11-8-2002

Warnings and Disclaimers: I don't own Gundam Wing, the galactic overlords known as Bandai, Sunrise and Sotsu Agency do. Hmph.

"Let machinery fake my place, who has time to chase. Digital is where
it is. Love can always be replaced. Welcome to my consciousness.
Welcome to our race. Everything is never quite enough."

Everything (is never quite enough) – Diop, Wasis

Digital 29
By
Cs

****

 

Meaningful thoughts and sentiments are meant to echo in one's head. Two things alone were standing out in my mind as I stared at the dead body of Heero. The first was that someone was going to be held responsible for this. The second, and more gratifying of these thoughts, was that if everything were real, then whomever was responsible was about to die.

All my doubts were very suddenly no longer visible, my fears scuttling away. All that was left in that moment of clarity was the need to end everything, to stop what had happened, and to change it all.

The Klishana, which had so long remained dormant within me, churned suddenly, as if violently ill. My eyes caught the glint of yellow and gold on my palm, the circles within circles drawing my awareness down and inside of it. It all seemed to click together, pieces sliding into place at last, forming a full picture.

I had been marked for a reason; the Universes had chosen me as a receptacle. Now I knew why, As the energy came without my calling, thundering to me, washing through me, enveloping my entire body with power. I knew the secret to deadening all machinery; I knew how to change everything around me.

It was almost too easy, blue waves of pure energy crackling up from my feet, sliding around thighs and shoulders, coating my fingertips with gleaming light. I ignored those around me, focusing on the one thing that mattered to me most. Heero, lying so still and quiet, eyes closed, turned on one side, forgotten. I would see those eyes open again; I would know his life once more. Nothing could stop me. I didn't care if I destroyed everything in my pursuit.

The golden circles on my palm began spinning, a new light emanating from them, mixing with the blue and spreading until a vast quilting of coloured energy surrounded me. It felt as if I were swelling to enormous size, as if, were it to go on, I might eventually take over the world of Halia with my presence alone. Even as I absorbed the endless waves of energy, there was more, I was drawing from the resources of the planet itself, from every piece of machinery, all the robots, the Finders, even the life giving machinery found within a few humans.

I'd been walking forward without being aware of it, moving steadily closer to Heero. His hair had a faint silvery hue over the blackness of it, glints catching my eye as I avoided glancing at his slack features again. They'd done this on purpose; releasing him from the VR Module, knowing it would kill him. He'd been alive moments before that Finder had opened it. They'd done it to force me to use what power I might have. How very ironic then, that the energy that kept them alive, would bring Heero back.

I felt forsaken, standing in the middle of the large white circle, my dead lover at my feet. The sky overhead was a blend of clear blue sky, the deep velvet night of space and stars swirled liberally with it. Suddenly I desperately wished Bell were there, guiding my steps, my hand, my head. I could use his knowledge and calm. Life had become so detached since I'd left them all, 138, Khali, the pirates. I needed them almost as much as I needed Heero. I…needed people.

My life had become so rich lately; everything I'd ever wanted had been there for me. Family, friends, and adventure. VR had made it all possible, but no longer would I need or want that passive crutch through life. I wanted to actually be there this time, live through it. And that brought my mind back to what lay before me, literally. I'd gathered nearly all the energies on Halia, lights had gone out, machinery had died, and around me, nothing moved but the naturally living. But even so, they might be too much, after all, thousands of innocent people stood in my way.

But I could worry about that later, now I needed to concentrate, and remember how Bell and I had brought Khali back from the dead.

I shuddered as my fingertips met already cooling skin, forcing myself not to think about it too much. Instead, I brought the energy to a point inside my head, a bright spear of life, my fingers opened Heero's mouth, and the spear of energy delved inside, piercing through the dying cells, the stilling blood. It warmed the cooling skin, repaired broken matter, and deleted death as if it were a common cold.

My vision blurred with it, sapphire light dropping from my eyes instead of tears, spattering the suddenly flushed face below mine. "Heero," it came out as pure light, sparkling with blue and gold. My fingers left his mouth, patting his cheek softly, trails of gold following my fingertips across his skin.

