Milo’s Bane-Part 3
“You are full of secrets young man, full and full…you’ll make a fine keeper one day…but now, now you must cleanse this place…cleanse this isle of those who would use it to access the greater machine…GO!” exhorts the Keeper, the ancient man who Milo first met years ago.
“I thought I’d find you here old man…” grins Milo.
“Yes yes, you did find…not only me but your place…a safe place…this island is separate from the Great Machine, from the World…from here you can be safe, you can strike at those who would harm the Machine…harm the World…here you will have a fortress…a fortress and an army an army of your making…save the World Milo…” and with that the Keeper slips back into darkness, walking lost pathways through the World Machine. Pathways only he knows of leading back to the long dark of his labor. Holstering his hand cannon, Milo turns to the clanks that saved him, the leader standing just a ways in front of the rest, and says “You guys want to help…there’s folks out there need killing and my people need saving. Please, help me…”
Without a word being said amongst them, the clanks begin to march towards the exit, a sense of war-making in their steps. Milo follows, knowing that he’ll have just one chance to save his people and clear the island of the Consortiums forces.
“Hunt the soldiers that came here before us, drive them to the beach…kill who you can but don’t sacrifice yourselves” he tells the tiny war machines, “my ship waits in the harbor with weapons on board that can handle a small army. We’ll take care of this the Guild way, overwhelming technological superiority and a healthy dose of kick ‘em in the teeth!” Grinning to himself, Milo sets off on his own after giving a message to be delivered to his second in command. “WAIT!” yells the Keeper, jumping out of the brush once Milo is alone, “you’ll need these.” He hands Milo a sword and shield, obviously of ‘Lantean manufacture…the gold and silver details still shining after who knows how many centuries…the sword, named Dues Automata feels as though it was made for his hand…the shield a stunning example of the work of the ‘Lanteans, capable of stopping directed energy blasts from the most powerful of mages.
Armed and prepared as best he can be, Milo heads for the cliff top sanctuary of the Consortium. Stopping just outside of bow range and staying hidden in the brush, Milo surveys the approach. A winding path without cover, visible by all lookouts and undoubtedly guarded by the dread Assassin soldiers is his only way in. Deciding that stealth is not an option he opts for loud and bold. Stepping from the brush, holding his sword and shield in plain sight he begins to climb the path. Feeling bow strings relax and eyes shift, he knows he’s made the only choice available to him…to walk into a lion’s den with bloody hands would be easier, and perhaps safer. Once at the top Milo is surprised to find only three men in suits, standing, waiting…
“Who are you and what do you want with me,” Milo asks.
“We are like you in so many ways young man” says one… “We share your birthright in a way” continues the next… “We want what you want, the knowledge held here…the knowledge of the World Machine” finishes the third. As the men in suits speak the sounds of dying soldiers and the boom of cannon fire can be hear from the beach.
“Whatever you want will have to wait, your men are dying and this island is now mine…” says Milo.
“HA!” laughs one, “We don’t care about a few hundred men in comparison to this place” adds the second… “TAKE HIM!” shouts the third and with that the fight is on.
Milo, trained by the best of the Guild and armed with ancient tech is only just able to hold his own against these seemingly frail old men. Like fighting ghosts he slashes and parries, taking small wounds meant to slow him down. Watching the dirt at his feet he begins to see a pattern, three creatures working in unison…a difficult thing to beat, unless you cause them to beat themselves. Taking a daring risk he lunges for the closest drawing an attack from another. Just before the blow can land Milo shifts his weight and rolls, ducking under the sword arm of one and hearing the satisfying crunch of sword blade in flesh. Wounding each other doesn’t seem to slow them down much though…when Milo catches a glimpse of brass and steel under the flesh of the wounded man.
“WHAT THE ‘ELL ARE YOU?!”
They speak in unison, an eerie reverberation of one another “We are the lost children of ‘Lantis…we are the ones they built to help serve YOUR kind and we were forgotten and ABONDONED by our makers…now we seek access to the halls of our fathers, the Great Machine is ours by right and WE WILL HAVE IT!” With that they lunge, all sense of strategy lost in heat and rage. Milo swings and stabs, blocking blows that would crack stone on the ancient shield he now carries. As he fights he feels…something…building. A fire in his heart and sword arm, a glow around his blade.
Seeing his blood manifest the constructs scream in anguish and double their efforts. With a strength and speed of a godling, Milo sees the battle as a series of still pictures, able to react to the attacks of his foes with ease, block and severing arms and heads from split torsos until, as quickly as the feeling came it fades leaving Milo spent and weary amidst a heap of broken parts and whirling gears. The heads the last thing to die, screaming in machine code a curse and plague on Milo and his people. To serve the Machine, forgotten and alone, until no longer need…his Bane.
Several days later, after the last of the Consortium forces were mopped up, Milo begins the laborious task of hiding this island from the Guild and rebuilding the fortress leading to the Entrance. In his efforts he will come across a library left by the ‘Lanteans, detailing not only the hidden history of the world, but also the nature of the Great Machine and the importance of the island…the world will tremble when the truth is known…