"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 ran into Heero as he barreled out of our shared room, knocking both of us to the floor. 138 had crawled into my hair for safekeeping and managed to hang on with a painful grasp on my ear and part of my braid. Wincing, I helped Heero stand and tugged him down the corridor, heading towards where I'd last seen Khali and Bell.
"The U. Finders are back, and this time they decided not to wait before attacking."
"My sentiments exactly, we have to find Khali, they're hurting her."
"Lead the way."
I skidded around a corner, throwing myself into the gravi-room and halting at the sight that met my eyes. Khali lay crumpled on the floor, Bell holding her head on his lap, a wild look to his eyes as he glanced up.
"What is it? What's going on?"
"The U. Finders."
"What are they?"
"Machines with no soul, killers, collectors. They're ramming Khali, probably because firing on her had no effect."
Bell nodded, gently lowering Khali's head to the floor and standing. "Show them to me."
"Heero?" I asked, glancing towards Khali's unconscious form.
"I'll stay with her. Go!"
"This way." I took Bell's hand, tugging him with me from the room and ramming straight into Milyardo and Treize. Another spill to the floor and this time 138 managed to rip a long gash in my cheek.
"What's happening!?" Milyardo yelled, leaping to his feet and looking franticly about.
"Ask Heero, I think Bell might be able to stop them!" I shouted, already on my feet and running again, Bell close on my heels.
At last, we arrived at the eating room, I pushed Bell towards the portal, gesturing widely at the vast array of Finders we were against. "Can you do something?"
"Can you get me out there?"
"You can't be serious Bell, it's death out there!"
"It's death in here too, find me a way out." He took my hand suddenly, squeezing it tightly. "Please Duo, it's the only way I can get to them."
I nodded, taking a deep breath and trying to concentrate. A map of Khali flashed across my mind, an airlock one floor above us lighting up as if I'd pointed to it. "Above."
He nodded, already moving towards the door, then stopped, and gave me an indecipherable look. "Duo, if I die…"
"If you die Heero and I die too, right? Well it doesn't matter, if Khali dies we're all dead anyway."
He nodded, mouth set in a grim line. "Lead me."
The airlock one floor above was just big enough to fit a human body through. Obviously it'd been made for repairs and maintenance, and not for anything larger. Bell turned from his brief examination of it, meeting my eyes.
"I don't know if this will work. I've never had any other form than my original, vacuum may be hard to survive with this body." His eyes drifted over the doorframe, then back to my face. "Wish me luck." And then he smiled, releasing the various pressure locks from around the door.
My eyes remained on his face even as I backed up and slipped through the dividing chamber. Separating myself from the coming coldness of space without a barrier. The lock shut with a hiss and time stilled for a moment as Bell stood one door away from death.
Bell froze, and then he shuddered, as he began glowing. Then it was moving, sliding over his body, engulfing it from head to foot, sheets of blue crystal starting from head, feet, and moving inward. As they touched he turned his face towards me, and I could see it covering his mouth and eyes. Through the barrier of crystal, his normally sapphire eyes had taken on a burning hue, incandescent. He gave a slow nod, and released the final lock, keeping a firm grip on the frame as the door opened onto space and all it's various dangers.
But I didn't expect what happened next, for even as he drifted out the lock I realized several things at once. Khali had stopped moving, the Finders where everywhere, and the connection between Bell and I would connect us even in death. My eyes closed, knees becoming weak as all the energy inside of me seemed to seep out. Behind my closed lids, I could see what he could as if it were I on the outside.
The Universal Finders, I'd never seen them up close. The only way any sane human would ever see them was through pictures or vids. But in their natural environment, in the open vastness of space, they were terrifying. Bodies of Steelshift and various metal alloys, evil seeping from them like vapor. They were without a doubt meant for killing, the metallic bodies long and unencumbered, weapons of death arrayed along their flanks like bristling armor.
One of them approached Bell, already raising and aiming one of the unnamable weapons it carried. Inside my mind, I heard a single word, "No."
And it stopped moving, the lights upon it going dead and dark, weapons freezing in mid-motion. I smiled grimly, it would work, there was a way we could beat them. I had forgotten, in all this time just what Bell was capable of doing.
He turned then, in his covering of crystal; an armor plated death, and held out his hand towards a batch of the U. Finders. They stopped as the other one had, lights dimming, weapons lowering. He was draining them, as he had been said to do when I was born, he was stealing their energy and power, sucking it up and holding it inside of himself. In all this time I'd forgotten the true capabilities of the crystal, its ability to not only create energy, but to steal it as well.
Then the battle started in earnest, the Finders swarming him in a cloud of silver, weapons firing only to die immediately. Any shot that managed to hit him merely became absorbed; the glow of the crystal brightening as more and more energy was taken in. I had not thought there was a way to truly be rid of the Finders, I'd never managed to think that far ahead. I'd been almost expecting death and failure at this task.
Another volley of shots was fired, a new group of Finders approaching quickly, sleek creatures of havoc. And that's when Bell began to burn, a fire of blue springing from his armor of crystal, expanding until it covered the space around him, deadening any Finder that dared to touch it.
But they were learning already, they were not after all, mere machines, they were search and seize engines, designed to bring down fleets and kill specific individuals. Now they avoided Bell, circling around him in a funnel shape, metallic birds of space, ancient earth1 vultures. They were slipping below him, above him, shifting to trap him and take him by force.
I didn't realize I was holding my breath until it wheezed out, inhaling it all back in with a desperate gasp. My fists were clenched and resting against the floor, eyes still tightly shut as within my mind I watched Bell become solidly buried beneath a wave of the Finders. And then those too died, becoming still in the darkness of space.
