1 September 2012

winryweiss: (Default)
Fill for this prompt
part four part six
Warnings: Alternate Universe. Haddock/Tintin.

The Crab with the Mechanical Claws (part 5)

9th of July, 193-, Karaboudjan
‘Karaboudjan’ is vibrating slightly and it grows more apparent the farther they go. Archibald leads them with certainty of someone who knows the ship high and low, from prow to stern. Tintin is carrying Milou, not wanting unnecessary ruckus. Luckily, they haven’t met anyone so far. After locking the guards in the cabin Captain was imprisoned in, they sneaked into narrow, poorly lit corridor.
“Are we nearing the boilers?” The ginger reporter whispers, shifting Milou in his arms, so he could wipe the sweat away from his brows.
“Yup. We’re in maintenance passage. No one should be here. If we’re lucky.”
“I’m considered to be a troublemaker.”
“And I was born under The Star of Clumsiness.”
Tintin chuckles at the way Captain stated it. “Is that how you ended locked away by own crew?”
“Pretty much yes. I stumbled upon tin of opium aaand a secret room in my own ship.”
Wait. “Wait, you did not know about it?”
Archibald stops and looks at Tintin with a dead-bringing glare. “Lad, do I look like a smuggler?”
The ginger reporter shudders under the intensity of Captain’s stare. “Appearance can be deceiving.”
“Yer seem to be fine example of this statement.” Archibald tugs at his sleeve, indicating Tintin to follow silently.
They enter small storage and swiftly move through it to main corridor and upstairs to another maintenance passageway.
“Me? I am mere defenseless reporter.” Tintin resumes previous topic as soon as the door closed tight behind them.
Archibald snorts and eyes Tintin knowingly. “Sure yer are. How many had been fooled by that baby face of yer’s?”
Countless.” The ginger grins and the ex-soldier couldn’t help but do the same. “But you are captain. You must have known something.”
“Nope.”
“How come?”
“Well … I was drunk under the picture. Most of the time.”
“That is sad.” There is something … disapproving in Tintin’s voice.
“Hmm.” Archibald hums approvingly. “Here we are.” He cracks open the door leading to stern. “And no one in sight.”
“That is hardly surprising, considering the dinner time.” Tintin steps behind Archibald and is taken aback by what he sees. They are directly next to the paddle wheel and the puffing of steam-engines is louder than anywhere on the ship, but Captain pulls him to starboard, to closest lifeboat. It reminds Tintin the small riverboat he seen while in London, apart from the fact that these are for fifteen men approximately, almost completely roofed, with a small boiler and tiny funnel in the middle and a coal-scuttle occupying whole stern. It would look majestic if not hanging on massive chains on side of a big ship like ‘Karaboudjan’.
This is the lifeboat?”
“What d’yer expected? A wee wooden boat with oars?”
“Well, yes.”
Captain grins at him. “Ha. I caught yer surprised, mister reporter.”
Tintin grins back, despite himself. Archibald Haddock is not what he seems to be.

