[personal profile] hat_writes_stuff
Title: Smells Like Hope Part 5: Debrief
Author: Almighty Hat
Fandom: Girl Genius
Characters: Jorgi, General Khrizhan, General Goomblast, General Zog, Klaus Wulfenbach
Word Count: 3,909
Rating: G
Pairing(s): Background Agatha/Jorgi
Warnings: Gratuitous Jägerspeak (four of them in one conversation I had to read the whole thing aloud and did you know Jäger accents vary by individualmanaged.

Author's Notes: With thanks to Para and Lilithqueen for inspiration and gracious permission, and Celaeno for beta-reading. (Sorry I started you reading a fifteen-year-long comic archive!)

All canon characters, situations, verbatim dialogue, and plot elements are property of Studio Foglio; no money is made from this fanwork and no infringement is intended.

Summary: Jorgi tells the Jägergenerals that he accidentally found a Heterodyne, and that she needs some bodyguards. Subtle, trustworthy, Jäger bodyguards.

He also tells them he's been accidentally long-distance-dating the young Heterodyne.

Previous Part

After the destruction of the ancestral Castle Wulfenbach by an unknown party (presumed to be the Other), Baron Klaus Wulfenbach decided it was far preferable to have a mobile fortress. The current Castle Wulfenbach is a massive airship over a kilometer long, housing not only the Baron and his immediate retainers and staff but a school, scores of research labs, the bulk (but not the whole) of the Wulfenbach army, a small forest, multiple hangars suitable for support ships, support staff for sanitation, medical care, and food service, and of course, the Jägermonsters who signed on with Baron Wulfenbach in the wake of the Heterodyne Boys’ disappearance.

It wasn’t that it was difficult to get in to see the Jägergenerals, especially if you were yourself Jägerkin-- they were frequently less pressed for time than many humans of similar rank, and certainly less so than the Baron. But it still took time, and Jorgi had (admittedly minimal) processing to bother with, coming back from leave. He’d been back on Castle Wulfenbach for a good three hours before getting the word that the Generals would see him, and Jorgi was more than a little keyed up. He still managed a reasonably smart salute for a guy with a box under his arm.

“Zo, Jorgi, hyu bring us nize presents from hyu leave?” General Goomblast asked, gesturing towards the box. “Someting dot von’t keep, Hy tink.”

“Vell, sir,” Jorgi started, “Vould probably keep hokay… but Hy dun tink hyu vants me to vait.” Despite Generals Zog and Khrizhan also being present, Jorgi handed the box to General Goomblast. Of the three, he was the most deft with delicate objects.

Well-wrapped inside the pasteboard box was a home canning jar, screwed tight. General Goomblast unscrewed that and shook out a pillowcase.

“… Vot de dumboozle,” General Zog started-- then the smell seemed to hit all three generals at once. The pillowcase, relatively clean but not recently washed, was Agatha’s, thick with her scent, and better proof of her identity even than her locket (which she had also offered to send with him, but the pillowcase only proved Agatha’s existence to Jägers-- the locket implied ‘surviving Heterodyne heir’ to anyone who opened it, and had Agatha’s name engraved on the back). The generals looked at each other, looked at the pillowcase, and then looked to Jorgi-- expectantly.

“Vhen Lady Lucrezia vanished, she vas pregnant, vit a gurl-- Master Bill’s dotter. She is alive und vell und livink in Zumzum und before Hy makes vit de whole schtory, she is in breakthrough und tryink to handle tings qvuiet-like, but her momma-- er, foster-momma-- vould like if ve could send some Jägerkin to help vatch her. De foster parents sometimes helps out constructs who look too fonny for regular pipple, zo Jägers who ken fake odder accents und look like dey could be tings besides Jägerkin vould be able to get close vitout makink all of Zumzum suspicious.”

“… Vot a veek hyu haff had, Jorgi,” General Khrizhan said, brows raised. “Hyu go to see hyu sveethot und find a Heterodyne. Hyu are sure dis gurl is Master Bill’s?”

“Not as sure as der Kestle vould be,” Jorgi admitted, “but pretty dem sure, General.”

“Tell us vot hyu know,” General Zog said, and Jorgi let General Goomblast gesture him towards a chair.

