Manners and Mutiny by Gail Carriger
A ball at last! The great social event will be held at Bunson and Lacroix’s Boys’ Polytechnic and most of the girls at Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality are excited. It’s a chance to dance and flirt with a bevy of fresh meat, but what shall they wear?! Conversation turns to decolletage and endowments before Dimity and Agatha realize Sophronia has come over melancholic, mostly because of Soap, but also because of Felix. Lord Mersey, being a Bunson’s Boy, will be at the ball and that could get awkward. After the train heist several months back, Sophronia has cut off all communication with him. They are fundamentally different - he is a racist against supernaturals whose family is out to destroy the world and Sophronia loves a werewolf.
Lady Linette arrives at their table and informs the ladies that the ball is a perfect opportunity to test their intelligencer skills so they will not be attending as themselves, rather each other and marked on this assignment. Oh dear. Sophronia will be at the ball as Agatha, Agatha as Dimity, Dimity as Preshea and Preshea as Sophronia. Double oh dear.
En masse, Geraldine’s Girls descend on Bunson and Lacroix’s Boys’ Polytechnic. Emulating Agatha, Sophronia hides at the back of the room behind a fern (!!!), Agatha sparkles and garners a lot of attention with her cinched waist and abundant assets, and Dimity obviously hides a dark side with her snipes to her doting admirers. Proving her intelligence is outdated, Preshea eyes up Felix, who looks older and more tired and isn’t wearing his customary Piston kohl about his eyes either. Pillover finds Sophronia, in his words, lurking like a reluctant hedgehog and knows something is up but is not sure exactly what. While Sophronia reminds him they need to throw each other off from their pesky engagement, Dimity uses her fan to communicate that there is an enemy among them: Monique. Why is she here? From their train heist adventure, Sophronia knows that Monique, now a drone of the Westminster Vampire Hive, has been keeping tabs on the Picklemen who have been replacing the crystalline valves in mechanicals in order to control them. Now, everyone who knows there is a problem with the mechanicals is stuck waiting for something to happen.
After Sophronia instructs Pillover to go and dance with Agatha, Felix sits down next to her. He tries to persuade Sophronia that his father is working for the best interests of the Empire but Sophronia doesn’t believe that one bit. Using her own fan, Sophronia signals for extraction and it is Agatha who comes to her rescue. Proving the fern was not the hiding spot Sophronia supposed it to be, Vieve Lefoux in the guise of Bunson’s Boy Gasper Lefoux, comes sidling up, clearly seeing that Sophronia is on assignment as Agatha.
Mr. Lefoux invites his new acquaintance, Miss Temminnick, to dance. While they dance, they discuss Monique’s presence. Vieve tells Sophronia that there are other very well-dressed visitors with green bands around their hats who have been seen at the school… Picklemen! Sophronia and Vieve agree to meet an hour before dawn behind a pub called the Nib and Crinkle. Meanwhile, Dimity is surrounded by Pistons and Agatha and Pillover are dancing. They dance two more times and then Pillover hands Agatha a gift which, in a big show of flirtation, she stuffs down her bodice. This blatant show of preference allows Sophronia to cry off their engagement which she does so by a letter to him and her mother.
Back in their rooms, the girls stay up to dissect the evening. Agatha reveals the gift from Pillover was a Depraved Lens of Crispy Magnification, that Pillover has reached nefarious genius status, and the Pistons have finally stopped bothering him as everything he makes has a tendency to explode. Sophronia admits she found it difficult to be Agatha, while Agatha enjoyed being Dimity. Dimity tells her it was a pleasure to watch and gives her blessing for liking Pillover because Agatha is much better than those silly chits who follow him around. Dimity found it easy to be Preshea, and declares it an interesting place to visit but not somewhere she would like to live and offers her friends an apology for all the nasty things she said about them.
Later, outside the Nib and Crinkle, Vieve is waiting for Sophronia smelling like the bar, which is all part of her disguise if she is found out of school. Sophronia points out that Vieve is turning into a rake, which is just topping. Getting back to business, Sophronia pulls out the crystalline valve they stole from the train a few months back and asks Vieve to install it into Bumbersnoot. Sophronia would like to use Bumbersnoot as an early warning device. If Vieve can make the valve make his steam alarm sound, then Sophronia will be alerted when the Picklemen make their move. It’s a brilliant, unique challenge that may take some time, but Vieve is up for it. Before they part, Vieve tells Sophronia she saw younger Picklemen, likely Spicers, leave Bunson’s on foot shortly before her. Sophronia will need to investigate.
