astrum – 6.1

Content Warnings

General bigotry/offensive terminology (mostly fictional)
Chronic pain
Suicidal ideation

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Kagami didn’t trust anybody — but she trusted Pira least of all.

None of the others had recognised what had really happened during the skyscraper ambush, though it had taken place right in front of their eyes. None of the others were capable, none of them had intelligence processing or operational directions experience. None of them saw further than the next wall, the next meal, the next set of orders, like every dirt-sucking ground-walker who’d never bothered to look up for once in their filthy, stupid lives. Soldiers and psychos, fools and primitives, every one of them.

None of them had noticed Pira’s tricks, the little manipulations hidden inside decisive zeal.

Kagami was the only one with her head on straight — even through the constant grinding pain of those absurd, offensive bionic legs. May as well have stapled lumps of steel directly to her bones for all the good they did. The connection trauma inside her hips made her want to claw at her own abdomen. She could barely think under the never-ending assault of uninterrupted exposure to the desert of the real.

And now she was covered in bite wounds.

Izumi Kagami — Seventeenth Daughter of the Moon; Logician Supreme of the Lunar Defence Intelligence Network since she was eleven years old; ‘Princess’ of Tycho City; Heroine of the L5 Machine-Plague (at a comfortable distance of half a million kilometres, via a drone fleet and a squad of armoured tankers, but who was counting, really?); destroyer of at least one Anglo-Rim invasion attempt before it had even left Lisbon space-port; mistress of no less than three thousand fully wire-slaved surface agents; mother of fourteen top-class artificial intelligences; lifetime network hub of Luna’s atomic arsenal and the robotic defence drone fleet — sat on a bare concrete floor, wrapped in bloody clothes, with human bite wounds on her face, neck, shoulders, and forearms.

She would have strangled a baby for a thermonuclear targeting matrix. Glass this obscene city and turn the cannibals and zombies to ash.

She would have sacrificed every one of her stupid, blind, moronic ‘comrades’, killed everyone in this city, cut off her own legs and one arm and scoop out an eye and give up the ability to eat solid food and pass solid waste, in return for a proper uplink to the LDIN and re-immersion in sim-space.

She would give up an awful lot more for a shuttle back home and a quiet return to her sensory suspension tank.

And she’d have sold her soul to make the pain go away.

Vicky dabbed more glowing blue nanomachine gunk on Kagami’s neck. Kagami flinched and hissed and wanted to punch Vicky.

Vicky sighed and said: “This would go a lot quicker if you hold still, Kaga.”

“You try holding still when you’ve been fucking eaten. Ow. Ow! Fuck!”

Nobody else paid Kagami any attention — certainly not Pira. The traitor sat on the far side of the filthy, windowless, pitch-black room, eyes closed, arms folded. Her weapon lay on the floor well within arm’s reach. Elpida was saying something to her, but Pira wasn’t replying.

After the ambush in the skyscraper, Elpida had led the ragged and wounded group out of the suite of office rooms and down the absurdly long staircase — yet more torture on Kagami’s legs and hips, even with Vicky hauling her like a sack of potatoes. They had emerged into the black winds of the dead-city night. Their fearless commander, praise be to her naivety and foolishness, had force-marched them down three or four streets; Kagami couldn’t tell exactly — she couldn’t keep track of the winding city-labyrinth even when she wasn’t bleeding from half a dozen missing chunks of flesh. She hadn’t been coherent enough to pull the frankly primitive auspex gear back on over her face. The night was terrifying, a whirl of shadows and deep dark holes and leering buildings. Nothing like a sim. Couldn’t switch it off.

Their gene-edited commander had found a tumbledown low-rise apartment block — not that half the group knew what an ‘apartment block’ even was. The building was mostly filled with mats of nano-based rot and toxic slime. But Elpida found a utility room in the rear, the sort of place that should have been full of industrial washing machines. Concrete floor, cramped and narrow. No windows. One door in and out. And no cannibal zombies.

She’d piled them in and slammed the door. Vicky had dumped Kagami on the ground. The others had all but collapsed.

