Land In Revolt Interludes V
Unit #536 was doing her best to finish up her work. The All Father would speak soon. Showing up late to his proclamations could be hazardous to one’s health. But #536’s endeavors were extremely important to the cause. The work had to be done. #536 envisioned the All Father hailing her as a paragon among her brothers and sisters. Her pride swelled. To make that vision a reality, she would risk lateness.
The metal woman’s laboratory was probably the most well-organized room in Majeria. A myriad of contraptions were neatly positioned against the walls. They sparkled from polishing, making it impossible to determine if they had been around for minutes or for decades. Countless tools hung on rows of hooks, each one in its specific spot as verified by the taped outline indicating where it should reside. A place for everything and everything in its place.
In the center of this testament to cleanliness a large, unimpressive rock sat upon a spotless specimen table. It was supported by a brace which held the it aloft an oval cut into the table. The hole was directly in line with a similar opening in the floor of the laboratory itself. Unit #536 hovered over the area, focused sharply on the specimen. It was, at this moment, the most important part of her world.
Unit #536 had learned from the previous 1,217 attempts. It was, of course, her role to do so. All Father gave her the gift of shaping Essence. On top of that, #536 discovered she had a knack for infusing Essence into…well into almost anything really. From what All Father told her of Pax Magus, that meant the possibilities of what Unit #536 could achieve were limitless. That got her thinking about one of the greatest accomplishments of her Forefathers: Wyldshire.
More specifically than the city, the floaters that scurried about within it. While an ingenious vehicle in itself, its scope was limited by the the ungrateful wizards who maintained them. These magical amateurs did not share with the world around them. They were, however, quick to take credit for the gifts provided by the Forefathers. Unlike the world around them, they were small.
Unit #536 was a big-thinker. If All Father and her fellow units were going to save Majeria, it would mean shaping things on a grand scale. As she stretched out her hands to control the Essence below, her contribution to this shaping began.
She had augmented her innate ability with one of her previous inventions; gloves that allowed the user to seize control of far more Essence than they normally could. She concluded from her other trials she needed to access a larger volume of raw magic to achieve her endgame. While potent in her own right, it wasn’t enough. The gloves bypassed this limitation (though at what risk she was unsure). Unit #536 hadn’t tested their limitations and she knew, on this 1,218th attempt, she would attempt to interact with more Essence than she ever had before.
She concentrated on the Essence flowing beneath her. She visualized it flowing up through the opening in the floor. The Essence obeyed, streaming at a steady but powerful rate. The tricky part of this equation was the infusing. Not only did Unit #536 have to summon the Essence, she had to simultaneously command it into the rock. For the first several seconds, everything went swimmingly.
The panic set in when #536 realized she was past the point of return. In all her failed attempts, the rock specimen would crumble, explode or dematerialize at around the 20 second mark. Happily, this crucial time frame passed and the rock was still in tact. Unfortunately for #536, it was around second 23 when a torrent of Essence ripped through the floor. The gloves were doing their job, albeit too well. She was tapped into an incredible amount of of the stuff. The feeling overwhelmed her senses, essentially freezing her in place. She could feel her components begin to tear under the stress. It was excruciating. At the same time, the rock still absorbed everything poured into it.
She had an important choice to make: attempt to sever the link to preserve her safety or continue infusing regardless of the outcome. Many thoughts went through her mind. She experienced the fear of permanent deactivation. The terror of knowing her existence may come to an end in the next few moments. Then she thought of the cause. She imagined All Father and her brethren successful in their endeavors. She knew deep in her core this experiment, if successful, could make that a reality. For that reason she remained there, frozen by pain, and she did what she was created to do.
The laboratory was beginning to come apart from the strength of the Essence. Neatly positioned contraptions toppled over. Tools tore away from their designated areas, scattering about the chaos. Unit #536 felt the floor buckle. The destruction to the room paled in comparison to the pain she endured. She was nearing 30 seconds when she let loose an agonizing scream. The gloves had reached their threshold sending intense feedback into #536. The resulting explosion blew off both her arms up to her elbow joints. With the link severed, the Essence returned to the depths below flowing out of the room like water down a drain.
Unit #536 looked at the stumps where her arms had been. Replacing them wouldn’t be a problem. She could probably reconstruct the gloves from her schematics, too. What she couldn’t move past was how she felt. Units didn’t experience things the same way beings like All Father did. That was one of the many gifts He gave his children. But that didn’t matter in this instance. Essence made her what she was. The amount to which she was exposed was akin to boiling her blood. It was too much to handle. Her knee joints buckled and Unit #536 fell…upward.
She was floating. She shifted her weight in order to steady herself. When she surveyed the room, it became clear she was one of many hovering objects. The debris from the wreckage hung in the air with her. It drifted about gently as if carried by a babbling brook. In the center of it all was the rock. It glowed with the changing colors of the neutral Essence contained within. The scene resembled a dense star orbited by a system of planets.
The lodestone was beautiful. If Unit #536 was capable, she would’ve cried. Instead she stared at her creation for what seemed like an eternity. Floating about the room like a leaf on the wind, the metal woman understood she had just changed the world.
* * *
In the corner of a room in a formidable stronghold set far apart from most of society there was a shadow. This room was generally very bright, making it hard to see a shadow like this. All the debris floating around coupled with the brightly-colored rock that hung above made it even more difficult. Even the metal woman drifting through the air took no notice of it. Nonetheless, the shadow was there.
If a truly intuitive person reached out with their senses they may experience a strange emanation coming from this otherwise ordinary shadow. A sort of motherly warmth tempered with the excited fear that arises from entropy. Gentle familiarity, but unsettling lack of surety. It must be ambient emotional static, not some product of the shadow.
And if one looked closely at this shadow, they might notice something odd about it. Looking long enough at it may lead one to see a a face. Not like a person standing inside, but a face composed of shadow itself. Surely a trick of the eyes, longer inspection may reveal the face belonged to a woman. A beautiful, kindly, intimidating woman.
And she was smiling.