I didn’t want to take over the conversation, but building consistent timelines is what I do, and I heard a lot of “I dunno, what do you think?” during the session. The goal of this post is to offer one version of the timeline, that takes into account the things that Mette has remembered. It’s written as the “original timeline”, where Mette hadn’t traveled back in time. Use it as is, ignore it entirely, or mine it for ideas.
Issue 5: Kiln awakens the temple.
Deep in the earth, Gnega feels the call. “One of the ancients? After all this time? Maybe… maybe they can help. While it’s not too late.”
Issue 9: Gnega meets Kiln, informs them that Fluvis is still around.
Issue 9: Gnega flees the museum.
Gnega is already partially tainted by Fluvis, but is struggling for control. Gnega becomes the Corruptor.
Every stone can be worn away by persistent enough water. Gnega feels himself slipping. He was so glad to see Kiln again, but he knew a moment of weakness would endanger his friend. Why couldn’t he just say it? The enemy got to me. I need help. Was Fluvis too much in control even now? Or did Gnega just want to spare a friend from the suicidal and helpless mission of saving him? Best to flee - to hide - to go deep, and to sleep… But Kiln has been warned that Fluvis is active again. It’ll have to be enough.
Issue 9: AEGIS takes possession of Alex’s rock fragments.
Powertronic has learned something about Fluvis and consciousness transfer from an ally within AEGIS.
Back at Department 42, an AEGIS technician reports back to her management. “The rock samples are consistent with the abandoned temple site where we found that strange creature a few years back.”
The manager nods. “Good. Keep this strictly off the record. Paper records only, rigged to immolate on tampering. We already know there’s a leak in the department.”
Issue 13: the team meets Tahi.
Issue 13: Mette remembers Joe’s accident is at the future launch site.
Powertronic has set up a research lab in Kinshasa to study the abandoned temple site, along with a rocket to reach his orbital station where he isolates dangerous experiments. His work is funded by the Quill Foundation, who is working to help Joey get back to “normal”.
Powertronic concludes that Golem could transfer his consciousness out of his stone body, but somehow Fluvis’ corruptive influence is necessary to use consciousness transfer.
Powertronic has a problem.
The technologist leans back in his chair. Nerds don’t own the world. They just run it. The HHL tower is a marvel of science and engineering, but the public still loves individually powerful heroes like Blackbird and Sigrun. And of course Golem.
He rubs his face with a callused hand, the product of a lifetime of working on his beloved machines. “It’s here. It’s here somewhere. The secret…” The secret to fixing Golem. Perhaps the secret to glory. To not be the science guy any more. To not be the nerd. A physically strong body, the sort of thing the public loves in its heroes. But the ability to be human too, because honestly.
He stands up and paces. The consciousness transference system works. He’s got it working under experimental conditions. Thanks to tip-offs from his AEGIS insider, he’s learned almost enough to achieve his goal. But it just won’t work on Golem! Not without… a test subject to experiment on?
Powertronic starts sending a secure message. “Golem, there was a rock creature that attacked the Halcyon Museum. I’ve got some tips on tracking its movements. It’s dangerous, but if you bring it in, maybe we can make progress on your project as well.”
The reply is not long in coming.
Golem apprehends Gnega, following a trail provided by Powertronic.
The rock creature, “Gnega”, is in suspension. How it’s animated is a riddle for science, but Powertronic is most interested in the fluid component in its makeup. It exhibits signs of consciousness. It’s compatible with silicon-based life, rather than carbon-based, and it might be the necessary link in any system to extract Golem’s consciousness from his body.
But Powertronic can see a larger picture. The fluid acts like a nervous system that could potentially interact with anything electronic. It would render every previous computing innovation obsolete. It could be the universal interface!
Golem sure was acting funny when he left. Huh. He’s probably just excited about the prospect of a cure. Powertronic doesn’t give it any further thought. He has bigger and more excited things to work on.
Issue 18: Roddy rescues Gothwitch from the HHL.
Issue 19: Golem is infected by Fluvis!Gnega, becoming the Traitor.
