Saturday, December 25, 2010

When it's cold outside am I here in vain?

I stepped out of the Consulate into Steelhead square. I heard the wet crunch of snow beneath my bare feet and felt the sting against bare skin. Flakes floated silently all around me. Everything was coated in white, amplifying the glow of the gaslamps and flickering candles in windows.

I have never felt the cold. I have never smelled the crisp winter air or the scent of pine needles. Not long ago I could have calculated the density of the snowflakes and recorded the patterns of every flake. But now, it was simply overwhelming.

"You'll catch your death of cold out here. Go inside, child."

Red wings wrapped around me like a cloak, radiating warmth. I had just enough space to turn to behold the Elder's face of alabaster, kohl and crimson.

"But...but how...?"

"Is this not the time for miracles, Sweet Qli?"

His wings grew translucent from a growing brilliance nearby.

"Beg pardon," interrupted the angel. "I have a delivery for Miss Qlippothic from Velvel's Shanghai Bazaar?"

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

save me from the nothing i've become

I watched the Sephiroth vanish one by one, pulled away by the angel. The mindscape of my introspection mode plunged into darkness. Were the nightmares still cutting through the lenses? No. There were no sparks from their cutting tools. I've lost fear. What part of me will dissolve next in this poison? How much more can I lose before I cease to be?

I feel? Warmth? A heartbeat?

Well, well, well. At least I won't die alone.


Yes. I am trapped inside this abomination as well.

Light again. In the lenses are irises not my own.

"You are...wearing my faceplate?"

I grabbed the first thing I could find. I didn't know you were still using it. I hope you don't mind. It is keeping my soul intact a while

"Does this mean you are possessing me?"

On the contrary. You have nothing left to possess. And my astral form can't pierce this...mess. If anything, it is you who are possessing me. Look closely. I need to show you something.

Holograms inside the orbs. Face to face across a chessboard. Crossed épées behind wire masks.

Should you survive, deliver these to my brother if you would be so kind.

"How can this be? You and he were raised separately."

So we both assumed. But only now as our psychic barriers dissolve do I remember what Father forced us to forget. We would have murdered each other. It was the the most humane choice.

"Why is there always bloodlust between you? This cannot entirely be the fault of the bloodline!"

There incident.

"Show me. I will not judge you."

Shadows. Rending of lace. Hands pinning declawed paws.

"By the Founder..."

She was a catalyst, for me as well as Darien.

"Do you...regret this?"

Do you regret having a brother?

"Are you saying that Koen is...yours?"

Half a chance...

I felt his soul starting to fade.

"Hang on!"

I cannot. You have no shell, and this one is left behind. I bequeath this body to you. Use my powers to harness what's left of your healing factor. Do with it what you will. Good luck.

The double helix rose and spiraled around me. I did not even have a moment to protest. My perceptions shifted to the other side of the mask, staring through living eyes to where my image was blurring from metal to flesh. The chromosomes were damaged, but repairable. I dispatched healing nanobytes - which appeared to me as copies of my previous metallic form. A scan of the blood circulation revealed somewhere, something was dripping reanimation serum into these veins, along with more malevolent cells. This form would have become a drone had I not taken the previous owner's place. That is when I noticed the Pandoran cells, swarming through like bees searching relentlessly through the vines of a trellis.

"Stop that this instant! I do NOT need GILLS!"

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

the world is just illusion trying to change you

My boiler exploded from the demands of prying Ya Yimawa's sharklike maw open with all my limbs until it cracked. Nothing I have ever encountered - from the inferno of Erebus to the radioactive wastes of Earth's devastated future - could rival the horror of what I saw inside that beast. How quickly, then, did the souls of its victims fly out to the freedom of their promised afterlives! Their gratefulness whispered as they vanished was more than worth the cost to this, my shredded chassis. Ama had worked her magic and destroyed its soulcage just as Dr. Beck's spirit escaped.

My last victim, Shiny Toy!

