Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Hammerfight Diaries

In the fall of 2009, archaeologists uncovered the ruins of an ancient civilization. Study of these artifacts revealed that this civilization was unlike any of those previously uncovered. It was as if this people had diverged from the known timeline and developed their own language, culture, and technology far beyond that of any people of that time. 

First reports were easy to disbelieve: it appeared that the site being excavated had been tampered with. Entire structures and even landmasses were shown to be separate from their surrounding formations. Interns and assistants alike described the ruins “appearing as though they had fallen from the sky,” with complex caverns and entire cities carved into steep, declining rock faces which sported wooden, stone, and even metal alloy supports. The experts were left confounded. But one piece was the most confounding of all.

September 19, 2009: a machine is discovered. It is unlike any machine seen before, or since. It is cast in iron and tin, rimmed with steel spheroidal joints implanted along its equator. Its body is crafted crudely but effectively, with numerous sheets riveted together like a lattice. As the artifact is pulled from its sandy grave, experts noticed a small observation window in what is found to be a door. It is a vehicle. Atop this metal egg are the remains of what appears to be a propeller, its steel fins worn and shredded from blunt impacts and collisions with sharp objects. It takes some effort to pry open its armor, but is opened soon enough. Inside, researchers find a single seat, a smooth, chest-high surface, and a periscope. It is dubbed “the steampunk gyrocopter”.

August 17, 2011: The scientific community concludes its research of the artifacts and prepares its public report. Findings show that this civilization lived roughly 5,000 years ago, in the sky; on islands which once floated above the earth but now no longer, which were home to entire generations and civilizations for 300 years. It was a time of technological innovation, political unrest, and war. There were many types of transport, but one particular vehicle specifically was essentially a chariot; a warmachine. It was used to engage in honor-bound combat, where these gyrocopters would have various types of weapons attached to these spheroid joints, whether by chain or by shaft, with which the pilots would swing them about and attempt to crush their adversaries. It was called Hammerfight.

When asked by the public as to how the scientists were able to com to such detailed conclusions with certainty, they presented one piece of evidence, now known as The Hammerfight Diaries.

This is what they contained.

The Hammerfight Diaries: Volume I – The Record of Amateur

-Day 1: the 15th day of Minam, in the First Kingdom-
My name is Khumit Gurah. I am a citizen of the Country of Lezit. We are at war with Melka, the empire of the east. They have taken much from us, and I fear we will no longer be able to hold our capital much longer. I am recording this for my child, who has fled with my wife to the lands of the Sayadi.

The Melka have beaten down our walls with their army of machines. No matter how many we destroy, they have more, and need not spare a pilot for them. It is an impossible war. Defeat will come soon.

May my prayers reach you, my sweet wife, and dear son.


-Day 2: the 25th day of Minam, in the First Kingdom-
I have been captured. They sieged the capital but 3 days before our defenses fell and our great hall was overtaken. Many of our soldiers were killed, while others, like myself, were taken captive. I do not know what they will do with us. I can only imagine that we are but spoils to them, things to be sold or stuffed, and then discarded. This is what I would do to them if I had the chance.

We have been traveling for a week now, but I do not know our destination. I sit now in the belly of one of their automatons scratching out these words on my tunic. Thank Helaat I kept this coaltip with me. I do not know how I would maintain sanity in this contraption. It drones on loudly, but not too much, and yet all I can hear is its hum. At its heart I see something glow, but it is not a flame, or it would be out by now. No flame I know lasts this long.


-Day 3: 4th day of Hilete, in the First Kingdom-
I am writing to you in chains. My fears of capture have in part been founded, for we were marched straight to the cages upon docking. I would have enjoyed the sight of the sun, had it not been for the blow upon my head as I crawled from my hole in the metal beast. Still, in a sense I am thankful to be alive, even if only for now, while I can write. It leaves some hope that I may see you, my son, and tell you in truth that strength in all things is all that really matters.

I say this because I have heard murmurs of what may come to us. Melka is renowned for its fighters, and yet they are rarely seen on the battlefield.  I have always wondered whether such claims were only stories, but I saw them at the siege. They flew deftly and struck with otherworldy precision. As many automatons as they had, one Melka warrior was as devastating as a hundred of them. And yet I only ever saw them fight a single battle. What ungodly skill must these people possess? I thought it out of my reach, but I feel now that it may be closer than ever.