vulnus – 3.5

Content Warnings

Discussion of child soldiers
Implied incest (sort of)

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The tears wouldn’t stop; burning hot behind her eyes, blurring the exterior world beyond a veil of pain, running down her cheeks in twin scar-lines, invading her mouth with the taste of bitter salt, dripping from her chin to stain the cold concrete floor and pool in the crinkling plastic of the emergency blanket. She made no effort to wipe at the tears — could not have done even if she had wanted. Heaving, shaking, suppressing each great wracking sob, grinding the broken glass inside her lungs. She gritted her teeth and screwed her eyes shut, but the tears could not be dammed up. The pain was too large for her body, with nowhere to go. She would burst, explode, fly apart. She wanted to keen and wail and howl through her teeth; she wanted to scream until her lungs ruptured; she wanted to tear handfuls of concrete from the floor and crush them to dust, hurl them at the walls, force them down her throat, smash them against her own skull, open herself up until blood and viscera and bone marrow ran free and released her from this pain.

But she didn’t. She didn’t want to wake the others — Kagami, Ilyusha, Amina. They were exhausted. They needed rest. She swallowed each sob, feeling her heart tearing at itself.

Elpida wept without end.

After minutes or hours — she wasn’t sure — she felt a hand grip her upper arm, firm and strong.

“Come on,” Vicky hissed. “Come on, Elpi. Up you get. Come on. On your feet, super-soldier girl. What do I have to say? Attention? Time to move out? On the double? Come on. Come on, get up, ‘cos I can’t lift you.”

Elpida choked out: “Your— arm—”

“Fuck my arm. Forget about the arm. On your feet. With me.”

Elpida wasn’t sure how she managed to stand, but she did. Vicky’s hand was sweaty and grimy in her own. Vicky led her out of the bunker’s main room, through the tiny dark corridor, and into the room at the opposite end, with the concrete block-seat and the cistern of water and the closed slit window. Vicky made Elpida sit down on the concrete block. Elpida could barely see through the tears. Her muscles felt like overstretched steel cables. She couldn’t stop sobbing. She wanted to smash her head into the concrete wall so the cold air would take her brains.

“Elpi,” Vicky was saying in a croaky voice. Her hand was squeezing Elpida’s shoulder. “Elpi, I’ll be back in less than sixty seconds. Okay? Can you hold on for sixty seconds for me?”

Elpida nodded.

Vicky left the room. Greasy raindrops drummed on the concrete roof, drowning Elpida in black static. Low voices came from the other end of the bunker. Then Vicky returned, with the dead-blue light of a glow-stick. She joined Elpida on the bench and put her one working hand on Elpida’s shoulder.

“Let it out,” Vicky said. “Just let it out, Elpi. You gotta. You gotta let it out. You’re not gonna wake anybody up, I’ve warned them. You’ve been going and going and going since we woke up — since we came back to life, whatever. You were on your feet from the word go. You were the only one who did that. Come on, Elpi, let it out, let it—”

Elpida screamed. She screamed through her teeth until her throat was raw and bloody. She keened and spat and howled so hard she thought the concrete might crack; she leaned forward and screamed at the floor; she stamped and kicked and wept till she drooled bloody saliva.

She did what she couldn’t do yesterday — a million years ago — for each of her lost clade-sisters.

In the spire-cell where the Covenanters had incarcerated the cadre, up near the very tip of Telokopolis, she’d had to be strong. Elpida had to be the Commander, had to keep the others sharp, give them hope. She had kept them organised, made certain nobody fell into despair, or felt separated from the others. She had never given up on any of her sisters, all twenty four of them. Right down to the final day, with only herself, Kos, and Orchid left, when she’d become certain that the Covenanters were executing them, Elpida had to be strong. Yesterday.

