Serial Saturday: Nightmare Engine of Doom Part 13 – The Attack of the Automated Armsman

Xavier began to advance slowly, making sure of his footing on the shifting train roof. For a moment, I was at a loss, then I remembered the Automated Armsman. The Armsman was a device I had created under Elias Black’s expert tutelage. It was a device of arcane mechanics, modeled after the famous Mechanical Myrmidon made by Jakob Barnabus. Of course, the Mechanical Myrmidon itself was modeled after a Hoplite, that citizen-soldier of antiquity. The was even better armored than an ancient Greek warrior, equipped as it was with a shield and plates of modern steel. And the fact that it had a spear equipped with dozens of spear points that could ratchet out and be propelled one by one by the same clockwork engine that made the automaton walk made it still more deadly–it did not need to throw its whole spear to spread damage. It had showed its abilities, and Barnabus’ skill, in the great Utica massacre, when it finally fell, but only after killing eighteen men.

I had always thought that it was odd to model such a weapon after a Hoplite, however, since as any student of antiquity knows, the Hoplite fought in a phalanx with hundreds of his fellows, and the Mechanical Myrmidon was meant to battle alone. Accordingly, I had modeled my own Automated Armsman after a Viking berserker. It seemed more appropriate for a automaton created to wreak havoc on its own, and I was immensely proud of my deadly creation.

Of course, with the price of steel and copper being what they were, to say nothing of the run on thaumaturgical essence driving the price of that up to unheard of levels during the fad of a certain kind of automata becoming very popular during the year of ’73 after the grand opening of Madame Rexella’s Arcane Brothel, I had to scale back my design somewhat. The Auomated Armsman was approximately four inches tall, rather that the strapping seven feet of the Mechanical Myrmidon.

Nevertheless, I thought I had done a good job on the Armsman’s tiny little battle ax and wee horned helmet, to say nothing of his scale-model ring mail armor. It is true that Elias Black often disparaged the proportions little fellow, and if I am honest his head would have been about two feet tall had he been scaled up full size, but it had helped me work in the appropriate level of detail on the filigree of his helmet. And anyway, his ax was sharp.

The advantage of the forced economy of the device, of course, was that I could carry the Armsman wherever I went. Now I brandished the device, causing Xavier to pause for a moment. His hesitation was fortunate, since I still needed to wind the Armsman’s mainspring.

I began to crank frantically at the spring on the Armsman’s back, trying to reach the minimum level of stored energy he’d need for combat. Normally, this would have taken me several minutes, but fear lent my fingers speed and I wound like the wind (I realize as I see that in print, that the phrase “wound like the wind” could be rather confusing, since “wind” would be the present tense of the word “wound”–rest assured, dear reader, that I am using only past tense, as I do not hold with fripperies such as present-tense narration).

At any rate, soon my device was fully wound and ready to cause a grievous wound (I see we may once again have a moment of less than full clarity here, thanks to the unfortunate preponderance of herteronyms in the English language, but hopefully I am making myself understood).

Xavier had just started forward when I placed my Automated Armsman on the train roof. He uttered his berserker cry, which was sadly a bit tinny and high-pitched due to his size and thus less blood-curdling than it might have been, and charged, brandishing his tiny but razor-sharp ax.

Unfortunately, his little metal feet began to slip on the metal roof of the train almost immediately, and he was soon drifting to one side. In another second he scittered over the edge of the roof and sailed off into the darkness, still shouting his little war cry.

Xavier and I both watched it fly off into space for a moment, then Xavier resumed his advance.


Copyright © 2012 SM Williams

~ by smwilliams on January 8, 2012.