Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Allison III(Part 2): A Train Named Conspiracy - Chapter 7

(Download the updated version in PDF/epub format here.)

Thanks for waiting. I'm finally back in Canada and settled in nicely at home. Here's the next chapter of Allison.

Incidentally, I finished working on the rest of the volume over the past few days, but I wanted to look over it again before I posted it. Allison will be coming to a close in the next few weeks.

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Chapter 7: Across the Valley


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“—It looks like a tank.”

The moment the words hit his ears, Major Stork fell to the floor and reached both hands into his suitcase. Benedict and Fiona—who had raised their heads at the major’s actions—and Allison and Wil watched as Stork withdrew a small pair of binoculars. He knelt on the carpet as he raised his glasses onto his forehead and looked out the window with his eyes pressed to the binoculars.

Three seconds later.

Major Stork turned with a vexed scowl. Benedict glared at him.

“What now?”


“First Lieutenant Klein. We’ve found the transcontinental express. It’s currently running down the main tracks across the valley.”

“Confirmed. Squad 1 is missing, just as noted. What could have happened? …Can we catch up at that speed?”

“Yes, sir. We’re faster than they are, and they’ll also have to slow to a crawl at the turn before the bridge crossing.”

“Things will be difficult for us if they make it past the bridge. We must stop them before it, if at all possible. Prepare the flares and radios.”

“Yes, sir. And what if the train refuses to comply with orders?”

“Then we can only assume that the major has failed. We will, unfortunately, have to abort the mission.”

“Specifically…”

“We ignore the well-being of the target and kill all those aboard the train. We will pass them and install a derailing mechanism to the tracks, toppling the train over. Drop all injured into the valley. If we are fortunate enough to find the target alive, we bring the target back with us. That is all. We have no reason to dirty our hands.”

“…Understood, sir.”

“If looks like we’ll have to take the ‘discovery’ into our own hands. What a joke.”


Visible through a set of round lenses was a single vehicle moving along the northern side of the valley.

It resembled a tank. The vehicle was about six meters long and was about three meters tall and wide. The chassis was wedge-shaped and covered in metal plates, which were painted in camouflaging greens and browns. On top was a cylindrical gun turret. The barrel of a machine gun was sticking out of it. On either side of the bottom of the vehicle were caterpillar tracks used by tanks and tractors.

The caterpillars were still, as though the vehicle was parked. But the tank was moving.

Underneath the vehicle was not a road, but a set of tracks. Instead of the caterpillar tracks, the tank was running down them on the railway-use wheels equipped to its underside. Like an independent locomotive, the train moved down the rails. In both the front and the back, sets of buffers and connectors jutted out like horns.

“What is that?” Wil asked Major Stork, lowering the binoculars.

“It’s a tank, isn’t it?” Replied Allison from beside him.

“But it’s running down train tracks.”

“Maybe it’s a specialized tank.”

From the back of the train, Wil, Allison, Fiona, Benedict, and Major Stork knelt in a line beside the dining car’s right-side windows with their heads poking out of the closed curtains. Wil, who was last to look through the binoculars, handed them to Allison. It was passed from Allison to Fiona to Benedict. As Benedict handed it back to Major Stork, he said firmly,

“Please answer the question.”

“All right. As the young lady noticed, that vehicle is a sort of tank—to be specific, an armored railcar.” Major Stork replied, defeated.

“An armored railcar?” Allison repeated.

“Yes. It’s a special armored vehicle that can move on land with caterpillar tracks and run along the rails with the wheels equipped on its underside. They finally succeeded in creating this vehicle quite recently. It’s an excellent and useful vehicle that can be used for scouting and security anywhere, whether roads or rails.” Major Stork explained.

“Enough with the bragging. What is a vehicle like that doing here?”

“At this point, I’m not certain.”

The moment Major Stork answered, the hatch on the armored railcar opened and a flare was lit. The same green light as before flew into the valley in a trail of white smoke.

At the same time, a dull impact rocked the car. Everyone held onto the handrails, trying to avoid a fall. The train began screeching to a slow.

“I told them not to do this!”

Major Stork leapt to his feet and headed for the conductor’s cabin with his suitcase dragging behind.

“In whatever case, I cannot believe that person.” Benedict grumbled in Roxchean. He and the others followed after Stork. He was sitting on the chair in the cabin, hanging onto the radio.

“I believe I told you not to slow down.”

