Loss Of Innocence
Child Of Light, Mother Of Darkness.
A single crimson light enveloped the dark pit, signifying the birth of a being filled with malice. The metallic form twitched and shuttered as its voice began to whisper inaudible phrases. Salem’s machine was learning to talk, as it stared at its creator with a curious eye. Like her, it seemed entirely confused. But even Salem could witness its wisdom gradually increase as it began to adapt and learn.
The mother started with great interest, ready to witness her great creation. She even began to beg in a desperate attempt to feel its presence. Eventually one single grating word escaped the machine as its voice took form.
Its head tilted with curiosity, eager to discover approval. Salem answered with tears as her vulnerability became apparent. She had spent far too much time alone and had grown quite feeble when it came to communication. In some ways she was even more childish than the machine that lay before her.
“Yes, Yes I am.” She sniffled, losing her composure.
The machine’s voice was deep, raspy, and dull. It displayed no emotion yet beckoned like a child. It’s tone was akin to a broken radio, with static enveloping each word as it tried its best to speak. The adept nature of its own mind quickly surmised many crucial facts, and how to explain them. Its creator was badly damaged and near death. Whatever she did to bestow life had clearly taken its toll on her.
“Are you well?” Anger asked in an assertive tone.
“I never was.” Salem chuckled, as she began to relax.
Sensing its mother was near death, Anger cradled the fallen girl without a moment of hesitation. It knew why it was made, and why its objective was of the utmost importance. Salem herself was not even aware of her critical condition as she continued to smile.
Yet another swarm of tears began to pour from the witch’s eyes as she fully realized the magnitude of grace. For the first time in her life, help was offered unconditionally. Care, compassion, and love had been given in that accursed pit.
The machine paused, before patting its mother on the head in an attempt to soothe her. Salem’s sobbing then turned into laughter and joy, fueled by her sense of appreciation. After years of being forced into every kind of pain, she had finally begun to understand.
“My beautiful, beautiful child oh how I love you.” She smiled while holding its face.
Anger stared curiously at Salem’s trembling hand. Although born only moments ago, the machine had already witnessed some of life's most grueling truths. The sight of its mother quivering pitifully.
“You must leave this place. Your health is poor,” Anger explained as he pointed to Salem’s legs. “You are like me?”
Salem’s rather gruesome replacements were black and coarse. What beauty could be remarked about her white skin was now gone from the knees down. Her graceful step had been reduced to a painful limp, a loss of vanity she would not tolerate. She even began to curse her child’s lack of pettiness when it came to appearance. But to the machine, her replacement was enough.
“I am. I quite like it really, it suits me now.” Salem whispered as her voice began to fade.
Placing its mother on a soft pile of cords, Anger began to form a plan. His intelligence now far surpassed its mother’s as it easily pieced together it’s predicament. Somehow the child knew exactly why it was there, and what action to take.
“I shall ensure they do not harm you again.” Anger nodded as it began to easily scale the well.
“Anger!” Salem gasped, too weak to pursue.
The girl watched on in complete awe. She had never mentioned the villagers nor her fate at their hands, yet her child seemed to know. Salem began to question just how close she had bounded with the machine. Yet even after its immense display of indepence, she did not regret a thing. She knew he would return when nothing else would.
Anger traveled not with the feeble silence of its maker, but with an unnerving amount of chalice and distaste. The first man to approach the machine looked on in horror as the hulking mass swiftly approached. Anger placed its hand upon the creature’s neck, and with a single delicate squeeze split the flesh in two. It was indeed a display of strength-but knowing its mother would certainly not appreciate any possible survivors, Anger dropped the charade and sprung into action.
The next few moments were that of slaughter and vengeance. For no soul residing in the snowy plain would ever survive the mother’s wrath. Her child was without equal, and tore his way through every human he encountered, showing neither fear or remorse. This carnage would no doubt impact the machine, for like its creator, it had been flung into a horrid life not of its choosing.
By the time Salem was rescued from her prison, the work had already been done. She felt almost offended upon witnessing the destruction that lay before her. But she knew better than to judge her child. From its perspective, it had merely completed that which it believed to be its mother’s objective. Whether or not she truly wished for such violence was a perilous question indeed. Salem would have no doubt inquired if not for the wave of regret that swept upon her.
