175 Iron Bones
Ssaul was awakened by the ringing of bells, lots of bells. He jolted awake and quickly scanned his surroundings for any danger, knowing that he was in an unfamiliar place. His reptilian eyes quickly affirmed that he was in some sort of tunnel system. It was dark, damp, and stunk of metal and oil, the smell of industry and machines.
He was more familiar with this smell than most, as the homeland of the Carzivore species was one that relied heavily on machinery and oil to thrive in their native homeland, the swamps of Hargorra.
Once he made sure that he was in no immediate danger, he checked his gear to make sure he had everything. His big axe was held in his hand, backup dagger in its sheath, food and supplies in his sash, he was set. Next he had to find out what happened to the others. He could guess that they had all been pulled from the Stella Tenebris by the white light, but to where?
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Ssaul suddenly remembered that he had Eve, the bracelet that Zoey had given to everyone. Eve had been a fantastic little tool for him, supplying him with more books than he could ever read in his lifetime. But it also had the ability to locate other Eves as well, and that was the ability he needed now.
"Eve, are you there?" he whispered to the bracelet as he crouched in the dark tunnel.
"Hello Ssaul, I am here," replied Eve, her voice quiet to match his.
"Can you tell where I am? Where the others are? I was pulled from the ship, probably into the big floating city we saw. I need to find the rest of the clan quickly!" Ssaul whispered urgently.
After a moment, Eve displayed a small, holographic map for Ssaul that showed his location and the area around him up to about 100 meters away.
"My connection to the main database has been lost due to electromagnetic interference. Only local functions are now available. I am displaying a local map for your convenience. Only 5 Eves are currently in my detection range. Shall I display them on the map for you Ssaul?"
"Yes, put them on the map, and any others that you find as well," Ssaul said as he stood and started off through the tunnels towards the closest Eve.
He had a bad feeling that all of the Asurai clan members had been pulled from the ship into this massive labyrinth of a city and separated from each other. This meant that all the civilians would be unprotected until they could group up with the warriors, so he had to hurry and find them!
The tunnels were a little cramped for someone his size, but his flexible reptilian form allowed him to move on all fours unhindered as he closed in on the signal of the Eve closest to him. He made his way through the tunnels until he rounded a corner and finally saw another Asurai clan member. It was one of the few remaining children of the clan, still unconscious and lying in the tunnel straight ahead.
Ssaul was about to sprint to the boy, but his Eve suddenly vibrated on his arm in warning! He froze where he stood and lifted his arm up so Eve could scan around him. Zoey, the tiny human genius that she was, had somehow outfitted every Eve with a trap detection system that passively scanned around the wearer and could detect abnormal amounts of stored energy in various forms. Ssaul understood the theory, but how she had fit all that into a bracelet this small was beyond his comprehension.
After a moment of scanning, a section of the floor ahead of him was highlighted in red by his Eve's projector, letting him know it was a pressure plate of some kind and to avoid it if he didn't want to set off the trap. Ssaul breathed a sigh of relief, thanking the earth god that it was only a small trap and nothing more. He then crouched, and smoothly leapt over the pressure plate and went to the unconscious boy.
Ssaul recognized the boy as Klio, a rather spry young lad that got into trouble more often than not. A quick scan of his Eve told Ssaul that he was ok, and only unconscious with no injuries, so Ssaul scooped him up and began to make his way through the tunnels towards the next Eve on his map. He was more cautious now that he knew there would be traps, but he still had to hurry. He had no idea what monsters lurked in this massive city, so he needed to gather the clan members together as soon as possible.
Before long he found another of the Asurai clan, a young warrior from Bassa's 2nd squad. Ssaul quickly woke him and told him the situation, after which the two of them and the boy headed towards the next Eve signal.
On their way, they climbed out of the tunnels and up into a network of maintenance corridors that were wider and higher than the tunnels. These corridors were piled with trash and broken mechanical parts from only the gods knew what. The smell of rust and oil filled the air, and the light was a dim red glow produced by fixtures on the walls of the corridors.
Ssaul and the warrior made their way carefully until they were almost to the next Eve, when their own Eves suddenly vibrated in warning.
"Protect the boy!" Ssaul ordered as he brandished his axe and stepped out to face the enemy that had appeared.
A mechanical skeleton with bones made of iron had emerged from a pile of trash and staggered towards them like a dead man risen from a grave. Oil was leaking from its joints and various other holes, and its rusted bones were strung with and hoses and cables that controlled the thing like a marionette. Its face was a grisly horror of iron teeth, cables, and glowing red eyes that leered hungrily at them as it approached.
Never before had Ssaul faced an enemy like this. He bared his razor sharp teeth and growled, tightening his claws around his axe as he stepped forward. Iron bones or no, it remained to be seen if this iron puppet could withstand his strength!