Benedict reached over and flicked a switch. The panicked voice of an engineer left the speaker.

<B-but sir, we’ve received orders to slow down via radio from the armored vehicle. Please switch channels and ask them yourself.>

<Understood.> Major Stork said briefly, then turned the dial and changed frequencies. A male voice escaped the speaker.

<This is the armored railcar. Whoever is in charge of the transcontinental express, respond. I repeat—>

As four people watched, Major Stork sighed and took hold of the microphone switch.

“This is Major Stork of the Royal Army, currently aboard the transcontinental express. Who am I speaking to?”

Several seconds later, a reply came from the speaker.

<This is First Lieutenant Klein from the military police.>

“What’s an MP doing here?” Benedict mumbled, frowning.

“So… he’s a police officer for the military?” Fiona asked when Wil interpreted for her. Wil nodded.

“First Lieutenant. Due to urgent reasons, this train has been split and many of its passengers left behind. We are trying to reach the village at the base of the mountains as fast as we can. Currently, there are two passengers in the VIP car and four behind me. The four are listening to this conversation.” Major Stork explained. Several seconds later came a response.

<Understood. We are acting according to recent intel that a rogue faction of the military is planning an attempt on the VIP passenger’s life. We are attempting to protect the VIP. Are the passengers unharmed?>

Major Stork glanced at the others and raised a thumb as though asking them what they wanted him to do.

“They are. In fact, I’d like to request cover from your end.”

<Understood. About thirty kilometers ahead is a lake and a bridge. We’ll connect your tracks to ours at the bridge, so come to a stop just before you reach it. We’ll join you there.>

“Of course. We’ll proceed slowly until that point, so please watch our route—both ahead and behind. Set off a red flare if anything should come up.”

<Understood.>

“Thank you. Perhaps we should all go for tea at the village once you’ve finished your duties. On me, of course.”

<That sounds excellent. If you’ll excuse us, then.>


“It’s done. The major seems to be mostly on track. But what in the world is Squad 1 doing?”

“Maybe their locomotive had a breakdown, sir.”

“You might be right. Anyway, that doesn’t matter. We’ll proceed with the plan without them. Continue down the tracks alongside the train until we reach the bridge. Watch their route ahead and behind—but don’t get too serious. No one is coming, anyway.”

“Yes, sir.”


After speaking to the soldiers, Major Stork switched back to the engineers and ordered them to continue slowly until the bridge. When the engineers accepted the orders, the major turned off the radio and stood.

“Shall we return to the dining car?”

Unlike before, the train was moving down the tracks at a relaxed pace. The shaking and the noise were much quieter.

The five of them returned to the dining car and the chairs they had practically claimed for themselves. Major Stork opened the curtains slightly and looked at the vehicle on the other side of the valley.

“Are we going to be okay now?” Fiona wondered.

“Maybe we are. If the military police is in this case, this suspicious major might be telling the truth really.” Benedict replied in Roxchean.

“There’s something I’d like to ask of all of you now.” Major Stork said as he watched Benedict and Fiona, getting out of his seat. He was as calm as though he were asking for help redecorating the car. Four sets of eyes turned to him. Benedict spoke first.

“What is it?”

“I just need your assistance with something. I would like to request your unified efforts.”

“What are you planning…?”

“We are going to take down that armored vehicle.” Major Stork replied.

There were five seconds of stunned silence.

“What did you just say?” Benedict asked.

“Major Stork’s just asked us to help destroy the armored vehicle…” Wil told Fiona, interpreting.

“Are you out of your mind, Major? We’ve just been offered protection—not by just anyone, but the military police!”

“I am still sane, Major Carr. And before you ask, I am not drunk.” Major Stork replied, reaching for his belt and pulling out his gun. He slowly raised it toward Benedict.

“I am still quite sane.”

His hand stopped in midair. The gun was pointed at the ceiling. If he were to lower his arm even a little, he would be able to shoot Benedict with ease.

“A surprising claim.”

Benedict pulled Fiona close and glared at Major Stork. Wil and Allison watched them from the side. Major Stork glanced at them—his eyes were cold and determined.

“Major Carr. Future Queen Francesca. And Wilhelm and Miss Allison. If you don’t wish to die, you must believe me. You must do as I say.”

“Is this a threat?” Asked Benedict.

“No. No, it is not. Think of it more as a warning, closer to a word of caution. I do not wish to see you dead.”

“To be honest, I have no idea what you are doing.” Benedict said, slowly reaching for his side. But his hand found nothing.

