Exploring the SCP Foundation: SCP-001 - Amoni-Ram (All Parts)
SCP-001: Amoni-Ram - Part One. The church of the broken god is one of the most popular and expansive groups of interest in the scp universe, a religion that worships a broken mechanical deity, and wish to rebuild it by bringing together its anomalous parts. The churchs origins lie in a similar group known as Mekhanites that date back to ancient times, and their conflicts with other notable groups at time, the sarkites and the daevites. This SCP-001 proposal takes a fresh look at the mekhanites and these conflicts, in a canon in which this is the first time that the foundation is learning of them.
It's a big mysterious city, and it's going to take some time to disassemble it, so let's begin. SCP-001 is an extradimensional bubble of self-contained reality located in the Southern Arabian Desert. It's inaccesible to anyone that does not have prior knowledge of its location, meaning that an individual has to have exact knowledge of its geographical position to reach it. Notably, individuals with some sort of artifical implant, from surgical screws to complex prosthetics, appear to have a higher chance in locating and entering the anomaly, with testing showing a success rate of 88% compared to standard personnel's 62%.
The reality bubble contains an ancient metropolis partially buried in the sand, with maps and initial sonar testing indicating approximately 2/3rds of the city is aboveground and largely intact, while the subterranean portion has degraded heavily. The aboveground city contains skyscrapers and buildings up to half a kilometer high utilizing modern design techniques far beyond those available at the time of construction, dated around 2400 BCE. The buildings are fully funished, and appear to have served residential, commercial, bureaucratic, and various other uses, with the largest and most intricate being a temple structure in the center of the city.
The buildings also contain artistic works and large bas-reliefs depicting a variety of scenes ranging from apparently religious stories to historical events. These contain writing in an unknown language containing elements of old arabic, and most of them are concentrated in the temple structure. The subterranean floors are dominated by extensive, complex machinery, ranging from antiquated clockwork systems to vacuum tubes to power generators extremely similar to modern nuclear reactors. All of the machinery is nonfunctional however, and appears to be in a state of advanced disrepair. There are no living organisms within the city, but there are a number of automata, or robots, led by one of them that has identified the city as being the origin of the myth of Iram of the Pillars, but its proper name is Amoni-Ram. Iram is referenced in the Quran, quoted as Iram, who had lofty pillars, the likes of whom had never been created in the lands.
It was referenced as a culture subject to divine retribution by god for their oppresion of others. Many theories have been offered on the identity or location of the group or city identified as Iram, but nothing has ever been confirmed by the wider historical community. Amoni-ram first came to the foundation's attention in 1983 after the contianment of scp-1867, the beloved explorer and naturalist Lord Theodore Thomas Blackwood. Some of his journals recovered from his private vault detail his experiences with the French Armee d'Orient during their campaign into the middle east in 1801. One journal partially dictated an encounter he had with a vast, ruined city accessible only to those who knew its location, which is a tale I've read elsewhere on this channel. An interview was conducted with Blackwood for further information.
Blackwood is interviewed by a female doctor, and he begins by saying that it's heartening to see someone of the gentler sex in such an academic position, and that it warms the cockles of his heart. The doctor quickly moves on, telling him that she wants to discuss the journal titled Lord Blackwood in the First Cities of Man. Blackwood recalls it, but isn't sure why there'd be questions, as he remembers being very thorough. Unfortunately, water damage has left most of it illegible.
I'll proceed with reading the section from Blackwood's journal verbatim. July 12th, 1801 I have received the most peculiar gift today. Mssr. Brazeau visited me today — simply appearing out of nowhere in front of my breakfast table, and pulling out a chair. After umpteen years of knowing Jacques, this is not altogether surprising — but the timing of the visit did inspire a measure of surprise in me, though he refused to answer any questions until Ms. Cartwright served him a plate, the cad.
He confirmed, at my slightly-offended prodding, that his recent silence had come as a result of increased scrutiny on the value of le estate Noir by the First Consul Bonaparte. Whether the francs being poured into their archives were not better spent equipping the men on the front. Whether the objects in such archives could not be put to better use on the very same fronts.
An officer communicating with an English noble during wartime would be a death knell for the organization. While I care little for mundane political squabbles, I understand Jacques' position. My second question was regarding the large hay-packed crate that had appeared alongside Jacques. Wiping his mouth from the pheasant, he explained it was a gift, and drew his cavalry sabre to use the flat to pry off the top of the crate.
We both peered in. A collection of six large, heavy stone tablets, each the size of my chest, packed with straw into neat rows. Using all our strength, we were able to draw one out - it was papered in inscriptions in an obtuse script that resembled Greek. Jacques explained over coffee some time later.
Due to the increased scrutiny on the estate, he had taken it upon himself to personally ensure no potentially dangerous artefacts made it into the hands of the warhawks in the French consulate. He had been surreptitiously smuggling such items out of Catacombs and into the hands of well-informed friends of ours. I questioned what kind of danger a set of tablets could carry. He elucidated: some years ago, agents of the estate recovered a cache of technology, impossibly advanced prostheses, from a shipwreck in the Aegean Sea. With them had come this set of tablets, remarkably well-preserved in sealed jars.
They apparently described a set of ancient cultures, the origins of the technology, and where to find their cities. Deeply intriguing - but the translations were ongoing in Paris. He promised to deliver the manuscripts as soon as they were complete - and so I await. Several weeks worth of entries have been rendered illegible by moisture damage. August 23rd, 1801 Traveling with soldiers always makes for an entertaining trip, if nothing else. When Brazeau first provided me the completed translations, I was slightly incredulous.
The Arabia has been inhabited continuously for many centuries by a surprisingly cultured people. Surely if a metropolis to this scale laid in the center of the area, someone would have found it? But then, the Black Tower lies beneath London herself and I was the first man in centuries to step through its doors. I suppose anything is possible. I could tell Jacques would have preferred to go himself. But the good Frenchman urged me instead - with the tenuous political situation in the Consulate, he could not afford to go on an expedition. Unfettered as I was by antiquated political rulings, he arranged for my passage with the armee d'Orient as they moved into Egypt and Arabia.
