Masamun'ael, The Sable Sentinel - Somniferrian Ancient . WHAT WOULD YOU DO, if you'd discovered a SECRET so terrible you knew it would unravel Creation? ...How deeply would you be willing to BURY it? - How many twists would you fold into the MAZE you hid it in? ... and at the center, how awful would you make the MONSTER guarding the door?... . Welcome back, intrepid Scientists, Scholars and esteemed Archivists - to the Somniferrian Archive Initiative! The S.A.I.'s latest discovery?; evidence, albeit incomplete (and at times, even self-contradictory) of a FIFTH Somniferrian Ancient!
But before the Minotaur,
the story of its MAZE,
and the Secret hidden at its dark heart.
A damaged data-crystal has been excavated, recently unearthed under the eastern Somniferrian landmass. Contents indicate it as a the ruins of a nation once called Kakaisaran saka Sun, but no Imperial translation has been found as yet. Oddly, the crystal was just below the surface of a blasted landscape containing NO other traces of Somniferrian Precursor tech. Not the slightest trace, even at a current scanning depth of one mile.
Just ash, winds, and blasted black glass.
And yet: this little crystal, chiming quietly to itself, somehow still active while possessing no discernible power source.
...was it waiting to be found? Bah, I'm so tired... getting melodramatic now. - Nigel? ...I'm... I'm sorry I yelled. ...could...Could you be kind enough to see if Maintenance has fixed the Coffee System yet? Thank you, Doctor.
Over and over, there are references to a massive citadel, based on completely unrecognizable technology, variously labeled things like 'Juodieji Vartai', ...'Crna Vrata' ...the permutations are apparently endless, but ONE promising Glyph resembles Vjeranai - the language used by the creators of the Valkyriel.
Simply translated, it means:
The 'Black Gate'.
Look - I'm going to have to back up and apologize, here. I'm ...well, we are all... things have been bad, since the Malgothiel discovery. I apologize for the informal nature of this Entry for the 'Masamun'ael' entity.
But we're all in pretty strung-out shape.
Noone sleeps much. Coffee and stims will only get you so far.
S.A.I.(NT-1) has more staff in Sickbay now than we do in Service.
We haven't heard from Imperial Prime in weeks, and we have no idea if our transmissions are making it out.
And yes - reading back in this Archive, I admit we're putting on a cheerful face... 'Welcome back, Intrepid'... blahblahblah... *there is a heavy sigh, and then a long silence*
...sorry. Where was I? Oh, yes - communications. We're currently, erm ...experiencing technical difficulties with Imperial ComNexus, but I'm sure they'll be resolved soon. Thank you for your patience.
God, I am so tired.
I'm not ready to speculate whether or not Masamun'ael and Valkyriel share a common origin; but it might be a blessing if they do. The 'Light' Twin is the closest thing to 'Good' we've seen thus far, among the Ancients. If only by that whole 'the enemy of my Enemy is my Friend' philosophy, I suppose. In her Zealotry, Valkyriel has paid just as little heed of her mortal Creators as the other Three.
As far as my team can decipher, the archive seems to document a... Secret ... some kind of... I don't know - Weapon? There are simply so many words that don't translate - and as much as I had to admit it, I think *thump, muffled talking* 'Um, yes - I'll be out in a minute. See if that last set of decryptions is ready, please. Thank you. Yes. And see if Constable has had any luck with that distress beacon.' *thumps, chair scrapes, heavy breathing* Sorry about that. Imperial ears, of course. Can't be too careful...
You must understand: I consider myself a Patriot.
But more and more Systems are going dark.
S.A.I.(NT-1) is billions of lightyears from Homeworld, you see? Even if someone sends help... well - we've lost contact with everyone, even our nearest ComNexus Relay...
...we might be the only ones left alive, now.
And I wanted to tell... someone, at least, what has happened, out here, in the Dark...
So what I'm telling you is so deeply Classified ABOVE Black Level that they don't even have a name for this anymore.
I've been told, just hours ago, that they've been intercepting all our transmissions regarding anything to do with the Ancients.
Do you understand, now? We're dead. All of us. Dead.