They were not in good shape. If this had been a squad of Kagami’s surface agents, she would be sending them an evac gunship. With heavy armament. And a suitcase nuke.

Kagami wasn’t the only one wounded: Elpida’s right wrist was a huge purple bruise, the bones shattered and trying to re-knit; Vicky was still wobbly with concussion; Atyle was sitting cross-legged, meditating or pretending to meditate, but Kagami suspected that the paleo-primitive priestess had taken several bullets in that fight, but wasn’t telling anybody. Maybe she was waiting for everybody else to go to sleep so she could secretly dig the rounds out of her chest and stomach.

The borged-up berserker — ‘Ilyusha’, what a ridiculous name, pure Twen-Cen bullshit — was intact. She’d spent half the fight getting knocked about like a rag-doll, but she seemed to thrive on that. No care for her own safety. No concern for her physical integrity. Cyborgs went that way, in Kagami’s experience. Bodily alienation. Too much chrome and plastic. Vile little flesh-nugget.

But Ilyusha had pulled the ravenous cannibal off Kagami. Not fast enough — oh no, absolutely not fast enough. But she’d done it where others had failed or not even tried. Maybe she wasn’t a total lost cause.

Ilyusha was already curled up in a corner, nesting with the real psychopath.

Kagami hadn’t been able to watch the disgusting display once Elpida had sealed them all into the shitty little laundry room. The serial killer had been covered in blood and pink slime — and Ilyusha had licked her clean.

She’d stripped her friend naked and lapped at the caked-on gore, eating blood off the skin. The others had looked away in politeness, but Kagami had wanted to vomit. She’d looked back just in time to see the borged-up lunatic running her tongue between Amina’s fingers and peeling the knife out of her grip. At least Ilyusha understood that much; they couldn’t leave an actual psycho slasher loose with a weapon.

But then Ilyusha had cleaned the knife, glanced at Elpida for approval, and handed the damn thing back.

The serial killer herself — Amina — seemed untouched and elated, speechless with drugged-up happiness. Which wasn’t good news for anybody who didn’t want to get stabbed in the stomach while asleep.


Vicky finished applying the blue gunk, sucked the scraps off her fingertip, and offered Kagami the rest of the half-empty cannister. She said: “Here, drink up the rest, Kaga. Doctor’s orders.”

Kagami scowled. “You’re still concussed. And you have a shit bedside manner. And you’re not a doctor.”

Vicky smiled. Probably couldn’t make sense of the words with her brain all jarred around. “Kaga, shut the fuck up and drink the magic goo.”

Kagami kept her arms folded. She knew the raw nanomachine slime would help heal her wounds, but she felt bitter — against Vicky, personally.

In the middle of the ambush, Vicky had prioritised Elpida. Kagami had been screaming and flailing and getting chunks of her face bitten off. And Vicky hadn’t helped. Vicky had gone to rescue Elpida. Vicky had leapt up like a fire was under her backside for her precious gene-mod bull-dyke soldier girl.

Vicky must have seen the simmering anger in Kagami’s eyes, because Vicky tilted her head and frowned.


Kagami hissed: “I don’t want your help.”

Pira spoke from the far side of the cramped little space, without opening her eyes: “The bite wounds aren’t that deep. If she doesn’t want to drink, give it to Elpida. Saves us opening any more bottles.”

Vicky looked up at Elpida. Miss Clever-Clogs Commander was still on her feet, hovering around everyone else, that submachine gun strapped over her shoulder. Like they were all children in need of a protector.

Vicky sounded unsure, “Well, if Kaga doesn’t want it, Elpi, do you—”

Kagami hissed, “Give me that!” She snatched the blue-glowing cannister and poured it down her throat. The nano-glop tasted of nothing, but it went down thick and warm. The slop settled in her stomach.

Vicky snorted. Elpida nodded in approval and said something stupid, some hollow ‘well done’. Pira said nothing.

Pira was a traitor. Kagami knew it.

