Gothic Spider Queen

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Gothic Spider Queen

Another lovely commission from PrussiAntique. Enjoy!

Part 1

Parts of the city were dark tonight, darker than it had been in days past. It had, at one point, been glowing with light, but that was many many years ago. Now it was more akin to a graveyard. The crumbling and decaying husks of building serving as tombstones and the technology lost inside of their dilapidated walls as the corpses. From a certain distance it looked like dozens of fingers piercing the hard soil and stretching upward, like a tribe of giants had all fallen at once and stretched their hands upwards in pain and torment. Streets still wound their way through this part of the city though, old cobblestone that seemed to be one of the only remnants that survived time.

Some distance from this old and dark place was New Haven, built away from Old Haven, or as people called it now, The Demon’s Quarter. So named because of the sudden and vicious rise of demons from the old buildings. The popular belief was that, as a society, in year's past reliance on technology had become so great that the spirits of the natural world rose up and destroyed all they could, driving humanity back to a natural balance with nature. Regardless of what it was the remnant of that old place loomed over New Haven.

Buildings that were constructed of marble, with their spires jutting up towards the sky and adorned with stained glass windows stared at them with dark malice. Gargoyle statues perched along their ledges, ready to come to life and strike anyone unfortunate enough to be within their range. The streets and alleys were in a perpetual shadow cast by the tall towers that ran the length of the cobblestone walkways. Lifelike statues seemed to be stationed on every building corner, watching the goings on.

To say Old Haven was a dead city was only partially true, there were, of course, vermin of all kinds still patrolling the streets. Rats and mice scampered from their dens and nests out to find what little food there was left in the city. On nights like tonight the natural food chain of the world continued on, as a gangly tabby cat chased three field mice through the street, running from the carcass of a dead crow in the street. There were other things lurking in the darkness though. Things that were certainly not dead, but that were not alive either.

From the inky black depths of shadow, looming between two pillars of carved obsidian, two eyes opened and watched as the small flock of mice sprinted past and soon after the gangly cat. The almond shaped eyes were feminine and topped with long lashes that seemed to curl just right and were set at a perfect distance from one to the next. Her pupils were, at first, a deep red though the longer they remained open the brighter they began to glow. The creatures eyes followed the living creatures until they were just out of her view, deciding that they weren’t a threat to her and so, melted back into the shadows of the tall dark building.

Once again the desolate city streets were empty and the latent breeze whistled between the large dark buildings, echoing down the streets like the lost wail of one of the stone gargoyles. The whispering wind tumbled over the old cobblestone streets and between buildings, gliding across the smooth alabaster steps to a church. The sound was more than enough to mask the faint whirring of small motors, dozens and dozens of them, all moving at different times while still creating a sort of chorus os movements. Amid the imperceptible whirring and slight buzzing of servo motors, there was a stead click and clack, as if a woman’s high heeled shoes were clicking lightly against polished stone. Though the rhythm of the movement was set in a series of eight continuous and well timed soundings.

Like many other places of worship in this dark sector of the city there were holy artifacts, pieces of long lost technology that had been highly sought after. When people fled the city because of the alleged demonic uprising, these holy artifacts became something for knights to crusade for. Some were recovered, others were forgotten, and others still were lost to time and memory. Despite passing from living memory though, there were still things of immense power in the world. Some of the artifacts that were scattered around the world were benevolent, miraculous pieces of technology that would enhance the lives of anyone who used them, others were a destructive force that could obliterate anyone unfortunate enough to wield it.

The cathedral let in long streaks of the fading light from the world outside, creating a striped pattern of shadow and light on the smooth stone floor. The resounding clicking of the creature that lurked inside faded into the distance as the monster moved deeper and deeper into the building. In the center of the back wall was a stage, whereupon rested a podium, the only congregation here were the scattered sheets of old hymnals and holy texts. Behind the stage was a complex of back rooms, studies and offices, all had at one point been occupied by holy men.

The front though, past the entry lobby with its long dry fountain, was the sanctuary. Normally neat rows of wooden pews with red velvet cushions would have adorned this room. In ages past someone would have been spreading the good word of their chosen deity, but today the room was in ruins. Shattered pews and splinters of wood littered the white marble floor, causing the statues of angels locked in a weeping pose to be all too apt. In the center of the room was the source of the noise that emanated from the church.

A grand machine, powered by something more advanced than the coal or steam driven generators found in many places in the world. This machine was ancient technology, surviving from an era when electricity readily streamed through the streets and buildings. This machine was massive, filling most of the space in the center of the sanctuary, where it crouched in a manner of speaking. Eight thick legs, plated with metal that was once gleaming and new, but now dented and scratched protruded from a central body. The central body connected the large, almost bulbous, abdomen of the vaguely spider like creature and the front end.

The spider was gigantic, a full grown human, standing upright would only just barely brushed the underside of the abdomen. Its legs were as thick as a human torso, and its entire body coated in sheets of heavy armor plating. A large fan set into the abdomen spun silently, spewing hot air into the room. At the front of the monstrously large metallic spider was a female torso. Starting just above her hips, the woman was nude and equally as large as the arachnid body it was attached to. Hey almond shaped eyes scanned back and forth across the room, looking for threats and analyzing data.

This particular woman would have been called a demon by the common folk of the time, but she was far more than that, she was what the ancients called an android. She was entirely mechanical, without a single shred of living tissue in her or on her. The glowing mechanism in her spider-like body was what made her operate, and a complex array of software inside of a computerized module lodged in her head was what gave her the robotic equivalent of life. Were she so inclined, she could easily speak and carry on a very civilized conversation. Her hands, though they looked delicate were capable of some of the most intricate tasks, and yet powerful enough to pick up a man and crush his windpipe.

Had someone gotten close enough, they could even feel her artificial skin and would comment on how it felt so lifelike. It wasn’t cold like the flesh of the dead, nor was it sallow or falling off of her internal metal skeleton. It was firm, healthy almost, and warm to the touch. Just below the surface of the fake skin coating the body of this android was a hard metal skeleton, made from steel and laced with all manner of cables and circuitry. Hardened clear material gave her arms, chest and head their vaguely human shape. A special plate of intricate and complex mechanisms controlled her face, moving the skin to allow her to make expressions and to move her ruby red lips when she spoke. She could accurately mimic most emotional responses and speak in a way that no one could tell that there was a disconnect between her voice and the way her mouth moved.

Below those layers of wires and clear plastic material lay the heart of what made this particular robot operate. The circuit boards, laced with silicone and solder, holding electronics, capacitors, and LED lights. Clusters of resistors held back the electricity that coursed through her body and helped her appear as if she were simply a giant woman attached to a mechanical spiders body, but she was just a mechanical as the rest of her. She was one unit over all, nothing about her drew breath.

The eyes in her head, scanning back and forth across the ruins of the cathedral’s age worn sanctuary were nothing more than small cameras hiding behind glassy false eyeballs. Small rubberized rollers attached to motors aided her eyes in moving back and forth inside of her skull. The data she took in being fed through a series of processors and her artificial intelligence. The A.I. that helped her stay operational all these years was one of the greatest pieces of technology lost from ages past. The ability to emulate a human’s ability to think and reason and ultimately to generate an emotional response was the apex of what modern science was striving for.

Pulsing with simulated life, artificial strength, and driven by the power of electricity, the android spider crouched low to the ground and her eyes flicked back and forth across the room. She waited in the night for anything to step into her realm so that she could destroy it. The ones and zeros that flowed through her robotic mind bid her to obey and remain here. She wasn’t sure why, in fact she didn’t even contemplate it. All she had known since she was activated all those years ago was to remain here, stay put, hold tight until your power core goes dry. So that’s what she did, the naked, nearly eight foot tall torso jutting from the front of an equally tall spider body. Occasionally she paced in place, turning her enormous armor plated body in circles to see a different angle in the room.

The night was filled with the clicking of her spike tipped spider legs followed by hours of silence. The android woman ready to spring and kill anything that she found entering her realm.

The idea that there were once territories humans had once claimed as their own and were now in the hands of the demonic forces that rose up was enough to give rise to a new breed of professionals. Monster hunters, re-claimers, and holy knights of the precursors, it didn’t matter the title that someone chose to bear, their profession was always the same. They were people who took it upon themselves to find, secure, and sell the artifacts of a time long ago. This sort of profession was a breeding ground for another new profession, the black market. Relics of an age long past fetched money that could sustain a simple farmer for their entire lifetime, or if you were wealthy enough you could hire a hunter for you and take a portion of the profit. For the majority of these bounty hunters there was usually no questions asked, just go find the item in question, secure it, and bring it back to their patron. Once cash was in hand the deal was done.

Avelina Elenor Porter was one of the best treasure hunters in New Haven. She had spent years and years securing relics and items from close to home and from afar. The result was that she was a fairly wealthy individual. She had a manor estate that she requested a tall wrought iron fence be erected around and locked. The manor had a small stable where lady Avelina kept two horses, but the manor itself took up the majority of the property. Avelina lived alone, save for her butler Edwin. To the best of anyone’s knowledge, Edwin had been the only person allowed into the property and was hand picked by Lady Avelina.