I was still filled to the brim with energy, tendrils of it leaking off me, slapping at the air about my shoulders as if smacking at insects. "Heero!" it thundered out of my mouth as a bolt of gold and blue, hitting him solidly on the forehead. I found myself staring into sleepily blinking empty eye sockets, my stomach quivering with dread. I'd somehow removed the Steelshift from his body, his wings left as nothing but shriveled metal beside him. He was no longer a Fliogan.

My heart thudded, the confusion drifting gently over Heero's features was rapidly being replaced by horror. "No," I couldn't let it happen like this. I barely noticed the word came out as a flurry of gold raindrops. My hand cupped his face, twisting it gently upwards.

"Duo?" no sound came out of his mouth, just the form of his lips whispering my name. I'd always been so helpless before this; letting him rescue me as needed, take care of me when I couldn't do it myself. Now it was my turn.

But how do you give a man eyes when he has none? I took a trembling breath and tried to calm down enough to think about it. Obviously, the Steelshift had been removed for a reason. And Heero had always said the reason new eyes had always been rejected was because the Steelshift didn't share space or cells kindly. So it was all right, despite the fact that I was staring at dark holes where Heero used to have a set of eyes.

Now it all came down to the small matter of creating new ones for him. Again, I found myself wishing for Bell, knowing he'd know exactly what to do. "Bell," he'd been created from me, had been a part of my body for most of my life. Why couldn't I call to him again? This time when I whispered his name, I focused, bringing the excess energy to bear, willing it to obey me.

The crowds along the outer edge of the plane seemed to be coming to their senses, groggily moving towards where I crouched beside Heero. I had a nasty suspicion they didn't want to chat about things. At least there were no Finders left, their large metallic bodies lying where they fell when I drained them.

One of Heero's hands grasped feebly at my shoulder, he was mouthing something, the words still inaudible. His empty sockets stared unseeing up at my face, a glint of blue from one of them capturing my attention for a moment. Steelshift wasn't blue…but the Klishana was. I'd nearly forgotten Heero had always had a small piece of Bell inside of him. Small enough to forget, but perhaps big enough to create from.

I brought the whipping energy slowly under control, focusing it on Heero's face, carefully sending small tendrils of it into the emptiness of his eyes. If the crystal could help me sprout a set of wings, then certainly it could help Heero sprout a set of eyes. I just hoped it would put them in the right places, and not somewhere completely inappropriate, like his back. Trying to wipe the image of a set of eyes looking soulfully out at me from Heero's back, I closed my own eyes and begged the energy to do my bidding.

A soft metallic sound drew my attention away, my eyes opening to find that I was surrounded by a wall of humans, enforcers. Steelshift armor, deadly weapons, and a look of no-nonsense in their posture and eyes. Slowly I let my hands drop away from Heero, noting no difference in his empty eyes, and controlling my heart from leaping through my throat when I noticed the soft glow emanating from his body. Maybe the enforcers wouldn't notice it? I could hope.

"Duo Maxwell, you are charged-"

"Yes, yes. I know. I'm charged with the following high crimes of treason etcetera and blah blah," I looked the one who had spoken directly in the eyes. They were a normal shade of blue, and looking back at me quite earnestly. He was innocent, just doing his job, it would be wrong to harm him. Much. "But if I were you, I'd care less about my crimes, and more about what's going to happen to you." For a moment, I was vaguely impressed with how I managed to keep my voice from cracking or betraying my stance.

The truth was, I was running out of energy, unable to control it or keep it to myself, it was leaking slowly away, running off me like water. It was going back home, a slight metallic scraping warning me that it wasn't just going home, it was bringing "home" back to life.

A harsh rumbling sounded from the horizon, reinforcements I was sure. Any moment now I'd have to give in, and they'd at last have what they wanted so badly, me, an unlimited energy source. My only choice was to try to draw back the energy somehow, call it to myself once more. I closed my eyes in preparation, already feeling exhaustion sway my body from the moment I began. The cacophony that had been growing on the horizon became suddenly louder, an incandescent glow turning the entire plane of the circle into nothing but a white blur. This was my end then.

Then, just as suddenly it was quiet, silence drifting over the entire world.

My gaze drifted upwards, eyes opening wide at what covered the night-swirled depths of the sky.

