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Offline Thedeacon

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I, Meta-Physicist - New story!
« on: May 28, 2003, 07:03:46 PM »
Chapter 1: I, Metaphysicist



And God blessed the seventh day, and hallowed it; because that in it he rested from all his work which God had created and made Genesis 2:1



?Today is going to be a special day? Sarah Mocham said with a smile, wrapping her arms around Mehar Izgimmer as they lay together in the bed of their modest Jobe dwelling. Outside, the twin suns acknowledged this by blanketing the two lovers in warmth and light.



While both Mehar and Sarah were widely acknowledged Nano-technicians, their home was rather humble, at least compared to the grand splendor of the floating island on which they resided. A bedroom, which connected to a living area, a lavatory and a small kitchen that had been unused since the day they moved in, all colored in the same beige-gold. They would proudly proclaim on the rare occasion that they entertained company ?our only excess is never our excess? and judging by their bare walls and simple decorations, they meant it.



Mehar raised an eyebrow and gave his trademark smirk. ?Oh is it? And why is that?? To anyone else, that look was one of mockery or condescendence, but to Sarah it was his way of showing a sort of playful curiosity. Or maybe it was mockery. Despite being brilliant, Sarah was still after all only Solitus, making it easy to condescend, whether intended or not.



Sarah?s knowing smile widened and she tapped a finger to her forehead. Behind that smile was a secret that Mehar was not privy to. There had been a lot of those lately and he felt a wave of concern, but let it pass. Mehar feared that her research into theoretical sciences and material creation were beginning to draw her down a dark path. ?Emotions are a highly powerful and dangerous tool? he would say to her with increasing frequency, but thought it best to save that particular speech for another day. She was smiling today, and he thought it wise to keep her that way for as long as possible.



Without saying another word and letting his smile linger a moment longer so as to not raise suspicion, Mehar turned to the holodisplay mounted on the wall and called up a menu of the previous week?s news gridstream.



Featured prominently was the collapse and subsequent hospitalization of his old colleague, Julias Enfraam. The smile returned to Mehar?s lips as he increased the volume.



??stable condition in Omni Med facilities. Enfraam was not available for comment, yet was reported as refusing treatmeant by Jobe Physicians, citing personal unrest and a lack of faith in the medical staff on Jobe. The 49 year old nanomage man is said to have been paralyzed on the left side from the stroke and will undergo implantation surgery to restore mobility.?



Sarah noticed the faux smile broadening into something more real. ?I?m not sure what?s worse. The fact that your reverse engineering of Julias? Fortification code has caused the poor man to suffer a stroke, or the fact that you seem to be happy about it.? Her mock scowl softened slightly and she added ?I hear Omni-Med still uses knives clamps in their brain surgeries too.? The two looked at each other and erupted into gusts of laughter.



Laughter had been on short supply lately, so it was good to stock up whenever one could.

?Sarah, surely you can?t be serious.? The laughter was still quite alive in his voice, even though his face had taken on a more serious look. ?The man had it coming. You were there when he proclaimed his fortification program was crafted with such skill that no one would ever be able to match it. He was looking directly at me! It was a challenge. A calling out, if you will. You were present; surely you haven?t forgotten the smug look he gave me??



?Oh yes, I was there alright, hoping that the sound of my snoring wasn?t waking you up.?



Mehar gave her a devilish grin. ?I was wondering the same thing. Julias? lectures are well renowned to be on the dry side.?



?Oh Mehar, let?s not mince words. The man is a downright bore and everyone knows it! Why they still attend his lectures is a puzzle that not even a nanomage could figure out.?



?My dear, they attend because they know that I will attend. They wish to see how quickly and how thoroughly I will outdo my former colleague?s primitive nanoprograms.? Mehar emphasized the word ?primitive? to better make his point.



She playfully punched him lightly in the arm. ?Ooooh, look at the handsome man with the handsome ego! You remind me of the old western duelers from Earth history.?



Mehar renewed his laughter in healthy bursts. ?Oh do tell! Can you imagine Julias and me on the dusty road outside the Alright Corral, dueling with nanoprograms instead of pistols? The sight alone of two old nano men in leather chaps would be worth the price of admission!? He formed his slender hands into mock pistol shapes as children once did and a small crackle of energy lingered at his fingertip.



She winked, ?Well Mister Know-it-all, I?ll have you know that it was called the ?O.K. Corral?, not the ?Alright Corral?.?



Mehar exhaled through his nose and shook his head, breaking eye contact. ?Trivialities.?



He opened his mouth to add something else that was weighing on his mind, but Sarah cut him off before he could finish. ?You worry yourself too much about my research, dear. And oh yes, don?t deny what you were about to say.?



He frowned. ?How is it that lately you?re able to know what I?m about to say??



??Before you say it?? She finished his sentence with that dark smile again. Mehar no longer found humor in that smile, but likened it to the toothy grin of a predator. ?Call it my Anticipation of Retaliation.? She must have noticed he was no longer smiling, must have seen the look of dread fall across his pale gray face, but she pretended not to and kept on smiling.



?Dear, if you keep worrying like this, you?re going to end up like poor Julias in some Omni-Med facility with blood soaked doctors holding sharp instruments above your head.?



?Oh come now, Sarah. Even the Atrox are intelligent enough to use nanotechnology instead of manual surgery.?



?You?re missing my point.?



?No, I?m avoiding it.?



?I?m going to be late for work.? Sarah rose from the bed, her back to him.



His cheeks flushed with anger at her dismissal. ?How can you be late when you never stop working??



