“He was functional for one day and you already broke him? Well done!” Oilli remarked sarcastically. She was handing tools to Alepe as he worked, not paying attention.
“Thats the wrong wrench Oilli!” Alepe snapped. “And I didn’t break him. He broke himself.”
“Because you were rushing, as usual, to make your success. People won’t take you seriously if you don’t do it right, bookah.” She wasn’t listening to his retorts.
“Thank you, Oilli. You’re here to help me, not scold me. Damn!” Alepe withdrew his hand form the new golem shell, and looked at the Shard. “It’s got a big scratch down the side.”
“Use some glue.” Alepe gave her a dark look.
“Someone’s consciousness is inside this shard of ice, Oilli. I can’t glue someone’s mind together.”
“You don’t know until you try” She grinned and thumbed one of her necklaces.
“You sound like Inquest.” Alepe stopped what he was doing and looked at Oilli. There was a long pause, before the golem powered up. The M35-M3R clicked, whirred, and the elixir was pumped across the Shard. It glowed a light purple, and Serene Wrath flickered into existence.
“Ko?” He scanned the room.
“He is resting, Serene Wrath.” Alepe was tentative, but walked over to him and sat him down. “You scared us all a little.”
“I lost control.” Serene Wrath said in a quiet voice. “I hurt you all.”
“That’s partially my fault. My golem design required the removal of the sedition inhibitor, and when I was developing the casing for your Shard, I’m afraid I decided to not install the limiter. I didn’t know what would happen if I deliberately limited your mind.”
“I should not have pushed so far.” Serene Wrath covered his eyes. A long tear fell down his face.
“On the plus side, your existence answers and poses many questions” Oilli said with a smile. Serene Wrath looked at her, his eyes bloodshot.
“You’ve never been in love, have you?”
“No, but that’s pointless.” She huffed, and stood a little straighter.
Alepe interrupted their brewing argument. “I’ve re-enacted the sedition inhibitor, and limited your use of clones to three. Your golem is programmed to automatically shut down if you harm myself, Koda’s Breath, Korr, Ulfridda or Ounce. I—I hope that’s OK?”
Serene Wrath smiled through his tears. “Thank you.”
“Everyone is meeting in Gixx’s study at the moment. They’ve been talking for hours now.”
“Can I have a moment?” Serene Wrath asked.
“I guess.” Alepe answered. “Oilli can you clean up in here?”
“Hmph!” Oilli scowled. “Do I have to clean up all your messes?”
“Come on, Serene Wrath. I’ll take you somewhere quiet.” Alepe unbuckled the golem from its holding table and it stood. The image of Serene Wrath and his golem followed Alepe across the hall to an empty lab room.
“Gixx’s office is down the hall and to the right, I think.” Alepe said. “When you’re ready.”
“Thank you, little one. Tell Ko I’m sorry.”
“Ok. But, I think he would rather hear it from you.” Alepe left, and closed the door. Serene Wrath stood still, unmoving, and tears fell from his eyes.
Across the hall, Oilli extricated a complicated device from her pack. She pressed a few buttons and a long, high tone rang out into the empty room. It stopped, and a gruff voice answered.
“Undercover agent three-three-five-two-alpha, reporting in. Patch me to Yahk.”
“None of your business.” There was a long pause, and the beeping of buttons.
“Correct. One moment, please.”
There was a hum, and then catchy music started playing. A minute passed, before Yahk’s voice echoed from the device.
“I have confirmed your suspicions. It is possible to house a mind within a crystalline structure. I have not discovered the method. What are my orders?”
“You have done well, agent. The Inquest is pleased with this information. I will send an extraction team to your location for the technology. For the moment, keep watching and report back if they leave.” The machine buzzed again, and fell silent.
Gixx’s Office was down the hall and to the left, but Serene Wrath found the room easily. He pushed the large doors open, and found them all waiting for him inside. Alepe was speaking.
“—a scratch along the anterior edge of his shard. I think we need to get it fixed.”
“My son examined the shard a month ago and determined that there were layers of mental magic essentially keeping his consciousness locked into the structure of the Glacier Ice.” Ulfridda nodded at Serene Wrath as he entered. Koda’s Breath moved across the room and embraced him.
“If that is the case, a scratch will mean the outer layer is weakened.” Gixx posed.
“Who can fix it?” Korr had kept the broken chandelier and it was slung across his large back. Ounce sat on his shoulder. She was growing fast, her baby colours beginning to fade to the deeper colours of maturity.
“I have a contact in Lions’ Arch who is a member of the Mesmer Collective.” Gixx answered. “If he knows someone powerful enough to do this, we should investigate.”
“I could try.” Serene Wrath stepped forward, but Koda’s Breath put his hand on his chest.
“You are weakened, Wrath. And you have never worked on a Shard from inside. You cannot guarantee it will work. I can’t lose you again.”
Ulfridda leant on her cane. “It’s settled. We travel to Lions’ Arch to meet Gixx’s contact. I’d like to request Alepe to join us. We need someone who can fix the golem if it breaks. For whatever reason.” She looked pointedly at Serene Wrath.
“I am in control” Serene Wrath matched her eye for eye.
“Yes, I believe you are. When you are. But when you’re not, something else takes over, m’dear. Old as I am, I’ve never heard a voice like that.”
“Explain.” Gixx looked quizzical. “What did he say?”
“The voice said it was ‘Darkness’. And that it was purpose beyond the dragons and their consumption. It called me ‘death’” Ulfridda explained.
“Mother called me the dark star. Is it prophecy?” Korr asked.
They all stood quiet for a long moment. Koda’s Breath broke the silence.
“While I was injured, I connected with Koda. He showed me a vision, which was very close to Skode’s prophecy. Five flames burning around a blizzard, and they were all the same size, but they were all different. One was white, another black, another deadly, another strong. The last one was completely still. Together they drove back the blizzard.”
“Prophecy is dangerous and unpredictable.” Gixx waved them away. “I’ve studied it in my past, but more often than not, paying close attention, or even fearing prophecy, will make it come true.”
“Let’s focus on the immediate need.” Ulfridda agreed. She moved towards the door, cane clicking on the polished marble floors. “I’m exhausted, and would like to rest before we leave. Can we use your Asura Gate to get to Lion’s Arch?” She smiled at Gixx.
“I’ll fill in the paperwork.” He shooed them out, Korr having to duck to leave the room. They all moved towards the dormitories, Serene Wrath and Koda’s Breath holidng hands.
“Umm—” Alepe began.
“What is it, little one?” Ulfridda asked.
“Serene Wrath. I haven’t finished the tweaks to your capacitors. We have a few more hours left in the lab.” He ran his hand across his hair, and looked hopeful at Serene Wrath.
“Let’s go.” Koda’s Breath answered.
Serene Wrath found the process of adjusting his capacitors uncomfortable, and painful at times. Koda’s Breath held his hand the entire process, even when a clone shattered and caused him to bleed. Ulfridda and Korr made their way to the dormitory, Korr taking the opportunity to teach Ounce a new trick.
Before she slept, Ulfridda reached into her pack, and felt the faint hum of the bloodstone shards. She smiled, and silently thanked her daughter.