"Are you sure you're okay, sweetheart? You've been zoning out a lot lately." Lillina asks me, temporarily turning away from the work she's doing.
"Huh? Uhhh oh... Yeah, I'm fine, just got a lot on my mind." I say through a forced smile. Lillina asked me to see her today and visit the vet clinic she works in. I agreed, thinking maybe just maybe I'd feel a little different this time. I didn't, so now I've given up on trying to learn anything useful that she's trying to teach me. I'm starting to not be able to stand Lillina and Raynor constantly asking if I'm okay.
I feel like I'm on the edge of a cliff, and every time they ask me if I'm okay, I confront my feelings and take another step closer. I can hardly stand this anymore.
"You can always come to me to talk if you want sweet flower." Lillina adds, rubbing on my shoulder for a little while until I nudge her back to her work. It's important, and I don't feel like talking anymore so I'll just keep watching her.
I came here today because I was hoping somewhere in my mind that I'd be able to glean off some of the info on being a veterinarian... I was hoping to learn a thing or two so I could possibly do something with my life.
It's been about three weeks since I and Raynor had our duel... And I won.
I've been trying to occupy myself for the most part since then. Occasionally I go over to the library and read with Raynor, or I stop by the vet's office to try and learn some health things... And very occasionally, we all go out together and do something. It's all nice and fun, except it's not. Not for me. I knew things would feel different and I'm right. Something is just off about our times together now. It just feels different. And I hate it. I want to go back more than anything, but I can't.
There's always the option of just throwing out my treaty and letting Lillina or Raynor domesticate me anyway. As much as I've thought about that in the last three weeks, I've realized I can't. I won't let myself. I'm a disgusting war bot made to only bring suffering and violence.... I don't deserve the warm hands of an Affini. They don't deserve to deal with a freak like me. I'm made for violence and that's all I know.
"Hey, you're spaced out again. Are you sure everything is okay?" Lillina cuts through my silence again. I'm starting to think these plants really are telepathic.
"I'm okay. I think I just need a walk. Nothing some fresh air and grass can't fix. I'll be fine lils." I say with a peaceful little smile. Can't you tell I'm happy. Can't you see that through all the care and perfection of this world I'm just so happy to be alive?
Lillina tracks her colorful eyes up and down me for a moment with a quizzical look on her face. Buy it, buy it buy it buy it buy it.
"You clearly aren't telling me something, flower, but it's okay. I understand. Please, enjoy your time outside." Lillina comments, giving me a bit of a hair fluff and messing up my perfectly brushed hair!!!
Thank frick she took it though, I was starting to lose my patience in there. I give a tired smile to Lillina before hopping down off the chair I'm in and waving as I leave.
Warm air flows across my synthetic skin from the moment I step outside. The temperature outside is a perfect 80°f
Hot, but not unbearable. And definitely within the range of normal temperature here. After the Affini arrived, they did their best efforts to clean the air of toxins and pollutants. So now, without global warming, the temperatures here are normal. Perfect weather to take a walk in and remind myself just how utterly alone I feel.
Walking through the parks, sitting down occasionally and watching the little pets at play. I have a newfound appreciation of the owners out there, doing their duty and taking care of happy little florets. I wish it was me that was taken care of. But alas, it's not. I am surrounded by life and friends, yet I feel so cripplingly lonely. I crave a deeper connection that I've proven three times already that I cannot have.
It's been weeks since Aether dumped me but not one second of one of those weeks in any of those days have I once stopped thinking about her.
Angelic face framed in perfectly cut brown hair, with a voice that melts my bones and shatters my heart. Smooth hands that have invaded their way through every little spot in my body and how I deeply crave to feel them again.
It hurts, I'm in pain. Emotional pain. All I can think about is how badly I miss Aether, how much I wish my life was taken care of for me, and how I know through all of it that I don't deserve it.
Maybe some part of me still holds out to the idea that I'm better off alone. Better off independent. That's the part of me that continues to prove itself more dominant.