“You didn’t have to do that Anger.” Salem frowned as her conscience began to throttle her mind.
“If they were friends, I would not exist.”
Salem continued to pout in defeat as she nearly stumbled over the shattered village. The destruction that her child had wrought was most impressive by all accounts. Each and every possible threat was extinguished, save the women and the children who Anger believed to be harmless. Yet again the machine seemed to know all that its mother desired, as it even went as far as to ensure the child she had encountered earlier was unharmed.
“Tell me mother, what is it you intend to do?” Anger spoke as he directed Salem towards a warm fire. “I cannot unravel the mystery of your presence here.”
“I...no longer need this place,” Salem sighed as she began to accept her new life. “The one thing more alluring than death was answers. I never did find out what I was, all my life I hadn’t a clue. And what do you desire?”
“Much the same, to better understand you. Only then can I protect you.” Anger replied as he then directed Salem towards the next point of interest
Salem was not at all content with that answer, nor did she appreciate her child’s direct way of addressing her. She had always hated people who believed themselves to be smarter than most. And as of now, the machine seemed to have an answer for everything. She felt like a complete fool around such cold wisdom. And the only thing she hated more than those with greater intelligence, was the humiliating feeling of uselessness.
Salem continued to grumble for quite some time as she stared at the floor, only to stop dead in her tracks as instinct took control. A swift survey of the area revealed quite the unpleasant sight as even Anger halted abruptly. The pair had found themselves in the center of the village near what could only be described as a shrine of sorts. Usually they would have continued to ignore the human’s pitiful structures, if not for the presence of a very familiar sight. It would seem the humans had crafted their structure from the same alloy that both Salem and Anger now wore. For Salem, this new discovery acted almost as the very beacon that had been calling her for years.
“It looks like you.” Salem gasped as she surveyed the ornate symbol in front of her. The art seemed to honor the presence of this graveyard, either as a warning or blessing. “Perhaps I was not as foolish as I imagined.”
“Indeed,” Anger replied as he confirmed the identical nature of his own limbs compared to the shrine. “Our family is here. You came for a reason.”
Unfortunately the future of their kin was not entirely bright. The tundra was a mass grave of thousands, their limbs piercing the ice with a solemn intensity. Whoever once resided there had been exterminated by what could only be described as a grand event.
As Salem proceeded to investigate, the bodies that appeared before her became more akin to herself. But oddly enough, there lay not a single girl, as each and every corpse appeared to be male. It was a sight to behold as Salem continued to grapple with the truth. So very little of this made sense. Yet the grim image of death retained its presence within her mind.
But just as Salem began to inspect the bodies further, a metallic arm pulled her aside. “We are not alone,” Anger whispered.
Dozens of outlines became clear as their mirrored forms created the slightest of shimmers. A crude yet effective cloaking device, held the invader’s presence unknown until the moment of retribution. This of course was only visible to the keen child who sheltered his mother from the inevitable. It was then that a brilliant flash of light enveloped the witch as she fell to the ground. Anger himself refused to take action, wisely saving their lives in the process. Laying dazed and confused, Salem gazed upon the cruel image before her. Several machines surrounded her weakened form, their bodies identical to that of her son. And despite their menacing apparel, it was clear their surprise equaled that of the subdued.
This would not be the first time Salem had been dragged off by those stronger than her. But perhaps, this time she would keep her dignity. For the sense of humiliation had long haunted her dark past.
“Tell me brother, upon what cruel day do we imprison our own kind and mutilate our very creators.”
“Their will is our command Kalar, do not forget that.”
“And to what extent? We stand amidst their graves and speak of loyalty?”
Deep within the forbidden tundra, Salem’s captors spoke with frivolous passion, seeking to justify their actions. One great machine remained compassionate and reasonable, while his more brash counterpart preferred to clear his mind of rebellious thought. It was a humble and unimaginably important debate. The witch’s continued existence would no doubt depend upon these troubled knights.