I found myself agreeing along. It has been some years since I had traveled to the warmth of the equator. And so here I remain, my detachment of just over two dozen sleeping in a distanced camp. At first, the soldiers were naturally suspicious of Englishmen, especially in times like these — but we are all too weary to keep up such walls for long. Now my two dozen men mingle with them like brothers, conversing in a broken mixture of French and English.
They are all too willing to listen to our stories of the paranatural — the Ang Khor Trails and the Sphinx Hunts have become favorites. The officers, however, remain wary of the Englishmen with the strange tools and charms and stories of a world beyond. No matter. Tonight is the last night we bunk with the armee. Tomorrow the marching plans take us as close as they ever will to the location transcribed on the tablets, less than a day's walk. Diverting the entire army is beyond even Mssr.
Brazeau, so my detachment will say our goodbyes to our traveling companions and walk the distance. Tomorrow we see what truth there is to these legends of an Atlantis of the Sands. August 24th, 1801 Pardon my French, but — bollocks. August 24th, 1801, cont.
This expanse of sand is no different from the other countless expanses of sand we have traveled to arrive here. Empty, desolate — not even birds of prey ride these winds. It is dark, but even in the darkness it is quite obvious there is nothing here resembling an Atlantis of the Sands. Resembling much of anything at all, in fact — merely the rolling dunes. We have chosen to make camp — I write this by lantern-light as the men eat and make merry.
We will continue searching in the morning, but the immediate signifiers are not reassuring. August 25th, 1801 My predictions from last night ring true. We have combed every square meter of the location in the tablets - explicitly marked as the midpoint between the mountains and at an angle to a crevasse, which we located. By all possible measures, the city should be here. The men have come to the conclusion that we are indeed in the correct location - but at the incorrect elevation. Toying with his false eye at suppertime, Watterson posited that after three thousand years, the strong wind patterns in the Arabian peninsula would likely have shifted large amounts of sand.
Amon Iram may well be here, simply buried under countless tonnes of sand. Not a reassuring notion, but better than it not existing at all — thought the latter is just as likely. Tomorrow, we begin digging. August 26th, 1801 Watterson has vanished from the dig site. The men sustain he was directing them one moment, took a step away for a smoke, and vanished from thin air. We have searched up and down the area.
I fear the worst. August 26th, 1801, cont. Relief.
We heard loud calls during a silent supper and raced out of the tent. We found Watterson stumbling across the sand, out of his mind with thirst and sunstroke. We filled him with water and carried him back to camp. He is resting in a tent, and the Surgeon says he will be fine in the morning.
Off his body fell his own journal - the most recent entry, dated to today, being a hastily-scribbled statement on how he had "fallen into" an ancient city, in a space that seemed seperate from the surrounding desert. This warrants investigation, Several pages of moisture damage. August 27th, 1801 I have traveled up and down the Earth, exploring the peaks and crevasses of our wondrous planet.
The things I have seen have filled countless volumes and vaults in Britannia. I have encountered forgotten beasts, forsaken lands, and more than my fair share of ancient ruins. I have never seen anything like Iram.
Iram (Amon is, according to the tablets, a title — akin to Capital) is an impressive sight by any mundane measure. Its walls outclass their Chinese rival in thickness and height — more battlements than blockade. The streets are wide and open, criss-crossing the city into a complex web of roads and avenues — the broadways are lined with what could have once been shops and merchant stalls. The towers — by Jove, the towers stretch so far into the sky, one struggles to imagine how they could have been constructed.
The intricate stone and metalwork that covers every surface has the telltale imperfections of hand-carving. The city itself is not in our world, not properly - it exists in a sort of pocket, accessible at random. I am as yet unsure what qualifies one for being able to access this pocket, but once a person is seen doing this, it appears all others around them are also capable of it. Most curious. The city is truly gargantuan - much larger than even London, and we have seen passages underground — I expect some sort of underground construction.
But it is impossible for us to explore the entirety, so we have chosen to make camp in one of the empty buildings for the night. An air of excitement buzzes through the air as we eat and bed down. August 28th, 1801 Further exploration has indicated the city is, perhaps, not as utopian as first thought.
The first task was to ascertain a rough map of the city - a large portion of it is, as we discovered, almost totally destroyed. Bombed-out ruins, pitted streets, and dried-out bones litter the paths. Scorch marks on the buildings complete the image — the section of the wall in this quarter is similarly broken-through.
I am of the opinion that this city did not fall apart — it was taken. Whatever battle did occur here, it was three millennia ago. And yet the bones look as clean and fresh as if they had been stripped not yesterday. The men we sent into the passages quickly returned, with claims of strange vines and pods down below, in a labyrinth of iron and steel. These are hardened men who have explored with me many times, but they seemed unnerved.
I will go down myself, but today was consumed by the making of the map. The city itself is approximately circular - a temple complex dominates the center, and four broadways extending outward cut the arrangement into quarters. Very well-designed for an era in which mathematics was only a loose concept.
But there is… a soberness. The emptiness of the city is overwhelming. Not only have we seen no other people, we have not seen farms, plants, animals - anything remotely resembling life.
The howl of the wind is the only sound one can hear, aside from his own boots against the stone. This effect is only intensified at night. As we settle down into our tents, we do not speak. There is an unspeakable presence in the air. August 29th, 1801 As I turned to make my way back to the camp, I heard a soft pinging. The unmistakable sound of metal on stone.
I raised my cane — only to see a small metal automaton, a child's toy, staring back at me. A monkey that could fit into the palm of my hand, hanging from a pipe along a wall. It cocked its head at me — a moment of hesitation, and then I reached out. I have no idea what it is — I've seen automata but this metal beast is intelligent, capable of acting depending on the situation. It shows emotion; it plays when I play, and hides when I shout. Most fascinating.
