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, and click here to read chapter 40.
Alpha-Prime-470421A had been a lush, green planet when it was discovered by a deep space mining rig hundreds of years before. In fact, its first settlers had nicknamed it Eden Prime for its vast fertile valleys and enormous blue oceans. It was a habitable planet ten times the size of Earth.
It was paradise.
Elwood knew this instantly, as though he’d always known it. He accessed Alpha-Prime’s history as easily as he could his own memories. If he’d wanted to, he could live the lives of each of the settlers, their children and grandchildren. He could drill down as far into the minutia of the planet as he desired.
Which of course meant the entity had eaten this planet and the genetic memory of every living thing on it.
But Elwood was standing on a world with no organic life. What happened to Eden Prime? Elwood had to know. Somehow this planet’s memory stored deep inside the entity’s mind was the key to the alien’s destruction. Elwood aimed to find out how.
For hundreds of years, Eden Prime flourished as one of the main arteries of intergalactic trade. Its vast resources were cultivated and shipped off-world creating huge profits for its leaders and industry giants.
In fact, it wasn’t industry or over-production, pollution or depletion that spelled the ultimate end to organic life on Eden Prime. After centuries worth of resource harvesting, the industrial community was able to create innovative and never before seen means with which to cultivate renewable resources.
Eden Prime was poised to become the very center of the galactic empire when Daron Bon Halfact, the ruler of sector 847916 where Eden Prime was positioned declared the planet one of seven worlds he was considering making his new permanent residence.
The entire galactic senate would have been moved to Eden Prime had those plans come to fruition. Unfortunately for Daron Bon Halfact, a space pirate marauder ship had managed to enter Eden Prime orbit undetected, boarded the royal star ship and assassinated the galactic ruler while he slept, taking control of the planet and its nearly unlimited network of resources.
The pirate commander, Thalos Rictorian, now with near infinite funds at his disposal, set in motion a galactic civil war which lasted nearly ten thousand years.
With each passing millennia, Thalos and his army relied more and more on cybernetic life extension technology to remain both alive and in power far longer than any ruling body the galaxy had ever witnessed.
Seven millennia into his rule Thalos, now half mad with digital brain functions infecting his organic parts, halted all production on Eden Prime that did not serve his enormous and unstoppable cyborg army.
He murdered the farming population in a single season for what he called crimes against technology after he had successfully removed stomachs from his cyborg soldiers, eleminating their need for organic food.
Billions died in famines that swept Eden Prime as Thalos culled the population further, replacing all human workers with androids and cyborgs in his titanic war factories. As the soil and oceans on the planet withered and died, Thalos had the surface of the planet replaced with solar panels which harvested the energy of Eden Prime’s sun into energy for his hell machines.
It was in his 9th millennia as emperor of sector 847916 that Thalos had the final vestigaes of organic flesh removed from his body and the bodies of his now entirely robotic army.
It was in the year 10,467 of his reign that he outlawed all organic material from the planet, and re-named it Thalos Prime in his own image.
The date of Elwood’s ethereal visit to Thalos Prime was 11,501. Elwood knew this because the entity knew this. Even as he accessed the history of Eden Prime, he kept a close eye on the events unfolding in front of him. After all, he was being show this particular space and time on Thalos Prime for a reason.
The robot 417 hurried with its many mechanical legs over to the shelf housing the ancient books. It cursed and worried the entire way, but did as it was told.
“No I don’t know what’s inside these books, actually!” 417 said to the small spider bot, seeming to communicate with it telepathically. “Well, what do you expect me to do about THAT? HE’S the king of the Metal Battalion! If I disobey a direct command The High Order will have my servos served for breakfast!”
The spider-bot seemed to relent, allowing 417 to concentrate on selecting the correct tome from the massive shelf.
After a short time, 417 returned to the operating table with an enormous book, the face of which was covered with raised metallic runes.
