Portal Breach: The Collision of Worlds :: v.4.0

    The Best Materials Are Free Materials



    Posts : 829
    Join date : 2014-03-22
    Location : Deadworld
    Level : 60

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    The Best Materials Are Free Materials

    Post by Mortis on Wed May 10, 2017 12:29 am

    Time: 4:00 AM
    Date: April 12, 0007

    Rhodomel, mead, honey vodka, the list went on in regards to what could be brewed from that golden sugary ooze.  Ever since he had gotten the bees moved into their hives outside on the property, it was one of the main things on his mind.

    Well, it was that and planning out his tea garden. He had only a handful of weeks before it was officially safe to put anything in the ground and not have to worry about a frost.

    Mortis looked through the notes he had taken from the brewing handbook he had treated himself to over the Holiday. His sightless gaze did not need the sun, or even the moon to illuminate his thoughtful scrawling, as he considered the possibilities from where he sat upon Samhain’s back. Although out in the desert, there was not a single wisp of cloud to obscure either as he rode along.

    Her hooves crunched upon the parched, dead earth, leaving punch bowl sized tracks as she walked along under the guidance of her rider. Every so often her head would pick up from where it hung relaxed above the ground, happily bobbing along with her gait. Usually it was to follow a desert hare or a lizard scampering around in the dark, taking advantage of the cool night air before the sun rose and cooked the earth like a kiln until the heat could be seen dancing off the sandy ground. This time, her head picked itself up to look over at a familiar looking, metallic dome that was beginning to loom in the distance against the glowing river of stars that flowed across the night sky.

    A milky way, she had heard her Master call it before. It had been a long while since she had seen that white glittery trail, as the winter’s cloud cover effectively blotted it out. It was a sight she had missed for a long while, as since she had been turned undead, there was no need for sleep and so she began to spend the longer, listless hours of the night gazing up at the sky and watch it pass by overhead.

    Of course, the mare was anything but a deeply contemplative beast, but there was something about those glittering points that fascinated her when there was nothing else to occupy her time.

    I see the building, master.

    Mortis looked up from the notes he had jotted down into his notebook with a thoughtful hum. Indeed, the Tech-Dome was fairly close, perhaps less than a mile away. He closed the black, leather bound book and placed it back into the pockets of his overcoat.

    ”Ssss, good.” He rasped, and patted the mare’s neck.

    The distance between them and the dome closed quickly after that, or at least the journey seemed to shorten now that the otherwise abandoned building was in view.

    Iron shod shoes clapped against the sandy earth, kicking aside the layer of dust that had begun to accumulate upon the floor of the strange, isolated repair factory. She had been here before during the previous summer, but never had the mare ever step foot inside of it. She looked up at the windows, clouded from years of being buffeted by the shifting sands and yellowed from being baked nearly constantly by the sun. Her ear swiveled forward and back as she noticed the long lengths of wires that hung down like vines from the ceiling, and she nickered quietly  to her rider as she noticed an odd angular silhouette out of the corner of her eye socket. She was met with a soothing pat upon her neck with the undead superfiend’s greened palm.

    ”There issss nothing to fear here, Sssammy, jussst old russsting relicss. Everything here isss metal and dead.” He hissed to the mare as he scoped out the interior himself.

    To the mortal eye, the inside of the dome was nearly pitch black aside from what moonlight managed to pour in from the windows and spill over the piles of industrial debris. Old wires, lugnuts, bolts, even complete servos and rusting gears littered the neglected assembly lines cluttered the floor. Samhain found herself needing to kick aside a few odd mechanisms as she carefully stepped further into the building.

    The hanging wires, while they would otherwise be easy to ignore should he had been on the ground, now needed to be pushed aside. Samhain’s towering form, albeit a boon out in the open where it was necessary to see over natural obstructions, now only threatened to entangle him in the low hanging debris. He eased the mare to a halt as they came to pass between two conveyor belts. Their surfaces were pock marked with cracks and rips from where the dry desert air and age had over dried the tough rubbery cloth, and shrank it to the point of splitting. Beneath it, the wheels that would otherwise support and move the wide belt along had long ago been clogged with dusty grit and their joints seized from a combination of stagnation and fine dust and debris that managed to work their way inside and cling to the lubricants.

    Mortis swung a leg over the mare’s side, carefully descending from his perch atop her back to stand on the crowded line, carefully kicking aside a few stray screws and metallic pins. The undead placed his clawed hands upon  his belt, looking around the chaotic chamber with a hissing sigh. Samhain kept an eye socket upon him as she surveyed the rest of what to her looked like an incredibly alien building. She heard her master shift his feet on the belt and her attention focused itself fully upon him, her head turning to face the sheep-skull headed undead.

    ”Right, You begin over in the corner on that ssside of the dome. We are looking for wide, metallic plates, and we are looking thingsss that look like a metal bucket. A tall one.” He rasped, and pointed to the far corner, where a number of old metal scrap had collected in a pile. ”Make sssure they are clean, we cannot contaminate the honey with russst.”

    What is rust?

    He turned his attention to the mare, and then looked down at the metallic debris that surrounded his clawed feet. It did not take a second for the undead to come up with an idea to aid the mare. Bending down, he plucked up a bolt from the conveyor belt, and held it between two talons for her to see.

    ”Watch clossely, mon dessstrier.” He hissed, waiting until her ear had swiveled forward to focus completely upon him.