This is, no doubt, an example of the aforementioned advanced technology that led us here. I brought it to the camp and the men were similarly fascinated. I assumed this creature, watching us, was the source of the strange heaviness last night. A seasoned explorer can always tell when there are a pair of eyes on his back, even when he cannot see them. But when I bunk, I hear it, in the very farthest reaches of my hearing — countless, overlapping pitter-patters of metal on stone.
We are far from alone. August 30th, 1801 I visited the temple today. It is a grand affair, like the stone-carved temples of the New World. Sandstone and limestone, with great big murals fashioned out of overlapping plates of a strange bronze metals. They are incredibly stylized, but seem to tell a story - possibly a creation myth of savages, but I find it difficult to say. A massive statue of what could only be a god or king dominates the courtyard, hefting a spear and sword.
His gaze seems to follow me throughout the temple. If it indeed is a temple. The interior can only be described as a throne room - and what a throne, rivaling even King Edward's Chair. I hold my ear close, and I swear I can hear a slight ticking. Standing in its presence is strange… invasive, I would say.
I did not dwell, and I warned my men to do the same. I do not know what is within that throne, but every instinct in my body suggests I should leave it be. August 31st, 1801 I descended into the passages today. The men were right. The silence aboveground is doubled down below. Every movement and step against the metal sends an echoing clang through the structure, as if I were standing at the bottom of a canyon.
I left a rope to mark my path — before long, the maze become utterly impossible to navigate by memory. Surely they would never intentionally create something this labyrinthine. Or perhaps they had their own methods of mapping the path. Regardless, I am not bold enough to risk disorientation in pitch blackness, and returned quickly. But before I did, I stumbled upon the vines mentioned by the men. Petrified little things, snaking up and down the walls and falling to ash when touched with my blade.
The pods… spherical things resting on the vines, the size of my chest, slightly… throbbing. And the bones. Hundreds on hundreds — human and otherwise.
Deformed skulls, femurs with bulbous growths, bones splitting into Y-shaped crosses, a chain of small bones four meteres long. And countless human bones picked clean of all viscera. They are littered knee-deep, and dry as… well, a bone. They crunch underneath my boot.
These charnel houses start as jarringly as they stop; entire passageways can be ossuaries, and other sections are all fine steel and rusted iron. I do not know what occurred here, but whatever it is, it was something horrible. Tomorrow we take our leave and go to our ship docked in the Levant to report back to the estate.
Amon Iram is seductive, but my own bones tell me that if I do not take my leave quickly, they will join their countless brethren under the streets. Thanks to Blackwood, the foundation was able to recover the six tablets, with translation ongoing due to the extremely specific dialect of ancient greek used. One of his journal pages however contains a translation of the front of the first tablet. It reads, "In the beginning, there were three. A thousand years before, before man learned of Olympus, before the extinction of the giants, before the sea had full regressed, there were three. Three great cities dividing the world tripartite.
Mamjul and Korar, two dark fortresses resting in the jungles of the subcontinent. The magicians and sorcerer-nawabs allied themselves against the horrors of the jungle, and crossed a pact with something ancient. The Covenant of the Daeva was born, using the first magic gifted to Man - the magic of life and death.
Adytum, a city thrown into rebellion by a charismatic slave turned lay preacher who promised wealth, freedom, and power to those that would help him. Together they threw off their yokes, slaughtered their oppressors with their new sorcery and rebuilt their collapsed city, all under the name of the Grand Karcist Ion. The Nälka Empire freed the second magic - carnomancy, the magic of flesh. Amoni-Ram, first great Ram of the Mekhanite Empire as it spread like a wildfire from the deserts. A gleaming, shining metropolis rising out of the dunes - a center of knowledge, science, understanding that the world had never seen.
The magic of machines became known, the fervor for a new god that sought to uplift men, not subjugate them. A thousand years before, the three great nations of men fought a war that destroyed the world." The tablets go on to clarify that Amoni-ram was ruled by a theocratic cult in the area, referred to as the Mekhanite Cult or the Cult of the Broken God. No other evidence for this group had been discovered thus far. An MTF, Sigma-3 "Magellan Men" was sent in to investigate the reality bubble and gain access to the city if possible. They set their helicopter down a distance from the coordinates and began walking towards the location.
As they closed in, they began to spread out to try and locate the bubble, but after several minutes are unsuccesful. Suddenly, one of the team's biometrics disappears, and it turns out that they had entered the reality bubble without realizing. The rest of the team enters, maintaining radio contact on the other side.
Several hundred meters ahead of them is a massive glass and metal city, with skyscrapers hundreds of meters tall. The team briefly comments on the city's beauty before progressing in. They note that the larger skyscrapers are made of a bronze-colored metal and polished glass, while the smaller buildings seem to be constructured from a blend of limestone bricks and concrete.
They all exhibit an architectural style reminsicent of Islamic and Morocacn architecture, with the streets appearing to have designated sections for pedestrians and larger traffic. The team discusses this, commenting that possibly the inhabitants had some sort of anomalous cars. All of the homes are fully furnished, and look as if everyone got up and left partway through dinner. One of the team hears something like a rat, but none of the others do, so they continue on. They find some large stairways leading underground, but decide not to travel down there without the Mole Rats MTF present.
Eventually, they come to a heavily deteoriated section of the city, with entire sections of buildings having exploded and left to the elements. Here they find a deep hole in the ground, with a large pile of skeletons at the bottom. The team leader surmises that this was a mass grave, and they see one of the vines that Lord Blackwood mentioned at the bottom. They decide not to go down for a sample, as there are likely others elsewhere.
Continuing on, they find many more similar mass graves, and they come up to the temple complex in the center of the city. The team comments on the grandeur of the location despite it being only a few stories high, and they proceed to enter. The interior is an open-air courtyard with a central, thirty-meter statue of a man sitting on a throne. The man's face is obscured by an intricate mask, and his robes fall away to reveal a torso made of metal plating.
