A Fight and A Fire
“Lamia,” Beathen started, “this is your father’s business. There’s nothing for you here-”
“You’re a glorified servant, Beathen.” Lamia interrupted, “Stay out of this and you won’t be hurt. How about that, wimp?”
“I’ve served you father for longer than you’ve been alive,” Beathen spat as Lamia closed the distance between them, “This shop is his property and under his sigil. I’ve never so much as repaired one of your augments without his direct order. So…” Beathen put his hands on his hips and tilted his head as if explaining something to an insolent child, “If you have business, it’s with Master McNab.”
Ignoring Beathen, Lamia stepped past the mechanic to loom over his little sister, “I remember warning you about lying to me, Leah. It was… What? Not even an hour ago? You must have quite a short memory…” Before anyone could react, he swung a massive arm upward and knocked Leah clear over the consoles. She hit the ground with a loud thud, the crack of the metal in her shoulders hitting the granite echoed through the workstation. David winced from behind the criss-crossed bars that held him.
Mitch cried out, “What are you doing, brute! What do you want with the stone?!”
“You just wait over there,” Lamia smiled back, “stay calm in your little cage.” He turned to Gizmo, “Am I gonna have to break you open, is or Beathen gonna give me what I came for?” He said this last part while turning his head to glower at Beathen.
“Gizmo,” Leah cried, “scene 2!” Gizmo darted forward and snapped a hind leg backward, sending Lamia flying toward the back of the shop. Beathen dashed to his consoles and motioned for Gizmo to climb onto the disc. Leah had collected herself just as she noticed Lamia’s massive quattour squeezing through one of Beathen’s massive windows. She snatched the remote from Beathen’s desk and hit the button to unlock the doors of the cage.
Once Gizmo was in place, Beathen started the sequence to fully integrate her systems with a new core. By the time Lamia had climbed to his feet, he saw Leah running toward his quattour with a stunning rod, Beathen frantically punching away at his consoles, and Mitch charging toward him with a wrathful glare.
On the disc, all purple had faded away from Gizmo’s glow, and her eyes were now shining with an almost blinding golden light. Gizmo hopped from the disc and ran towards Leah. The bat-like quattuor had just made it inside as Leah reached its position. A stunning rod is a tool used on a malfunctioning quattour. It momentarily stops all motion so that a mechanic can get close enough to do repairs. She thrust the prongs at the end of the rod at the mechanical beast, and was met with the offensive flap of a wing.
Lamia’s quattour extended its massive wings and let out a mechanical roar. What a weird choice for a custom feature, Leah thought. Though it looked like a bat, it had two tyrannosaurus-like arms each ending with fingers that resembled talons. The whole quattour was black as a bat, but those talons were a metallic silver. One of the hands shot out from the chest on a chord and tried to grab Leah’s ankle.
Leah went sprawling sideways but rolled onto her feet. Just as Leah righted herself, Gizmo came dashing past and sprang into a predatory leap at the machine, pinning it to the wall. The things wings seemed to retract into themselves, now replaced by 5 curved blades on either side. Gizmo barely bounced back in time to evade a swing of them. In her head, Leah heard a voice suggest, “Scene 6?”
“Yep.” Leah darted close to their opponent and retrieved the rod. Getting out of the thing’s reach proved harder, as she performed a quick series of jumps, ducks, and dashes to avoid the metal blades. Beside Gizmo once again, the two charged in opposite directions to keep their target between them. Lamia’s quattour handled opposing attacks impressively, swinging its “wings” in alternating patterns to counter the advances of its opponents.
“This thing can’t think,” Gizmo sent, “not like me.”
After a moment of consideration Leah said, “Let’s disable its wings so Lamia can’t escape. Scene 3.” At the sound of the order, Gizmo made two backward bounces and brought her tail over her head. A golden-brown laser shot from the tails endpoint. Lamia’s quattour dived sideways but wasn’t quick enough to avoid a burning scar midway up its left wing. Two of its blades on that side were now disabled.
