Melyn woke to the familiar sound of firearms discharge.
Low and deep and crunchy: crouf crouf. The gunshots were muffled by the thick walls of her cocoon — safely beyond of layers of exotic metal, hardened polymer, and self-regrowing composite ceramic armour — but also by the blankets in which she had wrapped herself for sleep, and by the fluttering sound of Hafina snoring next to her.
Pheiri was shooting at something.
This was normal, expected behaviour. Her notes recorded three thousand seven hundred and sixty two instances of Pheiri shooting at things with small arms. She’d given up adding more instances some time ago. She couldn’t recall when.
Melyn lay awake in the dark for a long time, snuggled down against Hafina’s side. She did not want to peel herself out of the blankets to see what was going on. There was no point. The engines remained on standby, a deep-belly hum down below Melyn’s range of hearing, a comforting full-body heartbeat transmitted up through the floor of the crew compartment, where she and Haf made their bed; the hull wasn’t ringing with impacts or dinging and pinging as small-calibre rounds bounced off the dirty white exterior; nothing was scratching against the rear access ramp or the top hatch; whatever Pheiri was doing did not involve the main turret, the rail-lance, or turning on all the lights and flashing alarms and generally having a tantrum. Melyn decided the noise would probably stop soon. She wanted to go back to sleep. Haf’s flank was nice and warm. Her body said no emergency. The screen of her mind was quiet and still.
But the crack-thump of weaponry went on and on. Timers started inside Melyn’s head, counting seconds, then minutes, then a quarter of an hour, until she was not only awake, but very irritated.
She left the halo of Haf’s body heat and rolled onto her back.
The crew compartment was the single largest space inside Pheiri — the only space large enough to bed down for the night, even if the benches were often covered in junk and clothes and pieces of Haf’s rifle and side-arms; Haf liked to take the guns apart and cover them in grease and put them back together again. Melyn didn’t understand why. Sometimes Melyn slept in one of the seats in the control cockpit, or wriggled into the cramped storage racks above the crew compartment. She had vague memories of once sleeping inside Pheiri’s turret, though those memories hurt if she touched them for too long; perhaps she had been unwell. But the crew compartment was the only place she and Hafina could lay down blankets and stretch out together. Sleeping together was always better than sleeping alone. Melyn didn’t enjoy sleeping alone, not unless she could wedge herself into the smallest space possible.
White and gunmetal, Pheiri’s guts flickered and danced with the backwash from the control cockpit up front, from a constellation of LEDs and readout screens and blinking lights, like fireworks in a moonless night sky.
Melyn had never seen ‘fireworks’ or ‘the moon’. She wasn’t sure what concepts those words referred to, but they scrolled across the screen of her mind regardless. She dismissed them with growing irritation.
Pheiri was still shooting: crump-crump-crack. Then came a long pause. Then another trio of shots. A long series of whirs and clicks and deep-tissue clunks followed: fresh rounds cycling into chambers from Pheiri’s growth-organs. Three more shots. Another two. One. Silence reigned just long enough for Melyn’s eyelids to droop. Then a barrage of slam-bang-crack jerked her into awareness again. Her mind was counting minutes and seconds and shots and time between shots and predicted distances and trajectories and targets. Sleep was hopeless. She extracted her arms from the covers and frowned toward the control cockpit.
Hafina snored on, oblivious.
Melyn told herself she was not jealous of Haf’s ability to sleep through anything, but she was. She was jealous of Haf’s larger body, Haf’s extra-fluffy blonde hair, Haf’s strength and stamina, Haf’s blind faith in Pheiri, and Haf’s unerring accuracy with the rifle. She was more ambivalent about Haf’s big goofy smile and Haf’s unreserved hugs and Haf’s big stupid eyes and big stupid arms.
But Haf wouldn’t understand the lights in the cockpit. The flickering patterns called to Melyn, made her head hurt, suggested she might decipher them into ammunition levels, heat readouts, IR feedback. But Haf would just shrug. To Haf they were just patterns in the dark. Waking Haf was pointless.
Melyn poked Haf in the side, hard.
“Wake up,” she hissed. “Wake up. Wake up. Wake up.”
Haf grumbled. She wedged her large frame further into the corner between crew compartment floor and crew compartment bench. The pose looked deeply uncomfortable, but Haf liked it; Haf liked to have her back against solid surfaces. That was why Melyn always got the middle of the floor.