Yes, the ambush had surprised Pira; she hadn’t been forewarned. The zombie cannibals had not pulled their punches for Pira; the combat had been real, she’d fought for her life. But then Pira had planted her boot on bullet-pocked chests and emptied her magazine into zombie brains, turning them into irrecoverable pulp — after they’d already been incapacitated. Pira had used Ilyusha’s blood-thirst and Elpida’s trusting naivety against them during the aftermath, with that clever fiction about the ‘transceiver’.

That pink zombie had looked obscene, like a sex-robot from the Anglo-Rim, or a dolled-up pop-singer from the Republic. Did it matter if she’d had a transceiver inside her severed head? If she had any friends out there watching the fight, they would already know the ambush had failed.

But Pira had needed that brain pulped, dead and gone. Pira had wanted them unable to question the ambushers.

The bitch wasn’t even trying to hide it. Pira was relying on the fact that everyone else was gullible and half-blind.

Once, Kagami would have been able to pinpoint exactly who Pira was: she could have loaded biometric data into LDIN, sourced from a surface agent’s sensor suite; she could have queried stolen birth certificates and school record databases from the Republic, military service logs from the East Africans and the South Americans, a thousand poorly-defended Anglo-Rim corporate information trawls, police fingerprint and facial recognition uploads from the blubbering idiots in Europe, and even the carefully guarded citizen IDs of the NorAm — the only other power apart from Luna who operated human logicians.

If Pira had been a NorAm agent, Kagami would have respected her. Anglo-Rim, Republic, Euros — Kagami could run rings around them. NorAm, less so. But Pira didn’t even try to cover her tracks. It was offensive.

But why bother? Pira was none of those things. None of those places existed anymore. Kagami was an obsolete part of a machine that no longer operated.

Maybe Luna still lived. Maybe this was just another surface thing, in the end.

After two hundred million years? Fat chance, bitch.

Kagami drank the tasteless blue slime. She kept an eye on Pira. And for the millionth time since waking up, she strangled the desire to weep.

She’d been bitten six separate times — right cheek, left side of neck, top-front of scalp, twice on left shoulder, and once on right forearm. That last one was the reward she got for trying to defend herself with her own body. The bites were deep and wide, twin semi-circles of human teeth marks. They ached and throbbed and burned and she couldn’t switch off the pain. In her sensory suspension tank deep in the underground layers of Tycho City on Luna, she could have edited any sense-input she wanted. Bodily pain was for the healer-nanites in her pressure-gel to deal with, not something inescapable and constant and pulling her thoughts to shreds every second of every minute. Pain was something she dipped into via the feedback uplinks from her surface agents.

Once, when she was twelve years old, one of Kagami’s agents had been blown in half by a roadside IED, somewhere deep in the cursed landscape of the Texan Interior, amid mile after mile of sun-cooked abandoned houses the NorAm hadn’t bothered to reclaim. The rest of the squad had been locked in a firefight with some natives who’d gotten too big for their boots; for fourteen minutes the bisected agent had lain in a puddle of blood and guts and auto-deployed wound-sealant — but his pain-shock dampeners had failed. He’d felt every second, screaming and writhing, kept alive for recovery and treatment, but fully conscious.

Kagami had tapped into his feed, both curious and horrified. It was so overwhelming that she’d cut the entire connection in panic and disgust, and curled into a ball inside her pressure-gel. Kurumi had to take over and finish the remote firefight in her place.

But there was no crash-landing out of this pain. No escape, no nerve-blunting, no sim. This pain was hers, in her own physical body.

Or was it? She wasn’t even herself, not really. She was a nanomachine simulacra loaded with a memory engram. Izumi Kagami, Princess and Logician and Daughter of the Moon, had died two hundred million years ago, spaced by NorAm spies whom she would have happily worked alongside if only they had asked. Want to make my father eat Moon rock? I’ll open all the airlocks for you, you cute little things! I’ll peel down Tycho’s defences like an exotic designer sex-organ with a wet sheath. Come on in! But they’d fucking spaced her.

She wasn’t real. She was a fake.

