Men of Bronze

Chapter VII

For however long we mourned him it did not matter as the issue of our own escape was still at hand. I still could not figure a method for either the removal of the machines that bound us or our escape from the wood pile after.

”Jarvis, what should we do? ” I asked.

I was met with mumbling and the continuation of his heavy breathing, it had become obvious he would be of little aid at the moment so I then turned to what we could use in the confines of the wood pile. The only thing coming to mind being Dereks now silent cuffing machine.

I inched my way about the space, pushing with my legs and feeling around the darkness with my hands behind my back. After passing over one of his hands and almost puking myself I came upon the machine. It had gone silent just as I had heard and I felt no motion within so I grabbed it and began lifting it up and dropping it from as high up as my binds would allow.

It was slow work as I did not wish to trigger my own cuff machine but soon the metal clang, drowned out by the drills, came with a pop. The casing of the machine had finally come off, probably thanks in part to the initial strike upon it by Derek.

I felt around the inside of the box, learning the mechanisms and attempting to identify the parts to the best of my ability. They seemed to all be standard measurements like the parts one would find back on my farm and all over Jamin.

It took quite some time, how long I do not know but eventually I understood the mechanism enough to attempt my own escape. From the function of the blades in the machine it would seem that the tiks where a pressure gauge checking that the salients arms were still bound. Activating blades to cut into them if the pressure had increased or decreased to any measurable degree. It also seemed that with enough force right in between the tiks one could pull their arms out if they were quick enough.

Of this I was sure so I began to build courage for the attempt. I counted the tiks: one, two, three, four, and on five I pulled with all my might as soon after as I could manage. And like that my arms where free with the sound of the blades hitting the metal walls of the machine making but a hollow peep. I caught my breath and attempted to calm myself, I was drenched in blood and sweat and I had much to do to achieve my escape.

I was sure that with my background in mechanics I could make a weapon of some sort out of the parts in front of me and kill everyone in the cavern, but it would probably be best to just fight my way out as to live and return anorther day. Before any of that though I tried to help the now calmer Jarvis out of his own binds.

”One, two three, four, Five! ” I said.

He still did not pull his arms out, he was shaking and obviously more scared than I about the whole situation. We instead did it that I would hold the machine from behind, sliding it off as hard as I could after the fifth tick which I counted in my head. He screamed his head off for a moment and my heart sank. But he soon stopped, it had been a success and the blades had clicked in my hands a moment after I had removed it. With all the thanks in the world Jarvis hugged me and snapped out of his daze.

”Whats the plan for getting us out of here? ” he asked.

”Don you outrank me, I mean I have some ideas but what do you think we should do? ”

”Rank doesn matter right now, besides you
e the one who got me out of that thing. ”

I explained that I could try and scrap together some weapons out of the parts we now had in the woodpile and that we should probably try and fight our way out as quick as we could. He liked the idea and I set to work with his help.

I called out parts in the dark, which he knew little about but with some time we soon had a rhythm of popping open the cuff machines and dismantling them, laying their components as neatly as we could manage on the blood soaked ground. Despite all of this I still could not figure out what I would construct, thought I knew the blades would come in handy.

I decided to make an improvised rotational short-sword, a weapon with two parallel blades which would revolve around each other at a great speed as to easily cut through muscle and flesh. With the remaining parts Jarvis was able to assemble a makeshift Gilton spring blade which he strapped under his left arm. We then strapped the machine-cuff casings around our chests and back to form an armor of sorts before doing some final tests on the items we had scrapped together. I guessed the work we had done would be enough but that the weapons would probably break down quite quickly in actual combat, we would have to hope for a quick getaway.

I made an attempt at pushing the wood on the opposite side from where we had entered but to no avail, the structure seemed to have been put together in a rather lopsided way leaving a large pile of unmovable wood on the opposing side. This left only the side from which I had been inserted from, where I assumed we would be watched. I slowly slid a piece of the wood on that side creating an opening just big enough to peer through before looking out to scope out our surroundings. On the outside there was still the noise of the drills yet they were not in view, the lanterns still lit the chamber and the table across from us had three of the four men seated at it. They appeared to be huddled around a deck of cards and coalatik chips whilst speaking to each other, hushed under the ever present drill.

