universe so beyond our own we would be driven mad by the mere sight of it, for madness itself was contagious.
Our story begins at the very end of Mechanicsburg, where a Castle was resting (and I do mean resting) which was home to a family of remarkably intelligent beings that could alter the very laws of science if they wanted to, a family which has resided there for as long as the local town had known. They were the Heterodynes.
Now you may be curious as to how such people could even possess such power in the first place. Well, the answer to that would be that they are Sparks; individuals naturally gifted with an extraordinary sense of perception outside the boundaries of conventional acumen and brilliance. Be wary though when dealing with a Spark, lest you incite their wrath and pray for even a shred of mercy.
The exterior of the Castle would have been something out of a horror show; an uncanny architecture lined its outer walls, with horrific statues of demonic gargoyles bearing hellish grins that could make even a grown man cry. The Castle itself gave off a dark aura that spelled malevolency, which could send a chill down your spine even before setting foot on the drawbridge.
All that can be surmised from the information given is that only a complete madman could ever endure; let alone survive, living in such a dreadful abode. But our tale lies not with the Castle itself, but to those who walk within its walls.
A voice emanated from nowhere…
"Lady Heterodyne, you're mother has requested for you at the dining hall," a groan replied with languid disdain to the voice.
"Unfortunately no,I take it you have not forgotten the last time you made the Mistress wait for you,"
A slight reminisce was enough to make her rise from bed, albeit, halfheartedly. She rubbed her right eye and gave out a deep yawn and stretched her arms out; her blonde hair unkempt from slumber. She moved to her side to see the time on her mechanical clock to see it at 6:47, with the last dial slowly turning to make 48; only a few minutes left before her mother would shower her with hysterics.
She slowly moved to sit up, scratching her head indignantly from the rude awakening. "Mother can be so unbelievable sometimes, but I wouldn't want to be caught at the wrong end of one of her sermons again," she thought as she wobbled her way to the closet.
Standing in front of her wardrobe, she muttered through stifled yawns "clothe" and as soon as the word was said, the doors instantly burst open with six mechanical appendages emerging from the inside. In a few; rather uncomfortable, moments Abigail was already in her unmentionables; her clothes strewed all over the floor.
The next word that came out of her mouth was a bit more coherent, "strip" and the arms quickly returned inside before coming out again with apparel at each hand, which they then proceeded to clothe her in an equally uncomfortable manner, "Got to fix that some other time," she murmured under her breath as she examined herself in front of her full body mirror.
She was wearing an emerald green casual Victorian dress with the sleeves reaching up to her wrists, her long skirt going all the way down to her ankles, to compliment her dress was a winged trilobite sigil she wore as a pin on the center of her collar. She then reached for her bottom drawer.
Rummaging through the clutter, she picked out a pair of black leather boots; she never really liked wearing the feminine variety because her toes would hurt from walking in them too much.
As she added the finishing touches by brushing her hair and tying it in a neat ponytail, she quickly exited her room and hurried downstairs, ever so careful not to trigger some of the booby traps that were scattered all over the Castle, not that they could ever harm her.
Within minutes she made her way to the dining hall, only to be met with the sight of her parents deep in conversation, before they shortly took notice of her presence.
Her father was the first to speak, "Ah there you are Abigail darling, take a seat and eat, your mother and I were just negotiating," Abigail took a sudden interest as she sat next to her mother,
"Negotiating? What manner of diplomatic chaos have you and mother gotten yourselves into this time?" she said with a mocking grin,
"Nothing political, merely a visit from your grandfather for the weekend," her father replied after taking a bite out of a loaf of bread,
A sudden jolt of excitement overcame Abigail as she took two baked potatoes from the table, "Oh grandfather's coming to visit? What time will he arrive?"
"Not too soon I hope," her mother murmured as she slurped from her spoon, "Abigail, for goodness sake have some chicken soup or you'll catch a death of cold," pointing out a steaming hot pot,
"Yes mother," "Oh and father how is grandfather nowadays, have you heard from him?" she said as she poured herself a bowl,
"Well he's healthy, which is saying much considering how tough he is,"
Abigail's parents were none other than Agatha Heterodyne and Gil Wulfenbach; now happily married and heads of Castle Heterodyne…well Agatha mostly, since it IS her Castle to begin with, Gil would be what you call her-second-in-command.