A sickening snap. Loss of connection to body. A fraction of a second in that primordial abyss before the monster discorporated, and my elevation dropped. I landed on the wreckage that was once my own abdomen, saving me the indignity of sinking into the polluted muck. Power supply was fading quickly. Last instructions to Ama.

Closing cranial display. Adjusting to internal perception. Standby...

I perceive myself as intact, but I am not actually whole again. This spherical chamber I am in, full of damaged machinery spewing steam and smoke, with pipes spiralling around the Sephiroth that glow brightly above me like a celestial chandalier, is not literally the inside of my skull. But it does give me an accurate representation of how tenuous my existance has now become.

The gyroscope rolls wildly. I hold on tightly as the craft tumbles over itself again and again. Through the twin portholes in the outline of my eyes I see I am rolling into the water, mingling with human bones and filth. This can only mean that the boxcar is sliding into the bay. The Revenge would have no choice but to cut the air vent. There is pounding outside the chamber, from all directions.

There is...a mob outside the portals? Impossible! How can this be?

Who are they?

I see Bloodwing, cursing me as a traitor as he strikes his sword against the glass. The same sword he used to pierce my reactor core.

I see Grandfather in the black uniform from his dystopia of New Erebus, his eyes glowing beneath his goggles as he patiently grinds an energy blade into the translucent barrier.

The gentleman in the drab gray uniform with the brass buttons? An agent of the Labs. Carrying a warrant for my family's capture.

The other eye - there is Doctor Mason in his labcoat, I see from the tic in his brow and the glow behind his goggles that he demands to perform more destructive experiments on me.

Koen in his sleek ebony fur bloodied at the tips, scraping his claws down the glass, eyes burning red as coals and hissing as he displays his vampiric fangs.

Behind him, a pale Aleister in his outdated and frayed coat, gesturing for me to inspect the new porcelain skull he will place me in. Complete with fangs for extracting deliver to him.

Behind them swarms of wasp drones and Qlippothic clones.

Why would my subconscious be attempting to torment me? Especially in a survival situation such as this?

A chemical readout develops on one corroded panel. The water in this flooding chamber is polluted...from Ya Yimawa. When his body dissolved, its conents mingled with these waters.

I am stewing in the gastric juices of a soul eater. Much like the jellyfish, the death of the creature does not render its venom inert. Despite the images beyond the eyes, it know the toxins have already made contact with my soul chip. If I am not rescued it will corrode the circuitry that defines my psyche, and my identity will...dissolve.

I have never seen fit to pray for aid from undetectable sources. But now, it is my only recourse, if only a distraction.

I can hear their voices now. My voice quavers.

The Lord is my...

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Revenge on Patrol

We have come to an agreement with Steelhead's Mayor, Totallunar Eclipse. In return for supplying the Bloodwing's Revenge with sunstones from the town's mines, we are assisting in the hunt for the murderous creature known as "Steal Head." Take comfort in the knowledge that in addition to the Steelhead militia, the Wulfenbach Jagerpatrol and the religious paramilitary known as the S.W.A.T. team, you will have three armed gynoids patrolling the streets.

Koen will fly sorties over the city in the Revenge scanning for anything unusual, and also pilot the ship in submersible mode, with the hope of catching the beast off guard as Dr. Beck did earier.

Xavael will be incognito among the populace and assist in the investigation.

Jeremiah will not be joining this operation. At the request of Koen's siblings, he will accompany them to Erebus. He fully intends to return to investigate the Illuminautilus sighting, but discovering the fate of the Wasp Queen and Bloodwing takes precedence.

We also wish to point out to residents that Velvel's Shanghai Bazaar has imported several crates of high-quality firearms and ammunition for your self-defense, available for reasonable prices.

