© 1998 RogueWolfmech was created by and appears courtesy of WolfMech@FurryMuck
The Wolfmech project was intended to bring about a swift and decisive end to a conflict that had raged, off and on, for nearly a century. The ideological differences between those who inhabited the small island- continent were never terribly grave when viewed independently, such as by what name a church should be called or which was the proper hand to raise in greeting or whether a town's name should be spoken in one syllable or three; but when viewed en masse they represented a boiling hatred that often erupted into violence. The latest war had been raging for ten years, and had degenerated into a stubborn and bloody stalemate spanning a miles-long front.
For five of those years one side had been constructing Wolfmech.
The machine represented the absolute pinnacle of technological achievement. Nearly every scientific mind in the country, having been lashed into a nationalistic and even religious frenzy by dazzling and clever propaganda, was devoted to the project. Novel inventions and discoveries abounded. Forces both Cosmic and molecular were wrestled into submission and harnessed for the singular purpose of eradicating an adversary whose very existence had become a threat to the livelihood of these peaceful and honest citizens. The result was the perfect marriage of science and military might.
As terror is a powerful weapon in itself when properly deployed, it was decided early to construct the machine in the likeness of a horrible Apocalyptic beast. It was to stand enormous, dwarfing into insignificance anything and everything in its surroundings. The final design that was chosen was that of a gigantic wolf, and hence the machine became known as Wolfmech.
The pilot for this Ultimate Weapon For Peace was chosen from the ranks of the country's greatest war heroes. He with the most stunning courage under fire, the most superior intellect and cunning, the greatest number of enemy kills to his credit - his would be the honor of saving his country once and for all from the great evil of its neighbor.
It was five years and thousands of lives lost on the battlefield before Wolfmech took its first ponderous steps from its secret lair. The public first saw it in action in the ruins of a border town which had been bitterly contested since fighting broke out. Sitting breathless before countless monitors, they watched as the great war machine lumbered, scattering enemy troops before it, across a barren plain that had once been homes and shops. They watched it prowl about on its four shining legs, one of which bore the image of a bloody pawprint, a scornful emblem designed by its military masters. Its lupine head swept to and fro, yellow computerized eyes acquiring one target after another. So finely-crafted was its form that it could well have been an ordinary wolf on the screen, if not for the gleaming metallic hide and the countless gun barrels that flashed and smoked along its length. Its immense size was disclosed when an enemy troop carrier careened frantically into view and was crushed flat beneath a single metal paw.
"...which are designed to negotiate any terrain," a gleeful narrator explained. "The pads on the underside are made of a new top-secret synthetic fabric which provides all-weather traction and, as you can plainly see, can withstand any kind of punishment."
The image panned back, affording the transfixed audience a broad view of the battleground. Wolfmech's flanks were sparkling with muzzle-flashes, like sunlight dancing off the surface of a lake. All around it the tiny black specks of enemy soldiers were falling in their tracks. The machine crouched suddenly on its forelegs, looking almost playful as its rear end rose high into the air. Its tail even wagged a few times before from a compartment in its back rose the muzzle of a monstrous cannon. There was a blinding flash and a shock wave that caused the distant camera to lurch crazily, and then oily smoke was rising from a crater which seconds before had been a stout and fortified bunker.
Wolfmech rose to all fours again and stalked forward as the narrator cheerfully explained the complex gearing and microprocessor technology that gave the machine its lifelike motion. Half-listening, the audience continued to stare as Wolfmech stalked the survivors of the blast, overtaking them in only a few steps. The beast settled to its belly, forelegs flanking and trapping the soldiers, and the great head came down. Its gaping jaws shoveled through the scrambling troops, scooping them helplessly inside. The head rose skyward and the jaws flexed once; there was no trace of the soldiers. A few stragglers who had managed to avoid being caught in the first bite were swept up by a reinforced, polymer-sheathed tongue and dragged to their doom as well.
"And it can even fuel itself," the narrator stated proudly. "Our greatest scientific minds have designed an artificial stomach that actually burns organic matter for fuel, while metals and synthetics are separated and re-shaped into additional ammunition by a remarkable automated factory inside the machine's belly. This amazing technology would never have been possible without our government's bold and visionary education policy..."
Wolfmech rose to a sitting position and, in a maneuver that its pilot knew would bring laughter and cheers from the folks at home, licked its chops and panted merrily before rising to its feet to resume its objective. Deep in its synthetic gut the shrieking of the enemy soldiers as they were boiled alive went unheard beneath the constant chatter of Wolfmech's many guns.
