When the intruders had mentioned a Power Station in the city, Itsy had known that she had to speak with the Doctor in charge of it. She hoped they would be more reasonable than the thieves or the Icarus Researchers. Someone kind or gullible would be ideal. She had begun by offering to return the body of the little killer to them for burial. It was a shame to lose her newest marionette, but if things went badly she was certain there would be more.
It had been a surprise to learn that the metal equine from before was the infamous Dr. Falcon. More surprising had been how easily they had come to the agreement that the Doctor seemed to be honoring today.
Two days earlier.
“Come innnn~” she crooned using the puppet body one final time to gesture inside the cave, and then threw the deceased towards the spectators.
The spider made her way inside, her legs walking along the cave walls to avoid tripping over rubbish like the lantern, and joined her family of spiders. There were many of them, and the larger ones hid the true threats. Spiders smaller than a finger with enough venom to stop a heart or rot flesh. While the larger spiders would be piling up behind Itsy, a number of small ones would be hiding above the first entrance. They would make their way down into the hair of their enemies should they enter violently.
The horse looked very uncomfortable descending the stairs again, but she joined them at the edge of the cave entrance. “You kept your end of the bargain, so I will keep mine.”
“I’m glad,” Itsy giggled, using her own voice rather than projecting. There was no need to frighten the poor thing again just yet. “Doctor Falcon, I’ve heard a lot about you over the years.” The doctor looked around in surprise at this. “He was always so scared of you. Scared of what you would find out. That you would shut down his experiments.”
“I take it this ‘he’ is someone both of us know?”
“We do, but we are not discussing him today.” That kind of information would come at a much heavier price.
Doctor Falcon nodded with a toss of her mane, “We have been rather curious about why you have visited our city.”
“We escaped with the help of our creators,” Itsy explained as she stretched her numerous legs, “We were promised warmth. Freedom.”
“Your creator let you go?” Doctor Falcon sounded surprised. She would have been less surprised if she knew him. “So, Doctor Westbridge was right, you are a created entity! That’s quite astonishing!”
“Dr. Resh and Dr. Sam were most kind and brilliant, but most of the other doctors wanted to use us. We were weapons to trap the aetheric entities they wanted to use as batteries. Sam was afraid. Afraid we would be misused to capture entities for engines of war.”
“AHH! With your webs!” Doctor Falcon exclaimed. Apparently she had studied them enough to suspect their true purpose. “So you are here purely to escape!”
“I was sent by the two doctors to the South, where they promised warmth. However, something must have gone wrong or they lied to us like the others.”
“Something must have gone very wrong. New-Babbage, in the middle of winter…”
“There were other stops, cold stops, where others tried to kill and steal from us.”
“I expect Bump was particularly bad,” Dr. Falcon shook her head sadly again.
There had been bad times, moments that had made her realize the Doctors had told her the truth: Be the killer or be the victim. “We will never be victims again.” She said projecting her voice in a way that made it echo menacingly through the hall. “Those who try to steal from us are imprisoned, those that kill us will die. That boy we returned did not die by mistake nor were we defending ourselves. He was trapped in our webs already.” Itsy giggled wickedly, relishing the memory, “You can tell your friends that his death was murder. Revenge.”
Doctor Falcon paused, but if she was discomforted by the spiders gleeful confession she hid it very well, “The urchins probably acted out of fear, humans respond poorly when they are scared. I could arrange for your safe transport to the Aquila III station in the Jungles of Emerald Bay. It is warm there all year round.”
The offer caught Itsy by surprise. It had been what she had called this meeting to request, but to have it offered without condition, “You will transport us there? Why should we trust you?” She added after a moment, “And would you trust us?”
“It seems to me that you have little option but to trust me, everyone else in the city is scared and I fear prone to act out of that fear. I can offer you an escape.”
Itsy pondered the mechanical creature in front of her. She had heard several things about Dr. Falcon, but nothing that had prepared her for this level of generosity Perhaps she was as gullible as the doctors had believed. “Is there food?”
“There are many animals that live in the jungles there, it is a very large island big enough to support large mammals and reptiles.”
Doctor Falcon was obviously ignorant of her personal tastes, “Humans fear us. They always fear us. They stomp on us. Poison us. They don’t like it when it happens back to them. Are there many humans there?”
“Only a small outpost, mostly up on the hills overlooking the bay.”
“Would the humans here stop you from treating us fairly? Attack us when we came into the open?” She asked rhetorically. “We know they would. We will release the boys only after we are in this jungle. After we are free.”
“I have a private airship that I use when I go out to the island. It is quite cozy and warm inside, and I can tell the others that the hostages will only be released when you arrive safely. They will have to behave then.”
“As long as there is warmth,” Itsy said as she started to extend her legs towards the doctor slowly. “We will accept your aid, Dr. Falcon.”
Doctor Falcon moved closer, slowly and rested her neck over Itsy’s shoulder while the spider wrapped her legs around the equine clockworks neck. They had no hands to shake, but the embrace signaled the deal had been made. Itsy released the clockwork and gave one final instruction, “Keep the violent little thieves away. For every life of a spider they take….we will take one of theirs.”
As the doctor agreed and made her way up to deliver the news, Itsy also relayed the good news to her kin. She could hardly believe their good fortune. It was then that she overheard one of the humans above. Apparently someone was unhappy with this arrangement.
It was time to pack everyone into the ship within the hour. The spider had let some of the boys free enough to feel again, just so that she could terrify them one last time. The more fear they felt the more warmth she could trap inside the webs with the litte spiders and egg sacks. The little boys fear would warm them inside the cocoon blankets she was spinning now. As long as no one tried to play them unfairly she would release them. She may even tell Dr. Falcon about Icarus Research.