I was created in Steelhead. It is my my birthplace. We shall help rid your town of this menace, my fellow citizens. Stay alert, and carry on.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

don't hold back

With a violent jolt the Bloodwing's Revenge shifted from the smoggy night over Seraph City and emerged in the late-morning sky over the ocean of the Steamlands. From the cockpit I watched Nova's ship, the Sixes and Sevens, squeeze through non-Euclidian space with her Mythos artifact to emerge on my starboard side. I was still uneasy with her devotion to the Outer Gods, the Eye would surely mangled the mind of any untrained human who watched the ship arrive, much less travel through with it.

There was a burst of static and distortion on my Marconi transmitter. I saw a flying ironclad looming in the distance, its engines and still red-hot cannons cradling it in a white shroud of smoke that trailed in the breeze.

"This is Captain Hassanov of of Battlecruiser Hassanov. Unknown ship, please identify." I recognized Iason Hassanov's accent and deep calm voice very well.

"This is Captain Sakigake of the Sixes and Sevens to Hassanov, ready to assist. Over."

"Captain Qlippothic of the Bloodwing's Revenge, I confirm Captain Sakigake is an ally, over."

"Yes, I remember you Nova. Welcome back, all of you. Misson Status: Wasp fleet destroyed. Some survivors left in field, estimate two, maybe three hundred. Wasp Queen still in field, chasing Bloodwing and...angelic companion. Wasp portal still exists, but no further movements to or from. Hassanov pulling back for refueling and rearmaments. Good luck, Over."

I pressed the communicator one last time as Koen prepared himself to jump from the ship with the Regent's staff. "Roger that, Hassanov. Thank you for your help. Over and out."

I made eye contact through her porthole as we hovered. I gave the hand signal, and her saucer craft silently raced off in a flash towards the Wasp Queen.

I engaged the engines and accelerated upwards towards the portal. "Koen! Prepare to jump in twenty seconds!"

"Gotcha, Sis!"

Thursday, September 2, 2010

there's a big black sky over my town

The longer I stay in this divergent future, the more I feel that something is wrong here. As I gaze down at this version of Seraph City, the Sephiroth...I cannot calculate it. But there is disharmony.

Of course my thoughts wander to my doomed double of this world. Did you submit to Father's deranged experiments willingly? Were you coerced? Modified?

Did you feel regrets wash over you as your the shells of your spirit burst one by one? You achieved free will, and you dedicated your life selflessly to protect the Steamlands. Nearly all were grateful. Nearly.

The slap of her gloved hand across my cheek possibly broke her hand. But the damage to me, while hidden, was strong.

"Stay away from my fiance!" she screamed. But it was he who had fawned for my attention with trinkets and verses. It was he was deceptive, and not only to me. But she did not care.

"Stay away!" She sneered at the engine and twin smokestacks fastened to my back that allowed me to move. "Look at you!" She pointed with a trembling hand. "You're not even a REAL woman!"

"But at least, Lady ________, I know how to act like one."

My fists wrapped around the railing of the deck of the Revenge so tightly that I nearly bent the metal.

I have found love in the timeless oases, but as replenishing - as nurturing as it was...the infinite desert is that more punishing when your heart is iron.

I glance at Nova and Six through the portholes of their vessel. I quickly look away. I take the stairs below deck.

Of course I'll help my family. Of course I'll help my friends.

I see the glow of my eyes reflected back at me as I read the letter of marque framed on the wall.

Ash can dedicate his life to self-sacrifice if he wishes. He may just grow out of it as I have.

But a pirate takes what she needs.

*My thanks to Sheriff Fuzzball Ortega for finding this musical selection.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The briefing

Koen finally wandered back to the shipyard where Nova, Six and I were cleaning up after upgrading the Bloodwing's Revenge>. I was closing the panels on the engine core when the Time Window powered up by itself. I was ready to run a diagnostic when Koen jumped below deck. His expression was more somber than I had expected.

"Hey Qli. There's someone I want you to meet."

Clawed feet dusted with gray steadily descended by half-steps, aided by the balance of a staff. I was going to warn him about the rotten fourth stair, but he leaned his staff forward an extra step and gingerly hopped over it without my prompting. Once he reached the floorboards, he slowly spread his crimson wings. Could this really be the Koen I know? The crimson wings of his station weighed heavily upon him. Youthful impertinence was replaced by quiet sorrow. My sensors shuddered from the power radiating from him. This Koen was Regent of House Bloodwing!