I think about how I wouldn't be able to fight anymore. To submit myself to their music would be asking me to throw my only remaining life's purpose away. Unless I somehow find an Affini that would be supportive of my violent tendencies. Like that would ever happen.
So here I am, sitting with my knees tucked up to my chin, alone on a bench, and forgetful of the fact that I wore a dress today. Probably scarring anyone who happens to look my way.
My sensors tell me someone just sat down on my left. I don't look. They can talk to me if they want to but I don't have the energy to even make eye contact.
"Hiya" a human voice rings out. Feminine. Not Aether, so I immediately don't care.
"You should probably put your legs down, you know. You're um... Showing off a bit." They say. Immediately I put my legs down with a flush of embarrassment.
"So you are there, I see. For a minute I thought I was talking to a stationary robot!" They giggle for a minute. Finally they've gotten my attention so I turn their way. What a choice of words they said. How ironic.
Next to me I see a... Floret. Seems to be a girl but it's rude to assume. They have long light orange hair and pale green eyes.
"Hi!" They extend their hand out to me. Their collar jingles with the motion.
"I'm Ceriza, she/it! Nice to meet you!" I stare at it's hand... Then back at it's eyes. I'm not touching you so I don't know what you expect.
My voice finds itself in my throat.
"Uh... Jalen. He/him." Telling her my name feels weird. Something feels a little wrong about it.
"Oh wow, you're very pretty for a boy! Uhm... Not that boys aren't allowed to be pretty or something, but I just kinda assumed you were a girl from the dress and the cute makeup. Nice to meet you!" She says happily. Her words make me feel even more strange. Isn't it obvious I'm a guy? I'm just wearing makeup and a dress. There's nothing strange about that.
"Uh likewise." I say back. Then I turn back towards the park where my thoughts drift away again into self hatred and pity.
"Are you busy?" Great, it's still talking to me. I shake my head no, but don't turn back.
I'm starting to get a little tired of her dreamy, happy little floret voice. Or is it jealousy?
"I came and sat down because you looked lonely... And I was wondering if you'd join my party for Castles and Communists. We're down by one player and well... It didn't seem like you were up to anything so I thought I'd ask." She nods along with every word she says like she's making sure she actually said the right ones. It's kind of adorable.
"Fuck it. Why not?" I reply in an exhausted tone. She flinches at my words.
"Those are dirty words!" It says to me with an open mouth. It looks to be in its late twenties, yet she is calling them... Dirty words. Oh how I yearn to have a childlike innocence like hers.
"Sorry. Forgot there was a bit of a stigma. You were right. I'm not busy. So lead the way." Ceriza perks up at this and hops down off the large bench. Eagerly waiting for me at the bottom.
I have nowhere to be, and honestly I don't feel all that safe while alone. So there's no real harm in playing some table top game.
She offers her hand out to me once I get down.... She wants to lead me by hand? No thank you. I respectfully decline the hand holding. Theres only one Terran I would hold hands with, and she fucking dumped me. So no hand holding for me! Forever! I guess.
Off Ceriza goes. She gets about thirty feet away from me before turning around and realizing I haven't taken a single step. Dirt, I forgot to follow her.
Quickly I catch up behind her at an awkward pace. She continues bouncing away in that happy carefree Floret way. It gives me some time to parse my thoughts.
Was it always this easy to make friends? I guess we aren't friends. But this is only the second time I've ever followed someone to... somewhere...
"Ceriza, where are we going exactly?"
"Oh! Just to our little meeting spot! We've been running campaigns together since before the Affini arrived, so our meeting spot happens to be in one of the last parts of the city that hasn't been redone yet. Hope you don't mind!" It says happily, not stopping its stride for even a moment.
"I don't see why I would mind... Wait. You've been running campaigns with your friends since before the Affini arrived? And you want me, a random stranger, to join you in that?"
She turns to me with a big smile and shrugs. "How do you think we're supposed to get new players?" Well I guess that makes some sort of sense.
I grunt a weak response and we continue. Talking with Terrans is hard. I think I like the company of the plants better. But this is better than just wallowing in my own sorrow forever.