Agatha was a little older now, as she had significantly matured both physically and mentally in the ensuing years, especially after motherhood. Gil had also grown as well, having undergone a growth spurt which made him a head taller than his wife and still sporting his signature mop top neck length hair.
After marrying however, both came to an agreement that Gil would take up her last name, seeing as how Agatha's bloodline was still severely limited by her previous status of being the last living member; before Abigail came along.
However, Baron Klaus Wulfenbach; Gil's father, forced a compromise between the two for him to permit their union, one that was particularly not agreeable for her which will be revealed shortly as the events go along.
Breakfast lasted for only an hour before the family moved to the living room, where the real negotiations took place,
"Gil, for the last time, I am not going to have your father park his flyer in the Castle again!" Agatha said through gritted teeth,
"Oh come on Agatha, last time was just a fluke, an accident, I'm sure father didn't mean to crash into the bridge," Gil said exasperatedly,
"An accident? He didn't even slow down for one second! He deliberately destroyed the bridge that I installed years ago when I first came here and you expect me to believe that it was all an accident, what about the rest of the "accidents" that he's caused? I'm still looking for replacement parts to repair the east wing,"
Agatha was beginning to lose her patience, "Sooner or later if that blasted despot of a father of yours keeps "visiting" there won't be much of a Castle for us to live in, unless I tell it to blow him out of the sky,"
"Hm, that could give him something to think about," Gil mused as he tried to calm his wife down, "But the point is dear is that it will only be for the weekend and I promise that he'll behave, and you can't just deprive father from seeing his granddaughter again, right?" he said pleadingly while putting on his best "Oh please!" smile.
Agatha paused for a moment before finally releasing a sigh of relent, "Alright…but he better behave or he's out, I'm still going through repairs from the rest of the damages he "unintentionally" caused," putting as much emphasis to implicate Klaus was deliberately chipping away at her home little by little, if just to add some insult to injury.
Abigail was listening fervently as they went along; she never really enjoyed watching her parents argue, that is, if you could call it arguing. Other past conflicts that she witnessed between them weren't exactly a simple heated exchange of words, which is saying something considering that it once took her father two months before he could walk again.
"Mother, can I go outside? I really want to visit Herr von Mekkhan's coffee shop," Abigail said rising from her chair. Agatha only had time to reply before she heard the faint sound of a dirigible nearby, "Oh for the love of-no Abigail you can go later, just stay here for a little longer to greet your grandfather," Abigail nodded in agreement.
The three of them quickly went outside to the newly built airspace to welcome the airship, which was slowly approaching. The airspace was built to accommodate any incoming airships, provided they weren't hostile, because then the Castle would have the gleeful pleasure of incinerating them out of existence, so the need was only practical.
As the airship neared, its colossal size made it even more visible from a distance. If there was any word to describe such a sight, it would be nothing short of…astonishing. The dirigible was incredulously massive, surpassing all of the other support vessels accompanying it, with the upper portion being Castle Wulfenbach itself.
In the front of the dirigible was a metallic face serving as a sort of "hood ornament", giving it an even more intimidating flare; the size and entirety of the ship merely reinforced it.
Abigail couldn't help but just stare in awe at the remarkable sight. Of course she had seen her grandfather's ship dozens of times before; even living in it at some point, but she could never really shake away that tingling sensation of seeing something so extraordinary.
As the ship finally came within range, a small flyer deployed from the top of the Castle which appeared to be a giant mechanical insect; the hull was light green in color, the rest of the body itself was much smaller and thinner than the average flyer, the propulsion system consisted of a pair of vibrating wings supplemented by a strong air jet at the bottom, the pilot was obscured by the one-way windshield.
It quickly landed in the airspace gracefully as its wings came to an abrupt halt followed by the cockpit gently opening, with air gushing out in a cool white mist which gradually dissipated.
When the pilot finally revealed himself, he was a tall man garbed in an oversized black overcoat, wearing thick gloves, big boots and a black helmet with goggles, and what appeared to be a gas mask to secure his breathing.
Collapsible stairs quickly sprang out from the side, allowing him to descend from the craft, he then proceeded to walk casually towards the three.
He stopped as soon as he was right in front of Abigail, looking down he reached out his hand in a gestural handshake, only for the girl to respond, "Hello grandfather, it's great to see you again," and bolted at him for an embrace, which he welcomed in kind.
