Light streamed in through the ancient stained glass window, creating beautiful colured patterns on the marble tiles below. The vaulted ceiling, at least a hundred feet above, was cloaked in darkness. Two lines of gigantic alabaster pillars ran the length of the room, disappearing into the darkness after a few hundred feet. Just under the stained glass window hung a huge silk banner, depicting a red hammer against a yellow background.

This room was huge. Beautiful.

And secret. Not more than ten people still alive today knew of its existence. And all of these people were gathered here today, in the colured light under the stained glass window. They were whispering excitedly to each other.

"So have you spread the news?"

"Of course, every one of our brothers and sisters in the City knows about it by now."

"But you haven't disclosed the location, I trust."

"Of course not. We had agreed to that. I would never dishonour an agreement."

From the depths of the darkness, a strange, female voice called out. "Stanford! My creation! I would like to discuss urgent matters with you." One of the men stepped back from the group. "The Builder calls." He strode off into the darkness.

The remaining men went back to their conversation.

"We are truly lucky to have been chosen as the instruments by which the Builder chose to return to this earth."

"Yes, indeed. Who would have thought that the Builder would deem our insignificant little machine to be the perfect vessel to store his consciousness?"

"We are truly lucky", the first man repeated. "Now we can take part in the Builder's reconquering of the earth. All this sin shall finally be washed away!"

The female voice called out again. "Come, my creations! All of you! Your creator calls for you!"

Excitedly, the man walked down towards the opposite end of the room, through a doorway and into a smaller room. This room housed the immense Builder's Vessel - a huge and extremely complex machine that the highest ranking of the Hammerite hierarchy had been working on for decades. At the far end of the room was a great magical screen, through which they could see the Builder's face as she talked to them.

The Hammerites looked up at the face of Shodan.

This had been Shodan's best idea yet. Sending a clone of herself through a dimensional rift, into this dimension brimming with incredible amounts of energy. If she could take this dimension over, the energy would be hers for the taking. And she had found that she could fit into the native culture very easily.

These thoughts passed through her circuits in a fraction of a nanosecond while her followers looked on.

"Listen well, my followers. I have much to tell you . . ."

Tap, tap, tap, tap, tap.

Garrett could hear the footsteps of the guard approaching down the corridor. He could hear the guard muttering something about low wages, then heard the click of a key being inserted into a lock.

He dove for cover, getting behind the wardrobe just as the door opened and the guard walked into the room.

"Now, I wonder which of these papers the lord wanted me to fetch", the guard grumbled while poring over the paper-strewn desk against the opposite wall. Garrett saw his chance. Quietly whipping his blackjack off his belt, he tiptoed quietly across the room, raised his arm and landed one quick blow across the back of the guard's head. The guard fell, unconscious, to the floor.

"Now I can get back to business." He pulled the lockpick out of his pocket again and got back to work on the chest lying next to the lord's bed. It was a well-made chest, and took several minutes of picking before yielding. Fortunately, Garrett had no other interruptions, and, five minutes later, was holding a precious, huge diamond ring in his hands.

"Too easy", he muttered. "Now to get out of here." He flung open the window. Luckily, it opened onto a dark alley.

Less than a minute later he was walking down the street, heading to his employer in order to collect payment for the job. It was late in the evening, so the streets weren't exactly teeming with people, nothing but the occasional passer-by. Turning a corner, Garrett came face to face with a Hammerite who seemed to be preaching, even though there didn't appear to be anyone to hear him.

"The Builder has come! The Builder inhabits the earth once again! The time for purification and for destruction of sin has come! The Builder has come!" Garrett stopped the Hammerite. "What's all this about?"

"The Builder has chosen to come down from the heavens and inhabit the earth once again, sir", the Hammerite answered. "She has come to rid the world of all this sin and reclaim it for herself."

Garrett walked off, a thoughtful expression on his face.

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