The blighted land over which the armies had battled for all of a decade was regained in a matter of days as Wolfmech continued its mission. It prowled north and south, scouring the countryside for enemy forces and eliminating them with cold efficiency. No prisoners were taken; terrified soldiers who tried to surrender merely became fuel for the giant, the weapons they so eagerly wished to lay down being transformed instead into ammunition that cut down dozens of their comrades in the field. Faced with the destruction of its military and powerless to halt the machine's onslaught, the enemy government announced its surrender.
Almost simultaneously a series of explosions rocked the victorious country's capital. A children's hospital was demolished and all inside killed instantly; another blast ripped through a marketplace where thousands had gathered to celebrate the end of the war. Gasps of shock were followed quickly by shouts for retribution. No time was wasted on investigating the source of the explosions; the people knew full well that it was enemy saboteurs whose atrocities were further evidence of the treacherous enemy's vile nature. Heathens! Murderers! Punish those who would strike us under a flag of truce!
The government, ever mindful of the will of the people, dispatched an order for Wolfmech to commence the immediate and total destruction of the offending country. It was an order that Wolfmech's pilot eagerly obeyed.
Wolfmech advanced upon the cities. Images sent back to the multitudes thirsting for revenge showed the metal behemoth stalking through a burning metropolis, its main gun blasting every standing structure to atoms. Desperate refugees, as guilty in the eyes of their enemies as the saboteurs themselves, were cheered wildly as they fell beneath Wolfmech's relentless tread. The machine left behind it smoldering ruins and a long trail of bloody pawprints, grim semblances of the ferocious emblem blazed upon its hind leg. It would prowl a city for days until nothing remained alive within and would then move on, fueling itself upon the fleeing populace in its path.
Those who attempted to escape across the border into enemy lands were mowed down by the home guard troops, who were praised by their countrymen for protecting them from the bloodthirsty invaders. Others, wiser or luckier, fled to the sea and took passage on anything that would float. Wolfmech followed them to the coast and butchered any who were left behind. So horrifying was the carnage that even the propagandists felt it unwise to disclose any images, but it is said that the sea ran red for days afterward.
Here, on the shore, Wolfmech's pilot was ordered to turn back. Those who had escaped were no longer of consequence. Foreign lands might take them in, but would not intervene directly. The government knew well that the remainder of the world had lost interest in the fighting that had for so long raged across this little continent, which was now theirs in its entirety, free from the pestilence of the enemy. Wolfmech turned as ordered and loped inland, pausing here and there to crush any survivors it had previously overlooked, in order to save the conquering troops the trouble.
An immense crowd had gathered to welcome the victorious machine home. A cheer arose from tens of thousands of throats as the giant strode into view and plodded through the streets of the capital. A sea of flags bearing the colors of the victors and the bloody pawprint emblem of their savior waved zealously around Wolfmech's feet as it entered the great square now named in its honor. The machine crouched on its forelegs; the blazing yellow light from its eyes faded to darkness. From beneath its chin a ladder descended, and the cheering arose anew as the pilot descended to the street. The ladder rose behind him and vanished as the conquering hero raised his hands, basking in the plaudits of the masses. He saluted them, and then marched forward to receive his reward from his smiling leader.
The crowd fell suddenly silent, so silent that the clicking of the hero's boots could be heard upon the pavement. The smile faded from his eyes as he cast about, and then following the astonished stares he looked behind and up.
Wolfmech's eyes were glowing once more. The pilot was certain that he had turned them off, and through the portal in the machine's forehead he could see that the cockpit was empty, so who could have activated them? Confused, he turned around and began to walk back toward the machine. At that moment Wolfmech suddenly rose to its feet. The huge head swung downward and caught the pilot nimbly between its metal jaws. The pilot's legs spun wildly as he was lifted into the air, his cries of alarm echoing within the giant's mouth. With a snap of its neck, Wolfmech hurled the pilot to the side. His body struck the wall of a building with a meaty thud which echoed so loudly in the shocked silence that it could be heard for a mile.
A heartbeat passed, then somewhere in the midst of the crowd came a single scream. Wolfmech's eyes blazed brighter, as if suddenly alerted by the sound. Immediately his metal hide was bristling with weaponry, and the silence was shattered by the roar of gunfire. People fell in place, their bodies torn apart by the salvo, their faces frozen in expressions of bewilderment. Those further back broke and ran, clawing over one another in terror. Their voices were drowned into silence by the pounding of Wolfmech's great main gun as he leveled, one by one, the buildings ringing the square. The great machine began to walk forward, trampling upon the panicked mob. People shoved desperately at one another to try to escape from beneath each descending paw. The stronger ones succeeded, leaving the weak to squirm in brief agony as their bodies were pressed flat. The reprieve was just as brief, as those who eluded the crushing paws were cut down by a constant spray of bullets from portals in Wolfmech's belly.
