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Mechanized Memories 1.5 - Epilogue: Eunomia

quoth_THE_raven Nov 8th, 2019 (edited) 430 Never
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  6.  
  7. Mechanized Memories 1.5 – Epilogue Eunomia: A-Side
  8.  
  9. <The Eternal City, Habitation Deck>
  10.  
  11. The evening winds were calm and cool as they blew through the city streets.
  12.  
  13. Crickets chirped in the grass as the Twin Moons shone overhead, two jewels in a sea of unfamiliar stars.
  14.  
  15. She knew she was dressed incorrectly for a night like this. A summer dress and wide hat was more suited to a midday stroll rather than a sunset watch. Another gust picked up, ruffling her striped grey fur as she held her hat over her eyes. To the ignorant bystander the woman looked like an average lynx Faunae; shaded grey fur, tufts on her cheeks and a stubby bobbed tail.
  16.  
  17. Which was exactly what she wanted. Her distinctive triangular eyes gave away her nature as an AVATARA, an android body for a sentient and living artificial intelligence. Even more damning was the blue gem on her forehead, which singled her out as one of three unique prototypes reserved for the Eternal City’s core systems. Four, if one counted the androgynous-looking AVATARA belonging to the first newly-birthed Living AI in this century, who had a gem in the shape of a crescent moon on their forehead.
  18.  
  19. A single cloud drifted lazily in the dimming sky, obscuring the stars as it drifted through the night. The android sighed.
  20.  
  21. She missed being able to see the sky. A city which had remained enclosed in its protective shell for too long, and for all the wrong reasons. She knew the gravity of her crimes, committed with the best intentions in mind. Originally she was ready to die to atone for them, but her missing sibling and her partner had shown her a new path. One where she’d live with what she had done, atoning for it in life. She closed her eyes and breathed deep filling her artificial lungs with air, the nanomachine cells within them scrubbing oxygen, argon and nitrogen for storage and use. It really was a good night.
  22.  
  23. The air was cool and crisp, unblemished by pollutants thanks to Eileithyia’s dedicated vigil to maintaining the Eternal City’s environment. She reclined in the bench, her eyes still closed, and tipped her hat further over her face. That was until her ears perked up to a peculiar whistling noise rapidly growing louder. Snapping her eyes open twitches her head to the right milliseconds before a soccer ball tears itself through the air, slamming into a lamp post behind her.
  24.  
  25. “Sorry lady! My bad!” The lynx woman turns her head to see a small human boy running towards her, no more than 10 years old. As he nears her, she notices that his Caucasian skin is segmented into sections, bits of nanite-replicated “skin” joined together leaving noticeable seams between them. His eyes had triangular pupils and glowed slightly in the darkness of the night. The AVATARA child, upon nearing the lynx android stopped in his tracks as his mind met hers, his eyes widening upon realizing who she was. She simply smiled and raised a finger to her lips in a shushing fashion as he gave her a bow.
  26.  
  27. A gesture full of gratitude, befitting a subject in the presence of one of the three Eternal Systems of Rig Veda. He quickly retrieved his soccer ball and ran to his parents, a pair of canine Faunae. No boundaries between species, Faunae or Human, Living AI or Natural.  Ever since the opening of the city to the true sky, LAIs had begun to manifest within Atharva Veda on their own accord. AVATARA bodies had been subsequently prepared for them as a result, and now the population of LAIs in the physical world was nearly one for every three Organics. Most LAIs chose to mature in cyberspace growing for roughly a real-time year before emerging into the physical world as “adults”, while others such as the boy decided to live their lives as close to their Organic counterparts as possible, placing themselves in childlike android shells and offering themselves up for adoption to parents willing to take an AVATARA into their family. It warmed her artificial heart to see the world her parents strove towards becoming a reality day by day. Her reflection was interrupted by a rather urgent phone call appearing in her retinal heads-up display.
  28.  
  29. “Eunomia! Do you read me?” Her sister’s voice manifested itself in her mind, as brash and loud as ever. “Yes, Enyo, I can hear you. Is something the matter?”
  30.  
  31. “Eileithyia took one of the Wrath-A craft out, and it looks like they still fly just fine! With the flight data from her journey I think we’ll be able to expedite the renovation process. I think we can get a dedicated assembly line going in Repair Bay Ten in Sublevel Five, Omicron Block going to crank them out.”
  32.  
  33. That was good news, the Wrath-A gunships, besides their offensive value, could also carry a larger cargo payload than the Stork Transport Helicopters used currently, allowing them to transport goods to outlying colonies such as Ayodhya much easier. Supplying the outlying colonies was becoming an ever-increasing priority both due to their growing populations and the fact that they were under constant threat by Aberration attacks. The ZODIAC squadron helped, but they could only spread themselves so thin.
  34.  
  35. “That’s great, Enyo. And what about the satellite launches? It’d be handy to stay in our AVATARA bodies and still maintain control over our duties.” Enyo scratches her head. “Yeah, on that front it’s going to need some time. We’re going to need to have one of the Corporations design a payload-launch vehicle that can fit within one of the Exoplanetary Ballistic Missile tubes. Beyond that, we lack the components needed to finish assembly on the transmission satellites anyway. Back then when...when we arrived on this planet the ship was geared towards two priorities: establish a stable orbit and establish a ground colony. Creating a satellite grid was still out of scope. Then everything went to hell after the Messiah hijacked the security forces on the ground colony…” Enyo’s voice has an edge to it, filled with regret and self-loathing. “Tch, if I had been more attentive, if only I had seen what it was doing earlier then that settlement might’ve still been okay. The people on board this ship would’ve been okay. But I just had to dismiss it as a glitch, I just had to believe that it was safely contained…damn it. I barely had time to relocate the orbital fleet to Lagrange Point 4…”
  36.  
  37. “Enyo, we were all caught off guard that day, and what we did will forever live with us. But that’s why we’re out here now right? To finally set things right.”
  38.  
  39. “Yeah. Yeah, you’re right.” Enyo wipes her eyes with her leather jackets sleeve, trying to hide the fact that her eyes were tearing up. “We’re gonna make things right for everyone. A-Anyway, I’ve got bigger news. The Brahma is acting up again.”
  40. “The RVR-01? But I thought we sealed it within its hangar?”
  41.  
  42. “We did, but that’s not stopping it from remotely accessing Atharva Veda on its own accord. Strange phenomena is occurring in that hangar, Eunomia...three days ago the mech turned on by itself and began feeding data into our own systems. And that data? It’s a massive cache of quantum formulae on Prana manipulation that we’re still trying to decipher. This kind of stuff was never in the Brahma’s data banks in the first place. Then there’s the fact that it actively interferes with any researcher trying to access its core and the Prana Modifier stored within it by shorting out the maintenance equipment and electronic devices near it. That’s not even getting into the paranormal activity within the hangar that began after it was sealed. Researchers are reporting shadows of people appearing on the walls, things moving on their own. And the anomalous activity spikes correspond with surges from the container keeping the Vishnu contained, where more of the land around it becomes covered in crystalline matter.”
  43.  
  44. Eunomia takes the information and notes it down, a sticky note icon appearing in her HUD. “But RVR-02 was disassembled and repurposed without incident. I wonder why?”
  45.  