On her way back to the school, Sophronia spots Monique on the goat path looking up at the school through a telescope. Squinting up, Sophronia can see three shadows in top hats scrambling toward the pilot’s bubble. Picklemen are breaking into her school! The proximity alarms aren’t sounding because they were turned off since Professor Braithwope has taken to dancing along the stabilizer beam, so Sophronia will have to set the alarms off herself. Dashing out of cover toward the dirigible, Monique isn’t the only one to spot her as a Pickleman watcher steps out in front of her. As the Pickleman threatens her with his gun, a shot is fired and the Pickleman falls. Monqiue steps forward, her own freshly fired pistol in hand.
Up in the dirigible, the shot has woken some of the teachers and the Picklemen start scrambling faster. The sooties lower a rope ladder down to Sophronia and she dashes up. Since Soap left, Smokey Bones, the sooties’ cat, has been the de facto leader of the sooties, but the cat lets Handle do most of the work, point in fact when Sophronia calls for the closest alarmed hallway it is Handle who points to a door she’s never seen before. Behind, the room is filled with mechanicals and Sophronia is able to set off a cascade of alarms before using her obstructor to sneak out and head to the exterior of the dirigible, quickly making her way to the pilot’s bubble.
Sophronia quickly scrambles up and can see one of the Picklemen inside the bubble. Once they’ve got what they came for, the three intruders repel down. Sophronia tries to intercept them by swinging on her hurlie; unfortunately she is only able to kick off one of their hats and rip a satchel from their back. This is exactly when the teachers arrive. The teachers don’t listen to Sophronia and choose to believe she has concocted a wild story as to why she was caught. The sack is empty which doesn’t help her case and she can hardly admit to having been clambering about the dirigible for years without being caught and having her gadgets confiscated. The teachers won’t even entertain her request to check the pilot’s bubble. Sophronia’s punishment for her wild story and being caught out is a rigorous course in scullery duties leaving no time for her to investigate the pilot’s bubble.
Since Captain Niall is off with the werewolves, Professor Lefoux has taken over his weapons training and this time, they’re learning the crossbow! Sophronia is a natural and moves on to a heavier, more deadly crossbow straightaway. This lesson, however, is slightly different from other weapons as they shall have a “live” target: Professor Braithwope. After sunset, the eccentric vampire joins the ladies on deck and no one can hit him prancing about. Sophronia suggests a variation on the Fan and Sprinkle technique used on werewolves and produces a cream puff from a sleeve, lobbing it at Professor Braithwope who cries in distress at the puff dirtying his trouser leg. Sophronia shoots her metal bolt and the Professor reaches for a handkerchief with one hand and the bolt with the other. As that was Sophronia’s last bolt, she charges Professor Braithwope with her bladed fan, but he catches her before she can strike. He is fascinated with her neck and his fangs start to show, but luckily Professor Lefoux steps in the way. Sophronia realizes that Professor Braithwrope’s condition after the tether snap is getting worse.
Time passes and the school floats to Swiffle-on-Exe ahead of winter break. Vieve waits for Sophronia at their arranged meeting place, once again stinking of ale and carrying Bumbersnoot complete with modification. Unfortunately Vieve can’t guarantee that the valve installation will work like Sophronia wants it to as there is no way to test it. Vieve then asks Sophronia to take her aunt a rather large box, her Christmas gift, which is a questionable hat. It’s inordinately ugly and made up to look like the solar system. Thankfully, it’s not for wearing.
Later, Sophronia, Dimity and Agatha are sitting in a tea house waiting to be collected for winter break and Dimity offers for Sophronia to come with her. Agatha thinks a Christmas without family would mean blessed freedom. Instead of the usual cart being driven by Roger, a carriage pulls up and Sophronia’s sister Petunia steps down. Petunia has married well after one season to Mr. Hisselpenny, a doting husband with good income which Petunia is more than willing to spend. Sophronia is Petunia’s new shopping project and they will go to London for new outfits and Christmas shopping. The fact that Soap is in London has nothing to do with Sophronia’s excitement, not at all.
