Siria encounters terrible atrocities and a fractal horror within the communications center. Gustav struggles with his demons. A trip to an abandoned reactor ends with a crash. Siria is enlightened.
A letter from Keinon Rolal to his friend at the Arx Machinus.
My Most Faithfull Friend on this Magnificent Earth;
It is with Regret and Aching Heart I now write this Letter to You; I fear I can no longer be assured of the deed of my own Hand, the testimony of my Eye, the honest nature of the natural phenomena that are given to me in the immediace of my Senses; I fear we have discovered a treachery most alarming, the rebellion of our Mekanimas. I profess myself wishing this not to be so, even in the face of evidence threatening overwhelmation. I endeavour to recount to You the events as truely as possible nevertheless.
My friends Gustav and Valefarion returned from their Misventures in the vast desert in a shocking state of physical damage; it was soon evident the Nuntius Darius was no longer with them; however no clear image as to what had transpired could not be extracted from either. Soon after Valefarion disappeared into the wrecthed desert, along with his Maiden-bride.
After my friend Gustav was blessed with a swift Recovery by the hand of the Chapter-House Hospetaler Mr. Benjamin, we made a plan to reach again the heart of the ancient communication device in the mountain. We agreed for myself to examine the remains of Darius in the chamber of flesh, while the esteemed Ms. Liam was to inspect the communication device. All proceeded according to plan until, my Dear Friend, a thing most unspeakable occured. As the esteemed Ms. Liam studied the device, it seemed to go quite mad; displaying the hateful fractal structure on every screen, except for a sole one, upon which was inscribed her own file, complete with the date of her Death; fixed for the very next day! I could not, my Friend, lie to You, nor would I, but this account only grows madder still. I played the silent witness to all this; this is the testimony of my own Eye, yet as wrote to You before, I cannot trust myself to be trusted. Yea, hear me, my Friend, for this is what I saw: the fearsome Man Fractal, it was him that I saw, emergent from a screen, as if a ghost through a mirror darkly; he approached the esteemed Ms. Liam squarely, to... I cannot bear myself to recount the horror in any form faithfull to the experience... The experience defied all description, yet I must now steel my will to do the impossible. With my own Eye, I swear to You my Friend - the Benevolent Machine Bless - I saw the Fractall Creature take corporeal possession of the esteemed Ms. Liam! Later I inspected her unconscious body, quite impossibly unscath'd... I must believe what is given to my own senses; yet I find it goes violently against my nature...
Prior to the visit of the Man Fractal, the esteemed Ms. Liam was visited upon by a vision such I find myself unable to believe existant; it was that of a shocking mass-extermination of humans--nay, that of techmancers, our brothers and sisters, our very kin, I find myself oddly convinced of this; firstly tortured most horribly, and then disposed of into what seemed a cave. These brothers and sisters, innocents among them, were like You and me, yet they were an alien species; their Conduits incredibly sophisticated, their physical blessings so superior as to border the sacrilegious. All were murdered in the coldest of blood. I, having been spared such sights my brief life hithertofore, found myself shaken to my very foundation by the succession of these images; first this, then the event with the esteemed Ms. Liam and the Man Fractal. I cannot tell if I saw more, if more did happen, for this is all I recall, and this too in strange spares and parts.
After my own recovery I hurried to the esteemed Ms. Liam, and with great alarm I observed a lack most decided in her conscious mind: her Conduit-spirit was missing, and upon request she informed me it could not be brought back. I still find myself extremely worried by this. My friend Gustav, too, had encountered a body-snatcher of some description, and acquired a chitinous growth on his visage. I promised to see to its removal at the earliest convenience. I confess being worried over it, too. However grave the matters, they had to be put aside for there were issues more pressing: the vision given to the esteemed Ms. Liam shewed us the necessity of entering the mines again, this time to investigate the strange disappearance of electricity.
We did indeed discover such things as to chill the coldest marrow, for deep within the mine, an entity had been industrious as a techbee; for this entity, whose true identity we may only guess at at this juncture, had been building a veritable work-shoppe deep within the earth's cavern. We discovered, firstly, alarming quantities of Blight (I could feel my bad lung being affected; I find myself convinced of some change taken place), and those wretched bugs, in enormous numbers, swarming the makeshift factory. There was a peculiar pool of water whence, at measured intervals, emerged a great swarm of said insectoids, from underwater, as if newborn. There was a queer contraption, vaguely Coste-shaped and cloth-covered, which we shied from closer inspection of. There was a tiny clockwork which appeared to scan incoming messages, and to note some while discarding others.
Yet the most arresting thing to await its discovery, my Friend, was a likeness I have never in my life witnessed, neither nought comparing to it; built up from, quite obviously, the scrap reported stolen, the odds and ends of forgotten metal, yet with such finesse, indeed Elegance, was the likeness constructed as to confound the faculties of the beholder; yes; it was of magnificent Craeft, the creation of all creation, much like the human body in all the seams and joints, the natural curve and flow of its construxion simply astounding... yet I could sense it was of evil. It needed be sabotaged, and I, with my humble hand, did what could be done; it was not much.
I cannot tell You how relieved I find myself to be when it was found out that not only had the Conduit-flesh of the esteemed Ms. Liam started working again, but that, come nightfall, she seemed quite in control of her own Life, and not disposed of it by some accident or arrangement. During the night, she told me of a transmission being sent from Golden Dome, and apparently in such mean bursts of data as to completely disappear into the background noise of Data Traffic; how she came to be in custody of this information, I do not know, I haven't the gifts of the Nuntius to understand the finesse of Communication, yet I cannot help but cast my eye toward the Deceased, Aurelio... and her keen interest in such matters...
Untill We Hear Again, My Friend;
Hope, And The Blessings Of The Superior Machine;
Your Faithfull Friend;