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Aquila IX – The Woman in Red

  “This ship has too many people trying to be Captain, if you ask me.”  Mariah nodded with a meaningful glance at the Admiral.  “Ran, are you and the your followers still free spirits and mercenaries?  It doesn’t seem like you’re getting the respect a buccaneer risking his life deserves.  How much would it cost to throw this landlubbing witch into a cell and joining our rebellion?”

   The pirate was surprised at the woman’s familiarity.  He looked closer at Mariah and then laughed heartily with recognition.  While he was distracted Mariah nodded to Book.  “Alas, that price is more money than you possess old goat!  We love our current employer.  I have worked for hire before, but Doctor Dupyre is the kind of man I’d follow to the Locker and back.

   “You may just find yourself trapped within that prison if you do not reconsider,”  Bookworm added taking their attention from Mariah.  “We’re not the only heroes here.  Dr. Falcon and I have brought allies who have fought Progress before.”   

 “Oh?”  Decagon stroked his bearded chin intrigued.

  “Philip Johnson has plagued New Babbage before, and I’m willing to bet he is in charge of Progress.” Bookworm smiled as Whitesmith and the Admiral exchanged glances. She could see Mariah and Doohan getting ready to make their move while their opponents were occupied.

  “Theodore and Doohan’s presence here only confirmed my suspicions.  I received a letter back in September warning me that Mr. Johnson would return in or after November.  Progress taunting Babbage, baiting us ever since December, it was his plan to send Itsy to New Babbage wasn’t it?”

  Admiral Decagon, Whitesmith, and the pirates laughed at her presumption.  Decagon wiped a small tear away, “Got it all figured out then, oui?”

  “No, she doesnae,”  Jim Doohan said as he stalled.  He tried to use his eyes to suggest which pirate Book should strike.  “Wrong companee Captain Heinrichs.  Phillip Johnson discreetlee owns Icarus Research.”

  Bookworms shock left her mouth gaping open doubling the pirates mirth.  She couldn’t help but think that Avariel would not be pleased to discover a notorious villain operated Icarus.  Sometimes her ear and Tepic’s tail reminded her of the pain Johnson had brought to New Babbage during his last rampage.

   Mariah Lanfier and Doohan moved first while Bookworm was distracted by her own ploy.  Two men had been holding Doohan.  He removed his fake hand and caught the other guard in the abdomen mid-laugh.  That one loosened his good arm and he stole the shock mace.  Mariah rammed her knee into a capteur’s privates and kicked him off, taking their sword.  

  Bookworm only had to fight off a single assailant, she brought her elbow into his chin and then round kicked them into the wall.  The buccaneer reached for his sword but found Bookworm held it in her hand.   Doohan saved her the trouble of deciding what to do by striking the fellow with the electrified weapon making him fall comatose.

  The five pirates had been caught off guard by the two heroes and old seadog.  Doohan had used the shock mace without the barbs to incapacitate his opponents, but Mariah had run her enemies through.  Their blood was now staining the sterile metallic floors.  

  Admiral Decagon’s mirth was cut short as he reached for his own blade his eyes locked on Mariah.  She shrugged at his ire, “You could have joined the rebellion.”


  After they had defeated the mechanical henchmen Wright and Avariel chased Dupyre through the next doors, though the wolf had to wait for Dr. Falcon to pass through first.  They found themselves at a crossroads where before them a door was cracked open.  In either other direction a long metalic passage led to many other destinations.  

  Avariel went forward and then neighed in surprise as the metal floor shocked her. She stepped back bumping into Wright who moved aside growling angrily.  She explained quickly, “He electrified the floor and walls!  We have to severe the power or jump from room to room.”  

  Wright was the first to leap and break the door out of their way.  Avariel was the next to follow.  They both knew that the doctor was leading them somewhere, but he would eventually run out of places to hide.  

  The room across the hall was painted with fresh clouds on a grassy spring beach.  It was a break area for the scientists, but now it was filled with eight more lanky clockworks.  Unlike the ones above, these bore maces.  

  Wright and Avariel charged into the small machines breaking them apart with their superior strength, but each of them felt the aetheric shock.  Each jolt made them fight harder and more desperately until the murals had been ruined with gears, springs, and oil.  

   When they had finished they could hear the taunting voice of Doctor Dupyre calling out to them, “Come now Dr. Falcon!  Can your strength hold out until you reach the final curtain?!”

   The clockwork snorted disdainfully at the scientists game.  Wright let out a menace filled howl that would have curled the blood of any ordinary man.  They pursued him to the next area which would undoubtedly bear another trap.


  The brown coated research team watched the ridges and trees from the road, keeping their weapons ready as they nervously scanned the trees.  Already men had fired claiming they had seen the dreaded Koudra, but there was never anything there.

