April 27, 2015
The young man stumbled through the thick vegetation of the Jungle District, scared out of his mind of the clockwork monstrosities that pursued him. He constantly tripped over roots and plants alike, only to get back up and keep running, his thoughts not dissimilar to a hunted animal. Finally, the lad pushed through a wall of plants to find he almost ran off of a cliff. He turned around, terrified, and saw that his pursuers, clockworks that semi-resembled large spiders, had cut through the plants, and were closing in on him. The man cowered into a huddled mass, and saw his life flash before his eyes, waiting on the impending doom…
The moment of fear was interrupted when a flash of dazzlingly indigo lightning zipped through the air and struck the head of one of the spiders, causing its gears to stop, and the spider collapsed onto the jungle floor.
“That should even the odds a bit.”
The lad looked up at a stranger in a faded green overcoat, top hat, and a pair of interesting looking goggles, brandishing what appeared to be a flintlock pistol, but its barrel was wrapped in copper wire. The stranger, who looked to be about 17, quickly explained, “These look to be basic clockwork Spyder-Hunters. A pity. Here I thought that I would have a challenge.” The stranger grinned, and aimed his pistol straight at the second spider.
The second spider, after witnessing what happened, did the logical thing. It ran back into the jungle, quick as a hare.
“Now then,” The mystery rescuer said as he dusted off his coat, “We should probably get you to safety, my friend. Might I ask for your name?” The stranger asked the young lad who had just witnessed the carnage.
The only response was the deep thud of one hitting the earth as the young lad passed out in exhaustion.
The young man groggily came to in what appeared to be a makeshift recovery ward, containing multiple cots, some of which were inhabited by sleeping children.
“Ah, good. You finally woke up.”
The young lad, startled, turned to see the stranger who saved him earlier, dressed in the exact same outfit.
“Where…where am I?” The young lad asked, his voice weak.
“You’re in the Recovery Ward. You got quite a bump on your head, old chap. Mind telling me your name?”
“My name is Sprocket. Sprocket McClain.” He answered nervously.
“Well, delighted to make your acquaintance, Sprocket McClain. My name is Isaac Finch, and this…” Isaac gestured with his hand, “is Haven.”
Sprocket was slightly confused. “Haven? What kind of name is that?”
“A perfect name for a place in which people can seek sanctuary. Now, do you remember why those Spyder-Hunters were after you?”
Sprocket racked his brain, but drew up a blank. “I can’t remember. I’m sorry.”
Isaac simply smiled. “Don’t be sorry for what you can’t remember, my friend. I’m sure that your memories will come back in due time. For now, let me show you around.” Isaac offered his hand to Sprocket, and helped him out of the cot.
“Robecca is going to kill me when she finds out.” Isaac thought with a grimace. Robecca wasn’t exactly keen on taking in strays. Isaac quickly shook the thought out of his head, and proceeded to show Sprocket around Haven.
“You see, Sprocket, everyone here is like you. Hunted for some reason or another by the Obsidian Order. We probably still would be, if we didn’t stumble upon this place. And yes, I mean that quite literally. This place is a huge network of underground caverns, some of which contained fertile soil and enough lighting to produce farms.” Isaac explained in full detail.
“So…all of these people are fugitives?” Sprocket asked, slightly fearful.
“Oh, not so! Some of these people are good people, who simply just got in The Obsidian Order’s way. Some are air pirates, others are political figures…we even have a few scientists. Not everyone here is a criminal.” Isaac remarked.
“Oh, sure, we have a couple of so-called “criminals”, but they learn quickly that we don’t tolerate that sort of thing here. Now, to your left, you should be able to see our Harvester. An amazing device, capable of seeding, tending, and harvesting every kind of fruit and vegetable possible! I invented it myself.” Sprocket looked at Isaac, his eyes shining with wonder. “You’re an inventor?” He asked with obvious enjoyment.
“Indeed. How do you think I managed to take out the Spyder-Hunters?” Isaac pulled out his pistol. “A Mark Three Tesla Pistol, capable of discharging over 100 volts of electric energy with a single shot.” Isaac proclaimed with a rather arrogant tone in his voice.
“So…you are the one in charge of Haven, then?” Sprocket asked.
Isaac hesitated, then replied, “No. My friend Robecca is in charge, technically. I just invent, and occasionally do missions to keep this place up and running. And who knows? Maybe you might be able to join me on a mission someday. But for now…Ah, here we are.” Isaac and Sprocket stopped in the mouth of one of the largest caves in Haven, which was dubbed The Court.
“Now then, Sprocket McClain, lets go talk to Robecca.”
As Isaac and Sprocket entered The Court, they noticed a conversation going on between a young lady of 17, and a much older gentlemen.
“I’ve told you before, Claude, we don’t have the resources to do this sort of mission.”
“But just think, if we do, we wouldn’t have to stay here, hiding in the dark. We could live freely! Just let us do this.”
“No, Claude. Even if we did have the resources, we don’t murder just to gain advantage. If we did, then we would end up being like the Obsidian Order.”
“This discussion is over. Get out of my sight.”
Claude grumbled, and stormed off. The young lady, who, now that Sprocket had a good look at her, had dark, long hair, with hazel eyes, dressed in a trenchcoat like Isaacs, except hers was a luxurious shade of chocolate. When she spotted Isaac, she smiled. “Well, I see you managed to not get killed, Mr. Finch.”
