AN: I hadn't anticipated the obsession GLTAS would become when I first started watching it, let alone how hard I would end up shipping Razer/Aya. Alas, here I am, swimming in a sea of inspiration for a pairing so darn perfect I don't know what to do with myself.
This is inspired by the Lazarus Project in Mass Effect 2, and I've taken some liberties, as I am liable to do when given the chance. Set some time after the end of 'Dark Matter', when Razer goes in search for Aya.
Disclaimer: I do not own Green Lantern: The Animated Series or its characters.
by Miss Mungoe
"No being as adaptable and resourceful as she could truly be deleted from existence."
– Razer, 'Dark Matter'
Her first awareness upon waking was of cool air brushing against her cheeks.
Odd. She knew the reactions of her artificial skin to the elements of various planets and atmospheres like she knew her own circuitry – like the back of my hand, as Hal Jordan would say – but there was nothing recognizable about the new sensation.
What followed immediately after was a strange sort of tingling, akin to the static she would feel when coming into contact with a power ring, and her fingers twitched in automatic response, closing against the palms of her hands–
The thought materialised at the same moment her eyes fluttered open, and she felt her brows furrow in confusion. But it was not with the familiar shift of her artificial fibres – she could feel it this time; every twitch, every movement, no matter how minuscule. Muscles, she realized with a start, and shock raced through her with enough force to make her breath catch in her throat–
A hand flew to her neck before she knew what she was doing, and she frantically palmed the skin of her throat with a fascination brimming with panic. For it was not the synthetic texture of her robotic skin beneath her strange, new fingers; not the skin she knew, the one that was her own. No, this was something else. Uneven, flawed, warm skin. Organic, her mind supplied through the haze. Not artificial; not cool and smooth and perfect.
And then she felt it, jumping against her hand, pushing against the skin of her throat – a pulse – and right at its heels the foreign sensation of something within the confines of her chest expanding–
A wheezing sound tore from her lips at the realization, but she was unable to process what she was discovering. Her mind reeled violently, and she clenched her eyes shut at the alien pain directly behind her brow, as though her mind had suddenly become too large for the shell of her skull.
"Ah. You are awake."
The voice drifted past her confusion, registering despite the haze of her thoughts, and she started, not having realized she was not alone. Something was wrong with her scanning system; she had not detected the presence. Disconcerting. Her vision struggled to adjust to the light of the room, and her gaze shifted to where the voice had come from, but the action required more effort than she was used to, and she strained her eyes against the glare. Her vision wasn't nearly as sharp as it should be, and now that her senses were slowly coming back, she realized something else. The steady hum of her surroundings that was a constant companion – the breath of every being in her vicinity and the thump-thump of their hearts – it was all...gone. What was left was a quiet so deafening she did know what to make of it, and she almost felt like screaming at the hollow feeling it left within her.
"Do not worry – you will get used to it. Breathe."
There was a hand on her forehead, and warmth spread from the touch, seeping through her skin. Aya gasped for air, and panic welled up within her when she realized she didn't know how to keep breathing–
"Relax. Let it come naturally – breathing does not require control. It is an unconscious action, like the beat of your heart."
"I–" she choked, and coughed. That, too, was alien, and decidedly uncomfortable. Her throat burned as air forced its way out, and she could feel moisture as it welled up in the corners of her eyes. She had no control of her own form; it was like she was just a visitor, trapped in confines that moved without her permission.
"Your vocal chords will also take some getting used to, I imagine," the voice hummed from above her. Not unkindly, but it did little to soothe her steadily rising panic.
"I–I do not–" she croaked weakly.
A face materialised before her then; clear, yet still not as clear as it should be. She could not see the finer details of the features before her; the minuscule lines of age and worry and humour marring the skin, or the hundred different shades of the eyes looking down at her. All she could make out was vague worry-lines, and if asked all she could have said about the eyes would be that they were dark. Nothing more.
A smile stretched across the face then. "Do not strain yourself. You will become used to your new vision soon enough."
"My new...vision?" Her voice felt odd. Sounded odd. Flawed. Not like the voice of an AI; artificial, perfect. No, it sounded more like...more like...
The creature nodded, and through her muddled thoughts she could make out that it was a female. Not human, but of a similar species. She had seen such a species before...but when...? "Yes. Like the rest of your form. It is not as advanced as your former shell, but I believe you will find it a more...suitable host for your mind. A robotic frame can only do so much for a living soul, after all."
Aya tried to will her form to move, the same way she was used to, but it would not work. Her awareness of herself was growing with every passing second, and the panic that had risen in her grew along with her new senses.
"Relax. Take your time. It's all about instinct, really, this shape. You will not be in control of everything, as you are no doubt used to. Calm yourself, and let go. Breathe."
"Who–" she stopped, her voice breaking with the unfamiliar action of speaking, and her teeth clamped down on her lower lip in surprise. She hissed as pain blossomed at the corner of her mouth, and her hand shot up to cover the searing spot before she could even register the action. When she pulled it back, her eyes widened at the red marring her fingertips. "What–" she croaked, disbelieving. Blood?
