The blue orb spewing a fountain of frost into the air was a cold fusion reactor. It is something alien to this time and place where Steam works miracles. My son Koen escaped from the Wastelands, where the remains of dead cities are laid to rest, to tell me that this is the very event that would wipe the smog-shrouded metropolis of New Babbage off the map if we do not stop it. If we did not freeze to death first.
Hans had a backup plan should his juggernaut frame have just this sort of failure. Koen's young companions were desperately chasing down Hans's brain jar that grew spidery legs and scuttled away. I stared at the blinking device that controlled the core. Not a gear in sight.
Blue and Sprog were still following me closely as Koen had ordered. But a white fog was blurring away the landscape. The Wastelands they came from was a radioactive desert. The poor girls had never known even a mild day in their short and desperate lives, much less the glacial temperatures that were expanding out from where we stood. Before I even turned to check on them they had already collapsed from the cold.
I was sweating profusely in my old army uniform before all this madness took place. It bore me perhaps a few precious moments of insulation before I would freeze solid. I reached down and lifted Blue's rust-pitted axe from where she had dropped it. I raised it high, preparing to smash the controls. Cut the wires. Something.
Just as I prepared to strike, a shadow passed over me. I felt a chill in my soul that not even absolute zero could inflict upon me. I knew that feeling before, several times. A feeling like you're a marionette and a puppeteer is not manipulating you, but brutishly seizing your strings to rip you away from the script you had planned. Yes, it was the Founder of the Mason line. Bloodwing had shouted an order in my brain that made me drop the axe and scream in agony.