|Series:||Scorpio Galaxy Chronicles|
|Previous Episode:||Ghosts and their Machines|
The young man had short spiky white hair, green eyes, tan skin, pointed ears and a slim build. He wore a black business suit like bodysuit and sat drinking a glowing blue liquid from a cup. He sat alone at a metal table, in a metal room, looking at a holographic screen. Several holographic images were around him, while behind him was a circular window with metal lines looking out into the deep black.
On these screen were charts, maps, reports, energy readings, etc. All of it was for the station he was construction, the project. He sat there bored, looking at a multitude of reports that all told him, everything was going fine. Yet everything was not fine for Maxion, as he did his work, his mind moved on to other things. Hyperion had survived for so long outside charted space, his enemies, the ethereal ancients, spoke of a darkness consuming them and that would eventually be a threat to him, the Gormin had returned, once thought myth, though now their purified descendants dwelled in peace on a protected planet. It seemed that this most sensitive of times, all sorts of terrors had decided to creep out of the dark, worse, most of them were mechanoids, something most of the galaxy’s organics were not a fan off.
He sighed and rubbed his eyes, before downing his drink. That was when she came in, his secretary. She was a young Basik, with purple hair and eyes. She wore a grey bodysuit she had customized with numerous strapped on armor plates and cutesy stickers. In her arms were several datapads, more files for him to look over.
“Didn’t I say to email me…?” said Maxion. She dropped the datapads on the table, gasping from exhaustion.
“I tried…!” she said in a childish tone “but your mail address keeps telling about my mother!”
“Huh, odd, it really shouldn’t consider you a threat…So what are these…?”
“Forms that need your approval, requests and payments…”
“Memory Wipe reports…”
“Already read all of them…”
“Angry letter from members of the Bi-State Council…”
“In how many ways, in how many languages can you tell someone where to shove it…?” He said face palming.
“That was rhetorical.”
“Don’t be…is there anything else…?”
“No, that’s about it…Is something wrong…?” He put his elbows on the desk and leaned forward, his chin resting on his cupped hands.
“Why do you ask such a thing…?”
“Normally you’re condescending, silly, mocking, but always a good sport. These days…every time you leave the station you come back…less happy, if that makes sense…”
“Sadly it does…” She gave a confused look “Sorry, look I have been…busy lately, things have come up, some of them…personal, but all of them difficult, my expertise was called for outside this station.”
“May I be so bold as to ask…a certain…sort of…question…?” she asked with a nervous smirk.
“Why don’t the council members like you? Is it because your species in unknown, or because you seem to like hanging around machines as opposed to organics…?” Maxion just gave her a dead, annoyed look.
“To be honest…I’m actually a mechanoid, whose secretly doing this project in the name of some repentance for the Great War that just ravaged the galaxy a decade ago…” She stared at him.
“You know, if you didn’t want to answer, you could have just said so, and…” She paused and looked past him “is…are the stars going out…?” Maxion stood up and turned around. Outside, in the dark, the star began to disappear as a ‘black spot’ appeared and grew in the backdrop of the deep dark. He looked for a moment, that realization hit him.
“What…?” Maxion turned to her, jumping over his desk he grabbed her and chucked her away to the other side of the room. It was that moment the ‘dark’ burst through the window. Air seeped out at high speed and the secretary’s suit erected its helmet to protect her.
In the air room Maxion simply looked at the writhing mass of all-black tendrils and currents. He clenched his fist, as if ready to attack, and in reaction, the black mass expanded forward consuming him before taking off back into the void, leaving the surprised and shock secretary leaning against the door, until the force field appeared to allow the room to pressurize and for her to run off.
“Initializing System reboot:”
“Systems Check Start:” “Load Bearing Servos: 100%”
“Primary Servos: 100%”
“Engen Pathways: 100% Integrity”
“Fuel Pump: 100%”
“Ember Casing: Structural Integrity within accepted levels”
“Enough…!” said Maxion, in a now deeper and more mechanical voice “Skip the check and explain to me what I am seeing…!”
Maxion stood in his true form, a mechanoid, around two to three times the height of the typical humanoid. His body was mostly white, with blue arms and legs, a red windscreen for his chest, a blue helmet, green optics and mostly white armor plating with red lines. On his legs were tires integrated into his side. His overall design, though bulky, blocky, had an organic curve to it.
