Discussion of suicide
Discussion of cannibalism
Elpida held her breath — then remembered she didn’t need to breathe.
The sensory assault from the worm-guard — as Pira had called it — intensified. Elpida’s eyes watered; her nose ran with mucus. The tips of her fingers and toes started to go numb; her skin tingled all over, her jaw ached, and her throat tried to close up. Her heart jerked and spasmed, desperate to draw a cough from her lungs. A high-pitched ringing grew louder and louder inside her skull. White flecks danced in her peripheral vision, speckling the dim glow-stick illumination on the walls of the concrete bunker.
Active scanning. Perhaps a high-powered electromagnetic field. Likely beyond Elpida’s understanding.
Pira stood frozen, face gone grey-pale, moving only her eyes. Vicky was gritting her teeth, her muscular frame clenched tight. Kagami’s face was scrunched in a frozen scream. Down in the corner, Ilyusha clamped a black-red bionic hand over Amina’s mouth and nose, smothering her hyperventilating panic. Amina struggled briefly; Ilyusha coiled around her like a snake, pinning her limbs and cradling her skull until Amina could only twitch and whimper. Atyle suffered in rapt silence, cross-legged and straight-backed, tears and snot running down her face as she stared at the wall behind Elpida.
A claw tapped the concrete — on the exterior wall behind Elpida’s head. Tink — tink — tink went those taps, climbing the bunker and mounting the roof in three steps. Click against the left wall, clack against the right; the worm-guard had a long reach.
Pira’s eyes followed the sound, then jumped to the barred door.
Tap-tap, tap-tap. The worm-guard probed the door-frame — then pressed: creeeeeak complained the metal. The door flexed inward.
Amina whined in Ilyusha’s grip. Kagami swallowed too loudly. Vicky breathed an inaudible curse.
Elpida looked down at the coilgun through a haze of stinging tears. How quickly could she grab the receiver and power up the magnetic containment? Fast enough to shoot whatever was about to burst through that door? She flexed her numb fingers and prepared to leap.
Creeeeak went the metal — and then stopped.
The door stayed shut. The worm-guard lost interest. Tap-click went claws against the roof, once, twice, three times, and then the worm-guard stopped moving.
Nerve endings quivered. Skin tingled and itched. Joints burned. Eyes watered. Seconds dragged out in perfect silence and imperfect stillness. Nobody breathed. Even Amina managed to stop whimpering. Ilyusha’s face was buried in Amina’s shoulder. Elpida swallowed a cough. But the worm-guard did not go away.
Elpida moved her lips, no sound: “Pira. Pira.”
Pira looked. Elpida indicated the coilgun with a flicker of her eyes. Pira shook her head by less than an inch.
Elpida counted the seconds: sixty, one-twenty, one-eighty, and still the worm-guard did not move on. Vicky was shaking with muscle tension, eyes screwed shut. Kagami looked like she was about to suffer a full-blown panic attack, face completely drained of colour, pupils dilated, mouth hanging open, skin caked with sweat, staring upward at the roof of the bunker. Amina had gone limp and dead-eyed in Ilyusha’s grip. Ilyusha seemed almost the same — slack and shut down.
Elpida mouthed again: “Pira. We can’t stay like this forever.”
Pira was drenched with sweat as well. She whispered just loud enough to carry, “It’s not moving. It should be moving. This isn’t normal.”
Pira shook her head again. “Don’t touch the gun.”
Elpida looked at the concrete ceiling and whispered: “Graveworm?”
Pira whispered, “Yes, worm-guard. Our only chance is to stay beneath its threat targeting threshold. Do not touch the coil—”
Dark red light suddenly stabbed through the half-open door to the bunker’s tiny corridor; a flicker-wash of active scanning equipment moving over the room at the other end. The worm-guard had entered the bunker through the open slit-window in the other room, the one Kagami had been looking through earlier.
Elpida saw a mass of pale tendrils fill the corridor, rushing toward them.
