The Bifrost Incident

by The Mechanisms

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about

The Bifrost Incident. Any schoolchild could tell you about it. The fall of the old order; two hundred years of Asgardian hubris come together in a single epoch-defining event. The maiden voyage of a train through the stars, vanished without a trace...

This is the fourth studio album by The Mechanisms, written 2015-2016.

credits

released January 29, 2017

Recorded, mixed and mastered by Jimmy Hetherington @ Shonk Studios.

Thanks to the following for the use of their voices: John Henry Falle, Maki Yamazaki, Scuzz, Jessica Law, CN Lester, Frances K Watson, Alexander J Newell, Martin Corcoran, Alice Young, Paul Shapera

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The Mechanisms Oxford, UK

The Mechanisms: a band of immortal space pirates roaming the universe in the starship Aurora. Some say they’re from a steampunk future, others claim they’re from a cyberpunk past, a few even whisper that they may be from a dieselpunk alternate now. They are all correct. ... more

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Track Name: Black Box
The Bifrost Incident. Any schoolchild could tell you about it. The fall of the old order; two hundred years of Asgardian hubris come together in a single epoch-defining event. The maiden voyage of a train through the stars, vanished without a trace. For decades it had been old lady Odin’s passion, her long-sought legacy: shoot a locomotive through that man-made rainbow wormhole, reduce the time between worlds from three months to three days. All the tests had worked with quite literal flying colours, and the train was deemed safe. And what a train it was: gilded with gold and swirls of bismuth mosaic. Every high-up, well-to-do, noseturning Asgard hobnob signed up to that first trip, or risk Odin’s displeasure, so when it didn’t come out the other side, who was left to rule?

In the chaos that ensued, no one really thought to look into what actually happened to the train itself. And that’s where I come in, Inspector 2nd class Lyfrassir Edda, New Midgard Transport Police. Because the Ratatosk Express has finally arrived in Midgard, 80 years late. All that’s left is the ruin of the engine room and a couple of twisted skeletons. And the black box. It’s as much a history project as an actual crime scene, but combing through the data still comes down to me.

First recording is Odin’s launching speech. Almost a century ruling Asgard, you’d think she’d be a better public speaker, not rambling on about the glory of her pet science project, as if exporting quicker tyranny to Midgard was all she had ever dreamed of.
Track Name: Odin
Welcome my friends
To the place where all our dawning science ends
Rolling to see
If our pistons can reach to eternity
Come along with me (as we)
Cut a rainbow swathe across the sky
Together we’ll be
Riding wheels of new tomorrow nigh

Chorus:
Mile after mile
from the stars to the place
where the void sings
we’ll answer its call

Now we're on track
We must push forward there's no turning back
This engine of the new
Our destiny will drive us straight and true
Come along with me (as we)
Travel to a future shining bright
At last we are free
To steam out into that chromatic night

Chorus
Track Name: Cold Case
And the Ratatosk Express launches. Speed readings peak at 250 miles an hour as the the tracks engage, and then the odometer starts to go a little bit weird. Can’t quite figure out how far it's traveling, or if it’s standing still. External cameras are only black and white, but still manage to give a sense of the shifting, undulating hues inside the Bifrost. The train’s underway, and it should be out the other side in just under 72 hours. Who knows why - all the scientists who knew how the train worked were on it, but that’s how long the journey was meant to take.

There’s a lot of corruption in the recording, and picking out clear words and images is difficult at best, but I scan the first day intently, looking for signs of anyone or anything that might have led to the train’s destruction. For a while I come up empty - plenty of folks seem unhappy to be making the trip, regardless of the luxury of it, and even Odin seems to be less than fully comfortable, spending every spare second staring out of the window. But there’s nothing I can put my finger on as too out of place.

Then I spot Loki lurking in one of the private suites, and everything starts to make sense. Not much sense, because Loki was supposed to be dead already, but before that she spent 30 years working with a Midgardian terrorist cell, so if anyone’s behind the Bifrost Incident, it would be her.

On the video feed, she doesn’t look well. Drawn, haggard, hidden away in that suite, she just clutches her head for hours and hours. Not the behavior of a ruthless saboteur. Police files from before the incident are patchy at best, but I can still get the details of Loki’s arrest and sentencing. Execution, apparently carried out as ordered, but there’s something else there. Loki used to work on the Bifrost, right at its inception, decades before the incident. Maybe Odin couldn’t afford to lose her knowledge, and secretly swapped out execution for something that kept her expertise intact. But even through the grainy playback of the video feed, it’s clear that whatever Odin did messed her head up something awful.
Track Name: Loki
Somewhere deep inside me fester memories and dreams
I try to pin them down but I can't hear beyond the screams
All I recall with clarity is sunlight and is merry song
What are these thoughts so vague and deep beyond?
Deep inside my mind
What is there to find?

