Castle Heterodyne (or as the Jägers say, der Kestle) is the ancestral home of the Heterodyne family, and a character in its own right. Located in Mechanicsburg, it is built at the source of the River Dyne, from which it extracts the energy to power itself.
- 1 Intelligence, Behavior, and Capabilities
- 2 History
- 3 In the Story
- 4 Additional Bodies
- 5 Named locations within Castle Heterodyne
- 6 Monsters, Clanks, and Traps
- 7 Devices
- 8 Rules of Castle Heterodyne
- 9 Fan Video
- 10 Possibly relevant outside information
- 11 References
Intelligence, Behavior, and Capabilities
Castle Heterodyne is essentially a giant immobile clank (but see below), equipped with, evidently, a copy of the personality of its creator, Faustus Heterodyne (also see below). One of its primary interfaces is located in the Heterodyne family crypt, though it has the limitation at that location of being unable to speak directly, but only through a human linked to it, one who has had his skull pre-equipped with specially-installed interface sockets.
The Castle is able to project its perceptions and voice to almost any location within its walls and even beyond them. It can also physically reshape itself and manipulate (at a minimum) non-organic objects at any nearly location it can perceive, a capability that is ornately demonstrated by the part of the currently-fragmented Castle that is first to acknowledge Agatha as the new Heterodyne. And this control is not limited to the Castle proper; even when fragmented and only partially functional, the Castle's control and powers an unknown distance into the surrounding town. Once the Castle's power supply is finally fully restored, it seems to have complete control of all of Mechanicsburg: the clanks, the defense systems, and even the materials making up the city itself.
The Castle also has many mechanical entities that are under its control. At least some of these can operate autonomously (if not very intelligently) without the Castle guiding them, if necessary; as it is at first, while the Castle is still broken. Because of the Castle's ability to directly manipulate matter (it is capable of levitating objects that range in size from individual bricks to blocks of stone weighing many tons), it can be hard to determine what is a mechanism moving under its own power and what is a "puppet" being moved about solely by the Castle. In at least one case, the Castle "brought to life" a suit of armor, making it in a clank-like manner. But, since it when the Castle was done with it, it seems clear it was an ordinary suit of armor.
On three occasions so far, during other Castle-interactions with Agatha, the scene cuts away to show us three lights; it is suggested that each light comes on in turn when an important stage in recognizing Agatha to be the new Heterodyne is reached: the first time comes when Agatha's voice is found to be similar to that of Lucrezia Mongfish, the second after a blood sample from Agatha is analyzed, confirming her to be of Heterodyne descent and the third, when the Castle gets hit by enough electricity (i.e. repeated massive lightning strikes) to restore most of its power.
As Ardsley Wooster Castle Heterodyne was originally built in 1042 by Knife, who seems to be the first Heterodyne to drink the water of the Dyne. Instead of killing him, as it was generally purported to do to imbibers, Knife found he liked the taste of the stuff andby
This first fortress was accidentally destroyed by Egregious Heterodyne in his attempt to expand the flow of the Dyne, who considered the experiment a Evidently, the Castle was rebuilt and destroyed two more times “before the present structure was erected in 1298” again according to . If Van uses the same dating system this structure took about ten years to . The Castle was first programmed with self-awareness by Faustus Heterodyne, another of Agatha's mad scientist ancestors. Since then, it has been considered to be alive. Its charming personality — it thinks it has a sense of humor — is said to be a copy of his.
Main Article: Attack on Castle Heterodyne
Nineteen years prior to the beginning of the Girl Genius narrative, The Castle was nearly destroyed in a massive explosion, presumed to be an attack by The Other. Many people were killed that night, including Agatha's infant brother Klaus Barry Heterodyne and the then-new seneschal (the son of Carson von Mekkhan). It was the same night that Lucrezia Mongfish went missing.
Eventually, at some point after Baron Klaus Wulfenbach returned from his Lucrezia-imposed banishment and took over Mechanicsburg, the Castle released an assistant from the TPU team to procure food, tools, and more help. The Baron, ever able to apply the right monster to the right job, negotiated with the Castle, obtained the professor's release and proceeded to send the structure his most difficult and dangerous Sparky prisoners. This is considered the Empire's ultimate punishment detail, as the chances making it out alive again are extremely (but not impossibly) slim.