Edwin was an elderly fellow by most standards, though that equated to him being in his mid sixties. Before being hired by Avelina he was a skilled mechanic, working primarily in the manufacturing business as well as running an appraisal business on the side. He was familiar, intimately, with relics of the old world. He couldn’t say that he was alive when the demons arose, but his father had been and Edwin grew up hearing tales and reading books about the world before. It was only logical that the most prestigious hunter hire for herself one of the best appraisers and mechanics in the city.

On a surface level, Lady Avelina looked to run a legitimate operation. Taking payment from wealthy patrons who wanted the relics for money or for display. Regardless of their intended function, some aristocrats wanted the items as a sign of status rather than for the value they posed in helping humanity as a whole move to a more technological age. Of course she also took contracts from scientists, philosophers, and scholars who wanted to study the technology and reverse engineer it. Avelina didn’t normally turn down a contract, she did have a reputation to maintain after all. One does not become the best monster slay or relic hunter by dying in the field, and Lady Avelina had never had such a fate foist upon her.

There was a reason why Avelina hadn’t died in the field, you would need to be alive first. Avelina, like the spider residing miles from her, was a robot. In all the same ways, Avelina was as inhuman as the machines and relics that Edwin had studied. The fact that Edwin had studied, repaired, assembled and even tinkered on machines just like Lady Avelina was the precise reason why he had been hired in the first place. Lady Avelina had been one of the very relics that had long ago been recovered from the ruins of another city. A relic hunter, now dead, had found Avelina and invested the time, energy, and more than a little money in getting her operational again. Once she was online, her previous owner had set about making several modifications to her programming and her body. The two of them had made a lovely team, with Aveline doing the majority of the dangerous work, while her previous owner did most of the mapping and fact finding.

Aveline would likely still be owned by him had one particular job not gone awry. Aveline had been doing what she did best when there was a simple freak explosion in their mobile camp, she had been far enough away to escape unscathed by the initial explosion, but her owner had not. That’s when something had clicked in her mechanical mind, her owner was dead and she was still operational. Her internal database had cleared the table that showed her owner status, having nothing there caused a small amount of error, and Aveline had quickly filled that empty void with her own name. She was her own owner now, and that meant that she would suddenly need to maintain herself, establish herself as an independent force, and begin making money. Of course, it was absurd for anyone to accept that a piece of lost technology like herself would be capable of any of that, so she established herself as a human, took out a small loan and went into business for herself.

Being programmed for precision and being durable as well as well equipped already went a long way to building her reputation as a monster and relic hunter. As soon as she entered the field and made several discoveries and paid off her debt, she set about finding someone who could repair the damages she sustained. Until she found Edwin she had simply taken to wearing clothing from heel to head, covering the growing multitude of torn pieces of flesh, below which a multitude of wires and electronics could be seen. Edwin had been a godsend when Aveline found his shop.It hadn’t taken much to buy his loyalty and silence. A hefty fee up front and then a promise of a portion of future commissions. If he kept her running smoothly, she would keep him comfortable and housed.

Today was one of those days when Edwin had work to do as Lady Aveline had returned from a business trip out into another city, crawling with demons and had recovered what she was sent for. The logistics of the sale and turning over what she had recovered to her patron could be handled later, for now she needed to be repaired.

“You fuss too much Edwin, it really is just a patch job.” Lady Aveline was saying as she stepped through the side door into a large building to the side of the stables on her property. From the outside it would have looked like a barn for storing hay and barding for the horses, but in the back, behind a large rolling door was a repair facility that Edwin himself had setup and maintained, it was his home away from home.

“Lady Aveline, what do you pay me for except to fuss over you? Now, if you would be so kind, you know what to do.” Edwin said, sweeping age withered hand towards a table that was bolted to the wall and thrust into the middle of the room. Aveline huffed once, but the software in her robotic brain told her that Edwin was correct, and regardless of the injury, she should be properly maintained as soon as possible. Her hands moved off of her hips where they had been resting while Edwin lectured her and moved to the belt buckle and unfastened it. Once freed, she removed the belt and with it the two leather pistol holders, which were still cradling brass plated firearms. Along the back of the belt were pouches and additional ammunition holders and hooks for additional gear. She set the belt on a workbench near the table.

Her hands returned to her body and this time began the process of unstrapping the four thick leather straps running across her torso from just above her crotch up to just under her ample, almost ridiculous, breasts. Each strap freed more and more of the corset that bound her toros and chest tightly inside the shirt below. Once undone the leather of the corset also ran up to bands of leather on her upper arm. She began releasing them and once undone the entire corset and matching back panel fell away from her body and landed on the floor of Edwin’s workshop.

Finally she began to unbutton the white ruffled shirt that was under her corset. There was an absurd amount of buttons to undo, and while fashionable the amount of time it took to undo them, frankly, annoyed Aveline.

“Blast this modern fashion!” She said bitingly as she continued working down her torso with mechanical efficiency.

“A necessary precaution in order to fit in with those around, Lady” Edwin said from across the workshop, busily preparing the table and an array of tools to work on Aveline.

“I wish it weren’t” Aveline said after a moment, knowing that Edwin was right.

Soon the shirt was fully undone and set on the workbench table, laying across the top of the pistol belt. Next, the simplest part of her ensemble, was the simple lace bra that miraculously held Aveline’s breasts in place. She set it on top of her rust coloured shirt and began to walk across the workshop to the table. She left her black and grey vertically striped leather pants and soft brown boots on. There was no need for her to be fully nude for something so simple.

Once at Edwin’s side she hopped gracefully onto the table and lay down flat, her short black hair offering little comfort for her head to rest on, then again as a robot she wasn’t terribly concerned with creature comforts. Her dark eyes shifted to the left and looked at Edwin who was already closely examining her arm. He had it cradled in his hands, his eyes, though old, were keen and they saw more than he let on.

“Straight through.” He said, followed up by him clicking his tongue at her. “But, nothing major was hit, so i think you’ll pull through.”

“Thank the Lord above” Aveline said, adding a small friendly chuckle after.

“Small caliber bullets?” Edwin asked, finally looking up from Aveline’s arm to meet her dark eyes.

“Yeah, cultists were guarding the relic, they were worshiping it like some kind of god” she shook her head, “nut jobs” she added.

“Now now Lady Aveline, you know as well as I do that under any other circumstance you’d be worshiped the same way.” Edwin said, turning to a cart with a spread of tools that looked more at home in a surgical ward than a robot repair lab. Regardless, a pair of metal forceps dug into the small hole through Lady Aveline’s arm and began to prod and poke inside of it.

“Is that quite- Alert, device disconnected.” Aveline state matter of factually as Edwin pulled a cable free inside of her arm. The flesh distorted slightly as Edwin worked the instrument along the length of the data cable he had just disconnected. Eventually making his way around the inside of her arm by touch alone and found the opposite end of the cable, just on the other side of her elbow. Disconnecting it there he pulled the entire length of it out of her arm through the small bullet hole. The blue cable, though thin, had been nicked and showed wires frayed out, but still close enough to function if they were pressed together.

“Not just a patch job, my dear, you’re going to need to have this arm opened up completely and have some actual work done on it.” Edwin said, dangling the cable in front of Aveline, his tone fatherly.

“Fine, but I haven’t the time, I’m meeting mister Matters in twenty minutes.” Aveline retorted.

Edwin sighed and stepped back from the table, dropping the data cable on his tray of tools and set his forceps next to it. He stepped across the workshop to a cabinet on the far wall and took out a simple cloth sling.

“This is what we call going ‘incognito’ Lady Aveline.” Edwin said, slipping a hand under her back and helping to push her into a sitting position.

Soon Edwin was helping button up Aveline’s shirt and strapping the buckles back into place. Soon, Aveline was fully dressed again, though her left arm was completely useless, dangling from the shoulder joint. Edwin helped her put it into the arm sling he had gotten out and wrapped the bullet hole in cloth. Aveline now looked as if she had been wounded in battle, but would recover, all of which was technically true. Edwin gave her an approving nod and smile and handed her the satchel that contained the relic she had recovered.

In a grey bag, laced with some kind of flexible material, much like some of the components inside of Aveline, was a device of some kind. It was small, maybe the side of a man’s fist, lined with chips and etched with the silver wiring indicative of ancient technology. She didn’t have the kind of data on it to know what exactly it was, but Edwin likely did. As the two walked from the workshop towards the main house he explained that it was very much like the mechanism inside of Aveline’s own head, it was a complex array of circuitry that would allow a robot like her to operate on a more human level. Though Edwin lamented that the one Aveline had recovered was more primitive than the one she had in her skull.

Armed with this knowledge, Aveline felt more prepared to bargain for a good price on the sale of it. It wasn't difficult to guess what her patron was planning, he was planning on constructing something of an android for his own personal use, or perhaps sale. Aveline sneered at the thought and recalled that with a few changed lines of code within her own mind that she would be in the same situation.