Leah darted at it with the shocking rod looking for an opening while Gizmo circled behind her and shot again. The thing brought its right wing up, simultaneously swinging at Leah while blocking Gizmo’s blast. The laser was tearing burning scars in the wing, but Lamia’s quattour managed to keep itself from being struck in any vital places.
Leah made a series of dives and rolls towards its back, barely missing the wings, and hurled the shocking rod at it. Unable to block both Gizmo and Leah, the bat quattour dramatically froze in place before falling to the floor. Leah heard an ominous whirring as a four-foot metal pole went spinning past her head. If she’d turned any sooner, she might have been impaled through her jaw. The pole stuck into the wall behind her for a moment before dropping to the floor and leaving a dent in its place. Gizmo and Leah turned to see Lamia fighting all three of their “guests”.
. . . . .
As Gizmo dashed off to help Leah against Lamia’s quattour, Chris watched Mitch dash into a slide at Lamia’s feet. Lamia sidestepped the boy and kicked him sliding in another direction. David was charging the battle while looking to find a suitable weapon; Chris picked up a large, wrench-like tool and followed. Lamia turned toward them just as David reached him, dodging a punch and pushing David off-balance. Chris had to jump sideways to avoid being knocked over by David, and ran around Lamia to flank him.
As David regained his balance, he was gifted a blow to his gut. Mitch was back on his feet and charging at Lamia with a shout. At the same time, Chris hurled his weapon and Lamia was hit in the jaw just as he turned on Mitch. The blow distracted him enough for Mitch to try to throw him to the ground from his waist. Instead, Lamia landed a crunch grasp on the boy’s shoulder and threw him backward over his head. Mitch crashed into a shelf of hardware and knocked over a tall bucket of metal rods.
Chris tried a rising punch to Lamia’s chin while David tried to sweep the man’s legs from behind. Lamia chopped Chris so hard that his momentum reversed and he fell to the ground. David’s own leg was teaching him the folly of kicking something that had been completely replaced by metal. As David rolled in pain, he saw several of the poles Mitch’s crash had knocked over rolling toward him. Mitch was throwing random objects at Lamia now, and Chris had crawled away. One of the poles touched David’s fingertips and he grabbed it. The feel of the smooth rod brought back all of his training, all the memories of swinging similar tools, all the beatings he’d received from the boys in New Dorf.
Standing, David kicked a pole in Chris’ direction and shot a telling glance at Mitch. Mitch stopped throwing things, scooped up one of the poles and ran toward Lamia. David swung first, feinting a blow at Lamia’s face then swinging the rod behind his back and into Lamia’s torso. Mitch stopped short and stretched his body into a thrust so hard that he put the cyborg off-balance. Having recovered, Chris jumped forward and brought his rod down on Lamia’s head with a crash. Chris’ blow would have put Lamia on the ground, but the pirate caught himself from falling with one hand and pushed himself back upright.
Suddenly, they were all surprised by the sound of a high beam of energy piercing metal. As all three glanced over to see Gizmo melting the wing panels of Lamia’s quattour. The pirate shouted, “Impossible!” Chris swung his rod at Lamia’s middle and Mitch came at him from the opposite side. Lamia snatched the rod from Mitch and shoved the boy’s face so that Mitch went sliding backward. Chris ducked just in time to miss Lamia’s swing before the massive man spun and hurled the rod at Leah.
. . . . .
Having dodged Lamia’s missile, Leah and Gizmo headed to what was now the main fight. Lamia was deflecting blows and tossing the boys around the room. Beathen leapt from a standstill, evading Chris as he slid toward his feet. All this time, the mechanic had been playing with the frequency on some hand-held device. “What are you looking for, Wimp?” Lamia flipped David into the air and swung a knee into the teen’s torso, “If you’re trying to activate Father’s control chip, I removed that years ago.”
“But…” Beathen was frantically, vainly smashing buttons on his device, “It’s been present in every scan!”
“I replaced it with a dummy, Wimp! Gives off the same signal as the chip.” Lamia evaded another attack by Chris, but the boy moved away before he could be grabbed. Mitch had retrieved another rod and tried to sweep Lamia’s feet with it. There was a loud “Clang!” and Lamia ignored Mitch’s attack and kicked out to send Chris sprawling.
