Chapter 37 – Furthered Unknown: Revelation

1.5 Hours Later

“You really do suck in a CENT field.”

“You too?” Davídrius passed Kevérin an annoyed glance. “As if you did any better.”

“Maybe not,” Kevérin replied as the two Chaotics slowly walked down the vacant hallways, “but I was still able to floor you twice.”

I floored you twice.”

“You use weapons regularly, I don’t. Clearly, then, the fact that I matched you in a fight with weapons means that I’m comparatively better.”

“…Yeah huh. You keep believin’ that.”

“I will,” Kevérin responded flippantly. “…Man, you should’ve told me that you guys were going to be doing CENT field training. I would’ve joined you sooner.”

“Don’t complain to me, it was Rebehka’s brilliant idea,” Davídrius countered flatly. “She also cut the trainin’ off at one hour instead of two, so you’re lucky I was still around for those last couple matches.”

“I guess.”

“What’re you still doin’ ‘round here, anyway? It’s almost eight.”

“More data processing, and talking with the AI and the Archoné.” Kevérin sighed. “This was just a break, too; I’ve got a couple more things to take care of before I can leave for the night… actually, I should go do those right now. See you later.”

“See ya.” Davídrius waved casually as the Transfer Captain took a left at the next hallway intersection. The Velocitechnic continued on his leisurely way, enjoying the evening silence and inactivity of the base until he finally set foot inside of the Hero Machina office.

“Oh… Davídrius.”

“Yo.” He nodded toward Kaoné, who was sitting at her desk. He casually approached his own desk, beginning to pack up for the day as he asked the Materiatechnic, “what’re you still doin’ here?”

“Nothing much, really…” she replied, “…what about you?”

“CENT field trainin’ with Rebehka. Keh, you should’ve been there.”

“What? Ah, I don’t know, I’m not really much of a fighter…”

“Exactly. If you were there, at least I would’ve been able to beat someone.”

Kaoné gave the Velocitechnic a disapproving glance. “Davídrius…”

“Oi, oi, it was a joke.” He shook his head incredulously. “You seem so uptight all the time. Why is that?”

“I’m not uptight,” she countered indignantly, “…not all the time. …Only sometimes.”

“Yeah? And when’d that be?” Davídrius snorted when the Materiatechnic glanced away uneasily. “What, when you’re around me? Am I really that scary?”

“…No comment.”

“This is about all the yellin’ at you I’ve done about your pacifism, ain’t it.”

“…Partially…”

“…Well, I seem to be on an apology roll as of late, might as well keep it up.” Davídrius pulled his chair around his desk so that he could face Kaoné better and then dropped into it haphazardly. “I’m not gonna apologize straight-up, though. See, in case you hadn’t noticed already, I fundamentally disagree with you on this. So I wanna see why you think what you do, and then maybe I can try to understand. Sound fair?”

Kaoné frowned. “You can’t accept that I just don’t want to hurt people?”

“You’re a Lieutenant in the military. You saw the Bleeder attack on my compound back in Treséd. You clearly know there’s evil in the world, and you have the power to stop it. So no, I can’t.”

“…Of course you can’t…” She sighed, and then eyed Davídrius uneasily. “I’m not sure I’m comfortable sharing my story with you, though…”

“Keh. Well, the knowledge that you have one is good enough for now, I guess.”

“Well, what about you? Why are you perfectly fine with killing?”

“Because it makes sense,” Davídrius stated bluntly. “…Not all killin’, mind you. I’d be perfectly fine, livin’ in a world where no one killed or hurt each other. But, that’s the thing — we do live in a world where people hurt an’ kill each other. And not just for survival — many people do it for fun. The entire existence of the Bleeders is founded on the idea that rapin’ and pillagin’ is fun. Do you realize that? The Bleeders will destroy homes, rape children, kill parents, because it’s ‘fun.’ Sure, it sounds cliché, but do you know why it’s cliché? Because too many people actually like to do those things. The Bleeders are far from the only group of their kind throughout the galaxy, I’m sure. So what d’ya do with those kinds of people? Just lock them away? Bullshit. Let them feel the pain that they inflict, and then wipe them from the face of the planet so they can never do it again!”

“You’d punish killing by killing? Aren’t you just perpetuating a cycle, then?”

