Mr. Reed helplesslywatched as the old man paced up and down his lab, stumbling a few times. Mr Reed wanted to stop him, worried in case he fell or hurt himself, but it was no use. He had tried to stop him already. But the man refused. The old Colonel couldn’t accept the fact they were gone. His automatons were gone.
His children were gone.
“No, there must be something…” he searched through lab notes, “…I’m missing something…we can fix this little problem, Mr Reed.”
“I’m sorry, Mr Walter,” the younger man sighed knowing he’d have to be honest with him, “But there’s no way we can trace where they’ve been sent to.”
“I’ll find a way,” Mr Walter continued to fumble about with the notes, “I invented the blasted machine. I should know. I have to find a way to find them or bring them back.”
“I don’t mean to sound rude, Sir, but the machine isn’t quite finished yet,” Mr Reed informed him, "there aren't any functions to bring them back at all."
“Oh really?” Colonel Walter turned to face the younger man, “Then why did I send them in there if it wasn't finished?”
Mr Reed’s eyebrows knitted together, confusion taking over, “You – You didn’t, Sir. They were messing around in there. Remember? They did it themselves.”
For the past few years, the old man’s memory had started failing him. He would forget the most minor of details, sometimes major.
The automatons loved to play. They played everywhere they went. In the garden. In the market place in town. In the manor. And especially in Peter Walter's lab. There was so much to explore. His inventions excited them. The thrill of new things brought them great joy. Most of the times, they had forgotten to be carefully though and their actions lead to severe consequences. And this was one of those times. Only it was more extreme. There was a chance the automatons would never play in the lab again.
The Colonel had been working on a portal. A portal leading to Kazooland. A world which he had mused about often. Was it real? Was it fantasy? He had begun his work on the portal. Would it work? Would it lead him to the other world? Or would it lead somewhere else? Who knew where the automatons had been sent.
Frustration took over, the Colonel turned to his desk, he forcefully swipe his hand over the notes causing them to sore from the table. He yelled in frustration as he kicked it, hurting his leg in the process.
“Stop hurting yourself!” Mr Reed quickly approached the old man. The Colonel knelt down and hunched over, holding his head in his hands. Mr Reed felt his heart break as the old man began to sob.
“Th-Th-They’re gone,” the Colonel whimpered, Mr Reed kneeled down beside him, “I-I-I wont see them ever again.”
Mr Reed tried to help the old man stand up but was only dismissed by slapping hands. Mr Walter was torn apart.
“Well, I’ve known those three for some years now. I know they are strong enough and brave enough to find their own way back,” Mr Reed told him in a reassuring tone, "We have no idea where they are but I know. They will come back."
Mr Walter’s sobs were quieting down allowing him to have a moment of silence.
“I know they will. They really will.”
Chapter 2: Chapter 2
If this chapter sucks majorly, forgive me I struggled with it for a long time :') I'd also appreciate feedback!
Kragen Sharpe loomed over the book on his desk. Many pages had been scattered over the wooden surface as well as on the floor. To the side there was another desk, on top sat more books and pages. Tthe majority of these books were based around dark magic, the front covers dark with golden script. Around the room, shelves lined the walls, carrying vials, more books, herbs and other strange ingredients.
“It was then the elders came together, full of strength and determination,” Kragen read aloud, his finger scrolling along each word, “Using their magic, they created a powerful stone. When obtained, one would receive all the powers of a God. In order to protect the stone from getting into the wrong hands, the Elders kept the stone in a secret place where no one could find it. However, one of the Elder’s temptation got the better of him. He stole the stone, hiding it from the world so it belonged to him only. As the stone went missing, so did the Elder. He was never seen again.
“No one knows if the stone still exists, but if it does, and someone finds it, it must be kept in the hands of the right person and in a safe place or else the world will be in grave danger.” He stopped. He then chuckled, closing the book and sitting it down, "Imagine the power. Controlling everything in this world. Creating complete and utter chaos. I could be King. No...even better; a God."
