The door slid open without making a squeak.
Then, without warning, a voice echoed. “So. Did you ever hear the one about the Raitha General?” Said an elderly man in a Russian accent.
“You’re going to have to be more specific. There a few stories about them.” Said the man behind him with a touch British arrogance.
As the two individuals stepped into the room a mechanism was triggered. The man with the British accent was slightly weary of the sounds but kept his nerve.
With a bit of old timer ingenuity and not for a lack of imagination, the mechanism caused the chamber to be filled with the light of a dozen gas lamps. Nobody would expect the hard work that went into that piece of work. Some might think that the gas was always on, but when it came to his automated masterpieces Yuri Bugrov was a bit of a show off. “Da. But what about the ones who found a gun waiting for them when they opened their cigarette case?”
The young man in the blue vest and the distinguished look of a gentleman examined the room like it was a tomb. “I suspected that was you. May we keep going Clockmaker?”
Though the young man said it with distaste to Yuri it had been a title he treasured. It had been a long time since he been called Clockmaker that he had almost forgotten what it meant. As if on cue. The sound of ticking vibrated in the air.
Tick tock. Tick tock.
The sound improved Yuri’s mood greatly and he moved inside the camber to breath in the history. He gazed at the shelves and glass containers that held his memories in a way a parent would sometimes look over the photo album.
The younger gentleman looked at an item that resembled a pressurised steam cannon.
“Ah.” Yuri breathed as he saw the look on the young man’s face. “It took me two years to build that lovely lady. It’s inner gears reload the camber. It fires a custom-made explosive cannon balls with twice the power of regular munitions.”
The young man frowned as he looked at the intricate assembly of gears and pipes. “I little extravagant just for a cannon.”
Yuri shook his head, surprised that the young man didn’t listen to his explanation. “I said explosive cannon balls. It’s an automatic cannon. You just pop in the camber with a dozen or so in a loading chamber and it can continuously fire. If you loaded my cannon balls into a regular one with gun powder. You’d blow your own empty head off,” Yuri rubbed the thing of death with a light touch.
As if he were speaking to a sleeping lover he spoke in almost a whisper. “but this uses steam and gas. Silent, easy to get behind some one in the dark. And boom.” He yells and laughs. “I destroyed half a navy with this bitch.” Yuri remembered the day well. The fire and screaming as his comrades destroyed the fuel tanker that was on its way to the empire.
The gentleman looked at the once most feared mercenary and mechanic the empire had ever known. The man who supplied the rebels with the tools that needed to do who knows what damage. How he loathed this man and wanted nothing more than to put a bullet in his skull. He felt the weight of the gun in his hand. ‘No. Not yet.’ He told himself. “Move.” The gentleman said and gestured Yuri to continue.
Yuri moved unconcerned about the imperial spy pointing a gun at his back, all he needed was to listen to the sound of ticking.
Tick tock. Tick tock. Went the continuous rhythm.
The Clockmaker moved to a glass case that held several objects, one of the devices of chaos and the inspiration of hundreds of nightmares was a brass spider. “This one took me hours to prepare. With its steel fangs it injects any type of poison you can think of in its victim.”
The gentle man gave it a glance. He didn’t trust Yuri and knew the old demon was up to something, but things needed to be civilised. “Was that what you used on the Count of Rumrum High?” The reports indicated a stroke but there were always rumours.
Yuri looked back slightly confused. Names didn’t interest him and nether did people. Much like any artist, his creations and ideas took up much of the space in his head. “Who? Oh him. No. That was simply his lifestyle catching up with him. I was going to use these as a small assassins but they work better as helpers. Getting oil into those tiny places.” He gave a shrug as if it was just common sense.
The gentleman looked at the marvels of a career of murder, espionage, and sabotage. “You could make a fortune with any of these works.” He could not understand why the man could simply have sold these on the open market and live like an king.
Yuri would have lied if he said he hadn’t thought of the idea of selling his babies. A memory resurfaced from the inner workings of his mind and the scream of rage grew. He had sold once piece to the black market. Nothing special, just a tri-barrelled rifle. The same rifle that had killed someone he loved. “No.” He said firmly. “The maggots can take my babies from my cold dead hands.”
The imperial spy smiled, thinking the exact same thing, “The crown thanks you for your generous donations.” he raises the gun to Yuri’s head.
The master of clockwork didn’t need to see the gun to know its make and model, a Glock and Spec. Typical standard fire arm. No real style or anything worth mentioning. The craftsman believed it insulting to even be threatened by it.
“Mind if I die comfortable.” The Clockmaker nodded to his favourite seat, a worn and worm eaten wooden chair sat at the centre of the room.
The spy glanced at it. There seemed no real value in it as a weapon. He doubted that it would even stand the weight of the tired old man. But still not taking an chances. The spy stepped back and kept his gun aimed and ready. “I see no harm.”
Not caring about being shot Yuri moved to the leather seat, all the while he heard the endless sounds of ticking. He closed his eyes.
“Can I ask who else knows about us?” Yuri asked.
The gentleman smiled, “Oh a lot of people. By now your colleagues are no doubt enjoying the same treatment as you. What did you call your little group again?” he looked up and tried to act like he was thinking. “Spring loaded?” He snorted. “Well with your old leader dead, you relics have to be good boys and girls and follow his lead.”
The gentleman moved in front of him and raised his gun. “I hope you don’t mind me asking, but which one of these masterpieces did you use at Cape Luna? My superior would like to know before we bury you with this rats nest you call a home.”
The man once known as the Clockmaker, a genius with steam and gears smiled.
Around him came the sound of gas escaping and without warning the room turned dark, a burst of gunshot followed a fraction of a second later.
In the seat Yuri pulled our a cigar and lit a match. The old master of the mighty engines breathed in the aroma rich tobacco before he gave a huff.
Taking the still lit match he opened a small slot on his leather chair and lit the secondary pilot light he made. The room was once again filled with the light of dozens of gas lamps.
On the floor was the bloodied corpse of the gentleman, his body littered with tiny steel tipped bolts.
Yuri looked to the left and saw the smoking hole in leather right next to his head. The shot had come close but as always it is not close enough.
The Clockmaker turned back to the man on the floor and breathed out a trail of smoke. “Trang.” He explained. “It’s a portable turret that can stick to any surface. It fires one armour-piercing bolt in a horizontal direction. The trick is making sure you remember where you put them before timer runs out.”
Yuri got out of his chair and stretched. He thought about the hassle of reloading all of the Trangs that were hidden behind the lamps. His eyes caught the glimpse of a photo of his old crew. It had been ten years and everyone had ever died or got too old. But their kids were still around. The man that had the fight kicked right back into him gave a laugh. “I didn’t much care for retirement any way.”