But that didn’t make the pain go away.

The other zombies did their best to settle down and get some rest; Kagami wondered why they bothered. Why not just stay awake and let your brain rot? What was the point? They weren’t going to make it to that mech which had dropped from orbit; if they did they wouldn’t be the first there; and if they secured it, where would they go? To the graveworm? Great plan, let’s try to communicate with an AI which perceives us as equivalent to dust particles.

No, they were going to get eaten. Alive and screaming. They were all going to die, horribly. And then come back and get eaten again, and again, and again.

Kagami wanted to blow out her own brains. But that wouldn’t help.

Pira remained where she was, sleeping with her back to a wall. Atyle meditated, then lay down flat like a corpse. Which she was. Vicky kept asking if Kagami was alright, if she needed help, if there was anything Vicky could do. Kagami grunted and snorted and eventually Vicky gave up — but at least she stayed close. She slept right next to Kagami’s side.

Ilyusha and Amina — the little psychopath horror bitch — nested like animals. Elpida ‘patrolled’ — which meant stepping out of the dismal little laundry room and creeping to the front of the building and back again. But eventually she returned and sat down. Elpida was just as exhausted as the rest of them. Gene-jacked and modded far beyond anything legal, but the fight had worn her down just the same. That’s what you get for pushing meat too far.

There was no way Kagami could go to sleep. She couldn’t switch off the pain. She just sat there, propped against a wall, trying to think about anything except the burning in her wounds and the aching in her hips and the terror of her own end in some dirt-eater’s belly.

In the shared darkness, trapped in a tiny room with a bunch of psychopaths, she whispered: “I can’t believe we’re dragging around an actual serial killer.”

A voice replied. She hadn’t expected that. Pira. “She’s a liability.”

Atyle whispered: “She is the long-clawed rabbit. She saved the warrior. None will cast her out.”

Kagami needed to keep talking. “What the hell do we do now?” she whispered. “What the hell do we do, after that … that!”

Elpida murmured, “We recover.”

“Then what?”

“We head for the combat frame. Our objective has not changed.”

“You fucked up,” Kagami hissed. “You fucked up, commander.” She poured her pain into that word. “You were too busy coddling a literal serial killer to notice a fucking ambush, fifteen floors up! Your idiot quest is going to get us all killed — and eaten! You gene-slop mud-fucker bi—”

Vicky’s hand grabbed Kagami’s knee. Kagami flinched, hard. She’d thought Vicky was asleep.

“Hey, Kaga,” Vicky said. “Cool down, yeah? Elpi doesn’t deserve that.”

Kagami’s face burned with humiliation.

But then Elpida whispered: “I made serious errors. The ambush was my responsibility. You all have my apologies, my thanks for repelling the assault, and my promise to do better.” Those purple eyes bored through the dark, right at Kagami. “Kagami, I’m sorry you got wounded. You deserve better. You deserved me in that room, with you. The wounds should be mine. Take more of the blue if you want it. You’ve earned that.”

Kagami looked down. She gritted her teeth. She said in a strangled voice: “I’m fine.”

Elpida carried on. “They were sent to take me alive. Did anybody else hear that order?”

Vicky mumbled, “What? Elpi?”

Pira grunted. “Mmhmm. I did.”

“Shit,” Vicky murmured. “Why? How’d they even know? Who would send them? What were they after? We’re not important or anything. Are we?”

In the darkness, Pira shrugged. Her shoulders scuffed against the wall. “Predators get all sorts of strange notions. Especially when they group up. They encourage paranoia in each other. They convince each other of things. Especially the ones who don’t understand what’s going on or where they are.”

Vicky said: “Elpi’s white hair, maybe? Or … or because she’s leading us, so she’s … ”

Elpida said, “They’re after the combat frame.”

Vicky asked, “Who is ‘they’, Elpi? In this context, who is ‘they’?”

“Somebody who knows what it is, and knows that I’m a pilot.”