“Lady Lucrezia vas de Odder,” Jorgi began, and General Khrizhan dropped his tongs and the sugar cube they’d been holding. “Hy dunno if der Kestle vas really attacked by ennybody dat night or not, but Hy dun tink Lady Lucrezia vas kidnapped. She convinced de Geisterdamen she vas some sort of goddess, somehow, und dey schtill serve her. She vas--” she was planning to replace Agatha inside Agatha’s own brain. “She vould have copied herself from her own mind to de dotter’s-- Spark schtuff,” he said, and the Generals nodded, shades of disgusted and angry, but far more shocked than surprised. It wasn’t out of character for the Other, a small step from controlling minds to overwriting them, and Lucrezia was (hopefully had been, hopefully she was so dead she couldn’t return from it) a powerful Spark, “und later to a granddotter, again und again, forever.

“But de Masters found her und her ladies und her plans-- und Master Bill’s dotter. Master Barry escaped vit de gurl, und said he thot Master Bill had died killink Lady Lucrezia. Dis vas vhen de Odder’s attacks schtopped, zo mebbe he vas right.”

“Is Master Barry alive?” asked General Goomblast, but Jorgi could only shrug helplessly.

“Hy dunno. Nobody knows. De gurl started to break through vhen she vas five--” he didn’t even wait for the rumbles of surprise, he just paused and let them happen. “Dot’s vot hy said. Ennyvay, Master Barry made a ting for her, a locket, dot vould schtop de breakthrough-- keep her from concentratink too hard, schtop her feelink too much, Hy dunno how it vorked but it clamped down on de tings dot trigger breakthrough. Giff her nasty headaches, too. He didn’t tell her vot it did, he just put pictures of Master Bill und Lady Lucrezia inside and told her neffer take it off, hyu parents vill protect hyu as long as hyu vear it.

“Den he vent to Beelteburg.” After traveling with little-girl Agatha’s vicious headaches for long enough to see what they did to her. Jorgi hoped he felt damned guilty about it. “Meester Punch und Meestress Judy vas livink dere under new names, und he giff Master Bill’s dotter to dem to raise, qviet-like. He told dem to keep her safe und secret, und vot de locket did, und to neffer let her take it off. Also he told dem about Lady Lucrezia being de Odder, und he said de Baron vas in cahoots vit her.”

Vot!?” General Zog bellowed.

“Jorgi, dot is verra serious--” General Goomblast began.

“Hy tink Master Barry vas verra wrong about de Baron,” Jorgi cut in hastily, “he vas makink an empire und hirink Jägerkin to fight for him und shootink pipple dot turned him down, Hy tink Master Barry got de wrong idea. But he give dot idea to Punch und Judy, so dey neffer go to de Baron und say ‘hey ve gots a baby Heterodyne here, ken hyu help?’”

“Hy tink hyu is right,” General Khrizhan said. “Ve know dem vell if Klaus vanted Europa mindless und in flames, it vould haff been done by now.”

And that was true. Baron Wulfenbach was a master of ruthless efficiency, and if Lucrezia had loved control, the Baron largely just wanted people to behave themselves so he didn’t have to deal with them.

“If Punch und Judy vas in Beetleburg,” General Goombast mused, “How did hyu meet dis new Heterodyne gurl in Zumzum?”

“Hy met her in Beetleburg first,” Jorgi explained, trying to act less embarrassed by his failure to recognize Agatha immediately than he actually was when he really thought about it. “Hy tink Hy didn’t notice her scent becawse all she schmelled like vas fear.”

The generals exchanged glances. They were skilled, experienced, clever people who hadn’t bothered much with the ‘big dumb monsters’ act because everyone knew they were generals-- that they could ride herd on the other Jägerkin, that they could give an order and expected it to be obeyed promptly, even immediately, that they had lasted long enough in the Heterodynes’ service to attain real rank when most Jägers hardly bothered with it. He just had to wait and see if they’d connect ‘girl from Beetleburg and then Zumzum’ to Jorgi’s recent romantic letter-writing, which was no secret anymore.

“Jorgi,” said General Khrizhan, as though asking a child if they’d gotten into the sweets (that they’d obviously gotten into), “Haff hyu been payink court to de Heterodyne?”

“… Leetle bit, yah,” he admitted-- and only got that far because he wasn’t sure what to say from there-- that neither he nor Agatha wanted to stop, maybe.

“De Heterodyne allowed dis?” General Zog asked, which was fair, really-- in any ordinary generation, Jorgi wouldn’t have much to offer a Heterodyne. (He wasn’t sure he had much to offer now, besides ‘got there first.’)

“Ho-- vell. De courtink started before she knew she vas a Heterodyne. Meester Punch und Meestress Judy is verra goot at secrets. Hy tink dey vas only gonna tell me dot dey’d changed names und adopted Agatha und din know vhere to find Master Barry, but Agatha-- she vorked it out. Had me look at de pictures in her locket. It vas dem.”

