Author: Lexy797 PM
Clara Moriarty toils daily at the engines and gears of the Lower Gearworks of Steam City. She is one of the lowest of the low, under the total control of the heartless Officials. The workers live in fear, knowing every day could be their last. When an enemy from her past resurfaces, and new allies are discovered in the unlikeliest of places, she may just get the revenge she craves.Rated: Fiction T - English - Sci-Fi/Romance - Chapters: 5 - Words: 10,645 - Reviews: 11 - Favs: 6 - Follows: 5 - Updated: 08-16-12 - Published: 02-21-12 - id: 2999293
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
((A/N: I was listening to Mozart's Lacrimosa at about three in the morning while I was writing this. It fit great with this first scene, it was pretty awesome :P. I hope you enjoy chapter three! Please review and tell me what you think. By the way "GW" marks a passing of time or change of characters at this point since I can't think of anything better.))
Erikka stared at the Official before her with cool fury in her eyes; her delicate features the image of calm. "What do you mean you didn't kill her?" she asked slowly.
The red piping decorating the Official's uniform seemed to fade under the young female's glare. The man swallowed dryly and coughed to try and clear this throat. "Derek Moriarty was charged with thievery and executed as an example to the workers. He swore the girl wasn't privy to his crime, ma'am," he said hollowly.
Erikka growled and swept her arm across the dark wood of the desk in front of her, sending papers and gearwork devices flying. Insanity shone through the cracks in her calm.
"Of course she knew about it, she was a part of it! Clara Moriarty will die if I have to kill her myself!" she shrieked, shaking with fury. "Everyone has been slowly picked off around her, and yet she still stands," she hissed. "Well, not for long."
The girl closed her fiery eyes and took a calming breath. When she opened her eyes again, the room seemed to darken. Terror gripped the man in front of the desk as the muffled snickering of gears behind the walls and the hiss of steam from overhead pipes filled the tense silence in the room.
"What a shame," she said in mock sadness, "You've always followed the orders you've been given so well, haven't you, Captain?" she asked, pulling a dagger from a hidden sheath deep in her blood-red skirts. "Too bad you slipped up when I truly needed you."
True panic now filled the Official's wide-eyed gaze as he took a couple steps backwards towards the door. "Ma'am, please! I will never fail you again, I-I can still be of service to-"
He stopped dead and looked down at the carved brass hilt of the dagger embedded in his chest, then crumpled to the opulent carpet. Erikka hummed to herself as she walked slowly up to the former Captain and pulled the dagger out of his heart, wiping the blood off onto his coat. She then strode to the office door and spun the vault-like handle. Stepping out into the hallway she grabbed the Official posted outside by his collar and, pulling him down to her level, hissed in his ear.
"There's a bit of a mess in my office."
"Yes, ma'am," he said, straightening and turning to walk into the office, face blank. Erikka resumed humming and continued down the hall; she had some unfinished business to deal with.
Clara woke up in the morning with a sick feeling in the pit of her stomach. She had returned to the Lower Gearworks the night before in time to see an elderly man topple over the railing of a catwalk above her and fall down into the heart of the Works, where only fire can survive. It was like falling into a furnace, but ten times hotter. He was too shocked to even scream as he fell, grasping at the air around him for anything to catch him. Clara had leapt forward and clutched at his hands over the rail, only skimming his fingertips as he plunged downwards. She bit back a scream and stumbled backwards, eyes searching above for the cause of the man's fall. Two young Officials stood above watching him impassively.
Later, as she walked into her apartment, yanking off her grimy boots and cloudy goggles as she went, she heard crying out in the hall. She hesitated with her hand on the button that would curl the pipes back into place and pulled away, poking her head out into the hallway. The lights were dim at that time of night as the Works ran mostly on generator power, not the full engines kept up by the Gearmen during the day. She squinted into the darkness, her eyes running past the twisting, flickering lights lining the labyrinth of hallways and past the innumerable doors of other exhausted Gearmen.
Farther down the wall at the crossroads in the hallway hunched a small figure against the grimy copper plating. She felt her way down the hall towards the figure and crouched down when she reached the place where he sat. A skinny little boy, most likely only seven or eight years of age, had his head propped against grimy knees and patched elbows.
"Hey," she said softly, brushing mousy brown hair off his forehead. "What's the matter?" She pursed her lips; what wasn't the matter in the Gearworks?
He sniffed loudly and looked up in shock, blue eyes wide, his sobs choked off.
Her heart constricted as she looked into his eyes, an old man's eyes, deep in a face too young for them. This little boy had seen too much in his short life. She was tired of seeing fear and worry etched into the eyes of the children in the Works. She couldn't help herself as she wrapped her arms around the boy and pulled his small body against hers. He tensed at her touch, but soon relaxed.
"Why were you crying?" she asked after a little while.
"They killed him!" he cried against the soft fabric of her coat.
She pulled back and looked at him at arm's length. "What happened?"
"The men in black coats, they killed an old man in the Works today. They pushed him over the railing because he wasn't working fast enough!" his eyes welled with tears of fury and terror.
Clara sighed and looked down at the ground. She hadn't been sure earlier that the Officials had killed that man, but this boy's words rang true. She looked back up into his eyes. "What were you doing in the Works today?" she asked softly.
He bit his lip sheepishly. "My brother forgot his lunch at home and I was taking it to him. I've followed him a few times, so I knew where to go. I was just going back home when I saw them yelling at the old man. I hid behind a smoke vent when they…."
She brushed his hair from his forehead again and pulled him against her. "Be wary of the Officials, alright? If you see one, hide or get home as fast as you can."
"Why do they do things like this? What did we do to deserve it?"
The cruelty of the Officials was known by every person living in the Gearworks far below the city. Here, unlike anywhere else, they had free reign and total authority. The fear of them almost numbed a person when they were near. The victims knew there was absolutely no hope if they came for them. It was a horrible feeling, and one Clara and her family had known well. But the hatred burned strongly, too, a feeling that overcame the terror and pain they delivered, at least for the Moriarty family. The Officials saw the Gearworkers as totally and completely expendable, and treated them as such. An anger that had been compacting since she was a small girl stirred inside Clara. They had no right to treat them like insects to terrify just to watch them squirm. They had no right, but they did it anyway. She had no answer for the child huddled in her arms.
"I don't know," she whispered.
Flashes of her uncle's murder, the elderly man falling to his death, and the sobbing child melded together within her mind as she slept. Clara sat up in her cot, the metal cogs that held the makeshift bed together creaking. She was sick of living in this world, helplessly sitting by and watching as the Officials murdered everyone around her; her family, her neighbors, and innocent people just trying to do their jobs. She would be ready when they came for her this time.