Beginning of an End - Part One

14th October - Delve - Evening

Oaks burst into the darkened cell his pistol ready. It was empty. The damned scientist had moved ahead of him once again. Lowering his weapon he stepped inside and looked around. The cell was filled with apparatus that could only belong to Mortimer, in the centre of the area sat an operating table, recently used if the fresh bloodstains were anything to go by. The scent of death was in the air, fed by a small pile of naked corpses in various states of disrepair.

"God's what happened in here?" Gabriel asked.

"Probably best we do not know." Josiah said as he followed them in with Lina in tow. Oaks still wondered at the Wardens decision to send the two along, but he was glad of the support. A heavy Mark 3 Mechan lumbered in behind them, the only boon that the Elesian had been willing to grant. And a death sentence should any of them decide to depart from their mission.

Lina marched up to the analytic engine and placed her hand in the side.

"Still hot." She said. "They have not been gone long."

"Then we follow." Oaks growled as he moved back towards the door. A sudden pain shot through his mind as if someone were running claws through his brain. He stumbled and clutched the table as images flickered through his mind, macabre and disturbing. Gritting his teeth he pushed them away. And stood there panting with the effort.

***

Abigail opened her eyes and wiped the blood from her nose. "Well that was unpleasant." She breathed.

"Is it done? Did you get to him?" Mortimer asked.

"No." she spat, "My talent required some sort of moral ambiguity in the subjects character for me to leverage and our Detective Oaks is some sort of fucking saint."

"Damn it, what about the others." her companion inquired.

"I can only reach Oaks because of his link to you. I would need to see the others or have some link to them." She closed her eyes and after a moment began to smile.

"What is it?" Mortimer asked, "Have you found a way?"

"Not quite. No not quite, but this may serve. We are not the only fugitives skulking about down here. There is a small group in that direction." she waved off towards the right where the room they were in opened up into a wide cavern. "They are quite powerful and full of moral ambiguity." she licked her lips as she opened her eyes and began to laugh.

***

The Delve Hound approached. Tesla slipped off his heavy jacket and his implants flickered to life as green sparks danced around his body. Fitz stepped in front of his friend shaking his head.

"Save it my friend we will need your talents to carry out the plan. No juice no spider. Let Fiasco will take care of this."

Fiasco stepped forward flexing his meaty fists as he squared off against the Huge Delve Hound. "All of you behind him." Tesla growled, "This could get messy."

"That will not be necessary." the voice came directly to his mind and he looked around for its source.

A woman stepped out from behind a maintenance shed to their right and the Delve Hound rounded on her with a snarl. She was a little too well dressed to be down here and looked out of place, especially carrying a bloody violin? Fiasco tried to move and found he couldn't, the woman raised a hand and the great hound whimpered and scuttled back in retreat.

"Very good." commented a grey haired old man who emerged to stand beside the woman.

"Childs play." she smiled warmly as the hound crept forward whimpering. As it reached her she ran her fingers through its thick black mane and looked towards Fiasco.

"Would your companions be so kind as to aid us. We find ourselves lost down here and need to find a way out." Why not? a reasonable request.

"We have a way out!" Fitz almost fell over himself scrambling forward, "In one of those!" He pointed towards the giant spider machines that were crawling in and out of the Maw behind them.

"And how do you intend to get hold of a crawler?" the woman's companion asked.

"Why we have our very own walking bug zapper!" Fitz cackled as he walked over and slapped Tezla on the back.

"Ow fuck." the crazy fool came away with a singed hand and grinned weakly at the two strangers.

There was something odd about this. He was sure of it. A small dark corner of Fiascos mind raged at how fucked up this was and on the surface he simply smiled and looked over at the woman... her name was Abigail. How did he know that? Such a reasonable request and such nice people... they should help them get out of here, they should kill anyone who tried to harm them. It was just reasonable.

***

"They are up ahead and they are not alone." Gabriel whispered. The man was a pain in the ass but he was a damned good tracker. Truth be told once they had noticed that the woman Abigail was somehow clearing a path ahead of her the job of finding where she was going had become infinitely easier.

