Make your own free website on Tripod.com
By Richard Anthony


Welcome reader! This is a story that I wrote as a series of journal entries, and am now re-writing it as a serial for you.
I will post new chapters as soon as I finish them, making sure I have at least one a week. So sit back, and enjoy the story that is currently over 5 years in the making.
Last Updated: 8/16/98
Current Chapter: 11
PROLOGUE

The legend of the end of the world is a popular one. Tales of the armageddons fought for the planet are never forgotten, and this one is no exception. The legend of the Knights of the Eternal Sky is a very old one, an old prophecy from the magician Bay himself.

The legend told of the three knights that would fight the destruction of the planet, and of their great adventure. As it went, it depicted that it will be the greatest campeign, spanning a distance no other adventurers had ever crossed. Their souls would burn with a power so great, it was incomprehensible, even to the knights themselves.

The cause of the world's death was just one man, who created an army by stealing the souls of the citizens of the planet, commanding monsters with no gleam of life to their eye.

Between these two parties would last an eternal war.. and whomever victored would rule the world, or it’s remains.

But instead of telling you all about the details of the legend, I’ll take you back to the beginning of the tale of how the world ended...

CHAPTER 1 Crewmen

I was sitting on the bank of the Phera sea, gazing at it’s mass. I tried to imagine that I could see the other side, but all I could see was ocean. I would probably have gone and done something better to do, if I had something better to do. I am a rogue, a drifter, a wanderer who traverses the land for a hobby. I has no friends or family, but I’m quite entertained by nature. And right now, my fancy was on the sea.

I, me being Thad, took a look around the coast. To my right, the north, stood huge flat mountains, covered in greenery. I could see a haze in the distance, and the fading of the cliffs made them look very majestic. I watched in awe as the waves crashed against them, spraying salty water high into the air. But these green cliffs were very tall, and the great spray seemed very small in comparison.

I looked to my left, the south. It was a stretch of rocky beach that led on for miles. Large stone spires poked out of the bank, reaching for the sky. Behind me, to the east, was a large clump of forest, running in both directions. I saw a deer bolting through the trees, but paid it little mind. I’d seen plenty.

I had spent my entire life to this point stuck on Erath, one of the smallest islands populated with a city. I was sick and tired of it. I’d adventured every inch of the land, and always found it was the same as the last time I’d been there. I’d accidentally blown up my favourite spot in a gunpowder experiment last year, and had long lost interest of the diamond cave that only I knew of. I was anxious to explore the outside world. The mainland, another island, anything. I almost got up and began exploring again when a ship came around those cliffs, travelling lazily, looking as bored as I did. I watched the ship, trying to determine if it was a merchant scow, a pirate ship, or (heaven forbid the variety) a warship. I couldn’t quite make it out.

I was still baffled with this vessel even as it got close enough for me to read it’s name. The Weatherlight. I became interested enough to ask.

“Ahoy!” I called, not really knowing anything about nautical hails, but trying anyway “Where are you from?”

A rather tubby man came to the side, and looked back at me. “Hello there,” the man called back “can you tell us where we are?”

“Your at Erath. And going the wrong way.”

“Oh?” the man called back, smiling in disbelief

“The general rule is, if your going away from Erath, your heading in the right direction.” I called back with a similar grin.

The man chuckled heartily “I see, well, we’re here just to have a look around. We drift from place to place, trying to whip-up a map of the world all by ourselves.”

“Well then, I’m afraid you’ll have to take me with you!” I called back “I’m a drifter as well, but I’m stuck on this little island. I need a ship.”

“I...”

“I would gladly work my stay.”

“...don’t...”

“And I could give you a fully detailed map, coast and mainland, of this island.”

An anchor dropped from the side, and the ship halted. A gangplank was extended from the side of the ship, onto the rocks of shore. I quickly hopped aboard. Just a few steps onto the ship, I came face to face with a beautiful woman. I tried not to notice. “Welcome aboard.” The woman said “So you want to come with us?”

“If you’ll take me,” I graciously offered, and bowed.

“We’ll take you. We need someone to help with the riggings. Welcome aboard my ship. I am Captain Sally Reeves.”

“But everyone just calls her Sal.” The man laughed.

“... I see you’ve already met Willium, the mechanist, engineer and cook.” Sal continued.

“The one responsible for keeping this tub together.” Will bowed.

Sal smirked and signalled to another woman. A woman with an artificial arm and leg. “This is Bille. She’s our navigator. And...” Signals to a really brash looking man, who looks like he doesn’t give a damn. “...Steven Sigil. She’s the one currently working with the riggings.”