Such is the situation when Girl Genius opens.
In the Story
Following Judy's instructions , Agatha travels to Mechanicsburg, to the broken Castle via Carson, and the Castle in the guise of a (relatively) common prisoner. The same day, Zola "Heterodyne" also the Castle in a quest to usurp the family name as one of the public faces of The Storm King Conspiracy, though she plans to kill the Castle rather than repair it. They both begin to interact with the Castle's current crop of inmates, some of whom go on to play significant roles in Agatha's story; among the more prominent are head inmate Professor Hristo Tiktoffen and Agatha's newly (and unwillingly) anointed Chief Minion Moloch Von Zinzer.
It gets to be even more crowded; Tarvek the Castle with his cousin, Violetta, and joins Agatha's party. Upon learning that his father Klaus is some of his special service units to destroy the Castle, Gilgamesh Wulfenbach, Schmott Guy accompanied by Zeetha, Krosp, Sleipnir, and Theo. After one important fragment of the Castle accepts Agatha as the new Heterodyne ( ) and launches an attack on the newly-arrived Castle Wulfenbach, Von Pinn .
The Castle is Fixed
Various other parts of the Castle remain uncontrolled and are still bent on killing everyone, finally Castle-killer. Following numerous Zola-induced delays, the Castle is resuscitated using a copy of its personality that had been previously downloaded into the body of Otilia, the Muse of Protection, as part of an experiment by Lucrezia. Agatha Tiktoffen's attempt to control the Castle, and the various protagonists go on to repair the remaining breakages in the Castle's systems and its central power source (an enormous water-wheel in the Dyne), allowing it begin contributing to the defense of Mechanicsburg against both the surrounding Wulfenbach forces and a swarm of opportunistic Sparks. (The surviving convicts are also freed from their sentences, as per agreement.) Agatha then tops all this off by giving the Castle a allowing it to truly unleash its power and activate numerous hidden security features put in place by the Old Heterodynes; as this process reemphasizes, it is not at all clear where the Castle ends and the town of Mechanicburg . All remaining hostile forces are driven from Mechanicsburg.Agatha to shut the entire structure down using a modified version of Zola's
The Castle and the Time Freeze
In response, Baron Wulfenbach personally launches a last-ditch attack with the Take-Five Bomb, a Black-level device which freezes all of Mechanicsburg (and himself) in a time-stasis bubble. For the barely-escaping Agatha and the reader, there follows a two-and-a-half year Timeskip. She/we learn that Gilgamesh, now running a much-reduced Wulfenbach empire, has surrounded Mechanicsburg with enormous walls and launched a massive scientific undertaking designed at "tunneling" into the frozen city. During one expedition into the city by Gil and Airman Higgs to extract test-subject Captain Vole, the Castle reveals it is able to resist the effects of the time-bubble, at least to the point of having a with them. All three of them are unpleasantly surprised to learn that Klaus's activation of the Take Five bomb has attracted the unwanted attention of a massive and quite Hideous Extradimensional Being. The Castle calculates Agatha and her allies have two years to undo the time bubble before Something Very Bad Happens.
Bits and Pieces
At some point following the Other's attack, at least one fragment of the Castle's distributed thinking engine with inert personality runtimes is smuggled out of Mechanicsburg and ends up in Paris, where it is acquired by Du Quay in his mad attempt to usurp the city's Master, Simon Voltaire. Soon after arriving in the city herself, Agatha is kidnapped by one of the Master's more loyal underlings, Drusus Beausoleil, in an effort to sabotage Du Quay's plot (and simultaneously assess Agatha's prowess as a Spark). By the time Agatha has been shown the fragment, a Telluric Wave Conductor has been attached to it and used to insinuate the Castle (at the time still in a low-functioning state) into every mechanical thinking engine in Paris. Agatha co-opts the Castle fragment, fully reactivating its personality, and it immediately recognizes her as a scion of the House and its mistress, through a vocal waveform analysis, despite (presumably) not being privy to the blood test proof carried out by the main Castle. After thoroughly destroying Du Quay's plot, Master Voltaire appears in person and disconnects it before it can truly do damage to the city.
