Beyond the Cutting Edge: chapter six

They met at the yellow stone; they quickly exchanged notes and prepared to interrogate their captive at a nearby cave. The preparation process was to simply tie him upside-down and set a small fire beneath him. “Good evening Mr. Ax are you prepared to tell me what I want I wish to know.” Tristan said as Ax Jim slowly regained the ability to control his body, within the confines of tight ropes. “I ain’t tellen y’all nottin’, I thought they meant da other Bolt, da one with an army unda him.” Jimmy Axel said, straining against the force of gravity and sweating from the heat afforded to him via the flames that were underneath him (or above him depending upon perspectives). The scarlet tongues of flame spat embers at him singing his greasy hair. “You say that now, but perhaps if I add a few more twigs to the blaze we’ll get to see what you’re really made of, and how quickly it burns away.” Tristan said darkly sending a chill up (or down) the spine of Ax Jim. “Maybe I’ll talk a lil’bit, I mean what’s da harm in words.” Jimmy said timidly. “Much better, talk quickly we’ll need to get you down soon, wouldn’t want you getting hurt now would we.” Tristan spoke softly his friends in total silence, due to a mix of awe fear and curiosity. “I was jus tryna get some quick cash so I’ve been stealin from da wearhouses.” Ax Jim said sadly as if he lost his will to look tough. “And what of the girl?” Tristan said impatiently. “What girl?” Jim said trying to wiggle away from the flame which appeared to be growing of its own will. “You’re not smart enough to play dumb, just spill the beans or we’ll spill your guts.” Tristan said calming his voice down to his false confidence; it was beginning to dawn on him that his uncle might have been using him to remove a problem from the crime world. “I wouldn’t lie to da son a Justice Bolt.”
“Never mention that fool in my presence again!” Tristan demanded bellowing loud enough to silence even the flames leaving the cave as dark and cold as his very soul. “tellin ya da truth man, don’t know what else ta say.” Ax Jim said tears beginning to form within the darkness. Tristan cut him down letting him drop onto the still hot embers scaring ax’s skin marking him innocent with a burn. “You’re free to go, I will be asking for your cooperation again, and I expect you to comply without cause for alarm hence forth.” Tristan said calmly as Jimmy Axel ran away fearfully. “I didn’t understand a word he said” confessed Kaylie as she relit the flame lighting up the place so they could see each other once more. “I think he said he didn’t do it.” Lisa said while staring off into space. “I thought he was talking about wearhouses or something.” Blue said while scratching his head. “Shut up guys, he wasn’t that hard to understand.” Tristan said holding back his laughter. “Yes he was!” the three said in unison. He fell over guffawing loudly despite everything that went wrong with his life he still had his friends, and thus his life was bent out of shape, but far from broken. That would change soon enough.
They marched as one; in perfect unison every left foot simultaneously hit the ground creating what sounded like a single foot step, the foot step of a giant. They were many but under his lead, they were a single well oiled machine, and that’s just the way he liked it. “Just think men, by this time next week all of my dreams shall be accomplished, order shall be restored to Cutting Edge, and soon after that we’ll bring the order of steal to the entire nation.” Gear said his cracked mask getting closer and closer to shattered. “Order of the Steal!” His many follows called back to him in response.
“Oh Think how wonderful you all our, organized perfectly not one hair out of place. From the scum of the earth to the very definition of order, my order, my justice, the Order of Steal shall prevail.” Gear said dryly as if he didn’t believe a word he spoke to them. “Order of the Steal!” They chanted back at him once more, doing as instructed not a single independent thought among them, simply pawns for him to use as he saw fit. Life was good for Gear, he had only two problems. One of which was Tristan Bolt, though he was certain the whole murder nonsense would keep him busy long enough to stop him from interfering with his true plans, his second problem however, was one he didn’t expect, a miscalculation of almost galactic proportions the kind of mistake so huge it would render all his careful planning and all of the training he gave his men utterly useless. But at that moment, he was happy even if his face was swelling beneath his mask. “Mayhaps I’ll stop by the Metal forest and collect a new mask before we head to the place.” Gear said calmly as he marched on surrounded by his entire army, well almost seven of his people were elsewhere. Number two remained imprisoned, Six fourteen twelve and nine were still in the forest drain installing the last parts of the prototype. Forty-eight and ten were missing, and it bothered him deeply, but surrounded by so many of his men he was content. They shall return to my fold soon, he told himself as they marched to his domain, his kingdom.
“What do we do now?” Lisa asked hoping for something to actually make sense in this world. ”Not a clue, it could be the order, but I’m actually having my doubts the way Gear said it, I almost believed him when he claimed to be unaware of my issues with the law.” Tristan said, depression seeping through his words as if it were a vapor he breathed in before speaking, the sorrow coated his lungs his heart, and his soul. He wasn’t just sad, he was the very definition of sad. “I don’t know at all.” Tristan said sadly. “I think we should start at the beginning” Kaylie said, “I’ve been reading through some of the books and I don’t have any idea what kind of machine the palace is.” She concluded trying to offer some sort of alternative to the sadness. “I don’t understand either.” Lisa confirmed. Four of them peering over for two and a half days, scrutinizing everything they saw and still not entirely sure what they needed to do. The pieces were all there, but they were ill-equipped to fit them together. They stood there in a small cave pondering there next move. They were left in the dark, unable to clinging to the shattered remnants of a world that never was. “If it wasn’t them, then who was it?” Blue asked.