They were a squad of nine, each bearing an uncanny resemblance to Anger. This odd fact had become apparent the moment they laid their singular eyes upon the ruined witch. And sadly, they hadn’t the slightest clue on what to do with their resurrected brother.
“Is he a deserter Kalor?” The kind brother asked.
“Never. No Valekry is capable of such dishonor. He has been remade, without a shadow of a doubt.”
“By the gods, few of our creators possess such skill, she is not to be wasted.”
Kalar’s silver armor glistened in the snow as he relayed his commands. Despite receiving lecture after lecture from his brother, he had been given the role of squad leader, and held command over most of the planetary defense. His adamant opinions were clear, but still open for the criticism of others. He had always believed such a thing to be the sign of a well bred leader.
“We shall keep our own, investigate the error within him,” Kalor motioned as the team neared a black sheet of metal lighting the path. “Do not attempt to save her.”
The brother Kalor chose to decorate himself with a bright orange pauldron, the sign of the honor guard. It was the symbol of royalty and command, that which he cherished dearly. Indeed he preferred to obey his creators with little question.
Yet neither of the two were fond of the task at hand. It was an annoyance to be sure, and one that no Valekry would be willing to tolerate. If it weren't for the curiosity surrounding Anger, the team would have lost interest altogether. The two brethren stood side by side as they cradled Salem into the red centerpiece. She would have been amazed by the sight if she were awake, but unfortunately remained incapacitated.
“We deliver her, then retreat. I do not wish to experience what comes next,” The silver machine sighed.
“That makes two of us.”
One after the other, both parties were shot into the sky through a narrow red beam, their destination lying within heaven itself. Once upon their crimson vessel each machine would take upon their roles. The brother’s would safeguard the witch, while the rest would oversee Anger’s interrogation. Neither task would end well.
The ship was a peculiar thing indeed. Its appearance entirely consisted of black steel and gold. Whoever commanded the knights seemed to only care for the art of torture and experimentation, as was illustrated by the rather unusual lack of capacity when it came to the lockup. Truly, there was no other reason to own one steel table, and over a dozen restraints.
Salem awoke with a scream. Her body had been nearly frozen upon a cold table, every inch of it proving uncomfortable. It would seem she had been neatly delivered upon a silver platter of sorts. Whatever monster awaited her would have no trouble dispatching the poor thing.
A high pitched, yet sinister voice called out to the machines. “Judging by the wonderful sounds, you’ve really outdone yourselves this time around.”
The witch snapped her gaze towards the gold stairwell. Her expression was not that of fear, but uncontrollable hatred towards her opponent. Yet the being that emerged would receive no such thing upon first sight. She was a dainty little thing, with bright pink eyes and pale skin. A flowing babydoll with patterned roses twirled about as the girl introduced herself. Believing these lies, Salem assumed her captor was merely the shipmaster’s daughter.
“Hello!” She smiled, her character already splitting in two. “Allow me to introduce myself.”
But oddly enough, she entirely forgot to do just that. Instead she snarled and motioned for her servants to leave. It was no surprise to Salem that the machine’s did so without protest.
“Tell me, what is your name?” She mumbled in a monotone voice.
The witch remained silent. Neither girl was foolish enough to provide any form of identity. This sense of rivalry seemed to alarm the pink eye’d vermin as she interacted with an ornate console. As far as Salem could tell, anything that shone in her new world appeared to be crimson.
“I will make this as simple as can be. Either you tell me what you are. Or I take you apart piece by piece and discover the truth myself.”
Again, Salem remained silent. Only after receiving a grueling shock did she decide to reply. “If I knew...even just a smidge...I would have never have come to this forsaken place.”
Something about the captor’s amazement left the witch unsettled. Whatever she really was, had the vermin confused beyond belief. It would take several moments for the interrogator to proceed.
“A fake,” She stammered. “Just a copy! I don’t understand. Just a machine. A real girl, without a soul. A beating heart with no air to breathe. What are you!” The girl pressed.
“Does it matter? Either you kill me, or sell me off to whoever you fancy will pay the most.”
The vermin reeled back, surprised by the intelligent assumption. Indeed the knight’s disgust had originated from the operation's true nature. Any and all life taken from the tundra would be either harvested, or sold.