“So this little twerp is going to replace me?” Steve said harshly.

“No, he’s going to help you. You’ve been slacking off the last few weeks.” Sal returned just as cruelly. Steve Gave her a gesture... a childish one, with his thumb on his nose, and twittling his other fingers in the air. Sal continued “And when he’s not, I’m sure he could help clean up this boat.” Some chuckled at that, because they knew just how messy the ship was. “And your name is...?”

I blinked, and stuttered for a second, the question catching me off guard. “I’m Thad. A drifter. I know the island Erath like the back of my hand.”

“That’s great, kid.” Steve hissed, and went below.

“Ignore him. He’s a jerk.” Bille said, clockwork hand on my shoulder.

“Yeah... Thanks.”

CHAPTER 2 The Phera Sea

We set sail out into the vastness of the ocean I learned the ropes, literally, as Steve taught me how to run the riggings. He seemed to enjoy it, getting me to work, while he sat back and criticised. I didn’t mind though. For the time being, I found it fun. I’d spice it up a bit by adding useless action, running across the poles and wires, swinging, leaping, it was lots of fun.

Bille was up in the crows nest, which is part of her job. Sal just ordered Steve to get back to work, and since we were heading straight on a gentile sea, there was nothing for me to do. So I decided to visit her.

She was slumped against the side of the nest, looking very bored. I tapped her gently on the shoulder, as she hadn't noticed me yet. And she still didn’t. I tapped again, this time on the flesh-and-blood one. She turned her head, and looked at me.

“Well, it’s the new kid.” She said, half asleep “How ya doing.”

“Well, I got nothing to do right now, and I need some way to pass the time. You yourself are bored out of your skull by the looks of it, so why not chat a while?”

She grinned “My skulls half iron plating. I think it’ll keep me in.” She turned around, facing me now. “And what on earth would a boy like you want to talk to me about? You’ve been stuck on that island so long, you must be very boring yourself.”

“Thanks. And hey, don’t call me ‘boy’. You look about the same age I am.”

“Oh, probably.”

“Then what happened? Why’s a girl as young as you half machine?”

“It’s a long story. And if it was offered, thanks for your pity. People are usually afraid of me.”

“I’m not. I don’t know why, but I already consider you a close friend. But that’s me, I’m a friendly bugger, myself.”

“Sit down,” She grinned “and I’ll tell you about some of the Weatherlight’s adventures.”

We sat and chatted, about past adventures we’ve had. She was surprised a ‘country boy’ like me had led such an interesting life. But her stories were still better, and longer than mine. And when I told her of the diamond cave, which I’d never told anyone of before, it was awe in her eyes, not greed.

I kinda liked her.

After our hours of chatting, I moved on, and shared tales with the other members of the crew (except Steve. He told me to bugger off). Hours became days, and after a week of sailing, with no land in sight, I became an integrated part of the crew, friends with all of them (except Steve. He told me to bugger off). I had also grown ill.

You see, I did not believe those stories of people getting nauseous at sea, because of the constant rocking of the boat. I do now. I spent a total of at least an hour each day over the side. It was embarrassing, but I soon got over it as well as the sickness itself.

I was beginning to think I’d made a big mistake, after three weeks, and that coming was not a good idea. I thought I would never see land again, that I would die here at sea. I almost began a campaign of complaining, then Bille called out:

“LAND!”

I jumped, half in surprise, half in joy. I peered over the side, and saw it. A hazy mass of land, blanketed in mists. I could see mountains, a large city, towers... It was a very beautiful sight. My dreams, of freedom, lay ahead of me. I saw it, with a tear in my eye.

Phantissare...

CHAPTER 3 Shut Down

We arrived at a port town, but there was no one around to help us. The others didn’t find this odd though, they just tied the boat to the pier, and stretched. It was so good to be back on land...

“There are two members of the crew for you to meet, kid.” Sal said, as I tied up the ship “They’re up north, having a little adventure. You’ll see, when we find them.”

Will stayed on the ship. He was too busy making repairs to bother with sight seeing right now. But what we found was probably best left alone.

We entered the city, and found it deserted. All the shops and homes were empty and ransacked. The streets were people-less. We came across a smithery, with great feats of iron and fire strewn about like rags. Bille picked up a perfectly good grapneling iron and examined it.

“I wonder what happened?” Steve asked, examining a broadsword.

“Raiders?” I suggested.

Bille slipped the grapnel into her pack, and honestly put it’s cost in money in the till. “Whatever happened,” she began “it must have been big. It looks like they just left everything...”

