Sky Watcher And The Angel is the twenty-fifth chapter in Gunnerkrigg Court. It starts .
The chapter begins with a conversation between Sky Watcher, a tiny robot resembling a praying mantis who records meteorological data, and Robot. Robot asks Sky Watcher if, while recording data, he has ever seen an angel. Sky Watcher replies that the question is ridiculous. Robot asks him what he would say if Robot told him that he knew of a place where an angel watched over a shrine, and Sky Watcher replies that he would believe Robot to be insane. Unperturbed, Robot asks him what he would say if Robot said the name Jeanne, to which Sky Watcher responds, "She died and we did nothing."
Robot tells Sky Watcher to follow him and moves through the Court. On the way, Shadow 2 asks him if he should be calling Kat an angel, as 'Kat is just Kat'. Robot responds that he is sure that she is angelic, because the only one chosen to guard Jeanne's tomb would be an angel. At the warehouse where Kat now works, Robot and Kat talk about Robot's new body, which Kat warns him to take care of, since it is only made of spare parts. When Kat meets Sky Watcher, she is intrigued by him as she has never seen a robot like him. Kat examines him briefly and sends him off to see Jeanne's painting with Robot.
Robot takes Sky Watcher to the entrance of Jeanne's shrine and tells him he must enter alone. Sky Watcher does so, before flying out of the warehouse with no warning or goodbye.
Annie turns up and asks Kat why two people would deny their love for each other, because Parley and Andrew are no longer speaking, though it is obvious that they harbor desire for one another. Kat muses that love makes people act in strange ways, but Annie says that she thought love was meant to be a good thing.
Soon afterward, they hear music and an entourage of robots arrive, along with Sky Watcher and a strange robot with a crown. Robot King draws a face on his own face with a marker and asks if Kat is the angel who guards Jeanne's tomb, and Kat corrects him, giving her name and saying that it's a painting, not a tomb. Robot King demands to see the tomb.
After seeing the painting, Robot King emerges and draws a crying face on his own. He asks Kat if she can help him, as there is a problem that robot society has not been able to solve, and they feel she can provide an answer. Kat agrees to help if Annie can come, which Robot King agrees to. On the way, Annie asks a music-playing robot why he can only play random notes, and he tells her that he never actually learned to play.
On the way, Annie notices the symbol of a Tic Toc at the top of a banner carried by another robot. She asks the robot holding the banner what it is. The robot says that Tic Tocs are mythical creatures said to be older than the Court, supposedly created by a divine being as a guardian- but not created by Diego. They enter a strange room which holds the only known collection of Diego's original work before the discovery of Jeanne's tomb, and the Robot King leads them to a robot which is the last remaining model with an intact memory. He asks it to show them what it recorded.
In a flashback, Diego fusses over the newly-created robot and presents it to Jeanne as a gift. Jeanne sits on a windowsill, depressed. Diego gives her the robot to keep her company and asks her if she is sad again. Jeanne responds that she is sad because ever since Coyote divided the forest and the Court, the humans have been cutting down all the trees on their side. Diego responds heatedly that the animals are razing the buildings on their side. Jeanne asks what they will have when the trees are gone, and Diego says they will have a safer, better life. Jeanne calls the Court a prison, and Diego asks rhetorically, 'Who needs the trees and animals of the forest!' He tells Jeanne he will make her more companions, and he has instructed all he has made to love her as much as he does.
Diego says that Jeanne need never think of 'him' again, but Jeanne, now furious, orders him to leave. Diego protests that he loves her, but Jeanne, enraged, sweeps the robots he made for her off the shelves, destroying them. She hurls the camera robot to the floor. Later, Diego asks 'How could she?' to himself and angrily repeats that Jeanne loves 'a traitor' instead of him.
In a meeting, accompanied by the camera robot, Diego greets Sir Young with a strange arrow he made. Steadman takes up the arrow and says that it will be fine for the task at hand. An unknown individual calls the plan 'abhorrent' and leaves in disgust, but Sir Young calls the assembled group to order, saying that they have to fortify the Annan Waters to protect the Court. Another unknown individual protests weakly about the one they chose as the 'sacrifice', but Diego insists that it has to be Jeanne.
Jeanne protests to Diego that she doesn't want to go to the Annan Waters and begs Diego to intercede on her behalf, but he says that he can do nothing for her. He comments that 'it didn't have to be this way' and suspiciously, Jeanne asks him what part he had to play as the camera fades to black.
Late at night, Sir Young comments that the time is right and tells Steadman to 'ready the device'. Carrying the arrow, Steadman walks to the edge of the cliff overlooking the river and fires the arrow directly down. Sir Young asks him if he hit the target, to which Steadman replies, 'Of course'. Sir Young says that they must destroy all evidence of the plan.
Years later, a grey-haired Diego lies in bed. He protests that he had no choice and that Sir Young made him devise the plan. He cries that Jeanne was all alone when she died, 'And I did nothing'. He calls out to 'my children', revealed to be the robots he built, and removes his glasses before dying.
Back in the present, Robot King asks Annie and Kat why Diego condemned Jeanne even though he loved her. Annie and Kat are reduced to tears.
The chapter ends with Sky Watcher's internal monologue. He tells us that after weeping, Kat finally answered that Diego was not a nice man, and that 'love makes you act in strange ways'. Sky Watcher says that robots are continually analysing her words, though they can only hope to understand. However, they feel closer to understanding the reasons for their creation. Sky Watcher concludes that while he continues his task, he has added a new metric, as the number of angels he has seen is now one, and he will keep watch for more.
Characters introduced in this chapter
Notes and Trivia
- Tom's retrospective video for this chapter is here.
- Right after this chapter, on page there's a drawing of Gamma comforting Zimmy with the text "Another year".