I would never forget what it looked like, something that was never meant to be. Khali's great round planet of a ship, floating lazily within less than a mile of the surface of Halia. The bronzed and silver hull of her body so massive it blocked out the sky, and in front of her, like an advancement of the stars themselves, the children of the great crystal mother.

Without thinking, I held up my hand, pointing the concentric circles of gold towards them. As one unit they dove downwards, sapphire glows surrounding each one, blue hair flying out behind them. I nearly shouted with joy when I spotted Bell, just in the front of the wave, his eyes centered on where I stood.

I had thought I'd known the reason for the Universe's marking of me. But now, with the massed army speeding towards me. I knew the true reason. I had the power to change the Universe, or destroy it. At this moment in time, I was very suddenly the center of the concentric circle, the innermost ring. And like the innermost ring, I had the power to draw all that was around me, down into chaos, through the circle and into a new life. A beginning of life, a destruction of life; you had to have both or none at all.

Heero stirred restlessly at my feet, and my attention turned to him, a broad grin smearing across my lips as I noticed he was looking back at me. "Wings," I muttered, knowing he'd feel their lack. He threw back his head and howled, the sharp shards of the Klishana already massacring his back as they ripped their way out of him.

The enforcers that had been gathered around us, melted back slightly as Heero writhed on the ground. I couldn't blame them, this certainly wasn't something that happened everyday, and I should know.

Bell's army was already slicing downwards, trails of sapphire light marking their progress. And I could just make out the golden bubble slipping out of Khali and spinning downwards as well.

Someone gripped my shoulder and I jumped, whirling around and slamming the flat of my hand against whomever it was before I bothered to look.

"Ow!"

"Sorry, Mil!" I yelled, and then blinked. The world seemed to have very suddenly erupted into absolute chaos. Too much was happening at once. "You knew!" I accused the pirate, crouching down over Heero protectively, wishing the pain would end for him.

"I couldn't very well say much when they had you captive, could I?"

"No, I suppose not, but you could have given me a bit more warning,"

"I tried, but I didn't know exactly what they had planned. I'm just glad they didn't seem to realize there was a warrant for my capture and subsequent lobotomy."

"But Milyardo…"

"Everything's real, right?"

"It seems to be,"

Heero's cries of pain had died down, one of his hands clutching at my boot. I laced my fingers over his, willing the pain to recede completely, and felt his fingers relax into something as soft as a caress.

"There should only be one question left on your mind, Duo."

"Only one?" I asked incredulously.

"Look around you," Milyardo whispered, gesturing up and out at the scene that had been left behind. "The world has changed, possibly everything has changed. They know now that they will never capture the Klishana, and if they ever try again, they'll be completely destroyed." He spoke softly, almost reverently. His eyes searched the battleground, restlessly passing over the fallen bodies.

Bell's army had somehow killed without killing, all the bodies laying so still upon the field, glowing with light, the gold of the Universe. "What did he do to them?"

"I don't know, but it's definitely stopped them, hasn't it."

"Duo," Heero's voice croaked so softly I could barely hear it, "what happened?"

That would take a lot of explaining, more than I had time enough for now. Especially since, I barely knew what had happened myself. Or more importantly, what would happen next. It seemed almost too easy; we'd conquered one of the most feared sects of the System, but now what? "It all seems unreal, I feel like I'm still in the module, dreaming my life away."

"Believe me when I say that this is about as real as you can get," Mil said with a smug grin.

Heero's head lay against my lap, his bright sapphire eyes staring up into my face innocently, as if he'd been reborn with his death. Which I suppose was exactly what had happened. Suddenly a small smile lifted his mouth, turning it upwards at the corners. "You don't think it's over yet, do you," he breathed, the smile turning into a broad grin.

I twitched guiltily, startled by this statement. I had thought it was over. It had to be. People were dead, machines lay in ruins, and the Universe had been nearly destroyed. I was almost positive that meant "it" was over.

