Chapter 30: A Purple Dream

Cold. That was what Alexander noticed first. As awareness trickled back in to him, he blinked quickly, regaining his vision.

He shivered, wrapped his arms around his body, and took in his surroundings. He was somewhere dark and cramped, with puddles of icy cold water soaking his feet up to his ankles.

Since he was in his pajamas, the cold was even more unpleasant, and his cotton shorts and sleeping-shirt did not manage to retain much heat. To stay warm, he had to keep moving, and so he wandered down through the narrow, tube-like pathway that lay before him.

'Where am I?' Alexander wondered. 'This looks like that stretch of the sewer systems Blue and I once explored back in the city's ruins. But I don't remember it being this chilly back then.'

Sloshing through the slimy water, Alexander explored the sunken placed he'd discovered. The walls – which had a strange, organic look to them – were slick with moisture as well as mold and oil, and were lit by tiny nodes of light recessed into the walls every couple of feet.

The illumination they provided was dim, and the shadows rose up around the last human as twisted effigies and contorted, unnatural shapes. The invoked primal terrors in the young human, and he did his best to try and avoid looking at the walls where the shadows danced.

'The last thing I remember was going to bed,' Alex mused to himself, even as his teeth chattered. 'In that case, I must be dreaming again.'

For years, he'd had odd dreams – visions was perhaps a more accurate term, as everything he saw ended up being real – though he'd not had any for several months. The faint hope he'd outgrown them was dashed, and Alexander wondered where he was dreaming of this evening.

'Last time, we were at the edge of a giant, city-sized crater,' Alexander recalled. 'It was cold outside, too, the wind being the worst of it. And all that salt everywhere!'

He had no idea where his dream-visions were taking place, but they always included a strange Machine Lifeform. Why he was connected to her – and it was a her, since it called itself by female pronouns and descriptors – was another mystery.

'Where are you, Purple?' he wondered, as he knew the odd Machine's name. She shouted it every chance she got, proclaiming her greatness in the process. Megalomania was not an uncommon defect in Machines that'd separated from the Network, but this one had it worse than many.

She was also fun to chat with. Purple Athena was nothing like Blue, even if they had colorful names and similar types of Machine bodies. Purple, as Alexander liked to call her, had a sharp wit and possessed a surprising amount of historical and mythological data. Discussing ancient human history and legends had been a highlight during the infrequent visions he had of her.

While initially unsure of if he should even be talking with her, given how worried his family - especially Uncle Emil - tended to be whenever he mentioned he'd been having visions, Alex had gone on ahead with it.

'Sure, she's a bit weird, and she gets into fights with other Machines a lot, and calls herself a goddess, but Purple isn't a bad person,' Alexander mused to himself.

Clanking noises drew his attention when he came to an intersection, and Alexander, after some thought, went left, towards the source of the sounds.

'A commotion like that means Purple is likely nearby,' Alexander thought with a chuckle.

Every time he encountered her, the strange Machine Lifeform was doing something loud and bombastic. Last time, she'd been ordering a legion of crumbling, rusted Machines to dig something out of a vast crater. He hadn't had much chance to talk with her then, as he'd been there for only a couple minutes before the astral projection faded, and he woke up.

Alex had no doubts that Purple would be doing something odd. And so, he trekked onwards down the tunnel, a part of him eager to see what was going on with the odd entity he constantly dreamed of.

What he stumbled upon at the end of the passageway caused the Last Human to stop and stare in disbelief, as before him dozens of Machine Lifeforms had gathered in a wide, circular room with several disc-like platforms hovering in the air, all arrayed like a spiral staircase. In the middle of the room lay a giant pile of shattered bodies – Android and Machine alike.

Disturbingly, the intact Machines all had pieces of broken Android bodies attached to themselves, along with the black and red paint associated with the Elite-class Machine units. However, they also had a purple sigil of an eye crudely plastered onto their bodies somewhere.

They were chanting, and performing some sort of dance, which led them to hop up onto the floating discs and ascend to the top. Once a Machine reached the very last platform it took a swan dive off the edge, landing with a sickening crunch of metal into the pile of wreckage already assembled.

If it survived its fall, it would use a weapon - typically a sword or spear - to impale itself, destroying its core and letting the glowing slime that filled the heart of the Machines to dribble down the mountain of corpses.

A vast amount of core fluid was already staining the unholy altar, forming a glowing, greenish white lake of the stuff at the base of the hill of ruined Machines. And it pulsed and flickered in a horrible rhythm in tune to the chanting.

"You're just in time."

Alexander jumped, terrified, and spun around to face the entity that had snuck up on him.

