Men of Bronze

Chapter II

e to all try every sort of drink the merchant had on tap. It was well into the night when our pockets ran dry and we all stumbled our way back the steam-crawlers and bronze-men to find Derek waiting for us, with tents set up for our rest.

I slept on the crawler, for the metal sheet around my bed made me feel sturdy and safe as if I were back home on the farmstead. Thinking more about the events of the last day I reflected that I may be headed into quite some danger. For I know I have little experience if any in the likes of war and policing, but if the King demands it I shall abide.

I was awoken by Jarvis early the next morning with the moon still watching from above. It was apparent that the group had been waiting for me as I was led by him to a small wooden dugout nearby. I walked up to the others who where huddled around a map marked with Dunn and its surrounding roads and lands.

”Here to the east, ” said Amelia pointing at the map. ”the locals said they saw some bronze-men walking along the ridge here and here. ”

”That must be where the Order of Gilton is hiding out, ” said Officer Derek. ”If we head out right now we should be able to reach them by sunrise. ”

Following the others even in my stupor we made it back to our camp just outside the dugout. I checked the gauges and systems of the crawler whilst the others milled about their duties and planning.

Within the next five minutes we were off, back through the gate and riding far east on a road much like the one we had arrived on. There was a difference though, that being in the presence of numerous caravans heading both west and east beside us. These were large caravans made up of six to eight men each riding mules, dragging carts along the road making way as they heard our approach. Every now and then we would come upon anorther pair of steam-crawlers with crews similar to our own who we would have to dodge, always taking left as they took theirs.

The moon had disappeared almost entirely as the towering ridges of the distant hills become known to us. They where made of dark red clay stacked high on the lower stone ridge of the mountain range from the north. It was not difficult climbing the ridge as our road cut right trough it. The path now was dark even with the sun peaking up from the west as the ridge blocked what little light came over us. It was hard for me to see ahead at all but Cambry and Amelia must have traveled these roads before as they made quick work of the soft turns and sharp inclines of the road before us.

By the time we reached the top the sun was fully visible above the horizon, now washing us in an unhindered light and warmth not felt down in the narrows we had left. We slowed to a stop at the next fork in the road where we pulled off to the side. Officer Derek dismounted his crawler walking up to my own at a frantic pace.

”Im sorry Deckard but you shouldn expect too much training, I saw the glints of some bronze-men from that ridge higher up to the north and I highly doubt they
e friendly. ”

”What do you mean training, ” I said. ”Ive already been repairing the hydraulics, steam-gauges and systems just fine, I am a mechanic after-all. ”

Derek looked to me with a rather guilty expression before pulling Franke over to talk to me.

”We need you to man one of the bronze-men, Amelia and Cambery are the crawler operators and have to stay here in case we need to retreat back down the ridge. Don worry though, its really intuitive these days and Im sure these Giltons won be too much for Jarvis, Darek, and I to handle alone. ”

The two led me to the second bronze-man on my crawler. Cambry began spinning a flux on the dashboard and with a hiss of hot air, the grinding of the latch, and a few sparks the back of the bronze-man crept open before me.

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