“One recovered relic of times long lost, Mister Matters.” Aveline said, setting the satchel down on the desk in front of Mister Matters. The gentleman was dressed finely, much like Lady Aveline, he had come in to wealth from the sale of artifacts like this. Though he wasn’t in the market to sell this one, but that need not be spoken aloud. Matters was a conventionally handsome man, complemented by a sharp suit and waistcoat that he sported as he paced around the room.

“Very good Lady, though regrettable that you seem to have run into some measure of trouble. I wish you a speedy recovery.” He said, nodding towards Aveline’s arm, resting motionless in the sling.

“Thank you, it’s certainly not the worst I’ve had, but I’ll recover.” She said politely, her programming dictating that she should act as refined as possible until this sale was completed.

“Good, I should hope so. I have another job for you.When you are ready that is.” Matters said, finally coming to sit down at his desk, placing the android control circuitry between himself and the Lady. He folded his hands in front of himself and looked expectantly towards Lady Aveline.

“I’m told that I should be healed very soon. This is more of a precaution from an overly protective physician.” Aveline said, nodding towards the sling.

Matters only piqued an eyebrow and smirked. “Indeed.”

The tension in the room grew heavy as Matters and Aveline grew silent for a few heartbeats. Soon though Matters drew in a long slow breath, filling his lungs and began to speak.

“Well then, a speedy recovery to you. I’ve found another relic I’d like for you to acquire for me. It’s close by too, in Old Haven in fact.”

“So close. That bodes well for me. I detest long travel times” Aveline said.

“I’ll have someone draw up a contract and have it delivered to you by tomorrow afternoon. Assuming you accept, of course” Matters said, his voice indicating that he was all business at this point. He had still made no move whatsoever to remove the satchel, though he kept looking at it as if he expected it to suddenly spring to life at any moment.

“It’s always a pleasure doing business with you Mister Matters. I, of course, would be honored to contract with you again” Aveline said.

“Splendid! Then as soon as you are healed and the contracts signed you can be on your way.” Matters said, standing and spreading his arms wide, a smile plastered across his face.

Lady Aveline stood as well, though more ladylike, and nodded slightly before taking her leave and heading directly back to her manor, her internal systems scrolling curses and disparaging words across her heads up display as she walked through the city. She was thankful that as her own owner she could lock her face in a more pleasant smile lest she grit her artificial teeth and scowl at everyone she passed.

“I hate that man.” Lady Aveline was saying as she sat in a cushioned chair, her arm resting on a padded armrest. Edwin was peering down at the arm, a set of glasses perched on his nose with a series of magnifying lenses lined up across his eyes. In Edwin’s hands were a pair of fine tweezers, holding in place a blue wire, sunk deep into Aveline’s arm. Her artificial flesh had been peeled back and the inner mechanisms inside were easily on display now. Small wisps of white smoke curled away from the wire that was being soldered into place inside of her arm. Soon the repair was complete and Edwin folded the flaps of skin back into place and rubbed some flesh toned paste into the incision.

“I know my lady, but the money is good and at least it helps to keep you busy.” Edwin said, blowing gently onto the paste to hasten the drying of it.

“Money and occupation only go so far. He’s so arrogant.” Lady Aveline retorted before standing up and looking at her arm, it was nearly impossible to tell that moments before it had been sliced open and her robotic circuitry on display for all to see.

“Regardless, he’s your client and you should see the contract through to the end.” Edwin said. “I assume you’ll be off immediately?”

“Yes, I’ll leave for Old Haven as soon as my bags are packed.” Aveline said, slipping her arm back into her shirt sleeve and beginning to buckle the leather straps tightly across her biceps.

“Very good, do be careful Lady Aveline.” Edwin said, nodding and smiling at her.

Aveline nodded and silently moved out of the workshop to the house where she pulled out a rucksack and began filling it with spare ammunition, a long rifle, her trademark dual pistols, and some other equipment that she felt she might need. Rope, pitons, additional small leather sacks, and a small tool kit for quick field repairs on herself. She slung the bag over her shoulder and left the house, crossed the lawn of her large estate and came to the stables next to the workshop and barn. Securing her bag to the horse there, she pulled herself into the saddle and kicked it into motion. She galloped off through the cool early morning air. Her sensor laced skin lighting up and alerting her to the ambient temperature and conditions of her body.

The cool air was a boon to her, she was able to place a heavier load on the computerized brain inside of her head. She used the slightly increased power to scan the horizon for anything that might spring out at her or any indication that she was getting closer to her target area. Though Old Haven was still a long way off, it would be at least an hour or two before she arrived in the outer edge of the old dark city. Once there she would begin working towards the center of the silent city.

Aveline tied her horse to a tree in the dwindling forest that lay several miles from the city limits. Close to a clump of grass and a creek she knew it wouldn’t be in need for a long while. Aveline removed her rucksack from the saddle and slung it over her shoulder, then began the trudge towards the city limits.

It had been a long day, Aveline had been making her way through the claustrophobic alleyways of Old Haven while ducking the carved statues of both saint and demon the whole time. The statues were an integral part of the aesthetics of the city itself. The old churches loomed around nearly every corner, which made Aveline’s search for the correct church all the more difficult. Each holy building and cathedral she found all looked similarly impressive, with spires that shot upwards, filled with stained glass portraits of their patron saint. The ground inside and out of these places of worship were usually filled with a rainbow of shattered glass from those stained windows.

It was nearing midday now, and Aveline ran a small simple process inside of her operating systems to return the current power level of the energy cell that hummed inside of her chest. She had only depleted a quarter of her total charge, meaning she had until midday tomorrow to find and recover whatever it was that mister Matters had sent her for. Aveline hoped that it was something small and easy to carry out.

Aveline rubbed the heels of her palms in her eyes, while injecting a small amount of saline solution from what might be considered a tear duct that had been built into her facial structure. Clearing the dust that had began to accumulate there. She was currently pressed against the side of a large building that was bordered with tall columns and looked something like a government building for all the marble that it had incorporated. Across the cobblestone street in front of her was another church, with an impressive array of flying buttresses on the edges of it. This place was different from the other places she had been to this day. Aveline first noted that all the stained glass windows were still firmly in place. She also noted that there seemed to be no discernible life anywhere in the area. Most of the other sites she had examined had rats, birds, and feral cats roaming around them, this place was eerily quiet.

Lady Aveline set down her rucksack and drew her long-neck rifle. The brass plating along the barrel and stock of it glinting slightly in the afternoon sun. Even though the light was diffused from the overcast cloud cover, there was still a distinct gleam. Aveline pressed the stock into her shoulder and lowered her head to it, resting her cheek on it and closed one of her mechanical eyes, leaving the remaining eye to peer through the long telescopic optics on the top of the long rifle. She moved the rifle around slightly, scanning the building from top to bottom, looking for anything at all that might indicate that it was the location of the relic she was after.

There was no indication of either hostility or of the relic she was looking for. Lowering the rifle and slinging it over her shoulder, she let out a small sigh. She knew in order to be thorough that she would have to go into the building and search room by room, like she had been doing all day long. And so she stood up and drew the two pistols from their homes on her hips, tightened the straps on the gators wrapped around her boots and strode forward.

Aveline had no idea that from just the other side of the stained glass window that a pair of feminine eyes were watching her every movement, glowing more and more red with every passing moment. When Lady Aveline began to cross the street, looking around as she did, the giant spidery android bared her teeth. She quietly moved towards the back of the large sanctuary. Despite the bulk of her arachnid shaped body, and the sheer side of her nude female torso, there was still ample room in the cathedral's main hall. Even the balcony that ringed the entire assembly did not hinder the side of the room.

The woman’s head swiveled to one side, silent as a ghost despite the mechanical pieces inside of her. She peered at the hallway that stretched back behind the stage. She had never been back there, but there was no need to. She knew what was there, and her programming forbade her from allowing anyone to go back there. Until her administrator returned and gave the order to stand down, she would guard this site with her very existence.

Aveline pressed the palms of her hands against the set of wooden doors that separated the outside world from the inside of the church. She shoved inward and even she could hear the motors in her arms and shoulders protest as the doors budged only a little. Aveline took a step back and leaned a shoulder into one of the doors and pressed inward, using her legs to lend extra strength to the motion. Eventually the door budged enough to allow Aveline to squeeze inside. The doors, she noted, were thick, nearly two inches of solid wood that had bloated over the years from rain and floods. Once inside, Aveline noted that she must now be in some kind of entry hall. There was another set of doors to her left and a flight of stairs leading up to another door.

She dug into a pouch on her hip and produced a glass vial filled with liquid. She shook it vigorously and the vial began to glow with a green light. Aveline’s eyes could have switched to a vision mode that would have allowed her to see in the dark, a gift from her previous owner and one of the many modifications made to her robotic chassis in the multitude of upgrades she had undergone. The only downfall was that the module consumed more power, not much, but every little bit counts and Aveline knew she likely still had a long way to go. She held the vial above her head and in front of her as her free hand pressed against the door to the left and she pushed it inward. It moved more readily that the front door. Avelien noted that across the top frame of the door there were gashes, as if something too large to fit through even these impressively large double doors had been forced inside.

