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Blue Sky
by Black Waltz 0


The skies of Dezoris, blue - clear blue, something unusual and almost unheard of in the planet's overcast and freezing climate. Time flowed like liquid mercury, parting the clouds, letting faint sunlight pierce the mists of the snowfields. It was cold; it had always been cold, but in the past few decades, temperatures had been on the rise in the planet of ice. It was welcomed by all.

By all but one.

He walked; no, trudged through the sleet that had recently once been ice, minute drops of water frozen in his hair, adding contrast to it's ebony sheen. Frost clung to him like a dying man to life, but the figure cared not for the absence of warmth, since when did he need any warmth?

One hand reached over and brushed snow from off his shoulder plate. The snow wasn't bothering him at all, the movement made more for the purpose of discerning whether or not his arm was still functional. He still needed his arm.

For once, the Algo solar system seemed to be on the mend. Ever since the Profound Darkness had been destroyed almost three centuries ago had things begun to heal. The artificial satellite Zelan had only very recently become fully automated, no longer needing any assistance to maintain the star system's integrity. Three centuries... and only a week ago she had-

The stranger bit his lip, forcing a niggling memory deep into the recesses of his memory banks. Best not to go down that road right now. After all, he was almost there...

Pausing for a moment, the stranger who had previously had his neck bent downward so he could watch the dull whiteness of the ground, raised his gaze skyward, the sun his target.

He was curious for the time. Of course, his internal clock could easily have given him the time from any point in Algo, but he preferred the sun only for the reason that it's brightness hurt his eyes.

Because pain was proof that he still lived.

The day was still very young, which meant that he had been walking for about three days now. The days since his departure at Tyler were nothing but a smear of many shades of white and the sound of his own feet plodding through the thick wet mush.

Instinctively, he raised a hand to shield his eyes from the bright glare, but then silently reprimanded himself for lessening the pain. He wanted the pain. It was all he had...

Three centuries...

Wren brushed a hand through his hair which sent a little shower of ice crystals sailing to the ground. He fought back another wave of emotion and willed himself to continue walking, almost as if he could distance himself from his own problems. In reality, he was only growing closer to them. He still had a job to do.

* * * * *

The mound of snow and ice that Wren was slowly approaching harbored a secret, a deadly secret that was blacker than black and fueled by the final horrific moments of many of the dead. He had only been here twice in his life. Once, with Chaz and Co. during their quest to defeat the Profound Darkness. Remaining calm and not admitting it then, Wren loathed every second he had to exist in that place, and he only walked those corridors because he was with the people that he could have considered his only family. He didn't then and regretted it now.

The other time, well... he didn't want to think about it at the moment.

Wren placed his hand on the mound to test it's stability, years of disuse had given it a shell of rock-hard ice. Wren rubbed his chin with his free hand; an annoying gesture he had unintentionally gotten off Rune, he had ways to deal with this...

He took a few paces back, and activated certain mechanisms that had been shut down for energy conservation. Mortar cannons opened up in his shoulder plates and Burst Rockets rained down on the icy prison, the frost quickly tuning to water and melting away.

How many people, He absently wondered, have met their maker in the same way?

He had killed, he had killed without mercy, creatures screaming and crying as the fire flayed the flesh from their bones, some sentient, some not, but it did not matter. He had killed without remorse, it was all he could do as an AI, and he also had to protect his friends.

But those creatures still died.

The layer of ice had thinned to an almost murky transparency, which he easily stripped away, laying bare the entrance to the inactive weapons plant.

It's here.

Wren grasped both sides of the doorway, and kicked the steel door in. No power flowed through the plant anymore, it had been completely shut down when Zelan had become fully automated. The scent of stale air wafted from the doorway onto the snowfields, indicating that nobody had set foot in that place for many, many years.

Before entering, Wren raised his head once more and again stared at the sky. Blue. He had never seen the Dezorian sky so clear, even after Garuberk had been destroyed. He closed his eyes. Zelan must be pulling its weight. A term he had acquired from Chaz. With once last glimpse at the sky, he stepped through the threshold.

In a strange twisted way, Wren had come home.