We continued roaming the empty streets, but then things got worse. We found bodies of the townsfolk. They seem to have all been slain, quite violently.

“This looks like a gun-wound” Sal said, in close examination of a fallen man with no hair.

“Guns, evolution of the crossbow. I think they’re the worst weapon we’ve made yet.” I nattered, no one really paying attention.

“Too bad they weren’t as big a fad as people thought they’d be.. that black powder Dragonsbain is some real gear stuff.” Steve joked.

“Well, their still rare enough... But the question is, why would someone raid this town? I heard it was neutral territory.” Bille sighed.

There was a bizarre ‘clunk’ off in the distance.

“Well, I think I just heard something more interesting than neutrality.” Steve snapped. We darted into shadowy hiding places, to escape whatever made the sound. Finding the hiding spots all taken by the felled members of the community, we darted back into the street.

“Right. Look, we need to do something, and quite frankly, I want to find out what the hell is going on.” Sal stated, with something less than confidence.

“Is that an order?” Steve hoped, totally disagreeing with her forced bravery.

“Damn straight. let’s go.”

We rounded a corner, and peered down a littered street. There was a young man, recently put away in a very unpleasant way. He was still bleeding warm blood. But we took very little notice of that. We were more fascinated in the creature that had done the deed.

It was head to toe mechanical. A small warmachine, only about two meters high. it walked stiffly on two legs, it’s headless body hunched forwards, It wheezed steam as it lumbered forwards, whatever engine it had clunking very dully. Lumbered...

“Uh...” I tried to point out, as we watched it in disbelief. “...it’s getting away.”

“Follow it! Come on...” Bille said, as she popped back into reality. With great clumsiness, we followed it.

it travelled relatively slow, just above normal walking speed. And, due to the machines lack of hearing, we crept along directly behind it. It didn’t take us long to reach the machines destination.

Before us was a large industrial site. There were huge towers, tankers, and... well... lots of heavy industrial equipment. Large pillars on the factory’s roof blew large clouds of steam into the air, and the whole place stank like oil. Hundreds of these machines were gathering in a courtyard just beyond the fence. The one we followed joined their ranks, while we slipped off, hopefully unnoticed.

“So now what.” Steve asked, hand resting eagerly on his sword’s hilt.

“There are only a few guards by that door.... “Sal judged “Well, they look like guards.”

“You don’t know what guards look like?” I said, with a hint of angry hilarity in my voice. She noticed, but didn’t say anything back. She didn’t need to. Steve had crept around the tanker we hid behind, snuck up on the sleepy guards, and put his sword to use. Damn he can use that thing!

With the guards out of the way, we easily snuck in the door. We followed the hall as far into the complex as we could. Then we went right. Then left. Then through a small door, down some stairs, right down another hall... no wait, or was it left up some stairs?

Well, to make it quick, we got lost very soon. we bypassed all the area’s with alert workers or guards, in fear of our safety. Then we found it. We walked right into it, without even realising it!

A storage closet.

Inside, we conferred. “What are we supposed to do, exactly.” I asked, really wanting to know.

“Uh, I don’t know. We’ve never snuck around an industrial factory before. never the less tried to sabotage one.”

“Of course.”

“Well, all we need to do is cut the power, right?” Bille asked. “And, the main power source shouldn’t be too hard for me to find....”

“Great idea, Bille. Let’s do that.”

We set out to... uh... well, whatever Bille had in mind. I asked how she could find the power source, and they told me to not ask stupid questions during a crisis. Amazingly, with Bille studying where we were heading, we stumbled into the power core.

Also, right into a card table, which held a delicate game of ‘skinner’, between three guards, and a supervising intendant. We were all very startled, and the eight of us jumped out of our skins! They they realised what was going on, and sprung into attack. The guards pulled their blades, and Steve drew his. Laughing happily, he occupied all three of them. The intendant hit an alarm, which sounded the loudest siren I had heard in my life. And I don’t think it was a good siren.

Sal drew her cutlass, and slit the intendant across the belly, too late to stop him from punching the alarm. Steve finished up his three opponents around the same time. Bille was already busy examining the power core, and I still stood in the doorway, ready to run when necicary.

“Looks simple enough...” Bille said, watching the components of the generator spin, click, and whine in a huge display of mechanical know-how, like a giant clock. She tore a length of exposed piping from the wall with her mechanical arm, and began to watch the gears of the generator clicking away.

The siren was really annoying...

