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I Almost Missed It

It's the 2nd Annual International Pixel-Stained Technopeasant Day. Otherwise known as, Free Fiction day. And so, for your amusement, a free story below the cut. Yes, it's a little abrupt in the ending, and no, it doesn't have a title. I just finished writing it five minutes ago, okay?

In a related note, 414 words for today (and 138 for yesterday, but you don't get to see those words anytime soon).

Mikhail sat back in the chair and propped up his feet on a corner of the laboratory table. Well, the only available corner. The rest of the table was covered with a half-assembled small mechanical dragon that Sussue had been staring at for quite a while. He closed his eyes and relaxed, a bit too much. There was a series of bright dinging sounds, followed closely by a noise of protest from Sussue. He glanced over to see his feet had knocked over a small pile of brass gears. "Sorry," he said as he put his feet down.

"It's fine," she said. She poked the carved snout of the thing with a finger. "I have no idea how to put this thing back together, anyway."

"I've told you when you asked me to bring you one--"

"Yes, yes." She cut him off with a wave of her hand. "A mechanical dragon is like a joke. If you try and dissect it to figure out how it works, you'll only kill it. I never understood that."

"Well, it's only a metaphor."

"Simile."

"Whatever. You still don't know how it works, do you? And it's no longer working?" Sussue scowled, the picture of a frustrated scientist. Mikhail nodded. "Then I say, good enough. Drop it and let's move on. You have other, more pressing problems."

Sussue threw her hands up, relenting. She turned and pressed the button on the wall. A minute later the Gaunt appeared at the door. "Take this down to the furnace," said Sussue, "and melt it down. Be careful of the air."

The Gaunt nodded. "Very good, madam. Of course, madam."

"And cast the ingots as soon as you can. We can use them in the Clockwork Folk negotiations."

"Yes, madam." The Gaunt produced a large bag that appeared to be woven from midnight. Then he stepped up to the desk and, with a single movement of his arm, swept the metal remnants into the bag. There were loud crashes before the bag swallowed them up. Then he vanished out the door, bag slung over his shoulder like a dark Santa.

Sussue stared out the window, and Mikhail got up to stand beside her. Out over the lake at the foot of the tower, a trio of dragons circled, their brass scales reflecting the sun with each beat of their wings. "I just wish I knew how they worked."

"That's what I like about you," said Mikhail, smiling. "You never stop dreaming."