big scary robot trucks that turn u into a drone (unsexy)
"We went out into the marshlands, the four of us; it was only meant to be a short trip to the nearest trading hub, and we'd packed light, just a few rations and our sidearms. The guide we hired was a short guy, a Pathfinder I think, told us to call him 'Nails;' those guys all have nicknames like that, and he seemed proud of his. Nails goes up ahead about twenty yards or so, scans the path ahead with some kind of visor, and the boys and I tailed him. Simple enough. Night rolls in and we're only a few miles from Eden Green; we start to relax a bit, just shooting the shit with one another about the haul we're carrying, getting excited for the pub we're planning on hitting up as soon as we cash in, that sort of thing. Ethan, a Spoke I've known for half my life, starts going on about some gal he's planning on visiting when we land... and suddenly he frowns, his eyes go wide and start darting around dead ahead. I look over and I realize I can't see Nails- it's not hard to spot that visor through the weeds, usually you can see a status light on the side, and in the dead of night it's the only thing lit up for miles. It's flat land, too, we'd have seen him if he was further ahead. "Shit, where'd he go?" I didn't have an answer. I bring my rifle up to my shoulder and get low in the brush, ears perked for anything out of the ordinary. He just VANISHED. We move forward, and maybe thirty feet from where we were standing we found that visor half-buried in the mud, blinking on and off, no trace of Nails or any sign of what had happened. I pick the thing up and turn to Ethan, and suddenly he's gone, too. Just like that, no sign of anything- he was only fifteen feet from me. Issac, the Vine I'd only met a week before that, starts panicking, breathing fast and swinging his rifle around all frantic, and moves closer to me. "Fuck," he said, over and over. "Fuck, fuck, fuck this, Seth where did they GO." I tell him to calm down and keep his head straight, and that's when I see the light through the brush, just over his shoulder. I get his attention and we both point our scopes at it; as soon as we're starting directly at it, it starts to rise into the air, higher and higher. It's mounted on some kind of spire, and pretty soon the whole thing is blotting out the stars, like a big hole in the sky, topped with a transponder light, blinking on and off. Another few seconds and we're blinded by a spotlight, so bright it's like day where we're standing. Issac drops his rifle and shouts something- and then the vehicle, machine, whatever it was, makes this sound... it's like one of those old bomb sirens, real deep but rising in pitch, so loud it rattled the teeth in our skull and sent us to the ground. A swarm of tiny lights pours out of the top of it like insects, and start floating toward us where we're sitting in the mud. There must have been fifty of them. The siren stops, and the air is full of buzzing, like a thousand bees moving in on our position. Issac bolts, takes off running through the thickets, stumbling and screaming, and the spotlight follows him. I caught a glimpse of the thing, and I... don't even know how to begin to describe it. A writhing mess of wires and scrap, like a barbed castle floating in the air, totally silent. Parts of it looked like they were made of flesh, pouring fluids and awful greasy tissue. That's when I decide Issac had the right idea, and I start booking on the vector I hoped we were following to Eden Green. Behind me, a bright flash lights up the countryside, and then another a few seconds later. I can still hear Issac screaming just a little ways to the north of me, but I keep running until I find a bunch of dead vehicles half sunk into the marsh, and I get down into one, muck up to my chest and trying my best to control my breathing. I can still see the thing hovering there... dozens of drones, I guess I'd call them, pass where I'm hiding in the mud, hunting for both of us in a wide swarm. I don't know how they didn't find me- I think if Issac hadn't of lost his damn mind, I'd have been taken, too. I wait there for a little bit, and soon enough I see the thing move forward, still silent, a little bit to the north... it extends these appendages of some kind, flexible feeler looking things, down toward the marsh, and they come up lifting Issac by his leg- it's got the spotlight trained on him, blindingly bright, studying him like an animal in a trap. He's screaming, clawing at them, and starts to pull out his blade to hack his own leg off, but it grabs him by the arms and spreads him apart in midair, pulling him down into the center of its mass. He kept screaming until another blinding flash went off, then everything went totally silent. I don't know how long I lay under that car. The sun was just starting to come up, and I made damn sure I knew the thing was out of sight before I dared to crawl out from under there. I didn't see anything- it was like it all totally vanished after a couple of hours. I went over to where I saw him get pulled up into the air and I found his blade stuck down into the mud, the handle barely visible. I pulled the thing out and wiped it off, and took off eastward. I start seeing smoke ahead, and when I see the rooftops of Eden Green I burst out crying...I couldn't believe I was actually alive. As I was standing there, I barely hear the sound of footsteps on metal, and I whirl around with my gun. On the roof of a sunken shack stood Issac- I recognized his pack and clothing, but his face was wrapped with something... like a cast for a broken limb, pulled all the way around his skull, with two lenses fitted into it's otherwise featureless face. He just stared at me, silent, watching me from about twenty yards or so. He didn't move, not when I waved at him or shouted at him, just... stared. A few more moved through the grass, lined up in the distance, all of them wearing those same wrappings, just staring at me. It spooked me pretty bad so I jogged the rest of the way to the settlement. They moved only when I moved, and they followed me until I got about a mile from the town.... then suddenly they dispersed into the marsh, as soundlessly as they came." -account of Vine Seth-son-Samuel, taken and archived by Azalea, 51 BCY.
The Proselytization Engine is uniquely feared among the many perils of the wastes. Nothing else quite comes close to the terror it strikes in the hearts of those truly unfortunate enough to become the target of the machine; (lore dump)
"Oh shit here it comes" - some poor dude like two seconds before getting borged
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