Vaulting Ambition Part 2: Food Chain

Machinery hummed around Tezzeret. His home lacked comfort but compensated with activity and that activity sprang around him when he entered the building. Chronometers, lights and even mechanically generated heat: all whirred into life as he entered. He barely recognised it happening as he strode through the rooms back to a windowless chamber. At the briefest glance from Tezzeret’s metallic limb, the door slid shut, cogs fastening in clunking metronomic efficiency as locks settled.

Tezzeret’s hands whisked through his robes, objects and machines clattered about the table falling from various concealed pockets. The tracking machine that had helped to chart his path through the void, between the planes, thumped down and remained dark and silent: as it had been since he’d found his last quarry. The glistening metallic crab-like device he used for extraction was altogether less weighty. Instead, it seemed to hover slightly, even imperceptibly, above the surface – its liquid shimmer always moving, never fully still. Regardless, he swept the desk with his arm and placed down a final dark, geometrically precise stone. Like two elongated pyramids joined by a minor glowing lock mechanism the stone hovered and moved. Slowly righting itself until it stood upright. Tezzeret watched, fascinated.

He crouched at first, eye-level with the object as it hung in the air. It was a prison, of sorts. A kind of carrier device. Fashioned from hedron rocks into a powerful containment unit it was a most useful artifact for the transportation of something as valuable as its current cargo.

He snapped out of the reverie. Whilst he needed the hedron prison for transporting, he’d have to transfer the cargo into a more permanent and settled form of storage.

And that would be a delicate process.

Moving with precision and care around the hedron, Tezzeret pulled out a metallic case wrapped in strange strips of blackened iron. The case had an ornate filigree fascia with a thick glasswork panel providing a window to the contents inside. The window showed nothing.

Tezzeret began to weave a spell, blue mist congealed in the air and the rich filigree workings on the case warped and wove, corkscrewing around a point to the side of the window, an aperture slowly formed with a valve of leaf-thin metal swirling into existence. With no more than a gesture Tezzeret beckoned the hedron – it hovered smoothly over the case and rotated down into the aperture. Tezzeret focused, he had to be exact. The case started to glow – the window dazzling with brightness. He reversed the procedure immediately, the filigree reforming and sealing the case shut. Success. So much success. There were certain people, certain very large, very imposing people, who might be very jealous of this progress, but these certain people could most certainly wait.

The tracking machine lit up. Again, so soon?

Tezzeret froze. In the past year he’d been busy, travelling from plane to plane planting his machines. Each small device nestled in the highest point he could find. Small devices with just two operating procedures. They detected a Planeswalker aether trails and triggered the tracking device. That’s it. It’s a simple idea. The complex part had been transmitting between planes. But if the required information was small enough, just one tiny parcel of data and the receiver was located in an opportune place then there was a sliver of a network. And Tezzeret had an opportune place all to himself.  Because here, on a shard of rock in the middle of nothing, was a pocket in the blind eternities between planes. Tracking aether trails wasn’t all that he’d discovered on Kaladesh. The few experimental test runs with the planar bridge had resulted in some most unexpected finds, chief among these were nascent planes, pockets of reality smaller than fully fledged planes of existence and Tezzeret had made sure he could locate this one. He’d been here before, a long time ago. Here on this island of metal, he’d managed to construct this dwelling, transporting it from among the smouldering ruins of a Ghirapur suburb. Here, he’d converted the whole plane, small though it was, into an enormous receiver for all the transmissions he could ever want.

Another alert was surprising though. Tezzeret had wondered how frequent they might occur but he’d only just returned from his previous journey. Still, opportunities should not be missed.

He stored the case, gathered his equipment, left the house in darkness and, with one last look at his tracking device he jumped.

The creature was on him immediately, forcing him sideways and back into the dense foliage at the base of a huge tree. It came again, quicker than he expected and in a moment of instinct Tezzeret had formed and thrust forward a weapon. No name or definition fit the weapon but it did its job nonetheless, the arcing prongs of the ridged metallic construct were so honed as to make no noise as they speared the beast’s foreleg. It yelped. Tezzeret gripped the base of his gnarled pike and lanced the creature again, turning snarls into whimpers. Twisting in muted agony, it limped away into the tree-line leaving him panting and alone.

Feeling disoriented after a jump was not unusual, but Tezzeret felt sick here. The vegetation he was surrounded by was lush and such a plane would usually be fertile with potential but there was something deeply wrong with the underlying energies here. He tried to gather himself. He’d been to the plane before, he had to in order to set up his machines, but something had changed here. There was something hanging over this place, something was making him feel quite unwelcome. This realisation coincided with a sound in the distance, a loud, wet, snapping sound. The forest went quiet.

Tezzeret heard the axe before he saw it. It was big, bigger than he was and it was moving at a pace that meant he was going to be in a lot of trouble. He was moving when it hit the tree and running while the handle still rattled. The beast attack was too alarming to have been suspicious but the axe was confirmation, he was being hunted.

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