“Kragen!” A voice sounded.
He turned to where it came from. In the doorway stood the familiar face of his automaton companion.
“Oh come in, The Spine!” He turned towards the book again, opening it carefully, “What have you brought me today?”
The Spine approached the table. He reached into his pocked pulling out a small vial, inside was a liquid of a deep magenta colour. The middle aged man snatched the bottle from him.
“Oooh,” he uncorked it, smelling it, “It has a strong aura. What does it do?”
“Well the lady in the market said it gives the ability to heal,” The Spine recited, standing tall. It slightly annoyed Kragen.
He slid the vial into his pocket, “That will be all, The Spine. You may leave.”
“What’s that?” The Spine pointed to the book the human had been reading. The Spine observed its curious title, “The…Shaerosin…Stone?”
Kragen pushed the book away, standing in front of the table blocking the book sight, “Nothing you need to worry about.”
The Spine noted the man’s serious tone, “what’s the Shaerosin Stone? What are you hiding from me?”
“It is nothing you need to worry about,” Kragen rolled his eyes.
“Don’t you trust me? After all, you do send me to get potions and herbs for your strange voodoo magic thing,” The Spine replied, "What's so different about looking at this little book?"
“I trust you enough to do that. But with this information? No. Definitely not. Out of the question! After all, we’ve only known each other for 6 months, the Spine,” Kragen rolled his eyes. He turned back to the book, picking it up gently, “I know it sounds a bit hypocrytical of me! After all I did let you stay here and still will continue to let you but it can be a bit off putting the fact you don’t even know who you are. You could've been a thief before we even met!”
The Spine averted his eyes from the man, staring down to the floor. He was right. He had been found by Kragen 6 months before, laying in the dark forest of Asininia, snow burying him slightly. When he had awoken, he couldn’t think back to how he had gotten buried in the snow. He couldn’t remember anything actually.
“I suppose you’re right,” The Spine muttered, he sighed miserably.
“Oh, no need to get upset. It’s not as if I don’t trust you! I mean, after all I did bring you here, didn’t I?” Kragen put on a fake reassuring tone.
“But it is a bit strange of you to hide this book from me,” The Spine whined, "and I'm also feeling a bit restricted here. Why can't I venture past the market place?"
“I know! Everything is difficult right now. And its not that I dont trust you. I knew when I found you that you would be a great help to me! But somethings just have to be left to someone else. Sometimes something so precious into the hands of the wrong people.”
The Spine sighed, “OK. I understand.”
"Good," Kragen wore a fake smile, "Now how about you just go back up to your living quarters? And if there is anything else I need you for, I will summon you."
As he spoke, the Spine felt more and more like a prisoner and less like this man's son. With that, he left the room. He walked through the hall, the walls made of cold brick. He dragged himself up the stairs and into one of the rooms at the end of the long hall. Once in the room, he slid down the door until he was sitting.
“Why doesn’t he trust me? I get that he’s only known me for 6 months. He’s probably only beginning to trust me. But I trust him…and I don’t even remember anything before 6 months ago. He's saying that I could've been a thief? Well, he's into black magic! That's the first sign that he's just as untrustworthy as I am!” The Spine spoke to himself. He was grateful for the strange man bringing him in. Even though the Spine was happy, he still felt incomplete. The only thing he could remember was his name. He tried desperately to remember anything from before he could remember. But nothing came to his mind. He sighed heavily.
The Spine is on his way to Preferbia
The Spine rushed down the hall, nearly tripping over his feet. He had learned in the past that Kragen was not a patient person. So when summoned, he was expected to be there less than 10 seconds. This added more to the feeling of being a prisoner other than a guest.
He quickly made his way down the stairs, then navigated his way to Kragen’s lab. He almost tripped in the doorway, drawing the man’s attention.
“There you are! Finally!” Kragen rolled his eyes, “I have something to ask of you, Spine!”
“What is it?” The Spine asked, his interest growing.
