Time spent idly speculating is time wasted. Ambition is a journey well-equipped, if not yet well-prepared and is a world apart from the dreams of those who do not even realise that they just have to put one step in front of the other; the rest comes naturally. That is all I have ever done. A thought that my legend is incomplete burns simply, yet with enough fuel to keep the cruellest winter at bay for a long time. Trials faced are to be met like any other – foresight is infinite and hindsight can be sought from the mouths of story-tellers.
Pacing a spartan room, Genni’s agitation is more evident than my introspective considerations and in fairness I think I have more to worry about than her right now, but she marches back and forth anyway whilst I find some calm in the rhythmic tap of her boots.
“Remarkable,” mutters Treen. For an asura, his vocabulary seems… remarkably limited since we left the chaos of his lab and, since arriving at Genni’s own private quarters, all he has continued to state in between Genni’s measured stomping.
Outside, the occasional call still echoes back and forth as Peacekeepers range throughout Rata Sum in search of the human invaders. Various theories regarding the attack on Treen’s former lab, and as it turns out Genni’s too, have been suggested and the most common seems to be that this is all connected to a sylvari named Scarlet Briar. Until now I had never heard of her and what Genni has managed to educate me of so far does not really seem to fit; the attack on the labs, whilst brutal, lacks the dramatic and theatrical flourish of the mysterious sylvari. According to Genni, Scarlet relishes an element of direct confrontation along with personal appearances via something Genni calls a holo projector, and if this appraisal is anything to go by, sending stealthy assassins into the heart of the city does not entirely fit. Besides that, somehow I doubt this ‘Scarlet’ would want anything of an unknown norn.
“Remarkable.” Treen looks up at me and Genni stops pacing. “How?” He leaves the question hanging.
“You are supposed to be the intelligent one. You tell me,” I grumble. I am reluctant to use harsh words with this Treen, or Genni for that matter. Both of them have lost a lot tonight and do not deserve to be punished further despite the predicament I find myself in.
“It is not entirely uncommon for a pilot to lose his mind to a golem of this type,” says Genni and then adds, as though uncertain of her own knowledge, “at least this is what I have heard.”
“Mhm,” Treen nods still staring at me. “I passed through the main gate to Lion’s Arch at what must have been at precisely the same time as our fellow here, Asbjorn.” He talks like I am not really here – I suppose he has a point. “Then, due to an unstable reaction, I was ejected from the gate – although of course, I was not quite I at the time. You,” he points, “somehow… possessed me-” He seems uncomfortable with the word. “-and we shared my body for a period of time until I effectively regained consciousness, thus… I don’t know. I dislike this speculation.”
“Your own conscience reasserted itself. What does it matter?” Genni shrugs.
“It matters because then we could understand exactly what is transpiring. However, it does seem to be the case that for a period of time, Asbjorn inherited my physical form – this we do know. At least this was the case, up until now. Now… now you are a…” Treen winces.
“I am a golem,” I state, unable to keep the bitterness away from my tone.
“You’re a golem,” confirms Treen.
“He’s a golem,” adds Genni, trying to be helpful.
“What is a golem, exactly?” I ask.
“Genius-operated Living Enchanted Manifestation,” Treen reels off the words.
“I do not feel like a genius.” Subconsciously I reach up to pinch the bridge of my nose, only to be startled by a mechanical arm looming in front of me. The rooms sways as I stagger backwards, a simple reflexive action, and then before I can think to stop, the world tilts, there is a crash and I am left staring up at the ceiling.
Two heads appear, Genni looking concerned and Treen with a thoughtful frown.
“You have to get me out of this… thing.”
“That will not be so easy,” answers Treen, still frowning and… Has he just clambered onto my chest? “You see there is a small problem – where would we put you?”
“What do you mean where? Wait, what are you doing?” He disappears from sight, crawling down my chest, although I cannot actually feel anything. I try to look up.
“Hey!” Treen exclaims as the room swings up in front of me, just in time for me to see him tumble to the floor. “Steady on.” Treen dusts himself down. “I’m equally baffled as to how the suit is maintaining current power levels,” he murmurs whilst looking closely at my chest. “But, the where? Yes, back to the where. That is indeed yet another interesting puzzle. Where would we put you, assuming that we could get you out of the suit. For a start, we don’t exactly know where you are, and even if we did, where is your body…”
Treen’s voice fades to a meaningless babble. My body? Before me I can see a pair of legs. They are not my legs. The same mechanical arm crosses in front of me and curious fingers stretch out to touch one of the legs. Just the gentle clang of metal on metal reaches my ears, but I cannot feel anything. I am moving. I know that I am moving. The hand taps along the leg – clang, clang, clang. My body? This, it would seem, is my body: a metal shell containing asura ingenuity… and me. I have two choices.