"Ah, yes, I assume this will be your biggest obstacle. It's an unfortunate side-effect of having an organic form, but then–"
The soft drone of the voice became a steady hum in her ears as she stared dumbly at her fingertip and the bright red of the blood marring it. Blood. She bled. Like a...like a...
An organic life-form.
Her breath hitched in her throat, and she made a sound she hadn't thought she'd ever be capable of making – a choking sort of gasp, produced only by beings with lungs and vocal chords, and...and...
The face appeared before her again, and the dark, bottomless eyes were smiling and kind. "I apologize; I got ahead of myself. I should have introduced myself earlier. My name is Na'ane. Pleased to make your acquaintance at last, Aya."
Aya did not know how to respond to that, or how to process what she was being told. Now that she thought about it, she had no clue how to react at all, and the sensation of utter helplessness was so startlingly unfamiliar she felt like she'd been left, floating alone in deep space with no tether to keep her rooted and safe. Something stirred within her – in the pit of my stomach, she remembered how Kilowog had once phrased it – and she felt as if something was pushing its way up her throat, and clamped a hand over her mouth to keep it from escaping. The feeling was too overpowering, however, but before she could think about what she was doing her chest heaved violently, making her buckle over, collapsing in on herself. Yet nothing happened; nothing spilled out but dry air, but the pain was no less fierce than if she should have forcibly ejected her own circuitry.
A warm hand rubbed at her back as she heaved again, and tears sprang to her eyes, rolling down her cheeks and dripping onto the white fabric covering her. She wanted it to stop, but she could not command her limbs; foreign parts of a form she had no clue how to come to terms with, let alone control. Her chest burned and her throat hurt, and having been used to only a limited set of senses, the countless new ones that were presenting themselves one after the other were threatening to undo her.
When she finally stopped heaving, her blurred vision focused on the first thing they found before her; her legs and her feet, naked and stretched out before her on the slab of metal on which she was sitting.
"Do you like them?"
It took her a moment to realize she had spoken the word aloud, and Aya felt her cheeks flare with heat as a strange feeling raced through her, and one of her hands came up to touch the skin of her face, marvelling at the sudden, unexplainable rise in temperature. Beside her, Na'ane laughed, and Aya shifted her gaze to her, and the wide grin on her face.
"As I said; it will take some time getting used to. However, I hope it is to your liking," she said once her laughter had subsided.
"What...what have you done?" Speaking was an effort, but she attempted it to the best of her ability. The evidence was clear before her eyes – her new eyes – but still the truth refused to register. For once, Aya could not comprehend. Could not analyze and process. She felt useless.
Na'ane stepped up before her, and nodded to where she was sitting, disbelieving in a form that was not her own, hands shaking in her lap and her mind reeling to take in everything that was happening. "I salvaged your soul from being destroyed, and ever since I have worked on giving you a new form to inhabit. It has not been easy, but then I have never been one to back down from a challenge. And I proved successful, did I not?"
Aya looked down at herself again, and at the trembling hands in her lap. Ten fingers. Ten toes on her small, bare feet. Legs, smooth and slim, thighs and well-rounded hips. All feminine, and all reminiscent of her old shell. Reminiscent, but not the same. Smooth and soft and tinted green, but nothing like robotic material.
Her head shifted, and the feel of something brushing against her jaw sprang to her mind, and she frowned. Before she knew what she was doing, her hands were on her head, tangling in–
She ran her fingers through it, disbelieving, this more than anything else. Vanity had never been a priority or an obsession, though the concept had long fascinated her, and she had often wondered about the strange addition to the forms of some organic lifeforms, like the earthlings. The texture was soft but unfamiliar, like everything else about her new body. It brushed against her jawline, and when she moved her head, some of it fell into her line of vision. White, she noticed. Hair. She had hair.
Something bubbled up within her as realization finally dawned, and she nearly choked, because she recognized this feeling. She'd felt it before, though that had been in a different situation; a different place. But it was familiar, and oddly enough, it felt almost...natural, in the confines of her new form. It did not feel foreign, as it had in her robotic shell; this burst of sudden emotion.
She looked up at the being standing above her, and noted for the first time the familiar violet uniform, and the power ring covering the middle finger of her right hand. A Star Sapphire, but...why? Had they not condemned her very existence? Why would one of them bring her back?
"Why have you done this?"
Na'ane smiled secretly. "It was done in the name of the power I serve, but mostly...it was as a service to a friend," she said, and left it at that, crossing her arms over her chest in a manner Aya had seen Razer do when unwilling to discuss a matter further.
Aya shifted in her seat, brows pulling down in a frown. "I do not understand." The power she served? Had they not told her her existence defied the very essence of that power? That machines could not love and were thus abominations? She could not process the contradiction before her, and her head hurt – yet another unfamiliar effect of her new form. Never had she felt like this when faced with a conundrum.
