Iris and Peter Get Married (Eventually) [pt 36]

Chapter Thirty-six.
(The journey home, Are we there yet?, Reflections on the weekend war, and Rabbit’s little revelation)

Sometimes, Peter wished that he could have walked the great automaton Delilah across the Atlantic. The gigantic giraffe had made short work of the vast distances in Africa, and she promised to be just as fast over the plains of the United States.

But despite that, his children were… well... children.

“Are we there, yet?”

“Three, we are fresh onto the East coast. We have to go across the continent, yet.”

“Are we there, yet?”

“Rabbit… We haven't even cleared the Hudson…”

“Are we there, yet?”

Sigh. “Hatchy… No. Not yet.”

“Shall I go up and look?” suggested The Spine.

“Capital! Yes! Careful with the telescope, eh?” Peter clambered up onto the mechanical Delilah’s shoulders. What a marvellous view it must be fro her head! Alas, her swaying gait made him seasick at such heights.

“Are we there, yet?”

“Oh, go and see, Rabbit.” They were eager to be home. He was eager to be home. Anywhere as far as he could get away from the horrors of that war… That would be entirely beneficial. He had no love for Africa left in him, any more.

He knew he would never be making a generic automaton ever again. They had no experience of life and family. They had no love of anything, not even themselves. They had fallen in droves. Scrap metal with no heart.

And the monsters that Becile had made out of men… Horrible amalgamations of both flesh and machine. More dead than alive. And Becile gone thoroughly mad from the effects of Green Matter, the constant sight of his monsters, and the want of the departed Doctor Delilah Moreau. Thaddeus fled, on the eve of Peter's final victory. Wherever he went, the authorities were forewarned of his appearance and manner. He would have to go far into hiding to avoid justice. Very far indeed.

Over now. Over and gone, no matter what his nightmares had to say on the matter. He would be home, soon. Home in the sunshine of San Diego. At peace with his mechanical children. At peace, lecturing in the halls of the Cavalcadium. And, perhaps, even walking the gardens with Miss Iris.

He applied his own spyglass to the Western horizon, despite how near they still were to the East coast. Peter longed to see a hint of the Pacific. All he could find were distant mountains. Not there, yet. Not by a long shot.

He would propose to Iris immediately. He had meant to do so the morrow following their joining. He could yet do so still. Or so he hoped. For all he knew, she could have found the swain he had feared during his initial acquaintance with her. She could have thought herself used and abandoned, and desperately sought matrimony in the first unattached gentleman to cross her path.

It had been months. Too many, with barely a word. Of course he let Walter Manor know what he was up to. Indication enough that he was well, but he dared noted a single word more than that, lest the wrong eyes see it. Surely she knew why he didn't send her anything. Iris was clever, she would reason it out.

Only… what if she didn't? What if she despised him? What if she had already left? What if, like so many disgraced women in the cities, she took one final flight off something high? What if she had fled from men altogether and found comfort and succour in the arms of another lady?

He had to hurry back. Explain things. Apologise profusely and beg forgiveness. Hope and pray that she forgave enough to maintain a love for him.

Peter retreated into the control room, using the camera obscura on Delilah’s eyes to keep watch on where they were going. Let Rabbit and the boys play about on the exterior. No matter what happened, he would constantly be surprised by his automatons.

Like what had happened when he was utilising Rabbit’s flamethrower to dispose of the Green Matter monsters. His copper creation stepped back from the fires and said, “I know who's s’posed’a be the lady, Pappy.” And then Rabbit had tapped their own chest plating.

He had to go looking through his notes to be certain, and delicately enquire how Rabbit could be so certain. Later. After things had much settled down. Yes. After such a tumultuous time, the most he wanted out of life was a comfortable chair and a good book.

But in the meantime, he could easily distract himself with plans. Mechanical improvements for his metal children. Perhaps even a means by which they could communicate with each other by the Marconi method. Figuring out how to do it without antennae was going to be… interesting. And in the meantime, he could make his machines less alarming in their appearance. More attention to their faces. Yes. Make their bodies look less like he’d slapped random bits of junk together.

The Spine’s voice carried through the speakers. “Colonel Walter! I can see the ocean.”

Peter checked out the windows, and then with the camera obscura. It could be plausible that the ocean was visible from Delilah's head. He left his work to transmit at the Marconi console. “The war’s over, Spine. You can call me Pappy again.”

Rabbit’s voice carried over the speakers. “The Spine is a party pooper,” Rabbit singsonged. “He dunno how to have fun no more.”

Peter tried and failed to keep the smile out of his voice. “Be kind to your brothers, Rabbit…”

Home, soon. Very soon. In a few hours or less, they would be across the plains and onto the mountains. They’d have to slow down to allow Delilah to pick its way over the mountain passes. It might take them a couple of days to conquer those peaks. But they were so close!

Soon. He would be home soon. Why, he was feeling so grateful to see and be at Walter Manor, he was entirely willing to embrace the Admiral his father.

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