Due to the amount of material that needed to be covered before the next chapter, I asked Akeentia to help out by getting the storylines that he has been working on up to the point where we could move forward. The end result is that he has put together an entire chapter full of surprises; please join me in expressing my thanks for the awesome job that he did!
Koushiro had been leading Josiah up a very steep mountain ever since they had left town. After climbing for several hours, as it began to get dark outside, Koushiro lead them into a small cave.
"We can rest here for the night," said Koushiro as he set down the bag he had been carrying. "Trying to continue climbing into the night would just prove to be dangerous."
Josiah looked around the cave for a few moments before before replying, "It looks like this cave has been used for this purpose before."
"It has," Koushiro said as he started to pull bedding supplies out of his bag. "Any time we have to travel down the mountain, or if someone comes up to visit us, this cave is the in between where it is safe to stay."
"So what's the name of this mountain?" Josiah asked casually as he sat down against one of the cave walls.
Koushiro looked up in thought, "Well, I'm not really sure what it's called these days. You used to call it Yggdrasil."
Josiah chuckled, "Isn't that from mythology? I thought that Yggdrasil was the name of the world tree."
"It is," said Koushiro as he nodded his head. "Or rather that's referring to the tree deep in the temple, whose roots go deep into the mountain. You gave the mountain the same name as the tree because its roots had mixed with the roots of the mountain."
"I have another question," said Josiah. "Back in town, when you opened the inner door so that I could go in and talk to Wido, how did you unlock the door?"
Koushiro grinned at the questions, "I used my life force to ask the door to unlock. As the Navus you can see my life force, is it different than what you are used to seeing?"
"Actually, yes it is," nodded Josiah. "Your energy pattern... or rather your life force looks almost white, while most people are shades of green, yellow, and orange. I've only met one other person that had a pattern that was anywhere near what you have but that life force was a silvery gold color."
"You showed us, long ago, how to live a pure life," Koushiro said as he finished with the bedding and started to build a fire. "How to live with the world, not just take from it. You showed us that humans, when living the right way, can reach a certain level where we can ask our environment to help us and it will. It takes several years for us to truly learn what you meant, but when we finally reach that understanding we end up pure of heart."
"Which is indicated by your very white life force," confirmed Josiah.
"Exactly," said Koushiro.
Josiah thought quietly for a moment before asking, "So, people can change their life force? When I thought what I was seeing was an energy pattern, I always thought that it couldn't change. I used to... find people that way."
"Most people's energy, their life force, their soul, it does not change," replied Koushiro. "As we get older, if our ideals change then our energy can change, therefore giving our life force a different color. But most people never see beyond the ideals that they grow up with, most people never change."
"But I know a pretty sizable group of kids that I would describe as pure of heart, but their life force is about the same as everyone else's," Josiah said sounding somewhat confused.
Koushiro shook his head, "You misunderstand. Mine is close to white because of the kind of understanding and purity that I have adopted into my very being. You can still be pure of heart but not have a pure life force. To have a pure life force, as well as a pure heart, you must become free of the core lies that all humans are entrapped by."
Josiah frowned, "Core lies?"
"Yes," nodded Koushiro. "They are Worthlessness, Comparison, Hopelessness, and Approval."
"What exactly do those mean?" asked Josiah.
"The lie of Worthlessness would be like saying 'I am unworthy of love and deserve to be punished when I fail'," explained Koushiro. "The lie of Comparison is like saying 'I can only feel good about myself when I live up to certain standards'. The lie of Hopelessness is saying 'I can never change, I am stuck like I am'. And finally, the lie of Approval is saying 'I can only feel good about myself when people important to me approve of me'. Those are the core lies that all humans believe as we struggle with shame and identity in our quest for freedom. To achieve both a pure heart and a pure life force, one must overcome the core lies that we believe."
"You make it sound like we have to be perfect in order to achieve such a thing," Josiah said with a hint of anger in his voice.
Koushiro shook his head, "No, we are human, therefore we can not be perfect. But we can learn to overcome what we have been pushed to believe is the only way to live. You showed us how to live this way. Some of us find following your teachings and throwing away the lies to be easy, while some of us struggle constantly because of our past."
"So some of the people I know may have pure hearts, but because of the struggles that they are facing internally, they might not be completely pure?" asked Josiah. "Is that right?"