She dived for the coilgun.
Rrrrrrr — peng!
A deafening noise ripped through the air and the bunker walls alike: engine-discharge, electric crackle, and cannon, all in one.
Pira stumbled and winced. Kagami cried out and covered her ears. Vicky grunted, sagging. Amina screamed into Ilyusha’s hand, and Ilyusha hissed and slapped the wall with her tail. Even Atyle bowed her head in pain.
And Elpida came up with the coilgun receiver. She thumbed the power-tank activation and aimed at the half-open door — but the pale tendrils were gone, whipped away in an instant, followed a split-second later by a rapid tink-tink-tink-tink of the departing worm-guard.
The sensory assault lifted. Elpida coughed hard. Her chest and heart ached and burned; the dive had cost her. She killed the coilgun power and gently placed the receiver on the floor, but she couldn’t stand up yet. Her head was ringing, her half-closed wounds were screaming, and her vision was wavering.
Pira took several slow, deep, deliberate breaths. Ilyusha uncoiled from around Amina. The younger girl was crying softly as she hugged her knees to her chest.
Kagami panted: “What— the fuck—”
“I told you,” Pira said. “Worm-guard.”
“Somebody shot it.” Pira pulled herself upright and wiped tears and mucus on her sleeve. “Long range, high-powered, enough to classify as a threat. That sound we heard, that was the worm-guard’s anti-ballistic countermeasures.”
Elpida pushed herself up to her feet. She coughed blood into a hand. “Whoever it was just saved us.”
“By accident,” said Pira. “Lone worm-guard, this far out, that’s a lot of nanomachines. If you can ingest them.”
Kagami snapped, “No! No, I mean what the fuck was I looking at!? What the fuck was that!? That wasn’t biological or mechanical or anywhere in between.” She pulled the auspex visor off her face and waved it in the air. “This was throwing up errors like I was staring into a fucking quasar. What was that!?”
Vicky made a pathetic attempt at a laugh. “Ow. Said it before, didn’t I? Sufficiently advanced technology, indistinguishable from magic. We just got buzzed by a dragon.”
Pira said, “I told you. Worm-guard.”
Atyle breathed as if coming down from an orgasm. “The machinery of the gods.”
Elpida swallowed another cough. She tasted blood. “Pira, are we safe now? Do we need to move?”
Pira answered: “We’re never safe. But moving would be worse. This group won’t have any chance in the open, not as we are now.”
“The worm-guard won’t come back?”
Pira shrugged. “No reason to.”
Kagami spat: “No reason?! That thing was hunting us! It crouched up there like it was fucking playing—”
Pira spoke over her, calm and cold. “It knew we were here before it arrived. We were not hiding from it. If it wanted to, it could have cut the roof off and fished us out, or cooked us through the walls without damaging the concrete. We stayed below the threat acquisition threshold, that’s all.” She nodded at the coilgun. “If it does return, grab that, aim somewhere, and pray. But I’ll be gone.”
Kagami hissed in frustration. She slapped her auspex visor into her lap.
Elpida said, “Everyone take a moment. Catch your breath. That was stressful and frightening, but we’re safe now. Vicky, are you okay?”
“No,” Vicky croaked. She laughed once, then winced, reaching toward the exposed red muscle and meat of her reattached arm. She weakly pulled the looted coat a little tighter over her shoulders. “I mean, yeah. I guess. I’m not hurt. That just sucked.”
Elpida said, “Ilyusha? Amina?”
Amina was crying, face buried in her knees, half-burrowed beneath the spare coats she’d been sleeping in. Ilyusha was leaning gently against her side. The heavily augmented girl looked drained and withdrawn; the fire had gone out of her lead-grey eyes. Her tail lay against the floor, unmoving. She gave Elpida a limp thumbs-up.
“Good job comforting her,” Elpida said. “Amina? Amina, we’re going to be safe now. We’re safe now.”
Amina whined into her knees: “No, we’re not.”
