The party forces themselves on a train and out of Ferran, but the city of Ferran has the means and the will to bring them back.

Scene 1: The train depot

Day 59

They pass under the great arches of the central Ferranian transportation depot. There are bays for eight trains, two are docked, and according to the posted signboards, should be leaving soon. The two destinations: Gathela, capital of the Dwarven kingdom, and Edhen, the capital of the Tarvarlands, the Elven Kingdom.

List looks over her shoulder. The guards are halfway through the plaza, the massive Public Works Administration buildings at their back, held up by the diffuse convection of bodies. Their hesitance to punch and push their way through the mass has given the party a few minutes of time to slip out of sight.

A quick unanimous glance between everyone. They turn left, down two flights of stairs to the train to Edhen on the lower platform. They look up and down it's length. Twenty five cars, black as the underground, all suspended by a six-inch wire of bound copper. The atmosphere tingles with energy. Smoke is billowing back from the front engine, obscuring it and the first few cars.

They work their way down the line, tugging on the access doors. The first car is locked and without windows. Cargo. They move down the line. Cargo, waste, cargo, cargo.

The next car has windows, there are Dwarves and Elves inside, well dressed. Drinks are being dispersed by a roller cart. Hardy, still disguised as a Dwarf yanks open the door and yells the passengers to leave. It's an emergency. The passengers are confused, they look at List, a human obviously from the slums and many complain, but Hardy isn't accepting excuses or delay. He pushes them out. Balcazar and Plakk form a wall of support as his back.

The cloud of smoke from the front has made its way back. Smoke engulfs the car, The party is alone in its volume. List, Hardy, Balcazar, Orryn, Plakk, Archar, and Arcos. They look at each other. They look out the windows. The smoke has already erased the city from view. The car jumps, starts nudging forward, then begins its smooth acceleration out of town.

As speed, the smoke clears. It moves beyond the regal interior of Ferran, through the complex processing wasteland of warehouses and smokestacks, over the wide city walls, over the slums and upturned lands, over the farms that start in unbroken continuity and eventually break into discrete plots, and into the uniform unbroken sea of grass.

Scene 2: Recalled to Ferran

Day 59

Arcos looks out the side windows and back. Ferran is now barely visible on the horizon. He looks back ahead. He's monitoring the small circular window at the front, allowing line of sight to the passenger car ahead. There are riders in the car and they are visibly wary. A handful have bunched up near the front of the car, physically as far away from the party as they can get. Others, based on their clothing, might not be as hapless. Small physical shibboleths mark their trade. The symbol of Dumathoin over a short tunic, and the outline of a bastard sword under a jacket. Arcos notices them and marks the faces for the party.

The speed of the train changes. They feel the gentle tug of deacceleration. The blur of grass transitions into solitary windowfulls that can be taken one at a time. The train stops. There is complete silence. The air stales. Hardy and Balcazar pace up and down the car until Plakk forces them to stop. The minutes accumulate agony.

The train begins to slowly move backwards.

They know they're heading slowly, inevitably back to Ferran. The town doesn't let people like them escape. The furor from the citizens would shake the walls with more violence than a cannonball. Arcos looks out a window. They could push out a window, jump to the ground. He could pray for wings while in the air. Arcos isn't going back. He would rather leap to his death.

Orryn spots the dots on the horizon, moving form the direction of Ferran towards the train. It takes them another fifteen minutes before he can identify them: Dwarves on dragon-like mounts. The Ferranian aerial recovery team.

The car ahead is full of passengers. The car behind is full of cargo. If need be the they can move, perhaps hide. There are solid doors on the front of back of each car that allow emergency passage between them. They don't seem locked.

The party heads to the back. Arcos opens the door, steps into the outside air and jumps across the gap between cars, suppressing his urge to jump out and into the engulfing, capturing space of the Plains. It's a small step. He safely opens the door to the swaying cargo car.

There are two large objects in the dark space. A secondary door, sealed, locked, and magically glyphed, and in front of it a large construct of empty armor, eight foot tall, immobile and lifeless. The rest of the party pile in behind Arcos to look.

There's no reaction from the construct. Hardy carefully edges forward to examine it.

Orryn walks past Hardy. He's agitated. He looks up at the metal, back at the party, and slaps it. He hits it in the knee, chest high for Orryn.

Plakk and Archar yell at Orryn.

Orryn steps back to watch. The construct fills with a dark, deep red light. It shakes its hollow body and its plates settle into position. It raises its sword and moves towards Orryn.

The party doesn't know what this thing is, what it can do. They run. Orryn jumps across the gap, back towards their passenger car, but stops at the door threshold. He grabs a handhold, and pulls himself up the car and on top. He hunches down as a gust of wind knocks him towards the edge. The top of the car is smooth. There's nothing to grasp. It's a platform precipice, with death over all four sides. On the horizon, he can see the small, red-Dragon mounts and their Dwarven riders approach. It may be their last stand.

Scene 4: Death of the Dwarven air mounts

Day 59

The rest of the party follow Orryn to the roof to escape the construct. The construct is stuck smashing its way forward and into the space between the cars. The party edges forward, towards the front of the car, mindful of the approaching Dragons. The dragons are approaching quickly. They can fully make out the riders, compact Dwarves with metal chain weapons, one hand on their weapons, the other on the harnesses.

The party moves across the gap, to the next car. Below their metal roof is a full car of passengers. They steady themselves, raise their weapons. The Dragons are here.

