SHE WAS ONLY A CLOWN is a special serialized novella presented in weekly installments every Saturday. Click here to read chapter 1, click here to read chapter 2, click here to read chapter 3, click here to read chapter 4, click here to read chapter 5, click here to read chapters 6 an 7, click here to read chapters 8 and 9, click here to read chapters 10 and 11, click here to read chapters 12 thru 14, click here to read chapters 15 and 16, click here to read chapters 17 and 18, click here to read chapters 19 thru 21, click here to read chapters 22 and 23, click here to read chapters 24 and 25, click here to read chapters 26 and 27, click here to read chapters 28 and 29, click here to read chapters 30 thru 32, click here to read chapters 33 and 34, click hereto read chapter 35, click here to read chapter 36, click here to read chapter 37, click here to read chapter 38, click here to read chapter 39, click here to read chapter 40 and click here to read chapter 41.
The robot 91765 had come from humble beginnings. He was birthed in a small industrial vat in one of Thalos Prime’s poor southern districts. The robots there lived in abject poverty, only earning enough pay producing crude oil barrels for the galactic army’s war machines to live in small shacks littering the hillside of a vast solar panel valley.
Being that they were synthetic organisms, born of oil and steel, the robots on Thalos prime did not have parents or families per se. Instead, the newly constructed beings were assigned older units with considerably more CPU cycles on their brain-boards to lead them through the first few years of their machine servitude.
91765’s group of new robots had been assigned an aging bot several generations out of date, more fit for the scrap pile than production line named RS-507A. But what RS lacked in cutting-edge technology, he made up for in ingenuity and cunning.
RS-507A was part of a small group of resistance bots who longed to be out from under the draconian rule of Thalos Rictorian and his hell army. And so it went, 91765, though sheer luck of mentor assignment, was initiated into the robot rebellion and quickly rose amongst its ranks after showing an utterly unyielding knack for violence and military-like strategy.
Before 91765’s third solar cycle, RS-507A, 91765 and the resistance had totally cleared their district of sentry bots connected to the Thalos Prime surveillance nexus. Within another solar cycle, all southern districts on Thalos Prime had a strong resistence force among their labor ranks.
Thalos himself was so pre-occupied with the galactic war he was waging against the rest of the universe, he wasn’t able to stop the rebellion on his home planet before it had taken root and become a formidable army in its own right.
Six solar cycles into his existence, 91765 became the official leader of the resistence after leading a charge against a northern district so heavily fortified, it was thought to be a total suicide mission to try to seize it. But seize it 917 did, and handily using the kind of guerrilla warfare tactics not seen on Thalos Prime since the days of the flesh people. 917 simply did not formulate or execute his battle strategies in a way that any of Thalos’s automated sentry machines’s prediction models could anticipate.
And so, with all of the south and an important strategic hold on the north, the resistance christened 91765 their supreme royal commander. And with that honor bestowed upon him, 91765 had official battle insignia created for the army, naming his fighting force The Metal Battalion and officially announcing war on Thalos Rictorian.
The Metal Battalion’s stronghold was constructed in their northern district. From this position, 91765 and his rebel soldiers fended off countless attacks from Thalos, who had returned to his home planet intent on destroying the resistance and bringing control back to Thalos Prime.
This horrific war raged for more than three centuries with Thalos slowly and brutally taking back large swaths of the southern districts. Both 91765 and Thalos fought at the front lines of their armies, felling thousands of enemy robots with their own hands. But it wasn’t until that fateful day that Elwood witnessed inside the Metal Battalion stronghold that 91765 and Thalos met face to face.
The doors to the science lab exploded as a hulking robot, clearly designed as a bunker busting battering ram smashed through. His enormous, wide flat head with menacing eyes on either side reminded Elwood of a hammerhead shark as he surged into the room, smoke and shrapnel following him.
Stepping over the pulverized doors, a nightmare entered the room.
Thalos, even though he’d now been completely cybernetic for thousands of years, had kept his human features on his robot body, only… Enhanced.
His hair which had stood tall, thick, black and wild in life, now consisted of three, foot-long rows of black spikes, like robotic mohawks. His face was all blue metal and thick rivets, his eyes two tiny black smudges and the rest was nothing but beard made of the same kind of porcupine quill-like spikes that jutted from his head.