Bille jammed the pipe into one of the gears. It was spat back out, with a small groan from the machine. “Oh, don’t you give me none of that!” She threatened, and rammed the pipe back in. She held it there with all her prowess, until it got firmly wedged between the gears.

The machine grumbled it’s disapproval, and began to shudder violently. Bille looked spooked. “Perhaps we should get out of here kinda quick...”

That was a very good idea..... and it was a real pity that we were lost in the heart of the factory... with a giant generator collapsing under it’s own power, ready to destroy itself, and the factory with it....

CHAPTER 4 Port Town

Panic! We dashed about the shaking room, as the lights grew dim... but the sparks of the failing generator countered that effect nicely. We sped out the door as fast as we could, and dashed down the hall. The guards and workers were all too spooked by the alarm and failing power to notice us. So, we followed the crowd as best we could.

Before we even had an idea where an exit was, there was a earth-shaking explosion. Everyone in the frightened mob was knocked right off their feet. The halls filled with smoke, the walls shook, and began to crumble. The lights, and siren, went dead. That explosion was followed by another, then another, and the hall we were in began to collapse right on top of us.

We fought our way through the crowds, and spilled out the exit just as the hall collapsed behind us, trapping the others. The mob began panicking to battle the fires that had broken out, and to save their fellow workers.... we, however, ran like hell, and didn’t look back.

The tankers began exploding, one after another... fiery wreckage raining upon the remains of the site.. the warmachiones were all destroyed, adding their own explosions to the overture of chaos.

To be brief, the industrial site had been annihilated.

We dashed back to the port town as fast we could, overjoyed at our victory! And the survivors of the raid, who were perfectly hidden until know, were out in the streets watching the large fireworks display.... We stopped, and looked back at the large pillar of flame with pride at a job well done.

An elderly man aproached us... he had three armed guards, but they were all very happy at us. “Who are you people? Are you responsible for this?”

I wasn’t thinking, I was too happy. I blurted out “Yeah!”

I realised only to late, that this person could have been the overseer of the factory, and I bit my tounge... we could be beheaded for this! Fortunatly, the mayor of the port town didn’t have such a reward in mind.

The mayor began babbling his thanks for destroying the factory which manufactured the warmachines. He explaned that the Terris corporation had build that plant to provide the town with work... but lately, the Terris corp. had come under new rule, and all of the local employees were fired, and no one in the town knew what was going on... until now. The port town had been the testing ground for this new breed of warmachine, and the design passed flawlessly.

The mayor offered us rewards of treasure, and advice. Sal declined the treasure offering, saying that the town could use the wealth more than they could... but we took the advice very seriously. Terris corp. was going to send someone to see what happened here... and it’d be best if we were gone by then.

Taking provisions and equipment, we plotted our trek to go north. Winter was aproaching fast, but we didn’t really care too much. The reson we came here was to meet up with two other crew members, and that’s what we were going to do.

Willium stayed with the Weatherlight, to take it for a sail, just long enough for everyone to forget what it looked like. And with our final farewells, we departed.

CHAPTER 5 Fire, Ice and Everything Nice

We spent a day traveling north, with few rests in our venture. Snow had fallen, and the temperature was steadily dropping. having spent so long on that island, I’d never been through a white winter before, and it was quite noticable by the others.

The second day the snow was comming down hard. A blizard was quite a spectacle to see, but I was still cold. We all were. We were bundled up in every spare inch of covering we could spare. Blankets, gloves, masks, goggles, shrowds, even medical gauze was used to cover bits of us when we ran out of things. Someone was even using the tent as a cloak, but I couldn’t tell who it was.

That evening, the snow stopped, and everything was calm, crisp and cold enough to freeze... well, to freeze water. Sorry, but I don’t want to over exadurate our situation.

Actually, this evening, when compaired to the previous snowstorm, was quite pleasent, and we set up a nice roaring fire.

We were sitting around it, all of us quiet, trying to thaw enough food to eat, when we heard something aproaching us. Whoever it was gave a chattery call of “What kind of creature could endure weather like this?”

Personaly, I didn’t recognise the voice. But the others did. “Kevin!” Sal called, standing. “And Jeirre!”

She dashed towards them, and the others followed. It seems we had found the two other crewmen we were looking for! Kevin, a yongue man, was the ships defender, better with a sword than Steve was. Jeirre, who had great troubles mastering English, was the ships doctor. The two adventured here to gather herbs and other medical items that the Weatherlight was running out of.