"Hello Qlippothic. I like what you've done with the old bird. Please, no need to kneel."

He handed me his staff.

"I built this to destroy the hellgate. Koen has to drive the blade in the side of the portal to disperse the energy into the Void."

"Understood, Regent."

After he departed, Nova activated the Eye of Y__ S______ in the Sixes and Sevens and I connected my Galvanic Tesseractor to the Time Window and slipped between times back to the Steamlands.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Rebuilding the Bloodwing's Revenge!

It seemed a bit absurd at times. I was working as hard as possible to preserve the original elements of the ship while Nova and Six were relentlessly replacing its 17th century clockwork systems with 20th century innovations.

Luckily I found a hidden drawer in Aleister Mason's writing desk which contained a privateer's letter of marque from George Washington himself, authorizing the Bloodwing's Revenge to "assail all foes of Liberty and the Republic on the high seas and in the open skies." Another correspondence granted our former captain the land that became the Mason plantation in Baltimore. It seems the first President knew of Aleister's immortality, since both contracts have no end date.

Now where has Koen wandered off to?

Monday, June 21, 2010

yesterday's news

I looked up from the faded headline towards the alley where the little "blind" girl had escaped. In the shadows, I saw her small luminescent green eyes blinking at me as she ripped away her soiled newsgirl apron, flooding the alley with the light from her gaslamp heart.


Before I formulate whether I should thank her or punish her, she darted down the alley and out of view. Her glow faded and winked out with the sound of clattering manhole cover.

Do not envy the time traveler, Dear Reader. It is a terrible burden with moral dilemmas behind every turn.

Do not ask me of the details of that newspaper. I scanned it completely, then set it aflame with my furnace. As the ashes floated into the wind, I systematically erased the details from my memory.




Relations between Steelhead and New Babbage continue to deteriorate as...

Except the data of immediate importance upon my return, of course.

...the weakened hive was finally repelled by the combined efforts of...
...the hydrogen-powered airships were especially vulnerable to...

I be ethical, but I'm not stupid.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

In the land of steel and chrome

While Nova and Six were repairing the ship, I took the opportunity to survey Seraph City. It is a beautiful place, for certain. . Cranes thousands of feet tall constantly add to sky-scraping buildings. There is powder on the concrete. It is rapidly expanding.

Everything, including the art and the architacture, is streamlined and industrialized. I even saw a machine called an automat designed to feed laborers in the manner of an assembly line! The fashions are...more basic and much more severe than back in Caledon. But I will have to wear something to blend in on my return trip.

I was surprised to see old faces here. Dr. Oblensky's face was on a poster! My goodness, is he immortal? I ran into a friendly face as well, Sir Edward Pearse! He was managing the construction of a new club of his there called the Seraph. He said I may even have an opportunity to host there, for old times sake! Beyond inquiring as to Lady Christine's health, I avoided asking as to the fate of the Masons and the rest of the Steamlands in this timeline, nor did he volunteer such information.

On the way back to the repair dock, I was blocked by a litttle girl in urchin's rags and pigtails, wearing the black glasses reserved for the blind. She was trying to sell a yellowed, frayed newspaper in an outstretched hand while shaking her cup. It was a sad sight indeed. I dropped a few New Babbage coins I had into her cup (I have a small compartment for change) and accepted the paper. She immediately bolted into the nearby alley with far more agility than a blind girl should.

I looked down at the newspaper and opened. It was...THE STEELHEAD GAZETTE? The headlines turned my furnace cold:


Tuesday, June 8, 2010

end of the line

"Qli, what's our jump status?"

Koen's voice sounded weary, and perhaps a bit deeper through the horn.

"We've shifted through the paradigm barrier and completed the fateline track."

