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Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The Rilovians, Chapter 4: Gelaeus

The entire planet of Rilovi rejoiced as militaries disarmed and former warriors took up civic duties. Everyone was completely convinced that this was the right thing to do, and strict laws and procedures were created to ensure that this peace would never fail.

After three generations, the warrior class had dwindled to a small, scattered assortment of local police and rangers; armies were no more. This thought did not rest comfortably in the mind of a Nofi giant named Gelaeus.

An unsung, visionary hero in Bionicle history, Gelaeus was a veteran Great Engineer who specialized in the design of advanced agricultural equipment. His varied inventions helped to grow, harvest, or process nearly one-fifth of all foodstuffs produced on the planet. Early in his career, he had suffered a tragic accident with a malfunctioning harvester prototype that severely damaged both of his legs, requiring a double amputation. He was fitted with artificial limbs and though these worked perfectly well and restored full mobility, they didn't fully satisfy Gelaeus. With his engineering knowledge, he began modifying and upgrading his own prosthetics in his spare time, improving his speed and flexibility alike. Though eventually he became happy with his limbs, he still wanted to do more, and began experimenting with Bionicle-form robots. Here is one of his first:

It was a fairly simple creation, remote-controlled and capable of not much, but if you've been following the story since the beginning, you know that there's something very wrong with this picture. Do you see it, yet? The Rilovians, remember, thought of the use of energy weapons as sacriledge. Gelaeus agreed with this belief, but with a... catch.

This giant of the Nofi celebrated and praised the worldwide disarmament as sincerely as any other self-respecting citizen. However, he feared it had been taken too far. Surely, Rilovians would never again war with Rilovians. But, what of others? What of villanous beings from another world, of threats to Rilovi of which no Rilovian knew or ever could know? Gelaeus believed that the disarmament left the planet in grave peril. There had been dozens of contacts with outworlders in Rilovi's history, but all had ranged between delightfully enriching and brief & uneventful. If, Great Beings forbid, the next encounter were to be with an invading force, the planet would surely be overrun.

Gelaeus pleaded his case to elders from all five regions and though they allowed him to continue his research and experiments on his own time, they did not fundamentally agree with his viewpoint. Furthermore, they plainly refused him permission to fit any of his creations with either working energy weapons or any artificial intelligence that could be used for combat.

Frustrated, but not deterred, Gelaeus pushed on with his designs, building harvesters by day and robotic Bionicle warriors by night. Here is his half-scale prototype of a lightweight mechanized walker:

This next curiosity combines a 4-legged walking weapons platform with an independent driver 'bot that could be programmed to operate many different types of equipment.

As decades passed, Gelaeus never received the clearance he needed from the elders, yet his concern for the safety of his planet, his beautiful, peaceful home planet, grew each and every day. As a Great Engineer, he commanded a great salary, yet he lived a very modest life, allowing him to accumulate a significant pool of currency. Much this lifetime of savings would be spent purchasing a parcel of pristine protected land from the governmental council. He said it was to be a place of meditation, to experience the plants and the rahi in a sliver of rare, untouched habitat. Nothing could have been farther from the truth.

Gelaeus obeyed his sworn oath to leave the landscape untouched, but at night he and a small band of anti-disarmament sympathizers tunnelled from an unassuming small cave entrance at the edge of the property. They went first straight down, and then horizontally beneath the terrain to form an elevator shaft and an absolutely enormous underground cavern. I actually believe most of the work was done by Gelaeus's robots, but that is neither here nor there. In this cleverly hidden space, the giant and his supporters built a prototyping lab and a small factory to proceed with the secret development of more complete and capable war machines, along with energy weapons for them to use and artificial intelligence programs to give them autonomous "life." Next to the lab he hollowed out yet another open cavern, this a testing and training zone for scaled-down versions of his creations. His plan was to develop a cohesive range of finely-tuned defense machines programmed to be incapable of aggression against Rilovians or any other peaceful beings. With real, working examples, he hoped to be able to finally persuade the elders to sanction his research and allow him to begin official production for planetary defense in the event of a hostile incursion.

He just had to develop those perfect examples...

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