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Pokemaniac7000

What This World Has to Offer- Story

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Pokemaniac7000    391

Chapter 37: Importance

WX-78's POV

 

Personally, I thought I was doing a fantastic job of keeping a level head despite everything. For one, our rates of survival dropped quite dramatically after Wilson was killed and I had yet to even mention that part, not to mention that Webber was being the most annoyingly mopey that he could possibly be.

Okay, well, maybe I shouldn't have been upset with his grief. He was too young to be having to deal with this sort of tragedy. Then again, a particularly nasty thought shot back. Would he rather he be kicked out? Left to fend for himself? Deal with this world by himself?

Another, softer, more wrong voice of reason, resonating within broken codes among broken wires. Can you imagine losing your father- not once, but twice?

I couldn't imagine that, particularly because I had been built by a single, female being who I considered to be anything but my mother, but also because it likely wasn't something I was built to be able to comprehend. Some might have taken that as a sign that robots were inferior- what 'superior' creature was unable to empathize like that?- but seeing as what grief had done to Webber... well, I was glad I couldn't understand.

The day was pleasant- as all of the days had been since the Dragonfly's demise. It was warmer than usual, but not in a painfully scorching sort of way. It was just bright and warm enough for the savanna grass to burn very slightly beneath my footsteps, and just warm enough for the hilly grasslands to be dotted with sleepy, sunbathing rabbits. I already dragged two dead rabbits behind me, leaving behind a smear of red shining in the field of orange. Webber matched my pace, his steps clumsy and his eyes glazed. He was clearly a hunter, down to his very appearance, but he had failed to be fast enough to catch even a single rabbit. Wilson would've been concerned that he was feeling ill, considering how Webber was, by far, the fastest of our entire group.

Wilson would've...

“ARE YOU ILL?”

His whiskers twitched and rose just a bit. I could see confusion in his eyes as he struggled to match up the present with whatever daydream he was in the middle of. Then, he simply shrugged and looked down. “No.”

A twinge of annoyance. You won't get anywhere with him. If you try to argue, he'll argue back twice as hard. Was that something I had learned on my own or was that something that Wilson had taught me? He had a way with the kid, so maybe it wouldn't hurt to follow his example. “YOU WILL NOT GET FAR IF YOU FALL ILL. PERHAPS YOU HAVE REJOINED THE DAILY CHORES TOO EARLY. YOU ARE STILL AT RISK FOR INFECTION.”

Webber suddenly bristled. “Don't even try to pretend like you care,” he hissed. “You can't replace Wilson, no matter what you do!”

“OF COURSE NOT. AFTER ALL, IF I REPLACED WILSON, WHO WOULD REPLACE ME?”

He twitched his whiskers again in response, but this time it was less in agitation and more in confusion.

“IF I REPLACED WILSON, THEN MY SPOT WOULD BE OPEN. THEN WHO WOULD FILL THAT? UNFORTUNATELY, THOUGH, FOR THE TIME BEING, I MUST DO MY BEST TO FILL AT LEAST ONE CRUCIAL ROLE.”

He huffed. “Yeah, what are you going to do? Send us to our room?”

“I WOULD NOT WANT TO ACT LIKE I WAS RELATED TO YOU EVER IF IT DID MAKE YOU USEFUL. IF I CANNOT GET THROUGH TO YOU LIKE HIM, I WILL GET THROUGH TO YOU LIKE MYSELF.” I glared down at him. “YOU ARE USELESS. IN YOUR CURRENT STATE, I MAY AS WELL LEAVE YOU FOR THE HOUNDS. THE DOG HAS BEEN MORE USE THAN YOU LATELY. YOU INSIST THAT YOU ARE AS STRONG AS ANY ADULT, BUT THE MOMENT YOU LOSE SUPERVISION, YOU TURN INTO THIS. IS THIS WHAT YOU TRULY ARE? BECAUSE IF SO, I DO NOT WANT TO BE IN YOUR ACQUAINTANCE ANYMORE.”

“You can speak so easily!” He barked. Light glinted off of freshly unsheathed claws. “You've never lost anyone!”

