Arona Copperburst walked down the streets of No Man's Landing, watching for automatons. Her new Tesla hammer sparkled with electricity. She was on a mission for the Resistance.
Several weeks ago, she had arrived in No Man's Landing with Molly Cartdust and the Inspector. They'd come to the old print shop, called the Beacon, and left a note on the desk by the wardrobe, just like May had told them to. Then they'd wandered around, dodged the patrolling automatons, and had finally come to a place called Urchins' Grotto.
However, there didn't seem to be any urchins anywhere in this grotto. Arona thought they must have been scared away by the Inspector, or were hiding in their small hovels. While the Inspector guarded them, she and Molly had hunkered down in an abandoned hovel for the night.
The next morning, two members of the Resistance had found them and taken them back to the Beacon. Sheka and Annkarette were their names. They were nice girls, but they did seem very suspicious of the Inspector. It had taken Arona a long time to convince them that the Inspector was a friend, and no longer loyal to Lucky. Still, they'd insisted upon making sure the Inspector's communication antenna was deactivated, which it was.
Arona and Molly had been introduced to many other Resistance recruits, and even been shown a secret passageway that led to a basement: Resistance Headquarters.
Molly had found her brother, the one who she hadn't seen since she was sent to the Junior Academy. His name was Jacoby Elderfun, and he had been busy the past few weeks teaching Arona and Molly how to fight automatons.
Arona was on her first fighting mission. Previous quests had sent her on errands, such as painting signs, locating missing crates, putting up posters, smashing propaganda machines, and so on. This one was different. She had to clear the Town Square of automatons.
Her Tesla hammer flashed again, and she smiled. This was going to be fun.
Behind her, the Inspector marched along. Even after these many weeks, no one trusted the automaton, least of all the Resistance leaders like Mr. Alexander, Mr. Ironheart, and Miss Brassheart. Arona figured the Inspector could be used to infiltrate the ranks of the automatons here in No Man's Landing--if everyone would give it a chance.
Eventually, Arona hoped to prove that the automaton was an ally. She'd made a few upgrades to it, including new armor, weapons, and optics. The only thing that she hadn't done was change its fog boiler to an Aether boiler. The Inspector wouldn't be able to function with an Aether boiler; it was only programmed to work with fog.
Arona entered the Town Square and faced a Pacifier Officer and the Troubleshooters standing on either side of it. The Inspector watched her, waiting for a command. "Well, smash them or something!" Arona told it, jumping forward to deal a heavy blow to one of the Troubleshooters. "Try out your new rifle!"
Jacoby had told Arona that water increased the electric attack, so she would try that next, if the Inspector would make up its mind about which auto to attack. The Inspector's new water rifle, integrated where its pencil and notebook had once been, sprayed an opposing automaton with a burst of water.
Arona ducked an attack from the drenched Pacifier and then hit it with her hammer, completely smashing its difference engine. Now she had to take care of the Troubleshooters.
"Need any help?" a voice called from behind her. Jacoby approached Arona from the direction of the Business District with Skybie Jumpdust, another member of the Resistance, just behind him.
"With these useless heaps of metal?" Arona laughed. She glanced at the Inspector and frowned. "No offense."
It just glared at her with unblinking green eyes.
"I guess I could use some help. I'm working on my first fighting quest," Arona conceded. The two kids quickly entered the fight, brandishing their weapons.
"It's so strange to see automatons fighting each other!" Skybie exclaimed, speaking of the Inspector fighting the Imperial autos. She used her umbrella cane to deactivate one of the Troubleshooters.
"Have your automaton wait to do another water attack," Jacoby said to Arona. "My starter pistols are fire weapons, and water makes them do less damage."
Just as Arona was about to tell the Inspector this, the automaton launched another water attack on the lone Troubleshooter.
"Sorry, Mr. E!" Arona apologized, deactivating the automaton with her hammer. "The Inspector only takes orders from me. That can be a good and a bad thing."
Jacoby squinted at her. "Are you sure it's loyal to you?"
Arona turned on him indignantly. "Of course it is!"
"A name like 'the Inspector' isn't really good for a Resistance automaton," Skybie pointed out, going to salvage a few cogs from the Troubleshooter she had taken down. "It sounds like something the Empire would use."
"That's just what we kids at the Junior Academy called it. I suppose I could make up a new name," Arona said in a thoughtful voice.
The three of them went to take down the other automaton patrol, and once that was done, Skybie and Jacoby filled the Great Engine with Aether from their Aethermeters.
Arona was still looking for a crafting recipe for one. The others told her that when she'd been with the Resistance for a while, she would eventually get the plans from the Scarlet Man himself. Arona had never seen him, but he always seemed to be around. Even now, she saw a scarlet nail pinned on the tower, one of his.
"I'm going to go turn in this quest, now that I've finished it. Thanks for the help!" Arona said, waving at her two friends.
She turned to go, the Inspector still following her.
Maybe Arona should make up a new name for the automaton. Yes, she would do that.