The genetically engineered pilot-clade were hardened against panic attacks, post-traumatic stress disorder, combat fatigue, anxiety issues; they had been grown with a host of minor but important tweaks to their emotional regulation, hormone production, and neurochemistry. But they could still cry. All of Elpida’s clade-sisters had been able to feel the full range of human emotion, even those who stood at the extremes of the project’s genetic tweaking. As Commander — or perhaps because of Old Lady Nunnus — Elpida had been allowed to see the pilot project design documents. She had read the reports on what had come before the cadre. Previous versions of the pilot project had tried to create perfect little automatons, human beings without needs; the result was flesh without soul. The first pilot project design team had been removed from their posts and barred from Civitas work for life. The cadre was the compromise: people, but selectively muted.

Except it hadn’t worked. The project had not predicted what the girls would become, the group-logic which bound them together, the intense need for each other’s company and touch and regard and love. And by the time that had become apparent, the cadre had been ready to force their hands.

But Elpida had never been taught how to deal with grief. She’d never lost a sister. She had no idea how to mourn.

So she screamed and screamed and screamed for her sisters, until she had nothing left inside.

The pain did not ebb, did not lessen, did not go away.

Eventually, only aching silence was left.

“Here,” Vicky croaked. “To … to wipe your eyes.”

She pressed one of the spare grey thermal t-shirts into Elpida’s hands. Elpida used it to wipe her face, to clean up the drool and dried tears. She stared at the concrete wall in the blue glow-stick light. She listened to the rain above her head. Vicky got up again for a moment and left the glow-stick on the concrete seat; Elpida heard the glugging of water. Then Vicky returned and held out one of the nanomachine cannisters they’d taken from the tomb, one which had already been drained of the blue nanomachine slop. She’d filled it with brackish water from the cistern.

Vicky said: “Try to drink some. Sorry, this is the only container we’ve got. S’probably got some trace leftover nanomachines in it, but hey, that’s supposed to be good for us, right? Like nano-squash. Heh.”

Elpida nodded. Her face was sore. She coughed. She drank some stagnant water, then handed the cannister back. Vicky drank as well, stiff and slow next to Elpida on the concrete seat. Raindrops drummed on the roof, washing the air clean with black static. They passed the water back and forth for a while.

Eventually, Elpida said, “How long was I crying?”

“About an hour, I think. You went quiet in the middle for a bit, then there was some more. If you need to keep going, that’s okay too.”

“I made a lot of noise.”

Vicky cleared her throat gently. “Kaga’s awake. I asked her to come get us if she sees anything moving toward the bunker.”

Vicky looked uncomfortable; she had to sit bent forward to cradle her reattached arm in her lap, and the looted green coat was pulled tight over her left side. Her dark face was lined with exhaustion, deep brown eyes soft with care. Her hair looked like she’d been running her hand through it over and over.

Elpida told her: “You need sleep.”

Vicky pulled a rueful smile. “Elpi, it’s a lot to deal with, waking up after the end of the world. With everybody gone. Dead, I mean. I cried too, earlier, while you were, um, dead. Kaga went off to cry by herself. Amina can’t stop crying. We’re all fucked up by this. It’s okay to let it out. Like I said, you’ve been in go mode since you jumped out of that coffin. Nobody’s gonna blame you for breaking down a bit.”

Elpida shook her head. “It’s not that. I wasn’t mourning the world. I’m not in shock.”

Vicky raised her eyebrows. “Oh yeah?”

Elpida stared at the concrete wall. “Yesterday — a million years ago — I was in a cell. With my cadre.”

“Cadre. Right. You called yourself ‘Commander’ earlier. You led a squad or something? A—”

“The cadre. My clade-sisters. The pilot-program clone litter. My family, my lovers, my responsibility.” Elpida spoke the words even though she knew Vicky would not understand all the meanings. “All of us. We were in that cell for almost two weeks. Every day the Covenanters would take one or two of my sisters away, and shoot them. I was the Commander, and I couldn’t do anything. They kept me for last. Probably because the Civitas was demanding they hand me over. Maybe I was a bargaining chip. Maybe the executions were political theatre. I don’t know. But at the end it was just me in that cell, alone for the first time in my life. And then they came back and shot me too.”

