A/N: Some ideas in this story have already been covered in The Scientist, To Help or to Fail Us, and a few other fanfictions that I'm unable to find. I am in no way trying to steal your works, bevinharris, DragonFlame88 – this is what comes of writing a fanfiction 4 years after the movie's come out. I promise I'm taking the ideas down entirely new paths, but in the synopsis the stories might sound similar. They aren't.
TL;DR In the synopsis it might sound like I'm stealing ideas, but I'm not. Promise.
This is an AU, for those wondering. The Fabrication Machine doesn't create anything but mindless beasts in the movie, sadly. The Shards are entirely made up by me, and the Dead City and the Wastes are recurring names for the 9 locations. The weirder stuff later on in the story is all me, and I'm sure Tim Burton would hate it.
Nothing in this story is unintentional. Anything that sounds unimportant – a date, a collection of random letters – is probably a code of some sort, with a sneak peek for future events in the story. For example, the year 1851 V.E. (the year the Scientist builds the B.R.A.I.N. – the V.E. stands for Victory Era), when run through a simple substitution cipher (A=1, B=2, etc.) reads REA V.E., or "reave", which means "to rob someone by force" – a hint of what the glorious nation of Pax is really like. The next code in the story will use "reave" as a keyword.
TL;DR If you're bored, read this^. If not, skip it and go straight to the story.
Reviews are very much appreciated; this is my second fanfiction, and the first was so incredibly obscure that it died, unnoticed, somewhere in the deeps of . Please, please don't let that happen to this story.
A final word: 0 is supposed to speak strangely. Watch it change throughout the story.
Chapter One – Creation
I find myself in a glowing red womb – I cannot move. I know secrets nobody else knows. They cannot die.
I open my mouth to scream, but no sound comes out. I am-
I am burning. Pain. I feel pain. Something is screaming in the background, waving frail metal limbs about. I realize with a start that it is me and close my jaw as the lightning finishes pouring into my frame.
It is dark here. I grope about me. My head is prodded by something I cannot see, and I remember to open the shutters behind my eyes.
Light spills into my vision. I lay on top of a pile of broken dolls and knives and skeletons, looking around the enormous, dusky factory with one thing moving in it.
The thing turns back to me, its giant red eye focusing in. Some part of me screams to run, run away, but I know I need not fear this. The thing stares at me a moment longer, then turns away, shuddering. Electricity plays around the coils surrounding its eye.
I try to call out. "H-hel-"
The machine turns back for a second from whatever it is crouching over, reaching out a single scissor-claw and turning something in my neck.
The creature has finished whatever it was building. It grasps it with three enormous arms and hoists it up to a sliding rack on the ceiling, where the contraption is fastened into place by several huge pneumatic clamps. Dozens of cords drag down from the creation, and the machine turns around to open up panels on its back and attach the wires there.
A sound like a taut balloon being tapped echoes from the creation. "Chh-" The machine frees a wire.
The voice of the creation echoes through the abandoned factory, inordinately sonorous and garbled.
"Who are you?" it says.
If it does not know, then...
I answer truthfully. "I do not know."
"...I am sorry? I..I don't comprehend."
"It is all for the better."
"I apologize, but I really do not-"
"You wonder who you are? You are my son. I made you from the rustheap. I gave you life."
"I..what? I still do not-"
"Who am I, you want to know?" The machine swivels back to face me, its red eye flaring. "Good. That is a very good question. And yet...the most important question still is..."
I involuntarily take a step back from that omnipotent red gaze. "Y-yes?"
"My creation..." The machine looms over me. "Who are you?"
The machine stares down at me, and I realize I am expected to answer. I swallow.
"You...you created me?"
"Then...I am..." I draw myself up. "If you tell me that you are my creator and gave me life...then without any memories or alternate claims, I suppose I must accept that. When there is only one story, it immediately becomes the truth."
I kneel on top of the rustheap. "You say you are my master and creator. With a lack of other witnesses, I must trust you. Therefore...I am your humble servant."
The machine stares at me for a long moment, and I wonder what it is thinking. Then lightning begins to spurt along the edges of its giant eye. The mammoth head shudders and turns away, shaking, with electricity flickering uncontrollably. I eventually realize the machi- my master is laughing.
The shiverings eventually subside, and my master turns back to me. "You're just like him," it rasps.
"Nobody. Nobody, now. It is unimportant."
There is no change of expression in its voice. It is a machine, I reason. There is no sense in its voice being any different than before it began laughing.
What about it makes me so uneasy...?
My thoughts are interrupted as my master begins to speak again. "Very well. If you have pledged yourself to me, I suppose I may recompense you by telling you one small thing...who I am.."
"You are the Machine, are you not?" How do I know that?
The great eye swivels on its arm, creating an illusion of thinking. "That is one of the names the humans had for me. B.R.A.I.N. The Tyrant. Big Brother. The Fabrication Machine."
The arm returns to me, the great red eye coming closer and closer until it is almost pressed against my face. "But...none of those names are my true name. Would you like to know..who I really am?"
No, a voice in me screams, but I swallow it down and nod anyways.
"Who I really am..." My master shudders, lightning playing around its eye. "I am God."
"You – are a god?" I ask tentatively.
The great head nods, slowly, ponderously. "I am the god of this new world, risen like a phoenix from the ashes of the old. I am the giant who escaped the fires of Ragnarok and made the shattered earth green and beautiful again. I was created for this..to take this hellish place and make it a paradise, free from sin..But before I may do that...you must help me do something."
I kneel again. "Is this why I was created, Master?"
