The Clockmakers Daughter

Behind Enemy Lines

Julius stood at the top of the tower, staring out over Clover, wishing he were home and blood and death did not wait around the corner. He was a simple man in a complicated life, though he would not change it, there were times when he wished he could close himself away like he had been when Alice had first found him.

“It hard for you isn’t it?” Ace asked, resting his back on the short wall of stone that kept one from plummeting to the ground.

“Sometimes. I do not do change well.” The clockmaker sighed, the dark blue of his hair blending in with the approaching shadows.

“I’m sure Aliya will solve that for you.” Ace laid a hand on his shoulder, “Sometimes, my friend, you have to jump off the cliff and just go with it. You will be happier that way.” He started to walk away.

“Are you going to sleep with my daughter?” Julius asked, hating himself for wanting to know.

“I don’t know, does anyone actually sleep with your daughter?” The knight chuckled at his dark look. “Aliya and I have fun together as we are, not everything about her has to do with sex, you know. Having said that, you never know what the future will bring.”

Julius sighed despairingly, “Which means you have not, but may in the future.”

Ace chuckled, beginning to walk away. “Hay, clockmaker,” he turned around, walking backwards, “ want to go on a field trip with me and Black?”

“Why would I..,” he stopped, realizing they were sneaking into the prisons. “Cliffs, huh?”

“Are you feeling bouncy yet?” Ace asked, eyebrow raised.

“I will meet you downstairs in just a minute.” He looked out over the evening sky, dark blues and purples chasing red and orange across the horizon.

“Deep thoughts?” Blood asked, arms coming to either side of him, closing him in, but not touching.

Julius stiffened for a moment. He should be used to this by now, Blood took advantage of every opportunity. He was beginning to see why Alice had loved him, he came at you until you loved him or shot at him. Then he would probably just be amused, or worse, turned on. “What do you think she would have thought of all this?” He asked softly.

“Alice?” Blood asked. Julius nodded, not trying to move away, which surprised him slightly. “She was limitless in her love and understanding. I messed up badly with her, often, but still she loved me. I cannot believe she’d have anything less than whole hearted expectance. It’s not like she didn’t know everything about me when she decided to move in with me and I am beginning to believe that she was a tad more perverted than I knew.”

“Why is that?” Julius turned, puzzled. He gasped lightly, not realizing how close Blood actually was.

Blood chuckled, leaning even closer, “Because, dear clockmaker, Aliya certainly did not get it from you and that girl is nothing short of twisted. If I didn’t know better, I’d say she had my sense of humor.”

Julius studied the man before him, wondering. He might die in the next few hours anyway, so he might as well start jumping early. Closing the distance between them, he kissed the hatter quickly before ducking under his arm, heading out to meet Ace. “Julius.” Bloods voice stopped him, but he did not face him, wanting to keep his blush to himself for once, “What are you up to?”

“Cliff jumping.” He said walking away, feeling oddly proud of himself. Blood watched his retreating back, worried for once.

He met Ace and Black at the base of the tower. “So what is the plan?” He asked.

“We are going to sneak in my part of the prisons, he still can’t enter there. Then were are going to do our best to find out what he has planned” Black said, “Oh yeah, and don’t fuckin die because I’d rather not be at your daughters tender mercy. I don’t want to go from calling her sweet death to ‘please stop cutting that off.’”

Ace snickered, but Julius did not find it that funny, knowing she would do that without a doubt. “Let’s go then.” He grumbled. Black grabbed both their shoulders, flashing them into his old home.

Golden green eyes caught the movement. “Shit.” The cat whispered meeting the mismatched eyes of the girl who was spying with him, looking for trouble.

“They took my Dad with them.” Aliya was confused, “Why would the take my Dad there?” Far from stupid, she realized that at least one of her fella’s would try some way to sneak behind enemy lines, but her Dad?

“He’s stronger than he knows, Ally Kat, perhaps it’s time he realized it and stopped being so neutral. Believe me, if you had ever seen him in the judge’s chair, you would not worry so, no one does cold control like your Dad. He’s just been thrown since you got here. This is not a bad thing.” He said, running his hands up and down her arms.

Remembering the tale of how he stopped one of Whites creations, Aliya had to agree that there was more to the clockmaker than meets the eye. Still, he was her one and only Daddy. “How long do we give them before I break into the place for rescue?”

“One time change,” Blood answered her, “he gets one time change.” He had a white knuckle grip on his cane, but his face was as calm as ever.

