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
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
"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."
"Duo," Khali said sweetly, "has anyone ever told you how annoying are when you try to be cryptic?"
Eventually, after boarding Khali's ship-half I told them what I'd done. It had been surprisingly easy to reprogram the vast room full of VR modules. No guards were kept in a place as secret as that. No one had seen me enter or leave. I'd left them in an endless loop, so that even when they eventually left the modules, they would not really be leaving but still in the program. It was very similar to the last few months I'd spent inside my own module at home. Only, there would be no escape for the army of the System. Even when eventually they might wonder what had happened, why the army no longer responded to their commands, they would be unable to set them free.
I explained to the shocked faces of my friends, that if the System ever tried to free the army, all the men in the modules would die. Either way, we were safe for probably the rest of our lives as well as the lives of our children.
At the mention of children Khali's face had turned a bright shade of red, a quick glance in Bell's direction confirming what I thought the blush might mean. "You're pregnant?"
Bell's eyes widened, and everyone seemed frozen in an awed silence.
"You're what?" Trieze blurted out, grabbing hold of her arms and giving a slight shake.
"Well what do you expect?" I couldn't seem to help the prideful smirk that crept across my face.
"But how?" Milyardo seemed positively shocked.
"I'd imagine it was by the usual method," 138 said in a low voice, perched next to Milyardo's ear, one small claw wrapped inside his hair.
A sudden thought crossed my mind, things had happened so fast I'd been unable to question them. Now, with the Universe seemingly at my disposal, I began to wonder once more. "Where's Wufei's doppelganger? What happened to the crystal mother?"
Bell was the first to answer, that knowing look in his eyes once more, "The doppelganger is in one of the labs I believe. As for my mother, she is with her children," he gestured behind us and for the first time I realized what the view screen was showing.
The blinding blue lights of Bell's family were spread out behind Khali in a vast line, seemingly stretching from one side of the galaxy to the other. Above the line of blue skimmed the magnificent form of the crystal mother, incandescently white, long winding ribbons of energy flowing from her. Even from a distance that was most likely thousands of miles, I could see the glow of her eyes, and it seemed almost as if she were looking directly at me.
"She exists," I didn't bother making it a question, "it all exists,"
I turned to find the Wufei doppelganger standing just within the door, head cocked to one side.
"Tell me what you really are," but I had a feeling I already knew the answer.
"I am," he said succinctly, a small smile creasing the corners of his mouth, "I am and always will be," and his smile grew even more.
"You are both, aren't you? You are Wufei, but how?"
"You were missing, Duo. Gone for weeks, no answer at your home, Fina was not taking messages. Then I realized where you might be hiding,"
"The module, you entered the program, didn't you?"
"I did, and I'm still here,"
"But how's that possible? I saw you, you were also at my trial,"
"I was there as well,"
His face creased, one corner of his mouth twitching in mirthless humor. "Virtual reality has always been a strange thing. It's been studied for centuries, and yet never truly understood. I am here, and I am home, and there is also a piece of my mind that is still within the program, and yet everything is real," he paused, staring at his hands for a long moment, "Reality is what you make it, the length and breadth of Earth 1 and its history proves that theory. The human mind is capable of so many beautiful things, so many atrocities, and yet strangely, what it is most capable of is dreaming."
"Dreaming," my mind flashed backwards through time, to the point when I had thought the whole experience had begun. "I was here, wasn't I? Just as I'm here now."
"Yes, your mind created a physical body, both at your home and here, it separated the solid portions of your existence, forcing your very cells to split, multiply and become another you."
"So, there's two of me, or three of me?"
"No, there is only one you, but the one you - can be many places at once, unaware that it has traveled or multiplied."
"How do I know if I'm all together? How can I tell if there are any other separate bits of myself out there?"
"Ah, that is easy enough to answer," the familiar smirk was back, "do you feel as if a piece of you is still missing?"
