Subsubsection: 3 December 2014 (the Bloody Brothers at the Pool of London) Up Subsection: The Forever City Subsubsection: 15 January 2015 (the Signal Fire and fighting cybergoons) 

18 December 2014 (Amsterdam, Bruxelles, and the Orient Express)

The team goes ashore in Amsterdam, and Thorfin makes arrangements to transfer some of their money from Atlanta (via a banker who apparently thinks they’re drug dealers but doesn’t really care all that much); this takes some hours. They book tickets for the Orient Express, and a hotel in Brussels for the night.
They take a local train to Brussels, and spend the evening acquiring a pistol for Steven. The next morning, they shop, or at least Diamond and Steven shop, for suitably fashionable clothes; Thorfin plans to wear his armour, and David doesn’t really care. They also buy a hard aluminium case large enough to hold, say, a chalice, and the cheapest chalice they can find at a religious supplies shop; Steven locks the chalice in the case and passes the key to Thorfin to look after.
Steven takes a look round Bruxelles-Midi (Brussel-Zuid) on his own. There’s no sign of especially heavy security, as one might expect if a cyber-Cardinal were travelling officially. There are quite a few people about apart from the usual local travellers: a group of Japanese tourists, photographing everything; a group of small children on some sort of school trip; a fat Aylish man in robes, probably a merchant of some sort judging by his extensive baggage; a priest, sitting along on a bench reading a missal; two Indian men with shaved heads talking to each other.
Steven has been briefed by David on the typical arrogant behaviour of cyberpriests; one of the children strays a little too close to him, and he looks up and says something quietly, but doesn’t put on the full social-dominance display that one might expect.
The others arrive by taxi, and get photographed by the tourists along with everything else. Steven feels suspicious, so he arranges to knock over a luggage barrow while keeping an eye on them; one of them spins round quickly in a way that suggests he’s more than just your typical salaryman, then does his best to cover up.
The team goes to board the Orient Express, which is diesel-hauled, with its own dedicated platform and gate. There’s some concern when the ticket inspectors insist that no weapons are allowed, and they’ll have to search both the luggage and the passengers; in spite of David’s advice, they locate Steven’s and Diamond’s pistols, and lock them (along with Steven’s rifle from the baggage) into strongboxes that will go in the baggage car. Thorfin doesn’t even try to hang on to his various mining tools, but David is able to slide his pistol past their notice.
The team has a suite near the front of the rear sleeping car, right next to the bar/lounge car. Steven heads for the bar to order a vodka martini (shaken, not stirred); the bartender has clearly seen this before.
Further down the sleeper, the rest of the group spot a priest and a nun arguing in low voices, and in a language they can’t make out. The Ayslish merchant joins them and is rather louder, and they catch the words “Signal Fire”. After further discussion, the priest and nun invite the merchant into their compartment.
Steven gets back and listens outside the priest’s compartment door. There’s clearly money being exchanged, and the merchant says that the Signal Fire is a large and impressive gem, hidden in the freezer in the service car. “I’d take it myself, but these fingers aren’t what they once were.” The merchant is clearly about to leave, so Steven retreats.
In the bar, Diamond has been buttonholed by a couple of American tourists (“are you really from the Nile Empire?”), who proceed to complain about the weather, their accommodation, the service, the drinks, the lack of a baseball season (the Commissioner is still deciding whether edeinos should be allowed to play), and the poor performance of the Dodgers in the games that have been played. Steven arrives just as the bell is rung for the first sitting of lunch, and takes her with him.
While they’re dining, the priest passes through the car. Steven follows him carefully, staying out of sight. He passes through the service car, which seems mostly to consist of food storage, looking at labels as he goes. He moves out of sight round a corner, and Steven gets ready to ambush him as he comes back; instead there’s a hiss and a thud.
The priest’s body is lying on the floor outside a padlocked door labelled CONGÉLATEUR. Steven checks: there’s nobody in the passageway ahead, and no sign of anyone else about. He checks the body; the priest’s unconscious, with a scraped wound on his neck, and not carrying anything except a (non-cyber) crucifix and a Beretta 92.
As Steven’s considering, there’s a hiss, and a rod telescopes out of the freezer door, aimed at his neck. He evades it, and drags the priest away a little, propping him against a storage bin and reviving him by splashing Evian in his face (it’s closer than a tap). The priest is somewhat cagy, believing at first that Steven is working for the Cyberpapacy, but after some discussion (and the arrival of Thorfin wondering what Steven’s up to) he comes a little more clean: he’s with the Институт психических исследований, IPI). (Thorfin at least has heard the rumours that the IPI was able to repel a cosm during the initial invasion.) He’s after the Signal Fire because, as a probable eternity shard, it needs to be kept out of the hands of the Cyberpapacy; he’s grudgingly willing to go along with the group’s plan to make other use of it.
 Subsubsection: 3 December 2014 (the Bloody Brothers at the Pool of London) Up Subsection: The Forever City Subsubsection: 15 January 2015 (the Signal Fire and fighting cybergoons)