Vicky was silent. Elpida turned to her, and found Vicky staring in mute horror.

“ … E-Elpi, are you … you … ” Vicky swallowed. “Grief like that doesn’t just pack itself away. Do you … do you need—”

“I was made for this. I still feel it, but it’s dulled now. That’s just how I was designed.”

“What, they made you so you can’t even grieve?”

Elpida told Vicky the basics — about the pilot program, the cadre, the genetic engineering, the Civitas, the Covenanters, the endless political division over isolation and expedition, the ‘green question’ — and then about the end, the spire-cell. Vicky listened without asking questions. Elpida skipped unimportant details; the details did not matter.

“And, Howl?” Vicky asked gently. “That was a name. Was she … ?”

Elpida’s throat tried to close up. She stared at the blue-lit concrete, and recited:

“Howl. Metris. Silla. Vari. Third. Kit. Daysalt. Shade. Orchid. Arry. Bug. Ipeka. Velvet. Kos. Fii. Snow. Here. Dusk. Scoria. Yeva. Try. Asp. Quio. Emi.”

Black static washed away the names. Elpida repeated them a second time, under her breath. She reached up and cupped the back of her neck, where her MMI slot should have been.

After a long moment, Vicky said: “Those were their names?”

Elpida nodded. “Mmhmm. Howl was my … closest. Second-in-command, sort of. We didn’t really have ranks, not really.”

“But you were in charge?”

Elpida shrugged. “The Legion had ranks, so we had to maintain some semblance of command structure, even if just for appearances. I was the Commander, but not because of rank, and not because of anything the project bio-engineers intended. I was Commander because the others followed me. Silla, Metris, Howl, they were my lieutenants. But Howl was … ” The tears threatened to come back. Elpida took a deep breath. “Howl was special.”

“Your … lover?” Vicky sounded a little uncomfortable. Elpida was used to that.

“We all loved each other. In all different sorts of ways. Born together, raised together. But with Howl and me, it was always very intense. She was impossible.” A smile pulled at the corners of Elpida’s mouth. “She would always push me, always question me, challenge me in front of the others. We beat each other black and blue in sparring. But she’d always want to get in private, too, just the two of us. She loved me, more than the others, I think, though that’s impossible to quantify. And I relied on her in a way I never understood, not until … ” Elpida trailed off, looking down at her hands. “We were very close. Slept together a lot. I knew her body better than I know my own.”

Vicky didn’t say anything for a long moment, so eventually Elpida looked up — and found a very familiar expression looking back at her: incomprehension, caution, concern. She straightened up.

“Elpi,” Vicky started to say. “I don’t know what to—”


Vicky froze. “ … Elpi?”

“I’ve seen that look on your face a thousand times before.” Elpida kept her voice level and calm, but she was surprised — by anger. She’d never given vent to it before, not to a Legionnaire, not in the Civitas, not to Old Lady Nunnus — not to any outsider beyond the cadre. “You don’t understand what I’ve told you. You don’t understand us. You don’t understand the bond we have or what it means; because you don’t think it’s real. You see a genetic experiment that doesn’t really think or feel like a—”

Vicky raised her good hand. “Elpi, whoa, no—”

“We were never approved of. First we were a bunch of soulless freaks, raised in antiseptic rooms, prodded and poked and experimented on—”

“Elpi! It’s okay, you’re—”

“Until we killed one of our handlers at six years old!” Elpida snapped in Vicky’s face. Vicky shut up. “I led that. I led the others in a murder. I made the decision, I approved the plan, I took responsibility. Because I could see what would happen if we didn’t. Genetic engineering had gifted me enough intelligence that at six years old I could see the project was going to split us up.”

Vicky nodded. “Okay. Okay.”

“They called us clones, but we weren’t identical. Not from identical genetic stock. Each of us was selected and built differently. That was part of the experiment. And they were going to split us up, use some of us to breed more, discard others as failed — not kill us, but just into the civilian population. They wanted to split us up. So we killed a fully grown man at six years old. We trapped him, cut his hamstrings, and broke his neck. We showed the project what we were capable of. And it worked.”

