Character: Mekgineer Sicco Thermaplugg
Sicco stood over the broken precipice that formed where once had been one of the greatest science markets of Gnomeregan. In his mind, he could still see the streets and corridors full of curious gnomes and stands, brimming with young scientists eager to prove their theories and to get noticed by the great minds that ruled Gnomeregan. Sicco had stood once at the very same spot where he was now, but at that time he was looking down from his mechanized walker upon the young tinkerers presenting their inventions. Of course, he feigned a lack of interest in anything that was going on, but in truth, only power was more interesting to him that science. He saw the potential in many of these youngsters, and was even envious of some of them, but he knew that without him noticing them, they would amount to nothing. So he did not notice. Or at least pretended not to. But now, Sicco looked down again and saw only broken rocks, metal rods jutting out of the crags and skeletons of long-dead gnomes. Among them however was one more thing, one that was far more important for Sicco – broken dreams, his as well as theirs.
Sicco continued to walk down the empty corridors of Gnomeregan on his ghastly trip of the kingdom he once wanted. “Usurpers!” he once yelled, “Gnomeregan is mine!” And now, it truly was his, but he was only king of the ashes. Even the leper gnomes were now mostly dead, all due to his own negligence. When that strange dwarf showed up with cages full of silithids, nerubians and mantids, Sicco saw it as a salvation. Finally, he thought, I will have vengeance on the surface world. For defying me, for abandoning me. Finally, I will reign supreme, with these creatures as my arms. Little did he know, his “Neo-Aqir” would not care much for his orders. As the monsters were developed in his labs, his dreams were crashing one at a time. At one point Myles Gearshadow, one of his chief inventors, warned him that they have very little way to control where the creatures attack. Myles warned him that this is a mistake. And for that, Myles died. No one opposes Mekgineer Thermaplugg.
Not long after that, Sicco ordered his handlers to drop the cages full of his prototypes into Kharanos and New Tinker Town. As he observed the transmission from the event, he saw the slaughter as magnificient. All of his old enemies, dropping like flies and his creations reigning supreme. So what that some leprous technicians died as well, they were acceptable losses in the grand scheme of things. Soon, whole air squadrons of Gnomeregan’s best pilots were sent out to drop these Neo-Aqir “bombs” onto the villages across the Eastern Kingdoms. In his mad mania, Sicco ordered to drop them on everyone. Alliance, Horde, neutral, hostile. But before long, most of his planes were shot down by Ironforge and the Wildhammers. His only method of delivery left was to carry the cages on foot and release them by hand. A hand which would undoubtedly be quickly eaten. Even leper gnomes were not willing to put their lives on the line so easily, so they began to protest. And Sicco responded in the only way he could.
“Release the creatures!”
Only when he looked down upon the slaughter and saw how many died, both among his guard and among the protesters, he realized what he had done. No one could capture the creatures once they were released. The strongest battle armor he had did very little against their acidic spit or their claws, as sharp and strong as diamonds. As they began to spread across Gnomeregan, he realized he just sacrificed the last group of people who was willing to listen to him. The only people addle-brained enough to have respect for him. And now, they were gone. The creatures had soon left in search for greater pastures, and left the city only for him. He still did not know why they let him live. Perhaps, they saw him as their father and did not wish him ill. Or perhaps, they are smarter than he expected and saw poetic justice in leaving Gnomeregan in his hands alone. Now, Gnomeregan was truly his.
As he walked back to his throne room, he just wanted to rest again and wait for another day to come, and then pass. There was little left for him to do but walk among the ghosts of his past. Not even literal ghosts – that would give him something entertaining to do – perhaps he could try harnessing the ghosts into a new source of energy. However, all he found all day was emptiness. But then, to his surprise, he heard something in his throne room. Perhaps just an old pipe, breaking down again, he thought at first. But as he continued to listen, he heard footsteps. There were people in his room! Intruders! Usurpers!
A group of five people stepped out of the shadows. A female gnome, a female blood elf, a male tauren, a male draenei and a male pandaren. Just like the old times! A group of five heavily armed intruders has come to poke me until I fall over and drop some useless gadgets for them. But this was different. They weren’t readying their weapons, or spouting some corny taunts. No, the tauren, clearly a shaman judging by his gear, stepped up and raised his arm.
“Hail, Mekgineer!” the tauren said, “I am Dezco, last survivor of the Dawnchaser Tribe. We seek you to find a way to destroy the creatures that plague Azeroth. The creatures that you yourself have released.”
Sicco just frowned at him from the top of his walker. “What makes you think I would give you such information?”
The tauren shrugged. “You will not have much choice. But we would prefer if you gave it up willingly.”
“You?” Sicco cackled maniacally. He probably couldn’t laugh normally anymore. “I fought murlocs tougher than you!”
The draenei spoke up. “We are the last hope of Azeroth. We have slain villains that had true might. Not… old cripples in decades-old machines.”
Sicco snarled at them, but right as he was about to yell at them again… he broke down. He began crying like a child, all the feelings of guilt coming over him and ruining his perfect villainous speech. The heroes were stumped and shocked as to what to do now. The gnome was about to pity Sicco, when he yelled again.
“Fools!” he said, regaining his composure. “What makes you think I even have a solution to them? If I knew how to stop them, I would have done so long ago!”
“Why would you stop them?” said the pandaren. “They were your perfect instrument. They have slain your enemies for you.”
“And my friends!” Sicco yelled back. “And my allies! And everyone I knew! And every last living soul in this stinking city! If I knew how to stop them, I would have stopped back right there and then. Or even now, just to spite them. But I know nothing. You have wasted your precious time.”
“I do not believe you!” the draenei responded, pointing a finger at Sicco. “You are a villain to the core. You are hiding this knowledge and we will wrestle it from you, even if we have to die trying.”
Suddenly, familiar emotions and memories came over Sicco. Ah, he’s angry! He demands justice! He does not know the meaning of the word! So he acted on impulse again.
“Usurpers! Gnomeregan is mine!”
Their hits felt softer and duller than usual. The whole ordeal felt different. It was as if Sicco for the first time truly felt at ease with what he was, and where he was. All his worries were suddenly going away, and there was just a sweet flurry of metal claws of his suit, and all the explosions he could cause. But as time went on, the explosions were starting to die down and the suit refused to work. In this last haze, Sicco recollected someone talking to him, asking him about something… but he preferred to sleep. So he fell asleep, only to never wake up again.
Moments later, the blood elf stood behind one of the pillars. The remaining four were considering their next moves and new solutions to their problem. Perhaps some old Titanic machinery could have a way to stop these Aqir, they thought. Perhaps they could even ask Hakkar, the old troll god, for help to slay the ancient enemies of his servants. But the blood elf knew all that would fail. She knew it because she was more than just another blood elf.
She pulled out a small hourglass, adorned with bronze dragons, and began to twist its elements around. Soon enough, a static sound emerged from the hourglass. The blood elf raised it to her mouth and spoke silently.
“Alundra to Chromie. We were misled. This timeline was not corrupted by the Infinites. They are attacking… somewhere else.”