“I see. They’ve found a smart one. A rarity I must admit.” The rosy girl chuckled, “Without a doubt, you will sell wonderfully. Words cannot describe your appearance.”
“Jealous?” Salem joked.
“Uncontrollably so,” The vermin growled as she began to claw at Salem’s skin. “Do they deserve you? Or shall I treat myself for a change. I’m sure you're quite seasoned in the art of prostitution, are you not?”
To the captor’s dismay, Salem produced no pleasurable screams. Her tolerance to any sort of pain was unmatched. Yet another trait that would pass on to her vengeful son.
While his mother was being inspected, Anger continued to monitor the machine’s plight. Despite their technological mastery and complete dominance over the situation, they seemed to act defeated. Clearly the connection between servant and maker was strained at best. Instead of eliminating Anger then and there, the many Valekry began to argue amongst each other as to what they should do next.
“Unacceptable! Absolutely unacceptable!” Kalar proclaimed, pointing towards the direction of Salem.
“I beseech you brother, calm yourself.” Kalor groaned.
“That poor girl is being defiled!”
“Focus on the task at hand.”
“Like him?!” Kalar argued as he directed his gaze towards Anger. “He did his best to protect her, and saved her life by surrendering peacefully.”
“You cannot defend a fallen warrior. As is with our tradition, it must be destroyed. Why should we fight without the guarantee of an honorable death? Give it what it truly desires.”
Kalar shook his head in disagreement. He did not see the fairness in judging a life based on the possibilities of the past. As to be expected, Anger seemed entirely unphased as he sat on the floor. He would gladly play helpless if it meant he would have a chance at murdering them all.
“Shall we not ask him who he is?” Kalor snapped.
“I...am no unit,” Anger replied
“And what do you claim to be?”.
“Her son. Where is my mother?”
“Your mother? Can you not remember who you are? Can you not see your own delusions!” The soft hearted commander sighed as he slammed his fist against the wall. “Or have you been simply scavenged from the battlefield as a reformed husk.”
The surrounding knight’s seemed saddened by the plight. It was as if they knew of the son’s inevitable fate, and were regretful. It was quite perplexing for Anger to witness remorse when he had failed to give his enemies a chance.
“I suppose it is a mercy to end him,” Kalar lamented. “This state of existence is far too twisted to entertain.”
“What is a Valekry?” Anger asked with a devious tone. “Are we not all servants to our mothers.”
“If only they were as caring as yours,” Kalar sighed. “I shall do what must be done.”
Anger would have smiled if he could, his malicious intentions becoming far too transparent. “We all must.”
When one has been linked with the power of death, its knowledge of warfare can be unusually adept. This child of malice was swift to exploit his opponents hesitation by snatching their own weapon with frightening speed. He had no experience with the alien armaments, yet still unleashed its power without hesitation. The prestigious sidearm he had attained was shaped like an insect's claw, spewing forth red plasma with unmatched power. The scarlet onslaught caught the knight’s completely off guard and dispatched many. By the time Kalar himself realized his own foolishness, many of his brethren had fallen.
“No different from the rest brother! He is mad!” Kalor roared as he unsheathed a royal blade composed of solid light.
In mere seconds, the brothers found themselves battling the crazed machine with a furious passion. Not a soul began to notice those whose life had been taken as the conflict hurled itself past every corpse. And while the knights fought true with their blades, Anger reverted to a form of crude savagery. There was a clear distinction between honor and desperation. Two slaves battled to save themselves and avenge their comrades, while one child sought only to protect its creator.
Pressed for time, the child of malice willingly absorbed his opponent's blade. And while the brother assumed victory was his, Anger tore his face to shreds. Kalor’s singular red light began to fade as it split in two.
“You,” Kalar paused as he witnessed his partner’s brutal execution. “You are without even a semblance of life!”
“We are Valekry. We fight and maim until it is done. Who are we to live?” Anger snarled as he tossed the husk aside.
Even now, Kalar hoped for his opponent to engage in righteous combat. But in the end the child had no time for games. In an act of sheer wickedness, Anger posed for the honorable melee only to lay waste to his opponent with molten plasma. In his fit of rage Kalar failed to notice this deception, and was struck down by the underhanded trick.