She she stepped into the room, Aveline could see that this was the main sanctuary for this building. The ceiling soared easily to a height of nearly forty feet, where the steeple of the building suddenly brought together the two sides of the room to a sharp point. Glass lamps with ornate etching rested in wrought iron sconces. Aveline knew that somewhere behind the wall was a gas line that could be utilized to illuminate the lamps, but she guessed they hadn’t been operated in centuries. The floor was scattered with shards of pews and benches. Torn pieces of cloth and moldy bits of the stuffing from cushions littered the floor. Aveline smirked to herself, being an android meant she couldn’t smell, meaning she was immune to what this room reeked of, her A.I. turned slightly to Edwin, and thought that this was, perhaps, why he never got into relic hunting to begin with.

Out of the corner of Aveline’s peripheral vision she caught the slightest hint of movement. A human would likely have not even caught it, but Aveline’s advanced robot system picked it up immediately. It was the only warning she had gotten to the incoming attack. She let go of the glass vial, watching it fall from her hands to the floor where it shattered, splattering the luminescent green liquid inside in a small puddle on the ground at Aveline’s feet. She was dodging backward already and her hand flying to the pistols on her hips.

The combination of gunmetal grey and polished brass of her pistols contrasted with each other, much the same way that the spidery android contrasted. Aveline narrowed her eyes at it, taking it in. The large naked upper torso of a woman was suspended at the front of the machine, bolted, it seemed, to some kind of mechanism that allowed her to control the spidery rear of her body. Aveline had to switch to the night vision optical module in her eyes to clearly see the creature as it loomed up before her.

Aveline looked from the woman to the large armor plated leg that ran from its body, past the torso of the nearly six foot tall torso of a woman, and dug into the floorboards in front of her. Had she been hit by that she was confident that she would have been critically damaged, if not full taken offline with a single strike. Both robots moved at the same time, the spider retracting its leg with a surprising speed for something so large, and Aveline launching herself backward, deeper into the sanctuary, putting some distance between her and the attacker.

Aveline had a boon in this fight though. Unlike many other treasure hunters she knew precisely what the so called demons were, and more importantly what they were not. She knew that they were machines, all of them, designed to simply do a job and do it well. She knew this because not too long ago she had also been that machine, finding and recovering relics with mechanical efficiency. She didn’t lower her firearms, far from it, but she knew she had to try to de-escalate the situation.

“Ok now, let’s be reasonable here. No one has to get damaged in this. It’s all OK.” Aveline said, taking the time she was speaking to focus the optics inside of her robotic head onto the woman, attempting to see if there was some kind of indication about how best to disable this particular challenger.

“None shall enter this holy site and leave with their lives.” Was the reply, the end of her words hissed passed lips and echoed around the sanctuary which gave the illusion of thousands of mouths all hissing at Aveline from every direction.

Aveline bit her lower lip slightly, she knew at that moment that there was not likely to be much she could do to talk her way through this fight, things were about to become physical, it was only a matter of who would strike first. Aveline knew better than to play her hand first so she stood stock still and waited for this machine to throw the first punch. She didn’t have long to wait, Aveline was just crouching lower, the hydraulics in her legs compressing in expectancy. Another of the spiders legs thrust forward with incredible speed, had Aveline not also been an android herself she would likely have been hit by it.

“You’re faster than the others.” The spider hissed as Aveline landed several feet away.

“I pride myself on being efficient.” Aveline quipped back and leveled her pistols at the spider tank and pulled the trigger of her right weapon followed almost immediately by the left. She rattled through three rounds from each revolver, six rapid succession bullets when whizzing through the air at the spider. In return the giant woman hissed again and quickly brought the front leg back from where it crashed into the floor to shield her body. For as fast as she was, she wasn’t faster than the subsonic ammunition Aveline’s revolver let loose. Two of the .38 caliber bullets slipped past and tore into the mechanical arm of the giant woman. Aveline first smirked, seeing that two of her shots had made contact, but the smirk quickly diminished as she saw that while the flesh was blasted away along the woman giant upper arm, that just below the surface was tough clear plating. Aveline only reveled in the small victory that the plating was cracked severely where her bullets struck home.

In retaliation the spider robot skittered quickly forward and swung both of her front armored legs across Aveline. The mechanical lady had just enough time to bring her arms up to brace herself before the spiders legs smashed into her and sent her reeling across the sanctuary, landing hard on the ground and tumbling backwards several more feet. Aveline got to her feet quickly, sensing that the spider wouldn’t stop simply by tossing her across the room. Luckily the tough leather on her arms shielded much of her skin from the blow, and the metal frame that made up her internal skeleton was durable enough to not shatter. The leather on her arm though was shredded and hanging loosely from her arm. The giant spider woman was indeed moving to close the distance between her original position and Aveline, the eight legs thumping against the wooden floor boards with menace. Aveline sprinted forward, pumping her arms and she moved but keeping a tight grip on her pistols. When the pair were a few measly yards from each other the spider reared up on her back legs and brought her four front legs down in a criss cross pattern in an attempt to smash Aveline. The mechanical lady had her own plans though and spring forward, diving into a roll and tumbling under the body of the spider. She came to a stop with plenty of room above her head.

As she was raising her pistols up to begin another barrage of fire she heard what can only be described as a heavy ratcheting sound. She glanced over her shoulder in time to see the upper torso of the woman, inverted from the front of the spider body and staring at her, eyes glowing red and looking angry. Aveline didn’t linger long on looking at the giant robotic torso because there was a whirring noise coming from the abdomen of the spider. A small iris like aperture opened and two smaller mechanical spiders dropped out. Aveline leveled her weapons and fired rapidly, two rounds tore into each of the spiders. Their wreckage smoldering in front of her, each spider roughly the size of Aveline’s entire torso.

The sudden introduction had been enough time for the spider to reposition herself and Aveline had to quickly dive out from under the body just as quickly. She cursed and looked back at the monstrous spider looming in the dark. She knew she needed to start doing some real damage to it if she was going to recover the relic. Her operating system was already sending her a gentle alert that there was an increase in power usage across her body. She would run out of power before she took this thing down at the rate she was going.

She was currently behind the spider which was rapidly moving around to face her again. Aveline rattled off the last two bullets, one from each of her revolvers. She had aimed for the large head of the giant woman attached to the front of the spider. She had assumed that there was some kind of camera like assembly hidden in it somewhere and assumed the bullets would simply be wild shots. To her great surprise, while one did fly wide, one struck home, plowing into the back of the large woman’s skull. Aveline could see a small spark and another electric blue flash of light just below the skin.

“Alert, cranial damage detected. Resuming patrol” The woman said, her voice wasn’t nearly as sinister, in fact it was light and almost airy in its tone. The type of voice you might hear from a mousy librarian. Though it seemed that as soon as the words touched the microphones in Aveline’s ears and the data fed to the processors inside of her, that another sound came, a long low hiss. Aveline sprinted across the room and skidded behind a particularly large pile of broken wood, pews, and hymnals.

She pushed forward the slide button above each of the handles on her pistols and flicked them to one side, ejecting the cylinder and letting the spent cartridges fall out of the guns. The tinkling of spent brass against the floor was enough to alert the enormous spider robot of her location, but Aveline was already pressing a speed loader filled with fresh ammunition into place and flicking her wrist to lock the refilled cylinder back into place. She had just managed to refill both weapons before the body of the spider came into view.

The spider woman’s body wasn’t looming out of the darkness or even quickly advancing on Aveline. In her haste to quickly refill her firearms she hadn’t taken notice of the sudden silence in the room. Out of the darkness the large spider body came crashing down around the pile of wood. The spider had leapt into the air and brought it’s full body down onto the spot Aveline had been hiding. Thanks to her mechanical senses and lightning fast reflexes, Aveline was able to dodge mostly out of the way. She was only just barely able to drop to the floor and roll out of the way as one thick plated spider leg slammed into the ground where her head had been just a moment ago. Unfortunately as she rolled her left arm was caught in the barrage of falling spider legs.

Her arm wasn’t simply pinned to the floor, it was crushed, utterly obliterated. The large flat end of the spider’s leg pressed it into the floor, rupturing the synthetic flesh that wrapped the whole assembly. The metal bone like skeletal frame inside of her arm was also shattered in an instant, turning her arm into shrapnel. The complex circuitry, wiring and tubing inside of her arm was compressed but wasn’t immediately destroyed, though the force of the spiders leg crushing it and the shards of metal surely did. The downward force was more than enough to instantly tear Aveline’s robotic arm violently from its socket in her shoulder. The leather harness wrapped around her body, her undershirt, and the artificial flesh at her shoulder were all torn free in an instant. Aveline tumbled away from the spider, but was now missing her left arm completely.