“Damn, Black, do you ever clean this place?” Julius asked, avoiding broken toys and abandoned furniture.

“Why? It’s not like prisoners live long enough to complain about it.” Black answered him, voice low to prevent an echo. They were getting close to Whites stairs, the white marble already visible.

Just beyond the black granite, four faceless waited with one of the spirit creatures. The white cloaked being stood still dead center of the stair case, while the faceless nervously paced, avoiding contact with it. “What are we going to do? If we go in there and kill all of them, it’s bound to draw attention.” Julius asked.

“That’s fine by me!” Ace said, always ready for a fight.

“Subtle, remember.” Black reminded him. He studied the scene in front of him, looking for any opening to slip through. It would not be much help if they did not even get through the first layer of defense.

“You’ve returned.” Came a quiet feminine voice from behind them. The faceless woman remained calm while finding herself with two swords and a pistol pointed in her direction. “I will not give you away. Has she come again?”

“You helped Aliya the last time she was here.” Ace said, eyeing her, positive she had been the one who tossed her the pistol when they had been fighting off the golems.

“Why would you help us?” Black asked, doubt written on every feature.

“I would not help you, black joker. I hate the very air you breathe,” she glared at him, “But I hate your brother more. I am helping her.”

“You must be one of the harem workers.” Black sneered at her. “I would apologize, but we both know I would not mean it.”

“Harem worker?” Julius asked, disgusted they would have such a thing. One should always be provided a choice, but the circus faceless were given to White by the mother to use as he saw fit.

“Whites play toys. The games are always interesting.” Black replied, shrugging. Yes, he had done many cruel things along with his brother, he had never denied it.

“My name,” she turned to Julius, knowing him to be Aliya’s father, “is Mira. I would help my lady in any way possible, even if it means helping him as well. Please, follow me.” She led them away from the stairs, through a narrow passage just under them.

“I never knew of these.” Black looked around the dark passageway.

“White has been spying on you forever, sending one of us through. He never had any reason to doubt you, being nearly depraved as him.” Mira went on, anger clear in her voice, “Some of the harem were actually grateful when you were together because he draws more blood alone.” She commented, leading on.

They came to a small ladder leading up through the white floor. She went first, peaking out, then coming back down. “It’s clear. You will come out in a cell in the far corner of the main hall. He is in his play room, where he makes those things.”

“Thanks!” Ace said, heading up the ladder. Black followed behind him, knowing she did not want his thanks and that was fine with him.

“We are grateful.” Julius told her before starting up. Her hand on his arm stopped him.

“Give my lady our gratitude. She has many here who will answer when she calls on the day of the battle. White does not hold as many as he thinks.” She told him quietly, before slipping away. He watched her disappear before following his companions.

“That was helpful.” Ace said, pushing the cell door quietly open, the main hall appearing empty. They crept along the hall, staying close to the tapestry covered walls, Black leading the way. They came to a dome, clear glass with gold metal running through it in interesting shapes and patterns. “That can’t be good.” Ace cheerfully pointed down.

On the floor of the huge room was a massive wallowing red tangled mess. It appeared to be growing even larger, almost seeming to breathe as it pulsed like the beat of an enormous heart. “Shit.” Julius whispered, felling a little sick. It had to be the jabberwocky in its rebirth.

“Enjoying the view?” White asked, amused from behind the three. He had two of his golems and quite a few faceless. They fanned out at his sides, weapons drawn.

“Oh good, I was getting bored.” Ace drew his swords, flexing his hands in lazy circles warming up for a good fight, ignoring Blacks irritated look.

Julius took a small breath, allowing the cold to seep into his veins. He griped his weapon the way that Blood had taught him, ready to fight his way through. Black drew his sword as well, absently wondering if he could get close enough to his brother to return the favor of killing him at least once, something he had never done in all their years together. Both groups stared tensely at each other.

“K, that’s enough of that.” Ace said before taking one of his swords and breaking through the glass behind him. Trusting the two men to defend themselves, he jumped down to where the writhing mass waited. He began to trash the room, throwing chemicals and other flammable matter at it. He could hear the clash of swords and gunfire above him as he took his campfire matches from his pocket. Lighting the book, he tossed it at the heap of flesh and began to make his way back to his friends.

As soon as Ace dropped through the hole he had made, White’s solders attacked. Black met White, sword to sword, sparks flying as black eyes met blood red. “Why try, little brother? You could never beat me, just another toy to play with.”