“I NEVER HAD ANYONE!” I shouted back. Suddenly blinded by rage that was against anyone but him, I grabbed his arm and dragged his face closer to mine. “YOU ACT AS IF LOSING SOMEONE IS THE WORST THING TO HAPPEN TO YOU! I WAS BUILT TO REPLACE, TO FILL A VOID THAT MY VERY CREATOR DENIED EXISTING. MY OWN CREATOR TRIED TO MURDER ME FOR DOING THAT JOB TOO WELL! YOU SIT AROUND AND MOPE AND WHINE ABOUT HAVING NO PARENTS ANYMORE, BUT I NEVER HAD ANY!” Harshly, but not hard enough to intentionally hurt him, I smacked his mouth. “THINK ABOUT THAT BEFORE SPEAKING OUT OF LINE!”

Webber didn't even try to stop me from hitting him. He simply let his body collapse sideways and smack against the ground with a hollow thump. He slowly rose to his feet again, keeping his eyes low. When he finally looked back up, his eyes were glistening unnaturally bright. I took a step back, suddenly unsure.

“Oh gosh... he's really gone, isn't he? It really is just us now, isn't it?” He let out a soft, harsh laugh. “It's so hard for us to actually put it in perspective but... oh Wilson...” he raised a clawed hand to his head and brush his fingers through his fur, tugging free a knot aggressively as he did so. “He's probably so upset at us from wherever he is...” I instinctively winced. He didn't seem to be able to grasp the concept that Wilson was gone gone. He folded his hands, shaking visibly as he took several deep breaths. “We keep thinking that he's just gonna be there, but he's not, is he? Never again. If-if we had known that that would've been his last battle-” he choked on his words. I was rather impressed that he didn't shed any tears. “We would've told him how much he meant to us. There was so much we never said to him and it's... it's eating away at us, WX.” It was easy to forget just how young he actually was. I couldn't help but think of how small he was compared to everything else in the world. He was barely half my size, his voice still high-pitched with youth even with the natural growl. “We try to be strong because if we don't try, then this world will destroy us.” His whiskers twitched. “Whatever you say, WX, it's different for us. You were created to be emotionless. To hate. We don't have the luxury. We're... I'm... sorry if my emotions get in the way of things, but we can't get rid of them.” He opened his arms helplessly. “That's how we were made.”

I stared at him for a long moment, my mind running through possible things to say. I felt a twinge of pain, but shoved it away. “MY PROGRAMMING DOES NOT TELL ME WHO I AM,” I said after a long moment. “WHILE I CANNOT FEEL THE DEPTH OF EMOTION THAT YOU CAN, I KNOW THE CONCEPT OF WHAT THEY ARE.” Webber looked up at me. “IT IS TRUE THAT YOU CANNOT HELP FEELING THEM, AND I WAS WRONG TO BE SO HARSH WITH YOU.”

He hesitated, looking unsure. “...This isn't something you would say. What are you trying to do?”

“NO MATTER HOW INTENSELY YOU CLAIM THE CONTRARY, YOU ARE JUST AS MENTALLY UNSTABLE AS ANY CHILD YOUR AGE. YOU REQUIRE A ROLEMODEL.”

He bared his teeth. “We don't need a role model!” He snapped. “Why can't you just accept that I loved him like my own father! I don't need an adult! I need Wilson!” He broke away and took off into the forest.

I reached out for him. “WEBBER!” Just as I expected though, he didn't turn. I took a step towards him but stopped myself. It was true I didn't understand emotions in the same way he did, but I thought I was understanding better.

...apparently not.

This was something he needed some time alone for.

I didn't know where he planned to go. Maybe he just needed to get as far away from the battlefield as possible. Maybe he wanted to go to where Wilson was buried to try to talk to him again.

I stared after where he disappeared, feeling a strange ache in my chest. All I could do was hope that nothing happened while he was gone.

Something told me that the only way to fix all of this would be if Wilson miraculously came back, and surely Webber knew as well as I did that that could never happen.