Everyone took a while to recover their composure. Kagami stewed in silence, chewing on a fingernail. Elpida paced to the stairs and back, testing her heart and chest muscles. Pira closed her eyes in silent meditation. Atyle just wiped her face, none the worse for wear.
After a moment, Elpida realised that Vicky was watching her. Elpida stopped pacing and stared back. She knew what was coming. She took a deep breath, coughed, and let it happen; if none of the others had spoken up, she would have said it herself.
Vicky said, slowly: “Pira, you mentioned that wasn’t normal behaviour? From the ‘worm-guard’, I mean?”
Pira opened her eyes. She glanced at the diagram she’d drawn on the wall, with the two circles around a graveworm. “We’re firmly in the safe zone. Worm-guard don’t come out this far unless they’ve picked up a threat. They don’t hunt us, not unless we’re threatening them or getting too close to the graveworm.”
Kagami pointed at Atyle. “Did she lead it back to us?”
Atyle shot Kagami a stony look.
Pira shook her head. “No. She was in the open for a long time. It would have caught her.”
Atyle said: “It would not.”
Vicky swallowed and said, “The logical conclusion is that it was after us. Specifically, I mean.”
Pira said, “No reason to. We’re not important.”
But Vicky and Kagami both looked at Elpida. So did Atyle. Pira followed their combined gazes. Ilyusha pulled a sneer and looked at the floor.
Vicky said, “Sorry Elpi. But you did talk to the thing.”
“Yes,” Kagami snapped. “You did, didn’t you?”
Pira frowned, confused rather than hostile. “You did what?”
“That’s correct,” Elpida said. “I spoke with the graveworm. More accurately, it spoke to me, and I responded.”
Pira’s stare was unreadable, but open. “Explain.”
“Down in the tomb, we entered the gravekeeper’s chamber. The interface — the corpse — it spoke to us, but it was speaking in riddles.”
“Poetry,” said Atyle.
Kagami snorted. “AI nonsense. It wasn’t speaking, not really. Just regurgitating. May as well have a conversation with a linear algebra equation.”
Pira said, “Yes, I’m familiar with that. Elpida, go on.”
“While the gravekeeper was speaking, a second voice spoke over it. But only to me. I have a brain implant called a neural lace.” Elpida tapped the back of her neck and felt once again the strange absence of the socket. “It’s meant to be paired with a mind-machine interface slot, but when we were resurrected, that was … missing. The neural lace is for direct machine communication, and mind-to-mind communication across a private noosphere. I don’t understand how, but something sent a broadcast directly into my neural lace. This voice heavily implied itself to be the graveworm.”
Pira looked around at the others. Kagami and Vicky both nodded. Kagami added: “She was speaking to a voice we couldn’t hear. That much is accurate.”
Vicky said, “She didn’t hide it or anything. Elpi, really, no offence.”
“None taken,” Elpida said. “Don’t worry.”
“You,” Pira said, nodding to Atyle. “Your eye, it’s high-spec enough for flesh-work. Does Elpida—”
Atyle said: “A metal spider cradling her head and spine, yes. She speaks truth.”
Elpida waited. The cross-examination didn’t offend her. The stakes were too high. Pira addressed her again: “What did it say?”
“It seemed amused,” Elpida explained. “It made comments which implied it was watching our progress through the tomb. It joked about acting as my ‘mission control’. It was surprised I could hear it talking; I think it wasn’t broadcasting on purpose, just speaking to itself, at first. But then it was disappointed that I wasn’t somebody else, somebody specific, as if it was looking for a particular person. It recognised Telokopolis — the name of my city. Then it seemed confused. Then stopped. It spoke again when we exited the tomb, with a warning about the Silico — the zombie. Then when the Silico arrived, the graveworm seemed resigned. It hasn’t spoken to me again.”
But Howl did, didn’t she? Elpida kept that fact to herself; that was just brain chemistry, yearning for love on the verge of death.
Pira looked Elpida up and down.
