"Let machinery fake my place, who has time to chase. Digital is where it is. Love can always be replaced. Welcome to my consciousness. Welcome to our race. Everything is never quite enough."
Everything (is never quite enough) - Diop, Wasis
I was halfway down the corridor with Heero beside me when something ran past at high speed. Merely a blur of blue and white, I didn't even realize what it was until a few minutes later when we encountered Milyardo walking towards us.
"Did you see him?"
Heero raised an eyebrow as I glanced back down the hall, the fact that it had been Bell running past finally registering. "All right, what'd you do?"
"Nothing," the blond man shrugged innocently, glancing over my shoulder. "He woke up, we asked him what happened, and the next thing we knew he was bolting up and out of the room in a flash."
"You must have said something."
"Well, ok, so maybe Treize made a small joke about it." he grinned impishly at us for a moment.
"So where did he go?"
"No idea, Khali?"
The ship remained silent, no answer following the question of where our companion had run.
"That's strange, why isn't she answering." Milyardo turned in place, walking back the way he'd come and tossing a look over his shoulder. "Go search for him, he can't be too hard to find, there isn't that many places to go."
"Right," I met Heero's eyes, "where would he hide?"
"What makes you think he's hiding?"
"The fact that he was running as if he never wanted to see another person again."
We'd come to an intersection, I glanced to the right, motioning Heero to the left and giving his arm a squeeze as we separated ways. "Good luck."
It was nearly 10 minutes later when I found him, the soft sound of whispering voices catching my ears as I passed a doorway. I paused, bending close the doorframe and listening.
"You don't understand, I've never done anything like that before."
"I just don't understand why you ran away Bell, they were only joking."
I leant closer; realizing the other voice was Khali's.
"I've never been so embarrassed," he let out a small moan, the sound becoming muffled by something. I peered around the edge of the doorway, staring in surprise when I saw that Khali had put on her little girl form.
The tiny redheaded child was holding Bell close, stroking the long blue hair as he hid his face against her shoulder. I smiled at the scene, easing back and hiding again.
"You'll get over it, so will they. Besides, I thought you liked it?"
"I did, and I'm glad they weren't there when it happened. But what will I do if this happens every time they…"
"Can't you shield yourself from them?"
"No, not from Duo, or Heero. The crystal within both opens all their feelings to me, there is no shield strong enough to stop me from feeling myself, you see?"
I glanced around the doorway again. Bell sat on the floor, his back against the wall; Khali nestled in his lap. His brow was furrowed, one hand idly stroking the short red hair. "The only way to cut the bond would be to remove my `body' from them, and to do that would kill both of them. I can't do that."
"Bell, explain something to me."
He nodded, shifting into a more comfortable position on the floor.
"If your `body' is inside of them, and this form," she tapped his chest, "is out here, then what are you made of now?"
"Energy, and pure life. Normally, my race doesn't evolve this way."
"Yes, you see, the reason I was alone in that ship, was because I was on a mission of evolution. My race's way of becoming, well, something new. We explore, and when we find a new race, we communicate with it, eventually gaining permission to share a life." he stopped speaking for a moment, gesturing helplessly. "It's hard to explain it in this language, there are no words for what we do."
"Try, I'm a very understanding entity." she smiled up at him, patting his cheek.
"We have one…mother. She created all of us, birthed us. Over one hundred million years ago, she began to send us out into the various universes. Our missions were to become each race we met. To do this, we had to find one of each race we encountered and, ask to merge ourselves with them. What happened to Duo was not the way it's done. He was never asked, never gave his permission. And so our merger together is…unfinished, improper."
"Usually, we change our bodies to match the race we are joining, we do not physically enter them. This way we do not harm them when we leave. My life is now shared with Duo and Heero though, and to leave them would kill them as surely as anything could."
"And this is the way your race evolves?"
"Yes, in this way we come to understand every culture we encounter, eventually bringing back the knowledge to our mother."
"Is this why you want to go home?"
He nodded, smiling slightly, "and I miss it."
"I wish I could be like you…"
"At least you can feel, you are so easily what I wish so hard that I could be."
