"This is the place?" I asked. We had made it to the junkyard, and we were just standing outside of it. The place...well, it looked like a junkyard, as expected, though what was I really expecting anyways? A golden palace with fancy chandeliers and a butler waiting out the door?
"Yeah, Clicker isn't really the one for fashion," Andrew replied before walking in. I followed after him, and inside the place it looked a bit better than the outside. Various projects and sorted piles of scrap and materials littered the area. The stuff he had there was actually pretty interesting.
For example, I saw a spider that was entirely made of metal, and the best part was that it moved! It's bright red eyes darted around the junkyard, observing every little detail, and it made low hums and clicks as it did so.
"Clicker made this? Impressive," I complimented, stopping to better look at the spider.
"Heh, you think Roxie is the best I got? You should see what other wonders I got hidden here, boy," A voice called. I looked to the side of the robot and saw a figure emerge from behind it. The figure looked pretty much like me, except that it's left arm was replaced with a wooden prothstetic (to the size of its other arm) and it had spiked wooden hair covered in soot.
"Hey Clicker, my man," Andrew said, coming forward to fist-bump the puppet.
"Ah, it is good to see you again, old friend. Guard work suiting you well?"
"Eh, it gives me something to do, better than be a foot soldier, I'll say that."
"You two know each other?" I asked, interrupting their conversation.
"Yeah, Clicker's an old friend of mine," Andrew explained. "Clicker, this is Todd. Todd, this is Clicker."
"Pleasure to meet you," I said, putting a hand out to shake Clicker's.
"Ahah, the pleasure is mine," Clicker said with a twitch before shaking my hand. "So what have you come here for? A mech suit? I'm sorry to say I'm fresh out of supplies to send one out for prototype testing."
"No, we were sent by base, for the scrap mission you demanded."
Clicker's face lit up with excitement. Well, not exactly, being puppets it was difficult to make facial expressions, but we got the feeling that if Clicker could make a excited face, he would.
"Ahah! Finally, at long, long last, they finally approved it!" Clicker rejoiced, hopping with excitement. "What are we waiting for, we must get to work!"
The crazy puppet turned to the spider drone, who was looked back at the puppet.
"Roxie, let's get going! Initiate protocol 'cheesecake'!"
As soon as he said it, Roxie's eyes changed from bright red to acid green. It made multiple tapping noises before scurrying off through the scrap yard.
"Follow Roxie, she'll lead us to the old base," Clicker explained before running off to the drone. I turned to Andrew for guidance, I didn't exactly know how to approach.
"Look, Clicker might have a marble loose, but he can be trusted," Andrew said, defending Clicker. I nodded at his words but to be honest, I still didn't put too much stock in the crazy puppet's abilities. Still, we went ahead to follow Clicker.
We went through the scrap yard, seeing multiple machines, structures, and what looked to be a bullet casing scattered throughout the place before we found Clicker. He was standing with Roxie at a tunnel entrance. It wasn't very big, but then again, that was if you were a human. We weren't human, we were tiny puppets, we could make the squeeze.
Clicker went first into the tunnel, Roxie following, and soon after Andrew and me. The tunnels were pretty dark, but the soft glow of the spider's eyes illuminated the path. A few minutes passed before I made conversation with Andrew.
"How do you know Clicker?"
"Well, in order to apply to be a guard for the city, more often than not someone has to vouch for you. No one vouched for me when I applied except Clicker. When someone vouches for you, they often have to train you, and so Clicker ended up giving me training, a safe place to sleep, and all that stuff."
"All that to become a guard?"
"I dunno why they made it that way but they did. It was that or becoming a soldier, and those guys haven't been fortunate in the latest clashes. The boogeyman rip them to shreds in battle."
"Why do the boogymen try to, you know, kill us and all that?"
"It's all because of that bastard," A familiar voice said from behind us. It caught us off guard and made the both of us jump forward a few inches before turning back to face the speaker. Up ahead, the spider and Clicker paid no mind to us.
"Jeez, you scared me," I said. "I almost got a heart attack there, and I don't even think I can have that."
It was difficult to see Dings in the dark, only his white, glowing eyes and lit cigarette were really visible. It sent shivers through my body only being able to see his eyes, it felt creepy. Dings seemed to read my mind and chuckled before taking another puff of his cigarette.
