Tepic let out a quiet yelp as he ran towards the tram. His distraction had worked much better than he had anticipated. He thought he’d heard six or seven explosions and stone crashing down outside.
‘Bloomin heck! Even their dynamite’s bigger than the usual stuff!’ He resolved to borrow some of their fireworks before he left. For now though he needed to reach the tram.
Everyone was distracted and the clockworks were not watching the train. The urchin rolled under the vehicle and grabbed hold. He prepared his rope and pulled himself close to secure himself to the transport. Bunny hopped up, nudging him and he put him back in the pack.
Tepic grinned knowing that protocol would make them move the trains out after an attack to keep them safe.
Leisig located the source of the oil while soldiers investigated the cave-in. They were trapped within while their companions called from the outside. The rocky terrain gave no indication where his quarry had run. He briefly scanned the room noting the wild activity as everyone scrambled except for the tram engineers. They were working hard to send the vehicles away from the saboteur.
The mercenaries would be on high alert here, staying would not have been their plan. Checking his weapons the hunter ran for the train. He was almost there when it started down the rails. He could have called for the men to stop the trams, but he passed them with a shout, “Send my dogs!”
While they watched in confusion he chased after the locomotive as it approached the first clockwork. They were lanky but otherwise well crafted automata shaped like human sentry’s bearing the sigil of Icarus Research, the angel with mechanized wings. The sentries were designed to incapacitate anyone outside of the trams.
The hunter jumped onto the rear car and held on as the tram accelerated. Automatons turned and chased after them, but were not constructed to keep up with the vehicle at full speed. He climbed to the roof and kept his head low. Whatever this creature was he had no intention of letting it escape him.
The dynamite had done more than destroy the hangar and lights. It created a hole at the base of the door and loosened everything above it. Rock and snow avalanched down the mountain completely covering the cave entrance and damaging several houses.
The brown coated men of Icarus looked to Dr. Hartschlägel for orders after the landslide. He ordered the cannons to keep firing while he assessed the situation. Dust filled the air as stone broke and crashed to the street below forcing the cannoniers to back away for the assault.
Only the first floor remained of the once proud Cathedral by the time Dr. Hartschlägel returned and told them to cease fire. “You will need your ammunition tonight on the roads.”
“The roads?” His men talked amongst themselves darkly at his decision. One stepped forward to speak with the doctor. “Tonight? The Koudra swarm Aquila at night!”
“And that is what we have the Angel’s Breath and cannons for, you cowards.” Hartschlägel said as he turned away. “As long as you stay on the roads you will see the bastard beasts approaching from afar. Try to catch me an older specimen.
“I, however, shall return with our only prisoner of worth. There are three emergency airships hidden within a nearby shed. The two I won’t be using can be scout ships to lead the way. Only one pilot each because the more boots on the ground the more effective your defense.”
Sister Pankirst and Mr. Moreau looked to each other in silence. Which captive was ‘important’? The nun mouthed the word ‘Plan’, and then nothing else. Yang nodded remembering that someone in Aquila IX would release them from their prison. There was no need to resist now.
Dr. Hartschlägel left the man who confronted him in charge as he approached the four prisoners. He turned to Sister Pankirst. “Give the…whatever this creature is the cat. We shall depart on the airship.”
Yang felt his jaw drop as the Sister was forced to place Beryl next to him. “Sir,” he said with his hoarse voice. “I was recently ill. Not even twelve hours ago I could have-”
“Sick were you?” The scientist displayed false concern. “Well that is no problem at all. I am a doctor as you know. I can give you a prescription for that!” He leaned in close to Yang bearing down on him threateningly. Yang backed away uncomfortably but Benton grabbed his coat pulling Yang and the unconscious Loki in his arms closer.
“Your medicine will be adrenaline fueled by desperation. You shall carry both cats and no one can help you. If you drop one of them they’ll be left for the Koudra. Helpless prey like this would be devoured in moments. If your body fails all three of you will die.” Dr. Hartschlägel tipped Yang’s chin forcing him to meet his eyes. “It is not I, but you, who will choose who survives and who dies tonight.”
The cruel man let go of Mr. Moreau and went for the shed hiding their equipment. Defeated and despairing was exactly how prisoners should appear. “That Admiral Decagon is how the giants should have appeared when you captured them.” He said to no one in particular.
Wright took a long drag on the cigar Loki had given him in the kitchen. The urchin had been saving it as a surprise, and the wolf had been grateful. He’d lost most of them in their frozen water scramble. He found it was less soothing than he could have hoped. With a baleful glare at the aetheric dampener. He reached for his pistol and pointed it at one generator.
Dr. Falcon, who had been lounging in the snow picked her head up urgently, “Dr. Gammis was not exaggerating, Mr. Wolf. He does have much to answer for but that was good advice. A stray bullet in any power station could set off a chain reaction that destroys everything in a three to ten mile radius!”
“I remember the warning, ma’am,” Wright snapped as he pointed at the generators with his Mauser. “What about outside the station?”
“Oooooo!” Avariel exclaimed as Wright’s intent became clear to her. “That may be a good idea! Even if they explode they wouldn’t be interconnected to the grid in a way that would jeopardize the grid.” After a moment she added, “And it would be better for us if they were gone. They have a negative effect on my-”
Wright held up a hand to forestall her. He thought he could hear a distant rumbling in the direction of Wuldram Shores. He scanned the horizon, but he couldn’t see much even with the almost full moon brightening the sky. Eventually, he could see smoke rising.
Wright snarled and bit off the end of his cigar. Spitting it out he smooshed the ruined bits into the snow, “These ‘Progress’ bastards better hope everyone is still alive, or maybe I’ll arrange a meeting between them, Mr. Elliot, and his assistant Mr. Straight Razor.
“I may have to kick some of them so hard I break their squishy organs,” Avariel nodded vigorously in agreement. “Can a clockwork break human organs by kicking them too hard isn’t the usual experiments I conduct, but I can make an exception.”
While they were watching the dust rising someone opened the front door of Aquila IX. They had been looking for the sound, but they saw Dr. Falcon sitting up and stopped in their tracks.
“I guess that time is now!” Dr. Falcon said as she stood up. Wright shot the generator three times in rapid succession. The third bullet struck something integral as the device overloaded and showered sparks everywhere. Wright noticed a small difference in his headache, and growling he opened fire on the other devices as he and Avariel charged.