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Saturday, 30 November 2013

Chapter Four... and a new start!

Yes, I am starting a new manuscript today.
Fate Spinner. I hope it goes well. Pfft, that's a lie. I know it'll go well. THIS IS ME.
Anyway, here is chapter four. It might be the last one I post, we'll see. Mkay?

Chapter 4:

                Barrack had to struggle to keep his hand from shaking. He sat at his table, working on the small turbine kept within Mira’s belt. It was a simple fix, he would repair the wiring which had shorted out, likely due to a surge of power, and then power it back up using a secondary power source. He didn’t quite understand why he was doing what he was, he was betraying the trust of the Masters. He was actively helping a member of the rebellion, the girl had taken part in an operation to help the Heretics undermine the Masters.
                Yet he couldn’t help himself. Mira wasn’t a bad girl, she was kind to him, very caring in fact. Barrack hadn’t interacted with anyone quite like her before, she seemed genuine. It wasn’t like he was helping her blow something up, he was just helping her escape, and the damage of her operations were already done. Barrack had lived his life using logic, and this time it checked out, although he would admit that emotion was playing a small part.
                “How’s it going?” Mira asked, her voice curious. She stepped close, looking over his shoulder, bending over and moving her long hair to the side so that it would stay out of her face as she watched his hands work. She was lovely, her scent wonderful, even when covered in perspiration like she was. Still hating the heat, Mira had chosen to strip off her cloak and jacket, now she just wore a simple shirt, it had no sleeves and it was held on her shoulder by thin straps. Her arms were muscular, although very lean, her chest was caved inward, her ribs visible among pale skin, freckles, and minimal breasts. What surprised Barrack the most was her hair, it was long and red. Mira had taken the clip out of her hair, letting the full length of it fall down to almost her hips, it was messy and wavy, although straighter in other places.
                “I’m almost done,” Barrack stammered. He hid his embarrassment as best he could, despite the fact that she was the first woman he had seen in so long, he should still respect her. Barrack just wished he wasn’t so awkward, did he come off as pretentious when he talked about science? “I just have to power it up now.”
                Barrack reached under his table and produced a portable turbine he used for his other creations. It sat on the table, no bigger than his own fist, cone shaped and spinning on its own. The Revius belt contained within would constantly spin, using the magnetic field to generate electricity. The turbine had an especially ingenious design because it would create an independent circuit when it wasn’t powering something, so that it would keep spinning on its own. Barrack did keep a steam engine in the back, just in case he ever needed it. However it was very unlikely that he would ever need to use such a primitive method of getting one of the power sources going again.
                “Watch this,” Barrack said as he unwound the cord that tied neatly around the turbine’s base. He connected it to the belt’s small turbine and the small device roared to life.
                “That’s why it’s so loud when I turn it on!” Mira exclaimed, examining it closer.
                “Indeed,” Barrack replied. “Actually it is always running, but when it’s powered off it spins so slowly that it can’t be heard normally. The belt has four settings: Mild, positive, negative, and concussive setting that allows you to survive falls. It truly is incredible, it creates a magnetic field dense enough that it will brace your fall and spread the energy into the ground instead of through your body.”
                “Is that so?” Mira said, giggling slightly. “I had trouble believing them when they said it would brace my fall and not break my legs. They have to do it front of us first so we’ll believe them. I always wondered how it worked, I figured it was just magic.”
                “There is no such thing,” Barrack snorted. “Only science, everything can be explained.”
                “What about those strange powers the Subjectors have?”
                “That is no different. It’s just beyond our understanding, I’m sure it has a logical basis.”                
                “Could a human use it? That would be useful for…you know, fighting them.”
                “No,” Barrack said simply. “Only the Master’s with their superior souls and metal bodies have displayed the ability, humans are exempt from such gifts.”
                “Could we learn?”
                “I don’t think you understand,” Barrack sighed. “Breaking the Hermetic laws is something that only the Masters can do, it is physically impossible for us to do.”
                “Oh well,” Mira said while shrugging. “It was worth trying.” She gave Barrack a wink and laughed to herself. Despite her laughter, she looked so ragged, like she had been through the worst time of her life recently. It was no wonder that before he could start on her equipment, he had to feed her first. Of course, everything Mira was given to eat, she devoured like a starving beggar. Barrack found it funny, especially since he always watched how much he ate and took good care of his body.
                Barrack handed her the belt, Mira took it and put it on. She ducked down reattached the wires down to both boots. She practiced with all three switches and grinned widely.
                “They work!” Mira exclaimed. “You’re a genius, Barrack.”
                “It was really a simple fix,” Barrack muttered. “Not even close to my best work.” He reached out and grabbed his walker, he pulled himself up, the easiest part.
                “Now what?” Mira asked, face curious.
                “We go back down into the tunnels.”