  Yang followed them breathing heavily and feeling his aching throat worsening.  Even though Loki was walking on his own, the child had questions only he would answer.  The urchin did not want to strain his voice and accepted short answers.   He knew where his tools had gone and that the snooty sister was still alive, but the Cathedral had been destroyed.  

  His last question involved the thing on Beryl’s back.  The closer he inspected it the more his head ached.  “Aet’eric dampener eh?  Moibeh oi could tear it open an-”

  “Don’t Master Loki!”  Yang hoarse voice pleaded and the chef coughed.  Beryl was not heavy but he was pushing himself too hard.  He had never had pneumonia, he hoped he never would, but he was developing bronchitis.  “It could explode.”

  “Whu?!”  Loki pulled their hands back from the device quickly.  “‘Ow do you know?”

  “A…friend.  He was…different.” Yang struggled to say.  It was a long time ago and he missed this companion dearly right now. “A monster that ate dreams.  The Brothers forced him to wear an enforcer suppressing the monster.  Forced him to be human.  It would explode if he removed it improperly.”

  “Oi!” Loki thought about how close he had come to possibly blowing off Beryl’s head. “But it ain’t turn Beryl human.”

 “That friend was different,” Yang changed the subject back to the matter at hand. “Beryl does not transform or have a human form.  I hadn’t known Beryl was more, but I suspected when she was shot.”

 “Oo would shoot Beryl?”  Loki grimaced in surprise.

  “Years ago, right above their now orange eye. Some big fellow named Cortman.” Yang explained, unaware that Loki had just frozen in his steps looking horrified. “No ordinary person would have survived.  At least not without becoming a mindless vegetable.”  The chef paused as he realized the aetheric dampener had turned their friend into what he proposed.

  The two prisoners returned to their senses as men shouted from the front of the caravan.  An avalanche had made the road impassable.


  Ms. Whitesmith shook her head at the pirates failure.  “And this, Admiral is why we should have killed them.  Fortunately we can correct this mis-”

  Doohan charged forward with the mace aimed for the woman in the red coat, while Bookworm and Mariah swarmed Ran Decagon.  He crossed blades with them as they kept him on the defensive. The two friends worked in tandem lunging, thrusting, keeping the pirate off guard while they backed him into a corner.  

  “What’s the matter Admiral?!” Book taunted as he struggled to keep up in his extravagant coat.  “Finding it hard to move in your suit!?”  Finally with a triumphant shout she had disarmed the buccaneer.

  The Admiral leapt back and pulled out his own shock mace, but it didn’t have the reach of a sword.  Bookworm was certain they would have him shortly when Doohan joined them.  Ran Decagon charged them with a mischievous grin on his face as Book realized Doohan should have already finished Ms. Whitesmith.

  Mariah moved forward to block his attack, setting Book up for the counter-strike.  His mace struck the sword and the electricity coursed through the metal and into Mariah.  With an electrified shriek Mariah’s body seized up and fell backwards onto Bookworm.  The surprised heroine barely caught her friend preventing her head from striking the floor.  A smell of burning flesh and acrid smoke could be seen from Mariah’s gloved sword hand.

  Admiral Decagon stood over them with the shock mace still pointed at them.  Book ignored him to throw off Mariah’s glove which revealed her burns.  The glove had protected it somewhat but she would not able to hold anything with her hand in this state.  Bookworm turned to Doohan and found a more disquieting sight.  Ms. Whitesmith had taken his shock mace and was standing over him, his blood was dripping from the barbs she reutilized.

  “Do not look so surprised, Captain Heinrichs.”  She had left her ruined makeup untouched making her face a ruin of running peach and mascara. “You should never have underestimated another woman.”

  Bookworm winced, but she had not expected the only woman in their ranks to be weak.  She had known Doohan to be a capable fighter and Whitesmith had been unarmed.  Studying the woman in the red coat a possibility occurred to Bookworm that sent a chill crawling up her spine.  

  The Man in Blue.  A clockwork assassin hired by Philip Johnson. The Woman in Red.  “You’re a clockwork!  Progress created the Man in Blue!”  She was telling herself more than anything.  Ms. Whitesmith did not respond looking only at the Admiral and gesturing to finish the Captain off.

  The Admiral shrugged and approached her watching for a trick she might try to pull, “C’est la vie!  Science has conquered the world, madam.  Even the most terrifying of monsters and sturdiest of heroes cannot stand against the creations these scientists have wrought.  We poor mortals must stay ahead of the game and keep our wits about us.”  He tossed the electrified weapon onto her and then a painful shock rocked her body and all fell to black.

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  1. Bookworm Hienrichs Bookworm Hienrichs February 29, 2016

    [as Captain Kirk]: I… have had enough… of being… shocked!

  2. violet Solano violet Solano March 1, 2016

    smiles sweetly, i know this comes as a shock Hienrichs, but you appear to be losing,

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