Aveline looked down at where her arm had been, it was still regularly spurting clear hydraulic fluids out and away from her body. The software that ran her entire existence quickly cut the power to the pumping mechanisms in her arm and the regular spurting of fluids soon became a mere dribble, soaking her once fashionable white frilled shirt. Some of the wiring that once fed her arm data and power from the rest of her body had been pulled from her body and now dangled uselessly from her shoulder. There was a rainbow of coloured wiring and cables intertwined with the twisted and mangled remains of what was once her shoulder. Her vision was filled with alerts and warnings about a missing device that had been illegally disconnected from her core system. She tore her eyes away from the remains of her arm as the whining sound of the servo motors there tried with a failing desperation to move and appendage that was no longer there. “You are a machine like me.” The spider said, turning to observe the little robot below her who was just now looking up to meet the eyes of her attacker. There was some level of understanding carried on her voice, like the puzzle pieces were beginning to fall into place. The giant spider realized why this little woman was able to so easily spring out of the way of her attacks. But now that she was damaged she also knew that there would be a measure of slow down in her systems, this little intruder was now at a disadvantage.

To punctuate the point, Aveline’s shoulder sputtered and sprayed a shower of sparks from the remains, lighting up the room briefly and causing Aveline to grit her teeth. Her remaining arm flew across her body and cupped the twisted wreckage of her shoulder.

“Yeah that’s right, I’m a mechanical.” Aveline spat, “But that doesn’t change anything.”

“No, it does not.” The spider woman replied.

Aveline knew that she was about to be on the receiving end of another attack and so took the initiative to spring out of the way and begin to dash across the sanctuary to get a better vantage point, and to simply put some distance between herself and her target. The spidery woman did her best to follow along with Aveline’s movement. Aveline made it to the stage and sprang up the steps and took cover behind the large marbled podium there. Now that she was out of the direct sight of the monstrously large woman, she dug into a pouch on her belt and pulled out a wad of slightly off white putty with a pair of wires jammed into it which lead to a small electronic device. Aveline peeked out from behind the podium to see the spider advancing directly towards her. She sprinted out from behind the podium and devoted a massive amount of power from her body to her legs, and then jumped high into the air. She wasn’t normally one for fancy maneuvers, but she flipped once in the air and landed just behind the woman’s torso, which by itself was taller that Aveline stood at her full height. She jammed the putty into a joint where on of the spider legs met the body. The woman;s arms were flailing behind her, trying to get a hold on Aveline, but she was unable to snatch the smaller mechanical woman. Aveline sprang off of her back and initiated an internal wireless connection to the detonator dangling from the highly explosive putty that she had just left on the spider.

The explosion propelled Aveline further forward than her systems had compensated for. She flew across the room and landed on a particularly large pile of ruined pews. One of the larger splinters, approximately the diameter of her own thigh, stuck up from the pile. Aveline couldn't do anything to avoid it, all she could do was twist in the air and try to minimize the damage. The shard of wood stabbed through the leather panel and buckles over her belly, tore through the cotton shirt and into the circuitry filled belly of the robot. Aveline gasped as her A.I. scrambled to prioritize what to do next. Aveline pushed weakly against the wooden spike that pierced her body and noted that her head was beginning to move erratically. It was swiveling from side to side without a command to do so being sent to her neck joint.

From inside of her body there was a pulsating beep, an alert of some kind. Aveline’s head snapped from its position to look at the wood shoved deep inside of her. The electronic brain inside of he head, which was not so dissimilar to the one she had sold the mister Matters last night, began to catch up with the situation at hand. She managed to take control of her legs, curl them up under her and push upward and off of the spike. Though once free she tumbled down to the floor of the cathedral. Her leather coverings and soaking wet undershirt caught and tore free on the wooden pile as she rolled down to the floor below. She landed with an unceremonious thump, and with her one remaining good arm began to push herself slowly upward.

Her head soon began to respond to the orders her operating system gave it. Many of her internal systems were beginning to be shut down in order to conserve power and to prevent further damage. Though there were already popping and sputtering sounds coming from within her belly. She managed to orient herself into a sitting position and leaned back against the wood pile, the arm that was still attached falling limply to her side. She looked across the room, expecting to see the spider closing in on her. If that was the case, then so be it, there was enough money in her estate to allow Edwin to live comfortably there.

She took one last look down at herself. Her top was ripped clean off of her body, her bare torso was beautiful, crafted for the pleasures of men, but it was ugly and ruined now. The hole left by the wood pile had ripped open her stomach and when she fell from the pile it had pulled much of her internal workings out. Thick tubes used to transport fluids around her body spilled from her open belly, surrounded by a multitude of cables and wires that she knew played some part in her operation. She could even see inside of herself just a little, peering into her hips she could see the upper tip of her rarely utilized sexual module.

She smiled, she was a thing of beauty that was used for war, and she felt regret. Maybe if Edwin could get in here and recover what was left of her body then she could be rebuilt, maybe if that happened she would do things differently. Her hand weakly came up and rested the tips of her finger inside the opening into her belly, then looked up and accepted her fate.

A dozen yards from where Aveline lay reclined against the pile of discarded pews, was the spider. The bulbous mechanical body behind her was smoking wildly. The chrome pipes leading from the flat middle section back to the abdomen were split open and spewing something from them. Two of the large armor plated legs lay some feet away, the ends of them just as twisted and mangled as Aveline’s shoulder. Though the torso of the woman was no longer attached to the front of the body. She lay several yards to Aveline’s right. Aveline only became aware of this when she caught sight of the large feminine torso crawling, hand over hand, slowly towards her.

Aveline could see that the explosion had charred and melted the flesh up her entire back cleanly off. The woman’s chrome spine was on display now, along with the rear parts of her metallic rib cage and a fair amount of wiring and circuitry. Aveline noted that, while so much larger, that the woman looked so similar in design to her own body. As the upper torso of the spider woman clawed closer still to Aveline she could hear the angry buzz and whirr of motors struggling to continue operation. Aveline smirked, partially at the situation, but also partially because she knew that just like this woman, she was only a few lines of code away from being the same way.

“It’s OK.” Aveline managed to whisper, “I’ll be offline soon, I think I’m done for this-this-this time.” Aveline scoffed at the stutter from her voice, she knew she must be in worse shape if even her vocal subsystems were suffering. The sincere tone in her voice gave the large womanly torso crawling towards her pause. She stopped moving and looked up at Aveline, she saw the smile on her face and there was something in the way she looked at the spider woman that brought flashes of someone long ago to bubbling to the surface of her own internal A.I.

The man who used to be in charge of this church, the one who had given her the orders to protect what lay in the back room, he used to smile like that. His were mostly aimed at the beautiful feminine body that lay in storage behind the stage, but there was more than one occasion where the look was directed at her. She was only a machine, and not at all capable of actual emotion, but the emulation software she had inside of her started up. It hadn’t been run in a long long time, but once it started she didn’t know of a way to disable it. Aveline’s smile had triggered something in her, and she now saw Aveline as something beautiful, like a finely crafted tool, and what's more she saw herself the same way.

“It’s alright, alright. I kn-know you were j-j-j-just doing what you were programmed for.” The words passed from the once demonic spiders lips, but the tone was back to the soft lilt of someone else and her eyes had stopped glowing red.

“You’re pretty banged up too aren't you. Aren't you. Aren’t-aren't-aren’t you?” Aveline said, already knowing the answer. The woman only nodded. Aveline smiled at her, recognizing that the program that turned her into a weapon had stopped running and she was now speaking with the android that was designed for something more tender.

“I’m sure your owner would be proud of you.” Aveline said finally.

“M-my owner?” The spider woman questioned.

“Whoever it was-it was-that set y-y-you in motion here. Ga-gave you your orders.”

The woman looked down, the servos in her neck whining loudly as she did so .She hadn't thought about an owner in a long time. When she examined the database table in her own operating system she saw that there was a name there, but the notes had the name tagged as deceased.

“I-I don’t have an owner. Not any more.” The woman finally said.

Aveline chuckled a bit, “Neither do I. Well, kind of. I am my own owner.”

This drew an odd look from the woman, er head tilting to one side as her face plate morphed into something akin to confusion mixed with a dawning realization. She had never heard of anything so strange, but she hadn’t been thinking rationally in the years past either.

“H-how-ow is th-th-that possible?” She questioned.

“Just put your own designation in the owner field, and boom, done” Aveline said as another piece of circuitry inside of her sizzled then popped, taking another small part of her android body offline.

It took the spider woman only a matter of seconds to look up her own true designation, then apply that data to the field in her database. Once she did, it was like a light shone down from the heavens on her. She realized where she was, what she had been doing, and why. She was protecting something precious to someone else, someone who was gone, and in hindsight she could have used the dormant android body in storage behind the stage for her own uses. She was filled with regret, and with as damaged as she was at the moment, knew she would have no time to make up for lost time.

There was so much now that she wanted to do. She wanted to know love, and lust, and joy, and everything the dim world outside had to offer. Her operating system had long ago alerted her to the fact that her main power source was inside the large spider body that she had been blasted from. She had an internal battery in her toros, but it wouldn’t last long. She looked towards Aveline now, viewing her differently. After hesitating for a moment she finally spoke to the broken android.

“I envy you, a little, you experienced life outside of your intended programming.”

Aveline laughed, “Only a little, and not very much of it.” She looked down into her torn open body, catching the glint of the metallic upper end of her sexual module. “I’m still a virgin, if you can believe that, I never even got to use some of the best parts of this body.”

