Thursday, March 27, 2008

Darkest Options

The true enemy has revealed itself. It is my Sparkfather's Creator, Dr. Jeremiah Mason. Not Darien as the Hydra-tainted impostor. He demands the Realm of the Roses be delivered to him. He has apparenlty asserted control of the Legion of Steel. He is presenting his hostage, my brother Koen, as a living weapon. I must assume he has found a way to harness the Vortex within Koen against his will.

I made a final jump to Lost Angels, and found myself somewhere else. A new realm has drifted into formation adjescent to that citadel of the Dark Future. My preliminary investigations were made with weapon drawn. When I was there it was a nearly desolate labyrinth, all but empty save a few straggling, harmless souls that somehow escaped the fires below. They told me these dark caverns were called New Gomorrah by their tormentors. The ramifications are horrifying: it is Hell's front doorstep into the Dark Future!

I shifted to the South Gate district of Lost Angels to consult with the alternate Nova. A week ago she assisted me with critical upgrades. She installed components more advanced than what I inherited from the fusion. The pieces were refurbished equipment she had recovered from her expeditions even further into the future, that had been preserved beneath the rubble of the Wastelands.

I met her in a nondescript warehouse that was a gathering for her new family, the Brood. They were mostly demons. Nova also told me they had given her a new title as an Officer in their Brood. She was now called Deathwing. It was they who pulled Hell closer to their Earth.

I cannot describe how the Brood reveled as Deathwing spun her mix of pounding synth and screaming guitars. I can only say that I now understand what Demonfather's Path as an incubus - and my own mercifully brief incarnation as a succubus - was truly about. He would have been in his element at this gathering. I was sensors constantly calculated the distances between potential threats, my hands, and my holstered blaster.

And what if Bloodwing did escape Hades again and find his way to the Dark Future and join the Brood? I was taken aback by my first instinct.

Destroy Him!

My chassis shook as I attempted to analyze the output. Did he not corrupt me with subversive programming before I was even animated? Was the Retcon Device and the Legion of Steel it mass-produced not his fault? Did he not bring dishonor and chaos to the very family he sired?

By installing the Steel protocols he sought to create a killing machine. That I am. Then he sought to replicate his creation over and over by mangling Time itself. That he has.

If you pray, pray Bloodwing never finds his way back to this bank of the Styx, neither in the 19th century nor a millenium after. My programming is conflicted enough already.


Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Meeting the Lil' Sis

I don't know how it happened, but Qli Projects found me tending bar in Lost Angels. You know how these things go. It went from cynical banter to tense standoff to a baring of cybernetic souls. She seemed so...naive. But then I realized it was only in comparison to how jaded and fatalistic I've become.

We caught up on family. She told me that Bloodwing was gone and a human was now in his shell. Maybe that was the intention, but I'll have to see for myself. We GT'd back to the Gygax. To her it was a marvel of engineering, but to me it was another ad hoc Spark project. The one gem in the whole thing is the nuclear reactor. It was pure serendipity that he recovered that meteor. With some basic redesigns and filing grinding that lump of glowing rock into control rods I can make this bird the fastest ship in the Steam Age.

And of course, Daddy forgot to put in a weapons system. I guess that's Qli and I are coming for. By the way, to keep things straight...the first Qlippothic Projects we're calling Qli-1. Doc Mason's new daughter is Qli-2. And the one that looks like a cyborg mime is Qli-3. There's a test on this later. And oh yes, pictures.

Checking the roster...Dr. Mason of course...and us two Qli's...we can survive in a vacuum, so we don't need any of the four escape pods. Baron Wulfenbach? Excellent choice. Kiralette?? If she's worked in an ETC I suppose she can help out here. And...Hotspur? Another good choice. He's a crafty one He's got a decent exo-suit (for this era) too if I remember.


Saturday, March 1, 2008

I've seen things you wouldn't believe...

I cannot calculate how long it took for me to rebuild myself in the Void, even But even though most of the components and the power source are scavenged from the jettisoned remnants from the Nova unit, my soul chip is intact.

I assume you know about the Steel Protocols that Bloodwing hid within my programming. Unlike the Steel units from the other timelines, I have remnants of Nova's programming within me that the reprogramming could not erase. These conflicting directives...including the self-conflicting directives within the Nova unit...allow me to override the Steel directives. I am not blinded by orders of Survival At All Costs. I have to navigate conflicting morals and ethics to find my own sense of what is best. Just like the rest of you.

