Milo’s Bane-Part 2
“GAAAHHH!!!…*faint* goes Milo
Rudely awakened with a slap to the face, Milo comes to in a hurry. Looking around himself he sees he and his fellow Prometheans are bound and kneeling in what looks like a quarry. Massive earthworks and excavations surround them, the sounds and vibrations of heavy industry coming up through rock. Thousands of slaves work in the blistering sun, hauling debris out and tools and timbers in, focused so intently on avoiding the lash that they “fail” to notice the prisoners.
“Awake at last eh my boy…” chuckles Clyde, “what do you think of our little sand box?”
Milo grunts a reply that earns him another backhand.
“We shan’t be having any of that old boy”, quips Clyde, “you’ll answer any questions asked of you until I say otherwise.”
Spitting blood to the side, Milo mutters “Sure, why not…what is this place anyway?”
“See…now we’re communicating and all civil and such, much nicer than the other way, “says Clyde. “As to what it is you’re seeing…or rather witnessing…A rebirth, a new Era…a treasure hunt of the grandest kind…you are seeing YOUR future Milo, your future being taken by those who are better than you!” Clyde sneers as he finishes speaking. “Better in every way than you and your STUPID GUILD…who are you to have this birthright, WHO ARE YOU!!?!” rants Clyde, losing his composure.
Milo sits back, wondering just what kind of madman he’s dealing with when a slave runs up to Clyde with a message.
“It’s about time…come on Milo, we’ve broken through the third tier and its guardians are dead, time for you to earn your pay” Clyde chuckles.
Untied and standing, Milo glances at his troopers still kneeling in the dust and sun, heads held proud and defiantly. Catching their eyes the message is clear, “do what you have to our lives are yours sir” they seem to say without speaking. Before anything more can pass between the soldiers and their captain, Milo is shoved along guarded by Clyde and two of his assassin-soldiers. Drawing closer to what must be the entrance to the “tiers” as Clyde called them, a great gaping wound in the earth, Milo begins to get a sense of strange familiarity and smiles, eager to see if his hunch is correct.
Swallowed by darkness, guided by the few lanterns the guards carry, Milo and Clyde descend down a long tunnel, sides far to smooth for modern methods, large enough to pass a slave galleon without trouble. Strange, curving runes cover the walls from floor to ceiling in a wondrous tangle of information, if only one could read them.
“What do they say Milo? We know you have knowledge of this writing …what’s it say?” Clyde almost sounds humble as he asks, the look of innocent pleading being mugged in a dark alleyway in his eyes.
“I…I can’t read them all, these here are so old and worn, these are different than the others and these say…gibberish.” says Milo as he gestures from spot to spot, “it would take a lifetime to understand and translate this mess, unless…unless there’s a key you’re not showing me?”
“There is quite a bit I’m not showing you Milo, now come one…we’ve got a ways to go yet” replies Clyde.
Continuing down the tunnel, they begin to feel an increase in the temperature and vibrations that had, up until now, been a background consideration. The noise rose in volume, reaching painful thresholds before dying back down, clangs bangs and whistles to signal…what?
As they reach the end of the tunnel and step out onto a platform, Milo sees something he hasn’t in a long time…the great machine that helped him so many years ago, that sent him and Atlas up to slaughter a Waaaggh that could have killed hundreds of thousands if left unchecked. The pistons and gears as grand and huge as before, the fire and smoke just as ominous and obscuring…now where was the old man…?
“Not as impressed as one might think Milo, you musta seen this before right…right…we know all about it and your big toy” says Clyde.
As Clyde opens his mouth to spout more evil guy dialogue, a small brass and gold automata walks out of the shadows, clanking and whizzing quietly to itself. It begins to inspect the boots and cloak ends of the guards, seemingly engrossed in its task. Fascinated by the contraption, one of the guards bends down to inspect it more closely, possibly intending to take it as his own. It is the last thing he ever does. Before the little machine can be touched it….changes…in demeanor, if such a term can be applied to a piece of metal with no face. Growing antagonistic, it produces a blade not more than six inches long and with speed surprising in one so small jumps up and slashes the guards throat before running back into the shadows.
“FUCK!!” yells Clyde, “WHAT THE FUCK! WHAT THE FUCK WAS THAT!?!”
Stumbling in confusion, the guards are helpless to respond. Despite their formidable training and equipment, they are as children in this monstrous machine marvel, completely unprepared as a wave of constructs comes crashing into them. Led by the tiny one, the automata wield various implements of construction, from saws to drills and blades and hammers. As distinct and varied as can be, untrained and chaotic, the swarm sweeps aside the remaining guards, hacking and smashing them to the ground, leaving Clyde and Milo in a cleared circle, surrounded by tiny killing machines…face to face…alone…
“I think they realize I want to kill you Clyde” Milo says.
Clyde draws his sword, knowing Milo is correct and wishing to die fighting. Taking a dualist stance with a flourish he prepares to attack knowing Milo has no sword to defend himself with.
“How you gonna do that you peasant! HOW ARE YOU GOING TO KILL ME!!” rants Clyde, “I, WHO HAVE TRAINED WITH THE BEST…HOW!!”
As Clyde prepares to lunge, to impale Milo in the heart and end the fight quickly to try to make an escape, Milo draws his hand cannon, proprietary tech from the Guild sent with Milo for just such an occurrence and hidden until now…and fires!
BANG! and smoke…the eyes adjusting after the flash…Clyde dead, blood pooling around him…
“You don’t know all our secrets Clyde…” says Milo.
As he turns to regard the tiny machines that saved his life, not quite sure if he’s the next target, Milo hears the shuffle shuffle of elderly feet and a small chuckle…