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.Their work to vivify the facility had made the close contact necessary.Their species had made the close contact welcomed.Karn felt no jealousy about this growing relationship and even was happy for Jhoira to have a friend made of flesh and bone.But between her work and Teferi, Jhoira no longer had time for long strolls or afternoon conversations with the silver man.He wished again for those bleak days together in the guard towers of Tolaria, but that was not what dragged at Karn.No, the feeling of dread and death came from the sentence on his life.When all was said and done, he would belong to the lizard men.Urza had offered to move his intellectual-affective cortex to a new shell of Thran-metal, though the man could not promise Karn’s mind would move with it.With a sudden roar, the facility erupted into motion.Though the forbidden sections of the rig remained dark, windows across the rest of it flared with light.The very walls of the great machine rumbled and glowed.The patient roll and plunge of the facility’s crankshafts and pistons accelerated to a deep and trembling drone.Jets of steam above the facility coalesced into a great, sooty cloud that blotted out sun and sky both and enwrapped the rig and the silver man in a choking fog.He sat awhile longer, shrouded in gloom.The forges would be firing, the metals forming, the molds filling.Within the structure, a new army of metal men was being born.Outside of it, an old metal man was being killed.All around him, small red eyes emerged from nearby crevices and caves.Unseen by the downhearted golem, goblins ventured up to the very verges of the rig, stood atop each others’ shoulders to peer into windows, and set hundreds of tattered claws to whatever loose plate or door gap presented itself.In one place, they found their way inside, hundreds of them.MonologueI do miss Urza, Jhoira, Karn, and-yes, I’ll admit it-even Teferi.Their labors on the island before they left have given us a solid defense against Phyrexian incursion.I can only hope their labors in Shiv will do the same for the world itself.K’rrik’s machinations advance exponentially.Just because our artifact machines can repulse his current generation of negators does not mean they will repulse the ones that emerge in a few months-let alone any more negator mages who might make it out.We tracked down and slew the one who had summoned the python, but there will be others.The students, colleagues, and I work hard to improve and adapt our designs, to suggest new machines and to create new spells, but even our fastest fast-time laboratories run at half the speed of K’rrik’s.It will come down to a final conflict-both here on Tolaria and out in Dominaria at large.To win our little war here, we’ll need Urza and Jhoira and all the others.To win the coming conflict, we’ll need a new machine, one designed by Urza himself, one that can adapt to anything, one with firepower greater than that of the whole island.Urza started a design before he left.Perhaps he has finished it by now.- Barrin, Mage Master of TolariaChapter 14“This is our salvation,” Urza said.He paced before the array of plans.They filled the semicircular wall of his high study in the mana rig.The room was an approximation of his library back on Tolaria, though the books that lined the shelves here were largely Thran, unreadable to anyone but Urza.Tonight, the shelves served to hold tacked plans, the latest wild imaginings of the artificer genius.With a slim pointer cast of the new batch of Thran metal, Urza indicated the sleek structure of the device.”It is a flying machine, made entirely of Thran metal.It is driven by a matrix of powerstones, which take up much of the hull.With these stones, it is capable of faster-than-sound travel.Power can be diverted from the drive systems into various gun batteries-““What is it for?” Jhoira asked.Among the group gathered, including Teferi, Karn, and a handful of other top scholars, the Ghitu woman seemed the only one willing to question the master.Urza pivoted midsentence and looked at her, blinking.“Why, it is for war, war with Phyrexia.”Jhoira’s brow furrowed.Teferi’s hand clamped over her arm, but she spoke all the same.“The metal and powerstones needed to construct that ship could be used to make armies of warriors, which would be more effective against armies of fiends.”“Armies are slow,” replied Urza.The lamplight of the darksome study glimmered from his queer eyes.“This machine will be able to move like lightning for quick strikes against specific targets-targets such as dragon engines and landing craft.”“How many such engines do you suspect the Phyrexians will have?”“Perhaps hundreds,” Urza said grimly, “perhaps thousands.”“Shouldn’t we plan to build hundreds or thousands of machines like this?” Jhoira asked sensibly.Urza looked nettled.“There aren’t enough active powerstones on Dominaria to build two of these devices and any mechanical defenders.”Jhoira sighed, crossing her arms.“As fantastical and appealing as this idea might be, it seems to be impractical in the extreme.Unless we find some underground trove of powerstones, we must make the best use of the few we have.”A fiery light glimmered in Urza’s eyes, and he seemed on the verge of snorting.He placed the tip of his Thran-metal pointer on the table and pressed upon it.The rod trembled with the master’s anger.Instead of breaking, the metal only made a jagged line across the obsidian top.Wheeling, Urza tore the plans down from the wall, crumpled them, and flung them savagely in the corner.“No more delays.I want the prototype Thran-metal man completed this month.”*Teferi finished undoing the final bolt, pulled away the age-crusted grating, and gestured Jhoira into the dark crawlway beyond.“The plans say that this space leads into the heart of the forbidden zone.” His eyes gleamed with mischief.“The secrets of the mana rig await.”Jhoira glanced around again, trying to make sure no Viashino patrols were coming down the passage.“I think this is a mistake.If the lizards find out-““Tribal law forbids Viashino from entering the forbidden zone.It says nothing about humans,” Teferi said, and his smile glinted in the dark space.“Besides, you promised.The metal works have been running at full capacity for a year now.I’m well overdue.”A laugh of resignation came from Jhoira.She shook her head, staring in amazement at the handsome young man.“Yes, Teferi, you are well overdue.” She paused.The cloud of bygone days passed over her eyes.“You followed me down another passage like this, once.”Teferi only smiled.“Some things never change.”So saying, she drew a dimly glowing powerstone from her pocket and waved it in the cobwebbed crawlspace before her.Taking a deep breath, she entered it.Teferi followed closely behind.The space was tight, its height slightly shorter than Jhoira’s thigh, its width slightly thinner than Teferi’s shoulders.The effect was claustrophobic.Instead of an actual crawl, the two explorers had to move forward with an inch-worm motion.Even so, the shaft did not seem an air duct [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]