"Yes," there did feel as if some portion of myself wasn't there, as if reality could still split in an instant and shatter around me. Then it hit me; there was a portion that had not been freed yet, a piece that needed to come home. "Fina,"
The only mother I had ever known was a self-aware computer with a soft voice and a penchant for teaching. Since childhood I'd never been separated from her, the gentle guidance of her words the only rules I obeyed. Now she lay sleeping, her awareness separated from my own by the directions I had given her when I'd thought her a traitor. But she had never betrayed me, I had betrayed myself.
Homecoming felt just like that, I had at last come home. The fist of the crystal mother and her children kept the straggling members of the System from us. The small governmental forms left on Zephlid unable to retaliate against a force so powerful.
Heero and I left Khali hanging above Zephlid, a shadow like a moon. His hand seemed to always be within my own now, comforting and warm against my palm at all hours. Since being reborn he'd become oddly innocent, eyes wide as they beheld for the first time everything that he had never properly seen. He constantly delighted in spreading his wings wide and lazily flapping them against the air; his mouth turning up in a smile each time, as the soft, feathery crystal stroked in gentle undulations of glowing blue - for some reason his wings always glowed.
Upon entering my home I let go of Heero's hand for the first time in what seemed days, sprinting for the room in which Fina's main form lay. My fingers flew as I entered the codes and clearance necessary to wake her, my breath hitching as the soft whir and hum of machinery filled the room.
"Mr. Maxwell," her voice shivered as it came alive again, power slowly filling the matrix of her mind, "Mr. Maxwell, why do you wake me?"
"Because, because," my mouth seemed incapable of movement for a long moment of time, and then I could no longer hold back what I wanted her to know, wishing that just once I could tangibly hug her and merely sob against her. "Fina, I need you,"
"I need you, Fina," her silence was deafening, "I need you to just be here, always, and never sleep again," I inhaled on a ragged breath, "I love you Fina, you're the only mother I've ever known,"
"Love, yes," her voice remained quiet for a long time, as if she were pondering what love was and all the possibilities it held. "I think," she said softly, "that I love,"
"Did you miss me, Fina?" a lopsided grin squirmed its way across my face, hanging in place.
"Mr. Maxwell, I am not alive without you."
Wufei met us at the door of his home, the metal sliding open to reveal his immaculate uniform, not a raven hair out of place on his head. It also revealed myself, several of myself, standing behind him working on a small Youlin clone.
My mouth opened and shut a few times, all the words flying out of my head at the sight. These were my clones, all of them. Silently I started to count the ones in view, catching sight of a few more scampering from one room to another. "Chang," my voice sounded slightly shocked, even to my own ears.
"There's over 12 of me in this room, exactly how many clones did you make of me?" One of my eyebrows was twitching uncontrollably.
"Well, you see - I couldn't do it."
"Do what exactly?" I watched as Heero ambled over to one of the many clones, petting the arm that was hidden beneath the clean white sleeve. He tugged on it for a moment, and then smiled as the clone looked up at him.
"Huh?" my attention turned completely to Wufei, ignoring for the moment Heero's obvious curiosity over my clones.
"Well, the only way to get rid of a full grown clone, is to kill it, and I found myself unable to kill you, my friend."
"So, what exactly do you do with them all? I mean, it is me, you know. It's almost disturbing, really."
"Oh, they clean, help me with my experiments, useful things," he waved a hand vaguely through the air.
"Really Maxwell, I do nothing inappropriate with them,"
"I couldn't possibly do that sort of thing with you, now could I?"
"It just wouldn't be right, you're one of my best friends," his eyes were on the clones that were talking with Heero, all of them having gravitated around him after a few moments of shyness. "It wouldn't be right," his voice trailed off, eyes glued on the clones. "Why are they behaving that way?" he muttered peevishly, his mouth twisting into a tiny pout.
I looked over at the little display, keeping back a soft chuckle. The 8 or so clones that had been working on the Youlin were now crowded around Heero, their faces rapt with attention and happiness as they watched him flex his wings, showing off for them.