Bullshit, Kagami thought, Pira knows more than she’s saying: she knows why we were ambushed, she knows who those zombies were, and if we’d been able to interrogate any of them, the connection with Pira would be all too obvious. Kagami was certain of that. There was no other explanation.

The others eventually drifted into sleep, or at least sleepless recovery. They didn’t post a watch rotation — everyone was too exhausted. And there was only one way in or out of the tiny, dirty, cramped room. If they got attacked now, that was it, afterlife over. They were relying on stealth and obscurity, like wounded animals who’d dragged themselves into a burrow.

Kagami’s pain just wouldn’t go away. The ache went on and on and on, dragging her thoughts to mush, blurring her senses into a veil of ragged red between her and the rest of the world. She kept probing around the bite wounds with her fingers, wincing and hissing at the ache; why couldn’t she leave them alone, let them heal? The pain was unbearable, a cage she could not escape. She hissed and whined and gritted her teeth. She tapped her head on the wall and dug her nails into her stomach. But it wouldn’t go away.

She tried to imagine being back in her sensory suspension tank, plugged into the LDIN, swimming through whatever medium she chose. In the sim-space she could have bathed in painkillers, filled in the missing chunks of flesh, dipped herself in a warm bubble-bath, surrounded herself with singing beauties and sculpted young men and gotten some sleep.

She should be debriefing herself on the ambush, unfolding the tactical layout in overlapping fire-lines and charts of reaction time, with Kurumi and Kuro at her sides to offer their own less meat-bound insights on failures and successes, on points of improvement, on agents to congratulate or retire, on lessons to learn and tactics to adjust. When she was younger Kagami had favoured Japanese-style feudal war-room projections, simulations of open-sided castle-top rooms with views over soaring mountain peaks. When she’d gotten a little older she’d realised that taste was a pale imitation of her father’s fascinations; she had rebelled by employing the stripped-down utilitarian brutalism of a Twen-Cen-War concrete bunker, complete with distant booms of artillery and the chatter of telegraphs and typewriters. That taste had darkened and intensified over the years, until she’d been running every debriefing under the world-ending noise of thermonuclear war.

Kurumi and Kuro had gotten tired of that. Kagami had softened her tastes — she told herself it was for her daughters’ sake that she’d adopted a more classical style of surroundings as she’d entered adulthood. Something Roman, with lots of marble. And columns. And men in togas. Lot of wine.

Kurumi and Kuro were the only two of Kagami’s AI children who had chosen to stay with her after fledging. The others had all left, for other parts of Luna’s sphere or the Lagrange Point Stations. One — Kana — had even slipped Luna’s bounds completely and joined the NorAm. Clever little darling, Kagami loved her so, but she never wrote.

But Kurumi and Kuro would have snuggled up and helped her feel better, flashing in black fur or midnight satin, softening her self-critique into something actionable.

She tried to imagine what they might have to say about this mess. Kuro would encourage cutting Pira out as quickly as possible. Use the closest asset, as swiftly as need be, without time for hesitation. Kurumi would have advised watching. She did always like to play with her prey, like a cat.

Kagami could barely hear their voices, barely imagine their shapes against her skin. She’d never had to imagine before. The sim-space had done it for her.

So now she shivered and shook, in the dark, in pain, down on the surface, after the end of the world.

The raw nanomachine slime performed its unfathomable work inside her cells, she couldn’t deny that; within two or three hours — what was time, without internal chronometer tracking? — the bite wounds were scabbed over, hard and solid as if they’d been healing for days. The pain ebbed, back below the surface, but it didn’t go away.

Worse than pain was memory.

The revenant who had gone straight for Kagami during the ambush hadn’t been that far removed from baseliner human being. Kagami had seen that, after Ilyusha had pulled the cannibal off her and put two shotgun rounds through the thing’s chest. But in her own short-term memory the figure was a snapping, whirling maw of slavering fangs, a dark weight pressing down on her body, from which she could not escape. The monster had tried to eat her! If they’d lost, she would have been eaten! Her flesh was wet and red and vulnerable — it crawled beneath her hands. She felt sick. She wanted to vomit.

