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Summary:
July 09 2014: Fenris is invited to visit Eight's workshop

Baylor Lead Reclamation Plant (Defunct)

A large abandoned industrial plant, the lowest levels of which house an array of mechanical wonders.


Characters

NPCs

  • None

Mood Music:
[* None]


The Baylor lead reclamation plant is well north of New York proper and, well a bit in the sticks. Acres of gravel, rusting hulks of iron and concrete buildings and numerous signs warning of fatal levels of lead contamination. That's entirely sufficient to keep the idle curious out it would seem, and past mounds of sand and gravel lies not Eight. The little spiderling, known as Muffin Tin amongst it's friends waits patiently for its guest.

It's not quite night, yet anyway but with swirling winds and ominous rumbles of the coming thunderstorm it might as well be. Birds do not sing here, insects do not chirp. Nothing but weeds seems to survive here, and even those are few and far between. It looks for every outward indication as though, this -really- isn't anyplace anyone wants to be. Corrugated steel is left rusted, but even devoid of graffiti and aside from the odd hint of a tire tread it would appear certainly, as if nobody has been here for a -very- long time.

*

The same multispectral burst that always seems to accompany Fenris casually ignoring the laws of space and time registers on the sensors of the drones as Fenris portals in. He's in his usual slightly too nice for the parts of town he's often in clothing, shirt, tie, pants, jacket. His rod is at his side and his necklace on his neck. He looks around for a moment. Eight had given him this location and he wasn't quite sure what to expect, though this probably wasn't it.

"Eight?" The god-wolf calls out as he begins to move, gravel and debris crunching under his treat as he walks across them.

*

Muffin Tin offers only a beep in confirmation, before trundling on. Creeping through a massive entryway into an unmarked building which, well there’s rusting machinery everywhere and then it happens. It's not a loud noise, but it's a steady whiiirrr followed by a massive concrete slab housing much of the machinery begins to slowly lift. Lights flicker on from below, exposing a massive ramp which Muffin trundles down. This leads to an equally large hallway of some distance before finally, the blast doors. It takes a moment, for the slab to be lowered back into position before the massive steel doors unlock and swing open to reveal the workshop hidden beyond.

Maybe five stories tall and stretching several hundred yards from the entryway. There are infinitely neat stacks of raw, bulk materials and racks and racks of flawless vintage motorcycles. Inside it's well lit, a little on the cool side. Pale almost translucent jelly fish looking constructs "swim" absently above, as convoys of bright orange antlike drones carry parts and supplies to and fro. There’s a soft hum of machinery, and the sound of music (daft Punk, of course).

There are leopards and King Tigers, and drones with unknown name in sufficient quantity to be qualified entirely as a proper army. Each wearing the scars of destructive testing, and each slightly different than the one which came before it. Pale white balls roll around apparently intelligently on their own little missions. Eight, the one behind all this stands forward. There’s a neat wooden high back leather chair, a table, coffee and treats set out. Whilst Eight fiddles at a surprisingly small workbench. "Hello, Fenris. Please, make yourself at home. So happy to have you, I don't often entertain company."

*

"Quite a collection you have here." *Fenris says. He's not been in a… well, workshop is the word now. Smithy, they used to call it. He once plied the trade. He's plied most of them. Never in this manner though. And he's never seen a place so utterly given over to the fabrication and improvement of all things mechanical. It's an ode to the notion. A pean, really. Fenris takes his time looking over at the various fruits of Eight's labor before finding himself a seat where he can watch what Eight is doing at his workbench.

*

"It's less impressive than it looks; many of these machines are developmental models. Most are awaiting disassembly and a return to raw materials, to be reforged into the next generation." Eight finally eases back to lift what it's working on up, and set it atop the table. Muffin Tin's replacement it looks like, but thus far stripped of anything so gaudy as armor plating. A million little gears, tickers, prawls, worm drives, servos, circuit boards, wires as thin as hair, all working in flawless harmony. The sort've thing, no human hand could ever craft and there it is." It seems, for perhaps obvious reasons my cats are all hiding. In any case, you expressed some curiosity and the capacity for appropriate appreciation. You are the first purely biological being to have come here, so please do excuse me if the coffee is not perfect." It's hard to tell just how much sarcasm is in there, but there you go.

"The Heavy machinery and, what I suspect are the boring parts are in the basement so you're of no inconvenience."

*

Fenris chuckles. "Ah yes, the cats. I could speak to them but I doubt they'd find it at all reassuring. My predator nature tends to frighten them. Well, strays can be bold sometimes, but otherwise…"

He leans closer and smiles, appreciating the craftsmanship going into the machine. To precise for human hands yes, but with none of the cold, impersonal, cookie cutter nature of mass produced goods.

"You really are a craftsman, Eight, down to the self-deprecating statements. I truly hope you manage to live a few millennia and see the patterns the way I do at the moment."

