Chapter 94:

Chapter 94 - Blood in the Water


Morgan stood panting on the deck of the enemy ship, the blood of a dozen men pooling around his feet. A number of fires, small but growing, littered the deck here and there, spewing gouts of smoke toward a moonless sky. Some of the expedition’s other members moved around him, rifling through pockets or heading belowdecks in search of a greater score.

He didn’t join them. After all that killing, he was too tired for looting. Besides, he was making a fair wage as a member of Montrevi’s crew. More than enough to live on.

More than enough to start a family.

The cannons lining the ship’s railing were pocked with little depressions–his handiwork, of course. Ricochet was ill-suited to combat on a wooden vessel, but those cannons had been the difference-maker. When he and the others boarded, they’d found the pirates waiting for them. It would’ve been a slaughter, except Morgan came over the top first. He’d spotted the glint of metal right away and opened fire, introducing their hosts to an unpredictable storm of lead.

It had thrown them into disarray. From there, the rest of the fight was pretty straightforward. His Larse brothers-in-arms rushed forward and started skewering pirates with their bayonets. It was over in seconds.

Morgan sighed and made for the ship’s starboard side. He glanced over the railing and peered down at Montrevi’s sub. It had pulled alongside to enable their counteroffensive, its hull still indented by the rogue cannonball that had struck it shortly after surfacing. A group of technicians were assessing the damage, and they didn’t look happy.

Montrevi had been planning to head back down the next morning. To hear him tell it, Old Enfield was a goldmine even in its sunken state, and he wanted to grab everything he could so long as their supplies held out… But a blow like that, on the hull of something built to withstand several tons of pressure? Morgan had his doubts that they’d be going back under anytime soon. He was no expert on submarines–hell, he hadn’t even known what one was until a couple weeks ago–but that kind of damage seemed dire enough that they’d need to dock somewhere for repairs.

Suited him just fine. Morgan didn’t much care for the thrill of exploring the ocean floor; it made his ears pop, and the constant threat of being crushed in the sea’s icy grip wasn’t exactly his idea of a good time.

Zeliska stood apart from the technicians with her arms crossed, looking up at the burning ship. As always, her treasured sniper rifle was strapped to her back–a weapon that she never used or talked about, but that her countrymen referred to in hushed, reverent tones. One of them was talking to her now, speaking quickly and gesturing repeatedly in Morgan’s direction.

He climbed down the rope to join them, striding across the surface of the sub to their place by the hatch. Zeliska nodded at his approach and dismissed the crewman, who furnished him with a wide-eyed stare before withdrawing into the bowels of the sub.

“Elias tells me you performed well,” she said, her voice crisp and severe.

He shrugged. “Just doin’ my job.”

“Eugh. This humility, it does not suit you,” she complained. “Does not suit anyone. Only make my job harder. Speak honestly.”

“Fine. I killed a heap of pirates, won the damn day for us. Is that what you want to hear?”

“Yes,” she answered. “Alistair will want to hear of this. Come.”

With that, she turned on her heel and led him into the open hatch. He climbed down the ladder and followed her through hallway after cramped, claustrophobic hallway en route to their final destination: Montrevi’s study, which lay deep in the guts of the great metal craft. At the sound of their approach, he looked up from his deskful of papers and regarded them impatiently.


“This man has distinguished himself,” Zeliska explained. “You ask me to look for those with potential. I find.”

“Oh?” he replied, looking Morgan up and down with obvious skepticism. “Gloria’s husband, I believe? Surprising.”

Morgan frowned. “What’s so surprisin’ about it?”

“No offense meant. She told me a little of your past, that’s all,” Montrevi replied. “I didn’t expect someone from such… Humble beginnings to be of use. But, as my partner in this endeavor, Zeliska’s judgment carries great weight with me. Tell me, are you a Gunslinger?”

Tempted as he was to respond to his boss’s rudeness in kind, Morgan managed to keep a solid handle on his temper. “I am. I wield Ricochet, a gun that lets me bounce bullets. It did a real number on those pirates up top.”