A quick chat about what adventures Kevin and Jeirre had had, the location of the nearest town, and the fact that we couldn’t go back to the nearest town after we blew up part of it abounded, all in good humor. Kevin, Jeirre and I were quickly introduced, making me feel that I was a very real part of the crew now. But with the weather slowly getting worse, we didn’t have all too long to admire the wilderness surrounding us.. and that made finding where we were on the map slightly hard.

We spent the night sleeping through a harsh blizzard...

But the next morning was calm and crisp, and the sun shined down on the tundra we were lost in.

“Alright people, we have to get to work finding out our location.” Sal said durring breakfast. “I can’t tell a thing from this map, and I dropped my compass into the snow sometime last night.”

“We could go in search parties, scout the land, then try to match it to the map...” Steve suggested.

“Er,” Jeirre spoke up “I thinks I wilt be stayink here with Sallé...”

“Right, then. Steve, your with Kevin. Bille, your with Thad. Jeirre and I will stay here, and try to keep an eye out for you. Try to be quick, though. It might not look it now, but the next storm might come very quickly.

We set out in our little parties, always cautious of where our tracks were left in the snow, so we could find our way back. Bille and I covered lots of ground, and she managed to remember every little detail so well. We saw clouds rolling in, and decided that we had done enough sight-seeing. We re-traced our steps, and arrived at the campsite just before the winds set in.

CHAPTER 6 Noises

We stepped into the tent, and Bille imediatly started to look at the map. I sat down by the hot lamp, and realised we were two people short. “Where are Steve and Kevin?” I asked.

Sal shook her head at me. “They aren’t back yet. Don’t worry, they’ll make it.”

But as time passed, they didn’t come back. Hours, and meals passed, but there was no sign of them. A new storm had rolled in, and it was getting dark.

“I know where we are, and where we have to go, Sal...” Bille said, pointing out our possition. Sal examined it and shook her head.

“We have to go find them. We can’t leave our two swordsmen lost in a snowscape. We have to get them before we can leave.” Sal stated, getting her bundles togeather “....order, everyone”

we packed up camp, and set out in the direction we lost Steve and Kevin to. It was dark, and our lanterns lit very little else than the snow in front of our faces. We searched as hard as we could, calling out their names...

Night had fallen, but the storm was letting up, and the snow fell lightly. The howling wind had stopped, but in it’s place was an even eerier sound. A deep, rumbling hum. Dispite the noise, we continued our search. The land was getting rockey, and thick trees blocked our view. and the humming kept getting louder, and louder... Where were they??

CHAPTER 7 Frostbite

Just as I was starting to lose hope, I saw something move in the distance of my lantern’s light. It was human! We dashed towards it, and found Steve, frozen. But he was alive. He was frostbitten all over. Jeirre quickly looked him over, to make sure he wasn’t seriously injured...

He was unconsious, but alive, and healthy. Any longer, and his body might have started so die from the frostbite...

But the worst part was Kevin was nowhere to be seen. There were traces that he might have gone further ahead, but his tracks were lost in the snow.

“What IS that humming?” Bille said, on edge. With close attention, we could hear all sorts of other sounds echoing through the hills too.. clanks, moans, clunks...

“Jeirre, is it safe to carry Steve?” Sal asked.

“Weh, mayhaps, baht we need to ceep hem warm, mustofal.”

Bille was checking the map “Um, Sal... I think we need to check that sound.”

“Why? What does the map say is there?” I said, ignored. We managed to bundle up Steve. We started to climb a steep hill, and the noises grew louder.

As we capped the starp crest of the hill, I saw it... it was the largest peice of industrial realistate I had ever seen! The hugest mechanical, chemical, and electrical factory in this part of the world lay before us, glowing in dozens of spot-lights, illuminated windows, search-lights and lamposts. Smoke and waste energy-plasma vented from it, catching the lights, making the entire valley it lay in glow.

As I sat and marveled, the others read the name of the industry on the billboard sign. This was Terris Corp.

“So what are we here to do?” Sal said to herself. “We couldn’t possibly leave them alone, after seeing what they did at the Port Town.”

“Your thinking of blowing up this place too?” Bille asked, seeming tired.

“What other choice do we have? Look...” She pointed to the yard. Under the bright Halijen lights, were hundreds of war machines. Mass production was already underway.

“Those things are too dangerous. Besides, Terris Corp. is way overdue for something nasty happening. And making murder machines is a good excuse to try to burst their bubbles.”

“I somewhat agree...” I said, cautiously “but how in the blue blazes are we going to do it? There are as many guards as warmachines in the yard.”

“Kid...” Sal said, looking at me sternly “If this is as bad as it looks, we’d get killed by those things anyway. Now, do you want it to be months, from now... or do you want to try to stop it from happening?”

