It all began here, with a harmless little story from Addy.
You’ll have to dig around between Addy’s blog and mine for Chapters 1 to 11.
Now, it seems, he has an artist interested in illustrating our story. Steampunk rules!
Over to you, Addy!
Lightning filled the sky, with ominous black clouds rolling in, swirling above Kinētikos as arcs of electricity leapt through the air. Distracted from its intention to annihilate Pry, Kinētikos looked up and opened its arms, drawn to the mass of power that was even now turning the air static. This amount of raw energy was an almost orgiastic dream for the Silver Knight, and had it been capable of higher emotion it would have felt overwhelmed by primitive lust.
Romulus and Nightcoat raced in at speeds so great only their heat shields prevented them from melting. Intertwining, circling, darting here and there, they ran cables made of FireSteel around the Knight’s legs and through the gaps between.
WorldsEdge unleashed hell. Kinētikos, seemingly mesmerised by the overflowing power available to it, was slow to react. With this much power there could be no real threat … or so it thought. The air and sea ships worked in perfect unison; the sea ships gathering the ends of the cables and firing them up to the airships, which harnessed them tightly.
Tesla had made a breakthrough. Seeing Pry’s schematics through the prism of a brilliant mind, Tesla had modified the engine and thrust plans that would make purely theoretical speeds possible. In a roar of thrust and displaced particles the airships Apollo and Icarus engaged their secondary thrusters, tautening the slack on the cords that encircled Kinētikos. In the blink of an eye Kinētikos was inverted, being dragged through the charged clouds by its ankles. The ignition sequencers came to life, and in the five seconds before the primary thrusters engaged all ground-based particle cannons were trained onto a single laser targeted point on Kinētikos’ head. The back of its metallic skull was torn apart just as the airships, with harnessed explosive force, tore the air apart in an ascent beyond the atmosphere.
In space, energy is displaced quickly, fanning out into the vast blackness. The cords were loosed, so that Kinētikos could not even trickle feed from the energy running down from the ships. Powering a Silver Knight is a mammoth effort, and Kinētikos, free of all distraction now, powered down all non-essential machinery and rerouted its remaining power to its heart. VeeTwo was non-essential, and the Ruled Captain that became part of the Knight died in the cold vacuum of space, crumpling as even the merest trickle of charge was sucked from its now lifeless body.
From Apollo and Icarus, a thousand miniature drones were deployed. Their combined energy might power Kinētikos for a few more minutes and perhaps enable it to fire a single devastating salvo, but the calculations needed to harness that energy in time were now beyond the Knight. Kinētikos was dying. In that small space of time it had left, it made a final and frantic transmission. Perhaps the remaining eleven Silver Knights, or even one of them, would receive the message and begin the war anew.
The drones flew in randomly generated trajectories and were independently targeted. Fully half were programmed as heat sinks. That is, like limpets they would attach themselves all over Kinētikos, drawing energy out of it and dispersing it harmlessly into space. A half of the drones left would fire single low impulse laser shots at precisely determined points, creating a breach in the Knight’s armour. The others would then move in and remove the exposed heart of the Silver Knight. The heart would be encapsulated into a larger heat sink and returned to Apollo, where even now Tesla was preparing an array of tests.
What was left of Kinētikos would be salvaged by the then recharged drones, and its remains would be transported by Icarus on a one-way journey to the sun. Kinētikos would never rise again.
“The Creator is indestructible, immortal, and immemorial,
but every atom sent forth by It contains the nucleus of its own death.”
So says the ākāśa, the tome of the Creator, which is written on the skein of time and space.
The western front of WorldsEdge was in tatters, and as the drama in space played out so an even larger one played out below. Bodies in various states of catastrophic injury were being sought out by hunter-seeker drones, repurposed for this task. They could hover in an out of spaces far too small or dangerous for humans to venture into, but even their sharp digital eyes and heat-seeking technology were no match for the chaos that had occurred. Torn apart bodies cooled faster than mostly whole ones, and those who were killed underwater cooled even faster and were torn apart by oceanic predators large and small.
