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Do You Know Who You Are?
by Gray Brangwin

Do you know who you are?

Just an image, floating, with form but no substance, in the mirror. Study your image-- orange-red hair just this side of pink, eyes liquid pools that convey a lifetime of emotions, feelings... miseries. Elongated, catlike ears, legacy of the genesplicing experiment originally begun two thousand years before, and ended with a shattering explosion a year ago, an explosion that ripped something out of you as well.

Do you know who you are?

Rika Ashley, wife of Chaz Ashley, citizen of Aiedo and distinguished Hunter.

No, not enough, go deeper than your superficial self. That is not you, you are not that-- it's just a guise you wear for now. Real it may seem, and real it is, but at the end of it, it isn't you.

Then what?

Rika Ashley, Protector of Algo, wielder of the legendary Silver Tusk, long lost and never found, kept hidden in a cave in icy Dezolis, a cave known as Myst Vale.

Reflection upon reflection, name about name, title upon title, all meaningless. Is it you? Is it really you? Are you a creature of the ideas others hold? Deeper, deeper... where the hurt still lies.

Rika Ashley, daughter of Seed.

Discard the surname, you weren't born with it were you? Or "spawned", but that word is more suitable for monsters... but who are you? What are you?

Rika, biological construct of the Bio-plant.

Are you that? No more than another mindless creation, like the Xanafalgues or Guilgenovas or Ismounos? That is not you, the mirror image says. Does your image know you better than you?

Rika, genetic product of a two thousand-year experiment.

And that is where the bitterness lies, does it not? The product of two thousand years of research and experimentation-- but who really cared? Who knew? Seed, yes, but it, no, HE, was yet another cruelty. A single year, and he, and your entire world, was gone. Instead, you were thrust out into a new world, a world you knew of only from datafiles upon datafiles and computer images generated so, so long ago. Made you feel something like a Nei Mark II, huh?

Or should that be, Alis/Myau Mark III?

Two thousand years ago, a fearful Sirus began the project. Fearful not for what he was doing, or that he was disobeying his queen, but rather for Algo. Alis Landale was in no hurry to marry, or produce an heir. Living for too many years under the evil of Lassic's corrupted mind, he began the project to ensure a future ruler should Alis pass away without issue. Wishing to imbue Alis's genes with longevity and more varied magical abilities, he secretly appropriated some of Myau's genes before Myau left for Myst Vale to rejoin his kind, and genespliced them in the privacy of his own chambers and laboratory, his only assistants being robots and low-grade androids that asked no questions and remembered nothing. However, Alis eventually did marry Odin, and when an heir was assured, the project was abandoned.

Until Mother Brain, of course.

Third down the line, and the second was two. One cast out, lost, afraid, with only Rolf as keeper-- Rolf, who had lost everything at the age of 10, in much the same way you've lost yours. The other, bitter, full of hate for everything, especially her "sister". Wonderful ancestry.

No sister for you, nothing to which all the hate, the rage, the evil can be cast. An unworthy thought, but it is where the bitterness begins. Are you Nei or Neifirst, or are you both?

You've tasted both, haven't you? You've wept for the dead and you've hated the living. Once, twice, it doesn't matter; you are both, and both are you. Is it really that simple?

Do you know who you are?

Chaz. Chaz Ashley. So young then, still so young now (yeah right you're only two years old now and one then) and still-- still in need of someone.

Marriage of love, of course, but also marriage of need. An anchor was what he needed, an anchor for his weakened ship-- and you gave that to him. It was what he wanted, and what you wanted.

Wasn't it?


Do you know who you are?

No. But it doesn't matter anymore.

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