It takes us about a half an hour of walking before we arrive at the place. A run down little comic shop. Wow, nerd shop with nerds in it.
She steps over to the door and opens it for me. Hey I can do that myself you know.
"Ladies first" she says with a smirk. My chest feels weird.
"Just kidding!" It says right after. The feeling goes away.
Stepping inside reveals... Exactly what you'd expect from a comic shop. Posters on the walls and big cardboard cutouts of various characters I've never seen in my life.
Then, right in the center is a big table. Around it are six others. Three have collars, two don't, and one is a beeple. Huh, what a group.
"Hi everyone! This is Jalen! His pronouns are he him!" Various eyes land on me and I suddenly feel way out of my league here.
"Uh... Hi." My voice meekly calls out with a little wave. Great. Way to go. You look more awkward than the nerds do.
"Hi jalen!" the one at the back of the table calls out to me.
Ceriza gives me a gentle nudge towards the table. Awkwardly I make my way over and sit down.
"Alright, let’s run through names and pronouns before we begin here. Hi, my name is Ceriza and my pronouns are she/it!" Ceriza announces happily before turning to me.
"Uh... My name’s uh.. Jalen and my pronouns are um... He/him I guess." What an introduction!
The rotation moves to the next person.
"hello hello! My name is chrysanthemum! my pronouns are ze/zir" The Beeple next to me says. Zir voice reminds me of Affini in some way. But I can't place how. Also ze smell like flowers. It's nice.
Onto the next.
"Greetings everyone, my name is Theodore. My pronouns are They/Them." A sharply dressed Terran in a collar speaks. Their voice is sharp and precise. I like it.
"Hello... My name is Maeve... My pronouns are She/They..." a meek girl says. Her voice is soft. It's easy on the... Audio sensors.
"Hi! My Name Is Alix! My Pronouns Are He/Ze!" A short yet rambunctious looking Terran says excitedly. It seems like every first syllable to each word he says is strangely emphasized. Definitely unique.
The last one just waves awkwardly. They have short, light green hair and pretty blue eyes.
"That's Layla, she gets a little quiet around new people but I'm sure she'll warm up to you real quick. Her pronouns are she/her or fae/faer." Ceriza tells me. I give her a little wave back.
At this moment I realize three things. One, I'm completely surrounded by Terrans (and a beeple) and this is my first time ever being around so many without the presence of an Affini. Two, I'm the only one here that sticks to uh... Cisgender pronouns and honestly it makes me a little jealous. I wish I was unique enough to have cool pronouns. Lastly.... I have no idea how to play this game.
"Alright, that's everyone. Ready to begin?" Ceriza announces, looking at me with happy confidence. In the most quiet and awkward voice I can possibly muster, I just barely squeak out "I don't know how to play..."
She hears it and lights up in a huge smile. "That's okay! We'll teach you, do you have a character sheet?" I shake my head. Ceriza gets up and wanders over to a corner of the room before pulling out a little stack of papers.
"These are premade character sheets, not as customizable as your own one will be when you make it, but good for a first time. Take a look through these and tell me when you've got one that you like!" It says with a happy giggle before setting the papers down in front of me. Are florets always this unabashedly happy?
Ceriza bounds off across the other side of the table to keep getting everyone ready. Sure seems like a pretty involved process. The bright light of afternoon sun peeks in through the slightly closed blinds on the windows.
Sifting through all the presets... Monk? No... Paladin? No.... Vampire? Hot. But not me. Boy vampires are kinda underwhelming. Priest? No... Again, priestesses are way cooler.... I'm stumped...
Ceriza makes her way back over to me. "Have you figured it out yet?" I shake my head.
"I'm having trouble... All these presets are cool…, but I don't really resonate with them that much. I feel like the girl options are much cooler, but I'm a boy..." I'm an Android actually, my brain spits out in silence.
Ceriza gets this.... Horrible grin on her face like she just cracked a gold mine. "Is that so? Why don't you just play as a girl then?" She tells me, grin never leaving her face.
"I can do that?" She nods. Well okay I guess. It's pretend anyway.