It was euphoric, this taking in of energy, invigorating. I could feel it coursing through his body, traveling through my own. The connection between us had become stronger, and inside of our heads, I whispered encouragement to him. An answering whisper flowing back along the invisible threads that linked us together. "Death."
The shield of glowing blue around him disappeared, the Finders fool enough to approach what no longer seemed to be a threat. Heartbeats passed, the machines thinking that their prey was somehow weakened at last, vulnerable. They flew to him, coating him like an avalanche of silver, covering him entirely, surrounding his body. In a burst of firing, they shot at him together, in a pack, thousands of them hitting him at close range. There was a pause then, stillness.
I could feel my lips spread wide in a grin of pure maliciousness, they would never know what was coming. Bell broke from them, backing up, drifting towards Khali's outer hull, carefully he placed a hand against her, fingers flexing against the space chilled metal. His burning eyes turned toward the Finders, an answering grin on his face as the blue glow of the crystal began again. This time it was stronger, the energy he'd taken in enormous.
In a flash that extended thousands of miles, the fire of the crystal burst out, embracing the Finders. It hit each one of them, taking the energy, absorbing their power in one fell swoop. Killing every one of them, leaving their carcasses to float dead in space, an instant graveyard of used up metal being born to float amongst the stars for eternity.
Khali's body glowed, the energy pouring into her, healing her. Lights fluttered brighter, the entire ship seeming to take a breath and expand. Silence fell, Bell turning triumphantly towards the airlock, still glowing with power.
As he came through the last door, I stood from my crouch, our eyes locking, victory flashing between us. We had beaten what no one ever had; we had defeated the undefeatable.
But at what cost had we defied the system?
As we walked together towards the gravi-room, we remained silent, on the outside. But inside we howled together. I could hear his voice now, understand the bell-like tones of his native tongue as we shouted of our victory. I felt invincible, power coursing through the both of us.
Heero glanced up as we entered, Khali lying on the floor, Milyardo and Treize kneeling beside her still body. Tears streamed from their eyes, and they didn't need to tell us what had happened to her. But they did never the less, grief rocketing from their mouths as the Raskuda screamed. "She's dead!"
"No." Our voices echoed, twinned as we said it together. "She will not be dead."
We approached the pale form, bending down and laying our hands on her. I met Bell's eyes, knowing that this would be our most difficult task.
Slowly, imperceptibly we released the energy, flowing it into Khali's dead body. It was as if I could see every cell within her, every vessel, muscle, the bones that supported her. There was nothing broken, nothing diseased or burned, it was merely, dead, lifeless.
The energy coursed from our hands, drifting down beneath her skin and awakening the dead tissues, forcing the blood to pump through her veins again. We coaxed life into death, the power overflowing and spilling along the floor, drifting in a visible wave over everything in its path. I could sense the ship around us, everyone in the room with us, the space beyond us with its mass grave of Finders, the planet still floating lazily in our wake.
Focusing the energy, we began to build a city of Khali. So much power inside of us that the only way to rid ourselves of it was to make the ship larger, fill her with it. Beneath our palms her heart started, beneath our feet the ship grew.
Faintly I could hear the gasps of everyone, the shock I knew theymust feel at our display. Never in all of history had anyone done such a thing, something such as this unheard of.
And still she grew, the ship becoming larger and larger, planking and hulls, ports and airlocks, everything. A tug on my cheek sent my eyes fluttering open, the gash that had still been dripping blood healing, scarring and disappearing. A tiny inhalation next to my ear reminding me that 138 still clung within my hair.
The power dissipated gradually, the glow fading from around us. Beneath my palms, Khali's heart was beating again, chest rising and falling with breath. And around us, the ship had grown, a small city now, large enough to house millions.
My hands dropped, head hanging as the power left me again, weak now without it. A set of hands turned my body, catching me as I fell into the blackness.
It was dark when I opened my eyes, for a moment making me wonder if I had dreamed the whole thing.
"You're awake." Heero's voice whispered next to my ear, arms that I hadn't noticed tightening around me. I could feel his wings join them, comforting in their warmth.
"Duo." Something filled his voice, care, worry, and something indefinable. Love perhaps, fear maybe. "It wasn't a dream."
"No, it wasn't, was it?"
"I won't ask you how, or why."
"Good, I don't think I could explain it."
"Khali lives, the ship lives. Duo, she's grown, the ship is nowalmost the size of a planet, she'll never land again."
"She'll never have need to land again."
"No, she won't, will she?"
I shook my head, turning my face into his shoulder and breathing deeply, inhaling the scent of him. "I never thought that my life could change so much in such a short time. It's only been days since our escape. But now at least I have an answer, Heero."
"We *will* go home again. Nothing can stop us, not the system, not the Finders, there is no power strong enough to halt us."
"Think on that action, think before you do it. In killing the system, you may wind up killing the universes. So many rely on it, a show of power may not be the answer."
I blinked in the darkness, realizing he was right. I hadn't considered the effect that killing the System might have upon the rest of our race. "There is way, there is an answer. Just because we don't know what it is yet doesn't mean that there isn't one." A chill crept over me then; the thought that I had considered genocide as an answer was terrifying.
"Duo," I felt Heero's breath, hot against my neck and ear.
"You love me?"
"Yeah, I do."
"Good, I'd hate to think I was the only one in love."
He laughed, the rich sound of it filling our cabin, bouncing from the walls and back to us. I didn't tell him what I could still feel though, like an itch inside of me. Burning in my veins the energy still coursed, untamed, and uncontrolled. Death and life, all held inside.
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 soas 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 also 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.
Inverse Star: Very rarely when a star starts its death throes, it will turn in upon itself and feed off of its own energy, creating a new form.
If you would like a definition for something not listed here just ask! ^_^