  46. “I honestly have no idea. There’s no predictive pattern regarding the behavior of these machines…if we can even call them “machines” still and not anomalous objects. Oh! How about some good news?” Enyo’s ears were perked up, her left one flicking in anticipation.
  47. “What’s that?” Eunomia asked, genuinely curious to know what got her sister in a good mood.
  48.  
  49. “We’re almost done designing the new satellites. We just need to reconnect Omicron Block to regain access to the EPBM tubes. When we activated our failsafe in response to the Messiah’s first awakening here, the bridge crew physically destroyed the data cables with remote explosives to stop the computer virus we created.” Enyo’s face fell again as she was reminded of the repercussions of their actions those hundreds of years ago. “A-anyway, we should be hearing back from the expedition teams sometime either tomorrow or day after. If they can find a way to bring the redundant data transfer systems back online we should be able to remotely access the databanks in Omicron.”
  50.  
  51. Eunomia’s tail perked up in anticipation. “That is good news! Um, Researcher Jelba…he’s the one spearheading this expedition, right? He’ll need to report directly to us, right?” Try as she might, her excitement was clearly flowing through her voice. Enyo grinned.
  52. “What, are you that eager to see him again? I swear, ever since we first talked to him, you’ve been giddy whenever he has to report.” A mischievous undertone crept into Enyo’s speech. “You’re awfully interested in that researcher, aren’t you?”
  53.  
  54. “Huh? Don’t be absurd! He’s just very pleasing to look-I mean, he’s a very pleasant man to talk to! And he’s so soft spoken, and…” Eunomia trailed off, unable to properly articulate her reasoning. Through the link between them, she could feel Enyo’s amusement.
  55. “Just talk to him, Eunie. I’m sure he’d be capable of doing that much with you.”
  56.  
  57. “Oh, of course. Why didn’t I think about that earlier?” Eunomia sarcastically replied. “What, would I just go ‘Hello I’m one of the three major systems that runs your environment! I’d really like to sit down and have a chat with you outside of work.’ Enyo, please.”
  58. “Unironically, yes. I think you should do that.”
  59.  
  60. “Oh hush, I was being sardonic for the sake of being sardonic.” Eunomia moped. “And you’re one to talk. Why don’t you do that with Akiro? Just walk into one of his classes and drop your disguise right in front of him.”
  61.  
  62. “Wha-but-I…I can’t do that!” Now it was Enyo’s turn to feel embarrassed. “And excuse you, I’ve been going to his class for a month now. In the five months we’ve known Roy, you only talk to him when he reports in. But I see Akiro every week, why I…I…I’m practically his friend now!” Those last words came out as a splutter. Enyo sighed, confused feelings and exhaustion coming through the data-link. “How did Eile make this seem so easy? Just…stroll out there, not even in disguise and then BAM, she doesn’t just interface with an Organic but finds one interested in her.”
  63.  
  64. Eunomia raised an eyebrow. “Wait, are you…jealous of her and Anon?”
  65.  
  66.  “What? No!” She grit her fangs in frustration.  “I-In any case, I need to go, I’m late for that sparring class I’m signed up for. Talk to you later, sis.” Enyo’s face disappeared as the window closed. Eunomia readied herself to go as well, her little respite over. Lost in her own thoughts as she got up, she didn’t pay attention to the man walking down the sidewalk.
  67.  
  68. -------------------------
  69. Roy Jelba was a man under pressure. Despite being rather young and in his mid-twenties, he was still elevated to a position of seniority in his research group. And that seniority came with an increase in responsibilities and expectations. Expectations that he currently was missing the mark on. He briskly walked through the park, contemplating what he could do to explain his superiors about a report on reclaimed lost technology that hadn’t yet been sent out.
  70.  
  71. “How am I gonna explain this…the report was due today and I still haven’t finished it yet…” He muttered, kicking aside a pebble. “We’ve found the backup systems but they’re all requiring a ‘Captain Approval Code’…where am I going to find that?”
  72.  
  73. His group’s latest task was to find a way to recover the secondary data transfer systems between the Gnosis Deck and Omicron Block, a section of the ship containing administrative command systems. Normally the three Eternal Sytems would be able to access it remotely, but the data lines were physically destroyed. If there was any hope to launch the proposed satellite grid, they needed access to weapon bays authorized exclusively from the systems in Omicron. The good news was that he and his team had found the reserve control center for the systems. The bad news is that they needed codes from the Eternity’s captain…who probably expired some 400 years ago. And something like that would also have the benefit of giving him an audience with the E-Systems. If he could do that then he could speak with *her* again. A cold wind snapped him out of his stray thoughts, giving him goosebumps as it buffeted him. Shivering, he pulled his worn black and orange coat tighter. The SIGIL logo on the back was starting to fade a bit, a reminder of the dismantled organization in the wake of the new government order.
  74.  
  75. “It’s getting really cold, really fast. Never knew weather could be like this, heh…”
  76.  
  77. Reaching into the coat pocket, Roy fished out a small metal bar. Splitting down the length in the middle, he stretched it out, unveiling a flexible thin screen that became rigid once unfolded. With his finger he began idly scrolling through what data he managed to uncover so far. If he wanted to see her again, he needed a discovery on par with the Wrath gunships he discovered a month ago.
  78. Being focused on the screen, he didn’t notice the woman getting up from a bench in front of him. He collided with her, letting go of his e-reader and tripping both her and him on the loose gravel of the park trail.
  79.  
  80. “Eep!” The feline Faunae squeaks as she falls square on her rump. Roy rather ungracefully regained his footing after stumbling around for a second before he steadied himself.
  81.  
  82. “A-Are you okay? I’m really sorry about that.” Walking over to her, he extends one of his hands to help her up.
  83.  
  84. “I’m…I’m okay, thank you though.” The cat-woman replies in a strangely familiar voice. She brushes the gravel off her blue dress while lowering the brim of her hat. “It’s…awfully late in the evening to be wearing a hat like that, right?” As soon as he said that, Roy mentally kicked himself. First he knocked her over, and now he’s insulting her fashion sense?
  85.  
  86. “Oh, I just like this hat…” She pulls the brim down lower.
  87.  
  88. “I-I didn’t mean…I just wanted to know why…” Roy breathed in and composed his thoughts before he made an even bigger mess by saying the wrong thing. “It’s a nice hat.”
  89.  
  90. “Um, thanks.” The Faunae flicked her tail before taking notice of something lying in the dirt of the pathway. “Is that yours?” She points to the tablet.
  91.  
  92. Walking over to the fallen device, Roy’s eyes widened in horror. The screen of the tablet was a solid blue, with the text “A CRITICAL ERROR HAS OCCURRED. PLEASE WAIT FOR RESTORATION FROM LATEST BACK-UP.”
  93.  
  94. “Oh, no. No no no.” This wasn’t good. Roy’s chest began to tighten in panic. The latest revision of his report was stored on this device. If the thing was broken, then that was even more work he’d have to make up.
  95.  
  96. “ESTIMATED TIME: 1O MINUTES”
  97.  