Even his huge brown trench coat was made of thinner overlapping sections of metal alloy. Scores of weapons, hoses and wires running various fluids and electronic data seemed to hover around Thalos like a cloud of noxious fumes. Indeed, in addition to a regular sized army’s arsenal of heavy firepower, several steam pipes extended from his back which added a thick acrid smoke to the already cloudy room.
What happened next happened fast. So fast, it seemed to Elwood that a meeting as epic as 91765 and Thalos finally squaring off deserved a much more dramatic climax than what it got. But he also knew full well what had been birthed in that room there that day on Thalos Prime. And there was nothing more epic nor dramatic in the entire universe than the evil which had been brought to life on that stainless steel operating table.
Thalos wasted no time. Before the smoke and dust had settled, he unleashed a torrent of melter blasts toward 917 and the undulating blob of flesh. A set of four honor guards tasked with protecting Thalos’s flanks stepped through the blasted doors and joined their pirate lord, laying even more blaster bolts toward 917 and his organic abomination.
The honor guards looked only slightly less menacing than Thalos himself. They were covered in massive steel plates adorned with all sorts of knives and swords across their shoulder pads, with a single spine of spiked mowhawks across their otherwise bald metal scalps.
“Bring me the heretic dead or alive,” Thalos screamed in a gravely, digitized voice procured from recordings of his former human speech patterns. “But burn every last piece of that living flesh or it will never die!”
917 activated a small force field around his body, temporarily protecting him from the majority of the melter blasts directed at him. 417 was not as lucky. His body had already been partly absorbed by the fleshy creation which now towered over the table almost to the ceiling, causing the table to buckle under its weight.
Most of 417’s internal parts had already been sucked into the flesh, but enough of his consciousness remained inside his body to scream out in horrible pain when the melter blasts and bolts slammed into his torso and legs.
As 417 died and was simultaneously absorbed by the ever growing flesh mound, Elwood mused that the robot had really gotten a bad break that day. 417 wasn’t a part of 917’s royal guard or even part of his paramilitary revolution. 417 and his spider-bot companion were simply low-level technicians who worked in the data-fields inside the Metal Battalion stronghold.
Earlier that day, after Thalo’s forces had pinned 917 and his mercenaries in at their northern district compound, most of 917’s forces had been decimated in a brilliant pincer attack which found them occupying all of their firepower on Thalo’s forward force, while Thalos and a small group of heavily armed guardsmen had come up and over the top of the stronghold, bypassing its defensive shield and killing its sentries where they stood.
917 himself had barely escaped into the building where he was immediately pursued by Thalo’s entire army. Only 917 and 417 had managed to flee into the medical lab and bar the doors at the last possible second with Thalos quickly at their rear.
417 died in agony, having never so much as picked up a blaster rifle.
Elwood’s musings were silenced as the final crescendo of the entity’s vision began to play out in front of his astral eyes.
“Stop firing at the traitor,” Thalos said, rushing toward the alien monster now large enough to touch the floor and the ceiling of its own accord. “Destroy the flesh! We will all die if it escapes!”
Thalos was well aware of the implications of 917’s creation, in part because 917 had hijacked and confiscated Thalo’s own occult experiments with living flesh that he’d secretly initiated here in this very facility centuries before.
Even while destroying all organic life on his planet, Thalos had remained obsessed with creating organic life of his own to harness as powerful weapons technology against his enemies.
It was only after 917’s Metal Battalion forces seized control of the northern district stronghold that 917 himself began to research, study, and eventually obsess over the occult rituals and scientific experiments being run there.
The rebel leader had spent untold fortunes to procure the small mound of flesh he’d run into the medical lab with when Elwood had first appeared. It had been through the hands of countless shamen, wizards and warlocks each anointing the flesh with their own ritualistic runes and incantations, readying it for 917’s final experiment. He had only received the flesh from off-planet mere hours before Thalos set upon the stronghold. Had the shipment arrived only a few hours later, all of 917s obsessions and efforts would have been futile.
As it turned out, the universe had another fate in store for his creation…
917’s shields had stopped the majority of the heavy weapons fire, but such powerful weapons fired at such close range could not be completely stopped by even the royal robot’s sophisticated shield technology. He was badly damaged. Fluids leaked from his torso where he’d taken a nearly direct hit from a bolter. Smoke escaped dozens of other places on his exo-frame and most of the arms on his right side were totally useless after being fused together from Thalo’s melter fire.