“What science has always gotten wrong about dark matter,” 917, the red-faced robot on treads said as it unlatched the book and opened it to its table of contents. “Is that it is not merely a mysterious force holding the universe together. No matter that they learned to harness its energies and use it for intergalactic travel. What they failed to realize,” the robot located the section of the book he was looking for, turned to the page and plugged into the book a series of wires with suction cups on the ends from one of its many hands. “is the true purpose of that matter. It is sentience. It is the divine spirit engine that drives all of us living beings, both organic and fabricated.”
A low chanting piped in from a set of speakers on 917’s back. The wires moved across the pages, the suction cups somehow lifting the words from the pages, translating them and speaking them through the robot’s body.
“But the ancients knew. The flesh-bodies. The meat-machines. They understood the power of the dark matter. They knew how to open gateways and let its pure form in to the material realm.”
The spider-bot on 417’s shoulder began to shake and pace back and forth along the larger robot’s frame. “I know,” 417 said under its breath. “He’s gone mad. His obsession with organic life will be the death of us all.”
91765 gently set the mound of pulsing flesh on the steel table. More wires and tubes snaked out from its robotic limbs. These wires were tipped with long needles which penetrated the flesh, causing it to pulse more frequently.
Elwood watched with apprehension as a combination of 917’s chanting, electricity flowing from the needles and weird fluids pumped in from the tubes caused the meat mound to grow. Each pulse saw it gain significant mass until it was no longer small enough to fit in the robot’s hand.
After another moment it was larger than 917’s head. Another, it was almost as wide as the steel table on which it lay.
The whipping tendrils that Elwood had become all too accustom to slithered out of the sides of the meat, slapping at the table in frantic rhythm.
“YES!” 917 cackled even as the chanting from his speakers continued. “After all these many centuries! My work! My destiny! My LEGACY is realized!”
The spider-bot on 417’s shoulder sprang to action. It dove for the table. Pincer-like claws emerged from its head like long teeth. It scrambled across the old book, snipping the wires reading the incantation, cutting off the chanting mid sentence.
“What are you doing!?” 417 screamed, grabbing the cable connected to the smaller robot’s abdomen, yanking at the spider-bot in an effort to dislodge it from the table.
But a small flamethrower replaced the pincers in its mouth. Hot fire belched from its face, setting the book on fire as the spider-bot clamped its razor-sharp legs into the book’s pages to keep itself from being pulled away.
917 only laughed as the book burned. “It’s too late! Fate has chosen this world’s new master! The rein of cold steel is ended! Long live hot flesh!”
417 struggled to pull the spider-bot away as it leaped through the flames at 917’s face. The royal robot snatched it out of the air. As its knife-like legs slashed wildly in the air, the battle-damaged robot lowered the spider toward the whipping black flesh on the table.
“Witness the power of flesh,” 917 said softly as the tendrils took hold of the spider bot, drawing it closer to the main body.
917 pulled his hand away before the flesh could grab it as well. The spider-bot’s glowing abdomen began to lose its brightness and the tendrils sank through the metal as though it were nothing more than thick liquid.
A moment later and the spider-bot’s husk broke in half, drained of all of its internal parts. Its legs shuddered and went still. The connecting cable broke free, sizzling at the end like it had been burned away. The glowing fluid inside spewed as 417 howled in pain, pulling the cable toward himself, cradling his dismembered part.
The flesh pile doubled in size again as it absorbed the remaining useless outer shell of the spider-bot. But it was far from finished. It’s lasso-like tendrils whipped about, snatching 417’s flailing, spewing cable out of the air and began to drag the damaged robot toward the table, adding new tendrils to its grasp with each passing second.
417 begged his royal master to save his life as 917 laughed maniacally, backing away from the table. Nearly half of 417’s large robotic frame was covered in tendrils thick as the cable attached to the helpless robot’s back when the bolted doors behind them exploded.
And Thalos himself stormed into the room.
Check back next week for chapter 42!