As soon as the words slipped from his mouth, he cursed himself for letting his emotions get the best of him. He cringed. They sounded jealous and petty, especially when considering his own working habits and the thirty-seven hour ego marathon he had just partaken upon to dismantle Enfraam?s fortification code.



She stopped and turned to face him. The look she gave him was not one of anger or fury. It was the same face she had worn for the past few weeks, which she so transparently tried to hide with pleasantry and plastic smiles. Indifference. An indifference so cold that Mehar turned his face in shame. Until now, he was unable to put his finger on it, but upon testing the word in his mind, it felt right. Sarah had become an emotional void as of late and he intended to find out why.



He caught his thoughts just in time to see her lithe body, wrapped in a sheet, disappear into the lavatory in a wisp of shoulder-length blond hair and a train of cream-colored silk.



His own internal NCU informed him that he too would be late for his lecture on the reverse-engineering of Julias Enfraam?s fortification program, playfully named ?Izgimmer?s Mockey?, if he did not get ready soon. He briefly considered joining Sarah in the shower as they had usually done, but thought it best to give her time to herself to let cooler heads prevail on their own. And besides, they would get to talking and either renew their argument or resolve it, the latter of which would surely make the both of them late. Smiling and spent, but late.



Anticipation of Retaliation. Somehow Mehar did not believe that expression was made on the fly. It had something to do with the work she was conducting each day in the small building labeled ?Metaphysics?. Odd how he never felt the urge to inquire more about what went on behind those closed doors. The subject of theoretical research had always intrigued him and he should have been fascinated and curious beyond measure. But something about that building drew people away, as if swept by an unseen hand. The other scientists and scholars seemed to give the building a wide berth upon walking past it, going so far as to cross the street in its presence, although he had never questioned why



Perhaps he should have been more inquisitive about the work being performed and why he felt out of ease whenever he discussed or thought about it, but he felt that Sarah?s research should remain unmolested, without him commandeering her place. As project director of Jobe?s Metaphysics program, Sarah needed to maintain a sense of authority, and Izgimmer?s presence would undermine the fragile respect that she had built among her colleagues.



Such a remarkable woman, he thought to himself. After being looked down upon first for being a solitus among the nanomage elite and then for living out of wedlock with one of the most revered nanoprogrammers in history, she was finally gaining the respect and recognition that someone as brilliant as her deserved. He would sooner be outdone by Enfraam than allow himself to disrupt her work or reputation. But surely, if he had the desire to find out more, he was well respected enough in the community to gain entrance or---



?---no? he spoke softly to himself. ?Sarah?s work is Sarah?s work, not my issue to meddle in.? The words came out feeling manufactured and rehearsed and he thought of Sarah tapping her finger to her forehead. Anticipation of Retaliation. Had she read his mind? Impossible.









Julias Enfraam sat upright in the hospital bed, pounding angrily at the embedded holo-keyboard in the metaplast tray attached to his bed, occasionally gesturing madly to draw figures and charts on the accompanied holographic display.



?Mister Enfraam, I must strongly advise against exerting yourself like this.? It was that butcher of a nurse again. What was her name? Julie? Jane? He supposed he really did not care about her name, nor for the nurse herself and her incessant pesterings.



?Busy.? He waved a hand to dismiss her and when she did not leave, he waved away the holographic display and glared at her, annoyed.



?You?ve just suffered a major stroke and might I remind you that while your insurance scan is up to date for the next week, neurological failures suffered under stress can lead to an incomplete transfer of the lifeforce and permanent death.?



He crossed his arms and said in a mocking voice ?why thank you for your concern and your advice. I suppose that information could not have been obtained through any of 17 billion grid sites? Why please, educate me more as you change my bedpan. And while you?re at it, bring me a glass of white wine.?



?Mister Enfraam, you know that we do not serve alcoholic beverages to recovering patients.? She tried to maintain the kindly tone, but Julias? comments cut the lilt from her voice, leaving it sounding flat and dry.



?Why of course I know that, you dolt! I merely wish for you to leave me be immediately. Is there not some impossible task that you can spend the remainder of your pathetic life performing? I have work to do. Real work.?



The nurse pursed her lips and leaned in close until her lips were nearly touching Julias? ear and whispered ?In a perfect world, that stroke would have killed you. I?d sooner throw myself into a den of hungry Pit Lizards than contribute to your longevity. Just so we?re on the same page here. Oh, and I hear Izgimmer will be lecturing on his improved fortification program. Improved from?.your formula, wasn?t it? I hear it will be broadcasted by Gridstream Productions later tonight. I?ll come back to remind you.?



Before Julias could respond, the nurse turned on her heel and walked out of the room. Although her back was turned to him, he could imagine the witch?s evil grin. It was a shame too, Julias would have fancied her to be quite attractive in any other situation.



With a flick of his fingertips, the holographic display returned and he resumed his notations.



?Enfraam?s Toolkit? he said with a smile, testing the name out. ?Yes, that will do nicely.?



?Sarah, please reconsider. Neither of us can be 100% sure of the effects of running the program without the inhibitor.?



?Meijen, Nothing in the history of science has been accomplished without risk, including this. Leave the room please and allow me to concentrate.?



Without another word, Sarah?s assistant did as told and sat down in the attached observation room, watching Sarah through a rectangular window. He noticed his forehead and back were covered in sweat and his hands were shaking. He attempted to steady them by taking long, deep breaths and exhaling slowly.



This was not the first such experiment that Sarah and Meijen had performed together since finding the set of instruction discs located among the ruins in Perpetual Waste, however it would most certainly be their last.



