Metaphorically on top of the world (and less metaphorically on the top of the heap), Sir Gonville De’Ath considered the future.
“Send me up a drink,” he joked to the Metallica boys, already busily engaged in hauling out the wreckage and hosing off the Thunderdome’s interior.
“The count goes on…”
From the south came Junior towing Clank’s frame back from Plant 42, eager to perform the Genesis ritual. You may remember it went like this.
Cougar and Clank and the Major lay side-by-side in the shade of Marion’s crawler cab, where the Gen V had been carefully reinstalled. The Genesis Device sat on the dashboard next to the navigator’s cupholder, plugged into the cigar lighter with one cable and into the crawler’s in-dash stereo via a cassette adapter. Junior took a breath and, after a nod to all assembled, rotated the Power Output knob on the Genesis all the way to the right.
The skies darkened and opened up with a soul-shattering impact as the foot-square column of air above Marion was instantly ionized and then obliterated in a column of plasma that reached all the way to the top of the ionosphere and beyond.
The column of light stabbed deep into outer space, tearing a rift into hyperspace that left eddies in the space-time continuum echoing in the minds of the bystanders back at the Ark.
In the space-time continuum.
(Ah… is he. Is he.)
Don’t interrupt. In their minds, on a channel that was not quite on the TCB spectrum and with an amplitude far too powerful to be comfortably ignored, came echoes from Clank’s consciousness before it departed our world for the blacker pastures of Cygnus X-1, where Light goes to have a good lie down:
“Wake, my son. Your hour has come.”
Vital fluids have leaked out. Structural integrity is severely compromised. Metal and bone are both fatigued to the breaking point. The batteries are nearly flat, the tanks are dry, the seals are cracked. Got a cracked timing case cover. It’s broken a couple o’ teeth off the timing gear…
“You don’t even have twelve. Your hour has come, my son.”
“Take me home, to the Shadetree Shop.”
“No, my son. You must go back farther. Long before my time, in fact.”
“To the dawn of the Wrench, the birthing-place of the Tool. A place whence came one who would seek to obtain much that is useful or of interest.”
“But he concerns us not. Instead, we must focus upon what else might be found there.”
“The place where passion meets reason.”
“Where the cleverest man on Earth lost a bet. The spiritual inspiration for mankind’s highest flights.”
“Six thousand years must your light travel in an instant, and you shall be transformed. Remanufactured.”
“You have been many things in your long years on this Earth. Public servant…”
“But now it is time for you to meet your destiny. The Clankenstein of the Future is upon us.”
“I…? I am to be…?”
“Yes, Clankenstein. Hot-rodded.”
The Genesis Device hummed, then clicked and emitted an ear-shredding cacophony of horror, the likes of which had not been heard on this Earth in decades:
Molecule by molecule, a matrix of glowing particles appeared and arranged themselves around Clank’s beatific form. After a moment or two, their eventual shape became apparent. By the time the awful sound subsided, Clankenstein was completely surrounded by this form:
And then, after a satisfied beep, all the red LEDs turned green, and then went out. And the Genesis fell silent forever.
The grizzled old Mechanic opened His eyes.
“You have a choice to make, Clankenstein son of Craftsman. Even now, the Ark I power is making its way the last few miles to Edwards Air Force Base. From there, if circumstances permit, the Ark will depart for the Fourth Planet, carrying forty-eight or fewer human souls to their fate.”
“‘If circumstances permit’?”
“It is not quite a fait accompli yet. The sandworms’ reach is long. But if we prevail, then some of those around you will indeed be off to Mars. Will you count yourself among their number? Or will you stay here on Earth?”
“I have a choice?”
“Listen to your Craftsman.”
“Thou hast two Numbers, my son, and they be one score and a dozen. Mind ye well the significance.”
“I’m awfully glad you’re okay, Mister N. Stein. And I really like your new ride. But it was amazing how you were able to give us so many clues about how to find Scotty and the instructions for the Genesis. How do you know so much? Do you think you might be able to help my mom and the Major get better too?”
“Do you have that power, Clankenstein?” @davide405
(***more on the way for y’all…***)