The surviving machine tossed both weapons aside as he hurried towards his mother. He would need no assistance to rip and tear his way to salvation. And not a soul could possibly expect mercy from the determined Valekry.
Having located the source of Salem’s rather loud voice, Anger tore through what was left of the ship’s crew with unyielding might. Before long he found himself before Salem’s captor, his claws drenched with the blood of his kin
“Anger!” Salem groaned as she fought the pain.
“I said leave you buffoon!” The Tella shrieked as she began to panic.
But the child took orders from only one, and wasted no time in knocking the girl aside. She had only moments to scream as she was ripped apart limb by limb.
“My dear dear child,” The witch sobbed as her bonds shattered. “You live!”
Anger pushed aside her affection as he attempted to explain the dire situation. Yet his mother continued the assault, unwilling to allow her child’s bravery to go unnoticed. She remained entirely oblivious to the truth. And despite the machine’s tactical inquiries, she refused to retreat. The witch had lived for ages without a single clue as to what she was. And now that the truth was in sight, it became irresistible.
“They will stop at nothing to protect their creators,” Anger warned as he alluded to the enemy’s return.
“So I’ll die...again. I’ve become quite good at it,” The girl chuckled, hiding her miserable dread.
But no amount of coarse humor would amuse the machine. It seemed quite fixated on his work as he began to fiddle with his immediate surroundings. Salem herself contained a healthy amount of confusion as she watched her child plan its next move. She would scoff and groan all the while desperate for attention. Whether or not she would receive an explanation depended entirely on Anger’s certainty. The cold figure was not keen on assumptions, especially when it was forced to accept his mother’s stupidity.
“Their coming,” Anger remarked.
Everything became clear as her son began to seal the room. And while Salem was no coward, dread consumed her mind as the doors began to scream. The machines were tearing their way in, seeking vengeance and blood. They were fury incarnate, an endless source of wrath yet to be unleashed. But in the end, Anger was far worse.
The pale girl tossed herself into the corner while bracing for the worst. But as the forces of hell spewed forth, her child stood with unflinching resolve. His battle was that of rage and righteous intent. For him, it was a timeless trance. Each enemy was simply another postponement. And as he ripped their limbs from their bodies he thought of nothing but the crimson mother. Salem looked on in amazement as the slaughter unfolded.
For a moment, one might think the mother would disapprove. But if she held even a portion of his strength none would survive. It was clear Salem felt nothing but sheer gratitude. Finally, a mother could be proud of her son. She nearly began to cheer as the last of the resistance fell to the ground in pieces.
Judging the lack of empathy portrayed by either of them, one thing had been made clear. Salem was a horrible mother through and through. What kind of child was this, if not a perfect reflection of herself. Salem would have cried if she were not consumed by gleeful insanity.
“The creators cower in the lower depths,” Anger reported as he slung a black rifle behind his back. “I assume this to be of great interest to you.”
“Of great interest!?” She screamed in a panicked rage. “Those impudent hollows would have defiled me every which way! Mark my words child of mine, their demise will be prolonged.”
But as she stormed off towards what she assumed to be the direction of the enemy, Salem nearly stumbled over Anger’s finished work yet again. The collection of black steel and rose colored alloys held her in a state of awe.
If the girl hadn’t known any better, she would have been convinced their arsenal was nothing more than fossilized art. Their complex design did in fact reflect the machines in many ways. They were just another tool, designed to fling projectiles and slay the enemy. And yet everything about it was unusually pristine. It did not need such a prestigious design. But then again, the Valekry did not need honor to eliminate their foes.
Much of the ship in fact continued to enforce this darker concept. The ruby walls curved and bent, destroying any chance of a rough edge. And the crystalline outlines provided a rather beautiful sight. Whoever had originally designed the Valekry were more than enamored with perfection. In a way it felt familiar to Salem, as if she would have done the same.
“Trust none of it,” She hissed, pretending to be disgusted. “I shall not succumb to their seductive falsehoods.”
