Glistening sunlight poured in through the windows reminding Lizzie of the time she had last been here, the time she had escaped from the giants on the flying island and to the pad in Kashlum. Too much of her experience here was full of physical pain and distress at being chased but she also remembered her wonder at the technology and the internal architecture. She looked back at Paul who was making the best he could of his predicament. He’s putting on a brave face, I bet he’s as scared as I am.
Things were quiet until they got to a ramp that led to the next floor, a swarm of flying droids had gathered in the hallway below. They seemed to be waiting for them. There were too many to fight so Wagstaff threw another grenade at them. All of the drones fell to the floor with a clatter at the same time when the discharge hit them.
As the party picked their way through the drone cemetery Lizzie moved the fallen flying machines out of the way so that Paul could get past safely. About half way down the hall a glass like barrier blocked the way. Simpkins walked into it, “Ouch!”
Lizzie felt it, “Is it glass?”
Wagstaff also looked at it, “Or something like it. We may have to go around. Ask your friend if there’s another way?”
“Ven hat tumo?”
The man nodded and pointed to a door they had passed, “Ventro kallan.”
“What did he say?” asked Paul as he made his way back towards the fallen drones.
“It’s dangerous though,” translated Lizzie as she followed the man through the door.
The room they entered was large and Lizzie saw a wall of gold to the far side. Then she realised what it was. Metal Men, hundreds of them. The man continued to walk ahead, “Fan tuno,” she called. She asked him why he had brought them here to die. He replied that the metal men were not working, it was a factory that had been closed down long ago. They still needed a part to make them work, the metal man brain. It was dangerous at the other end where there were welding lasers that would have to be negotiated or disabled.
“Did you get that Professor,” she asked, “he said there are welding lights at the other end we have to deal with.”
“Lasers,” corrected Wagstaff, “very strong lights that can cut through metal.”
When they got to the other end they saw the problem. The only way through was via a metal arch. The metal men had passed through it when they were being made and were welded together with lasers. Two lasers were flickering on and off still pointing to where they had done their welding. They had cut two holes straight through the walls and floor and could be seen from outside the craft. The top laser had eaten through the roof and part of it had collapsed blocking the safe way through to the other end of the room.
Looking at the flickering lasers the Professor judged the situation, “To be safe we have to redirect at least one of the beams with a mirror.” He looked at her, “Lizzie, I know you have one in that little bag of yours.”
She searched through her shoulder bag for her makeup mirror, when she found it she handed it to him.
He had some pliers on him and he gently held the mirror with the pliers, “We don’t need seven years bad luck do we,” he said as he directed the lower beam towards one of the inert metal men. The laser bit into the golden man and crackled, but now the gap was big enough to get through. Lizzie went first and all but Wagstaff followed her through. The professor then handed the pliers and the mirror to Lizzie to hold for him while he stepped through. “I really need to get a look at how this laser is produced,” he mused, “it would make a good weapon.”
She took the mirror back and handed him the pliers. “Not much of a good weapon if all it takes is a mirror to stop it.”
“Ha ha, not all things can be covered in mirrors.”
Looking at the one of the metal men the professor noticed something, “These metal men look different to the ones we got from the temple, newer maybe.”
“Does that mean they are better then?” she inquired as she also looked at the lifeless golden golems.
“I would have to take a look inside really,” he looked at one of the plates covering the chest.
“We need to keep moving,” said Paul as he looked towards the door at the end. He was annoyed that the professor kept wanting to stop.
Johnson got to the door first and opened it. He looked outside into another passageway and as he did he saw a barricade at the end where they needed to be going. A shot from an energy weapon hit the door frame above his head. Holding the others back he said, “I think we have giant trouble.”
Lizzie used her mirror to look down the passageway to see a giant laying on a table with an energy rifle. She asked the man who was helping them if there was another way round. He told here that there were even more metal guardians and drones the other way. “It seems as though the giants have forced us this way round, so they can deal with us.”
Simpkins looked at the man, “Has he got a name?”
“Klim Kano?” inquired Lizzie.
“Tran,” he replied.
“Does Tran know how many giants there are on the island?”
She found out that there were ten giants and one hundred slaves. The giants were the engineers and scientists whereas the slaves did the menial labour.
“Only ten, “ mused Simpkins, “we’ve already killed three. I wonder why there are so few?”
Lizzie spoke to Tran while the others tried to decide how to deal with the giant.
She came back to Simpkins and the others, “I found out that the island was really only supposed to be a defensible overspill for when a lot of people use the travel pads. This past couple of centuries the giants have let things slip defensibly because there was no perceived threat from human interference. That is until recently with the human invention of the coil driven airship. The giants are now trying to overhaul the defence system. They don’t trust the slave humans enough to teach them how to be engineers or scientists. It is they who stopped the transport pads expecting an attack of some kind.
“‘So that spy at the airbase was really working with the Hoo, not the Andacians.”
Simpkins looked a little sheepish, “That’s good Lizzie,” he paused, “We have thought of way to deal with the giant but it needs your help.”
Paul then joined in, “We thought that you could order Lukin to zigzag towards the giant…”
“I am not going to tell him to do that!” she said furiously because she didn’t want him destroyed.
“No, you didn’t let me finish. I was going to say that when he is distracted by Lukin I can take a shot at him.”