“Vhy dun hyu tell us,” General Khrizhan started, pulling a notebook and a capped pen out of a pocket, “about dis young Heterodyne? Ve vill vork on vitch Jägers to send to guard her.”

“Schtop me if Hy gets distracted-- but hokay. Vell.” She was amazing. “She is eighteen, und verra schmott-- she haff some trouble believing how schmott becawse of dot locket making vit de headaches. But she vas studyink at dot University in Beetleburg since she vas fifteen, und did hokay eefen tinking she vasn’t a Spark. She vants to make clanks, but keeps ending up vit death rays und leedle veapons, Hy tink cos she dun feel too safe right now. She’s brave-- is a qviet kind of brave, but she dun let beink scared schtop her doink ennyting. In Beetleburg, she eefen shouted at de Baron after dot Doctor Beetle died. Und Hy tink she might be a leedle bit vengeful.” Maybe that would develop into grand schemes for revenge as she came into herself as a Spark, maybe it would just be subtle and social and cutting, but it was there. “She hates de Lady Lucrezia, now-- dot’s vhy she left de locket off at furst. Und she… she haff no fear of monsters, zo dot vill be hokay, und vhen Hy talked to her about coming to Mechanicsburg, she decided it vouldn’t feel right to go sit in der Kestle und not do ennyting for de town except be de Heterodyne.

“She vants to know,” Jorgi said, not quite able to stop his smile from spreading, “if hyu know enny books she ken read dot might help her learn how to run Mechanicsburg. Nobody vants to move her until she’s all broke through, but she says she ken still learn vhen she’s breakink.”

“Dis, ve ken do,” General Goomblast agreed, his smile very wide. “She vill not consider comink to Kestle Vulfenbach for breakthrough?”

Jorgi shook his head. “Punch und Judy schtill dun trust de Baron. Dey bolted vunce already.” They might risk traveling the Wastelands with a girl in breakthrough if anyone tried to press the issue.

“Hy know who to send for her guard, at least for de furst,” General Khrizhan said. “Jorgi, vill hyu und Lady Agatha be goink on as hyu haff been? Vit letters und visits?”

“… Und courtink?” General Khrizhan nodded-- and Jorgi nodded back. “Hy-- she is de Heterodyne, und for dot, Hy love her.” Which was a heady thing to say even in the most traditional of ways, but Jorgi went on. “She is also Agatha, und Hy am fallink in love vit her. Hy vill not take myself avay from her until she vants me to go. So, yez, ve go on as ve have been, if ve gets a choice.” He wasn’t a complete romantic fool-- Jorgi did understand that they might not get a choice. “Also… Hy tink it might… help vit de politics.”

“How?” General Zog asked. “Hyu is already hers ennyvay.”

“Yez, sir. Und she vill be a Lady Heterodyne, und she vants to fix der Kestle und de defenses-- she vill have Mechanicsburg. Hif she goes und marries some Fifty Families guy or anodder Spark, he’s gonna tink, ‘Vell, Hy’m de husband, zo Hy’m in charge.’” Not that the Castle, fully repaired, or the Jägerkin, or Mechanicsburgers in general couldn’t handle a Heterodyne consort who thought they could take power from their actual-Heterodyne spouse (at least, they could handle that if they were looking out for it), but it would be easier on Agatha to avoid that kind of nonsense altogether. “Hy already know Agatha dun vant dot for Mechanicsburg.” She wanted to be able to do her own leading, and that wouldn’t happen if she ended up with a husband who thought he owned everything his wife inherited.

“Dot vould be nize for Mechanicsburg,” General Khrizhan told him, “but it vould only help vit Mechanicsburg politics, marrying a nize local boy like hyu. Europa vould not approve-- not dot ve care vot Europa tinks, but ve?” He gestured to himself and the other two generals stationed on Castle Wulfenbach. “Ve must care vot Europa does.

“At least,” General Zog put in, “vhen der Kestle is broken, ve must.”

Someone knocked at the door.

General Goomblast stood, tucking the pillowcase back in its jar and setting the jar on a table out of line of sight of the door-- then opened it with a very, very toothsome grin designed to intimidate away whoever had dared interrupt. “Yez-- Herr Baron. Vot a surprise.”

“Pardon the intrusion, Generals, but I must interrupt,” the Baron said, calmly enough to fool anyone who couldn’t smell that he was… agitated. At least. And likely not by General Goomblast’s grin. “There has been a development in decrypting the remains of Tarsus Beetle’s notes, and as he was present I must either borrow or speak to Jorgi. I was informed he was here.”

“Ve do haff priority vit our own pipple,” General Goomblast reminded the Baron, rather gently.