Vicky swallowed.

Elpida continued: “And then we were still freaks, but we were something else too. Nobody ever approved, no matter how successful we were, no matter that we finally got the combat frames to respond to a human MMI link. No matter how deep we went into the green. No matter how many Legion operations we saved. Did we have souls? That was up for debate. Could we feel? Probably, but maybe not. Old Lady Nunnus believed us. When she took over, she treated us like human beings, because she believed in the purpose of the project, she was an expeditionist — but even she didn’t want to know what was inside our heads. Legion Commanders found it weird that we all slept together, that we were so close, that we fucked.” Something caught in Elpida’s throat. “We fucked.” She took a deep breath and looked at the ceiling. “It feels good to say that. I’m sorry, Vicky. I don’t know how to do this. I don’t know how to feel these things.”

Vicky touched Elpida’s shoulder with cautious fingertips. “I don’t know what to say. Elpi, I’m so sorry.”

Elpida just nodded. The pain was still there, tender and raw. Her heart lurched and she coughed again. “I’m sorry I snapped at you. I saw something in your face which wasn’t really there. Projecting. You didn’t deserve that.”

“Apology accepted. It’s no problem. You’ve been through a lot. Shit, that feels like an understatement alright.” Vicky fell quiet for a long moment, then said: “Do you think—”

“We were just casualties in a bigger conflict,” Elpida said quickly. “In the end we just didn’t matter. Most people who live in Telokopolis will never see it from the outside, from the exterior. If they do, then it’s from up close, from just down on the plateau. The Legion, they never go that far into the green. They can’t. A few miles at most, then the green itself and the Silico push them back. But us?” Elpida smiled, tasting bitter salt once more. “We saw the city from half a world away. You know what it looks like? A shining needle. Touching the sky. It’s beautiful.”

Slow tears rolled down her cheeks, for something other than her sisters.

Elpida added, “Telokopolis killed all my sisters. And Telokopolis is eternal. And it’s not theirs. It belongs to all of us.”

And if any of my sisters are up and breathing in this afterlife …

Elpida let that thought trail off. She left it unspoken. Pira had warned, that way lay madness.

Black static filled the silence. Minutes passed. Elpida dried her eyes again. She moved her lips in a silent mantra, repeating once again the names of all her clade-sisters.

Vicky waited for her to finish, then said: “You know, Elpi, when I called you super-soldier girl, I was kind of joking.”

“You weren’t wrong.”

Vicky let out a very awkward laugh. “Yeah, but you were also a child soldier. That’s no joke. Sorry.”

Elpida said, “It was worth it. The project was correct. The Covenanters were wrong, the isolationists were wrong. This future proves that, if nothing else. We were correct.”

“Sure, but that doesn’t justify child soldiers.”

“Without the project, my sisters and I would not have existed.” Elpida nodded to Vicky. “I came to terms with that long before death. I just wish they were here. I’m not supposed to be alone.”

“None of us are,” Vicky said. “And hey, we’re not, are we?”

“I suppose not.”

Vicky smiled a grim smile. “Hey, no judgement or anything. Technically I was a child soldier too. I thought it was pretty justified at the time.”

Elpida gestured for the cannister of water. Vicky handed it over. Elpida drank, then handed it back again, and said: “Tell me about Houseman Square.”

Vicky blinked, dark lashes catching glow-stick light. “W-what? I mean, pardon?”

“Back in the tomb, when I asked if you’d ever been in a firefight. You said nobody would even remember what the battle was about, or why it mattered. I said you could tell me about it later. I was the only one who knew the names of all my sisters, but now you know as well. So, tell me about Houseman Square. Then I’ll know.”

Vicky let out a big sigh, then almost laughed. “Fucking hell, Elpi.” She cast around the concrete room as if looking for a way out. “Gonna need a stronger drink than stale water for that. I’m not really sure you wanna know, not after what you told me. Houseman Square was heavy shit.”