“Wake up. Wake up. Wake up. Wake up. Haf, wake up. Wake up. Wake up. Haf. Haf. Wake up.”
“Mmmmmnnnn,” Haf grumbled again. Big eyes stayed firmly shut. Her blonde hair was all mashed into her face. She snuggled her head down further onto the bag she was using as a pillow. “How about no?”
Melyn sat up, dragging half the covers off Haf’s front. “Can’t you hear that? Haf, listen. Listen. Listen.”
Firearms discharge cracked and thumped, on and on, into the night.
Haf frowned without opening her eyes. “It’s raining.”
Melyn tutted. “That’s not rain. That’s guns.”
“Yeah, but there’s rain too. I can hear it on Pheiri. Plink-plonk-plink. You listen.”
Melyn was about to poke Haf in the side again, harder — but then she cocked her head and realised that Haf was correct: it was raining. Big fat drops raised a wall of static against Pheiri’s exterior. The screen of her mind supplied estimated raindrop density and liquid precipitation measurements, then demanded she drink some rainwater to test the chemical composition. She made that demand go away.
“Okay,” Melyn huffed. “It’s raining, fine—”
Haf said: “I was right. Go on, tell me I was right.” Her grin split the darkness of the crew compartment, big and toothy.
“But I was right!” Haf sounded a little offended.
“That’s not important right now. Haf—”
“It’s always important when I’m right. Come on, tell me I’m clever, Mely. Pleeeeease, tell me I’m clever. Tell me I’m clever or I’ll go back to sleep.”
Melyn sighed. “You’re not more clever than me. Stop playing. Stop. Listen. Pheiri’s doing something.”
Hafina listened for a moment. Then she said: “Pheiri’s always doing something.”
“Yes, but we aren’t moving. And it’s not stopping.”
Haf shrugged beneath her ruined blanket cocoon. One huge naked shoulder went up and down. Her mouth twisted with grumpy sleep-desire. “So?”
“So, we’re not moving through anything. What’s he shooting at? Why’s it going on so long? Why now? It’s the middle of the night. That doesn’t make sense. And it’s not stopping. Not stopping. Not stopping. We have to check. I have to check.”
The slow crump-crack of gunshots continued, muffled beyond Pheiri’s hull. Melyn let the sound speak for itself. Eventually Haf sat up, too big inside the crew compartment, beautiful in her ungainly motions; the flickering cockpit lights glazed her naked shoulders and collarbone and chest. The screen of Melyn’s mind measured Haf’s visible muscles against every previous measurement of Haf’s visible muscles, then informed her that Haf had lost an estimated sixty pounds of muscle mass over the last twenty five thousand hours. Melyn’s mind suggested several sources of high-calorie intake, but she didn’t know any of the words, so she made the suggestions go away.
Haf opened her eyes and watched the ceiling. She said: “Pheiri knows what he’s doing.”
Melyn hissed, “Yes, but we don’t know what he’s doing!”
Haf shot her one of those big stupid smiles, the kind which made her soft and funny and red in the face. “Then go look? Want me to stop you? Is this just a roundabout way of waking me up for a fuck?”
Melyn punched Haf in the shoulder. Haf laughed and tried to elbow her in the side, but Melyn was already squirming out of bed.
She kept her head low as she left their blanket nest, so she didn’t bang it on the crew compartment ceiling; Melyn was much smaller than Haf, with slender limbs and fewer sticky-out bits to bruise on Pheiri’s innards, but she still had to be careful. She curled her toes against the cold metal floor as she rummaged in the equipment bags on the bench, pushing aside her helmet and old body armour and too many pairs of gloves.
Haf sat up straight all of a sudden. Her eyes went three times larger. Her skin cycled from reflective-pale to night-combat black. “Mel? You’re not going outside, are you?”
Melyn found her big grey jumper and dragged it over her head. She pulled her dark hair back into a ponytail. “Nope.”
“But what are you doing?”
“Don’t feel like being naked right now.” Melyn scooped up her notebook and a pen from the bench. She refused to look at Haf.
“Awwww, hey,” Hafina whined. “I didn’t mean to make you mad. Mely, what’d I do?”
Melyn went to the front of the crew compartment and jabbed at the dispenser controls until Pheiri disgorged a food-stick. She stuck one end in her mouth, tucked her notebook under an armpit, and ignored Haf whining her name.
