Book III - Chapter 1

 

……………………….

The Gods of Old.

Of Thunder.

Of Lightning.

Of Winter.

Of War.

Far away and removed from the reaches of men. They live as Pantheons within the skies, resting upon the clouds. Beings of miracles and wonders, staring down upon the mortals. Watching their toils, their vices, their wars: all while drinking from the cups of gold, or their chalice of crystal.

I feel that I can understand the stories, now. At least, the few I can still remember with clarity, if I focus myself to try. There’s an understanding, now: the truth behind why they always seem to end in disaster. These legends of Gods…

Imagine you had all that potential. The power to, given time, do almost anything.

How terrible, this might be.

Maybe you could raise a mountain. Lift the stone and sand, to create something taller than every other peak in the entire world. Something that reached so far up into the sky, the air would thin out. To bring you up among the stars.

What good would that mountain do, if you wanted to go further?

Nothing.

Maybe, you could heal people… help people. You could cure illnesses and do away with afflictions of all sorts. Wipe out pestilence and plagues with the burning wrath of faith itself.

But, what good would any of that do, if the person you’d like to heal is already gone?

Power…

Is having it truly a gift, then?

While you sit upon your throne of Gold, watching from your mountaintop, to gaze out upon the world below… I have to wonder.

I see monsters and vile machines, wandering the lands. Their kind emerge, festering out between every new crack that opens up among the plains where I now live, like maggots from a corpse. They rise from the depths, or creep through the defenses of those who still resist, killing and being killed. They continue to bring violence, where there is already plenty to spare. All, as the sky brings not a drop of rain.

I despise them.

For all the times I’ve thought of tearing this land down to the last, they’ve taken even that from me. For, here is a place where death already rules. To let it die and crumble into ruin, requires nothing of my effort.

All I have to do is wait.

What good is being a God, in a world that’s already burning to the ground?

It’s strange, but I almost pity it.

Almost.

……………………….

Chapter 1

[Unit 8945698]

[Status]

[Construct] – Unit 8945698

[Title] – [Servant of the World] – [Command Active] – [Bonus Attributes – Granted]

Active – Minor Damage Sustained

 

Among the plains, the [Construct] moved swiftly. While the other surviving members of its wave carried at approximate formation, Unit 8945698 carried on the foremost position.

 

[Analysis – [Active]

[Scanning]

[No Threats Detected]

 

Though the Construct could not think or feel in any traditional sense, there was a distant sense of relief. The instructions guiding its actions were continuing as planned. Having finally left behind the [Cursed Blood] Eastern lines, further resistance had ceased. At this point, any additional [Cursed Blood] retaliation would be grossly insufficient.

Indeed, the [Trader Caravan] they had encountered earlier, was met and ended with no losses to current functioning units. All encountered threats had been eliminated.

Even without the [Bonus Attributes] allocated, Unit 8945698 knew that chance of critical failure before reaching the intended target was now [99.9997 %] less likely to occur.

That did not relax its programming in the slightest, though.

 

[Analysis – [Active]

[Scanning]

[Potential Threat – Detected]

[Analysis] - [Identifying]

 

[Identified]

[Status]

[Stone Crab] – [Untranslated]

[Titles] - [Servant of the World] [Deceiver] [Juggernaut] [Humbled One]

[Level] – 58

[Ailments] – [Marked by Terror] [Subservient]

[Analysis – Ended]

 

[Full Assessment – Non-threat]

 

Unit 8945698 continued on without slowing. The terrain was barren, empty of most life. By statistical probability, it was highly unusual to find another [Servant of the World] of such strength upon the surface in this region. Still, [Analysis] had decided their course.

 

[Updated]

[Signal – Lessoning]

[Command Weakened] – [Bonus Attributes – Weakened]

[Weather Conditions – Worsening] – [Sensory Attributes Effected]

 

This was not predicted.

Calibrations would need to be made, but those would be applied to the next wave of [Construct] models. As things were, already, contact was limited. The Construct knew little of this, of course, but the practical applications stored the information within its core for retrieval.

 

[Analysis – [Active]

[Scanning]

[Potential Threat – Detected]

[Analysis] - [Identifying]

[Not Cataloged - Unable to Identify]

 

[Engaging]

 

Stone met stone.

Unit 8945698 did not need to watch to know their formation had scatted, the other three surviving units flanking to strike. Visual confirmation was all but impossible within the storm of sand, yet, despite weather conditions, the tactic was carried out within an acceptable deviation to ideal. Unit 8945698 felt the opposing stone give way beneath the blows, then crumble.

 

[Analysis – [Active]

[Scanning]

[Potential Threat – Rectified]

 

The target was eliminated. With its formation reestablished, they carried onward.

Logically, the Unit 8945698 reviewed and found it had been far from an adequate defense. Perhaps, that foe had been a scout, or sentinel. The recognition of this, was not enough so the Construct would cycle into additional decision paths, but it was also logged and recorded.

 

[Additional Threats – Detected]

[Potential Threat – Detected]

[Potential Threat – Detected]

 

Unit 8945698 paused for the briefest of instants, processing.

Two more enemies had appeared.

Reasons for why the original scan having missed these reliably limited to [93.2017 %] assumption of equipment failure. Syncing and confirming data matching with additional units.

[Query]

>Multiple unit equipment failure – [Assessing]

 

[…]

 

>Probability of [0.0132 %]

[Reassessing]

[Threat Level Elevated]

 

Additional information was logged within the core.

 

[Analysis – [Active]

[Scanning]

[Potential Threats – Rectified]

[Elevated Threat Level – Pending Reassessment]

 

As the formation moved to engage, the unit to the farthest right flank ceased transmission.

Unit 8945698 stopped once more. Three communication attempts to reestablish were made, as was suggested in combat protocol.

 

[Analysis – [Active]

[Scanning]

[Elevated Potential Threats – Detected]

[Elevated Potential Threats – Detected]

[Elevated Potential Threats – Detected]

[Elevated Potential Threats – Detected]

[Elevated Potential Threats – Detect-

 

Another unit ceased and Unit 8945686 was badly damaged, but it had detected an abnormal presence of life. Relay of information-

Incomplete.

Unit 8945686 was offline.

 

[Elevated Potential Threats – Detected]

[Elevated Potential Threats – Detected]

[Elevated Potential Threats – Detected]

[Elevated Potential Threats – Detected]

[Elevated Potential Threats – Detected]

 

As the very sand beneath its limbs shifted, rising up in tendrils of binding stone and glass, Unit 8945698 did not feel fear.

Long ago, the Construct’s makers had known well what they wrought. Despite their ability to manufacture such a concept for their machines, Unit 8945698 did not express its own terror or distress- for these were symptoms of organic life, and intentionally excluded from its design. Weakness was to be recognized, but not expressed.

For that reason, though, however reduced in capacity the Construct’s self-awareness was, even Unit 8945698 could comprehend the emotion which spoke to it.

Softly at first.

Then, louder.

Louder still, until the resonance was amplified beyond the capacity of [Analysis] and all further abilities were effectively disabled. Drowned beneath untold gifts, channeled up and through every divots and grooves of the Construct’s system.

SEND AS MANY AS YOU WANT.

It felt the voice sink in, crushing piece by piece until all that remained was entombed.

And it knew hate.

I ALREADY TOLD YOU, GAIA:

NO ONE STEALS FROM ME.