He looked confused for a long moment, and then his expression cleared, a soft smile curving his mouth. "Khali, don't you realize what that planet following us could do for you? That primordial soup as you call it, it is pure life, all you have to do is merge with it and your wish will come true. The body you have now is what I had before, pure energy." He paused, grinning at her; "they brought a sample of it onboard, didn't they?"
"All you have to do is touch it, and you'll be alive."
"Alive… oh Bell." She breathed, flinging herself against him, and laughing delightedly. "Are you sure?"
"Analyze it yourself. Touch it with this form. But…Khali, if you do, how will you remain as the ship's intelligence?"
"Oh that's easy," she flickered for a moment, the tiny form becoming solid after a few seconds more of the strange shifting. "There, I've stored my memories. Once this body comes to life, all I have to do is imbed a tandem chip within my mind, and then I can be both human and ship."
"Should we go tell the others now?"
"Are you feeling better?"
"Yes, I was just…" he shook his head, a faint blush creeping over his cheeks.
"I understand, though…I don't think we'll have to tell Duo." Her voice raised slightly as she asked, "will we?"
I jerked back from the doorway, flushing as I realized she'd known I was there the entire time. Of course she had, she *was* the ship, she'd know where everyone onboard was. I poked my head around the corner again, meeting her eyes and giving her an embarrassed smile. "Nope, and it's a great idea. There's only one problem that I can see."
"What?" they both asked at the same time.
"Khali, you're too small, all of the knowledge within you won't possibly be able to exist in a child's mind."
She laughed, standing and beginning to twirl around the room, a golden glow emanating from heart level and brightening as she spun. Slowly the glow covered her, until at last her form was engulfed. I watched in awe as it grew, gaining height, the short red hair extending to her waist, her figure becoming slim and curving. When at last the light disappeared, a woman stood before us. She grinned, spreading her arms and bowing.
"Of course, who else would I be?"
"Do you think this body could handle a ship?" She smiled again, and I noticed that her eyes had changed as well, becoming the same golden colour of the glow that had surrounded her.
"I think so."
We'd decided not to inform Milyardo and Treize of what we were doing. Gathering Heero when we found him wandering one of the corridors and taking him along with us. The sample of the planet's life giving ooze was tucked away in one of the labs, carefully labeled and still sitting out on a table. Khali practically jumped up and down as she stood in front of it, her smile stunning as she lifted the small container.
"I've always wanted to feel what people do." She whispered, opening the container and dipping her fingers inside. The pink liquid slithered over her fingers, tangling in them and seeping beneath her skin in seconds. A small gasp escaped her cupid bow mouth; golden eyes closing only to blink open in surprise. "Wow." She breathed, staring at her hand.
"Well?" Heero asked, taking the container from her and setting it aside. He grasped her fingers, smiling as she shivered.
"Oh wow." She said again, beginning to laugh. "I can feel!" She pulled her hand away from Heero, reaching out and running her fingers over his face, then touching a steelshift wing, giggling the entire time. "This is what I was missing, this…life."
"Are you still connected to the ship?"
"Faintly," she nodded vaguely. "It's still there, but…I'm not it anymore." She met my eyes, grinning from ear to ear. "Let's go find Treize and Milyardo, I can't wait." She turned, grabbing Bell's hand and squeezing, "thank you."
"You deserve it," he said with a laugh, following her insistent tugging as she headed for the door.
"Well," both Heero and I smiled at each other, "that was easy."
"So it was," his gaze went to the door, "let's go."
"You're dying to see their reaction, aren't you?"
"Are you kidding? I wouldn't miss this for anything."
Apparently we were about 5 minutes too late to hear Khali tell them what she'd done. But it didn't matter; we were in time to see the looks on their faces.
Treize sat as if stunned, one hand clutching at the fingers of Khali, the other held to his face, catching the tears that fell abundantly. He was mumbling half incoherently, a smile twisting his lips, his eyes filled with happiness despite the copiousness of his tears.
Milyardo stood behind him, merely staring; occasionally he would reach out and touch some part of the girl that stood before them, as if reassuring himself that she was in fact alive. "But what about the ship, Khali? How will you remain our captain if you're no longer a part of the ship?" he'd eventually asked.
"I am still a part of the ship Milyardo, that can never change. Though I do need to install a tandem chip soon, I don't have as much control as I would like."