“I take it back. I do trust you enough with the information on the Shaerosin stone,” he grinned, “This stone is quite important you see. It contains a very special power which can give anyone God-like abilities. And I want it! Now, the reason I want this stone is to keep it from getting into the wrong hands! Who knows what would happen if someone with bad intentions somehow managed to claim it.”
“Sounds interesting. So why are you telling me this?” The Spine questioned.
“Well using my stones I have located it. But they haven’t provided me with a clear enough answer. All I can say for now is that the stone is somewhere in Preferbia, New Pieland. I would be forever grateful if you could retrieve the stone and bring it to me.”
The Spine gasped, “Preferbia? I would have to go over sea to get there!”
“Well you did want to venture further than the market place, didn’t you?” Kragen commented.
“Yes. But…I don’t know about this. What if my hands are the wrong hands?! What if I trigger it in some way?” The Spine panicked.
“It won’t. Trust me.”
“I dunno, Kragen...I just don’t feel right about it.”
Kragen rolled his eyes. He looked at the book on his desk, as if he were thinking. He had been silent for nearly a solid 30 seconds. He then grinned, turning to the Spine, “Oh well…I wasn’t going to tell you. I wanted to keep it a surprise. But if I had the stone, I could find out who you are. And where you lived before all this. Who your family were...If you belonged to anyone...”
The Spine’s eyes widened. He tried not to let his jaw drop at the thought of his past life. Was it possible? Would the answer finally give him the answers he wanted?
“Y-You would do that?” The Spine stuttered in amazement.
“Of course! I do have to repay you for your services for the past months!” Kragen grinned, “And Preferbia isn’t that far. I’d say an hour long boat trip and another hour by train!”
The Spine thought about it for a while. Since before he could remember, freedom was the number one thing that he wanted. He wanted to know about his past, but freedom was what he wanted the most. The thought of sailing across the ocean to another island fascinated him. He would meet new people finally. He would be able to meet other automatons like himself too. That’s if there were any others. And Kragen was right. If the stone had gotten into the wrong hands, who knew what would happen. The world would most likely be in danger.
“I’ll do it!” The Spine spoke loudly, standing proud.
The Spine walked along the docks of Asininia. He carried nothing but a small tote bag. In it was a decent amount of money and two bottles of water in case his engine ran dry. He looked around excitedly as many humans rushed by. Some were saying goodbye to their loved ones. Some were rushing to get to the ship. Everything about the scenery excited the Spine.
Kragen had given him the directions to the dock, but refused to see him off. Although he provided him with the money and water. But seeing him off would’ve been nice too.
He approached the ship, preparing to get on board. He was stopped however when a built man in overalls stopped him.
“Hey! Not’s so fast!” He boomed, “Do you have a ticket, young…man?”
“No, I do not…” The Spine replied sheepishly, “Do I need one?”
The man let out a loud laugh as he held his belly and leaning back. The Spine looked around confusedly.
“Of course you need a ticket! No ticket! No boarding!” The man continued to chuckle. The Spine felt a bit intimidated.
“What if I offered to pay you right now?” The Spine stalled, reaching into the bag.
“That’s not how it works, son.”
The Spine pulled out a few gold coins, their light glimmered slightly. The man’s eyes widened. He remained silently for a while before giving the Spine an answer, “OK. You’re in.”
The Spine smirked, “Thank you, good sir.”
“But!” The man stopped the Spine before he got on board, “You’re scrubbing the deck until we get there!”
The Spine’s smile dropped, “Really?”
“Did I stutter??” The man questioned, “Now get on with it.”
He moved to the side and slightly shoved the Spine along the board up into the ship.
The Spine meets Hatchworth
The Spine yawned, awakening from his nap. When his eyes adjusted he looked out the window. The train had come to a halt. Kragen said the boat journey would be an hour. It honestly felt longer. But that was probably due to scrubbing the decks. The Spine had cursed all aboard as they watched him clean.