"Good. My zero chamber is starting to decay. Prepare to phase!"

With his alchemical powers running their course, we had no choice but to land in the 20th century. I called behind me to Captain Aleister.

"Prepare to phase! Sixty seconds and counting!"

The Captain flinched as arcs of electricity again spread out from my frame across the entirety of the ship. He grumbled in an obscure dialect about not being able to reach his coffin (since Koen's zero chamber could not be disturbed) as he stowed away his wooden tools and buckled himself into the chair of the weapons systems for the Bloodwing's Revenge. The chair was bedecked with and surrounded by a bewildering array of dials, pulleys, levers and plungers that looked like they were purloined from da Vinci's estate sale. (He assured however that they were once Galileo's.) He began to furiously wind a large brass crank with both arms, drawing forth the hemispheres of a wooden cupola that would encase him and protect him from sunlight. That is, until the crank seized up halfway through the process.


"Thirty seconds, Captain! I cannot disrupt the phase!"

He pulled on the crank with all of his undead strength, bracing his boot against the metal column. A nut shattered and the crank came off in his hands.


He tossed the dislodged crank aside and ripped the rusted lock off a battered wooden chest. He pulled out a shredded mess of dusty black canvas surrounded by a cloud of moths.

"Mein Gott..."

"Phasing NOW!"

The swirling darkness around the ship evaporated as the midday of a cloudless sky bathed the ship in the sun's brilliance. I began powering down my Galvanic Tesseractor. I was suddenly distracted by an unexpected display of shimmering light from the cupola.

"Captain? You're...SPARKLING?!?"

With a weary and stoic expression he rubbed his pale cheek with a tattered glove. "Ja, das is vant to happen just before I..."

Before he could finish his sentence he exploded in a gout of flame.


The primary airbag above the ship, only barely repaired during the cross-time transit, immediately disintegrated. The cables that held the balloon stretched upwards with vestigal scraps of canvas like impromptu flagpoles, indicating we had immediately begun to plummet. I only noticed the gaping hole in the deck from the explosion when an ebony-and-scarlet furred neko floated helplessly upwards from it, flailing his limbs and staring back at me with crimson eyes in shock and terror.

At the same time in the dark place known as Lost Angels the androids Nova and Six were pulled into a vortex of time and energy. The cross-time tear opened a rift into their world and pulled them in, disrupting their physical shells and memories.

Nova's short interlude as Qli-2 allowed her to retain some memory of the Bloodwing family and its many relations, but her old powers and possessions were stripped from her as the many-fold realties played havoc with her systems.

One moment she was a human girl in a far away land, the next an elf warrior serving her Queen, still in another a mechanical swordmistress beloved of a minotaur. All of the realms of possibility and timelines changed and warped her until at last she was drawn into Seraph City and part of the team: Nova and Six's Salvage.

Six tumbled through the vortex, time tearing at her like the claws of a raging beast. Years ago some deviant had modifed her, by shoe-horning the pleasure/pain center of a succubus's brain into her systems as an experiment to make her a better pleasure model. This had grown and became a soul inhabiting Six's chassis. That was now ripped from her and cast out into the endless seas of time. Nothing had prepared Six for the vortex or time shifts or the shock of losing an integral system part. Her electronic eyes flickered wildy then went black as she entered a failsafe mode shutting her down until repairs could be made, and time became her repairman...

Six awoke in a junkyard looking down at the spanner she had dropped. She swore under her breath and looked back to find Nova had just wound her key again " I can not complete my work while constantly needing to be wound!" She reached down for the spanner going back to work on a small airship she had built specially to salvage and tow larger air ships.

Nova looked up to see the Revenge plummeting towards the bay and yelled for Six to, "Crank her up and lets go save that ship!"