Kagami snorted. “You fucking called that thing after us.”
Elpida nodded. “Maybe I did.”
Commander, you doom us all, she thought. Same as with the cadre. If Kagami was right, Elpida should walk out of that door and into the dead city, alone, right then; she should have been left for dead, for the scavengers, for the ‘black rain’ of oblivion once again. If she was calling Silico monsters down on her comrades then she was a liability. She was no use at all. She was death for her sisters and comrades and cadre, all over again.
Kagami blinked at her. “I-I didn’t mean … I … ”
Elpida said, “It’s okay. You may be right.”
Pira sighed sharply. “I already explained. If that worm-guard wanted to kill us, we would be dead.”
Vicky croaked, “You don’t think it was protecting us, do you? Protecting Elpi?”
An uncomfortable look circled the bunker room. Ilyusha finally raised her eyes from the floor; she was grinning at that. Her tail stood up, waving slowly.
Atyle said, “Favoured of the gods.”
Vicky let out an uncomfortable, forced laugh. “Friends in high places.”
Elpida said, “We have no idea what was happening. And the graveworm hasn’t spoken to me again. Pira, you’ve never heard of somebody communicating with a graveworm before?”
Pira stared at Elpida for a very long moment, her eyes like lightning-washed skies in her pale, freckled face. Her flame-red hair was too dark in the dim light from the glow-sticks in Vicky’s lap. Elpida could read her without too much difficulty: Pira was trying to decide if Elpida could be trusted.
“No,” Pira said. “Never.” She glanced at Ilyusha too; the heavily augmented girl just shrugged.
“Have you ever met another person with a neural lace?” Elpida asked. Pira shook her head. Elpida’s heart lurched. She coughed. “Anybody with my phenotype? White hair, copper-brown skin? Wouldn’t be as tall as me, different facial structures, not true albinism, but—”
“No.” Pira shook her head. Then she added: “But I don’t know everything.”
Elpida forced herself to contain the disappointment. “Thank you.”
Pira sighed. “Hope is a dangerous thing, here. Your world is gone and everyone you knew is dead. The chances of running into somebody from your own time period is almost nil. The quicker you accept that, the easier it will go for you.”
Elpida forced herself to smile. “Thank you all the same. Pira, do you think that really was the graveworm, speaking to me?”
Pira said nothing. But her face was not quite as closed as before.
Kagami said, lemon-sharp: “Before we get distracted by morose philosophy or whining about the hopelessness of existence, Pira, you were explaining this absolute bullshit to us.” She gestured at the map and the diagram on the wall. “And you were avoiding a question. Or am I the only one who remembers?”
Elpida said, “No, I recall as well.”
Vicky said, “Oh, yeah, right. Beyond the graveworm line, right?”
Pira just stared at Elpida, as if still trying to make a decision. Then she glanced at the others, one by one — lingering perhaps a little longer on Atyle. Then she let out a long sigh and tapped the graveworm diagram again, on the worm itself.
“Everyone wants to get inside a graveworm.”
“Why?” Elpida asked.
“I already told you why. The graveworms are giant nanomachine forges. With enough nanomachines, you can do anything.”
Ilyusha barked. “Ha! Sure can.”
“The more nanos you consume, the more you can modify your body.” She nodded briefly toward Ilyusha, toward her non-human bionic limbs, her extendible claws, and her tail, which was now wagging in the air. “You can heal faster, move faster, endure more, change more. But there’s only so many ways to get large quantities of nanomachines.”
Kagami said, “Like eating each other.”
“Cannibalism is popular, yes. Especially on fresh resurrections. But we’re not the only fresh source each time a tomb opens. There’s the raw blue we took from the armoury, but also there’s machinery in the top floors of each tomb, manufacturing bionics, replacements, additions, specialised substances, experiments. That’s why everyone fights to be first in, to claim the resources and get back out again.”
Vicky scoffed. “Fucking hell. No solidarity? No banding together? This is it? The war of all against all. Barbarism.”