They continue on into a central court area, featuring an oversized throne, inset with gears and swords on the opposite end. The interior of the palace is vast, and the team spends an hour exploring its various staterooms, kitchens, and bathrooms. The team decides that it's getting late and they should leave, but one of the members turns to the wall and tells something that it's okay for it to come out, as they won't hurt it. A metallic skittering is heard coming from the pipes along the wall, causing the rest of the team to draw their sidearms. A metallic automaton resembling a horseshoe crab then gingerly peeks out of a hole in a pipe, slowly approaching and climbing onto the member's outstretched arm.
Command tells the team that it doesn't seem to be dangerous, so they shouldn't shoot it, but don't let their guard down. The team lead is about to say that at least there's only one of them, but then a louder skittering sound becomes audible as a great number of automatons varying in shape starting peering out from various pipes. The team quickly left the city, and were not pursued by any entities. On their way out, they noted many automata milling about the city and traversing through the city's pipe system. They expressed no hostility, and several approached to investigate, although none followed past the borders of the city.
The o5 council decided to establish a long-term research outpost inside of the city after several expeditions proved that the mechanical entities were not hostile to humans. 43 researchers were flown in from various sites and departments, primarily specializing in archaeology, history, both mundane and anomalous, and paratechnology, along with a 15 man tactical response team. Since augemented personnel were relatively common with the foundation at this time, individuals with complex prosthetics, bionics, and implants were favored, due to the unexplained connection these augments have with the city.
Two co-leads were selected for the project, Dr. Robert Aram and Dr. Hedvig Nussbaum. Aram is a senior researcher in the paratechnology department and special consultant on anomalous robotics, with a PhD in Thaumechatronics. He was previously consulting on anomalous technology recovered from Prometheus Labs, after being a former employee of the company that left over a salary dispute. He distinguished himself after being recruited by the foundation with superior, prodigal knowledge and skill in handling paratechnology. He has also had his lefft arm and leg amputated following a laboratory accident at prometheus, which have been replaced with high-quality anomalous prosthetics. Nussbaum is a researcher with the parahistory division, and a special consultant on anomalous cults and cultures, with a PhD in archaeology.
Her previous assignment was cataloguing anomalous objects recovered in the possession of Lord Blackwood. She was recruited to the foundation straight out of graduate school, eventually becoming a full researcher after discovering a complex of anomalous ruins in subsaharan africa. She possesses a noninvasive ocular implant that allows for hands-free visual communication and overlay, as well as general access to foundation databases. The temple complex in the center of the city was used as the base for the research center, and the mechanical entities were initially intrigued yb the new arrivals before losing interest shortly thereafter. The researchers were divided into two groups, an engineering team led by Dr. Aram to investigate
the technology of the city and the mechanical entities, and an anthropological team led by Dr. Nussbaum to investigate the history, culture, and ultimate fate of the Mekhanite Empire. A general directive was giving to the entire team to avoid the subterranean portions of the city until a detatchment from the Mole Rats could arrive to map it out. Both Drs. Aram and Nussbaum submit some general statements on the progress of their research. Aram's reads, "I've encountered many strange, unique things over my career at Prometheus and the Foundation, but I can firmly state that I've never seen anything quite as magical as Amoni-Ram.
So far we've only been able to investigate the machinery on the surface city (I'm told the real treasure is under the streets, but obviously we can't explore that right now) which appears to be largely concentrated in the upper floors of the skyscrapers, though I think calling them skyscrapers is an understatement. Each is about 500m, a little taller than Sears Tower. A marvel of engineering in and of itself, but not an obviously anomalous one. What they contain, however, is a different story. For my layman's perspective, they appear to be combination residential, office, and bureaucratic buildings.
Each floor seems to consign itself to one of those three types, and contains appropriate pieces of technology - most are too degraded to be useful, but the fact that they're there at all after thousands of years is incredible. I can discern the purposes of about a quarter of them, though. They're all anomalous to some extent - the drones are writing up detailed reports now, but they variously break laws of thermodynamics, physics, and matter conservation, and often simply use magic to do things as mundane as copy documents or keep food hot or cold. And, of course, the automata. Little machines, made of a golden metal and built to resemble animals that this culture in the middle of the desert could have no possible way of knowing about. Definitely sentient, possibly sapient - fully mechanical (I found a broken-open one on the street and took it as a sample, picture attached) but demonstrating what looks to me like primitive artificial intelligence.
There must be hundreds of them, at least - my guess is that they were designed to maintain the city and, for the millenia it's lain abandoned, they've been doing exactly that. They're pretty cute, to be honest. Whatever this civilization was, the anomalous was so pedestrian to them they were using paratechnology we even now barely understand as household appliances and servants. They were playing with nuclear reactors while the rest of us huddled in caves behind the fire. If this is any indicator of what lies below the streets… Amoni-Ram might be the key to pushing humanity into the future." Nussbaum's report reads, "I have to continually pinch myself to make sure I'm not dreaming.
A vast city, undocumented by anyone else in the modern era, hiding a culture that had blended advanced magic and technology to settle half of Asia while the Egyptians had yet to settle the Nile. If the evidence wasn't surrounding me, I'd call myself a liar. We've already discovered much. Some of the researchers are more interested in investigating the individual houses and homes to see what an average citizen lived like - completely understandable. That said, I'm far more intrigued by this 'Cult of Mekhane' that seems to pervade every aspect of Amoni-Ram.
In the ruins of Sumer and other ancient cities, religious iconography is common. Here, it's ubiquitous; the palace-temple is the most obvious example of this, with mechanical bas-reliefs that seem to tell a creation myth laid throughout. The buildings, houses, shops, skyscrapers, even the machinery Robert's team is disassembling have this religious significance about them.