“You gave your gun to that boy earlier.”

“Right… I’d forgotten completely.”

Benedict and Major Stork’s gazes turned to Wil.

“Right. Wil, you’re the one with the gun. So go ahead and do something with it.” Allison advised. Her tone defied the tension in the air.

“I can’t point a gun at someone without a good reason.” Wil replied. Major Stork nodded.

“You are absolutely correct.”

“You have no right to be saying that.” Benedict argued the moment Major Stork replied. The major replied with his gun still pointed overhead.

“I ask that you trust me, if only for today. If you do not wish to die on this train, I need everyone’s support.”

“What do you want us to do?” Wil asked. Benedict hissed in Roxchean.

“Wil. This man is certainly hiding some things.”

Wil’s answer was immediate.

“I agree. But that’s true of us as well. Ever since that day.”

Benedict was silent.

“We’ll hear him out for the moment. Fiona, could you wait for a bit? We’ll explain everything later.”

Wil then turned to Major Stork and asked in Bezelese.

“Major Stork. What do you want us to do?”

Stork nodded.

“Let me explain. We must render that armored railcar impotent before we cross the bridge. If they get in our way as we merge onto one track, we are finished. We will be helpless to resist.”

“Why?”

“I can’t say at the moment. But if we don’t do as I say, our lives are forfeit.”

Benedict was skeptical.

“You want us to believe that? To be frank, I’d like to hand you over to the MPs before I end up accomplice to a conspiracy.”

“Feel free to do so—after we’ve reached the village.” Major Stork replied firmly. Benedict scowled.

“In other words,” Wil continued, “you can’t tell us your reasons, but you want us to trust you?”

“Yes. And there is no time to waste.”

As though scrutinizing a keyhole, Wil silently gazed into Major Stork’s blue eyes. Major Stork did not look away, looking back at Wil’s brown eyes.

“I understand. I’ll trust you. Tell us what we should do.” Wil answered. Benedict sighed and shook his hands in disbelief. Major Stork’s eyes narrowed.

“Thank you. Then from now on, we will attempt to destroy or at least render powerless the armored railcar across the valley.”

“That’s easy to say, but how’re we going to do it?” Asked Allison.

“We will shoot it down.”

“With that gun?”

Major Stork shook his head and holstered his gun.

“No. We will go get our weapon now.”

“Huh. Going to get it.” Allison mumbled, then added, “where?”


The five people were walking down the galley corridor, headed for the front of the train.

At the head of the line was Major Stork. He had left his suitcase in the conductor’s office and was empty-handed. Behind him were Allison and Wil, and behind them were Fiona and Benedict.

They passed the galley and the VIP room and entered the freight car. In the hallway, which was on the left side of the car, were two doors leading into the holds. The one nearby led into the passenger cargo hold, and the one closer to the front led into the VIP passenger cargo hold. The sturdy metal doors were chained shut and secured with large locks.

“In here.”

“You have a key, right?” Allison asked.

“For security purposes, yes.” Major Stork replied. He took out a key from inside his jacket, opened the lock, and threw the chain to the floor. Then he began pushing at the door.

“This is quite heavy. If someone could lend me a hand—ah, thank you.”

Benedict reached out without saying a word. The heavy door creaked open and was locked into open position so the shaking of the train would not close it.

Just like the other hold had been in the morning, the VIP hold was filled with mounds of cargo covered in cloth.

Major Stork began to pull off the cloth, revealing many wooden crates. They were of various sizes, secured with ropes and piled neatly one on top of another. There was nothing to signify the contents, save for tiny numbers printed on the corners.

“The smaller crates may fall if the train shakes. Please take care.”

With that, Major Stork began to haphazardly unknot the ropes. Benedict joined in. When the major asked for a dolly, Allison and Wil detached a cart that was fixed beside the hold. It was a small cart with two wheels, made to transport objects positioned to lean toward the handles.

“We’ll have to lift this, Major Carr. Lend me a hand.”

Major Stork was pointing at a large wooden crate about two meters long and fifty centimeters wide and tall. Benedict, lifting it with the major’s help, grimaced at the weight.

“Is this, by any chance, a giant’s coffin? It must weigh well over eighty kilograms.”

“It’s no coffin. And please take care not to drop it.”

They brought the box down from the pile and loaded it onto the cart that Wil and Allison had brought. Benedict, who was holding the lower part, had to use much more strength than Major Stork.

