A New Cat on the Prowl




Metal grates on metal as the warehouse's door swings open, hinges rusted from abandonment crying out as they're wakened from their long slumber. He casts a wary glance around the corner, his tail flicking behind him in unease, and sighs in relief; the King Garment Works are quiet this evening. Brushing past the cobwebs and insects hovering around the doorway, he ducks inside and groans inwardly as the shrill cry of the hinges lances through the silence.

"Good thing they don't have ears," he mutters to himself.

It doesn't take long for his eyes to adjust to the darkness, cybernetically enhanced as they are, though he still manages to trip over a rotting crate as he begins his search. His ears strain to hear the tell-tale grinding of gears and sizzle of sparks, and it doesn't take long to find his prey.

He ducks behind a couple of crates, praying they hold up as he slips his sniper rifle from its place across his back. He gently spreads the bipod and places the rifle on the crate, leaning forward to peer through the sites. Crosshairs find metallic face and hover as pressure is applied to the trigger.

Before the shot fires, however, a noise allerts them, and he sighs as they scramble to find the rat, or whatever, made the noise. Eventually his mind drifts back to when it all began.

He had been a doctor then, or more precisely, a biomechanical engineer. The name Jackson Bengaru had been in medical journals and magazines alike. One had even described him as being "to cybernetics what Henry Ford was to automobiles."

He and his team had independantly developed completely mechanical hearts, kidneys, lungs, even anatomically correct mechanical limbs for amputees. His final project, however, would be the first ever mechanical brain; not merely artificial intelligence, but a computer system so advanced, one's mind could be imprinted on it. He was trying to rebuild life, or cheat death.

He could not cheat it for long, as the morning after his announcement to the public turned out to be his last. He had intended to go to work, as always, and begin putting the final touches on the project. What he found when he got there was anything but. Experiments were everywhere, broken and many beyond repair. Many of his collegues lay on the floor, as broken as his work. The last thing he remembered was the sound of grating gears and the feel of jagged metal ripping into his back and out his chest.

"Thank you for your donation to the Clockwork King. He will use your brain to surpass the final of his human limitations."

He shakes his head, absently putting a hand across the scar on his chest, frowning again as he sets the cross hairs back on the metalic face. He never would have guessed at the ultimate irony; that his life long work would have completely rebuilt his own body. His only comfort was that his mecha-brain had been such an utter failure, it was almost the end of the Clockwork King.

A crack of thunder shatters the fragile silence of the warehouse, rending the Clockwork Prince's chest open and dropping it to the ground. Shrapnel from the entrance and exit wounds rips through the Cogs and Knights around it, scattering those lucky enough to escape.

He stands and makes his way over to the fallen Prince, barely suppressing a growl as he kicks the head, just to make sure it's offline. Several of the miniscule Gears appear in the wreckage, though they don't last long. The last one falls and he crushes it under the heal of his boot, grinding it into the floor as he would a bug.

"God, I hate Clockroaches."

A wimper behind him turns him to face a young woman, not much older than his youngest sister. She runs to him and wraps her arms around his body, shaking in fear and trying not to cry.

"I thought they were going to kill me. Thank you, whoever you are."

He allows himself a rare smile as he escorts her from the warehouse. "Call me Bengal Jak."