“Dog eat dog,” Kagami spat.
Ilyusha snorted: “Reptiles.”
Pira shrugged. “You can just stick close to the worm, absorb the ambient. You’ll survive, but it’ll never get you far enough.”
Elpida said: “Far enough to leave. Am I correct?”
“Beyond the graveworm line,” Vicky said. “Shit.”
Pira stared at Elpida for another long moment, judging or deciding. Then she nodded. “There are revenants who live beyond the graveworm safe zone, but not many. I already told you: only the most heavily augmented can survive out there.”
Kagami waved a hand at Ilyusha. “Like her?”
Ilyusha cackled. “Like meeee!”
“Not even close,” said Pira.
Elpida said, “I see the logic here and I don’t like it.”
Pira nodded. A moment of understanding passed between them.
Elpida said, “Anybody who ingests enough nanomachinery to leave the graveworm is either skilled at securing resources from the tombs, or a successful cannibal. Or both.”
“Yes,” said Pira.
“Fuck me,” said Vicky. “Oh, fuck. Great.”
Amina sobbed into her knees. Ilyusha put an arm around her shoulders. Vicky was shaking her head in horror.
Pira said, slowly, staring at Elpida: “But if you could get inside a graveworm … ”
Elpida asked, “Has that ever been done?”
Pira shrugged. “There’s rumours.”
Elpida already saw the logic: there would be no trek to Telokopolis — standing or ruined or dead or otherwise — while bound to the route of a graveworm. But she had spoken with the mountain-sized construct. Was Pira perhaps thinking the same thing? Elpida had no idea what Pira’s agenda was, but Pira had saved her from death before knowing any of that. Perhaps they had a goal in common, perhaps Pira could be trusted. Elpida wanted to trust her.
Kagami snorted a humourless laugh. “This world is a joke. This future is a joke. Who would make this? Who would allow this to continue?”
Ilyusha barked: “Us!”
Atyle spoke up, unconcerned. “We were reborn with our flesh already blessed by the machinery of the gods.” She gestured toward her bionic eye. “Why?”
“Yes,” Kagami hissed. She rapped her knuckles against one of her augmetic legs. “And it’s fucking perverse.”
Pira said, “The tombs tend to repair the parts which were missing in life. Original life. Sometimes you get reborn with your stock of nanos, too, but more often not. Permanent additions tend to stay.”
Vicky said, voice quivering: “Yeah. Yeah, I’ve got a bionic heart, right? You said that, Atyle. Bionic heart. I died with a chest wound. That fits. It fits.”
Elpida asked, “What happens when a revenant dies?”
Kagami snorted, “Aren’t you the answer to that, you zombie twice over? No offence.”
Pira said, “Killing one of us for real is not so easy. Destroy the brain, or remove enough biomass. With the latter, a revenant can still wait for a very long time, regrowing on ambient. But … ” She shook her head. “That’s a bad way to go insane. Better to give up.”
“Give up?” Elpida asked.
“Give up. Go back to the tombs. Make a deal.” She continued before Elpida could ask the obvious question: “The initial resurrection, like you right now, that’s free. The machines just do it, and no, I don’t know why. But from then on you have to have a reason.” She shrugged. “It seems to be different for every person who keeps coming back, but you have to give the machines a reason — the gravekeeper, or something behind the gravekeepers, it’s … ” She trailed off, sudden and hard. “It’s difficult to describe what it feels like. But you have to give them a reason. You have to make a deal.”
Kagami hissed: “So there is an exit button. Just die and choose to stay dead. Hooray.”
Elpida glanced down at her. “Kagami.”
“Alright, alright. I won’t blow my brains out. Yet.”
Vicky said, “What kind of reason?”
Pira answered. “Like I said, different for everyone.”
Pira shrugged. “Looking for another person. Returning to a group. It can get very abstract.” She looked at Kagami. “And it’s not as simple as choosing to stay dead. It’s not the same, when you’re dead. It’s not the same. You’ll make the decision to come back. You will.”