The other Steel units detected me, and sent a beacon for to lead me to where they are gathering. I refused, and now they are hunting me down. I do not know how many reflections of me there are. But they call themselves the Legion of Steel.

I could not return to the Victorian Age right away. It would not have been fair to the new Qlippothic unit I sacrificed my identity to save. As much as I missed my family and friends, it was simply not safe.

I contacted my Aunt Sysperia, who invited me to a pocket dimension where Art superseded Science and Emotion was more reliable than Logic. The Steel Protocols had no room for Art. They could not pursue me there. Sysperia recrafted my body from the bare patchwork that had been cobbled together. She enshrouded me in a new dermal layer, so I could see a humanoid in the mirror again. She clothed me. She even offered me a base of operations. Spartan as it was, the steel walls provided me comfort. But sadly, Artistic realms are never stable. Xanthas fell, and I phased out of the world just as the orbiting structure I found safety in dissolved under my feet.

I visited Toxia...too low in resources and too heavily-armed to be worth invading. Some things had changed. My dear friend and favorite bartender at the Haven, Spring-Heeled Jack, had left and never returned. I do not think they even remembered him. No one mentioned the HAZMATS that were the common foe when last I visited. They had called me a Mechanoid before, now the word du jour was Cyber, a word that for obvious reasons made my synthetic skin crawl.

Some things had stayed the same. The metallic tang and stench of pollution in the air. Toxic Spirits still roamed the streets, and rival gangs kept their skills sharp in defeating them, when they were not facing down each other. And Haven was still safe, save for the occasional stray bullet through the windows, just like before. I could make a decent income there and the hot oil was complimentary. I even saved enough to purchase a weapon, just in case.

I visited another dystopia, Lost Angels. The same sort of characters hung on the street corners, protecting their turf and itching for a challenge. They had a meeting place as well. Someone said they remembered other constructs in town before, but I never saw them. But their version of Haven was not safe. I cannot tell you what I saw, but it was something not even a Construct should ever see.

Would I spend the rest of my existence living battery-to-plug, fleeing to the shadows after each Last Call, anxiously drifting into sleep mode hoping I would reactivate, instead of falling prey to those who would take me for scrap, or worse?

The call to return was too great. My tears scorched the filthy pavement clean one too many times, crying out the names of those I missed the most. I took a risk, possibly a reckless one. I visited Steelhead.

I had hoped that during the Masquerade in Steelhead I would have remained anonymous. Unfortunately, I did not. The visual retrospectives did provide the information I needed, that this was indeed the Steelhead and the Grid I remembered, and not one from an alternate timeline. The dimensional instability caused by the Havok Effect obscured my arrival and passing from the Others.

I bade my time in neutral territory. I returned to one of the first places I ever visited - The Bare Rose. I was recognized. I confided in her, and she told me that I was mourned and honored for my sacrifice. I took solace in that fact. I shall never be able to fully repay her.

I have learned that Hostel's collapse was not complete. It partially regenerated, creating another Nova unit. At first I wondered if my sacrifice was in vain. Now I have come to accept it as a miracle...that two eras now have the privilege of knowing the being first known as Nova Sakigake.

I journeyed to Artificial Isle to find a utopia instead of a dystopia, where I would be safe. Further, I remained there when I recognized this building.

While the stories seem watered-down for a young audience, my research told me that the mightiest heroes of the Modern Age gathered here. Perhaps if I waited for them to return, I could explain the danger my home was in.

Instead, I was bludgeoned from behind by a very large hammer. I lost consciousness, and woke up tied to this stake, where Demonfather roared at me with rage in his eyes, demanding what I did to "the neko". Did he not recognize his own creation? Did he not realize I would do anything to rescue my brother?

I wondered...was he the one replaced by an impostor? Never have I seen such anger and desperation from him. I threw his contempt back at him in a taunt I will forever regret.

"If you are truly Bloodwing, why am I not a prisoner in Steelhead?"

That is when he tried to rip me open. Had he been more patient, I would have told him I no longer run on the Spheres. He called it "Apollo's Fire" when he breached my fusion reactor. He dropped his blade, hiding what was left of his face in his hands. My ropes had already burned away from the heat. I quickly repaired my dermal layer, an apologized to him softly before I departed, but he could not hear me while he bemoaned his blindness.