One of them made a little cooing sound, wrapping an arm through Heero's and rubbing his face against one bright blue wing - immediately the other clones gathered closer as well, all of them taking a chance to touch and feel the wings. Exclamations of delight went through them, and a few more clones made appearances from other rooms, joining the group - though one had remained slightly apart, apparently taking vigorous notes.
I turned and glanced at Wufei's expression, grinning openly at the jealousy plainly written across his features. "I can't really blame them, you know. I mean, I like him too, so it stands to reason they would-"
"Oh shut up, Maxwell!"
I started to laugh, taking pity on Wufei and grabbing Heero's arm, tugging him slowly away from his admirers. "I'm sorry, you can't have him," I said to the clones.
The clones made faces of distress and unhappiness, inching away, and taking comfort among themselves. Several of them hugged and kissed, which caused my eyebrow to twitch a bit more. Then, one of them tugged on Wufei's sleeve, giving him a pitiful expression of utter desolation. Wufei glanced quickly in my direction, and then, squaring his shoulders, he gave the clone a tiny kiss on the cheek - trying to hide a smile as he did.
He stood straight again, giving a half serious glare in my direction, "Don't say it," he said ominously.
"It, I know you're dying to,"
"Why Chang, I have nothing to say, really,"
"Well, maybe just one thing,"
"Alright then, I won't say it,"
"You might as well,"
"They're nice," Heero said, still watching the clones as they went back to their Youlin and various rooms.
That seemed to sum it all up rather well. Though, I enjoyed immensely watching Wufei blush.
A few weeks later Heero and I dropped in on a few other old friends that I'd been missing. I'd called them a couple of times, promising to come by, and yet been distracted every time by one thing or another.
Quatre answered the door, a flurry of blond hair and blue eyes, "you're here at last!" he exclaimed, throwing his arms around my waist and smiling against my cheek. "We've missed you, so much has happened."
"Oh, with -" he stopped abruptly as Trowa stepped from one of the doorways, a small bundle held gently in his arms. He was smiling down at it, a tender expression on his normally stoic features.
He stopped, laughing softly down at the baby in his arms, and then glanced up, taking in our arrival with some surprise. "I'm sorry, I didn't hear you, he was telling me about his breakfast," he smirked at Quatre, "I told you he didn't like that food,"
The petite blond rolled his eyes, "Sometimes I really hate the fact that you can read his mind, you know?"
"That bad?" I asked, walking over to peer down at the tiny face. He looked a bit like both of his proud parents; Quatre's blond hair, Trowa's nose, the mouth looked like Quatre's as well, but his eyes were what held my attention, "How did he manage to get such eyes?"
Quatre shrugged, standing beside me, a careful hand stroking the baby's cheek, "we're not sure, Wufei assured us it wasn't a defect," he bit his lip, a worried expression creeping across his face.
"No, I don't think it is either, but " I took one of the tiny hands in my own, smiling as the baby giggled. Turning over his miniscule palm I stared silently for a while, lost in thought. "Watch him carefully," my voice cracked slightly, on the little palm was the unmistakable swirl of the concentric circle, a ripple of silvery yellow. His golden eyes blinked sleepily up at me, mouth opening on a yawn.
I started in surprise as Heero's hand slipped into my free one, squeezing my fingers. "I may have someone you'd enjoy meeting," I said, hiding my worry, showing Quatre and Trowa only a smile at their pride, "Have I told you about Bell and Khali yet?"
Later that evening, as I settled into bed beside Heero, my mind kept turning to that small hand, and the meaning of the circles, the universe had marked the child for some obscure reason. I hadn't told my friends about my similar markings, or of Khali's golden eyes - eyes that had come from the creation of something mechanical, from life itself.
Instead, I had told them of our adventures, of the strange ability to form virtual reality into reality, the possibility that everything in its turn could become a reality from thought alone. I'd told them of the creation of Bell, the runaway Youlin - 138, the space pirates, Khali's birth into life, the planet named Puppy all of it.
