The Stranger I Knew
A Cave Story Fanfiction By
Black Waltz 0
(A/N: Boy, this fic is dark. I had a really weird dream the other night and wrote down a lot of what it had been. Fleshed out a little, the dream is this fic. Some people say that my dreams are what brings out the best in my writing ability. I hope this piece will seem top notch to you, and I hope you enjoy it. Oh, and I was listening to the Berserk soundtrack's song 'Murder' when I wrote this, so it's the perfect music to listen to as you read.)
Thou shalt not kill.
He had left a path of destruction behind him.
Quote was climbing a staircase of marble high into the sky, ascending from the throne room into the unknown, Black Space. The booster he was wearing made it much easier to reach higher places, but it was often that he found himself dangling from a ledge, his hands trying to find finger-holds in the ancient stone. He did not tire very easily, but still found the whole business annoying and time consuming. Heights didn't scare him, but he didn't like them very much all the same.
He had murdered a human being only a short time ago, something that was taboo, forbidden. There was a binding law that prevented the spilling of human blood, one of the distant three laws of robotics, but Quote was either too flawed or too much of an amnesiac to remember and obey them. Had his memory been complete, he would have shut down the moment he raised his gun to a living breathing man. This is what had set him apart from the other robot on the island, his only other friend who shared his condition. He was not unique in his penchant for kindness, rather, he was unique in his ability to deal death to humans. To kill.
With ten years of lost memories, he had programmed himself to be a murderer.
Although this was what he had to do, he knew he didn't have to like it. And he didn't, either. According to Curly, his original mission was to be a mission of peace and liberation. He had done that when he took the life of the Doctor and shattered the demon crown hard upon the ground. But now it was not enough. He had to free the island itself as well. To free it from the skies. As long as the island floated in the sky and bore its deadly red flowers, the mimigas were always destined to be slaves.
With a slight heave, Quote pulled himself up from the last huge stair in the sky staircase and removed his gun from his belt, yanking out the burnt energy cylinders and replacing them with new cartridges. He was pushing this weapon to the edge, but it was really all he had left. It only had to hold out for just a little while longer. Dropping the spent useless cylinders, he heard them clattering distantly on the ground, where a pool of blood and the body of the Doctor lay abandoned. He had seen something speed out of the body upon the moment of his death, following the trail of the red crystal that had shot out of sight. Maybe it was merely a reflection of it, or a trick of the light. No matter what the reason, Quote had to press on.
Black space seemed to be a storage room right above the red flowers and the throne room. It must have been the safest place on the whole island for the core to be kept. Not only the frenzied mimigas, but the Doctor himself had been its guard. In the end it hadn't helped them one bit, because here he was, at the end of the road.
The core looked discarded and dead, like the shell of a giant prehistoric crustacean. There were scorch marks all over its body from when he and Curly had battled it within the underground base. Quote moved towards the main chamber of the core's body, climbing over some of the smaller ones because they hindered his path. As he got within firing range he began to power up his gun, figuring that a concentrated blast would be enough to destroy it.
"That's far enough!"
A woman appeared. Her blue hair was a tangled wreck and she was leaning heavily on her staff for support. Her green dress was spotted with darker patches, where the blood from her injuries had seeped through. Breathing heavily, she had the look of a wolverine backed into a corner, injured but still ready to fight. Misery. The witch he had thought he killed, but had apparently only wounded. Quote released the trigger and sharply altered the angle of his shot, firing the round straight into the ground. It left a small blackened crater as the smoke cleared away.
She made an unfamiliar gesture with her hand and a secondary shape fuzzed into view, that of the small Sakamoto child that had been transformed into a mimiga. Quote recognised her as Sue. The girl had a sleepy hypnotized look in her eyes as she flopped down into a little heap before Misery, where the witch risked her balance by pointing the ball of her stave at her, the instrument glowing a little with inner power. "If you value her life, step away from the core!" She ordered, giving Quote the impression that she was going to touch the mimiga with her staff. And then what? Would it electrocute her?
Quote's voice was young and timid, but also a touch artificial. "Let her go." He said.
