065 The Fracture Maid · 5


The Fractured Maid · 5
“Y


our're the one who decided I wasn’t a Sa·B·er, so I don’t know why you’re so confused.

“But… You’re chainmail…”

“What this? Believe it or not but this is the result of my infection. Pretty unusual isn’t it?”

Letting the arrow she held dissipate into nothing, Chain pointed her right thumb at her chest as she clarified for Maye that the halted Foreigner Infection that allowed her to be a Sa·B·er was quite unique. Important as it was to her to make that clear, Chain still did not like the situation below her and drew back on her bow conjuring a new arrow in place of the prior one. Aiming it at the lead guard she donned a frowning pout.

“Now isn’t the time to talk about my chainmail though. I’m pretty sure I have the gist of what’s going on here, but I don’t like how you guys handled this at all. You have the village public announcement system and you didn’t bother just using that to call me out? It looks to me like the villagers here are little better than the bandits outside. Bu~t, seeing how they’re here for me I’ll offer you a discount on my services.”

“What?”

The lead guard could not believe his ears as he looked up at Chain who was acting like she was in total control of the situation. The Light that she held created a wariness in the guards though that might as well have made that true and so no one stopped Chain from presenting the charges for her yet defined services. She did not like being questioned by the lead guard though and pouted deeper.

“You should be glad I’m not with the Adventurer’s Guild yet or otherwise you’d have to pay guild fees and I can’t discount those. Now then though, considering that as long as these two don’t get in my way I can make plenty off of the bandits the only thing I’ll ask for in payment is a map of the region with the nearest town with an Adventurer’s Guild outpost clearly marked. That, and I don’t want to be held responsible for any damage I cause while using this Dolmen to deal with the bandits.”

“Huh– You can’t use this Dolmen, I haven’t been able to engage the synchronization program and join the Nerve Work to the Frame.”

Hearing that Chain intended to use her Dolmen, Finch finally regained her senses and immediately shot down that idea. Looking up at Chain on the shoulder of the bipedal machine she was countered with a bright smile.

“That’s not a problem at all. I can get this thing running with no problem at all. Isn’t that right Drop?”

Seeking confirmation from her tiny double did not instill those watching Chain with any confidence. Drop did not seem to notice and answered matter-of-factly.

“The only thing that should make it difficult is making sure we don’t register ourselves as the pilot. We don’t want to keep this one, do we?”

“Nope. We’re just borrowing it for this job.”

“Then let’s get started.”

To everyone’s surprise Drop dove off of Chain’s shoulder and right into physical mass of the Dolmen. A moment later the chest plate that concealed the cockpit opened invitingly. Dismissing her bow with a thought, Chain waved at her audience and dropped down. Leaping backwards into the seat of the spacious cockpit she grabbed the multi triggered sliding control sticks on either side of her and toyed with the array of foot pedals at her feet. Smiling brightly, she leaned back and closed her eyes.

“Alright Drop, I’m ready. Just remember I don’t know how to actually pilot a Dolmen, so you’ll need to backflow the motor input to me.”

“No problem. Here we go!”

With Drop’s voice providing confirmation, the massive machine in the Dolmen’s belly roared to life and a surge of magic coursed through the entirety of the machine and Chain.

“That tickles!”

Squeezing her eyes shut and laughing in response to the sensation, Chain missed the illusion magic spring to life in the cockpit which provided her a full panoramic view of the Dolmen’s surrounding. She was not worried about missing it though as she focused on the backflow of data that established the relationship between the control magics, cockpit, and the joint motors of the Dolmen. As Drop swam out of the Dolmen and into the cockpit, Chain finally opened her eyes and commanded the Dolmen to stand.

“No way…! She actually did it! She got it up and fully operational!”

Knowing full well how much work had gone into the Dolmen, Finch was genuinely amazed even as her astonishment went over the heads of the others. Her enthusiasm did not last for long though as she suddenly remembered something as Chain piloted the Dolmen to leave.

“Ah–! Wait! Miss Chain, the Dolmen is equipped with a basic revolver in its right leg and the ammo is stored in its left.”

- Doesn’t matter. -

“Eh?”

Chain’s dismissal of Finch’s information of the Dolmen’s load out over its external speakers further left no one with any confidence in her ability to win. Still, Chain remained fully sure of herself and assured the crowd of her ability.

­- I don’t know how to use a gun but I’m really good at hand to hand combat. -

“Why do I have a bad feeling about this?”

Finch could not help but voice her concerns aloud as Chain piloted the Dolmen out of the church. Having the opportunity granted to her by the distraction caused by Chain to join Finch, Maye offered a possible option as Chain bolted off.

