Flight’s season steadily approached. As Metallo neared the second star it claimed as home during its long and lonely existence, the cycle of elements transformed the planet. The thin layer of gallium that gave the landscape its lustrous silver sheen melted and pooled into expansive lakes, although within weeks those recently gathered bodies would evaporate and thicken the otherwise weak atmosphere. Seas of mercury expanded with the influx of celestial radiation, ate away at the tungsten and iron shores, and would—during the planet’s perihelion—rise from the crevasses and drift along the terrain as invisible but incredibly lethal clouds. In a matter of days, the immense heat would exacerbate the planet from a frozen argent pearl to a rugged red monstrosity. Whole regions would be transformed, as enormous iron plates drifted haphazardly on molten slicks of tin, zinc, and copper while beryllium mountains twisted in the treacherous storms that swept the world’s surface. Nothing organic could evolve on such a place as Metallo. Yet, black wings beat almost ineffectually against the presently thin atmosphere. Streaks of near-white palladium accented its boron-compound body as, through sheer determination, it pulled itself skyward and approached the tower where it sensed it would find a radioactive energy source to feed upon. By all accounts, it looked like a butterfly; beautiful, weak, and small, but it was a soulless pragmatic contraption that subsisted on reactions and was almost invulnerable to physical assault. Even so, until it encountered competition from the humans, it had no natural predators or competitors. Humans, who brought with them their insidious little drones and their crapulent little nanomachines. That is when the true test of survival presented itself, and the Ignimusca discovered an insatiable craving for the electromagnetic energy that powered its rivals. Now, with the human research facility breached, a veritable buffet spread before it as it settled down upon a pair of wires feeding into a wall and sank in its fangs. Whatever light was in the room immediately shorted out as the circuit breaker flipped.