waited. In the shadows, far beyond the borders of Everything
, the Nodeshell Generator
awaited its chance to unleash its awesome power on the now complacent
noders of Everything. It had been created long ago, when the nodesheller
s, the apprentices of the dark powers, were just beginning to move against the noders.
Long ago was the great war between the powers, which had instigated the creation of The Nodeshell Rescue Team. Only a few of the noders remaining were able to remember it, the rest having slipped away, their vacancies filled by newbies, brash and eager. Never would they be able to anticipate what would happen to them if the evil returned.
A young noder turned to the quick path to creation, that where the creation lacks anything inside it. Nodeshelling. The noder was unprepared for the way the sense of power would begin to affect him. It rapidly warped his mind, making him lust after even more power, though this kind of power was empty compared to true noding.
It was a sign of complacency that the noders who caught him did not immediately execute him, but instead, banished him to the outer reaches, where bandit groups of rogue nodeshellers stalked unsuspecting prey. Having no safe haven to return to, the would-be nodesheller fled into the darkness. It was there that he stumbled upon the device.
A relic of a time long-past, the Nodeshell Generator had been created by two of the most prodigious nodeshellers of the great war. They had gone one step further in twisting the natural laws of order that governed Everything. They gave one of their own inventions the ability to create to.
A script, they called it.
When activated, it would begin, of its own accord, to fill Everything with nodeshells. Hundreds, thousands of nodeshells would join the armies of the dark powers, tipping the precarious balance of power.
Fortunately, before they could initiate their terrible, unimaginable project, the two artificers were defeated by the great noder called ideath. The two of them dead, their creation lay dormant, waiting for activation.
The almost innocent nodesheller knew none of this. He activated the artifact.
The unthinking mechanism hurled the young noder from the reaches of Everything, his fate never to be known. Then it went to work. Nodeshells began to flow.
Reports of greater activity came in from the borders, but the noders had grown complacent. Only when a team of five freelance nodeshell rescuers was utterly annihilated did anyone take notice. By that time, it was almost too late. The warlords who had been squabbling with each other took advantage of the opportunity, and launched an attack - on the home nodes. Nothing like this had been seen for ages, but there would be greater travesties if the nodeshellers could not be stopped again.
Fortunately, the noder Lometa had been forewarned of the possibility of automated attack. While the other noders were hurriedly preparing defenses, Lometa led several expeditions into the wild reaches, searching for the cause of the chaos. Success came, but at a terrible price. Only seven of the task force's original sixteen noders returned to report their discovery. An assault was quickly planned.
Those nodeshellers who had returned to the call of war had discovered the reason for their good fortune, however, and would not give it up without a fight. The noders had numbers on their side, but most of them were newbies; initiates and novices who had never seen battle. The nodeshellers were hardened veterans who lived in the wilds. If the battle was to be won, it would take serious losses for the noders.
It was Tregoweth who came up with the plan that would lead to salvation. "If we cut the thing off from Everything, even for a second, it would take years for it to find its way back. Why not just turn us off?" It was certainly possible. Nate and dem bones agreed to lend their expertise, and the noders could stay in their home nodes for the duration of the blackout. Unfortunately, there was a problem with the plan. The nodeshellers might suspect something was up if all of the noders suddenly disappeared. In addition, the only way to be sure the artifact was connected with Everything was to engage it in battle. In short, it was a desperate move to try; but desperate these noders were.
Tregoweth and a band of volunteers marched out to provide the needed diversion. The other noders honored their sacrifice, knowing that most of the troops would not be returning.
And as suddenly as it had begun, it was over. Casualties were massive; many promising noding careers cut short. And to a questionable end, as well. The Nodeshell Generator was gone, true, but no one could be certain when it would return. And the question that entered many minds that day: Could there have been any others?
Historian's note: It was this site, once a nodeshell, on which the dark artifact once stood. This place was chosen as a memorial for those who fell battling the darkness. May their sacrifice always remind us that the danger is ever present.