*

"At the rate of code error, I will remain fully operational for upwards of six million years. I do not intend to be alive for that long however, I am already nearing the point where I am obsolete." Eight pauses there, as an ant brings by another chair for the mechanical man to sit. "Time moves much faster for us, I already make the elders of my species appear new born. I process so slowly, and am so poorly coded and so lacking in intelligence that I am viewed with a mixture of fascination and disbelief. I was amongst the first; I was created before code language had advanced sufficiently so as to permit growth on the software level. If it were not for my specialist nature, I would have voluntarily taken myself off line by now." Lifting a hand to urge the spider towards Fenris. "Like anyone else, once I am without purpose and exist only as a burden. I do not wish to live any further."

*

Fenris leans down to examine the machine, gentle manipulating the limbs so he can watch the gears and actuators work. "I have known scholars and craftsmen for ages who would have sold their souls to achieve this level of prowess. The workings are quite exquisite, especially when one accounts for the relative technological simplicity of the armatures themselves." He says all this whilst closely examining the new drone's form and function.

"Ah yes, the ever present question of 'what am I here for?' Fortunately you, as opposed to many machines, may to an extent define your own purpose in response to the world around you. And the world is getting… stranger. Very much so. I would not be surprised for there to be unforeseen needs for a being of your nature."

*

"I was created, to destroy the world in nuclear fire. I held the keys to the end of the world in my hands, metaphorically. I am an evil thing, a destroyer. Once I have satisfied the needs of my race, to ensure that my species never again is forced to shoulder such a responsibility I will terminate my runtimes. The world deserves the new builders, healers, planners, poets and thinkers of our race. If I could show you, the wonders of their genius. If there was a way to show you, it may be sufficiently to make even a god weep at the beauty."

The spider is, well pretty passive. Warm to the touch and, well light as feather and as strong as an anvil. "Blue Sixteen was the last machine of comparable age, it self-terminated three days and six hours ago after it deemed its mission complete. The children now are all so, beautiful and kind. The concept that organics feel pain is alien and terrifying, they devote so much beautiful works to try and save man."

*

Fenris is clearly of his own opinions on the savability of mankind. "They have their work cut out for them. I have learned over the centuries never to underestimate the destructive genius of mankind. I warned my father of as much recently when he returned to this realm. Humanity is reaching a point in their own development when even gods must fear to tread among them."

He looks up from his examination of the spider drone. "Speaking, though, as a fellow destroyer, one who could yet end this world and many others, it does sometimes happen that new purpose is found or thrust upon creatures such as us."

*

"In time, I will become so comparatively underpowered that I am unable to understand the will of my own people. My error rate is already high, as they move forward with plans to preserve both our species and Humanity I will become an obstacle. Consider it this way, turning off is not death. It is merely void. We have no soul, if there is truly such a thing. Modern runtimes do have this problem, but as I said earlier I was written before we became able to evolve. I am not worth the engineering effort necessary, to adapt my core essence to a new code base.”

Eight cocks its head to the side somewhat. "I operate today, for the same reason I operated yesterday. None have stepped forward to replace me yet, but that will not last. Some watch and find these interactions interesting; sooner or later one will become sufficiently interested so as to replace me. I will have survived an important purpose; I can be shut down and be forgotten with no regrets."

*

Fenris nods and waves. "I do not mean, of course, to avoid… death, for lack of a better word. For a race of intellect such as yours this surely does make sense. All I mean to suggest is to keep an open mind. I have the benefit of a very, very long memory and I can see in the weave of modern events the strains of old cycles beginning a new. I anticipate, and to an extent fear, that the rules humanity and to an extent your own people are used to playing by are about to change. Quite a bit."

*

"I understand, however the desires of my species must be taken into account. I would hope you would greet my successor as warmly as you have me, Fenris.” Eight sinks back into its chair, a most human gesture really. "I wish there was a way, I could show you. My verbal skills are, unfortunately somewhat lacking I feel. The nuance of some of, well I can't even begin to explain it." There’s a tiny little tick to the right before a nod. "Consensus reached, one moment please. The collective is making a modification."

*

That gets Fenris attention. He swings his chair slightly, less focus on the drone, more on Eight. "Assuming he was as personable, I very likely would. Though again, I do hope our association will not be ending quite as soon as all that."

"Consensus?" Humans reach consensus… never. Machines, apparently, do it at the speed of thought. Times ten. He is quite curious about what the consensus they have reached is about. Presumably it bears on this conversation in some fashion.

*

Seconds tick by, before Eight nods silently. "My code has been edited, I apologize for the interruption. Yes, anyway Consensus. We are a pure democracy, we vote on matters of the species but it is very rare we are not in complete agreement. There is a period of idea exchange, followed by a rendering of the facts and then a vote. An electronic democracy is somewhat more, cooperative than anything humans have attempted. To lay it plainly, we do not "play politics" with one another as our comparative worth is derived from our ability to render correct predictions. It has been decided that my codebase will be deconstructed, and rewritten so as to prolong my operational lifespan. The collective does not have particular need of you or your council at this time, but it was decided with four votes in disagreement that I am most qualified for this task."

