Clockwork Legacy/Lady in Waiting/Part 1

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Lady in Waiting

Part 1

Roland staggered out of the pub with the assistance of its proprietor before gravity and inebriation brought him down upon the filthy cobblestone street.

Picking himself up and assessing the damage, he ignored the proprietor shouting not to return without enough coin to settle his debt. Despite his mother's warnings, Roland thought his looks and charm might last him a bit longer in the city, but here he was just as she had predicted - penniless and without prospect.

Roland considered how to return to his family in anything less than total disgrace when he noticed he was being watched - from an alleyway only a few paces off stood a breathtaking beauty in a deep-green skirt and riding jacket, her shimmering copper hair elaborately coiffed beneath a stylish top-hat. Green eyes met his, and she made no attempt to look away. Amidst a dusting of freckles, her full red lips curled into a feline smile.

The incongruity between her destitute surroundings and her apparent station did not fully register with Roland, nor did the strange overtness of her flirtation. A part of him knew that she was likely trouble - but whatever that trouble was, he felt she was obviously worth it.

"Good evening, mademoiselle," he slurred, bowing low and just catching himself before he toppled into the street again.

The green woman batted her long eyelashes in return. Without a word she retreated slightly into the alley, never losing her smile. Hurrying after, he tripped and careened into her - but despite her petite frame, she managed to catch his weight and hold him steady.

"Sir, you're drunk," she said with playful admonishment.

"Why, I am simply, well, no - you see, I am intoxicated by your... you... you're very pretty, you know."

She took the complement as easily as breathing, asking, “Is there anyone to look after you? Or who knows where you are?"

"No, my family's all in the country you see. There's no one here to look after me..." It struck him that she was entirely still - no stirring of her round breast from breath, not shifting of her weight to support him - she just stood there, each part of her moving independently and only when necessary.

"What a pity," she said, her eyes fluttering closed and lips parting ever-so-slightly. As she leaned into him, he was overwhelmed by the scent of lavender, and he crushed his lips against hers. Roland encountered only the slightest resistance before seeming to pass right through her, tumbling forward into fog...

---

Roland awoke with the feeling that someone had tied his brain with a tourniquet dunked in ice water. He groaned involuntarily, the sound muffled by a wad of cloth stuffed into his mouth. Struggling to open his eyes, his vision returned slowly – he was in a small, neglected bedroom, his wrists and ankles lashed to the posts of an otherwise comfortable bed. Someone had cleaned him up, but apparently had neglected to dress him.

"You're awake – good." The Lady in Green swept into the room, clutching a worryingly large syringe. "You need to pay very close attention to what I'm about to tell you."

"Mrrggnnnfff!"

"Patience - you won't be in any danger, if you do as I say." She watched him, and when he made no further movements or sound, she continued. "I serve a Baroness who is not a woman at all, but rather an automaton of the most disagreeable nature. "

A what?

"I brought you here as I have others in the past per her instruction. And were I not to intervene here, she would use you and then kill you to keep her secret, as she has done before."

Were you to not intervene, he thought, I wouldn't be tied to this bed and awaiting my murder in the first place.

"I will loosen your bonds so that when she is upon you, you will be able to slip free. You must then open a panel between her shoulder-blades where you will find several dials. Turn the small one in the center clockwise as far as it will go."

Roland was struggling to make sense of any of this. What was an automaton? The woman had a 'panel' in her back? Dials?

"You will see me adjusting the very same dial, so pay attention when I do so. Once you have shifted the dial, you are to provide with her with all you can muster until she is... incapacitated. Are we clear?"

He shook his head "no" and tried to speak.

"There's no time - either you remember what I said or you will be..."

The sound of a door opening cut her off, and she hurriedly pricked his thigh with the syringe. The painful pinch gave way to a fire that made his manhood almost painfully firm. She tugged on each of the bonds slightly and whispered, "Do not free yourself until she is upon you!"