I reported all of this back to Jarvis who hatched up a plan, we would push through the wall and catch them by surprise. That way we would have the best chance against their muskets and rifles as they would have to fight us in close quarters. The plan was set, Jarvis and I angled ourselves against the pile of wood and on the count of three we then pushed it with all our might. Scraping it against the stone floor just enough for me to run out and for Jarvis to follow behind me.

I turned a dial on my blade and it began to hum and circle itself as I approached the first of the men whos back was turned to me and who was still sitting down. The other two however saw me and soon the men turned to frenzy, stumbling over each other whilst attempting to get up from the table and reach for their guns. By the time I got to the first of them he had just barely gotten his hand-musket out before I sent my blade into the forearm holding it. It ground away the muscle making his wrist go limp and his grip loosen enough to let his weapon fall to the floor. I then sent the blade into his chest which ripped a hole large enough to see through. As I pulled the weapon out the blades had broken off and the mechanism had most likely shattered within.

Whilst this happened Jarvis went for the man armed with the rifle, taking him out with his spinning blade in much the same way and to the same effect. This left a single man across the table from us with his hand-musket drawn and pointed at me, he fired a shot which rang true and I soon felt a popping sensation as the shot blew through my right arm. This was a poor choice of target on his part as within the same second Jarvis pushed the table into him with such a force as to knock him over. Once he was on the ground Jarvis flipped his hidden blade finishing the job where I could not see.

We took a moment to compose ourselves after the fight and gathered their weapons for ourselves, I took a hand musket and Jarvis took the rifle, he then ripped the shirt off one of our victims as to wrap up my wound and put pressure on it.

”It doesn look too deep, ” said Jarvis. ”Im sure this will be enough for now and we can get you fully checked out back at Dunn. ”

The pain I felt in that moment was akin to a thousand stings upon my muscle where the flesh had once been. Since lifting up my right arm was now an impossibility I opted to use my left to carry the hand musket.

The both of us made our approach to the tunnel as quickly as we could manage and turned the corner into the lantern lit passage. We froze, a large stone had been placed in the way of the exit tunnel leaving no gap larger than a half square foot. Before us was not only the two crushed spider-machines I had destroyed but also my bronze-man, fully running and now turned towards us. Upon noticing us it began to march, with footsteps deafened by the drilling but felt through the shake of the rock and earth beneath us.

The lumbering figure now paced with increasing speed until it was moving towards us as fast it could manage. Jarvis fired a shot off at its core only for it to ricochet like a flicker off the armor into the lantern lit wall beside it. I dropped my arm and made a break for it, grabbing him away from the tunnel and to the more open and maneuverable chamber from which we came.

Why the rifle didn pierce I did not know but I came to suspect I had been duped. It did not matter now however for we were now trapped and would most surely die. We retreated back behind the wood pile for a moment until the bronze-man approached yet again, turning the corner with a large stone in hands. It swung, barely missing the two of us before we ran all the way to the chambers back wall. The bronze-man was invincible to us but could only move so fast. We could outrun it for the time being but we had little room left to go. It was not long before our backs were to the very drill which was expanding the chamber with every passing moment. My head went numb with the vibrations and noise while the bronze-man still approached.

Jarvis sprung forth attempting to climb the leg of the giant before being swatted away. Whilst Jarvis hit the ground the mechanical nightmare came for me, flailing at me in a frenzy. I rolled to my side only for the drill to be flipped by the swing of the bronze-man. It now struck into the east wall where it began to crack the very foundation of the mountain itself. The bronze-man looked up before frantically pulling at the drill to stop the damage but it was too late, the stone had begun to crack and the wall was buckling under its own weight.

First went the drill as a large stone fell from the ceiling crushing it. The exit half of the chamber then collapsed leaving us to our fate. I made peace with the gods in my final moments as the mountain collapsed. As dust filled the air I began to choke, not crushed but unconscious from the lack of oxygen.

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