Thud. Clank. Clank. Thud.
Just keep on moving. Moving in a straight line. Forget the rain falling in ice-cold sheets, plastering wet fur to your emaciated face, freezing him to the bone.
Ignore the endless rattling noise, the spray of mud. Forget the part that just fell off. Nowhere to get the parts even if you could repair it. Don't listen to
the voice ringing in your ears.
"The Guild has no shelter for a Darkbargainer, Manipul!"
Don't listen! Ignore the jeers of the red-eyed, sharp-toothed faces as they bar the gates behind you and pelt you with mud. Concentrate on keeping going, on
preserving some warmth as you huddle inside the cockpit of the mechanical suit, condensation and mud blinding the view port, tears blurring your eyes again. Try to
go in a straight line, to head towards the warmth, the vague, soft light.
See? Its getting warmer already. Or are you just dying? Hard to tell, here in the darkness, in the lifeless mechanical womb.
No, the machine has life. The machine has a pulse, of sorts, a rhythm. It is moving. It is humming. It gives off warmth. It has a purpose, seems to know where its
Do you know where you're going, Ratchet?
Ratchet's heartbeat quickened. His ears pricked up, his fur sensitive. Someone had grabbed him. He didn't like being grabbed. Instinctively, he jumped up, taut as
a rope, and sank his teeth deep into the offending hand.
"You little furry bastard!" exclaimed a high-pitched female voice.
"What do you expect, sneaking up on him like that? Come on, I know how to handle him."
Another hand - a long, slender, furry hand - grabbed him by the scruff of his neck, lifted him up and dropped him. His limbs flailed. He landed with a splash in a
tub full of soapy water. Spluttering, he grabbed the side of the tub and pulled himself up, gasping for breath. Before he could escape, the hand grabbed him again
and attacked him with a scrubbing brush. He let out a tirade of Goblin expletives, popping his retractable claws and slashing wildly.
"Quick! Grab the hairdryer!" yelled Grace, holding the struggling Goblin at arm's length.
"Did you use the sweet-smelling soap like I asked you to?" asked Masqurin, "I've got some ribbons!"
That was the last straw. Grinning evilly, Ratchet reached behind his left ear and pulled out a tiny metal box with an aerial, a big red button and a couple of
levers. He pressed the button.
STOMP STOMP STOMP STOMP.