Cyan chatted with Felina after the two were alone. The clockwork claimed she had sent out some sort of signal, but suspected it would meet interference due to their surroundings. They had to hope fingering Beatrixe would lead any rescuers here.
“I am just lucky that ‘thing’ mentioned her,” Felina shared as she and Cyan played another round of tic-tac-toe. “Though I could have been assuming when they said the mad mouse.”
“Bea is harmless,” Cyan countered as he put down his own X, they were going to end up ‘cat’ again. “Crazy maybe, but she’d never intentionally hurt anyone. I suspect my uncle is behind this, but I don’t see how.”
The lad was enjoying the distraction, but noted the blood on her shirt had shifted dramatically. It had turned a sickly black ooze with a fungal smell to it. He did not know how to broach it, thinking it was perhaps a sensitive subject. After an hour he finally asked, “Should we be worried about that? I am not sure how you duplicates work really.”
Felina did not seem offended, “Well, you were one of the first replaced so that is not a surprise. We are basically pod people, but with clockwork skeletons and a skull that opens up for ‘mental adjustments’. The rest of me is still mostly organic. Brain, blood, all of that stuff was copied even if some of it is useless. But if we get injured the stuff that cant grow back or is seperated turns to…well that. Your duplicate is the same.”
Cyan nodded and started a new game, “For what it is worth, I was completely against melting you lot down after PJ failed his takeover.”
“That takeover was doomed before it began,” Felina smirked quietly and waved her paw. “Babbage won’t have an election anytime soon.”
Cyan and Felina did not make any escape plans and just spent the night entertaining themselves. It wasn’t until Felina told him it was well into the next morning that both realized no rescue had arrived. They were about to try breaking the pulley when the elevator activated. The two watched as it slowly descended with their horrific jailer, two smaller clockworks, Otis, and Spalding.
“Oh what a fine Christmas gift, to find at the bottom of the lift!” Spalding said triumphantly, but he stopped the elevator far above them.
“Otis?” Felina asked in genuine confusion, “Why are you working with the crazy rabbit uncle? Who…I am assuming had you kidnapped?”
The small man adjusted his strapped on hat, which did not budge much. “Why would I not assist my friend the Hare. Especially when we consider all that you did dare.”
Felina took a deep breath and shifted her stance. She was supposed to be Beryl for the moment, “If you are looking for remorse, I have none to give. You are lucky you found such a…deranged ally.”
The doll let out a metallic giggle, extra metal arms swayed independently of the rest of her frame threateningly. “May I give them both a final squeeze. I would like to smother them, oh please.”
“That sounds an excellent plan! We can watch them both kick the can!”
The elevator started to lower again as the madmen laughed with their monster. Cyan remembered Alice’s last crushing hug, and hid behind Felina. He hoped her frame was sturdier, but the feline looked uncertain herself.
The smaller clockworks ran up first and started to hit Felina with their brooms. Cyan did not know whether to laugh or not, since Felina seemed more annoyed than harmed. The boy felt a hard strike to his side and was knocked back. He was herded to a corner as Felina rushed to put herself between the clockworks again.
Alice closed in on her prey. Her flesh sewn on better today, but still grotesque. She lifted her long spider like limbs and the ones on her back which had drill tips at the end. They spun dangerously as she neared them.
“This is the end!” Spalding raised his cup. “Tear them apart, slice, and rend!!”
“I suppose you could kill us, though it seems a waste,” Felina shrugged, sounding bored. “How exactly would you get Cyans money?”
Spalding paused, “Why, I am his last living relative. It will surely come to me.”
“Little Cyan, dear,” Felina asked with a mocking tone. “Did you leave your uncle in your will perchance?”
“Of course not!” Cyan spat as if the very idea revolted him. “Why would a kid-I mean I made sure to leave him nothing!”
Spalding looked wounded, “Oh what a fiendishly wicked kitty brat! You would leave me starve and let your aunt grow fat!”
Cyan stuck his tongue out at his uncle. It was possibly one of the last things he would do. Alice was almost within hugging distance.
“But what if I said that perhaps you could get him to change his mind?” Felina purred. “Otis is a hypnotist isn’t he?”
Cyan stared at Felina as his jaw dropped. Spalding actually clapped, “Oh what a splendid thing for you to suggest! Alice spare the kitties as we have new ways to invest!”
Alice paused inches from Felina, the arms having aimed to hug her neck. “Alright, I can wait to play. I do not mind a small delay.”
Felina looked at Cyan apologetically, whispering, “It was all I could think of to buy time. I am still sending the signal.”
Cyan nodded, but as he watched Otis approaching with his watch in hand, he did not like where this was going.
“Me first?” Felina offered as she stepped forward. “You need someone to take the blame right?”
“Oh my, what a helpful evil kitty,” Otis said as he leaned forward. If he was awake he might have remembered Beryl was resistant to such devices. Cyan almost laughed at the thought that they were going to try to hypnotize a clockwork.
The small man pressed a small button on his watch and started to talk to Felina. He was trying to get her to relax and let all cares fall away, to let her mind rest as he guided her.