He gathered that if he needed a ticket for the boat then he also needed a ticket for the train. That journey wasn’t any faster. It seemed more like two hours. He stretched, feeling his robot joints pop a bit.
He glanced back out the window. He felt all the weariness leave him as he took in the view of the city. His eyes widened and he smiled. He rushed to get off the train, not being able to contain his excitement much longer.
Upon leaving the station, he beamed as he passed by the people. He couldn’t believe the amount of people there were. Preferbia seemed a lot bigger than Asininia. He took note of a large crowd who were cheering at whatever was in the middle. Curiosity got the best of him. He tried pushing his way through the crowd in order to see what was in the middle.
“I demand another turn!” A voice boomed.
“Sorry, no can do, friendo,” another unfamiliar voice sounded.
When he could see the two in the middle of the circle, he took note the burly man he was banging his fist on a table. His attention quickly turned to the other man. Or…not man. His eyes widened as he realised he was looking at another automaton.
“One more flip of that coin! I’ll even add in an extra fifty!” The man slapped a couple of notes on top of the money already sitting on the table.
The automaton stared as he considered the offer, “just fifty?”
The burly man growled.
“Oh fifty seems fine!” The automaton smirked. He flipped a coin high into the air. The Spine could’ve sworn the whole crowd held their breath as the metal object flew into the air and back down into the palm of the automaton.
“Heads!” He beamed.
The man grabbed his face in frustration.
“Well I’ll be taking this,” the automaton reached across the makeshift table and grabbed the money, “Anyone else want to face me?”
“I will!” Another man stood from the crowd.
“What do you bring to good ole Hatchworth’s table?” The automaton questioned him.
The Spine blinked. Hatchworth. What a strange name. Well, for an automaton it seemed ok.
“Maybe you’ll find some interest in this,” the man pulled a small stone from his pocket.
The Spine’s eyes widened. It was the stone. The one from Kragen’s book. The Shaerosin stone. After only a few hours of travelling, the Spine had already found it. The only problem was how he was going to get it.
“A rock? Really?” Hatchworth questioned.
“This isn’t an ordinary rock. I heard it has some mystery about it!” The man insisted.
“I think I’ll pass, good sir,” Hatchworth grinned.
The Spine’s eyes widened as he threw himself forward, “I bet on it!”
Hatchworth, the man and the crowd turned to look at him. Hatchworth’s eyes seemed to widen as he took note of the Spine. Another automaton.
“How much is it worth?” The Spine asked.
“Heh. You decide,” The man smirked. His eyes widened as the Spine placed $50 down on the table.
Hatchworth grabbed the Spine by the collar, pulling him to eye level, “Listen, friendo, that’s a large amount of money for a stone.”
“What if I told you I need it,” The Spine whispered through slightly gritted teeth.
“A tiny little pebble.”
“A meaningless rock?”
The Spine groaned, “Yes! Just roll that coin! This stone is more important to me than life itself!”
Hatchworth observed him carefully. What was with this guy? He took £40 from his pocket, slapping it down onto the table, “OK. I’ll get you that rock.”
Hatchworth went to throw the coin but was stopped by the man sitting in front of them.
“This time; we use my coin,” the man pulled out a coin from his pocket. Hatchworth gulped. The man took note of this, “You got a problem with that?”
“No no no! Not at all, pal,” Hatchworth slightly stuttered, “I’ll be heads again.”
The man tossed the coin in the air. The Spine bit his metal lip as he watched it begin to land. Hatchworth hid his face, refusing to look. He quickly pulled his hands away in order to have a quick peak. The coin landed on the table, bouncing a bit before lying flat.
It revealed heads.
Hatchworth sighed relief. The Spine cheered. The man just rolled his eyes at their joy. He extended his arm holding the stone out in front of them, “Go on then. Take it.”
“Well it was nice dealing with all you gentlemen,” Hatchworth stood, leaning over the table to grab the stone. He then passed it to the Spine. Looking back to the table his eyes widened as his coin had fallen out of his pocket. The man picked the coin up, inspecting it. His eyes widened, flipping the coin to reveal both sides to be heads.