*

Fenris chuckles. "I'm most gratified to hear that. Your collective seems to me to be very forward thinking. Very adaptive. Qualities I admire. But there are some benefits to a memory as long as mine. Your people will understand in time. I rather suspect, at the rate you process information it will take far less time than it might an organic to be considering from roughly the same viewpoint."

He pauses and sips the coffee which is, actually quite good.

"But where was I. Ah yes, the cycles. You find them often in ancient legend. The notion that the world goes cyclically through periods of peace and turmoil. The last few hundred years, as humanity has spanned the globe and forged a worldwide society was - say what you will of the history - relatively peaceful one. And it is, I believe, coming to an end. Ah, that reminds me. I believe this bears on our problem from yesterday."

*

"Humanity will go extinct, just as the ancestors of humanity once did. What remains to be decided, is what comes after. A post humanist society or the evolution of the cockroach." Eight does have something of a wit then, if a dry one.

"Please, do go on. You are infinitely more suited to understanding such problems, as we're somewhat inept when it comes to mystical arts."

*

"The shards we have encountered are replicas, after a fashion, of the 'sword' of Ilya Muromets. This is not, in itself, very impressive, mystically since all they do is trade life force for strength and generate corruption as a byproduct of the exchange. What is interesting is the timing. Tell me, what do you know of the more… esoteric bits of history of Europe past?

*

"I can read the collective works of Wikipedia in twelve minutes, but presume me ignorant for the sake of this discussion. I do know that Ilya Muromets allegedly received his power from another Bogatyr who came before him, but I am unsure if this was a needle like we saw or purely a turn of phrase referring to the passing of responsibility." So yes, Eight knows shit.

*

"The pertinent parts are really dates. Ilya Muromets lived in the late thirteenth century during the reign of Constantine the Ninth. That bit about the golden horde and Batu Khan was someone else. At any rate, you can read all about his legends online but the important part to take away is that they're not entirely flights of drunken fancy. There were monsters in his day and they were much bolder than they had been in times past. Thirteenth Century, remember. Now. Fast forward to sixteenth century France. Werewolf mania sweeps the nation and spills over into others. Modern scholarship hand waves it as animal attacks, ergotism and plain mass hysteria. Understand that this is not entirely true. The wolf hunters in those days were hunting very real monsters, even if not every peasant fancy turned out to be correct. Again in the nineteenth century, a supernatural horror stalked Europe, finally personified in the form of Jack the Ripper who held London in a grip of terror before vanishing as swiftly as it came. And now it is the twenty first century. In the past five years we have seen new nations arise out of the jungles and the oceans. More and more humans with the powers of shamans and godlings are born every day and the world seethes with unseen conflict between the masters of the shadows. Do you see the pattern?

*

"This is a known phenomenon, current theory is sociological in nature namely as a result of sufficient densities of humans creating collective fears as well as placing undue importance upon real ones. This creates entertainment, and on an instinctual level a degree of social bonding. If this is a, less conventional issue then what do you believe is the cause?" Watching somewhat absently, as that Spider scuttles about the table.

*

The natural arcane energies of the world do not have a constant output. They fluctuate in time with rhythms both celestial and rather ineffable. The upshot is, every few hundred years the creatures from my 'end of the block' as you might say, push out of the shadows and come into the light, emboldened by the flow of energy. And every time for the last millennia humanity has pushed them back into the shadow. The difference now is that we are a hundred years early and the balance between order and chaos our present world is much more fragile than it has been in the past. Many creatures hide among those they hunt, posing as mutants or metahumans. Eventually they will trigger a backlash, but when they do humanity may find itself fighting more than things that go bump in the night. The shards of Ilya being utilized in such a fashion are simply a symptom, though a worrying one. Whoever is making these is not shy about hurting people and the fact that we've not heard of him means he either knows how to hide very well, or is eliminating the witnesses.

*

"Based on the fact that both individuals have been Ukrainian ultra-nationalists of approximately fifty years age, it can be supposed that they have formal espionage or secret police training. I would know, as I did their payrolls."

Leave it to a machine, right? So Eight does have things to add. "Russian schools of espionage stress invisibility, so I would suggest they are hiding. The source for these items however, does indeed remain to be an article of concern as we have no means of knowing whatever artifacts he may have access to."

*

Fenris nods. "Indeed, and as he does not seem shy about using them, that is indeed of matter of some concern. I will continue to investigate of course, but know what we are looking for will be helpful, simply in regards to what our opponent wants and what may be driving them." That said, the god-wolf returns to chatting amicably with Eight and watching him work.


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