Who is she that I see? Could it be? Is it me? Or just a dream?
Crying out, but without any way she can shout her silent scream
Is this rage at her cage or wars she cannot wage chained in my soul
Can I find from my mind that which is left behind making me whole

Chorus:

Flashes like camera bulbs fire in my brain
Is this truly me, am I going insane?
In faint bloody flashes I watch people die
And if that was me, then who am I?

Locked away from the fray lest they say what I may truly deserve
Though my tears I can hear echoes of creeping fear whispering words
In my soul, taking hold, trying to make me whole, bringing me back
What I saw, gone before, leads to a gaping maw, twisting the track

<Chorus>

Oohhh, you can't erase me
Oohhh, you can't unmake me
Oohhh, you can't erase me
Oohhh, you can't unmake me

Chorus


Thor

This cannot be, but here I see a face I know so well
Loki should be dead, but here she sits, a broken shell
Baldur died and for that crime we saw her burn in bloody pain
Did Odin choose to save her for this train?
If we were betrayed
There's a price to pay

Thorus:

Fury like thunderbolts burns through my veins
If that's truly her then I know who's to blame
Odin passed judgement; we all watched her die
But if that's Loki you'll pay for all your lies

Thorus/Chorus
Track Name: Person of Interest
That? That was Thor. High-up in Asgard, tipped to take over from Odin when she finally loses it. He has something of history with Loki. Used to be friends, even. Thor wasn't there when Odin, Loki and Baldur first tested the Bifrost, but he was there when Loki’s bomb killed Baldur fifteen years after she vanished into the Midgard underground. She used a test-run to send a pair of hijacked missiles through to Asgard. Missile one destroyed the track and set the project back another decade. Missile two killed Baldur.

Thor’s file doesn't paint him as the forgiving type, and seeing that Loki wasn't as dead as Odin claimed looks to have rattled him bad. As he enters Odin’s carriage, it's hard to tell if his anger is from seeing the woman who murdered Baldur still lives, or because of what Odin had done to her mind. The discussion between the two of them is hard to make out, but looks to be intense.
Track Name: Thor
Odin, there's been near a century of your rule
But now all that I see is just an ageing fool
You waste Asgard's wealth on this train
And your mercy's defiled Loki's brain
When your doomed projects fail I will be there take up the reins

Thor / Odin

T: Loki deserved to die in her right mind
O: Her knowledge of the track could not be left behind
T: You tried and condemned her to die / O: So far through the aether we'd fly
T: But hid her and now we know why / O: To hold close our destiny nigh
T: You traded your honour for folly and you’re nothing in my eyes / O: I could not let honour prevent us from piercing the sky

Argument

Thor
Shut up and listen to reason, for once
Whilst she’s alive, you’re in danger, we’re all in danger, the train is in danger,
Everything you have worked for is in danger!
Either you take care of her, or I will

Odin:
I’m sorry you feel that way (*gestures*)
This gentleman will escort you to a private compartment where you will remain for the rest of the journey.
You’ll find your resignation letter set out on the desk.
Please feel free to sign it at your own leisure

Thor:
Fuck you, and fuck your train
You’ll pay for this, you’ll all pay


Thor:

Listen very close, and hear what I say
I promise on my life you will regret this day
Now I won’t sing your praise any more
And you’ve lost sight of what you stood for
I don’t care if my vengeance will lead us into civil war
I will hound you, you’ve got no idea what’s in store
I will burn down your train, [leave you ruined and poor]
And they’ll swear their allegiance to Thor
Track Name: Conspiracy to Commit Treason
So now I'm pretty sure it's Thor that led the train to its destruction. He was already poking around with a master key when he found Loki, and if control of Asgard wasn't motive enough, then Thor just got another big reason to throw a hammer in the works. As he's dragged away through the corridors by security he kicks out, apparently in random anger, smashing the lock of one of the compartments. Loki’s compartment.

I'm all but sold on Thor being the saboteur, when the feed on him cuts out. My gaze drifts to the dining car camera and I have to do a double-take. I wouldn't have recognised her if I hadn't been looking through Loki’s files, but I'm sure that the chief attendant is Sigyn. Loki’s wife and, with Fenrir serving five life sentences in the prison colony on Hel, the highest ranking member of the Midgardian resistance. Could she be there for Loki? No, nobody knew Loki was alive except Odin. Then I see Garm and Skoll among the cooks, Hati is working the bar. Every one of the serving staff is from Fenrir’s old crew. And I remember that before the maiden voyage, they'd already built Bifrost stations at every planet in Yggdrasil, including Hel.

