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Thrilling Tales of the Downright Unusual
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Enlarge: Tallie arranges the Orb; a terrible thing happens

If Osgood Finnegan had ever found the Orb again it's doubtful that he could have decoded its stories. He was right, of course, about the scents the Orb used to communicate. He knew how to build and use a Language Acquisition Engine. But unless he'd invented something very much like the Volto-Vac Chemical Communication Analyzer he could never have understood what the Orb was saying.

Tallie arranged the CCA's sensors around the Orb so that they could collect the Orb's emissions. One set of leads led out to the Language Acquisition Engine: she connected those. Here the CCA would pass its output to the Engine. A second set of cables came back to the CCA. Through these, the Engine would pass back the Orb's decoded vocabulary. That just left the final pair of cables, through which the CCA would pass its translation back to the Engine, and therefore to the Clockwork Book. The headset wires were in the way: Tallie solved that problem in the simplest possible way, which was to put the headset on.

The Book picked up the other end of those final cables. "No!" Tallie cried, but it was too late.

The cables, looped around the CCA, tightened against the base of the Orb. It tipped and started to wobble. Tallie reached for it, unaware that her headset wires were still entangled with the cables. The headset wires pulled the cables with them as she dove for the Orb, which wobbled away from her and smashed into hundreds of pieces on the stone floor.

A colorful mist coalesced above the ruins of the Orb. The mist smelled... confusing. As confusing as thousands of alien stories being told, all at the same time, in a language that no one could understand.

The Book froze. Tallie froze. The only thing that was moving was the mist: and it was moving away, foreve

Reader Comments
There are 3 reader comments on this page.
Paul G. says:
April 16th, 2012 at 12:00 pm

Jeebus noooo! My heart’s been broken. I’ve been following this for 15 months. how dreadful.

Kent Cline says:
April 16th, 2012 at 10:05 pm

What?? For the longest time I have been sure the the Orb is/was the MacGuffin in this story. You must have some tricky plot points up your sleeve to be able to pull all of these story arcs back together without the Orb.

I am filled with dread and I can hardly wait to see what happens.

Make the pages longer!

Bradley W. Schenck says:
April 16th, 2012 at 10:57 pm

I think you’ll understand that I can’t say a thing about the story just now, but as for format….

This story will be followed by an Intermission feature, and then after that – in the next real serial – the page updates will be longer, though they’ll occur just once each week.

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