    The instant he willed it, his rotting touch worked itself into the metal of the bolt. A crusty, red covering spread its way over the surface with a soft crackling sound. It ate its way down into the bolt, tainting it until the entirety of the component was a grimy red color.

    ”Thisss iss russst, Sssamhain.” He rasped, turning the now useless bolt over in his claws. The mare leaned her head forward to sniff at it, her nostrils flaring. ”And thisss isss the reasson why we do not want it.”

    It took only a gentle flex of his hand to show why, as the bolt crumbled in his grip like it was made out of nothing but dry mud.The way her head jerked itself away was evidence enough that she understood why. Or at least he hoped it was enough for her to understand why they did not want to take back any rusty metal. He watched as her ears swiveled slightly, the mare’s thought process briefly illustrated with movement.

    Oh, so rust makes the metal fall apart.

    Good. She understood. Though he had to wonder why he doubted she would in the first place, Samhain was a very smart horse, even for a horse.

    ”Yesss. It alsso contaminatesss whatever comesss in contact with it. Russst isss dirty.” He nodded, a chuckle entering his warmed voice. ”Now, let usss get to work, we have nearly three hoursss or ssso until sssunrissse. There isss plenty of time to find what we need in time before the sun ssstartss to bake everything.”

    Undead unable to feel anything he may be, but the superfiend did not like the thought of being caught out here where the intense heat would dry his host until it was a leathery crisp. Not that his host was not mummified and leathery already, but any means of making his body less noisy than it already was were welcome.

    As the horse turned to go and salvage through the pile of metal scrap in the corner, Mortis hissed after her; ”Be mindful where you ssstep, sssome of the ssscrap here iss very sssharp.”

    She turned her grinning snout in his direction and gave an affirming puff before continuing on her way. With that said, the undead superfiend stepped down from the conveyor belt and made his way over to a pile of scrap that he had been eyeing since he got into the dome. A few of the scrap piles had a number of objects that looked decidedly bucket shaped. Tall, cylindrical, they could possibly suit his needs so long as they had a bottom to them, and there was no rust. Yellowed talons brushed over the discarded robotic limbs and grasped the hulking carcasses of assembly arms to pull him over the deeper piles of wires and crumbling silicone chips. For a moment he idly plucked one off the top of a pile, turning it over in his claws.

    If someone decided to, they could possibly make a quick dollar by melting all the precious metals out of these. That someone however, was certainly not him. He threw the chip aside with a flick of his claw, and returned to wading his way over to the scrap pile. Metal clinked and scraped against itself as he moved aside the debris, shifting through the undesirable components to dig out the parts that looked like what he needed. Servos, joints, gears, and tangles of frayed wire were set aside as he dug out a long metallic cylinder. A final brush of his claws over the top to sweep aside a few washers that perched upon the top of it, and he pulled the object free.

    It looked like a bucket, but when he turned it over to see if it had a bottom, he was sadly disappointed to find that it was more tube than tall bucket. This had to be some sort of thin pipe meant for exhaust, he figured. But, perhaps it was for the best, as for the moment its was disturbed, the thin layer of dust that had accumulated upon the inside of it flaked away to reveal that it was splotched with a grimy red. The tube already was developing a layer of rust over it. Mortis sighed and set the tube aside, and turned his sights to another shape that stuck out as familiar to his interests.

    This cylinder seemed to have something like a handle curling off the top of it. However it was more to the top of the pile than down near his level. The top of the pile, from where he stood, was up near one of the windows that was just below the edge of the ceiling.

    Beneath his long overcoat, the undead’s bony tail flicked to either side contemplatively. ”Ssssss...” This one would be tricky. His claws flexed with a sharp pop, and he set to ascending the pile.

    His skull swiveled to look where his claws were grasping, giving his hand-holds a light jostle before trusting them with his weight as he pulled himself upward. His legs contorted and stretched forward to rest where his hands had grasped earlier, pressing against the sturdy remains of thick paneling, discarded husks of android chassis, and a few dense assembly arms that had been tossed aside after being picked apart for their finer components.

    After some skillful clambering up the mishmash pile of parts, Mortis’ skull rose to meet the moonlight as it poured in through the window, nearly setting the bleached bone aglow where it poked out from under the wide brim of his hat. The cylinder seemed like it had been set out from the rest of the junk by the moon’s glow, perhaps a sign that this was what he was looking for? Hopeful, he dug the metallic object out from beneath the silicone chips and dust that partially buried it, and pulled it free of the junk. Immediately the facade it bore dropped, as the wire that looked like a handle sprung free- an odd strip of copper wire that simply had settled odd upon the top of the cylinder. The cylinder itself? It was far larger and heavier than the undead had anticipated.

    Bony arms hefted his find aloft with supernatural strength, and he found himself face to face with what looked like some sort of discarded furnace. It had been buried upside down in the pile of junk, and the moment it was completely free and visible to be inspected, the undead turned it around to find a panel of dials and switches, along with some sort of plastic reading guage, its covering marred with scratches to the point where the dials were barely visible. Or more likely, it was a form of water heater from the sloshing sound he heard within it. Either why, this was not what he was looking for in the slightest. His host and the water heater were silhouetted against the pale light as he held it aloft and dropped it to the ground next to the pile with a hollow metallic thud.

    He twisted and seated himself on the ledge of the broken factory window, one hand curling over the edge of the cement fitting, and the other coming to rest on the back of his decayed neck. His sights set themselves across the dome, looking to see how Samhain was doing. The mare seemed to be making some sort of headway, but in what way he was uncertain.