"I can do that if you'd like, I've had enough experience installing bio-modifications." I smiled at her, trying to keep the grimness from my voice. I'd had too much experience with them, my entire life involving installation of modified circuitry within my body.
"Of course, just tell me when."
"Now, I need to get it done as soon as possible, I don't like this separation from myself."
"You must feel very similar to how I feel." Bell said softly, his hand closing over her shoulder in a comforting manner.
"Yes, I imagine I do. My body is this, as well as the ship. My mind split between the two."
"Go then, get it over with and then meet us in the gravi-room." Treize managed to whisper, reluctantly letting go of her hand.
"Father." She said, smiling softly at him and patting his cheek, "I won't go away."
Modifications within a body are actually not that difficult to install. They sound like they would be, and look it too. Though really, it's quite easy. Khali didn't even need to be knocked out for my efforts, I'd done the same sort of thing to myself, and I even had the same chip inside of me. This chip is what had allowed me to have cortex juxtaposition with Fina. Our minds able to merge or separate at will, though from a distance such as this… I could no longer feel her. It nearly made me cry to think of the numerous miles between us, the universes that separated her existence from my own.
I carefully slid the Brean-scalpel along the underside of Khali's ear, closing off the small incision that'd been made. "Test it."
Her eyes closed, the lids flickering. I knew what she'd be seeing; the vast information of the ship flashing behind those closed lids. "It works, hold on, I need to check the external feeds as well."
A few seconds passed, time in which I gathered up the various instruments of surgery, dropping them into the cleaners. "Well?"
"All systems go, I feel much better now. It was bothering me to be so separate from myself." her eyes opened the gold of them glimmering up at me. "It's different to be alive Duo, not like what I was before. It's what I've wanted for so long, what Treize and Milyardo wanted as well."
"Why? Why did they want it so badly?"
"Don't you know?" she smiled, "I was once alive, my mind was that of a child. I died very young though." She looked sad for a moment, then looked up and met my eyes once more. "Treize had a family once, a husband, a daughter."
"Certain of the Raskuda are capable of mating completely, able to bear children. Treize was one of those few. But when his daughter was still very young, she was killed for some unknowable political reason. He saved the memory chip that had been installed within her since birth. And when he left his planet and began traveling, he installed her memories within me."
"So that's why…"
"That's why he cries so. I am what his daughter would be if she had lived. As for Milyardo, well," she grinned, "Treize never did lose his husband. But that is another story entirely."
"But they're different races…and I don't…wait a minute," she nodded at me as I stared at her, "that's why he has the extra arms, isn't it?"
"Of course, why else would he have them?"
"I wasn't sure, and couldn't begin to guess. But I think I can piece together the story now."
"Yes, it isn't that difficult is it?"
"He mated with an alien species, and I'm sure his family didn't appreciate it."
"That's putting it mildly, they still have universal finders after him."
"They went that far?"
"They certainly did. They went so far, that if they ever do capture him, they are to bring him back to the Peacecrafto homeworld and lobotomize him."
I shook my head, outraged that Milyardo's own family, a family known for their peaceful ways, could be so cruel. "Let's go to the gravi-room now, ok?" I asked, unwilling to contemplate the evil of man any longer than I had to. It seemed the system and it's various leaders, where nothing more than villains.
The gravi-room turned out to be the very same room that Bell had been hiding in earlier with Khali. I had a vague idea what a room such as this would do, but had never really been in one before. And so it was with complete surprise that I watched what happened next.
As we entered the room, the others stood beside me, Khali walking to the center of the large circular chamber, turning and smiling at us. "Hold onto your pants." She pointed upwards, directing our attention towards the ceiling.
My eyes drifted up, opening wide as slowly the ceiling began to spin. Then a piece in the middle twisted in the opposite direction, a crack of midnight visible as it began widening. Soon, the entire ceiling was opening, twisting in a convoluted pattern, like a spiral shell opening. As it began showing more and more of the space beyond, I realized the entire room was spinning, and that my feet were no longer touching the floor.
"Reflection," Khali said softly, and the floor shimmered, becoming a pure mirror image space, now completely visible above and around us. The walls seemed to disappear, and we were floating in it, as if we'd become stars ourselves.
I reached for Heero's hand, tugging him closer and laughing, steering his body until we pressed together in a tight embrace.