It's especially fascinating since practically nothing else is known to us about the religion or culture of these 'Mekhanites' beyond the admittedly-questionable statements of Lord Blackwood. Even the name Mekhanite is a Greek epithet used in the Aegean tablets, derivative of mekhane; machine. As it stands, their culture is a blackbox, and even with the murals and writings, I doubt we will ever have more than a passing understanding of this once-great civilization - and what happened to them."
Obviously, we know plenty about the mekhanites and the church of the broken god, but keep in mind that this is a different canon, where this is the first the foundation has ever heard of them. The detachment of the Mole Rats does eventually arrive in the city, and prepares to make their descent into the subterranean portions, equipped with devices that use high-frequency echoing sound waves to construct maps of subterranean areas. They descend down some fancy looking stairs, possibly made of marble, indicating that they're likely not entering an industrial area.
At the bottom of the stairs, 25 meters below ground, they enter into a stone corridor, with pipes running in every direction. The corridor is wide enough to comfortably fit all of them, and they note that there's some nonfunctional lights on the walls. Eventually they enter into some sort of foundry, a huge room with lots of big machinery and assembly lines. Most of the machinery looks trashed though, so they take some photos and continue on down a descending corridor. The air quality begins to grow worse, and the mole rats suggest gas masks if anyone is going to be heading down here. They're interrupted by a noise coming from the pipes, and the team lead tells them to take their safeties off, as they don't trust those crab things.
They continue into a workshop of some sort, with desks and what looks like what what was once paper. They pass through a number of similar looking rooms and storage closets, before passing into a hallway made of metallic pipes. Suddenly, one of the team exclaims in pain, and says that their implant is acting wonky. Another member says that the same thing is happening to theirs, and they had asked the researchers about it, who said that the city has some sort of weird relationship with tech and they're working on figuring it out.
Part of the corridor then collapses, nearly causing one of the team to slip and fall. The section falls into the abyss below, landing with a splash. They tell command that they've discovered the sewers and complain about the stench. It seems that the underground was for maintenance of the city, but it hasn't aged as well as the aboveground portions. The team proceeds to continue to explore for the next hour, mapping out the underground, finally coming across an area overgrown with black vines. One of the team goes to take a sample, but at his touch, the entire vine crumbles into a fine black dust.
They then see pinned against the concrete by the vines is a human skeleton, with several vines jutting through the ribs and into the concrete. After that they find a pod, roughly a square meter in size, sitting on a stalk. One of the team gives it a jab with his rifle, causing it to rupture and leak out a foul-smelling black liquid that dissolves the vine it comes into contact with. A highly decomposed corpse rolls out, just as it did with Lord Blackwood. Continuing on, they find more victims pinned to the walls, and more mass graves. One of the team notes that the walls are all covering machinery, as they can see parts through the cracks in the metal.
It's possible that the entire undercity is a machine. They are then interrupted by another clanging sound throughout the pipe system, but this one is considerably closer. They raise their firearms, and a few seconds later, a machine shaped like a small monkey emerges from the pipes, moving past the team.
At the corner of the corridor, it turns to look at them. They decide that it must want them to follow it, so they do so. They follow it for 35 minutes as it leads them deeper underground and through the facility, over large abysses and through rooms of large, complex machinery and displays. Eventually it stops as they enter a cavernous room containing a single large object at its far end, with their location marked as being directly under the temple complex in the center of the city. The object is a massive block of metal covered in gears, displays, circuitry, and vacuum tubes extending throughout the room to more machinery arranged along the walls. At the front of this block is a vaguely humanoid figure jutting outwards, hanging like a figurehead.
A human head, arm, and upper chest are placed on a mostly-mechanical frame, and it looks upward as the team approaches with their guns raised. It opens it mouth and a stilted feminine voice with a digital edge booms out. The voice says that they have entered the gate of the west, adytum's answer, the great and holy city of amoni-ram. It welcomes them and says that there is much to discuss. Furhter questions from the team were either rebuffed or met with nonsensical statements, with it repeatedly expressing the desire to speak with the scholars, which they interpreted to mean Drs. Aram and Nussbaum.
They spent the following hours mapping a path back to the surface, and after returning, reserachers used the collected data to construct a 3d rendering of a significant portion of Amoni-Ram's undercity. The Mole rats declared that the undercity was largely safe for exploration, barring particularly heavily corroded passages and areas infested by the vines and pods. Subsequent analysis of the pods determined that their exterior skin is an oragnic but calcified substance similar to flesh.
Both Aram and Nussbaum agreed to conduct an interview with the entity underground, and they were escorted by a team of Tactical Response Officers the following day. As they enter the chamber and find the figure hanging limply from the wall, Aram's first question is if it's alive. The entity's head twitches upwards and says no, and then welcomes them. His second question is what it is, to which it responds that it is, it was, and it remains, and then asks them what they are. Nussbaum says that they are scholars, here to investigate the city and it's history.
This causes the entity's head to go limp once again followed by a flurry of mechanical activity in the wall behind it before it raises its head again. It then tells them that the great grand city of Amoni-Ram is home to four academies, sixteen schools, and scores of scholars and learned men, discovering, working, and blending the gifts of god. It asks what gives them the right to call themselves scholars. Nussbaum responds that anyone who seeks knowledge can call themselves a scholar, and they haven't seen anyone else since they've arrived.
The entity reveals that it knows exactly when they arrived, as it has been observing thanks to the automata around the city, which are scholars, servents, soldiers, and everything else. It has subsequently learned their language from observing the foundation troops. It accusses them of coming to conquer the city, but Nussbaum assures it that that is not the case. The entity says that they walk in here with guards, and only generals, kings, and priests require guards. Since they claim to not be generals, they must be a king and queen. Aram asks why they couldn't be priests, but the entity says that it is a priest, and it can smell that they have no shred of god in their hearts.