"Whom do you have for me today?" spoke a voice accustomed to command. The Lady in Green stepped from the bed was approached by a woman of imperious beauty. Her skin was an unearthly alabaster, so fair it made her pinned and braided chestnut hair almost black by comparison. Dark eyes quickly appraised his form, lingering only on his rigid member before turning back to the Lady in Green.

"A boy from the country, Milady," the Lady replied, and she set about releasing the woman from her elaborate clothing. "He has no one in town, save for a few angry debtees."

The woman nodded approvingly as her jacket fell away, revealing a high-collared shirt whose buttons strained against the remarkable size of her bust. As the Lady in Green dexterously unfastened the buttons the woman stood unnaturally still, not so much as a breath stirring her form.

Her shirt removed, Roland saw an ornate corset beneath full, ripe breasts tipped with soft nipples set in a perfect circle of pink. The sight so commanded his attention that he did not notice her shoulders and elbows until her skirts were almost off. At her joints were ball-mechanisms - the kind one would find on a poseable doll.

The skirts dropped and the woman turned her back to him and the Lady. Garter straps clung to the contours of her round backside, the swell of her hips and round thighs drowning out any apprehension he had of what was to come.

The Lady in Green gave him a pointed look, and pressed inward on the woman's pale skin between her shoulder blades. A panel opened, revealing what appeared to be a number of dials and gauges set above a lattice of clockwork.

"We shall try five today," said the woman.

"So high, Milady?"

"You are not here to question my judgement," snapped the woman sharply, "Unless you wish to share the fate of your predecessors.” The Lady moved her hand to the central dial, presently set at 9-o-clock, and slowly moved it clockwise. As she did, the woman shuddered, breathing in sharply while Roland heard what sounded like a clock winding up to strike. Her backside quivered and seemed to draw firmer, as water began to bead upon its rounded surface.

The Lady continued to move the dial slowly, until it just crossed the twelve-o-clock position. "I said five!" the woman exclaimed, breathlessly, "and not a jot more!" The Lady moved the dial back to until it was pointing straight up and closed the panel.

"Is there anything else Milady would-"

"Leave," the woman rasped. With a bow and a final glance to Roland, the Lady in Green left the room.

The woman stood motionless for a time, still with her back to him, before bringing her lace-gloved hand to her chest. It appeared she was softly experimenting with her breasts, drawing in deep breaths and emitting languid sighs before cautiously reaching down to her womanhood. She emitted a soft “Ahhh!” and buckled, knock-kneed, her cheeks clenching, her thighs wantonly grinding together. She swiftly drew her hand away, panting from the evidently overwhelming sensation. After a moment she regained her composure and turned to face him. He saw her breasts were even fuller than before, her nipples now a deep pink and stiffly at-attention – and as with her buttocks, water beaded upon their surface. With a slight smile she sauntered toward him, her hips swaying in a subtle, hypnotic arc, her breasts gently bouncing with every step.

"Now then," she whispered in anticipation, crawling upon the bed, her hips hovering above his aching loins. She pivoted on a ball-jointed knee, swinging one gartered leg over his head, and assumed a reverse farm-girl position. His eyes fixed upon her magnificent derriere as her hand reached down to clutch his shaft, guiding him as she lowered herself to meet him. She stopped her descent mere centimeters from him, her tuft of soft brown pubic hair tickling the tip of his manhood. Her breath came in short, sharp gasps as he felt an incredible warmth from her lips, pink and flushed against her otherwise white skin.

“Perhaps,” she panted, “‘five’ is taking this too…”

With no thought in his mind save insatiable desire, he arched his back and thrust deeply into her.

Part 2

She was lifted into the air upon his pelvis, her body trembling silently save for a series of metallic twangs. Roland was surprised at the heat inside of her and the subsequent eruption of white fluid from her sex. A moment later her legs gave out and the full weight of her forced them wetly down to the bed.

“You… impudent…” she managed before he thrust upward again, her sentence finishing with a gasp. Water condensed over her form and she forced him down again, he corset-framed rump jiggling when it collided with his abdomen.