  98. He sighed loudly. “Perfect. Just…perfect.” Dejected, he walks over to the bench and sits down on it, the light from the tablet illuminating his face. “Um, I’m sorry…” The Faunae woman was standing in front of him, and even though he couldn’t see her face her body language was wholly apologetic. Roy smiles and waves a hand. “It’s not your fault, I really shouldn’t have been walking and reading at the same time. And it’s not too bad, the thing is just loading up a back-up of the memory.” Roy looks up at the night sky. “Ah well, might as well enjoy the stars until its done.”
  99.  
  100. Under the brim of her hat, Eunomia was freaking out. Here he was, Roy Jelba in the flesh. Her synthetic heart began pumping fluid through her veins at an increased rate. What would she say? What would she do? Could she really just sit down and start…talking to him? Was it as simple as that?
  101.  
  102. Tentatively, she lowered herself down next to him, though making sure to keep ample space between him and her. Double-checking her voice modulator was slightly off to mask her natural voice, she opened her mouth to talk. “Do you mind if I sit down?”
  103. “No, not at all.” Roy looks away before glancing at her. “Weren’t you getting up to go somewhere though?”
  104.  
  105. “Oh? Oh! N-no, I was just…going to stretch! Yes, I do love stretching which is required for my normal organic muscles after sitting for too long! Ahaha!” Eunomia mentally slapped herself. What in the name Alan Turing was that? ‘Normal organic muscles?’ Who talks like that? She had the brain the size of an office building and that is what she came up with? That probably already gave away her disguise, no organic talks like that! She needed to spin the rapidly-deteriorating situation to her favor.
  106. “S-Sorry, it’s been a long day. I work with…two LAIs. We joke like that, right? Since I’m, um, ‘different’ than either of them.” She smiles to the best of her abilities.
  107.  
  108. Roy is silent for a moment. “You’re pretty stressed out, aren’t you?” Eunomia drags her hat down with both of her paws. “Am I that easy to read?”
  109.  
  110. “Well, either you were baring your fangs at me, or trying your best to put on a fake smile.” He chuckles. “Don’t worry, I get it.” He sets down the tablet in the space between them and extends a hand. “The name is-“
  111. “Roy Jelba!” Eunomia takes his hand in hers eagerly. Thankfully with both the moonless night and her wide hat her face was hidden, because under it she was blushing a luminescent blue. She was holding his hand! A handshake counted right? ‘Take that, Enyo. First base goes to Eunomia!’ She thought giddily.
  112.  
  113. Roy, on the other hand, was slightly taken aback by the fact that somehow, this compete stranger knew him. “How…did you know my name?”
  114. “I, uh, read about you. Yeah, that’s right! I work in the new government, and I was able to read your report. You and your team found those aircraft stored down there within a hangar in the ship, right?”
  115.  
  116. He laughed, taking the pressure off Eunomia for a moment. “Yeah, that’s right. For a second there, I thought I might’ve had a stalker sitting next to me.” Eunomia froze. She did know where he lived…and what his work schedule was like…and occasionally when Eileithyia and Enyo weren’t aware of what she was doing she’d tap into the CCTV network around the city to follow him. Occasionally.
  117.  
  118. “You okay? You’re kinda tense. And…gripping a little hard.” Flustered, Eunomia released his hand as he curled it. “S-Sorry. It’s the weather. I’m…not to good with these cooler temperatures, yeah.” He nods sympathetically. “I totally get that. I mean, I really think being able to see the sky for the first time is great, but when the City was closed off it was nice to have regulated weather.” Roy glances at the tablet, the progress bar inching slowly to completion. “So, what’s your name?”
  119.  
  120. “Oh, I’m Eun-“Eunomia caught her tongue, the slip nearly costing her disguise.”-ie. My name is Eunie.”
  121.  
  122. Roy nods. “Nice to meet you, Eunie. So, you work for NEST too?”
  123.  
  124. “Yes, I work in infrastructure development. This park is actually one of the projects I led.”
  125.  
  126. “Really?” Roy looks over the small hills carpeted with green grass. “You did a great job, then.” Eunomia’s chest swelled with pride as her blush grew stronger. “O-Oh, you don’t need to thank me, it was just a small thing for the City. Though the Eternal Systems did say how much they though it was a good idea.” There was no lie there, both Enyo and Eileithyia were wowed by how quickly Eunomia turned a patch of collapsed city block into a verdant park. At the mention of the Eternal Systems, however, Roy looked to her.
  127. “You’ve met them before?” His speech was still professional but now tinged with a bit of eagerness.
  128.  
  129. “Yes, a few times.” Roy paused for a moment before speaking again. “What do you think of them?” Eunomia blinked a few times before drawing in a breath. “They…shouldn’t have left the city. They should’ve been here the whole time, and they lost sight of what they were supposed to do in the beginning. They should’ve…”
  130.  
  131. Roy coughs awkwardly. “You’re not the biggest fan of them, huh? It’s fine, I can kinda understand where you’re coming from.”
  132. Eunomia’s initial happiness at being able to talk to Roy was slowly becoming fear, realizing now that what she just said have made her appear as a person who didn’t like her and her sisters. Did he have similar sentiments?
  133.  
  134. “I mean, what, one day it’s all revealed that the world we used to know, the one we grew up in was all a lie? And that there were these three big computers under our feet that could’ve made our lives a lot easier and safer? And some RAVEN pilot finds them one day and reactivates all three, and they just pick up where they left off? I can get why some people would be resentful.”
  135. It was taking every fiber of her being not to hyperventilate out of panic. She should have kept her mouth shut. Coming here was a mistake. Talking to him was a mistake!
  136.  
  137. “But you know what I think?” He looks over to her.
  138.  
  139. “What?” Eunomia whispered.
  140.  
  141. “I think…that it’s a good thing they were found again. With the Composer in charge we were just…killing ourselves, over and over again. I don’t know what happened to the crew of this ship to make things end up the way they did. That’s why I signed up to be part of the expeditions, you know.” He leans back against the bench. “I want to know about our history. What the Eternity is, where we came from, and what happened.” The tablet gave off a beep. “Oh! Nice, the backup is loaded.” Roy stands up and dusts off his coat. “Hey, it was nice talking to you. You take care now!”
  142.  
  143. When he was out of earshot, Eunomia softly replied. “See you tomorrow.”
  144.  
  145. <Later That Evening>
  146.  
  147. “Eileithyia, can I ask you a question?” Eile stopped before the crane that was supposed to raise her back into the monolithic computer system and turned to face her sister. Enyo had already entered hers earlier, citing the need to oversee the automated hunting and fishing parties to gather meat for the winter months.
  148.  
  149. The three sisters were finishing their allotted “down-time”, having entered their AVATARA bodies after a long week of running the City’s functions. On one hand, Eunomia was thankful that she was able to return to her duties as an infrastructure creator rather than looking after a caged extra-dimensional abomination. On the other hand, she forgot how cumbersome it was. While the Messiah required raw focus to keep contained, it was a single task that took up the whole of her computational ability. Here, the overall strain on her was much less but she had to be in charge of multiple systems at once. And with the ability to feel emotions came the ability to feel emotionally drained from work. Hence, all three had agreed to take every other week off.
  150.  
  151. “Yes, sis?”
  152.  
  153. “I’m still…trying to understand how I feel.” Eunomia pulled at one of the blue locks of hair near her shoulder. “I was hoping you could help me.”
  154.  