               
                Barrack carried Mira the whole way this time. She had been resting for a few hours before, but it was still important that she save her energy for the actual trip. As Barrack understood it, the grinding process was incredibly exhausting, Mira might also have to evade the Masters.
                “Are you okay?” Barrack asked. He was moderately sure that his speech patterns had become less awkward as it went on, he had adapted.
                “Yeah, thanks,” Mira muttered, clutching his neck. This particular stretch was especially dangerous, they were underground, a deep and endless chasm below them. Barrack crossed using the suspended bars that had been placed there. A normal human would likely have to use their legs to go across carefully, he only needed to swing with his arms.
                They passed through, this part may have been dangerous, but it was also the quickest path to the edge of Barrack’s territory. Beyond that, he wouldn’t be able to help her, other sectors of the repair tunnels would be blocked off from him. They eventually made it to the spot, a single ladder that descended straight upwards, blocked off by a manhole cover. It would emerge at the top of a pillar protruding from a building that was fairly high up the cliff edge, as high as his territory would allow him to take Mira. The tower served as an observational deck, so that Barrack could watch his work in action and see all the rails work properly.
                “This is it,” Barrack said. He let go of the walls and placed himself gently on his butt.
                “Oh,” Mira said, she climbed off and looked up the ladder. “Well.”
                “Yes?” Barrack said, he studied her for a moment. She seemed like she had more to say.
                “No, that is quite all,” Mira finished quickly. Her eyes darted away for a moment but then locked back onto his. “Can you come up, please? See me on my way, so I can look back and let you know I made it.”
                “Okay,” Barrack replied. He happily returned her smile.
                Mira went up first, Barrack followed closely. She reached the top, banged her fist against the door until she found the handle, then she proceeded to open the hatch. Mira climbed out, Barrack dragged himself up, he had to reach down and pull his legs up. The sun was beginning to set as early evening consumed the night. Barrack wasn’t fond of watching the city at this time, it seemed too busy.
                “The capital city is kind of pretty for something built into a bowl,” Mira said. She was now standing up and watching as trains went by and people scurried home from their jobs.
                “The textbooks refer to it as a crater actually,” Barrack replied, fishing out his pipe. He proceeded to stuff some Tabaco in it and light it.
                “What is that stuff?” Mira asked, curious.
                “Some plant,” Barrack responded smoothly. He lifted the pipe to his lips and took a puff.
                “So this is it?” Mira asked. “I can just go, grind away into the sunset?”
                “Literally yes, if you leave right now.”
                “Oh,” Mira said, turning away for a moment. She suddenly lifted up her hand to him, her eyes were slightly watery. “It has been a hard day, and you have no idea how much this means to me and others. I made a promise, I will keep it.”
                “Thank you…” Barrack stammered trying to think of the words to say. “For the company.”
                “Will we see each other again?”
                “Likely not,” Barrack said, shrugging.
                “It’s a shame really, I think I could have come to like you.” Mira replied, she held up a hand to her mouth and let out a small laugh. It was adorable and full of relief, she looked younger like this.
                “I agree,” Barrack said. He took her other hand in his own, it was so small. “I think I’ll miss you.”
                “You know where I’ll be, idiot.” Mira added. She shook his hand gently. They held their hands together for another heartbeat before she turned away, triggered her device and jumped off the edge.
                Barrack watched her go as she grinded off, his chest hurt. For the first time in years, he felt the pain of loneliness again. She would make it back to her friends, she would be happy, she would keep her promise, she would…
                Three Masters jumped off rooftops and began their pursuit. Two of them were light units, designed for grinding and combat, while the third was a heavy unit with thick armour. They likely didn’t know who she was, but the fact that she had the boots was enough to warrant suspicion. How had they known? Normally they wouldn’t just hang out in a sector like this…
