Nothing but vapor filled the room. Already I was becoming light headed, and a sleepy grin appeared on my face. I nearly lost myself, but remembered that I needed information.
I nearly relapsed into an opium addiction with such vapors swirling around me, but no, I had to persevere.
Ahh, there he was. 'Ol Clanky the Crank. Just a brain in a jar, a pair of lungs, and some life-support equipment to keep his heart pumping. Fuckin' miserable, save for the opium machine he has hooked up to his gear-riddled assembly. But this piece of shit would know what I need. I put on my serious-face, and approached. "Hey ol' Clank, what'chu up to, eh?"
His cogs began spinning faster, clearly responding to his sudden need for mental clarity and oxygen. Such a sick fool. A reed-pipe began emitting steam, just a few puffs at first, until it grew louder. Shrill shrieks of steam pushed through the hole, filling the air with its whistling. Oh, it was horrible, but also quite clever. Morse code. Screech screech. How dreadful. But I listened, deciphering it a bit slowly, as I was still fully organic.
I responded, "Well, enough with those uh, pleasantries. You know about Angelina, right? That girl." Screech. "Yeah, the missing one. I'll get out my welder if you don't give me a good answer. Here's some flattery for ya: I know you know everything that goes down in the dark side of town. Yeah, you're great for that sort of thing. So do you know her last location or who she was seen with?"
Clank wasn't cooperating. Huff. I threw him a few dollars, at least enough to buy a few hours more opium. That did the trick. My head began to hurt as the steam-chamber boiled and built up enough pressure to continue screeching like a damned teapot from hell. Hideous brain machine with its heart exposed in only a glass jar. Just hideous. But useful for surviving absurd doses of opium, I'm sure.
Screech screech screeeeeech, and on he went, jabbering about some shit that I don't care about, until he morsed out Angelina's name. Yes, that's it, go on you greasy opium machine. "So she really was sold into slavery? That sort of slavery? How troublesome. Anyways, thanks for your time, uh, sir. Enjoy the rest of your day."
I walked out of the parlor before the vapors did any more harm to my poor head, exiting onto a filthy street, mere cobbled stone trying it's damned hardest to look like an actual proper street. Lanterns cast a hazy, yellow glow, although more than half were dead and out of oil.
But Angelina sold into slavery? An aristocratic lady like her ought not to even deal with those sorts of people. Was it for a ransom? Or just because she's so lovely and well-taken care of? Did she owe them money? Tsk, whatever it is, it's my job to track her down. I patted the small bag of gold that I recently got filled up for taking the assignment. And another half was coming once she was returned. Stupid girl. At least wealthy aristocrats pay well.
I shrugged with a bit of sadness as I made a call on a public morse-terminal. I would need to pay off an old friend. And maybe get her to join me. Thugs that steal girls like Angelina might be too much for me alone, so I'm not about to risk my neck just for mere gold. At least not too much risk.
"Aye, it's me. Yup. Yeah, shut up you damned cow, I've got your gold. I'm at morse-term #326. Yeah, I'll wait near the tube then. See ya soon, Cassie."
I walked over to the tube, and oh lord, how is she gonna fit? A pneumatic tube disaster was what this was gonna be. All sorts of stories of mangled children coming out all wrong, but eh, if you just keep yourself all bundled up, it generally goes fine. And Cassie slipped out of the greasy tube just fine, so I guess she knew the drill. Like accursed lightning though, she had me by the throat. Ouch. "Where da fuck is my money then, eh?"
I spat in her face in response. Absurd girl. Cassie might be cute, but it's sure as fuck not uh, conventional. Whatever though, she let go, likely assuming I'd need to hand it to her before she can get it. "Well?" She held out a hand, and I dug into my wallet and gave her a few nuggets of gold. Ain't nothing to me though. I had a lot more. Heheh.
"There, you crazy bitch. Now I can double that for ya if you join me. I need some help dealing with the nasty sorts." Cassie grinned greedily, "I want double point one."
"More? Your greed is absurd. How about no, sis? I'm doubling straight, and nothing but." Cassie scowled. "Fine."
Heh. I always get what I want from Cassie. Poor, desperate people who eat their entire paycheck and save nothing are easy to manipulate. Not to say I'm manipulating. It's still a decent handful of gold, considering it's a one-night job. "And we're starting now. Let's go."