“Don’t you dare compare what I’ve done to those bastards,” Davídrius hissed. “There is a difference between takin’ someone out ruthlessly and justly, and killin’ someone painfully and slowly. Here’s a hint: one’s removin’ a threat, the other is bein a threat.”

“You don’t think it’s possible to convince them that they’re wrong, that it could be possible to bring them around?”

“…The redemption argument? Really? Okay, I can admit that the way some people act is a product of their shitty upbringin’ and if we could fix the societal structure then maybe we’d fix all that blah blah blah. But here’s the thing — by the time you’re fifteen, by the time you’re twenty? You’re too entrenched in your own opinions and ideals at that point to budge. I won’t budge, they won’t budge, ain’t nobody gonna budge. Talkin’ is a waste of time. It’s never actually done anythin’, it’s just there so people can try it and then feel good about themselves because at least they tried to give the other guy a chance, but noooo, he just wouldn’t listen. Well the time spent talkin’ is time that genuine threats have to commit more crime, so I don’t waste time talkin’. I’m a firm subscriber to the ‘shoot first, ask questions later’ doctrine, ‘cept sometimes I just truncate it to ‘shoot first.’”

“What gives you the right to judge, then?”

“It’s not that I got the right to judge, it’s that they’ve lost the right to a trial.”

“What?!” Kaoné stared at Davídrius incredulously. “Do you know how self-righteous you sound? You sound almost exactly like Mirdlay Lexin!”

“First you compare me to the Bleeders, then you compare me to the Riaxen?! Do you understand how ridiculous you’re bein’?!”

“I’d ask the same of you! Nothing gives you the right to take another person’s life. Nothing!”

“I’m not talkin’ about rights, here! You haven’t properly thought about this at all, have you? Strictly speaking, even from a pragmatic standpoint, I’m right! If you’re a farmer and your crops have pests, you kill the pests. If you’re a rancher and some predator is eatin’ your cattle, you kill the predator! If you’re the government and there’s a serial killer on the loose, you kill the serial killer! It’s simple threat elimination!”

“You’re ignoring the fact that all of those situations can be remedied without resorting to killing!”

“Alright, then how about the fact that killin’ is a part of nature then, huh?”

“That’s completely different and you know it! Animals kill because they have to — because that’s how they get food.”

“They kill if they feel threatened, too!”

“They also have no other way to respond, except to kill or flee! But as people, we’re far more sophisticated — we can do more! We can talk! Negotiate! Rehabilitate! Things never have to end with killing!”

“…’Never’, you say…” Davídrius smirked bitterly. “Alright then, answer me this. Suppose you stumble upon a murder in progress, and the only way to stop the murderer without hurtin’ the victim is to kill him. Would you do it?”

“That’s not—!”

Answer the question: if you could prevent one death by causin’ another, would you do it?”

“I don’t—”

“If you could prevent five deaths by causin’ one, would you do it?”

“I…”

“If you could prevent the killin’ of an entire family, would you do it?

“…”

“…You know… of all the things I’ve ever heard… insults ‘bout my temperament, Tresédian slurs, Bleeder taunts, Bleeder threats — of all that, the most disturbin’ thing I’ve ever heard… is your silence, right now.” The Velocitechnic stood up and rammed his chair back under his desk before grabbing his bag and making for the exit of the room, where he stopped momentarily. “…Get over yourself, or get the fuck out of Hero Machina. I don’t want someone like you watchin’ my back.”

Kaoné was only able to look on in stunned silence as he stormed out of the room, slamming the door behind him.


Ssssss-chk.

Siyuakén exhaled deeply as she turned off the shower head and stepped out of the small cell-like space. She stretched briefly before grabbing a nearby towel and beginning to dry herself off, while glancing back at the shower and sighing. I wish someone would come up with a proper water shield already. Having to dry off manually is so annoying She shook her head wearily as she stepped over to the bathroom mirror, the towel draped over her head. Lookin’ good, Siyuakén. …Except… she carefully flipped the left side of the towel over her shoulder, exposing her left arm and chest—

—and the metallic rashes running down both.

She sighed again before pursing her lips and tossing the towel aside. Holding her left arm up, she clenched her fists and took a deep breath before running a massive current through her entire body. She shuddered in pain, and then looked back to the mirror; the rashes had receded slightly, but not by much.

