The baron returned from his hunt soaked in silver blood. He had slain the drone that was terrorizing his township, having pierced its aluminum belly with a magnetic slug from his arquebus. He and his surviving men dragged its rope-bound wings back to his estate on horseback, scattering its metallic feathers throughout the underbrush. Upon their arrival, there was some applause and the occasional cheer, but the majority of citizens wore frustrated faces and somber eyes.
“Why are my people not satisfied?” He whispered to his advisor. “This beast killed scores of their kin. Surely a celebration is in order.”
The old man sighed. He had been wounded by the drone’s electric tongue, which had left jagged red lines down his bandaged face. “Recall that the drone was sent here to assassinate you specifically, my lord. For many who lost loved ones, it would have been more righteous for you to have died alone than for so many others to have done so in your stead. Now that the drone is gone, your enemies will find another way to have you killed, perhaps even send another like it. Their troubles haven’t gone away, and neither have yours.”
The sage’s advice made him grimace with frustration, but he knew it was the truth. “I will have to find another way to earn their respect then, lest they try to kill me themselves.”
That night, the baron ordered a great feast be prepared of the drone’s body, with music and fireworks to follow. They pulled out what remained of its delicate silicon heart, ground its most tender metals into sausage, and slow-cooked its engine in Coca-Cola until the softened iron peeled from its transparent bones. There was mashed taro blended with caramel, tender slabs of freshly-picked rumfruit, and even barrels of violet cream from the baron’s private vintage. For a moment, perhaps, everyone forgot their troubles.
Then it came time for the fireworks. Members of the guard set off the first rocket, and long tendrils of scarlet fire erupted over the cathedral’s bell tower- but something was wrong. The wind did not carry away the ashes and smoke- the flare ignored the atmosphere and continued to burn. Its limbs descended and began to wander with arachnid grace as soon as they touched the cobblestones below, solidifying into a single phosphorescent body. By the time residents realized that it wasn’t part of the show, it was much too late.
With one of its many arms, it slapped away a stunned lieutenant, causing his loaded rifle to explode in his hands; with another, it gently tapped the fuses of other fireworks, setting free the colorful brethren inside. Within seconds, there was a whole army of neon colossi booming to life. Sapphire giants and emerald leviathans rose from the square and began lumbering through the streets, setting everything they could find alight. Humans ensnared within their grip also erupted, becoming skeletal husks painted in rainbow cinders, joining their inhuman march in death.
His enemies always found another way. The baron knew what he had to do to stop it, but he still couldn’t bring himself to do it willingly. He waited in his manor, drinking a final glass of mead as the Technicolor flames crawled ever closer.