My friends were with me again, real or imagined it didn't seem to matter. Somehow, all that had transpired in the trance-state of the VR module had been real, or as real as reality could ever get. It was enough to drive me completely insane. How did I know I wasn't still in the module, how did I know any of it had actually happened. I'd assumed I'd awakened at my home inside the module, but had I really? Maybe none of it was real. After all, if it all happened in the program, it would all be real in the program. Hence making "everything real". It would explain why I had been chosen to be the center of the Universe, egos making for great storylines. How could I ever know that I wasn't eternally trapped within the program? Suddenly I felt a sharp pain on my arm. Heero had pinched me. "Hey!"

"Sorry," Heero said, not looking contrite in the least, "But you're not dreaming."

"But you're reading my mind and that's an all right thing?" I cocked an eyebrow towards him, temporarily forgetting that we were sitting together in the middle of a battlefield.

His mouth pursed slightly, as if he'd just noticed that he had in fact been reading my mind. "That's new-"

"-It wasn't there before,' I finished for him. He nodded, still looking somewhat dreamy and tired.

"Uh, I hate to interrupt you two," another familiar voice said as nonchalantly as possible," but unless you want to stay out here all day, we really should be moving right along."

"Khali?"

She groaned, almost stamping a foot. "Of course it's me!" she turned towards Milyardo, ignoring me completely, "what - did he already get a lobotomy?"

"He's busy questioning reality," the blond man responded serenely, sending a smirk my way.

"Well, reality or no, we need to get out of here. Unless we really do want to start a war," she glanced over her shoulder up at her ship half. "They've got about a quarter million Universal Finders heading our way, shiphalf Khali is attempting to reason with them."

"Reason with Finders?" I asked incredulously, "I didn't think they even had ears to listen with."

"Oh they can hear all right, it's not them listening though," she paused, glancing down at me once more, "you never did realize that the machines weren't in charge."

"But they are, I saw them myself," I protested, remembering the high court, the mechanical judge.

"They are merely puppets, Duo. They always have been. There is a human behind every one of them," she said matter of factly. "Those humans are who I'm trying to communicate with. If I can force them to understand that they don't want a war with us…" she trailed off, her golden eyes closing slightly. "Oh, don't be ridiculous," she muttered peevishly at the thin air after a few moments.

"Uh Khali," Heero had managed to sit up, leaning against my shoulder. "They haven't seen what happened yet, have they? I mean, all this," he gestured around us, "so what would they have to be afraid of?"

"Er," Khali blushed slightly, "I uh, hadn't thought of that?" she said with an impish grin. "I'll just send them a few vids, shall I?"

Time passed, Khali's eyes closed as she sent whoever was behind the system watchdogs a little message. Eventually her eyes opened wide and disbelievingly. "They think it's a lie,"

"How can they? You sent them the proof, didn't you?" Heero asked, one of his hands idly stroking a new blue wing.

"Of course, they just think it's all a lie. That somehow the vids aren't real." She shook her head from side to side, "fools."

"Khali,"

"Yes?"

"If there are humans behind the machines, then how are they behind them exactly? How do they control them?"

"Silly boy," she chuckled, "VR of course."

Several things seemed to click neatly in to place. "That's why…"

"Hmm?"

"That's why they want me, it's more than the crystal, more than mere unlimited energy."

"I don't follow you," Mil said with a twisted look to his face, confusion evident.

"If the humans behind the Universal Finders control them by VR, that means that they too realize you can mimic or change reality itself through something that is not reality. This is why everything is real. Why it all happened, and yet I never had to leave my home. Somehow, I too can do what they do, only I wasn't just controlling a mechanical being, I was completely separate from myself, while still remaining me."

"Like astral projection, only through VR?" Khali asked.

I nodded, "something like that. But the real reason this makes sense, is that it gives us a way to prove just how serious we are."

"But how?"

"Easy, set up a module," I glanced at the module left nearby, Heero's temporary coffin. "If you can get that one up and running, and hook it in…"

"Except we don't know what program they're in, do we?" Khali said without tone or inflection, her voice strangely mechanical itself.

I smiled, for the first time in what seemed years feeling a sense of victory. "We don't have to know, I have a plan for that."

*****

As plans went, it was a relatively easy one, the kind that strikes with inspiration to create something truly genius. It was so easy; just loop the program phase of the module into the communications Khali had set up with the Finders. After all, it made a strange sort of sense, that if I was to be in one of the Finders, then I would be in the same place as those who controlled them.