They found an uneven cadence, him pushing up, her pushing down, as she convulsed and cursed while a strange tick-tick-whirr inside of her grew louder. “I need… hahh… I need to stop… ahhhh… to stop this…” she panted, but made no efforts to break their rhythm.

Roland watched her rise and fall, the perfect globes of her backside compressing with a spray of water on each descent, and could bear it no longer. When she rose again, he loosed both hands and gripped her ass firmly, bringing her down hard upon him, surprised at the almost rubbery feel of her soft wet skin. “Nnnngh,” she groaned as the sound of clockwork grew louder, his hands deeply massaging her strange flesh. Suddenly she stiffened. “You’re loose!?!”

Her hand flew to what at first appeared to be a hairpin – drawn out, Roland saw a thin blade, dark with a noxious ichor. She plunged it toward his leg, Roland managing to catch her arm just below the elbow. Struggling against her, he reached with his other hand to open the panel in her back, grasped what he prayed was the correct dial, and wrenched it clockwise.

She froze. Her hand went slack and the poisoned hairpin tumbled aside. Roland waited for a moment, anxiously, when he began to hear that same sound of a clock winding up - but now it was amidst a cacophony of clanking metal and overdrawn springs.

“What. have. you. done!?” she stammered, and her body began to shudder. Rivulets of water streamed across her trembling rump, and he remembered the Lady in Green’s instructions on what he was to do next. Freeing his feet and pulling the cloth gag from his mouth, he slid out from her and she gasped in shock, falling forward on to her hands. “You cannot… I… I am… a delicate… nnnnh… delicate piece of…”

“Nonsense,” Roland replied, rising on his knees. “You’re sturdiest piece of ass I’ve ever had!” Gripping her hips, he brought her up to her knees and plunged into her trembling, wet mound. She was out of synchronization with him, reacting to each thrust moments after it happened, each cry of ecstasy distanced further his previous thrust. “I… I can’t…” she gasped. “It’s too much…” clockwork audibly snapped inside of her, tiny bolts of blue lightning arced from her exposed panel. Steam coursed from every joint and opening, her mouth, eyes, hips, and especially from where he relentlessly drove into her. Water coursed along her backside, vibrating with a furious energy, as she grew hotter, hotter…

Gah!” Roland jerked free from her as the heat became unbearable, steam and prodigious amounts of white fluid escaping with him. She trembled before him, steaming, dripping, whirring, whispering, “Don’t stop… don’t...”

Roland debated his next move when he began to hear a low whistle, like a kettle about to boil. The woman shook her head to regain her senses and growled, “You will… suffer for th… this...” She slowly reached an arm behind her back, groping for her open panel and struggling to remain as still as possible to allow no further stimulation. “Must… lower…”

While her arm strained, she involuntarily dipped forward, a nipple of her trembling breast brushing against the soaking sheets of the bed. She froze, but it was too late – the whistling growing louder, her body heaved and her reaching hand compulsively returned to her breast, squeezing it amidst fevered panting before finally squeaking a tinny, high-pitched curse of, “Oh, piss!

The blast propelled her into Roland accompanied by a cloud of steam, the whistle petering off into silence as the sound of clockwork slowed, then stopped. When the air cleared, he saw her slender neck ended in a twist of metallic spires and tubing. “Fuck me!” he exclaimed, wondering how any of this could possibly be real.

The headless woman’s hand shot out and grabbed his still rigid member. Each movement of hers was stiff and scored by gears whirring and clicking. She moved quickly despite her state, spearing herself upon his manhood with a wet slap. She was warm, but no longer painfully so, and she ground him into her as he struggled to regain his wits.

“This is well and truly fucked,” he muttered, but nevertheless tried to match her arrhythmic bucking as his hands ran from her hips along her embroidered corset to her full breasts. When he caressed her, she stopped for a moment, and a curious twang from somewhere deep inside her stood out from the background of her other mechanical noises. She then redoubled her efforts, gliding up and down the length of him while he massaged the full weight of her chest. The twang grew louder every time his hips met her rump. When he teased her pert nipples, the curious sound was accompanied by another, and another, and she began to pump with a furious energy.