10th of July, 193-, English Channel
“How long will it take to reach shore?” Tintin is laying on his back, looking blankly upward, to the clear blue sky. It is clean, without any traces of smoke and dirty steam-clouds. Milou is sitting next to him.
“Well, that depends upon weather, but it shan't be longer than day. Maybe two.”
“Hmm.” Tintin pats his automaton dog.
“Pretty view, eh?”
“You mean the sky?”
“Yep. I bet it ain’t so clear in city.”
“No. It is not.” Tintin sits up, turning to Milou. “Open the hide, please.”
There is loud screechy clang and Milou’s stomach plate slides open.
“What the f…thunder!”
“Oh.” Tintin dabs the hollow of his dog-device, removing the contents. “He has a strongbox here. Not big, but useful.”
“A…ha. Wait, is that file casing?”
“This?” Tintin holds the mysterious box in plain view. “I don’t have an idea. Somebody sent this to me few days ago, without any letter.”
“It looks like file casing we used for carrying documents during war.” Captain once again controls the course and then he shifts closer to the boy. “Surely it’s one. And ‘Tournesol’s’ on top.”
“It really came from ‘Tournesol Factory.’ How did you …?”
“See the sunflower?” Captain taps on the copper box. “It’s their signature. Yer could find it on everything they made.” Archibald strokes his left side “Including weapons.”
“‘Tournesol Factory’ does not produce weapons.”
“Not anymore. But believe me, laddie, they were good at it.” The strokes grow more vivid, as if Captain is trying to hush something away. “Bloody good.”
Tintin senses the discomfort of the older man. Not knowing how to ease his companion, he restores to scrutinize the box. “I do not see any lock.”
“Look at the sunflower closely.”
“I still do not …” Tintin angles the box in his arms. “Ah. Now, that is clever.” It needs certain angle to see the keyhole in the sunflower’s bloom.
“But yer won’t be able to open it without key.”
“It seems easy enough to pick for me.”
“Do not. If yer don’t wish for acid splash.”
“Rackham’s curse?”
“Yep.”
“Oh well, never mind. Milou, universal key, please.” The dog automaton lifts up his right front paw obediently, waiting for Tintin to screw it loose. Soon, fine example of universal key is revealed.
“Blistering barnacles! What else is inside the thing?”
“He is my dog. And his name is Milou.”
Captain pinches the bridge of his nose. “Sorry. It just startled me.”
Tintin giggles, Archibald’s eyes meet his. Within seconds both of them are grinning like idiots.
“He does this to most people.”
“How did yer got him anyway? They’re bloody expensive.”
“I found him ditched on streets, well-worn but still function-able.”
“Did yer repaired him by yerself?”
“I am not so good in technology. My acquaintance owns a small repair service. Actually, I think he runs it solely from money I spend there for Milou’s patches. HA!”
Oblong box opens, revealing neatly folded documents.
Tintin grabs few papers, flipping through them, and Captain does the same.
“Blueprints.”
“Bloody right. Airship, steamboat, one-seat self-propelling vehicle, submarine, ehm … what? ‘Vacuum cleaner’? What the deck is that?”
Tintin chuckles. “Domestic appliance, Captain. But look,” he points to the left edge of one blueprint. “All this designs were made by one man.”
“Cuthbert Calculus.” Archibald reads aloud. He then turns to Tintin with quizzical expression. “Who is that?”
“More importantly, why did he send me his works?”

11th of July, 193-, Brussels
“Look, Wiggins!
“It’s him!”
A tall, elderly gentleman in fine tailored dress suit and oxford shoes with spats is walking along the street. He looks casually, like any other person in this city part. Not casting a slightest glimpse of suspiciousness, that he is actually the most sought-after pickpocket in Brussels.
“Toby, Mary, get on his tail. Do not let yourself caught.” Wiggins watches as the man, followed by two innocent looking kids, disappears behind corner. “He will not run away from us this time.”
“Aren’t you taking it way too serious, Lead?”
“Yeah, calm down, Lead. We couldn’t do practically anything.”
“Shouldn’t we call Tin?”
“He is away.” Wiggins shrugs his shoulders.
“What, again?!”
“Hmmm.” The young boy mumbles, kicking the empty tin away.
“I bet that he will break something this time.”
“Greg! Don’t be mean. A pound that it will be right arm.”
“Two for leg.”
Wiggins looks at his little gang, his serious expression make them all shut up. So there is a dead silence when he says: “Fiver that it will be his nose.”

Author’s notes
x I have an important question to ask. Do you see the sparkling between Tintin and Captain?
x For better picture of the lifeboat see this photo and first photo here. My version is something in between and not quite like that.
x (Red) Rackham’s curse is safety system consisting of capsules filled with acid, which will explode if somebody would try to pick the lock. It's only weakness is ineffectiveness against universal key.
x That acquaintance who owns a small repair service will remain unknown for now.
x One-seat self-propelling vehicle will be known as motorbike. (This particular area of development is rather slow, you know, steam engines ...)
x Yes, it is the famous shark-submarine blueprint.
x First manual versions of vacuum cleaners came already in 1860's, but I cannnot imagine this Captain doing houseworks, so he doesn't know anything about this handy machine.
x Toby, Mary and Greg are random names I picked for "Labrador Road Irregulars" (LOL). Apart from the fact, that they all appeared in Sherlock Holmes stories, as helpers/clients of The detective consultant.

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