Major Stork expertly secured the crate to the cart. Then, he left Benedict the laborious task of pushing the cart to the dining car while giving Fiona a crowbar for opening the crate and instructions to go ahead and open the doors for them.

“You two, please take those crates.”

Wil and Allison were assigned smaller crates, about a meter long and thirty centimeters wide and tall. However, they were much heavier than they looked. They each took one end and followed after Fiona and Benedict.

Major Stork followed after them empty-handed.

“Look who’s got a lot of room on their hands.” Allison said snidely, glancing at him.

“It’s because I have to go to the VIP cabin and warn our incredibly valuable patron to remain inside. Please, go on without me. And start by opening up the smaller crate.”

Splitting from the others at the VIP car, Major Stork waited for them to disappear from view before banging loudly on the door to the bodyguard lounge.

“It’s me. Open up, please.”

Soon came the sound of the lock being unlocked as the door opened. Major Stork pushed aside Ien—who was armed with a gun—as he stepped inside, closing the door and locking it. He turned to the stoic Ien with a piercing glare.

“Where is Mr. Terreur?”

“The Master is inside.”

“There’s something I must tell him now. Please let me inside immediately.”

Ien said nothing, but finally opened the door into the cabin and led Major Stork inside. Terreur, who was drinking on his sofa, grumbled as he looked up.

“I don’t know where they caught our trail, but the military police is here to arrest us.” Stork said, irritated. “There is a tank driving parallel to us across the valley. Ien, interpretation!”

Slightly cowed by Stork’s tone, Ien quickly interpreted his words into Roxchean. Terreur’s expression faltered.

“What?”

Before Ien could even interpret, Major Stork replied sharply with his voice half-raised.

“We’ve just received radio contact from them. I’ve managed to come up with excuses and buy us time, but at this rate we will all be taken into custody. Shit! Just where was this information leak?” He swore, shooting a sidelong glare at Ien. It was clear he suspected him.

Ien said nothing. He interpreted Major Stork’s words for Terreur.

“Wh-what are we to do, then?” Terreur stuttered, unable to hide his anxiety.

“We have no choice but to take them down. Even if it means killing them all.”

“What? But… they are military police, are they not?”

“That is of little concern to me. Our organization is capable of covering it all up.”

“Is that so? A relief to hear. But how will you stop the military police?”

“I’ll be borrowing some of your cargo, Mr. Terreur. In fact, I’ve already begun preparations. I’ve managed to deceive Major Carr and his companions somehow, so I must go back and continue to lead them now.”

“By ‘cargo’… are you thinking what I am thinking? Are you quite sane, my man?”

Quite. If we are caught here, we will be put on trial by both Roxche and Sou Be-Il. Do you want for that to happen? You and I both will become enemies of the world.”

“Of course…” Terreur replied. Major Stork smiled. His grin was suave, like that of a skilled salesman visiting his client.

“There is nothing to worry about, Mr. Terreur. We are almost in the clear. We will forcibly remove all obstacles in our path, no matter how many lives are lost on the way.”


“Though unlikely, we must prepare for the possibility of snipers being deployed. Do not leave your cabin. Keep your curtains shut. And do not open the door for anyone other than myself. If you’ll excuse me, I have some lives to take.”

With that, Major Stork left the cabin.

“That man is insane.” Terreur muttered.

Ien was silent, his stony gaze fixed on the closed door.


“I’m sorry to have kept you waiting.”

When Major Stork arrived at the dining car at the end of the train, Benedict was just opening up the smaller crate with the crowbar, grumbling under his breath.

“Damn it. I came here for a relaxing vacation.”

The tables had been cleared; boxes small and large littered the empty floor.

“Thank you for your efforts.” Said Major Stork. Benedict did not even turn as he curtly gave a word of thanks.

Major Stork peered out through the curtains toward the other side of the valley. The armored railcar was moving slowly, keeping pace with the train.

Soon, Benedict removed all the nails from the crate and tossed the lid aside.

The crate was filled with balled-up newspapers. When Wil and Benedict cleared them away, a gun emerged.

“Incredible…” Benedict gasped, taking up the gun. It was about a meter in length. It was a pump-action shotgun with a tube-shaped magazine fixed under the barrel. Mounted atop the shotgun’s characteristically thick barrel was a heatshield ridden with holes.

Benedict pulled on the fore grip to check that the gun was not loaded.