They were planning a jailbreak. One that took almost the entire Asgardian government hostage in the process. I watch as Sigyn passed among the unnoticed Midgardian servants, whispering reassurance and revolution...
Track Name: Sigyn
Right around the corner
A new world being born
As Loki once swore to me
In the face of Asgard’s scorn

We’ve nothing but our shackles
And the boot across our throat
Our freedom and our vengeance
Born in blood and smoke

Sharpen your knives
We strike tonight

Fallen and imprisoned
Fenrir never bowed
The Bifrost and his mission
Our destiny comes now

Fenrir calls
And Asgard will fall
When we control the track
We’ll take our planet back

Passing by the passenger compartments, Sigyn spots the broken lock. She touches it, suspicion on her face as the door swings inwards. Then she sees Loki, and all the hardness, misery and determination falls away in an instant.

Loki, you’re here, can you be real?
I barely see you through my tears
I saw you die, for doing what is right
You’ve come back to me and I don’t care why

Why back away? This time I will stay
Come stand at my side as we make them pay
I look in your eyes, there’s nothing behind
What did they do did they take your mind

Remember your wife
I can’t recall
So they did take you life
Not me at all
All the suffering, strife and sin
She’s still enthralled
I have endured and still they win

Rescue in vain, choke down my pain
I promise that I will not lose you again
Hollowed and bowed, who are you now?
Will you still stand by me when we bring them down?
Track Name: White Noise
And with tears in her eyes, Sigyn leaves.

It's here that the recording starts to fully break down. Whole areas of the train are just static for hours, with random bursts of distorted audio.

I find a few seconds of Loki wandering the carriages, passengers staring at her in confusion. There's brief audio of Sigyn, talking with Thor about gaining access to something. A looped image of a guard dragging Loki to Odin’s cabin. Thor and Sigyn standing outside door to the engine room - the one camera that never worked - and Thor is bleeding. And then ten minutes of Odin’s face, smiling directly into camera. I can't tell if the image is frozen or not, but after watching her increasingly erratic behaviour, I can’t shake the feeling that she’s looking at me. Then nothing until the end.

And that's it. I have no more information. Four suspects, each of which could have destroyed the train, by design or by accident. I watch and rewatch the footage I have, desperate for any clues I might have missed. On the monitors, their faces stare out, expressions of determination and resolve, and I have no idea what happens next.
Track Name: Losing Track
Verse 1:

T: Odin there will be no more of your misrule
O: Mile after mile
T: We won't look away any more
O: The void sings, the void sings
T: Any more

O: Mile after mile, cutting swathes through the sky as the void sings, the void sings
T: A traitor to all you stood for
O: With destiny’s call
T: It’s time that you fall

Verse 2:

L: Flashes of history burn through my mind
Is this truly me what have I left behind
Who is this person I’ve given my trust
Reaching for memories there’s nothing but dust

S: Right around the corner Odin’s world will burn
As now it’s clear to me we’re at the point of no return
We’ve nothing but our shackles but our bond are weapons too
Our freedom and our vengeance they will bring our world anew

Chorus

Refrain:

If it’s the last thing I do then it’s worth it (My glorious train)
I see a new world and I must unearth it {And Odin must pay} [I’ll bring back my mind]
My destiny is calling <End Asgardian Reign>
I stare into my fate

Days I’ve spent watching it now. The same scenes, the same faces, over and over. Then distortion. Interference. Static. It’s all a blur.

Thor: Odin, you time has come...
Loki: Flashes of memory, flashes of history burn... Nothing but dust...
Odin: Mile after mile...
Sigyn: A world anew, I’ll carve for you...
Track Name: Expert Testimony
Nothing. I've got nothing. There's only one option left, and I really, really don't want to use it. Shortly after the Ratatosk Express failed to emerge from the Bifrost, a small group of bandits arrived to prey on the chaos. Their clothing and weapons were utterly alien, and it took almost 20 years to capture them. Even stranger, in the 60 years of their imprisonment, they have stubbornly refused to age. They have, however, shown an affinity for technology beyond what we know. If anyone still living knows about the Bifrost, it'll be them. I hate them.

