Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Machinations, 492 words

Machinations are a strange new thing on the streets of the Mad City. Where so much of the City and its inhabitants seems outdated, echoes of the fears of bygone times, these creatures are an incursion as if from the future or an alternate past. The Machinations are Nightmares of technology, percolating and growing in the collective unconscious since the earliest days of the Industrial Revolution. Only recently have they begun to wander the Mad City, given new life by modern fears of science and technology.

No two Machinations look exactly alike. Each is a ramshackle construction of seemingly random parts that just barely holds itself together. Steam engines, car engines, and other power sources lie at the heart of each, though none have ever seen one take in any kind of fuel. Their bodies look to have been assembled from whatever was at hand in a junkyard, and they clatter around on uneven limbs. Some teeter on two legs, others stumble on three or four, and some skitter around on more legs than a spider. But all are festooned in ragged pieces of steel, with claws and spikes and armored ridges that have been hauled from the same junkyard and bolted onto their frames.

The smallest Machinations are by far the most common, about the size of a small pony. They are solitary creatures that stake out a territory and scavenge junk to augment themselves, and sometimes attack other Nightmares and locals. Many are dismembered after misjudging the strength of their prey, but not before more than a few weaker travelers are caught out on their own. They hide in dark alleys, sewer entrances, and other secretive lairs where they can spend the time fitting new parts to their frames. Larger Machinations are vastly more dangerous, with a more streamlined construction accomplished through constant experimentation. Inefficiency is slowly cut out as they rebuild themselves, and they can pack more power into their frames. They add extra equipment and grow larger to gain more raw power as well (increasing their Pain scores gradually as well). The largest known Machinations are the size of small tanks, but fight like giant armored cats.

What few know is that not all Machinations modify themselves for technical supremacy. Instead, they hunt and harvest locals and some Nightmares to study and co-opt organic structures. Most who follow this path modify their bodies into the humanoid form, acquiring smaller power sources that will fit into a human-sized chest cavity. Over time, they replace and cover various parts with living tissues, until they are a mechanical skeleton and machine "organs" surrounded by flesh. Some have to replace their flesh regularly, but others devise how to keep organic support systems running so they can blend into organic society perfectly. The true population of these Machinations is as yet unknown, and while some readily give themselves away with their rudimentary social skills, others have learned how to imitate normal human behavior.

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