Aram then says that yes, he supposes that they are leaders of their people. The entity then formally welcomes them to the second spire, white city of the broken empire, finger of mekhane, the fuladh throne, the great and holy city of Amoni Ram. Nussbaum asks it to explain what exactly all that means, and the entity asks how long they have been unaware of the city's history. She says that she's not sure, but thousands of years at the minimum, and they didn't think anyone would still be alive.
The entity goes limp again for a moment before stating that it is not alive, but it is the kiss of god, shining steel and fuladh, made in mekhane's image, and they are everything it is not. It then suddenly asks to see Aram's prosthetic arm, send one of the small automata to examine it. Afterwards, it says that Amoni-Ram was a city of science and blessing, Mekhane's gift to them that allowed them to construct wonderful things.
Every man, woman, and child were given augementations like Aram's arm to become something better than human. Aram tells it that the vast majority of the personnel here have some form of augment. The entity says that they are allowed entry to the city, and it will assist them in recording their history and its creations, so as make sure they are not forgotten. It has not been repaired in many revolutions, leaving gaps in its memory, but the temple contains an inexorable record of the city's godly creation, and it will translate it for them. Nussbaum thanks it and says that they are in it's debt, but the entity responds that a fair bargain has been struck, with it showing them the history of the city, and them preserving the mekhanite empire.
It then proceeded to give them a number of documents, including a basic translation guide from the city's language, coined Mekhanite, to English, with some Greek bywords. They were also given a map of the undercity, fully annotated, full schematics of various technologies found within the city, and a small mechanical device of unknown function. With all this, the proper study of the city could begin. The temple courtyard contains a number of intricate murals, with Nussbaum believing them to be the Mekhanite creation myth. The first shows a scene of three figures wrestling in a dark void, followed by the figures falling to different corners of a slightly inaccurate map of Asia.
One of the figures dominates the rest of the scenes, revealed to be a massive but lithe figure dressed in golden armor. A shepherd, his wife, and his three lame sheep happen upon it buried in the sand, obviously wounded. The plaque underneath reads, "BEFORE THE NEW PANTHEON, BEFORE THE SMOKE AND THE SINGING, THE OLD GODS FOUGHT THEIR WAR OVER NOTHING. THEY WOUNDED EACH OTHER AND FELL, TWISTING AND WRITHING, TO THE LOWEST WORLD.
MEKHANE, BLESSED BE HER NAME, ALIGHTED IN THE FAR WEST UNDER THE SCORCHING GAZE OF THE SUN. SHE RESTED IN THE DUNES, UNCOVERED BY THE FLOCK OF A SHEPHERD - BUMARO." The second mural shows the god reaching out and touching the shepherd and his wife, causing the shepherd's missing leg to be replaced with a metal limb, and his shepherd's crook to be replaced with a spear. His wife's eyes glow gold, and large metal wings spring from her back. The sheep are armored over to resemble the automata in the city, and together they attempt to raise the god from the sand.
The plaque underneath reads, "MEKHANE DREW FORTH HER TOUCH AND RAISED THEM. BUMARO'S LAME LEG REPLACED BY A GREAVE, HEDARA'S SIGHT RESTORED AND ALL GIVEN THE FORM OF THE ANGELS. GRATEFUL, THEY SOUGHT TO RAISE THEIR NEW GOD FROM HER TOMB, AND THEY FAILED." The last mural shows the god digging deeper, lying facedown in the sand. It looks up at the shepherd and strips the armor from its massive fist, which the shepherd takes and melts down, reforging it into a suit of armor in the image of the god and a massive throne.
He returns to his village, where the people naturally submit to him. Many of them are disabled and lacking limbs, but when they return to the resting place of the god, all are given mechanical augments. They rejoice and use more of the stripped armor to construct a shining city on the god's back. The plaque underneath reads, "SHE KNEW THAT THE WOUND WAS NOT MORTAL, BUT CRIPPLING. SHE UNDERSTOOD HER FATE - AND ENTRUSTED HER LEGACY TO BUMARO AND HIS BLOOD.
HE BECAME THE FIRST BLACKSMITH, SHAPING THE METAL OF HER BODY AS SHE SHAPED LIFE ITSELF. HE MADE HIMSELF IN HER IMAGE, AND THE PEOPLE WERE AWED. FOR THEIR FAITH, THEY WERE UPLIFTED BEYOND THE CHAINS OF HUMANITY, AND FROM HER STRIPPED ARMOR THEY RAISED THE FIRST CITY ON THE BACK OF THE SLEEPING GODDESS - AMONI-RAM, CITY OF FULADH, SHINING GATE OF THE WEST."
Meanwhile, hundreds of pieces of technology were analyzed and investigated by the engineering team, although many were too degraded to be of any practical use. We're provided a handful of descriptions of some of the notable discoveries. The first are four-meter poles inset into the ground at various intervals through the streets of amoni-ram. Each pole is topped with six disc-shaped objects, a meter wide, and when an electrical current is applied to the pole, the discs begin to knock against each other, emitting radio waves of unclear purpose. It's currently theorized to be some sort of conductor system for the city, possibly to create a free, wireless power system. Another set of objects are large, partially subterranean greenhouses occupying a significant portion of the western district of the city.
Underground cooper pipes can cool and heat the greenhouses according to valves, and the greenhouses are several floors tall, utilizing novel organization and irrigation techniques. It's likely that a large portion of the city's theorized half-a-million population could have been fed thanks to these buildings. A third set is a series of magnetically charged rails running through the city in a loop, though all the rail cars have been completely ruined. Applying a specific electrical charge allows rapid, high-speed movement through the city, with it believed to have been a hop-on, hop-off method of mass transit at extraordinarily low overhead. The fourth are small metal shields with two switches on the handle, which when fully powered, causes either the projection of a rapidly-oscillating energy shield, or a skintight shield that effectively renders the wearer invisible. The fifth are large constructs, with two in every district, inside of which are large machines containing radioactive material.
