Chapter 1

Fire filled 7's vision as her small, white body was flung violently across the emptiness when the fireball blew her off her feet. Her back hit a wooden post and she fell limply to the ground, her skullmet coming to rest several feet away. The female stitchpunk briefly blacked out frim the impact but not before her mind replayed the events that caused her to be flung violently off her feet.

Only minutes ago she, 9 the twins and 1 had been running for their lives to escape the dreaded hands of the Fabrication Machine, a robot that seemed intend on ending all life, and then the next her world had been engulfed in a ball of fire. She lay where she was, unable to move as her senses came back to her as quickly as they'd left. It still felt as if she was in that raging inferno.

Suddenly she felt hands grabbing her arms and pulling her to her feet. She snapped her optics openand stared up at the twin faces of 3 and 4, who were helping her to her feet. As they did her mind centered on one thing. "9," she said. She looked at them. "Where is 9?"

3 looked at her then raised his hand and pointed past her. The female stitchpunk turned her head but she did not see 9 as she had been expecting. Instead she spotted another stitchpunk lying on the ground. This one didn't look a thing like 9. It's body was too light and the fabric was much different. For a moment she didn't recognize who it was but when it began moving, pulling itself painfully across the ground she knew right away who it was.

"1!" she called, getting to her feet and rushing toward the older stitchpunk. "1!"

1 looked over at her. She saw his optics were wide with pain and terror. She noticed his hand covered his side which was letting off smoke. "7!" he yelled at her in a terror stricken voice..

As she drew near she saw why. The material on his body had been singed from the explosion, leaving it black and ragged. A second later she saw that the hand was also mangled and useless. He would never be able to use it again.

When she reached him she knelt down beside him, her eyes locked on the damage. It was horrible and she looked away, not wanting to stare at it any longer. It looked even worse close up, especially since oil oozed from the wound. "Where is 9?" she asked him, urgency in her voice.

He looked at her face a moment then turned his head. She followed his gaze toward something further away. The female stitchpunk spotted 9 running toward the Fabricator which was slowly pulling itself over a pile of debris. Right away she knew what he was going to do.

She couldn't let it happen.

"9!" she shouted, getting to her feet and taking off toward him.

The brown colored stitchpunk turned and she stopped, even from this distance she could see the look on his face. He looked scared but determined. He smiled slightly then turned away, focusing his entire attention on the machine.

She reached him and grabbed his arm before he got to close. "Don't!" she shouted. "You can't! You'll be killed!"

9 looked at her, his face filled with determination but she also noticed distress in his optics. It was obvious he was having trouble with his own decition.

9 clasped her hand in his. "They all died because of me," he told her. "I have to do this." When he saw the unbelieving look on her face he smiled slightly. "Don't worry. Everything will be okay."

"But..."

He shot her another reassuring smile then let her go, turning and running toward the machine. She watched him go, trying to decide whether to chase after him or not, then saw him disappear from view. She took off running toward the spot, wondering what was going to happen and wondering if she could stop him.

Just as she reached the incline she saw a green light shining and growing brighter and brighter as she came closer. She knew exactly what it was. "9!" she screamed, suddenly panicking. She tried to run toward him. He shouldn't be doing this. It wasn't right! She had to stop him! She had to

But a hand grasped her arm before she got very far and held her back.

"Don't!"

She looked over her shoulder. 1 was behind her, holding her back with his good hand. "1?"

"Let him go," he said, grasping her arm firmly.

"I can't!" she exclaimed. "I can't just-"

Her sentence was cut off when she saw the light hit the brown stitchpunk. "9!" she shouted, trying to run toward him.

"There's nothing you can do." 1 stated, holding her back.

She didn't believe him. There had to be something she could do, there just had to. She jabbed her elbow into his stomach. He grunted, letting her go. She rushed toward the machine, her optics falling upon the talisman. She had to get to it, had to stop this.

"7, wait!" 1 called after her, making another grab for her arm but missing. He looked down at his hand, seeing he'd used his mangled hand.

The older stitchpunk stood on the top of the hill, watching her, trying to figure out what to do. He couldn't let her do this herself. she could die too. He looked back at the twins. They stared at him as if they were expecting him to do something besides stand there.

He sighed and took off after her, even though his rational mind screamed against it.

By then 7 had already grabbed onto the talisman. She yanked on it hard, screaming that it wasn't going to take 9 even though by then half his soul was already drained. 1 kept his eyes on 7 as he rushed by 9. He'd seen that thing drain someone already and didn't want to watch it again. The stitchpunk also knew once that thing got you it wouldn't let go until it had you completely.

