And a Tales of the Abyss fic, as requested by the people who did the poll on my profile. This one has been incomplete in My Documents folder for ages, but I finally managed to get it done.
It gets hijacked by mythology in the last half, though. Also, this is one of those situations where I wish I could do the kind of formatting that got erased from my Are We Having Fun Yet? fic. To get across the if/then/else and y/n? of someone trying to figure out how to... If the thought in this seems simplistic, with cut-and-paste vocabulary, that's exactly what's going on. Babies are kind of cry y/n? I also find computer networking as applied to telepathy and minds in general interesting. Most of what 'Luke' is thinking is actually Asch's mind doing the thinking for him, aside from emotional reactions. Luke is trying to figure this out, but the neurons aren't hooked up yet and it's Asch that has the vocabulary.
Maybe instead of more Cinnanarverse my next original project should be Syarra... that's a world that really plays around with the whole brain is a computer concept, as applied to psychic powers and silicon-based computers, once they invented them. Telepathy-based/integrated internet.
Disclaimer: I don't own Tales of the Abyss, Namco Bandai does, as well as related properties. No infringement intended or money made.
There was something in his head.
Only it wasn't exactly in his head, just sort of in the room next to it. There was him, and his mind, and now there was another mind stuck on to his, like two rooms with an open door between them where there had once just been more blank wall. He was the one that went into the other one's head first, actually, to find out what was going on.
It was just sort of sitting there watching, because it didn't know enough yet to do any thinking about it. There were moving things (people) that were making sounds (words), and this was something new to it and was utterly fascinating to the point it was ignoring the fact it wasn't at all comfy (what with being strapped to the replica machine and having what Luke recognized as the sort of headache that infernal contraption caused).
Luke could understand, however. "We don't have much more time," the nearby person (Dist) said, "we were lucky I was able to complete synchronizing their fon slots."
"It's more than good enough for the job. Good work, Dist. I'll take it out into the main area for them to find while you pack up and take Luke to Daath. Meet me there," Van ordered.
In other words… they were done making their fake. That meant no more painful sessions in the machine, it meant getting out of this horrible place… but they were going to do it. They were going to send the fake to his family.
"Luke you? It I?" The feeling was akin to having his sleeve tugged on, the infant looking up at him questioningly. Luke realized that since he'd been translating what came in through the replica's eyes and ears into actual words and things for his own benefit the replica had gotten the translation as well. He'd taught the replica his first words.
He felt nothing from the near-blank slate but a not-quite innocent curiosity. Innocent meant ignorant of evil, and his replica already understood that something was wrong. Luke was unhappy, and that was not good even if it didn't have words to pin to the concepts of right or wrong. It didn't like having a headache, or… Van was hitting it?
"Why are you doing that to my perfect creation? You know how much trouble it was to make it, if you damage it before it's grown stronger you could kill it!" Dist was outraged, although not for the replica's benefit but for all the work that could be wasted.
"It can't be helped. They won't believed it was traumatized into amnesia if there aren't any reasons it should be traumatized." Van ignored the replica's whimpers. "Here, make a scary face at it or something, that way it won't be frightened of only me but people in general."
The replica was easily scared. "Why?" it asked Luke since it couldn't speak to ask either of them.
"I translated what they said, and the concepts, so you should know why."
"Why are they willing to hurt you for those reasons? Sometimes people do bad things."
"Hurting someone is bad. Yes." What an understatement.
"Luke is hurt?" Hurting was bad. The replica didn't want anyone else to hurt too.
He couldn't fool it. "Van and Dist hurt Luke?" It was worried about him. "Luke is hurt. I help?"
"No, there's nothing you can do about it."
"Van and Dist hurt Luke and I. Van and Dist bad."
Luke had to laugh. No, the replica wasn't stupid at all, once it had some idea what was going on.
"Luke help I. Luke is good." It was such a relief to the replica that thought of itself as 'it' that there was a good person who was helping it by explaining things and staying with it even though seeing through its eyes and hearing through its ears to know what was going on meant feeling the pain it experienced as well. It clung to him for comfort.
"It's okay. He's doing this to make you act scared, mostly. So act like you're really scared. Flinch back, make a lot of those noises, curl up… See, there." He hadn't been able to help himself, he'd been helpless. But at least he could help the baby with his face who was so pathetically grateful when Van stopped hurting it because of Luke's advice, when Luke saved it.
"Luke is good," it said again, and Luke could feel the honest love it had for him. Love and admiration. Luke knew what to do to make bad things stop.
He'd thought a replica would be a doll, a fake him, but this was nothing like him. Just a helpless little baby, even more defenseless than he'd been. At least he still knew what they were saying when they talked around him while he was captive here, at least he knew how to walk and wouldn't be hefted around like a side of meat, at least he could dream of fighting back, going home to be king. He knew there was more than this place. The replica was so very young, and its entire existence had been at the mercy of strange moving things, a world it didn't understand and so couldn't figure out how to control at all.
And Luke had thought he had it bad. "Keep acting scared on the outside, or he might start doing it again."
Since he had warning that he was about to be moved Luke knew that the water he was given had to be drugged. He was really, really thirsty but he poured it into the chamberpot anyway. If they were leaving in a hurry then there might be some opportunity to escape.
