The earth cried the day I left. Fountains of molten flame ripped from the earth scouring the land. In the books they called it magma. But that was before. Now we call it lifeblood , the molten fire that we must brave. Now some worship it. Now some hate it. Now some watch it from the safety of their cities, scorning the people that live the great wastes, the ones that brave the lifeblood to study the remains of a civilization long dead. The speak of us as animals, as the base born scum of the earth. They did not note the day I arrived. They soon would.In my relatively short life I had rarely left the Wastes. And those who entered them were delusional or of the few villages that hung on to the precious little safe rock. We were inventors, the spawn of those who entered the Wastes to learn its secrets and never left. In many ways the Waste was a treasure trove. Small Islands of stable rock housed tech that we could hardly dream of, gadgets persevered with forgotten tech, and the crystal deposits that grew throughout. We are of the rare few who dared combine tech. The pious Maxio called us heretics for despoiling their magic, the great Steam Barons said that we defiled their great metal machines with magic and life, and the ever illusive Anima hunt us for our corruption of their life tech. But still, many need us. They turn to our machines when they have nowhere else to go. And to fulfill this duty I journeyed to the City of Trade. I entered the city through the front gate. It was a massive affair, made of copper and covered in glowing runes, it was set in the even more impressive stone wall that encompassed the entire city. This to was covered in runes of protection but it also held runes that would activate a shield was the city to be attacked. And into the city I strode just another person in the throng of strange denizens that inhabited this massive city.
Rarely was my garb not out of place. Over my eye and secured with three leather straps was a modified multi-level jeweler's loupe. It was made of copper and had runes etched into every part of it. With the push of a button the lens would swing away as they were now. My head was covered by the black fire proof cloak that I wore. It covered a set of ash colored leather armor. Runes were scratched into every part of this, and here and there a glint of brass or steel showed, hinting at the metal skeleton that I wore to enhance my body. I wore a pack filled with gadgets and a belt held various gadgets as well as a katana and a machine pistol. Guns had declined in usefulness after personal shields had become a relatively common tech. Even more telling from all of this was my physical traits. Much of my body was unremarkable. My hair was black and my physique was slim but well muscled. However my eyes shown red, having been enhanced with infrared before my birth. My arm was the same, covered in silver scales, it was harder than steel and dripping with magic. These scales represented and represent a new horizon for my people. We were not of the Animus, with there reckless disregard for human suffering, but without our enhancements we would not have survived the Wastes. These scales may mean that we can not only survive but thrive in the Wastes that we call home. I walked through the streets with a purpose, my eyes tracked the colors of the city, both the ones seen by normal humans and those unseen. It had taken me awhile to learn how to switch to the vision of a normal human but I soon found that it was of great use with interacting with other humans. But I still preferred my own vision, full of the glow of life, full of the glow of the Lifeblood. And no place outside of the waste glowed with more Lifeblood.
The streets were full of people streaming to the dozens of markets that this city was made of. But of all the markets the one that I was interested in was also the most secret. The forbidden market was like a legal black market. It sold everything that the other nations considered against their creeds. However it was a legal black market so no sentient creatures and no weapons of mass destruction. As I moved through the streets toward my destination the crowd slowly thinned before disappearing entirely. I had passed into the darker, poorer section of the city. Most of the adults who lived here were working in the freight yards and the children were going to school in the education district. The only people here were either going to the forbidden market or lost. I strode briskly through the silent and empty streets toward a massive decrepit warehouse. It was said that it had stood there since the Great War, the second war to end all wars. But it had been patched and repaired so many times that only the foundation and some of the crystal enforced beams were original. The inside roared with life. Venders that would have been hunted down by mobs in any other place. All hawking their wares, negotiating with customers, and generally taking advantage of a safe place to gain the thing that makes the world go round.
I set up shop in the corner. Here it was a little quieter, seeing as many of the venders down here offered artistic achievements, and mechanical masterpieces. But that day I had no idea of what would be walking around the corner. Or rather who it would be.