It begins as few Wednesday afternoons do – Alice is sounding the news klaxon and I haven’t even managed to chip through the flinty film that shudders like a tenebrous membrane atop the canteen gruel. This is usually a quiet time, the hivemind sighing into synchronised sleep, but something has excited the nerve centre of the whole operation. A message cylinder shoots out of the pneumatic tube system that webs the building like veins (and can be heard to pulse warmly during storms) and clatters onto the table. “You’re going to want to see this STOP Beyond: Flesh And Blood STOP Mechs riding inside other mechs STOP Set in the ruins of future Manchester STOP.” Alice was right. If Manchester was under attack, I needed to see the damage for myself.