Tweet Selina Mothshaw sat at a heavy oak table in the Vertigo Central Library. The book in front of her lay open at a chart. Dense text covered the page around the graph. Selina tried to read the opening sentence for the sixteenth time.
“Quantum steam theory can, in effect, be described as the optimum state in which all matter resides, such matter being defined as that which is existent within the ordinary spectrum of reality as it is laid out in the Principles of Rumbaud, chapter 4, sub-section 23, paragraph 14. Quantum steam theory is to be applied to all such questions of existence as can be most commonly considered by the thoughtful member of Vertigan society. The theory...”
She pushed the book away. Selina tried to remember what prompted her to choose quantum steam theory when her classmates opted for molecular physics or steam philosophy. Her father's words echoed in her head, telling her that a quantum steam theory qualification could net her a job with the Weimar Corporation’s research division. Selina didn't want to be a steam theorist, but without a viable alternative, she had little choice but to follow her father's advice.
Selina stood up and paced around the table. No one else sat in this section, and the librarians had already cleared away the books and papers left by other students. Her footsteps echoed around the vaulted room, the sound of hob-nailed boots on polished wood sounding like an army on patrol.
Selina looked at her college work. The books lay unread, and doodles of automatons and weaponry cover her ledger. Selina thought she might apply for an internship with Weimar's arms division.
Selina wandered away from the table. A map of the library tacked to a bookcase caught her eye. According to the diagram, the section on weaponry lay at the very back of this floor. She pulled the map from the tacks.
Selina slipped between the stacks into the next reading area. A huge map of Vertigo City lay on the table. Hand-painted monsters lurked in the river, and pencil marks traced a route around Justice Park. A book on anatomy weighted down one corner. Selina wondered if another student was researching the Meat Beast.
She left the map behind and walked among the high shelves. She peeked into another reading area. Four boys sat around a table, flicking wads of chewed up paper at each other. A fifth boy sat apart, attempting to concentrate on a thick book bound in green leather. The other four boys ignored him.
Selina consulted the map. The weaponry section lay around the corner. Her route took her into a narrow corridor. The ceiling dipped, and wooden floorboards gave way to bare flagstones. A damp chill hung in the air. Selina shivered. Selina thought of her quantum steam theory homework, and considered heading back to the reading area. Half of an equation floated through her mind, and she grimaced. She ventured further into the depths of the library.
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