“Except,” the Baron agreed, mildly, “in situations involving the Other, or the Other’s technology.”

But the Baron wouldn’t necessarily need Jorgi for that-- unless he expected Agatha had left something about the Other or the hive engine out of her letters, the only reason the Baron would have to chase Jorgi down personally was if he found out Agatha Clay were somehow connected to the Other. Like, for example, if Agatha were the Other’s daughter.

“Vhy not come in und join us, Herr Baron?” General Khrizhan offered. “Haff sum tea. Ve vill all talk.”

The Baron stepped inside, closed the door securely behind him, then sighed, a hand to his forehead. “I suppose that means you all know.”

“Ve haff only just been informed, und ve are plannink to handle tings qvietly, as de young lady’s foster-family vishes,” General Goomblast said, pouring a fourth cup of tea. (Jorgi hadn’t been given one, but he also hadn’t asked.)

“How quietly?” Accepting the cup, the Baron took a seat.

“Verra qvietly,” General Khrizhan informed them. “Ve haff received a request for some schneaky Jägerkin to help protect de young Mistress, as she is not yet ready to take Mechanicsburg, or defended vell enough to make herself known oddervise. She is mostly safe vhere she is und vill be safer vit guards, so ve might not be happy vit dot, but ve is satisfied.

“Herr Baron,” Jorgi said, “hif her parents tink hyu is gonna schneak up und vhisk her avay, dey vill bolt again. Mebbe too far avay to reach dis time.” Which wasn’t the last thing Jorgi wanted, but there wasn’t a whole lot that beat it out.

“And I don’t suppose there’s any real need to be oblique,” the Baron said. “I am assuming we all know that Miss Agatha Clay is actually Agatha Heterodyne, daughter of Bill Heterodyne and Lucrezia Mongfish.”

“Ve are as sure of dot as ve ken be,” General Zog agreed, “vit der Kestle in its current condition.”

The Baron conceded this point with a nod. “I am fairly certain that Lucrezia Mongfish was-- or is-- the Other.”

“Jorgi brought us dis news as vell,” General Goomblast said, offering the Baron the platter of tea cakes, one of which was accepted but not immediately eaten. “It vas… surprising, but ve vas not shocked.”

“… Why in hell not?” the Baron asked. “I came to a similar conclusion based on creation styles, but questioned the idea for years.”

“Hyu vas her eqval, Herr Baron,” General Goomblast told him, “or probably as close as she figured ennyvun vas. She vould not haff treated hyu de vay she treated… servants, svorn to obey.”

The Baron watched General Goomblast intently for a long moment, then looked to the other generals-- and then to Jorgi. To the whole room, he said, “Bill told you to do what she wanted, didn’t he? And Lucrezia never was very good at resisting temptation.”

“She vas not,” General Khrizhan agreed.

“Lucrezia could command wasps and revenants using her voice, very specifically her voice. Doctor Beetle believed that Miss Clay-- excuse me, the Lady Heterodyne-- would have been able to do the same thing, and intended to use her to do just that. To what end, I don’t know, but likely used against me or the Empire somehow.”

Something snapped under Jorgi’s hand, the surprise cutting off his growl (just as well-- he hadn’t realized he was growling). He’d managed to tear the arm of his chair clean off. “… Hy ken probably fix dot,” he offered, trying to prop the piece back in place.

“Hyu must forgive Jorgi, Herr Baron,” General Goomblast said. “Ve all luff our Heterodynes, but Jorgi is a leedle bit in luff vit dis vun.”

“… Is that… done?” the Baron asked, just surprised enough that Jorgi knew he was hiding how surprised he really was.

The generals exchanged a look, and it was General Zog who admitted, “It is… unusual, but de Heterodyne ken do as she pleases.” Jorgi wondered just how unusual it was-- he’d never heard of it happening before, but there had been fifty generations of Heterodynes and thousands of Jägerkin over the centuries-- but he also knew they’d downplay it in front of the Baron even if Jorgi were the first.

“Are you opposed,” the Baron asked Jorgi, specifically, “to Lady Heterodyne being used to control the Other’s creatures, or Lady Heterodyne being used against me?” To his credit, he only sounded curious-- but the Baron was very good at handling loaded questions like academic ones.

“Hy vould not haff her be used by ennyvun,” Jorgi told him. “Dot vas vot Lady Lucrezia wanted for her.”

“… Explain,” the Baron demanded.