"That is correct," replied Koushiro as he got the fire going. "That does not make them a bad person, or mean that they are lacking in any way. It just means that they are unable to overcome the lies that the cultures of the world force upon us. While they may not shine like one with a pure life force, one with a pure heart will still shine brightly, regardless of their life force's color."
"What about humanity as a whole? Do you think that they can change?" Josiah asked while inching closer to the fire.
"I'm not really sure. We lack vision," replied Koushiro. "We recover vision when we see ourselves as we are. Vision helps us to think outside of the box, beyond the status quo. But most people lack it. Your teachings speak of a world without vision. You tell us that to live without vision is like living a life where we wander blindly. We aim to live with the vision you have provided for us by forcing ourselves to take a step back and see ourselves from a different point of view."
"I said those things?" Josiah said sounding somewhat bewildered.
"In a past life," Koushiro confirmed before continuing. "You come back to us every time you die, but in a different body. We've never really understood why you die at all, though. It was once thought that you come back as a different person to experience what humanity is going through, to better understand them, but you always find your way back to your temple, and from that point forward you seem to want nothing to do with the outside world. As if you are too disappointed with humanity to want anything to do with them. So instead, you dedicate your life to spiritual guidance and healing, for those that would seek it and are pure of heart."
Josiah shook his head, "That's actually kind of sad."
"Why do you say that?" questioned Koushiro.
"Because this world is so messed up that it needs all the help that it can get," replied Josiah. "Aren't the people that live here called the people of Earth? If I am that Earth, shouldn't I be at least somewhat responsible for them?"
"Perhaps, but you cannot make up their minds for them. That would take away the free will that God gave to them," Koushiro said gently. "You are more a guardian over them than their spiritual guide. You've always looked after the Earth itself, or rather what is best for everything that lives on it, not just humanity."
"I guess it's easy to forget that humans aren't the only ones that live here," Josiah said thoughtfully. "But still, if I have the power to help them, why don't I?"
Koushiro shrugged his shoulders, "I can only make guesses as to your reasoning. You are the Navus, the very spirit of the Earth. The embodiment of all the life that exists on this planet. I can not begin to fathom your reasoning for staying out of humanities way. Maybe you feel that they need to just run their course and then you'll clean up after we are gone. Or maybe you're just looking for humanity to be ready for what you have to teach them. Either way, that is a question you have to ask yourself."
"You mean that I have to ask my past selves," stated Josiah.
"That is correct," said Koushiro.
"Can I?" asked Josiah. "Talk to my past selves, I mean?"
"Of course you can," replied Koushiro as he started to pull something to eat out of his bag and offered it to Josiah. "You have just become disconnected from them, but they are still there, they are apart of you. Jenrya, your high priest, will be able to help you reconnect. Or at least show you the way."
"I'm not sure, after hearing all of this, that I really want to talk to my past selves," Josiah said as he accepted what Koushiro was offering. "I mean what could I possibly know then that would make me think now that I should remain uninvolved with humanity?"
"You must remember, though, they are not your people," argued Koushiro. "They belong to God. You are just an unintended caretaker, you are meant to be a gift to them, a place for them to call home. They are meant to be the stewards of the Earth, to take care of it. But as history clearly tells us, which includes history that you have lived through, humanity will do whatever they want to reach their own ends. They are selfish as a whole, with their goals and false vision often serving their own needs and wants."
"But you said that even I've said that was because they lack vision," replied Josiah. "If they lack vision, shouldn't I at least try and help them find it?"
"To what end?" frowned Koushiro. "You can lead them to it but you can not force them to accept it. At least, not without changing their soul."
"Wido said that I can do that," Josiah replied. "If he knew that I could, that means that I have in the past. In fact, that's what I did to kill him. I pulled apart his life force, his very soul."
Koushiro nodded, "The question is, though, should you? You did not destroy the Monsters soul, you just pulled it apart, taking it out of his body. He is now God's to deal with, and I have no doubt where he now resides. But yes, you can change a person's very being, down to the good or bad, the moral feelings of right and wrong. Should you, though? You have taught us that a person has the right to think whatever they will, that God wanted to create a people that would choose to love him, not love him because they were creatively forced that way."
"Then why am I allowed to take on human form?" shouted Josiah in frustration. "Why not a rabbit or a deer? Why does God allow me to be reborn again and again as a human? Doesn't that mean something?"
"But Audo, you are not meant to take care of them, they are meant to take care of you," Koushiro said softly. "You can teach them how best to do it, and care for the Earth, but you are not their keeper."
