“Bees!” Amalia shouted. Her laser pistol sizzled.
“What’s that?” I asked. I fired myself.
“Bees!” Amlia shouted again. She grabbed my shoulder, pointed. I gasped at the sight. Bees they were, indeed. Clockwork bees, swarming toward us. That was Dr. Mordechai’s latest trick. He’d tried bears. He’d sent owls. We’d fought them all back. But how do you fight bees? Amalia fired again. I followed suit, with no real hope. All around, our scrappy band was assaulted. The bees were too small to shoot. Their clockwork wings hummed. They stung and slashed.
“Run!” Amalia shouted. I needed no more encouragement. We ran, Amalia lifting her petticoats. All around us, a terrible buzzing sounded. We made the door just in time. Slammed through into the laboratory. We stood, listening to muffled screams outside.
It had been a rough several months, since Dr. Mordecai’s efforts to recover the mysterious tome had reached a fever pitch–months when his famous clockwork creations (previously the toast of Paris before he’d gone mad and begun to use them to for nefarious ends related to evil rituals) had been thrown upon our little college in ever more desperate assaults, assaults we’d thrown back only through pluck, courage, and the frantic use of applied research, and in these months our little band had grown close (at times almost disturbingly close, as in the case of Big Fred the chef and his particular friends Emma and Shiela-Jo, the chief of the ornithopter pool and the ferret wrangler, respectively) as we tried to divine the terrible secrets of the book, secrets which hinted at something even more terrible than the horrifying eldritch machinations that allowed Dr. Mordechai to fashion the many hideous clockwork automata that had killed so many, caused so much destruction wherever in the wide world that knowledge and light attempted to battle ignorance and darkness; but rough as the months had been, there had been times of joy, brought on by triumph or simply the aforementioned closeness amongst our shrinking band, as well as small but satisfying triumphs, of the sort only a desperate band of embattled academics and mechanics can know, as they see their various theories proved in the most impressive fashion, saving lives and striking down abominable foes (when, of course, they didn’t fail spectacularly as in the tragic case of Dr. Bemberfred’s ‘transformative brass-shielded airship battle platform’ which killed not only Dr. Bemberfred but six students, a chancellor, and a passing fishmonger on it maiden voyage); truly, they were remarkable, and in a strange way, exhilarating, times.
And now they might come to an end because of a bunch of stupid bees.