They fly through their space, breathe. The party can hear the taunts of the Dwarves as they pass. Cones of fire envelops the party. They deflect it as best as they can, but they can't fight back. It's a flyby. The Dragons have moved out of range.

They turn around in a long, graceful arc, point themselves at the party, and power back. This time the party is better prepared. Arcos gets off a well-placed arrow. Balcazar a glancing hit.

Orryn has the Oil of Firety Burning. He's stashed his bow. He only has the flask in his hand. He throws a beam into the mass of their tornado bodies as they pass and it explodes. One dragon crashes dead into the car, rocking it. The passengers within yell and shriek.

The burning oil pools on the metal roof and roof can't handle the heat.A section of the roof collapses onto the Dwarves and Elves below, burning an and killing the unfortunate few positioned below.

They raise their weapons again. The remaining Dwarves and mounts turn around and head back for a third run but their force is diminished. List and Hardy gets of good spells. One Dragon drops paralyzed to the ground, another is killed with an arrow to the head.

The party looks over the edge of the room, the scattering of bodies below are motionless. The party continues their movement forward.

From behind, fresh screams and the piercing ting of ripped metal. The construct has broken into the passenger car. It unhunches when it reaches the gap in the roof. It slowly pulls itself up. It raises its sword and shuffles towards Orryn and the party. Each footfall leaves a dent and shakes the car underneath.

Scene 5: Taking control of the train

The party reaches the front of the train. The construct is still in chase but well behind. It's indomitable but not nimble.

Locomotion appears to be supplied by two cars. A front control and engineering car and a supporting power and drive car. The party peers of the roof lip into the power and drive car. Protecting the entrance and the interior mechanics is another inactive construct. They move over the gap. The construct stays inactive.

Orryn and Arcos creep forward. They see four Engineers. Three are sitting on the floor, engaged in a card game. One is up front, in a control chair, surrounded by dials and controls, looking out the window. They look bored and unconcerned.

The party heads back to look down at link between cars at the feet of the construct. If they could separate the train here, at this point, maybe they could head off at will. They build up the small idea. Hardy will awaken the construct and draw its attention from the rest of the party, while the others move ahead, overwhelm the Engineers and commandeer the train, and sever the physical link between the power and drive car and the remainder of the train.

Hardy lowers himself to the construct and hits it. It awakens, powers up, and is infused with red energy. It focuses on Hardy and moves towards him. It takes a hard swing and knocks Hardy off balance. Hardy quickly pulls himself up, and scrambles onto the onto the car top.

The others move ahead and drop down onto the Engineers. They are shocked and completely surprised. They are unarmed and untrained. They immediately surrender and are quickly bound.

The party needs to know how to separate the trains. Balcazar picks up an Engineer, slams him to the ground, and intimidates him. Arcos and Orryn understand Dwarven. They extract the information. Balcazar tosses the Engineer over his shoulder and together with Arcos head back to sever the connection. The rest of the party, List, Plakk, Archar, and Orryn stay to guard the other three Engineers.

Hardy is now sandwiched between two animated constructs of thick armor, both wielding long swords the length of Hardy. Where flesh might have filled out the frame, there's only the empty glow of red. One approach is from the back of the train. The other, just activated and now on the roof, approaches from the front. The rest of the party had better figure out what they're doing. The force behind the swinging blades slice through the trunk of a tree.

Arcos has twisted his knife into the Engineer. He's crying and pleading while trying to tell Balcazar how to separate the cars. There's a big power tube, and a heavy latch that disengages the coupling. Balcazar grabs the lever. It's locked. He pulls it down hard. The lock snaps. The coupler opens. The engine surges ahead breaking the power tube. Green flame explodes. Knocking Balcazar, Orryn, and the Engineer back and injuring them. Arcos kicks the engineer off the side of the train and watches, despite the pain of the flame, as the body of the Dwarven engineer tumbles and bounces off the ground far below. He pulls himself up with Balcazar's help.

The roof lurches. Hardy falls. He can see the gap between his car and the engineers cars ahead suddenly open. There's an explosion of green flame. He runs forward towards the second construct.

Hardy runs past, the construct swings, cutting Hardy deeply. If he doesn't make it across the gap he's marooned. He leaps across the distance, falls, is engulfed in painful, blistering fire, but his fingers grabs the back of the train. He pulls himself up. He can't see.

Firm hands grab him and yank him up. Balcazar braves the flames, pulls Hardy's body up and on top of the roof, and together the injured collection of three moves carefully forward to the engineering cab.

They lay down. They're free. Orryn bends over to tend to their wounds.

Scene 6: Heading to Edhen

Day 59

The Dwarven engineers cut the power stream. The green glow of the fire subsides.

The party exacts the basics of operation: levers to pull, gauges to watch. List pays attention. It makes sense. After five minutes, she nods. She's got it. She moves to the front of the train, pulls two stoppers. There's an instantaneous hum behind their head. She puts both hands on a central lever, pushes it forward ten degrees, and the train leaps forward. She laughs. They're in control.

The party pull the remaining engineers to the car door, open it and shove them to the gap. They struggle and scream. A few kicks carry them to the edge and over. They tumble slowly, a few rotations, and the party loses sight of their fall behind the bulk of the train.

List slowly moves the lever forward, and the ground starts to blur. Further forward. The acceleration is intense. The howl of the wind around the train body makes it hard to hear. They're heading to Edhen.

Previous Post Next Post