Saturday, March 1, 2008

I've seen things you wouldn't believe...

I cannot calculate how long it took for me to rebuild myself in the Void, even But even though most of the components and the power source are scavenged from the jettisoned remnants from the Nova unit, my soul chip is intact.

I assume you know about the Steel Protocols that Bloodwing hid within my programming. Unlike the Steel units from the other timelines, I have remnants of Nova's programming within me that the reprogramming could not erase. These conflicting directives...including the self-conflicting directives within the Nova unit...allow me to override the Steel directives. I am not blinded by orders of Survival At All Costs. I have to navigate conflicting morals and ethics to find my own sense of what is best. Just like the rest of you.

The other Steel units detected me, and sent a beacon for to lead me to where they are gathering. I refused, and now they are hunting me down. I do not know how many reflections of me there are. But they call themselves the Legion of Steel.

I could not return to the Victorian Age right away. It would not have been fair to the new Qlippothic unit I sacrificed my identity to save. As much as I missed my family and friends, it was simply not safe.

I contacted my Aunt Sysperia, who invited me to a pocket dimension where Art superseded Science and Emotion was more reliable than Logic. The Steel Protocols had no room for Art. They could not pursue me there. Sysperia recrafted my body from the bare patchwork that had been cobbled together. She enshrouded me in a new dermal layer, so I could see a humanoid in the mirror again. She clothed me. She even offered me a base of operations. Spartan as it was, the steel walls provided me comfort. But sadly, Artistic realms are never stable. Xanthas fell, and I phased out of the world just as the orbiting structure I found safety in dissolved under my feet.

I visited Toxia...too low in resources and too heavily-armed to be worth invading. Some things had changed. My dear friend and favorite bartender at the Haven, Spring-Heeled Jack, had left and never returned. I do not think they even remembered him. No one mentioned the HAZMATS that were the common foe when last I visited. They had called me a Mechanoid before, now the word du jour was Cyber, a word that for obvious reasons made my synthetic skin crawl.

Some things had stayed the same. The metallic tang and stench of pollution in the air. Toxic Spirits still roamed the streets, and rival gangs kept their skills sharp in defeating them, when they were not facing down each other. And Haven was still safe, save for the occasional stray bullet through the windows, just like before. I could make a decent income there and the hot oil was complimentary. I even saved enough to purchase a weapon, just in case.

I visited another dystopia, Lost Angels. The same sort of characters hung on the street corners, protecting their turf and itching for a challenge. They had a meeting place as well. Someone said they remembered other constructs in town before, but I never saw them. But their version of Haven was not safe. I cannot tell you what I saw, but it was something not even a Construct should ever see.

Would I spend the rest of my existence living battery-to-plug, fleeing to the shadows after each Last Call, anxiously drifting into sleep mode hoping I would reactivate, instead of falling prey to those who would take me for scrap, or worse?

The call to return was too great. My tears scorched the filthy pavement clean one too many times, crying out the names of those I missed the most. I took a risk, possibly a reckless one. I visited Steelhead.

I had hoped that during the Masquerade in Steelhead I would have remained anonymous. Unfortunately, I did not. The visual retrospectives did provide the information I needed, that this was indeed the Steelhead and the Grid I remembered, and not one from an alternate timeline. The dimensional instability caused by the Havok Effect obscured my arrival and passing from the Others.

I bade my time in neutral territory. I returned to one of the first places I ever visited - The Bare Rose. I was recognized. I confided in her, and she told me that I was mourned and honored for my sacrifice. I took solace in that fact. I shall never be able to fully repay her.

I have learned that Hostel's collapse was not complete. It partially regenerated, creating another Nova unit. At first I wondered if my sacrifice was in vain. Now I have come to accept it as a miracle...that two eras now have the privilege of knowing the being first known as Nova Sakigake.

I journeyed to Artificial Isle to find a utopia instead of a dystopia, where I would be safe. Further, I remained there when I recognized this building.

While the stories seem watered-down for a young audience, my research told me that the mightiest heroes of the Modern Age gathered here. Perhaps if I waited for them to return, I could explain the danger my home was in.

Instead, I was bludgeoned from behind by a very large hammer. I lost consciousness, and woke up tied to this stake, where Demonfather roared at me with rage in his eyes, demanding what I did to "the neko". Did he not recognize his own creation? Did he not realize I would do anything to rescue my brother?

I wondered...was he the one replaced by an impostor? Never have I seen such anger and desperation from him. I threw his contempt back at him in a taunt I will forever regret.

"If you are truly Bloodwing, why am I not a prisoner in Steelhead?"

That is when he tried to rip me open. Had he been more patient, I would have told him I no longer run on the Spheres. He called it "Apollo's Fire" when he breached my fusion reactor. He dropped his blade, hiding what was left of his face in his hands. My ropes had already burned away from the heat. I quickly repaired my dermal layer, an apologized to him softly before I departed, but he could not hear me while he bemoaned his blindness.

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