The following report is based on the observations of Raze Repine:
A few weeks ago, Raze Repine, caretaker of the Fire Crystal, daringly approached the Tin Man while he hammered away at the old salvage masheen. Raze displayed a photograph of the recently crafted Fire Crystal and NeoBokrug Elytis reacted with recognition as he pulled a mangled rat out of the salvager’s maw.
The Tin Man shook his head at Raze’s suggestion that the Crystal is a power source for the salvager, instead pointing to his head and holding out his hand. Raze did not hand it over but related the accusation spoken by the Old Man, Gill…that the rust men destroyed the world around us. The Tin Man considered this for a moment before pointing at Raze, pointing at the hammer in his hand, and then pointing at himself. From this, one can safely assume that humans created the rust men originally. Anyone judging a location for the blame of past destruction should probably spend more energy on finding their next meal or more iron scrap.
At the mention of Gill, NeoBokrug gathered up some mud, smeared it over some wood planks, and drew the image of several elderly men, implying that one of the men represented Gill. When Raze asked about the Tin Man’s history with the Old Man, NeoBokrug shaped some mud into a crude salvager and smashed it with his hammer, apparently confirming Gill’s claim that he truly destroyed a salvager in the past. By all accounts, Gill never elaborated on how or when he managed to do this (or even which salvager) and Raze shared his doubts with the Tin Man. The Tin Man’s following reaction is intriguing and suggests the Old Man was involved in the sabotage of the Junkyard salvager.
NeoBokrug pointed to the sky and then to his eye before emitting an ear-splitting metallic scream. Raze covered his ears with shock and fear. Although this reporter wasn’t present to hear the sound for himself, Raze’s description reminds me of similar metallic screams heard before from another creature the Press has reported. Brominites. Perhaps we interpret the Tin Man incorrectly, but he seems to implicate the feeble Old Man somehow used those vicious metal monsters to destroy the Junkyard salvager long ago. Could that be true? Gill scoffs at the idea that he would directly engage the Tin Man in a physical confrontation but clearly the frail Old Man has some tricks up his sleeve to survive as long as he has. If it’s true, the Old Man may be far more dangerous than anyone suspected.
Various additional questions from Raze about the Tin Man and Gill only produced a strange slow motion toward the horizon from NeoBokrug. It wasn’t clear if this was in reference to his origins, Gill’s, or both of them. Furthermore, the Tin Man drew a picture of the Old Man again and then pointed to the damage on his shoulder and to the ruined mud sculpture of the salvager…possibly suggesting that NeoBokrug was injured in the encounter. Some of us still remember that broken Brominite impaled by the Tin Man’s staff near the burning masheen.
When asked if the Fire Crystal stores information (another claim from Gill), the Tin Man shrugged and pointed at the fractures visible on the Crystal’s surface. Another strange series of gestures: the Tin Man pointed to the Crystal, then the Ripper in Raze’s hand, and then to himself.
Either changing the subject or moving to a different point on the matter, the Tin Man cleared the mud and drew the likeness of several rust-men. He then put X’s through most of them. He also pointed at the picture of the Fire Crystal. Raze asked if the Crystal would be of any use to the Tin Man and the Tin Man held out his hand again. Raze declined to give it to him and stated that it was not his decision alone to hand it over to anyone at this time.
In response, the Tin Man drew an arrow pointing at one of the X-marked rust men and then pointed again at the crystal. This appears to additionally confirm that the Fire Crystal is indeed an item from the remains of a destroyed rust man, reformed by the salvager from those fragments collected by Wastelanders. What information, if any, it still contains is a good question. A broken cup glued back together may still leak water through the cracks.
At one point, Neo opened his mouth as if to speak but pointed at the damage in his neck. Perhaps rust men were able to speak like us once upon a time but our Tin Man cannot due to his damage, perhaps non-repairable. He also scratched his head when Raze asked the Tin Man if he was missing memory.
And then, the Tin Man suddenly opened up the back of his steam-hat, revealing a single pristine crystal with no fractures. Several empty slots for additional crystals were visible before he quickly closed the hatch. If there were still any doubts about the connection between the Crystal and the Rust Men, this revelation should clear them away.
Amusingly, the Tin Man gave Raze a bottle of water and led him to the ruins of Fort Stygian.
Sweating in the presence of the crater’s intense heat, Raze watched the Tin Man as he pointed at his steam-hat’s panel, to the crystal picture, to the ruins of Stygian, and then the lava, staring down at its fiery depths. Looking intently at Raze, the Tin Man laid down, pretending to sleep and pointing to himself. He pointed to the crystal and then to the horizon and beyond.
The gestures of the Tin Man are difficult to decipher but the ruins of Fort Stygian are far older than the rust men. His motions hint at many things and pose just as many questions. Were the rust men brought to life at Fort Stygian long ago? Were the crystals a part of that process and also fabricated in this place? Or did both come from some place far away, assembled together at Stygian? And are the ruins of Stygian and its molten maw of fire the consequence of an accident in fabrication? Was this where the rust-men turned on their creators? The site of a terrible battle involving the rust men?
At one point, the Tin Man held out his hand and Raze, assuming their “conversation” was over, shook it. The friendly gesture seemed to confuse the Tin Man. Before Raze left, however, the Tin Man pointed at Gill’s tent and pushed the picture of the crystal against Raze’s chest with intentional force. It appears the Tin Man wants Raze to hang on to the Fire Crystal? Maybe he has no desire to see the Old Man, Gill, get his hands on it?
And then, another series of odd cryptic gestures from NeoBokrug occurred. The Tin Man pointed to the sun and held up seven of his fingers, and then pointed to the ground. He repeated a similar series…pointing to Raze, then to himself, then to the ground and held up seven fingers again. What this means is anyone’s guess.
Finally, Raze wondered aloud if he should go to someone else with the riddles of the Tin Man’s silent hand language. The Tin Man responded by picking up and rock and scratching a crude image of the Heapkeeper on the side of a twisted steel beam. He pointed to the Heapkeeper’s image and then to the horizon and shrugged, finally shaking his head. Raze was still perplexed and the Tin Man pointed to his eye, then to Raze’s eye, and then to the image of the Heapkeeper. This suggests that the Tin Man wanted Raze to be on the look out for one of the Founders, the Heapkeeper, Spider Mandala. It’s well known that the Heapkeeper is very familiar with the Tin Man. Perhaps he can shed some light on these strange gestures and signs from the Tin Man.