“What the hell is going on?”
Dawn reached out her massive gauntleted hand and grabbed the messenger by the front of his shirt.
“A scouting party was out on a mission and saw a large number of the robots gathering. They were different from usual and attacked the scouts when they got close. Most of our men were killed or badly wounded.
Dawn didn’t have time to press for more information. A shrill alarm rose through the camp, warning against an impending attack.
All of a sudden the clattering of metal sounded from all directions. A horde of robotic beasts came charging at them. They came in all manner of shapes and sizes; some were like snakes lizards or other reptiles while others were as large as jaguars. They came from the air, on land and underground. No two were exactly the same but all were made entirely from metal. Some were rusty or covered in moss, and a couple even sprouted small shrubs.
Although they were entirely mechanical, they still gave the impression of being real living things. The way they moved was just like the creatures they were modeled after. To Cloudhawk, it reminded him of the time he was caught in the monster wave way back in Blackflag Outpost.
Only these were definitely not the same sort of monsters. Being made from metal, normal weapons were ineffective against them. Bullets and blades glanced off their hides, which was composed of a sturdy high-grade alloy.
The mechanical beasts began their attack. A pack of two-headed robot wolves led the charge.
Running fast as lightning, the construction of their bodies – from the most complex joint to the smallest detail – was incredibly coordinated. The science behind their making was impeccable, like works of art.
Dawn recognized that these creatures were much faster than their organic counterparts. Their inner working were filled with servos and hydraulics and other strange systems. The wolves, for instance, had small jets affixed to either flank to give it a boost of speed.
The wolves kicked off the ground, jets of flame erupted from underneath it, catapulting the robot into the air. In a blink they were a dozen meters above the settlers. Wings of woven metal feathers stretched from their backs which flashed under the harsh light of the sun. Beautiful and terrifying. As they swept by overhead their four eyes came alive, and beams of condensed energy fires onto the camp.
Lasers powerful enough to slice through iron plates were dragged through the area. Several wastelanders were too slow and were sliced in half.
Other robots were not idle while the wolves attacked. One critter in the shape of a spider skittered to the top of a nearby dune still some distance from the camp. It dug its eight legs into the dirt and stone as an anchor while energy coalesced in front of it in the shape of an arm. A few moments later it released it toward the camp, a condensed energy cannonball.
It sored far overhead, traveling thousands of meters before crashing into the wastelanders with pin-point accuracy!
None of these robots were typical machines. They all had powerful and deadly weapons, could fly or burrow and attacked in an endless stream. Once again it proved how superior their construction was. Their destructive capabilities were degrees of magnitude greater than typical mutant creatures.
Cloudhawk raised his hand and a pale white light sprang to life. It spread until it covered him and those close by. The lasers and orbs of energy that came crashing toward him dissipated against the shield.
While Cloudhawk bought them time Dawn capitalized on it. With both hands wrapped around Terrangelica’s hilt she jabbed it toward the sky. One of the robotic wolves above was caught in an invisible field of gravity. As though caught off guard by some unseen giant hand, it plummeted from the air and was driven into the stony ground. A crater emerged from within a plume of dust as the unyielding earth gave way. The wolf was smashed into a heap of twisted metal and sparkling circuitry.
Dawn’s Dawnbreaker Armor began to glow. With her sword held high she shouted at her soldiers. “Chaaaarge!”
Her words were like thunder through the air, and hung there as her armor’s helm closed up. She was a towering steel fortress leading the Wendigo King, Coal and the wasteland soldiers to battle. A capable answer to the robotic threat was finally mustered.
Dawn was immediately recognized as a core of the settlers’ defense and quickly became the focus of the machines. All at once their lasers and energy weapons were turned on her, but the Dawnbreaker Armor proved to be especially resistant to energy attacks. Despite the deluge of attacks her defenses were impenetrable.
Terrangelica sang as it whipped through the air.
Stone broke and dirt shifted. Stony Plains looked more like an ocean as the ground rolled before Dawn’s charge. The turret spiders were obliterated. The waves of earth were followed by crushing gravitational flux that either flattened the robotic threat or lifting them high into the air.
The Wendigo King dashed across the stony ground like a fatal shadow. He streaked by and any robot in his wake exploded into shrapnel. Coal trundled after him, pounding more of the creature flat or smashing them to pieces.
The other wasteland warriors had armed themselves with prototype eboncrys rifles. Their beams of energy were fired back at the machines, strong enough to blast through their sturdy armor. If the shot was well aimed they could drop one of the creatures with a single shot.
Dawn leaned on her overwhelming defense, ignoring the attacks levied at her and pushing forward.
She ran through a number of the creatures like a freight train and soon found herself in the thick of them. She hacked her sword at the head of the closest one. Before Terrangelica reached its target a field of gravity emerged. It was reduced to scrap iron without her even touching it. Dawn wasn’t cutting them apart so much as using Terrangelica to wield gravity as a weapon.
In her time Dawn had achieved impressive martial ability. After Terrangelica’s transformation she was stronger than ever. With this incredible relic no average enemy was a threat to her. By this point there was probably only a handful of people who were willing to stand toe to toe against the Lady Polaris.
Now it was time for Cloudhawk to get involved. When he did, no one was able to see his movements clearly.
With every second he appeared in a dozen different places. Just a flash, a simple movement, and then he was gone. The machines he appeared before were nudged by a field of pale light and half a breath later blew to pieces. None of the creatures lasted more than a fraction of a second.
The surprise attack was small in scale. Though there were casualties, they were few in number and order was quickly restored.
Once it was safe Cloudhawk called for Hellflower to join them.
Small though this attack was it did not bode well. These robotic creatures had shown no interest in the settlers until today. Now suddenly they were gathering into groups and attacking his camp. There had to be a reason, it was Hellflower’s job to figure out what that was.
“There are two possibilities.”
“One. The amount of energy being accumulated in the camp has attracted their attention. The eboncrys factors have only recently been completed and the materials brought over. Since these creatures require pure energy to survive, it would make sense for them to sense and be drawn to our caches.”
“Second. There is someone or something commanding them from behind the scenes. After all, these robots cannot procreate so someone had to have built them. What’s more, they had to have been produced and maintained here on this world which means something is out there. We can make attempts to find out what that mysterious power is.”
Two worlds with two very different scientific accomplishments.
Hellflower couldn’t decipher the secrets of these machines because she lacked the foundation. There was no way to tell if these machines could really think for themselves. If they did have a way to learn and evolve, then it was possible there was some sort of hyper-intelligent machine out there controlling the others.
If, on the other hand, they were just machines then their actions and reactions all had to be the result of programming. That meant there had to be a programmer. Whoever or whatever advanced intelligence that was controlled these things from afar.
Cloudhawk felt that Hellflower’s estimations made sense. Whichever turned out to be true, there would need to be more investigation into the matter.
One thing was certain. If this world could produce machines like this, there had to be a factory somewhere, a factory that was capable of producing incredibly advanced technology. If they could use this world's resources, the Green Alliance would be able to rapidly improve its production levels. That would make their war on Arcturus easier.
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