The sound of raindrops hitting the ground was the only thing that kept 9 awake. That, and the memories of what had happened over the last few days. He still couldn't get over the lingering guilt caused by the knowledge that he had caused it. If he hadn't put the Talisman in the Machine, he would've been in Sanctuary with the others, free from fear without the Beast. The others wouldn't have died.
He also couldn't help but wonder what the Machine would've done if it had known that the very beings it was hunting contained pieces of its creator's soul, or if it even would've cared.
He wished he could sleep. 7, 3, and 4 had been asleep for a while. The whole experience had been exhausting, and they all needed rest.
9 looked at the Talisman he held in his hand. He wondered if the Scientist could have predicted what it had caused. Probably not.
As he continued to listen to the rain, he was glad that the roof of the old house they were in was intact enough to keep out the rain.
Suddenly, the sound of the rain and his turmoil of emotions stopped bothering him.
Just before he fell asleep, he thought he heard a voice say, "Sleep well, 9. You deserve it." He didn't recognize the voice.
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Drip…drip…drip… 9 awoke to the sound of slowly dripping water. He had gotten a surprisingly restful night of sleep.
"Good morning, 9. I see you slept well." It was the voice again. This time, he realized that it sounded very vaguely like the Scientist.
9 looked over at 7 and the twins. They were still asleep.
He looked out through a crack in the wall and saw that the sun was rising. It caused the almost cloudless sky to turn a beautiful array of colors.
7 and the twins began to wake up. 7 was surprised that she had slept so well. Except for maybe that dream…
3 and 4, ever so hyper, left for the library, intent on continuing their research. 9 was about to follow them when he noticed that 7 was still sitting on the pillow they had slept on. He couldn't help but wonder what she was thinking about.
He walked over to her. When she noticed him, she said, "I had a weird dream last night. I was somewhere dark and I was lying down. I could hear someone talking, but it was faint and distant. I couldn't move and my whole body was sore, especially my left side. Then it was quiet for a long time and then…and then…I heard 2's voice. He said, 'I don't know, 9. I just don't know.' And…it all seemed so real…I thought it was actually happening until I woke up." She sighed and looked at him. "I miss him. I miss all of them. I know they're free now, but I just wish that-."
9 said, "I know. I feel that way too."
7 smiled and got off the pillow.
Suddenly, she heard a voice say, "My, my, my, 7! What an interesting dream!" 9 heard it as well.
7 said, "Wha- who said that?"
The voice said, "Ha ha ha! Oh you know me! Ha ha, You know me VERY well!"
"Who are you?"
"You'll find out. Don't bother trying to find me. You'll only find me if I want to be found."
There was no response.
7 quietly said, "That was weird."
9 simply nodded.
The two spent the rest of the day at the library, learning about the things 3 and 4 had already discovered. It was the only thing they could really do at this point.
The voice would occasionally comment on something it found "interesting". Every time it did, all four of them would hear it and wonder who it was.
At the end of the day, 7 said, "9, what do you think about living here at the library?"
He said, "I'm fine with it."
The voice suddenly said, "If you don't mind, would you all step outside for a few minutes?"
Unsure but curious, they all left the library. The voice gave them directions that led them to a very large clearing outside the town. The wind had been blowing a bit faster than normal.
The clearing was foggy and it was difficult to see very far.
7 said, "Why did you make us come here?"
The voice said, "I had to ensure that I did not accidentally destroy something when I turned into a more physical form. It won't look exactly like me, but that won't matter."
The wind began to blow faster, causing the fog to swirl around. The fog bunched together in front of them, forming a massive cloud. It got larger and larger until it was slightly larger than the Machine when it was fully intact. A circular red spot formed in the fog, appearing as though something was shining a red light from inside the cloud.
The ragdolls just stared at it.
The voice, this time coming from the fog, said, "You're considerably calmer than I thought you would be."
9 said, "You might want to look at yourself."
The red spot moved as though it was trying to look at itself.
It said, "What? That's it? A giant cloud of fog? Well that's disappointing."
7 said, "What did you expect?"
"I expected to look a bit more like myself, not like a giant cloud of fog."
The ragdolls were silent.
"Just to reassure you, I have no intention of harming you, directly or otherwise. Not sure if I could do that even if I wanted to, at least while I'm like this."
7 said, "Who are you?"
The cloud of fog said, "You still haven't figured it out yet? I'm- No… I'd better leave my identity for you to figure out."
The cloud then began to move towards the town.
9 said, "Where are you going?"
The cloud said, "I'm going to fix the bridge leading to the factory."
"Because I want to."
As it left, the ragdolls looked at each other and went back to the library.