Pira’s voice was quivering; Elpida spoke up, quickly, changing the subject. “Pira, how long does it take to come back?”
“I don’t know.”
“I don’t recommend testing it.” Pira crunched the words out; wrong question, Elpida decided.
“Okay. Pira, what—”
“If you lose somebody, don’t count on finding her again.” Pira swallowed. “It’ll drive you insane as sure as lying in the same place for fifty years trying to regrow your own head. Give up.”
Silence fell over the little bunker room. Ilyusha scratched a claw against the concrete. Amina sobbed quietly into her knees. Kagami looked away. Pira blinked; Elpida wasn’t sure if she could see tears in her eyes. Maybe it was just the dim light.
Vicky cleared her throat, then winced with pain. “Can I ask a really weird question? I mean, yeah, all of this is weird. Too weird. But hey, this is the weirdest shit so far. How is this whole thing resurrecting people from earlier in history?” She gestured at herself with her good hand. “We had brain scanning technology. Or at least the Chinese did, not us in the GLR. But I never sat in a jack chair and had my brainwaves recorded or anything. How am I here?”
Pira said, a little hoarse: “I don’t know.”
Ilyusha went, “Pfffft.” Then: “Fuck the future. Future sucks.”
Atyle said, “Souls dragged from the well.”
Kagami grunted. “The paleo has a point. No offence, high priestess,” she said, dripping sarcasm. “In theory — in theory — it should be possible to rotate a consciousness into view from the impression left behind in the quantum foam, based on the entire life of that consciousness. But bodies, likenesses, actual human memories? Nonsense.” She mimed spitting on the floor. “The best you’d get is quantum data, but it would be mostly noise. The technology should be impossible to build, but, pah! We’re made of picomachines. Yesterday we had a conversation with an AI substrate enclosure that may as well be a man-made god. I’m about ready to believe rotation theory is fully capable of accessing the foam layer and extracting more than background noise.”
Everyone stared at her. Even Amina raised her tear-stained face.
Vicky said, “I think our automatic translation technology is struggling a bit.”
Kagami huffed. “Oh fuck you, womb-born.”
Vicky laughed and then winced in pain. “Fuck you too, spacer head.”
Amina spoke up, peering over her own knees: “God put our souls back. That’s all. We’re not meant to be here. We’re meant to be dead. God hates us all. God hates me.”
Ilyusha bumped her head against Amina’s shoulder. “Naaaaah. God’s a bitch.” Amina did not seem comforted.
Elpida considered the map on the wall, the tombs and the worms — and the other elements labelled in Pira’s hand, the ‘towers’ and the ‘ring segment’. She said: “Pira, you mentioned there’s two systems in operation here. What’s the other?”
Kagami said, “Yeah. Get on with it. Before the worm-guard comes back and we have to meet up with you again in a year’s time after we all get turned to paste.”
Pira stared at Kagami for a moment. Not a funny joke. Then she tapped the map on the wall. “The second system is the towers — there’s three of them in the city — and the segment which fell from the orbital ring, out to the west, beyond the city.”
Kagami’s eyes widened. Her jaw dropped. “Orbital ring? Did I hear that right?”
Vicky muttered, “Whoa. Okay. Spacer head shit got serious.”
Pira nodded. “Most of it’s still up there, as far as I’m aware. The fallen segment has been down a long time.”
Elpida said, “What’s an orbital ring?”
Kagami huffed. “An orbital ring. Geostationary space station around the whole planet. Probably where that mech dropped from.” She turned back to Pira, eyes alight. “When was it built? Do you know? We were trying to get a ring project under-way, but it can’t be ours, that would be a hundred million years old. More! Even our systems wouldn’t last that long, sadly; I’m not that arrogant, Luna wasn’t populated by gods. Is there a space elevator? A needle?”
Pira shrugged. “I don’t know.”
“Tch! Have you ever been out there? To the fallen part?”