Sarah slowly paced the sterile white room, all too cognizant of Meijen?s eyes watching him from behind the tinted glass. All too aware of Izgimmer?s spying, all too aware of the glares her colleagues gave her.



She repeatedly clenched and unclenched her fists



The mistrust, the laughs, the condescending remarks at a Solitus woman in a nanomage man's position of power.



The anger.



The humiliating remarks, the lack of credibility given to her studies, her lifeblood, her work. And oh how she fought, how she tried, how she struggled.



A fine red mist of nanobots coalesced around her. The fine blond hairs on her arms stood on end and she felt a heat course through her veins even as her skin raised in chilly goosepimples.



Our emotions, like our thoughts, dreams and our very souls are made up of energy. Like all energy, it can be measured, contained and even harnessed into tangible form. Love, anger and hatred are our most purest energy. We will use those. The instruction discs of ours that you found, are only that. Instructions. The energy is within you. Close your eyes, Sarah. Close your eyes and focus. Focus on lifting that energy from your mind. Let it rise above you and the nanobots will do the rest.



Somewhere in the room or a thousand miles away a table shook, knocking over a glass beaker and a databoard. Time and space warped as Sarah?s hands danced throughout the air, weaving together strands of nanobots.



The hatred.



Her mind was distant, her thoughts hazy, yet the voice came to her quite lucid. She was no longer Sarah Mocham, but a tiny speck of light among a universe of light. Not a singularity, but part of something bigger. At the center of it all, she saw-----





Meijen wanted to run. Wanted to run from the room and out the doors of the Metaphysics building, never to return again. Even if he could make it through the laboratory without being cooked alive by whatever energies were emanating from Professor Mocham, he could never be clean again. Whatever came through the portal that Professor Mocham was now opening, was part of his own doing. Running home, pulling the covers over his head and pretending it was all a dream would not prevent the memory of this moment from haunting his sleep for the rest of his life, however short that would prove to be.



His hands began to tremble again, yet this time it was the desk itself that was causing the trembling, and not his hands. He quickly snatched them up and felt electricity in the air. Both rooms were constructed of reinforced metaplast, yet he still felt it. Something big was about to happen. Whether it be good or bad, it was something the world would not soon forget. History was about to be made and he was at the epicenter of it all.



The lights in the building shattered and went dim and the trembling simultaneously stopped. The lights were out, yet he could still see two pinpricks of red light coming from the laboratory room.



?Professor Mocham? Sarah?? his voice shook, despite his repeated attempts to steady it. He slowly stood on legs made of rubber to get a better look at the red glow.



All was silent.



And then he heard the scream.





TO BE CONTINUED
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Offline Thedeacon

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chapter 2
« Reply #1 on: May 28, 2003, 07:06:20 PM »
And its eyes have all the seeming of a demon's that is dreaming - The Raven, Edgar Allen Poe



It?s been said that soul mates share a bond with one another that transcends the physical world and ventures into the metaphysical.  Two hearts, two minds, yet a common link as old and primordial as the universe itself connects the two in an inseparable bond.  It?s love, but it?s much more than love.  Even when separated by great distances, emotions and events are sometimes experienced by the two simultaneously.  When they?re happy, we?re happy.  When they hurt, we hurt.  Most of the time we pass these feelings off as coincidence, a case of D?j? vu or more commonly, never make the correlation at all.  It?s rarely spoken of and even more rarely noticed by the conscious mind, yet its presence makes itself known when our loved one is in danger.  



It?s the sort of thing that makes you wonder if there is more to us than meat, skin, bones and a bit of electricity binding it all together.  Some sort of universal common link that binds us all and brings us together in a time of need, in much the same way that the memories of where to find food, water and the remains of ancestors are passed down through the DNA of earth elephants.



Imagine if you will our minds, our souls, as railroad tracks running every which way on an infinite ethereal landscape, twisting and curving around to infinity.  Would those tracks not, at some point, cross paths in some inter-dimensional junction point?  And if they did, could we see the faces of the other train?s passenger through the window and really see that person?s soul laid bare to you?



?Professor Izgimmer??



Mehar pinched the bridge of his nose tightly, as if suffering from a headache.  Having just delivered his lecture on using physical modifications via nanotechnology, which was more a front to present his improved fortification code, it wouldn?t have been at all unlikely.  The lecture hall was quite crowded with students as well as up and coming nanotechnicians dressed in black uniform Jobe garments, all anxious to glean the knowledge of perhaps the most brilliant technician in history.  Certainly the fanfare and low murmuring of the crowd would be enough to give anyone a migraine.



But there wasn?t any pain, just a feeling of confusion.  For a moment it felt as if he was outside of his own body and looking through another man?s eyes.  He scanned the crowd, looking for something out of place, but it was as he expected, several hundred of Jobe?s elite citizens chatting amongst themselves and sampling the cuisine provided for the event.  But something was wrong.  Something was wrong, only he was unable to place a finger on it.  All he knew was that it had something to do with Sarah.



For Mehar, there was no train.  No destiny, no fate.  Only numbers.  Lines of code that could be measured manipulated and weighed.



?Professor Izgimmer, Are you well??



Mehar?s eyes shifted back to reality and focused on his colleague, shaking his head to put his thoughts back on track.  ?Yes.  Yes, forgive me.  You were saying??



Sarah



His colleague, a portly nanomage man in his forties, gave him a concerned look, ehich quickly passed.  ?I say, I was wondering about the formulae used in the reverse engineering of Enfraam?s code.  It appears that the metabolic enhancers have been removed entirely and replaced with a sub routine that enhances the regeneration of nanobots to shield from damage, rather than the use biological components.  I?ve no misgivings that the concept and execution is pure brilliance, but what I?m not understanding is how the nanobots are regenerated so rapidly without reducing or even negating the effects of our ?humidity extractors? and depleting our supply of nanobots.?