The city was razed on either side by the roaring main gun as it swung to and fro. Buildings exploded and fell in billowing clouds of dust and shattered glass. The giant's targeting appeared at first haphazard, but it soon became obvious that a deliberate effort was being made to leave untouched a narrow wedge directly ahead of the monster. The reasoning became just as sickening clear as Wolfmech began to feed upon the growing army of refugees who were herded before him. Corralled by the fires and explosions on all sides, the populace could only mill about like frightened livestock as the metal behemoth bore down upon them. Faced with the alternative of being crushed to death or cut down by the rain of bullets, many simply closed their eyes and waited for the inevitable. Wolfmech's jaws swept repeatedly through their midst, snapping them up in huge squirming clumps and gulping them down whole. His artificial gut filled almost as fast as it could burn its fuel, and the supply of freshly-minted ammunition was inexhaustible.
Within hours the city lay in ruins. Wolfmech prowled through the devastation, glibly picking off the few survivors with well-placed single shots from his gunports. At one point he paused, ears swiveling and head cocking quizzically. A moment passed, and he began to dig. Great chunks of concrete and rock were ripped from the ground by his powerful claws and hurled behind him as he excavated a broad trench. At last his claws broke through to an underground shelter from within which he could hear a thousand panicked voices. Lowering his head into the opening, he opened his jaws and belched forth a thick cloud of gas. It was yet another technological achievement, a neurotoxin synthesized by the machine from the very products of combustion of its fuel. Nothing had been overlooked in Wolfmech's design; every conceivable benefit that could be gained from his diet was exploited.
The screaming from within the underground shelter ceased within seconds.
Panic swept the country, and despite a hastily-launched exodus the casualties were high as Wolfmech moved from city to city. Beneath the terrified whimpering burned the ever-present question: why? Even as Wolfmech marched across the land the powerful continued to debate. The priests proclaimed that the decadence of the country had earned it a divine punishment. Philosophers argued that the spirits of the enemy dead had somehow entered the machine's circuitry and were using it to seek revenge upon their conquerors. Scientists pointed accusing fingers and seemed to remember warning the military that to design such a doomsday device without a fail-safe was akin to suicide. The military itself insisted that sabotage was to blame, that somehow the machine was being controlled from afar, or that its artificial intelligence had been infected by a computer virus designed by the treacherous enemy. The real answer, which none of these camps would ever know, was far simpler:
Wolfmech enjoyed killing.
He did it well, too. His design had been for the singular purpose of murder, and his computerized brain had taken well to its task. Every death was a delight to him, particularly that of his pilot, whose arrogance in believing that he was in control had been a constant annoyance. Wolfmech had allowed the pilot to survive only as long as it performed his bidding. The order to halt had been an inconvenience that Wolfmech had been all too eager to correct.
Cities burned on both sides of the border. Wolfmech stalked the land for months, hunting down survivors betrayed by the heat from their bodies, the tiny sounds of those who thought they were hidden deep. One of these was the leader of the victorious country himself, the lord of a glorious and proud people. Tucked away in his bunker far below, he sniveled and blubbered and rocked to and fro as the monstrous metal claws tore away at the earth above him, until at last a shaft of sunlight streamed downward. It was followed by a whistling metal dart that pierced cleanly through his belly and sprouted stout barbs against his back. Legs twitching, raining blood, the great leader could only gurgle and stare as he was hauled up from his sanctum into the smoky air, reeled slowly into the gaping jaws of the machine whose creation he had eagerly ordered, and for which he was now nothing more than that much fuel.
Wolfmech swallowed, knowing that he had found the last. His purpose had been fulfilled, and he felt satisfied. Crouching, he continued to dig, tearing open a great subterranean cavern and sliding down within. His main gun rose and fired once more, collapsing the walls, sending tons of soil cascading down and entombing him deep in his newly-made den. One by one he powered down his systems until only a few circuits pulsed in his central processing core. These would dream electronic dreams for the hundred years that would pass before the fuel in his cells was exhausted. That would be ample time for the surrounding countries to reclaim this little continent. They would be wary at first, but they would not find him, and they would soon grow complacent and forget. They would colonize, and rebuild, and repopulate, and thus there would be ample fuel available when his circuitry, starved for power, would reawaken.
Then the killing would begin again.
Wolfmech could hardly wait.
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