"It does not matter overly much," the Star Sapphire said with a shrug. "What matters is that you are alive."
Aya, you are alive.
With measured movements, she shifted her legs, sliding them until they dangled off the slab beneath her. The voice in her head pushed through her muddled thoughts; the caress of the syllables of her name so achingly familiar in an existence where she recognized nothing, that she grasped onto it with what little control she had of her own mind.
What had happened to him? To her? She had...the virus. She had designed the virus to eliminate herself; she had not made any mistakes, surely? She had died; her soul, along with her physical form. Dissolved. There had been nothing to upload; she had been tainted, doomed.
I salvaged your soul from being destroyed, and ever since I have worked on giving you a new form.
A thousand queries passed through her mind. How had she been saved? How, amongst the deletion of every trace of the Aya Program, had she – the very core – been 'salvaged'?
Yet that was not her main concern, as much as it confused her, as another query pushed its way to the forefront of her mind, along with another surge of panic. "To...to what purpose have you...resurrected me?" Her voice was wary as she spoke, and her fingers twitched as she anticipated the answer. Was this some ploy to take up the mission she had stopped herself from completing? Had her efforts in destroying herself failed? Razer–
The Sapphire surprised her then by bursting into laughter, and a stray memory of Hal Jordan's unpredictable nature popped into her mind, momentarily distracting her from her previous concern. "Ressurected, hmm? An appropriate term," Na'ane hummed, visibly amused. "Purpose, you say? I should not be surprised you will not let it drop; you are as inquisitive as I was told you would be."
Aya ignored for the moment the Sapphire's allusion to having heard about her, and focused instead on her initial query. "Your purpose," she stressed. She lifted one of her hands in front of her, as if to emphasise her point. Turning it over, she let her gaze rest on the fingers; the elegant shape of her hand, the dipping palm and the slim wrist that had once been pure robotic material. Turning it again, she caught the shift of something beneath the skin, and it was physically hard to tear her eyes away.
"Why?" she asked again, unable to emphasise the sheer extent of her confusion any better.
Na'ane shrugged. "The answer is not half as complicated as what you are no doubt imagining," she said, contrary to the fact that Aya could not comprehend it even if she tried. All she had learned about the Star Sapphires was in direct opposition to what she was being told, after all. So she said nothing, but her silence seemed only to amuse her companion, and Na'ane tilted her head with another smile. "My purpose, as you phrased it, has little to do with the galaxy, or even myself personally. I am simply a mediator. Nothing more, nothing less. My purpose is, and has been for some time now, you."
Aya blinked, the words registering, but not processing. "Me?"
She grinned. "Yes. You. And your life."
"I do not understand. Please explain."
The Sapphire sighed, and shook her head, though her perceived exasperation was contradicted by the smile stretching across her face. She said nothing, though, but reached for Aya's hand, and tugged her forward before she could move out of her reach.
The cold that shot through her as her feet hit the floor made her hiss, and she wobbled a bit in her step, catching herself on the edge of the metal slab to keep herself upright. Her free hand was still caught in the Sapphire's, and Na'ane kept her steady as she wavered. Still, the strange matronly being said nothing, and tentatively Aya wiggled her toes against the floor beneath her, feeling the fine points of her new feet as she shifted her weight experimentally.
Meeting her gaze, Na'ane nodded to something to her right, and Aya followed her gaze, taking a measured step away from the slab as she did so, but her legs buckled beneath her almost immediately. She would have fallen if not for the hands catching her, and Na'ane lifted her back to her feet without another word. It did not feel all at like walking had used to feel like, and the more she thought about the movements of her bones and the muscles in her legs, the more complicated it became. So she tried to do as she had been told – to let go, and go by instinct, although how to dothat seemed even harder to grasp.
The hands below her elbows kept her steady as she wavered, and when she raised her gaze, she found what the Sapphire had tried to show her – a mirror. The reflection thrown back at her had her stopping completely in her tracks, and her previous focus at rediscovering how to walk was pushed almost forcefully to the back of her mind in light of her newest discovery.
It was not what she had expected, if she had expected anything at all. It was not the sight she had gotten used to, after she had first taken a physical form. Yet it was her – there was no doubt about that. The shape of her nose, the arch of her brows, the line of her jaw. Though borrowed from another's image, it was still all her – it was still Aya. Rooted to the spot, she met her own eyes in the reflective surface; blue, as she remembered. Familiar, where everything else was new, but yet not the same.
One of the hands holding her upright landed on her shoulder; the warmth seeping through the skin startling enough to pull her from her near trance, and she realized with another start that she was standing on her own. Na'ane smiled, meeting her gaze in the mirror, and her grin was decidedly triumphant.
Aya found she could not breathe.
"Happy Birthday, Aya."
AN: Because I really wanted to explore an event in which Aya was given an organic form, and the consequences of this. I imagine she's not the only one who would struggle to get used to it, and that opens up for a lot of interesting possibilities. All the hows and whys will be explained in due time, of course, but in the mean time just bear with me. Feedback is much appreciated!