“It’s certainly no toy.”

“The slugs are here. Please load them later.” Said Major Stork, handing him a safe-shaped box with handles that was next to the crate. Benedict placed it on the floor and opened the lid. It was filled with cylindrical slugs.

Major Stork began to open up the other large box. He expertly pulled out the nails one after another and opened the three-section lid.

“Wake up, now. It’s time for some action.” He said cheerfully, removing the balls of newspaper and boards that supported the contents. Wil and Benedict quickly joined in. When the box was cleared, both Wil and Benedict gasped.

Like the other box, this one was also occupied by a gun that took up most of its space. Allison peered inside from next to Wil.

“What is this?”

“As you can see, it is a gun. A rifle.”

With that, Major Stork instructed Benedict to lift one end of the rifle. The two of them lifted the gun together, each holding up one end.

“Shit. Talk about heavy.”

“It weighs about fifty kilograms. Please try not to hurt your back.”

From the case they pulled a gigantic gun that was a whopping two meters long.

Like any other gun, the barrel and the firing mechanism were attached to the chassis. It had a grip, a trigger, a large sniping scope, and a stock for securing the gun to the shoulder and cheek when firing.

However, in terms of size the gun was so enormous that it could have been used by a giant. The barrel alone—about as thick as a factory pipe—was twice the length of longer guns. The end of the barrel, riddled with holes that expelled gas, looked much like a harmonica.

Underneath the body was equipped a large frame. It was composed of two metal legs attached to gigantic sled-shaped movable slides that a person could probably wear on their feet. Further ahead was another frame that secured the gun when it was fired.

With a dull thud the gun was placed onto the carpet. The grip and two slides balanced it upright.

“Phew… what in the world is this? I’ve never seen a gun so enormous.” Benedict said, astonished. Major Stork said nothing, but took out a metal box from the wooden crate. It was about thirty centimeters long and wide, and had the appearance of a lunchbox big enough for several people.

“The magazines. We just have to equip them on top of the gun.”

“That doesn’t matter right now, Major. Answer the question. What in the world is this gun?”

Major Stork finally answered.

“It’s the Roxchean military’s latest anti-tank rifle.”

“An anti-tank rifle? This?”

“Yes. Although it’s not quite enough for the latest and largest tank models, it’s sufficient for taking care of light tanks and armored vehicles. If we snipe covertly with this weapon, I’m quite certain we’ll see results.”

“I feel almost foolish for asking, but… what caliber?”

“20 millimeters.”

With that answer, Major Stork opened the magazine case, took out a round, and showed it to Benedict. It was twenty millimeters in diameter—a gigantic round that looked rather like a half bottle of wine with copper leaf.

“Is it all right for a person to fire one of these?” Benedict wondered, his astonished gaze on the round so large that it would not fit in his hands. Twenty millimeters was the size of rounds used for aeroplane-mounted machine guns.

“That is how it’s designed, at least. Although I can’t be sure, as I haven’t tried using it myself.” Major Stork replied firmly. “But this gun is our only hope of resolving this situation. If we can use it to render the enemy powerless, we will emerge victorious,”

“Twenty millimeters… I suppose it will be enough, provided that it hits. But who will be the shooter? You, since you brought it up?” Asked Benedict. Major Stork shook his head.

“I must observe the impact through the binoculars, I’m afraid. You’ll have to take the gun.”

“It feels quite silly to say this, but I’m not very confident in my rifle skills.”

“Then is there anyone else who could take this role?” Major Stork said sarcastically. At that moment, Benedict glanced at the boy standing next to Allison. Allison did the same.

“Why are you looking at me?” Wil asked. A second later,

“It’s decided, then.”

“It sure is.”


At the back of the dining car, which had been cleared of tables and chairs.

“Shoot the portions I indicated with the tape. There’s no need to be gentle.”

Major Stork had marked out several areas in square frames of duct tape under the window.

“Talk about violent. Everyone, stand back.” Benedict said, stepping up to the wall with the loaded shotgun.

Allison and Fiona had fled to the center of the dining car, and Major Stork was standing in front of them. Wil was beside them, desperately reading through the simplified manual for the anti-tank rifle.

Benedict checked once more to see that no one was around, and pulled the fore grip. There was a dry, metallic click as the first round was loaded.

“A wall this time, huh. Don’t think I can pay it off, either.”

He placed the shotgun on his shoulder and pulled the trigger. The lead round, which contained nine pellets, blew a large hole in the wooden wall. Splinters flew everywhere.