Their tender moment was cut short by Gil's abruptness, "So, how are you father? No bad news I hope,"
Klaus broke away from the hug to unlatch his helmet and mask, only to reveal an older man with a grey neck length mop top, his age already apparent by the wrinkles on his face along with some stubble, indicating that he had not shaved in a while, but it still did not falter his form by the least, as time had barely tempered his impression.
"Only the usual son, I trust you've had better luck here," he glanced at Agatha, who couldn't help but scowl at her father-in-law,
"It gets bored here sometimes, but in this weather one cannot help but be driven towards work, would you like to see some of our latest experiments later father?" Gil replied while motioning for all of them to go inside.
They made their way into the living room where Klaus hanged his overcoat and gloves by a valet. He was wearing a long-sleeved button-up shirt under a grey silk vest, black trousers, boots and a necktie, with the Wulfenbach winged rook by the font of his collar.
No sooner had he sat down on a nearby couch did Violetta enter with a trolley of hot tea and pastries, she was wearing a violet Victorian style dress with the sleeves reaching up to her elbows, with black feminine boots.
Nothing much of Violetta has changed over the years, save for slightly longer hair and a somewhat tougher build; the result of hard training.
"Good morning everyone, now don't hesitate to have a cup, this is probably one of my best brews. Good morning Baron, pleasure to see you again," she said while handing out cups to all of them, "I swear this is some killer weather we're having, really unusual stuff. Thank God this Castle is heated; what you all make of it?"
Klaus took a sip before answering, "Probably nothing, meteorological abnormalities for the past several months always seem to be short-lived. Remember last year, it was the hottest summer on record, but it only lasted for about 3 weeks before the temperature reverted back to normal,"
Gil continued for his father, "What about that rain storm a month ago, it was really pouring about 500 gallons per hour according to my climagraph, I'm surprised we were able to drain away that much water from the town, it was a real "drip"," Gil chuckled at his last remark, as if to give a bit of humor, which was only followed by an awkward silence.
Gil reacted in kind and took a bite out of his muffin. Agatha had just taken a sip before it was her turn to speak, "So father, since you're staying for the next two days, where's your luggage?" giving Klaus a quaint look, "In the flyer, would you be a dear and have them brought to my guest room?" he replied casually while sipping from his cup without giving her the least bit of acknowledgement, which made her right eye twitch in annoyance while wearing a (forced) smile.
The rest of the morning was uneventful, save for Abigail leaving the Castle for Vanamonde von Mekkhan's coffee shop. Sporting a grey hooded overcoat, black wool gloves and ankle-high boots, she trudged through pile after pile of snow left behind by the harsh winter; leaving deep foot prints as she went along, sheer frustration apparent through her breathing that accentuated every huff.
After several minutes she finally reached her destination, when all of a sudden a loud voice from behind called out to her, "Hey Abigail! Going my way?" she turned around to see who it was, only to see a white cat struggling through the snow piled streets. Peculiar as he was fat, you would have never guessed that he could speak; on his person was a thick red hooded coat, red gloves on his front paws, and small black boots at the back.
He grunted at his predicament, barely making any improvement as the snow was slowly overtaking his stamina, only for the taller girl to come and rescue him by taking him up into her arms, "About time you came along. I thought I was going to mingle in with the pavement; white fur you know,"
Abigail only exhaled in relief, "Krosp, what are you doing here? Shouldn't you be warming up at the Castle by the fire place?" the young girl said as she proceeded into the coffee shop.
"Are you kidding? It gets bored in there. Besides, if I don't get out much I'll really end up as a fat cat," Abigail only laughed at his remark,
"You already are a fat cat (giggle)!" Krosp just shrugged in annoyance,
"Yeah, just keep it up and I might sit on you,"
After a short exchange of even more witty banter, the two proceeded to go inside. As soon as they entered the establishment, it was surprisingly warm; and for good reason.
They were immediately greeted by a speeding waitress carrying a few orders on her tray, with the rest of the staff buzzing around accommodating a full house of customers, taking and filing orders like it was the busiest time of the year.
The place was imbued with the smell of coffee, as steaming cups were distributed rapidly; the sound of heavy chatter only highlighted the commotion.
As if the snow wasn't bad enough, a voice from the crowd called out to them, "Ah Lady Heterodyne! Welcome, welcome, come in. Make way everyone, Lady Abigail is here!" eyes quickly turned to see the little blonde girl carrying a cat, who was wearing a disheveled expression that said, "Why do I get the feeling these people see me as the pet? Oh wait, that's how I always feel when I'm here,"