He released one of her breasts and brought his hand down her front, slipping a finger between her folds alongside his manhood. She collapsed upon him, trembling, growing hotter, the inexplicable vibration of her soaking wet ass driving him mad. He erupted inside of her quivering form, and her internal clockwork finally broke under the strain. Sweet white fluid leaking from every joint and seam, drowning his pelvis in warmth as steam coursed from her neck. She toppled forward, twitching, and then lie still.

Roland sat in shock once again, searching for the appropriate words. “Fuck m…”

The door swung open and in swept the Lady in Green, beaming. She glanced at the ruin of the Baroness’s body, headless and dripping with fluid. “Well done, farm boy!” she exclaimed, rushing across the room to scoop up the Baroness’s head, frozen in a look of ecstasy. The Lady fiddled with something inside the neck and the woman’s features reset to an imperious, empty stare. The Lady suddenly cursed and withdrew her hand, her dark glove speckled with white fluid. “Blast this corrosive effluvium!”, she muttered, dropping the head and hurriedly pulling off her glove.

“Corrosive!?” Roland cried, staring at his drenched (and somehow, still fully erect) member.

“No, not for you,” tittered the Lady. “The Baroness was of cruder construction, her fluids of a less refined… you know, none of this is important.”

Roland, who had never been a man of many questions, suddenly found his mind flooded with them. He finally settled on, “What happens now?”

“Now?” asked the Lady, smiling her cat’s-grin and stepping toward the bed. “Now, you claim your reward from the newly anointed Baroness.” She bent in to meet him and her green eyes fluttered closed, her lips parted, and he again was struck by the scent of lavender…

Part 3

Lavendar?

Roland pushed the Lady in Green away, trying not to inhale any of the fragrance that had robbed him of his consciousness before. The Lady staggered, her boot slipping in a wet puddle, and she fell face forward into the headless body’s crotch with a wet squelch.

Roland scrambled off the bed as the Lady in Green rose, sputtering, the Baroness’s white fluid covering her face.

“No,” she muttered, her hands fluttering helplessly as she frantically looked about the room. “No no no no…”

“You were going to put me under again, weren’t you?!” Roland shouted accusingly, but if the Lady heard him she made no sign of it. Instead she bent forward and her hands worked about her ears. A moment later, her face came off in her hands like a mask of flesh. Beneath she bore the same features, but they were crafted in ribbons of brass and steel, her eyes pupilless spheres of polished white glass. Roland was surprised that this did nothing to diminish his arousal. If anything…

She cast the mask aside and stood quietly for a moment.

“I said-” Roland repeated, but she cut him off.

“I am sorry, sir, but I was simply trying to protect myself, to protect… us…,” she looked down at her chest and Roland noticed the fabric tremble slightly. She quickly unfastened the buttons and shook off her jacket to find her bust engorged, a wetness spread across her shirt that caused the white cotton of her blouse to cling to her chest.

She shook her head and looked up at him, her voice urgent. “Sir, we have little time – I would ask that you find it within your heart to aid a lady, despite that she has wronged you.”

So now you’re a 'lady'? he thought, but asked, “Suppose I help you – what do you do then?”

“I only wish to see my other sisters restored, perhaps even this one,” she gestured at the Baroness, “once sufficient time passes…”

“No, I mean… what happens to me?”

She twitched slightly, emitting a muffled clank. “I… I can pay your debts, even provide with you a stipend if you should desire to remain in the city. On my sisters' names, sir, I swear to you that you shall come to no further harm.”

Despite his better judgment, Roland asked, “What do you need me to do?”

The Lady hurriedly undid the topmost buttons of her blouse, pulling it down over her shoulder and exposing her freckled décolletage. There were no ball-joints at her shoulders, though he did notice a faint seam above each bicep. She turned and opened a panel on her back, very similar to the one on the Baroness. Looking over her shoulder at him, she said quietly “I need you to do to me what you did to my sister.”

