Monday, June 6, 2011


The Digital Knights had the situation well in hand. It was time for me to help rescue Dr. Mason from a "Mainlander" wearing the clothes stolen from me by Marcus Mason.

My weapon was bulky. It was a rocket launcher designed for dispatching Baba Yaga's ships. I had one shell left. The scope, however, was perfectly calibrated. The target was fast, but clumsy. Not using its full potential. Was Marcus not fully integrated into Ash's circuitry? Or was Ash resisting?

The target wounded Koen's darkforce with an isomorphic disc. I aimed for the Ash's strike zone. Unlike a human target, a head shot would not terminate. Only disable. Dr. Mason was helpless.

Target is preparing for a death blow. Target is open. Fire.

The target fell in an explosion of brass. The torso was still smoking as Dr. Mason and Koen rose from their defensive positions.

Koen stared at the damage and shook his head. Dr. Mason gazed back at me through his binoculars. I read his lips...

"You hit the chest. Soul-shard..."

I lowered the scope. Founder forgive me. I had to save my family. He would have done the same.

I felt the shockwave of an explosion behind me. I turned around and witnessed the city of Cala Mondrago erupt in flames.

The power plant ripped open from the inside, from which rose as nimbus of lighting in a vaguely humanoid shape. Energy arced from its hands, exploding every structure it crossed. Flames raced across the power lines, dancing from shop to shop and tent to tent. The "Genies"...their sentient power source, had rebelled, just as in the tales of the of the ancient city that preceded New Babbage.


I threw the weapon aside. I depleted too much energy to tesseract to Cala. I was too far away. I could only run.

I tripped on something in the sand and fell. I rolled over and stared up with my mechanical eyes at the stars, their pristine view obscured by smoke drifting from the city.

I did not sense him approach, but the shadow of Bloodwing loomed over me. His pale frame hovered, slightly indistinct. His eyes burned in crimson fury.

"Elder! Forgive me! I have failed! I have failed..."

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


I gathered up one of my robes and some bandages and raced out of Lynn's carriage. With a bit of self-generated illumination it was simple enough to follow the bloody footprints of my doppleganger beneath the desert stars. I found her collapsed in an alleyway between the shacks of two merchants that had shuttered their gates for the evening.

She was still breathing. She groaned in protest as I turned her on her side. As I suspected, she was bleeding out from the apertures in the small of her back meant for my engine. The same precaution Dr. Mason designed to keep me alive was now imperiling the life I addressed her in hopes she retained at least some of my faculties.

"Qlippothic. I am going to tesseract with you to Dr. Mason. He needs to install..."


The deafening crack of an Eldritch Bolt sent me sprawling. My senses reeled as I struggled to regain control of my neural net. My double crawled over me, her eyes wide and her grin twisted in madness.

"Oh how rude of me! I'm terribly sorry. I appreciate that you've taken good care of my body while I was gone, but..." She glanced up at the crescent moon, then leaned down again to whisper where my ear would be. "This form is a bit inconvenient for my plans."

She rose, taking my folded clothes from where they fell as she did so.

"You brought me a pink loincloth?" I heard muttering incantations as she fumbled with the garments. By the time I saw my attacker's face again, the voice had dropped a register. What were my features and brown hair had turned to coarser features and a 5 o'clock shadow. A strong resemblance to Dr. Mason, but thinner and without the mustache. I heard Lynn calling out my name a few blocks away.

"If you value your friend's life, you will tell no one you saw me." He stepped on my faceplate with his bare foot as he departed. "Now go save your fellow tinkertoy. And don't forget...Uncle Marcus is watching you!"

His vicious laughter echoed in my memories as Lynn helped me to my feet.

"Did you find her?" She asked.

I shook my head. "She...did not last. She is gone."

Thursday, April 28, 2011

to shuffle off this mortal coil

I sat on the rug in Lynn's gypsy carriage. She watched nervously from a few paces away as I opened the chrome case and lifted a pen-sized cylinder from inside. The desert sun fell in a strong beam through the small window, illuminating dancing particles of dust that crossed its path. The light that hit the chrome reflected glowing curves across the walls.

"You said that if you take this medicine, you'll never be human again?"

I still felt the weight of the boiler unit my father fused to the small of my back. I had to be prepared for a sudden transformation at all times, he said. All it did for me in this state was ache and chafe. Was I ever completely human with this contraption attached to me?

"That is correct."

"And this is the only was to rescue your brother?"

"I'm afraid so."

She smiled gently. "It wouldn't change how I feel."

I could feel the blood rush to my face. Another human trait that I'd miss.

I pressed the tip of the cylinder to my arm. I heard a rush of air and a tingle as the nanobytes spread through to every cell...and everything went black. Was that screaming echoing from a distant mountain range?