The engineering team is of the opinion that these could have been functional nuclear, or possibly cold-fusion reactors, supplying electricity to the city's power grid. The sixth is not entirely clear, but the engineering team believes that a significant portion of the undercity appears to be one gargantuan machine incoporating both mundane technology and paratechnology. During the process of research and excavation, some of the automata led the archaeological team to a structure in the southern district that appeared to be some sort of library or university. The metal and clay tablets found isnide were remarkably well-preserved, and in the basement was a large metal safe, rusted off its hinges.
Within was a cache of several dozen metal cylinders measuring 10 centimenters in diameter, imprinted with mekhanite writing. We're given the translation of one of these, which reads, "And the Shining Eye of the Empire rose as Bumaro took his anointed Seat on the Fuladh Throne. Amoni-Ram rose from the sands on the back of MEKHANE, her Pieces scattered to the six winds and the five corners of the world. As the slaves marched on Adytum in the East and the Covenants were struck in the South, so too was the holiest and the godliest of magics given freely to Man under the watchful eye of the Sun. And the Sword of MEKHANE cut a swath through the world, and all those trembled in fear until they saw the light of the Ram. The greatest city of Man, gifted by MEKHANE but built by the hands of the workers, not the demons of the Covenant or the flesh-slaves.
The Empire swelled and the Metal Road ferried new people, and Amoni-Ram swelled from their presence, and the world was good as Bumaro watched from his Throne for his reign of centuries. And when his reign ended and his golden body passed, the Empress Hedara wept, and the city of Amoni-Ram wept with her, and they rested their hope onto the heir. And Hashir Bumaro grew into a wise king under the auspices of his family, and gave his arm and his leg for his empire just as his father had done, and in that way Bumaro lived on, resting in the soul of his son and his son's son and so on forevermore. And the Emperor Bumaro used the Throne to invoke the wisdom of his past lives, and in that way the Empire conquered and slew its way into the world. And it was led into the continent and into the conflict with the other nations of Man, bloody and brutal.
Devastation." After several months of research, another interview was held with the mechanical entity underneath the city to ask some more questions. Aram and Nussbaum are joined by some other researchers, and the entity asks about them, wondering if they are their attendants. Aram says that they are, to simplify things, and the entity says that it will answer their questions. Nussbaum asks for the entity's name first, and it says that they may call it Preserver, as that is it's function. One researcher asks about the strange bronze alloy that they keep finding throughout the city, which has proven to be too hard to take samples of.
Preserver says that this is the fuladh, a gift from mekhane that they used to forge their swords, their technology, and their very way of life. It is the backbone that the empire was built on, as it's a sign of favor from god that they were the chosen people. Every citizen was expected to know how to work and melt it, as they were a nation of swordsmen and foundries. The Fuladh throne was a throne crafted by Bumaro from the first ingots of the metal, stripped from the armor of mekhane herself. It is holy beyond holiness, divine beyond divinity, its very presence is a symbol of power, but now it sits empty in the throne room. Preserver says that it will teach them how to work the fuladh, and they should bear it well, as it was among the greatest boons gifted to their culture.
They move on to asking about Bumaro, who seems to be a central figure here. Preserver says that Emperor Bumaro was the first mortal man to witness the majesty of the broken god in all her glory. The researchers recall this from the creation myth, but Preserver says that it's not a myth, but history, and Bumaro reigned for centuries, with his bloodline raising the greatest army ever known, all to bring order and justice to the world.
They next ask about the other nations of man mentioned in various texts, and if they were related to the fall of the city. Preserver pauses and then simply says that it doesn't know. Some time later, Aram and Nussbaum had a remote meeting with O5-11 to discuss their findings. The meeting takes place utilizing a virtual projection powered by the ley lines of the earth, resembling a small asphalt parking lot in what appears to be the American Southwest.
Aram says that he helped design it, and it costs a fortune to run, but o5-11 says that thanks to the recent improvements that have come out of amoni-ram, it now only costs a small fortune to run. Nussbaum says that they're in the process of translating the hundreds of tablets, engravings, and mosaics across the city. The vast majority are simple, day-to-day affairs, all of which paint the mekhanite culture as a society that was building a metropolis of the future while the glaciers from the ice age were still melting. O5-11 says that that's all fascinating, but he wonders if they've figured out any of the city's later history, and what exactly caused the downfall of the most technologically advanced culture in the world at the time. He also wants to know more about these other nations mentioned, the Nalka empire and the Daevite Covenant, as they must have been powerful enough to war with the mekhanites, and possibly defeat them.
The research hasn't really pointed at much relating to specific locations of their capital cities, and they're still not sure how the city died. O5-11 guesses that the vines and pods found beneath the city are related, and Nussbaum agrees that that's quite likely. O5-11 then asks about Preserver, telling them that it's hiding something from them, and asks how they had artificial intelligence when the Persians were figuring out irrigation. Aram says that that's far from their only breakthrough, and if the foundation could harness their cold fusion technology, their bionics, their power systems, any one of them could change the world. O5-11 isn't so sure, as for all they know, their technology led to their downfall. He is willing to continue to supply Aram and Nussbaum with whatever they need to continue their reserach however.
When Aram says that they believe they'll need 200 additional personnel though, O5-11 says that that's not quite something he can make happen with a snap of his fingers, but they'll have them within two months. Aram then asks for permission to see if they can't get certain aspects of the city working again, such as the power grid. They think they could get it back online within the month with Preserver's help, and it would help them learn more about the machinery.
O5-11 hesitates, but grants the permission, telling them to stay safe as they're working blind here. The additional personnel and requisitions arived some time later, necessitating the expansion of their research base into another skyscraper in the city's southern district. The disused rail system was brought back online to connect the two sites, which necessitated bringing the power grid and reactors back online, using technical assistance from Preserver and its automatons.
