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The Sand Falls
by Ishmael


A faint breeze flickered to life, starting a tide across the endless stretch of sand that looked so like the sea. The sands of Aridia slowly shifted, covering a long trail of aimlessly patterned footprints. Miun looked back and stared numbly at the now undisturbed dunes. All gone, all gone, she thought. Everything I've done, swept away. I tried, Orakio! I tried! But...The thought stopped, then began again a few hours later. But where are you? I've been waiting so long! Run, you said, I'll come back, if I can, if I live. Live? Of course you'll live, you can't die. I love you. The ancient cyborg slowly slumped to the ground, clutching an ancient, scarred scabbard. Perhaps it was the sand, perhaps the mere act of sitting, but, for a moment, her thoughts became more coherent, and memories of times long past returned...

"The new model is called Mieu, sir. It's more than just another robot. Biotechnology has given her artificial skin, to the point where she can pass as a Palman, even go through basic body scans." The man's voice was dry, dull, yet excited as only a scientist can be. Miun remained still, listening. "Naturally, the Mieu-type makes a perfect spy. Also, they are extremely versatile close-combat units. They have amazing strength, and the best agility of any mech, ever. Using the new bio tech-coils, they have command over some basic healing and support techniques."

"She counts as a cyborg, then?" Miun knew the voice, though she'd never heard it. Orakio Sa Riik.

"Yes, all units with tech-coils do. The coils are, after-all, biological. Oh, and there is one other...addition."

"Hmmm?"

"Mieu-types have been made with...emotions. They are fully capable of the full range of emotions. We don't know if we'll continue that, yet. For now, we're just testing to see if the blend of human intuition and mechanical processing can create an effective combat unit.

"Are there any online, yet?"

"Yes, sir. We just brought the first online a few minutes ago. Her name is Miun."

"May I meet her?"

Miun slowly rose to her feet, tears streaming from her good eye. Orakio! She stumbled on, unable to stop the memories, now.

"Miun, get out of here, now! You've done enough!" Orakio said, gritting his teeth. The demon wailed as its claws scrabbled along the black blade that had it pinned to the ground.

"You told me, once, that since I was made to be as close to human as possible, I had the right to human choices. I choose to stay," Miun said calmly, standing at his side.

"Rulakir will be here any moment, and with him, the army," said Laya, her forehead glistening with the effort of holding the seal over Dark Force. "Someone must seal the domes, or it will never end. The way the system works, there must be at least two. Orakio and I must stay, if the seal is to be completed."

"There is no option, Miun," said Siren. "You and I must go." The demon began to wail louder, and bolts of energy flashed into the walls of the temple, shattering the great stone pillars.

"Laya!" shouted Orakio. "We have to do it, now! He'll break free any moment, and we'll never have another chance!" He turned to Miun, pressing his sword's scabbard into her hand. "The interface is hidden in the bottom! Siren, you already have what you need! Get to the satellite, and do everything you can!" He touched her hand, his voice almost breaking, his eyes flooding with tears. "I'm sorry, Miun. We never thought about it. We gave you a soul, never realizing how human you would be. Go, please, stop the war. Seal the domes, and stay in Aridia to take care of the systems. I'll come to you there, if I can. If I survive. Run, Miun! Go!" Miun turned, and she and Siren ran for the temple's entrance. Behind them, Laya and Orakio lifted their hands, and the demon shrieked in rage. Runes on the walls glowed fiercely, and she could feel the temple beginning to sink. She ran.

Miun stumbled as she ran, and fell to the ground, tears streaming across her torn face.

"Orakio!" she cried. "Please, come back!" In front of her was a young, blue-haired man, with a Mieu-type beside him. The man's face had a mix of horrified pity and confusion.

"Orakio, I remember you!" she wept. "Come back to me, don't leave me here. I would know you anywhere!" The two tried to get her to stand up, to respond, but finally gave up and continued hiking across the dunes. Miun lay there, despondent. Finally, she struggled to her feet, and began to walk. She would wait forever, watching the sand.

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