“Oh come on, Robecca, you should know me by now. I’m much too quick for a setback like that.”
Robecca’s eyes drifted towards Sprocket, and her smile faded. With a sigh, she said, “Isaac…What did I tell you about bringing in strays. Our resources are dwindling as it is!”
“He was being chased by Spyder-Hunters, and would have been killed. What else could I do?!”
“As usual, you had to go rushing in and be the hero, right? You couldn’t have just let this one slide?”
“At least I did something. Unlike you, who just sits around complaining. Just once, you should at least try to have a heart!”
Robecca winced at the comment, and Isaac immediately felt guilty. He didn’t want to hurt Robecca, physically or emotionally. “”Robecca, just give him a chance. He could be useful…”
Robecca sighed, then said, “If thats how you want it, then fine. But understand this. He is under your care, and if I see him breaking our rules, I will have both of you put on trial. Understand?”
“Clear as crystal. Come on, Sprocket. Lets see about getting you trained.” Isaac briskly left the room, and Sprocket quickly followed.
Sprocket felt sore all over.
After two weeks of relentless training under the guidance of Isaac, Sprocket felt as if his muscles were stretched out like rubber bands, and his mind wasn’t doing too well either.
“Good grief, man. I don’t think you can shoot a pistol to save your life!” Isaac complained in an exasperated voice.
“Tell me something I don’t know. Besides, I prefer close-quarter combat anyways.”
“True, but not even the sharpest sword can hit a man 3 feet away, or ignite gunpowder on an enemy ship. Nevertheless, you are doing fairly well, much better than I expected.”
A bell clanged in the distance, startling both Sprocket and Isaac.
“Oh, great. Robecca probably has a new announcement to everyone. Come on, Sprocket!” Isaac said as he and Sprocket began to rush down to the Main Cave.
“Isaac, what’s the deal between you and Robecca, anyways?” Sprocket inquired.
Isaac stopped dead in his tracks, surprised that his newfound friend would ask such a personal question. “Listen, Sprocket,” Isaac began. “Some things are better left alone. I may not have a lot of rules, excluding the rules of Haven, but I do have this one. Don’t ask me anything about Robecca. I made a promise to protect her a long time ago, and I intend to keep that promise. Are we clear?”
“Yes, Isaac. I understand.” Sprocket replied, rather confused. But before he could say anything else, the two walked into the Main Cavern, and heard Robecca, in a rather loud voice, exclaim.
“My fellow refugees! Our spies have reported that the Obsidian Order has managed to locate our Haven. Unfortunately, they were captured before more information was given. I am requesting that a few of our people go and try to rescue our fellow comrades, and to possibly obtain more information on this plot. Will I have any volunteers?”
Nobody raised their hands, for good reason. If they went, there was a possibility that they might not come back.
Isaac, of course, raised his hand. “I volunteer for the task at hand!”
There was a collective gasp from the crowd. Isaac rarely did these sort of missions, and for good reason. “No, Isaac. You are on of our best Resourcers. We can’t risk placing you in the field. Besides, you have a trainee to attend to.” Robecca countered.
“Which is why I will take young Sprocket with me. What better way to prove his worth!”
Another gasp from the crowd told Sprocket that this might be a bad idea.
“Isaac, I told you once, and I’ll say it again. You are not going to go. If necessary, I will make someone do it, for less risk of danger. Now, if you want to disagree with my opinion, you can do so outside the Haven. Are we clear?”
Isaac pondered this for a moment, then, in a monotone voice, replied, “Crystal, madam. Crystal.”
Later that night, Sprocket, along with Isaac, were on board of an airship, getting ready to depart.
“So let me get this straight. You were abruptly told not to go on this mission.”
“Correct, young Sprocket.”
“And you know that you will get kicked out of Haven if you do.”
“And your brilliant response to this is sneaking out, taking an airship, and doing this mission anyways? I’m not sure I understand.” Sprocket concluded with an air of doubt.
“It’s simple. I know where we can get information on where our comrades are, and since I happen to know the Obsidian Order’s jurisdictions like the back of my hand, I am the best candidate for the mission, and Robecca knows that.”
“Then why won’t she let you go?” Sprocket asked with a slight smile across his face.
Isaac froze, then slowly turned towards Sprocket. With a heavy sigh, Isaac replied, “She’s worried that I might get killed, or worse, captured. If I were captured, they could find a way to get me to reveal the location of Haven, and Robecca doesn’t want to risk that.”
“Okay then. But I still don’t understand why I have to come with you.”
“Simple. If you stayed here, then Robecca would have to question you until you told her where I went. And trust me, you do not want to be at the end of that blade. Now untie the rope at the dock, and we should be good to go.” Isaac said with a grin. Sprocket leapt onto the dock, quickly untied the tether rope, and quickly hopped onto the ship’s main deck, and the duo quickly cast off. Suddenly, the ship lurched to the left.
“What the…what happened to the autopilot?” Isaac said, shocked.
“Simple, Mr. Finch. I turned it off. You didn’t think I’d wouldn’t know you’d go anyways, did you?” A voice said from the ships helm. Isaac and Sprocket turned to see none other than Robecca piloting the stolen airship.
“So…” Sprocket inquired, “We’re going to be banished?”
“Nope. Since you already are on your way, I might as well help on your mission. What better way to evaluate your skills, McClain?” Robecca Steam said with a wry grin.
“Well then,” Isaac interrupted, “Onwards my friends! To our first adventure!”