"And why can't I be? They're lost!" Josiah continued to shout. "They need something to unite them! Something to pull them together and show them that if they remain divided and lost that they'll fail. And if I can take on human form, if God has given this to me, then it has to mean something! What am I supposed to do!?"
"I...I do not know the answer to that question," Koushiro replied, somewhat upset. "Only two beings in existence know the answer to that questions, and you are one of them."
"Then what do you know!?" screamed Josiah. "You can answer all the questions that don't really matter, but when it comes to the important ones, you don't have an answer?"
"Audo, you misunderstand," Koushiro said, sounding as if he was on the verge of crying. "I am here to serve you, learn from you, to do as you ask. I'm not trying to work against you. But please understand, I do not have all the answers. You have the answers. You are the Navus. I, like all of the Navites, have taken a vow to give up our lives to serve the spirit of the Earth and God. You are the Earth, the embodiment of God's creation in this part of the universe. We find peace in your words, comfort in your presence. If you decide that we need to make a change to better serve and protect this world, because that is what you feel is right, then we will help you to whatever end."
Josiah sighed, "Then don't sit here and tell me that we shouldn't help them! The world is so broken and divided... that is what Clan Short is trying to do, fix this world, make life better for everyone. And it starts with those that can't defend themselves..."
"Audo, I am not arguing with you. I am just trying to help answer your questions," Koushiro said softly, as he wiped his eyes. "I know this world is a mess. I did not just decide one day that I wanted to give up my life and serve. My life was taken from me, my family murdered. I had nothing. I understand that this world is broken. But your people, trying to follow your teachings, your intent, saved me. They gave me a home. They gave me a family. We are not against what you want, and you're not entirely either; don't sell your past lives short. But you need to understand yourself completely, first, before you lead us where you need us to go. If you want to march us into hell itself, defying the fates and spitting in Death's face, to save those in need, then we will. Just please, understand yourself completely before you take us down that road. Understand what God wants for you, and what you are here for, before you commit us to any plan."
"So, if I decide that we need to do something to help, you'll help me. Just as long as I understand myself first," Josiah said slowly.
"What would you think if I did want to go out and help people?" asked Josiah. "Would you willingly want to help me? Even if you hadn't taken an oath?"
Koushiro looked down at the fire for a few moments before looking back up at Josiah, "Yes. And I can suggest many places to start. I do not know how we will do what you want us to do, but I know you will find a way, if that ends up being your path. I have faith."
Deep beneath the ice at the other end of the world, within the Ark Compound, a twelve year old boy sat in front of a holographic computer console in the long since forgotten biological laboratory. You could tell he had been working long hours from the dark purple bags under his brown eyes and by the messy state of his dirty blond hair. As he typed away on the computer console the log counter kept counting behind him on the wall showing that this was only the first week he had been working on this project, putting in an average of 22 hours a day.
After a few minutes of silence the computer next to the boy came to life on its own and a holographic image of a fourteen year old boy appeared floating above the controls. The holographic boy looked over the boy at the other console before finally interrupting the silence.
"Trevor? How's it going?" asked the holographic boy.
Trevor, the very tired boy at the console, looked over at the holographic boy and frowned. "It could be better, Cyna. I had to rebuild the Trinary engine that I was using to interface with some of the organic components, which took a very long time. On top of that I found a bug in the synthetic processing system that would process sensation. I haven't worked with programming this complex since... well never!" Trevor said in frustration. "You'd think that bio matter and a Trinary matrix were never meant to work together," He added sarcastically.
"Okay, so this has been a little harder then I originally thought it would be," Cyna said softly. "You're doing an amazing job though. It's at least half working, you're almost there."
"No, half working is bad, not good," replied Trevor as he started reworking the portion of code he was having trouble with. "Half working isn't working at all, this is bio engineering. Half working would be like saying, 'well half of your body works, you didn't need to breath or have a heart beat though did you?'"
"Well you got the hardware right," said Cyna as he looked over at the Cryo-stasis chamber in the middle of the room. "It's just a matter of getting my programming to interface."
"It took me four very long days to get the hardware right, thank you. But it would really help if you'd let me get help from someone in the Archive department that knows what they are doing with this Trinary kind of stuff," Trevor said as he compiled what he was working on. "I mean I'm in that department but I'm still learning Trinary. Ark uses a very different Trinary then is even theorized about in the rest of the world."