I almost instantly find the character I want to play as. A fallen angel sword fighter girl. Something about the symbology of an angelic fighter corrupted into the dark side just calls my name. "This one!" I tell it.
"Great! Have you decided on a name for this angel?"
A name screams out from the innermost depths of my being. I shake my head. "Seraphim!"
"Commander Sera, It's Down To Just You And Me Okay? We Need To... Gods, I Don't Know! We Need To Do Something. They Have Our People." Corporal beraxis tells me through his gritted sharp teeth. The light of our torches reflects off his smooth gray skin. I take a deep breath, bits of sulfur and brimstone escape my lips on the breath out.
"I know. We'll do something. Just.... Give me time." I tell him, pulling my satchel across my body to the front. It rests against the hilt of my unholy blade. I have few items. Two healing potions. A bottle of counteragents and a wooden spear. Nothing useful enough.
"Okay Ber, I have a plan. Stay close." Beraxis nods and huddles up close to me. My wings unfurl in a big fwoof as I wrap my arms around him. Then, we take to the skies. Quiet and fast like stealth bombers. The emperor's castle looms in the distance as we make our way over at a breakneck pace.
Within minutes we're above the castle. Scoping out the guards. There they are, the little zombies. Cast under a spell by the emperor, forced to act out her every command.
"Get ready for contact."
Beraxis nods, and we drop.
The moment we hit the stone blocks of the west tower roof, beraxis pulls himself away from me into a stance on all fours, baring his many rows of teeth. Then he bursts off towards the left. I take the right side, unsheathing my blade and casting an unholy spell to it. Binding it in dark shadows.
I feel it's hum in my hands, the little vibrations caused by the ever swirling mass of black void.
"Beraxis! Keep moving towards the center! I'll meet you there!" I call out to my shark companion. His sharp tail fwips in my direction as he... Bites the face off a guard.
Curling my wings in, then blasting them away from my body, I shoot down the catwalks between the guard towers at a steadily haste pace.
The first guard stands in front of me, crossbow loaded and with hearts in their eyes. Spellbound. The arrow is released, its trajectory is painfully easy to avoid. With a quick alleon roll, I duck and slide past the arrow like a javelin. Sword aimed towards center mass. My unholy blade pierces through the guard and pokes out the other side like a skewer on fresh meat.
Pulling my blade out of their chest in a flash, I turn and behead them, wishing them a safe journey down to my master in hell. Onto the next, tucking my blade close to me, I make my way precisely down the path, weaving and slashing down foes left and right. Once I've made it to the center, I see my bloody companion meet up with me, happily sated by the spoils of caught prey. I do not blame him for his brutal smile.
Quickly pulling out one of the healing potions in my satchel, I make the calculated decision to waste it. Forcing my dark energy into the bottle of pure gold liquid, the purity and corruption mix violently within my spell. "Step back." I forcefully tell my companion.
We both move a few feet apart, then I lightly toss the pressurized bottle onto the floor of the center tower. It detonates, throwing rocks and shrapnel in every direction. A hole is opened into the next level, just barely big enough for us to drop through.
My companion drops down first, landing on the carpeted floor below in a heap of blood lust. He wastes no time in pouncing onto the first guard he sees.
These ones are armored. Unlike the last.
Slowly, cushioned by the resistance my wings provide, I glide down through the hole to the floor below. Landing silently for no reason at all other than class.
Drawing my sword up to my side, I begin the bloodbath. Droves of guards spill into the room, all equipped with different manors of weaponry.
Ducking beneath fist and spear, sword and arrow, we dance. The minions I miss, my companion doesn't. The ones he overlooks are met with the sharp end of my thrashing blackened blade.
Even after what seems like endless bodies piling up, the hoard didn’t stop, and it seems like it won’t. I do not have infinite energy; I may tire before we see the light.
"Beraxis! Our companions are below us! I feel them reaching out through the void. I need to blow us another hole!" I do not wait for his response, forcing another bottle full of purity to corrupt beneath my hell washed hands. A quick flick of my wrist causes another explosion, mulching everyone in the area. I drop down through it in a matter of moments, not stopping to see if my companion is behind me.
