The Assembler

Chapter 19 - As If By Magic

Jean G Hontz

@copyright 2009 all rights reserved

“If he isn't dead already, I’m going to kill him,” Emmie muttered as she surveyed the scene around her. Neither Ned nor his machine was to be seen. If he’d pulled something...

Men came rushing into the cavern then and the chaos ensuing distracted her. One of them was Septimus Marchant who was immensely relieved to find his daughter returned from Ned’s personally created purgatory and still in one piece. Septimus rushed over to Margot and seemed to be checking every square inch of her to be quite certain all her parts and pieces were in their proper place and in the proper working order.

Emmie straightened her clothing and shoved back her hair, and then looked around for Cyril.

No one, Cyril huffed to himself, paid the least bit of attention to him. He could be dead, or have split open his head. Was it his fault he’d passed out again? And just why was it that whenever Ned’s machine fired up Cyril was left inert? He struggled to sit up. He was relieved to see Emmie and Margot both fine, but where the devil was Ned and his infernal machine? And where was Richard? Why was it that he was always prone and helpless whilst everyone else could see and do and actually perhaps help in some way? It was most unfair!

The moment Septimus let go of his daughter, Margot hurried over to the Englishman, kneeling down next to him in order to check him over and then help him up.

“Oh, did you hit your head?” Margot asked, feeling Cyril’s skull carefully and gently.

Cyril was tempted to lie, since such kind ministrations were most welcome, and felt quite wonderful, and Margot smelt good despite their adventure and.. “No. Well, I don’t know, do I? Why is it I keep passing out? You and Emmie seem to be fine during Ned’s experiments.”

Margot shook her head. “I’ve no idea, Cyril. Perhaps there is something special about you.”

Momentarily that made him feel quite good, but then gloom descended once again. “I’m not really some faint-hearted coward, you know,” he muttered darkly as he struggled to get to his feet. Margot must think him a complete and utter wanker. Great way to make an impression, Cyril, he told himself.

“I know,” Margot reassured him. “When they were shooting at us, you were wonderful. And Ned thinks the world of you. He’s said so quite often. He missed you dreadfully, you know. She tugged his arm and helped him to his feet. She frowned as she saw he was a bit wobbly, so she put an arm round him determined to hold him upright.

Truth be told Cyril’s head was still awhirl. Whether from his latest Ned-venture, because Margot had a hold of him or from falling senseless on a rock floor, made no real difference. He could hardly be a hero when he was so confused and constantly looking like a fool, he thought bitterly. Margot certainly wouldn’t give him a second glance with Ned around. And it had been clear she loved him. Well, who wouldn’t? Ned was talk, dark, handsome, brilliant, witty. And he was...

“Cyril, have you any idea what happened?” Septimus asked, walking over to speak to him. “I realize you aren’t your best at the moment, but we need to understand what went wrong, and try to find out where Ned is.”

“I’m fine, no sense worrying about me. Worry about Ned.” Cyril replied, glaring at the men standing with Septimus.

“Oh, these are Chief Inspector Rory, his assistant Sergeant Lumm, and Dr Finigal. They’re on our side,” Septimus added reassuringly.

“And you’re quire certain of that, are you?” Cyril snapped. “I’ve been chased by black Daimlers, shot at, soaked on the beach, and then translated down to my atoms to somewhere we don’t even have a name for. We thought, well Ned and Emmie thought, since Richard had freed her from her kidnappers, that Richard was on our side too. I’m not quite so sure about him, given he appeared here as if by magic and now he and Ned and the Assembler have disappeared as if by magic. So you’ll forgive me if I’m just a smidge hostile to these men.”

“Richard?” Rory asked, urgently. “Richard Ainsworth? He was here? With you all?”

“It’s what I said, isn’t it?” Cyril huffed. God, he sounded like his father, putting on the lordly airs.

“Yes, that’s right. Richard was here.” said a female voice from behind him. “Richard Ainsworth,” Emmie explained. “He rescued me from my kidnappers and somehow or another transported us directly into this cavern.”

Dr Finigal looked startled at this latest news. He opened his mouth to ask questions but someone else beat him to it.

“Lady Emiline! We were told you were in England being held captive, hostage to forcing Benedict Black to use his machine by someone or other.” Rory looked gobsmacked. This case was getting far too esoteric for his tastes. He preferred things simple and down to earth.

“Yes. And so I was. I am obviously no longer in England. Richard Ainsworth rescued me, helped me get free of my captors and then brought me here.”

“How did he do that?” Dr Finigal asked. “What sort of machine... That’s... Incredible!”

“You,” Emmie said, glaring at the doctor and spearing him with her eyes, “not one bloody question. Not until I find Ned and murder his lying arse. Then you may ask me what you will.”

Dr Finigal looked startled that a lady would speak so. Cyril looked away, fighting to control his lips. Emmie had her own ideas about what a lady was, and should be. They did not include just accepting the world as it was.

Septimus and Chief Inspector Rory looked amused but wisely kept their thoughts to themselves. As for the Sergeant he was wearing his game face and writing notes down quite calmly.

Emmie was doing her best to appear only angry, because the alternative was unthinkable. Deep down inside she was terrified for Ned. She wanted to scream at the universe, scream about how unfair it was that just as she got Ned back in her life he’d been taken out of it again. She refused to think he might be dead.

But whatever had happened, she knew deep in her gut that it hadn’t been his plan to just dump the three of them here and then disappear. She swore she'd seen him and his machine show up here with them, and then, with a look clearly of surprise, he and the machine had winked out.

Thinking about it, and given the fact that Richard was missing as well, she figured he was behind it. But why? That’s what had her stumped. Richard had helped her escape. Helped her with the initial attacks. If he was part of the whole cabal that was trying to capture Ned and his machine, why would he help her at all? She made a great hostage, as had been pointed out. Emmie had no doubt whatsoever that Ned would have done whatever needed to be done to save her life.

She hated the idea that he’d surrender everything he believed in for her, but there wasn’t a bit of doubt in her mind that he would. She knew, her body knew at its deepest molecular levels, that he loved her. The problem with him and her was always that he thought too much.

He never just let himself feel. He always had to understand things, think them through, choose a path and see an endpoint. He just couldn’t say I love you and understand that somehow or another it will all work out. He wasn't the sort to depend on divine intervention, or even her own reassurances.

He could never forget the fact he was Lord Silver’s illegitimate son. Or that his mother was, well, unconventional. As if any of that would even vaguely concern her. Well, all right, she’d like to kick Lord Silver or at the very least scream at him what an idiot he was not to appreciate Ned.

And as to his concerns regarding how her father would object to her marrying Ned, oh she could scream. The man was an idiot. Blind to the most important things, even if he was brilliant and driven about his work. She loved him and understood him but that didn't mean he wouldn’t drive her crazy!

And he needed her. He needed someone practical and sensible to protect his back. He needed a family. Her and Cyril and even father. Father wouldn’t care. He wouldn't! And if he did, well, she’d make him change his mind and accept that she loved Ned and that he'd have to accept Ned as her husband or she’d run away to the ends of the earth with Ned, whether or not he even wanted her to!

She turned her fury on Chief Inspector Rory then, the only one of the strangers quite up to facing her down. He merely smiled at her and instructed Sergeant Lumm to take notes.


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