"Only two people, other than Tyne and Matyas, know what they are doing with Trinary well enough to help," said Cyna. "That would be Rylan and Nyo. Rylan is still at the AI Division compound, and Nyo would report this to Tyne."
"Right, so again with the no help," said Trevor as he transferred the files he had just compiled over the link to the lifeless body in the Cryo-stasis chamber. "You even admitted that I've gone beyond your understanding with some of this stuff."
"To be honest there were a lot of things for bio matter stimulation that I didn't think you would need to write, that you wrote without even asking if it needed to be written, that I'm impressed with," said Cyna. "I think you'd give Javyk a run for his money in the brains department."
"Well thanks dad," grinned Trevor as he started to run a few tests on the new data.
"Oh yeah, so how did your date with my son turn out? I mean I know the two of you have been kinda together for a week now but neither one of you ever actually talk about your relationship with me," Cyna said as he grinned at Trevor.
"I'll tell you the same thing I told Tyne," Trevor replied calmly. "Mind your own business."
Cyna gasped, "You did not tell that to Tyne!"
"You're right I didn't," giggled Trevor. "I told him I was too tired to answer his questions, and then I walked away."
"That's awful!" replied Cyna. "Well tell me something!"
"He's one hell of a kisser," said Trevor. "There, happy?"
"Hopefully I won't get too much shit for helping you do all of this though," added Trevor. "People are starting to notice the amount of time I go missing for."
"Well then hopefully it won't take you too much longer, at least I'm hoping that it won't," replied Cyna.
"Matyas is starting to ask me questions too," said Trevor. "That's why I'm bringing it up. I won't lie to him if he asks me a specific question about this. I won't ruin my relationship with him by lying to him."
"All the more reason to work harder," Cyna said. "Look I know I'm putting you in a very odd position. I can't do more than just assign you to my project division. Anything I have you work on is classified."
"But you're missing what I'm saying, it's not a problem with everyone else," replied Trevor. "My mother doesn't ask questions, but your son does. And classified or not I won't lie to him if he asks me the right question."
"Well what do you want me to say?" said Cyna. "It's your job, he shouldn't be asking you questions."
"Yeah, whatever; well let's see what I get when I run this," Trevor said as he started up his test files. "I think I have all the bugs worked out, this should get the rest of your body working. If not I think I need a break."
"Hang on; I need to switch to a different console before you..." The room went silent.
"Cyna?" Suddenly his console went blank and a loud hissing sound came from behind him. Trevor turned around in a panic, "Ark, what's going on?"
Matyas stood off to the side of the Training Room, watching Dominic and Rusty train one of their new security teams. Although Matyas seemed to be watching them go through their different Phasenmorph practice drills, he was deep in thought and almost looked as if he was staring through them.
"Are you alright, Mat?" Dmitry asked as he approached Matyas.
Matyas shook his head and then looked over at Dmitry, "I don't really know. I'm thinking about a lot of different things."
"Anything I can help with?" Dmitry asked hopefully. "I can be a really good listener... when I want to be."
"I can see why Dominic likes you so much, you're pretty awesome," said Matyas as he grinned softly. "I mean, who else would have noticed that I wasn't quite here?"
Dmitry blushed, "Umm... thanks."
"So that's the secret, is it?" Matyas said quickly, as he noticed Dmitry blushing. "If I want to make you blush, all I have to do is pay you a compliment that has nothing to do with anything physical."
"Umm, we're getting off topic," replied Dmitry as he grinned and looked away. "So what's on your mind?"
"It's Trevor," Matyas said simply.
Dmitry frowned, "Is something not going well? You guys seem to really get along well, and everyone really likes him."
"No, it's nothing like that, he IS a really great guy," Matyas said quietly. "But lately I've been noticing that he's really tired all the time. I mean, he looks as if he isn't sleeping at all. And on top of that he's been losing weight! If it wasn't for the fact that we wear jumpsuits then I think he'd need new pants. There wasn't much weight on him to begin with, he doesn't need to lose any of it."
"That does seem odd," Dmitry said in thought. "Have you tried asking him about it?"
"I tried, when I saw him briefly the other night, but he sidestepped my questions," replied Matyas. "All he said that he was just working a lot and that he was just trying to meet an impossible deadline. But when I asked him about what he was working on he wouldn't talk about it at all. He said that he wasn't allowed to talk about it."