Later that night, 9 left to see how the bridge repairs were going. By the time he got there, the cloud had finished. It looked as though the bridge had never collapsed in the first place.
When the cloud noticed 9, it said, "I had to go into the ravine to get it, but it's fully repaired."
9 couldn't resist asking, "You-you didn't happen to see 6's body, did you?"
The cloud looked at him. "6's body? Heh heh heh. Looking for that is pointless."
It was right. There was no point in trying to find the others' bodies. The others were gone forever.
The cloud said, "I know what you're thinking. You will see them again someday. When, I can't say, but you will see them again." The cloud then carefully went over the bridge to the ruins of the factory.
9 knew what it had meant. He and the remaining ragdolls would die someday. Whatever controlled the cloud apparently liked them, but there was no way it could prevent them from eventually dying (at least he didn't think so). He couldn't help but wonder how it had been able to use fog to make a somewhat physical body.
He began to think about 7's dream. What had happened to her? Why did she hear 2's voice? Was it something that could've happened that didn't? Or was it just a dream? He was thinking about it so hard and concentrating so much, he failed to realize that he was walking towards the ravine…
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7 was getting very concerned. 9 had been missing for hours.
Outside, she heard the voice yell, "7! Have you seen 9 anywhere?"
7 went outside, saw the cloud of fog, and said, "I was wondering that myself."
"Well, last I saw him, he was near the bridge I fixed and… Oh no."
"What is it?"
"I just thought of something. We need to get to the ravine fast."
The cloud quickly moved towards the bridge, with 7 and the twins following.
The cloud had moved a lot quicker than the ragdolls. By the time the ragdolls had gotten to the recently repaired bridge, the fog had already reached the bottom and was climbing back up.
7 and the twins were very impressed at how well the cloud of fog had repaired the bridge.
The fog appeared over the edge. "Well, I've got good news and bad news. The bad news is, 9 was at the bottom of the ravine." The fog then seemed to extend a part of itself. When it moved back, 9 was lying on the ground, his eyes closed.
"The good news is, I'm quite certain he's still alive."
7 almost didn't hear it say that.
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The only thing that 9 was aware of was a numbing pain all over his body. He couldn't move and he couldn't hear anything. He had no idea what had happened.
Suddenly, everything seemed to fade away. It was replaced by a new feeling. He felt like he was running and everything seemed to come back. It was the middle of the day, but he couldn't tell where the sun was. He was definitely running, but he didn't know what he was running towards. He then saw it. 7 was lying on the ground, unmoving. He felt a sudden urgency. When he got to 7, he got on his knees and gently shook her, hoping for some kind of response. One of her fingers twitched just a little.
Suddenly, a voice cut through the scene. "Open your eyes, 9. What you're currently seeing isn't actually happening." It was a voice he had never heard before.
He then realized that he was waking up.
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7 felt relieved when she saw 9's eyes blink open.
When the cloud of fog noticed, it said, "Thank goodness you're awake. I was getting quite concerned about you."
9 said, "What happened?"
"Well, I found you at the bottom of the ravine, though I'm pretty sure you were slowed by something because you were just unconscious."
"Where did you find me?"
"The bottom of the ravine. Judging by your tone of voice, you weren't aware of that."
9 suddenly felt like something had happened when he was down there, but he couldn't remember what.
7 found herself asking, almost automatically, "How were you able to turn yourself into fog?"
The cloud of fog, realizing she was talking to it, said, "I somehow managed to get a very large amount of life force, and no, I don't know how I got that amount of life force in the first place. By the way, the sunrise is quite beautiful."
The ragdolls looked at the sunrise for a few moments. When they looked back to where the fog had been, it was completely gone.
7 said, "Okay…"
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For the rest of the day, 9 tried to remember what had happened in the ravine. All he had managed to recall was accidentally stepping over the ravine, using his fingers against the wall of the ravine to slow down, and being able to land on the bottom without being harmed. He had then turned around, but he didn't remember what he had seen or what happened afterwards. It was almost as though his memories were being repressed…
Suddenly, 7 grabbed his wrist. She said, "9, I think you should see this."
She took him and the twins outside. Almost immediately, they could see it. The factory had been (as far as they could tell) rebuilt. They all walked towards it, wondering just how much of it had been rebuilt. When they got close, they all momentarily wondered if the machinery was going to switch on.
A voice said, "Don't worry. Nothing's going to suddenly turn on. Only the Fabrication Machine could control that, and I can't activate it."
The ragdolls spun around to see the cloud of fog looming over them.
7 said, "How in the world did you manage to rebuild it THAT quickly?"
"Er, I don't know. It took a lot less time than I thought. Go on in."
The ragdolls just stared at the red spot in the fog.
It groaned and said, "I'm serious, nothing in there is suddenly going to turn on by itself, and I won't follow you."
