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Friday, January 30, 2015

Fiction Friday - Clockwork Heart 8

This is part of a Wolf & Raven Serial Story. See all the parts that have been posted here, tune in Tuesday and Friday for more, and see all my free fiction here.


Wolfe led the way out of the shed and back toward the staging area, but they traveled their own routes; he lost sight of Devinovitch almost immediately. She was fast, silent, delicately balanced on the world, and it made her very good at disappearing--and yet, he knew where she was. His sense of her had only grown stronger since their handshake. He'd never felt anything like the feel of her hand in his. If he were given to flights of fancy, he would have thought it was something like destiny, except that he didn't really believe in destiny beyond the definition of literally being born for a purpose.

And anyway, she'd given him a new option that seemed better than this one, where he'd eventually be fed to some ancient monster or left to die in a jungle or forced to give up himself so the Brothers could escape some terrible end.

It should have been harder to turn on the only life he'd ever known. It wasn't easy, not by a long shot, but it wasn't exactly difficult, either. It was more...uncomfortable. He'd spent all his life knowing exactly where his life was going, whether he was happy with it or not, and now he was offered a whole new selection of possible lives, and he knew almost nothing about any of them.

It was as if something had been missing, and now was slotted back where it should have been all along.

He hated the Brothers. They were cruel, utilitarian to a fault so long as their own lives weren't endangered, and they wanted to raise an almost-dead old god and turn the world over to it. The world was a harsh, cold place, but he knew for a fact most of it wasn't in favor of being ended on so unilateral a decision.

Wolfe reached the edge of the flat place and crouched down behind a large black boulder. A high, sharp birdcall from his right drew his eyes to where Devinovitch hid behind an upthrust a little further back from the gate. She looked paler than her usual red-earth tones, and her eyes had a feverish intensity that hadn't been there before; the gate was affecting her again. She waved her hands in a series of sinuous symbols he shouldn't have understood and did anyway: how do we do it?

He pointed to the gate, then to the bank of generators off to the other side, away from where he'd caught her throwing rocks at an ancient god. Then he pointed to the Brothers, their hands wreathed in ghostly light, their half-circle back in alignment, and to the hooded figure who had closed the door on them.

Kerry. The man had joined them from some other family and cell born and raised the way Wolfe had been, he said, but he was a loose cannon from the start, someone who didn't think or act the way the rest of the Guard did. Wolfe had never trusted him. And then he'd gotten himself and six others killed in a jungle eight months ago, when the Brothers had gone looking for some Mayan artifact. Wolfe had seen the body himself, and it was definitely Kerry and definitely dead.

And yet, here he was.

Worse, though, was that he knew Devinovitch was here and he knew Wolfe had some association with her. He'd called them traitors. He'd sounded insane. And now he was wearing a hooded robe and lingering around the group of Interested Parties.

A signal from Devinovitch: what is he up to?

I don't know, he signaled back. I don't trust him.

What's the plan?

The generators. He waved her around the long way, away from the gate where she could keep her mind and stay useful to him; he took the closer route, the more direct one. The path was rocky, shadowed, and the light thrown by the sparking, flickering gate made footing precarious, but he knew the way.

The ground trembled with a rough howl from the gate, and the cold wind from the shadows in its heart picked up, grew colder.

When he reached the generators, he was at an oblique angle to the gate, and he looked up into the shadows there. From this angle, they looked like shifting layers of mica, dark and sharp and brittle, and between them, there was something that wasn't like looking at the world he knew here. The world he'd always known. The space between the layers seemed to be made of shapes that fit together and clicked, notch by notch, toward wherever the Brothers were guiding them. Each click echoed, deep and heavy as falling mountains, through the ground under his knees.

An old memory nagged at his mind. When he was just old enough to start learning his place in this undersociety, one of the professors had mentioned "The Clockwork Heart of the Universe" but hadn't said anything about what that meant. It had been taken as a given, one of the foundation ideas of their view of the world. And here it was, before him as if it were normal to see the world as a series of moving wheels and shells.

Devinovitch reached her position nearby, closer to the generators, and further from the gate than where he was. Only one person guarded the generators, though he'd suggested more. Proof he wasn't valued here, as if he needed any. The howls and growls and skittering whines coming from the gate sounded closer.

He signaled to her that she was to take the guard and he'd handle the bank of generators, and she nodded. The wind whipped her hair around her face and tangled it in the shadows behind her rock; she looked a little fuzzy around the edges, a little lost in whatever was infringing on her mind, but her eyes were focused and her jaw was set. He trusted her. And he knew she wouldn't be there if she didn't think she could handle it. But he noticed that she didn't look at the gate.

A loud pop and a massive shower of sparks. The gate titled a little more, making the shape of it a little less intuitive. The shadows pushed out, stretched while somehow looking more brittle, and cracks glittered through them, threw more sparks.

Soon, the thing they called would reach the world.

It was time to act.

Tune in Tuesday for Part 9!


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