    A haphazard pile of flat scrap sat next to the mare as she happily stuck her nose into the pile of junk, pushing aside anything that did not look flat, shiny, and rust free. A few of them looked like they had been torn in half instead of cut with a machine. Alas, with how his luck was going in the way of finding the perfect container to use as a base for a honey extractor, he may just need those panels to simply made the bucket himself. Though, while he was considering it, the undead reached into his overcoat and withdrew his notebook from the confines of his pocket. Flipping it open, he turned the pages to the basic sketch of a honey extractor that he had copied out of the bee keeping guide. One page contained the illustration- which was more of a quick mock-up to show where everything went, and the neighboring one was marked with a list of necessary components.

    Plastic spigots, washers, nuts, bolts, steel fittings, wire fencing and crank mechanisms, all were lined down the page in neat handwriting along with the necessary amount of them.

    Though the undead was keen to consider gathering more than the requirement in the event of any mishaps.

    Of course, just buying one would have been far easier, but there was not a soul in the city who sold anything like the device he needed, and it was simple enough that he was confident in his own skills to build one himself.

    After all, it was just a wire basket in a giant bucket connected to an axel and a hand crank with a spigot at the bottom. All it did was spin the honey out of the combs! How hard could it be to slap one together? There was nothing in one of these that required anything beyond basic mechanical knowledge.

    Well, it would have been far easier if cleanliness was not a major issue in making good, edible honey.

    one hand came to rest beneath his chin, stroking the bone thoughtfully as he perused the list of necessary materials. While the bucket was a big one, it could be set aside while he searched for the smaller, likely more common components. Things like thin metal dowels and crank set ups. Small gears and washers that were rust free, and even plastic spigots. Certainly there had to be something like that in here. There had to be if he could find a water heater and exhaust piping within his first few minutes of digging through a grab-bag of a junk pile.

    He let the open book fall limply against his bony knee, and he looked up to survey the inside of the dome from his perch. ”Sssss... It hasss to be here sssomewhere.”

    Maybe he simply was not looking hard enough?

    He tapped his talon against the edge of his chin thoughtfully. Where would a factory have large, bucket-like containers? It was not like he was exactly a complete newcomer to industrial buildings. When he was back in Mega City One under Death’s command, they often had to take advantage of industrial locations for the sake of their reincarnation methods. Places that would use harsh chemicals and machinery that unknowingly suited their needs. This place was no different, if it produced silicon chips and heavy machinery, there had to be chemical vats and the like  to hold the necessary ingredients.

    Tapping turned to thoughtful, slow scraping as he turned his attention to the rusted staircase that wound itself up and connected to a door upon the second floor of the robotics factory. That had to lead to something useful. Maybe it opened up to another part of the factory that had yet to be explored?

    He called down to the undead draft mare from his throne of tech scrap; ”Sssamhain, I’m going to invesstigate the upper levelsss, you keep sssearching for partss down here.”

    The mare looked up briefly from the scrap pile she was investigating, a long strip of steel glinting in the low light from where it was pinched between her teeth. Immediately Mortis paused mid descent from the tower of junk, pointing at the particular scrap with a gnarled talon.

    ”Oh! Isss that one clean?” He hissed, the undead’s graveled voice echoing about the expansive structure.

    The mare nodded, the thin metal strip flapping from where it stuck out from the edges of her mouth.

    ”Keep it. That isss good metal.” With that, he hopped down from the tall pile of jagged metal to land solidly on the dusty cement floor.

    Meanwhile, Samhain glanced over at a steadily growing pile of what were evidently rejected parts. Metal dowels and long thing silvery strips of stainless steel that had been discarded due to being too thin. Did master want her to keep those as well? Her single ear swiveled to and fro as she considered the misfit parts.

    If this one is fine, what about the others I found? Should I keep those?

    Yet the moment she looked back to him, the door to the second level was already slowly closing after Mortis’ retreating tail with a dull, metallic creak.

    Yesss, keep thossse too. Make sssure there isss no russst. We do not want dirty components, remember. Came his reply across their link. It sounded a little rushed, as if the undead was preoccupied with other matters.

    She could sense him investigating the different rooms.

    As you wish, Master.

    She dropped the slip of metal onto the pile of “approved” components, the metal clattering upon the larger panels. If her master wanted the other parts like the metal sticks and shiny metal ribbons, she would collect those too. Meanwhile, Mortis was busy scoping out the hallway, his skull swiveling as he regarded the many different doors that lined it.

    Some were left half opened, allowing a glimpse inside to the abandoned, disheveled rooms. Many of them had already been gone through and picked apart by scavengers. Control rooms were pulled apart and left with only the barren metal skeletons of what used to be expansive control panels. Wiring snaked out of them in colorful streamers and tangled over the remaining chassis of what used to be a -probably- integral means of manning the factory floor. Some rooms held nothing but turned over computer labs. The dusty monitors inside were strewn over the floor with dead, blackened screens that sat on a glimmering cover of shattered glass from others that had somehow been blown out from an electrical surge of some sort.

    These rooms the undead superfiend barely spared a glance, before he moved on to investigate far more intriguing chambers. Chains wove themselves between the handles of a few double doors along the hallway and were tied off with a sturdy padlock that was undoubtedly seized permanently closed from age and a thick layer of dust that had managed to work itself into the lock.