Marius: Good morning, Inspector Lyf!
Von Raum.
M: And what can we do for you this fine prison day?
Raphaella: Is it about the Bifrost?
Uh, yes. How did you know?
Ivy: Given your distaste for us, it is the only foreseeable event that had a greater than 30% chance of bringing you here. Has the train arrived?
Yes, a few days ago.
Raphaella: Ah, then we should be leaving.
Ha, well good luck with that. Look, I'm just here because I need to understand what happened in the Bifrost. What happened to the train.
M: Well then... We shall tell you...
[Mech song begins]
SHUT UP. No singing. I’m sick of your singing. Where did you get that violin? Just tell me what happened.
M: Well if you're going to be like that, you can just watch the black box.
No I can't. The data's too corrupt.
R: Oh, is that all? Ivy?
I: Give it here.

The recordings are clear now. I can see everything. The first that matters, that really matters is from the locomotive. Thor and Sigyn standing in the driver’s compartment, staring towards where the engine should be. But inside, there is no engine. Instead a man lies upon a silver altar. His name is Kvasir, a low level member of the Midgardian resistance, but that isn't important. What is important is the dozen tubes that feed from his veins, pumping blood through the gears and groves that line the chamber. The metal is the same as what makes the track, and it hums like a far off chant.

Judging by their faces, neither Thor nor Sigyn had any idea what was in this room. After a few moments of paralysis, Sigyn runs to Kvasir, pulling tubes out of him, blood seeping from his wounds. Thor begins pulling levers and throwing switches seemingly at random, causing the glyphs and blood channels to move and warp their constellations. Then they stop. It isn't clear whether it was removing Kvasir or Thor meddling with the controls, but both of them can sense that something has changed. Something has gone very very wrong.
Track Name: Red Signal
Y'AI 'NG'NGAH, YOG-SOTHOTH H'EE-L'GEB F'AI THRODOG UAAAH
OGTHROD AI'F GEB'L-EE'H YOG-SOTHOTH 'NGAH'NG AI'Y ZHRO

And the walls begin to tear. Not the walls of the train, but those of a false and hollow reality, twisting in its thrall to Yog Sothoth, the key and the gate through whose cascading rainbow being the train has passed. Yog Sothoth who is the Bifrost, whose dread invocation has been shattered, and who guides them now towards the roiling nuclear chaos of the mad deamon sultan at the centre of reality. A billion screaming squamous things approach, crowding and oozing through the shattered tatters of a sane world. All the doors are open now.
Track Name: Ragnarok I: Runaway
Through the breaking cracks in space
They come a pace a thousand faces
Screaming, tearing through from where
The starlight bare will die uncaring
Through the walls their squamous calls
Will bring their falls now victims one and all
Tearing at the seams, their now inverted screams
Will sound upon the breeze in the corner of dreams

Standing guard, his face set hard
Heimdall will play his part he’s ripped apart
His scream of pain echos insanely
Through the train it never wanes
The first to die he’s skinned alive
By his own cry the end is nigh
Now his golden eyes, still shining bright
Are burst across the sky, By the rainbow teeth of night
And he’ll never know why


Standing there in that Hellish Chamber
The no longer beating heart of the Bifrost
Thor and Sigyn stare in mute horror
The crumpled form leaking before them
The arcane glyphs and gears spinning dry
As all that protected and powered the train bleeds away

S: Kvasir, I know this man why is he here?
T: Odin, what have you done?
S: I left him back on Midgard, hiding, on the run
T: Allmother you will pay

Without the regulating pump of the train, Kvasir convulses and bleeds out in a matter of seconds. Screams can be heard from the carriages behind, and as the blood laps at their boots in a shallow crimson tide, Thor turns and walks away to do his work.
Track Name: Ragnarok II: The Calling
In the carriages behind them, the window is no bar
To the giant raging Fire of an ever-dying star
That reaches, rends, seizes Poor doomed Frey
No weapon, no defense as his void-burnt flesh is flayed
His sister Freya watches, but her new throat cannot scream
As Odr, her husband, fades as though a dream
In the now-eternal instant of her loss, her eyes grow wet
Butu instead of tears what falls is golden red as the final sunset
The silver and the platinum of etchings on the wall
Reach to her, their cold embrace her melting skin appalls
As she fuses to the essence of this abomination train
Always watching, never with a way to voice her pain
She sees that Tyr regrows the hand he lost to Fenrir’s blade
As he fights the teeth of rabid Garm, whose mind like sand has slipped away
But no new limb will save his blood from Garm’s devouring jaw
Through Tyr’s fingers find his heart and they merge dead upon the floor
And cosmic madness reigns

At the observation window, Odin watches untouched by the chaos. Loki stares at her, eyes wide

Loki:
What is this thing inside my mind
That drags out what I left behind
My eyes now clear, the call begun
So long ago, Odin what have you done?