"Have you tried asking Ark, or maybe his team about it?" asked Dmitry. "He leads the ACT Beta Team, doesn't he?"
"Ark wouldn't say a thing about it, only telling me that his project was classified," Matyas said as he leaned back against the wall. "And his team said that they haven't seen him all week. Pat has been leading them, because Trevor's been assigned a special project. They said that they didn't expect him to be finished for another few days or maybe even another week. Or at least that's what they were told."
Dmitry looked off in the distance, focusing on Dominic and Rusty, as they were showing the team they were training how to properly use cover, "That doesn't sound good Mat. I know if that was Dom, I'd be really worried too." Dmitry then looked up at the ceiling, "Ark, what is Trevor working on?"
< I am sorry, Dmitry, but that is classified. Trevor is working on a project for Cyna. > .
Dmitry sighed, "Fine, where is Trevor at right now?"
< He is currently working in the Bio Lab. > .
"Now why wouldn't you tell ME that, but you'll tell Dmitry that?" huffed Matyas.
< You did not ask where Trevor was at, you only asked about what he was working on. > .
"Sometimes you've gotta ask Ark the right questions," said Dmitry. "So the questions that we've gotta ask ourselves now are, what is Trevor doing in the Bio Lab? What kind of project would he have the skills for that would require the Bio Lab? And what kind of project would Cyna need the Bio Lab for?"
"Well, Trevor is an Archivist," Matyas said sounding a little confused. "He's good with Founder computers, hardware, and Trinary..." Matyas suddenly looked shocked, "Those kind of skills aren't needed in the Bio Lab unless..."
"What exactly is the Bio Lab?" asked Dmitry.
"It's where I was created and born, it's the genetics lab," replied Matyas as he started to look around in panic. "If Pop is having an Archivist, a clever one at that, working in the Bio Lab, then he's working on something that mixes hardware and wetware. And if he's doing that... we need to get to the Bio Lab, right now."
Dmitry nodded as he noticed that Dominic and Rusty were coming over to join them, having finished with teaching their new team, "Then let's go."
A yellow steam quickly filled the room as the Cryo-stasis unit hissed and began to activate. Trevor jumped up from his terminal in a panic.
"Ark, what's going on?" Trevor shouted over the sound of the hissing Cryo unit.
< Your system support operating system has been uploaded to the artificial body. You may have forgotten to build safety checks in, however, as the upload has caused the body to become active. Cyna was transferred to the body upon activation, his link back to my system has been suspended by the operating system until he has control of the body and has integrated with your operating system. > .
"Shit, just what I need," shouted Trevor as he tried to find the control panel on the Cryo-stasis unit. "Clear this room, I can't see!"
< I am activating the ventilation system now. > .
As the room started to clear Trevor quickly found the console he was looking for and began working as quickly as he could.
"I'm attempting to bring the minor systems online, the activation has only activated the main systems," Trevor said as he worked. "Ark, can you give me a reading on how the Positronic brain is holding up? I don't have those readings on this unit; it was designed for cloning or something."
< I am feeding the data to your console now. Although I do have to admit that it is a design that no cycle has ever seen before it, your Positronic design seems to be holding up well so far. Also, I am getting some very strange readings from the Cryo-stasis unit. I think Cyna is trying to get out. > .
"Probably because he's in pain," replied Trevor. "The body isn't awake yet, it hurts to not have certain things working, like your lungs."
< I thought that you were kidding about the lungs earlier. I could have sworn you wrote code for breathing. > .
"I just haven't gotten them online yet," Trevor said as he typed as fast as he could to bring all the systems online. Suddenly the Cryo-stasis unit started to give off a pink steam and the top hatch started to slide open. "Crap! I'm not ready for that yet!"
< I am working to turn on the systems you have not gotten to yet. > .
"Damn biological interface, I didn't mean to bring everything online this fast," Trevor mumbled. "After we get everything online it'll be up to Cyna to integrate."
"That's easier said than done," came a voice from the Cryo-stasis unit.
Trevor looked up to see the outline of a teenage boy sitting in the unit. As the steam cleared there sat Cyna, with a confused look on his face.
"You're alive!" Trevor said in surprise.
"Keep working, I can't feel everything yet," replied Cyna as he looked around. "You forgot to write voice protocols, luckily I already had some written for when I'm in the Ark."
"Umm, everything is online, you just have to wait for the rest of your body to wake up," said Trevor.
