My Spark had already begun trying to decipher the jumble of locks and dials to the engine room of the floating Avarian city when I heard the voices behind me.
"Wormwood...fear the sky...one chance..."
The generator I had jury-rigged into a powerful but bulky energy weapon rested on the sand beside me. I needed both my hands free to force the mechanisms. My surgical prosthesis had a blade and a needle I could rotate to improvise as as lockpicks. However it, lacked a grip for holding the weapon. It was yet another disadvantage that would have slowed the retrieval and readying of the weapon. It turned around slowly.
I had already seen humanoid and feline Steel units. Now I was facing down a swarm of arachnoid Steels. From the waist up they resembled the humanoids, but below that were rows of legs positioned to suspend massive bodies bristling with weaponry. I felt the heat of their optical laser enhancements measuring my biometrics. They were trailing down from the ancient stucco walls and spiralling down from the intricate columns. Some of them silently descended from cables woven by their bodies that somehow attached to the vaulted ceilings above.
"Your vocalizations gave your positions away!" I barked. "I designed you for stealth, not gossip!"
The Steels froze. My ruse seemed to have caught them off guard. The pinpoints of the red lights converged on my mechanical arm. This would be a hole in my deception.
I raised the limb triumphantly. "This! This is a trophy of the capture of my errant clone! You do recognize the ruler of New Erebus, do you not?"
The arachnoids bent their human torsos as they dipped their front legs in a sign of obedience.
"Now...I need to make some...adjustments...to the current power configuration..."
I tapped the energy projector with my bare foot.
"Now...open this door!"
They seemed to vibrate as they whispered to each other, just below my threshold of hearing. Then their voices quickly rose into terrifying shrieks.
"OVERRIDE! OVERRIDE! WORMWOOD! WORMWOOD!"
The Steel closest to me sprung into the air, the light of the artificial sun was blocked by her shadow as it bore down on me with an array of sharpened limbs, ready to descend for a fatal, treasonous blow.