Pry had drowned, the percussive blast of his death run pushed back on him by the electromagnetic pulse sent out by Kinētikos in the dying moments of the fight. The weight of Pry’s torn and ragged mechanical arm had dragged his unconscious body down to the ocean floor, thirty metres below surface. As he sank the last ten paces his body and face were torn by the sharp edges of twisted metal that were so recently engaged in battle but would, in time, find a new purpose as artificial reefs.
His mechanical arm hit the bottom, and for few minutes his body floated above it, pockets of air inside him giving his corpse temporary buoyancy. The crushed arm spat small sparks into the muddied water as they came into contact with each other. With barely two amperes of power remaining, an ingenious location device began pulsing. For ninety seconds a distress signal would be emitted on emergency channels of Tesla’s design. After that time, a computer would triangulate the last known position of the beacon. The race for recovery would then be on. When power dropped below one ampere an ignition sequence would begin that would result in a limited-fission explosion, designed to keep enemies from access to Tesla’s creation.
Romulus’ head shot up, as if it was listening to something. It rapidly turned its head, looking directly at Nightcoat, who had heard it too. Nightcoat peeled off and with blinding speed made a straight line run in the direction of the signal. Tapping into Tesla’s mainframe as it ran, Nightcoat received the coordinates and calculations. Seventy-five seconds to ignition sequence, and a further five to detonation. Eighty seconds in total and falling, and Nightcoat was, at best speed, sixty-six seconds from target. A further nine seconds were required to be free of the blast zone. Margin for survivability: five seconds.
[Executive Command Decision]: ABORT.
The margin was outside of calculable risk parameters.
Nightcoat slowed momentarily, ready to abort the mission. Two seconds elapsed, in which time it reassessed all available options. Margin for survivability had now dropped to three seconds. Nightcoat communicated briefly with Romulus and then aborted the rescue mission as Romulus raced past.
[Executive Command Decision]: OVERRIDE.
[Executive Command Decision]: QUERY OVERRIDE?
[Executive Command Decision]: REGENESIS PROTOCOL/TESLA/PRYDERI/PRIORITY FIVE OVERRIDE/EXECUTE.
[Executive Command Decision]: EXECUTE OVERRIDE.
Romulus raced through the murky water and on contact with Pry’s lifeless body its strong mechanical jaws and teeth sliced through the flesh and bone of Pry’s shoulder and rocketed his body away from the severed mechanical arm, which even now was in blast ignition sequence. Romulus broke free of the surface and flung Pry’s body high into the air, where it was gracelessly captured by the strong metal claws of an attack pterodactyl. It lifted immediately and made minimum safe distance as the water below boiled and exploded, shrapnel from the ocean’s floor surging up and tearing hundreds of holes in Romulus’ metal hide. Romulus sank without sound, the split-second variation over simulation in real-time escape not quite enough to ensure its own survival.
At the water’s edge the pterodactyl carefully laid Pry’s body down, where it was immediately whisked away to join the other Priority Five corpses of Musket, Bomber, and Gigoid in Tesla’s Regenesis Protocol laboratory. Lab workers, medicos, and scientists were standing by to receive the P5 bodies, and then the work began to rebuild and replace vital organs. The RP Lab was a huge cryogenic vault operating at -200℃ and in perfect vacuum. When the Phase One work of restoration and rebuild was over, the P5 bodies would be moved on to the Phase Two unit where bio-fluids and hydraulics would be inserted. If it went well all, most, or even one of the bodies would make it to the Phase Three recovery room.
The battle against Kinētikos was over. The battle for life had begun. If it was successful, the War for Everything would come next. Ruled, Unruled, and the machines of both would be unleashed until there was one winner, or no one or nothing left to win.