“Melyyyy, Melyyyy, Melyyyyyyyy.”
Melyn squirmed through Pheiri’s innards, over branching tubes and past bunches of wiring, lifting her naked legs to scramble over the bare metal of the reserve communication officer’s seat, the secondary gunner’s position, the access hatch for the engine, and the bulge of super-heavy armour over Pheiri’s brain. She had no idea what a communication officer or secondary gunner was, or what they needed all those extra buttons and switches and dials for. Nothing back there had lit up in a long time. But the words scrolled across the screen of her mind anyway, along with the time since last activation of the respective systems: five hundred twenty six thousand three hundred and two hours.
She wriggled past the rungs of the turret-ladder and could not resist the urge to glance upward, at the control-helmet which hung in the dark, inside the turret. She suppressed a shudder, but she didn’t know why.
Melyn popped free into the control cockpit. The screens and buttons and dials were all trying to tell her things, too many things, all at once. Melyn ignored them. She crouched on the shapeless ancient stuffing of the auxiliary manual input seat, then took a moment to chew the food-stick and lick greasy crumbs off her fingertips. She flipped open her notebook and started to cross-reference the symbols on the screens against her previous records. The screen of her mind kept making useless suggestions with words she didn’t know.
Her eyes flicked up and down. Her fingertips traced her notes. Her lips moved in silence.
Haf called out, still worming her way through Pheiri’s guts: “Is he okay? Mel? Mel? Is he alright?”
Melyn tutted under her breath. “Of course he’s alright. Don’t be stupid.”
Hafina emerged into the control cockpit a second later and banged her head on the roof. She had pulled body armour over her naked top half, arms sticking out, hands clutching her rifle. Her eyes were huge in the darkness. Her skin glistened white-grey as it tried to match the metal behind her.
Melyn raised an eyebrow. “Haf, what are you doing?”
Haf said: “Is there something wrong with him!?”
“ … no. Haf, why are you carrying the gun?”
Haf looked down at the polymer-and-metal firearm in her hands. “Seemed like the right thing to do?”
Melyn sighed. She pointed at a seat on the other side of the control cockpit. “Sit. Wait. Let me read.”
Haf sat and waited. She was very still.
Melyn found Pheiri’s information harder to comprehend than usual; there was a lot of data that she’d never seen before, not recorded anywhere in her notes, indicated on readouts which she’d never seen lit, or at least not lit in those specific ways. The screen of her mind kept supplying things about atmospheric nanomachine density, orbital re-entry disturbance, relative time displacement, and flashing her with priority interrupts. She made all those go away because they weren’t helping.
One screen she did know: a landscape of green ghosts washed with ash and acid rain. That was a front view from Pheiri’s cameras. Lights blinked on a console just above her head: green for ready, red for reloading. There were a lot of reds, taking a lot of time to cycle back to green. At least she assumed that’s what the lights meant, because she’d never seen those particular ones lit before. Lots of the usual ones were green and not changing to red.
“Different … weapons?” she muttered. Hafina sat up straighter. “I’m not talking to you, Haf. Settle down. Pheiri is fine.”
Melyn pressed some of the buttons by the side of the display screens, the ones she knew from experience, the ones that would change the colours of the display or tell Pheiri that she wanted to look in different directions. But all the readouts showed her the same information, nothing new, nothing out of the ordinary, just the city, haunted by image-ghosts as zombies slipped away into the ruins. The readouts shook very slightly every time Pheiri fired another hull-weapon. Melyn couldn’t see what he was shooting at.
Haf leaned forward to get a better view, then stood up. She left her rifle behind. Her eyes were normal size again. She got behind Melyn and slowly hugged her from behind, chin on Melyn’s shoulder, crouching and bracing herself against the cramped metal confines of the forward compartment.
Melyn said: “You’re warm.”
“And you’re cold. Brain’s doing too much.” Hafina squinted hard at the third screen above Melyn’s head. “Act— act … ive? Active! Active crew … pro— prot—”
Melyn sighed. She read the glowing green text in a single glance. “Active crew protection ballistics online.”
“Ooooh, right.” Haf lit up. “What does that mean?”
Melyn frowned. “It’s right there, that’s what it means. Active crew protection ballistics online.” She tapped the screen with the end of her pen. “Right there.”