“Because it’s likely that she is going to break it.”

“She’s going to break it?”

Turning to look at Maye, finch just missed Chain manage to somehow get the Dolmen yanked off of its feet by the console cables still hooked up to its right arm. Turning to look back at the fallen Dolmen as Chain yanked free the cables and gave an ‘okay’ hand signal, Finch repeated her question as a deadpan statement.

“She’s going to break it.”

Athera Mountains - Lonely Root, Main Gate
Early Autumn ~ Early Morning, distant clouds and cool

The tension at the main gate was palpable as the militiamen and bandits eyed each other warily down the barrels of their plethora of firearms. Despite the tension all was still and Fangbeak leaned back in his Dolmen’s cockpit with his feet up on the rail of his left control stick.

“I shouldn’t have given them an hour. The boys will be itching to pillage at this rate, and we’ll waste the whole town and trade route. Having to pick up and move cause of a stupid mistake like that will be a pain. Hm? What the hell is that?”

Drawn from his thoughts by a sudden drumming sound that was growing closer from beyond the main gate, Fangbeak sat up in his seat and leered out across the village before him. There was nothing at first to justify the terrible drumming that unsettled the horses of his men, and then a Dolmen leapt clear over the wall.

“What the hell

Soaring over the head in a spectacular arc, the unusual Dolmen appeared to be a chest cockpit model but was difficult to discern due to the round bubbly armor that protected the steam motors and joints within. It was an impractical design as the Artificial Gate Generator housed within the belly of the humanoid machine could have easily powered the joints with the magical energy source it pulled in from the realm of magic known as Ambrosia. Instead the AGG was put to use summoning the Nectar from Ambrosia that served as magical fuel and running it through a prewritten spell to convert it into water to feed the steam powered joint motors. There was one advantage to feeding the motors superheated steam however, and that was that the Dolmen’s increased mass allowed it to be an even larger vessel for Nectar granting it far greater power than other Dolmen of its size. In this instance that extra power was used to reinforce the Dolmen as it crashed and rolled over into the army of bandits.

The twenty-five-meter-tall machine with it’s armor like a collection of pots was a weapon against the army that it was ill prepared to face. Throngs of the gathered members of the Skull Leathers were killed instantly and those that weren’t were caught up in the chaos of their horses entering an understandable panic. The Dolmen’s crash was not without design however and as it rolled over into a one-armed push up it snapped the fingers of its left hand and a massive bubble of water formed around it. Leaping back, the Dolmen punched the bubble of water into the ground, bursting it and releasing a flood that swept the rest of the Skull Leathers from their horses. The scene was a massacre, but Fangbeak to this point was safe in his Dolmen and finally managed to pilot the machine to draw its knife and revolver and turned to face the other Dolmen holding a three-point stance.

“I don’t know where you bastards got a Dolmen, but do you have any idea who you’re messing with and what that is going to cost you Do you

- Hey, so you are the one in there! That not so bright ruffian I spared yesterday. -

“IT’S YOU‼ THE WELP SA·B·ER FROM YESTERDAY‼”

“Heh, heh! Yup!”

Smiling brightly within the cockpit of her borrowed Dolmen, Chain commanded the mech to take a battle stance while Fangbeak screamed at her some more.

“YOU HAVE NO IDEA YOU WELP‼ YOU HAVE NO IDEA‼ I’M GOING TO PAY YOU BACK FOR THIS AND YESTERDAY’S HUMILIATION A HUNDRED– NO, A THOUSAND-FOLD‼”

“Go ahead and try.”

Not losing her smile, Chain goaded Fangbeak into firing off his revolver. As a Sa·B·er, the halted infection born of the monsters of the Foreigner cities that wandered the skies of Icarus granted Chain superhuman physical ability and she was easily able to read Fangbeak’s aim and dodge his first shot. The next five shots came as quickly as they could from the one-handed grip and Chain deftly dodged all of them while piloting her Dolmen to trample any straggling survivors of the Skull Leathers. In his screaming rage Fangbeak completely failed to notice what Chain was up to and threw his revolver down and charged his unarmed opponent with his knife.

“ENOUGH YOU WELP‼ JUST DIE~~~~~!!!!!”

With the Dolmen’s knife held in a reverse grip, Fangbeak led in with a lunging series of slashes that Chain easily danced out of the way of. She did not attempt to counterattack as slash after lunging slash forced her to dance backwards further and further. As the village of Lonely Root was situated well into the Athera Mountains, naturally, Chain soon ran out of space with a cliff wall blocking her continued retreat. For Fangbeak it was the perfect opportunity and he brought his knife around in a huge horizontal arc level with Chain’s cockpit.