The witch remained rather irate as her child cleared a path towards the cowards. She ignored the carnage, beginning to concoct a most vicious scheme. It would be an effective, but still diabolical system composed of only the most violent fantasies.
But what awaited the vile girl was yet another moment of confusion. Before her lay a group of unusually spry women, all bearing her relative appearance. Aside from her crimson gaze, Salem herself was no more than an imprint. This of course infuriated her beyond reason. She took great pride in her unique beauty, and would not stand for the competition, even if her overall figure was vastly superior.
“They call them Tella. Organic creators responsible for my design. It is logical to assume they are your kin,” Anger commented.
“And this saves them? Line them up one by one, I will enjoy each individual’s end. Those in the back should prove the most amusing,” Salem snarled.
“A very inefficient solution. There will be consequences.”
“Oh? I find the tears more than adequate.”
Anger shook his metallic head, knowing his mother lacked the strength to truly mean it. Only he understood her frailty. The path of darkness was a rigorous trial not meant for the frustrated witch.
But as she predicted, the pitiful creatures would beg and plead. Like her captor they desired nothing but their own safety. Not once did they attempt to bargain one life for another. Such an action would require empathy. It would seem all pale women lacked a heart, just like the vile girl before them. Perhaps Salem was not truly evil this time around. As a matter of a fact, she felt a great sense of pride as she began to gloat. From her perspective, she was finally getting back at those who had wronged her. But the time would soon come for the witch to mature. She had been a child long enough.
“Any fool would fall for your schemes,” Salem chuckled as she addressed her victims. “But I understand...your beauty is a lie. It cannot hide your evil. Deep within you covet the abyss. But I...I will be worse.”
Salem took great pleasure from observing the details, going as far as to analyze the bloodied attire. Each and every Tella wore the garments of a queen. But only one would suffice. The witch’s sense of pettiness was unmatched in this regard. She would snicker and clap as a more favorable outfit was “made available”. And once the work was done, she began to exchange her ragged clothing.
Anger stood perplexed as his mother clumsily played about. For any man, the sight of the beautiful creature would have proven to be a seductive challenge. But Valekry held no romantic interests. Their hearts took pride in duty and honor, not the flesh and glory found in women.
“It does not fit you,” Anger chuckled, realizing the humor of it all.
“And what do you know of fashion hm?” The witch scoffed as she finalized her indecent appearance.
“Your body is considerably larger, and does not fit.”
“Are you suggesting-.”
“In some areas.”
“Well then. I shall perceive that as a compliment. She was quite small after all,” Salem grinned as she pointed towards the corpse.
But at that moment, a solution had been found. The pale girl began to smile as she twirled about in the lovely dress. Such frailty would soon become her greatest advantage.
“That's it! They believed me to be one of them, did they not?”
Anger’s head tilted in confusion. But his mother had a point, the Valekry were not at all prepared for such intrusion. Never before had there been a single life form resembling them and their makers.
Salem’s plan was simple indeed. In order to avoid swift annihilation, the two would have to successfully integrate. All that was needed was a proper amount of deception. After-all, the mother would require a fitting home to live her first and only life.
“This vessel is designed to ferry objects of trade to and fro. It will no doubt link with their primary base. When it returns, the Tella will observe their stock.” Anger pondered, “But are they really incompetent enough to fall for this? At best they shall hear us out instead of slaughtering us.”
“Either they’ve never before had to consider such a debacle, or we die. But really we haven’t got a better choice. Besides, who knows what else can happen during this absurd predicament,” Salem laughed “But really, am I a slave or mistress?”
“Whichever they believe. Though we lack the sufficient numbers. According to what I know of the Valekry, each proper group contains two guards and one creator.”
Salem nodded in approval, while formulating her own plan for survival. The idea of yet another child was not exactly a hostile one. Though she was uncertain of what Anger would think on the matter. Even when she made a fool’s display of words, he cared not. Though the machine would live to regret ever allowing another to share his burden.
“I am your son. And you are my mother. I require no further verification.”
This would not be the first moment in which Anger would state his role. He took pride in the simplicity of his existence. And no amount of corruption could bend his will. For if it's mother could not fathom the basic meaning of life, why should it?
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