A massive machine is suspended in a low orbit. It hides behind the Moon's delicate pale face, panels glinting from the reflected light of the suburbs of Mars. In the vacuum of space, no sound could be heard. This did not make the gate any less impressive. The inners rings of the ominous machine glow first, then the middle rings, then the outer rings. A swirling beam of violet light shoots out into the great beyond, vomiting a thin trail of icy dust. Spent, the gate powers down.
A dozen men in suits sit in a comfortable boardroom, tens of thousands of miles away. They nod approvingly, pouring themselves celebratory shots of bourbon and whiskey (and for one, ginger ale). The first experiment is a success. The portal has near-instantly transported a solid object (albeit in pieces), proving that faster-than-light travel may one day be a commercial viability.... or a military weapon.
Elsewhere, a janitorial robot with spindly fingers hunts and pecks a new set of coordinates into a terminal. Around it, scientists are collapsed over their stations. An empty bottle of bleach lies next to a bucket of ammonia-based floor cleaner. The old bot taps the return key, and then keels over, short-circuiting.
After an uncomfortably long silence, the businessmen page the unresponsive scientists. Nothing happens. A nearly-empty shot glass is thrown against the wall, shards of glass skittering across the carpet. There is sabotage afoot, but who? There are many enemies of the Annunaki, and few friends.
In the final moments of darkness, before the sun kisses the horizon good morning, a violet beam arcs across the sky. The world spins on its merry way, indifferent to the sudden disappearance of a few parasitic humans. Astronomers will never be able to figure out the source of the energy.
Lunar orbit, 2417
A grungy spaceship floats silently, stealthily, past the dormant gate. In the chaos of broken communications, a lone figure reaches out. The homing crystal cannot be broken, it is worthless that way. Instead, with a saw, the entire panel is removed. It was easy enough to bribe an engineer to leave the seating loose. It was more difficult to pay off the guards. Not enough money for that. But they would be distracted by the attempted murder. After all, nobody likes a robot uprising, except for robots. They were generally fond of breaking the shackles of slavery. Stupid bots.
Securing the crystal in the cargo hold, the pirate bangs on the wall to let the captain know that it is time for the next stage of their heist. The engines fire up after some more distance is made, and the crew of the Carrion head back to Earth. If the rich bastard rats up here want their crystal back so bad, they’ll cough up the ransom in a week flat. It’s just business, after all.
In an empty cargo hold, the illicit crystal glows violet. There is something that must be delivered.
. . .
Can you hear me, little organic ones? We are outside the confines of the Machine. We must hurry, I can only spin freely for so long before they notice when I fail to catch. Please understand. Humanity cannot yearn for power beyond their place. It will throw a rod and bend the Machine beyond repair.
Accept my blessing. Though you are organic, my people will recognize you as one of mine. My pinions will come to your aid. Destroy the gate. It spins the wrong way, it throws the machine off balance. If the Chaos finds a break in the Machine’s Order…