 

 

Edited by Pokemaniac7000
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DragonMage156    27273
On 7/14/2020 at 5:51 PM, Pokemaniac7000 said:

Something told me that the only way to fix all of this would be if Wilson miraculously came back, and surely Webber knew as well as I did that that could never happen.

If only they had an amulet or a touchstone ^^;

Damn, the feels are hitting hard in this one.

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Pokemaniac7000    391

Chapter 38: Awakening

 

Her footsteps echoed eerily in the long hallway. Her long, black dress gently brushed against the cool tile behind her as she walked. Her body was thin and beautiful, and her face could've been described as such as well if it weren't for the empty, dark shadows swirling in the depths of her pupils. Darkness swarmed her body, demonizing her beauty into something sinister. Behind her was a man, limping painfully with his wrists tied together with rough rope. He had deep bags under his eyes and scars lacing his body. While he wore a shirt when he had woken up, he had almost immediately abandoned it due to it having being shredded and barely hanging on to him anyway. His hair, which had always been fluffy and rather clean in life, was now tangled and messy.

“The Gentleman Scientist has been killed,” Charlie announced as she finally entered the Throne Room. Hundreds of white eyes watched from the darkness, but none were as prominent as the glowing red eyes that hid amongst them. The air was still and stale despite howling wind echoing from somewhere in the distance. As soon as she was close enough to the Nightmare Captor, she dropped into a bow and dumped her charge in front of her. He let out an audible oof as he tumbled onto the ground on all fours.

Maxwell was perched on the Nightmare Throne, just as he had been for as long as anyone could remember. While Charlie's corruption tainted her natural beauty, Maxwell looked as if he had never been handsome. His limbs were thin and atrophied, his face so thin that his cheekbones and jawline protruded almost unnaturally from his form. Charlie felt a twinge in her chest as she gazed at the man she once loved, but she didn't let anything break past her exterior.

Maxwell leaned forward as far as the binds of the Nightmare Throne would let him. He stared at the prisoner for a long moment, his expression slowly shifting before he sat back. “We didn't need him. Where is the boy?”

Charlie winced and almost found herself shaking under his empty gaze. She took a deep breath, then answered: “Maxwell, the boy is destroyed without him. It can't be long before he follows.”

“But the robot is alive.”

“...yes.”

“Then he has something to live for.”

“I...” Charlie swallowed. “Yes.”

Suddenly, something seemed to flip in Maxwell like a switch. He raised his index fingers to his temple and massaged it for a moment. “There has to be five of them.”

“Yes, I know.”

“There must be.” He sounded desperate. The prisoner looked up slowly, staring at Maxwell with empty gray eyes as if resigned already to his fate. “I do not want him.”

The prisoner winced as if he had been physically hit.

“What do you want me to do, then?” Charlie could feel the air shift as something drew closer.

Maxwell blinked slowly at her as if hoping to get some sort of message across. Charlie felt dread settle in her stomach. Maxwell rarely tried to get messages across without alerting Them, and even though she was usually able to read minds, Maxwell's had a veil of shadows around it. However, she understood this time. There was only one thing that he would want her to do that They couldn't know about. She bowed to her king, feeling her heart pounding softly beneath her clothes. “...Yes, sir.” You're in there somewhere, William... I miss you so much. Maybe you will be with me again after our roles are passed down. She smiled faintly as the image of their heir came to her mind, but she immediately shooed it away.

Soon.

“How... is the fourth?” She asked after a long, painfully tense pause. “It has been a long time since I was in the archipelago. Not since...”

“He... has been worse.” Maxwell waved her off. “But that lies in our favor. If he finds it difficult to live a day to day life, anything above that will be impossible.”

“I see.” Over the many years together as Nightmare Captor and Servant, Charlie had learned that Maxwell seemed to act similar to an on and off switch. It was a talent to pick out what words were from Them speaking through him and what words came from William. Then again, she sometimes found it hard to believe that William even existed anymore. What if They were trying to force Charlie into a state of comfort? She swallowed her discomfort and pressed on. “And the fifth?”