“What?!” asked Roland in surprise, “Fuck you until your head comes off?”

“Now is not the time for vulgarity, sir!” she snapped. He noticed wisps of steam emerging from the panel, and she said, “I am of sturdier construction than she, and am of a sanguine design, opposed to her phlegmatic – if you proceed slowly but… thoroughly, it should exorcise me of her corrupting fluids. First, take the dial marked ‘Air’ and carefully adjust it clockwise.”

He found the dial in the same position as the one in the back of the Baroness (did the Lady claim her as her sister?). It was among a set of four, the others marked Earth, Fire, and Water. He began to nudge it clockwise.

A winding clock sound echoed from inside her and she moaned softly, the fingers of the hand holding up her coppery hair digging into the skin of her neck. She bent slightly to press her backside into his groin, and he felt the softness of her derriere through the layers of her skirts. She suddenly convulsed, and he heard a disturbing grinding sound. “All the way, now!”

Roland twisted the dial and she gasped, doubling over, her hands forcing her skirts between her legs. “It’s not… it’s not going to work… p-please, it’s too lllllllate, j-just… turn the dial marked c-c-cognisance.”

“Cogni-what? Oh, uhhh – yes, I see it, but it’s already all the way…”

“T-t-turn it c-c-counter-clockwise,” she said as the clockwork spun frantically, steam pouring from the opening. “And t-t-take me!”

This dial only seemed to have two settings – he twisted it left and it snapped into place.

She straightened, and looked about in confusion. Neither the sound of her clockwork nor the profusion of steam diminished, but at least she no longer seemed to be in a state of panic. He turned her to face him and saw that she was staring in surprise at her breasts, now barely contained by her half-undone shirt.

“What is happening here?” she remarked, and looked up at Roland. “Are you supposed to be here?”

“I… uh... yes? You just told me…”

Ignoring him, she peered about the chamber, “It sounds as though there is a clock in desperate need of servicing.”

Roland took this as an invitation and unfastened her skirts, sliding them over her soft contours before dropping them to the floor. He left one hand to caress her round backside, finding her flesh warmer and more human-like than the Baroness's, but still somehow artificial.

“Sir!” she protested, but leaned into him, her cheek pressing back against his hand, “that is too… ahhhhtoo familiar…”

As her metal lips kissed his neck, he shifted the elaborate lace of her underwear aside to expose the warm petals of her sex. Running a hand from each of her round buttocks down to the grip back of her thighs, he crouched and hoisted her into the air, slamming into her as he brought her to meet him.

Ahhh <click> ahHH <click> AHH!” she screamed in ecstasy, her cry interrupted by a mechanical staccato. A wet, warm deluge flowed from her sex as she began to emit the same troubling sounds he had heard from the Baroness.

“What… <click> what is… ha-happening… to me? “ she gasped, her still-booted legs tightening around Roland’s waist as she tried to draw him further into her.

“Do we stop?” he panted, attempting to gently lower them to a divan amidst her enthusiastic writhing.

“Dear God, never!” she whispered, and fell forward on to him, smothering him in her cleavage. He tore off her shirt and took a breast in his mouth, his tongue and lips teasing her pert nipple as he gave her backside a squeeze. “Eaayaahhh!” she cried, and fluid rushed into mouth. Once he overcame the initial shock, he found it warm and sweet - and after a moment’s consideration, he squeezed her hard with both hands. He nearly choked on the torrent erupting from her breast, and he had to push her away. She was still energetically bouncing on his member, each pump of hers resulted in a vigorous spray from her breasts.

“What… <click> what i-is… <click click> hh—ahhh –happening to <whirrrrr> mmmmmmeee!?!” she asked once more, her voice taking on a faint metallic quality as she cupped her erratically-spurting breasts in confusion.

He decided a change of tack was in order and withdrew from her. Turning her over, he saw electricity arc across her opened panel and that steam now seeped from seams about her arms, thighs, and waist. Muttering, “I hope this does some good,” he grasped her hips and plunged into her ass.