She was silent for a bit as she considered this request. That’s not too bad I suppose, as long as John gets him. What about Paul? “Can’t you let Paul take the shot, he’s better than you.”
Simpkins immediately looked at Paul and she could see there was a rivalry between them.
“I don’t mind taking the shot,” remarked Paul, “It’s just that it might take me more than a couple of seconds to set up with the gammy ankle and all.”
Lizzie got Lukin out of the bag, “Come on Lukin, I have something for you to do.”
Lukin started to hover into the air away from Lizzie’s hands. “Yes Lizzie.”
She looked gloweringly at Simpkins, “You’d better get him first time this time, not like you did on that metal man.” Then she looked into Lukin’s glowing eyes, “I want you to go through that open door, to the right, and zigzag down to the barricade and back again. Can you do that for me?”
“Yes Lizzie,” replied Lukin as he started to move towards the door.
“Quick,” she cried to Simpkins who was a bit slow off the mark.
Lukin zigzagged quite quickly down towards the barricade. Simpkins could see him doing so and got down on one knee. He looked through his scope and could not see the giant straight away. The giant saw Lukin and shot at him twice. One of the shots came really close to Simpkins.
He saw the giant and also saw the giant lining up on him. For a second he stopped breathing and then fired.
Lizzie looked out of the door. She had heard the shot. As she peered out Lukin came back and hovered in front of her face, “Is there anything else Lizzie, it’s just that somebody has been trying to shoot at me.”
She ignored Lukin and looked down. Simpkins was smiling up at her. “That wasn’t so slow or inaccurate now, was it?”
As she shook her head Paul popped his head out as well, “Has he done it yet or is he messing around again?” He too smiled at Simpkins who had got up and was walking towards the piled up furniture at the other end. When he got there he saw a large giant, about ten feet tall, sprawled out on a desk with a bullet wound to his head. The giant was dressed in the silvery metallic material he had seen on the others. Simpkins picked up the rifle the giant had just started to point at him. He looked at it, it shined as if it was coated in chrome and was nearly as long as he was. Aiming at a chair that was at the top of the barricade he shot at it. It shattered the chair and left the remains smoking. Lizzie and the others came up to him, “That’s a little more powerful than your pistol Lizzie,” he said as he handed her the rifle for a look.
She looked it over, “I think it’s a little too big for me to handle.” She gave it to Johnson who she liked more than Hawkins, “You need a gun of some sort.”
“We need to get over this,” said Ichabod as he climbed up to look over the barricade.
As Wagstaff looked over the barricade a shot hit his arm. He fell backwards onto Simpkins who was climbing up behind. Simpkins caught the professor and helped him down, then scrambled back up to peep over. He saw ten men with Martini-Henry rifles formed as a squad might position themselves in the army. He looked back at the others, “I think it’s some of Parvill’s soldiers guarding the passage beyond. Some of them still have parts of their uniform on.”
Wagstaff was not badly hurt and spoke to Lizzie as she looked at his wound. “I should have been more careful,” he shook his head.
“It’s a minor wound, luckily it only nicked you. A bandage and a tot of rum and you’ll be fine.”
Getting down again Simpkins walked over to them all to discuss the situation, “It looks like they’ve blocked the passage we need to be down. Any ideas?”
“We could use another grenade,” suggested Paul.
“Then I only have one left,” replied the professor, “we still have six giants to deal with and I don’t know how many metal men or drones.”
“Could you make more grenades?” asked Lizzie as she continued to bind him up.
“Maybe I could, I could use some parts from those unfinished metal men.”
“How long would it take?” inquired Simpkins.
“About half an hour, if somebody else helped me take the metal men’s chest plates off then a lot quicker, maybe ten minutes?”
“Let’s go back then,” ordered Paul.
She helped Wagstaff up with his good arm and they went back to the metal man factory. Paul guarded them from the doorway in case any of Parvill’s men tried to come over from their side.
Wagstaff had made 1 makeshift grenade when they heard a shot from the doorway. Paul called back to them, “That one didn’t just get away with an arm wound,” he smiled.
Wagstaff made them all stand back as he tested one of the new grenades. It wasn’t as powerful as the others he’d made, “The storage batteries have not kept their charge, it will only take out a few men or possibly one metal man.” He picked up the spent grenade to have a look, “And the wiring is not so good, I need to solder these really.”
“We will have to make do,” said Simpkins as he returned to take another chest plate off to get to the inside.
The soldiers had their own grenades and threw one over. Paul saw it in time and closed the door quickly to stop the blast entering the room. He then opened the door again and shot another man who tried to get over. Then he saw another man’s eyes look at him for a second. Paul shot the part of the barricade he thought the man was hiding behind. “I think they might try to rush us or something, have you got one of those grenades ready?”
Wagstaff had another two ready and Lizzie was also helping him prepare some more by twisting the wires together. He gave two of the grenades to Simpkins, “Turn this switch, you have ten seconds to throw it before it discharges.”
Paul then covered Simpkins while he went closer to the barricade.
Another grenade came over from the other side. Because it landed near Simpkins he dropped the electric one he was carrying, picked up the explosive one and threw it back. Just in time for it exploded in the air just beyond the barrier. He picked up the electric grenade and as he did he heard groaning from the other side.