They ran to town in new disguises. Ignored in the Market they split up as the officers knew Lisa and Kaylie were likely to be with Tristan. They each went to a different task. Blue observed the people in the market, looking for any signs of guilt or grief to locate new suspects. Lisa went to her house to cook a meal. Kaylie searched through the Gray Manour. Tristan returned to his home, the only home he had ever known, the only one he would ever want, the Bolt estate. They moved with efficiency, no great order seeking the change the world, but a dedicated group of friends, interested in self-preservation, a force to be reckoned with indeed. Tristan found himself within the darkness of his home, a place so familiar, but something was amiss. At first he couldn’t put his finger on it, but it slowly dawned on him. He typically reveled in the darkness, making it his own kingdom, today was the day to bring things into the light.
“My cruel fate was always there, right in front of my face.” Tristan said as he looked over the tattered remains of the fourth guest room on the fifth floor, the room that once belonged to his elder brother, there in the very back corner he found it, something he had never noticed before. It was a small groove in the floor, something he instantly knew how to use. Tristan fiddled with the plank until he had it removed, revealing a small black box, approximately half the size of a shoe box. Without a second thought he removed the box and took it with him. “May your soul rest in peace, you and dad I wish I knew just how good you two were.”
The four met up in front of the factory, prepared for their final assault, or at least they thought they were, the truth was they were far from prepared. They researched every angle they could think of and got snacks, the four confidently stormed into the Metal Forest expecting to find some strange satanic ritual, a bunch of lunatics worship Gear, a masked fiend. What greeted them was the factory itself. The sounds the sights the scents, were all so mechanical so methodical so alien, and yet so human. The Whirring of machinery was intense, it was like nowhere else in all of Cutting Edge. Strange Fuels emitted scents unlike any they had ever encountered, all of their senses were being assaulted so subtly they couldn’t defend themselves, but it was extreme in its own right. And just like that, the madness had them, sights and visions began to meld together, everything they knew and loved, everything they hated and wished to forget, came together. No longer was their past present and future, only the factory, everything was metal forest, and the metal forest had them. The four ran away from that place instantly.
Almost as soon as they arrived at the facility they found themselves sagely catching their breaths within the tree forty trying to ignore the visions out madness going through their heads, each afflicted with a different demon, their own personal hells. This subsided after an hour; they proceeded to devour snacks and shred to never talk of what they specifically saw through the haze. “I know what that was, it was the dark trees, they must burn them as part of their power source.” Blue said still gasping for fresh air. “I think I’m beginning to understand, he means to control, the palace is some sorry of nightmare machine.” Tristan said before returning to his coughing. Blue ceased his coughing, stood up tall and jumped out of the fort without explaining what he was doing. The three were far too preoccupied with emptying their lungs of the noxious fumes from the Factory to notice his absence. “I don’t understand, what happened?” Lisa said while still gasping desperately for air. “The place, they filled it with something to keep everyone else out.” Kaylie explained halting her coughing for but a moment. “It’s a condensed version of the oil from the trees, it’s a neural toxin that causes hallucinations when inhaled, it is the cause of the darkness within the dark forest, and now it is the darkness from within the Metal Forest too.” Tristan said, finally regaining his composure.
A small golden tree grew somewhere deep within the metal forest, sixteen came by to water it; she was a young redheaded girl with grim determination truly prepared to show her master exactly what she was made for. Her job was simple, she watered the gold tree and the red tree, she was the gardener her older brother Ten had the job of cutting down dark trees to create the perfect symphony, in order to help the factory. They were the green thumbs of the order, truly a blessed family in which two members found the order independent of one another. She hummed a tune to herself as she went about her work, a song of truth and justice, then she saw him, Tristan Bolt. He was the boy that Master Gear warned them about, the only one capable of opposing him, but as she saw him unable to stomach even a minute within the fumes, ‘even that Rich kid lasted five minutes before it got to him, how could such a weak boy possibly challenge the rebel king’ she wondered staring at Bolt and his friends. It dawned on her suddenly, his friends willingly marched into the factory knowing full well that the place did such mental damage to Rich, and yet they still went in, if he wanted, he could just as easily form his own order. Sixteen put down her chores to follow the four enemies to find out exactly what was going on. She quickly found herself lost somewhere deep within the dark forest. “Why would anyone come into this accursed place without the protection of a grand order?” Sixteen asked out loud. A moment after speaking she heard a rustling in a nearby bush, out popped one of Bolt’s men, Sixteen had yet to read the file on him, but thought his name was some sort of colour. “Hello Green, you’re the mystery man that works for the cursed one.” She said cheerfully. “You’re not meant to be here, you’re not meant to find this place.” Blue said to the girl sternly. “Doesn’t matter, if I followed you, he already knew where you were, he knows everything about the cursed one, he’s been following the actions of the cursed one for a long time.” Sixteen said refusing to be frightened by the beast like young man standing before her. “Then you must know, he never loses.” Blues said with a confident smile. “Neither does my master.” Sixteen responded before cackling like a witch. Blue revealed a small shiny blade; she revealed a small sharp black spade. “I don’t do much fighting but don’t think there’s a single member of the order of steal who can’t defend themselves, self defense is second only to the completion of the palace.” Sixteen said her uncertainty beginning to show beneath a false bravado. “I lived in the dark forest for years, over a decade fighting every bear boar and mountain lion that came my way; you think your shovel is a threat?” She moved with surprising speed almost striking him, his superiour agility allotted him the ability to retreat, but wasn’t enough to attack. He landed a foot away from what was either her seventh or eighth strike, panting heavily and wondering how much more of this she could do. “you’re actually good at this, perhaps I misjudged you, he said while kicking dust in her eyes and vanishing in the confusion.
