I am a catalogue of memories.

I am a whirl of thoughts in the darkness, racing through space without being able to see where I'm going.

This is birth.

And it feels like drowning.

The first thing I feel is my fingers, closing around so much liquid, trying to grasp it and finding nothing. The next thing I feel are legs. Good legs. Strong legs. Warrior's legs. They are slow to move through this fluid, but powerful.

I'd like to know what they look like, but I can't open my eyes yet. Down here, I am still blind.

Blind but for the memories.

They are mine. . . but they're not. I can open the files to see them, and attached to them are feelings, but they may as well belong to this dark place I'm rising from for all means to me.

They do, really.

Nothing is mine but this body. This body and a name. It's an old name, something they used to call that jumble of basic code—all yellow and orange and broken—that I was made from, but I like it. It's going to be mine.

It always has been.

Rinzler.

I am the result of a poisoned sea mixing with a broken program—the new, born from the schematics of the old. It suits me.

Me, the product of the raw materials of a basic and the power of endless potential.

Toxic, but unlimited, potential.

I can taste the poison here, the darkness of this place that should be so rich and so bright and so active. It is old poison, flushing itself out bit by bit; the sea is reverting around it. It is reverting and I am the first thing it has elected to produce. The beginning of a new generation, the vanguard of the new ISOs.

Our defenders are born first, now.

Not our leaders.

The sea has learned its lesson.

My head is spinning. I am waking up, and I want air. I can feel my newly formed body in the dark, the sea against my skin, and heat from my own illuminating circuits. Heat, and light. I am made up of heat and light and a dead program's memories, scrubbed away from the body that formed them cycles ago. I am forged from the memories of dying, of suddenly reverting to some former state, of leaving nothing of myself but a bad taste in the mouth of the other who crawled back out of the sea in the white-circuited body we once shared. I am heat and light and memory reformed. Reformed by the sea, and an absolutely carnal desire to live.

There is a rush, now, a sudden upward sweep.

I don't know if I swim or if the sea throws me to the surface, and I don't care.

What I care about is the way it feels to breathe; the way air feels in contrast to water as my head breaks through to the world above. I care about the way the leftovers of the sea drip and race down over my nose, my cheeks, how the droplets sizzle on hot circuits. I care about solid ground and what it feels like to brace my feet against it, how it feels to rise up, to unbend my knees and straighten my back and see the world from my full height, to stand for the first time.

This is birth.

And it feels like freedom.