The great eye looms over me in the iron sky. "That it is, my child."
I stare up into the great red eye of God. This is my master, I tell myself. They created me, I chose to serve them of my own accord, they have a special purpose for me.
I feel sick and unsteady. Some inner part of me is screaming run away, run while you still can, get away from the monster..
"What must I do?" I ask in a choked whisper.
The eye of God blots out my vision. "The demons of the Old World are not all dead," my master whispers. "Some still live on, blackening the world, marring the very earth we live on. I dream of a perfect world, my child..."
My master moves away. "But that cannot be until all the demons are gone."
It looks back at me from far away. It no longer seems huge and terrifying as it did up close. The machine seems small, more vulnerable.
"My child...I ask this of you, not order it. But it is necessary for our perfect world..so I ask you..."
My master moves a bit closer. "Will you be my warrior and slay the demons for me?"
A long silence stretches – one that I know I am required to break, but.. The question in my head is simple, it is just that-
"I am sorry," I say. "Just to clarify – you wish for me to…purge the earth of demons?"
My master rotates its eye to look at me sideways. "The last demons of Armageddon are very real, my son. Do not believe that they will fade into the shadows so easily. They are out there right now...watching and waiting from the sidelines..waiting to make their move."
My master tilts its head. "Yes. Demons. You do not believe me?"
"No..I am sure they are real...and I am convinced they are a threat, but.." I take a deep breath. "You think I will fight and kill them?"
My master gives a dry chuckle, pops and spurts of electricity flaring around its eye. "That was roughly what I meant when I said "slay the demons", yes."
"I am no warrior! Perhaps you are able to build machines of conquest to destroy them, but I...I cannot fight!"
My master gives an odd little half-chuckle, lightning splaying. "Are you certain?" it asks in its monotone voice.
"Yes..I..why? Yes. Yes, I cannot fight. I will not. I cannot take on hundreds of demons like..." An image of a bulky, goggled creature with an enormous knife pops into my head. "Like some pulp-fiction paladin!"
"There are eight."
"There are eight demons left in this world." My master pivots on its arm. "And if you wish, you need not kill the demons on your own. In Ragnarok I found scattered weapons to purge the world of demons. Find the demons and bring them to me. I will be able to subdue them. And.." The great head moves away. "If a problem should arise and you are forced to fight the demons yourself..defending yourself will not be an issue. Flex your hands."
"Quickly rotate your hands in a circle. Clockwise. It must be clockwise."
I spin both my hands in a clockwise circle. A ratchet grinds as I bring my hands back to their starting position-
Long, wicked serrated steel blades fly out of my forearms and fall into place with an ominous thunk. I yell and stumble backwards, trying to keep my balance with two swords attached to my wrists.
"What in the name of Quirke IS this?" I scream.
My master is laughing again, lightning running off its gigantic eye and igniting stray papers littering the factory's floor. "Now spin your hands counterclockwise," it instructs me.
"This is not funny!" I gasp.
"Spin your hands counterclockwise," my master repeats without any change in expression.
I spin my hands. A weight is suddenly lifted as the blades grind and whisk back into my forearms with as little warning as they gave coming out. I lose my balance and tumble over down the side of the rustheap.
"You see?" says my master, craning its head down to follow me to the floor. "You are in no risk of danger."
"So.." I say, breathing heavily. "I just must find these demons, lure them to you, have you dispose of them, and then wait while a new world is created."
"Yes," says my master. "Once the demons are gone, I will finally be able to create a new Eden for us."
"..And...and what if I say no?"
My master toys with a copper ornament on its neck. "I will not force you to do this for me, my son," it says quietly. "It means, though, that my heaven cannot exist."
"I see," I say in an equally quiet tone.
A moment passes in silence.
"There are eight demons, you say?" I ask suddenly.
"Yes, but you will find them in separate groups. Are you considering..?"
"Yes," I say. The many voices in my head have still not decided themselves, but this is really the only choice I can make. "I'll do it."
"Very well. I thank you for this, my child. Only if you do this can we-"
"They're not dead yet," I growl. "I..let me think...How many groups might I assume they are in? How will I recognize them? Do their appearances differ greatly from one another? Is there anything I should not tell them? Or should not know?"
It is hard to tell for a machine, but it seems my master is staring at me oddly. "I...I do not know all of the answers to your questions," it rasps after a pause. "But..I can guess."
"Tell me," I say.
• • •
A dry wind stings my eyes as I walk through the winding factory corridors leading to the cavernous entrance – the first wind, I think idly, that I have ever known.
"How do I know, then?" I mutter to myself. I was, literally, created only a few hours past. How, then, do I know the feel of wind? The human's name for my master? The feel of the dry earth beneath my feet, the cold, dank metal wall?
Perhaps my master had given me all its memories and experiences before I woke..that would explain my knowledge, but if that is the case...
Why do I feel so uneasy whenever the machine is nearby?
I shake my head irritably. If I already have doubts now...
"The demons will appear in your semblance," I remember my master saying, looming over me in the dark of the factory room. "Do not be deceived. And do not listen to anything they tell you. They will try to lure you to your doom, just as you seek to do to them."
I walk out of the final factory room into a darkening sky, dust blowing round the abandoned and shelled buildings stretching into haze.
All I must do now is destroy the demons. Doubts are only natural, but there is no place for them now. Destroy the demons, and then you have all of eternity to lay back and question in Eden.
Or so I tell myself.
I scramble up a ridge of hard-packed earth under the dusky sky and turn my back on the factory, setting out into the shattered world.