This is his doing. Golem wasn’t acting weird. He was infected. The fluid - it’s not a natural part of the rock monster’s composition. It’s an infection. It’s a virus. And it’s spreading.
Powertronic has to make this right. Isolate the virus. Save Golem. Oh god - the work he’s already done. Is it possible that this thing is already capable of spreading, based on the work he’s already done? He has to get back to his lab in the Congo right away.
In the unspecified future…
Tahi proposes a plan for saving the world, and becomes the Architect
“I’m shutting off my network access,” Alex says to a crowd of apprehensive faces. “Anything more and I’ll probably be taken over myself. The Internet - and the high-tech world we depend on - is well and truly fucked. All I can offer y’all now is my big brain.”
“We have more than that,” announces Tahi, looking from person to person. “We have the site in the Congo. If we can get there, we can set up a shield against Fluvis’ influence. Within that perimeter, your technology can be safely used.”
Sergeant SURGE rises. “Hellbinder has ordered Aliud and I into the safe zone as well for our protection. We will assist you however possible.”
Powertronic mind-transfers into Roddy’s body, gaining Aliud’s allegiance.
Aliud, unaware of this but having feelings for Roddy, sides with him, becoming the Monster.
Joey strays from the hero’s path.
Joey didn’t think he’d ever be facing his rival like this. He’s in the Congo, the place where it all happened. He’s staring at Roddy. Or rather, Powertronic in Roddy’s body.
Joey’s near to tears. “He looked up to you. You were his hero. You failed him. And now you have the gall to steal his body.”
“Powertronic is the villain here.” It’s Roddy’s voice, but not Roddy’s soul. “I’m going to make this right.”
Joey lunges - and is intercepted by Aliud.
“I cannot allow you to hurt Roddy,” the mechanical teenager says. And Joey’s heart aches when he hears the declaration of love in that tinny voice, the urge to protect that he’s so often felt in himself.
Well. If Powertronic is doing his best to masquerade as a hero here, Joey will just have to be the villain. He roars at a volume that shakes the jungle.
Sergeant SURGE becomes the Martyr
SURGE feels the core of Fluvis pouring into him. And why not? A powerful mechanical body, perfect for a showdown with the heroes. After Alex’s EMP bomb burned out his other electronic hosts, Fluvis doesn’t have much choice anyway.
SURGE feels the corruption take hold, feels his own consciousness slip away.
It is Fluvis that chuckles out of SURGE’s voice synthesizer. “This is only a setback. And now…”
Somewhere in SURGE’s torso, a device finishes its countdown to zero. The self-destruct mechanism was always a last resort, meant to take out any hero strong enough to take on a villain of SURGE’s caliber. It’s going to claim the life of a hero after all.
Gothwitch becomes the Leader.
Mette’s ship launches from Kinshasa in the Congo.
The Amethyst Fairy is glowing. Kiln’s ritual magic, pouring the power of the temple into her, is giving her the strength to hold back the hordes of Fluvis-possessed machines. But the power and the purpose is hers.
This is it. The die is cast. Evacuate Earth with Roddy-Powertronic and his selection of passengers, or stay behind and try to stop the unstoppable. Tiff, tears in her eyes, made her choice when she learned what Powertronic had done to Roddy. She wanted to go make him pay. But the home planet of humanity needed her more. Behind her, the contrail of the rocket is still visible.
In the lab, Alex is working furiously on a digital antivirus. Kiln is locked in a trance, reinforcing the Fairy’s magic. Tahi is supporting them by operating the mechanisms of the temple. Joey is leaping from tank to tank, jet to jet, taking out the automated minions of Fluvis and keeping them away from her.
The story the people on the rocket will learn isn’t exactly this story. Oh, certainly, the broad strokes will be there. Powertronic’s role will be minimized. The threat will be reduced to “rogue AI”. The heroes - most of them - will stay heroes.
Powertronic thinks the future is his. Sure, he screwed up in a huge way. But he’s got a second chance.
This time, the nerds will own the world.