11 September 2012

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

The Crab with the Mechanical Claws (part 9)

18th of July, 193-, Malbork
It worked.
It worked.
It frigging worked.
At least the ‘sneak in’ part.
Archibald was no more surprised by the useful gadgets in Milou, but Tintin’s skill in entering uninvited had taken him a little aback.
“D’yer do this often?” He asked after they successfully climbed over the ramparts, using Milou’s chain.
“Actually, yes.”
“Thought yer a reporter, not a thief.”
“I am investigative journalist.”
“I ran out of witty remarks. What now?”
Tintin chuckles. “Well, workrooms and laboratories are down there, but the dormitory is in High Castle and professor would be probably there.”
“So let’s get him and get outta here.”

Professor Calculus could not sleep. He generally welcomes insomnia when working on his projects, but staying awake till two o’clock in the morning while in captivity is counterproductive. So he fumbles with his pendulum. He doesn’t try to find anything in particular, but this eases him. The reactions of pendulum become strange. The spherical piece of brass is twitching wildly, as if trying to tear away its chain. “Hmm,” Cuthbert scratches his moustache. “Something is coming?” He looks from his window. “But the sky is completely clear.”

Prowling through crepuscular hallways of hostile castle reminded Archibald of his own childhood. It is like he is teen again and is sneaking out to enjoy nightlife in Dover. Apart from the fact that his parents would not kill him (presumably) when found out.
Tintin pulls him into small utility room, taking shabby map out of Milou’s strongbox.
“How old is that thing?”
“From 17th century.”
“Lovely.”
“Look.” The ginger reporter steps closer, pointing to the map. “This is where we need to get. But we cannot go this way, because …”
“‘Cause they modernized it here a little.”
“Hnn,” Tintin bits his lower lip. “We need to find another way.”
Archibald leans over him to study the map, partially embracing him from behind, and Tintin could feel his heart racing the adrenaline in his veins. He closes his eyes and starts to count in Chinese in his mind. He needs to calm down.
He needs to get his mind out of the gutter. Archibald, Archibald Haddock, get your sick mind out of that frigging gutter! Oh Columbus, that boy makes his knees weak. He is nearing forty and he feels like enamored schoolgirl! For a boy, waaay to younger and mysterious as a castle in Carpathians who is obviously magnet for troubles.
Captain reaches up, firmly grasps Tintin’s chin and tilts his head back, lowering himself to capture those mesmerizing lips. The ginger kisses back, ignoring the uncomfortable angle of his neck.
Milou snorts and somehow manages it without emitting steam. If he would have eyes, he would roll them back right now. Instead he puffs out thick wisp of steam from its muzzle and maliciously kicks down a nearby crate, leaps on it and gives them a ‘yuck it is’ Look from above. Well, not exactly from above, but from higher than normally.
“Ain’t yer dog a little jealous?”
“He is just reasonable.”

There is one unbreakable rule in Cuthbert’s live. Of course, there are other rules, which should be respected, like the security of work (especially when dealing with dangerous or explosive materials), so he keeps these rules with iron grasp. But they are not so important. No. This rule is primal. This rule is above everything. This rule is: Always obey the pendulum.
And right now, the pendulum says: “Westward.”

Archibald releases Tintin with a soft kiss on head and takes the map from him.
“How d’yer got this?”
Tintin smiles at him mischievously.
“Aaa, I see. Connections.”
“Precisely. Shall we go?”

Professor Calculus resolutely puts his hat on and flings his doors open. Unbeknown to Cuthbert, right behind them is a guard stationed. That poor man will ever had no idea what did knocked him out. Professor looks at the unconscious figure with a grunt of disapproval and with admonishingly raised finger he gives his advice. “Young man, if you are on guard, you should better watch out, and not sleep.”