                Unless they were waiting for her. Mira had escaped the night before, they had noticed, and they had taken precautions. These three units were likely just the pursuit team, there would be more to chase her down within minutes. They would catch her, they would interrogate her and then after she was broken they would kill her. This wasn’t someone in the distance, this wasn’t somebody Barrack didn’t know nor care about, this was Mira. The first person in years whom he had interacted with and enjoyed the company of. He couldn’t watch.
                So he would act. Barrack within seconds was already climbing down the hole, pipe left on the ledge. The units pursuing Mira were heavier than most, they needed to use the thicker rails in order to get around, it would be difficult but he did have an idea.
                Another twenty seconds later, Barrack had found his way to a nearby panel underground, it was of a rare variety, a master panel that carried all the circuits for the turbines in the area. From here, he could feasibly work on every rail. There was even a small hole carved into the side of the pillar so that he could view his work. More Masters were already in pursuit, they had massive bodies and a lot of fire power. The initial three units had backed off slightly, Mira had likely gone low, through the lower rails in order to lose them, they could easily get lost if they went directly after her in that labyrinth of paths. Perhaps the girl wasn’t as strong or intelligent as him, but Barrack now realized that Mira had excellent instincts. She was doing what was needed to survive, despite the fact that she might not have understood why.
                Barrack worked hastily on the panel, he had pinned his legs and was using both hands, and he kept the light bulb between his teeth as he worked. He pulled wires out, reconnecting them in other places, all while doing the necessary calculations in his head. One of the larger units was within view, perched on a building, watching where was going, so that it could advise the others where she went. As Barrack understood it, the Masters could communicate without actually speaking out loud. He began to sweat, his hands were twitching but he kept working. It was messy, but hopefully it would be enough.
                With one last wire to connect, Barrack’s hand suddenly stopped, centimetres away from its destination, his initial goal. If he did this, there was no turning back, Mira would live but he would die. He would betray the Masters, they would know, and he wasn’t fast enough to get away on his own. By the grace of everything, if he did this, he would undermine everything he had worked on in the last ten years.
                “So what,” Barrack heard himself say out loud. “What would be the point if nobody lived to remember me. I might die, but she’ll remember.” With that, Barrack stuffed the wire home.
                It wasn’t noticeable at first, it started out as a quiet kind of gentle humming. Yet it got progressively louder and louder, soon it was a hiss, then a screech, finally the obvious scream of metal scrapping against metal. The Masters didn’t seem to notice immediately, yet as they continued to grind after Mira, it became obvious. At first their trajectory became pretty unstable. Yet as the turbines continued to scream, pick up more speed and progressively move more and more towards overloading, the magnetic fields were affected as a result. Many of the smaller Masters were launched straight up, a sudden but powerful push as they were catapulted to the sky. Most were smart enough to adjust as it was happening, but even that was too late, instead of getting launched up, they were shot on an angle, usually in the direction of a building.
                The Behemoth parked on top of the building’s gaze fell upon the pillar, had it registered what happened? The rest of them were in chaos, attempting to recover but failing as a system they had always known failed. Only one clear path had been left, one rail untouched. The one that Mira had chosen, the smallest of them all. In the chaos, it would be easy for her to slip away. In times like this, Master procedure was to condense damage as much as possible. The damage that Barrack had caused.
                The massive Master’s arm was now pointed at the pillar. It was quite funny, Barrack had always taken pride in his work. Yet now he felt true happiness for unraveling it all, destroying it and letting a rebel escape. A rebel who had gone against everything that had always supported him. There was a glow as the Master broke the first of the Hermetic laws, the blades extended from its hand and launched his way.