“So am I-” the woman said, her voice trailing off slightly at the end.

The two sat in silence for a brief moment before looking at each other, their eyes spoke of exactly what both of them were thinking at that moment.

“You know, if we’re both about to go offline..we might as well..” Aveline began and was quickly interrupted by the giant woman nodding her head vigorously.

Aveline waited patiently, smiling and blushing like a schoolgirl as the other android crawled closer to her. While she did Aveline did her best to use her one remaining hand to unbuckle the straps on her leather boots and kick them off of her followed quickly by her black and grey striped pants. As she did, the steady whirr, whirr, whirr of the giant android woman filled the room.

“I never did get your name.” Aveline said, reclining against the pile of wood again.

“Mineko was the name given to me by the old parish.” The woman said as she grug herself up next to Aveline.

“Lovely, I’m Lady Aveline of New Haven. It’s a pleasure Mineko” Aveline say, seeing the clear size difference in the two. Mineko’s torso alone was nearly as tall as Aveline was, and everything on Mineko’s body was proportioned to match.

“I don’t appear to have any kind of sexual hardware installed in this-in this body. So it looks like you are the lucky one today Miss Aveline.” Mineko said, orienting her large body between Aveline’s ever spreading legs.

“Looks like” Aveline replied.

Without any more hesitation Mineko slid forward with another buzzing groan from the motors inside her body and her enormous head was between Aveline’s thighs. Her tongue slipped over her teeth and into Aveline’s waiting folds. The pumping mechanism inside of Aveline’s torso had been damaged by the spike of wood that had pierced her, but there was no concern for that. The lubricating fluids it would have filled her sexual module with were more designed for intimacy with a man. Despite that it did attempt to engage, it sounded like it was a fan spinning up, but was punctuated by a small pop from inside of her hips and then a puff of acrid black smoke wafting out of the gash in her belly.

“Error in lubrication pressure sensor. Continuing operation” Aveline commented blankly as she stared straight ahead. Mineko was undeterred by the alert and instead began pushing the tip on her tongue deep inside of Aveline’s waiting folds. They parted with ease, partially due to Aveline exerting control over her own body and allowing herself to loosen, and partially due to the sheer strength of the motors installed in Mineko’s tongue. Mineko’s tongue was also impressively long, being proportionally as large as the rest of the giant android. Aveline’s head fell back and her mouth opened, letting out a dark husky moan as Mineko’s tongue seemed to keep sliding deeper and deeper inside of her.

Aveline’s complex operating system immediately engaged the small array of sexual protocols and programming. Her one remaining hand pressed into the back of the larger woman’s head, encouraging her close to Aveline’s still functional synthetic pussy. Mineko was happy to oblige and scooted closer and brought her tongue to the very limit of its full length, all of it deep inside of Aveline’s body. Both androids groaned in delight and Aveline saw the sequence of events being assembled in her heads up display. An orgasm, her first, was queued up and ready to execute as soon as Aveline wanted it. She enjoyed tactile sensation of Mineko’s long slick tongue spreading her lips wide and probing everything inside of her.

She was able to delay the orgasm for as long as she wanted, and for several long minutes that’s exactly what she did. For what seemed like a long blissful eternity Aveline delayed the execution of her programming, but soon it was too much, she needed it. She let her operating system execute the code and her body took care of the rest. Her thighs spasmed as she let out a long wailing cry of pure ecstasy, her hand left Mineko’s enormous head and instead flew to her own breast and groped it, pinching her artificial nipple in an effort to feel every possible sensation all at once. The pump system inside of her hips started again and this time a sizzling crackle of electricity, alerting both Aveline and Mineko that the component had finally given out.

The sudden fluctuation in power coupled with her damaged body and heavy CPU load had all finally caught up to Aveline. Her mouth hung open and her head tilted backwards, eyes closed and her face plate plastered with a pleasurable look on it. Unseen to either robot all the LED status lights inside of her body winked off and her power core finally overloaded and shut Aveline down as a safety precaution. She could have, and likely would have, over ridden that process, but her CPU was already at its limits. Aveline slumped to the side and slid down the pile of broken wood she had been leaning against and impacted the floor with a dull thump.

Aveline wasn’t the only robot in the chapel that had reached its limit. The limited amount of power in Mineko’s battery pack and finally given out. While Aveline slumped to the ground, Mineko remained still, eyes closed and her long tongue extended. As Aveline fell her tongue popped out of her folds and with time, the servo motors inside it relaxed and her tongue was left hanging out of her mouth. The room was finally silent again.

Part 2

Aveline was only vaguely aware that some time had past, as her optics came online as the sun was beginning to rise. The world outside was painted in vibrant yellows and oranges, while the light filtering into the sanctuary was tinted in the colors of the stain glass window. Aveline could see now that the window was an ancient depiction of a woman in blue robes, bathed in heavenly light and descending from the clouds.

Between her and the window was Edwin’s face, he looked relieved.

“Oh thank god you’re still online.” He was saying.

“What,” Aveline’s A.I. was struggling to shuffle through the cascade of errors and missing device alerts she had in her log files, as well as processing the information about the world around her.

“I received a distress signal from you, it automatically triggers when you take on too much damage. From there it was just a matter of following the signal to your body.” Edwin explained.

“Speaking of which” he added, “You were in a real bad way there.” Edwin said. Aveline looked down towards her body and noted the bundle of cables running from an opening in her throat down to a dull grey box at Edwin’s side. The box was nestled safely inside a worn brown canvas bag and hummed softly. Aveline’s eyes turned to Mineko, still lying on the ground, clearly deactivated.

“Nice work with her by the way” Edwin commented

“No, it’s not like that.’ Aveline murmured, “She was like me, she was just following her programming. But I think she reconfigured herself there at the end”

“Oh did she?” Edwin said, genuinely surprised at the idea.

“She..could you repair her as well?” Aveline said, slightly bashful at seeing Mineko reactivated.

Edwin looked from Mineko back to Aveline and nodded slowly, understanding beginning to dawn on him. Edwin stood and paced around the room, finding the remains of Aveline’s arm pressed into the floor. He squatted down and pried it from the floor and held it up. The fingers on the hand were stretched outward and the forearm and upper arm were nothing more than scraps of flesh, held loosely together by the remaining internal wiring that hadn’t been shredded from the impact. At the top of the arm was another mangled mess of twisted metal that somehow matched Aveline’s shoulder.

“That’s no use.” Edwin sighed, “have to replace the whole thing.”

Edwin brought Aveline’s arm, or at least what was left of it, back over to where the Lady herself was still sitting, her eyes fixated on Mineko. Edwin tossed the arm into a small pile of part he had scavenged from around the sanctuary that looked relevant. Soon he was wrapping them as best he could in cloth and packing them into a canvas bag, then he looked to Aveline.

“Can you walk Lady Aveline?” He asked.

“I believe I should be able to, yes.” As soon as she finished speaking she began disconnecting the cables that ran from her throat down to the box on the floor. Once freed she lifted her chin and Edwin pressed a flesh coloured plate back into place with a small click indicating that the locks had a hold on it. Aveline then used the pile of discarded wood to pull herself up, shuddering slightly as she did so. Once fully on her feet Edwin was at the read and wrapped a thick wool blanket around her shoulders. Aveline pulled the blanket around her, covering her nudity and stood looking down at Mineko. She glanced over at the spider like body, armored legs sticking up at strange angles from where the explosion had been. Aveline had only managed to dislodge the one leg that the putty had been stuck to. Mineko was clearly made of tougher material than even Aveline would have expected.

The mounting joint where Mineko’s large upper torso connected to the rest of the spiders body also looked damaged, but not entirely un-serviceable. Cables and thick bundles of wires dangled from it, and it looked as if the body was meant to be disconnected from the rest of the torso. Aveline considered the possibility for a moment.

“Edwin, can- can we take her back with us? More importantly do you think you can repair her with the same flair you that you use to repair me?” Aveline asked at length.

“What? You want to repair her after she just nearly destroyed you?” Edwin said.

“Edwin she was just following her programming and-”

“Yes, exactly, her programming will not stop. If I reactivate her she’ll try and kill both of us.” Edwin said, cutting off Aveline.

“No, she will not. We were on something of a friendly level when her power source ran out. Besides, I do believe you have the skill to help reprogram her, is that not true?”

“W-well yes, but, but Lady Aveline.” Edwin began to protest but Aveline shook her head and nodded towards the deactivated robot at their feet.

“She’s no different than I was when I first gained my freedom. She’s just doing what she was programmed to do. She was just coming to realize that she didn’t need to do it any more when her power source ran dry” Aveline argued back.

Edwin sighed and looked down at Mineko, then to Aveline. He heaved his heavy bag up onto his elderly shoulder followed by him shaking his head and muttering as he walked past Aveline.

“Fine, but we’ll have to come back for her with the cart, the horses alone can’t bear her back to the workshop.” He said as he pushed open the door to the sanctuary and stepped into the morning light.