  155. The white-and-green furred android smiled. “Absolutely. What’s on your mind?” Eunomia tail waved as she tried to figure out how to articulate her feelings. “Lately I’ve been feeling something strange. Something that I find hard to quantify.” Eile raised one of her eyebrows. “You’ll have to give me a little more than that.”
  156.  
  157. “I…Roy Jelba. The researcher that we’ve been talking to regarding expeditions into the Eternity to rediscover it’s lost systems and reconnect them to Rig Veda. The three of us have been in contact with him for little over four months now and…” She paused. “And from the moment I began speaking with him, I felt…drawn to him. And I don’t understand how or why, but it’s happening regardless.”
  158. Eile smiled gently. “Are you asking what it’s like to be interested in someone?”
  159.  
  160. “I don’t know exactly how to describe what I feel towards him other than ‘interest’ and ‘warmth’. Did you feel like that, when you discovered your feelings for Anon?”
  161.  
  162. Eile pursed her lips, thinking for a moment.
  163.  
  164. “It wasn’t so much as “discovered” more than it was a realization. Something about Anon drew me to him, beyond him looking out for me when I was amnesiac or the fact that he was willing to pilot the RVR-03. It was like a “click” after I got to know him and understand who he is that I realized that at some point, I loved him.” She smiles, recalling her own epiphany regarding her feelings towards her lover.
  165.  
  166. Eunomia, on the other hand, was still confused.
  167.  
  168. “You were found by him, right? And at first, you didn’t have any particular feeling towards Anon, correct?”
  169.  
  170. “Yes, I suppose so. To be fair, my emotional capacity was stunted then due to the security protocol-induced amnesia.”
  171.  
  172. Eunomia crossed her arms. “See, I…felt something just by watching Roy. Like a twinge in my chest. I didn’t understand why or how but it was present the next time I saw him too. For some reason, I wanted to understand him and why he was affecting me so.”
  173.  
  174. Eile giggled. “I’ve read about this when I was trying to understand myself back then. I think what you have is something called a ‘crush’. I suppose the best way to describe it is something beyond ‘interest’ but not at ‘love’ yet. Have you tried talking to him, face to face without camouflaging yourself?”
  175.  
  176. Eunomia looked dumbfounded. “First Enyo and now you? Eileithyia, we’re the systems of the Rig Veda.”
  177.  
  178. “So?” Eile asked, cocking an eyebrow mischievously.
  179.  
  180. “So? We’re the de-facto leaders of this ship. I just can’t go to him as myself and say ‘Hello, I’m Eunomia, otherwise known as E-02. I’m one of the three systems responsible for the upkeep of the city. Would you like to sit here and chat?’ What will he think?”
  181.  
  182. “Do you really think it matters? I stroll around the city without changing my AVATARA’s appearance and nobody seems to mind. Granted, it seems I’m often mistaken for a participant of the “technopunk” subculture and I do tend to wear my hoodie as well, so I suppose that’s why. Anyways, let’s say you meet him face-to-face without masking yourself. If you ask him to spend some time with you, do you think he’ll react negatively?”
  183.  
  184. “Maybe? I don’t know.” Eunomia looked to her sister, rubbing her hands together.  “I met him in the park today, actually. But I was disguised, and he didn’t know it’s…well, me.” Concern comes over Eunomia’s face. “What if he…grows close to that persona I put up? If I show myself to him, will he reject me in favor of the ‘other me’?” A darker thought crosses her mind.
  185.  
  186. “What if he learns that I’m partially responsible for how the Eternity turned out the way it has? How can I explain that I was doing what I thought was right, even when it was hurting so many people?”  
  187.  
  188. Eile bit her lip. Even now, only the highest echelon of NEST leadership was privy to the secret behind the Eternity and the Messiah.
  189. “If you are serious about pursuing a relationship with him, you will need to tell him, Eunomia. When I remembered the role I had…I shattered.” Eunomia’s eyes went wide.
  190.  
  191. “Eile, you suffered a personality matrix fracture? How did you survive? Father was barely able to keep us together when Mother sacrificed herself.”
  192.  
  193. The sad smile from Eile quieted Eunomia.
  194.  
  195.  “I ran from Anon in my shame, hijacked a severely damaged RVR-03 and simply waited to break until I was no more. All because I thought he despised me for my hand in shaping the conflict-ridden environment of the City. And yet, he sought me out because he loved me, and I was too ridden with self-loathing to realize it. If he hadn’t rescued me…” Eile gets a faraway look in her eyes.
  196.  
  197. “Eile?” Enyo’s voice is soft with concern, seeing the sudden distress in her sister’s eyes.
  198.  
  199.  
  200. “It’s nothing...Those memories are forever ingrained in my memory banks. I’ve chosen to keep them as a reminder of how Anon is the reason I still stand here.” Eile smiles sadly. “I miss him, Eunie. I miss his hand on mine. I miss how warm he is when he wraps his arms around me. I miss his love.” She closes her eyes and breathes.
  201.  
  202. “Listen to your heart on this one, Eunie, not your logic algorithms. Once you feel loved, no other emotion will come close to it.”  
  203.  
  204. <Gnosis Deck, 1500 hours>
  205.  
  206. “What are these outfits, Eunomia?” Enyo said, tugging at the white fabric. To the side, Eileithyia was trying to adjust her headpiece so that the two vertical spikes on it lined up with her ears.
  207.  
  208. “I thought that we needed an official look if we need to make public appearances. Perhaps if the people put faces to us, they would be able to better identify with us. And it’s not like we’d be going outside or anything, we’d still be communicating through cameras.” Eunomia was quite pleased with her handiwork. A simple white dress of fabric that hung at the shoulders, embroidered with each AI’s primary color and topped off with a tiara that contained a similarly-colored plate and two accentuating spikes at the top. It was regal without being opulent.
  209.  
  210. The three took their positions around a podium and waited for the call to begin. Normally they’d be plugged into the mainframe for something like this, but Eunomia insisted on talking through their AVATARA bodies.
  211.  
  212. A video screen popped up in a hologram before them, before connecting to a boardroom in NEST’s central building.
  213. “Hello, Eternal System. This is Researcher Roy Jelba reporting in with our latest findings on the Omicron…Block…” Roy’s speech trailed off as he looked up from his data pad, realizing that he was talking not to three steel monoliths but three android women.
  214.  
  215. “Um…” His eyes darted between the three of them, but lingered on Eunomia the longest. Eunomia herself had her breath stuck in her throat, wondering what he would say next. It was Enyo who broke the silence with a snicker. “Your report, Researcher.”
  216.  
  217. “M…my apologies. I’ve never seen you in AVATARA bodies before…*ahem*. As I was saying, concerning Omicron Block, we’ve located a hidden control room that controls the auxiliary data transfer systems to and from that section of the ship. It seems to have been deliberately concealed from the central computer systems on purpose, possibly as a way for communication to be re-established from the blocks and the bridge in the case of a mutiny. As far as we can tell, the systems are working fine bar some required maintenance from being neglected for so long. The main issue we’ve come across is the fact that a “Captain’s Code” is required to bring them online. Researcher Lenore was quite helpful in locating it, actually.”
  218.  
  219. “A Captain’s Code…” Eileithyia mumbled. “I don’t see why we can’t just assign him a code to use, do you?”
