Okay, this is my attempt at a 9 fanfiction that is much more like the original movie than my other story Reawakening. And now to the story!
I'll be honest…I didn't think I'd ever be getting back to this story. But I did. I deleted the other chapters because I'm revising them too. Those of you who reviewed before, don't worry; I saved all your reviews in a Word document.
The sun slowly rose over the cloud-covered horizon, gently lighting up the ruined landscape. A fair distance away from a city once known as Luxembourg was a large forest filled with dead trees. In the middle of the forest was a small, two-room cabin with a porch. It was this cabin that the stitchpunks had been occupying for the last 11 months.
9 was currently sitting on the edge of the porch, staring in the direction of the city. He had been dreading this day for a long time; it was the one-year anniversary since the demise of the Fabrication Machine. It was a reminder of what had happened, what had been lost and why…what could've been if it had never happened.
9 sighed. 7 and the twins 3 & 4 had tried so hard to encourage him to see it in a more positive light; the others were free, and since the Fabrication Machine's head had blown up, the chances of it being revived again were, at the absolute best, incredibly slim. 9 was glad that the Fabrication Machine wasn't coming back, but it did little to relieve his guilt. Something that did relieve his guilt (albeit very slightly) was what had happened a month after they had moved into the cabin; small plants had sprouted from the ground, coming from seeds in the ground that had escaped the toxic gas and had germinated when it had rained after the others' passing. For several days, the stitchpunks had been thoroughly fascinated by the seedlings, which had grown rather quickly. By now, most of the seedlings had grown into healthy saplings. The plants were proof that life was returning to the world and they were nice to look at in general, but, after his initial fascination, 9 was saddened by the fact that the five who had died wouldn't be able to enjoy it with them. What made 9 feel even worse was his realization that if the others hadn't died and been released, it likely would never have rained, and the saplings would have remained seeds.
Anyway, 9 wasn't out here because he wanted to be alone; he was on the porch because he was also watching for 7. When 9 and the twins had woken up, 7 was nowhere to be found. They weren't surprised; she did this at least once a month. She was usually gone for a few hours. Usually, she would go to the city to gather supplies, though it was also because she didn't like staying in one place for too long. The twins would also occasionally return to the library, often staying for days at a time but letting 9 and 7 know before they left.
9 sighed again. 7 had been so kind to him over the last year. Her love for him had gradually become more and more obvious. While 9 was glad that she loved him (and her feelings were not unrequited), he had also gradually gotten a strange feeling. It felt like he was getting something that he didn't deserve…
Regardless of what he felt, 7 knew that 9 couldn't let go of his guilt. She also knew that living in the library (or the city in general) wasn't helping. As such, she had decided to find a new home outside the city. The cabin in the middle of the woods was the perfect choice. The woods were on the side of town opposite of the ruins of the factory, yet the cabin was still close enough to the town to where it wouldn't take very long to get there. As for the interior, 7, upon entering it, knew that it hadn't been lived in since at least a few years before the Machine wiped out all life. There wasn't a single corpse in either of the rooms, there were books in the bedroom (the 2nd room) that would be easily accessible to the twins, there was a small hole in the wall of the bedroom that led out to the porch that was large enough for the stitchpunks to be able to use and could easily be covered up, and there were several soft objects that could be used as beds. It was so perfect, it was like the previous inhabitant had left it for the stitchpunks (which would have been really creepy if that had been the case).
Anyway, 9 was beginning to wonder if he should go after 7 when he spotted her slowly walking towards the cabin from the direction of the city. 9 was glad to see her, but he knew that something was wrong. For starters, when she came back after her outings, she would never walk so slowly, and she would never go to the ruins of the town if she was tired. It WAS a long walk, after all.
And what was that she was carrying in her arms…?
For a long time, all I had known was darkness, warmth, weightlessness, and muted sounds. Then, without almost any warning, it all went away. It was quickly replaced with cold, the feeling of something pressing against my side, and a strange panting sound that went away after a while. I curled up, trying to stay as warm as I could. Then something touched my arm. My eyes almost unconsciously opened in response. What I saw was something I would not easily forget.
It was beautiful. It stared at me with a look that I couldn't understand. After a few moments, the white being slid its hands under me and pulled me closer to it. I, not sure why it was doing that, tried to squirm away. In response, the being began speaking in a gentle and familiar tone. I could hardly understand it, but it calmed me, and I let it hold me close to it.
