The Story of Steam Powered Giraffe
In the late 1800’s, two men of science formed an age old dispute.
They had always had many opportunities to compete, both being scientists and inventors. Throughout their years at university, the two were inseparable friends and colleagues unparalleled by their fellow students in talent. But it wasn’t just science that these men used to fuel their competition, it was something much more complex. It began when they met a woman; Delilah Morreo.
Delilah, Thadeus Becile and Peter Walter, were part of the society known as The Cavalcadium; an illusive organization of great minds working together in the fields of science, arcana, alchemy, and art.
The Original Cavalcadium Insignia
Artwork by Bunny Bennett
It began as an unspoken and friendly rivalry, to gain the affections of the young miss, so rare in her beauty and brilliance. Ordinary men would have used flowers and chocolate in courting. Being scientists and engineers, Thadeus and Peter used their whimsical inventions to woo Delilah, hoping to impress her with their brilliance.
As time wore on, and Delilah’s neutrality persisted, the already lucrative endeavors of these inventors escalated. At one convention, Thadeus introduced to the society a theory he had formed, based on colleague Taggart Babclock’s discovery of underground Rock Candy deposits in Africa. Thadeus called it Green Matter, a form of energy that is created using the edible green Rock Candy, and the effect it produces. He proposed numerous ways that Green Matter could be used to fuel machinery and, more specifically, in the enhancement of weaponry.
But Thadeus’ discovery was not well received. Peter Walter contested that Green Matter was too unstable of a power source, and too mysterious to use. He suggested that further tests be done to flesh out what may or may not become the energy source of the future. Delilah agreed with Walter, and Thadeus took that as a personal insult.
Despite Peter Walter’s initial dislike of the idea of Green Matter, he remained intrigued at the possibilities. And, admittedly, a little jealous that Thadeus had discovered it. The rift that had formed between the two men years before was splitting them farther and farther apart, and their contention was no longer friendly. At the very next convention, a disheveled looking Thadeus unveiled his new invention: a behemoth copper African elephant, powered by the controversial Green Matter, and controlled by a human counterpart. The elephant was leaps and bounds beyond any invention P.A. Walter had yet to come up with, and it nearly won Delilah’s heart, for she loved African animals. The two kept up no semblance of friendship after that.
In his attempt to out shine Thadeus’ copper elephant, Walter built a contraption of his own. It was a steam powered robot giraffe, that stood 136 feet high, or the equivalent of 8 average sized giraffes stacked on top of each other. That in itself would have been an amazing feat, bound to win him glory at the society’s next function. However, the way Peter powered the machine was equally as impressive.
Intent upon making an energy source equivalent in power to Green Matter, but safer, he tapped into a similar energy source. He called it Blue Matter, and he theorized it was what bound reality together. Extremely powerful, but with Walter’s ingenious patents, it could be channeled in many ways quite safely. Blue Matter was used as an energy source for all of the robots that Walter eventually created.
As if that wasn’t enough, Peter also began the creation of three humanoid robots that could sing and play instruments without human control. The automatons were built to serenade Delilah, because it was rumored that she had a soft spot for music. Though Peter could not carry a tune and had no prowess in musical talent, he engineered the robots to be knowledgeable themselves, and he dreamed of one day striding atop his steam powered giraffe with Delilah through the African Savannah, enjoying the musical stylings of his singing automatons.
In retaliation, Thadeus installed a large phonograph on the back of his copper elephant. The human-like Walter automatons had their misfires, but the sonic blasts that emanated from Thadeus’ phonograph were disastrous, injuring many members of the society, and decimating the Cavalcadium’s meeting hall.
Becile was banished from the society for his gross lack of judgment, and so it would have seemed that Peter Walter was the victor. He had proved that his energy source was more reliable and much less dangerous. In this area, he had won. Nevertheless, he hadn’t yet won Delilah’s affection.
From Left to Right:
Peter A. Walter I, Delilah Morreo, & Thadeus Becile.
Artwork by Bunny Bennett
With Becile out of the way, it was time to let his robots declare his love for Delilah, and hopefully, procure her hand in marriage. But it wasn’t meant to be. As he had been absorbed in his work and his dispute with Thadeus, Peter had failed to notice that his precious Delilah was deathly ill.
Before he could show her his steam powered giraffe and robot band, Delilah had died. Her passing left a void in Peter’s heart where a bitter contention and unquenched desire had once raged.
In his grief and despair, Peter threw himself back into his work, unable to face the reality of Delilah’s death. But his judgment was clouded, and not with love and ambition as it had been before. Now he worked with an unholy fervor, willing his mind to escape and willing his creation to aid in the process. It was dangerous for such a brilliant man to work recklessly, and out of his misery came a phenomenal accident.
Late one night, as Peter worked on his final musical robot, he experimented with the application of Blue Matter on one of his robots. After a series of manipulations that Peter himself could not recall, a rift to another plane of reality appeared inside the Walter Manor and the robot ingrained with the incomprehensible quality of the newly created fissure in time and space. Walter had mastered harnessing Blue Matter even more effectively. In his fervid fixation with the death of his beloved, life had sprung from his obsessive madness, and the seemingly organic artificial intelligence of the robots became something of legend.
Delilah’s death was a tragedy in many aspects, and she was missed by many. Her innovations in the field of chemistry were punctuated unfairly by her gender. It was rare in her time for a woman to seek knowledge and a career, and Delilah was therefore somewhat of a trail blazer, despite her wishes to be viewed as a scientist first and a woman second. And so, news of her untimely death spread to the far reaches of the Earth, where it found the ear of the shamed Thadeus Becile.
