The Woman

Mortimer stepped back and licked his lips nervously. He had meddled with direct neural interfaces back in the city but that had involved invasive surgery and fatal doses of highly illegal substances. To generate a psychic bridge against the will of the recipient... fascinating. Who could have done this? The Elesians of course, or some sort of Delve based mutation?The clockwork king was rumoured to...

"It is very rude to talk about me as if I am not here." The woman snapped, throwing aside the cloth she was holding and rising to meet his gaze.

"I didn't say anything..." He began to reply and then realised that once again her lips had not moved. "Oh I see, my apologies." He managed as her eyes held his own and his brain began to tingle and itch like a swarm of ants were crawling inside his skull.

He blinked and she was standing directly in front of him. He could not recall her moving. Someone outside the cell screamed as if in agony and then other voices were shouting. Someone was banging against the other side of the door trying to get in.

The woman ran her finger along his jaw and suddenly it was Edward Hanton standing there. He hooked his finger under Mortimers chin and drew his face up to meet his own. One eye filled with burning hatred and the other cold and dead.

"Time to pay the piper." He whispered. Mavromichali screamed out and stumbled back... back into the grand hall at the Epistemological Society of Savants. He stood behind a low desk his eyes fixed on the council of old men, his colleagues, his mentors. All here to judge him.

"Mavromichali Mortimer you are hereby stripped of all rank and privilege afforded to you as a member of this society. You will be cast out and furthermore commended to the City Council for a sentence of no less than ten years in the Black Gallows..."

"No!" He screamed out and pushed the desk aside and with it the vision of the hall. He was on the floor now the woman crouched over him a hungry look in her eyes. He looked past her into the room and screamed in horror as children began to step out of the shadows. He remembered their faces from his experiments in the Sprawl. Some were scarred from where he had cut them, other were pale and cold...they had not survived his administrations. They crowded round the woman as she reached for his throat.

"Wait." He croaked as he tried to move back out of her reach, "I can help you. I can help you.. please."

She hushed him placing her finger on his lips. He closed his eyes and... He was standing at the doorway dripping with sweat, his breathing ragged. She was sat where she had been when he had entered smiling up at him.

"Well which do you prefer?" She asked brightly.

"I er.. The pink." He managed, "definatley the pink."

"Well if you are to help me you best call for your equipment." She cocked her head to one side and again the ants began to crawl, "I take it you do need equipment?"

"I do."

"Very good." She clapped her hands and the door burst open allowing a guard to stumble through wild eyed with terror, his face had been gouged by something and he was missing a finger.

"Oh you boys better not have been fighting over me again." She laughed. The guard looked between Mortimer and the woman at a loss for words.

"My new friend here is going to fix me, isn't that nice?" She announced, "now run along and help him get set up and afterwards come back here, I'm feeling... tactile."

The guard was shaking but seemed unable to answer, Mortimer watched as the man pissed himself.

"Oh dear," the woman said, "I think I broke him. You run along now and I will take care of poor Harold here." And with that Mortimer was stumbling out of the cell and into the hallway and a scene of utter carnage.

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