Petunia has also been charged to bring Agatha and Dimity along with her since her husband and Agatha’s father are associates. At dinner, it is revealed that Petunia is increasing, which is an excuse for Dimity to stay with them. Days are spent shopping and Sophronia is actually happy to be the recipient of her sister's attention. During one trip, Agatha has to point out to Sophronia that Petunia likes to spend time with her as not everyone has an ulterior motive like they have been taught. Suddenly there is a distraction from the front of the shop and Sophronia is left alone sure that it was purposeful. Turning, she spots a strong, well-dressed gentleman, not a dandy but definitely fashionable. It’s Soap.
Soap wants to know why Sophronia hasn’t been to visit him since slipping out of a London townhouse wouldn't be a challenge for her. Truthfully, because Soap always deserves the truth, Sophronia tells him she wasn’t sure she would be welcomed. Soap thought her preference lay with Lord Mersey but Sophronia knows Felix cannot be turned away from his Picklemen beliefs. Suddenly, Soap grabs Sophronia indecently close and whips her away to the back room of the shop. Nuzzling her ear, Soap tells her there can be no more friendship between them, that boiler is dry. While Sophronia declares there can be nothing between them, he is supernatural and she is not, Soap promises he will change her mind. Soap has another purpose for seeking Sophronia out other than smelling her and laying a kiss on her hand, though. He has an invitation to a dinner party and theatrical production with Lord Akeldama. Sophronia asks Soap if they can arrange a safe place to meet in case they are compromised. Soap is exasperated at Sophronia’s intelligencer’s way of thinking but agrees that they could always plan to meet at Regents Square an hour before dawn.
Petunia is delighted by the invitation to attend Lord Akeldama’s dinner party. Oh! They must find dresses! And accessories! Lord Akeldama is the height of fashion. When they arrive, Lord Akeldama effuses over the delightful butterflies before him and finds them matching drones as escorts for all the ladies except Sophronia, who he escorts in himself. Sophronia, it turns out, is a subject of great interest. In Lord Akeldama’s parlor, Sophronia notes that the vampire’s décor is resplendent but practical, with many of the pieces also doubling as weapons. After the short but witty play, The Importance of Wearing Ermine, an interesting assortment of dinner guests start to arrive and include the queen’s inventor, the beta of the local werewolf pack, and the dewan, minus Soap. No doubt the potentate also had a representative present. At the dinner table, Sophronia notes that Lord Akeldama has separated all of Mademoiselle Geraldine’s girls and the table is decorated in such a way that they can’t communicate with each other. Just as they are about to eat, Monique comes waltzing in.
Sophronia is forced to converse with Monique sitting opposite her and as is typical, they verbally jab at each other. Monique mentions a dirigible recently purchased by the Westminster Hive and that every drone is encouraged to learn how to fly it. Monique declares it’s not Flywaymen that concern the Hive but those who skulk behind them. This is said during a lull in conversation causing the whole table to turn to Monique who uses this as an opportunity to call out Lord Akeldama, the dewan and the London Alpha for not doing anything, but then the conversation returns to normal. Sophronia signals to Monique “what was that about?” and amazingly, Monique responds, but her hand signals lack specificity. Both then turn to listen to the conversations taking place around the table.
One conversation of note is another potential opera incident with the mechanicals. The newspaper man at the center of this tidbit mentions a wave of incidents sweeping the nation. Meanwhile, Bumbersnoot has started moving and is desperate to go for a wander, so Sophronia lets him down, sure Lord Akeldama’s drones will cope with the sausage dog fully expecting them to dress poor Bumbersnoot up. Back in Dimity’s conversation with the newspaper man, he mentions that the mechanicals are shutting down completely, not singing, then arguments and political accusations start flying involving the whole table. Sophronia supposes this is the true agenda of the Picklemen, to make the government look incompetent and their political allies rush in and save the day. Lord Akeldama stands, causing the conversation to stop, and he invites them into the drawing room where he has something interesting to show them. Sophronia, Dimity and Agatha dawdle to confer before following their host. As they reach the drawing room, a shrill whiny noise and woof sound ends in a boom and a cloud of smoke emanates from inside. Bumbersnoot!