  220.  
  221. “Right, but you’re forgetting, that’s going to require a new ship captain to be named.” Enyo mused. “Unless…hm. Researcher, how long do you think it’ll take to bring everything online and connect it to the Gnosis Deck?”
  222.  
  223. “About a week, probably.” Scrolling on his pad, Roy put up several screens to show the three AIs. It’s a bit of a hack-job, but we’ve consulted Chief Engineer Coleen Sinclair and she says that it should work.”
  224.  
  225. “If she says it’s doable, then I trust her judgement.” Eile says. Enyo’s eyes narrow. “Researcher, we’re going to be giving you an enormous privilege. When this ship was operational, the ship’s captain had the authority to override our directives. By giving you similar privileges, we trust you will not abuse them. If you should then…” Enyo flashed a wicked smile, the red glow in her eyes intensifying. “It won’t turn out well for you.”  
  226.  
  227. “Enyo, stop scaring the poor man!” Eunomia chided. Enyo held up her hands in defeat. “Sorry, sorry. I won’t mess with him again, promise.” She looked over to Roy, who had gone slightly pale. “I am serious though. Don’t do anything stupid with the powers you’ll be given.”
  228.  
  229. “Y-yes, E-01, I wouldn’t dream of it.”
  230.  
  231. “Then it’s settled. It will take about a month to organize the expedition. Tell us what you’ll need in terms of logistics and supplies for the operation and we’ll get them for you.” Eunomia chirped. “If you need a RAVEN escort we can assign some pilots from SPHERE to you.”
  232. “Oh, thank you, E-02. That’s really generous of you.”
  233.  
  234. “Of course! Er, there is something else I’d like to ask you. How are these outfits? Are they…alright?”
  235.  
  236. Roy, scratched his head and looked to the side. Someone out of frame murmured something to him and he shrugged slightly in confusion before looking back to the screen. “I um…I don’t know if it’s really professional of me to say this but…you look amazing, E-02. Uh, and E-01 and E-03 as well!”
  237.  
  238. Eunomia closed her eyes, trying to restrain the purr that was coming from her chest. “Thank you, Roy- Researcher Jelba. That’ll be all.”
  239.  
  240. The video screen closed, and immediately Eunomia let out a high-pitched squeal of excitement. “He liked them! Did you hear that?”
  241. “Yeah, we heard. And saw.” Enyo remarked. Eile looked thrilled too. “Aww, I’m happy he liked how you looked!” She ran up and hugged her blue-striped sibling. “I still remember how Anon looked at me when he saw me for the first time. Given similarity in reactions I can tell you that it looks like if a male shows an interest in a female, it seems they all react like that.”
  242.  
  243. “You really think so?”
  244.  
  245. Eile nods. “I’m speaking from experience, you know.” Enyo looks over to the two. “Is he doing alright?” Her voice carries with it a twinge of guilt, the normally brash red lynx speaking in a soft near-whisper. “I…I finished adding more security to the Ayodhya settlement. He’s well-protected against Aberration attacks. I can transfer more staff to monitor him and the RVR-03 if you want.”
  246. Eile shook her head. During the last few moments of Anon’s life, he fought both Enyo and Eunomia for Eile’s beliefs. In the end, the strain of the Prana Modifer was too great and he was assimilated by it, but not before dealing a considerable blow to the Messiah after a prolonged fight. While Eile knew Anon chose to fight as he did, Enyo and Eunomia felt a tremendous amount of guilt towards what they did.
  247.  
  248. “Anon’s condition still hasn’t changed...but I’m still hopeful. His Homunculus body is stable and all biological functions sans higher brain activity are operational. As for his soul, a few more fragments were recently found. Perhaps in the next two to three years, he should be reformed.” Two years more without Anon, and that was being hopeful. Two more years of grappling with her loneliness and personal demons without him.
  249.  
  250. “If it worked for Joshua, it’ll work for Anon.” Eile fights back her own doubts. “Yes. It will work.”
  251.  
  252. Enyo pulls her mint-colored sister into a hug. “You bet it will. Just wait and see.” She releases the embrace, and the three androids make their way back to their places, ready to continue their daily duties.
  253.  
  254. <The Next Night>
  255.  
  256. Eunomia breathed in the night air. It was different that the last night she was out, still cool but slightly more humid from the rains that had drifted over the city. Breathing was still strange to her; her AVATARA was finalized in “biologic replication” mode, which meant that its internal structure closely resembled that of a biological female than the mass of nanites it was a few months ago. It now relied entirely on oxygen to fuel the Caloric Engine located in her abdomen, with a mandated sleep cycle to replenish the joules of energy lost over the course of a day. At first, she had to make a conscious effort to breathe and sleep as it was still something new to her, but now she mused on the fact that it was involuntary. She even dreamt last night, fancy that. Oddly enough, while she could recall bits and pieces of the dream it was not stored within her memory banks. Does that happen to organics too?
  257.  
  258. Breathing. Sleeping. Eating. At least she didn’t have to worry about aging or health issues. But compared to simply existing as a program within a ship computer, living was a much more complicated experience.
  259.  
  260. “Hmph.” She sighed. “Living is hard.” The wind blew again, and through a break in the clouds the moon rained its light, the moonbeams scattering across the city. For some reason, the sight of seeing it break through the clouds, the wind on her fur, the smells in the air, it all brought a strange sense of nostalgia for something missing from her life. It was, in a word, beautiful. As she sat there, just soaking in the feelings around her she was interrupted by a familiar voice.
  261.  
  262. “Oh! Hello again!” In a panic, Eunomia stood up as Roy jogged over to her. He was dressed in running gear and clutched a water bottle in his hands. Panicking as to what to do, she extended a hand.
  263.  
  264. “Uh, hello…” Roy looked down at down at the extended hand and back up. Eunomia realized that something was wrong based on his confusion. Awkwardly, she used the extended had to brush some nonexistent dust off her dress.
  265.  
  266. “Ahaha, I hate sand. It’s coarse and rough and gets everywhere.”
  267.  
  268. “O-okay then…um.”
  269.  
  270. “Simulated beach!” Eunomia blurted out, furiously blushing under the cover of her hat and the dark. “I just came from the new simulated beach that was built in Central Ward!”
  271.  
  272. “The Simulated Beach…that takes ten minutes to get to by the public rail?” He raised an eyebrow.
  273.  
  274. By Turing’s Tests, he was getting suspicious. She needed to say something, and fast.
  275.  
  276. “…Yes.”
  277.  
  278. Flustered, Eunomia sat down. ‘That’s it. I’ve blown it. He’s probably going to walk off, thinking that he’s met an insane lady in the park at night.’
  279.  
  280. Roy, however, did something she didn’t expect. He sat down next to her.
  281.  
  282. “You don’t mind if I sit here, do you? This was my mile-marker, I was going to stop here anyway.”
  283.  
  284. “Oh, err, not at all.”
  285.  
  286. As he sat down, Eunomia took a moment to study him. Sweat rolled off his “coffee-with-cream” colored skin as dabbed it away with a small cloth from his pocket. From the sleeveless outfit she could see well-defined musculature, which for some reason was having an effect on her core temperature. His brown, straight hair culminated in a ponytail that ended at the nape of his neck. A growing curiosity began drawing her eyes southward when Roy spoke up.