Someone wants this Tech.
And they're prepared to cleansweep anyone that knows about it. The Ancients. The Black Gate secret. All of it.
We may be breathing, but we were dead the moment Empire learned of Magmael.
That's how far back this goes. There are rumors flying that the Strike has already been called, that it was on its way, here, before the stars started going out... Terminate all personnel, with extreme prejudice. Recover all traces of Ancient tech, spare no resources.
Now? Who knows. Maybe it got them, too. Saved from one Fate, merely to be damned by the instrument of your Salvation. *a short, bitter, bark of laughter* Is this irony, I wonder?...
I-i'm doing it again, aren't I? I'm so sorry - I don't mean to ramble, all this preamble isn't what you logged this transmission to see, is it? On to the Black Gate, then.
It was a TOMB, we think.
Or ...prison, or Vault of some kind.
It's important to tell you the magnitude of the GRAVE before you can fully comprehend the nature of what's buried within.
Either the Kakaisarani invented, or, and this seems more real to me, somehow - they FOUND something.
Want to hear a crazy theory?
Ever hear of the Law of Conservation of Matter and Energy?...
I understand that most of you are Scientists, but for the broader audiences - here it is in layman's parlance: Matter and Energy. You can CHANGE them. But you can't MAKE more, or DESTROY any that already exists. Fairly simple, am I right? Well, following that line of thought, it's time to direct your attention to the research of a Kakaisarani professor of Quantum Mechanics, Dr. Goro Masamune, of the Daimyo Academy of Applied Sciences.
The good Doctor was an odd cat, scientifically speaking. But a brilliant one, respected for his mind, if not specifically, for his high Ideals. The the following (and be warned, it's a doozey):
IF energy is quantifiable (some schools of thought say by standardized intervals or 'packets', some say by Waves) and cannot be destroyed, then ALL energy, that has ever been... STILL IS.
Still with me? Good. Bear with me a minute.
(Now, if I told you the good Doctor was a bit of an idealist, passionate, and reportedly Religiously over-zealous, then the next thing I tell you might NOT seem so eccentric:)
SO. If all Energy forms that have EVER been, STILL are... then every Particle and Wave in the universe that ever was, no matter how CHANGED, is STILL WITH US.
You're wondering where I'm going with all this, right? Completely understandable.But hold onto something anyway, we're getting there, and you may be surprised when you find where we've gone with this...
Dr. Masamune was something of a prodigy in the field of Sonic Theory. And he had lived his considerable and prestigious Career obsessed by one singular notion:
...that if ALL THE SOUND-WAVES that ever were are STILL OUT THERE, traveling in the universe since its beginning, then, ALL SOUNDS IN OUR UNIVERSE (provided they can be isolated and identified from all OTHER sounds) can be RECORDED -
INCLUDING THE VERY FIRST sounds.
... Four little words. Familiar to you too, perhaps:
We'll let that concept simmer in your mind for just a bit. In pursuit of his wild theory, Masamune built what is arguably the most advanced Listening Array in the galaxy... SCARY tech. It's said he claimed to have had the blueprint for its design come to him in a DREAM...
So, there it is: fueled by the Idealism of one ambitious zealot - an orbital array was launched to ...and I can't BELIEVE I'm saying this... to actually attempt to record the voice of GOD, in the very moment of Creation.
I think... I hope...
No one person should ever have that kind of Power. Even if he was insane, even in the off-chance that he was right,
or worse; that he might actually SUCCEED...
shocked, outraged, and frankly, terrified, the majority of the Scientific and Religious communities of his time... and quite rightly so.
But the panic abated naturally: Three years after the completion of the Harmonic Array, Dr. Goro Masamune rather famously DISAPPEARED. The world wrote him off as a nutter, albeit a genius nutter.
And the Array circled silently in the Somniferrian night sky, visible as a bright spot on certain clear nights. It was regarded as one of the most costly and absurd investments in Somniferrian history, and was generally regarded as an embarrassing inside joke, and a blot on the ledger of the otherwise prim and productive Kakaisaran Division of Advanced Sciences for decades.