Haf pouted and blew a raspberry against the side of Melyn’s head, which turned into a brief struggle for dominance. Melyn won – she already had the chair, her hands were quicker, and Hafina’s strength was limited against non-lethal targets. After a quick cuff round the head, Haf settled back into place with her chin on Melyn’s opposite shoulder.
Haf said: “Teach me.”
“Active,” Melyn began. “So, opposite of passive. That means Pheiri is doing something.”
Haf snorted. “We know that already.”
“Yes, but this means Pheiri wants to tell us. And, ‘crew’, that’s … ”
Haf squinted. “Like the crew compartment?”
“Yes. So … let’s skip that for now.” Melyn tapped the next word. “Protection. Pheiri always protects us, so that must be right, I don’t think he’s doing anything bad.” Melyn stopped and stared for a long time at the next word. The firearms crumping and cracking from outside kept interrupting her thoughts with useless data.
The moment stretched too long for Hafina’s patience. She whined. “Ballistics?”
“I don’t know,” Melyn admitted.
“You don’t know? What do you mean you don’t know?”
“I don’t know every single word, okay? I don’t know what it means. Stop that. Stop nibbling on me.” She elbowed Haf in the ribs, which did nothing to stop Haf chewing on Melyn’s ear.
“Mmmmmmm. But you read the books. Don’t they have all the words?”
Melyn sighed. “They have lots but not all. You can’t have all the words in a single book, it doesn’t work like that. You put certain words in certain orders to say certain things, you don’t just jam them all together.”
The screen of Melyn’s mind said: Dictionary. She dismissed that.
Hafina made a dissatisfied noise.
Melyn went on: “Anyway. Ballistics. Now I’ve had a moment to think, I think it means guns. Firearms.”
“See!” Haf laughed. “You did know! Fuck it, Mel, you’re so fucking smart. I love you.”
“And you’re dumb as a brick, but I love you too.” She tapped the last word in the sentence. “Online. That means it’s on, or it’s working, or it’s connected. So Pheiri is doing something active, which is on, to protect us.” She finished, nodded, and smiled to herself. That felt good. All the things in her mind lined up for once. “He’s shooting at stuff.”
Hafina laughed. “We knew that from the start.”
Melyn nodded. “Yes. But this way is better.” She flicked back through her notes, reading by the light from the screens and LEDs. “He’s done this before. My notes say we’ve read this line before. Three hundred and eighty times in this notebook alone. This one alone.”
“That’s a lot.” Hafina sounded impressed. “Go Pheiri. Bang bang.”
Hafina smacked her lips. “Doesn’t sound right though.”
“Yes,” Melyn said. She reached up and tapped the screen again. “This next line is new. More interesting. Not seen before.” She read out loud for Haf’s benefit: “Anti-personnel munitions insufficient for penetration. Escalation to HE-tip rounds authorised.”
Hafina whistled. Melyn frowned: did Haf understand what the words meant? But Haf was already asking: “He done this before?”
Melyn flicked back through her notebook again. “Mm, yes. Here. And here. And once again, here. I think we forgot. We forgot. Forgot. We forgot.”
Haf squeezed Melyn’s shoulders, nice and tight and hard. “It’s okay,” she said.
“Yes,” Melyn said. She stared at her notes.
Hafina nuzzled her neck and said: “As long as you don’t forget me.”
“How could I?” Melyn straightened up. “You’re too large to forget. You always get in the way.” Haf made a sad face, peering around Melyn’s shoulder. “What? What? What?”
Haf said, “Doesn’t that imply I might forget you?”
“‘Cos you’re kinda small.”
Melyn rolled her eyes. “Don’t be stupid.”
Haf smiled, pretend sadness turning back into a grin.
Melyn went on: “If you forgot me, I’d beat you up.”
Haf laughed. “You wouldn’t be able to beat me up!”
Melyn turned slightly in her seat. “If you forgot me, you couldn’t use your muscles at their maximum. Therefore, I would beat you.”
Haf pulled a thinking face, then shrugged her big naked shoulders beneath her loose body armour. Her skin cycled back to its usual resting reddish tint. “Can’t argue with that, I guess.” She looked up at the screens again. “So, like, what’s Pheiri shooting at?”
Melyn didn’t answer right away. She looked up and to the left, at the portion of the forward compartment that projected upward, where the observation seat hung unoccupied. Set in the metal in front of the seat was a sliding wedge which covered a thick pane of reinforced steel-glass.
They both stared.
