FOR IMMEDIATE DISTRIBUTION BY THE COUNCIL OF THREE CHURCHES
Happy 6th birthday, (name)!
On this wonderful occasion, the Council of Three Churches is giving you your very own Widget! You can name them whatever you like!
Please keep these instructions. As you grow and learn, you will understand your Widget better. If you don’t understand something in these instructions, please ask an adult or a smarter child.
BASIC WIDGET FUNCTION
Your Widget should be able to understand you when you talk, but it has to get used to your voice. Try asking it to go and get something simple that’s in the room.
Sometimes your Widget might need to get something that’s on a high shelf or up some stairs. Widgets have an inflatable hydrogen balloon that they can use to float up, but it’s very slow.
Now try and ask your Widget to get something that’s not in your room. See what happens!
After a while, you’ll have a very good idea of what your Widget can do, and you’ll have lots of fun together.
Knight-Captain Martine Covington-White owned the only horse in Widget Ridge. At least, the only non-metal horse. She was one of the few descendants of the Earthborn that did not want to be an engineer or scientist. Instead, Martine chose to pursue physical activity. She liked games, and very quickly became an excellent study of tactics and swordplay.
Few people in Widget Ridge could actually fight with any skill. So it was that Martine became a member of the Knight Order of the Flying Cog on her 16th birthday. Now at 25, having risen through the ranks to lead the Order of the Flying Cog, she was named Chief City Defender, which meant she had domain over everything to do with the defense of Widget Ridge.
Some people said that she was only promoted because she was the great-granddaughter of Lord Admiral Sir Eustace Covington. It wasn’t true, but they still said it. Martine would often chase those people with a sword because she wanted to hit them with things.
It was a clear night as Martine rode the cobbles on the South Streets. The Lightning Spire cast chaotic blue shadows, and she almost missed the metallic flash ahead of her.
Martine dismounted the horse and walked on ahead. Suddenly a pair of eyes flashed in the darkness, and a large, metallic dog jumped and ran towards her. Martine reflexively drew her sword, but the hound was upon her before it cleared her scabbard.
Dog and knight fell backwards onto the cobbled street. Martine kicked at it, but the monster evaded her foot and leaped, pinning her arm and snapping at her face.
Your Widget will do everything it can to make you safe. If you ask it to do something dangerous, it will flash red and white, and make a small beeping sound.
Your Widget will also try to protect you from things that might hurt you. It can’t really do a lot by itself, but it wants to be really helpful, so you should teach it ways that it can help make you safer. When you’re older, you can even modify your Widget so it will be better at this!
“Alright!” said Martine. “You win!”
The light in the dog’s eyes dimmed, and the animal started to split apart from a seam right down the middle. With a loud pop, the two halves fell to each side, as a smaller, cuter dog exited the outer shell. It sat on Martine’s chest and nuzzled her chin as she laughed.
“Hello Scraps,” said Martine, rubbing his ears. “Is Amelia here?”
“Hi lady,” said a voice from the darkness. A young woman of 15 scooped up the very excited Scraps and cuddled him. “I don’t remember your name but it begins with M.”
“Martine,” said Martine, for perhaps the ninth time.
“I knew it was Martine. I was pretty sure.” Amelia put the corgi down and flapped her hands a little. “I didn’t want to say though.”
“I like the new Scraps suit,” said Martine. “I thought I’d be ready for it, but he’s really fast.”
“Yes he’s a good boy. So why are you here?”
Martine dusted herself off. “I need your help.”
“Give me your widget,” said Amelia, “and follow me.”
Martine handed a rather dead-looking widget over as agreed. Behind her, the robot corgi was putting on the suit that Martine would later learn was the “Alsatian Suit”.
Soon, all that was left on the cobbled street was a very confused horse.
MODIFYING YOUR WIDGET
When you’re a bit older, you’ll be able to start modifying your Widget. It’s very easy to do, and when you join your first Church, one of your very first lessons will show you how you can do this.
“Why change your Widget?” I hear you ask. Well, some people want their Widget to be able to do specific things, and they want to make their Widget better at those things. And sometimes they don’t need to have their Widget do other things, so those parts can be replaced.
But don’t worry. Your Widget can look and feel a lot different after modifying it, but it will still be your Widget! Just because something changes, doesn’t mean the things that made it special to you go away.
Amelia Pettengill was a scavenger. If nothing else, Martine could tell by the state of the workshop she was now in. Amelia was also a survivor. Martine could tell that by the numerous traps and escape points. This was probably not Amelia’s only hideout. The girl was used to running.
“Why did you want my widget?” asked Martine after a full five minutes of silence. Amelia had been staring at the dormant robot since entering.
“Why don’t you use it?” asked Amelia.
“I’m not an engineer. I didn’t join a church till I was sixteen, and I bypassed all the engineering classes.”
“You never learned to…” Amelia banged her fists together several times, evidently completing the question.
“No.” Martine knew Amelia’s history. The curious girl didn’t speak until she was eight, and often dropped into her nonverbal communication tricks when talking about something from that part of her life. “I never really wanted to.”
“I want to. Can I?”
Martine gestured with her hand. “Be my guest. Can we talk while you do that?”
Amelia shrugged as she worked, which Martine took as an invitation to speak.
ASKING FOR HELP
If you have more questions about Widgets, you can ask most adults. We understand that not everybody has an adult nearby, but the police station on Faraday Square has a free Widget hospital that children can use to fix their Widgets, and you can ask a question there, or at any of the three Churches.
The Church of the Flying Cog is at the end of Elizabeth Street.
The Church of the Ember Sky is next to the Harbourport Line.
The Church of the Dream of Stars is on the corner of Newton Street and Bruno Lane.
This pamphlet is brought to you by the Council of Three Churches
Rideat et Mutare Mundi
“What do you think?” asked Martine.
Martine sighed. “All those things I just talked about.”
“I wasn’t listening,” said Amelia. “But I agree.”
“Agree with what?”
“We need to defend the city.”
Martine frowned. “So you did listen…”
“We could ask Leg Man. Do you know him?”
Amelia shook her head. “No, I mean Leg Man. His name can’t begin with M because yours does.”
“I need your help, Amelia.”
Amelia smiled, and flapped just a little. “Tell me what you want me to do, and can I build a giant robot? Actually I already did, do you want to see it?”
For a second…just a second…Knight-Captain Martine Covington-White wondered just who was going to be a bigger threat to the city. And yes, she would like very much to see this robot.
Somewhere in the night sky, Alistair Gaines was screaming, but the only person that could hear him was a horse and not even a person, so his screams were ignored.