"We got that effect on people. Boogymen were born to be scary. They say our ancestors relied upon scaring our prey and putting them in a state of shock in order to close in for the kill."
"Who were your ancestors?"
"We aren't really sure. When we were initially… made, there was just one of us, who rapidly multiplied into our present population. But we all know deep down that we aren't from this earth."
"What does that mean?"
"It means next question, kid. I'm not a professor of history."
"Who was that bastard you were talking about?" Andrew asked.
"Heh, that bastard is Nick. He started all of this, he thinks if he gets rid of all life, somehow things could be better. He believes that humanity is inferior to us, and should therefore be eliminated."
"But why would be believe that?"
"He claims it's because of nature. He uses the analogy of 'if a bear corners a deer, it doesn't think of the family or herd that deer might have, what spawn it has yet to produce, what life it can live. No, it just kills the deer without question.' That's how Nick perceives this."
Dings took a pause to take a puff of his cigar, leaving them in the echoes of the tunnel.
"We almost there, Clicker?" Andrew called.
"I'm not sure, these tunnels are a complete labyrinth, jammed full of traps and boogymen. Let me check with Roxie."
"What? There are boogymen in these caves?"
"Sure, Dings is beside you now, and there are 3 gores in the form of a puppet just up ahead."
"Oh, well it's fine if Dings is- wait, there are some just up ahead?!"
"Yes, are your ears full of lint? Ah, here they are now!"
Just as warned by Clicker, 3 puppet shaped shadows emerged from the darkness ahead. They all could have been easily mistaken for actually puppets if not for the fact of their heavy, ragged breathing.
"Hello there! Would you kindly show us to the old puppet base tunnel?"
One of the puppets pointed to the shadows, indicating it was just up ahead.
"Excellent! Thank you, boys, I shall generously repay your kindness with the sweet taste of a blade in your gut."
The three puppets roared in unison, charging forward to Clicker. Roxie leapt to his side, guarding him from the impending threat. Andrew and me looked at each other to confirm that we had the same plan, head-on battle. My kind of thing.
"Let's do this!" I shouted, pulling my sword out and charging to the gores. I targeted the one closest to Roxie, slashing his body horizontally, the higher section of its now mutilated body sliding right off.
"Haha! Who wants some more?" I challenged, turning to the rest of the boogymen.
"How about I show off?" Dings said, emerging from the shadows he hid in and dashing forward. One of the remaining gores raised their hand and extended it to a sharp, pointy claw at least 3 times the gore's own size and slashed it at Dings. He managed to dodge the claw, but his cigarette was not so fortunate, being grabbed from his mouth and thrown to the floor.
Dings looked down at the cigarette before looking at the gore, who's primitive mind seemed to realize the mistake it had made.
"You're gonna regret that," he growled, several tentacles sprouting from his back. Two of them lashed out and grabbed the boogymen who had extinguished the cigarette, smashing him against the wall repeatedly. It was not a pretty sight, I'll tell you that.
"Brutal," I commented. Behind me, I could hear Roxie tearing up the last gore. In a matter of moments, the threat had been dealt with.
"Haha, that was brilliant!" Clicker exclaimed, buzzing with excitement.
"We should get going Clicker, that scrap ain't going to collect itself, and Todd still has a mission to do," Andrew pointed out. Clicker made a cough in his throat before turning back to the way they were going.
"Yes, of course. Come on, we're almost there."
Roxie started moving again, and everyone was forced to move forward to stay in the light. What were we talking about before that fight? I couldn't remember, the heat of the fight had occupied my mind then. I decided to just ask another question to Dings.
"Hey Dings, what do you-" I was saying before I looked over my shoulder to find that Dings was not there. Say, that reminded me of something, what was it called? It was like some old guy in a costume, like a bat? Wait, how do I know that?
"Todd, snap out of it, boy! We're here!" Clicker exclaimed, snapping his robotic hand at me. I looked ahead of the tunnel and saw that we were in fact coming into a zone of light.
"Finally, I'm tired of these caves!" I said before sprinting to the exit. I jumped out of the tunnels and looked around. We were outside of a small, military like base obviously fit for tiny puppets like me (Why do I keep mentioning that?).
