The Brass Man
Armor: superior (rank 2)
In the center of the gleaming secret laboratory stands a suit of armor made of welded iron and steel. Only the trim was brass, which still gave the whole appearance of something closer to that.
Axel walks over to his creation and spins the circular ring on the front. The clockwork gears within the armor turn and move with a flurry of motion. Hydraulics push the back of the suit open and Axel steps inside. He moves the limbs of the heavy suit with the help of hydraulic pistons on either end. He walks and moves like an autonomaton, but his head still rotates freely without the helmet on.
“Now Charles, the last time I put this on you noticed a seeming flaw in the design which has since been corrected.”
“You were shot sir.”
“Quite right. That was caused by a heavy corrosion of the metals I had chosen for the original design. I quickly dismantled the entire suit and began fresh; the whole thing didn’t take longer than 67 hours. Now as a test run, will you be so kind as to shoot me.”
“With pleasure sir.”
Charles quickly pulls out his old army pistol and fires a lead ball across Axel’s shoulder plate. The ball makes a zing as it strikes the metal, ricochet’s off past his shoulder, and shatters a test tube in the chemistry set behind them. Axel nods approvingly.
“Very well. The increased density of the metal has left some rigidity within my motion; yet I have finally managed to get the steam cannons to work properly, there by reducing the issue of locomotion, to simple flight. As I shall demonstrate now.”
Flight: standard (rank 1)
Axel squeezes his palms, pushing down on a hydraulic lever which initiates a gear within the suit. The super-compact steam engine on his back flips on and roars to life. Compressed steam runs down gleaming pipes on Axel’s legs and back. Steam blasts off from all three locations and forces him into the air. Axel moves his legs back and forth to steady the journey. In an instant he has zoomed onto the catwalk above the laboratory.
He stands on top of the structure and looks down to Charles. Another palm squeeze and he is lifted back into the air by the rush of steam behind him; this time he decreases his grip on his palms as he flies and the tension pulls back, allowing him to descend to the ground. He lands carefully and looks back to Charles.
“Very impressive sir.”
“Thank you Charles. It’s not quite as fast as the horse gallops or the hawk flies, but I seemed to have finally mastered landings. The key is to place two pipes beneath the center of gravity at the feet to adjust direction and speed, while keeping the main thruster at the center for stability. Without that I’d simply lose control of motion and end up doing something horrifically dangerous.”
“Like crashing into the wall of the Parliament?”
“You never seem to be willing to let that go Charles. Stubbornness is not a quality people find attractive. I aught to know.”
Magnetism: standard (rank 1)
Charles looks quizzically at two black pads sown into the palms of the suit.
“Sir if I may ask what those are for?”
Axel looks down.
“Ah yes, I almost forgot, good catch my man. These are something new I’ve been toying with. Electro-magnets, very powerful. Controlled by a current that runs through a metal coil behind the patch. Set a lever and the current magnifies in power over a hundred fold.”
“I see Sir; if that is what it does, then what exactly is it for?”
“Ahh, a demonstration is in order,” Axel chimes, “Please pull your pistol out once more.”
“You wish me to shoot you again?”
“Not this time.”
Charles pulls the gun out and aims it towards Axel. Axel grins.
“So; say I’m in some sort of scuffle with your man, and your man points a gun or waves a heavy metal club of some sort towards me. All I do is depress a lever ingeniously hidden under my palm and…”
He presses the lever and the magnet buzzes with life. Charles feels the pistol jump out of his hand as it flies towards the suit’s open palm. Axel raises his hand with the pistol now attached to it.
“And you see, the man is disarmed and the threat eliminated.”
“Very brilliant sir, but if you don’t mind me asking, how do you keep it from attaching to the suit?”
“What do you mean?”
The palm magnet flies inward onto his chest plate and clangs tight against it. His other hand slams hard against the metal of the thigh plate. Axel struggles to pull them off the suit but can’t budge them an inch. He looks up towards Charles who waits patiently.
“Well,” Axel states, “This is merely an unforeseen circumstance. The correct thing to do would be to reverse the polarity. All I do is depress a different lever to send the magnets to repel…”
His hands fly away from his side. The pistol also flies away, spiraling away with such force that it breaks another test tube behind Axel. He turns to look at the mess.
“We will most likely have to replace that chemistry set next time we get the chance, Charles.”
“Most likely sir.”