In the end, I wondered whether or not I should have told them everything. But perhaps, the universe would reveal its designs with time.
I had once told 138 that one day it would find that it's life had great meaning, that even the smallest of creatures could change the entire universe. It was nearly a year after I had come home to Zephlid when I met with the tiny mammal, realizing for the first time that nothing had ever happened when I'd tried to help 138. I'd gathered energy and tried, certainly, and yet there had never been a visible result.
138 had been living with the pirates, satisfied to be part of their family, pleased that it had at least a bit of Wufei beside itself, even if it wasn't quite the real Wufei. Khali had given birth, and I was not surprised upon viewing the infant girl that she too had been marked by the universe, her eyes that same whirling gold, tiny palm marred by the circles. By then, Quatre and Trowa had already become fast friends with Khali and Bell, and I knew their children would grow up beside one another.
But 138 had become unhappy recently, seemingly coming to the last of its energy, most Youlin expired within a few years, but it had held on rather surprisingly long, almost 13 years, a great and venerable age amongst the manmade Youlin.
"I must die soon," it told me when I visited, a wistful note in its voice, "We were never meant to live so long."
I had nothing to say to that, knowing it was true, instead I merely reached out, stroking one tiny claw.
"I think I will miss this, life,"
"You will be missed as well,"
"I'm I'm sorry 138, I tried for you, I really did,"
"What do you mean?"
"I tried to help you, to make you what you wanted to be " I trailed off, feeling guilty that I'd never managed to grant its wish.
"I never minded, but now I grow weary, tired. My life has been much longer than necessary," yet its voice still whispered this news to me sadly.
"Small creature," another voice said softly from behind me.
To my surprise, the crystal mother stood in the doorway, her beautifully cold face, sorrowful and drawn into a frown. "You may die, but you will live as well, has no one yet told you death's true purpose," her voice still held the faraway tinkle of bells and glass. Her presence had become no less powerful with time, her vicinity to me already causing an awed hush to fall over my mind.
She knelt beside the tiny Youlin, one long fingertip touching its forehead. "Have you never known what purpose you held?" she asked, a soft white glow beginning at the connection between her finger and the small mammal. It grew slowly, intensifying in increments. "The universe has ever held you in love," her voice seemed more like bells now, and less like a true voice, a shimmering coming to it, making it echo within the room.
I glanced from the scene to find the others crowding around me, all of them with expressions of sadness, we knew we were going to lose our friend.
138 merely lay back, one small claw extended towards the crystal mother. Its eyes were closed, and as we watched, the light that had been growing around it slowly changed to a familiar golden glow.
"In the ending, is the center, the middle of the circle that never changes, the golden light of the Universe that spins into infinity. All creatures great and small are merely the imaginings of a lonely creator, the children of the spiral. You too are one of those loved by the creator of all," her voice throbbed with power, soft and sure, fingertip drawing a pattern around 138. The vastly familiar pattern of the concentric circle.
Briefly, I remembered the vision I'd had on the plane of my judgment. The image of the Universe, and in its center something that could not be defined. Both a beginning and an end, life, death, and the power to change everything.
"Perhaps, it would do well to have you there, at its very center, to hold forever close one of its smallest creations," she whispered, "and in time, you will change the very core of all life,"
A sudden surge of light filled the room, and as I blinked to bring my vision back into focus, I realized 138 was gone.
"What did you do?" Treize asked, tears streaming openly from his eyes. Milyardo was patting his hand, valiantly trying to keep back his own tears. All of us were fighting the urge to cry, grieving for our companion.
"I have given the Youlin what it has always wanted," she said cryptically, smiling at our tear-streaked faces.
"You made him bigger," I whispered, understanding flashing through my mind.
Her smile remained elusively enigmatic, "in a manner of speaking," her eyes lowered to where the small Youlin had lain, "138," her tongue rolled over the name, "it is, part of the universe, a very important part, now,"
"The center," I said, knowing somehow it'd gone into that whirlpool, the beginning and the end of all life, "You made 138 the center of the Universe, didn't you?"