“Good enough for me” Bille said “Lets get shakin’”

“Deume merde” Jeirre said in his native tongue. I think I’m better off not knowing what he was trying to say. Looks like this was it for us, time to go save the world.

CHAPTER 8 Avent

We snuk down to the edge of our tree-cover, and pondered. How was the best way to get in? I took a sharp look to the side, and saw our entrance. There was a train, heading towards the factory’s gates.

Suggestion approved, we dashed towards the train, avoided the snow that blew in our faces from it’s roaring wheels, and grabbed a hold. We hid between the cars, and actually managed to keep Steve with us. He had regained consiousness, but could hardly move, besides a few shivers. For now, all he had to do was hold on, as the train entered the factory.

We actually managed to slip in, and hide in the shadows of the train’s depot, unnoticed. “Now what?” I whispered.

“Now, we just have to find the main power source...” Sal said, as if this would be as easy as it was last time.

“No good...” Bille said, thinking “There are dozens of generators, one for every section of this place...”

There was a long pause, we we thought...

“What about....” Bille said shushed, an idea in her eye “..the waste energy we saw them venting? If we could shut off those vents...”

“Kaboom,” Sal said, unenthusiasticaly “and it seems very easy. We just have to find a control pannel to make the kaboom with.”

Sal must have said ‘kaboom’ a bit too much, because, pretty soon, we had people pointing at us. Quickly, we had to get up and run, because then the shouting began. I could hear the familiar engine whines and footsteps of the warmachine we saw at the Port town, and just before we hid down a doorway, I caught a glimps of three of them, standing, ready to fire into our corner.

Behind the doorway was a long hall, and we sprinted in. We dashed to the safest spot we could, find, and hid inside a near-by room, which appeared to be a very dark storage room. We could hear the heavy mechanical footsteps of a warmachine comming down the hall... we thought we were safe, but we were trapped!

“Where now!?”I asked, scared.

Bille crawled behind a shelf of stored objects, and tore something metalic. We went to join her, and saw she found a large vent, and had just popped off the grille. Without any delay, we were all on hands and knees, crawling into the vent, Bille re-attatching the mesh.

We crawled for about ten minutes, as quietly as we could. They couldn’t find us, or we’d have been dead by now... We stopped for a minute to think...

“First of all... does anyone know where we’re going...” Sal said, getting no answer. “Second of all, who’s going to stay here and hide with Steve. He’s in no condition to be having adventures right now...” Jeirre offered to stay hidden quite quickly. Steve just shivered his insult. “Alright... lastly...”

“Wait” I interupted. Something was wrong, different.. I could feel it...

“What’s up?” Sal asked, not liking being interupted.

“shh... I think I hear it too...” Bille said, sitting back, listening.

It was hard to hear, but we could make out one sound: a child crying...

Bille and I made our way down the vent, before the sound was clear... it was a whole group of people, crying and shaking in fear. We looked out the vent, and saw a row of prison cells, each filled with more people than they should be holding...

Instantly, we were out of the vent. Two lone guards sat at a table, and nearly jumped out of their skins when we arrived. Quickly, Bille and Sal dispatched them, while I grabed the keys. Quickly, we started opening the cages, much to the delight of the poor prisoners... Terris wasn’t law enforcement, and most of the prisoners were very small.. there was no way they could be guilty criminals.

Just as we opened the last cell, the door burst open, and a warmachine forced its way in, guns aimed and ready....

CHAPTER 9 Escape

Wide-eyes, we failed at stairing down the machine, and began to cram ourselves into the vents from whence we came. The warmachine opened fire from the doorway, and a hail of bullets flew past our heads. We got into the vents as fast as we could, and started to escape, little pellets of death flying all around us. I’m not sure how many, but I know a few of the prisoners fell under the surprise attack.

We continued down the vent, and returned to where we left Steve and Jeirre... but we couldn’t find a trace of either of them! Panicing, we had to decide how to get the blazes out of here!

“We can’t go yet!” Bille complained “we have to find Steve, Kevin and Jeirre! And we still haven’t blow this place up enough!”

“There’s no time!” Sal argued “They’re all around us, and they’re going to kill us! They’ll find us soon unless we could get out of here!”

“There... there’s a town, our town, not far from here...” one of the prisoners spoke up “...we were taken here from there, on a train... maybe...”

“That’s it! The train, it’s our only chance!”

We back-tracked, and made our way to the train depo again, relitivly safe. But as soon as we got out into the open, we were spotted, and the guards were approaching, swords drawn.