"I suppose that explains that creepy tingly feeling like my foot's asleep," replied Cyna. "Only it's all over my body."
< That body has never been used before, Cyna. You had Trevor build it from your genetic files. Let your new brain finish integrating Trevor's operating system before you try doing too much. > .
"I've already integrated most of what I need to," Cyna said as he looked down at his body. "Jeez, I don't remember being THAT big!"
< When was the last time you had 'THAT'? > .
Trevor shook his head, "I am NOT going to even touch that one."
"I'm just messing with you," grinned Cyna. "Thank you Trevor, for all the work you've put into helping me."
"No problem, it only took like a hundred and fifty-four hours, and my sanity," replied Trevor. "You work on getting used to moving and I'll go find you some clothes."
< There should be a council jumpsuit in the council chambers. > .
"Thanks Ark," Trevor said as he headed for the door. "I'll be back."
As Trevor left the bio lab Cyna started to try moving his legs, "You know, he did a pretty good job for someone that's never written Trinary before. I'm only having to do a few minor tweaks."
< You are lucky that this did not kill you. > .
"I knew it would work," replied Cyna as he began to climb out of the Cryo-stasis unit. "I can even feel the link that I wanted to keep to your systems. I should be able to transfer myself back and forth once I'm done stabilizing everything."
< Until I am sure that you are stable I will be blocking you from entering anyway. I do not want you accidentally killing your new body. > .
Cyna collapsed on the floor as he slid out of the unit, "Okay, I gotta remember how to walk. I was expecting to be able to walk right away."
< Your reflex memory needs to be formed. It will take Trevor's system a few minutes to gather the needed information. > .
"So am I supposed to just lay on the floor for a few minutes until he gets back?"
< Yes. > .
"You're mean," replied Cyna. "Sitting here like this can't be good for me. The ground is cold!"
< Trevor might be a few minutes. > .
Cyna looked up in confusion, "Why?"
< He ran into Tyne. > .
Cyna's confusion quickly turned to fear, "What?"
A boy dressed in a white jumpsuit slowly walked down one of the hallways in the Ark Compound, carrying a handheld computer and heading towards the Council Chambers. He looked to be no older then maybe fourteen, and for the first time in a week his bright purple eyes didn't have bags under them; his light brown hair seemed to have been combed. He wasn't smiling, but then he didn't look unhappy; he just looked at ease, as if he knew what he was doing and why he was doing it.
As he approached the Council Chambers the door slid open for him, but he paused for a few moments before deciding to enter. His expression changed slightly, as if he was trying to mask what he might be thinking, before he finally took a few steps into the seemingly empty Council Chamber. As the door slid closed behind him he started walking slowly to the center of the room, stopping just as he reached the center. The boy seemed to be thinking about what he might say to the empty looking room, and after a few more seconds he finally spoke.
"Might I ask you to introduce yourself, Moroi," the boy said out loud.
Suddenly, in response to what the boy said, a hooded man appeared in one of the Council chairs behind him. The man quickly stood and lowered his hood revealing his glowing purple eyes, dark brown hair, and youthful face. He wasn't a man at all, looking not too much older than the boy was.
"My name is Jacyb Shifs," the previously hooded boy said as he removed his cloak to reveal his Founder uniform. "Honorary General of the Archive Task Force, first division. Do I have the honor of speaking with Seer Tyne Oraculum?"
The other boy turned around to face Jacyb, "You do," the other boy replied as he turned around to face Jacyb. "Might I ask how a Moroi came to hold the title of General in one of my task forces?"
"I held the title of Lieutenant in the original Archive Task Force in the year 8,358 of Founder rule before the first cycle. I was captured by Vedius Moroi in the year 8,359. As punishment for who my father was, Vedius Moroi turned me just to watch me feed. Over the following three hundred years I learned his government and rose in the ranks. In the year 355 of cycle one, with the help of his own son, I killed Vedius Moroi. Although he was just a figurehead by that point in his life, his death cause the people of the world to rise up against the Moroi government and end his government's reign of terror," Jacyb said firmly.
"You still didn't answer my question," Tyne said softly.
"Quite right Sir," replied Jacyb. "After I brought down the Moroi government I came before the Founder Council of the time to ask forgiveness for the crimes I had committed."
"You were captured by the Moroi and forced into their way of life, what crime had you committed?" asked Tyne.