He stood down, taking two or three steps back. He could still shoot her from here, but there was always a faint chance that in the time before Misery saw the shot and experienced the pain, she would be able to harm Sue. He had no choice. The woman smirked. "Hmph. So even a robot can care for the life of another. You really are different from the others who came here so many years ago…"
Sue blinked herself awake. She began to squirm a little but the first thing that became clear to her eyes was the glowing stave held by her captor. She immediately fell still, but glanced to Quote pleadingly for help. The robot didn't know whether to attack or stand still. He was caught in a dilemma. Misery's eyes became a little faraway, pulling the ball of her staff away from Sue's body just a fraction. "I never dreamed you would defeat the new king…"
The stupid robot had ruined everything. The witch woman could easily stand servitude and all manner of unpleasant duties, but what she could not take was the long silent periods between the lords of the demon crown, where all she was forced to do was wait. Sometimes for centuries. That was hellish. It had felt so much like the last wait would be over, but because of this robot, she was wrong. All she wanted to do was make it go as far away as possible. Nothing else had been able to wound her so viciously.
And she was a human being, too. Robots couldn't kill humans, it was one of their three sacred laws. …Right?
Sighing, Misery closed her eyes. "Well, so be it." She muttered, using her staff to support her trembling body once more. Sue immediately leapt to her feet and swiveled around sharply, dead set on not letting Misery see her back. The blue-haired woman brushed stray tangles of her fringe out of her face. "Let me offer you a deal…"
Sue saw something small twinkle in the darkness. Something red. A nanosecond later, Quote saw it too. Their attention became diverted from Misery and they strained to see exactly what the red thing was. It was floating several dozen yards above them, right above Misery's head.
I will not… let you bargain for me… Misery…
The sound did not come from around them, it came from the inside of each of their own heads. Misery craned her head up to look as well. She would have flown up there to check it out for herself, but there was not enough magic left in her to spare. The threat she had made to Quote was mostly a bluff. Still, though that voice was not real, it was familiar.
Quote scoped out the area above them that contained the red twinkle. Circuitry hummed within him as he experienced the odd sensation of rushing forwards a great distance, while his legs remained where they were. It was exactly like having binocular eyes. Immediately he blinked the special ability away and cocked his gun at the far-off shape, going rigidly tense. "Look out!" He cried. "It's the red crystal!"
That's not possible. He thought to himself as the crystal began to descend at a slow, regal pace, glittering like a ruby from the crown of a malevolent god. I killed the Doctor. I know I did. I checked to make sure his heart was not beating!
Hearts are only physical, little robot…
This is much, much more…
Quote flinched. It had read the inner processes of his mind? That was even more impossible! Misery ignored Sue as the mimiga girl made a break to Quote's side of the no-man's land, ducking around to hide behind his frame. The red crystal was visible to even the common eye now, rotating as it fell like a lazy planet. The facets of the gem were cleanly cut and glass-like, but behind the surface swirled dark liquid, deeply red liquid, like blood. Red particles appeared around it, parts of the Doctor's being in a gaseous form. Connected to it, it somehow felt like the crystal itself was alive.
Misery staggered a few steps away, using her staff as a crutch and unwittingly entered Quote's side of the Black Space. She was starting to tremble, her body going into mild shock now that her previous battle with Quote was now over. The gem stopped falling when it reached six feet off the ground, roughly at the right height of a tall man's brow. It flipped a few times, casually, then was still. "…My Lord?" The witch whispered, caught between hope and anxiety. The woman seemed to be ignored. Quote fired a test shot at it warily, hoping that it would deal some damage. The barrel of his Polar Spur emitted a brief pulse of light and spat out a ray of white fire, striking the crystal on its front.
It reflected and boomeranged right back at him, the robot seizing Sue with one hand and diving a little to the left. Quote rolled, scraping over the stones and jagged rocks that were scattered all over the floor, but somehow finding himself lying on his stomach, the mimiga girl safely wrapped within one of his arms. If that light had touched them, whatever part of their body that had made contact with it would have been vaporized. Being destroyed by his own weapons was not the way Quote wished to die.
He got to his feet again and set Sue down on the ground, continuing to hold his traitorous weapon but knowing that it would be of no use. "Who are you?" Quote asked of the crystal. "What are you?"
