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Aquila IX – The Entrance of Dr. Dupyre

   Doohan, Bookworm, and Mariah had successfully infiltrated Progress and followed Captain Dekkar and his men on the trains.  Admiral Decagon was ready for the giants to overturn the cars, but the pirates did not require their shock maces to prevent sabotage.  The Shores-men offered no resistance in the confined space.  

   The rear cars were designed for cargo not comfort which is why they held the prisoners.  Ms. Whitesmith, Decagon, and Dr. Wiston Gammis elected to occupy the more comfortable cars at the front.  The tram travelled at high speeds and reached Aquila IX within twenty minutes.

   After everyone disembarked the train departed stranding the travelers.  Bookworm had known their plan meant there would be no return for their team.  What she had not expected was Jeffrey in the brown uniform of Icarus Research.

   She tried not to stare at the lad and turned her attention to her surroundings.  They were no longer in the rocky brown cavern.  The army illuminated their camp with electric lights but after several feet they passed through complete darkness.  Now they arrived at an underground station carved intricately from stone, and with grand metal catwalks.  

   Ms. Whitesmith gestured for the attachment to follow her, and to keep a close vigil on their captives.  Book kept her peace and walked in the back, keeping behind Doohan with Mariah.  She hoped her scarf never slipped or her ruse would be discovered.  Whitesmith walked forward confidently ahead of the men, her flat-heeled shoes clicking on the metal floor beneath them in contrast to the soldiers and pirates boots.

  They passed several corridors that forced the giants to stoop to proceed.  This inconsiderate construction seemed strange to Bookworm.  Why would scientists of the old empire and the Builders of the Cathedral both fail to construct facilities the native inhabitants could visit?

  Whitesmith gestured for the procession to stop and summoned Dr. Gammis to come forward.  He joined her but could not meet her eyes.  He quivered under her scrutiny while his cheeks blushed.  “Inform Dr. Dupyre of our success.  He has something in mind for Captain Dekkars capture.”

 “Ye-Yes ma’am,”  Dr. Gammis took off at a run which swiftly winded him down the corridor.  Ran Decagon and his men laughed, and the doctor realized he was being watched.  He straightened and tried to turn the corner with dignity, when he was out of sight the pirates guffawed jovially.  

  Whitesmith shook her head and turned back to the Admiral.  “Make sure your men understand to use swords and shock maces from this point forward.  Guns are too dangerous.”  


  Dr. Falcon and Wright had traveled for over thirty minutes at a full run, but the mountain terrain was jagged, loose, and unforgiving. Avariel tripped over broken trees and hidden roots, and it was fortunate she was a clockwork under her ‘skin’.  Wright lost his footing, but he caught himself without slowing down.  

  Both of the travelers could see motion out of the corner of their eye and hear movement around them, but the Koudra vanished into the trees as they fired.  Twice they noted Tepic’s flute, Loki calling for help, and even Bookwork calling out in the distance.  The Koudra was trying to lead them astray with a perfect mimicry of their companions, but Avariel and Wright knew of that talent now.  It still upset Avariel to hear Loki cry out even if it wasn’t truly him.

 “I hate being ‘hunted.’” Wright growled as he fired into the darkness. He could feel his hackles rising as he ground his teeth into a vicious snarl.  The wolf noted four of the beasts, much larger than the first, following them. “If we weren’t in a hurry I’d show it what a ‘hunt’ really is.”  

 “We need to if the Sister was right,” Avariel responded almost pouting.  “I’d rather not have one of these following me back home.  They don’t make the best pets!”

 Wright straightened himself and did his best leg to reassure the doctor, “Don’t worry about that ma’am.  I’ll make sure you can return home safe.  That’s a promise.”  

  Avariel let out a cheerful neigh, still believing only one of the Koudra was following them.  Wright rubbed the bridge of his nose, trying to calm himself as a dull ache had begun in the back of his head.  He ignored the momentary discomfort, attributing it to the moon and resisting his urge to attack their pursuers.   

  Dr. Falcon resumed their trek following the lights in the sky leading them closer to Aquila IX.  Wright followed her, though he noted the dull ache was growing the closer they got to the station.  


   The Shores-men except for Captain Dekkar were escorted away by most of the Progress soldiers.  They were taken towards the lowest levels to join the other giants and rebels. The pirates retained custody of Captain Dekkar as they went to meet Dr. Dupyre personally.

  Bookworm was feeling more exposed now that there were more extravagantly dressed pirates than uniformed men.  Jeffrey had left the group to do his job, though Book could only imagine what they was.  

  The deeper into Aquila IX they traversed the more polished and clinical it became. Old walls had been covered with metal plate and illuminated with soft lights along the walls.  The station had been heavily damaged during the Fall of the empire and most of these paths had needed reconstruction.   This became more apparent as they approached the reactor room, where Dr. Dupyre would be ready to greet them.  The entire area had been reconstructed with the local giants height in mind.  