The Steam-Engine Part II
Fire: standard (rank 1)
As soon as the magnets are finally turned off another problem seems to arise. The engine on Axel’s back begins to rattle and shake, steam begins to seep out of the creases in the pipes. Charles notices this but is dumbstruck. Axel casually looks back over the system and grins.
“Nothing to worry about my man. In order to ensure that I can use the steam engine anytime, I have to keep it running, all the time. The pressurized build up of steam is to be expected. Yet the solution is quite simple, all one must do is vent the system.”
Axel raises his arm to eye length and lays his palm flat. The system vents and scalding steam rushes past his arm. It sprays out like dragon’s breath, a wave of heat that even at a distance forces Charles back towards the corner of the room. Axel lowers his arm and the system hums quietly as it did before. The patch of ground scorched by the steam now lets up waves of heat. A tool belt left onto the floor has been burnt into the ground, the metal partially warped.
“Sir that seems exceedingly dangerous,” Charles remarks.
“Oh course it’s dangerous,” Axel replies, “I’ve weaponized it. The heat is extreme but a few painful burns won’t kill anyone… well hopefully not.”
The Man in the Machine
Detective: standard (rank 1)
Axel moves his hand towards the center ring in the chest plate and spins it counter-clockwise. The hum of the engine dies off and the clockwork gears move into motion once more. The suit opens at the back and Axel steps out. He approaches Charles as the suit mechanically closes up behind him.
“So my man, now that you have seen the new additions I have made, what would you suggest about the predicament with Miss Morgan?”
“What predicament sir?”
“Don’t play stupid Charles, it doesn’t suit you,” Axel grins with charm, “We both know you opened my mail before giving it to me. The letter she supposedly signed was put in an envelope produced here in London, when she is currently in the jungles of Africa. In addition, I recognize her handwriting, and while the letter itself is authentic, the post markings on the envelope are false. Yet, their style of writing is also familiar to me, and instantly identifiable. I can only conclude a single logical procession of events from these facts. One, that you opened my letter before giving it to me, and two, that you resealed it in a letter from my own stationary and signed the post markings yourself.”
Axel bites down on his pipe and takes a smoke. Charles smiles weakly.
“Your deduction is quite right sir, I did read your letter. You had been working for some time and I was afraid it was another notice from the bank so I opened it on your behalf.”
“I don’t blame you Charles, but now that we have established that you have in fact read the letter, I can assume that you know of the predicament to which Miss Morgan referred, and have come to the same conclusion I have.”
“I see,” says Charles, “and that conclusion being?”
“Well, it is quite obviously a trap.”
Charles is silent for a moment. He attempts to work through the logic as his employer continues to smoke his pipe. Charles then gives Axel a questioning look.
“I’m sorry sir, but how can you assume it is a trap?”
“Quite easily, Charles. If you look at her diction she always refers to me as ‘William’, not Axel. As she was the very first to call me ‘Axel’, in some form of derogatory slander implying that I was more interested in machines then men, her lack of the term is peculiarly absent. In addition, her veiled insinuation that she wishes to marry me is even more baffling, when you recall that the last time we met she compared me to an unwashed, uncultured, brigand or a salty pirate. Her lack of insinuation about my dubious mental state, and her seemingly sincere interest in my wellbeing are proof enough that the letter is in fact, based on lies. Yet, as I have already stated, I have identified the letter as being of her handwriting, leading to one of two conclusions.
First, that someone has impersonated her handwriting in an attempt to lure me to some sort of certain doom. Second, that she wrote the letter under some duress of a looming force, and that it is that looming force which intends to lure me to certain doom. The only reasonable action to take against either of these conclusions is to search out the origins of the letter, defeat the entity that wished to lure me to my doom, save Celia with my dashing heroics, bring her back to London where my impressive acts thus far shall convince her to accept my proposal and marry me legitimately, at which point we shall move directly to the act of procreation.”
“Sir I believe I understand now,” says Charles, “but your plan to go rescue Miss. Morgan seems to forget the part where it is a trap, and does not deal with the repeated mention of certain doom.”
“Charles, Charles, Charles,” Axel replies, “while your pragmatism is well received and always of help to me in these endeavors, there is one flaw in their trap which they cannot expect. The letter calls for me, William ‘Axel’ Talbot, to join Miss Morgan in the jungle; yet I will not be going as William Talbot.”
Axel lifts the suit’s helmet from the table. Its eyes stare out into the dead night, a brass face dimly grimaces to terrify all those who stand before it.
“I think it’s time our ‘Brass Man’ visits the empire…”