Odin:
I’ve done it! Though I never knew
The dreams that ate at me were true.
A fool I was, hubristic, vain
To think conquest the purpose of my train

Loki:
This train is not what we had planned
We built but did not understand
I tried to stop it but I failed
There’s no protection now we are derailed

Odin:
Derailing? Yes! It’s higher need
Was reached as soon as it was freed
You heard the call, but ran away
You could not stop the coming of this day

Void:
A day, a week, a thousand years
Mean naught to what the train draws near
Nuclear chaos, roiling, screaming
Lulled by demon flutes to keep it dreaming

V: Children of the sane
Azathoth calls your foolish train
L: The dream
O: The dream whispered my name

V: The dead are lucky. Now unfurled
This madness follows to consume you
L: It called
O: The void it sings to me

V: Gibber, children of the sane
At what calls you to its domain
L: I failed
O: You tried but in vain

V: Envy your dead for now unfurled
This madness follows to consume your world
L: We fall
O: This was meant to be
Track Name: Ragnarok III: Strange Meeting
Leaving Odin to her madness Loki turns away. She walks out towards the front to find Sigyn. At least they can die together. From the blood soaked engine room Thor emerges, his mind razor keen for vengeance upon the so-called Allmother. Each faces a wall of claws and teeth, eyes and flesh, unknown and squamous things from spaces between realities, lit by the rainbow glow of the Key and the Gate through which the train still passes. They steel themselves, and advance

They emerge into brief respite. A carriage, empty and now almost peaceful. Across the warped remains that litter the floor. Thor and Loki lock eyes as they pass.

L: You? Don't I know you?
Thor, weren't we friends?
T: Once, I remember.
And now, when it ends.

Both: Where are you going?
T: For vengeance
L: For love
T: Die in peace
L: Die in honour
B: Perhaps that's enough
Track Name: Ragnarok IV: Jormungandr
At the door to Odin’s cabin, Thor emerges from the fray, tearing through the horde of sharpened flesh and slime-slick meat. In his hands an engineers hammer, now chipped and caked in gore. He staggers and bleeds from a hundred wounds as he opens the door.

Behind it, what once was Odin laughs.

Her body long and undulating, her one eye now vast and staring, as she who once styled herself the Allmother is transformed by the touch of the gods she had unknowingly served for so long.

T: What the fuck have you done?

O: I have given our people apotheosis. A final completion. The touch and gaze of those to whom we are less than nothing.

T: You planned this! You knew this was going to happen.

O: When I built this train, this snaking engine of change, I could not guess that this is where the songs I dreamt would lead. But we are here, and when the train reaches Midgard, our new gods will follow and share their gift with all.

T: You're insane!

O: Sanity has no meaning in the is place. I am the serpent that shall poison the sky and boil the sea. The land shall freeze eternal as Yog-Sothoth beckons us hence, whose voice I heard when first we built the track so long ago. All shall know my rule to be the last, and none shall survive my reign.

T: No.

O: Killing me will not save your world.

T: I don't care.

[Instrumental]

Wounded as he is, it is not a fight that Thor can win. Bleeding his last upon the floor, he takes nine steps to the glass wall of the observation deck. He cannot escape, but any window with a hammer is also an emergency exit. And the stars claim them both.
Track Name: Ragnarok V: End of the Line
At the front of the train, Loki reaches the engine room. She is fled by the things she passes, who recognise one touched by the outer gods. In the blood-soaked chamber, Sigyn kneels, collapsed in despair. Loki touches her shoulder, and they embrace. With tears flowing freely, Loki explains what they have to do. They cannot prevent what they have touched following them into their world, but they can delay it. Keep the train on the track as long as possible. Together.

There’s been so little time to share
We’ve always had our loads to bear
I won’t forget
I won’t leave you this time
This time

They uncouple the carriages behind and Loki lays upon the altar. Sigyn pushes a single line into her wife's heart and holds it. All she lets through is a drip drip drip, flowing through the glyphs and gears. When her heartsblood is gone, the train will arrive, but until then, they are together. Through the pain, Loki kisses Sigyn.

Goodbye my love, yet shed no tears
The lives we shared have brought us here
I will stay by your side
I’ll hold on through this time
This time
Track Name: Terminus
So there you have it. The train has arrived and it's only a matter of time. The prisoners have disappeared somehow, though twenty inches of solid steel and fifty heavily armed guards. They were right. I've chartered a small ship, and as soon as I've finished this bottle I'm setting off for the Hoddmimis, mining colony far from the Yggdrasil system. I'm not stopping there. Just refuel and keep going. If anyone hears this report in time, I suggest you do the same.

Inspector 2nd class, Lifrasir Edda. Signing off. Good luck.