    Thankfully, Mortis needed neither a key, or a working lock in order to get inside. It took only a gentle grasp of the length of chain, and it was reduced to a pile of red dust in his grip with a soft, dry crunch.

    The door protested with a shrill groan as he pushed it open, and was met with a cloud of dust as it wafted off the surface of the ancient door. His bony snout poked through the doorway, gnarled knuckles coming to curl over the edge of the door as he peered inside. Interestingly enough, there was something of worth inside of the forgotten chamber, but whether it was able to suit his needs remained to be seen.

    Inside the undead found what looked to be another portion of the assembly floor, a catwalk stretched itself from the doorway, held up by a spidery web of steel scaffolding that snaked its way to an equally skeletal looking platform of welded metal caked in a layer of dust, before the darkness swallowed up the rest of the massive chamber. Even the floor was nothing but a impenetrable black void, due to the complete lack of windows in this section. Or so he assumed it was massive, from how his footsteps echoed off the metallic mesh as he carefully wandered inside. The scaffolding groaned and shuddered beneath his clawed feet, urging him to hasten his pace to the platform at the other end- yet it showed no other sign of failing, Mortis was not interested in plummeting what was probably two stories to a cement floor for the sake of honey processing supplies.

    Over his mental link, he could hear his horse’s curiosity as she peeked over to his end.

    What have you found?

    Thisss ssseemsss to be another wing of the asssembly plant. I detect no other sssignsss of anyone elssse vissiting it, like the other open roomsss. It musst be completely undissturbed. He replied, brushing his talons over the grimy relic of some sort of control panel that sat upon the platform.

    Under the layer of dust were rows of colorful lights, each one a simple line of small green indicators that were set in a line of three, and ended with a single red light. Next to each row was a bright green button, and a label stamped straight into the metal.





    Next to the line of cryptic lights and buttons, was a single ignition switch. Though the key was nowhere to be seen. His empty eye sockets however were drawn to the top of the console, where there looked to be some sort of raised label sticking out from under a layer of dust. His palm reached out to wipe it away, but as his greened skin passed over the grime, so too did he wipe away the raised shape.

    It was nothing more than an odd pile of dust that managed to accumulate on the surface. Below it however, there was a sign that there had been some sort of label there at some point. Two bolt holes sat on either side of a rectangular depression in the metal.

    The undead tilted his head to the side, tapping a dusty claw to his chin. How peculiar. It was admittedly tempting to try and override the ignition anyway and see what the console actually controlled, but the superfiend thought better of it, and pushed the idea of sticking a talon in the key hole and twisting it aside.

    Instead, he turned his attention to the walkway scaffolding that lead further into the chamber. Though the path  would lead only into pitch black darkness to a mere mortal, the undead’s supernatural abilities granted him an advantage in the dark. His sight was unhindered by the complete lack of light, and he traced the grated walkway over to a second platform, with yet another console. But, he also spied what looked to be the skeletal framework of a stairway railing that wound its way down to another level of scaffolding beneath it. His layers of overcoats fluttered with a snap behind him as he briskly turned and strode across the catwalk, which shuddered and shivered under his feet like the last one.

    ”Ssssss!” Needless to say, he hastened his pace over the skeletal bridge of metal tubing.

    As he came to the second console, his curiosity drove him to remove the film of dust that had settled upon the console that sat in front of the guard railing. Just like the previous console, this one had a similar arrangement of lights and buttons arranged in neat rows, complete with their respective labels:





    Like the panel for Sect A’s switches, Sect B also had an ignition switch, which was missing a key as well. But, there was a key difference, between the first panel and this one. The raised rectangle near the top of the console was not merely an odd accumulation of dust. Mortis’ hand brushed away the dust from a navy painted strip of metal that had been bolted to its face, and a name stamped upon it was revealed.


    ”Massster control...” Mortis tasted the name as he read it out loud. Yet, the label did nothing but raise more questions about where exactly he was within the abandoned factory.

    What exactly was the master control in control of?

    Alas, that would have to be a mystery left to time, as he did not have the key, and he was not about to start impulsively sticking his claws in every available key hole and flip every switch to see if it started anything. Experience told him-- well, it actually told him nothing. Whatever he and his brothers got their claws into technologically tended to end up in their favor, at least in the short-term. The fiasco regarding the time he joined his brothers and Death on their take over of the Mega City’s weather center sprung to mind.

    Fire stuck his bloody trident in the weather machine and managed to make it rain fire, Fear gathered heads, crammed them in there somehow, and it rained heads. Or more, it rained death, as their leader happily screeched while he prodded a few buttons on the device. Another memory came to mind regarding the time there were two Deaths on Deadworld, but that was a headache he would rather avoid.

    Regardless, his experience on this dimension told him that things were not so simple as they appeared, and overconfidence tended to lead to more harm than good. Thus, he gave the console a parting glance before he approached the stairs and made his descent from the two consoles. The staircase creaked beneath him just as loudly as the scaffolding, but it failed to shudder and shiver with his footsteps, perhaps it was the build, but it felt far sturdier as he climbed down to the lower levels.

    Down there, the scaffolding expanded into a wide surveillance platform, lined with a thin guard rail. It overlooked the entire factory floor that had been divided by the two control panels into sectors A and B. He stepped over to the railing, letting a clawed hand gently rest upon it, but the undead superfiend did not dare rest his weight against the old metal structure. It was a wonder it was still in one piece to begin with, regardless of whether he disturbed it or not.