Consensus centers upon Dr. Masamune having found a way to enter a state of suspended animation, a low-level coma; the better to wire his consciousness physically into the wetware of the Array - to listen quite Literally for the whisper of God, perhaps for all time.
What can I say? - he was a genius of incalculable measure. Maybe it worked. ...Or maybe he died, pursuing his mad dream.
The array was left, circling Prime on its quiet path, tuning into the frequencies of deep space, recording and sifting the music of the Cosmos.
It was discovered to have been highly boobytrapped by the good Doctor - and after the Kakaisarani government learned that attempts to dismantle it were too dangerous or too expensive, it was summarily agreed to just leave the mad floating satellite alone - while pointedly ignoring it for the next forty years...
And then, one day, it became clear that the Kakaisarani were quietly working on something very big.
It's unclear when budgets from other Research began to be funneled into some vast, singular initiative, but dozens of covert, unscheduled shuttle launches were logged by global telemetry. They were undoubtedly at work on something in high geosynchronous Orbit. Materials. Staff. Fuel. Equally-covert Technologies from other branches of the Kakaisarani academies...
Why?... well, I've hazarded a theory - but even I must admit; it's pretty Out There:
I think the Array succeeded.
Nuts, right? But...why else would they abandon all parallel research? The Dig indicates a pretty large nation, stretching almost to the borders of the central eastern landmass. Highly-populated, regarded by their contemporary nations as the progenitors of cutting-edge Science (some Advances the Kakaisarani were renowned for were based on the Doctor's own previous innovations)... this was once an advanced, wealthy nation -
What would it take, to convince a nation to bet its entire economy on a SINGLE Project?
...And what does it say about the Kakaisarani Nation that they did this willingly?
Could ALL of them have been blinded by zeal, ambition, or pawns of a dictatorial government?
Really?... all of them?
Or could it be that Masamune never truly disappeared, but was kept in hiding because the perfect Array, delving the stars themselves, ultimately WORKED.
I frankly think that this admittedly preposterous notion... God, I can't believe I'm saying this ...is EXACTLY what happened.
A 'recording' was made.
Too late, far too late, Dr. Goro Masamune realized precisely what he'd done.
And his good intention was, of course, betrayed and perverted, by souls less devout than his own. Isn't that always the way these stories go?...
Research takes massive funding. His government gladly paid, smiling and praising him for his Vision, and then smugly congratulating themselves, behind his back, for the 'golden egg' their prize goose was about to lay. He offered them The GRAIL - but all they saw was a WEAPON to end all weapons.When the euphoria of discovery dissipated and he realized the extent to which he'd been used, a part of him broke. Innocence shattered, betrayal bent a devout man into a machine, fueled by a thirst for revenge.
The doctor bent all his genius towards planning a grand reversal of fortune, against those traitors he'd believed shared his vision. Determined to redeem himself, and prevent the Kakaisarani from perverting this Grail, he began to build anew, with staff faithful to his original research. They divided their efforts into two covert projects:
A massive Vault.
And a Guardian, to stand watch at its heart.
For the 'prison', Goro's scientists began to experiment with the massive structure of the Array; once a Receiver, under their new cold intent, the orbital array began to take a new shape, designed to entrench precisely the treasure it had originally been dreamed to gather.
And for the 'Warden', the doctor began to gather secrets from the research of their contemporaries: the nations of Nasyon Dife, Vjeranai, and the Tenebris and Solinari twin nations.
Those stories, you already know all-too-well.
The vast Array's internal engines began to hum with new energies, and down to the last carbon atom in its glassteel bones, to reform: around new towering spires and massive gliding plates of circuitry, the City-sized orbiting machine bent itself into new shapes. Like a flower forever folding around its vulnerable heart, a new and fantastic MAZE emerges, flexing and changing with each new dawn.
No path is ever fixed, no wall ever permanent, and its greatest strength and provision: its LOCATION changed, each Cycle. The same science that warped its structure warped and folded the very space AROUND it, to forever alter where the Maze appeared.
