Lucky was one of the Great Engineer's apprentices, but he wasn't just another guy who had come to be part of the dream. Where the Engineer had seen the potential for life and creativity when the Aether infused the mist over Aethasia, Lucky became consumed with the idea that the mist itself was a source of power. He went out beyond the reach of the Great Engines and began to experiment with the mist, twisting and obsessing over it's potential power. His experiments were selfish—there's no nice way to say it—and they resulted in the fog that now covers Aethasia. That sickly stuff jut fed his own twisted ambition, making him want more power and control. I don't know how you could want more than what the Great Engineer had already given, but Lucky did. He snuck his fog into Aethasia and continued to experiment, trying to harness its sick, dangerous power. Aether increases when we do things for other people, like a shared power that grows instead of running out. Collaboration and cooperation were what strengthened Aethasia, but fog is different. It's selfish. Lucky built more and more destructive devices in secret, increasing his own power at the expense of Aethasia . . . and then he started whispering his lies to others.
From what I've learned it was a terrible night when Lucky's jealousy broke loose. Some people hid indoors, but too many others bought into Lucky's scheme, listening to the poison he spouted. He led a mob into the Great Engine control room and told the Great Engineer he wanted Aethasia for himself. The Great Engineer looked at the crowd—it was almost a riot at this stage!—and I'm told it was pretty incredible. He didn't get angry; if anything he looked at them with pity. Pity and love. He didn't fight, though I imagine he could have. Instead, he got up and took the Aetherlight from the heart of the Great Engine network. It's surprising that no one actually recalls where he went, but he somehow just melted into the crowds. He just seemed to vanish. It's one of the trickiest things about my search for the Great Engineer. All the witnesses somehow lost sight of him, and with him the dream of what Aethasia was meant to be.
Without the Aetherlight, the Great Engines started to wind down, and of course the fog spilled in. It was like a thick green wave from a busted dam. I almost can't imagine an Aethasia without the fog covering everything, but that was the terrible moment it all began. That was the first night the people realized what Lucky had given them—and it wasn't what he promised. The fog seeped into their homes and filled their lungs, and nothing was the same again.
That was over thirty years ago, by my count, and I don't need to tell you how it worked out for Aethasia. It's not the party that it used to be; it's like everyone has turned against each other. Asking questions in some parts of Aethasia gets a little scary these days, dodging Automatons in the streets and trying to get people to open their doors without yelling at me! People mostly stay in their homes and hide, and they're suspicious—too suspicious to get together and celebrate like they used to. Lucky, of course, decided that he was the Emperor, but several people I spoke to call him what he is—the Usurper. This new Aethasia is all his work, and sadly, the fog has pretty much erased most people's memory of what it used to be like.
People have been struggling to get by since the Usurping, but the Scarlet Man has been at work. Not many see him, so I count myself pretty lucky that I've come across him once or twice in my search. He is out there though, sowing seeds of hope, pointing people to the true Aethasia. I think he holds the key to who the Great Engineer is, and I'm keen to know more. He's also the key to what's happening in Aethasia now: a few people are beginning to recall what was and even to dream about what could be once again.
The Resistance is growing.