I saw the world again through thick glass. Darkness washed away the color save for a few candles. I heard the rush of air through my boiler, and my strength slowly returned to me. I lifted my arms...articulated brass. I touched my face. A smooth metallic mask. My true face. Again.

Lynn was facing away, sobbing against the wall.

"Lynn? Do not cry. I am here. The metamorphosis..."

She turned to face me with horror in her eyes. I struggled to regain balance as I rose to my feet. Her jaw fell as she backed away.

"You're Qli? HOW? If you're really...then who...?"

She pointed towards the door, left swinging open. The bloody footprints on the carpet leading out did not escape my attention.

"Lynn? Do I even want to know...?"

Tuesday, March 8, 2011


A pair of metal talons ripped through a canvas tent in the deep desert, shattering poles and crushing the metal inside. Shredded rugs and fabric flew off with the wind. Dented segments off brass armor glimmered as they fell in a pile with kitchen supplies and cracked picture frames containing portraits of the Mason clan. The colossal construct pointed an acrlight down at its handiwork and began to sift meticulously through the remains.

A small wooden framed picture of an earlier Qlippothic - one of a Victorian lady in her finest garments, carefully tailored to fit the coal grate on her abdomen and the twin smokestacks looming over her back - rolled clumsily away in the rising wind, tracing a line of indentations in the sand, only inches away from the ankle of the real Qlippothic. On this night she had become completely human save for the turbine surgically fastened to the small of her back, a grim necessity should she suddenly shift to a construct form with no power source at hand. Her leather and linen dress was draped by the ever-present wind around the rioutous colors the red headed gypsy she was embracing. She held her tightly not out of love, but fear.

The gypsy clutched the silver amulet hanging below her multihued scarf, whispering an enchantment of invisibility. Qli felt her skin hardening to metal, the metallic spreading from her engine in all directions until at least her hair vanished beneath her reflective mask. The beauty of the setting crimson sun behind them was ripped away by the arclight suddenly pointed towards them. No movement by the walking behemoth. Qli and Lynn's intertwined shadows stretched across the sand.

Qli did not finish scooping Lynn into her arms in the instant the monstrosity lunged at them, claws at the ready.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

with a silver whistle and a golden scale

I heard the distinct roar of Ash's jetpack engine outside my tent. I rushed to greet him, and remembered to bow as the local custom. My nanobytes were still malfunctioning, and I did not wish to accidentally damage him again through direct contact. He drew a parchment from his belt as his wings retracted behind him.

"The translation on this invitation is poor, but its essence is nonetheless disturbing."

I was taken aback by the twinge of anger in his normally measured voice.

"This Magistrate of yours," he continued, "is she a Heterodyne?"

I shook my head. "She has never made such a claim."

"It is not her place then to judge who is a 'true' Jäger."

"Ash... No one is questioning your service to the Jägerpatrol."

"I am a discrepancy, which must be rectified."

I demanded an elaboration.

"There is already a time-displaced Jäger in our family line. She is living proof that the brau is compatible with Mason DNA, which still resides in my soul-chip."

Before I could question him further, he spread his wings with a sandstorm and vanished in a sonic boom.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Friday, January 7, 2011

Next Stop: Cala Mondrago

"Are you sure this is my only chance, Father?"

"I'm afraid so, Qli. We're going to prepare you for cryogenic suspension. Keep this mask over your nose and mouth. Good. I want you count backwards from ten..."

"Qli? It's Koen. Steady now...don't get up too fast."


"Not anymore. We're in Cala Mondrago."

"So this is where I'll spend the rest of my days?"

"Don't make it sound like that! It's a nice little place. They've got a direct trade route with Caledon! Okay, it may not be Kittiswitch or Steelhead but it's not Babbage smog either. But you're still in the Steamlands. I've checked the place out. They've got a club and a cafe and some Spark-shops. You won't run out of oil or food."

"But my family? My friends?"

"Hey hey hey hey! You're still a little off kilter from being frozen. I told you they trade with Caledon? I've seen a lot of familiar faces here escaping the winter. I even saw Emperor Squid at the cafe!"

"Steelcobra Calamari?"

"Yes! And the folks here are real friendly. There's a...what did they call her? Well she's a princess. Her name's Bianca. You should go talk to her. Maybe she can get you a job at the club."

"Who is going to want to see me like this?"

He doubled over laughing.

"Everybody? Listen...we don't have any monsters to fight at the moment and the Revenge is still in drydock. I'm going to stay here with you. I'll be fine here. This is just like my Mom's place in Heliopolis. Except it's not a dictatorship. And I don't have a legion of servants. But that's beside the point..."

That was three weeks ago. One demonstration later, and I'm a performer at the Laughing Djinn. Please come and visit me if you would.

Best wishes for the New Year.