"Have you ever danced with the stars?" he said, and we smiled together as we whirled into space.
Transpod: A dimensional traveling device. The transpod will transport human mass within any area that contains another transpod. The time taken for each journey will always be exactly 10 nanoseconds, as time is folded as well as matter to create no ripple within the dimensions.
Slosta: A drink created from organic matter grown on Jilad, the Slosta is filled with nutrients that heighten awareness and energize.
CR chips: Two microchips implanted behind the ears, the connectors that allow a direct linkage to the VR modules.
Shinalp: A form of cursing, Shinalp is somewhat akin to saying "shit" or "ah shit"
Kajacrap: The Kaja is a life form located on the planet Neskin, a large beast known to produce huge amounts of feces. The phrase kajacrap is akin to saying "Bullshit"
Fliogan Warriors: The Fliogan is a race that attaches metallic wings to their young while they are still being formed within the incubators. The wings are partially organic, fusing with the young so as to become part of their bodies. This warrior race is known to be extremely high tech, and very vicious, most normal humans will not go near them, as they are known to kill without reason. Very little is known of the Fliogan or their ways.
Feed Tubes: Connectors that feed information and nutrients to any life form connected to any long-term device.
Lavablue 6: The planet on which the society of Fliogan reside at this time.
Levels: Technological knowledge is rated by level; most societies only have an average of 30 levels. The common level of most humans is 5, techmaster levels tend to be higher and in the upper ranges.
Steelshift: 1 of over a million different charted elements, Steelshift is partially organic, allowing it to be integrated with human DNA, testing is still in experimental stages, most distinguished users of this element are the Fliogan.
Slipshot Diskwings: A style of wing known to be common among the Fliogan, Slipshot defines the integration of movable parts, Diskwing is the style of the small circular patterns of metal that form the wings of Fliogan.
Contract: A contract is a more binding way to say, "Promise or swear?"
Optilenses: Cyber optic lenses, which can be used during a VR program only.
Creos: The original form of the name Christ has changed with the passage of time, modern form of the word when used as a curse is Creos.
Orstras: A plant matter grown in dark caves on the planet of Trinition, considered a delicacy on most planets, the plant is dark purple with small white bells that can be plucked and cooked. The taste is said to be sweet and delicate.
Realtime Call: The difference between a realtime call and a regular call is in the distance, all realtime calls infer off planet residence of the caller, communications run at high speeds, face to face talking is still difficult between planets.
What is your task: This is the way most people will ask what your job is, what career you're in.
Crèche Technician: Most people are born to the incubators and raised in crèches, the technicians help care for the many children being raised in such places.
Grower: The still forming body of a child within the incubator, a delicate time that must be carefully overseen to prevent accidents. A grower is usually designated as a child in a womb-like state. Between -1 to -9 months, or the time a child would be inside of a mother's body.
Youlin: A manmade mammalian life form, these animals are specifically created to improve the technology behind cloning. Most tests are performed with a small VR module; with which the creatures are filled with the only knowledge they know, as the Youlin is created with a blank slate for a mind.
A Set: A group of Growers that have reached maturity.
Trance state: Every few months of a citizen's life is recorded during REM cycles, the consciousness is stored within a neural processor called a memory chip. Occasionally when one wishes to know another, an exchange of such chips may occur.
Wetwiring: circuitry and modifications that can be installed within the human body without harming it.
The System: There are 3 levels of the system. The first is that which take cares of the minor systems such as basic maintenance, the second level controls techmaster training, medical facilities, and knowledge. The final level of the system controls all other functions between worlds; each detail is observed, and stored within it.
Klishana: A crystal found during an expedition of exploration, it is not only organic, but sentient as well.
Pinalr: A vegetable that can be eaten raw or cooked, it is said to be an acquired taste due to its strange fleshy texture and nutty flavor.
Guplit: A type of fruit grown on many planets, it is small and covered in tiny spikes which make it needful to be carefully eaten. It is said to taste rather sour, with a hint of sweetness.
Fermented Hisle Juice: A type of fruit grown on many planets, it can be juiced and distilled to form a mild form of alcoholic beverage.
Brean-scalpel: a surgical instrument designed for a bloodless opening and closing of tissues, often used for personal bodily modifications.
If you would like a definition for something not listed here just ask! ^_^