You murdered me, little robot…
You stole my flesh away…
The First Law of Robotics. A robot may not… a robot may not… a human being… inaction… come to harm…Quote shook his head a little and focussed his processing at the matter at hand. He had felt the traces of a memory coming back to him, a personal file that was becoming uncorrupted, but it had come at the worst possible time. The Doctor was still, somehow alive.
Since you have ruined my body, I feel I must take a new one…
It moved fast. Faster than Quote could.
For a moment it felt like something had shot straight into him, like a bullet, but there was no exit point that ripped though his back in chunks of plastic and wiring. It was more like he had been punched in the chest by a large, blunt and heavy fist. His heels pressed down against the marble floor as the force shoved him a foot or so away. Part of his shirt tore across the front, leaving bare a glimpse of the plastic and rubber ensemble that was his flesh. Quote's mouth hung open, frozen before a breath he should have taken but didn't.
He felt a deep throbbing in his sternum, something akin to a heartbeat but not quite the same. Slowly, his fingers went lax and dropped the Polar Spur that he had been carrying. It clattered to the floor and remained still. One hand crawled up to touch upon his breast tentatively, the only part of his body that seemed to want to move. It sensed heat and energy coming directly from that foreign, alien pulse. He could not understand it.
Sue and Misery watched this all happen. The small mimiga girl was not at the right vantage point for her to see exactly what had transpired, but the midnight blue-haired witch called Misery had become the perfect audience. The red crystal that had contained the soul of the Doctor had rammed itself straight into the little robot's body, breaking through the outer part of his chassis and embedding itself deeply into his chest. It was sending off little pulses of red energy now, calling the floating particles that had one been the Doctor's body home.
It was possession of the most intimate variety, and it filled Misery herself with deep-rooted horror.
Quote was trembling fiercely and gritting his teeth, his inner nervous system becoming introduced to a secondary consciousness. He could sense that other presence now, a specter that had floated into his mind and body, a parasite that was muffling his thoughts, suffocating them- no, binding both of their consciousness as one. It bled into his memory banks and read all his files, all his accessible memories and hopes. It was not much in the total scheme of things, but it was all he had left. His mind started to cry out in protest to the mental rape as loudly as it could, the sound fading with each little pulse of the crystal as he was overwritten.
GET OUT OF ME GET OUT OF ME GET OUT OF ME GET OUT OF ME GET OUT OF ME GET OUT OF ME!
…Get out of me… get out of me… get out of… me…
After only a short, agonizing minute, that pained cry in his mind had disappeared completely. As one last reflex action, the last impulse of Quote as a free-thinking individual, his lips parted and he uttered a glass-shattering scream, high pitched and boyish, with no discernable quaver in its tone. It sounded like a siren. Sue cried out as well and pressed her hands to her large floppy mimiga ears, trying to shut out the sound. It was so loud and heart-wrenching that she felt like she wanted to cry.
Misery's staff dropped to the ground as she covered her ears as well, watching with eyes half squinted shut as every last particle of the Doctor entered the robot's body via the red crystal. When this was completed, the pulsing stopped and so too did Quote's death cry. It faded out like somebody had grasped his volume dial and was steadily turning it down. The robot thudded to his knees, his head bowed and his eyes sliding shut. The crystal no longer shone. It lay embedded in his chest and glistened slightly whenever light chose to reflect itself upon it, but that was all.
"Hey…" Sue stepped forward, treading lightly because she was still in the home base of the enemy. She could fight, but she wasn't nearly strong enough to defend herself against the witch that was still alive. Wounded, but alive. Her eyes strayed to the Polar Spur that lay discarded in the pieces of Quote's broken front, wondering of she could use it or not. Mimigas didn't really have proper opposable thumbs, but still, she could try. "Are you alright? You're not broken, are you?" She grasped the weapon by its barrel with one hand and tapped Quote lightly on the shoulder with the other, standing so close behind him that she could have hugged him if she wanted to.
Standing up straight again, Misery's look of pain transformed into haughty euphoria. She made a slight gesture and her staff floated up from the ground of its own accord and settled itself happily into her hand. "Hmph." She muttered, looking at the broken robot with distaste. "So my Lord chose self destruction over the chance for immortality, only to destroy this already flawed toy. How sad. Now he will never know his earthly utopia."