  287. “So, what brings you out here on a night like this, Eunie?”
  288.  
  289. Worried that he might’ve caught her ogling, Eunomia was relieved when she saw his eyes were instead fixed on the sky.
  290. “Oh, just trying to get my mind off work, I suppose.” He looked at her, and she made sure her hat’s brow was low enough to obscure her face.
  291.  
  292. “You too? I try to jog out here to get my mind off work too. Night runs are the best, I love that cool breeze that comes between the buildings.” He wiped his forehead again, and Eunomia caught the faded logo of SIGIL stamped in the fabric.
  293.  
  294. “You were a pilot?” Roy looked at the towel, realizing that she must’ve seen the logo. “I was, yeah. I just squeaked by as SIGIL Rank 100 a few months before the whole system came down and the Eternal Systems made their reappearance.” He sighed. “Honestly, I really wasn’t into piloting. I mean, I was good enough to join SIGIL. But I really wanted to explore the Unknown City and uncover its secrets.” Roy fished out his datapad and began scrolling. “See these? These were some of the things I found out there. Mostly old weapon tech left behind or data scraps, but they were a big deal during the reign of the Composer. Being a member of SIGIL meant that my excursions out there went from “barely legal” to “sanctioned”.” He chuckled. “Once the E-Systems came back online, we now had a whole ship to explore. Yeah, SIGIL’s long gone now, but I think there’s way more out there to explore, and not just on this beached spacecraft we call home.”
  295.  
  296. His eyes became faraway for a moment. “I actually got to speak with the E-Systems yesterday, you know?” Eunomia tugged at the hem of her dress. “Oh, really? How were they?”
  297.  
  298. Roy scratched his head. “Well, I can say that E-01 kinda scares me. I get that she’s in charge of defense and weapon systems, but sometimes it’s hard to tell if she’s making a threat or making a comment.”
  299.  
  300. “Oh, she doesn’t mean any of it” Eunomia said, waving a hand. Roy raised an eyebrow. “How do you know?”
  301.  
  302. “Oh! Uh, well, I have two siblings right? And one of them, she likes to act tough but really, she’s a softie at heart. And she likes getting a rise out of people to see their reactions. M-Maybe E-01 is the same way?”
  303.  
  304. Roy seemed to consider that. “Yeah, maybe. E-03 is really kind. I don’t know why, but I get serious “motherly” vibes from her sometimes when she starts talking about the life support and environment support systems. She cares a lot for the citizens, but I also get this vibe that she’s missing something.”
  305.  
  306. “…Or someone…” Eunomia thought to herself. Roy had fallen silent, and she turned to him.
  307.  
  308. “What about…E-02?”
  309.  
  310. “E-02, huh…” Roy looked away, his attention drawn to a couple walking in the park. A male canine Faunae was walking hand-in-hand with an AVATARA in the form of a human female. Roy gulped.
  311.  
  312. “This is a bit off-topic, but what are your opinions on…Living AI and Biologic relationships? I know some people are really against them, saying that we ought to ‘stick to our own kind’ and all that but is it really that wrong?”
  313.  
  314. “Not at all!” Eunomia exclaimed, startling Roy. “I think it’s wonderful! The fact that such a primal emotion can exist between two extremely different kinds of life-form, one organic and one artificial is a wonderful thing! I may have not seen the value for it before, but after…uh, seeing it happen firsthand I think it’s an incredible thing.”
  315.  
  316. Roy seemed approving of her opinion. “Yeah, I think that’s a good stance to have-“ His sentence was interrupted by his watch’s alarm. “Ah, have to get moving. My rest period is up and I still have a mile to go. Hey, if you’re here again, let’s talk alright?” With that, he got up, took a swig of water and took off.
  317.  
  318. Eunomia waved him good-bye, but then realized one thing.
  319.  
  320. He never expressed his opinion on her.
  321.  
  322. <Gnosis Block, 1800 Hours>
  323.  
  324. “What I’m saying is that Anatolia Ward needs more funding! We are the primary transport hub for the Eternal City, and if we are to begin re-colonization of the Unknown City we must renovate the transport hub infrastructure!”
  325.  
  326. Six people were huddled around a round table, bickering intently with one another. With the re-organization of the local government from an entirely computerized one to a more democratically-inclined one was necessary it did bring challenges. For example, Rig Veda had set budget limits for each ward, both monetarily and resource-wise. With the winter months looming, resource management was especially important now.
  327.  
  328. “Re-colonization? Director Loggins, our total population only several hundred thousand citizens. If this data is correct the full expanse of the city was constructed to hold two million. And that number isn’t even accounting for the crew spaces of the Eternity, or the colonies outside of the ship. You push this issue of ‘expansion’ when there is no pressing need to.”
  329.  
  330. “Adding to that, shouldn’t we instead be more concerned with the rising cases of Dioscuri Syndrome? We’ve had five-hundred new cases in the last two months. The total number of afflicted is rising to nearly over a thousand cases total. This is an epidemic! More than that, this is a sign, is it not E-01? That thing you were guarding, it’s making its move.”
  331.  
  332. Above the delegating council members floated three holograms; a red triangle, a blue hexagon and a green diamond. Behind her projected avatar, Enyo pursed her lips. Shortly after the city was opened to the outside world, cases of Dioscuri Syndrome began to appear. En masse, citizens both human, Faunae and AVATARA alike began experiencing mental breakdowns seemingly without trigger. When lucid they would repeat fearfully “It’s coming, It’s here,” or launch into terrified babbling about the “devourer of the void” before relapsing into a comatose state. The Rig Veda systems knew all too well that this was probably the influence of the Messiah as it gathered strength.
  333.  
  334. “We’re still determining the best method of destroying the Messiah. Without the RVR units, our chances of survival are greatly diminished.”
  335.  
  336. “And you’re adamant about not restoring the ship and evacuating?” One of the council members piped up.
  337.  
  338. “If we left now, the Messiah would only grow stronger over time. And it has a vendetta against this ship in particular; it wouldn’t be long before it tracks us down and destroys us if left unchecked.”
  339.  
  340. “And that is why Mistral Ward needs more funding and resources to produce new RAVENs!” And so the group began to argue again. Enyo gave a virtual sigh as the leaders of the city began to argue again.
  341.  
  342. Eunomia shared the sentiment. At least she could look forward to stepping out into the night again later.
  343.  
  344. <Central Ward Park, 2000 hours>
  345.  
  346. “Eunie! You made it” Roy walked over to the park bench, looking slightly haggard. “Sorry I was a little late, we’re gearing up for that expedition into the ship so I have to pitch in some overtime.” He parked himself on the bench next to a disguised Eunomia.
  347. “Here, I got you this. They call it “apple cider”. Apparently it was a traditional drink on the Original Homeworld during the colder months. Aspina Ward started brewing and canning it pretty recently after more historical data was exhumed from Atharva Veda. I think it’s pretty good.” He hands her a red can with a clip-art apple and pine tree on the label. Beneath the image were the words “Just like They Made It on Earth.”
  348.  