“Cheater! Thief!” He shouted.
Hatchworth’s eyes widened as the crowd’s eyes turned to him, “Who, me? No! It was him! He gave me this coin earlier in the day! Blame him!”
The Spine’s mouth dropped as Hatchworth pointed his metal finger at him, “Me?? I don’t even know you!”
“That’s what anyone in this situation would say,” Hatchworth squinted his eyes, glaring at the Spine with fake disgust, “So if there’s anyone to point the finger at, IT’S HIM!”
The smaller automaton covered his eyes dramatically, pointing a finger at the Spine. He then made an attempt at dramatically leaving the crowd. The Spine went to follow him.
“I don’t think so, pal!” The Spine grabbed him by the collar.
Hatchworth slapped the hand away before taking off into a sprint. Rage came the Spine setting him off in a rage of his own.
“Don’t let them escape!” The burly man shouted, members of the crowd now chasing the two automatons.
The Spine hadn’t been keeping track of where they had been running. His eyes were stuck on the small robot ahead of him. He wouldn’t let him get away with this. Not to mention he still had the stone.
“They’re heading for the train station!”
The Spine snapped out of his focus on the robot as heard the brute behind him shout. He quickly glanced around. He was right. They had run back to the station. And just ahead was the train to Biscuit Town. It was like fate! The train to take him back home. He’d get the stone to Kragen in no time.
His frown dropped as the train began to move. He heard Hatchworth panic as his sprinting speed picked up. He jumped at the steps leading into the train.
“DRIVE FASTER!” He shouted.
The Spine ran beside the train, his legs helping him run at a speed he had never run before. He reached out a hand to Hatchworth, “Help me!”
“Oh, sorry. No can do!” Hatchworth replied.
“I need to get home! Please!” The Spine pleaded picking up the pace.
Hatchworth looked as if he was thinking it out. The Spine mentally cursed at the other automaton. Hatchworth rolled his eyes, reaching his hand out and grabbing the Spine by the wrist. He forcefully pulled him into the train. The Spine gasped, trying to catch his breath.
“Now, it was nice working with you, partner,” Hatchworth saluted the Spine before walking away to find a seat.
The Spine’s eyes widened as he followed him, “Hey! Wait a second! Where’s my stone?”
He sat in front of where Hatchworth sat. The smaller automaton rolled his eyes passing the stone to him, “Now, bye bye.”
“Can I ask why you’re being so rude?” The Spine questioned him, folding his arms over his chest. He took note of the circular blue light on Hatchworth’s chest. It was odd.
“Can I ask why you’re still here?” Hatchworth bit back. When he saw the Spine roll his eyes, he sighed, “I’m being rude because if it weren’t for you wanting that pathetic stone I wouldn’t be on a train to Biscuit town.”
“Hey, I didn’t tell you to get onto this train!” The Spine replied, “And I’m still here because I was wondering if we could make amends. Start over, you know. I’ll go first; I’m the Spine. I’m on my way to Asininia.”
Hatchworth hesitated before replying, “I am Hatchworth and I’m now on my way to Biscuit town. I don’t know where my life will lead from that point onwards.”
Hatchworth held out his hand. The Spine took it, shaking it firmly, “Glad we could get that out of the way. Also, you said you don’t know what to do when getting to Biscuit town. I suggest that you get back to Preferbia to your family.”
“Oh well I don’t want to sound like a Debbie downer but I don’t have a family!” Hatchworth shrugged.
“Gosh, I’m sorry. Well I don’t have a family either. But I’m staying with someone. So I guess I have a kind of family,” Spine explained.
“Well I guess when I get to Biscuit town I could find a place to stay for a while,” Hatchworth suggested, “Poor automatons like us…no families…”
The two automatons continued to chat for the rest of the train journey. The feud that had happened in Preferbia was easily forgotten as they told funny stories and discussed theories amongst themselves. Two hours later, the train pulled into the station of Biscuit town.