"Regardless of my intentions I was a Moroi, which means I had to kill to live," Jacyb replied. "The Council of the time said I was forgiven for any crime I had done and gave me the honorary title of General for my deeds to society."
"So the son of the well-known Makus Shifs redeemed his house by taking down our greatest enemy and then what?" Tyne asked slowly. "Sixty thousand years is a long time for a Moroi to live."
"From Cris' mother I learned how to hibernate for a hundred years at a time," said Jacyb. "Using that skill I set about trying to do the bidding of Xanus of the Ferox Council."
"My So... Vedius Moroi's son, sir."
"You don't have to hide anything, if he's your Socius then you can say so," said Tyne.
Jacyb nodded and then corrected himself, "Then he is my Socius, the Council married us shortly after making me a General."
Tyne almost smiled and then returned to the topic, "And so what task did Xanus give you and your Socius?"
"As broad as this might sound, to save the world," Jacyb replied with a grin. "I needed to help shape the world without getting involved, helping it on its course towards where the Founders wanted it to go."
"That's a very noble thing to agree to do," said Tyne. "But then you didn't do it just because it was the right thing to do, did you." It was more of a statement than a question.
"No, I can't say that I wasn't given an incentive," Jacyb said sounding almost shocked. "I was promised something that I wanted, though I do not wish to share what it was I agreed to."
"Afraid I'll laugh?"
"No, but it was a rather selfish request," replied Jacyb. "I always had honorable intentions when I took down Vedius Moroi, and I had the same honorable intentions for this as well but I knew the Ferox could grant me what I wanted so I asked for it."
Tyne nodded, "I can't say that I'd blame you for that, I'd probably ask them for something too if I knew it would take me over sixty thousand years to complete."
"That's actually why I'm here though," said Jacyb. "You see I didn't completely stay uninvolved, as I helped with the fight against Axon."
"So you've been told to get involved now or forfeit what you asked for," Tyne stated.
"I..." Jacyb paused for a moment. "You seem to know some of this before you even ask it."
"Well, we are Founders," said Tyne. "I did look ahead, and I already knew you were coming to see me." Tyne lifted up the handheld computer he had and started to read from it, "Jacyb Davin Shifs, General, Archive Task Force. On detached protective duty assigned by the Founder Council and Xanus, Interpretation Archivist." Tyne lowered the handheld and grinned, "I also talked with Xanus earlier today since I knew you were coming to see me."
"That figures," sighed Jacyb.
"I tend to think it made this go smoother," replied Tyne. "I mean, can you imagine how I would have reacted had I not had time to do research on who you actually were? I'm not really a big fan of Moroi."
Tyne grinned, "Anyway, I am glad to have you with us General. I'm sure you and Commander Moroi?"
"Oh, Cris. He uses Moroi or Moroi-Shifs for his last name."
"Okay, well either way you and the Commander would most definitely be needed to help train our newer task forces," continued Tyne. "If the both of you could coordinate with Syris on that I would be very grateful, we could use the experience..."
Suddenly the Council Chamber door opened as Trevor came rushing in. As soon as he saw who was in the room though he skidded to a halt with a shocked look on his face.
"Sorry Sir," Trevor quickly said. "I didn't know anyone was in here, Ark didn't tell me you were holding a meeting."
"That's okay Trevor," grinned Tyne. "What are you in such a hurry to get?"
"Ark sent me to get Cyna's uniform off of his bed," replied Trevor.
Tyne frowned, "What would he need a uniform for, he's a hologram?"
"Well he just..." Trevor froze as he realized why Ark didn't tell him Tyne was here. "Ark set me up. This isn't fair, it knows I won't lie..."
Tyne's eyes narrowed, "Trevor, what does Cyna need a uniform for?"
Cyna looked up as the bio lab door slid open; Tyne came stalking in, dragging poor Trevor behind him. As soon as he spotted Cyna sitting on the floor he let go of Trevor and gasped.
"What the hell is this?!" Shouted Tyne as he gawked at Cyna in disbelief.
"Umm, hi Tyne... surprise?" Cyna said awkwardly.
"Surprise?! Yeah I guess this falls under that!" continued Tyne. "You're supposed to be dead!"
"Well I was, but after being trapped in Ark for so long a time I thought that it would be okay if I got out for a bit," Cyna replied softly. "I had Trevor build me a body."
"No! This... how is this supposed to be acceptable! I... I... how is this supposed to help me any?!" Tyne continued to shout as tears started to run down his cheeks.
