Spanner in the Gardens – Part 3

It was the middle of the night and she woke to the sound of something shattering and a scream. She nearly fell out of her bed, the blankets twisted around her in her mad scramble to get to the door of the workshop. She touched the door, laying her palm flat on the wood. It was cool to the touch, despite the smoke coming from around the edges of the door.


She could hear him coughing and drew up her courage, pulling the door open. He was on his hands and knees in front of his burning workbench. There was blood all over his shirt, what was left of it. Quickly, Dorothea moved to help him back and to douse the flames before they could spread. Then she had to turn and see him, see what this explosion had done to him. His chest and arms were burned, but not too badly. He’d thrown his arms over his face before the blast could reach him, but she knew from long experience that the wounds on arms and chest would scar. She hesitated with her fingers mere centimeters from his bare flesh. Then she overcame her uncertainties. He had to be helped and she was the one here to do it. His expression was pained but there was trust in his eyes as he looked at her.

“Evandrus, what were you doing?”

“I…I slipped. The wrong vial.”

He coughed and she brushed his hair back out of his face, quietly soothing him.

“Lay still. I’ll get something for these.” She hesitated again, the adrenaline leaving her system and being replaced with something entirely other. Fear and relief, mirroring each other in their extremes. He would be alright, he would live. But this could have been so very much worse. And she knew something else now. She no longer wished for him to deny the whims of his heart, for she shared the same desires as he. As she reached down the jar of salve, her hands were shaking. She had very nearly lost him tonight, and it was in this moment that Dorothea truly realized just how much she loved Evandrus.


He set down his tools and flipped his goggles back onto his forehead. Done. Absolutely perfect and done. Now to fire up those circuits and see how this guy ran. Something like speaker feedback ran through Tiernan’s mind as his other-senses, the ones attuned to machinery and moving parts, blazed to life and he looked at his latest creation again. Not a male…not a guy… He’d built a girl. This robot was very definitely and decidedly female. He pulled his goggles back down and grabbed his tools. He couldn’t fire her up until she was really ready. Moments later and he’d completely retooled her chassis. He set his tools on the workbench again and moved around to activate her. It didn’t take long before the whirring of gears filled the air and she soon stood on her own. She turned slowly and gave him a smile. It was only then that he realized two things. She was naked…and she didn’t have a name yet.

“Mama! I need your help!”

Tiernan burst into the wagon, cheeks purplish from blushing and breathing hard. Brannagh just looked up from her washing the dishes and smiled at her son.

“Calm down, calm down, what happened?”

“I…in my workshop…and I don’t know how to make dresses.”

“…Why do you need to know?”

The Elven woman stepped back from the sink, drying her hands on her apron as she went to the shelf to take down the pattern book.

“I built an automaton and she feels like a girl, so I made her a girl, but now she’s naked and…and I left her alone…oh shit.”

“Tiernan, language.”

“Yes, Mama.”

She smiled at her son as she flipped through the book.

“Well then, let’s make her something quick and simple so you can get her dressed and then later I’ll help you make her a much better dress. How does that sound?”

“Perfect! Thanks, Mama.”

The Mechanist hugged his mother tightly, calming rapidly as she chuckled and told him to fetch her sewing kit while she went for the fabric.

The Love Song of the Engineer

My hands speak volumes
As they trace the curves of your body
And ponder the integrals of those curves
Using my fingers to mark out the derivatives

Let us assume that you are a rigid body
But existing in a frictionless environment is no fun
So let us instead consider a constant friction called f
A glorious friction, offset with lubrication as necessary

And let us consider a second rigid body
Did I forget to mention that we shall assume that all bodies are spheres?
No, scratch that, that assumption upsets the tangent planes
And negates those glorious curves

I wish I was DNA heliocase so that I could unzip your genes
Hypothesis proven, biological humor is not my forte
Would you prefer something that involves compiling your object files?
Then again, perhaps not.

Back to that second rigid body I mentioned
Its here in my hand, for demonstration purposes, of course
I chose the smooth one so we can maintain our constant f of friction
But if you’d prefer more variables, that’s fine with me

Now, would you be so kind as to lie back and collect data for me?
I will measure the efficacy of my application of F=MA
By the waveforms you produce in the air.
Experimental procedure says that you get to reproduce my test next

An object at rest remains at rest unless acted upon by an outside force
And I can be a very enthusiastic outside force, if you would like me to
Where this experiment proceeds is based entirely on the data you provide,
But I for one, would love to do an in depth study of fluid dynamics.

A Spanner in the Gardens – Part 2

Dorothea leaned in to look at one of his schematics and frowned slightly. Evandrus was paying her no mind as he worked on a different project.
“M’Lord Evandrus, could you please explain to be the precise function of this design?”
He looked up, his frown deepening.
“Is the schematic not labeled?”
Her eyes skimmed the neat writing that adorned the bottom of the page.
“It…is. But I’ve a few questions.”
He set his current project down and strode over, vexation clear in every line of his body.
“Really, this is a fairly simple schematic and if you can’t understand this, I’m not sure that this is going to-“
She cut him off, voice sharp.
“Where is your power source?”
She gestured at the schematic broadly.
“Please point out any manner of powering this device, because I am not seeing it.”
For a moment, he looked over the design with a smug expression on his face, clearly confident he was going to point out precisely where it was and show her up for once. But after a few minutes, it was clear he was realizing she was correct in her assessment of the design. His discomfort grew for a long moment, then he turned to look up at her contritely.
“Would you…show me where you would attach one?”