Below us, I see her. The emperor and the rest of my party at her heels. Sitting atop a usurper’s throne.
"False Emperor Riza!" I shout through the full bodied rage in my chest.
"You will fall for your deeds and meet the one true overlord beneath us!" I charge, dive bombing toward her throat with my sword aimed at neck level.
The moment I'm in range, I swing, pouring my energy into a powerful move. My saber connects with something invisible in the air, crashing into a wall of nothingness and bouncing away harmlessly. The false ruler just smiles at me, looking through me as my companions paw at the bottom of her throne.
"Please, Seraphim. Just call me Riza. It's what your friends do." She taunts me, causing my rage to build even further.
Her red glowing hands raise, causing my companions beneath her to clamor up to their feet.
No. Please do not make me harm my friends. They all charge at me, hands splayed out in tearing motions as they make their way toward me.
Pulling myself into the air, I see the shimmer around the emperor falter for a moment as she exerts more effort and control over her underlings.
Choosing to take the battle to her, I dive toward her once more, only to be met with the swift slap of dark magic batting me out of the air like a harmless fly.
My body strikes the floor, bouncing once, twice, three times before I'm back on my feet.
Taking a moment to calculate, I decide to send a thrash of my own magic through the air. An extension of the shadows around my blade throws itself away from me. Booming through the air while I dive in just behind it. The wave of darkness sings as it cuts the air before screaming as it smashes into the shield around her. Shattering the sparkling cover.
I'm just in behind, ready to make the killing blow, but she sees me first, reaching out with glowing red hands and binding me in place in the air. This is it. I'm done for. The moment I resign myself to fate and send a thoughtful prayer to Satan below, beraxis leaps through the air, chomping his aquatic razor blades into her shoulder. The emperor screams, dropping me and blasting a wave of visceral magic through beraxis' waiting body. It blows him apart like sand in the wind.
I take no time to honor his warriors death, taking the opportunity to twirl and bisect the emperor. Her evil grin faltered before sliding off her face completely. We did it. We won.
All's right with the world as I watch her soul be pulled back down into the hells below: Right where it belongs.
Speaking of belonging. There is something strange jutting out of my chest. My eyes track a little lower. A holy dagger is stuck directly into my heart. It passed through my satanic armor like a hot blade through butter; so effortlesslyI didn't even notice it.
The perpetrator, our priestess, is staring at me with horror on her face. "Sera! I... By God! I didn't mean it! I'm sorry!! I was spellbound!"
I take her hand for a moment before falling to my knees. "It's okay. I understand. Send a message to God before I go: Tell him I'll be knocking down his door soon."
The rest of our companions, friends and lovers in battle surround me. The last sight I take in is all of their wonderful faces. My last breath is taken with a smile. I will soon reach Valhalla.
"You did it!! I'm so proud!" Ceriza calls out beside me. Happily patting me on the back while everyone else cheers for a moment.
My hands are trembling beneath the table. My core temperature is far beyond what it should be and my legs bounce sporadically.
"Huuhh!! Aahh!!! Yeah!!!!" I shout. Shaking and spasming a little bit, still not yet recovered from the intense final fight. Holy stars this game is compelling. My war droid body is still completely stuck in fight mode.
Violent intent is calling out to me with seductive hands.
"Are you okay? you seem tense." The beeple across the table from me asks with a happy but concerned look.
No, I absolutely am not okay. Not at all am I okay. I really felt myself in that world. So completely enraptured by the pull of a fantastical battle that when my character’s death came, I nearly felt the release I feel at the end of my duels. Nearly. It's a bit of a struggle to speak without shouting. I feel completely insane.
"I'm good. I'm good. Just worked up is all... I didn't expect to be so lost in the fantasy." I say through chattering teeth.
Ceriza laughs loudly next to me. "That's what it'll do to ya! I'm glad you thought my storytelling was good! I love being the DM for you all!" It says with a goofy sweeping gesture.