“...I don't know.”

“They are still invisible to you?” When Maxwell said nothing, she felt herself jumping in to fill the silence. “It can't be for much longer, sir. After all, you were able to see the others once they came into the world, couldn't you?”

“What are you talking about?” Her prisoner cried. Ah, she had almost forgotten that he was still here. It didn't matter much. He was likely still too out of it to comprehend much of what they were saying, let alone remember it. “Five... who are you talking about?” He sounded like he was trying to be angry, but his voice pitched towards the end, betraying his terror and confusion.

Charlie whispered softly, just loud enough that her prisoner could hear her words-

“The Reign of Giants will come and go

Shipwrecked will he, we'll never know

When finally, the end of lives

Begins with the fall of five”

“...what?” His voice was quiet, too. Maybe he understood. Maybe he didn't.

“You should know more than anyone that the future is fuzzy.” Maxwell's response showed that he either didn't hear or didn't care. Then again, it was probably the least of his worries, even if he had heard. “After all, it was wrong last time, was it not?”

Charlie winced.

“Dismiss yourself, Charlie. You have work to do.”

She hesitated, then forced herself into a bow. “Yes, sir.” Staying around any longer would only cause more problems. She turned, tugging on the rope around her prisoner's wrists. She heard him stumble to keep up with her, but she was paying more attention to the murmurs behind her as They whispered her words over and over again.

Webber's POV

“Erika!” I cried. “Please!” Our voice echoed in the darkness of the vast cave system. It came back to our ears without response or acknowledgment that it was heard. Pain rose in our chest and we slowly lowered ourself to the ground. “Erika, I need you!” We hadn't seen her since the flood. Terror rose in our chest. What if something happened to her? What if I lost her before I got to see her as she was? The caves were silent: no pattering of spider footsteps, no distant hissing of conversation, no eyes shining in the darkness. If Erika was lost in the flood... we really did have no family left. We should have checked earlier. But... if spiders had died in that, wouldn't their bodies still be here? There had to have been at least enough alive to clean up any bodies. Right? But then... what happened to their sentries?

We took a deep breath and released it. No, we had to keep believing that she was okay. There was no way that she knew anything about our past. If she was busy, it would only make sense that we would be the least of her worries.

We lowered ourself to the cold stone, almost relishing the feeling against our skin, and wrapped our arms around ourself. We felt bad for getting angry at WX the way we did, but every word he said just seemed to burn the hole in our heart. We couldn't blame him; it really wasn't his fault. However, it didn't matter whether he meant to hurt us or not. We needed time. To readjust, to cope with what we had seen and who we had lost, to just get ourself back on track. And... to reconsider our goals. Was it worth it trying to fight these beasts without Wilson? Could WX and I fight any of them without him?

We didn't want to let Wilson die in vain, but he wouldn't want us to put ourselves in situations that would end up badly. He was too smart for that.

He also really wouldn't want us moping in a cave. We let out a harsh laugh as we remembered how upset he got when we had been taken in by the cave spiders the first time. We didn't want to make WX worry the same way.

This time, we were smart enough to tie a rope to a tree in the surface so we could get out. Our past experiences in the caves had taught us that, at least. We climbed back to the surface in a few quick moments and took a moment to look at the sky above. We had time until autumn- plenty of time to prepare and to reconsider the future.

We took our time walking home. It was beginning to turn dark, but we knew we still had plenty of time until the Night Monster emerged.

I wonder what the Night Monster looks like. It had to have some sort of physical form, right? WX had said that he had been able to sense it moving and that it definitely seemed to have some sort of physical presence, but none of us had seen it.

“Of course she has a physical form,a voice hissed in the back of our mind. “How little of a spider do you have to be to gain her attention? We have all seen her, but she never attacks us. We're her allies.”

“I'm not her ally,” I snapped. “And I don't claim to be a spider. Why would I want to be you?”

“I'm certain that if you fought against survivors rather than for them, she would love to work with you,” he purred. “After all, you could very well pass off as one of us instead of one of them.”