Inside the drawing room is a tableau of chaos. In the center the parts of an unidentifiable machine are scattered everywhere and the supernatural guests are shielding some of the humans, but others are down, clothes torn and bloody. Sophronia reaches for Petunia who was shielded by the dewan, looking for Bumbersnoot amongst the melee. Petunia tells her that Lord Akeldama recently took possession of an odd mechanical he wished to show them, and in the next moment, there is a tea kettle whistle and whoosh. The young ladies help administer to the injured and even Monique joins. Sophronia checks on one guest who turned out to be Madame Spetuna who risked a lot to get information to Sophronia, including requesting this gathering. Madame Spetuna tells her that the Picklemen are building war mechanicals, which was what exploded, and the pilot technology of Mademoiselle Geraldine’s was used as a blueprint and that Sophronia needs to tell Lady Linette and make her believe her. Unfortunately, Sophronia doesn’t find Bumbersnoot, so she leaves a note requesting the return of her reticule.
Back at the Hisselpenny residence, over a game of Lou and lemonade, Sophronia, Dimity and Agatha deconstruct the evening and discuss potential action. All ladies noted that there was a Butler there who was rather suspicious, as he was particularly well armed and alert. Sophronia then excuses herself, a chimney sweep has left a calling card which is actually a message from Soap that he is waiting for her. To the sounds of her friends making kissing noises, Sophronia sneaks out.
Soap is waiting with the dewan who wants to know what Sophronia thinks about the evening. He finds her concern about the butler amusing, stating he is with him and will play nice for now, and that his former master is dead so he has cause to play nicely with queen and country. Sophronia gives the dewan her conclusion that the Picklemen are trying to discredit the supernatural set, which he considers but disagrees with, thinking it’s something more subtle and that they only need the right command center to make use of their mechanical army. The dewan informs Sophronia that Duke Golborne has been elevated to the Grand Gherkin, a Pickleman position second only to the Chutney, and says that a petty man shouldn’t be in such power. The dewan requests that Sophronia try to get information from Felix, sure her wiles will still work, while Soap growls in the background. As Sophronia heads back in, the dewan tosses her Bumbersnoot.
The remainder of the London trip is uneventful. After Christmas, the group convened at the Temminnick residence before heading back to Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality and Bunson and Lacroix’s Boys’ Polytechnic. Agatha is first to arrive and simply wishes she could disappear amongst a gaggle of siblings instead of being the sole child and constant disappointment of an overbearing father. Dimity and Pillover arrive whilst they are taking tea and soon they are off. On their return, the ladies find a Christmas card from Sidheag waiting for them in their parlor. There are no hidden messages but it’s clear she is happy in Scotland with her pack and affianced.
There is no rest for the intelligencer in training and lessons restart quickly. Sophronia tries to pass on Madame Spetuna’s message to Lady Linette but she will hear nothing of it so Sophronia decides it is time to break into the records room again that night. Dimity is reluctant but agrees to go with her and Agatha opts not to come because she prefers to sleep.
Sophronia and Dimity make their way to the records room and find it disappointedly unguarded and abandoned-looking, after their first break in why would the teachers take traps away? It is however deathly quiet and as soon as Sophronia starts up the machine, she realizes it is likely to cause the teachers to come running within 20 minutes, so they have to be quick. With Dimity on time check, Sophronia cranks the machine to life. After some time, Sophronia locates Madame Spetuna’s record and learns that her real name is Lavish Vivita and she has been indentured to the school and showing consistent results over two decades of service. The last note was from three months ago noting that she is missing and presumed lost. Dimity calls time, so Sophronia hides her search, but as they leave, they find Lady Linette, Professor Lefoux and Professor Braithwope sitting in the hallway playing cards.
Sophronia and Dimity have to wait for the teachers to play their hand before Lady Linette dispenses punishment, but they finally learn that they are forbidden to attend the upcoming new year celebration and will instead look after Professor Braithwope during the event. Back in their rooms, Sophronia points out something curious. Lady Linette didn’t ask what they were looking for in the record room… Sophronia then asks Dimity what records she looked at and her response is: Sophronia’s, Agatha’s, Monique's and her own of course, and she tried for Sidheag's, but hers was not there.