"So where's the scrap at?" I asked, looking back to the cave. I really just wanted to get this assignment done so I could find Nick, punch his face, and leave this damn house, excuse my French.
"On the outskirts of the base, over to the left," Clicker answered with a mad cackle. I swear, that guy had a few marbles loose. Heh, more like all of his marbles loose. Clicker hopped onto Roxy, who started to make way to the scrapyard, leaving Andrew and me near the tunnel.
"Wait, what do we do?" Andrew called.
"Just make sure nothing creeps up on us!" Clicker yelled back. Before we could ask anything else, Clicker disappeared beyond our range of vision.
"Why does he seem… insane?" I asked, now curious about the mad puppet.
"I'm not sure, he just seemed to be made that way. But don't worry, he's a good guy, I know it," Andrew said with a tone of uncertainty.
I pulled out my sword and stood as though I was a sentinel, guarding the entrance to the tunnel. Andrew decided to patrol the area, leaving me to my devices. Suddenly, a chill ran down my body, giving me the idea of something other than us was in the area.
"Say, aren't there boogymen in this place?" I asked, now feeling like something horrible was going to happen.
"What? No, they don't have a reason to, I don't think," Andrew called. "Let's just hope Clicker doesn't trip the old alarm we had."
In the distance to the junkyard, a loud alarm suddenly blared, echoing throughout the cavern. From next to the base, Clicker was riding Roxie and was carrying a massive bag full of scrap.
"What are you waiting for? Run!" He yelled from the distance away.
"From-" I was going to ask before a massive tremble shook the cavern, stopping Roxie in her tracks and making Clicker fly forward, landing face-first in the ground. I heard a ear-piercing screech from the tunnel behind me and I jumped away from it, sword at the ready. From the base, multiple figures emerged, and I could tell they were not friendly.
"So, this is the chosen one?" several voices said in unison. The voice echoed through the cavern, making it difficult to pinpoint where it came from. "He looks mangy, but he will have to do. After all, a meal is a meal."
"Who are you? Come out and face me!" I yelled, not wanting to become some monster's supper. The voice laughed before replying in a lower voice.
"Who are we? We are Pachinko, Nick's right hand man."
"We? You refer to yourself as we?"
"Why of course! We are three in one, combining our minds to make one single mind."
"Oh yeah? How do you and your fellows think of a sword in that squishy brain?"
"We would like to see you try, food- We mean, Todd."
"Just come out here so I can kill you already!" I screamed, now getting angry.
"If you insist," Pachinko replied. Another loud rumble, and a massive figure emerged from the old puppet's base. It was colossal, bearing a resemblance to an ape like creature with fangs, claws, and 3 eyes where an ape's eyes were to be. One was glowing angry red, one patient green, and one a fearsome blue. Pachinko noticed Andrew, who was standing with his spear ready, and Clicker, who was still on the ground.
"Oh, you have friends! Delightful, oh how delightful! We can feed our guests now!"
The figures from the edges of the base roared in approval. Clicker got up to his feet and noticed Pachinko's presence. Right as he did, Pachinko lashed out and grabbed Todd and Andrew, raising them up to his face.
"Oh, and you fellows down there can have the spider and the skinny one," He noted, giving the boogymen below the order to close in on Clicker and Roxie.
"Grr, I'm gonna tear you into two!" I shouted, slashing at the clawed fist grabbing me.
"Allow me," A familiar voice said from across the room. Everyone stopped what they were doing to see Dings, now about 2 feet tall (in comparison Pachinko was about 3 feet tall right now) and he looked angry. His cut horn was now more jagged, and the other horn was chipped at the ends. Something wasn't right, he looked a little sad, not his usual dapper self.
"Dings? What are you doing here?" Pachinko asked, lowering Andrew and me slightly. I struggled harder to break free.
"I'm here to stop freaks like you from eating my friends," Dings replied in a cold tone.
"Freaks? We are not a freak! We are Pachinko, and you are dead!"
Pachinko charged forward in fury, with me in one gargantuan hand and Andrew in the other. Below us, Clicker and Roxie were fighting for their lives. Up ahead, Dings was charging forward, brandishing claws and tentacles. From the corner of his eye, a single tear fell.