Climbing in to the module, and watching the lid slide shut, I shivered slightly, realizing that this was where Heero had died. Even if it hadn't been a permanent death, it so easily could have been. The program took over in a few seconds, the interior of the module no longer visible, and the distorted sense of reality taking over completely. Ah yes, this was VR, how could I have forgotten that though it felt real, it could never be reality? And yet, it had been. I tried not to think about it. If everything were but a dream, it could remain that way forever for all I cared.

When the darkness cleared from my sight, I seemed to be huddled inside a very small cockpit, the controls lay in front of me, oddly new, still polished with un-use. Of course, a virtual human would never actually touch the controls, hence the shiny newness to them. But that line of logic raised thousands of questions in my mind, so I quickly shut down the thought.

Obviously, I wasn't in the same place as those I wanted to communicate with, but I was closer than I had been. Now it was only a matter of following back the trail. "Khali?"

"All set, close your eyes for this one, ok? It might scare you if you can see it."

"Oh, thanks," I promptly did as instructed, wondering what it was I'd be missing. It felt briefly like my body was a liquid thing, undulating in place, and then it stopped. Maybe it was for the best that I hadn't opened my eyes, I didn't think that was the sort of thing humans were meant to see.

When I opened my eyes again, I was standing in a large room, rank upon rank of modules lining it. The black coffin-like boxes stretched for what looked like miles. An army of virtual warriors, never-ending, never dying. And I was supposed to stop them how? I'd been imagining only a few men to deal with, but an army? Though, admittedly they were helpless at the moment.

But I wasn't the sort of person who'd ever be able to slaughter sleeping men, as tempting as it was. It left me with very few options. I couldn't open the modules to speak to them; they'd die as Heero had. I couldn't wait until the program was finished either, seeing as how the current mission was to destroy my friends and myself. So it left me only one option, reprogram what they were in. I nodded to myself, yes, I could do that.

Locating the programming board however was a little bit more difficult. It turned out to be hiding in the very far corner of the room, the console about 4 by 3 feet. There was a few codes to break through, a password or three that demanded my attention, and then just like that, I was in. Now what?

****

The module lid slid back with the slight hiss of air escaping, the first thing my eyes fell on was Heero, his new eyes shining lovingly down at me in the twilight sunset of Halia.

"Is it done?"

"Yeah, I don't think we ever have to fear them again," I gave him a crooked smile.

"What happened?"

I couldn't help the huge grin that split my lips, nearly tearing myself from the module in order to grab hold of Bell and squeeze. "Bell!"

"Duo!" he said, laughing, and wheezing at the tightness of my grasp.

"It's over!" I shouted, whirling around in a circle with him for a moment.

"Is it then? Are you going to tell us how? Why? Anything!" Treize asked, shouting the last while his face turned a bit red. "It's just that we've been waiting for the past 9 hours…" he finished with a lame grin.

"Well, it all starts and ends with one thing," I said secretively, holding a finger up. Everyone gave me various looks of interest, ranging from confused to mirthful. "Everything is real."

*****

Well? What did you think?
<forever worried about it all>

Cs

 


Glossary-

Transpod: A dimensional traveling device. The transpod will transport human mass within any area that contains another transpod. The time taken for each journey will always be exactly 10 nanoseconds, as time is folded as well as matter to create no ripple within the dimensions.

Slosta: A drink created from organic matter grown on Jilad, the Slosta is filled with nutrients that heighten awareness and energize.

CR chips: Two microchips implanted behind the ears, the connectors that allow a direct linkage to the VR modules.

Shinalp: A form of cursing, Shinalp is somewhat akin to saying "shit" or "ah shit"

Kajacrap: The Kaja is a life form located on the planet Neskin, a large beast known to produce huge amounts of feces. The phrase kajacrap is akin to saying "Bullshit"

Fliogan Warriors: The Fliogan is a race that attaches metallic wings to their young while they are still being formed within the incubators. The wings are partially organic, fusing with the young so as to become part of their bodies. This warrior race is known to be extremely high tech, and very vicious, most normal humans will not go near them, as they are known to kill without reason. Very little is known of the Fliogan or their ways.