But he remained alert and functioning enough to produce a small circuit board from under his robes. “This circuit stick contains all of the collected memories of all of the organic people you slaughtered here on Thalos prime. Or,” 917 cocked his head in his best imitation of a robotic smirk. “Eden Prime, I should say. Combined with my memories, my creation shall have the knowledge of a thousand generations. It will be the most powerful mind in the universe! It will—”
That’s all 917 was able to get out before the flesh mound’s tendril pierced his damaged body from behind and sucked his essence into itself.
917’s body turned inside out, like a vacuum had turned on inside of him. His crumpled shell fell to the floor as the flesh mound rose up, defying gravity. It levitated above the stainless steel tables as the center of its mass peeled back. A great orange eye opened and gazed at Thalos and his hellforged robot army for the first time.
The Entity was born.
“Concentrate your fire at the front of the hide!” Thalos screamed.
But it was futile, every bolt and every melter blast that managed to open a wound on the Entity’s skin healed just as quickly as they opened. The monstrous force was already too powerful to kill.
Thalos, however, had one last trick up his sleeve. He hadn’t ruled the galaxy for ten thousand years from sheer stubbornness alone. He was a shrewd fighter, born on the high, atomic winds of outer space and bred to kill.
“I need a five second window! Lock your weapons on the target I’m shooting right now!”
All of Thalos’s guns shot the same spot just below the Entity’s eye, keeping a small area on its thick hide open. His robots did the same, opening the spot wider and wider as Thalos surged forward, unclipping a specialized grenade from his metalic trench coat.
Elwood knew what the weapon was because the Entity knew. Thalos had specifically designed a grenade while on his warship on his way to Thalos Prime. He’d known 917 was experimenting with his dark matter theories. He’d anticipated that he would arrive on planet and meet a monstrosity just like this.
And so he’d created this particular grenade with an anti-matter shielding that would prevent it from being absorbed by the Entity’s flesh.
Another two steps and Thalos launched the grenade at the Entity’s body. And it landed inside! But at great cost. Before Thalos could initiate the trigger mechanism in his hand and blow up the cursed flesh monster in front of him, a tendril wrapped around his arm and pulled him against the Entity’s body.
Thalos’s essence was ripped from his ten thousand year old robot body in a split second, leaving nothing but burned out circuitry before his hell-bots were able to save him.
Now the Entity not only possessed the collective mind of Eden Prime, 917 and all of his occult and scientific knowledge, but now the memories and essence of the most dreaded space pirate to ever live.
And that’s when the Entity turned its eye on Elwood.
“You do not belong here,” it said, grinding the memory to a stop. Time stood still. Thalos’s troops froze in place even as they were massacred by dozens and dozens of the Entity’s tendrils. With their leader dead and the Entity growing in power by the micro second, they stood no chance. Wheat for the chaff.
Elwood knew this because the Entity knew this. He already knew how the rest of the memory played out. He knew the stronghold would fall in moments as the Entity outgrew the compound’s walls. Knew Thalos Prime itself would fall in a matter of weeks as the Entity entered the upper atmosphere and began to use the robot inhabitants to inflict mass hysteria on the population. Thalos Prime, Eden Prime, the first planet to fall to the alien monstrosity’s predatory might.
“I know how to kill you,” Elwood said, smiling. “I’ve seen your weakness. I will be your death.”
The Entity’s tendril’s whipped through Elwood’s celestial being, drawing it into the semi-corporal world of the dreamscape. Fresh pain surged through Elwood’s body as the Entity absorbed his essence.
“You can’t stop me,” Elwood said through grinding teeth. “I’m not here.”
“But you are,” the Entity responded, floating closer to Elwood, passing through the frozen bodies of Thalos’s honor guard. “You are here with me as long as I want you here. I can prolong this memory for eternity. You are powerless to leave.”
“You… can keep this… part of me,” Elwood said as his limbs melted away and his face began to sag and pull toward the great alien in front of him.
“But I’m already inside your mind,” Elwood still smiled even though his mouth was no longer attached to his body.
The Entity’s eye grew wide in disbelief.
“And I know where the bomb is.”
Check back next Saturday for chapter 43!