She was not meant to be here, down on the surface, covered in dirt and blood and stinking of sweat and fear. Her skin was so thin, her eyeballs exposed to the air, her lungs breathing in muck and dust and rot. She had legs! She’d been forced to get up and walk, to put her flesh at risk. But it wasn’t even her flesh, it was a stolen imitation, a fake. She wasn’t even Kagami, she was a memory of a woman who had died of decompression hypoxia.

Beneath her coat, tucked against a wall in a laundry room full of other zombies, Kagami shook uncontrollably.

She was meant to be on Luna, in the core of Tycho, in her tank, with her daughters.

She needed a ship.

A ship? Where? How? Luna was dead! Everything was dead. Mars, Titan, the Oort morons — if any of them still existed they would have recolonised Earth by now, so they were dead too. That orbital ring was a miracle, but it was rotting as well, probably full of zombies. There was no way out, nowhere to go, nowhere to run, no suspension tank to return to, no Tycho, no nothing. Just flesh and darkness and pain.

Kagami screwed up her face; she would not cry. She refused to cry.

She needed the pain to go away.

Still shaking with what she hated to admit was post-traumatic stress reaction, Kagami got to her feet and crept over to the backpacks lined up against the wall.

She had to be careful and quiet — the others might not understand. She knelt down as gently as she could, without clanking her bionic knees on the concrete floor; kneeling was a stupid pose, everything involving legs was stupid. You didn’t need legs in a suspension tank, you needed high throughput data cables hooked to your spine. She unzipped the bag full of shotgun shells and cannisters of nanomachine slime. Her mouth felt so dry. Her stomach clenched. She used her own torso to hide the faint blue glow as she extracted a cannister.

The lid came off with a touch. Her hands were shaking, her lips quivering. The goo had no scent, no taste, and a slimy texture which clung to her mouth — but her body demanded she drink. The urge was overwhelming.

She poured the liquid down her throat, gulping and glugging and swallowing and taking care not to pant and gasp. Couldn’t wake the others.

She tucked the empty cannister inside her coat and returned to her spot. Had Vicky realised she’d left? Maybe, but maybe not. Maybe the others wouldn’t notice one cannister less. She doubted anybody was counting; it was Ilyusha’s bag and numbers were probably too much for the cyborg-brained midget. Besides, any of them could have risen in the night and stolen a cannister. If Kagami was confronted she would tell the truth — the pain was unbearable and she didn’t have any other way to switch it off. Elpida had offered, too! She was allowed to do this!

One cannister. That was all. Nobody would begrudge her that. Besides, it might make her useful.

In the afterglow of the feasting, Kagami stared at her left hand. She had no data-uplink and no slots for the cables, not with legs in the way. But what had Pira said? If you drank enough nano-slop, or ate enough nanomachine-derived flesh, you could change yourself? Yes, that was correct. But how did it work? Willpower? Self-image adjustment? Bloody-minded determination?

Kagami stared at her hand. Data uplink. Access points. Connection processor.

She returned to the bag twice more. Her body demanded she drink again, and again. Her belly seemed to absorb the stuff directly into her stomach walls. She guzzled the blue gunk like she was dying of thirst. And she stared and stared and stared at her left hand.

After the third cannister, she saw faint lines beneath her flesh. Geometric, sharp, clean. Circuitry? It must be. She concentrated, willing her flesh to become more than flesh.

When she turned back for the third time, with the intention that this cannister would be her last, she met a pair of mismatched eyes staring back at her from the floor — one dark, the other peat-green.

Atyle was awake, watching her drink.

For a long moment Kagami stared at the paleo-primitive. The priestess stared back with a faint smile on her lips.

Kagami swallowed, then whispered: “Are you going to tell the others?”

Atyle smiled wider. She closed her eyes. “Tell them what, scribe? I am asleep. As are we all.”

Kagami returned to her spot, next to Vicky. She watched Atyle for a long time, but the woman didn’t move again. Then Kagami stared at her own left hand, but the lines had vanished.