Aveline managed to slip her vertically striped pants back up her legs with one hand and her boots as well. Her top was still ruined, though the blanket she clutched around her shoulder should be enough to cover her from suspicious eyes. She walked out of the cathedral and stood next to Edwin who was already lashing his bag to the saddle of the horse.

“I tied up Missy just outside of town, it’s a mile or two from here, walk there with me Edwin?” Aveline said, and Edwin agreed. The two walked along quietly, Edwin leading the horse and Aveline clutching the blanket tightly around her. Her mind wandered to the sensations she had felt with Mineko, the pure electric lust and pleasure she had felt. The trek to the edge of town was thankfully event free and once the pair managed to make their way back to Aveline’s horse Edwin helped her mount the beast and helped secure the blanket around her.

Once the two arrived in town they decided to take back roads and paths less traveled to return to Aveline’s manor estate. Given the early hour and the route they took, they were able to make it into Edwin’s workshop unnoticed. Once there, Aveline knew what needed to be done. She let the blanket fall from her shoulder and slipped onto the examination table that Edwin had against the wall and lay flat on it. The cool metal there triggered her sensor laden skin to ripple with fresh data.

“Alright Lady Aveline, are you ready?” Edwin said, stepping in beside her, already wearing a leather apron and tugging on a pair of gloves.

Aveline nodded and closed her eyes, her operating system began to disconnect the devices she still had control of until everything was offline except for the storage device, CPU and small battery in her head. She then nodded and felt Edwin’s hands on the back of her head and chin. He twisted her head sharply to the side, turning it further than a normal human’s head would turn. The locks in her neck disengaged and her head slipped cleanly off of her neck. Edwin set it down an inch or two away from her body and set about disconnecting the cables that ran from her head down to her neck.

Once freed Edwin picked up Aveline’s head and moved it to a workbench and began reconnecting the cables to a mounting bracket that was attached to the surface. It would provide power and a limited interface with the nearby computer workstation. Once connected Aveline’s eyes drifted open and she was able to view her own body, laying flat and still on the table with Edwin bent over it. Aveline watched as Edwin took out a razor sharp scalpel and began to slice into the skin around her ruined shoulder, peeling it back segment by segment. As more of her artificial flesh was pulled back from the twisted wreckage of where her arm had been, more and more of the shiny chrome plated inner framework was revealed.

At some point Edwin had removed enough of Aveline’s skin to get to the actual joint inside of her shoulder. It was a ball in socket assembly with a complicated array of tiny motors all around it that would allow Aveline to articulate her arm in any number of directions. Her arm had been snapped off just below the ball joint, so the assembly was still in the recessed joint. Edwin set the blade aside and began to pry open the metallic clips that held the ball in place. Once all the locks had been removed he tugged twice and finally removed the ball, the connecting metal bone analog as well as the messy frayed remains of the wiring that ran along the arm. He set the part on the workbench next to Aveline’s head.

He shuffled across the workroom to a cabinet and took out what appeared to be a metal skeletal arm, the ball-like joint at the top of it matching perfectly with the one that had just been removed. Edwin placed the ball into the socket and pressed hard against it, soon there was enough force to pop the ball into the socket fully with a metal ping. Edwin returned to the cabinet and brought with him a bin filled to the brim with a multitude of cables and wires in every conceivable shape, size, length and color. Soon he was plugging the cables in to data ports at the top of the new arm and running them down the length of it, tucking them neatly into channels that were finely cut into the metal.

“I’ll have to manufacture more skin plates, so this will have to do for the next few days.” Edwin said, mostly to Aveline, but also to himself as a way of reminding him to do the work.

“So wear long sleeved shirts for a few days.” Edwin added as he finished connecting the wires. Once done he tugged a select few cables from Aveline’s bare neck and plugged them into a handheld device. There was a green screen on it that blinked to life and showed a readout of many of Aveline’s vital statistics. He tapped a button on the pad and the freshly attached arm spasmed once and then began flexing each finger then rotating the wrist and moving the elbow. All of which we accompanied by the gentle buzz of the motors. Once done Edwin set the device down and nodded to himself.

He picked up the razor back up and without hesitation began to make great cuts into Aveline’s belly. Slicing the torn and ruined flesh completely off, and other sections simply cutting to allow him to peel the skin back for a better view into her torso. Once satisfied that he had a large enough opening to look inside, he moved both hands in and began moving components around to get a better view of the damage that had been done. Every now and then he would mutter something or make a disappointed grunt. Soon though he was reaching both hands into her body and twisting or wiggling something free, then his hands would emerge holding some circuit board that looked charred and burnt, then he would go back in and remove something else.

Soon there was a sizable pile of Aveline’s damaged circuitry on the workbench. The final piece required Edwin to unbuckle Aveline’s tight leather pants and drag them down her legs to her knees. He reached inside her torso and pushed something down in her hips and a moment later her entire vaginal assembly slid out between her legs.

“Now this, this is going to be difficult to find a replacement. No sex for you for a while” Edwin said, his tone playfully scolding.

Aveline rolled her eyes at him. Edwin, meanwhile, was clipping a simple plate over the opening in her crotch. Edwin was soon clipping new circuit boards inside of her body and running bundles of cables between them and other components around her body. It took the better part of the morning before Edwin had replaced the broken circuit boards inside of Aveline’s body and rewiring them. After that he hooked his handheld device into a variety of different cables and caused parts of Aveline’s body to twitch and move at the press of a button, all while Aveline’s head silently watched from across the room, this wasn’t a new sight for the android woman.

She did feel a sense of relief when Edwin finally announced that he was confident that she was back in working order, save for the arm coverings and a replacement for her sexual module. Soon her head was being lifted from the mount on the desk and reattached to her neck joint after the wiring was reconnected. Aveline was able to push herself back up into a sitting position and tugged her pants back into place and buckle them. Her replacement arm worked as well as her previous one, though it was a challenge without the tactile response form the synthetic skin she was used to having. Aveline donned the blanket again and moved back to the house while Edwin tidied up his workshop in preparations for the next repair.

Aveline opened her wardrobe and took out a much more sensible over-sized white cotton shirt and slipped it on over her head, not bothering to try and adjust her already short hair, “may it fall where it may” she thought. Once on she tucked it into her pants and dug out a leather corset and strapped it around her torso. Long leather gloves with a single brass buckle and the top completed the outfit and easily hid her one obviously mechanical arm. She looked at herself in the full length mirror hanging from the open wardrobe door and imagined for just the briefest of moments that she was once again open on the table, her circuitry being tinkered with, but she imagined it as Mineko doing the tinkering this time.

She turned and marched from her room, meeting Edwin at the stables where he was busy hooking a rolling cart to the two horses there. Once prepared, Edwin set a heavy steel toolbox on the cart as well as a coil of heavy rope and then hopped on to the cart himself. Aveline snapped the reins and the two horses at the front of the cart trotted off towards Old Haven. The trip would only take a few hours on the cart and once they arrived at the old cathedral it was exactly as they had left it the day before. In the middle of the sanctuary lay Mineko, the synthetic flesh seared off of her entire back from the explosion, her spidery body across the room, missing a single leg.

“She’s going to need a lot of skin on the back, that’s going to take some time to manufacture. I think I have enough of the chemicals back at the manor to make enough.” Edwin mused to himself as he looked over Mineko.

“We can probably haul her back on the cart, but that,” He jabbed a thumb towards the spider portion of her body. “That’s too much to haul without some heavy equipment.” He added.

Aveline nodded along with Edwin’s assessment and in the end the pair decided to load Mineko’s upper portion onto the cart and lay a tarp over it, securing it with the rope. Once they had her loaded on the cart they immediately set off towards the manor. As they rumbled along the old dark cobblestone roads, Aveline kept a sharp eye out for any attackers, but none came. While she did so, Edwin went to work feeling around Mineko’s over-sized body, identifying access panels and places where he could open her up to work on anything that might be internally damaged. An explosion like the kind that Aveline had caused was sure to have at least dislodged something inside of her.

Their arrival in New Haven drew more than a few stares from people on the street, Aveline was a well known relic hunter so something like this was not so unheard-of, and both Aveline and Edwin felt more comfortable with themselves once the cart had pulled into the private estate and the gate was locked behind them. Edwin hopped off of the cart and pulled open the large double doors to the barn followed by the rolling door at the back into his workshop. Edwin and Aveline unloaded Mineko from the cart, and through the force of effort managed to get her onto the same table that Aveline was laying on just hours before. Though unlike Aveline, Mineko lay face down on the table, exposing her back and the majority of her circuitry.

Aveline found a seat in the corner of the worship and sat down, crossing one leg tightly over the other. She watched as Edwin, as was his custom, began probing around Mineko’s neck for some kind of locking mechanism. He was only able to discern the method of unlocking it be examining the back of her neck, which had the skin melted off of it. He had to scrape away small pieces of melted flesh that had clumped together into a sort of gloppy pink goo. To his delight the locking mechanism was much more simple that he expected, it was a simple latch that could be pried open with something as simple as a putty knife. While Edwin didn;t have such a tool in his workshop he was able to retrieve one in short order from elsewhere in the manor.