She nodded, still smiling into the distance, "yes, and the Universe accepted."
Below me spread a vista of beauty rarely seen, an endless ocean, blue and glowing with moonlight. My wings spread automatically, catching the updrafts and lifting my body higher. Heero flew to my right, his wings flickering with the sapphire light of the Klishana, head held forward, his eyes distant as they watched the waterscape unfold below us.
I flew closer to him, smiling and reaching for his hand, our fingers brushed, slipped and joined, twining together.
We laughed as we saw far below the silvery shapes of the dolphin leaping high in their delight with life; even from our distance, we could hear the squeals and high-pitched calls as they swam.
My fingers tightened slightly as I pulled Heero closer in mid-air, rolling our bodies into a whirlwind of wings with us at its center.
There was no fear in Heero's eyes, and I knew there was no fear in mine, nothing could harm us here. Sometimes I wondered, whether anything could harm us anywhere. Life was an endless circle, the mother of the Klishana had told us, and she'd whispered in the confines of that tiny cramped chamber, that no matter how long we lived or when we died, we would come back, perhaps never knowing or maybe sometimes wondering. But she had told us the secret, the answer to the riddle that had never been asked.
Even now, as I flew with Heero over the night-shrouded water planet, I could recall her words, the expression on her face.
"The soul within is the constant of the Universe, you are all parts of it, its creations. In death, it is merely a losing of the body, never of the mind. You will always be the reincarnation of the eternal spirit of the Universe."
I knew what she'd said had been true, the way that I knew my life held no more nor less meaning than 138's. We were all somehow - parts of this one entity, if the Klishana's queen was our mother, then indeed, our father was the Universe itself.
My thoughts drifted into focus, my gaze meeting Heero's as we spiraled through the moonlit night. I suddenly wanted to tell him everything I'd ever experienced, wished I could somehow permanently mark him, or myself, remember who he was when neither of us was here to remember it any longer. Would our souls always know one another? Would we always find each other, no matter the distance?
"Will we always be meant for each other?" I whispered across the distance between our faces, watching as his eyes closed against my question. His arms tightened around my body and tugged our soaring forms downwards, at the last instant whipping our wings outward, leaving us in a dizzy glide along the water.
"You doubt the eternal truths of the Universe, Duo?"
I glanced sharply at him, only to find his lips quirking at the corners, eyes sparkling from beneath shadowy lashes. He let out a laugh, giving up on the ruse completely and grinning openly, "Haven't I already told you?"
He didn't answer for a moment, instead glancing toward the dark sky above. "I've always known you, somehow, before I knew you, I knew you were meant for me, something I'd always been missing,"
"Life became enough,"
"Exactly," we looped for a moment in midair, our wings swirling and spinning, brushing but never jarring.
I closed my eyes, breathing in for a moment, smelling the ocean below us, the muted scent of Heero's skin, that smell he seemed to have even after a bath, something that made him infinitely himself. "I think that's how I'll know you, next time,"
"Hm?" his voice sounded windswept and soft beside my ear.
"I'll sniff you out," I choked on a laugh that wanted to turn into a sob, burying my face against his neck, "I'll just hunt you down, and sniff you to pieces, and somehow, no matter what you look like, or who you are, I'll just know it's you,"
His laugh was muted, and I glanced up, finding that I wasn't the only one who was strangely saddened that our time together might end someday. His eyes were filled with unshed tears as he met my gaze, his smile tremulous, then he sighed, gathering our bodies closer once more.
We flew on, endlessly into the night. Our bodies twisting and turning over waves of moonlight, blue, and white, golden stars on velvet refracted and reflected on the water. In time, I stopped listening to the sounds, closed my eyes to the stars and sky, "I'll just breathe," and my whisper was captured, whirling away into the Universe.
hope you liked it! ^_^'
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! ^_^