Agatha is granted an audience with Voltaire and is tasked with extraction of all of Du Quay's hardware. After extracting the Castle fragment, she  The Beast in its reduced state, and immediately proves its worth by hijacking Beausoliel's current clank body when he is with information that Agatha needs. It further shows it is able to from when it was "hooked into" Paris: namely, the location(s) of potentially useful mechanical devices. It is also able to sense other nearby Heterodyne creations, but does not possess the full memories of the original Castle Heterodyne.shaped like a miniature fortress, with tiny organ pipes poking out the top. This "Portable Castle"
The Portable Castle remains with Agatha as she travels to the Parisian Black Market and then to some of the as well as the the Incorruptible Library, proving its worth by helping her Professor Zardeliv and the Hermitorium of Master Spark Van Rijn.
Or rather, a list of significant Castle fragments or the vessels they occupy. According to Zola, the broken Castle is split into twelve minds. While fragments other than the copy stored in Otilia were shut down by the Lion, the Castle regains access to their memories as the sections are subsequently reconnected.
The Castle is also able to intentionally create fragments, which it refers to as 'memories', in order to preemptively disobey the Heterodyne.
The Throne of Faustus Heterodyne allows the Castle to temporarily take control of anyone with the appropriate skull modifications.
Accessible through the Throne of Faustus Heterodyne.
- Main article: Venthraxus Heterodyne's personal kitchen
- Main article: Chapel of Bones
Performs the blood test to confirm that Agatha as Heterodyne, and seems to be the primary Castle fragment that the characters interact with before the reset.
Lucrezia stored a copy of the Castle's personality in the Muse Otilia's body. Agatha transfers it back into the physical Castle after the reset. See Also: Otilia
Doom Bell Ringer
- Main article: Doom Bell Ringer
The demarcation between the Castle and parts of Mechanicsburg is a little hazy- at different times the Castle animates suits of armor, statues and gargoyles within the city, but the Doom Bell Ringer statue is a notable avatar.
Thanks to Agatha's sparky enthusiasm, Du Quay's scheme is briefly successful- until The Master intervenes.
As part of disentangling the Castle's control of Paris, Agatha transfers it to a dingbot body. See #Portable Castle above.
Guildhall Capstone Figure
In the short story The Mechanicsburg Guild of Monsters, the Castle is revealed to have created a fragment in order to isolate memories related to preserving the Monsters' Guildhall. The fragment occupies the capstone figure from the hall, and was stored in the Red Cathedral, beyond the reach of the Castle's powers.
Named locations within Castle Heterodyne
- - there is an implication this may be the same as the Prisoner's Gate
- Prisoner's Gate
- Gate of Chimes
- (in the Tower of Prisms)
- Chapel of Bones
- (presumably the Seraglio of Satyricus Heterodyne)
- Heterodyne family crypt
- Red Playroom ( )
- (In times when the ruling Heterodyne is of a more monogamous persuasion it is evidently used as servant's quarters)
- Venthraxus Heterodyne's personal kitchen
- Vipsania Heterodyne's
- The Great Movement Chamber, from which The Dyne springs (mentioned first ).
- Throne of Faustus Heterodyne
- (containing the Blue Corridor)
- Tower of Green Bone.
- — Castle goes to sleep for the Solstice
Monsters, Clanks, and Traps
- Fun-Sized Mobile Agony and Death Dispensers
- The Happy Fun Ball of Death
- Nyar Spider
- Venomous Rafter Toad
- Amusing Octo Electrocuter
- Artful Blood Drainer
- Baghdad Salamander — power cell
- Human to Pet Brain Transplant Device
- Iago's Mechanicsburg Toaster
- Many-Brushed Birdbaths
- Scream Emulator
Rules of Castle Heterodyne
As thoughtfully compiled by untold numbers of prisoners at great hazard, and explained by surviving sources:
- Flagstones and parts of the ceiling marked in white are traps that will kill you. (Source: Zola "Heterodyne" when .)
- Duck under any doorway taller than one meter; these are also traps that will kill you. (Zola)
- Don't touch any metal surface; it is also a trap that will kill you. (Zola)
- Gold coins are metal too: Don't try to pick up ones spotted lying on the floor; they are pit traps. ( .)
- Refusing to repair the Castle will get you Ardsley Wooster) . (
Possibly relevant outside information
See also forum discussion on Multiple AIs in the castle.