The clockwork cat shook her head in a way that Cyan did not like. She seemed to be having trouble focusing. The lad felt the color drain from his face, hidden by his fur, as he remembered their talk last night. Her brain was still made up of organic matter. “Beryl, maybe this isn’t a good idea.”
Felina looked at him and then turned back to Otis in a daze, setting her jaw. She set to fight him as Cyan tried to countermand Otis a few times, which prolonged the process over an hour. The professional eventually had to have Felina ignore anything Cyan said. The lad wished he had thought of that first. Felina herself at one point hit the side of her head and shouted, “They are using a watch on me and we need you idiots to get here now!”
Even after that, there was no rescue coming. Eventually the cat-bot fell under and was repeating after Otis weakly. Spalding and Alice had long since left Otis to his work, the smaller clockworks keeping Cyan from getting any heroic ideas.
The hypnotist suggested that she had slain the lad and would be overcome with guilt. She would turn herself in and never escape. Once he was certain that the feline would obey, he turned to Cyan.
The lad lost track of the time, but he tried to fight too. Hours later, and they were interrupted as Felina seemed to be doing something with the clockworks near her. Beatrixe was calling Otis to come see some friends of hers. He left Cyan there, with Felina moving about lethargically, while the lad signed his new will.
After all, why not? He loved his uncle.
Cyan awakened as Otis had returned and was reading the will as Bookworm was descending on the elevator. He let out a sigh of relief, he had finally been rescued from Alice and Beryl, who had tried to kill him again.
“Well, well. Who knew this was down here?” The Captain turned her gaze and saw the others and her tone became concerned, “Cyan! Felina!”
Cyan tried to stand, but his exhaustion from his injuries and imprisonment made it difficult. Bookworm rushed off the elevator to be intercepted by the clockworks. The little machines rushed the militia woman and started to whap her, and her companions, with brooms. Candance hid behind her pot-lid shield, while Bookworm and Bryan raised their arms to protect their heads. Rayn whimpered in pain, his wounds reopening from their assault. Lunette ducked to the ground, despite the fact she was a duplicate like Felina herself.
“Stop that!” Captain Heinrichs yelped, and to everyone’s surprise the clockworks obeyed and went back to guarding Otis, Cyan, and…was that Beryl or Felina. He didn’t remember at the moment, but he eyed her suspiciously.
Book glared at the clockworks, looking flustered at their assault. She looked like she could chew nails. Candance muttered as she glanced from behind the shield, “We found all the missing brooms, I guess.”
Cyan shook his head, everything still felt foggy, “I am sorry, can anyone tell me what happened?”
“Beryl hurt you, don’t you remember?” Otis pointed to the heterochromatic black cat who looked upset.
“I am Felina!” the cat growled angrily. She did not deny the rest however and nodded.
“Ah, then no,” Cyan nodded with certainty. “She didn’t hurt me. That’s Felina.”
“Really?” Otis blinked and scratched at his chin, avoiding his hat, “That’s strange. Then where is Beryl? And why didn’t you tell me when you were under?”
“Because I’m a mushroom pod person,” Felina said shaking her head. “For what it’s worth, that damned thing scrambled me bad, but guess it just didn’t take.” She still looked like she felt guilty despite that. But Cyan knew Beryl had attacked, not her.
Rayn laughed, “Good thing you didn’t take my advice and dye your fur after all!’
Bookworm called out, “The real Beryl is in my custody, and has not been hurting anyone. You on the other hand, what have you been doing to Cyan?”
“Well, I helped him relax,” Otis began, but Felina cut him off. “He ‘did’ do that. But I am very certain that a will written while hypnotized is not valid!” Otis paused. He had not realized she had awoken when he got that far.
“I would agree,” Book said simply, her eyes narrowing at Otis. “It is over. Dr. Wright is watching Mr. Rookswood upstairs.”
“Oh, did he kill him?” Otis appeared somewhat distraught. “Poor Hare.”
“You shouldn’t kill my uncle,” Cyan cried out catching his friends attention. “He isn’t that bad of a guy.”
“Maybe we should check and see what they did to Cyan,” Rayn suggested as he looked at his friend. Concern painted all their faces. Felina sighed, “I am sure you will realize how wrong you are later.”
“Yes, indeed. But not here. I think all of you had better come with us,” Bookworm ordered and as she gestured to the elevator the clockworks attacked again, hitting her with a broom. She cursed them as she tried to fend them off.
Felina forced herself to stand up, calling out, “Hey. Mean Kitty over here. Escaping.”
The clockworks turned around and rushed Felina who sat there looking annoyed as she was struck repeatedly. “Ow. Ow. Ow!”
Bryan ran to help her, but the clockworks shot him with one of their brooms and he fell back. Thankfully that was all she needed to wrestle the first clockwork down and break one of its spindly arms. Without Alice as backup, and a way up secured, the little things were not intimidating. Another few seconds and the other was disabled as well.
“Everyone. Elevator. Now.” Bookworm ordered and everyone made their way to the exit. Cyan felt exhausted, but he breathed in freedom for the first time in a week. It felt good to escape. Now they just had to deal with Beryl…and Alice.