Welcome to the space where I experiment, my weekly serial. It is written raw, not edited at all, and mostly unplanned.
The world is partly based on the background of an unpublished Steampunk game that I worked on with a few friends, which has grown in my mind over the last couple of years. The story is a take on those ultra-violent revenge epics of the eighties where a man’s family is abused and killed, but he survives and seeks vengeance. Needless to say it is a grim, bloody tale, that deals with bad people doing bad things, so be warned.
“Moving, what do you mean– aaghhh,” Ferret somehow evaded the massive snapping jaws that seemed to materialize in the tunnel in front of him, but was thrown against the rock wall.
“NO!” Geb’s voice cut through Rose’s shock. She threw herself out of the way as the tunnel-filling bulk came down on her. She flattened herself against the wall in an alcove.
“ROCKWYRM!” shouted Scarab and then the bulk was passing over Rose. Even with her near-dead sense of smell Rose’s lungs filled with the scent of deep earth and wrongblood corruption. This, she knew, was something powerful, something from the real depths, like the monsters that climbed up the gash to assault the city or the bones deep down that no one could reach.
“Heeeppp meghee!” Rose looked up to see Ferret, his body squashed between the bulk of the creature and the tunnel wall. His face was squashed and one eye had burst. Blood was coming from his mouth. Rose had seen men squashed my rockslides in the mines like this; somehow Ferret was still standing, reaching out his hand for her help.
Rose hesitated, then decided she could afford to lose the mechanical arm if she had to and reached out to grab. He grasped her hook and she pulled with all her might, bracing herself against the little alcove. She pulled and pulled, digging in her boots and howling above the din.
Somewhere, beyond the massive thing in the tunnel, there was a battle going on. Rose could see dim flashes of light and heard shouts and screams, and bangs. She could smell blood.
And then she pulled Ferret into the alcove with her. He flopped against her feeling boneless and flat, and she realized that he was dead. She didn’t even have all of him.
For just a moment despair dropped over Rose like a funeral shroud, as inescapable as death itself. She’d gone and buried herself down here. There were easier ways to make the money she needed to get to Lawch. What the fuck was wrong with her, throwing it all away on a desperate gamble in the depths? She wanted to cry.
But before she did, the other part of her took over. The real her. The one who survived that day, who lived through the mines, who laughed at Kragorr, Nave Au’Sixthstreet, Grime Downbridge, and Blackeyes as they died. If she died, it would not be from despair in the dark.
She pulled Ferret’s short hackblade from his belt and began to stab the body of the thing thrashing in the tunnel. The first three swings bounced off the thick flesh, but the blade was quality and it held, biting deeper and deeper as Rose swung into it in a frenzy. The massive body thrashed, pushing her against the walls of the alcove, but Rose was small and skinny and it could not crush her there. She hacked and hacked, until the blood was flowing around her ankles. Then the beast pulled ahead and she fell out of the alcove into a pool of gore covering the tunnel floor.
Rose ignored it. She needed light. All of the scabbers had emergency lights. She felt around until she found one of hers, listening the wyrm thrashing ahead of her, hoping it would not turn around.
She swore, swore again, twisted the lightstick. It immediately bathed the tunnel in ugly red light. She saw a trail of red leading back toward the group and followed it. The sounds of battle could still be heard, so there was a chance she could survive this.