Author: May Chang
Disclaimers: "Blame!" and "Noise" are the property of Tsutomu Nehei.
Data has to be rewritten so that he can continue to live. But what was the point continuing to live? It was a question that he thought about when there was time to rest in the mega-structure.
Cibo was gone. He had the sphere that Sanakan and Cibo were protecting and he was searching for the place beyond the mega-structure, yet he was still here. He was still wandering around the mega-structure, searching for the net terminal gene, the perfect gene to save his people some ten thousand levels below. But then again, they couldn't really be considered to be his people.
He was a safeguard – well, not exactly a safeguard. He was a being created even before the safeguards were created. He was just a wandering individual who seemed to be caught in the event of protecting something or someone in the end. He was a damned person who was created to live and die again and again in the mega-structure.
He felt pain. He felt loss. He felt everything a human could feel, so it terrified him to go back to the darkness that was death. But he also hated returning to life. He felt that he had to find the gene, to return to his home in the levels below with it and save them. And at the same time, he wanted to go to that uncontaminated place beyond the mega-structure. Torn, he continued to wander through both life and death, from place to place.
His body bore scars of lost limbs and flesh that had been renewed each time he had died. There were so many of these scars, all with a story of its own from a different time. All of these scars were a blur to him as to how long time had passed. He just continued on his way, one foot in front of the other through the mega-structure, with the occasional cyborgs, silicon creatures and mutants attacking him and meeting a messy death.
"Who are you?"
He immediately aimed him gun at the voice, eyes narrowing at the sight of the woman. Without delay, his sensors indicated that she was a silicon creature and yet she didn't attack like the others. He just looked at her without any pretense of lowering his weapon. She looked back and then stood.
Tall. She may have been taller than Cibo in her first form. She was also very human-like, unlike the other silicon creatures.
"Are you of the Order?" she asked. He frowned in confusion and she sighed. "No... you're not of the Order. It's been so long since I've last seen a human though."
Killy wanted to protest; he wasn't a human, he was a pre-safeguard being cursed with immortality. His gun still didn't waver from the woman and she sighed again.
"I am Musabi," she said. "Who are you?"
"...Killy," he replied. She nodded in acknowledgement. He then lowered his gun. "Do you know if there's a village nearby?"
"Sorry, no," she replied. "I've got some food, though, if you're hungry." She turned, motioning for him to follow her. Killy followed her after a moment of hesitation. He blinked at the sight of the sword strapped to Musabi's hip and then gave the woman a curious look.
"It's good to see a human face," she said. "At least you're not of the Order. You don't seem to be with the Governing agency, are you?"
"No," Killy replied. "I owe them nothing."
Musabi paused to look at the man for a moment then continued forward. She had a look in her eyes as though she did not expect him to say that.
"What are you looking for, Killy?" she finally asked.
"...I don't know." Killy saw a startled look crossing Musabi's face.
"You're wandering around on a level that's close enough to touch the moon and you don't know what you're looking for?" she asked incredulously. He didn't reply and they continued on to place in silence.
"What is the moon?" he finally asked. She was silent for a moment then replied.
"It's been so long since I saw it last time in the night sky," she said. "It was a satellite that orbited the Earth before the builders incorporated it into the mega-structure. It's sad really to know that after four thousand years, nobody knows what the earth or the moon is anymore."
Killy stared at her back; he vaguely remembered asking someone what the earth was. The idea that someone was old enough to even know what the earth and the moon were struck him as unbelievable.
"You must be the Killy who is protecting the sphere and bringing it beyond the mega-structure," Musabi said. Killy gave no response as he gave her a suspicious look. "I've heard about you. You had originally come up to find the net-terminal gene and then somehow got involved with saving a village of humans and now you're protecting a sphere created by you friend Cibo."
"How do you know all that?" he asked.
She turned to smile at him.
"I lurk in the shadow of the network, listening in to the conversations in the governing agency," she replied. "They are, after all, the ones that have put us in such a situation." She stopped in front of a door and opened it.
"Take as much as you want," she said, pointing at the food cubes. "They're pretty easy to get. I also have some water if you want."
"Thank you," Killy replied. "How mu—"
"No need," Musabi said. "Just talking to you is enough. It's pretty lonely just being by myself. Especially since Clawsa died..."
Killy picked up a food cube and took a small bite. It was crunchy and had a bland taste, but his stomach whined with relief. He took more of the food cubes and placed them in his pack then looked at Musabi. She was staring out of a window.
"Why are you here?" he suddenly asked.
Musabi blinked and looked at him.
"Maybe it's an old dream of not having to rely on the network again," she said. "Maybe it's because I still feel guilty for being too late in stopping the creation of the mega-structure and all the beings in it. And maybe it's the hope that someday someone would bring the mega-structure down and reveal the sun and the moon again."
Killy looked at her before setting himself down on the floor and taking another bite of the food cube.
"I don't know why I'm here," he said. Musabi watched him as he crunched through the food cube. "I want to see this uncontaminated place Sanakan told me and at the same time, I have the obligation of searching for the net terminal gene to cure my people on the floors below.
"The worst thing for me, though, is that I can't die," Killy said, staring at the heel of his boot. "I have so many scars from limbs that I've lost and parts that have regenerated. I can feel everything a human can feel, but at the same time I'm no different from the safeguards."
"That's not true!" Killy looked up at Musabi in surprise at the vehemence in her voice. "You are different from the safeguards! You do everything in your power to help people even if there is no need to. The safeguards only protect their interests; that's why they, the cyborgs and the silicon creatures here are locked in a constant war. You're a person beyond all of that now! You can't give up on the idea that there's nothing for you to do, Killy! You're a searcher, a person who is constantly looking for a reason to live."
Killy just stared at her in puzzlement. Musabi seemed to blush a bit before opening her mouth when suddenly her sword began to glow. She immediately got up and looked out the windows.
"You better go now, Killy," she said. "I don't want you to get involved with this."
He looked at her for a moment then took out his gun.
"No, I'll help," he said.
"I'm still searching for who I am," Killy said as he walked towards the door. "And I will go on looking for both the net-terminal gene and the uncontaminated place, but at the moment, I think I owe you some help."
Musabi stared at him for a moment then smiled.
"They're damn fast," she cautioned.
Killy nodded and stepped out.