* * * * *

The corridors were almost pitch black, but Wren had pretty good night vision, giving him a sense that he was walking through twilight. Still, a panel in his chestplate opened up and a flare was activated. He contained it instead of projecting it outwards as he usually did, and it gave him a little more light to see by.

The building emitted an eerie aura which gave Wren the proverbial surges. The place had always been the epitome of noise, illuminated by the hundreds of coloured lights littering the walls. Now it was so silent that it made Wren feel like he was trespassing on a cemetery.

The metallic floors augmented the rapping of his feet as he passed through the weapon plant's many chambers. Wren remembered vividly the bustling of these very halls, filled with the un-life all AI's possessed, heading off to their respective duties, blind eyes staring straight ahead, seeing yet feeling nothing. Wren hadn't minded then, for he had been one of them. But he had been only young, he had been only learning. That was one thousand three hundred years ago.

And he had learnt, perhaps, too much in his own opinion.

Wren's path had led him past a room which caused him to freeze in mid-step. Turning to his side, suddenly he had a strong urge not to venture forth, he was afraid. Of what, he did not know. Wren knew what lay within those walls. He had to go in. He had to.

The slight gap in the two sliding doors was wide enough for Wren to wrap his fingers around the edges and force the door open. He did not enter straight away, he had to compose himself for a shock that he got every time he entered this single solitary room.

Wren was incredibly grateful that he did not have to enter this room three hundred years ago. Not only would it have caused strife for himself, but it would have meant a monsoon of questions from his friends, questions he didn't want answered.

Thinking that he should get it over with, Wren stomped through the doorway a little more loudly than he usually carried himself.

He hated this place, because it reminded him of who he was.

Row after row of Palman-sized figures lined the walls of the room. This was a storage area, a place to shove the mindless drones when they were no longer needed. Wren paced the length of the chamber, his gaze on the floor, but sometimes flicking up to look at the still faces of those who had the gift of something Wren wanted with all his mechanical heart.

Indifference.

He reached the end of the room and craned his neck to look at the panel that had been welded to the wall. There was an inscription in Palman that Wren could easily read:

"BroWren 486 Storage Area"

Close, but no cigar, BroWren was not his immediate type... but then again, nothing was. He was the only ForrWren to ever be manufactured, an Omnicontroller and combat specialist. He was alone. He had nothing.

Nothing but this row of dead toys to remind him of his hurts.

Wren stepped up to one of the lifeless dolls, they were exact in every detail and he had no problem looking it in the face. His twin was standing up, yet drooping slightly, eyes closed and inactive. Wren reached up and took hold of his twin's chin, turning its face from one side to the other, meeting no resistance. They were so alike...

Suddenly, his grip tightened like a vice and he hurled the doll into the other side of the room with a force so strong that it's impact made a huge dent in the opposing wall. Wren expected some kind of reaction, a jerk, perhaps a counter-strike, but all that remained was stillness.

He clenched his fist, his left fist, the one he had used to attack the other Wren, and shook his head. He truly was alone...

He flexed his left hand a few times. Demi had always said it was strange, that an android could have such an interesting quirk as to be left-handed. Wren would always pick up stuff with his left hand if the opportunity came up, most other androids were ambidextrous, so he thought it was a flaw in his programming. Demi had said it was cute.

"Demi." His voice came out deep and final in the everlasting silence of the weapons plant. It echoed around the room and made it seem like there was more than one person present.

Demi was gone.

* * * * *

Life ended, Wren knew that. He had no misunderstanding about the trials and tribulations of mortality. He knew that Chaz, Rika, Hahn and even Rune would soon perish and crumble to the dust that they had once been. And they had, a long time ago. He felt sad for them in the past, but eventually realized that wherever they were, they were probably much happier. At least, he hoped they were.

Even though all his friends had finally left him, he visited their graves every year, he could continue onward because one person had never left his side. Demi had never left him.

And they would talk on Zelan, talk about anything they wanted, and together they had worked on a project that would render Zelan fully capable of maintaining itself. Now that Wren reflected on those times did he realize that he had never been happier, although he never showed it, Demi could sense that Wren had been incredibly content. So was she, her experiences on Motavia had made her seem almost Palman to Wren, and at least it added a little life to the dreary existence he would have to live alone.