Feed Tubes: Connectors that feed information and nutrients to any life form connected to any long-term device.

Lavablue 6: The planet on which the society of Fliogan reside at this time.

Levels: Technological knowledge is rated by level; most societies only have an average of 30 levels. The common level of most humans is 5, techmaster levels tend to be higher and in the upper ranges.

Steelshift: 1 of over a million different charted elements, Steelshift is partially organic, allowing it to be integrated with human DNA, testing is still in experimental stages, most distinguished users of this element are the Fliogan.

Slipshot Diskwings: A style of wing known to be common among the Fliogan, Slipshot defines the integration of movable parts, Diskwing is the style of the small circular patterns of metal that form the wings of Fliogan.

Contract: A contract is a more binding way to say, "Promise or swear?"

Optilenses: Cyber optic lenses, which can be used during a VR program only.

Creos: The original form of the name Christ has changed with the passage of time, modern form of the word when used as a curse is Creos.

Orstras: A plant matter grown in dark caves on the planet of Trinition, considered a delicacy on most planets, the plant is dark purple with small white bells that can be plucked and cooked. The taste is said to be sweet and delicate.

Realtime Call: The difference between a realtime call and a regular call is in the distance, all realtime calls infer off planet residence of the caller, communications run at high speeds, face to face talking is still difficult between planets.

What is your task: This is the way most people will ask what your job is, what career you're in.

Crèche Technician: Most people are born to the incubators and raised in crèches, the technicians help care for the many children being raised in such places.

Grower: The still forming body of a child within the incubator, a delicate time that must be carefully overseen to prevent accidents. A grower is usually designated as a child in a womb-like state. Between –1 to –9 months, or the time a child would be inside of a mother's body.

Youlin: A manmade mammalian life form, these animals are specifically created to improve the technology behind cloning. Most tests are performed with a small VR module; with which the creatures are filled with the only knowledge they know, as the Youlin is created with a blank slate for a mind.

A Set: A group of Growers that have reached maturity.

Trance state: Every few months of a citizen's life is recorded during REM cycles, the consciousness is stored within a neural processor called a memory chip. Occasionally when one wishes to know another, an exchange of such chips may occur.

Wetwiring: circuitry and modifications that can be installed within the human body without harming it.

The System: There are 3 levels of the system. The first is that which take cares of the minor systems such as basic maintenance, the second level controls techmaster training, medical facilities, and knowledge. The final level of the system controls all other functions between worlds; each detail is observed, and stored within it.

Klishana: A crystal found during an expedition of exploration, it is not only organic, but sentient as well.

Pinalr: A vegetable that can be eaten raw or cooked, it is said to be an acquired taste due to its strange fleshy texture and nutty flavor.

Guplit: A type of fruit grown on many planets, it is small and covered in tiny spikes which make it needful to be carefully eaten. It is said to taste rather sour, with a hint of sweetness.

Fermented Hisle Juice: A type of fruit also grown on many planets, it can be juiced and distilled to form a mild form of alcoholic beverage.

Brean-scalpel: a surgical instrument designed for a bloodless opening and closing of tissues, often used for personal bodily modifications.

Inverse Star: Very rarely when a star starts its death throes, it will turn in upon itself and feed off of its own energy, creating a new form for itself.

Ararium: A room usually only found on starships, it is meant for viewing of new materials and study of unknown elements.

Robotic simulator-hologramic: A mix of robotic and manmade tissues, which can be infused with memories and original DNA to form an exact copy. The holographic portions are usually reserved for those who were not satisfied with their own features in life, or who prefer to hide what they truly are.

Lucious Corporation: The first ever large corporation to specialize in the production of humanoid and manmade robotic engineering. It also owns nearly all blueprints of robotic simulators and DNA prints. It is said that this corporation rules half the universes.

Biotissue: A manmade tissue used in surgery and building of copies, it has no specified DNA pattern and can be mixed with many other species.

Biorecords: A type of map made for each creature that is birthed in a crèche, it is a permanent record that can be used to repair or recreate.

Kindal: A form of dried meat, usually made from Hiff, a tasty mammal that can be found on several planets.

Kindal Slices: Hiff meat that is served fresh.

 

If you would like a definition for something not listed here just ask! ^_^