"You're lying!" Sue cried, grabbing onto Quote's shoulders firmly and giving him a rough shake. The body threatened to topple over. "He's not dead! He's just… sleeping or something. He got turned off. He can't die!" The little mimiga's actions only served to amuse Misery more. She started to laugh a deep sultry laugh, aware for the first time in a very long age that she was free. The demon crown was destroyed. There was no be no more masters. "Come on!" Sue yelled, her shakes beginning to resemble rough kicks and punches. "Get up, you broken hunk of junk!"
Sue raised Quote's weapon and fired a single shot, one that was shaky and flew harmlessly past Misery's side. It was impossible for her to aim the weapon and pull the trigger at the same time. Her little thumbs were too stubby to reach it. Cowering behind Quote's lifeless body, it was all she had left as her last line of defense, and it was only a matter of time before she died.
"Unluckily for you, I have absolutely no love for this island. I despise it and everything upon it. After I kill you, little one, I shall destroy the core and all will come crashing down to earth!" Misery's red eyes glowed as she raised her staff, a black ball of dark energy forming at its very tip. It was destined to end the life of the enemy that stood before her. Suddenly, the witch woman shrilled a crowing laugh. "I will be free, for now and all eternity!"
Quote moved in an astounding blur of motion. The elbow of his right arm drew back and struck Sue in the middle of her small chest, making the mimiga girl squeal in pain and throw the gun she held high up into the air. His body twisted slightly, amazingly animate considering he had been totally shut down only moments before. The mechanical whirrings of his tendons sounding softly as his muscles flexed, Quote snatched his tumbling weapon out of the air and pointed it directly at Misery, the energy cylinders of the weapon powering up as more time went by. The small robot's eyes were narrowed in anger, an emotion that rarely made an appearance on his face.
Spreading her arms, Misery conjured more balls of foul dark energy and held them at the ready, poised to hurl them at Quote and Sue if any of them made so much as a twitch. The barrel of the robot's weapon was pulsing with repressed power, she didn't want to think about what it would do to her in her weakened condition. Maybe it was time to bargain with them. "Listen," she spat, her voice hissing and serpentine, "you can die together with the island, or you can leave and forget you ever came."
Peeking out from behind Quote's shoulder, Sue sensed that something was terribly wrong. Her advanced mimiga sense of smell told her that Quote didn't smell right, that he smelled far different than before. Realization came to her in an instant, the girl tentatively taking a step away from him. He smelt like red flowers.
On one knee with his weapon held far out in front of him, Quote's look of hardened determination gave way to a frightening expression, a deadly, terrifying smile. He spoke, but even though the voice was undeniably that of the small robot, the words were clearly that of another. The other. "You shall not escape…" He cooed, ending his sentence with low, evil laughter.
Misery blanched. She suddenly became unbearably aware of the other soul that was looking out at the world from behind Quote's eyes, using the soul of its host as a pedestal, if robots really did have souls in the first place. Had the Doctor really come back, crawled up from the very boundaries of death? Yes, Quote's gaze almost seemed to have a paralyzing affect on her. "Who goes there!" She called, already well aware of the answer.
Quote stood up, the gem buried in his chest beginning to emit a warm, eerily comforting glow. A few small parts of his front came free and joined the debris on the ground as he shifted about. His motions were a little clumsy, ungainly, but he never moved the barrel of his gun from its particular direction, pointing it at Misery's face. He laughed again, sharp and curtly, obviously amused. "Have you really forgotten the voice of your master?"
Sue gasped behind him, now deeply believing what she knew to be true. Quote's eyes flicked to Sue momentarily, then went back to Misery once more. He took a step closer towards the witch woman, gesturing with one sweep of his free hand the impromptu modifications that had been done to his new body. "The power of the red crystal is powerful indeed. It fills me even now." Quote touched the crystal carefully with one finger and then let go. "My body may be substituted, but my consciousness has never been more distinct. It almost seems amplified in this cybernetic body! It feels as if I have become a superman!"
