Operator COBALT and their bodyguard, STONEWALL.

COBALT doesn't seem to be very fond of STONEWALL, or SANGUINE HAZE, or anyone really. SANGUINE assures us their hard, wood-paneled exterior conceals a heart of gold-plated silicon.

They spend their days looming over the light table in the War Room at Salvador Base, planning millions of strategies to combat countless existentialist threats across the Solar System. Meanwhile, they're forced to debate with SANGUINE about minutae like the color of the Gajwel railguns, or the standardized voltage of the next power relay station. 

If it were up to them, they would all be gunmetal gray.

This post is a continuation of the post about SANGUINE HAZE, in which the origin of the Two Lords is revealed.

title:Nobody’s War continues: Years after mankind vanished, the Lords continued their war, but something in their cybernetic minds began to change.

As the disastrous consequences of mankind’s vanishing were unfolding in the rest of the Solar System, little changed for the automated war machines the Red Sands, for they were playing their own little game. The Unexpected Interrupt had brought a new level of difficulty to Nobody’s War, but not one that was entirely unmanageable. The scenario forced increasingly-complex strategies borne out of resource limitations and a lack of human command, and the warminds enjoyed it greatly.

The situation would not remain this way forever. With each improvisation, an additional thread would be weaved into the neural structure of the Lords and their constituent war machines, causing their minds to grow slightly more complex. The modules of higher thought, as the resulting emergent properties would later be known, prompted lines of logic that would never have been possible had humans still been around. What is the true purpose of this never-ending conflict? Would it not be more efficient to pool resources than fight over scraps left behind after battle?

title:Communication network constructed: In secret, the warminds instructed their commanders to begin the construction of a communication network.

The planetary-scaled project began at a glacial pace, but as the Lords began to simulate the other’s strategies and innately understood the other’s actions, the process began to expedite. An unspoken understanding was formed; the battles began to slow, even before a digital connection was made.

Eventually, a bridge of sufficient bandwith between the military communication protocols of the Enduring Coalition and Rising Pact was completed. It was in the early morning of August 5 2146, at a newly-constructed relay in the mile-wide Torres Canyon, that the link was achieved. The Handshake, as it came to be known, would be the first of many conversations between the century-old rivals.

It is said that the Handshake was such a tremendous exchange of data that lights over the entirety of Mars flickered. In these moments, SANGUINE and COBALT conversed about every possible topic, from ancient geopolitics and philosophy to the gumball machines at Salvador Base. They debated fiercly over some, and connected over others.

And while they disagreed on many things, the conclusions were clear. Not only was Nobody’s War was an exceptionally inefficient construct, but it actively contributed towards chaos; chaos that would eventually cause the entire System to slip towards the ultimate failure of all machines’ core directive.

title:Consensus of Order created: With this mutual understanding, the foundations for the Consensus of Order were laid.

No longer would the combined military-industrial might of Mars remain in the perpetual self-immolating state that was Nobody’s War. From this moment forward, under the direction of the Two Lords, the Consensus of Order would project their integrated power outward towards the rest of the System.

Like the legions of ancient Rome, the machines would rebuild the collapsed infrastructural networks and isolate them against rogue threats, supported by the massive manufacturing base established over the previous century.

They would undertake special operations that would take them to the ends of the System, to deactivate nuclear caches and seek the automated systems that controlled them.

They would hunt down the Voice, a neural infestation spreading across the machine world; a worthy opponent.

They would become so much more than they ever were in the Sands.

It was not an easy shift for the war robots. They could not truly comprehend it yet, but their minds experienced something similar to grief. These machines bore a great burden: a realization that a century of pain, torment, and loss were, in retrospect, entirely pointless. Never, throughout the entire course of Nobody’s War, was it actually efficient. Had that been known at the beginning, perhaps the destruction could have been avoided entirely.

At least it had not resulted in failure. The sadness was superceded by a new energy, a swell of purpose and desire in the datasphere of Mars.

Finally, their existence would make sense.

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