He reached 7 and grabbed her, trying to pull her away. "Stop!" he yelled. "You can't save him!"

She kicked at him, refusing to let go of the talisman. Suddenly the talisman came free and both stitchpunks fell to the ground in a heap. 7 looked up, surprised and turned her head noticing 9 laying on the ground. "9!" she exclaimed, realizing what had happened.

She got up, gripping the talisman and completely disregarding 1. She wanted to run over to the sttichpunk and shake him but she knew it was already too late. 1 got up and grabbed her arm, dragging her and the talisman away as the Fabrication machine turned its attention on them. It wanted that device back.

"We have to get out of here!"

"1, let me go!" 7 exclaimed, fighting against him.

He did so, yanking the talisman out of her hands. What was he doing? 7 took it back. 1 stared at her. "You have to open it!" he shouted at her.

She stared back. Open it? Yes! But she didn't remember how...

She looked down, spotting the symbols. Oh them!

She quickly pressed them, hoping it was the right order.

The device lit up, opening. 7 stared at it as if she had no idea what it was for. Her mind had gone blank.

"What are you doing?" 1 exclaimed, grabbing her arms. "Point it at the machine!"

She spun around, lifting it up. 1 was still grasping it as well. There was an explosion of light that would have knocked her over if 1 hadn't of been behind her, supporting her. Her back rested against his chest but he didn't fall back, having braced himself.

Glowing green lights burst out of the machine's eye, shooting right into the talisman. 7 held on tightly focring herself to stand, though 1 helped with that, until the final light entered it. The devise clicked shut and went dark.

Just then both of them fell to the ground. 7 looked up, seeing the machine explode. She gasped, getting to her feet. 1 jumped up after her and together they took off running in an attempt to avoid being flattened by the now dead machine.

Suddenly 1 tackled her to the ground. As they hit the dirt she heard a loud crash behind her and felt the ground shake under her.

This seemed to last for hours but it might have only been a single minute. Time seemed to be standing still at that very moment. 7 lifted her head, discovering a cloud of brown dust imparing her vision.

Not too long after, things suddenly grew quiet. 7's optics, which she didn't remember closing, clicked open and she found herself staring at the ground. She realized there was a weight on her back and she turned her head, seeing 1 laying on top of her. He looked like he'd been knocked unconscious.

She started to get up, reaching back to push him off her but just then his optics clicked open and he looked at her and reached up as if to touch her face.

She ignored the imploring hand instead shoving him over and grabbing his shoulder, pinning him to the ground. "What did you do?" she demanded angrily.

He stared at her with wide eyes. "I didn't do anything!" he shouted at her. "This wasn't my fault!"

She froze, wondering why she was blaming 1 for what 9 had chosen to do? It really wasn't his fault.

Maybe she was because he was to blame for a lot of things but this hadn't been his fault at all. He'd been trying his best to prevent all of this from happening from the very beginning and even though he didn't like 9 she knew he wouldn't have let this happen to him intentionally.

"I'm sorry," she said, releasing him. "It wasn't you."

1 stared at her briefly and opened his mouth to say something but 7 wasn't thinking about him anymore. She sprang to her feet and rushed back toward the spot where she'd last seen 9.

1 sat up and turned to watch her. He shook his head. He knew she wouldn't like what she saw. Just then he spotted the talisman on the ground where she'd dropped it. He quickly grabbed it up and stood just as the twins reached him. Their optics flickered imploringly. They wanted to know what happened.

1 started to speak but he was cut off by 7 shouting "No!"

He looked at the twins then they all took off toward her and the fallen machine, coming up to 7 who was knealing over 9's soulless body. He froze at the sight, a faint cry escaping his own throat.

She turned him over, staring at his blank, soulless optics. "No..." she couldn't believe this, he couldn't be dead. "Why?" Why would he do such a thing? There could have been another way.

1 and the twins came up behind her but stopped when they saw 9's body. 4 covered her optics as 3 stared at the body, his face a picture of sadness and horror.

"7?" 1 spoke after a moment.

She looked back at him, her expression a mask of sorrow. She stood up without a word and walked toward them. The twins moved around to comfort her but she brushed them off, trying to hide her emotions. It wouldn't do anyone any good if she broke down.

7 reached out and took the talisman from 1's hands.

"7?" he asked. "What are you going to do?"

She looked down at the talisman. For the longest time she didn't say a word but finally she looked up at him and responded. "I'm going to do what 9 wanted."

1 looked at her. "Is that what you want?" he asked, looking down at 9's body.

She nodded, holding the talisman close to her. "Yes." she looked at the twins whose optics flashed with worry. When she spoke again her voice was quiet and sounded broken. "Let's go."