“Vicky, look at me.”

Vicky looked, and looked troubled.

“I’m alright now,” Elpida said.

Vicky looked very sceptical. “Uh, sure.”

“I don’t mean that I’m not in pain. I think I’ll always be in pain. But I’m calm. I’m present. This is what I was designed and trained to do: be calm and present so I can make plans and lead my cadre. Please, tell me about Houseman Square.”

Vicky pulled an apologetic grimace. “If you say so.” She took a deep breath. “Houseman Square was a prison. An unofficial prison, but the sort everybody knows about, you know? Torture, gruesome stuff. People went in and didn’t come back out. Or came out missing pieces. Used to be this police precinct building, old-city stuff. Um. The battle was, uh, well.” She shook her head and looked away. “Sorry, Elpi, this is complicated stuff.”

“I can keep up.”

Vicky didn’t look at her. “Opening the prison was the GLR’s excuse to cross the border into Chicago. Hell, they didn’t need an excuse by that point. It’s why I joined the irregulars, for that fight. Lied about my age.” She let out a sharp sigh. “Look, Elpi, none of this is going to make sense to you. You don’t have the context for the GLR, the revolution, any of it. I don’t think I’d make sense in your world. Future. Whatever.”

“You can tell me anyway. I’ll still listen.”

Vicky snorted. “Yeah, I guess you will.”

“You lied about your age? Why?”

Vicky’s sad smile turned almost to a grin. “So they’d let me fight. Told ‘em I was sixteen. I was actually a week shy of fifteen. Don’t think they were convinced, but the GLR covert guys already inside the city, they didn’t give a shit. They wanted rifles in hands and red flags in the air. Fuck it, I would have turned up even if they’d said no. Somebody I knew was in Houseman Square, that’s why I joined.” She sighed deeply. “I didn’t even hear Borzman’s ‘no more masters’ speech until three years later. Didn’t read any theory, didn’t give a shit. I just wanted my dad out of that prison. The GLR were the only ones trying.”

“Your father.”

“Mm.” Vicky fell silent. Her fingers hovered toward the exposed muscle of her reattached arm. “He was dead though. Way too late. Died weeks before the revolution came to Chicago.”

“I’m sorry.”

Vicky shook her head. “Twenty years ago, now.” Then she laughed, just once, eyes far away. “Two hundred million years, actually, I guess. Twenty subjective years. Weird.”

Elpida studied Vicky’s profile, her dark skin and full cheeks and sharp nose: Vicky — Victoria — did not look thirty-five years old. She looked twenty.

Elpida weighed her options, then said: “You don’t look thirty-five.”

Vicky froze. She glanced at Elpida, as if caught in a lie. She swallowed, then smiled, intensely awkward. “Yeah. I noticed. Something to do with the nanomachines, maybe. I guess.”

Elpida considered the possibility that Vicky was a necromancer, as Pira had described. Perhaps Vicky was wearing a body and a history not truly her own, and was having trouble keeping her story straight. Vicky had taken wounds, covered Elpida’s back, struggled alongside her. Pira had suggested that Elpida might be a necromancer, ‘role-playing’ a revenant for personal pleasure.

Elpida considered the possibility — and decided that it didn’t matter, either way.

“Chicago,” Elpida echoed the name-word Vicky had used. “Is that where you come from?”

Vicky took a deep breath, visibly relieved. “Sort of. The Chicago city-state. Used to be part of this big empire like a hundred years before I was born. Then part of a smaller empire, but nobody called it that. Everybody just called us Chicago.” She shrugged. “But now I’m … or I was … ” She shook her head and straightened up with sudden pride. “Nah, not was. I am still a citizen and soldier of the GLR. The Great Lakes Republic.” She smiled suddenly. “Fuck Chicago. I hope the GLR eventually finished the job and burned the arcology to the fucking ground.” Then she laughed. “I’m not supposed to say things like that. We’re not supposed to wish that. We were meant to take the arcology, no matter how long it lasted. Borzman and Merla themselves both said that. At least if the bastards didn’t nuke themselves first. Ha. Ahhh, Elpi, you don’t even know what half of this means, do you?”

