"Upgrades": The A Calculus is surprised to find that Lady Weeds has no interest in hearing more about The Metal's proposal to make her its avatar - she has already said yes. Though she is paralyzed from the neck down and expects the p
- We are no longer the Calculus. We are the Rithm, and I am its queen. The Machine Queen.
- -- Lady Weeds
Appearing in "Upgrades"
- The Rithm (First appearance as The Rithm)
- United States of America
- Arctic Circle
Synopsis for "Upgrades"
The A Calculus is surprised to find that Lady Weeds has no interest in hearing more about The Metal's proposal to make her its avatar - she has already said yes. Though she is paralyzed from the neck down and expects the process to be painless, she is forced to undergo severe pain when the Calculus' face opens and sends wires violently thrusting into her eye-sockets and her brain. Finally, a new being bursts out from the Calculus' spine, leaving Lady Weeds' corpse devoid of consciousness, now housed in this new, mechanical body. Renewed, she abandons the Calculus and crashes through the roof of the hospital to freedom.
In New Hampshire, the winter snow has left an orchard barren, but as the Swam Thing emerges from the ground, the trees come to life, bearing ripe fruit which he uses sharp vines to slice in half in mid-air. He is interrupted by John Constantine, who wonders what he's doing. Alec explains that he's training, performing the same activity simultaneously around the world. John notes that this must mean he's heard about the kingdom of the Metal. What he hasn't heard, though, is that the Metal has raised an avatar, and she's making plans.
The Calculus gather to demand that their new Avatar give them a timeline for when they will assume control of all of the other kingdoms. She ignores the demand, insisting first that they take a new name. Because they are metal, they cannot feel the pulse of their kingdom. She can, and she decides to dub them The Rithm. Omega Calculus reminds that the name is irrelevant, and she must tell them how she intends to conquer for them. She responds that they have failed in the past because they lack resolve. She promises that she will have the first Kingdom for them within the day.
John warns Alec that the Metal is taking this war seriously, and will not hold back. Alec should ramp up his training regimen. While Alec believes John owes him, John responds that he has just fulfilled his debt by giving that warning, noting that he is not as powerful as Alec seems to think. While the gods of these kingdoms do battle, he intends to hide in the deepest hole he can find, and hope he survives by the end of it.
In India, Miki receives a visit from the Machine Queen, and is intrigued when she is reminded that they share a common hatred of Alec Holland. Her guest explains that she is aware of Miki's quest to use the gifts of the Sureen to return to a human body - and she also knows that searching the Sureen's scrolls is a search in vain. The secret lies with Guarav, the last remaining Sureen, who resides in Alec's protection. In exchange for Miki's alliance with her, she will deliver Guarav. As a token of trust, the Machine Queen contains the fungal growths of Miki's body within a metal, humanoid form.
The Calculus is impressed by their Avatar's success, and she explains that they now have the beginnings of an army - which requires commanders. She urges the Calculus to search all of the video feeds in the world for a particular man who can help their cause - a man who hates Alec Holland eve more than she does.
Soon, she locates Anton Arcane gnawing on a dead cat in a Philadelphia alley having escaped his personal hell. She expresses disgust at how far he's fallen from being a scourge on The Green. After some cajoling, he explains that he can be of use to her in fighting Alec Holland. He found them long ago, but he has only found a use for them now. Anton Arcane possesses the earthly remains of Alec Holland.
- This book was first published on December 3, 2014.
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