Everyday, a new Design - a floating citadel, a subterranean chasm, a lost forest, a ruined castillion - a new face to shroud the great door hidden behind it; as changeable in appearance and form as the Maze itself. A portal to a custom pocket dimension -radical theoretical mathematics controlled, if only barely, by one man's will and determination. As shown in the archive image above, would-be thieves faced an ever-changing Labyrinth, and if they were fortunate enough to survive its pitfalls, to face the 'Black Gate' at its heart. A gate whose very nature and the Secret behind it, powered the ultimate Gatekeeper:
...based on the emerging Ancients, Goro Masamune used his own government's weaponry to construct the quintessential Black Knight.
All these images portray his Ideal Guardian; a giant, empty WarMech, capable of incredible feats of warfare. But as his time was running out, and rumors that the Ancients were on the rise across the Somniferrian System; he knew he could neither keep his research safe from the Kakaisarani, nor their greedy opportunistic enemies - he had precious little time left.
And he could not sufficiently harness the POWER for the Titan,
to the Gate; it was too strange, too unpredictable,
even for his radical theories. The government was closing in.
He knew what they'd do if he failed to activate the Maze in time.
So he did the only thing left to him to try:
...he cycled up the systems, made a few final arrangements,
...and climbed down the deep shafts into his creation; into the Titan's silent heart. He FUSED himself into the colossal automaton, wet-wiring himself into the spikes, tubes, and piercing cybernetic tangle in the deepest darkness of the giant body - never meant to house a pilot. He died, in agony, committing one last noble attempt to finish what he'd started, in the charge of the only man he could trust to do so: Himself.
Incredibly, the titan stirred.
We have learned some of the initial survivors assigned the Doctor's name to his ultimate Sentinel:
- the only ancient known to have arisen from a mortal progenitor, for better or worse.
Behold, then - the Doctor, Reborn.
Inside his flawless Guardian, his mind sank down, down, into the new powers indwelling in the metal and crystal, and flesh. And he found there, the means to create, drawing on the power of the Echo trapped in the Array.
And he began to build...
... a new weapon himself, he knew that the only way to spare Creation was to hide the Echo away, and so he bent his terrible new strengths into forming the Black Gate: a door too awful to open.
Of light, and of darkness, he built the frame, the door, the lock, and then whispered the KEY into being, only to plunge it into his new titanic HEART, to hide it for all time.
At the heart of the Array, The Maze?... the Minotaur strode to the great controls, and activated the colossal device; setting in motion that ceaseless vault for the most terrible secret ever uncovered, but trapping himself in the process.
Resigned to his decision to sacrifice himself, he bound himself to the Gate: tying himself forever to its nature and placing it at the heart of the massive, shifting Citadel - a perfect new Minotaur for a Maze of his own vast design.
The Citadel appears each day anew, in a new shape, a new location. Forever.
So that the power-mad would not even locate the Maze, let alone the Gate at its dark and folding heart. An ingenious solution to make amends for the good doctor's foolish ambition; and there, the Echo has lain for generations.
The stars have spun on, wheeling on the endless night, and the Maze has folded ceaselessly around the Minotaur, and the treasure to end ALL treasures.
...and it passed The Black Gate by, entirely.
...Ironic, isn't it?
... the lengths to which Dr. Masamune went, all that creation, genius, and self-sacrifice ...for what?
In the end, EVERY last one of those he feared might come for the prize; dead. Dust. And their nations ruin and rust.
The War ate them all up.
All their dreams and ambitions, ground under the merciless tread of the other Ancients. Some got close, the records say. Some came knocking, hah hah, yes they did. Knock-knock! Heehee, but the Minotaur was waiting!
Masamun'ael repelled all interlopers, leaving their broken armies at the Maze's threshhold until each dawn, and then leaving no more monument to their attempts than a pile of wreckage and corpses. Even that was abandoned as the Maze moved on, folding to a new random point. Armies strewn like ash and garbage, piled in locations so remote they'd never even be discovered, let alone avenged.
A self-made Ancient, a minotaur, a monster... Masamun'ael met them.
He met them with the gifts the good Doctor granted his Maze-born technology. Hideous strength. Incalculable ferocity. And the 'RailShock': straight-line hyper-jumping capability! - limited range/repetition (before needing to return to the Maze to recharge), but near Sub-light speeds, to dash, leap, and gore!