“The great thing about being your toy, old man,” Black snarled as he used his sword to push him back, “You learn how to be damn mean!” He slammed his fist in Whites face, sending blood flying as the crunch of his jaw breaking brought him malicious joy. “Perhaps the only reason I have never beaten you, asshole, is cause I never tried.” He met him again, strike for strike, the force jarring all the muscles of his arms, but he relished the pain, letting it flow through him and using it against his lifelong tormenter.

Julius was faced with the problem of fighting off the growing hoard. Still, he fired smoothly, without hesitation, easily blowing through the faceless with cool accuracy, head shots, every one. The golems started to be a problem, actually dodging him. When they came closer, he changed the gun into the hammer that had saved his life once before, since bullets seemed not to have an effect. He knocked the first one backwards, its morbid face appearing as the mask shattered, leaving blue blood trails down its misshapen cheeks. The eyes were blue as well, its skin deathly gray, leaving its dark purple lips eye catching.

Ace returning to cover his back, meeting the other masked beast with his sword. Looking around, the knight noticed that most of the faceless had been brought down by the clockmaker. “Those must have been some amazing gun handling lessons.” He commented, keeping the small chuckle in his head, as he evaded coal black claws. He spun, decapitating the golem in front of him. Unfortunately, it kept coming anyway. He twisted away, stabbing it through the heart. “Huh.” He said calmly when it still moved forward.

“Any knightly words of wisdom right now?” Julius asked as they met back to back, a little winded.

“Nope.” Ace dodged another blow, “how bout camping safety?” He asked, quickly maneuvering the headless golem until it was close enough, then knocked it into the fire below. “Rule #20, always build a bigger bon fire.”

Julius spun, slamming into the creature, aiming for center mass to move it, until it too fell into the blaze. They stared down into the fire, looking for any sign of movement while Julius made a mental note not to ever let Aliya go camping with the knight, the forest would never be the same.

The inferno grew higher, licking the edge of where they stood. “Shall we catch our ride?” Ace asked, spying Black deliver a kick to the side of Whites left knee, putting him on the ground while he ran him through with his blade.

“Yeah, I’m ready to get the hell out of here.” Julius nodded, both men walking to where Black was pulling the metal from his brothers body. “How soon will he revive?” He asked the joker as they grabbed onto his arms, preparing to leave.

“Awhile. Damn that felt good.” Black grinned as sparks began to fall on Whites twitching body, “If we’re lucky he’ll burn first.” They faded out, smoke billowing into the space.

A strong force slammed into Julius as soon as they returned, pushing him back. “DADDY!” Aliya shouted, squeezing the breath from him.

He smiled gently and hugged her back. “I’m fine, Aliya.” He rubbed her back, feeling her tremble. When she pulled away, he noticed that her eyes were glowing and glassy. The glare she shot toward Black and Ace was raging hot. If looks could kill, they would be a bubbling pile of goo on the floor right then. “It ok,” Julius tried again.

“I know, Daddy, and I’m proud of you. I just can’t seem to control myself at the moment.” Her aura began to leak violet in her fear, anger and relief. “Just give me a minute.” She said, heading to her room, the door slam echoing down the corridor.

“Uh oh,” Boris said, “Who wants to be the sacrifice to go calm her down.”

“I vote the knight, since it was his idea to take her Daddy.” Black said, deciding he was in enough pain for the moment. Any other time, he would love to tease the tiger in her den. “She’s scary when she’s mad, fun, but scary.”

“I guess I’ll be the brave one then,” Ace responded good naturedly following her path to her room. It was quiet for a moment, before a large crash caused them to jump, it was followed by angry noises from Aliya and Ace’s laughter. Then some more loudly thumps that made them all wince. Then it got very quiet.

Black grinned, “Guess he’s being a proper sacrifice.”

Julius groaned, bumping his head into the wall he had been leaning against. Blood came and laid a comforting hand on his arm, “Julius, I think it’s time for you to except the fact that your daughter really likes sex. You’ll be better off” His voice was falsely comforting. Black and Boris laughed as they walked away, the cat planning to pull details from the joker.

Julius glared at the man in front of him, “Bastard.” He said with no heat, pulling away from the wall.

Blood grinned. “I’m proud of you as well, but,” he wrapped an arm around the clockmaker shoulders, leading him down the hall, “I think we need to discuss cliff jumping and what height you should start from.”
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