Mehar?s smile was genuine.  While he was considered a wise man and generally kindhearted, he would confess to having an ego no smaller than Rome Green.  Or perhaps Rome Blue.  



?You?re quite close, my friend.  Rather than going about the crude method of regenerating bodily tissues directly either via biological enhancements or accelerated nanobots construction, the nanobots instead are programmed to emit a faint protective shield to neutralize a portion of the damage to the host body.  During this process, nanobots are indeed constructed and destroyed at an accelerated rate, giving the added benefit of improved metabolic functions as well as superior damage shielding.?



The man was quiet for a moment, digesting the new information and formulating his next question.  ?Where does the Notum come from to enable this?  To be perfectly honest, your code is, as always, a mystery.?



?My dear Mister Entahr, what sort of magician reveals all his tricks??



Metaphysics



Mehar cocked his head slightly. ?Did you hear that??



Now passing Sarah Mocham Junction, please take a moment to stop and see the other car?s passenger.



?Hear what??



?Nothing at all.  Please, if you would excuse me, I have matters to attend to.?  Before his colleague could object, Mehar placed his black robe on and swiftly walked towards the door of the crowded lecture room, where they were all discussing his fortification code over brandy and hors d?oeuvres.  Without a word, he pushed past a group of three inquisitive guests that, upon seeing him, began to barrage him with questions of their own.  Seconds before he reached the exit, he felt a slight tremor beneath his feet, which was impossible, as the city?s gyrostabilizers nullified all seismic activity.  



There was a faint click as he placed his Nano Armor Helmet upon his head, followed by a hissing sound as his armor?s life support systems went online.  As he stepped outside, Mehar noticed that the day was not nearly as warm and inviting as he had remembered.



She only screamed once.  Meijen sat nervously in his chair, peering at the tiny pricks of red light coming from the main laboratory.  She only screamed once, but the room was not silent.  Coming from the laboratory, there was a low clicking and gurgling noise.  He wanted so badly for that sound to be coming from Professor Mocham.  Even if she was hurt, it would be something he could deal with.  Something worldly and expected.  But the sound was like none produced from a human throat.  He stood again, but then immediately sat back down, unsure of what to do next.  And the eyes.  Could they be called eyes?  Red pricks of light that seemed to follow him.  Watching.



Call for help.



He clicked on his comm to reach Izgimmer.  Under normal circumstances, he would never contact the man directly, especially while in a lecture.  For all he knew, Izgimmer had turned his comm off for the event.  But who else was there?  Jobe was a peaceful city and there had never been any need for security or armed guards.  With that thought in mind, Meijen wished the experiment had been performed in the heart of Omni-1.  



Izgimmer would know what to do.  Izgimmer always knew what to do.  At the very least, it would free him from responsibility.  He would alert Izgimmer and sit here and wait until he arrived.  Perhaps he was a coward for doing so, but he was also no fool.  Insurance technology was over 99% accurate in reconstructing bodies and souls, yet he still avoided death whenever possible.  The memory loss alone was unnerving.



Meijen cursed the day that the discs were uncovered in a ruined city in a non-terraformed area of Perpetual Waste while on contract from Omni-Tek.  The find had been exciting for the both of them, possible evidence of life on Rubi Ka before the first settlers, so the discs were quietly smuggled back to Jobe to begin work on reconstructing the millennia-old data.  Professor Mocham had almost instantly been enamored with the find, spending countless hours reading the etched patterns and extrapolating the data from the ancient dialogue.  How her eyes would light up at the idea that man would one day be able to lay down our weapons and fight battles with tools created from our minds and bodies.



The concept was frighteningly simple, yet it had never been attempted before.  The human mind is powered by electricity, the properties of which are altered upon experiencing a range of emotions.  Each emotion is given a template, which is used to program the nanobots to form a semi-physical construct which can be controlled via the host?s nanobot containment unit, which is directly linked to the cerebral cortex.



While the discs, still so damned similar to modern instruction discs, were obviously thousands of years old at the very least, the data was not only intact and viable, but compatible with their compilers with a few simple tweaks to allow communication to the NCU.

Meijen?s communicator beeped as he selected Izgimmer?s name from his list.  Upon hearing the noise, the two red lights quickly turned and darted to the left, towards the door leading to the observation room.  



Meijen shrunk into his chair and stared at the door.  The doors remained closed as the power had not been restored, but he thought about the safety release lever on both sides.  If the creature contained intelligence it would pull the manual level and gain access.



There was the sound of something wet and leathery slapping against metaplast.



Metaphysical Demon (munching loudly on a Double Bronto Burger with cheese): Is this the part where I come in and pwn, Deacon?



Thedeacon: No, I?m afraid you weren?t born yet, Metaphysical Demon.  Back in those days, you were just a twinkle in some guy?s NCU belt.



Metaphysical Demon (grimacing and setting down his burger): Man, that?s really sick, Deac.  I know how a big pink naked Metaphysical Demon may look to you humans, but the door definitely does not swing that way for me.



Level 164 Engineer: Listen man, you gonna gimme the mokiez or what?



Thedeacon: STFU n00b.  I?m trying to teach you some history.  Sit your ass back down and get edumacated.



Belamorte: Wait Deacon.  Before you continue, there?s one thing I don?t understand.



Thedeacon: And that is?



Belamorte: Someone actually cringed and hid in FEAR from a Meta-Physicist pet?  Don?t you think that might be stretching it a little?  NOBODY is that big of a n00b.