Both droids, changed in appearance, function and indeed reality itself soared towards the Revenge and quickly looped their towing lines around the ship. A great shuddering of gears and a few curses from Nova later, and the "Sixes and Sevens" (named after each girl's unit numbers) pulled the Revenge out of its nosedive and brought it safely to rest on the tarmac.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

the space between times

A lateral jump out of the Hive fleet was out of the question, and we knew it. Not with a hellgate that large and so close. We could have easily emerged on the wrong side. At the absolute worst, we could have caught on the portal boundary and ripped it wider in our wake.

Koen was right. A forward jump was our only chance. And now this entire clockwork ship is sailing through the torrents of time. Somehow, Koen knew our powers combined could make this happen. I have retrofitted myself to the ship's helm like a living masthead. For all intents and purposes, this ship is now a TARDIS, with myself as its core. Koen's alchemy is shielding us from the energies swirling around us, and he is using the Time Window technology our vampiric captain pioneered to navigate us to a city outside the Age of Steam.

I can hear Aleister cursing at Koen for shredding his carpet in shrill squeaks while he nails copper plates over the holes the Hive ripped out of the hull. He is clinging to underside of the ship in his giant bat form, wings stretched over the hull for support while while he hammers away with digigrade claws.

I have never stopped to admire the beauty of the vastness of hypertime while tesseracting alone. Certainly not when Nova and I were holding onto each other for...

Of course! I'm activating a homing beacon to the frequency only my sister Qli-2 shared. She vanished without a trace during the Pogrom. She must have escaped to hypertime.

Qli-2? Sister? Are you there? Did you find a safe place? Did you find your way back to your homeline as Nova? We have regrouped. Things are not the same. But we are strong again.

We would miss you for the trials ahead. Follow this beacon to our ship if you can. Or meet us in Seraph City. Or just give a sign you still exist.

Qli...Qlippothic Prime signing off. Message set to repeat.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

the swarm

I could have dispatched the wasp-creatures myself, but the steering mechanism for the Bloodwing's Revenge was so dilapidated that I linked my nervous system directly into the ship to handle the navigation entirely by myself. If I disengaged, the hundreds of gears connected to chart our course would spin out of control. It would take me weeks to recalibrate while floating helplessly at the cloud level.

"YOU ARE IN VIOLATION OF INTERNATIONAL AIRSHIP TREATIES! DISEMBARK IMMEDIATELY!", I thundered in my most authoritative tone. I am not sure that they understood human speech, but the amplification of my warning and the glare of my arc-light only served to anger them. They advanced towards me, their wings droning menacingly as they drew their revolvers.

"QLIPPOTHIC! LIGHTS OFF!", shouted Aleister from below deck. I complied, shutting my cranial aperture and surrendering the deck to the absolute darkness of night inside thick enveloping clouds. Perhaps it would be better if I did not see my own demise and and that of the rest of the crew.

I glimpsed the pale blue sparks of enchanted rapiers slicing between an invader's segments. Aleister's fanged scowl hovered in my optic sensors between the split seconds that the cloak of the cloud's total darkness again descended upon the deck. A panicked shot from a wasp-revolver deflected off my shoulder harmlessly.

He seemed to be everywhere at once. There were so many flashes of light that the battle unfolded like a flipping roll of pictures inside a penny-arcade booth. Aleister was soon surrounded by dozen of the wasps, each lunging and slicing the air with four arms clutching straight blades in their talons as long and as sharp as the stingers glistening with venom that curled forward from their abdomens.


In rapid succession the wasp blades - and the chitinous arms clutching them - fell clattering to the deck. Severed sheets of gauzy wings caught their last fight in the airship's wake and vanished. The drones of the wasps with their abdomens slashed open were louder and even more unsettling as they spent in a last series of bitter clicks choking from their bloody mandibles.

Aleister flipped up the shield on a gas lantern built into the deck. He surveyed the carnage of a score of the beasts mangled and twitching in pieces, oozing black liquid across the boards. The vampire examined the tarry substance stretching across his off-hand sword, flaring his nostrils in mild disgust.

"Zis...zis ist ichor. Zey are from der untervurld."