She was a distraction of a sort he’d never encountered before. Never in his life had Evandrus found anything that could entice him more than the pursuit of science, but there was something about this fiery mechanic that drew him. She was clever and intelligent, forcing him to rethink many of the things he thought he understood when she cut straight through the problems he faced in his workshop. He had a small automaton on his desk and she was leaning over his shoulder, pointing out the things he’d missed initially gearing the poor creation. He could feel her warmth against his back and something in him was stirring in response. It was like something deep in his gut fluttering and growing warm. The young lord wasn’t sure he appreciated these new feelings.
“Have you been paying even the slightest attention, M’Lord Evandrus?”
He looked up, palpably aware of the blush mantling his cheeks.
“I apologize. I was thinking of something. And Dorothea, you might as well call me Evandrus while we’re at work. It’s a great deal simpler, don’t you think?”
She smiled just a bit and leaned in closer to show him once again. He felt that warmth again. She’d smiled for him.

Part 1: here


Thousands upon thousands,
all singing the sweet symphony of life.
Humble gears, part of the machinery,
but far more in truth.
Mothers, fathers, daughters, sons,
outcasts, rebels, heroes and kings.
The past, the present and the future,
dancing through time and space.
Never does the great machine falter,
never a stutter or a hiccup.
Each little cog, gear, and screw is found a place
together they march on.

A Spanner in the Gardens – Part 1

Lady Hortensia Addison knit her fingers together and looked at the young woman seated opposite her. The chit had certainly not been her first choice. She had hoped that one of the many male engineers would be willing to take her son on as an apprentice and that perhaps some hard work under one of them would disabuse him of his scientific aspirations. She wanted nothing more than for the boy to return to proper divertissements and to his duty, but still he persisted. And if he was going to do so, there was only one course for it. She looked the girl over again, taking in the ill-fit of her dress, clearly second hand, but she did know how to comport herself in the presence of the nobility. This Dorothea had her gaze down demurely, as was proper. Lady Hortensia took a sip of her tea and then spoke.
“My understanding, Dorothea, is that you are a…mechanic. Now, normally, I would inform you that such is the domain of men and that you should be attempting to make yourself marriageable. However, in this case, I have need to instead offer you employment. My son, the young lord Evandrus, has declared himself for science… and if my son insists on dabbling in this ‘engineering’ then I am going to ensure that he has the best possible assistance and despite your appearance, manners and upbringing that seems to be you.”
It took all the willpower in the young woman not to bristle at the insults. Instead, she nodded.
“Thank you, my Lady. You honor me.”
“Yes…well… You will be paid a suitable wage, given room and board and given use of young lord Evandrus’ laboratory. He will determine your responsibilities, and no doubt you will be spending a great deal of time with him. However, you are to ensure that you maintain a certain level of decorum. You will remember your place at all times. You are nothing more than a servant and he is the lord of this estate. Do I make myself perfectly clear?”
“Y-yes, my Lady.”
“Mrs. Burke will show you to your room. You will be quartered near his laboratory so you may attend to it at all hours.”
“Thank you, my Lady.”
It was all Dorothea could do to keep her temper in check as she followed the housekeeper through the estate, towards the back near the kitchens and servants’ quarters.
“Here we are, Missy. It’s simple enough, but I made sure to put in a shelf since no doubt a science lass like yourself as a book or two. Once you’re settled in, you’ll be wanting to meet the young lord. He’ll be in his laboratory at this hour no doubt. That’ll be two more doors down. Between is a privy.”
Mrs. Burke looked the girl up and down.
“Have you any bags, girl?”
“I…was told to leave them.”
“Fine enough, I’ll have one of the maids fetch them up here. You’re not one of them, mind. You answer to the young lord first. I’ll be assigning one of the girls to clean your room and mind your things. You’ve more important things to do. Like seeing to it that the young lord doesn’t blow us all to Kingdom Come.”

The laboratory was surprisingly large and well-lit through a combination of natural light and oil lamps. A young man with short messy red hair and a smattering of freckles across his face stood at one of the workbenches examining the results of his latest experiment. The small vial of fluid glowed dully, casting a bluish illumination across his features. For a moment, Dorothea wasn’t sure if she should interrupt him or just wait until he was done. With a grimace, she recalled what the housekeeper had said and stepped to one side of the door, taking this moment to really look him over. His clothes were well made, which was unsurprising. What was surprising was that these seemed to be older, with some patches and grease stains in evidence. There was a smudge of grease across his cheeks from an earlier project. Now her eyes were drawn around the room to the many workbenches. Certainly, the one he was at bore chemicals and their accouterments, but other such tables showed his interested in mechanics, physiology, botany and even in the fledgling science of electricity. His equipment was costly, with his tools calling her to them like a moth to the flame. There was a soft clink then and she looked back at him. He was staring at her now, a look of mild confusion on his face and his arms crossed over his chest.
“Hello, Miss…?”
He let the words trail off, clearly looking for an explanation as to her presence.
“Oh! I’m Dorothea, M’lord. Your mother hired me as your…” she paused for a moment and he frowned more deeply. “Tutor.”
That got a small smile out of him.
“Published many scientific papers, have you?”
There was humor in his tone, but it was sharp and the barbs in his words stuck in her.
“No more than you have. But unlike you, I’m a trained mechanic.”
He looked her over more carefully then, still looking as though she was some kind of vexing puzzle he couldn’t figure out how to solve. Then he just nodded.
“I suppose that does quite well in explaining why Mother had one of the storage rooms converted into a room. I take it you’ll be staying there?” When she nodded, he carried on. “I should warn you, I keep late nights and not all of my experiments are quiet. I doubt you will be getting much sleep there.”
Then he looked back at his worktop.
“Tell me then, have you any background in chemistry?”