Melyn felt her heartbeat quicken. She wormed a hand under her grey jumper and pressed her palm to her ribs. Haf just chewed her bottom lip, then bit off a chunk of flesh and swallowed it. Melyn swatted her on the legs. Haf shouldn’t eat bits of herself. Recycling was inefficient.
“Pheiri,” Melyn said. “What are you shooting at?”
Green text scroll-printed onto a nearby screen, replacing a meaningless stack of data.
“Nanomachine conglomeration #813576,” Melyn read out loud. “Estimated sapience high-value target. Damage to outer shell negligible. Damage to core negligible. Percentage of body mass lost zero-point-zero-zero-zero-three. Estimate disengagement at eighty seconds ongoing. Recommend no pursuit of target.”
Hafina snorted. “Pheiri, we’re not gonna chase it?”
The green text re-printed itself: Recommend no pursuit of target.
“Why not?” Haf asked. “I mean, sure, you do you, but why—”
Recommend no pursuit of target.
“Why not?” Haf repeated.
Melyn said: “It’s probably bait.”
“I’m going to look,” Hafina announced. She clambered over Melyn and up into the observation seat.
“No!” Melyn whispered. “Don’t! You don’t know what Pheiri’s shooting at! Stop it!” Melyn grabbed Haf’s ankle, but Haf shook her off.
Melyn didn’t understand why she was whispering; it wasn’t as if anything outside could hear them through the inches and inches of Pheiri’s hull armour. She also didn’t understand why she was afraid. The screen of her mind was covered with terminology she didn’t understand: ‘cognitive hazard’, ‘visual spectrum infection vector’, ‘LOS resolution blocker’, and a dozen other pieces of useless nonsense that she shut down or shooed away.
Haf ignored her panic and craned forward in the observation seat. She slid the wedge open with a clack. The little steel-glass window was too high for either of them; Melyn always had to stand on the seat to see anything, but Hafina only had to strain upward and press her face to the transparent surface.
Melyn pulled her jumper over her head and huddled down in her seat. Haf stared into the dark beyond Pheiri’s hull. Raindrops blurred the world.
Moments passed. Timers counted down inside Melyn’s head. Haf didn’t make a sound. Melyn peeked out from inside the collar of her jumper, then lowered it to uncover her mouth. Haf was unmoving. Her eyes were very large.
Melyn said: “What do you see?”
“Eh,” Haf grunted. “Too dark. Too much rain. Can’t see anything.”
Melyn huffed and rolled her eyes and got out of her seat. She settled her jumper so it fell past her knees, then set about crawling around the inside of the control cockpit so she could write down all the different things Pheiri was trying to tell them. She noted the position and colour of LEDs, which ones were lit and which ones were dark; she sketched the contents of all of the screens, numbering and labelling them as she went; she wrote down all the numbers she could find, especially the ones she hadn’t seen before.
“Neural lace echo signal detected,” she read off a display, because she’d never seen the words before. “New course entered. Priority override: recovery of pilot.”
Haf peered down at her from the observation seat. “What’s that mean?”
Melyn shrugged, writing the words in her notebook. “No idea.” She frowned through the following sentences, but there was nothing interesting, just lists of numbers and directions and speeds. But then: “High risk advisory: projected course intersects nanomachine output facility footprint; crew advised to stay within atmospheric sealed compartments for approx three hundred hours. Check atmospheric seals. Check atmospheric re-processors.”
Haf went all stiff. Her eyes blinked in the dark, big and shiny-black. “Pheiri wants to go near a worm?”
“We’re nowhere near one,” Melyn said. “Nowhere near. Nowhere.”
“Yeah we’re pretty deep, right?”
“Nowhere near. Nowhere near.”
“What’s he thinking?” Hafina clacked the cover back over the observation window. “Hey, Pheiri, what you thinking? We don’t wanna go near a worm.”
“Priority override,” said Melyn.
“Eh?” Haf slithered down from the seat, huge and tight in front of Melyn. Her skin was turning grey-white again, trying to blend in with the cockpit.
“It means we don’t get a choice. It means Pheiri has to do it, and we have … to … ” Melyn looked up. “Oh. It stopped.”
“Shhhhh. Listen. Listen.”
The shooting was over. No more guns going off. The lights, the ones which had been red and green, were now all dark. The message about active crew protection had wiped itself off the relevant screen. The ash-and-acid ghosts on the night vision monitor had vanished.