The Boys’ attacks were enough to hold Lamia’s attention, and David noticed Leah and Gizmo approaching the man’s rear. Leah came at Lamia with a flying kick. Lamia narrowly dodged, and snatched her out of the air. Apparently this was part of her plan; she followed up with a punch to her brother’s face that seemed to do more damage than all the boys had done together. Lamia dropped her and fell backward. “The round square! Like we trained!” David yelled. The other two boys ran to David’s side. “Now!” the Boys moved in on Lamia.
The slim mechanic came running up with a different controller, “Wait!” Lamia extended an arm that swept Beathen off his feet. Mitch, David, and Chris proceeded to deliver successive blows to their opponent. Lamia swung his feet up as if going into a handstand and kicked outwardly with both legs sending Chris and Mitch flying in opposite directions. Still on his back, Lamia reached for David but the sun-bronzed teen jumped out of his reach and brought his rod crashing into Lamia’s gut.
Leah grabbed one of the man’s descending legs and tried to hurl him over her shoulder and face-first into the granite floor. Lamia did go over her shoulder, but he extended his arms, caught himself, and pushed backward with such force that Leah fell to the ground with the pirate on top of her.
At Beathen’s first window, a small missile entered the room.
Beathen ran forward yelling “Wait!”, but before he could push the button on his handheld, the missile zoomed past him exploding into the far wall of the shop.
It was a small explosion, but everyone was moved a little closer to the large windows by the blast. Mitch was already jumping away, and David was running. Leah and Lamia slid away together under one of Beathen’s desks and out the other side. Beathen first fell back, then was pushed further by a heavy shelf sliding away from the impact. Gizmo also slid backward slightly, claws scratching the granite, before darting toward the McNabs.
Whatever was at the back of Bethen’s shop was burning quickly. Fire shot up the far wall and nearby debris began to catch. Fire meant Mannah. Everyone in the shop, including Gizmo, shot urgent glances around the room before the whole group shot to their feet and darted for the windows …except Beathen. The mechanic instead ran to a wide niche in the wall furthest from Lamia’s quattour. He called to Leah to follow, which caused David to notice and call for the Boys to follow. Beathen jumped hard into the niche, and a large panel of flooring flapped downward. Beathen was swallowed by the whole and each other person, except Lamia, followed behind.
. . . . .
Lamia first darted towards his quattour, but as the orange and purple flakes began to fly into the building, He made a bee-line for the nearest window. The newly-crippled, bat-like quattour was already wriggling itself out of the furthest window. Not that the Mannah could do much to it, but it would be entirely useless to its rider if it were covered in aggressive Mannah: uselessness went against its programming. Just as Lamia lept from the window, something exploded in the shop, sending fragments of debris flying past him as he descended.
He landed in a roll and pushed himself upright with one arm. Looking up, he saw that the shop was being completely engulfed in flame. Leah, Beathen, and the others were nowhere to be seen. A metallic bat-like thing hobbled toward him like a wounded pigeon. His quattour didn’t seem to have taken any damage from the explosion, but was in no condition for flying. A cloud of Mannah swarmed toward the fire, “I have to get out of here!”
Lamia turned to run, but instead was faced by a convoy of local constables and Patrician Lieutenants pulling up in military trucks. Of course, Lamia thought, his face turning into a sneer, that missile must have been a ploy to force everyone out of the building. Lunatics! What do they plan to do about the Mannah? A formally dressed man riding a quattour that resembled a bear lifted a megaphone.
“That’s far enough, sir!” called the constable jovially, “You’re coming with us tonight.”
Special Author’s Note
Writing this chapter was a lot of fun, but onw of the ones that required the most work. While I didn’t really set out for this to be an action story, I had to design how fights would work between those who controlled quattours. A lot of how quattours fit into society came from the behind the scenes work of creating the fight between the McNab siblings.
It was an especially fun challenge to try to keep treack of everything that was happening in the room at once. How would those events overlap? How would I make sure that the timing of things made sense, while keeping things easy for us to understand what’s going on in the room?