Montrevi steepled his fingers. “Interesting. It doesn’t sound terribly impressive, but I can see how such an ability may be useful.” he said. “As you may have guessed, this expedition has reached its end. This surprise attack by the pirates has crippled us, and further forays beneath the surface will prove impossible until we can dock at a shipyard for proper maintenance.

“However, we have already recovered enough Enfieldian relics to fuel the foundation of a… New enterprise. One that would grant you lucrative opportunities for work and advancement far into the future. Would that be of interest to you, Mr. Sarada?”

Morgan worked his jaw, considering the implications of what he’d just been told. “What kind of work are we talkin’ about?”

“Before I answer, you should know that I have great ambitions–for myself, and for all of Cal Vontra. I envision a future free of war and strife; one of rapid technological development and economic equilibrium. In short, I envision a perfect society, and I am willing to do whatever it takes to make it a reality.” He paused, then, producing a handkerchief to wipe the grime from his glasses. “With this expedition, I have taken my first step toward that lofty goal. But to continue toward that dream of a bloodless future, there will need to be blood…

“And I’ll need someone like you to help me spill it.”


Morgan came to in the heat of the late morning sun. The vision of his past had filled him with a terrible sense of foreboding he had yet to shake, but that was the least of his problems.

Far more pressing was the dangling of his feet, the feel of bindings around his wrists, and his bird’s-eye view of what he assumed to be Segue Enclave. Chimneys and smokestacks projected from the rooftops of two dozen buildings hewn of cement and rusty metal, and he was hanging from the tallest one of all: a massive eyesore of a tower that stood at the center of “town”.

It had obviously once been reserved for industrial use, but those days were long gone now. He could see a spacious room to his left with its entire western border left open to the air, giving him a generous view of what lay inside: cages, tools, and chains, mostly, with a smattering of broken factory equipment to bring it all together.

A crane arm protruded from the tower wall just above the opening, and he had the dubious pleasure of hanging from its hook. The cable that supported him swung gently in the breeze, but not nearly enough to put him within leaping distance of the room; he hung a good ten feet out from the nearest horizontal surface, making any possibility of escape extremely remote. And, to make matters worse, he was being observed:

Ahab Copperlock himself was lingering nearby, leaning against the edge of a big sliding door.

“Sleep well?”

“Not really.”

“Damn,” Copperlock grunted. “Anythin’ I can do to improve your stay? Throw you a blanket or some pillows, maybe?”

“I’m good.”

“That’s good,” the man said with a smirk. “Here at Chateau Copperlock, we can’t abide fussy guests. Especially seein’ as we’ve booked you in our deluxe suite.”

“Cut the shit, Copperlock,” Morgan said glumly. “Why the hell am I up here? What did you do with my friends?”

The older man flashed a sharklike grin and pushed off the wall, shooting a casual glance toward the smoggy streets of his twisted little community. “You’re up here because you’re a prize, my friend. Once I get Gunn on the horn, he’ll surely promote me and give me the resources I need to take this charmin’ little burg to the next level. The people deserve to see the sacrificial lamb responsible for deliverin’ them a better life, don’t you think?”

Morgan struggled against his bonds, but said nothing. What was there to say?

“As for your friends,” Copperlock continued, “One’s locked up in my state-of-the-art penitentiary over yonder–for life, I expect–and your little girlfriend got left in the dust. I’d imagine my men have caught up with her by now.”

In lieu of an appropriate response, Morgan tried to spit at his jailer’s feet… And fell well short, leaving his projectile to slap wetly against the side of the tower. Copperlock chuckled and wagged a finger. “Well, this has been fun, but I’ve got a phone call to make. Hang tight for me, would ya?”

With that, he moved to pull the door across. It glided along the track in the floor, sealing Morgan off from his view of the torture chamber…

…And whatever slim chance he had of escape.

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