"That's the sky, and those white things are clouds."
"What is white?" Besides pretty, but the replica thought most things were pretty.
"It's a color. Most of the sky up there is blue, and the puffy things that are clouds, that's white. Our hair is red, Van's is brown, Dist's is white again, the stuff on the ground there, grass, is green…" Being almost entirely in the little one's body meant he didn't react when he was manhandled, which was lucky because otherwise they would have known he wasn't drugged. It didn't hurt that this was the first time he'd seen the sky in ages.
They chained him up even though they thought he was unconscious and the little one's ability to do anything useful was hindered by the fact he couldn't walk, talk, or even control his arms enough to make gestures very well. Luke knew that fighting involved training the body in what to do in certain situations, but it was strange to see the little one try to do things Luke took for granted and see that things he took for granted, like walking, had actually taken lots and lots of practice, just like katas, when he was too young to remember it.
"Nouns are for people, places, and things. A thing is stuff that you can touch in general. You use 'he' and 'she' for people, but you use it for things. It's rude to call someone a thing." Those ancient Ispanian lessons that had forced him to learn grammar were coming in handy.
"It is for things?" It wasn't a name?
"You're not a thing," Luke told him. "They're just being rude, and I was at first. I'm sorry. Um… They were going to have you pretend to be me. Luke means light, the sixth fonon, so… sound, Lorelei is next and you're younger than me. Or I could call you Rem, or Luna. Those are the two aspects of the sixth fonon, the sun and moon."
"Um… Luna begins with Lue and Luke does?"
"Actually, it begins with L and u, just like Luke does. Do you want to be Luna?"
"Maybe. What is the moon?"
"The bright thing in the sky, the one it hurts to look at, is Rem, the sun. The arc across the sky is the fon belt. Luna is like Rem, only it comes out at night and it doesn't hurt to look at it. The light is silvery, not yellow."
"I think I want to see him first."
"It first. The moon is an it, the sentience is a… she, I think." Luke thought about that for a moment. "Shadow is a he, Gnome is a he, Sylph is a she, so is Undine, Efreet is a he, Rem is a she and so is Luna, and Lorelei is… he has to be a he, since we're his perfect isofons and we're male. Although the fonon sentiences aren't exactly male or female. It's complicated. But if… I'm confused."
"You're confused?" It had to be really, really confusing then.
"Yeah. I don't understand it myself. We're Lorelei's perfect isofons, so if we're connected like this then why aren't we connected to him?" And, now that Luke thought about it, "Should I give you a girl's name?"
"A young women, like we're boys who are young men. Women have things that stick out on their chests called breasts and don't have things that stick out down below." He was not giving the talk to someone only a few days old, especially since he hadn't gotten the talk yet. "Natalia is a girl." He showed Luna a picture. "Guy is a boy."
"Her chest doesn't stick out."
"She's too young. They get them when they're older. Here's mother."
"People who aren't replicas come from a mother and a father, a woman and a man." Thinking about her made Luke realize something. "They're taking you to my home. They'll think you're me." What was he going to do about that? Because once Luke went home Luna would be killed. There was no way around that. Luke's father and uncle wouldn't listen. A fake future king, an imposter with the power of hyperresonance?
Luna couldn't take care of himself, and there was no one who would protect him except Luke. Luke was his only real family.
Van had said that if Luke went home Luke would die. That might or might not be true, but if Luke went home Luna would die. Luke was too young to live on his own, managing it with a baby would be impossible!
What was he going to do? He had to go home to be king, they were counting on him, but how could he be a good king if he couldn't even take care of one person?
"Are you okay?"
"Not really." There wasn't much point in lying to Luna. He knew when Luke was doing it and it made him worry a lot more than anything he actually understood did. "But I'll figure something out so that we'll both be okay."
"Okay." Such trust there. But Luna still was sad. "I wish I could help. I can't fight or call for help or anything." Luke had been trying to think of what Luna could do to help him escape and the answer was nothing. Luna had been very, very disappointed, and he'd only just managed to cheer him up.
"You're a newborn, Luna. All babies are like that. You're actually way ahead of most of them. You learn really fast and I know you'll learn to walk fast and everything too." If Luke went home Luna would die, and then Luke would, according to Van. If Luke took Luna with him and left he wouldn't be able to take care of Luna even if he was able to kidnap him, which he seriously doubted. So… "My parents did a good job teaching me, and I have tutors. They'll think you just forgot things, so they'll teach you the same way they taught me. And there's Guy, and Natalia. They'll help you too. But I can't go home right now, Luna. And they'll be sad if they think I'm in danger. So you'll have to pretend to be me so they won't be sad. Will you do that for me?"
"Okay." Luna was glad Luke wanted him to do something, happy that Luke thought that he could learn and wasn't useless.
If Luke stayed gone then Luna would, according to Van, die in Luke's place. What kind of coward did Van think he was, that he would let a child, his own blood, die in his place? It was in the Score, Van said. Van wanted Luke's help to overthrow the Score.
So… if he pretended to be loyal to Van, then he could find out the details of the Score of death, he could… He had to find some way to save them both.
He had to try, at least.