What ever whammy she was capable she was using it to convince the workers and guards to be elsewhere when she passed by. If it were not for the metaphoric hot poker she had tried to insert into his brain back in the cells he would have had trouble believing it.

"Who is with them?" Oaks asked, "prisoners or guards."

"Neither as far as I can tell."

Lina and Josiah came to crouch next to them. "Have we found your quarry?" Josiah asked.

"Fuck, is that a Delve Hound sitting next to them?" Lina spat.

The cavern that stretched out before them was enormous and at its centre a huge round hole had been bored into the rock. It could only be the Maw, the fabled entrance to the Deep Delve. Mining platforms had been set up all around the Rim of the Maw and as they watched countless machines like huge spiders crawled in and out. These were the mechans used for mining in the depths below.

On the nearest platform one of the mining machines was sat still, its great metal legs gathered up and its body resting on then ground. There was a small group gathered around its base.

Oaks looked over and cursed. "Gabriel we know these people." It was difficult to make out too much detail from this distance but the huge figure standing closest could only be,

"Fiasco." Gabriel half rose as he recognised the man and Oaks restrained him.

"Remember who he is with. He may not be himself."

"We need a distraction." Josiah looked back towards their Mechan companion as he spoke.

***

Fiasco and Fitz were inside the machine now with the rest of the old gang. They were pulling the guts out of it and reworking the controls. Tesla was drained, it had taken everything he had to stop the huge mining Mechan in its tracks. It was a wonder the light show had not brought half of the guards down on their heads but strangely the cavern seemed to have emptied of all but them. Very strange. The thought fluttered past like a butterfly.

"Mavromichali Mortimer." You are under arrest. The approaching Mechan was still some way off, but Tesla cursed as he realised he was completely out of juice. Abigail turned and her Delve Hound raised its hackles. The Old man Mortimer got to his feet and started back towards the mining Mechan.

"Not so fast." Detective Oaks stepped out from cover blocking the scientist way. Others were emerging now all around them, he knew that man, Oaks, a good man... and Gabriel? Tesla frowned in confusion, his ears were ringing.

"Josiah watch out." A woman screamed as the huge Delve Houd launched itself towards one of Oaks companions. Man and beast went rolling away into the dakrness as Abigail turned and pointed at the other woman.

"Lina what are you doing?" Oaks cried out as Lina launched herself at Gabriel with a snarl.

"Is every thing alright down there?" Fitz called down from the cockpit of the Mechan.

"Fuck no." Tesla called back as he pulled a pistol from a pack near his feet, the mundain weapon felt strange in his hands and even stranger was the difficulty he found in turning It on Oaks. The shot took the detective in the shoulder and he spun and dropped to one knee.

Fiasco was amongst them then. The Mechan which had finally arrived exploded in a shower of parts as one of the man's devices detonated near its chest plate. Tesla looked down as a sharp sting in his side. A hole? He realised that Oaks had returned fire. Bastard.

Another grenade detonated and this time the platform shook and began to tilt inwards. Fiasco was staggereing holding his head, something was wrong. Tesla stepped towards his friend and caught sight of the woman Abigail. She was staggering a piece of shrapnel in his thigh... bitch... She had been messing with their heads... The fucking bi... She turned to look at him and he smiled. She need his help and... She fell to the ground with a thud. Fiasco was standing behind her an iron bar in his hand.

The two stared at each other with wild eyes before the platform lurched once more.

"Let's get the fuck out of here." Tesla growled.

As one they raced for the safety of the mining machine as the platform collapsed beneath them.

***

Mortimer had been thrown to the ground by one of the explosions. He staggered up now and found his left wrist caught... in handcuffs. Oaks was lying at his feet bleeding out, his right leg missing at the knee.

"You are under arrest, you sick bastard." Oaks grinned up at the scientist as the platform lurched sideways.

"Let me go!" Screamed Mortimer, but Oaks only laughed.

Behind him the huge mining spider came to life lifting itself from the ground. The shift of weight was too much for the platform and it finally gave way. The huge Mechan slipped and clawed and was suddenly gone. The world lurched and Mortimer screamed as he and Oaks were tipped into the Maw.

Darkness...

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