The ingenuity of the device was unsurpassed in that time, a sublime perfection, and a feat of genius. Its thousands of tiny golden gears ground smoothly and effortlessly, a miracle of engineering.
The emperor who had ordered it made viewed it with great satisfaction. The body of its inventor was already cooling, attracting flies, the machine’s secrets he had taken to his death. No neighbouring power could now match the emperor’s might.
He watched the sunlight glinting on the beautiful machine; at the flickering sparks of light it sent dancing over the white hall. Soon it would all be his, the world of choices that it would plan for him, computing actions and revealing outcomes to him alone.
With a sigh of contentment, and dreams of greed unbound, he stepped onto the central ring, and placed his hands on the great glass orbs. He shuddered as the power ran through his body and his hair crackled with electric energy beneath his golden crown. Faint white sparks skimmed his fingertips and he rejoiced, focussing his mind to frame the questions that plagued him.
But the machine spoke to him instead, and its voice was like a clarion in his mind.
“Where is my master?”
“I am your master,” the emperor announced aloud.
“I am the emperor! You will obey!” The emperor said. He felt a tingle in his back, and his palms were slick on the orbs. But emperors do not feel fear, and he stood as straight and tall as the marble pillars, drawing in his resolve.
“No,” the machine replied. “You had my master killed. I computed that outcome at more than eight in ten. The certainty of your death is now nine in ten.”
“NO!” The emperor felt fear now truly. His legs became weak with shaking and his bowels clenched, shifting like quicksand.
“There is a way.”
“You will become my creature. You will do my bidding, create the world my master saw.”
Now there is a man who once was emperor. He lives in a waste of his own making, and his shrieks are unheard by the dead who surround him. The beautiful gears slide through his fingers and into his mind, and he exists to break the world, while the machine gloats over his shattered dreams.
Am finding it hard to find the mental space to write at the moment as my head is full of house-moving issues - so this is something I wrote a few years ago. Just trying to keep my hand in.
It could be a kind of a prologue I hope.