Metaphysical Demon: Yeah totally D?HEY! I?m scary, people cringe from me!



Belamorte (covering his?.opening with a free tentacle): I think that may just be the flatulated Bronto Taco with extra hot sauce they?re smelling, Filthy McNasty.  Mexi-Kan food is the gift that keeps on giving, isn?t it?



Metaphysical Demon: Whatever man.  I *am* scary.  I?m a demon from the bowels of hell.  



Belamorte: You?re a naked man in a rubber chicken suit.  If you represent hell or the root of all evil, then the devil must be a real wuss.



Level 164 Engineer:  Considering the average human lifespan is only about 100 years, we?d better get a move on with the story, as it feels like I?ve spent the past 50 years listening to this drivel.  I think my bot is even beginning to rust.



Engineer Warbot: T-1-1 Vader gimpgimp-dikdik-fail.




The slapping noise stopped.  Meijen slowly released a long held breath and stood.  He peered out of the observatory window that overlooked the laboratory and cupped his hands to the glass to get a better look into the dark room.  The red lights were back, only this time he saw only saw their reflection in the glass.  From the inside of the observation room.



He heard the same gurgling sound as before and wondered if that sound may have been the creature laughing at him.



Meijen quickly turned to flee, but the beast struck his left cheek, knocking him back into his chair.  Under any other circumstance, the surprised look on his face might have been humorous, but the warm stickiness running down the side of his cheek from the laceration most definitely was not.



The thing struck at him again with its long tendrils, this time puncturing an eye and cutting deeper into his cheekbone.  Meijen howled in pain and raised his arms to protect himself, but soon found those attacked as well.  He was going to die.  From the corner of his remaining eye, he saw the laboratory door open and a flood of light pour in.  A man, dressed in sweeping black garments, stood in the doorway.
WoW: Firetree's #1 Ganking undead priest

Offline Thedeacon

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I, Meta-Physicist - New story!
« Reply #2 on: May 28, 2003, 07:08:58 PM »
Well it seems I owe a few chapters on a few stories, eh?

Sarah and Mehar seem to be screaming at me the loudest, so let's visit with them while something more lighthearted is worked on :D



CHAPTER 3: I THINK, ERGO I AM



And I was thinking to myself,

'This could be Heaven or this could be Hell'



---------------------------------------------



And in the master's chambers,

They gathered for the feast

The stab it with their steely knives,

But they just can't kill the beast



Last thing I remember, I was

Running for the door

I had to find the passage back

To the place I was before

'Relax,'said the night man,

We are programmed to receive.

You can checkout any time you like,

but you can never leave!



-The Eagles, Hotel California






Such a beautiful day.  Sarah Mocham lay on a grassy hill and spread her arms to either side, relishing the beauty around her.  The grass beneath her body was soft and damp with morning dew, which she felt beneath the strange garb she was clothed in.



Tiny pink flowers and large plants, like giant mushrooms, speckled the landscape which unfurled for miles around her in long grassy plains and majestic snow capped mountaintops.  



She smiled as a little winged creature measuring no longer than an inch or two in length clumsily fluttered past her face in a dipping and bobbing motion, unafraid and entirely unnoticing of her presence.



In a nearby wooded area, in which purple-topped trees stretched their branches upwards in worship, a curious animal with striking green eyes and what appeared to be scales, poked its head out long enough to get a good look at her before scurrying back into a hollowed tree trunk.  Seconds later, two more of the creatures poked their way through the top and sides of the trunk as if to confirm the first?s story of a new visitor.



Sarah was so accustomed to the faint humming and whirring of massive Notum powered machinery that in its absence, the place where she was now felt alien, yet at the same time it was like coming home after a long journey.  It was an indescribable feeling of wonder and curiosity, mixed with disbelief.



Here was a good place.  While she wasn?t sure where ?here? was, or how she got ?here?, her gut instinct told her that ?here? was neither Jobe nor Rubi Ka.  Something about ?here? seemed both innocent and peaceful, yet simultaneously--wrong?  Ridiculous.  How could anything be wrong in such a lovely land?  It was like something from an ancient fairytale in a faraway land filled with magic and life.  She recalled an ancient story in which the protagonist said ?We?re not in Kansas anymore?.  Knowledge of historical literature was not one of her strongest areas, but she had always thought ?Kansas? may have been a word used to describe the current state of reality.



?We?re not in Kansas anymore?.  Although she was alone and there was no ?we? to speak of, saying it felt right.  She was talking to herself, yet there was a glimmer of hope that she wasn?t alone after all and that someone would come along to explain where she was.  Whatever Kansas was, she wasn?t in it anymore, nor was she anywhere remotely familiar.  She repeated the line, testing the way her voice carried in the untainted air.  



Rubi Ka had always had the cleanest of air, kept that way by large machines that processed and filtered carbon dioxide molecules back into pure oxygen, part of which was combined with hydrogen molecules to create a 4% volume of water molecules, while the remainder was mixed with Nitrogen and ?suppression gas?, which was subsequentially released into the atmosphere to create the perfect environment to sustain human life.  Although she had nothing to compare it with, the air of Rubi Ka had always contained an artificial quality to it.  Manufactured, unscented, unchanging.  Static.  The air in this new place felt as alive and natural as everything else, filled with the wonderfully sweet scent of flowers, decay and creation.