  349. With a claw she pulled on the tab, and with a hiss she smelled the crisp aroma of tart apples and alcohol. She raised it to her lips, feeling the amber liquid run over her taste sensors. “It’s…really good!” She said with surprise. Alcoholic drinks were something she usually avoided, mainly because her physiology meant that they had no soporific effects on her, unlike organic beings. Nor did they contribute towards caloric energy or resource delivery. But this particular drink, with its tart yet sweet flavor gelled with her.
  350. “I’m glad you like it!” Roy said with a smile, opening his own can. The two of them sat in the park, watching the stars appear in the night sky.
  351.  
  352. “You know, it’s incredible when you think about where we are. I mean, who would’ve thought that we’ve been living on a massive spacecraft, so far away from the planet where we originated from. Not even that, but how many years has it been since we left? The records say six hundred, seven hundred years…how do you think that little blue planet changed in that time?” He looked at the can in his hands. “How did things end up the way they have?” Eunomia felt a pit develop in core.
  353.  
  354. “W-Well, that’s why we have you guys, right? Archaeologists researching the ship and scouring its databanks.”
  355.  
  356. He continued staring at the can. “Yeah, but something bothers me. Why are major sections of the ship disconnected from Rig Veda? What caused a mutiny those hundreds of years ago which caused this ship to land on this planet and the Composer to take over? Sometimes, I wonder if the Eternal Systems are hiding something…they run Rig Veda, they control Atharva Veda and the ship. They have to know something we don’t.”
  357.  
  358. Eunomia coughed.
  359.  
  360. “U-um, the stars are nice tonight, aren’t they?” She tried her best to keep her voice steady.
  361.  
  362. “Oh yeah, they sure are.” Roy finished his cider and placed the can on the ground. “You know, I’m glad I met you. I know it’s only been a few weeks that we’ve got to know each other, but I think you’re a good friend. That’s not weird is it?”
  363.  
  364. “No, not at all. I like you…and I’s friendship too.”
  365.  
  366. “I don’t really have many friends at work, no real time to socialize. So the fact that we just click over random topics when we talk feels good.” He reclined putting his hands behind his head. “I’m probably going to have to report to Rig Veda later this week. Heh, you okay with keeping a secret? And don’t judge me, either!”
  367.  
  368. “Sure Roy, I’m a pretty reliable secret keeper.” No lie there, she was.
  369.  
  370. “Well, this is gonna be weird, but I think E-02…is really cute.” Roy mistook Eunomia’s stifled gasp as a chuckle and became defensive. “Hey, you said you wouldn’t judge.”
  371.  
  372. “I’m not, I’m not!” Eunomia’s fur stood on end as she tried to calm herself. “Um, any particular reason why you think she’s cute?”
  373. “I’m not sure, I guess it started when I began looking forward to speaking with her specifically during report sessions. Something about her voice just…tickled my soul, you know? Mesmerizing is a good way to describe it. Then I saw her AVATARA and I like, I don’t know, she’s just cute okay?” He scratched his head, obviously embarrassed. “And I get that she’s a critical system of this city, okay. And it might be weird to talk about her like some kinda pop idol crush, but everything about her just captivates me. How she talks, how she conducts herself during conversations, and her eyes. Man, she’s got pretty eyes.”
  374.  
  375. Eunomia lowered her hat more in response, dampening her emotional parameters just a bit to keep a silly grin from plastering her face.
  376. “I swear, you’d better not tell anyone. If you do, you have to show me your face.” His jest fell flat as he remembered something. “That was just a joke, you have social anxiety, right?”
  377.  
  378. Eunomia lowered her hat’s brim. “Yes, I’d rather not show anyone my face if possible…I don’t really do well with people.” She paused. “But if it’s you, then I’m okay.”
  379.  
  380. “Heh, thanks.”
  381.  
  382. <2 Weeks Until Expedition>
  383.  
  384. “Well, here we are. Thanks for agreeing to help me out.” Roy held open the door for Eunomia, who had agreed to help him with his work.
  385. “So we have to go over the logistics sheets one more time as safety fulfillment. Unfortunately, this has to be done by hand to catch any mistakes done by the computer.” He sighs. “It’s awfully menial work to do alone, so I’m glad you’re here.”
  386.  
  387. “I’m happy to help!” Eunomia smiled as she walked over to the computer terminal. After it booted up, she could see the spreadsheets they needed to go through. “I’ll make us some coffee, we’re going to be here a while.” Roy said with a resigned tone.
  388. “And that’s how I managed to salvage my first old databank from the Unknown City.”
  389.  
  390. “Incredible, and you made it back despite your RAVEN’s arm being destroyed?”
  391.  
  392. “Yeah, somehow I managed to evade the opposing corporate mercenaries hired against us.” Roy wipes his tired eyes, strained from viewing the screens of his terminal. “Honestly, I’m not sure which is worse: being in the cockpit of a flaming RAVEN or manually tooling through these spreadsheets.” He laughs dryly. “Oh well, it’s part of my job anyways so I can’t really complain. Anyways, how are you –“
  393. His sentence went unfinished as he tabbed over to their shared drive, which was filled with completed forms and spreadsheets. “Did you do all these? Damn, you’re a tech wizard or something.”
  394.  
  395. “Oh, it’s nothing, really!” Eunomia laughed, hoping that he wouldn’t notice that she was pressing random keys on her terminal. She had already accessed the computer wirelessly and could’ve finished everything herself in a minute or so, but paced herself slowly to play off as an organic being. “I just know the shortcuts, you know?”
  396.  
  397. “Hey, don’t sell yourself short. You’re awesome.” He pauses. “Uh, hey, can I confide something with you?”
  398.  
  399. “Yeah, of course.”
  400.  
  401. “See, I’ve been thinking about my feelings towards E-02. And I guess I was feeling those things because I never really hung out with a girl before. When the city was wrapped up in the war economy, I was just focused on surviving over, you know, setting down I guess? I guess when I heard E-02 speak it stirred up all the latent hormones in my system. And maybe that was all it was. A crush for an unattainable person.”
  402.  
  403. “O-oh. I see.” Eunomia felt crestfallen after hearing that. “So, how do you feel now?”
  404.  
  405. “Well, that’s the funny thing…” He stares his screen, avoiding eye contact. “After I started spending time around you, and getting to know you, I started to realize all this. Then we started meeting up regularly, talking about random stuff. It’s been a few weeks since we’ve met, and I just…feel connected to you in a way that I’ve never felt before.” He looks up. “My feelings towards E-02 were just a fantasy that I could never hope to achieve. But what I feel towards you is more real, more ‘solid’. I just…I…” He took a moment to compose his speech. “Do you want to...stargaze in the park again tomorrow? Just the two of us?”
  406.  
  407. Eunomia froze. This was what she was afraid of. Part of her wanted to continue this charade, to continue deceiving him. But she had been lying for over 400 years, to add another lie on top of the ones she was still perpetuating would break her.
  408. He needed to know, but not here.
  409.  
  410. “Yeah, I think I’d like that.”
  411.  
  412. <Central Ward Park, 2000 hours>
  413.  
  414. “So, here we are.”
  415.  
  416. Roy was setting up a small telescope on a grassy knoll within the park. All the while, Eunomia fiddled with her dress.
  417. “Okay, I think that’s the right calibration. Let’s see what we can find up there.” For the better part of thirty minutes the pair looked at the night sky.