“I’m telling yer, we’re walking right into trap.” Even thought that Archibald is whispering, his voice is rumbling through empty hallway.
“Captain. The fact that we did not managed to run into anyone, does not mean that we will run into troubles.”
They turn left and nearly collide with inconspicuous man in his early forties, clad in green tweed suit, who is visibly following a brass pendulum twitching in his hand.
“Oh. Morning, gentlemen.” He tips his bowler hat and continues walking, like this kind of situation is completely normal.
Captain and Tintin share a look of surprised disbelief.
“Strange.” Cuthbert stops. “Very strange.” He turns around and walks back to them, hand holding pendulum aiming directly at the ginger reporter. “You are absolutely extraordinary, young boy.”
Tintin regains his composure forthwith. “Professor Cuthbert Calculus?”
“This apparatus? That’s my handmade brass pendulum.”
“No, he asked whether yer are professor Calculus.”
“What is its radius? I dare to say kilometer or more.”
Captain fells the irritation rising in him. He gratuitously wants to scream some sense to that deaf man, but Tintin’s hands on his arm have calming effect.
“Oh, Great God, where are my manners?” Cuthbert grabs Archibald’s hand and shakes it zealously. “Pardon me for not introducing myself.” He then seizes Tintin’s hand. “My name is Cuthbert Calculus.”
Captain moans. For what? Oh Lord, for what?

Spalding is tossing and turning in his bed. He did not get a wink of sleep. Whenever he thinks about that stubborn professor, he is on verge of tears. How could such a brilliant man be such a dumbass? Abandoning all thoughts of proper night rest, he lights up the oil lamp. One quick glance at timepiece reveals to him, that it is already three seventeen. He wraps himself in his dressing gown, cursing the coldness of the Castle, and heads for bookshelf. Perhaps he could calm himself down with something nice to read.
To read. Read!
Oh, Heavens Allseeing, why didn’t this occur to him sooner?
He stumbles to his slippers and after waking his assistants up, he heads for Cuthbert’s room. Spalding doesn’t care for the unruly hour, he will settle it with the professor once and for all right now!

“See? I told yer it will go wrong.”
“Calm down, Captain. He is just a little hard of hearing.”
“He is as deaf as a doorknob.”
After the curious introducing ritual, they persuaded Cuthbert to go with them, Captain more or less dragged the poor professor all the time, while Tintin, without consulting the map, led the way. Which turned out to be the worst possible idea. They ended up in large yet cozy library somewhere in the castle. Professor is babbling to Milou, evidently enthralled by the little automaton, scrutinizing it from every angle. Milou wags his tail fiercely, thinking that Cuthbert wants to play with him.
“Where are we, anyway?”
“Well," Tintin fumbles with his fingers, "you have the map.”
Archibald wants to kill somebody. Just because. He takes a deep breath and another one and takes out the map. After staring at it for while, which fells like eternity for Tintin, he paces to window to examine actual arrangements of buildings. “How, blue blistering barnacles, did we get into Middle Castle?”
Tintin shrugs his shoulders with nervous snicker.
Captain waves his hand in resigned forgiving gesture. “It’s actually handy. Look.” He shows the map to Tintin. “We could use this way, supposing it is passable, and …”
“…and confiscate some vehicle in workrooms.”
“Right yer are.” Archibald grins at Tintin.
“Great.” Tintin grins back. His jaw-muscles hurt from ginning so much. “They have not yet noticed that professor is missing, so …”
The alarm goes off, ear-splitting metallic sound reverberating through whole building.
Archibald’s eyebrows shoot sardonically up. “D’yer said something?”

Author’s notes
Oh wow, this was rather long part. And we haven't ended the day yet. ^^
x Malbork, once again. See this page for more info. It is not just one building, it is enormous area. × × × × × × × Wonderful, isn't it? Though I'm forced to make some changes. First, you might notice that the Castle is practically a suburb. Not in this story. The actual city of Malbork (with air-port) is further away and separated by thick old forest. Second, Poland, in general, is flat. The part where Malbork is located is flat flat. I need it a little higher, so let's pretend, that it has been built on a hummock.
x Archibald's childhood in Dover sure must have been ... wild. His family, that's another story.
x Counting in foreign language is an efficient method how to calm down.
x I honestly belive, that all most of those stunts which Tintin and Captain do, is turning them on. There's nothing more arousing than hijacking a ship, or jumping out of runaway train, or breaking and entering.
x Being as mysterious as castle in Carpathians is idiomatic expression in my language. I don't know proper English equivalent.
x The ‘yuck it is’ Look is known to every proud owner of dog/cat/any misbehaved animal all around the world. And every one of them, including me, know that the pet is able to learn it and cast it back, ten times stronger.
x Cuthber's pendulum has infinite radius.
x From my own experiences, I know that the most genius and simple ideas always come last.

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