Science was such a dangerous force. A force that could change the world, for the better or for the worse. In this case, it had changed it for the worse. Just a month ago, the British Empire felt their first, vicious attack from within as their steam-driven servants, the Engines of Progress, suddenly began to exterminate all human beings in sight. Tougher, larger and stronger than humans, the Engines succeeded in killing hundreds of thousands of British citizens before the country had even had so much of a chance at fighting back. The year is 1901, and the Engines prowl a war-torn Great Britain, and possibly the rest of the world. It is the War of Progress, and it is a dark, horrific time for British people everywhere. -- It wasn't easy being an eccentric genius. And it especially wasn't easy being a genius in a country torn up by bloodshed and war. Ben Clarke was no stranger to conflict. Engines had gone haywire before. But they'd been taken care of before any significant damage could be done. This was different. People were dying out there, and the military was in shambles. Running water, power, food, medicine; these were all luxuries now. Even air was becoming scarce near London, as the Engines had begun unleashing clouds of deadly smog as a way of "smoking out" any surviving humans. So for now, all Ben had was his workshop, which was located safely underground, and hopefully safe from all Engines. Ben was a tall, slim fellow, still dressed in nice vestments even during this grim time of violence. His brown suit and black pants were marred with ash and dirt now though, along with his prized dull green top-hat. Always clean shaven, even when doing dirty work, one of Ben's more prominent features would be his left ear, which was replaced by a small, silver horn-like device that allowed him to hear again. A Hermes Engine had blown off the ear just a week ago, but with his scientific knowledge, he was able to create something to put it in mostly working order again. Ben's original above-ground workshop had been destroyed by a legion of Engines, and it was a miracle that he even survived that attack in the first place. Now he was used to a more humble life underground, beneath what used to be a farmhouse, before a Colossus Engine knocked it over some time ago. Spending most of his time designing devices capable of shutting off Engines entirely, most of Ben's efforts have been met with little success. His best bet were in some sticky mines he had created, which could discharge enough electricity to stop an Engine in its tracks, if only temporarily. Now he sat in what could be best described as a spacious cave of sorts, beneath a discrete trapdoor hidden within the remnants of the destroyed barn. When not working on his craft, Ben spent most of his time digging out more space. As he wiped away beads of sweat from his forehead, shoveling more and more dirt away, he could hear the faint rumbling in the distance, the possibility of Engines patrolling above. Miles away from London, the threat of Engines was still very prevalent. Even in the countryside, no one was really safe. So when a slight knock could be heard on the trapdoor above, Ben did not immediately know how to react. He knew in an instant it couldn't be an Engine. Unless they had already learned the nuances of knocking in the first place, they would simply break through. But a human would obviously knock, hoping someone was there if the trapdoor itself was indeed locked from the other side. Letting whoever was up there in would present a number of problems however. How could he trust them? They might kill him the moment he turned his back. Plus, he only had so much food and water left over for each day. How could possibly support both himself and this newcomer effectively without having to constantly traverse above in search of supplies? These questions and more went through Ben Clarke's head as he reached forward towards the clasp of the trapdoor. Sure, he didn't know who it was, but it had to be human, right? This was just the wrong time to be a lone genius. If it wasn't an Engine up there, ready to shatter his spine, then it was good enough for him.