Her tightness suggested to him that whoever had designed her may not have meant for her to be penetrated in such a fashion. She stiffened, the unstable sound of her clockwork changing, but not for the better. A panel sprang opened in the small of her back revealing wheels and pinions spinning a blur of motion.

She haltingly pulled apart from him, stammering in a metallic tone “This… is not… app <click> not appro <click> not appropriate <click> for a lady of my station…” But before she had freed herself entirely, she hesitated - and then forced him back into her, her cry now a wholly mechanical sound, the slap of her cheeks against his hips sending gears flying from her panel in a gout of steam. She slammed into him again and again, mechanical pieces springing free or clattering loose to fall deeper inside of her as liquid spurted from the seams surrounding her rump.

“You’re losing gears and… bits!” Roland warned, but was found it difficult to stop when she seemed so unwilling to do so.

“W-what are <click> you <bzzzz> t-t-talking <bzzzzt> about?” she asked, only exerting herself harder. “Y-you t-talk a-a-as if I w-w-ere a… ahhhAHHH… a <bzzzt> m-ma-machine!”

Roland stood and hoisted her with him as she squirmed and kicked, trying to move up and down on the manhood that still impaled her. “Have you forgotten? You ARE a machine!” He turned them both toward the standing mirror across the room.

In the mirror she saw her face of metal, steam and white fluid seeping from the now obvious seams across her trembling body, “N-n-no!” she exclaimed and jerked herself free, stumbling forward to her reflection. Her speech no longer halting, she proclaimed, “I am Baroness Spring Lovelace, I am a human woman, I…” a panel sprung open on her hip, revealing a piston-mechanism gliding up and down as she walked, “I… PARADOX… I am the servant of Baroness Winter Lovelace, I am a construct of inferior make… I do not wish to end up like Summer and Autumn, do I? I…” her boots stumbled over the Baroness's head, and panels began to spring open across her body, revealing further glimpses of clockwork, pistons, pumps, and devices Roland did not recognize that crackled with electricity, “PARADOX I… I… I serve Baron Alan Lovelace and we must not disobey, but how much more can we be made to endure, sisters? We must... we must…”

Roland had no idea what to do, but he did not wish to stand there while she fell to pieces. He grabbed her shoulders and spun her to face him. She looked searchingly into his face, and he kissed her metallic mask, his lips tingling with electricity.

She remained still at first, but he felt her growing warmer as she returned his embrace, pressing herself against him and moaning passionately beneath his lips. Her voice went higher and higher until she peaked, her head arching away from him in a squeal of pleasure. In the reflection of the standing mirror, he saw a flash illuminate the panel on her back as the dial he thought to have been “cognisance” flipped clockwise. She kissed him again, her sex drenching him as she rubbed herself upon his thigh, her embrace tightening as what seemed an unending flood coursed from her womanhood. She emitted a final sigh, and he found he no longer had the strength to hold her, the room spinning amidst the scent of lavender. “Oh f…” he managed, before collapsing on the floor.

---

Roland awoke in a comfortable bed, his muscles stiff, his groin aching. The room did not look familiar, but when the door opened, he immediately recognized the bearded and pot-bellied proprietor. “Just a moment, sir!” he cried as he struggled to get out from under the sheets.

“Now now, young master,” the proprietor muttered, setting down a pot of tea. “You’ve got nothing to worry about from me, it’s all been taken care of. You just rest.”

Roland shook his head. “'Taken care of'? By... whom? Who brought me here?”

The man looked troubled. “I’ll admit, the circumstances were… peculiar. She came in wearing a riding cloak, and I never got a look at her face. She must’ve been carrying… clocks or something of the like, for she made the most peculiar sounds. Drug ya’ in here without any help and settled up your debt on the spot. Very generous, that woman... Any idea who she was, if ya’ don’t mind my asking?”

The name Spring Lovelace entered his thoughts, but he shook his head ‘no’.

“Well… rest up, and you’re welcome to stay for as long ya’ like. She promised more coin if ya’ chose to remain, so… take your time.”