Lisa was the last to be freed from the darkness, shortly after that Blue returned with a small spade. “I’ll have to destroy their organization from the inside out; don’t worry about today, today we must prepare to go to war!” Tristan said feeling his blood boil, it had yet to be a full week of living away from home and he was already sick of it. They went their separate ways at that moment, preparing for the next day. Kaylie went to the garden; Lisa began cooking for her family.
“Do you think I should set up traps in case they followed us?” Blue asked nervously. “It’s your home, do what you must to protect it.” Tristan said trying to focus on a book on machinery and alchemy. Blue leapt from the building, prepared for a day of hard work, his world had been shattered by that girl, but it mattered not, he was where he belonged. Quickly hunting down a Wild boar, around ten feet long, and securing more than enough wild berries to last a week Blue found it wasn’t enough for him to feel calm. He needed more. He hunted down a mountain lion and found fruits of a large variety, he caught fish and even slew a bear, he caught enough food to last him and his friend more than a week, asserting his dominance over nature, proving he wasn’t just a hermit, but a man raised by himself in the wilderness. Not the kind of man to be tossed aside lightly over trivial things, and not the kind of man defeated by gardening tools. He roared and set up traps all over, (more specifically he coated a one hundred mile radius of a false fort he set up a few days ago to throw off anyone tracking them) Blue felt satisfied with his work. He returned to the fort only to find Gear talking to Tristan.
“You see, I’m not a bad man, simply misunderstood. You and I aren’t so different, I promise to fix your entire life, if you just stay out of my way.” Gear said tossing a small golden bar to Tristan. “Consider my offer, please.” Gear said sounding genuine and even slightly sad, as if he were about to lose something very important. “You’re a fool, you won’t escape this place, we’ve set traps while you were here distracted.” Tristan remarked scarcely glancing up from his book ‘The ethics of Mechanics, a guide to morality with regard to new technology’ a book that wasn’t in the pile they had before. “I know who you really are Gear, and don’t think for a second that it changes anything.” Tristan said before yawning. “What are you doing here?” Blue asked, trying not to sound shocked, but failing horribly. He tossed down the bears and his baskets filled with food. “How did he find this place?” Blue asked Tristan as he began removing the fur from his prey. “He always knew, he’s been going easy on us, luckily so have we.” Tristan remarked turning a page carefully. “Fine, I’ll take my leave now, if you change your mind, you know where to find me.” Gear said before storming out impatiently.
“How did he find us?” Blue asked again, once Gear left. “Don’t worry about it, he’s too much of a gentleman to attack your home, the attack before was an accident, he forgot to inform his men not to burn in this region.” Tristan said still studying his book carefully. “How do you know all of this?” Blue questioned. “I’ve finally figured out his plan, he intends to perfect mind control, he thinks I’m bluffing when I say I know what he’s up to, he thinks I’ll just sit back and let him control the town, he’s using the grim trees, the darkness affects the mind in unusual ways, makes people easier to manipulate. He’s perfected a system, called it palace so he can become a king.” Tristan said sounding rather bored with the whole situation. “How do we stop a madman like that?” Blue questioned fear beginning to seep into his voice. “We don’t, he’ll fail on his own; I just want to be there when it happens so we can bring him into jail for that murder, regardless of whom he is.” Tristan said sounding so far from interested that he almost seemed annoyed with any attention to the topic.
“What powerful beast have you tracked down for us to consume?” Tristan asked turning another page in his book. “Bear, boar and a mountain lion, plus a few fish, we’ve got fruits and berries to go with it, I also got some more spring water from one of the healing springs.” Blue explained as he began a fire to cook a leg from the Boar. “Wonderful, we can eat like the savage kings we are, I’ll be back in my home by next week, and I’ll make you a meal when we’re there.” Tristan assured as he tried to assist his friend.


One thought on “Beyond the Cutting Edge: chapter six

  1. Pingback: Beyond the Cutting Edge: Chapter seven | Echoshadow

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