Elpida smiled back. “Doesn’t matter.”

She had no idea how Vicky’s world fitted together; half the ideas Vicky implied were alien — the word ‘revolution’ reminded her too much of the Covenanters. But Elpida recognised that pride, that identification, that straightening of the spine. She felt the same thing when she thought of Telokopolis.

“Houseman Square, then,” Elpida said. “Do you want to tell me about the battle itself, or does that not matter in the same way?”

Vicky didn’t answer for a moment. She looked down at her hands, a nervous twitch in her face. Then: “Elpi, I’ve got a secret to tell you. About me. About my body.”

Necromancer? “Go on.”

Vicky was almost shaking. She looked up at Elpida’s eyes. “When I woke up in the tomb … I … I didn’t mean to … I had nothing to hide, I just … ”

“Vicky, it’s okay. Whatever it is.”

“Vicky’s not even my real name,” said Vicky. Her voice was stretched thin. Her eyes were wide with private panic. “I picked it. On the spot, when you asked me in the tomb. I picked it. It’s not real.”

“My name is real,” Elpida said.

Vicky halted whatever she was about to say. “What?”

“I picked my own name. All of us in the cadre did. Nobody named us. They gave us numbers.”

Vicky stared, blinked several times, and then laughed once, sad and confused. “Right. Right.”

“It’s no less real because you picked it yourself.”

Vicky nodded, but she was still on the edge of a strange panic.

Elpida said: “Vicky, are you a necromancer?”

Vicky laughed again. “No. No, that would be simpler. Elpi, this.” She held up her good hand. “This isn’t my body. I mean, it’s my face — I know it is, I’ve checked, I spent like two hours staring into the surface of one of these stupid space blankets. It’s my face, it’s my skin, it’s even my fingers and my scars and … and … but it’s not my body.” She shook her head. “For a start it’s almost twenty fucking years younger.”

“But you’re in it,” Elpida said. “It’s yours.”

Vicky laughed. “Yeah, but—”

Uneven footsteps tapped into the tiny corridor which connected to the main room of the bunker. Vicky jumped, good hand to her mouth. Elpida just looked round and waited.

Kagami’s voice called a moment later: “Are you two decent in there? I am not walking in on zombie sex, not on day one. Day two, whatever this is now. I would prefer never.”

Vicky huffed: “We’re not doing that, Kaga.”

Elpida just said, “We’re decent.”

Kagami shuffled into the room, peering around the doorway with her doll-like face. She looked tiny and huddled inside her armoured coat. The auspex visor across the top half of her face made her look like a giant insect, recently emerged from her cocoon.

“Kaga,” Vicky said, “were you listening to us? Did you—”

“I do not give a fig whatever you were talking about,” Kagami grumbled. “I don’t care. Shut up.”

Elpida said, “We have company.” It wasn’t a question.

Kagami nodded. She pointed, up and to the left, staring through her visor, seeing through concrete and steel and empty air. “I spy with my large and high-cognition-load eye — a single revenant, crouched in a building, two or three floors up.”

Elpida stood up. Her heart lurched. She coughed. “Alone? Just one?”

“Alone,” Kagami confirmed. “And pointing something at the bunker — something glowing like a red-hot poker. I think we’re about to be cracked open.”

Previous Chapter Next Chapter

Nanomachines can fix the body, heal the heart muscle, and plate the ribcage with steel – but some wounds run deeper than flesh. Will Elpida ever be whole without her cadre? She’s going to have to keep walking, even if she’s dead, if she wants these new comrades to survive. In the meantime, there’s always hope. And I hope you have enjoyed this arc, because next week … well, I would say next week we’re onto arc 4, but it’s actually going to be a single-chapter interlude. Something very different indeed. Only one chapter though! And then arc 4, and whatever beasts and rascals lurk beyond Elpida’s flickering firelight.

