Men of Bronze

Chapter VI

Early the next morning before the sun had climbed the mountains I set off back towards the crawlers with Amelia and Cambry loaded on the back of my bronze-man in place of the supplies. We were not long across the rocky path before the sound of yells could be heard in the distance, at first I could not discern its direction from inside the cockpit but Cambery soon called to me that she heard yells from behind us.

At once I let the two down to return to the crawlers alone before I piloted the bronze-man back to camp as fast as I could turn the thing. I entered a panic, without Derek or Jarvis we would be left without command or knowledge of the surrounding area. Let alone what terrible things could be happening to them with all the commotion.

By the time I returned the commotion had stopped and all that was left were two torn open bronze-men with no sign and either knight. What had happened I could only guess. I was rather grateful to not find molten piles of bronze again, but where they could have been taken I did not know. My only hope at that moment was for their well being but I soon grew concerned for my own course of action, for if they were taken there was no saying how long they had.

I searched the camp a while longer, soon finding a track of thin indents on the rock and earth leading away from the camp like little incisions one would find in a nail-board. Following them I found myself at what looked to be the entrance of a cave.

I stepped forth into the cave hearing the tipping and tapering of water drops upon my chambers metal roof. The stalagmites of the cavern became ever more numerous as I proceeded only adding to the onrush of taps. The cave soon became a square tunnel illuminated by lanterns hung from dark rotting support beams of wood and mortar. I followed the tunnel for some time before coming to a wide open chamber, this chamber lacked the stalagmites and old wooden supports, rather having fresh wooden supports with the same lanterns hung from them as before.

The sound of the droplets had been replaced with the deafening screech of metal grinding stone. The noise filled the chamber with an echo drowning out even the engine not a foot away from me.

On the opposing wall stood a passageway to which I could barely fit. I had to lean the machine forward as far as it could go just to not grind the head of the visor of the bronze-man against the ceiling of the passage. Slowing down even further I came to the end of the passage where an even greater chamber stood. At the edge of this passage I peeked around the corner revealing as little of my machine as I could.

Before me were a pair of massive iron-head drills cutting away at the east wall of the structure. These drills moved slowly pulling the stone away like a curtain, revealing a large tin hand set into the stone of the mountain itself. What this hand could be a part of I could only imagine but I could recall Jarviss words about the Veelagoth leaving me to do northing but shudder at the thought. On the other side of the room sat a group of four men huddled around a table which seemed to be a repurposed workbench surrounded by old tools and faded bronze-men parts. Beside them two small mechanical beasts like I had never seen, both being low to the ground and with many legs crawling about like spiders whilst they circled a pile of fresh wooden supports laid down on the ground between them. I grew worried for where were Jarvis and Derek?

I ducked back into the tunnel in the hopes that no one had seen me and to think carefully about my course of action. I desperately wanted to go back to Cambry and Amelia but without information regarding Derek or Jarvis and with only one bronze-man there was little they could do. It was evident that the longer I waited the more likely it was for me to be found out. I had to choose, either attempt a diplomatic approach or go in swinging.

Covered by the noise of the drilling I tapped the side of the tunnel wall as best I could as to make a small yet repetitive sound that would echo throughout the chamber beyond.

A minute or so later one of the spider-machines crawled forth into the tunnel twisting its grotesque head as it passed. It was then I struck grabbing a rock from the ground before pulling the arm gauge with all my might, striking and striking again the metallic beast until it was northing but scrap. This made quite the noise and I knew all would now know of my presence. The other abomination of legs and coils turned the corner much like the first and in the narrow confines of the passage I yet again smashed it to bits. Only this time it was followed by four men, two armed with hand muskets and the others with rifles of a model I had never before seen.

”Freeze, ” Shouted one the men who wore a black bowler cap. ”You may not know it yet but these babies can rip right through that armor of yours and I recommend you come out now with your life. ”

I froze not knowing what to do. After a moments consideration I pulled a lever and with a hiss of steam the hatch on the back of the bronze-man crept open. I was soon helped down by the two men with hand muskets with quite some force. After escorting me to the drilling area I could now see more clearly, the wood was not stacked as arbitrarily as I had once thought, it had been placed in such a way as to wall off a small interior. I was bound in a mechanical device with my arms forced behind my back and my wrists locked into a machine which ticked just loud enough to hear over the noise of the rock being ground to dust at the end of the room.

One of the two men then pushed with quite some force as to create a crack in the wall and let me into the wood pile before closing it behind me. It was rather dark in the pile with almost no light making it through the upper cracks. The noise of ticking now echoed throughout the room to a maddening extent. As I adjusted myself against the stone floor of my prison I accidentally nudged what felt like a leg.

”Jarvis leave me be. ” said a voice in the dark.

”I haven done a thing. ” called out anorther.

”Jarvis, Derek? Is it really you? ” I cried.

”Deckard! ” said them both in unison.

I caught them up on the events of my arrival and they informed me of how they had been jumped by the spider-machines at camp without warning. They were both quite happy to hear that they wouldn have to worry about them ever again. But despite the reunion the topic soon came to the machines on our arms and the circumstances of our escape.

I knew northing of the contraptions which bound us and neither did the others. It wasn much easier in the dark but what I could not fathom was the reason for that blasted tiking. Tik tik went the devices on and on with no feeling or sensation both inside and out. More maddening still was the query of its purpose other than the noise itself. Why not tie us up with rope or use normal cuffs instead, why such a machine as this?

”Enough of this, ” said Derek. ”The others most likely won be coming and there is no use sitting here like lambs awaiting slaughter. ”

There was a moments pause before the noise of metal smashing stone broke the air. Then screams, a screaming like I had never heard before, worse than the muffled screams of Franke burned into my brain, like the shrill cry of a beast drawing its last breath. It was followed by more and more screams, like the drilling and the tiking it never ended, joining their chorus knocking about my head.

I then felt a jab like a plank of wet wood prodding my side again and again until the wetness had covered me. More and more until I realized it was the stub of Dereks arm, cut clean off by the machine. It must have been rigged to chop at his wrists upon any tampering.

I recoiled in disgust, there was northing I could do for the man but listen as he continued his screams. They only stopped when I presumed he had bleed out as the floor was now wet with his blood. Throughout all of this Jarvis said northing.

And like that it stayed for a long while, with the both of us sitting in the silence of the tiking and drilling alike.

点击屏幕以使用高级工具 提示:您可以使用左右键盘键在章节之间浏览。

You'll Also Like