Haf broke into a grin. “Thank you, Pheiri!”
“Thank you, Pheiri,” Melyn echoed in a soft purr, matching the faint hum of Pheiri’s engine. She reached out and stroked the nearest piece of bare metal.
She and Haf looked at each other for a moment, then broke into a shared giggle. Haf sat down in one of the forward seats. Melyn climbed into her lap. They wriggled to get comfortable, heads together, all six of Haf’s arms around Melyn’s much smaller body. Haf fell asleep first, snoring softly. Melyn waited longer, listening to the rain, watching until all the little lights inside Pheiri had gone out.
“Priority override,” she whispered to the dark control room. “You sure? Sure?”
A single screen blinked on. Green text print-scrolled: No. Uncertain.
Signal corruption. Orbital re-entry interference. Elevated levels of nanomachine construct activity. Risk to crew. Damage to armour plating sub-layer in locations: A453, A927, A33820, B89263, B98762, C7830387, D2387, M2223, O233321, Y2871, Y778201. Risk to crew. No pilot. Risk to crew. Fusion containment replacement required. Risk to crew. Maintenance overdue by 99999999 ERROR hours. Risk to crew.
“Are we going to do it anyway?” Melyn whispered. “Do it anyway? Anyway?”
Risk to crew.
“Okay. Okay. Do it anyway?”
Risk to crew.
The screen blinked off.
Pheiri had nothing more to say. Melyn closed her eyes, held her breath, and listened to the nuclear heartbeat below her feet.
An interlude! Something a little different. A glimpse into elsewhere. Next chapter it’s back to Elpida and her comrades, but this certainly isn’t the last we’ve seen of Melyn and Hafina, or of Pheiri, whatever he is. This was an interesting narrative experiment and I hope it went down well, because we might be doing more POV shifting in the future. Hope you enjoyed reading! Onward, to arc 4.
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 3k 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 little story. More soon! Lots more to come.
Ohhh this is very interesting, and I have little idea what’s going on, apart from that obviously the… Whatever he is, apparently not a worm, wants to go pick Ephi up 👀
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Thank you! Glad you enjoyed this! I was a little nervous about this interlude chapter, wasn’t sure if it would work for the readers and such, but I’m really happy with how it turned out in the end! There’s a lot of stuff hinted at, a lot of things happening, but it’s all seen through Melyn’s eyes, and she’s … not all there? Not fully aware of what she’s seeing? It was a fun experiment.
And yes! Pheiriant wants to go pick up his priority target. But there’s so much risk to his crew.
Thank you for the chapter.
You’re very welcome indeed! Glad you enjoyed it!
Here’s hoping the neural lace Pheiri has detected belongs to a certain super-soldier from the eternal city… She could use a proper combat frame and a couple or extra friends.
Thank you for the chapter 🙂
It does seem like a pretty good bet that the ‘neural lace’ belongs to Elpida; it would be quite a coincidence for two of the cadre to be resurrected at the same time. She could indeed use a big powerful robot friend!
And you are very welcome indeed, glad you enjoyed reading!
Hah. Knew the interlude would be fun. Anyway, I get the feeling Melyn got a cybernetic upgrade to her brain. Also I think, I think this combat bot might have been on the planet already, as some of those lines implied the orbital re-entry interference didn’t come from them. Probably wrong, anyway, excited to see what happens when or if they eventually find Elpida. Finally, thanks for the chapter!
I’m really glad this strange little interlude was a success! Melyn’s brain does seem like it operates slightly differently from a regular human, that’s true, but we have no idea what exactly resides inside her skull, yet.
And yes, I think it’s safe to assume this bot or mech (or whatever he is) has been around for a while, rather than just having arrived. We’ll probably see him from the outside, sooner or later!
And you are very welcome for the chapter, glad you enjoyed reading it!
There is always a sense of melancholy to ancient semi-autonomous war machines that have lost their makers. Pheiri seems to have been a telekopolis war machine if that’s actually elpida it views as it’s rightful pilot. I wonder how many other constructs still loyal to long dead states wander the wasteland that is this future earth.
Thank you so much; yes, that kind of melancholy was very much my intent with this chapter, it’s one of the themes I want to explore in Necroepilogos, the melancholy of ancient created beings running down, without their creators, unmoored from their original purposes.
There may be many such things, lost in the wastes of time. Perhaps we’ll see others, too.