A brass periscope bounced upwards from behind the speaking horn that arched over the ship's wheel. I spun my head forwards again in alarm to see the slitted cornea of Koen's red eye staring back at me through the fishbowl-shaped lens. The universal joint craned past me down at the corpses, and judging from the erratic turns of the lens, Koen was twitching excitedly.

"Their equipment is uniform and customized to their species", I noted as I looked down at a wasp revolver from where it skidded to rest by my ankle. It was little more than a hexagonical puzzle-tube of steel, obviously mass-produced by a race fixated on utility and with no concept of a comfortable grip, since it was of course perfectly designed an exoskeletal claw. "Decidedly not a hodgepdge of human pirates' tools."

"Und zey reek of sulphur...just arrived...zere ist a Hellgate near here!"

The vampire was correct. Even through the freezing winds I could now detect the highly elevated levels sulphur in the atmosphere.

"A hellgate in the middle of a cloud?" chirped Koen. "Don't you need a cave for that?"

"Qlippothic. Climb over der cloud cover."

"Aye, Captain."

I heard a clatter from below deck as I altered course and the periscope dropped. A second later I heard a scrambling of claws and the periscope hopped up again. "Guys..." interrupted Koen as the redundant wheel of the ship leaned towards me on its own accord. "These insects look like Vesprium soldiers, they come from the Great Hive that borders Erebus. But they've never been known to stray from the..." As we broke through the roof of the clouds, the periscope unexpectedly jerked upwards, swerving about unevenly as it scanned the skies. The blanket of stars and the bright artery of the Milky way coated the deck in soft light. Koen's utterance of "Oh...shit..." was barely heard under the deafening buzz.

We erupted from the clouds in the middle of throng of airships, each one dwarfing the Bloodwing's Revenge in size, suspended from hive-shaped balloons, all pointed westward in tight formation. Their courses could be traced back to the hovering red disc burning angrily in the night sky. Even as we watched, another pair of Vesprium ships passed through the portal from the skies of Hell into our own space.

Captain Aleister broke the silence. "Zis ist no pirate's armada, mein an invasion fleet..."

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

a hive of scum and villainy

I manned the wheel at the helm of the old skyship at the evening shift. Each time the Bloodwing's Revenge skimmed through a heavy cloud that reduced my visibility to the wheel, it left a sheen of ice on my metallic frame that quickly evaporated from the heat of my internal combustion. A garish brass horn curved over the wheel for the convenience of barking orders below deck, or in Aleister's case give orders to the pilot during daylight hours. I can understand the life of a vampire being a lonely one, but I already had my share of his rambling when I was his thrall.

"...und I must say, Herrin Qlippothic, you are handlink der gallon very vell. Vere did you learn such tings?"

"One of the most fearsome pirates of this age taught me how to handle a ship, Captain..."

I could hear a bit of my pride showing through. Before I met Captain Bohemia I was afraid to even go near the water.

"...and it was easy enough to carry that knowledge to airships. I flew many of sorties of CIRRUS Fire Brigade dirigibles for Caledon."

Indeed, I was used to having an air balloon looming over me as I navigated. Though I never would have used a canvas this vessel used, which was in such dilapidated condition I was amazed it held air at all.

In a fit of nostalgia I accessed my memories of Midnight. She taught me the name of every rope and sail. Leather gloves pressed my brass hands to the spokes of the wheel. Hard to port...Starboard...

I shook my head. Something else was making a wrong noise on the ship. "Captain Aleister? Why are the propellers buzzing so loudly? Do we need more oil?"

"Vas? The propellers are off! Ve are sailink on a strong vind!"

"Then what..."

I heard several sets of legs land on deck behind me. I rotated my head fully and opened the chamber in my forehead, letting my Sephiroth illuminate the fog.

Several human-sized bipedial insects flinched as I blinded them. Their chitin were black and yellow. Their double-sets of wings jutted from their backs like blades in an intimidating X. They wore only leather harnesses, from which they drew their straight blades and pistols...