7 said, "Why do you want us to go in there?"
"I want you to be able to see how well I can build and create."
The ragdolls immediately went to the entrance to the factory, not because they wanted to see the inside, but because they wanted to get away from the increasingly sinister cloud of fog.
The cloud of fog had done a surprisingly good job of repairing the factory. It looked as though it had never been blown up. Part of the roof of the Fabrication Machine's chamber was still collapsed, though. They, somewhat thankfully, did not see 8's body in the chamber. However, they did see the Beast's body (still with its head unattached) and the inactive body of the Fabrication Machine itself. It had been repaired so well, it looked as though it was going to get up at any moment.
At that point, the ragdolls had had enough. However, the pipe that led directly to the outside of the building had been blocked off by a rock. The main entrance had also been blocked off. In fact, every way out of the factory had been blocked off one way or another. The only way that hadn't been blocked off was the hole in the roof, but there was no way they could get to it.
Upon realizing this, 9 said, "We're locked in."
7, her mind filled with unpleasant memories, said, "I think we can tell that."
"Why did it want us in here?"
"I don't know, but I'm not sure if we can trust it anymore…"
You're absolutely right, 7. You can't trust it. A voice echoed through their minds.
9 recognized the voice. It was the voice that had told him that his vision of 7 lying on the ground wasn't real. He could also hear it better. It was the most unnatural voice he had ever heard, neither male nor female. It wasn't mechanical, though.
7 said, "Who's talking?"
I am. And don't bother looking for me. I am in a location that is very, very, very far away from you.
"Who are you?"
My name is not important. What IS important is that you must keep the Talisman at all times.
9 said, "I left it back at our home."
The library? Well, it'll be safe for a while, but you must not let that "cloud of fog" get it. If that thing gets it, then it'll…uh…how shall I say this…it'll be able to get enough life force to revive itself. If that happens, then I'll have just one real option left…and I don't want to do that because I think I'll end up destroying myself.
9 said, "What is that option?"
You know the white circle in the sky that appears during the night? It's called the moon, and my last real option would involve bringing it down to the ground at a rather fast pace.
7 said, "I don't think we're going to be able to keep the Talisman away from it for very long."
I was prepared for that. If it doesn't get the required life force to revive itself by the morning of the 10th day after the defeat of the Fabrication Machine, then I'll be able to strip it of all its life force and it'll be gone forever. Unless, of course, the B.R.A.I.N. is fully repaired and reactivated at a later date.
The B.R.A.I.N. is what controls the Fabrication Machine. I feel like I'm telling you too much, but I can't help myself.
"How do you know so much about that thing?"
I have been watching this world for a long time. I must tell you how it was able to get so much life force. It is because I gave it the life force of all the humans that had perished because of it. I did so in the hopes of giving it the empathy and logic of a human. From the way it first acted, I thought it had worked, but it didn't. All I really did was end up reviving it in a way. I've already said this, but I cannot stress it enough. You MUST NOT LET IT GET THE TALISMAN.
7 said, "Can't you strip it of its life force now?"
I would, but that would be rather pointless.
There is currently no way for me to get to your location without losing a very large amount of my powers. But that's beside the point. I should tell you that the "cloud" is NOT currently looking for the Talisman, but once it's finished with its current task, it'll go after it, and it will go as far as almost completely destroying the entire town to find it.
The only building it would never dream of damaging is the Scientist's house. Despite its violent personality, it still cares about the man that created it. It's the safest place in this city.
7 said, "That's good, but we can't get out of here."
Don't worry. At dawn tomorrow, return to the Fabrication Machine's chamber. There will be a hole in the ground. It is a tunnel to the outside of the building. Don't go into the chamber before then or you will get caught by the "cloud" when you come out the other side. The sun is currently rising. I will contact you again when you should go into the chamber.
9 said, "Why shouldn't we go in the chamber before sunrise?"
There was no response.
7 sighed and said, "Well, looks like we'll just have to wait."
Author's note: I'm going to end the chapter here because it's getting long. For those of you that are wondering, I use the "Insert story breaker here" things because 1, my original line breaks didn't show up and 2, it adds some humor. The voice's statement about bringing down the moon is a reference to The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask, a game that I find interesting. If the story seems like it's going too fast, I apologize, for I was originally trying to fit the events of nine days into this story, but that ended up not being the case. I should point out that the story so far is NOT the main story, but I felt the need to include some of the back story.
I would also like to mention that I am working on another story at the same time as this, and I might be working on them on and off. One more thing: it has been at least a year since I've seen the movie, and I don't remember all the details. I would appreciate it if somebody would remind me which twin used their eyes to project film during the movie. That's it.