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In The Name of Progress

  Beryl had thought that it would feel odd to leave Sanderson behind, especially since the doberman had gotten his sword back as part of the accord, but instead it felt natural. As if this was how he should have dealt with his enemies before now.  He followed after Avariel, pausing only at the door to turn around and check on the dog he had bargained with.  Sanderson was already gone.

  He went through the door and started to go up a circular flight of stairs.  He climbed them on all fours since Avariel had Arnold with her.  He reached the top of the stairs and opened the door that was there.

 Beryl steadied himself as he saw the hallway before him that was filled with decapitated heads that looked just like Arnolds. Hundreds of felines, his missing family and cousins, all of them rested on pedestals that decorated the hall on his way to the door that Avariel had left half open.

  Beryl walked through the hallway, looking at the dead felines nervously as he moved forward with uncertainty.  Their eyes shot open and the heads stared at him hissing in unison.  He could feel their condemnation and judgement as they spurred him into flight for the door and escape from their eyes.  Whatever waited for him there could not be worse than this.

  He had been wrong.  He found himself surrounded by friend and foe alike in a circular room filled with controls he did not recognize.  Wires protruded from everything, thousands of them lined the walls and attached to something far above in the ceiling.  But Beryl had eyes only for the prisoners.

  Tepic stood wrinkled, almost green he was so ill.  He was wearing heavy chains that rattled the floor as he stumbled around trying to remain upright, which was impossible because now even his tail was thrown off by the weighted chain. He was so thin that Beryl could see his ribs through his shirt.  

  Standing next to him protectively was Bookworm in a shining white uniform of the Militia, which explained what the undead of the train had meant by the Heroine.  Next to her was Rance who looked almost as thin as Tepic and his spectacles were broken, but he maintained his dignity.  Erica was standing over Beatrixe Rouse looking distressed as she monitored a strange machine that was attached to Beatrixe and made her writhe in agony.

  Avariel Falcon stood holding Arnold near Beryl with a look of intense fury at the men who were holding the prisoners at gunpoint. If looks could kill, Philip Johnson and his men would have melted into tiny, bloody, puddles.

  “So you’ve finally made it,” Johnson said as he sat down against Beatrixe’s bed and hit a switch that let Beatrixe relax. “My men didn’t think that you would, but my money was on you.  It had hoped you would get here sooner though.”  

  Beryl blinked and Johnson gestured upwards in a grandiose manner. Up towards the thousands of wires that converged on a giant machine face with one eye lowered itself towards them with its massive and long mechanical body that examined them all emotionlessly.  The presence of the machine felt far more vast than this tiny room.  It felt as if it spanned eternity.  The only thing he had ever met that could compare was the old one that Moriarty had served.

  “What…” Beryl paused for a moment and then tried again. “What is that?”

  “What else would it be?” Philip Johnson asked as he backed far away from the machine, though his amusement and victory were both clear on his tone. “It is Progress.”

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  1. Loki Gearhead Loki Gearhead June 9, 2014

    No worries the hero always wins…. Right?


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