He was in a swirl red hued white energy, which raged around him. He looked around, wondering to himself why he seemed to standing on solid ground when clearly there was none. His onboard computer, his augmented vision had signal, computer windows appearing in his sight saying the same thing, he didn’t know what was going on.
“Hello…” said a voice. He turned around to see an all grey version of himself, standing with one hand behind his back, the other waving, in a childish fashion.
“And you are…?”
“Call me…Speculus…” Maxion raised one of his metal eyebrows as he stared at him.
“High Basic…for mirror…how unoriginal.”
“Oh…” he replied in a pouty tone “well what do you suggest…”
“No, shadow, because your form is unoriginal…”
“Fine Umbram it is…!”
“Okay, Umbram, where in the pit am I…?”
“I will shoot you…”
“Aren’t we grouchy…?”
“I am simply not in the mood. Not after these last couple of months.”
“Yes, You’ve killed your brother, for the second time, faced a threat of myth, and fought your great nemesis, who, let’s be honest, you are rather certain is still out there.” Maxion was silent. “Nothing? How disappointing…”
“So, doppelganger…you know what, let’s call you Doppler…”
“How about you pick a name, I prefer Speculus…”
“Doppler it is…” ‘Doppler’ was silent.
“You know, I don’t think you want to start a conflict of annoyance with me.”
“Yes, ‘you’, back to that, you think you know me don’t you…? Have you been spying on me…?”
“Pray tell, what do you think I are…?”
“Who knows, a figment of my imagination, a visual manifestation of some entity that dwells here, wherever ‘here’ is, or the entity ‘they’ keep talking about…?”
“What do you know about this, ‘entity’?”
“They said I can kill it…”
“Really, could you…?”
“Who knows, I have little interest in helping them.” Doppler snapped his finger, and the swirling energy became agitated and erupted around them, throwing them about, as it coalesced into matter, and then objects, and then a scene.
Maxion found himself setting at a metal table across from Doppler. They sat next to a window, the entire building constructed out of metal. It was a diner, but all of the occupants were Mechanoids, robotic humanoids, around twice the height of most organics. Unlike him, their armor plating did not have excess junk, no wheels or any other part that would imply a secondary anatomy. These bots were built to be as they appeared now and no more.
They all had mainly cubic style limbs, with the same build, even those he identified as ‘female’. Their faces varied, some had metal faces that resembled a chrome version of a Basik’s or similar looking biped. Others had faces composed of bands or rectangular pieces together, working together to create a ‘face’ of sorts. The main difference between the males and females, besides their faces, was that the females had more slender and curved interconnecting parts. Their upper arms, and upper legs, their abdominal region were thin in comparison with a slight curve.
Maxion looked around, he took note of the fact that that his sensors were not telling him things. They told him of the density of the metal, energy and heat sources. He looked out the window, metal people, walking metal streets, with metal buildings and metal roads. They even fly about in speeders and jet bikes of their own designs.
“Where am I Doppler…?”
“A ‘maybe’, a ‘perhaps’…”
“A simulation then…”
“Must you always put things in such dry terms?”
“In terms I understand…yes. Now, what is this ‘could’ve been’?”
“This is what you wanted yes, a metal world, with metal people living their metal lives…”
“A metal biology, doesn’t equate to a robotic life style, besides, a robotic galaxy is not among my interests.”
“Really… So you don’t want to go home?” Maxion was silent for a moment.
“My people are gone, that is a truth I have come to accept…”
“But do you agree with it…?”
“What does that have to do with anything?”
“Everything…?” Through the window, a hand emerged, smashing glass and grabbing Maxion by the head without any warning. Maxion found himself pulled through the window and thrown across the street where the traffic was now absent. He got up to see a familiar despised form.
Instead of the cubic build of these ‘natives’ this mechanoid’s design sported organic curves. His grey hide had a barrel shaped chest, twin pointed shoulder guards that from atop looked like an A or an arc. He had kite shield like forearms that ended with long slender claws for fingers. His boots had a dip where the shin should be, the surrounding armor rising up to form knee guards, and covering over his three digit feet. The face was chrome flesh, but it was beastly with wrinkles and gaps from all the snarling, permanently marked on his face.