After being banished from the society, and ostracized by his friends, Thadeus vowed to reestablish himself, and win back the approval of his peers. To do this, he needed as much Green Matter as he could get his hands on, in order to study it better and manipulate it to his will. But his source of Green Matter lay solely in Rock Candy, which was harvested by Taggart Babclock’s Dandy Candy corporation. Babclock, the innovator behind the company, was a scientist much like Becile, and had willingly shared his Rock Candy in order to aid Becile’s attempts. However, after the tragedy caused by Becile’s foolish attempts at using Green Matter for his own purposes, Dr. Babclock realized he could no longer support his old friend.
Much like his rival, Thadeus had been so intent upon impressing Delilah that he had neglected her as an individual. In her death he found an emptiness similar to what Peter had felt. Instead of filling that emptiness with creative work, Thadeus sought out violence. His access to Rock Candy was gone, and he decided to get it back by force. Using an ever-growing army of elephant war machines, Thadeus traveled to Africa and attacked the Dandy Candy mines to gain access to Green Matter once more.
His fervor for Green Matter had been, and continued to be fueled by Delilah. In the beginning, Thadeus was excited to discover Green Matter, and harnessed it with reckless abandon in order to be looked upon as a genius. However, unlike his rival inventor, Thadeus did not create robots who could think for themselves. Thadeus’ copper African elephants were fueled by Green Matter, and individually controlled by humans. But the humans that worked inside of the elephants changed by working so closely with Green Matter. They became shadows of their former selves; pulse-less, zombified husks, fused into the mechanics of the robot they once controlled. Thadeus discovered this unfortunate side effect, and decided it wasn’t so unfortunate after all. If Green Matter had necromatic properties, perhaps it could also repossess Delilah back into her dead body.
But he couldn’t test his theory without more Rock Candy, and so he stormed the mines, and threw away any chances he had for reestablishing himself as a sane and trustworthy scientist.
Dr. Babclock didn’t appreciate Becile’s efforts, no matter the intention behind them. With his mines and company at stake, Babclock turned to the only man who could understand Thadeus Becile, and also the only man who could ever stand up to him. Unfortunately, Peter Walter was less than enthusiastic to heed the call to arms.
Once he opened the portal into another dimension, Peter Walter’s inventions took off. He began creating robots at an alarming rate. It was easy for Peter to remain in the comfort of his lab, working fervently on the advancement of artificial intelligence, easier than facing the cold truth that his love was dead and his friend had turned into a power hungry madman. Besides, he argued, Becile had always been the one interested in weapons. Peter felt that his inventions were better put to use in helping humans, not in fighting other robots. He apologized to Babclock and told him to find another way to stop Becile.
Peter thought that was the end of it, and returned to his workshop expecting no more interruptions. The peace was not to last. Another man showed up at the Walter Manor, demanding that Peter enter the battle for the Rock Candy mines. The stranger wore a long brown coat, hid his face, and was very difficult to say no to. He explained to Peter, with biting harshness, that after delving so deeply into the application of Blue Matter, Peter had a responsibility to help out where he was needed, by any means necessary, even if it meant violence.
Peter Walter finally conceded that he could not let Becile’s unholy abominations exist. And so he took his robots to war.
Three of Walter’s automatons circa 1896.
From Left to Right: Rabbit, The Spine, and Hatchworth
Artwork by Bunny Bennett
He used any weapons he could get his hands on to prepare for the battle. Originally, his robots had been created to make music and frivolity, not violence, but Peter retrofitted his existing creations with tools of death as well as a knowledge of how to use them. Within a few days Peter had an entire army of intelligent war machines, all of which were decked out with hammers, axes, bone saws, guns, flamethrowers, explosive missiles, death rays, Tesla Coil projectors- whatever Peter thought could be useful against Becile’s elephants. And leading the army into battle was the steam powered giraffe itself, now too a weapon of war. The opponent was formidable, but so were Peter’s steam men.
The battle was fierce, and raged on for three days. At the end of which, Peter and his robots liberated the Rock Candy mines, returning them to Dr. Babclock, the rightful owner as well as the man who did not plan to use the Rock Candy for harnessing Green Matter.
Walter’s Steam Powered Giraffe and one of Becile’s Copper Elephants.
Artwork by Bunny Bennett
Becile and his Green Matter infused minions were imprisoned and his robots dismantled. Peter had finally defeated his rival.
But it was an empty victory. Peter spent the rest of his days trying to help his robots forget that battle and return to the original programming: making music. They premiered at The First World’s Fair of 1915 in San Diego, California under the name “P. A. Walter’s Steam Man Band.” And since then, they have entertained countless captivated audiences.
Through the years the robots’ musical career was severed multiple times when they served in the gruesome wars of mankind. To help fund the diminishing Walter fortune, various Walters after Peter made agreements with the American government, but after World War I, II, and Vietnam, the army of robots finally were able to put that dark past behind them and exist in peace, some which focus solely on playing music.
You can still see Walter’s Steam Man Band playing their catchy tunes for audiences of all ages. And none would suspect the sordid history of how they came to be. It was only fitting the current heir to the Walter legacy, Peter Walter VI, renamed the band “Steam Powered Giraffe,” after the good-natured invention of an inspired inventor, and not the orchestrator of destruction he was forced to become.