Thursday, July 25

The Crater

That was the proper name for it. Calling it "Old Babbage" immediately branded you as a gawking tourist. Perhaps a lecture is in order.

New Babbage is indeed built upon the ruins of an older civilization. Most citizens never see the remnants of what came before. They're not curious enough. Nor can they see through the ever-present smog through the barriers at the colossal expanse at the very edge of their city.

Or, if you care to try your hand at the sheer suicidal cliffs, you can scale the Crater. The Clockwinder has forbidden anyone to go there, of course. But of course some fools cannot be stopped.

The legends say these predecessors enslaved beings of pure energy to power their machines. Ultimately, these beings broke their chains and laid their captors to waste. Having seen this happen to Cala Mondrago with my own eyes, I am not inclined to disbelieve. A handful of "lightning genies" wiped an oasis off the map. How many would it take to shatter an empire?

I must assume the Crater is where these spirits were chained. Among jagged crags and crumbled structures one can still unearth artifacts from that lost culture. Some pieces that are recognizable hint their technology was at least as advanced as what we have today. A sobering reminder that all we Steamlanders have accomplished can so easily be lost.

What is not shared information even among the treasure hunters...excuse me, amateur archaeologists, is that some of these artifacts still radiate magic. At this point Joe Babbager will cover his ears. No room for magic in the City of Progress! Well I've got news for you. Despite your city's best efforts and detonation of those accursed Reality Enforcement bombs, there are things...and people in this city that cannot be explained any other way. Ask the proprietor of the Bucket of Blood about the unseen forces, if you dare. Peruse the Special Collections Library at the local branch of my alma mater, Miskatonic University, if you are willing to pay with your sanity. There are numbers that our math-centric Clockwinder simply cannot calculate. Just ask my son Koen.

This is where my new enemy has thrown down his steel gauntlet. It is a challenge I cannot ignore. His victim gave me a sketch of this monstrosity who calls himself Cold Dead Hans. A brain jar in powered armor leaking liquid nitrogen...I don't think he'll be difficult to spot.

I'll have to pack carefully. I took my old uniform and combat medic gear out of mothballs. I'm certainly going to need them. I'm not going to tip my hand and reveal what...and who else I'm going to bring to this duel.

Hans. I am ready for you.

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