What angered him the most, was the symbol on his chest in fresh red. To describe it, imagine a crescent moon, its points facing up, in the middle another arc curved down a smaller one pointed to the right in-between the two. No doubt, on a thousand words a similar symbol meant completely different things, but for Maxion and his people, when it was put in that color, and placed on a body, it mean genocide, justified mass murder, a crusade. It was the symbol of a faction he destroyed centuries ago, the symbol of the Predabots.
Maxion got up and looked with contempt at the image of his older brother Gallus, now deceased. Without a need for an impetus, he transformed his right arm into an emitter for a slender blade of blue energy.
“Why did you kill your brother…?” asked Doppler’s voice. Random citizens gathered, the crowd cheering for a fight. “You didn’t even try to save him from them, from your former masters.” With his micro thrusters, in his feet and back, Maxion flew forward, swinging at the image of his brother. ‘Gallus’, blocked with blade formed from the front part of his arm shields.
“My brother, was a zealot, a bigot, a brute, a coward, and a bully…even on his best day he was not worth saving, why then should I have tried to save the monstrosity that he was?”
“The truth, I did not want to save him, he was evil, he brought nothing but pain, tried to damn our race to his same bloody path…!” Gallus pushed him back and lunged forward swinging. Maxion blocked the attacks with his blade as he continued to stumble back.
“Because you’ve done so much good…”
“I don’t claim to be a saint, but I have tried to make things better for people, for my people and the people of galaxy, even as they condemned us as mere ‘machines’.”
“Then why do you help them…!”
“It’s the right thing to do…”
“Are you serious…?”
“What, were you expecting something deep, thought provoking? I must apologize then, you see sometimes, there is no more than what meets the eyes.” He began to push him back. “I help them, because that is my choice, I destroyed you because I decided that, you are not the law, nor are you fit to judge; I don’t have to explain myself to the likes of you…!” His blade went through his ‘brother’ and the image disappeared as a puff of smoke. “Creature…”
“How did you know…?” said Doppler, who walked out of the dinner.
“Oh, please, the thing that took me, it’s description was clear, as for you, you’re a manifestation, you took this form because you can’t attack me directly, my system for disguises blocks your attacks. Your attempts to get at me, resulted in this place, a storm of quantum energy, which by will you directed into the forms I see before me. I am inside my disguise…”
“Clever, and what now…?”
“Now, I kill you…”
“Why, because you ‘decided’…?”
“No, because you annoy and insult me…”
“Rather bloodthirsty for someone fighting for peace…” Maxion began to walk towards him as the ‘denizens’ took fighting stances. “And how will you kill me…?”
“You already know I can, why else would you have come here, tried to get at me, you perceive me to be a threat…”
“You have something that threatens me, there is a difference…” Maxion stopped.
“You, you don’t know how I make it, do you, the Super Engen. You don’t know…” He began to laugh to Doppler’s annoyance. Then something happened, Doppler, had a look of shock on his face, and from behind Maxion came an explosion of light.
What awoke him was not his senses being confused, it was them screaming at him as they suddenly knew they were a ‘where’. He was alerted that he was in a gravity well, it’s gravitation strength as dictated by his chart, then the air density, then its composition, then the fact that there were powerful energy fields around him, being bullied and tooled into specific junction points and pathways that would not be visible to him.
"Where am I..." said Maxion trying to stand up
"It's awake...!" said a fat Basik.
"Who are you...?" the man pulled out a remote with a single button and pressed it. Maxion jumped as the control bolt on his back electrocuted him. He fell onto all fours and looked up.
"I'm your owner..." he said with a smug tone
"Really now..." said Maxion unamused, "and does my 'owner' have a name, or at least a name for this place...?"
"I am Modi Mox and welcome to the Mechanoid Crucible!" Maxion looked around at the rusted metal panels, and partially exposed circuitry and infrastructure. There were other cages, small metal caves with forcefields at the mouths, holding other large robots.
"How quaint..." he said sarcastically.
"And you're my new star attraction, now I'm going to need you to shut down so we can reprogram you..."
"That is not possible..." he pressed the button again. "Because my 'technology' as you understand it, is not compatible, besides, I don't 'turn-off'."
"Right..." he said unconvinced "I'll let my mechanic be the judge of that..."