This is a fanfic based on one of my favourite emerging writers, Addy.
His story began here, with The Heist of the Silver Knights Bank.
Below is my fanfic ‘next chapter’. Enjoy.
Deep under the dense rock the vault had been built into, a single small cog began whirring. It had taken a team of drillers a generation and thousands of diamond drills to bore the perfect and smooth hole, only the thickness of a thumb, through from the surface to this chamber. It had taken another generation to feed down the base metals needed, and remotely guide the slim robotic arm that would act as a crucible and multitool to fashion the parts required.
The cog reached critical speed and spun loose from its base, zipping sideways in a line that had been calculated to perfection by the engineers. It slid into the slot on the far wall of the chamber, transferring its speed and spin to the cog embedded there. Energy transferred and other cogs and wheels came to life, and within seconds the wall began rumbling and vibrating as the massive machine within it absorbed the kinetic energy. Kinētikos was coming to life, called upon from above to protect the Silver Knights.
The wall began shaking, small chips of stone working themselves loose and falling into the deep ravine below, sparks flying and quickly dying as they hit the bedrock below. Within a minute the vibration had increased as artificial life was being pumped into Kinētikos. Larger chunks of stone peeled off and fell, causing flashing strikes below until one of them took and burst into flames on the oily shale, igniting the seeping gas that leaked from the shale as the rocks from above hit it and split it.
The heat of the fires warmed and then heated the walls, which released subterranean dampness that in turn released hissing trails of steam into the ravine. It rose, every wisp caught and collected in elegantly designed vents. It would take days for this process to power up Kinētikos, but time was not yet a critical factor.
High above, on the surface of the world, what was left of the Keep Guards had been busy wrapping their dead and transferring their weighted bodies down to the sea, where they would be cast in. The Unruled had been ruthless in their attack but it had been a precisely pointed one. They had not ransacked supplies or destroyed machines; they had simply done what was necessary to get into the vault and take its contents.
Captain Hilliard had been killed in the attack, vaporised in the power unleashed by a sonic cannon. It had been days until a new captain had emerged, fashioned by genetic engineering and 3D printing. Hilliard had been too good to lose, and version two, VeeTwo as he was to be known, was the result. His sinews and muscles had been enhanced with kevlar, his bones hardened with titanium, and his flesh embedded with self-healing plastic. His operational memory coded and transferred, when his eyes flickered open he was fully functional again. He was Hilliard, only better.
Without even knowing it, the Unruled pirates had set in motion a train of events that would bring about a war that would be ruthless, planetary, and defining for the next thousand years.
Underground, Kinētikos was growing, getting stronger, and now far into the process of completing its final stage of self-assembly. The heat from the shale oil fires and steam would have stripped the flesh and boiled the fluids out of any human, and Kinētikos wasn’t quite ready to humanise itself anyway.
Six days had passed since the attack and robbery. “Captain Hilliard … that is, VeeTwo …” a young guard said, nervously. “The vault is registering high heat and we can’t find the source,” he continued. “Can you please come with me?” VeeTwo looked at the guard as if sizing him up for threat potential and deciding he had none, VeeTwo sniffed and with a flick of his index finger in the general direction of the vault, he fell into line behind the nervous guard.
It was true; the heat emanating from the vault was abnormal and high. Thirty feet from it the heat began. Twenty feet from it the heat became uncomfortable. Ten feet from it and VeeTwo’s face began melting, the self-healing plastic in it causing a rippling effect as it healed and re-healed. He backed away, turning and looking into the shocked faces of those who had heard of his enhancements but didn’t believe they were possible. “Now you know,” he said, unsmiling, before leaving the building and plugging himself into the nearest terminal.
The wind was high and blustering, carrying with it the mixed scents of whale oil smoke and the charring meat of the mountain goats that formed the basis of the Keep’s fresh food supply. Canvas cracked and rippled in the wind as it sought out every entry, tumbled around, and sought escape through every exit. Duty this night would be onerous. The unfortunates who were on it rugged up tightly inside leather tanned from seal skin, lined with the rough pelts of goats. The elbow and wrist joints were made movable by a series of cheap cogs and mini-compressors that could lock into a reinforced position when blunderbuss were in use and strengthen the arm when using a crossbow.
