Malifaux Fiction: Ultimatum
After taking a bit of a break for Xmas, the Iron Quill competition has restarted on the Wyrd’s Malifaux forums. This month’s competition was a little different as it was up to the winners of the previous round to choose the “ingredients.” I was given Item, and after a little thinking came up with something I thought was fun. Here’s the full list:
- Theme: To the Stars
- Character: The Glass Man
- Line: The road to hell is paved with good intentions.
- Item: Clockwork Pistol
The competition was pretty strong, and I ended up neither winning nor placing, but I’m still happy with my entry. I guess there’s always this month’s round.
Date of Events………: 7 October, 114 P.F.
Location………………: Quarantine Zone, Sector 11
Agent(s) Present…..: Mr Glass
Mission Result………: Partial Success
After three days of “questioning” locals, I received the location of the sanctum of Michel Ardan, Arcanist inventor. Located deep in the Quarantine Zone north-west of Southgate Station, in the basement of a ruined building.
The building was only lightly guarded, three lackeys at most. I quickly dispatched them before entering the building. Aside from the guards, the building was otherwise deserted. Locating the stairs to the basement, I descended into Ardan’s sanctum.
As predicted, it was the size of a small warehouse, carved out of the rock underneath the building. Ardan’s latest creation lay in the far corner, partly covered by tarpaulin, where he was working on what I later learned was its engine. Off to one side lay the crates of stolen soulstones, one of which was open revealing its opalescent contents. I took two steps into the sanctum and announced my presence.
The Arcanist jumped at the sudden noise, his head colliding with the creation’s outer casing. “What the bloody hell do you want?” He turned to face Glass, “you’re supposed to be watch- Oh! Who are you?”
“Who I am is not important. Why I am here, however, should be of great interest to you.” Glass remained still, watching the Ardan’s every movement. “I have come with an offer from the Guild.”
“The Guild? Why should I even entertain an offer from those totalitarian thugs? They condemned me for my talents,” he glanced at the nearest crate of soulstone, “wanted to hang me from the tree, and for what? My magical ability, that’s all. I’m no worse than any of the other spell casters who have sold their souls and thrown in with them.”
Glass produced a notebook from his coat pocket and began to read: “Two counts of manslaughter, one count of grievous bodily harm, three counts of producing prohibited magical effects.” He glanced up as he read. Ardan was becoming increasingly nervous, he would have to watch for any sudden movement. Placing the notebook back in his pocket, he continued, “Add to that three counts of major theft and you are in some serious trouble.”
“Very clever,” Ardan replied, “so there were a few accidents. That always happens when you’re trying to push the boundaries of magic and science.” He began fidgeting again, this time reaching into his trouser pocket as he did so. “If you think I’m coming anywhere with you, you’re even stupider than you look!
With as much speed as he could muster, Ardan pulled his hand from his pocket revealing what he had searched for – a soulstone. Calling upon the magical energy contained within the stone he raised his other hand and pointed it at Glass. “Now to add murder to my rap sheet.”
Glass remained perfectly still as energy crackled around Ardan’s hand and then shot towards him. It leapt through the air, leaving the smell of ozone in its wake, before slamming into Glass’s chest… and passing right through. Behind him, chunks of stone exploded away from the point where the bolt hit the sanctum’s wall, but these bounced harmlessly off his coat.
“But- What- How?” Ardan looked at his hand in disbelief, unsure about what had just happened. He tried again, putting as much magical force as he could muster into the attack. The effect was the same; the bolt passed through Glass and impacted with the wall behind him.
Glass interrupted Ardan before he could try a third time. “Careful. Keep that up and you will bring the roof down on us both. With that our of the way, how about I explain the details of the Guild’s offer?” He produced a sheet of paper from within his coat and started to read the details of the offer to Ardan. The Arcanist was far too baffled by what had just happened to understand what he was saying.
“What are you,” Ardan interjected. “How did you do that? Some Guild trickery, eh? Tell me!”
Glass paused his reading of the offer to respond, “When you passed through the Breach, it awoke within you a latent magical talent. My journey had something of an opposite effect. I do not rightly know what it did, but as you just saw, magic no longer has any power over me. That is why the Guild sent me to deliver this offer. If they had wanted you dead, Criid would be knocking on your door, not me.”
Ardan gulped, he had heard about the fate awaiting Arcanists captured alive by Sonia Criid. He had no desire to end up as one of her Witchlings. “Fine, fine. You’ve got me. I’ll come along, just as long as the Guild holds up its end of the bargain and wipe my slate clean.” He knew they wouldn’t, but it was worth a try.
“Excellent,” Glass cracked a faint smile, “life is so much easier when people co-operate.” He walked over to Ardan and plucked the soulstone from his hand. As he did, its light faded as the last of the power drained from it. “Now, before I return you to the nearest watch house, one question. What exactly are you building here?” He gestured at the partially obscured machine.
“This?” Ardan replied. “This is the culmination of my life’s work.” He walked over to the machine and yanked the tarpaulin away, revealing a large metallic tube with a tapered end, much like a bullet. “This is the machine that will allow me to leave this wretched city, let me explore distant lands and perhaps… other planets”
“And the stones; there are more in those crates than most Arcanists would use in a lifetime. Are you using them to power this instrument of freedom?”
“Exactly! They’ll give me the power I need, once I have this finished, of course.” Ardan took advantage of the distracted Glass to slowly back towards his work bench and the large spanner that rested on top of it. “It won’t use all of them at once that would be far too wasteful. I had to make this big enough to bring some cargo along with me.” His hand now grasped the spanner. “It truly is an amazing achieve-MENT!”
With as much strength as he could muster, Ardan rushed toward Glass, swinging his spanner in an arc towards his head. Spotting the sudden movement in his peripheral vision, Glass ducked to one side, narrowly avoiding the blow. He quickly backed away from Ardan, producing a pistol from a holster at his hip. It was no ordinary pistol, but one that appeared to rely on springs and gears to function, not black powder. It truly was a clockwork marvel.
Glass levelled the pistol at Ardan. “Do not take me for a fool, Mr Ardan. We knew you would not be easy to recruit. I offer you one final chance to come with me before I move to Plan B.”
“Plan B? You officious oaf! You dare enter an Arcanist’s sanctum, threaten him with death or worse, then expect him to simply comply with your orders?” Ardan spat on the ground between them, “There’s my answer for your masters!”
“As you wish,” Glass replied. He pulled the depleted soulstone from his pocket and threw it over to Ardan who caught it. “You should have that back, you will need it.” Before Ardan could respond, Glass pulled the trigger on his pistol. Springs unwound, gears clicked, and the hammer fell into place at high-speed, propelling a single bullet straight into the Arcanist’s chest; killing him instantly.
Glass walked over to Ardan’s body and nodded to himself as he saw the soulstone begin to glow again. “Nothing wasted.”
After securing the crates and sealing off the sanctum, I returned to the nearest watch house for reinforcements. We retrieved the crates without further incident and no further loss of property.
While I was not able to recruit Michel Ardan, I believe the technology used in his vehicle will be of great interest to Captain Hoffman. I have contacted him directly with directions to the sanctum.
End of report.