Dimity learned that the teachers think she is better than she thinks she is. Monique's files had a lot of information about her Hive, and Sophronia's indicate what she expected, that the teachers recommend she be an independent intelligent but know she has made a promise to indenture to the dewan. Agatha’s file was the most interesting and said that she had dealings with Lord Akeldama before, and there was a note that said they think she is running a long-form field operation. Huh. Is Agatha that good?
It’s now New Year's Eve and Sophronia and Dimity are well situated with Professor Braithwope on his private balcony watching the festivities. Even Bumbersnoot is enjoying the spectacle dressed for the occasion in a black cravat. After they watch the Bunson’s Boys board, Sophronia and Dimity try to chivvy Professor Braithwope inside when Handle appears on the outside of the balcony with a message for Sophronia that someone is waiting for her down on the ground. Swinging down, Sophronia lands in Soap’s arms.
After Soap steals some very passionate kisses, Sophronia finds out he is there without the dewan’s knowledge and being aided by Vieve who steps out from the shadows. Sophronia is angry that Soap is risking so much when it is the full moon the next night, so he better have a bloody good reason to endanger himself other than declarations of love. Oh he does. Picklemen have infiltrated the school disguised as Bunson’s Boys! This actually doesn’t assuage Sophronia and they begin to bicker and the high emotions paired with the nearness of the full moon sparks Soap’s change. Vieve pulls out a blunderbuss and shoots him, surrounding him in a silver net which stops the change. For medicinal purposes, Vieve suggests that Sophronia kiss Soap. In the meantime the school has started to drift and so they scramble to get Sophronia aboard. After Sophronia gets back to Professor Braithwope’s room, she and Dimity decide to sneak to the tea party because they have Picklemen to find!
The tea party is in full swing. Sophronia and Dimity spot Agatha and Pillover conversing rather intently, then Agatha spots them and signals to them. The signals make no sense, though, so exacerbated, Agatha and Pillover dance their way over. Pillover had told Agatha about the Picklemen infiltration already, and unfortunately the cads have made their way into the school. Felix wanders over then to flirt, and also mock. He spitefully teases Sophronia about knowing what the Picklemen are up to before wandering off. Suddenly the proximity alarm goes off.
Mademoiselle Geraldine tells the room to remain calm and sends the teachers to investigate the alarm while she stays behind. Unfortunately, Mademoiselle Geraldine spots Sophronia trying to sneak out, then the whole dirigible shudders and lists. With orders to stick to your tea, Geraldine’s Girl’s and Bunson’s Boys try to maintain decorum, but the school has started to sink and anything that could move about does until the school crashes to the moor. Lady Linette returns, declares that they were attacked by Flywaymen and that they are to evacuate to Bunson and Lacroix’s Boys’ Polytechnic. Quick! Grab the cakes!
Suddenly, Professor Braithwope dashes through the dining room holding the sighting bolt for the military mechanicals on deck. Darn, they’d forgotten about him. With orders to leave the ship, en masse, the students and teachers head out, but Mademoiselle Geraldine remains, stating she never leaves the ship. Sophronia asks Lady Linette if she may return, worried about Picklemen aboard, sooties repairing gas leaks, a roving vampire and their clueless and tipsy headmistress. Reluctantly and with stipulations, Lady Linette agrees.
Informing her friends about what she is going to do and that they aren’t to accompany her, Sophronia tells them she needs them to help keep Soap safe and get word to the dewan. At this point, Agatha confesses that she can help with that because she has been working for Lord Akeldama the entire time they’ve been at the school. Nicely done. Quietly making her way back to the downed dirigible, Sophronia watches the greasers and sooties at work. There doesn’t appear to be that much damage. As three big airships speed toward them, Sophronia realizes that the Picklemen didn’t want to get rid of the school, they wanted to steal it.
The Picklemen take the ship, threatening and in one case killing a sootie who tried to escape. Sophronia manages to sneak aboard through the kitchen and enter the school proper. It is disconcertingly quiet as she weighs her options with Lady Linette’s lessons ringing through her head and the feeling of the dirigible beginning to float. First thing's first, she must assess the situation. Sophronia finds the hold full of giant gargoylesque mechanimals, and making her way to the boiler room, she finds the sooties being worked like slaves. Sophronia then checks the teachers rooms and takes whatever useful weapons she can find, including a wicker chicken which explodes.