That is, until Demi's systems began to degenerate, and she began to die.

It was one of the most traumatic times in Wren's millennia-long life. Demi wasn't supposed to die. She was an android, she was supposed to be eternal, like him. But deep down, he knew the truth, he knew in that sense, they were two very different beings.

Wren was made during the time where technology was still easily accessible and at its peak, only a few years after Palma had been destroyed. He could live forever. Demi, however, was made in the dark ages of technology, and her time on Algo was finite.

Demi had accepted it, as her equilibrium failed and her voice faded, she had told him that she didn't mind. It was going to be this way, no matter what anybody did. She was going to die.

Wren couldn't accept it. He was beside himself with worry and guilt. Guilt that he could do nothing to help. With all his knowledge and intelligence, he could do nothing.

Their last night together was the saddest, and most painful night of Wren's life. In the central dogma of Zelan, Demi lay on a steel slab, struggling to remain conscious. Wren stood next to her, holding her hand. There was nothing more he could do to help.

"Do not go." The statement held no emotion, most of it was present in the big android's eyes.

Demi turned her head to the side, her eyes having trouble focusing on the form in front of her. "I must." Her voice sounded false and strangled.

Wren nodded, she spoke the truth. He squeezed her hand softly. Demi looked at their clasped hands, and smiled a broken smile. "I still think it's cute," She tried to sit up, but failed miserably. She beckoned for him to come closer, and he did so. "I think you are cute. There... I- saaaid... it..." She rasped, looking like a weight had been lifted from off her shoulders. Wren turned a strange shade of red and pounded the metal slab so hard that a corner broke off.

"DON'T GO! PLEASE!" It was the first time he had ever shown such emotion to another living being. He no longer cared about anything except her survival.

"It is im-possible... to... st-aaay... Wren, finish Ze-laaan...for me..." She broke the sentence to recover her strength. "Goodbye..." She weakly raised her hand to blow a kiss and then collapsed like a heap of scrap metal, Wren knew that she had gone offline.

The empty halls of Zelan echoed his cries of pain.

* * * * *

That was a week ago, but to Wren it felt like an eternity. It could have been an eternity, for there was no limit on Wren's life, unlike all those others that he cared for. Immortality was supposed to be the ultimate gift, but to him it was the ultimate curse. He would give anything for a taste of death. Anything...

He was here, in an empty world full of people who he had protected and cared for in the past, but it hurt him. It hurt him to care... Especially when no one cared back...

In a row of dolls that had his face and shared his name and offered nothing but indifference. Wren hated everything...

He slowly turned his hand over, and was intrigued to find that he still wore one of the rings of the stars. The Palma ring, a green opal set in a band of pure laconia, it was supposed to protect him from the darkness, but it was useless to combat the darkness in his own heart.

In a sense, Wren had become a Palman. He had the body of an android, but his time travelling with so many other organic souls had invigorated his own with a similar status. He was no more an android as these vessels were alive. Wren kicked his twin harshly in the side. I am just as broken as you are, aren't I? It was not a question. He left the room as swiftly as possible, in case his twin somehow managed to answer.

* * * * *

The heart of the weapons plant. He was finally here. The end of his destination and journey. A great computer loomed over him, the screens dull, yet once they mass produced androids with no free wills, marching in huge armies to rain death upon innocent souls. Had situations been different, He thought, Would I have been a soldier to slaughter thousands of innocents? It was an unsettling thought.

He stood straight and tall, pointing a shaking finger at the closest thing he had to a biological mother.

"Damn you..." He darkly cursed. He had never cursed before, but that didn't mean he didn't know how.

"Damn you all... This is all your goddamn fault..." He spoke not to the computer, but to the souls of all who wished to have a mechanical being to control.

"All because you wanted to have... power..." Wren was shaking violently now, the memory of his entire life and the implanted visions of others before him flashing before his eyes.

"... Not anymore... I am n-not going to let it happen again..." Liquid streamed down his face from the corners of his eyes. He had only encountered this experience once before, a week ago...

Wren raised his hands. "No more suffering... no more pain... SHE'S GONE, YOU KNOW!?" He screamed to no one in particular. The flare in his chest faded, darkening the room for a second, only to be replaced by a deep emerald glow.