The first two reactors that were brought online provided power to the entire western and souther districts of the city, allowing the usage of lighting, air conditioning, and of the rail system. Aram and Nussbaum returned to Preserver afterwards, prompting it to remark that they are repairing it's city. It also notes that there are a lot more people here now, settling into the ruins, and they are permitted to do so as they are assisting its city. Nussbaum then asks for some more information about the city's history, asking if it remembers anything about the end of the empire.
It pauses and says that it does not have the answers they seek, as its memory is fragmented. It remembers little more than hazes and flashes, images of sitting at the market and waiting for its mother, playing with other children and crying as its brother fixed the welds and screws on its leg. Aram surmises that preserver was not always like this, and was human, but Preserver says that it was better, it was a mekhanite. It knows that it was not always in this form, but it doesn't remember who it was and how it came to be like this. It remembers the sky cracking as the walls came down and the lancemen held back the tide of monstrosities and vegetation so that they could escape to the undercity. It then says that it can help them find its history, as the fuladh throne is capable of taking special cylinders imprinted with memories and feeding them into the throne's occupant.
They've already found some of these cylinders, so all Aram has to do is sit on the throne and have someone plug them in. All that is required is the Fist, an heirloom of the imperial family that allows them to use the throne. The throne is one of the most mystical and powerful artifacts ever created, so the fist ensures that only those who were meant to sit on it could use it. Preserver had already given them the fist, the strange mechanical device that they didn't know what to do with. Preserver gave it to them so that they might learn the city's history, and retell it to Preserver. The throne was immediately inspect afterwards, now humming with power thanks to the power grid being online.
A port was found in the left armrest that would fit the cylinders, while the right contained a dpressed section molded around the grip of the fist. Nussbaum isn't so sure about letting Aram sit in the throne and plug himself in, but Aram trusts Preserver, and they don't have many options if they want to figure out what happened. They activate the throne, causing Aram's eyes to fill with a pale golden light, and his spine arches. He writhes wordlessly in the throne, gasping, and exclaims that he can see it.
Nussbaum begins to call for them to shut down the power, but Aram shouts that he can handle it, as he continues to writhe before abruptly ceasing. He says that it's beautiful, he is standing on the palace balcony facing the eastern district as the sun is rising. He can see all of the buildings, although there's no skyscrapers, and the city is in perfect condition.
The streets are bustling with activity, and all of the people have bionics of some sort. Suddenly, he sees himself sitting in some sort of car, surrounded by guards carrying swords and some sort of primitive gun. The window is rolled down and people are offering things to him, bread, wine, fruits, and gifts. One is an oil painting of a man, and Aram realizes that it is Bumaro and he is seeing this through Bumaro's eyes. Half of his body is fuladh, and he's speaking in Mekhanite, but he can't understand it. They're back in the palace, and he's on the throne, as soldiers and generals pour over a massive map of Asia.
There's lines drawn everywhere, and there's three big circles, one in Egypt, one in India, and one on the Chinese coast. All of them are yelling and arguing, but he looks to his right and sees a beautiful woman wearing a golden mask, with an intricate set of golden metal-feathered wings on her back. There's also a little boy next to her, and he realizes that this is Bumaro's wife and child.
He turns back to the generals and nods, speaking in Mekhanite which is later translated as "The Covenant go too far. Prepare the Golden Legion." The light then fades from Aram's eyes and he slumps over unconscious as medics are called. He was found to have a slightly elevated blood pressure and heartbeat, but was otherwise fine, expressing a closer interest in the archaeological team's findings in the following days.
Another document recovered from the city is translated and provided for us, reading, "And the sweep of the Golden Legion took three long centuries of expansion as the Mekhanite Empire's legates established beautiful, harmonious dominion on the oases and villages of the world. And as they expanded, they found relics - artifacts sheared from MEKHANE during their god's fall from heaven, scattered over the Earth, and with each relic carried back to Amoni-Ram the fervor of the people grew and grew as their leaders rose, warred, and died for their heirs. And as the Legion marched forward over those long centuries, two other nations of man marched. The Covenant of the Daeva rode forth on their great horrible spirit-beasts, searing a path through the jungle from their twin-city of Mamjul Korar. And they used their black magic to open a gap, stepping from one side of the continent to another, and those that went through established another city - Adytum, that would after another two centuries fall to its own slaves, branding themselves the Nälka.
And all these parties marched into Asia, only vaguely aware of the existences of the other two until the Battle of Harumar, where they collided. The existence was an affront - the disgusting flesh-beasts of the Nälka an insult to the steel glory of MEKHANE, and the Covenant's plant-spirits choking and infesting the gears and wheels of the Legion, and so the Legion fired the first mortar, shattering the Covenant's ranks, and thus began a war that would end with the destruction of Asia. The First War raged across the continent in every theater. Fleets of golden-hulled warships constructed in Amoni-Ram and pushed downriver to encounter the Covenant in the Bay. The Nälka raised an army of the dishonored dead from Adytum and marched them ceaselessly to throw themselves in the front line, choking the vines of the sorcerer-nawabs. There were no laws in war, and there is no honor in death - every corpse was fodder for future battles.
Forests were scorched during retreat to deny the Covenant seed, and the warriors of the Nälka and Covenant chose to throw their weapons in the sea rather than surrender the precious metal to the foundries of the Legion. And the COLOSSI, great thousand-arm-tall goliaths of steel and bronze and fuladh that rent the sky down upon the Nälkan hordes. Every second man was killed in the fighting, and it raged for three hundred years and would have gone on forever until the Abominate landed his ships on the western coast of Aethiopia and began his march to Amoni-Ram. Devastation." So, as mentioned, this is a completely new canon related to the church of the broken god, the sarkites, and the daevites. Their origins have always involved conflict, but here we're getting an intimate look at exactly how the mekhanites operated and waged war.
This is a lot of technology to have simply disappeared over time, and it's clear that Preserver knows a bit more than he's letting on. Despite the relative peace and quiet that the foundation has experienced so far in Amoni-Ram, there's