The Spire ascended nearly a hundred kilometers from the cracked surface of the plateau which was all that remained of the land which had once been Zone Spira. A protected bubble of vacuum extended a hundred kilometers around the Spire, resting peaceably between the stoic metal of its hull and the rippling, continually shifting region of convoluted space where the protective fields stood. Five hundred years before, the ship that came to be known as the Spire had crashed into the ground, spearing downwards to the very hull of the Shell. Then the protective fields had unfolded, driving back all of the rubble from the ship’s impact and pushing out the atmosphere as well. The fields had enveloped just enough land to hold the ship upright, then thickened and grown until they were strong enough to protect the ship from any foreseeable threat.
And so it had stood for all these centuries, alone and untouched.
They had come at first by ones and twos, then in the dozens, then in the hundreds. Bipedal curiosity seekers driven to seek out the unknown. Human beings trapped in an inexplicable prison, searching for a means of escape, or an explanation for their imprisonment, or the reason for their own survival. Countless of them had attempted to breach the protective shell of the field enclosure, and all of those who dared pass the outermost layer had died.
The scattering of bone had become a berm, then a hill, then a ridge.
Over hundreds of years they came in the millions, and in the millions they died.
They tried many ways of passing through the protective fields. Some imagined they could map the fluctuations within the field and pass through in that way, like mice jumping through the gears of a mammoth clock. Others attempted to blast their way in with mighty explosions, all of which did more harm to the surrounding zone than they ever could have to the fields. Some sent pleading signals at all ranges of the electromagnetic spectrum, but the Spire acknowledged not a one of them.
And then some of the visitors attempted to breach the fields with weaponized midges. Their attempt was as futile as any which came before, but its fallout was more devastating than any other.
The Spire watched unmoved as the midges ravaged the land, and then as those which had been deployed to combat them, and the third generation of the same, stripped the zone bare save for the region which the Spire protected. In the end, only a solitary structure remained beyond the protective field.
Through it all, the Spire stood in silence.
And then the Spire felt something it had not known for centuries.
A presence within itself.
An unknown element, piercing it like a steel splinter in its gut.
The Spire checked its defenses and found them still intact and impenetrable. Protective fields still enveloped the Spire, all the way down to the impenetrable wall of the Shell. Barring damage that had been mapped and repaired to vacuum hardness for centuries, its hull was complete and unharmed.
But still, something felt wrong. Some foreign body had wormed its way into the Spire’s hull and now threatened to kill it from within.
Cautiously, the Spire began to probe within itself.