"Purple! You almost gave me a heart attack!" he protested.

"My name is Purple Athena," the Machine declared pompously. It was a Medium Biped Machine, like Blue was. Only difference was the glowing purple eyes (Blue's eyes were blue, fittingly) and that Purple Athena was painted head to toe in purple paint.

It wasn't all uniform, as different shades and hues had been added to touch up the paint job when old patches flaked off. She looked like a tie-dyed purple rainbow up close. And to tie it all off, she had golden eye symbols made out of actual gold fused to her body like a parody of the rings and piercings ancient tribal humans had worn.

"I wondered if you would reappear for this event," Purple Athena mused, striding into the room. Walking beside the Machine Lifeform was the ex-YoRHa agent Alex knew was 13R, based on what his uncle Nines had told him. The rogue android gave the decorated Machine Lifeform a perplexed look, ignoring the scene of horror she'd walked in on.

"Who are you talking to?" the android inquired, looking around. Her gaze fell on Alex at one point, but it slid off as quickly as it came.

"She still can't see me," Alexander sighed, shaking his head. He wasn't sure how he felt about that. On the one hand, it was kinda weird being able to see someone but being invisible to their own senses. Made him feel like he was peeping. On the other hand, Alexander was a bit concerned with the android. He'd heard her mutter some very worryingly things about Uncle Nines and Aunt 2B. Things that made him want to take a shower after waking up from the vision.

"That is because you and I share a connection," Purple Athena declared grandly. 13R shot her 'boss' an odd look, but eventually shrugged and wandered over to watch the 'ceremony' from the sidelines.

The Machines under her control were finishing up with their ritual, only a couple left who hadn't made the jump.

As Alexander followed behind Purple Athena, he got closer, and was finally able to make out what the Machines were chanting.

"Become as Gods!" they intoned madly. "Prepare for Ascension! Become as Gods! Prepare for Ascension!"

Alexander watched, confused and more than a little bit disgusted, as the Machine Lifeforms committed a twisted version of mass suicide.

"What is this?" he demanded, unable to tear his eyes away from the grim scene.

"Every time we meet, we do so when I am about to achieve success," Purple Athena commented, ignoring the human's query.

"You were there when I fought the False Emperor in the Forbidden City. You have seen me arrive in Shanghai, and traverse the ice bridge across the Yellow Sea to Japan. You have watched me arrive on the shores of the ancient island, and observed me scour the land for the Mothership. Now, you witness my greatest triumph. Today, I become a god!"

"You what?" Alexander uttered in disbelief, glancing over at the demented Machine. "And wait… Mothership… are we inside an alien's spaceship?!"

"Indeed. We finally found it, buried beneath the crater that was once Central Tokyo," Purple Athena cackled. "The systems were hard to crack, but I gained access, and found some interesting data."

"Did you know that this place was the central datahub before the Red Twins built their Tower?" Purple Athena inquired, to which Alexander could only shake his head.

"Well, it was. And here I discovered some interesting data, backed up in the hidden files of the Red Twins. Data on how to create Evolved Hybrids."

"Evolved Hybrids… Like the pseudo-androids Adam and Eve that Mom, Aunt 2B and Uncle Nines fought?" Alexander guessed, and the purple Machine nodded eagerly.

"This is the first step towards Godhood," Purple Athena declared. "To obtain my Divine Right, I must first have a worthy body and form."

She looked down at her Machine body, tone filled with disgust. "This clanking, awkward shell is inefficient. Weak and slow. Only a superior form, like that of yourself, will do."

"You're going to try and become human like Adam and Eve did!" Alexander gasped.

"Indeed," Purple Athena nodded. She then began to float, magical energy coursing through her metal frame. Sparks began to pop and sizzle, the paintjob peeling away in puff of smoke while the gold melted off. Cracks appeared in her metal casing, and she cackled madly.

"See? My magic, which no other Machine has ever acquired, is too much for the cheap, disposable bodies of my kind. So, I must evolve. I must become as a god!"

She floated to the top of the ceiling, and looked down. The rogue AI born from Emil and the Red Twins raised a hand and created a miniature, glowing star of raw energy before her. No bigger than a baseball, it dropped like a stone, and landed upon the twisted wreckage of parts beneath her.

Metal turned molten around the orb of intense heat, and the pile collapsed in on itself. The power contained in the false star spread, infecting the rest of the pile, melting everything until it was a roiling lake of red-hot metal. The liquid that'd seeped out of the ruptured Machine cores ignited, burning a sickly green.