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

there's no telling just now what we have in store

Qlippothic lay in the table for weeks as his father and his gas-fueles urchin toiled day and not upon rows of machinery. She had tried to reason with him, to tell him his theories were not sufficiently tested. That the results could not be controlled. For this he immobilized her. For daring to try to contact outsiders for help, he had disconnected her voice.

Even though she had free will, she had never defied her creators, save when the fate of the Earth itself was at stake. Now, she was beginning to regret her obedience.

"Qli? You awake?"


The scruffy urchin's face leaned over, into her field of vision


"Can ya hear me Qli? Flash your eyes again or somethin' Hun!."


"Great! Listen, I don't know how to fix you, but I know someone who can. We were gonna break in and bust you out later, but since Dad and his walking oven kid are out of town..."


"...we're busting you outta here before he breaks you and blows up the whole city. No, really. You can thank me later."

He drew a knife of dull grey metal from his boot and began cutting the cables linking her to the machinery in a shower of sparks. Qli's eyes began to pulse furiously in Morse Code to chastise him.

"Not listening!"

The boy stood over Qli's table and waved his arms upwards. A black box on a cable lowered with a crash, sounding the alarm systems of the Consulate.

The neko tugged at the sides of the box that fell beside them until it began to unfold by itself into a spider-like machine that leaped onto her table and braced it securely.


The boy in turn hopped onto the iron construct and held fast to the cable as it spooled upwards, lifting him and Qlippothic.


From her vantage point, she could see the wooden hull of the airship looming larger as the sky slowly rotated.


Wednesday, February 10, 2010


I finally managed to get a lock on the Caravel's homing signal, just as the flames overtook Ash and myself. The heat almost compromised my armor before my galvanic energy field encircled us. We reappeared outside the airlock. Had we materialized in inside the ship, our radiant heat would have sure caused an explosion inside the vessel. As the absolute cold of space dissipated the red heat of our glowing shells, Ash tried to hail Dr. Mason through Marconi transmission.

[Gematria, no response.]

We opened the airlock manually. Dr. Mason was not on board. We did however find his final transmission.

"Five months, Ash? He's been gone for that long? And you made no attempt to recover him?"

"I had strict orders to find you first, Gematria."

I shook my head. "I had to endure the taunts of those selfish creatures mutilating my name for far too long. Since, it seems, my Sister Qli-2 is no more, I will re-assume my given title of Qlippothic Projects."

"As you wish. We may now begin our search for Dr. Mason."

The video link buzzed as a wavering image took shape on the cathode ray monitor. "That will not be necessary, my children!"

I pressed my hand to the screen, staring up at his magnified features. Even through the distortions, facial recognition was stable at 85%. I recognized most of the laboratory equipment, and was surprised by the familiarity of the artwork behind him.

"Father? Can this be? Instrument readings tell me your coordinates are..."

"Yes, Qlippothic. They are correct. Do you honestly think I would let a bumbling world-dictatorship permanently derail my research? I need your assistance here, Qli. Ash, please monitor the energy readings from the Caravel. This shall be our family's finest hour!"

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


Against my will, Ash tore me from the morass of circuitry and fluid-lines of the my charges. To be honest, he nearly tore my arm from its ball joint! My brother had used his exo-suit to drill his way straight down to intersect with the tunnel accessing the chamber where I was held. We could only estimate the size and speed of the nuclear self-destruct sequence, so Ash left his exo-suit behind in our haste. We fired our galvanic engines and shot upwards out of the fissure Ash had created.

The Timekeepers left a crater over where their factory once stood as their sole legacy. The ambient radiation from the fallout of the Timekeepers' first and final war interfered with the homing signal from the Clockwork Caravel. Without a solid lock, tesseracting to orbit was far too dangerous. We raced upwards through the toxic soup that was once an atmosphere. A flash below us signaled critical mass. The shockwave wreathed in nova-heat flames rippled in a hemisphere from the crater, rapidly consuming what air was left, and threatening to overtake us in a matter of seconds.