Another piece about Eve and Tic.
I had the wonderful thought today that it would work perfectly if Eve was an honest-to-god furry. And Katze vonDue could be this immense persian in a suit with a cigar and a gold-topped cane.
More thought required!
Eve took a deep breath, surveying the scene. Ahead, the stone bridge ended abruptly, but on either side there were metal railings, the remains of the previous expedition. The cold sandstone walls seemed to loom over her, just on the edge of the lanternlight, flickering shadows moving in the corners. She moved closer to the end of the bridge and looked down. The chamber seemed to plummet into blackness. The walls were bare, but the doors through which they had come were covered in an amazing sculpture; ten people with their mouths open, possibly amazed or awed. Possibly screaming. Eve took a step back from the sheer drop, hoping they weren’t screaming.
“I need you out here.”
The little Cog whirred out of her backpack and up to eyelevel. He was small enough to sit on her cupped hands; A quarter-sphere sat on a circular base, he was made of brass and heavier than he looked. Four green crystals, moulded into his domed front, shone in sequence as Tic woke up properly, and the clicking, whirring sound he made while floating intensified slightly.
“Tic, how deep is the pit?”
“Bear with me,” he said in his child-like voice. It turned and whirred off over the edge, into the darkness. Eve watched it go, once again wondering just how it worked. Of all the discoveries she had found on her travels, brought back to the College, this one she could never reveal. They would take Tic apart, destroy whatever made him… well, him, just to find out how he worked.
In ten seconds he was back.
“Deep, Eve. There’s… you don’t want to go down there.”
“Right. Can’t go across the bridge. Can’t go down; wouldn’t be able to get back up anyway.” She began to walk up and down the edge, tapping her chin with one finger. “Is there anything on the other side? Probably not; the bridge has fallen. It’s broken off.” She paused and knelt, peering closely at the dusty floor.
“I don’t like it here, Eve. Tombs; they give me the creeps,” Tic said, his voice quavering. There was always a slight tinny quality to his voice, the sound coming from a tiny grille behind the dome.
“It’s not a tomb, Tic. We don’t do tombs, remember?”
“From what I saw down there, it’s someone’s tomb alright,” came the quick reply.
A simple assignment, she had asked for. Nothing too difficult, just to get back into the swing of things. It wasn’t hard; but no. The College team had sent back the report that they had penetrated the fourth chamber in the Temple of Po-Foret, and then all reports had stopped. Nothing for a week.
“There’s a dragmark, here, in the dust,” she said. “Something was dragged to the edge, and then on from there. A sack, maybe, pulled onto the next part of the bridge.”
Tic came to rest on the stone floor next to her knee. “Maybe they were dragged off the edge and dropped?”
“No,” she said, pointing. “Look; there are footprints running alongside the dragmark. This is something being pulled. For someone to pull something over the edge they would have to be in front of it, and the footprints just stop at the edge too.” She stood up and dusted her trousers off. “Either someone dragging a sack simply walked to the edge and over, or the bridge extends.” She gave a fierce grin. “That’s it!” she shouted.
The words echoed off into the darkness and, as if in answer, a faint grinding noise came back from the opposite wall.
Eve cocked her head to one side. “What was that?”
“No idea,” Tic replied, “but it’s stopped now.” He whirred off in the direction it had come from.
“Hey,” his voice floated out of the dark. “There’s a tiny bit of stone poking out of the wall here.”
Eve cupped her hands around her mouth. “Can you see any controls?”
The grinding noise came again.
“It moved! When you shouted! Eve, it’s sound-controlled!” Tic zoomed back over and vibrated excitedly in the air, narrowly missing Eve’s ear. “Shout something else!”
“Loud noise… the people in the sculpture, on the door.” She grinned. “Tic, they’re singing! Ten people singing… how loud a noise can you make?”
If Tic had been a person, Eve was sure he would have been grinning. “A loud noise? Thought you’d never ask…” He started making a sound, a high-pitched humming, that grew louder.
“Yes, like that!” Eve said, finding that she needed to shout. She took a step away from Tic and shielded her ears. Barely detectable over the din, she heard the bridge mechanism working and, a moment later, saw the bridge coming. Its end was ragged designed to fit perfectly together with the cracked end she was stood on, and as it crunched into place Eve stepped on to it, snatching up the lantern as she did so.
“EEEEEEEeeee ok, d’you think that’s enough?” Tic said; with a lurch, the bridge began to retract, taking Eve with it.
“Fascinating,” she said. “The bridge stays out as long as you make the noise. It’s so smooth; I’m not sure we have anything as sophisticated as this.”
“I guess that’s why the College sent you, Eve,” Tic replied.
The far wall, and a pair of doors which were slightly open, appeared at the edge of the lanternlight. A short flight of stone steps lead up to it and, as the bridge retreated back into the wall, Eve stepped off onto the bottom stair.
“This should be good,” she murmured, and walked up the steps and through the door.