Little by little, Benedict continued to destroy the train. He pulled on the pump to empty the cartridges, loaded again, and pulled the trigger. After five consecutive shots, he took out more rounds from the box underfoot and loaded them into the gun.

“For your information, that is one of the Roxchean Army’s trench guns.”

Benedict paused in the middle of loading his shotgun, but quickly resumed.

“I have no idea why you would say something like that in the middle of this chaos, but for your information, I am completely unaffected.”

“I see. That’s good to hear.”

Upon loading the gun, Benedict returned to shooting at the wall. This time, he fired even at the windows. Shards of glass scattered everywhere.

“Take this!”

Finally, he kicked at the ragged walls. The window frame dropped away from the car, and the last remaining pieces of wood fell to the floor.

Finally, there was a hole in the wall large enough for one person to pass through at a stoop. A cold breeze pushed into the dining car. Past the gaping hole passed the other side of the valley and the clear blue surface of the long, narrow lake.

“Excellent work, Major Carr. If you could reload and protect the women. Wilhelm, take this.”

Major Stork handed something to Wil. It was a cloth headgear.

Other than the green-and-brown camouflage colors, it was much like a helmet used by rugby players. At the neck, where the straps were tied, was a microphone. A headphone covered the ears, and a long cable connected it through a battery to another piece of headgear.

“Put this on your head. There will be a great deal of recoil when you fire. It not only protects your ears, but it also allows you to communicate with the observer.”

Wil put on the headgear and silently glanced down at the two-meter long rifle on the floor.

The gun reflected in his brown eyes was much too immense.

As Major Stork put on his headgear, Benedict went up to Wil and whispered in Roxchean.

“It is the final decision. It is not that you must trust that man’s words. There is also a way of sticking to the military police.”

Wil met his gaze and replied tersely.

“I’m going to do this.”

“I see.”

Benedict gave Wil a light punch on the shoulder and said in Bezelese.

“‘Just take it easy. I know you can do it’, or ‘You have no room for error. There is a heavy burden resting on your shoulders’. Take your pick.”

Wil grinned. Benedict smiled back, stepping away with a wave and holding the shotgun in his hand.

Major Stork finished putting on his headgear and glanced at his watch.

“Well, shall we begin? could you take that end?”

Major Stork and Wil dragged the anti-tank rifle to the hole in the wall. Sticking the thick barrel outside, they pushed the gun further outside. If they didn’t, Wil’s feet would touch the opposite wall when he lay beside the gun.

After deciding on a sniping location, Major Stork lowered the stand in front of the slides with his feet and set up the gun firmly on the carpet. The slides were raised several centimeters into the air.

Wil was on his stomach on the floor. He held the grip with his right hand and placed the stock against his face and his shoulder, positioning himself. It looked less like he was aiming and more like he was clinging to a giant piece of machinery.

“The basics are identical to those of a smaller rifle. You just take aim and pull the trigger. There will be a great deal of recoil, but you will be fine as long as the stock remains secure against your shoulder.”

With that, Major Stork pressed the call button and asked Wil if he could hear his voice. Wil answered.

<I can hear you.>

Major Stork nodded satisfactorily. Benedict spoke up from behind.

“Er… do you mean to have Wil shoot while both trains are still in motion?”

Stork shook his head.

“Of course not. If someone could connect in these conditions, his sharpshooting skills may as well be a piece of art. If you’ll excuse me for a moment, I have to go tell an incredible lie.”


Stork went to the conductor’s cabin and contacted the first lieutenant on the armored railcar. He claimed that they heard strange sounds and felt unusual vibrations from the engine, and that something might be wrong with the locomotive. That the train would be slowing down, and that they would stop the train to inspect the locomotive if its condition did not improve. That the armored railcar should continue to keep watch on the train.

Then, Stork gave strict orders to the engineers of the transcontinental.

That they should slow down for the next three kilometers. That they should stop the train and trigger the whistle at a point when the tracks were as straight as possible and when the opposite side of the valley was clearly visible. That they were not to move until he ordered otherwise.

The train began to slow.

“Well, now. I suppose I should go see what Wilhelm is made of.” He mumbled cheerfully to himself, going back to the dining car.

Benedict, who had followed after him along with Allison, glanced at the radio and fell into thought.

After a moment of silence, he shook his head in denial and went back to the dining car.


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Chapter 8.


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