Prior to the time of the Cataclysm, there was a covert organization of gnomes and goblins working to expand their knowledge of the mechanical, arcane, and elemental disciplines. These techno-mages put aside their factions for a greater, common thirst for knowledge and mastery.
For the goblins, they formed the Undermine, engineering exotic explosives and mining techniques to plunder not only below the ground but pressing into the seas with crude submersibles and airships.
The gnomes had Gearlord, pursuing mechanical creations and automatons empowered with arcane and elemental enhancements.
Both groups had internal security to watch over their creations and each other. This was to prevent the unintended release of a creation or knowledge that could alter the world outside of their control. The goblins had the Underhand, a shadowy cabal of thugs, assassins, and shadow priests with an uncanny ability to manipulate markets and people. Many believe the Underhand even manipulated Gallywix and the other trade princes through economic or darker means. Rumors whispered that the gnomes had their own secret police of engineers and mages allegedly called the GIB squad or Gnomes in Black – capable of monitoring and controlling those too brilliant or curious for their own good through magic, fear, or an “unexpected anomaly”.
For many years these two groups worked in harmony exchanging and expanding their arts until…
An underwater cavern system led to the discovery by both parties of a molten vein of eternium. This vein was traced to a larger magma chamber, nicknamed the Eternium Sea. In their excavations and research, they inadvertently destroyed several ancient guardian mechanicals. In salvaging the remains, they discovered irresistible hints at rare elements, unknown arcane workings, and mechanical and automated artistry that defied their understanding.
Their efforts were quickly confounded by both the elements and whatever had created the guardians, which they discovered were not deactivated, but merely passive. The destruction and harvesting of the units were viewed as an act of aggression and parts of the chamber were sealed off either by the mechanicals or by careless actions by the gnomes and goblins.
Delays and frustration began to tear apart the once unified team with insults and blaming each other’s ineptitude for failure. A final project – the iR-T0 was thought to be the answer to penetrating these endless mechanicals from delaying the discovery of a lifetime. Nearing it’s completion, disaster struck in the Wonder Works factory where the two groups worked and experimented.
Subterranean troggs began to burrow up through the caverns (driven by Sicco Thermaplugg), initially seeking a stolen artifact but quickly driven mad by the strange confluence of elements and ley lines warped to mask the factory’s location. Other elements of the facility began to fail, some catastrophically. The labs on the west side of the island exploded and the landscape cratered from a rain of explosives. Seismic activity in the volcano to the north along caused by the advent of the Cataclysm and more organized assault by the mechanicals left the group fragmented. They agreed to lock down access to the facility until such a time that they could return in force. Many devices were destroyed in the fighting or under mysterious circumstances; a few went missing, including a critical artifact ‘obtained’ from Deepholm by the Undermine for the iR-T0 project. The gnomes were furious and accused the goblins of trying to sabotage their last, best effort at penetrating this new threat.
In actuality, the GIB discovered a weakness in the mechanical’s arcane programming and developed a virus to reprogram them. This project became the Blingtron schematic engineered to overload their existing programming with generosity and rendering them mostly harmless. The mechanicals became more desperate and aggressive and counterattacked with a massive bombardment, completely destroying the Western complex and killing dozens of techno mages and advanced workshops. The GIB wanted the artifact as a core weapons system to convert the elements blocking their entry as well as any remaining forces into a manageable asset. The GIB sabotaged several defensive systems allowing troggs and mechanicals access to the outer perimeter in the hopes of getting the artifact in the confusion.
The goblins, suspecting treachery, set traps of their own in the facility and one goblin made off with the artifact in the chaos as a memento for his troubles. Seeing it to be a giant hunk of quartz, he unsuccessfully tried to sell it and used it as a paperweight until giving it to his son as a cheap present for his graduation.
There it sat in a bank vault undisturbed for many years…
During that time, Gearlord and Undermine went their separate ways eyeing each other with suspicion and attempting to discover each other’s plans. Many former lab workers were discharged under suspicion they may have collaborated with the other side and sworn to secrecy. Most complied but for some, the curiosity to tinker with old projects and subject matter became too great. Their fates are the subject of conspiracy theorists, whispered discussions in late night taverns, and hushed conversations at engineering meetings.
Many an engineer covets the Blingtron mechanical not so much for it’s generosity but the chance to decode additional messages stored in its matrix for clues.
2. The Story Connection
Gil was part of the research team on iR-T0 and was released as part of the purge of staff after the Cataclysm. Rebo was a senior technomage and officer in the GIB.
When he is summoned and hears Gil may have found an artifact, he follows up with Xiaoyin Shu to investigate. Xiaoyin tells Madam Goya who finds out about the potential sale of an item of great power and rarity. Once Gil let’s it slip, Goya immediately calls Xiaoyin to Dalaran.
Xiaoyin informs Rebo who in turn orders Xiaoyin to have Gil killed and to turn over the artifact to GIB. Xiaoyin, however, has other plans. He intends to double-cross GIB and sell out to the Legion once he obtains the Staff of Zaetar. Rebo is unaware that Xiaoyin has discovered the only portal remaining at Gnomeregan through some contacts in the Underhand.
Xiaoyin arrives and kills Gil, discovering the crystal Heart of Theradas and a rainbow access card needed to activate the portal. Seeing his chance to steal the staff and complete the weapon, hedecides to throw off the trail by implicating Grimsparkle. He assumes that old hatreds will prevail and he can obtain the staff before Rebo or anyone else can track him in Gnomeregan.
Prizlyca discovers Gil has been murdered when delivering morning mail with the Kirin Tor at the scene. She is not allowed in but is told; overwhelmed with grief, she goes to Pommie who is teaching a lecture on Battle Pets.
Pommie sends Pryzlica home as she is concerned that all of Dalaran may be unsafe and that she will meet her shortly and they’ll figure out what to do next. Pommie suits up and infiltrates the toy shop. She finds Gil’s gruesome remains and the toy shop scorched. In the back, Gil’s workshop is trashed but sees a folder with records Gil had stolen from the Wonder Works office in Gnomeregan. She also finds a blood stained card from IWC with Grimsparkle’s name. She reports to a meeting between G4, Tinkers Union and Stormwind University to discuss the murder and what’s to be done.
Strangely, Rebo is there and asks to see the folders she found. Rebo tells her she’s come upon some very important information that may track down Gil’s killer. She reluctantly lets Rebo take the information. At this point Rebo realizes Xiaoyin is up to something and decides to hand Pommie a rainbow access card – You may need this.
He gives this with the idea of tracking them down and letting Xiaoyin kill them and he will kill Xiaoyin to recover the crystal.