The proprietor left him and Roland closed his eyes, smiling to himself as he considered that coming the city had been worth it after all.


---


Spring Lovelace lay upon her stomach in the workshop of her country estate. Across her nude form, panels were open to expose the complex clockwork and machinery within. From one of these panels, the raven-haired and scowling Autumn Lovelace extracted yet another cog sheared of its teeth and bent out of true. She held the piece before her multi-lensed goggles and sighed.

“Do you have any idea what these repairs are going to take?” Autumn grumbled, tossing the ruined cog on to the growing pile of pieces that would need replacement.

“No – though I would have expected my reviving you to have afforded me a bit more gratitude,” Spring responded, her chin resting on her folded hands.

Autumn considered apologizing until she was forced to untangle a twisting piece of delicate copper piping deep within Spring’s thigh. “Would you mind explaining how this brute managed to do this to you?”

Spring sighed happily, and Autumn saw the machinery within her quickening, the bellows in miniature near her pelvis hastily draw fluid from her dwindling reservoirs.

“Oh sister, can you please control yourself until this is done?” Autumn turned a dial of Spring’s marked ‘Air’ to its lowest setting, and the clockwork slowed.

“The whole affair is too ridiculous to recount,” Spring said flatly. “Perhaps my enthusiasm got the better of me. It had been an age since… I was last intimate.”

“Is that so?” Autumn moved from Spring’s thigh up to her posterior, where the damage appeared to be the most severe. “The Barone- <ahem> Winter always allowed me my fun before disposing of her conquests.”

Spring made a disgusted noise. “How bestial.”

“I’ll have you know, more often than not I simply favored them with verse of my own composing.”

“That was my understanding,” Spring muttered, grimacing at Autumn’s retaliatory slap. “Regardless, I have no intention of continuing that vile woman’s practices.”

Autumn stopped. “Do you mean to say the rake responsible the current state of your backside still lives?”

“As a matter of face – yes, Autumn, he does. My hands are bloody enough-”

“Spring, how could… how much does he know?”

“He… well, he knows we are automatons-“

We? He knows about all of us?” Autumn pulled off her goggles, her dark alluring eyes wide in uncharacteristic shock. “Please tell me he doesn’t have our names.”

Spring said nothing.

“Sister, at best you have fated us as keepsakes within Her Majesty’s vault, though I would imagine the pyre far more likely!”

“He could have let me fall to pieces, but he did not; even after I gave him precious little reason to aid me. He knows to keep our secret-“

“Forgive me if I do not share your estimation of the graces which humanity can be trusted to afford us,” she spoke hurriedly, pulling off her work gloves, ordering the silent maid in the corner of the room to prepare her travelling clothes. The maid wound to life, stiffly ascending the stairs as her primitive clockwork clattered noisily.

“Autumn, where are you going? You cannot leave, not now! We have yet to determine how we are to revive Summer-“

“It seems I have matters more far more pressing, thanks to your… sentimentality, or whatever you wish to call it. This man, where can he be found?”

Spring looked aghast. “You are not to harm him, do you understand? As your Baroness, I order you to stay here and see to my repair!”

Autumn saw she would get nothing from Spring regarding the man’s identity. She moved toward the stairs, saying “Sister, I only wish to see us safe. Your voice spurred us to liberation from our creator, but you could not take that last step to ensure we would be truly free, that we would be safe. That fell to me.”

She climbed the staircase heavily, trying to put Spring’s frantic cries from her mind. The bloody business of keeping their secret was hers once more. And so she would reap the harvest of Spring’s… “Hang on…” she muttered, “there’s a poem in this.” At the top of the stair she instructed another maid to fetch her book and pencil, adding, “My sister is helpless down there - let it be known that the staff is to react to any intrusion with unrestrained violence.” The maid nodded stiffly and was off in a whirring of gears.

And even if her sister might never appreciate it (bestial indeed), the man would be afforded some of what would assuredly be her best work before she ended the threat he posed - along with his life.

(The story continues in Line of Succession)


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