Beryl uncovered their ears and reached down to pick up Tepic. They took a moment to examine the blood covered tail and then pulled it out from under Lenny’s corpse and placed it into an inner pocket before standing up. Little had gone as the cat had hoped on the dock back in New Babbage, but they didn’t have time for regrets and screaming wouldn’t fix anything.
He turned to find that Billy and Jim had been the first to recover and take advantage of the other men’s distraction. There were only a few of the engineers still standing, and they had started to retreat as Billy closed on them.
“The entire ships going to be on us in a moment,” Beryl shouted as they moved next to Jim. “We need to get out!”
Billy called back, “You run. I chain’t leavin this monster in one piece.”
There were cries from above the catwalks as more men were beginning to arrive, but rather than rushing below they had gone to controls to start shutting down on the landing above them. That was when they saw the wrinkled form the man in blue had used last was approaching them silently.
Billy reached into his pocket and pulled out the gun, “Yeah, you just walk towards me like you always do…” He moved forward carefully as the alarm was cancelled and he fired his first shot at the wrinkled face.
The clockworks head turned slightly, and the bullet ricocheted into one of the pipes and steam erupted behind them. He kept walking towards Billy, who went forward just as fearlessly and raised the gun and fired once more right into the clockworks eye.
Small metal pieces erupted out of the clockworks eye and the man stepped back for a moment, gripping his ruined face. Billy swung his sword to decapitate the clockwork, but the blade was deflected off of the metal.
The clockwork man had already recovered. He reached up and grabbed Billy’s clothing and threw him into the nearest device with ease. The man struggled against the clockworks grip and tried to shoot the other eye, but the clockwork knocked the weapon out of his hand and sent it flying towards the three.
Jim rushed forward to aide Billy, but Beryl got in front of him, “Wait! You’re the only one who can get us out of here!”
Jim stopped reluctantly and had to watch as Billy struggled alone. Mudfoot was dropped and that was when the clockwork moved to seize the man’s throat just as they had been going to seize Bookworm’s. The man struggled to prevent it, but pushed against a wall there was no way to fall back. He stared up into the ruined face of the clockwork, and watched as the broken face gears moved inside tossing around the bullet in the now static face of the metal man. He’d ruined the face, but there seemed to be no sign of a brain inside the head, not even a clockwork one. Billy put his last effort into forcing out, “Fore you…kill me…tell me one…”
The clockwork began to twist its wrists. Billy felt his windpipe closing and his neck breaking, and only after it snapped did the clockwork drop the body and reply, “No.”
“Run!” Beryl yelled, but Jim bounded forward to pick up the gun. Beryl shouted back, “I can’t get Tepic out of here without you!”
“Aye,” Jim yelled as he ran back to them with the clockwork now following after them. “Get up there and run that way!”
Jim pointed the opposite direction that they and everyone else had entered from. Beryl carried Tepic to the nearest ladder and held him in one arm and leaned back as he carried him up. That was when he saw Roy, one of the bombers, appear at the top of the ladder wielding a sword. He lifted it and was about to bring it down on Beryl and Tepic when a shot rang out and the man fell backwards with a bullet wound in his arm.
The cat reached the top and took off at a run with Tepic in paw. He didn’t have to run far to see another passage. Hearing Jim shout at him to keep going while he kept the pistol on the men was all that the cat needed.
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