    Sprawling out under the scaffolding were rows upon rows of large, heavy machines. They were some sort of mold presses from what the undead could tell from his position on the surveillance platform. Flat panels were welded into box like shapes closer to the center of the cement floor, aligned next to rolling conveyor lines. A few shapes that looked to be gears and small working mechanisms could be made out upon the sides of a few large, box-like presses where the side panels had been removed and set aside. Although the undead was no mechanic or machine-smith by any means, he could not help but notice that a few of them seemed to be missing components. Namely because the identical looking machines had not so identical looking absences among their inner workings. His other hand came to grasp the railing a little more purposefully, and the undead’s shoulders hunched , the long flowing cloth of his coat making the superfiend look like some form of massive buzzard roosting on the guard rail as he peered down at the factory floor.

    No one had disturbed this part of the factory since its doors had been chained shut, he could discern no other footprints upon the scaffolding aside from his own that disturbed the layer of dust that had accumulated upon it. Most likely the removal of some necessary parts of the machinery had been done before the plant had been abandoned. Perhaps it had been done in a hurry since the rest of the machines were still intact, instead of simply being removed entirely from the factory floor.

    But, then again this dimension had a strange way of going about its business in general. Mortis had little interest in getting to the bottom of what happened in this dusty edifice, much less spend what moonlight they had analyzing and scanning every and any little bit of trace psychic residue that may have been left behind. Maybe another evening he could come out here and investigate, when he had literally nothing better to do with his time. He let his gaze drift over to the far wall, outside of where he considered sector B to possibly end in terms of rows of machinery. Lining the walls were the looming silhouettes of massive vats, each one had to be nearly as tall as the building itself, as their tops came to meet the same level as the platforms for the Master Control consoles. A tangle of metal scaffolding rose up to meet the face of a sort of monitoring console, covered in round mechanical gauges that measured the temperature and liquid levels within them from what he could discern; and underneath those were several smaller meters with large circular wheels that likely were directly connected to valves connected to the vats. The smaller meters, he now realized, had to do with pressure.  Long metallic bodies of pipe snaked out and away from the massive cylinders, and wove their way down the wall into smaller containers that were smaller copies of what were possibly massive brewing or heating vats for whatever the presses used. He deduced the smaller ones operated as condensing stations before the finished material was sent to the presses to be shaped, as they were outfitted with nozzles near the bottom of the stout containers.

    But it was not the smaller vats that caught the undead’s eye sockets, as he tilted his skull to peer down past the holding vats that the lengths of piping snaked into. Below them were large containers, barrel-like in their shape and size. All of them seemed to be made of some sort of metal, likely a type of stainless steel given they were meant to hold whatever the vats produced.

    His tail flicked to either side beneath the dense layers of cloth that covered him. Those were exactly what he was looking for.

    Now all he had to do was get down to them.

    Mortis released his grip upon the flimsy railing, glancing about as he searched for another staircase that lead down to the factory floor. At the far end of the surveying platform, he saw the tell-tale winding web of thin metal bars and welding; a staircase scaffolding that lead down below the platform. he eagerly strode towards it, his pace hastened to a brisk walk as he approached and whipped down the winding stairs to the cement floor. Clawed feet clapped softly against the hard floor, leaving footprints in the fine layer of dust that had collected upon its surface. He snaked his path between the deactivated machinery, idly flicking his snout to the side to look at the components within and briefly appraise them in regards to his needs. Many of them seemed to be useless to what his plans called for, as they were far too complicated to be transfered over from the presses to his honey extractor plans.

    He could find better components in the main assembly plant. but as for the barrels he needed, this place had exactly what he was looking for. Like a shadow he swept in and loomed over the containers he spied from the platform above, his claws flexing with a dry pop and snap as he eagerly inspected them. He swooped between the barrels, circling them and hissing gleefully all the while. However, as he perused the materials he found, the undead superfiend noticed something interesting; a dark puddle spread from the bottom of a couple of barrels to stain the cement in an oily film, their cylindrical shapes had grown bloated and warped as their contents aged over the years. These had been meant to hold something at some point, and some of that something was beginning to rust the barrels from the inside out.

    ”Ssss... Interesssting.” Mortis rasped to himself, letting his talons drum over the lid of a particularly bloated looking container. It was tempting to remove the lid, despite the looming threat of a possible pressure explosion.

    Another ponderous hiss escaped the undead’s host, but otherwise considered it far more productive to look over the barrels that appeared more intact. Three of them sat beneath the nozzle of a smaller vat. The one that was sitting directly below the nozzle was filled to the brim with a sort of thick, black ooze. Time had developed an iridescent film over the top, and the sheep-skull headed undead creature found his curiosity piqued at the opportunity. For a brief moment the other barrels were forgotten, and he approached the container to loom and hiss. The surface seemed nearly solid, as dust had collected upon the shiny film; but upon prodding a talon prudently against its surface, it sank beneath the thick fluid with a wet slurp. But the surface was more gelatin than a fluid. Likely the long years of sitting unused had forced the materials within the mixture to separate and congeal. He pulled his gnarled claw from the mixture, inspecting the glossy black slime that coated it. He turned his hand over, watching as the substance seemed to glimmer even in the pitch dark chamber.