It’s been getting less responsive to shock… she observed with a frown, and it’s spreading even farther… another couple weeks and it’ll be down to my fingers. I don’t know how I’ll hide it then…

“Siyuakén?!”

“Ah!!” The Electrotechnic jumped back, startled. She reflexively covered her breasts and crotch with her arm and hand before glancing to the bathroom entrance. “R-Rebehka? What’re you—?!”

“I knew it…” The Cryotechnic ignored her friend’s startled mumbling as she quickly moved over to her, where she inspected the rashes covering her left side. “…Siyuakén, is this…?”

The Electrotechnic let out a deep sigh and hung her head forlornly. “Yeah… it’s the metallic infection.”

“This… this is…” Rebehka snapped her attention to Siyuakén’s face. “When did this happen? Why didn’t you tell me?!”

“…It was before you joined Hero Machina,” Siyuakén explained, “back during the Sunova mission, one of the metallic bugs scratched me. It was an open wound… it had to have been then. That was the most direct contact with the infection I’ve ever had.”

“That— …you’ve been infected since then? It’s been two months!”

“I’ve been able to slow it down a lot with shocks. But it’s been getting less responsive lately… it’s spreading further…”

“This… why didn’t you tell me?!”

“There’s nothing you could have done! I just didn’t want you to worry. I thought — you know, I had been doing a good job for a month or two keeping it in check on my own, you know, by shocking it. I thought it wouldn’t be a problem. So I didn’t tell you, because I didn’t want you to worry about something you couldn’t change or help.”

“You didn’t tell me that you had contracted the metallic infection because you thought I couldn’t help?!”

“Look, I know it’s stupid, okay? But that’s why. I was scared, yeah, but I didn’t want you to be scared too. I didn’t want to hurt you…”

Rebehka drew back and closed her eyes as she took a moment to gather her thoughts. “…I’m glad you thought that. Really, I am. But we’re best friends, Siyuakén! You can tell me these things. That’s the whole point of being friends, right? That we can shoulder together what one of us can’t?”

“Well, I mean… up ‘til now, I could handle it on my own, sort of…”

“Siyuakén…”

“…Sorry.” Siyuakén bowed her head apologetically. “…I’m sorry for keeping this from you.”

“As you should be,” the Cryotechnic replied as she moved to embrace her friend, who reflexively backed away.

Siyuakén stared at Rebehka, wide-eyed with panic and confusion. “Don’t touch me! What if you get infected, too?!”

“Then we’ll be in it together,” Rebehka declared. “And even now, we are. We’ll find a way to stop the infection, Siyuakén, I promise. We’re already close to investigating the origin of the Chaos Quake! Who knows, maybe there will be some answers there.”

“You can’t… you can’t guarantee that.”

“Well, no, but then no one can guarantee anything. …Really, Siyuakén, we can do this. You’ve already lasted two months — that’s far longer than any other case we’ve seen! That’s hopeful, isn’t it? You can beat this!”

“…And if I don’t?”

“Then I’ll just carve out your brain and store it until we have the technology to create another body for you, free from the infection.” Rebehka smirked. “I won’t let you die. I also won’t let you lose to the infection. You have my word.”

“Heh…” Siyuakén finally smiled back. “…Thanks. That means a lot. I think…”

“Now if only you’d told me sooner.” Rebehka slapped her friend lightly upside the head. “Maybe we could’ve gotten the rest of the group into gear and found something already.”

“You talk as though we could’ve actually convinced Davídrius or Christeané or Kevérin to get their act together.” Siyuakén rolled her eyes.

“…Heh, yeah, you’re right,” Rebehka replied amusedly. She then returned to a more concerned expression. “…How… if you don’t mind me asking, um, how does it feel…?”

“Actually, I don’t really feel anything…” Siyuakén glanced down at her left arm as she flexed it and clenched her fist. “It isn’t painful, and it doesn’t feel weird. Well, I get these weird uncomfortable sensations when I’m near other sources of the infection, but… I don’t know, it’s mostly… I’m mostly scared, because I know what the end-stage of the infection looks like, how… I… I don’t want to lose myself…”

Rebehka moved to hug Siyuakén, and this time the latter complied. “Don’t worry,” the Cryotechnic reassured, “I’m here for you. I’ll help in any way I can, even if it just means I’m someone you can vent to. Okay?”