He met them, with horns, fists, and ultimately; with 'Sledge'; the giant core-forged hammer he used with such effortless and graceful brutality.
With Sledge in hand, Masamun'ael responded to their greedy, selfish, and power-hungry knocking.
And when all was silent once more, his wetwork done, he withdrew.
Back to his cage, his prison, the only home he knew, and the duty that bound him there; the pact written on the heart of what remained of the Doctor - in circuits, scars and pain. No freedom. But no fear, either. He'd entrusted the protection of the Weapon to the only one he knew he ever could: the one person who'd never dare use it - himself.
Besides, he had armaments enough, all on his own.
So the Ancients clashed.
But he never stirred from his vigil.
Never left the doorway, nor abandoned his post.
The perfect guardian relied on the power of the Gate.
And the Gate relied on him.
And still it circles, still the Maze is out there, somewhere, winking in and out of existence in the long night. Locked. Hidden. Protected.
And it is a mercy to us all that it is so.
Because... well, want to hear one last, mad Theory?!!! Shhhhh Shhhhhh!! They'relisteningyouknowthey'realwaysLISTENINGtheyhearustheyhearmeevenNOWtheyhearoursecrets!
I think, dear colleagues, that it, that The Gate, and its prize, are what MALGOTHIEL is AFTER!!!!!!: I think she's coming for it!!! Soon!
I think she knows where it will appear, somehow.
And I think
The Doctor built him so STRONG, so POWERful, but - will even the Sable Sentinel be able to stop her?... My God, he stopped so many, crushed legions of would-be thieves and madmen, but?...
I shudder to think. I dare not... I dare not...
I can only hope, now, against all hope. That he will STAND. That he will be EQUAL.
Or, if he is not, that the Others, will rise once more, to meet her. And that they will succeed of keeping the Weapon out of her twisted hands.
your humble servant prays this is so.
Your Voice should have remained lost.
Beginning 4th Wall Commentary!:
WELCOME BACK, all guests and patrons! Thanks so much for checking in on this long-postponed entry in my Somniferrian saga (apologies that finishing this took so miserably long. Won't make a bunch of excuses - it simply fell low on my current Priorities.)
Above are the customary Metrics, and below; a run of Detail shots. Enjoy!
4th W.C.: A look at those hooves. I always thought those thrusters would make a really good hoof-shape if I ever had a MOC that called for it so; no time like the present! =)
4th W.C.: The lower leg assembly, with that compound-armoring ligamenture that some of you have noted upon.
4th W.C.: A profile shot of the same. Believe it or not, those HEELS were the real trouble to design. More so than the joints for the forefoot and knees. Thought I'd NEVER work those silly things out.
4th W.C.: Reverse shot, with skirting. Bulkeh. Chubbeh. Bull-like was the idea, here.
4th W.C.: The full leg 3/4 profile up to thighs, showing a little of the pistons I used to help bear the weight.
4th W.C.: Upper thighs and front skirting w/waist detail. (Sorry Yuri: no articulation =P)
4th W.C.: Reverse skirting detail, w/chain accessory. I thought the places I used those were nice little touches. Really completed the 'look', conceptually.
4th W.C.: Upper thighs, down to compound joints.
4th W.C.: Effaced upper torso and Helmet. As I've said in some of replies below; I was truly thinking of a Samurai/bull-bovine design, and I thought a Kabuto-style helm like this one was the right shape for the job. I wasn't crazy about the elastics being necessary, but I really needed a compact solution for angling those chunky scimitars as 'horns', and I liked those shapes better than many other blades I tried. So the elastics stayed.
4th W.C.: As a kid I loved the Giant-Robot-genre Animes (explains alot about me, I know =D) but an accompanying Toy line was what REALLY got me. Shogun Warriors, anyone? =}
All the designs were exaggerated body-types, highly stylized giant heroes. Before Pacific Rim's Jagers, you had these guys, and the Kaiju they continually thwarted. Sorry kids: this was NOT a new Idea. Still cool, don't get me wrong.