Chapter 15 Episode 4 | The Machine God | The Drifting Isle Chronicles

"Karl, you must stop this. She is a child, we do not understand what she may do," pleaded Adewole.

"So you said when I killed you," said Deviatka, "but I'm not worried what it wants to do. It will do as I say."

Adewole staggered down the stairs, coilgun trained on his former best friend. "That worries me even more. Put down the Lyre."

"Does Ansel know you're out? You don't look at all well," said Deviatka. "I'm glad you're not dead, truly. I just needed the papers and to get you out of the equation for a few days. It doesn't matter whether you're alive or dead now."

"How will you control Alleine? She cannot understand you."

"It understands this." Deviatka shook the Bone Lyre; the pendant's crystals rattled against it. "Two spells more, one to bind her to the body and one to bind her to my will. Oh, do put the coilgun down, Ollie, your hand is shaking so badly you're more likely to needle your own foot than me." He plucked the lowest string; its vibrations brought bile to the back of Adewole's throat, and heaves shook him. Deviatka began to sing in his rusty creak; the red mist retreated to the metal body on the floor, and Alleine shrieked. When he uses the Lyre it's like he's taking my bones out all over again, she'd said.

Adewole reached the bottom. He had to shoot Deviatka, and he had to shoot to kill; he'd loaded poison rounds in the coilgun's magazine. He squinted down its barrel, but his target kept jumping in the sight. Now, now, he had to do it now--Deviatka's neck centered in the crosshairs, and he pulled the trigger. The coilgun hissed. The needle embedded itself in the Lyre not an inch from Deviatka's neck. Exhausted from his descent, Adewole sagged against the wall to gather strength, and the gun entered its mosquito-whine recharge cycle.

Deviatka's voice tore through the air, the song and Alleine's now-incoherent crying crescendoing in concert. The red mist spun like a vortex over the god's body, until the song spell ended in a roaring cascade of sound. At once, the odd-metal body sucked in the red mist, until not a particle remained. The god's one good hand flexed; Alleine was bound to the body. She had become the Machine God once again. "Where's the other hand?" she said. Her voice emerged from the metal amplified and absurdly childish, more than dazed and less than sane.

"What did it say?" said Deviatka. "Tell me."

"What does it matter?" said Adewole. He closed his eyes; the escape from the hospital, the flight to Risenton, the long descent had almost done him in. "She wonders where the other hand is," he finished.

Deviatka picked up a canteen hanging on the music stand and gulped its contents down, water spilling to wet his shirt front. "That's better," he gasped, his voice almost recovered. "I couldn't buy all the pieces. The lower right arm is holding up a building, and the Council's Chain of Office is made up of various small pieces and gears. Most of them are from the right hand. Eichel wouldn't let it go, and I couldn't push the matter without causing remark. It astonishes me how easy it all was to buy--you're right, these are desperate people. I can retrieve those missing parts at my leisure now. Put the coilgun down, Ollie, you're a terrible shot and it's too late. The Machine God has returned, and now I will return to my former life--more than my former life."

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