3-9: Gods and Machines

“This is stupid.” Laurie readjusted herself for what certainly felt like the thousandth time. They had ducked into a gap in the metal canyon wall, pushing aside a few panels, and had managed to get out of sight of the giant dragon. There was barely enough room to sit up, and the piece of metal she was leaning against bore the distention of somehow managing to be at exactly the proper angle to prevent her from finding a comfortable pose. “Is it still out there?”

The Bartender, better suited to such spaces, crawled to the mouth of the cave and peeked out. He saw nothing, but the scrape of metal could be heard as it paced nearby.

“Yep.”

She swore, rolling her shoulders in another vain attempt to relax. “Maybe it will go away in daylight.”

“It is daylight.”

She swore again. “I’m going to shoot it.”

“I think that would just make it angry.”

“Well, I’m angry and I want to shoot something.”

“Something?” The Bartender asked with sarcastic apprehension.

“Oh, shut up. How does that thing survive here? It’s not as if anything grows here.”

“Probably eats those little scrappers. Iron rich diet, you know.”

She allowed herself a slight chuckle. “I’m hungry enough to eat one myself.” She sighed. “Where the hell is Scorch?”

He shrugged his bony shoulders. “Somewhere.”

“Not helpful.”

“It’s all I have.”

“Well, whenever we can get out of here, we’re going back to the Dead Corps ship, if the scrappers haven’t torn it apart, and getting out of here.”

“Without Scorch?”

“It is rather apparent we aren’t going to find him.”

“It sure seems that way. Let’s see if we can sneak past him.” He looked out again, surveying the area. All was eerily quite, the only sound being the whistling wind as it passed over and through the remains of millions of ships. “I think we are clear,” he whispered back to her.

“Let’s go, then,” she said, crawling to the mouth of the cave. The Bartender blinked as he stepped into the morning sun, holding close to the canyon wall, such as it was. The moved swiftly and silently towards the far end, frequently glancing behind and above, keeping a wary eye for the predator.

It came at them from above, coming straight down the canyon wall in a cascade of metal with a loud screech. It ran towards them, four short legs moving faster than they appeared to be capable of. Laurie squeezed of a pair of shots, missing wildly, before turning and running.

scorch2Yet it gained on them, drawing ever closer. It had rancid breath that was enveloping, overwhelming, years of decayed flesh rotting in its mouth. Laurie could feel the heat from it as the mouth opened, ready to consume her. Panic came over her, but she did everything in her power to push it down. But she wasn’t going down without a fight. She pivoted to face the creature, raising her weapons as it brought its massive mouth down.

Suddenly, it shuddered, raising its head in anger with a deafening roar. She retched from the smell, but fired into its exposed neck, eliciting another angry roar. Its massive orange eyes were mad, searching for the source of its irritation. Laurie didn’t question it, emptying her weapons into it, now joined by the Bartender.

The fire went out of its eyes, and it collapsed in a cloud of rusty dust, whimpering noises escaping its lips as life left it.

“What the hell happened?” asked the Bartender.

“I think we found Scorch,” she replied as the sun glinted off the metal of his armor, clutching to a spike buried in the neck of the dragon. He released it, and slid down to the ground before them.

“It is good to see you again, Captain.”

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