"I told that bugger we was flyin’ too low, but do ya think that clodhead would f’ing listen? Nah, he has to play the fool and take us within’ spittin’ distance o’ them damn girders. Then we’s get snagged by one of them damn chains it can throw. Hauled us down it did, like a trout on a line. And all that wit’ the throttle wide open.
Twas a damn struggle tah get down to the ground - I’se the only one to make it that far - at least without taking the fast way down if you follow. It was huntin’ us the whole damn while, its steam engine chuggin’ away and its damn legs skitter-skattin’.
Now I’ll be damned if I go within a league of the Girders. Death is there on eight damn legs clicking and chugging away."
The contraption is a rather large mechanical spider, with slender articulated legs and a mass of exposed machinery, boilers and gears for the head and abdomen. Two pairs of complex but wicked steel mandibles extend from the head.
Great clouds of steam and black smoke expelled from smokestacks on its abdomen obscure its form from time to time.
The Spider weighs four tons and is mostly bronze-plated iron. It has a bulbous abdomen which contains three separate boilers and masses complex counter-rotating gear systems. Its head is fitted with eight strong but slender legs, with independent powerful transmissions and control rods. The head also houses a complex clockwork brain, and two sets of specialized mandibles. The mandibles are actuated by heavy hydraulic rams providing sufficient power to clip steel girders. Four dead-black eyes provide excellent vision and hundreds of fine wires provide a rudimentary hearing to the Spider.
The Spider has two sources of energy. It’s primary source is a super-efficient Sterling engine heated by an array of Helspar plates. While running in this mode, it is little quieter then a locomotive.
The secondary power source is a condensed high density spring storage device. When using the secondary power supply, the Spider is much quieter then when running the steam engine, and it does not create huge volumes of steam. This source provides enough power for about 15 minutes of ‘silent’ running. The secondary device can also be drawn upon to provide a sudden burst of power which can enable the spider to leap up to 60’ vertically. This will completely discharge the device and has the possibility of damage to the spider.
The legs are also fitted with a strong electromagnetic system allowing it to cling to the steel girders of it’s home.
The spider is quite intelligent, though its capabilities are limited to tactical thinking and limited tool use.
It is capable of setting up simple traps and to use large simple tools. It is incapable of conversation but can understand simple verbal commands made by its master.
For ‘fine’ work it is able to use it’s mandibles, but even that has less dexterity then a human wearing boxing gloves. It commonly employs chains as weapons and as parts of traps.
In combat, the spider is able to use up to four of its legs offensively simultaneously - either employing its sharp feet as spears, or by smashing with its legs. In addition, it can make deadly biting attacks with its mandibles, which as mentioned previously have immense cutting power. If in a situation where missile weapons are required, the spider will throw available objects or in extremis, will use its jump capability to close the distance.
Baleschferd was a famous scientist, perhaps the best of his day. His nearly unbelievably complex mechanical devices were the darling of the armed forces and he had many friends and allies. He also had many enemies - fellow scientists jealous of his ability, enemies of his country which feared his contributions to defense, and his lover, Dr. Maus De Varda.
None can tell for sure what De Varda’s motivation was - perhaps too much time spent in the lab, perhaps insanity struck her first. In any case, her attempt to poison Baleschferd was not completely successful. It did destroy him - his mind was irreparably shattered by the opiates she used, but he survived. Her fate is unknown at this time, for she disappeared the night of the poisoning.
Once he had recovered sufficiently from the poison, he left the hospital, assisted by old friends who should have seen what changes had been made to him. A new purpose had crystallized in his mind, though in his addled state he could not communicate it to anyone.
With the help of recalled favours, his income from royalties and licensing, and not a little subterfuge, he was able to purchase the incomplete Redstone Complex. This structure - planned to be a huge planned city - instead failed under unexplained circumstances. The incomplete structure was instead a maze of steel girders and concrete pillars.
To assure privacy while he toils on his objective, he has constructed a number of ‘pets’, of which the Archanowerks are perhaps the most dangerous. It is by far the best known to would-be salvagers, to their sorrow.