We managed to get the prisoners aboard the train, just before the guards began their assault. I stayed back, guarding the prisoners with our bare hands, while Sal and Bille fought off the guards.

We had to get this train moving! I tried to get to the engine, but was tackled by a guard. I rolled over, and belted him one across his jaw before he could strike with his sword. It knocked him off guard long enough for me to grab his head, and hit it against the side of the train, and swipe his weapon.

When I rose, and turned to continue my dash towards the engine, I saw a small myrad of guards, with two warmachine back-ups. This was hopeless! they were closing in fast, and our only escape route is blocked!

Thats when Kevin and Steve showed up! They began an instant battle with the guards, managing to keep out of aim of the warmachines, and the battle raged. Steve, who was behind the group, broke for the engine, while Kevin, who was in front, managed to keep the guards occupied.

Steve must have known what he was doing, because the train started to lurch forward. Sal, Kevin, Bille and I hoped aboard, and protected ourselves and the prisoners, as we picked up steam. About a dozen warmachines were in the depot now, and they had all opened fire, riddling the train with small bullet holes, but we were to far, too fast for them to land a single wound upon us.

The train roared out of Terris corp, and down the snowy track, into the dark, cold falling snow. As we sped away, I glanced over my shoulder, and watched the glowing factory fade out of view...

CHAPTER 10 Tills

We had stopped in the city the prisoners mentioned. This place was as over-turned as the Port Town, and just as empty.

We sat in the remains of the local tavern, and needed some pieces of the gap filled in, about exactly what happened last night... Steve got his drink, and started to tell the tale...

“Well, Kevin and I were out looking for landmarks, when we heard those weird noises... we found that Terris factory, and went to investigate... but we were spotted by the guards. We managed to hide, but they were closing in, and the storm had picked up outside. Kevin didn’t want to make a run for it like I did, so I broke for it... And got frozen, without my gear...”

“Sal,” Kevin added “I knew like toy did that factory had to be stopped. Those energy vents are a pretty good bet, and I think I know the area where those controls would be found...”

“Anyway,” Steve continued “After you found me, and brought me into that vent, and left me with Jeirre... well, those vents were nice and warm, and I thawed pretty quick. That’s when Jeirre and I went exploring, trying to see if we could find out what happened to Kevin. We managed to find him somewhere near the train depot, but we were cornered by guards.. we managed to fight our way out, but Jeirre was captured.”

“Jeirre...” Sal sighed... “I hope he’s alright.”

“I hope it’s nothing horrible.. I hope he’s sitting in one of those simple cells right now...” kevin sighed.

“Well, actually...” a small boy said, who was listening to our story the whole time “..terrorists are usualy taken to the castle of the President of Terris corp.. they get kinda.. executed..”

We looked at him in disbeleif. “What do you know about this?” I asked.

“Well, I know that they killed my town, and captured us for some experimenting.. there were a lot more of us in those cells before you came...”

“What kind of experiments?” bille asked.

“Well, you should know... you kinda look like one of them.”

Bille nodded her head quietly, and rubbed imaginaty pains in her metalic arm...

We tried to not spend much time in this city.. we got th elittle supplies we needed, and went off to find the castle that Jeirre was in.. I just hope we weren’t too late.

As we hopped on the train that would take us back to the area where the castle sat, the little boy joined us too, right when we picked up too much steam to kick him off.

“What are you doing, kid?” Steve complained, as one more person was added to the mob inside the engine.

“I’m comming too!” he argued.

“No you aren’t kid, we--” Sal tried to explain, but the kid wasn’t in the mood for it.

“These guys ruined my town, killed my family, and are doing who knows what to the people I know. I don’t have anything left now because of them, and I’m going to have to fight them, with or without you. I have a clue as to what’s going on, and I thought you might need one.”

Well, the kid was good on speaches!

“...what’s your name, Kid?” Sal asked, smiling.

“..I’m Tills...” he replied, suddenly a lot quieter.

“Well come on Captain...” I said “I kinda like the kid.”

“We promise we’ll keep him safe” Bille said.

“Tills, can you fight?” kevin asked, making a very good point. “Can you not-die?”

“I could out last you, mister” he joked.

After several quick introductions, Tills had joined our party.

“So, what’s he going to do for us, on the ship?” Steve asked.

Sal didn’t look all to much like it mattered. “We’ll figure that out when we get back there. Right now...” Sal looked out the window to the large steams and glows of the factory, just over the next hill “.. we got something more important to do.”