“Yeah, okay…” Siyuakén nodded. “…Thanks again. …Wait, earlier, when you burst in — you said you ‘knew?’ How?”

“I knew something was wrong, yeah,” Rebehka replied as the two drew back again, “the fact that you repeatedly predicted the presence of the infected creatures was telling on its own, but I knew something was up for sure when Christeané landed that hit on you earlier. I know you. You’d never wear body armor to a simple practice session, let alone doing so and allowing someone like Christeané to have the satisfaction of knowing as much. You were also moving too smoothly to have any kind of armor on… come on, Siyuakén, what kind of a fool do you take me for?”

“The kind who makes friends with me,” the Electrotechnic responded cheekily.

“Well…” Rebehka smirked. “I can’t deny that.”

“Ha. …But really, Rebehka… thanks for being there for me. I’m really glad we’re friends.”

“Me too!” Rebehka smiled warmly. “…But being friends only allows for so much. Put some clothes on already, I don’t want to see… that, you exhibitionist.”

“Ha,” Siyuakén scoffed playfully. “You’re the one who barged in here without knocking, pervert.”

“I was just concerned for your well-being. You’d never have told me about the infection if I hadn’t took it upon myself to check on you.”

“Mm hmm. The same way you had to ‘check’ what I was doing back in year two of conscription training?”

“That was—! That was a misunderstanding, I swear. I didn’t realize… you were being really ambiguous back then. You were doing it on purpose, weren’t you?”

“And if I was?”

The two women stood there, staring each other down, until they both finally broke into laughter.

“See? If you can tell me that, then you can tell me about anything. I won’t judge.”

“You keep saying that. I’m only going to tell you ‘thanks’ so many times,” Siyuakén retorted with a smirk.

“Sure thing.” Rebehka rolled her eyes as she stepped out of the bathroom. “…But seriously. Put some clothes on.”


5 Days Later

“Come in.”

Kevérin stepped into Commander Nikéyin’s office and offered a quick salute before taking a seat in front of her desk.

“Here to report on further findings related to the Quake and the infection?” Nikéyin questioned.

The Transfer Captain nodded. “Yes. I have the results from the Ayas Sensor, as well. Did you tell them to report to me?”

“I did. You are the one heading off the investigation, Transfer Captain.”

“Ah… well, thank you, ma’am. As for the actual news, well, uh… really, the sensor results are the only new thing. And I think they corroborate my suspicions, too — there’s an Ayas in the Rossindon system.”

“The Black Suns outpost you wanted to investigate…” Nikéyin nodded slowly. “Based on… what?”

“Based on data pulled from the Black Suns outpost on Teghica, Rossindon is the hypocenter of the Chaos Energy Quake,” Kevérin explained, “I think that’s significant. The fact alone that the Quake was radial is novel information, so you could say it’s best we check it out before others figure it out as well. We might find something related to the Quake… or we might not.” He shrugged. “At least we know there’s an Ayas there, now. We can see about snatching it from under the Black Suns’ noses.”

“Assuming they don’t already possess it,” Nikéyin countered, and then leaned forward to rest her elbows on her desk. “Though that won’t actually be an issue. If the Ayas is under Black Suns possession on Rossindon, then Sector 1 can seize it — and they’re by far more amiable than Sector 2.”

“Sector 1 can trump Sector 2, yeah, I know… but what does that have to do with Rossindon?”

“They seem to have taken pity on us.” Nikéyin smirked, though Kevérin couldn’t tell if it was out of pleasure or spite. “I just got word that Master General Greant has superseded Master General Regek’s block on our visit to Rossindon. You’ll be visiting with a team of Black Suns Sector 1 soldiers, backed by the authority of Master General Greant of Sector 1.”

“That’s… wow,” Kevérin replied, bewildered. “…The General bothered with us? Really?”

“I’m just as surprised as you,” the Commander commented, “and Greant likely isn’t just doing this out of the goodness of his heart. But we won’t let this chance go to waste. Hero Machina will head out tomorrow morning, Transfer Captain. Dismissed!”

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