Miles turned and ran.
It was nearly the last thing he ever did. A flash from Kappy’s gun illuminated the switchback in front of him moments before he plunged over the edge.
He barely registered the drop as he turned and raced on, his fear propelling him.
In his mind’s eye he could see the metal surging up towards him, reaching for his feet. The crashing, grating shriek was so loud that his skin crawled and ached, waiting for the touch of scything metal. Continue reading
The marketplace in Moughte
Kappy was lost and angry about it. She didn’t do well in cities. The cacophony of engines, voices and livestock jumbled together into a vibrating patchwork of color in her mind. She’d been trying to keep the jagged spires of a cathedral on her right, but they’d got turned around in this market. It’d been a mess of small shops and shouting people. It didn’t help that the ground floors of the buildings didn’t seem to be able to contain their upper stories and walls stuck out crazily, pressing in so closely above the road they nearly crowded out the sky. When Kappy and Miles had emerged from the maze of streets the cathedral was on their left.
The Black Car
The robot was spending the majority of his time riding in the tub and was very upset about it. He bumped anxiously against Kappy’s leg as she drove, trying to convince her that they should really be heading diagonally away from the road. Although they were surrounded by gently rolling hills and could have followed the robot easily on his desired path Kappy knew they were coming up on Moughte ravine and despite the robot’s optimism, if he dropped into the ravine he’d never come out.
The robot had actually only killed one person. The other had regained consciousness next to the body of his partner and panicked, managing to get the door open before he’d collapsed. The back of his head felt wet when he touched it and he’d pulled himself into the grass, standing after a moment and making it some distance from the road before he passed out again. The flames had missed him as they chewed their way across the field and the travelers had come and gone with their robot without disturbing him.
Kappy and Miles at the white truck.
Traveling grew monotonous after the stack. Kappy and Miles drove until the sun set, camped, ate, slept and drove again when it got light. It was strange, but Kappy seemed different to Miles, although he wasn’t entirely sure what had changed. She still didn’t speak much, but her bad mood had gone and at times she even seemed almost pleasant. Whatever it was didn’t last long, however, and around midmorning her expression was replaced with one of concern. She began climbing out of her tub and stomping back and forth across the road with her eyes closed, her forehead knitted in concentration.
“Are you having trouble seeing?” asked Miles after the third time this happened.
The rust stack at Washerwoman
Kappy woke grumpy the next morning and her mood only grew darker as the morning wore on. It had rained the night before, not one of the intense thunderstorms that often blew from the plains, but a steady drizzle that had made the night miserable and the morning cold and uncomfortable. The rain stopped before the sun rose, but water still dripped from everything. Miles was tired and shivering and didn’t feel like talking, which was probably for the best considering Kappy’s mood.
Kappy and the peddler
The squat little peddler surveyed the road from behind his haphazard table of merchandise like a king gazing over the kingdom from his castle wall. He turned and watched as the girl in the tub roared by in a cloud of dust. The tub compensated for its lack of speed with effort and enthusiasm and the sound of the motor pushed to its limit was deafening. The expression on the peddler’s red face didn’t change, but he watched with interest as the girl drove in a circle around the intersection, scanning the road in each direction, before rumbling back past the peddler on her way towards Hustle River.
Outside Hustle River
Miles was still vibrating with excitement on top of his tractor half an hour later.
“I can’t believe they would just try and take the robot! Just… take him! That’s not something those people should be doing. They would have kept him there, too. They don’t care where he’s going. I can’t believe them! Can you believe they’d just try and take him, Kappy?”
Kappy exited through the bead door of the gun shop and the blonde young man glanced after her before sidling up to the counter. He waited there, not eager to speak without being acknowledged. The man with long black hair pulled Kappy’s clip apart and examined the batteries. He spoke without looking up.
“You’re not supposed to come in here when I have customers.”
Kappy and Miles defending the robot from an angry crowd in Taggen.
Taggen was a dry little town sitting in a protective hollow between two hills. It was an odd sort of place and quiet people lived there. The town was kept alive by farmers and what little produce they managed to coax from the ground in this harsh environment they sold here. The town had a number of little businesses and one or two small machine shops that helped procure parts for farming equipment or repaired anything the farmers couldn’t fix themselves.