CHAPTER 11 The Castle

We stopped the train in the vicinity of the large factory, and managed to sneak around it through the bit of tree-cover that still existed. The castle-mannor of the Terris Corp. Presedent looked much like your everyday ancient building, made of stone and dust. It seemed fairly run-down, and everywhere there was dammage to the walls, modern building materials and styles were used. It seems this castle has been renivated, but since ignored.

We pondered exactly how we might get in. Security was built up at both the factory and castle, and there didn’t really seem to be any chance we might make it. First, we had to guess where Jeirre was...

Sal was scanning the building with her telescopic viewing glass, examining the fortification of the complex before us, when she came across something very startling, and funny.

“Do you have any idea what I just spotted?” She asked calmly, carefully watching.

“I have an idea, but I’m sure it’s wrong.” Kevin joked.

“What do you see?” Tills asked, looking over her shoulder.

“I can see him.. he’s in a cell with a window!”

“Outstanding!” Steve grined “now, how do we get to him?”

“There are very few guards along that wall... sun’s setting behind us, they’re all looking the other way.” Sal commented “But I don’t see any doors...”

“Well, um,” Bille said, tapping Sal’s shoulder “I have a grapneling iron with me... if I attatched a rope, I could probably get it up to that window...”

“It’s a plan!” I noted “But are you sure you can get over there, without being seen? It’s quite a sprinting distance, and all open.”

Silence.

“We need a diversion!” Tills proposed. “If we started dancing or something, make them not look at Bille, then---”

“What? How half-witted are you kid?” Steve argued.

“No wait... I think he might have something..” I said, and got nasty looks “no, really... maybe if we started a fire or something, say, inside the castle? That would be a great diversion.”

“Well, why not? So, how do we make a fire?” Bille asked.

“Hold it...” Steve said, reacing into his backpack and removing a bottle of gin. “We can always do it the old fasioned way...”

“A molotov?” I smiled, as Steve tore some spare cloth from a blanket.

“Precisely kid. Who has a light?”

Steve fed the cloth down into the bottle of flamible alchohol, and we lit the ‘fuse’ with a lantern. Bille was given the fire-bomb, and with all the kick of her clockwork arm, she chucked the bomb towards the castle. Right on mark, it landed within the walls, and in a few minutes, smoke multiplying from wisp to collumn, all the guards had left to go combat it.

Without sparing any time, we dashed to the castle wall, and Bille threw the grapnel to Jeirre’s window. It shattered the glass and held onto the bars fixed over it. Steve was elected to go up, for his great climbing skills. He had reached the window, and Jeirre, before he realized there was no way to get through the bars.

“Now what??” they shouted from above. We thought as quick as we could, trying to find a solution.

“w-w-w-waite...” Jeirre stuttered, idea in head. “Stefe, have you any shooters left?”

“What??” he asked, confused.

“shooters! Shooters, fom sa gun, de rifle, what they shoot!” jeirre said franticaly, gesuring the act of firing a rifle.

“oh, Bullets!!” Steve said triumphantly. Jeirre nodded.

“What are you talking about?” Sal asked.

“When we were in the Terris factory, we stole some bullets from a guards gun, when you guys were off saving your friends!” Steve said, pulling one out, and jamming it between the bars and wall, where they were screwed togeather. He drew his sword, and holding onto the bars, hammered the hilt against the bullet, causing a small explosion, powerful enough to blast the bars apart from the wall.

They still held firm, and he tried again in a different corner, getting the succeess of knocking the bars loose. Jeirre and Steve worked with all their might, and jarred the bars open enough for Jeirre to squeeze through, and the two came down the rope togeather.

“Well, that was easy.” I joked. Immediatly, the shoutings inside the castle became less of a ‘fire! fire!’ nature, and more of a ‘he’s gone!’ one. After a loud call of ‘search the castle’ from someone important, we dicided to bolt out of there, our diversion’s spunk used up.

First, we tried dashing back at the trees, but all we got was a “There they are!” cry, and several crossbow bolts landing just meters from us. We returned to the castle, and hid inside an alcove.

“Plan B?” I asked, worried.

“We can’t stand a chance against long-range attackers. We can only do well against people hand-to-hand...” Kevin said.

“So what, stay here and fight everyone that gets near us?” Steve said, hopeful.

“Well, what I was thinking...” Kevin said “There’s a connecting tunnel from the castle to the factory... we might as well go back there, and blow it up this time.”

“Novel plan, Kevin.” Bille stated, breaking down the door at the end of the alcove. “Just lead the way.”


NEXT: Return to Terris Corp.