    But, his fascination was minute, and the moment that he was satisfied with his glimpse at what sort of mystery soup was inside the barrel, he flicked the slime from his claws onto the nearby husk of a decomissioned press. he turned his attention back to the barrels soon after, kneeling down to inspect for any rust before standing again with a creak to lift one of the empty containers to look at the bottom.

    But as he did so, a faint whisper of a hiss and the sound of something dry crumbling reached his senses. With a loud hiss of his own his skull swiveled to pass over his shoulder, contorting with a sharp pop to look directly behind him.

    Had something decided to try and get the drop on him while he was scavenging? Could it be -by some miracle- a security protocol that he had triggered by lifting one of the barrels?

    It was neither of these, as he witnessed a the paneling of the machine he had flicked the ooze at begin to fall away and smoke, a jagged hole eating itself wider and wider across the machine’s rear panel. Evidently, whatever was in the barrel reacted violently with metals. But, how could that be when the barrels themselves were metal? Swiveling his skull back around with a sharp snap of ancient joints setting themselves back into place, he flipped the barrel in his claws over to inspect the inside. His skull tilted slightly and he reached inside to touch what looked to be some strange black seal that coated the interior of the container. Though he could not feel it, the material molded beneath his touch and made a sharp squeak as he firmly ran the bottom of his index finger over it.

    It was a sort of rubber, or a synthetic product that kept the mystery chemical from eating through it. Mortis gave a thoughtful hum as he regarded it, before tucking the container under his arm. Behind him, the decidedly volatile compound started to slow in its attempts to eat away the rest of the back panel. It was now content to simply hiss and smoke as it used the last of itself breaking apart the crumbling edges of the hand-sized hole it had devoured into the metal. He turned and regarded it for an instant, before looking over at the neighboring empty barrel, its top leaning against it. He set his recent find aside as he turned the barrel over and inspected it. This one was rust free, but the lining was cracked and crumbling. The reason why came sliding out to drip on the ground in a thick, oily black pool at his feet. He quickly set the barrel down, mindful to keep it far away from the one intact container he had found.

    The one container that might be the only intact one in the facility with his luck.

    Still, there was another cluster of metallic barrels beneath another nozzle, there had to be at least one other container he could take home as a back up. Plucking up his first find and stuffing it back under his arm, he stepped over to the small group of metal barrels, and stooped to inspect them. Two had already been claimed by whatever the vats had been holding, their sides bloating out from the pressure that was building under their lids, and bottoms rusted out to let the mixture ooze and collect on the floor. But there were two that looked to be in fine condition, their liners intact and not a speck of rust to be found upon them. He quickly stuffed these two beneath his arm and turned on his heel to return to the staircase.

    Sssamhain, I found the basse for the extractor, how are you doing with your sssearch for componentsss?

    There was a pause at the end of the line, his horse undoubtedly distracted with something. he repeated her name again, a little louder; Sssamhain? Can you hear me?

    I found the stuff you wanted, but there is something else here.

    Mortis hissed, and his paced hastened as he ascended the rickety metal stairs. Someone else? How could she mean by someone else? he did not detect a single soul or sign of life within these walls. If there were any shades, he certainly would have detected something amiss, or the horse would have the moment they stepped foot inside the building- or maybe even earlier.

    She seemed to pick up on his confusion, and there was an addition to her response.

    It looks like a man, made of metal. I see it cowering behind the door at the back of the room. Can I kill it?

    A metal man. Well that was quickly puzzled out as he jogged over the catwalk, the scaffolding shuddering and shaking beneath his feet as if threatening to collapse under him. He heard a jingle of something hard and small bouncing off the floor, and the idea did not seem so far from reality.

    Keep an eye on it. I will be there in lesss than a moment. He relayed across the mental link, It is probably sssome sssort of robot. Ssso long ass it keepsss to itsself and doesss not move from that door, we ssshould be fine.

    Despite his reassurances, his pace only quickened as he jogged out of the door and down the hallway. The moment he shoved the door to the main assembly floor aside, he nearly jumped out of the doorway and snapped his skull to look where Samhain had seen their eavesdropper. At the scrap pile where he had left her, the mare had turned to fully face the rear door, her single ear pinned to her neck and her nostrils flared. The mare’s head bobbed and her neck bowed, but the thing that stood at the back of the room behind the large double doors made no move.

    Even so, it was hard to miss it, the machine was the only source of light to be found inside the complex, with its twinkling red optics that stared unblinkingly at the mare.

    ”Sssss...” Mortis’ grip upon the barrels tightened as he stared at the silhouette as well. Of all the times he had to be caught without his gun, he admittedly had not expected it to be at this ruin.

    Not a soul visited it anymore, he had been the sole visitor for the past two years that this place had been left undisturbed. So why was this thing wandering around, and why was it coming from inside the factory? Had been here before they had thought to try and scavenge? Could it be another scavenger? The way its optics quietly whirred as they dilated and contracted, the machine remaining entirely mute suggested that most likely this was a brainless automaton- a drone.

    But, he had been caught by surprise before.

    The moment he started descending down the stairs, the robot’s head swiveled in his direction, its optics focused upon him now. Yet, not a word escaped it, if it was capable of speech to begin with. However, if the machine was any sort of security drone, he figured it would have already taken the opportunity to attack his horse. He glanced between the robot and his mare, though the entity seemed harmless enough, the urge to stick a bullet between those glowing red lights was making his trigger finger itch for a trigger that he no longer had on his person.