  After Ms. Whitesmith ensured the ceremony was ready she told Admiral Decagon to bring the prisoner forth.  The giant did not look intimidated as he entered the room head held high.  Book and the others followed, and the militia captain was glad no one could see her shock.  The room was the size of a stadium and circular, with glass floors underneath and a spinning turbine in the center. She had seen similar designs at their own Aquila station, but what she hadn’t expected was the webbing covering the walls and machines.  

  There were dozens of clockworks and soldiers at attention waiting for the procession to enter.  Directly ahead of them was a red curtain hiding something from sight.  Dr. Dupyre was nowhere to be seen so Bookworm assumed he was the man behind the curtain, but she was mistaken.  A figure called from above triumphantly.  Heads turned to look far above to see the outline of Dr. Dupyre as he looked down on them from above, behind the turbine and nearly eight stories above them.  

  The doctor bent to one knee and dived head first off the edge before anyone had time to examine him.  His descent accelerated rapidly passing the first four stories in seconds before the doctor moved.  He pulled the drawstring and the primed engine burst into action.  Fire and steam billowed from his pack as wax wings popped out of his creation.  

  He took hold of his pack and angled himself back up, leaving a trail of steam behind him as he pulled up passing just over their heads and flitting around the giant room.  He circled once more and then aimed for the center curtain.  When he reached it, he angled himself upwards and slowed the engine.  

  He twirled about four times and shut down.  Duprye fell the last five feet to the ground landing spryly on his hands and knees while the lights in the room flickered violently.  He then stood up looking pleased at the assembled crowd who seemed appropriately impressed with his display, except for the giant in custody.  Despite herself Bookworm was grinning too.  It had been a long time since she had matched wits against a villain with class.

  “Greetings Mayor Greegor Dekkar!  It is good to meet you at last!” Dr. Dupyre projected his voice over the hum of the machines as he removed the bulky flight apparatus.  “It seems your resistance has come to an end!”


  Wrights headache was growing more frustrating the closer they drew to the station.  They had to clear one more ridge and then they would be at the doorstep of Aquila IX.  The Koudra stopped pursuing them the closer they had gotten to the station.  An angry shriek pierced the air behind them, and then the large elongated creatures vanished back towards their trees.  In the distance Wright could hear trees being uprooted as the larger monsters passed.  

  Wright wondered if their departure had anything to do with his own growing discomfort.  Creatures like him, fueled by cursed blood and ravenous hunger, did not suffer from headaches.  Something about the station itself was doing this to him.

  Dr. Falcon let out a pleased shout as she finally saw the station peeking over the top of the ridge.  Wright reminded Avariel they were supposed to hide until the alarm sounded.  The chastised clockwork apologized and followed Wright’s lead as he searched for cover.  The two companions found that the barren area would not provide many hiding places, but there were snow drifts they could use.  

  Once they were in position Dr. Falcon studied Aquila IX for the first time.  The base was old stone but the upper building was refurbished with metal and glass from after the empire.  It was much larger than Aquila III or XIII, but she suspected that had to do with the local giants assisting construction.  Purple and green light seemed to fluctuate out of the windows brightly.

  “If it wasn’t inhabited by evil I’d think it was pretty,” Avariel told Mr. Wright, who shrugged.  He had been gritting his teeth and studying ways to get inside.  There were three connecting buildings each with their own entrance, or they could charge through the main double doors in the center.  He was in the mood to charge through the center cracking every skull in sight.

  After the professor had finished appreciating the aesthetics she turned her attention to the scientific equipment she could identify.  There were unmanned tesla cannons, which were not automated, and the usual transmitters. Oddly they were all operational even after that storm had struck the mountains. Around the base of the building metal poles were sticking out of large generators letting off a loud hum of energy.  

 “Huh.  I recognize that design,” Avariel said to herself.  “That’s an aetheric dampening field generator.”  

  “Aether dampeners?”  Wright looked at them suspiciously.  “Seems a might counterproductive if you’re supposed to provide aether power.”

  “It is,” Avariel agreed as she flicked her tail.  “But they are probably using it to keep undesirable monsters out.”  Wright looked at her, waiting for her to elaborate.  He would not show too much interest by asking and she took time to continue.

  “Oh, aetheric dampening affects all living, or unliving, things because everything is composed of aether.  The more aether in a creature the more pronounced and debilitating it becomes to have their aetheric flow weakened.  Humans barely notice dampening fields though they get tired faster, but it’s had nasty effects on some of my friends before.” Avariel sighed at her own memories. “New Babbage had a particularly vile design of this called a ‘Reality Enforcer’.  Nasty thing used to drive out ‘supernatural’ creatures ages ago.”

  Wright nodded in understanding, but he wasn’t sure he liked much of what he learned.  He could ask Beryl about them later if he needed.  For now he could endure and wait for the alarm.

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