That morning, Charlotte had woken up with Marlow and Ben sleeping outside her cell with files in their hands that stretched through the bars. She took the files and then stood, stomping on Marlow's hand to wake him up. He awoke yelling in pain along with Ben who awoke only because Marlow was screaming in his ear.
"you don't have to be a dick about it." Ben groaned and stood with his partner. "Dominique is back at the ship with Fink and the others. We told her that we didn't need her." Charlotte kicked Thomas awake.
"You don't have to be a dick about it." Thomas groaned and Charlotte chuckled, looking over the files. It was about four in the morning and no one was around but cellmates who yelled down from the end of the corridor to shut up. The next two minutes felt like a decade as Thomas and Charlotte stared at the automaton's designs.
"That's ridiculous." Charlotte said with an unusually chipper tone to her voice. Thomas, who was looking over her shoulder, smiled. Charlotte looked back at him, "We go tonight."
The ominous glow of a lantern jiggled around with the creaking, quick movements of a Scotland Yard cell door. It creaked open and chuckles echoed quietly as Charlotte Bennet followed Thomas Dunning to the weapons storage. when they came to the vault, he began turning the padlock back and forth.
"Hurry up," Charlotte whispered aggressively, "we want to get to the ship before dawn breaks so we can fly out of here." After a few minutes Thomas wiped the summer sweat off his brow and sighed.
"They must have changed the code since I've been kicked." He said with a tint of hopelessness staining his voice. The pirates each gave their own grunt of frustration.
"Well, what can we do?" Asked Marlow, "We can't go unarmed." Thomas kicked the door in a sudden fit of rage and looked around the hallway when the Charlotte became aware of Ben's disappearance.
"What?!" The frustrated man snapped.
"We've lost Ben." The three began glancing around with confusion when their lost mate came into view from the shadows, holding a box and then plopping it on the floor. Guns that had been confiscated from Charlotte and Thomas sat there along with knives. Charlotte picked up her pistol with amusement and exchanged satisfied glances with Thomas who then looked to Ben with a quick,
"Thanks." Charlotte distributed her blades to Marlow and Ben and then loaded her gun. "Shall we to the Devil's Cell Block?" Asked Thomas. The other three nodded as they left.
Like an warning with a promise of death, the door seemed almost to stare back at the four challengers with a clear painted sign on it in neat black ink that read,
Prohibited, Do not enter
With weapons raised, Thomas played around with the first padlock a little. and then the other four. After fifteen minutes, the door was open and there she was, jet black hair slicked back into a bun, ivory skin with eyes that seemed almost too menacing even though they were closed. Everyone held their breath, waiting for those terrifying eyes to snap open. "Aim at the eyes, she calculates with her eyes and then shoot between them." Thomas whispered. The robot must have hear because at that moment, she burst awake. At that moment, the two gun holders fired and the automaton began walking blind, steam bursting out of her head through the blasted eye sockets. The four backed up, yelling at each other to fire but the steam made it difficult to see. with the sounds of their voices, it was blades. Blades that shot out of the woman's fingertips, her knuckles, even her tongue was a blade. "At least get behind her so we can somehow get downstairs!" Thomas shouted and Charlotte was the first to go, sprinting behind the automaton and waiting in the doorway. "Charlie, what are you doing? Get downstairs."
"We move as a team," Charlotte insisted and next to come over was Ben who then walked slowly behind the robot with his knife raised. "Do it," Charlotte ordered. Ben, hesitated,
"Don't think about it, mate, just do it." Marlow continued to back up as the robot came forward, waving her bladed hands around with no idea of where she was going. Ben breathed in and then went at her, stabbing multiple times just to make sure but then felt his body hit the wall like spaghetti when the steam rushed out of her system. She lay in the hallway, twitching, steam rising out slowly now that it was escaping her system and hot water turning into a puddle on the floor around her. Thomas and Marlow joined Ben and Charlotte as they began rushing down the steps, lantern in hand, its light bouncing around in the darkness. After what felt like a life time, they finally made it down through a doorway that led to the giant circular hall, cells circling around. They panted there in the dim red light, staring around.
"This is it," said Thomas. The air stank like a bloody dungeon but sounded more like a zoo that could be part of a penny dreadful as each cell gave a howl, a cackle, or shout of some sort. Next to a cell on the far right, an officer with a ring of keys attached to his belt, slept with a loud snore, black hair shadowing over his eyes. His right hand remained grasping on a light switch next to the cell, off. "I have a bad feeling." Thomas whispered with a pang in his stomach.
"Where do we even start?" Charlotte asked.
"I know where she is," Thomas answered quickly, staring with a look of disgust at the officer's hand, the light switch that was off. A stepped slowly towards the cell with caution. "Let me do this." He whispered back to the other three as they began walking too. They stopped and he continued slowly on.
Cell block seven
The title on the door was written in red. The former officer moved towards the sleeping policeman and when he knelt beside him to try and sneak the number seven key off of his belt, a strong hand grasped tightly around his neck.