    Samhain briefly glanced to him, before refocusing on the robot. her tail flicked to either side irritably.

    I can kill it if you wish, Master.

    He quickly turned his head to the horse, his skull shaking to either side in a feverent “no”. ”No! No, leave it be, it could jussst be sssurveillance. Let usss not jump to conclusssionss.” He rasped across the room, and returned to descending the rest of the rusty staircase  to the chaotic assembly line floor.

    His leathery soles crunched over broken silicon chips as he made his way to Samhain with his prizes in tow, tucked snugly beneath his bony arms. Despite how he wished for the mare to stand down, he could not help but keep an eye socket upon the drone. There could just be one of them, but on the off chance that there were more sitting behind that door, he was not going to risk possibly upsetting a whole network of those androids when they still had yet to get their things packed  to carry out of the dome and back to the farm.

    ”I will get the materialsss you gathered into your sssaddlebagss,” He rasped as he set the trio of barrels to the ground with a hollow thud. ”If it makesss a move we need to leave.”

    Samhain’s stub flicked towards him as he knelt to gather the panels and other odds and ends from the floor of the techdome. Something about his tone did not sit well with her.

    Why? There is only one of it, and I can shatter its flimsy body easily with my hooves.

    Her master could not be scared of this thing, could he?

    ”It isss not a ssingle one of thosse I am worried about. If it came from insside the factory, there isss a possibility that maybe there are more of them. It actsss like a drone, not the droidsss I have ssseen here that function with a sssimulation of free will.” He hissed, and nodded in the direction of the machine that was silently watching their every move. ”If it wass a droid outfitted with an AI, it would have sssaid sssomething by now. It would have approached or done sssomething except ssstand there and ssstare if it merely wasss mute or itsss ability to ssspeak had been hampered. We do not know what or who isss controlling it, ssso it iss bessst we--!”

    Samhain’s massive form launched forward like a bullet from a gun, a single readable thought clear in her mind.

    I am killing it anyway.

    ”SSSSS!” He was left there mid lift, his arms full of scrap metal as the immense undead steed charged the drone.

    Samhain lunged forward mid gallop and slammed her forehead into the automaton’s metal face with a deafening crash. The din echoed around the dome as if a gong had been struck, and was quickly followed by a second metallic crash as the robot toppled over to the ground. A deep dent was left in its face plate , and its optics were shattered into powdered rubies that glittered in the low light upon the ground. There was a deep scrape that dragged from the doorway to where the automaton was laying, its chassis had been launched from the impact. But, as the mare stood there, her single ear swiveling to and fro as she watched the still metallic body, the undead horse was confident that she had indeed killed the metal man.

    ”Sssamhain! I told you not to attack it!” Mortis hissed like a boiling kettle, his clawed hands tensed as he gestured towards the horse. The scrap was immediately forgotten as to clattered from his hands to the floor. ”I told you to ssstand down!”

    The horse’s ears pinned slightly and she turned, raising her head haughtily with a puff as she strode back to the undead superfiend.

    We both were uncomfortable with that metal man watching us. I dealt with it.

    Mortis hissed irritably, how was knocking that thing’s head in dealing with it? If anything the mare only let the others of its kind know where they were and it was sending a distress signal to the rest of the drones that were possibly in the building!

    ”Sssamhain, you do not know what you have wrought! Reinforcementss could be arriving now that you punched itsss face in!” His deep gravel thinned and raised in pitch as he went on, ”There could be hundredsss of thossse waiting down that hallway! There could be bigger onesss, with weaponsss!”

    There could be flame throwers, missile launchers, machine guns, even weapons that used some sort of plasma; weapons that could effortlessly rip their hosts in two with a single command!
    The mare’s single ear flicked to and fro as she considered her master’s reprimanding, before she turned her head to look over a bony shoulder. Her intact ear flicked towards the hallway door and focused for a few long, silent, tense moments.

    I do not see or hear anything, Master. Do you hear anything?

    There was a smugness to her tone that the undead superfiend began to find increasingly grating. Yet, as the minutes ticked by, it became more and more apparent that his horse was right. He raised a taloned hand to his forehead, pushing his hat back further upon his cranium as he massaged the bleached bone of his skull.

    ”You are incredibly lucky that there isss nothing to sssee or hear after that sstint.” Mortis hissed, exasperated. ”We cannot detect machinesss like we can the living and the dead. There needsss to be an amount of care taken when dealing with an unknown machine like that drone, Sssamhain.” A rotten hand came to rest against the undead mare’s powerful neck, giving it a small pat.

    ”I jussst do not want to sssee you hurt.” he added finally with a small sigh.

    The possibility of losing one’s host was alway a possible threat, and while it was a temporary, easily mended matter, it was also an incredibly humbling one. A lot of what made Samhain a great partner was her unrestrained confidence- even if there was the odd moment that she grew too confident. Not to mention, there was still a part of him that doubted the deadfluids took to her and Angemort like they did to him, though he was keen to hide this from both of the undead mares. Who was to say that her spirit would not be lost if her body was destroyed?

    Her chin came to touch against his back with a sharp huff, and she gently nibbled at the back of his coat.

    Master, you need not worry about whether I get hurt. Whatever I suffer can be remedied with a bath with the dead fluids, as you have said.

    Her confidence, of course, did not seem to sour from the undead’s statement. Though the way she let her head rest against his shoulder certainly did not suggest any lack of understanding. She stepped forward, and her chest leaned against Mortis, her own way of emulating the sort of closeness that he seemed to take comfort in.