                Barrack felt as the pillar shook, he lost his hand hold, his legs slipped and he fell. He remained suspended only for a bit before he tumbled down the narrow tunnel. His head was bashed back and forth, he hit his arms even. Barrack did finally hit the ground below, except he landed on his feet, he heard the horrible snapping of his feeble legs. The scream, painful and primal filled the entire corridor.
                Yet the scream turned into laughter.
                “Stupid legs!” He hissed between fits of mad laughter. “You’re already useless, how is this supposed to be worse?” He barely grabbed hold of a bar and dragged himself away as rubble fell down around him. The tunnels would collapse, the Maker had caught onto what he was doing and was bombarding him with those spears. Despite accepting his fate earlier, Barrack still swung from bar to bar, using his hands to gain as much distance as he could, but he was still too slow. Everything fell around him, massive pieces of concrete, now just boulders.
                Light poured into the tunnel, the sky now clear, yet the path in front collapsed completely, boxing him in.  Suddenly, the hissing consumed his ears. Turning his head, Barrack looked directly at one of the numerous and massive turbines that he had overloaded, it hung suspended upside down by wires. He knew what was about to happen, he had planned it this way.
                The turbine spun faster and faster as Barrack held himself up using only his arms, he banged against each wall that was boxing him in, he was trapped, except for upwards. So he gripped a rock, he was already cut up from his tumble, his hands covered in blood. Yet still he fought, he gripped each hand hold, not crafted for that purpose but it would still do the effort. He climbed towards the sky, open and magnificent. The light of twilight was bathing his escape, the sun setting above. Mira was leaving into that sunset, she would live…
                Barrack’s hand slipped, he fell backwards. He stared at it as he fell, the sky, the light that was not quite darkness yet. He thought about the time they spent together, not long in the grand scheme of things, but still, enough to make an impact on his life, an exciting climax at the end of a boring twenty-four year old song.
                Barrack hit the ground, he was winded, he heard his ribs snap, he felt the pain. Yet he still had the will to live, he pulled himself up, grabbed hold of two hand bars as what remained of the tunnel began to collapse, rocks falling all around him. Staring at his work, his masterpiece, Barrack laughed in the face of the turbine, now spinning so quickly and so violently it was shaking.  It would happen, and there was nothing he could do.
                The turbine burst apart. Although many would have said it exploded, that technically wasn’t correct, it didn’t combust and there was no fire. However it was understandable how it could have been mistaken for that, its pieces all blew apart in all directions at speed that no eye could catch. Metal pieces of shrapnel cut into the concrete above, penetrating at least a metre before finally being stopped. So the pieces that dug into Barrack’s legs and chest tore straight through him, leaving lumps of meat for legs and a body that no longer resembled him.
                Still, Barrack sucked in breaths. It was difficult, likely one of his lungs had been pierced, the pain was so excruciating that his mind could no longer register it. His left arm was broken and twisted, it was now laying out directly to the side, as if on soft grass. However, Barrack’s right arm still seemed to work, he reached upward, his eye swollen, blood pouring into it, blinding him. Yet still he reached for the sky, his freedom, it was right above him. His fingers clutched into a fist and he remembered shaking her hand.
                The rocks fell all around him now, a particularly large one had just crushed his left arm, likely severing it completely. In his mind, Barrack comforted himself with the knowledge that he had accumulated in the past. He had learned so much, he had been so smart, he was capable of so much, even now. Had it been a good life? He had never truly created anything of his own, just replicated using the technology of others, did that make him an Innovator like the Makers claimed? Or was he just another fake. It didn’t matter anymore, although it did to him. Given another chance, he would probably have invented something.

                Barrack faded away. 

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