My generators are on the bitter edges of control. I can feel myself nearly slipping into an overload.
"Hey so I'm gonna grab some snacks for everyone, but we gotta pack up soon. It's getting pretty late." Ceriza says to the group. Everyone mumbles some affirmations when she gets up.
I stop her with a trembling hand. "Ceriza... I need to take a walk and cool off. I'm a little worked up." Visions of violence assert themselves happily into the front of my mind. She looks at me concerned but points towards the door.
"Go right on ahead Jayjay. I hope you enjoyed it!"
"I did. I want to do this again some time, I'm just a little bit overheated. You should message me, my handle is @CrudeOilLimes. Thank you for inviting me. I'm so happy to have you all as my first ever friends!" I give them all a final smile and wave as I hastily grab up my backpack and leave.
I hear someone say something. "Did they just say first ever friends?"
I don't stop to consider it while I start bounding my way down the sidewalk.
Oh stars. Oh stars oh stars oh stars.... I've never felt such a brutal draw to violence than I feel right now.
Barely making it down into a dark alleyway between old Terran buildings. My generators finally overload. Causing me to thrash around against my feeble control for a minute.
I died. I didn't die, my character died. But I felt it. I felt so close. Death in battle. It's what I need. It's what I need.
Something needs to hurt. I need to hurt. I'm filled with such spastic feelings.
It's really no wonder why Aether left me, and why I can't let myself submit. I truly am built for violence, and now the call is too strong.
My generator heart pulls itself back together under safe energy levels. I stand up, full of conviction but no plan.
That's when I hear it. My over-tuned audio sensors pick up distant speaking.
"Fuck.... What are we gonna do.... This is our last hold out. The last place in this entire city those God forsaken plants haven't gotten their hands on yet."
The first voice pauses before a second voice chimes in.
"I know... We have to do something. We can't just roll over and let them take us. We have the spirit of free Terra within us. We'll think of something." The voice cuts out. Joined by a third.
"But Graham, we don't even have any guns! All we have are these stupid little knives left over from the Accord."
The second voice comes back in. Assuming it's name is Graham. They speak again. "That's enough. We can still work with this. Pick a target, one of those damn plantfucking pets they love so much. We'll kill em. Make a show of it in the center of the town square. Maybe that will show those fuckin weeds we're not to be messed with. For the spirit of free Terra!"
Several other voices chime in with a cheer.
My breathing is ragged. My mouth is slightly ajar. I'd be drooling right now if I could.
Finally, someone who deserves it.
Slowly, in a predatory gate, I make my way over to the source of the noise. It's what looks to be like an old chapel. Though it's long been repurposed into something else.
My sadistic smile pulls against the sides of my cheeks while I push in the old wooden door.
"Who the fuck are you? Some random girl?" A terran calls out to me. Oh how little they know.
"Oh. Just a dirty plant fucker who over heard your little speech."
The man at the end of the room, at the far side behind the rows of chairs stares at me. His face shifts from confusion, to shock, to rage in a matter of seconds. He picks up his puny little blade.
"Oh you filthy fucking race traitor." He spits out the last word with a bit of phlegm.
I just laugh for a moment while he stares me down, the rest of the little group joining up behind him.
"Me? A race traitor? Hahahahaha!!! I was never human to begin with." Raising my hand out in front of me, I feel myself do something that I've never been able to do before.
The synthetic skin of my right hand pulls apart as my arm opens up, displaying all my wires and circuitry. The metal joints in my hand glimmer against the moonlight coming in from the door.
"What the fuck are you...." The leader says to me. I can hear the cold fear in his voice, it's so exciting.
I can't just tell him my name.... The risk of retaliation would be too great... Think of something.... I've got it.
I can't just tell him my name.... The risk of retaliation would be too great... Think of something.... I've got it.
My other hand ignites my blade. A deep blood red glow shines against me.
My final word is cold, monotone, and with every ounce of disdain I can possibly muster.
My final word is cold, monotone, and with every ounce of disdain I can possibly muster.
(End Of Page Eleven)