Had she only imagined the change? Or did the work require more raw materials?

That must be it. She needed more nanomachines. Much more. So much more.

Then she would have a weapon to defend herself from the traitor. And not a gun — a real weapon, a weapon worthy of Izumi Kagami, Seventeenth Daughter of the Moon.

Previous Chapter Next Chapter

A glimpse into another mind, with a very different way of thinking, from a world just as long-dead as Elpida’s. But is Kagami just paranoid – or is Pira more than she appears? Gosh, Kagami is so absolutely awful, just terrible; amazingly fun to write a look into her POV here. This won’t be exactly like the POV structure of the previous arc, where we followed Amina for several consecutive chapters. Be prepared for some variation here, and some surprises. This arc is likely gonna be a long one, too. A star has tumbled from ash-choked heavens; the carrion eaters gather to feast on stellar entrails – but our zombie girls are wounded and tired. For now.

No patreon link this week! There’s still just one chapter ahead, but it’s nearly the end of the month and I don’t like baiting people into getting double-charged. Feel free to wait until next week!

But there’s still the TopWebFiction entry, for voting on. Voting makes the story go up the rankings, which helps more people see it! It really helps spread the story.

Thank you so much for reading Necroepilogos! I have big plans for this arc. Things are gonna get … messy. Looking forward to lots more!

11 thoughts on “astrum – 6.1

  1. Dang, she’s especially hard to love from her POV at times too.

    Loved the discussion of her AI daughters 💜 Especially that she still loved and cared about the one who had switched sides

    Also, dang Ilyusha, Amina getting rewarded 😳


    • Writing Kagami’s POV was honestly incredible because she’s so deeply awful and unlikable, I had so much fun doing it. She’s amazing.

      But yes, she does love her AI daughters! She’s not all bad, maybe.

      Ilyusha must have had such an incredible time there. That’s why I couldn’t write this chapter from her POV, it would have been a total whiteout.


  2. Oi, I would love to hear Kagami’s story it sounds epic.
    She really is awful, though it seems well earned and justified, just from what little was given of her past.
    Thank you for the chapter.


    • Kagami’s own life story would indeed make a very interesting tale in its own right, yes!

      Oh she’s terrible! She’s terrible and I love it. I didn’t expect her to be this bad in her own POV, but she totally outstripped my expectations. Thank you so much, I’m so glad she’s fun to read.

      And you’re very very welcome! Thanks for reading!


      • Thank you for replying.
        Also I was wondering if Katalepsis and Necroepilogos are connected but in different timelines?


      • Oho, good question. Katalepsis and Necroepilogos are not intentionally connected; magic and cosmic horrors exist in a very different thematic and technical space than nanomachine cannibals. However, that doesn’t mean I won’t slip in a couple of amusing inter-references here and there … maybe!


  3. Ah yes, the warlord complaining about violence, pain, savagery, and primitivism. Makes sense. Also, the question becomes, will we now see a Kagami that slowly progresses to just eating the corpses in her desperate desire to return to her past form, or will she just overload on nanites and go insane. I suppose we will see. Anyway, thanks for the chapter!


    • Kagami is just so absolutely terrible, I love her. Honestly she’s even worse than I was expecting. Just delightfully awful.

      As far as eating corpses and accepting what she is now … maybe? She might be the most resistant of all of them to such ideas. We’ll see, indeed! And you are very welcome, thanks for reading, glad you enjoyed the chapter!


  4. you know, i’ve felt since i started reading that the matrix’s above-surface scenes and goo pods must have been a visual/aesthetic inspiration, but uh “desert of the real” has absolutely confirmed it, lmao.

    loving kaga’s perspective here.


    • Oh yeah, absolutely! The original Matrix blew my mind when I was … well, quite young, haha. I thought that line would be very fitting for Kagami, a woman who has lived most of her life plugged into VR environments.

      And thanks! I didn’t know exactly how Kagami’s POV would shake out until she hit the page here. I did some early testing with her ‘off-camera’, but she exceeded my expectations and surprised me too. She’s a lot of fun.


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