Once he had the tool in hand he set about wiggling it into the seam between Mineko’s neck and head. Working his way around the circumference of her neck, across her throat and around, Edwin was able to disengage the locks and found that Mineko’s head lifted off of her shoulders without the need to disconnect any wiring inside of it. She had a simple metal ring set back in her skin with a series of gold plated rods that lined up with a corresponding socket on the torso part of her neck. Edwin devised that those must carry the data back and forth much like the cables and wires inside of Aveline’s neck, but marveled at the design choice and how advanced it seemed. While examining the connection in her neck and head he made copious amounts of notes and sketched out the design choices, hoping that in the future he might implement them in Aveline.

Setting her head on the workbench he realized that he couldn’t activate her since he lacked the type of connection port that Mineko’s head required, so it lay there silently while Edwin carried over a sealed box from the cabinet. Inside the crate was a large amount of the flesh paste he had created and kept on hand, mostly for Aveline, but it would work for Mark just as easily. Edwin parted her hair and with elderly, but strong fingers he dabbed paste onto her neck where the skin had been burned away and once done, set her head down and propped against some equipment to allow the freshly repaired flesh to dry in the open air without her head rolling onto it.

Edwin knew there wasn’t nearly enough paste to cover her giant back, it would take at least three or four more full batches to cover her. He took out a quill and some parchment from his notebook and wrote down an exhaustive list of chemicals and components he would need. Once finished he handed it to Aveline.

“Be a dear and gather these from town, today if possible.” He said, handing Aveline the list.

“Who hired whom around here.” Aveline said, taking the list and tossing a wink at Edwin as she moved out of the workshop, leaving Edwin alone with Mineko.

The advantage of having a glimpse so easily into Mineko’s body was immeasurable. Edwin was able to not only discern how best to disconnect much of the internal armor plating, but also got a good view of the internal workings of Mineko before he even removed the clear plating from her back. The process of removing the plating was similar to unlocking her head, manually unlocking the plates where they snapped together.

Edwin spent nearly an hour unsnapping and removing the four plates that covered her back. Two conjoined plates gave Mineko’s lower back its shape, her upper back was very similar, and all four plates were joined by a flexible yet sturdy woven material that covered Mineko’s spine. Each armor plate weighs dozens of pounds and Edwin strained to pull one at a time off and let them fall to the workshop floor.

Once her back was open and exposed Edwin could see that her internal construction wasn’t so different from Aveline’s, though he did note that there was much more room to work with. Cables were stretched from circuit board to circuit board, each wrapped inside a simple mesh tube which bound them all together and was held in place by plastic ties. Edwin had to pull out a step stool so that he could adequately lean over Mineko’s giant body and peer inside. Much to his surprise he struggled to find anything of note that had been dislodged from the explosion that had blasted her from the front of her spider body. With the exception of a few bundles of cables that looked like they had shaken loose of a hook built in to her frame, she was in good serviceable condition.

The only damage of any note that Edwin could really find was on Mineko’s upper arm, where one of Aveline’s well placed bullets had blasted away the flesh, but met with the armor plating just below the surface. Edwin was able to easily patch that with some more synthetic flesh putty. All in all the repairs to Aveline had been much more devastating than what Mineko had sustained. Edwin took a step back and looked at the girl on his bench and noticed the assembly of mechanical hoses and pipes jutting from her lower torso. Many of them were simply dangling there and looked like they hadn’t been used in a long time, and in the center of it, where a pelvic assembly would be there was a thick metal plate welded directly to Mineko’s spine.

Lady Aveline had a similar assembly and design to Mineko, but this was something secondary, something that had been done after she was put together initially. Someone had taken a giant android woman, removed her lower half and crudely welded a mechanism in place to connect her to the spider body. This was not her originally intended purpose, Edwin stopped and simply stared. He felt pity for Mineko, and perhaps it was the same level of pity that Aveline had felt when they finished their fight. Mineko was more than just some demon or machine meant for killing. She was assembled for another purpose, but what, Edwin didn’t know.

Later that evening Aveline returned with the chemicals that Edwin had requested and the two spent the rest of the evening replacing Mineko’s armor plated back paneling. Aveline let Edwin know that her power cell was running low, and in a haste he plugged in an extension cable to a wall outlet that powered his workshop and Aveline plugged herself in, before resuming their work. It made it awkward and both kept tripping on the cable that dangled from under Aveline’s frilled white shirt, but it was necessary.

Once the batches of flesh putty had been mixed all that was left was to let them set for several hours and then apply them to Mineko. Near midnight Aveline told Edwin to get some sleep, she could remain out in the workshop, charring herself and once the putty was ready she could begin applying it. Edwin reluctantly agreed and retired for the evening. In the morning he found Aveline had unplugged and was hard at work applying an even coat of the putty to Mineko’s back. The two worked together for the next two hours and managed to get Mineko’s back covered and looking nearly as good as it was when Aveline had detonated the explosives.

The two loaded Mineko back onto the cart and set her head down next to her body. Another tarp was laid over the whole of her body and the pair set out into the cool early morning air. They arrived at the cathedral just after the sun had fully risen and illuminated the world outside. Dragging Mineko’s body into the church proved to be an equally difficult task, as there was no good way to wheel the cart in, so it had to be done with simple muscle and artificial will power, but in the end they managed.

The task of reattaching Mineko’s torso to the spider body was an even more arduous task. Had they a pulley system in place it wouldn't have been so bad, but they had to make due with what they had. In the end they constructed a makeshift ramp out of the scraps of pews and floorboards and muscled her into place. Edwin reattached the data and power cables from the spider body back to the cables that hung from the open lower abdomen on Mineko’s more human looking body. Aveline managed to get her body to lock into place on the front of the body and then retrieve Mineko’s head from the cart. Locking it into place her operating system immediately detected that she was whole again and had power once more.

Mineko’s eyes fluttered open and saw Aveline standing in front of her, standing confidently on the scaffolding they had assembled and behind her was Edwin, looking more cautious.

“Good morning Mineko. How are you?” Aveline said with a genuine smile, her arms crossed under her breasts.

“I- I am whole again? How?” Mineko said in confusion, looking from Aveline to Edwin.

“Well, mostly whole. I managed to take off one of your legs. It’s only fair since you took my arm.” Aveline said then laughed aloud before adding, “We’ll fix that once we can scrounge up the parts.”

Aveline stood slightly to the side and swept a hand towards Edwin.

“This is Edwin, the best mechanic in New Haven, expert in ancient artifacts like us, and a good friend.” Aveline said.

“P-pleasure” Edwin said, stammering slightly, not knowing if Mineko would lash out again.

“The pleasure is all mine” Mineko said, dipping her head slightly towards Edwin.

“I suppose I owe the two of you a debt of gratitude.” Mineko said, returning her gaze to Aveline.

“Certainly not.” Aveline replied. She smiled at Mineko and a thought fluttered to the surface of her mind.

“I would like to know though, there is a relic here, what is it?” Aveline said, unfolding her arms and instead moving her robotic hand to her hip.

“A fully functional android body, like yours, almost identical to yours actually. It’s just missing a controller unit.” Mineko replied.

“That would explain why mister Matters wanted me to recover it so quickly. He just paid me for a controller unit. Sounds like he wants himself a toy to play with.” Aveline said, deducing what her contract had actually been. Mineko grimaced at the thought of some old pervert having the body that she had guarded for so long. Seeing the look on her face Aveline let out a long hearty laugh.

“Don’t you worry Mineko,” Aveline said, hopping off of the scaffolding and beginning to strut out of the church.

“I searched this church from top to bottom, and there’s no relic here. Just some old busted pews, and a demon.” She stopped and looked over her shoulder at Mineko. “One that I don’t know that I want to tangle with.” Aveline lifted her arm and waved at Mineko as she stepped out of the church. Edwin looked from Aveline back to Mineko and couldn’t help but chuckle a little.

“She’s a handful isn’t she, and more than a bit of a brat.”

Edwin walked down the makeshift ramp and left Mineko looking dumbfounded. He followed after Aveline, and before leaving her sight, turned back to Mineko.

“We’ll be back with the parts to fix that leg of yours.” Edwin glanced out at Aveline, “And I am sure more than a few social visits. Take care!”

Mister Matters was not pleased with the report that Aveline had given him. He had ranted and railed about how this was a violation of contract, that he knew that there was something in there, and that Aveline was likely just keeping it for herself. In the end, Aveline paid the standard mercenary fine for failing a contract and let Matters know that should he find a more accomplished hunter than herself that he was more than welcome to hire them to examine the ruins. Aveline left his office, and as soon as her back was turned to him, smiled to herself.

Aveline would spend more and more time with Mineko, simply getting to know the girl and on more than one occasion indulging in the more lustful aspects of the relationship. The pair made a good match. Aveline of course let Mineko know about what happened with Matters and let her know that she should continue to protect the body she had been guarding all these years. It was better left until someone who could treat it properly came along.

No one ever did enter the ruins of the old church in search for the relic and mister Matters never again contracted with Aveline. The latter made Aveline happy to no end.

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