Posibolt tore through the walls like a child ripping up tissue paper. It could destroy Zelan itself if powered up for long enough, but that was not needed. Shrapnel flew everywhere, embedding itself in Wren's body which only enraged him further. Rune would have said that it was his fate, Wren didn't believe in fate, but he knew he was going to die.

The blast propelled him backwards, shoving him into the wall, just like he had done beforehand to a doll that had looked just like him. Shards of metal flew at him, pinning him down but not restraining him. He cried out again and charged the computer. He was a born fighter, the computer itself had created him with a gun in his hand...

The main screen shattered, Wren's fist crashing through it. He pulled it out and centered himself in the room. This is the end of all machines... and myself too. Good...

Burst Rockets exploded in the air again, this time raining fiery pain all over himself... to quicken his death... to quicken the destruction... It may have been irony that this weapon that he used had been found in this very facility, a part of the weapons plant... destroying itself.

In his nanosecond of thought, a great deal of the roof caved in on Wren and crushed him to the ground. He struggled under the wreckage but his strength was leaving him. He pulled feebly at a chunk of the roof and luckily he was still strong enough to dislodge most of it. Machine oil stained the ground, the equivalent of android blood. Wren pulled himself to his feet, but stumbled as another piece of metal struck him at the back of the head and brought him to his knees.

Wren suddenly thought that it would be pointless to get up again, this place would cave in and kill him in a matter of minutes... Why waste the rest of his strength?

Something warm was slipped into his hand and it took Wren a few seconds to even register that he was holding something at all. He raised his head that was leaking both oily blood and tears and started at the object in his hand.

Elsydeon shined like a torch from heaven in the dying android's hand. Wren shook his head, it was impossible... how could the legendary sword be here?

But as he watched the holy weapon glow warmly in his damaged hand, the hand that Demi had held in her last moments of life, he finally thought. So I am dead. Is this what death is like?

No. He felt the aching pain of his injuries and knew that death had not claimed him. When would blissful unawareness be his?

The same warmth that was within Elsydeon was brushed against his cheek and as he looked upwards, the sword fell from his grasp, it's presence forgotten. Demi stood before him, hale and healthy, her soft warm hand against his cheek... She was there, no... Wren barely believed his eyes, she was a Palman!

"I.... d-d-d-on't... under...staaaaand..." His vocal chords had been injured in the fall, he could no longer speak properly. Demi bent over and set the Elsydeon back in Wren's hands, clasping her warms ones over Wren's cold damaged ones. She didn't speak but motioned for him to watch the sword. Wren complied.

Wren no longer saw the metal of the Elsydeon's blade, he saw through it, like a strange portal to another world. Figures moved within that world, and Wren recognized them instantly. Chaz Ashley waved at him, his arm around Rika's waist who waved with him. A brown-haired woman who Wren didn't recognize stood on the other side of Chaz, tapping her slasher against her hip and smiling. Raja and Kyra jumped up and down with glee as they saw their friend again and Hahn gave the victory sign with his hand. Rune Walsh nodded his head at Wren and nudged Gryz to do the same. Gryz jumped and mimicked the Esper. They were all there, waiting from him... for Wren to come home...

Was it possible for androids to go there? Demi was dead... but she was now a Palman... He looked up at her who smiled and nodded. Wren dropped Elsydeon and embraced her tightly. The roof was collapsing, but he didn't care. Wren knew that there was a blue sky above it, and a future for himself. This wasn't the end... It was a new beginning...

The foundation could not take it anymore. It crumbled... Killing all who dwelt within.

No organic lives were lost that day... except a mechanical one with a Palman soul...

* * * * *

Within the snows of Dezoris, a mound of twisted alloy lies. Forgotten and laced with a crystalline veil, fractured fragments of a fractured past. No more shall the wheels of industry turn, people are looking to the old ways of living, farming the ground and praising the gods. The sins of the past are lost.

But deep within that tomb of cybernetics, wiring and corroded metal a serene face sleeps amongst the ruins, peaceful and untouched, a dark-haired angel of technology, never to be awakened, never to see another blue sky...

But smiling nonetheless.

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