Wednesday, March 23

falling to pieces

"I must admit, I have never seen an organic repair himself quite like this."

Bloodwing did not respond to Nova's observation. He had the sinew pulled taught with his teeth as he drew the needle over the last stitch of the surface of a deep, jagged wound and pulled it shut.

"Once we reach the homeline, I'm sure Doctor Mason can..."

"No." The narrow ribbon fell from his lips as he gathered it and meticulously tied a thick knot at the end of the stitch. "I must never lie on his table. No Spark must reanimate me again. I only require mend..."

Bloodwing froze as he watched the new stitches pop one by one and dissolve. He heard the rending as other stitches he had placed on a dozen other wounds likewise shred apart. No longer able to support himself where he sat, he collapsed against the bulkhead of the Sixes and Sevens.

Nova leaned over the pale demon. She pulled a device from her belt and peered at the swirling colors in the lens. "Bloodwing, magic isn't my area of expertise, but your entropy levels have spiked..."

"A curse..." The demon tipped over on his side, crushing a wing stripped down to bare bones. "The hag's magic must be reflected..."

"So we need to find a practitioner of the Arts similar to Baba Yaga's tradition to counter the curse? Lady Darkling, perhaps?"

He smiled wistfully. "She has gone to raise a son."

"Madame de Brauerhoff?" His neck trembled as he attempted to shake his head.

Nova arched a brow. "Surely you don't mean Mrs. Underby?" she asked doubtfully.

"Fauve." He whispered. "Fauve..."

Nova stepped back as Bloodwing collapsed and fell to the floor. She calmly called out to the helm.

"Six? We need a rather large container..."

The android looked down to survey the twitching components of the exiled demon prince.

"...and a mop.""

Tuesday, March 15

from the belly of the beast

For the past week I had been excavating the inside of the vehicle that Koen destroyed in Cala Mondrago. I set up a protective dome over the craft for protection from the elements, and to keep the "chicken-hut" as my son calls it trapped inside. (Koen's sudden surge of power is alarming in and of itself. We must contact Erebus...)

The mummified operator of the machine turned to dust after Qlippothic destroyed it. The hollowed out stone it was perched in seems completely mundane.

First observation: This device is of the same origin as the claw fragment we recovered from where Ash and the Founder disappeared. Metallurgical analysis revealed industrialized techniques beyond Steamlands technology. Off hand it would be something I'd expect to find on the Sixes and Sevens. But these monstrosities are not from the Twentieth century. They are centuries old. When Aleister Mason was still living and hobnobbing with the geniuses of the Renaissance, these devices were somewhere in deep storage.

The astounding technology on the outside is stark contrast to the unabashedly medieval interior inside. A stone fireplace? An iron cauldron? A crude alchemical laboratory? All very curious to say the least!

I found a codex in an upturned cupboard. Inside were Old Russian runes for an introduction:

and there did Baba Yaga find the fallen star
and wrest the secrets from the strange goblins therein:

When I separated the wooden blocks that counted for pages, a holographic projector embedded in the artifact began shine images of advanced technical diagrams. So that is what we are facing: a coven of undead witches using captured alien technology in tandem with horrific enchantments!

I also found in the cabinet another item of interest. Have you ever known a witch that didn't have a crystal ball? I made an attempt to scry with it. The image that manifested over us horrified me beyond description!

Bloodwing was chained to a rack. He was...there's no other word for it...he was being tortured. The anger in the Founder's face far eclipsed his pain. Suddenly, he noticed us...and laughed.

"These fools think I'm Ash!"

A shriek, and a desiccated talon covered the orb at the other end before the transmission was lost.

"The transmission was just long enough to verify their location," Qlippothic said coldly as she unzipped the chronal transmitter from its protective canvas wrapping. "I'll contact the Sixes and Sevens to intercept."

derezzing flags to purge your souls of shame

In a sunless realm where energy coalesces to form, a construct from another world witnessed the slaughter of innocents, and felt no choice but to intervene. He came from a different world than the Creator Flynn. One where Programs walked among their Users and were treated as equals. To the ISOs and the Programs who joined the Resistance, ASH became their champion.

Over many cycles, the Resistance dwindled, but ASH never tired. His disc could not be broken. His light-cycle could never be intercepted. When all hope of liberating the Grid seemed lost, he gathered the surviving ISOs he could find and took them to the edge of the Grid, in a blind search for a passage back to the Steamlands.

At the rim of the digital world he stood with two dozen exhausted warriors, a half step from the edge, gazing into the oblivion beyond. He did not see it as desperation. It was a last move of unknowable results at the end of the line.

And I believe that I'll retrieve
the aperture to heaven
The User Grid, the promised land
a fortitude of hearts and minds
Until I free the ISO Hive
I'll format Void into the Light
Enlighten minds!
Now Program, run
until the day of Liberation,
Bloodwing's Son!

The call echoed through the space between spaces and the time between times, where it reached the demon from which he was created. Despite the pain inflicted upon him by his captors, the prayer gave him the strength to break his bonds. By the time the Sixes and Sevens cut open the hull, Bloodwing stood alone among the crushed and charred remains of the long-dead Daughters of Baba Yaga. All he asked for as Nova and Six carried him through the air lock was a needle and thread, to sew himself back together.