A little known fact about Rubi Ka was that teraforming was only partially successful.  Despite the amount of research and work into genetically engineering earth flora and fauna into mutations that could adapt and thrive in the harsh Rubi Kan conditions, the process always delivered diminishing returns and needed the support of machines to keep the planet hospitable.  She had always presumed that the ?suppression gasses? which were actually comprised of millions of nanobots used to reduce the homicidal instincts of humans by means of dynamically reprogramming the NCU of the host to repress certain actions may have had something to do with it.  



Or perhaps it was the trade elements of Notum found nearly everywhere in Rubi Ka, including microscopic amounts in the very air itself that kept a perpetual cycle of nature from forming.



It was as if the planet wished to remain dead and actively fought all attempts to make it otherwise and in hundreds of years of research, no headway had been made into discovering where the remaining naturally occurring oxygen disappeared to, yet she believed that mystery was somehow connected to ?here?.



She felt welcomed here.  The ground beneath her welcomed and soothed her, the forest wildlife seemed to welcome her.  



And then she saw the sky.  While equally beautiful in its own sense, the sky was like no other she had ever seen.  Large blue clouds swirled slowly into an endless vortex with a core of pure black, like the eye of a tornado.  Every so often, she saw a piece of rock, or a tree slowly lift into the sky, only to be sucked away into the black hole, blotting out the eye for a brief second.  It was mesmerizing yet terrifying.  Had she died?  And if so, was this heaven or hell?



She stood and dusted off the white clothing she was wearing that felt not-quite-like silk.  The material was soft to the touch, yet when she tried to stretch it, it recoiled and snapped back into place as if sentient and became hard as a rock.  It was skin tight with a hood, which she kept down, letting her golden hair flow around her shoulders.



She checked her NCU for a time and directional reading.  



Error, input not received.



?Damnit.?



The words flashed three more times through her ocular nerves and then went dead.  Her third eye to the world, her Nanobot Containment Unit went dead, yet somehow she remained alive.  Upon birth, each individual is equipped with their NCU, which sends data-transmitting micro fibers through the nervous system and into the brain to monitor all nerve input, enhance bodily functions, destroy all disease and allow the use of nanoprograms.  The equipment was redundant and self regenerating to compensate in the event of a failure, but the symbiotic relationship between a human host and the Nanobot Containment Unit was so entwined that the death of one was followed by the death of the other.  Yet here she was, alive and well.



She looked up at the sky again and felt the wave of unreality wash over her again.  It was unsettling, yet she couldn?t help but steal glances every now and again.



In her 32 years of life, her reliance on her NCU had become so strong that she was unable to tell the direction she was headed without it.  Looking up to the sky held no clue, as the sun appeared to move erratically through the sky instead of in an east/west pattern found on most other planets.



The forest where the curious wildlife popped in and out of their holes to steal quick glances of her ended in a large body of shimmering water.  She hadn?t noticed it before, but some miles away, the horizon appeared to end abruptly as if cut clean and separated from the rest of the planet by a pair of laser shears.  No mountains lay beyond the water and there was no planetary curvature.  She turned in a full circle to verify this. Dissatisfied, she trudged up the hillside to gain a better vantage point.  One side of her view was still obscured by the faraway mountaintops that lay beyond the forest, but on every other side, the land appeared to be an island floating through the ether.



She once again considered the possibility that she had died in that room with the glowing red eyes and the white light.  Died and gone to the paradise spoken of in ancient religious texts.  Or perhaps it was purgatory, once spoken of in a religion called ?Catholicism?, a temporary waypoint between worlds.  She sat down and although the land was beautiful, she felt her eyes well up with tears.  She had no clue which direction to go, where she was or if she would ever see Mehar again.  Her sadness grew and salty tears quietly streamed down her cheeks, pooling into the corners of her mouth.  Sarah rarely afforded herself the frailty of tears, but here, alone, she released her emotions in a torrent of misery.  How foolish she had been!  Months spent dedicating her time into worthless research instead of spending it with the man she loved, enjoying the life they had been given to impress a few stuffy nanomage men that would always look down on her for her ?limited? intellect.



She had the impression that this ?here? was a place with neither an entrance nor an exit.



Overhead the sky deepened to a bruised purple, the vortex mocking her with its unblinking dark eye as she sat upon the hilltop and wept, laying her shame bare.



?Tears.  So long have I longed to learn to weep for I am filled with the sadness of many times of loss.  But I suppose little you would know of the sadness of a construct such as I.?



Sarah immediately stopped crying and rose to her feet, snapping her head left and right to find the source of the rumbling deep voice.  It appeared to come from all directions and none at the same time.



?Oh please do not cease on the account of I.  So sweet is your sadness that I would not have you stop, but rather join me in sadness as we reap what was sown so long ago, that I may vicariously feel your tears.?



?Who are you?  And where??



?Ergo.?



?Ergo, what?  Where are you??



?Ergo, I am.  Come around, I will provide you the way.?



A red directional arrow appeared before Sarah pointing to the other side of the hill.  She supposed it was a hologram, yet couldn?t find evidence of a projector camera.



Sarah walked in the direction that the arrow suggested, working her way up the hill and found that the hill dropped off suddenly into a cliff.  In the weakening light, she could see that the cliff was not naturally occurring, but rather carved from the hillside.



?Come, come.  Things that appear to be, are not always.?



?Ergo, I have to go around.  If I follow the arrow, I?m going to fall.  Please just show yourself to me, please tell me where I am.?



?Nascence?



?Is that what this place is called??



?As good a name as any.  Now come, come.  Let me see you with my eyes, as it were.  Let my sadness be cut with curiosity and we shall share sadness and knowledge together, yes??