“Not myself. All this is second-hand information.” She glanced at Elpida, as if Elpida might understand a hidden meaning. “I’ve never been to the towers either. The worms never go near enough to reach them. I’ve tested. The only way to reach them would be to leave the graveworms behind.”
Was that what Pira wanted? To leave the worms behind, to journey to one of these towers? Elpida held her gaze, but Pira didn’t say it openly. Pira was watching her in return, with something in her eyes that Elpida did not recognise. Suspicion? Wariness? A kind of longing and curiosity? Elpida wanted to get her alone, talk to her alone, open her up.
“Still,” Kagami said. “A ring. Fuck.”
Pira continued. “All I know is the towers and the ring — or what’s left of it — are components of a global control system for the nanomachinery. Or they were, at one point.”
“Wait,” Vicky said. “How do you know this?”
“I said, all this is second-hand information. The worms and the tombs are an emergent system, I think. Nobody designed them. But the towers and the ring, those were made by people. The people who came just before this.”
Elpida said, “What are the towers for? What’s inside them?”
Pira stared at her, burning holes in Elpida’s face. “You really don’t know?”
“No. Why would I?”
“A graveworm spoke to you. And you don’t know. Really, zombie?”
“Pira,” Elpida said. “I don’t know. I’ve told you the whole truth. What’s in the towers? You want to reach them, don’t you? What’s in there?”
Pira said, “By now? Nothing. Wishful thinking. Dust and echoes.”
Kagami snorted, “Stop being a cryptic bitch.” But her tone was strained. Pira radiated hostility.
Elpida just said, “Pira?”
Pira was shaking as she spoke, very slowly: “If there’s any of them left, that’s where we’ll find a necromancer.”
Everyone wants that blue girl-juice, that frosty Mountain Dew, that power-up goo to grow new limbs and extrude weapons and leave the worms behind. But for what? Empty towers and broken rings? Or necromantic secrets from beyond the grave? Is there really nothing left, in this dead world?
There are now two pieces of fanart over on the Necroepilogos fanart page! One of Ilyusha, and one of the Silico/Zombie from the end of Arc 2! There’s also a memes page, with a few surreal offerings, growing rapidly …
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Necromancers, the architects of ruin in so many stories. Perhaps the architects of salvation in this one. Also, gotta love a wizard’s tower.
So it seems that Pira was close to someone once, perhaps the revenant that taught her all the tricks. That revenant seems to have gone on some quest to access a tower and, presumably from Pira’s warnings, died.
I wonder what Pira’s deal to come back was…A hopeless search for the missing someone? A promise to ascend a tower?
Also, don’t think we didn’t miss Pira calling Elpida ‘Zombie’
“Pira spoke to Vicky. “Zombie is a contextual word…it can mean affection. If somebody calls you ‘zombie’…Or they’re your best friend, expressing solidarity.””
Yup, gotta admit, if they could find somebody who controls death (or its analogue), then that might look very much like salvation, of a kind.
Poor Pira, indeed. She’s got a lot bottled up inside. And she must have some reason to keep coming back, to keep returning. A lost comrade, a lost love? Or those towers …
Zombie! Haha, well, bonding, maybe. That or a terrible insult to Elpida’s humanity. Perhaps Pira’s trust is turning sour.
Might just be the sensors, but I feel like the worm guard was interacting with their nanomachines. Oh yeah, the question with the neural lace becomes, does that come back, like if she takes a spinal shot that is survivable will the neural lace be replaced? Also, man one of those towers is probably telokopolos. Anyway, ignore my ramblings, thanks for the chapter!
You’re very welcome indeed! Glad you enjoyed it!
And the ramblings are very interesting! The worm-guard did seem to be causing some kind of deep physical reaction in the revenants, maybe it did have something to do with their nanos.
The neural lace, good question. Perhaps she needs to learn more about bodily control to make sure it doesn’t get damaged.
It would make a lot of sense if one of the towers was Telokopolis, right?