Our skin was the same color, but looked and felt different. Our hands were also different. I didn't care about how we looked, though; there was something about this being that made me feel safe. I liked feeling safe. I could sense something in the being that felt comforting and pleasant. I didn't know what it was, but I liked it.
Feeling warm, safe, and comfortable, I quickly fell asleep.
My sleep wasn't peaceful for long. A weird, blurry red eye soon appeared. I could sense something from it that haunted me, disturbed me. I wanted to get away, but I couldn't move. It was saying something, but I couldn't understand it. It sounded scary and menacing. And then, when it was done, it reached out with a large, grey three-clawed hand…
I woke up when it touched me. I felt so glad that it wasn't real, I started to go back to sleep. Then I realized that something was actually touching me. It had a trace of the same darkness, the same scariness as the red eye. I looked…and immediately wondered how the being could have that.
Wherever we were was dark, but I could easily see the being's face. Its skin was darker, but it looked and felt just like mine. It stroked me with its gentle hands, which looked exactly like mine. Its voice was gentle and soothing, and I could sense that pleasant feeling in the being. The being had also wrapped me in a soft, brown cloth. I didn't know why, but I didn't care; I felt just as warm as I had used to.
The first being that had touched me was sleeping nearby, and I could see flickering lights in the distance. I didn't pay any attention to it. All I wanted to focus on was the fact that I was safe and warm. I felt tired again, and I closed my eyes and drifted off to sleep.
The first month of my life was spent learning. I learned about numbers, words, letters, definitions, and the like. 7, the first being to ever touch me, also told me why she had named me 10; she couldn't think of anything else more fitting at the time.
I also learned what the darkness I had sensed when 9 first touched me was; it was grief. I brought it up to 7 once (more specifically, I asked her why 9 seemed sort of sad almost all the time) and she told me that it was because he felt guilty about something that had happened a year before they found me. I tried to get her to explain, but all she would say was that it was an accident caused by ignorance. From that, I got the feeling that it wasn't something they wanted to talk about.
I also made myself a loose skirt that went down to the middle of my thighs out of the sleeve of a hot pink (that was the color) dress that I found. Why? Because I was never comfortable letting the area between where my legs attach to my hips (or whatever it's called) show. Why? That I don't know. I just never got comfortable with it.
During my second month of life, I got a little bored of constantly staying in the cabin, so 7 and 9 took me outside one afternoon to show me the saplings that grew in the forest of dead trees outside our cabin. It was one of the greatest days of my life.
At the end of the month, 7 gave me a surprise; I was allowed to spend the whole day in the city beyond the woods. Needless to say, I was quite excited. Since it was dawn, I would be able to spend a long time there. The only restriction was that I come back before sunset and to avoid doing anything dangerous.
When I asked her if she could come with me, she said, "I would like to, but I can't."
I said, "Why not?"
"To be honest, I'm not sure if I'd be comfortable going back there."
The moment she said that, I knew she was lying. The reason she wanted me to leave was because something was wrong with 9, and she didn't want me to see what. How did I know this? I just did. I also knew that if 7 didn't want me to see it, it would probably be a good idea to cooperate.
After asking her for directions, I ran off. When I finally reached the edge of the forest, not only could I see the town, but I was barely out of breath, even though I wasn't really breathing. I was surprised by my stamina.
When I got to the city, I was quickly overwhelmed by the sheer power of the place. There were no plants at all (aside from long dead ones), there were bodies in every single corner of the streets, and the amount of destruction was more than I could comprehend. There was something oddly familiar about it, but I didn't care. I sped through to the other side of town, barely paying attention to the destruction around me. I eventually came across something that I would never forget; the remains of a giant, metal…thing that looked as though it had once been something. In the same area, I found a helmet made out of part of a bird skull. I put it on. It was quite loose, but it wasn't too bad.
I continued forward for a while and eventually noticed an odd-looking contraption in the distance. It looked like a box with a weird horn on it. When I was close enough, though, something else caught my attention.
It was another stitchpunk, one that looked disturbingly like 9 aside from having buttons fastening its skin and it having only one eye. I went up to it out of curiosity. The other stitchpunk didn't move, and its eye stayed wide open. It was creepy on a number of levels.
Finally, when I got to it, I got on my knees and touched it…and immediately pulled my hand back. In its body, I had sensed absolutely nothing. I had touched things where I didn't sense anything before, but those had never been alive before, or had been dead for a very long time.
I found myself grabbing onto the other stitchpunk's arm. No, there was something; there was a lingering trace of life; this stitchpunk really had been alive once. I could also sense other things; this stitchpunk had been murdered painfully. There was something else, but I didn't bother trying to sense it.