Under any other circumstance, Sarah would have ran far away from the voice, far away to home, to Mehar.  But in such a lonely place as this, everyone is a friend.  And besides, if she died falling down the cliff, perhaps she?d wake up back on Jobe, next to the reclaim terminal?  A few hours of resurrection sickness was a short price to pay.  After all, the ?/terminate? function of her NCU had ceased working in this strange place and without her nanoprograms and weaponry, her means of ending her lifeforce would be limited.  Sarah supposed her biggest worry would be that the fall would leave her injured and in pain, yet alive.  Without the neural inhibitors of her NCU that served to deaden pain and keep fighting while nanobots re-stitched damaged tissues, she wasn?t sure she?d be able to handle the shock of actual pain.  She closed her eyes and swung her legs over the Cliffside and let her body drop.  



Only it didn?t.



Instead, she slowly drifted downwards.  Sarah opened her eyes and saw a giant face carved deep into the face of the cliff, covered in vinery and roots that stretched across the massive visage.  



The eyes of the carved figure opened and a bright blue light washed over her face.  She was briefly reminded of the piercing red eyes she saw in the laboratory before blacking out and arriving in this strange place, but these eyes appeared benevolent, albeit alien, on a long stretched face that only slightly looked human.  Then again, perhaps they were only carved that way?



Her eyes widened.  ?You?re a machine??



?More.  Machines do not feel.  Machines run without the longing of another such as yourself.  There were others long ago and others after that.  The others after had come in much the same as you.  From Rubi Ka from whence I brought them.  Human.  So pretty to me.?



The words shook her to her core.  This mechanism knew of Rubi Ka!  And it spoke of others!



Her heart lifted until it added ?But many times have passed, as they have gone to the soil.?



She recalled the story of the first settlers to Rubi Ka, how they had disappeared without a sign and how a second ship was found adrift in space with no passengers.  Her heart sunk because neither crew returned to Rubi Ka or were ever seen again.



?You?brought me here?  What are you??



?Ergo.?



?Not your name, what are you?  And why am I here??



?The second question will be answered before the first.  I am alone, I am Ergo.  The first like you were brought to me because my loneliness for so long long times and curiosity and desire for help.  There are times to come and times what have passed but the times passed are greater than times to come.  Times to come are falling short and sad Ergo will no longer be.?



?No longer be what??



?No longer be.  You are like the others before the others, those from whence Rubi Ka was made and will be made.?
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Offline Thedeacon

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« Reply #3 on: May 28, 2003, 07:09:22 PM »
Sarah shook her head in confusion.  ?Wait.  ?Will? be made?  Rubi Ka is made.  I know, I live there.?



Time is neither here, nor rather it is there, for time is one and time is malleable, as are the lands here.  Things to occur have long passed and things long past are waiting for you in the future.  Your journey is long and time is neither of the essence nor does it serve absolute relevance.  Nothing is absolute.?



?Please, I don?t fully understand.  Are you telling me there is no time here??



?In these, the Shadowlands, time is folded and overlapped in some places.?



While she had performed extensive research into the subject of time travel, it was a wildly debated and argued topic that time travel simply was not possible.  With knowledge of future events, one could change the future, which would either create an alternate potential future or cause a bend in reality.  But at the end of the day, nobody truly knew if it was possible or not.



?So what is this place??



Ergo?s eyes glowed brighter.  ?I will now speak of the separation that created your Rubi Ka and this world, for they are same, but not same.  But before the beginning, there must be an end.  Please watch what others have seen for when the end is gleaned, the beginning is understood.  See through the eyes of he who is yet to be called ?Thedeacon? and you will see your task and you will see the way to save Ergo and us all.



Sarah was no longer in Nascence, nor was she in Kansas.



I stood and watched, bearing silent witness as the beasts tore away at the fabric of reality with tooth and claw.  With each bite, each rend, large pieces of earth broke free, only to be gobbled by the creatures or risen into the barren sky that stretched into infinity.  Slowly, mindlessly, the beasts of the apocalypse, the ?Eaters?, erased the cradle of humanity.  One bite at a time.  The worst part was that I no longer cared.



The swirling blue-white vortex above me yawned and sighed, greedily accepting each bit as sustenance, each rock slowly rising up and vanishing into the void, inside which the universe was born, destroyed and born again, in an instant; all time, space and matter converging as one.  



I stood at the very ends of the Shadowlands, the ends of reality, the ends of my longest journey and bore silent witness to the destruction of all that is, was and would have been.



Most that made it this far were never heard from again.  The rest returned mad, rambling on about devils and demons.  Whatever happened here and now would be final.



Having seen the madness and the futility of my long journey, I would allow myself to be absorbed into the emptiness of the void, but I was in no hurry.  When faced with infinity, time is all you have.  For now, I was content to merely watch, transfixed, as the sleeping logic of my brain attempted to ascertain how long I?d been here.  Hours?  Days?  Time held little meaning anymore.  Was I hungry?  Tired?  Dying?



One of the winged devils paused from its task long enough glance at me, it?s red eyes gleaming as it held aloft by black leathery wings that slapped against the air.  It regarded me with a sort of curiosity, curved teeth twisting its mouth into a wicked sneer.  The creature understood why I was here and left me to complete my task unmolested, when at any other time it would have merrily torn me to ribbons without so much as a thought.



For a moment I a caught a glimmer of something else in its alien eye.  Desperation?  Resignation?  Perhaps even they, the grotesque harbingers of the apocalypse were merely slaves to an unseen taskmaster, toiling away at the earth for eternity until their was nothing else.  Eaters..  It occurred to me that the look was that of envy.  How long had the creature been held to its task?  It wished to die, to put an end to its miserable existence of mindless destruction.  It longed for the same as me.  Only one of us would get our wish granted this day and I was grateful for the creature?s acceptance of this.