"Oi, where the fuck are you going Cassie?" And in she went into the opium den, as if she needed information or something sketchy. No, knowing Cassie, she's the sort that would actually go into the opium den just to get a puff of opium. And right before a job too. Sheesh. I'll just tap my foot as I wait outside, and ah, here she is. All blushy and aroused. What a dirty girl. "For the bloodlust... hehehuck," she giggles. Just filthy.
"Right. Let's get going, Cass. If you die, I'm taking back your gold, you know." Cassie giggled fiercely at me, "I ain't dying. I'm killin'."
And is that her killin' face? Cute, but a bit scary.
I take off, slinking deeper into the alley. The further I go, the less lanterns are lit, and the less lanterns even have unbroken glass. Must everything be filthy and broken down here? Well, it is what it is. Fuck it, let's do this.
And would ya look at that. Sewer-holes don't normally have spoked vault handles on them, do they? Hmm, looks like this is the place. But if there's a vault handle, could it be locked? I'll just give it a kick to see if it spins then. Ow. It's locked.
Cassie gives me a look, and takes out a stick of dynamite from her pack. Wait what? "Cassie, you can't be seriously walking around with that, are you? Holy nuts Cassie... Fine. Do it, but let me get way over here first." I scuttle way back to safety behind a street corner, and watch her set the dynamite and light it. She's actually doing it. I cover my ears and wait as she sits near me, both of us hoping the brick wall holds.
Boom. What a blast. I pull out my pistol, and stuff some ammo in my other hand for my reload, and nod to Cassie. We get up and start running.
I enter the compound, and immediately see guards running at us. Bam. Dead. And Cassie takes out the other one, probably dripping like a damned whore from her bloodlust issue, at least judging from her sick smile.
At least she's effective. We enter deeper, taking twist after twist, and turning through what feels like a maze. More guards? Bam. Just fuckin' kill 'em! They're not worth a thought, seeing as they'd do the same to me.
At last we enter a larger chamber. Oh shit. The bossman is big and very, very metal. I launch two bullets at what I hope is his head, but they bounce off with metallic clangs. Shit. He spots us and looks angry and murderous. What's that massive black tube that he's holding...?
I duck, and begin reloading, hoping Cassie can cover for me. Oh no, she's a goner. Hahah; I chuckle sadly as I hear a gatling gun spin up. And Cassie doesn't have a gatling gun. Bang bang rip tear, and screaming. Her body collapses near mine. I silently thank her as I see her pistol smoking and empty.
Maybe she got a good hit. I look up, to see the damage, and sure enough, the bossman is reeling, his legs tumbling and unable to support his weight. He crashes down, gatling gun still spinning, but not shooting.
Whatever, it's time to take a risk for my money. I need that second half, right? I get up and run fast, trying to get behind the monstrosity. I jump and cling to his frame, grinning as I pump bullet after bullet into whatever part of him is still flesh, hiding myself safely behind his gatling gun. This is too easy. I smash open his glass brain-case, and rip the entire thing out, watching it flop on the floor, sparking a bit as it short-circuits. Just a broken machine now.
With that out of the way, I look around the chamber, wondering as to where dear Angelina is. Oh lord, is that her? Locked up in a cage like that? Sigh. I should have known.
She was a robot. Full metal, probably not even a brain. Just a full, absolute mechanical bitch made of iron and steel. Damn those wealthy aristocrats and their little perversions. You can't just build a maiden out of steel.
Or maybe you can.
Either way, she was gorgeous and shining with a luster I've never seen in cheap metal, like Ol' Clank. Well, my job was to save Angelina and bring her back, so that's what I'll do.
Of course I jumped with a spook as Cassie's head scuttled off to the wreckage that was the bossman. Heads ought to not walk like spiders on such spindly legs, no? The legs crawled up the side of the bossman machine, and implanted themselves deeply into where the brain that I ripped out once sat.
Disgusting. But at least we'll be able to carry dear Angelina more easily, with such a powerful mech-frame. Cassie shouted to me, "I'm alright. But you already knew I'd be. Now lemme help you with that robot girl thing."
I went over to help lift Angelina...
But did we have to? Angelina opened her eyes and sat up. Her eyes were glowing light, shining with an aura that awed me utterly. Nigh enlightened me.
The machine spoke: "I have calculated all things in this world.
Each effect has a cause.
Each action has a reaction. And like a chain of dominoes, I have watched each one fall, utilizing my advanced processing capabilities.
There is no hope."
Angelina lifted a gun to her head.
"There is no hope at all."
TO BE CONTINUED.