    Even so, it is often I who gets you out of trouble, than it is you needing to protect me.

    She was a force of nature, a hurricane on hooves! Samhain did not need any protecting. But her Master? As great of a master as he was, there were times that he seemed a little soft to her, but never overly so. It was a kind of soft that she found herself puzzled with, as it was not exactly weakness as she would see it. It was odd, but not in a way that she found distasteful, if anything it only confirmed to her how much he needed her to help and join him on his travels off the farm.

    Imagine the troubles that would occur if he ever traveled alone, without her! He may be most of the brains of their team, but he would be defenseless for sure, or so she believed.

    ”Yesss, where would I be without you?” He gave the mare a small pat on the neck, before ducking out from under her snout. ”But, you mussst lissten when I sssay we musst be careful around the mechanical denizensss, Sssamhain. There isss a real danger from them.”

    Her head raised itself to hold loftily above her shoulders, her nostrils flared in another snort. her tone was just as brashly confident upon their mental link.

    They are only dangerous until I get to them.

    The undead stooped down to collect the rest of the scrap, and the components he had dropped earlier. ”Sssamhain...” He warned the mare as he glanced up at her out of the corner of his eye socket, just in time to see her ear pin back slightly.

    ...But for you, I will be careful.

    ”Good.” He rasped, and stood from where he had gathered most of the metal plating his hose had picked out of the pile, straightening and shuffling the pile until it was neat and orderly before flipping open the saddle bag resting on her flank and slipping it inside. ”You did very good, there isss a lot of usseful metal here we can usse. Good horsse, Sssammy.”

    Thank you, Master.

    The mare’s expression brightened at that, her single ear flicked towards him and her rictus grin seemed to turn upward slightly. It was always good to hear she did a good job. The mental petting however, was always a very welcome addition to a dose of praise. Her lip twitched as if she was trying to grab something as she felt a sensation like her shoulder being groomed, and gave a happy nicker as the feeling traveled down her back and up to her shoulders again. But, the moment it began, it faded away, nothing more than the equivalent of a pat on the back for doing a fine job of following -most- of Mortis’ commands.

    Her attention turned to the barrels that had been set aside, while she patiently waited for the sheep-skull headed undead fill her other pack with the rest of the scrap metal and then the other components that he was looking for.

    How are you going to carry those back? They are too big for the bags.

    Mortis glanced over to the barrels as he dumped a handful of spare parts into the bag; long steel dowels and a few spare gears that were free of rust, along with a number of odd mesh panels that were reminiscent of the paneling that covered the scaffolding walkway.

    "I can hold thossse mysself while we return home. It will take only a moment if we travel through the Ether.” He replied, pausing as he found an odd part that did not have any place in the design he had in his notebook. With a hum and a flick, it was tossed back into the scrap pile. ”We did not find everything we wanted tonight, but I can eassily find other partsss in the city if need be. There ssshould be a ssstore that sssellsss boltsss and wassshersss without having to worry about whether the threading matchesss. We would be here all night looking for matching nutsss and boltsss among thisss messs.”

    He approached the metal barrels, plucking them up and tucking them under his arms, behind him, the horse watched, and her single ear flicked back at the sight of her master trying to hold all three of the containers at once.

    I do not think that will work, Master.

    Mortis turned, strangely confident about having to essentially have his arms out like an ape to carry his finds. ”I will make it work. You need not worry.”

    She snorted in a manner that sounded almost incredulous at the thought, and he heard her across his link once again.

    How will you balance while we jump from the material to the ether?

    ”Your massster isss a very ssskilled man, Sssamhain. There are many trickss up my sssleeve.” He chuckled, approaching the mare, ”now, if you could be ssso kind,”

    A deep sigh puffed from her nostrils as a foreleg was tucked beneath her chest, and the mare bowed low for the undead superfiend to seat himself without needing to jump into the saddle like he usually was wont to.

    If you drop those, it is your fault. You packed ropes in the bag that sits on my back. You could just tie them to the saddle.

    ”Nonsssenssse!” He rasped as he came to sit, his feet slipping into the stirrups. ”I have the grip of an iron vice. We will be fine returning home.”

    The horse beneath him, was not so confident as she rose to her feet and turned to exit the dome. As he wished, she supposed, but she had no interest in trying to argue the point further as she trotted out of the dome and out into the desert. Though it did not feel like it, they had been in there long enough that the sky was beginning to warm and ignite in reds and purples to herald the rising sun. The milky way that had sprawled across the night sky earlier steadily began to fade in the face of the coming dawn.

    Despite the arid, dead environment, A dense fog bank quickly rolled in as Samhain trotted on from the abandoned factory, settling on the sand with an unnatural chill that crystallized the ground in frost and sent a deadly ice into the denizens that did not think to move out of the way. In its gathering, a few lizards in the middle of a territorial spat were immediately covered in a prickly blanket of ice, and were frozen solid mid hissing match.

    The fog wrapped itself around both horse and rider, enveloping them both in its cold unnatural embrace. It swallowed them, the sound of hooves drumming against the dry, cracked earth fading to nothing within seconds, and the wide, heavy shoe prints that trailed from the dome came to an immediate halt where the strange mist began. It dissipated as quickly as it came, the duo may as well have been nothing but an odd mirage in the desert.

      Current date/time is Thu Feb 22, 2018 2:04 pm