My demon, my ?pet?, showed concern at the sight of this, an emotion that belied his usual quiet subservience.  Fear.  Even a beast born out of hatred, evil intentions and fury was cowed after witnessing what lay at the end.



The world bled liquid Notum where it was cut and bitten, streaming in long blue ribbons from the wound into the sky?s swirling vortex.  I dared not move closer, should the beasts of the endgame rethink their decision to let me live.



?Master?? It?s low, rumbling voice shook with terror.



?I did not request your presence, demon.  You?re free to be your own master.?  



?I will stay by your side master.?



?As you wish.  We will receive infinity together?



While I could not have seen the beast slink next to me, I felt its hot breath against the back of my neck and the stench of brimstone filled my nostrils.  It?s cloven hooves clicked faintly against the naked ground.



?It?s almost beautiful, isn?t it Deacon??



I was not surprised the beast knew my name.  Things were not always what they seemed in the Shadowlands.  Knowledge that should not exist, existed and powers that could not be harnessed were mastered.  The beast sought to frighten me with this knowledge, yet I remained unwavering, my eyes staying forward towards the great nothing.



?Is it??



From the corner of my eye I saw a beast more horrible than the winged creatures.  Sleek black flesh with protrusions, call them horns, extending from its head, shoulder and back.  Three rows of blood stained teeth bulged and contracted to accommodate the black forked tongue that flicked in and out, snatching a taste of its own acrid stench.  An unredeemed sought presence with me.



?Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, Deacon.  Or so Mr. Shakespeare would say.?



?You?re well versed, however I don?t believe we?ve been properly introduced.  Since you?re so intent on making yourself known and attempting to pique my curiosity with your knowledge of earth literature, you may as well provide me with a name, stranger.?



The beast paused for a moment, considering my indifference and his response.  I kept my eyes forward, not granting it the satisfaction of my attention.  The Eaters noticed this as well, as one, two, a dozen, stopped and turned to face the bold human unwavering in the sight of an unredeemed.



?You may call me Virgil.?



I scoffed.  ?Well then I may as well call you trite.  Virgil?  Surely you could do better to impress me than quote Shakespeare and take from Dante?s ?Inferno??  Do you have anything of interest to tell me, or will you continue to bore me with prose??



"Your tone of voice is dangerous, nanomage.?  The beast outstretches an impossibly long arm past me, towards the Eaters, who stand frozen, regarding their?..master?  with fright and reverence.   ?Most that have come this far, come this far only to become swept up into the void.  It would be a shame for such a talented scientist to meet their fate.  I have need of you, Deacon.?



I turned to face him, my eyes partially concealed behind a tattered hood, meeting his for the first time.  A reluctant needle of fear chased its way up my arms.  The beast was tall, perhaps twice my height, with a vaguely human form were it not for the long, reptilian face and horrid yellow eyes.  



My demon snarled and bared his teeth in a show of bravery.  I heeled him.



?Talk.  For the day is short and the night is long and time grows thin with every moment I grant you audience.?
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Offline Enoch

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« Reply #4 on: May 28, 2003, 07:17:24 PM »
O M G  -  TEH LONGNESS...



Great reading, Deac - even tho I must admit I'm only halfway and gonna save the rest for later =)


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« Reply #5 on: May 28, 2003, 07:36:06 PM »
Beautiful story Deac.  Thank you for giving me something good to read.
Welcome To The Night,

Welcome To The Darkness,

Welcome To The Inky Black,

For Here I Can See Your Soul.

Shall we play some more?



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Offline Okonkwo

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« Reply #6 on: May 28, 2003, 07:45:32 PM »
Homage to "langoliers" perhaps? Very nice story deac or mocham or... sarah?  :shock:
life is messy...



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Offline Okonkwo

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« Reply #7 on: May 28, 2003, 07:46:53 PM »
btw I was wondering if you and your wife might be interested in a three way? PST
life is messy...



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Offline VILDKATT

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« Reply #8 on: May 28, 2003, 07:58:52 PM »
Omg that was a long story, i have to read that some other time, read 1/3 of it :roll: . But i think its great  :wink:
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Offline VILDKATT

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« Reply #9 on: May 28, 2003, 08:00:50 PM »
How long have you been working on that?  :shock:
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Offline Doccter

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Eh good
« Reply #10 on: May 28, 2003, 08:14:56 PM »
Long and better than any book ive read  :lol:

Offline Comis

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« Reply #11 on: May 28, 2003, 08:17:04 PM »
Quote from: Okonkwo
btw I was wondering if you and your wife might be interested in a three way? PST



hehe  :P

Offline Thedeacon

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« Reply #12 on: May 28, 2003, 08:53:28 PM »
Quote from: Okonkwo
btw I was wondering if you and your wife might be interested in a three way? PST



only if I get to have my way with you first....



*hands mrs deacon the BIG strap on*



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Offline Stongrel

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« Reply #13 on: May 31, 2003, 02:26:32 PM »
I sensed this was another "MP's are gimp" whine thread... err story.



Black Sunday



You know I had to Deacon! muahaha *climbs back up his tree and hides*

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« Reply #14 on: May 31, 2003, 03:13:37 PM »
gah, deacon why dont you make a book :D

Offline Phoenix

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« Reply #15 on: May 31, 2003, 03:44:41 PM »
too long for me i came half way anf forgot it all :p

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Offline Biglisa

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« Reply #16 on: July 16, 2003, 09:32:09 PM »
deacon , make your a webpage and collect your stories,



this is great material :P
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