The road’s dust kicked up in a choking cloud behind Valence’s heavily modified Model T. the dark skinned man smiled at the speed the 81 horse-power Lincoln engine allowed. It had taken quite a bit of elbow grease and ingenuity to put the eight cylinder engine into the body of the Model-T, but it was worth it. the speed was unmatched on the road. His long fingers danced across the wheel as the car tilted around a hairpin turn.
He whistled to himself as he raced down the back roads toward the location of the train wreck. he had no idea what he was to retrieve when he got there, but he didn’t care. Smoke curled in the rescuers’ lamp light, adding a gloomy ambiance to the already hopeless sight of the mangled train. Like a sculptured homage to despair, the mangled wreckage made it clear that any hope of survivors was a lost one. Valance shrugged, the smell of rum and mud reached his nostrils, and he chuckled to himself. No doubt someone had tugged his boss’s ear about this shipment, and all it was now was sludge.
He kicked a bit of metal around to see if any bottles had survived the wreck but only found one bottle of Ron Bacardi Superior half buried in the mud. Standing up with his treasure he noticed a shambling thing helping a woman out of the debris, the woman didn’t even stumble as she walked away from the train. Valance felt a familiar presence and knew that this girl was like him, or would be.
Quietly he moved closer, he recognized the thing with the girl as a Doll, or whatever the hell people were calling them these days. The Dolls, near as Valance could tell, had shown up around the same time as the aurem had. To call them living machines hardly scratched the surface of what they were. They weren’t a single machine, but rather millions of tiny machines working together as a community. Talking to them was a treat too, always referring to themselves as “we” and never really grasped the concept of “I” to them individuality was an illness, tolerated in others but eradicated in themselves.
Lear turned his head towards Val and with lightning quick movements he was soon in front of him. “You were not on the train, tell us what you are doing here.” Lear extended to his full height which was a good foot over Valance.
Unceremoniously Valance raised his .45 Caliber pistol and shot Lear through the chest. Lear fell backwards and was still on the ground, his eyes no longer glowing. Val re-holstered his gun and strode towards the shaking young woman.
Ella shook with rage, so many things were happening to her and she felt out of control. While her entire life up to this point had been a series of pushes from one person or another she suddenly felt furious about it. A small tug in the back of her mind was telling her that she should be in charge of herself at all times and this man with his white teeth and slick black hair was strutting towards her like he was king of the goddamned world.
Thoughts like these raced through Ella’s mind until they seemed too big to contain, and as she stood face to face with the grinning man suddenly all she saw was a blinding light as she kicked out, her patent leather shoe connecting with his groin. As he fell to the ground Ella knelt on his chest and placed her delicate hand around his throat. “I don’t know who you are. I don’t want to know, we never saw each other, got it?” Her voice cut through the air with a crackle of energy as she leaped up and ran off into the distance away from the approaching rescue workers.
Valance was surprised by what had just happened, he had never been taken down by anyone before, certainly never by some slip of a girl. Ella was much stronger than he had expected her to be, and the energy inside of her had seemed very familiar. He ran to his car and started the engine, peeling off in the direction the girl had run.
The colony called Lear was mending itself, thousands of dolls were now returning to the gaping hole in the chest and repairing the damages. It was nearly fully operational by the time the rescuers arrived. “We heard a shot, is everyone okay?” a member of the party asked.
Lear stood up and shook its head, “None of the passengers in this car survived. We will be leaving now, we must see if there is anything we missed.”
Lear's sensory apparatus were far better at seeing in the dim lantern light than human eyes. It cocked its head on its thin metal neck. The colony had constructed this shell with speed in mind, the man who shot it would not be able to escape. Light glinted bronze and silver off its form as its claws raked the dirt tracking after the Aurem girl and the man who shot it. It needed answers and all the questions pointed to those two.