In the dining hall, Sophronia spots the bulk of the Picklemen. The head table is set with food before a portly man with a large beard sporting a green ribboned top hat that is taller and shinier than the others. This must be The Chutney. Amongst the Flywaymen is Madame Spetuna. Is she a traitor or infiltrator? Continuing to the record room, Sophronia notes an increased number of mechanicals so getting there takes longer than usual. Inside she finds a Picklemen taking copious notes and a deep voiced Picklemen shouting for the notetaker to hurry up. Sophronia needs to be careful as she follows him to the administration room.
Sophronia presses her hearing trumpet to the door and hears Mademoiselle Geraldine and Professor Braithwope inside. Now that Sophronia knows all the players, she can start to plan. Heading to Lady Linette’s classroom, Sophronia stages a dramatic scene where she looks regal and guileless while playing the harp (dreadfully it should be said) for the notetaker to find her. It works a treat! The poor Pickleman is no match for Sophronia as society dictates he must be polite and so she is able to confuse him with fripperies, drama and a wicker chicken and then knock him out and tie him up. Once he is hidden under a piano, Sophronia grabs her prizes, his notebook and Professor Braithwope’s sighting bolt, and heads to find her next victim, Deep Voice.
Posing as a maid bearing refreshments, Sophronia enters Deep Voice’s room, spotting Mademoiselle Geraldine tied up and Professor Braithwope caged, injured and naked. Hang on, Mademoiselle Geraldine is far too calm to be an unknowing headmistress tied to a chair… She’s been in on the true purpose of the school all along! Dropping her act, Sophronia readies her weapons and when the moment presents itself, she sprays acid at Deep Voice, and as he paws at his face, Sophronia presses her bladed fan to his neck. Mademoiselle Geraldine, who has been free for quite some time, then frees Professor Braithwope and they all enjoy a light repast. When the Professor is full and healed, he throws his leftovers out the window.
After Professor Braithwope bops another Pickleman who came knocking on the administration room door, Sophronia shows her Headmistress and the Professor where their prisoners can be hidden, trussed up under a balcony. Secured in Sophronia’s private room, the three make plans to take back the dirigible. Professor Braithwope and Mademoiselle Geraldine will secure the pilot's bubble and squeak deck while Sophronia will liberate the dining hall with help of the wicker chicken.
The next evening, with the school over half way to London, they set off to take back the school. Sophronia heads to the dining hall to find Flywaymen, Picklemen and Madame Spetuna surrounding the Chutney. When the older intelligencer spots Sophronia, she indicates the explosive nature of the wicker chicken in her hands. Madame Spetuna tries to offer a distraction indicating for Sophronia to remain hidden, and as she sneaks out, Sophronia leaves the chicken in Madame Spetuna’s capable hands. The older intelligencer makes a grab for it and sacrifices herself in the explosion. Sophronia is thrown from the dirigible, glass and shrapnel everywhere, and as she dangles from the ship by her hurlie she instinctively set off, the world fades to black.
Sophronia wakes in a great deal of pain and somehow climbs to Sister Mattie’s balcony but passes out again. She is woken some time later by Bumbersnoot making a loud whistling noise. The Picklemen have activated the valves! Handle bursts open the balcony door and drags her inside. Mademoiselle Geraldine is also there, lying prone having taken a bullet to the calf while Professor Braithwope is asleep in the potting shed. Once Handle doctors Sophronia, updates are provided on what transpired in their tasks. Next, Sophronia will have to liberally use Mademoiselle Geraldine's fake pastries, which turn out to be explosives, to take out the rest of the Picklemen. The only thing they can do is to crash the school before reaching London because the Picklemen have already started to take over the mechanicals, and once in the capital, they will deploy the mechanimals in the hold.
Before heading out to crash the ship, Sophronia spots a small airship following them and suspects it’s her friends. Sending a message via crossbow bolt to meet at the Soapy entrance, she watches the other airship dip down. It’s them! Now Sophronia and the others have to get down to the hatch. They liberate the sooties and, with a tiny invading army, the boiler room is taken. Outside in the airship, Sophronia finds Dimity and Agatha with Monique at the helm and Felix manning the boiler.