Weak sunlight tried its best to pierce through the early morning fog that mingled with the smoke from the dried peat moss breakfast fires. The wind had stilled in the early hours and the smoke and heat clung to the Keep in increasingly uncomfortable proportion. “Those fires are casting unbearable heat!” one guard complained to another as he peeled off his sweat-drenched undershirt and rolled onto his side in his bunk. Outside, a commotion began that was uncharacteristic in the tight militaristic atmosphere of the Keep.
“Good Gods! Look at his back!” a guard said as he rolled another guard over and saw the blisters on the dead man’s back. The ground had grown so hot that the tough hide soles of the soldiers’ boots were hardening and cracking, and the heat transferred made it impossible to walk normally. As sunlight finally pierced through scudding clouds soldiers remarked with alarm about the seething steam rising from the ground itself. The mountain the Keep was built into shuddered and small rockfalls began. A violent tremor shot through the earth and many soldiers fell to the ground, knocked off their feet. VeeTwo yelled above the rising frequency of the rumble, calling all hands into the centre of the courtyard.
Inside the Keep, the rock around the vault began melting, turning into lava and flowing away slowly. Hissing, popping, and crackling, the vault seemed to lift on the wave of lava around it and the heat became so intense the walls, as thick as a man is tall, melted and exposed it to the outside. No one had any notion what the vault was made of, but whatever it was, it was impervious to even this colossal heat. It raised up, and from one hundred paces away VeeTwo and the others witnessed a sight not seen for millennia. Holding up the vault that must have weighed a good twenty tons was Kinētikos, a humanoid form looking as if it was fashioned from silver and standing twenty feet high. It put the vault down and with ground-shaking steps it lumbered through the massive hole in the wall and out into the courtyard.
Cooling quickly now that it was free from its superheated birthplace, Kinētikos hissed and clanked as its temperature fell. Its chest opened on steam-powered wheels and hinges and from within the cavity a small beam emerged, creating a holograph equidistant from Kinētikos and VeeTwo. Signs and symbols flashed into existence, and all present recognised them as part of the Old Language they were taught of in school. A visage appeared that looked like Kinētikos in human form, and the message began.
“From the time when Time began, there were the Silver Knights, men and women of extraordinary powers and bravery. Almost, but not quite, Gods they protected the wealth of Kings and the bounty of Gaia, until over time some were corrupted and thought themselves above subservience to Throne and Planet.
“Battle became war, and many were lost as those who remembered fought their brothers and sisters who had forgotten. The Righteous prevailed, but at a cost, and the souls of our Fallen were housed in silver coins and stored in our vaults. Those cast in bronze were the Mistaken; we do not give up on our own, and one day their souls will be redeemed.
“Over time we have allowed your kind to use our coin, on the understanding that they are sacred and not to be reforged. This is why your laws forbid the melting or changing of coin. The weight of the vault is balanced finely. If ever it empties, alchemical and mechanical signals are sent and wheels are put in motion. I am Kinētikos, come to restore balance to the vault.”
VeeTwo stepped forward, identifying himself. The holograph ended and its light died suddenly, but the cavity remained open. With a whirring sound Kinētikos’ arm raised from the elbow and signalled VeeTwo closer. He went as if mesmerised and when the distance was closed he saw inside the cavity and knew its purpose. Climbing in, the chest plates closed. VeeTwo was not so much entombed as he was consumed. The light in Kinētikos’ eyes took on a different quality as the sum total of all VeeTwo’s knowledge became shared, as did all the properties of his recent rebuilding. Kinētikos nodded, as if in understanding, and he began walking toward the path down to the sea. His purpose was clear: to retrieve what had been stolen.
The Unruled did not yet know it, but the battle had just begun. Soon enough, they would meet it face to face.