Astonishment gave way to anger. She had come so close to freedom, and now it was going to be prematurely taken away from her. Misery growled, uttering an animal-like sound as her madness grew, becoming hardly even afraid of the gun anymore. "You…" She spat, hating the robot that Quote had been, and hating him even more now that he shared the same body as her former master. It just wasn't right, the idea of co-existence was too atrocious.
He took two further steps forward, spreading one arm wide like he was about to offer her an embrace. Quote's tone changed to a sympathetic one. "What's wrong, Misery?" He asked softly, nearly kindly, a robot gently trying to coax a witch woman not to attack. He looked down at himself momentarily and seemed to make a connection. "Does my form frighten you?"
He thought her a coward. Yes, she did feel fear, but denied it, bitterly denied it. Letting out a short scream of anger, bordering on hysteria, Misery raised her staff high and prepared to rain magic down upon the mimiga girl and her master who was still impossibly alive. "Are you not dead!" She shrilled. "Begone!"
The magic struck him without fault and Misery's heart leapt into her throat when she heard him grunt, thinking that it had hurt him. The orbs of magic slid across his body and burnt like stinging fire, but the most dangerous part of her spell was rendered powerless by the energy of the red crystal, leaving him relatively untouched. Quote opened his eyes after the spell had fizzled out and checked himself over for injuries. There were none. He made a soft, disapproving sound with his mouth and raised his weapon again. Striding forwards, he came close enough to touch her if he so wanted to. He no longer sounded amused and condescending. Now he just sounded mad. "A fool who would forget her master does not deserve to live."
Quote came to her and she did not resist. He prized her green malachite stave from her shaking fingertips and tossed it to the ground, hearing the instrument rolling carelessly away. He knew that without it she would not be able to cast any spells strong enough to hurt him. The red crystal and the general toughness of his body prevented that. He was both Quote and the Doctor, so he knew his personal limitations. "Misery," he said at last, regretfully, pressing the barrel of the Polar Spur right beneath the swell of her breasts, tilted upwards so that the trajectory would split her heart in two, "this is the day that you die."
He released the trigger.
She did not have time to scream. The pure white laser that the Polar Spur emitted did not burn a hole through her so much as it cut her cleanly in half. The intense heat of the ray cauterized the wound immediately after it was made, so there was no unexpected splash of blood. It was a shame, really. He had hoped to have seen some blood, as red as the crystal that beat within him. He found he quite liked the colour red. Misery choked, trying to find her lungs that were no longer there. Quote pushed her over and her body fell to the ground, separated into two different chunks. She had a look of surprise on her face, like the pain that had overcome her was simply too much for her to bear. It didn't matter now. She was gone.
The robot rubbed the side of his wrist against the barrel of his gun, checking to see if it had overheated or not. It was warm, but not hot enough to suggest a burnout. He didn't really think that the gunsmith would repair his weapon for a second time, not when the presence of the other was in his body and using it as it saw fit. This was a good weapon, maybe he should try and make his own upgrades from now on. He was a doctor, that sort of thing was easily within his ability. Quote slung the gun back into its place on his belt and turned away from his disobedient servant, placated.
A small rock struck the side of his face hard and startled him, knocking his red cap clear off his head. He slapped a hand to his temple and expected to feel the slick burn of blood from his own body, but had to remind himself that this was a body that did not bleed. Kneeling, he scooped up his hat again and put it back on again, because although the Doctor held no real attachments to it, his little host did, and so he found himself sharing similar affections. He had done more than simply read all of Quote's personal files, he had had no choice but to integrate them into his own awareness.
The second rock Sue threw missed, while the third one struck him hard in the shoulder. She was trying to hurt him, but all she seemed to be doing was catching his attention. The mimiga girl had no other weapons but this, and she was too full of pride to run away. She was the only one left who could stop him. "Go away!" She cried harshly, picking up whatever projectiles she could find and hurling them at the robot. "I don't want this robot! I want the nice one back! The nice one! Get lost!" When her supply of rocks and stones were exhausted, she was reduced to hurling chunks of Quote's broken body back at him, the fragments bouncing off him harmlessly. He was letting her do it, calmly waiting for her to run out of steam.