“IT’S OVER NOW WELP‼ DIE‼ DIE‼ DIE~~~~~!!!!!”

“You really aren’t that bright.”

Losing her smile for a blank look of disappointment Chain piloted her Dolmen to step inside the wide swing. Watching in helpless horror, Fangbeak could do nothing as Chain caught the knife arm at the elbow and drove her Dolmen’s other arm through the shoulder and severed the arm of her opponent. Instinctually retreating, Fangbeak took a step back and gave Chain the room to maneuver her Dolmen into a spin as she released the severed arm. Completing her spin, Chain drove her Dolmen’s foot down and through the knee of Fangbeak’s Dolmen. As his Dolmen fell forward from the loss of balance, Chain maneuvered into a second spin and caught the machine by the neck while sweeping its remaining leg out from under it. The motion allowed Chain to flip the Dolmen in the opposite direction and she slammed it brutally onto its back, the torso crumbling under the impact blowing open the chest plate and cockpit.

Atop the wall of Lonely Root, Finch arrived on Maye’s back just in time to see the spectacular display and stared on in horror.

“No~! She’s going to break it!”

Finch’s concerns were not without precedence as within the Dolmen cockpit numerous warnings flared to life within the illusory view. Looking around confused, Chain failed to understand what was going on.

“Eh– What? What? What’s going on?”

“It seems that was too much even for this Dolmen. We’ve compressed the frame in numerous locations and have pretty much crippled the Dolmen.”

“Really?”

Surprised by Drop’s explanation, Chain stared at her tiny double dumbstruck. Movement in the Dolmen’s field of vision distracted her however and she turned her full attention onto it. Her eyes widening at the sight, Chain could hardly believe that she was witnessing a battered and bloody, yet somehow alive, Fangbeak retreating from his Dolmen.

“Ah! He’s still alive! Let’s go Drop!”

Due to the damage to the Dolmen’s frame, it took longer than it should have for the chest plate to lower and the cockpit to open. This delay bought Fangbeak a fair amount of distance to flee from Chain on foot, in a sort of a half-run, half-hobble gait, but he still heard her clearly as she shouted after him.

“Wa~it!”

“I don’t think so you crazy bitch!”

Looking back just long enough to shout his refusal and see Chain and Drop drop to the ground, Fangbeak did not relent in his retreat. He was perhaps fortunate to have not been shot by any member of Lonely Root’s militia atop the wall, or perhaps not as they were content to let the scene play out and not anger the maid who could summon Light. It was not Light that Chain summoned though as she chased after Fangbeak, but rather her own sword that she pulled from the depths of her cape while wearing a big pout on her face. Drawing her sword, Chain gave it a mighty heft with surprisingly little effort for her size and sent the weapon careening through the air. Had Fangbeak been in better shape the sword might have landed in him instead of point first into the ground in front of him. Regardless, the sword brought him to a stop, though as he was still alive, he was able to look back and swear.

“Crap!”

Fangbeak would not add on to that statement as he took Chain’s scabbard, chape leading, right between the eyes. The blow immediately knocked Fangbeak out, or perhaps killed him, and he collapsed to the ground in a heap. Catching up to her sword and Fangbeak, Chain lifted the defeated leader of the Skull Leathers up by the collar and flashed a victory sign at the village while striking a pose. Drop imitated her in the air next to her head, but neither of them held their victory poses for long as they noticed Finch fuming and screaming atop the main gate.

“You broke it Chain! How could you Do you have any idea how much time I’ve spent on that

“Uh-oh! Looks like it’s time to leave Drop.”

“It does seem like a bad idea to stay.”

“Hey! Where do you two think you’re going You broke my Dolmen and you’re going to pay for that!”

With Drop’s consensus and Finch still yelling at her from atop the wall, Chain broke into a run towards the eastern horizon. Looking back over her shoulder she yelled at the militia of Lonely Root.

“Don’t worry about my pay! I’ll find my own way! I’m an adventurer after all!”

Turning her back on the village of Lonely Root and leaving it behind, though not necessarily Finch and Maye for long, Chain ran towards the future with Drop swimming through the air beside her. All of the questions left unanswered from her short time in Lonely Root would be found waiting for her alongside endless challenges, trials, and the mystery of her other selves out there in the world of Icarus. It was the beginning of her adventures and the Legend of the Chainmaid, and she was smiling with shimmering eyes as she ran on.

The Fractured Maid · End
Chain’s adventures will continue…




Copyright © 2019 Joshua D Tarwater

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