  418.  
  419. “You know, the ZODIAC squadron is named after constellations.” Eunomia said, trying to stall the inevitable.
  420.  
  421. “Right, they were named after twelve patterns, each one corresponding to a month according to the Terran Calendar. It’s a little funny, I would’ve never guessed that our calendar is just a modified Terran Calendar with two extra months tacked on, since this planet has a fourteen-month year.” He replied as he searched the sky. “Ah, you can see the Twin Moons really well tonight. Selene and Soma are nearly lined up. This happens like, once a month, so I think we picked a good day!”
  422.  
  423. “Yeah…” Eunomia tried to form words, but every last one of them got caught in her throat. Her synthetic heart was racing from the uncertainty she felt. Roy picked up on her discomfort.
  424.  
  425. “Hey, is everything alright? You seem a little off tonight.”
  426.  
  427. “Roy, I…” Eunomia closed her eyes. This was a logical conclusion to a path of fallacies. She was hurtling towards an inevitability that she could no longer avoid. “I can’t keep doing this anymore.”
  428.  
  429. “What are you saying?” He looked crestfallen, before letting out a small laugh. “I should’ve seen this coming…I acted on impulse again. Hey, if I’ve made you uncomfortable, I’m really sorry. I should’ve waited a bit longer before asking you if you wanted to go on a date.”
  430.  
  431. “It’s not that!” Eunomia exclaimed. “No, when you asked me to come here tonight, I was really excited! I…I like you, Roy Jelba. To be honest, I felt something towards you ever since I met you for the first time months ago.”
  432.  
  433. “Wha-months? But I’ve only known you for three weeks, at most.” He looked a little taken back by her exclamation.
  434.  
  435. “No, we’ve known each other for a while now. And I can’t keep hiding behind this persona anymore.” She stood up, and as she did the color of her fur changed from a natural speckled grey to stark white with blue lines running through it. The fur around her scalp lengthened to become shoulder-length blue hair. And the nub-like tail belonging to a normal lynx began elongating, the brown fur turning blue. She reached up and removed the hat, and as she did so Roy’s eyes widened as he looked into her triangular blue ones.
  436.  
  437. “My name isn’t Eunie...at least not entirely. I am E-02, Eunomia Isse.” She lowered her gaze. “I’m sorry for deceiving you.”
  438.  
  439. “I…Uh…” Roy opened and closed his mouth a few times in shock. “Wow.” He blinked a few times to make sure that he wasn’t hallucinating.
  440. “Um, do you still want to sit or…” He snapped back to reality, standing up with a flustered salute. “E-02! I apologize for being so informal with you!” His face was flushed with embarrassment. This was not at all what Eunomia was expecting. The sheer difference between reality and her perceived response from him, one of anger or betrayal, was becoming increasingly amusing to her.
  441.  
  442. “Ah…Ahahaha!” She began laughing. “You…you’re supposed to be mad! Why..why aren’t you mad at me? You should be…” Her laughter began turning into sniffles. “I lied to you. I lied to so many people. I hurt so many people…”
  443.  
  444. She sank to her knees in the grass, light blue tears streaming from her eyes.
  445.  
  446. Roy stood still for a moment before kneeling down as well. Gently he took one of her hands in his own. “Hey, if you need someone to talk to I’m here.”
  447.  
  448. “I...” Eunomia sniffed again. “I’ve done so much wrong to so many people, for so long. And you’re trying to help?” The disparity between her expectation and reality caught up to her again, causing her to smile sadly as she held the other hand clutched around her heart.  “I…I want to tell you everything, Roy. From the beginning to now. I need someone to listen to what I’ve been keeping bottled up.”
  449.  
  450. And so, for the next few hours the two sat there under the night sky as their only observer as Eunomia emptied her heart.
  451. “..and that’s it. That is who I am, Roy. A liar and a murderer, who sacrificed this city over and over again for a plan that had an already low chance of success. My hands are bloody with the lives I took by setting up the Composer, helping to kill the original crew of this ship in the name of ‘mercy’, and then the first iteration of the City’s population which failed to activate the Prana Modifiers. I’ve failed, Roy. I’ve failed so much and hurt so many people. You don’t…you don’t want to be involved with me.”
  452.  
  453. “Not true.” Roy brought up a hand hesitantly to her cheek, then brushed a tear that was making its way down. Eunomia, lost to her emotions nuzzled his hand as he drew it away. “I’m still trying to process what you’ve said, but I can tell one thing. You’ve been struggling with the decisions you’ve made. Decisions for dealing with something that sounds incomprehensibly horrific.” He looks into her eyes as he brings his hands around one of hers, causing her to blush a vibrant blue. “Am I a little unnerved by what you said? Yeah. But then you can’t blame yourself for how the Composer turned out when you and your sister were observing that Messiah thing, which would have been bad news for everyone if it escaped. And you and E-01, err, Enyo held the line for 400 years. You call yourself weak, but you know what? I think you have a lot of strength to keep carrying on like you do. Despite everything you have had to deal with, for hundreds and hundreds of years, you’re still carrying on. And that’s incredible.” He scratched his head with his idle hand. “That being said…if you need a shoulder to lean on, I’m here.”
  454.  
  455. Eunomia stared at him with watery eyes. After all this time, when she thought the truth would make him turn on her, she was instead being given a second chance. “I think for now…we should start this date over. If you want to, that is.” Roy smiled at her as he stood up.
  456.  
  457. “Well then.” Roy cleared his throat. “Hello there miss, my name is Roy Jelba. Would you like to stargaze with me for a while?”
  458. Eunomia chuckles. “I’m Eunomia. Eunomia Isse. And I think I’d love that.” Before she could sit down, a small alert began flashing in the corner of her vision. “It’s this late? I need to get back to the Rig Veda core…” Her ears droop as the realization set in, that she’d finally found someone to confide her feelings in and receive feelings in kind, yet she could not spend time with him.
  459. “Hey, it’s alright. You have my number, after all. Anytime, anywhere, I’ll be there.” Roy smiled at her. “Go on and save our world, Eunie. I’ll dig through as many corridors and tunnels to help you as I can.” And with that, Roy took her up in an embrace. From his grip alone, Eunomia could feel that his words were true. Her heart skipped a beat, and it felt like a comforting warmth was spreading outward from it.
  460.  
  461.  She really had to get going, though. She softly pushed way from the embrace, turning around on her heels to begin briskly walking away. But then after a few meters she stopped. Eunomia spun around, ran back up to Roy and planted her lips on his. “I…see you around…” With that, she ran off into the night to be connected to the ship once more.
  462.  
  463. Roy stood in place as he brought his hand to his lips, which now had a vague blueberry aftertaste. “Yeah…see you around.” With a dumb grin on his face, he collected his telescope and headed to his home as well.
  464.  
  465. END OF SIDE.
  466. MECHANIZED MEMORIES 1.5 – EPILOGUE: EUNOMIA FINISHED PLAYBACK.
  467. TIMESTAMP ERROR, FURTHER DATA CORRUPT. DEBUGGING WILL DELAY FURTHER DISK PLAYBACK.
  468. MORE DISKS DETECTED. BEGIN PLAYBACK?
  469. Y/N
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