When all her ammunition was spent, the robot before her eyes began to walk towards her at a leisurely pace, his face totally unreadable. He had never looked so much like a machine as he did now. Sue was caught between standing her ground and running away, knowing that if she ran she'd at least have a small chance of surviving. But running away was cowardice. She was no coward!
He had not drawn his weapon yet, and it did not look like he was going to. Still, Sue's survival instincts won over her sense of pride and she turned tail and ran, fleeing the area where the island's core was kept. Quote had been waiting for this. The moment Sue fled, he threw his power into overdrive and sprinted towards her, running like a clockwork athlete. He caught up to her in only a few seconds and his arm shot out to grab onto the back of her little blue shirt, yanking her up from off the ground. Quote braked suddenly and held up his prize, dangling and squirming and crying curses.
Treading air with her little mimiga feet, Sue felt an undeniable desire to bite his hand and to not let go. Smiling, Quote moved his grip on her a little, so that each of his hands held a pinch of her shirt and the small shoulder that was beneath it. It nearly looked like he was going to hang her up as laundry. "What's wrong with you?" The girl squeaked, still hardly believing what had happened around her. Quote was supposed to be their savior. Now he was their enemy. "That crystal isn't you!"
Quote grinned, or rather, flashed his teeth at her. Whatever she was trying to convince him of fell on dead ears. "You're not leaving this place alive." He said simply, as a fact.
In the beginning, Quote's body had been designed to function under extreme pressure and duress. Like an ant, he held the capability to lift up to nine times his own weight. This may not seem like much when one considers that Quote is a relatively small robot, but he was built out of heavy metal just as much as he was also built from rubber and plastic. Each of his arms could pull about one and a half tons each. Compared to a human being, that kind of strength was phenomenal.
The other in Quote's body was amazed at the amount of strength that he was able to conjure up. Both of his plastic hands clamped down more firmly on Sue's little shoulders, gripping like a tight vice. The girl whimpered, and then screamed as she felt her collarbones snap under the pressure. It was like breaking a wishbone. Beginning to cry and hating herself for doing so, Sue wished that she had the energy left to raise one of her hands and give him the finger. The Doctor was in him, and he deserved it. "Doctor Dumb can go screw himself." She said, and then sighed.
Snarling, Quote pulled his arms away from one another and ripped her in two. The break wasn't even, he wound up tearing one of her arms out of its sockets and snapping away most of her shoulder, strung together by bits of tendon and muscle. Mimigas weren't very strong until the red flower rage took them, but this one in particular was admirably well built. He had dissected and studied their remains often, so he knew.
Blood spewed out of the new wound and splattered the marble floor a dull red, thick and sticky and strong. The artery that was meant to be attached to Sue's missing arm spat blood of its own and wound up coating Quote's front in the red substance, the robot standing still and watching with fascination as the liquid started out remarkably warm and began to cool. It felt odd.
Sue coughed a little and moaned, but it wasn't long until she too was gone. At least she had not died with as much fear in her heart as Misery had. The robot let go of her body and her arm and looked at his gloved hand, which was webbed with the splatterings of mimiga blood. The power in this body was amazing. He should have considered a cybernetic body sooner! "My…" He murmured, a little annoyed that his voice had to sound so young, but understanding that one had to take the bad with the good. His cultured tone and the voice of Quote didn't quite match. "This is marvelous!"
He was not alone. Somewhere within the back of his mind, like a nasty aftertaste, the original consciousness of the machine was still screaming, going into hysterics, throwing a tantrum like a disobedient child. It still seemed to have no clear idea of what was happening to it, and he supposed he could be kind to it and let it bleed into his thoughts, just as the same had happened to him. He was also quite sure that a part of the little robot knew exactly what was happening to him, but chose not to accept it. Denial often left one muted in the dark. Quote's mind was hardly even a bother once he turned down the volume quite a bit.
Quote wiped his hands on his pants and adjusted the tilt of his hat a little. Once he had the Earth under his control, a more fitting wardrobe change was in order. Now there was no rush. There was nobody left to stop him. He looked down at the body of the dead mimiga girl and wanted to spit on it.
"Everything will continue according to plan." He intoned, and then teleported away.