"Someone come for a play?" The man grinned and said maniacally and stood, holding Thomas up like a piece of meat. "No visitations for special prisoners. I'll have to ask you to leave." He clenched his grasp around Thomas' neck as the choking man wiggled, struggling with his hands on his killer's. There was a gun fire and the two dropped to the ground. Thomas gasped for air and the sadistic officer bled.
"Well that was easy. Not a very observant guard now, was he?" Charlotte scoffed and jogged to cell number seven. "Get his key." she demanded and Thomas fumbled with the dead man's key ring before sliding a bunch off and picking out a brass number seven, throwing it to Charlotte who slid it into the door and opened the metal cell with all of her strength. No light. Charlotte stared into the dark void where whimpers echoed around and she stepped back out to turn the light switch on. There was Ara, hunched in the corner like a child with her ears plugged and her eyes shut tight, rocking back and forth, back and forth. Charlotte rushed towards her and went to put a hand on her shoulder but the tormented prisoner screamed and began crying.
"I'm so hungry. Please, someone find me!" She sobbed. Marlow, Ben, and Thomas walked in to receive a strange look from Charlotte.
"It was my fault, Oh my God, Mother it was all my fault."
"Ara, it's Charlotte, the lights are on, you can open your eyes."
"Please, someone find me! Never talk to strangers." Ara continued rocking back and forth. That's when Marlow stepped in.
"Someone get a blanket and let me handle this." He said walking slowly over and sitting in front of Ara. "Ara, it's Marlow. We're here to get you out of here." He said with a comforting voice. Ara sniffled and peeked her eyes open.
"Marlow?" she blinked in the light and gazed up at everyone. Marlow nodded.
"We need to get back to the ship. you're safe." He said and Ara's breathing slowed down.
"They shut the light out. They shut out the fucking light. You guys have to go, he knows everything about us." She began spattering.
"For Christ's sake." Charlotte shook her head and bashed the handle of her pistol into Ara's head, knocking her out.
"That was so unnecessary."
"We're going to die. I hate to sound insensitive but we just need to get back to the ship." charlotte said, attempting to pick the woman up. Thomas ended up slinging Ara over his shoulder and they made it back upstairs, stepping around the dead automaton and fleeing Scotland Yard. The fresh air felt so good and Charlotte smiled until they made it to the docks where ten police carriages were parked and crew members were being arrested. "bloody hell," charlotte hissed, "If it's not one thing, it's another."
"come on, I know where we can go." Thomas nudged her shoulder with his elbow and they disappeared away from the docks as dawn rose over the Thames.
Eudora Dunning pushed a maid out of the way and opened her own front door as she yawned in her silk robe, ready to tear apart whoever was bothering her at four in the morning. when the older woman opened the door to find two refugees, two pirates dressed as police officers, and a knocked out Ara over her sons shoulders, she smirked.
"At least you're bothering me with something interesting." She said to Thomas.
"Good morning, mother." He smiled and stretched his neck to kiss her on the cheek as she moved aside to let the runaways in.
The clock on the side of the bed said four pm when Ara awoke with her cheek pressing into what felt like a cloud but was actually a pillow. Her eyes felt puffy and red and as for her head, it felt as though something was trying to escape her skull from the inside. When she went to feel it, there was something papery on the left side of her forehead, a bandage. As she sat up, she looked around. Mahogany book cases, marble flooring, glass decorations, worldly tapestries. Why did Ara recognize this room? Oh hell, The Dunning's guest room. A maid watched her from a chair in the corner; The real margerie, Ara suspected. The two awkward females stared at each other for a few moments until the maid realized something she had to do and rang the bell, shuffling shyly out of the room. The injured woman breathed in the fresh air and something that smelled of lavender, and she smiled, taking appreciative notice that there was natural, sweet sunlight flooding into the room.
"You know, you're a lot more complicated than you like to let on," Thomas said, knocking on the door. Ara shrugged and then remembered last night and then it came to her, echoing in her mind about what that maniac, sadistic officer had told her.
"With the information from cap'n Dunning," she whispered and Thomas walked closer to hear her, leaning in,
"What was that?" a slap came swiping across his cheek.
"That's only a portion of what you deserve." She growled. He held his cheek, confused.
"For saving your life?"
"They shut the lights out!" She shouted, "How did they know to shut the lights out, Thomas?" She interrogated,
"How did they know about the dark, Thomas?" He only sighed and sat in the chair in the corner, slumping down.
"Ara, I didn't think they-"
"How did they know?"
"I TOLD THEM, ALRIGHT? I TOLD THEM THAT YOU HAD A PHOBIA OF THE DARK!" He shouted violently and stood, throwing the chair to the side. "It was useful at the time. I never thought it would be used for torture but for interrogation. Just mild interrogation." She looked away, not saying a word, her mouth scrunching in anger.
"And what's that supposed to mean?" She asked staring at the broken chair.
"Nothing huge. Just maybe flicking the lights on and off to get some answers. Never for you to be left in there with them off. I didn't know your history with the dark at that point. i had no idea about the "why" only the "what"." He paced with his head down and his hands on his hips like a lecturing father. "I'm sorry." She looked back to him and then shook her head, laying back down and turning on her side, flinching as the door slammed shut with Thomas cursing his way out of the room.