Did this stitchpunk do something wrong? Did it do something to deserve such a painful death? No. It didn't. I would've sensed it if it did. After a while, the emptiness I sensed in its body started to get to me. I don't know exactly how long I sat there, crying, hunched over the body of someone I'd never get to meet.
When I finally stopped crying, I started to wonder what its name was. I rolled it onto its side so I could see its back. There was a 5. For several moments, I wondered why 7 and 9 hadn't told me that there had been others. Then I realized that it was to save me sorrow for what they'd lost.
I put 5 back into the position I found it and I found myself saying, "Goodbye…5."
As I walked home, I couldn't stop thinking about 5. What was 5 like when it was alive? Are there others out there? Are they all dead? If so, where are their bodies? What killed them? Did it have something to do with 9's grief?
By the time I got back home, it was sunset. Instead of going in, I sat down on the edge of the porch with my back to the wall and waited for 7 to come.
I didn't have to wait long. After a few minutes, I heard 7 amusedly say, "I see you found my old bird skull helmet."
When I didn't respond, she said, "Is something wrong?"
I said, "Did there used to be others?"
"Oh god. You found one of their bodies, didn't you?"
7 sat down next to me and put her arms around me. I returned the hug.
I said, "You let me go to the ruins by myself because something's wrong with 9, didn't you?"
7 somewhat guiltily said, "…Yes."
"I thought so."
After a few moments, I said, "So what's wrong with 9?"
"I think his grief's getting to him."
I had a feeling it was something else, but I didn't say anything about it.
Instead I said, "What killed the others?"
"Was it made out of metal?"
"…Yes. It was."
"Why did it kill them?"
"It wanted to kill all life."
"…I'll tell you that when you're older."
With that, we broke the hug and 7 went back inside. I stayed out until it started raining. 7 had moved 9 to a rather isolated area. He was on a makeshift bed that looked somewhat hastily made. When I touched 9, I knew that whatever was wrong with him was definitely NOT caused by his grief. He seemed weak and didn't talk at all, but he looked happy to see me.
When I went to sleep that night, I had a nightmare where I was being relentlessly chased by the red eye, and it roared constantly. I never told anybody about it.
Everything went by pretty normally until the day I turned three months old. By then, I had discovered that I was able to communicate back-and-forth with 3 and 4 using body language. They told me that we were brought to life by a human who had given each of us a piece of his soul. Except for me; I had been given life through a different process. When I asked them by which process they thought I was given life, they started acting goofy. I haven't brought it up to them since.
Anyway, I was sitting on the bank of the stream a few feet behind our cabin and I was thinking about how the Scientist had used pieces of his own life to give the rest of the stitchpunks their lives. I'm not sure what happened next or what I thought about next, but the next thing I knew, I was back in the cabin, lying in the blankets I had first awakened in, and I was in the same area as 9. 7 was next to us. The moment she saw me wake up, she started talking to me. I found out two things; one, I had been asleep for three days, and two, 7's concern for 9 and me was starting to affect her mind.
When I was six months old…
I sat on the banks of the stream, which had become a small river as a result of the rainstorm a few hours ago. 9 was still sick and whatever had happened three months ago had left me with minor weakness and seriously decreased stamina. I used to be able to run for an hour without getting tired. Now I couldn't run for two minutes without collapsing. At least 7 had regained her sanity the week before with my help.
I looked up at the clouds. It looked like it was gonna start raining again soon. I stood up…and I immediately became dizzy. The image of the red eye flashed in my mind as my dizziness quickly got worse. I blacked out in seconds.
Author's note: This took a lot longer to write than I thought it would. I have no plans to continue Reawakening.
I think I should explain 10's choice of clothing. Her decision to wear 7's bird skull helmet was inspired by Barn Owl Girl's profile picture. My decision to give her a loose skirt was partially inspired by the description of Infinity in the last chapter of Barn Owl Girl's "Seven Days" (which was the ONLY chapter of that story I ACTUALLY READ). For those of you who read that story, I know that it mentioned that Infinity wore a blouse, but I didn't know what a blouse looked like, so I imagined a skirt instead.
One last thing; this story was inspired by Celestial Rainstorm's "Eternal Family."
Edit (7\18\12): I wanted the process by which 10 was brought to life to be ambiguous, but it didn't turn out that way. I think.
Note to self: Beginning of a journey, Meeting the Guardian, The Elder, and The Striped One.