“…conscious transference, being entirely the opposite outcome to a pilot losing his mind to a suit. Events such as these, as you quite rightly point out Genni-” Treen halts mid-sentence as I slam my newly acquired fist into the floor – not too hard, but enough to make a point to myself as well as my companions.
Focusing on the legs, one knee joint flexes, rising steadily as the leg bends until I have it drawn up close. I repeat the same action with the other leg. I have to close my eyes, and thankfully everything goes dark as I imagine stretching arms out to either side, palms flat on the ground and then…
Genni cheers and when I open my eyes I can see that once more I am standing.
“Remarkable,” adds Treen.
Genni skips in front of me and looks up, beaming. “Well done, Mr Bear!” She pats my front; well, I watch as she does it, but I cannot feel anything.
“Bear?” questions Treen.
“Yep,” says Genni. “It’s the Spirit, right Asbjorn?”
“Yes.” It seems she is still good at reading people.
Treen walks a circle around me. “One thing that I find odd: how did you manage to get from my lab to Genni’s quarters if you were actually unable to operate the suit?”
I swivel, tracking his movement and even though physically I do not appear to be as agile, I still maintain an awareness of the asura’s position. “Ignorance,” I reply, still thinking about Genni’s observation.
“Remarkable – completely infused within the suit-“
“No,” I interrupt. “I am Asbjorn Bre, norn hunter from the Far Shiverpeaks – blessed by the Mother Bear.”
“Well technically speaking,” continues Treen. “You are-“
“No!” I am pleased by the quality of my voice as it echoes about the room. “I have only one choice.”
Genni rests a hand on Treen’s arm. “Treen,” she cautions.
“I am Asbjorn Bre.”
Treen nods. “I understand. I am sorry, Asbjorn. With everything that has happened… Kaado, Linctuu…” The realisation of what has happened catches up with him then and Treen takes a deep, steadying breath. “I’ve lost everything – I know, I know. I suppose it pales in comparison to what you are going through.” I offer a sympathetic shrug, hoping that my golem-body reflects the gesture. “But what now? We need to understand what has happened – if there is any hope of recovering-“
“I am going home.”
“What?” Treen seems to forget the pain of his loss in an instant. “Home? But- We need to know-” He points at me, “We need to understand what has happened to you. You can’t go back now.”
“And what would we do exactly, Treen? Do you plan to open me up? What are you expecting to find?”
“I- I don’t know,” he hangs his head. “The device!”
“The device has gone.” I turn to Genni who nods in confirmation.
“Chances are it was recovered during the raid, and even if it wasn’t, I doubt my former Master would have left it somewhere to be easily found.”
Cursing myself, I find my respect for the asura warrior increasing – I had forgotten about her own loss. “We could search the lab…” A new thought hits me. “What about Garrom?”
Genni shakes her head. “He knows nothing about the device. Besides, whatever it is that you brought with you to Rata Sum was just a single part. It may mean nothing.”
Treen holds his hand up. “Who is Garrom?” Genni looks to me to answer.
“It is a long story. Albeit a small one,” I chuckle to myself. When I see that they do not understand the reference, I add, “Never mind, it is a norn thing. Okay, Garrom is of no use to us.”
“You say the device you had in your possession was just a part? Then where is the rest?” asks Treen.
“I never said-“
“Most of it had been badly destroyed,” Genni jumps in to explain. “When we recovered Asbjorn… erm, both of you from the accident at the gate, the device was found clutched in your.. his… anyway – the device was recovered, but it was already badly damaged. We think that it may just be a part of something else.”
“And where did the device come from?” Treen turns his attention on me.
“Home – I found it in the forest where I live.”
“What, just lying there?”
“Well no, not exactly. I mean there was this… portal?”
“Portal?” exclaims Treen.
“Yes,” I reply cautiously. A worry has settled down at the back of my mind. I cannot quite get hold of it.
“You witnessed the manifestation of a portal in the forest near your home?” Treen confirms.
“Yes. A big glowing – explosion.”
“Like Scarlet’s minions?” ventures Genni.
“What?” I have never encountered Scarlet’s minions before, so how would I know.
Treen nods. “Genni has a point.”
“I have no idea if they are Scarlet’s minions, and besides, one of them is dead.” One – just one is dead. The little worry steps to the fore of my mind. “Helena!” The two asura trade confused looks. “One of them is still alive, at least as far as I know. She’s with Helena.”
Genni’s eyes widen, but Treen remains oblivious to my point. “So?”
“If those men came here for whatever reason… I have to get home – now!”
Straightening herself and lifting her little head, fierce green eyes glitter as Genni pats the sword at her side. “I am coming with you, Mr Bear.”
Treen sighs, glancing around the room, perhaps hoping to find an excuse. “And I. I assume that you did not attempt to record any data at the time of this anomaly?” Treen shakes his head. “No, I thought not.”
Genni chuckles and winks at me, although I have no idea what Treen is going on about, and truthfully it matters little; I am going home to see Helena.
Edited by Amy