Quickly the sooties scramble to the smaller ship followed by Mademoiselle Geraldine who declares Sophronia properly Finished. Dimity declares that she will stay with her but Sophronia has an important job for her to do. Dimity needs to get the word out about the Picklemen and the mechanicals, so she hands over the notes she took from the Pickleman tied to the piano. With a carpet bag full of “options” Monique joins Sophronia. She's dreamed of taking down the school, so here's her chance.
As they head to the squeak deck to set off the soldier mechanicals, Sophronia and Monique take out the lamps, filling the hallways with gas. Once there Sophronia takes out the key Mademoiselle Geraldine gave her and activates the mechanicals who come rolling out on deck. Taking the sighting crossbow, Sophronia fires at one of the balloons and her second bolt goes into the back section of the ship. Suddenly the Chutney and Grand Gherkin appear on deck with their bully boys. A fight ensues as the ship bobs, sways and explodes around them. As the Picklemen start going down, Monique pulls two parachutes from her carpet bag handing one to Sophronia. Monique jumps from the deck, meanwhile the Chutney and Grand Gherkin are scrambling to snatch Sophronia’s parachute and fighting each other off for it. Suddenly Professor Braithwope jumps down, feral with bloodlust, and sucks the Chutney's blood while Sophronia kicks at the Grand Gherkin before diving from the ship herself, the school split and burning above her.
After the crash, the werewolves reach the site first and sort the Picklemen into three batches: dead, not dead and snack-sized. Conveniently one Picklemen turned ghost and was willing to cooperate. Soap turns up but can’t find Sophronia’s scent, and becoming convinced something happened to her, he dashes off to their assigned meeting space. Mademoiselle Geraldine along with Dimity, Agatha, Felix and the sooties, land in the hive airship and the headmistress starts directing operations. The Grand Gherkin survived and was taken into custody. Sophronia who landed in someone’s garden atop a box of sprouts makes the long walk to Regents Square but doesn’t arrive before dawn. Soap finds her, half asleep under a bush.
Soap transforms from his wolf form and they share kisses and declarations, and Sophronia realizes that it’s always been Soap in her heart, social differences be damned. Soap also points out he never asked for marriage, and they both think that lovers living in sin has a nice ring to it. As dawn approaches they realize they must seek shelter and the nearest and best option is Lord Akeldama’s. The vampire himself opens his front door and welcomes them both in, only slightly pleased that Soap is handsome and naked. Directing them to a large drawing room and the care of his drone Pilpo, Lord Akeldama retires for the day.
Pilpo takes very good care of Sophronia, supplying a place to rest, food, a doctor, a bath and best of all, tea. Once set to rights, Sophronia reenters the drawing room and finds Dimity, Agatha, Lady Linette, Sister Mattie, Pillover, several sooties and Smokey Bones the cat. Pillover will be moving up to Reprobate Genius for helping Lady Linette and Sister Mattie escape from Bunson’s. Sophronia explains what happened aboard the school and apologizes to Lady Linette and Sister Mattie about the school’s loss, but no matter, Mademoiselle Geraldine has a bee in her bonnet about starting a school for underprivileged boys and training them to be physicians, so the rest of the teachers will go off to their own occupations.
Eventually Monique stops by bringing the morning paper. The leading article is about the Picklemen engaging in treason and there is now public outcry against mechanicals. Before taking her leave, Monique stares at Lady Linette until eventually her old teacher declares her Finished, not that it matters anymore. She also declares Dimity and Agatha Finished too.
Mademoiselle Geraldine adopted Handle and they emigrated to America where Handle became a very well respected and rich physician. Lady Linette opened an acting school in London. Sister Mattie set up shop in a seaside resort. Vieve graduated Bunson’s to distinction, moved back to France, attended University and set up a shop with her aunt. Professor Lefoux was seen on occasion returning to Dartmoor where there were rumors of an eccentric hermit who liked to dance with the rabbits. Meanwhile, while they wait for Soap to be trained, Sophronia is to be installed with a respectable family to look out for a baby who inherited the mechanical patents that certain unsavory Italians are showing a bit too much interest in. After the Picklemen treason, all mechanicals were destroyed with the exception of Bumbersnoot who was gifted to Queen Victoria and became the Royal Alarm Dog. Rumor is he is still wandering about the palace shedding small ash piles.