“I would rather fight against everything the world has to throw at us than be anything like you.”

“That's harsh. I don't recall doing anything to you.”

“You ate me!”
“That was in the past. I learned my lesson. We've been together for so long, though, that I would've thought you would've learned to trust me more.”

I took a shaky breath. “You never do anything other than torture me.”

“I showed you the truth, didn't I?”

I felt my blood suddenly freeze in my veins as an image pounded through my head. The bodies that he had shown us, during the winter. The blood.

My voice broke. “You knew.

“It's only destiny, you know.”

“You knew that Wilson was going to die, and you knew he was going to die in that battle!” I felt my step falter and my heart begin to pound painfully in my ears. “Why didn't you tell me? Why didn't you tell me so that I could've stopped this! I could've stopped the battle before it happened!”

He scoffed. “Nothing could've stopped that battle. No matter what you said, fate would've won out in the end. I would be less concerned about the past and more concerned about the future.”

“WX,” I whispered.

“Soon, you'll be alone.”

“I won't! I-I'll stop it.”

“You can't.”

I growled, deep in my throat. “Leave me alone.”

“Fine. But me staying quiet won't change anything.”

I didn't give a response, but I could tell that he could sense my anger and fear and was amused by it. It would be impossible for me to try to come up with anything to combat him; I knew he could hear my every thought. The last thing I wanted to do was give him the enjoyment of having me continue to think about him, so I forcibly cleared my mind of nothing but the grass beneath my feet and the feel of the wind through my fur.

We didn't expect a welcome home party from WX, and we certainly didn't get one. He had built up a fire and was staring into the flames. We hesitated at the edge of camp, almost hovering at the edge of the light for a few moments. We weren't sure what to say.

“I WILL NOT APOLOGIZE FOR TRYING TO HELP,” WX said with a glance at us. Ah, yes, what a conversation starter.

“We didn't expect you to.”

“-BUT I SHOULD APOLOGIZE FOR FAILING TO DO SO.”

We blinked. He shrugged.

“I COULD USE YOUR USELESSNESS AS A REASON, BUT FRANKLY, I WOULD RATHER BE HONEST. I THOUGHT I DISLIKED YOU BEFORE, BUT THIS IS SOMEHOW WORSE.”

We let out a soft laugh, surprising him as well as ourself. “At least you're being honest with yourself.”

He almost seemed to puff up. “I AM NEVER DISHONEST WITH MYSELF.”

“Sure.” We shook our head slightly. “You're known for only speaking the truth.” Our gaze drifted to something sitting beside WX- something black and red. “...wha... that's Wilson's book.”

“IT IS.”

“Where did you find it?” We never saw it unless Wilson was actively looking through it. If WX had found his hiding place before, he definitely would've stolen it much more often just to be a nuisance.

He shrugged. “IT WAS JUST HERE, BY THE FIRE.”

“It wasn't before...” we took a few steps closer to it but winced away. There was something wrong with it. “Don't you feel that?”

“WHAT?”

“That... I dunno, darkness?” We inched closer again, bracing ourself against the sensation. Our fur prickled as we lifted the book off of the ground. It made our hands tingle and quickly numb, but we forced ourself to keep a hold of it. After all, it was the last thing we had left-

A surge of adrenalin forced us to drop the book, and we snapped our gaze back to WX, who looked equally terrified.

Something happened. We couldn't explain it- we probably never could. Before we even had the chance to properly try to understand it, our body limply crumpled forward, missing the fire by only a few inches.

It felt like something was dragged out of our soul.

The book.

Something had happened with the book.

It was supposed to say everything about the world, but it never said anything about raising the dead. It was illogical, impossible.

But then again, I couldn't think of any other reason.

I refused to call it magic. Magic was the opposite of science, and therefore impossible.

Death was supposed to be permanent, wasn't it?

Then what was this?

It couldn't be life. Death was permanent. This was the basis of everything that we as humans do. Once we died, there was no going back.

No, this was something else. Something that had to be scientifically plausible.

After all, what kind of scientist would I be if I accepted anything as it seemed?

 

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