“She vanted to liff forever, Hy guess,” Jorgi started, to prompting looks from the generals. “She vas gon’ copy her mind over Agatha’s, und den to Agatha’s dotter-- vell, Agatha’s body’s dotter-- und just repeat, over und over. Dot’s vhy she needs protection now-- Lady Lucrezia’s servants vas de vasps, de revenants, und ve just found out, de Geisterdamen. Vhen Master Barry rescued Agatha from dem vhen she vas a leedle gurl--”

“Barry is alive?

Jorgi could only shrug helplessly-- the Baron had been their friend, almost as close as a brother. “Ve dunno. He vas eleven years ago, ennyvay.”

And hadn’t turned to any of them. The Baron’s jaw tightened-- it hurt him, too, quite possibly more than it hurt the Jägerkin. The Baron had been the Masters’ friend long before he’d been a baron, and by then the Jägers were at least used to the fact that the Heterodyne Boys didn’t like them very much. “Go on. The Geisterdamen didn’t feature in Beetle’s surviving notes.”

“Yah, vell. Master Barry said, und dis vas passed to me so I din get any fancy details, dot dey couldn’t find out if de mind svap ting had to be done live or if Lady Lucrezia had a copy of her brain somevhere, just vaiting. If de Geisterdamen have a brain-copy, it could still be goot, mebbe.”

“So your young Heterodyne may be in serious danger,” the Baron concluded, “and worse, if that danger befalls her, so Europa will face a second Other War. Whatever you were going to do to protect the young lady behind my back,” he told the generals, “is now fully authorized. I’m sorely tempted to put my own agents at your disposal-- but Jägerkin aren’t vulnerable to wasps.”

“Und ve haff a vay to keep tings qviet, eefen vit Jägers,” General Khrizhan assured the Baron. “Vouldn’t vant vord gettink out before ve ken bring de young lady und her foster-parents into der fold.”

“Is that a risk?”

“Is a verra small town,” Jorgi said with a shrug. “Ennyting unusual is goot fon to gossip about.”

“… You have my sympathies,” the Baron informed him. “And I take it either that Jorgi’s briefing with young Lady Heterodyne did not include Barry’s conviction that I am, or was, working with the Other, or that you gentlemen don’t share that conviction.”

The Baron was asking for a show of faith, then.

“Ve do not know vhy Master Barry vould tink such a ting,” General Khrizhan informed him.

“Hyu hate de Odder’s bogs und methods as much as ve do,” General Goomblast agreed.

“If hyu vanted vasps spread across Europa, hyu vould leaf der hive engines alone, not qvarantine und destroy dem,” General Zog agreed.

“… De Geisterdamen schtill vorship her…” If she and her servants couldn’t stop Master Barry, if they were already overwhelmed where they were… “Vot if Lady Lucrezia lied to Master Barry?” Jorgi asked. He’d been turning the idea over in his head for a while. “‘Ho ho ho, dot Klaus is my ally,’ so Master Barry ken’t risk goink to his friend vit a leedle gurl. Mebbe schtill hard for de Geisterdamen to find, but vunce found, not harder to fight-- easier to get deir baby Heterodyne back.”

“She might have thought to isolate him that way,” the Baron mused, “or she thought to buy a few years sending Barry on a wild goose chase to kill me. Lucrezia drugged me and had me kidnapped the day Bill proposed. I was… effectively marooned for some time.”

“Hyu haff our apologies, Herr Baron,” General Khrizhan said, “dot ve ken’t haff hyu more directly involved vit de protection ov Master Bill’s daughter.”

“But you have thought of another use for me,” the Baron guessed, with a tilt to his mouth that might have been amused or anticipatory.

“Ve must deal vit dese Geisterdamen.” It was a very simple agreement on General Khrizhan’s part, but it set General Goomblast grinning menacingly, and there was a glint in General Zog’s eye at the idea.

Very, very few of them could protect the Heterodyne directly without revealing to the entire world that she was, in fact, a half-protected Heterodyne living in a barely-protected town, or without sending her parents running to Paris or England or somewhere else the Baron couldn’t lock down and Jägerkin weren’t welcome.

Rooting out a threat to her might be a satisfying substitute.

“I will send teams out for samples,” the Baron told them, “Live or otherwise. If it’s at all possible to prove that the Geisterdamen are connected to the Other-- and given their mounts are spiders, it might be fairly simple-- then containing them, studying them, and quite possibly wiping them out is the Empire’s duty.”

Agatha’s parents would hate that the Baron was involved at all, but the Wulfenbach Empire existed to destroy the remnants of the Other’s war machine. The Baron had wanted the Jägerkin less because they were superhuman fighters used to working together than because they were unaffected by slaver wasps-- unaffected by and morally opposed to slaver wasps. Now that they knew the Geisterdamen were agents of the Other-- well.

They had a monster hunt.

Next Part
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