If you want more Necroepilogos right away, there is a tier for it on my patreon:


Right now this only offers a single chapter ahead, about 4.5k words.  Please, do feel free to wait until there’s plenty more to read! I’m still trying to somehow put out more chapters ahead, maybe soon!

There’s also a TopWebFiction entry, for voting. Voting makes the story go up the rankings, which helps more people see it!

Thank you so much for reading my story! More soon!

17 thoughts on “vulnus – 3.5

  1. This chapter emotionally felt real. Nice job Author.
    So Vicky was originally older? Or am I missing something?
    Thank you for the chapter.


  2. Real questions here: Where in the post-post-post apocalyptic verse is Vicky going to find a poncho?

    Also, dang, HY, you really are a great author. Your writing has these little moments that slip past the fourth wall and through the reader’s defenses, and I’m totally here for it.


    • LMAO, oh wow. Well, maybe she could make one from nanomachines? Extrude one, somehow? Also, yes, well done. It’s not 100% obvious, but if you’re aware of the kind of themes I sometimes write about, then Vicky’s situation is probably pretty clear.

      And thank you so much! I’m always delighted whenever readers are enjoying my work, it means a great deal to me, makes all this worth doing. Thank you for your kind words.


    • Even in the nightmare of forced resurrection and this dead world, there’s still beauty to be found in being alive. Thank you. This part hurt to write, too, yes.


  3. Names can hold power. Whether they’re yours, those of the departed or the living. Whether they’re given or made, used or not. They can allow you t be someone new. Or remember someone old. Their names are known. As long as you last, so will they. Damn, i’m a pretentious piece of shit… Anyway, thanks for the chapter! And i’m looking forward to the interlude!


    • Haha, it’s not pretentious, no worries! Elpida found a lot of comfort in repeating and cherishing those names in this chapter; perhaps if she holds onto them long enough … but that way might be more painful. And Vicky, well, her name is her own, given or chosen, just the same.

      And thank you! Glad you enjoyed the chapter! I’m looking forward to more story, too, loving writing this for you all. Thank you!


  4. A little time to grieve and process and get to know each other before the next threat.

    It shows how desperate Telokopolis must have been for soldiers capable of defeating Silicos for the six year olds’ murder plan to work and not backfire horribly for them.

    “Elpida recognised that pride, that identification, that straightening of the spine. She felt the same thing when she thought of Telokopolis”

    This statement struck me as an expression of how patriotism can be a beautiful and empowering thing when its about identifying with a common cause and fighting for /caring for your fellow citizens or comrades, rather than being defined by us. vs. them or othering outsiders as it sometimes is. And Elpida can feel this way about Telokopolis even despite toxic internal politics and that some factions don’t see her as human or deserving to exist, because she is identifying with the best of it, the ideal that it represents. Interesting. There are problems here but also something noble.


    • Elpida probably needs more time for grief. Any other person would, but … she’s built to pack it away again, to move on too fast. Hope Vicky is going to keep an eye on her.

      Indeed, Elpida’s childhood conditions reveal several things about Telokopolis. If a group of six year old clone baby soldiers murdered and ate one of their handlers, you’d think it would be the end of the project. For that to result in everything going ahead is, uh, worrying!

      Thank you for mentioning the patriotism thing, I did wonder if any readers would bring that up. That’s absolutely something I’m interested in exploring here. Elpida’s Telokopolis was much, much more than the slice of it we’re getting from her memories; but what we’re getting from her is an ideal, something it represented to her, perhaps to her cadre. Elpida’s ‘Telokopolis’ means a lot to her. How much was that something she’s built in her head? Does that make it any less valid? Vicky has a similar set of memories, but she came from incredibly rough conditions and then found an ideal to identify with, comrades to help, etc. Both of them have something real and powerful there, even if the conditions of their time periods and societies may also have been horrific in other ways. There are lots and lots of problems here, yes, good way of putting it! Elpida may or may not come to terms with that over time, or perhaps she’s already begun the process of separating her ideals from the city itself, or maybe it’s not needed.

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