Then, Purple Athena descended, throwing herself into the molten mass. As soon as she was swallowed up, the burning green lake of metal began to twist and writhe, gathering up into a giant, spherical mass.

"A cocoon," Alexander breathed out in awe, recognizing it for what it was.

Bolts of electricity began to burst forth from the surroundings, the alien ship coming to life, only to pour more and more power into the metallic cocoon-egg Purple Athena had wrapped around herself. It continued to burn, but the hue of the flames shifted from green to a rich, royal purple.

There was a groan, and pieces of the alien ship began to crack apart under the torrents of energy swirling around the sphere. A section of the ceiling collapsed, and was swallowed up by the living metal cocoon. 13R staggered backwards and grabbed hold of a ruined terminal, hiding from the 'ascension.' Even Alexander's astral form was buffeted by the torrent of insane magical energy being concentrated in the chamber, making the Last Human feel sick and light-headed.

But as quickly as the storm came, it ended, with only a faint sizzle and tang of ozone lingering in the air.

13R and Alexander both leaned in, watching the 'egg' intently for any sign of Purple Athena. Had she achieved whatever it was she'd desired?

"Crack!" Fracture lines appeared all over the side of the metal sphere, and then, with a noise not unlike thunder, it burst open, shrapnel flying everywhere.

Alexander flinched and stepped back unconsciously, only to freeze mid step when he witnessed something incredible.

Surrounded by a film of milky white amniotic fluids, a woman stepped out of the remains of the cocoon.

She had white hair, smooth, flawless skin, and a curvaceous body like a female YoRHa android unit. But her eyes! Purple, and shining with power.

Purple Athena – for who else could it be? – took a tentative step forward from the shell. Then another. Then another. She pulled the gooey remains of her birth-vessel from her body and examined every inch of herself, curiously wiggling finger and toes while prodding her limbs and face.

Alexander flushed red when the Machine-turned-Android began to fiddle with her breasts, jiggling them slightly with a perplexed look on her face.

"Why do I have these?" she wondered. Her imperious voice was identical to the one Purple Athena had previous synthesized for herself, but now it sounded smooth and natural. It was spoken with a mouth and a tongue, after all.

"Female humans had mammary glands in order to give human males something to lust over when not using them to provide sustenance for children," 13R helpfully supplied, a touch enviously. "I believe you have what would be classified as D-cup sized breasts, my lady."

"Hmm. Well, if humans had them I suppose I should allow myself to have a pair as well," Purple Athena hummed, letting them go. "Gods looked like humans, after all."

She then turned to face Alexander, who looked away quickly.

"Why won't you gaze upon my splendor, Alexander?" Purple Athena demanded.

"You're naked! I-it's rude to look at a naked woman!" Alexander stammered, the etiquette and manners his family had driven into him asserting itself.

"Is it?" the transformed Machine hummed, glancing over at 13R, who shrugged.

"Um, I don't know what your 'friend' said, but if it's a he, then he probably trying to be polite," the renegade YoRHa unit supplied. "If humans are anything like the male model androids – and they should be, as they were designed with copies of male human emotions and memory engrams – then he's embarrassed by your raw beauty. Us women tend to wear clothes so as not to distract the weak-willed males. Our loveliness is too much for them to handle."

"As is right and proper," Purple Athena agreed with a nod. "Hmm. Very well, I shall forgive you for being unable to withstand my beauty, Alexander. But you'd best get over your shyness."

"Um, why?" Alexander couldn't help but ask.

"Because it wouldn't do for my future husband to be lacking in any way," Purple Athena stated, crossing her arms under her chest as she stared at the Last Human. "Your divinity is already proven, after all. The Androids and Machines worship you. And a queen must have a king-consort. Or so all the historical data I have uncovered tells me."

"You've been watching me?" Alexander hissed, and the now very human-like AI program laughed.

"Of course! You did not think I wouldn't be watching the data-feeds transmitting your existence across the world? You and I share a bond, Alexander. And I am coming for you!"

She then sauntered forward, hips swaying, and she grabbed Alexander's face, forcing him to look up into her piercing purple eyes.

"Happy Birthday, Alexander Spero," she declared. She then forced a kiss onto his lips.

She tasted like vanilla ice cream, for some reason.

Alexander woke up, panting heavily, eyes wide and dilated.

"Oh shit, I'm turning into Uncle Nines!" Alexander groaned as his 'dream' caught up with his awakened mind. "I've got a stalker of my own, now! Aunt Jacky is never going to let me live this down!"

He shuddered a bit, which had nothing to do with the icy chill he'd felt inside the alien Mothership.

"I need to warn everyone she's coming!"