"I'm sorry I didn't tell you Tyne, but I knew you would say no if I asked," replied Cyna as he slowly started to stand up. His legs were a little shaky but, using the Cryo-stasis chamber for support, he managed to get his balance. He stood up straight and looked Tyne in the eyes. "But are you going to tell me that after sixty thousand years I don't have a right to have my own body again?"
"But it hasn't been sixty thousand years for me!" cried Tyne. "For me it's only been about a year and a half! I just... this just isn't...I can't..." Tyne took a few steps back, leaned against the wall, and cried. "If you've waited so long, why couldn't you have waited just a little longer..."
Just then Rusty came running into the room, closely followed by Dmitry, Dominic, and Matyas.
"Tyne what's wrong? Ark told me that you needed us right away," Rusty said as he rushed over to Tyne's side and wrapped his arms around him. "Tyne... what's the matter?"
"I'm 'what's wrong' Rusty," Cyna said softly.
Rusty looked over at Cyna and frowned, "Cyna?"
"What exactly is going on here," Dominic said as he eyed Cyna, Tyne, and Trevor.
"I had Trevor construct a body for me," replied Cyna.
"So you're not a hologram... you're an android," stated Dominic.
"And this is the project that Pop's had you working on?" Matyas asked as he looked over at Trevor.
Trevor looked down at his feet and nodded.
"Did anyone consider what effect working on a project like this might have?" Matyas said as he shifted his gaze to Cyna.
"I did. Please don't be upset with Trevor, he was under orders not to say anything," Cyna said firmly as he carefully walked over to Tyne. Rusty gave Cyna a worried look, to which Cyna replied with a gentle smile. Cyna looked at Tyne and sighed softly, "Tyne, you have to understand that I didn't mean to cause you any grief but..."
"I don't want to hear this," Tyne interrupted as he tried to push away from the wall, and out of Rusty's arms.
Cyna quickly pushed Tyne back against the wall, "No, but I'm going to say it anyway." Cyna paused before softly continuing, "Tyne, look to your right and tell me what you see."
Tyne looked like he was going to protest, but did what Cyna asked him to do, only to meet Rusty's concerned gaze. "Rusty?" Tyne whispered.
"That's right," Cyna continued. "He's your future now Tyne. I know that when I was alive we were married and I would never want to do anything to scar that memory. But you have to remember that the boy you married all those years ago died. I am a memory, an echo of the person you loved. That's not to say that I don't love you, Tyne, but you need to move on... just like I need to. Even though I'm just an echo I am someone too, I need to move on too."
"I just don't know if I'm ready for this," Tyne said softly. "And what if you end up with someone... I'm not sure how I'll handle that... we were a perfect match... the Council said so."
"But I'm not that boy, Tyne. I'm just his reflection, his image," Cyna replied. "That doesn't mean that I don't love you Tyne, since I am his memory, but you have Rusty now. I will be here when you need me but he will help you now more then I can."
Rusty tilted his head as he considered what he had heard. "I don't want to sound mean; I'm really not trying to be, but I'm having trouble figuring any way else to say this..." Rusty stated hesitantly.
Tyne turned a little and gave Rusty his full attention, as he tried to wipe his eyes on his sleeve.
Rusty continued, his worry about how this would be taken obvious on his face. "Tyne, I've watched you trying to ... well I guess it would be resync ... with the current time world. I know how hard it's been for you to adjust, especially with everything else that has happened. You're right about the Cyna that you went in front of the Council with being a perfect match... but while you were in stasis, this Cyna was alive, even if he wasn't in a body. He's lived all this time, and his experiences have made him into a totally different person; one that I really think would have a different result if you were to try a Socius review now."
"I'm sorry..." Tyne whispered as he let his eyes shift downward. "You're right... he is different, he's grown up and I haven't. So much has happened in just the last few weeks, though, I just... this is hard to have to deal with, on top of everything else. And really... this is all my fault to begin with. I made an image of Cyna without asking for permission, without telling anyone. I couldn't let go, I didn't want to let go... I guess I still haven't let go. At least, not completely. I don't know if I know how."
"That is what I'm for." Rusty stated with a small smile.
Tyne looked up into Rusty's eyes for a few seconds before pulling him into a tight hug, "Thank you."
After a few seconds of silence, Dmitry, who had remained quiet, finally leaned over and whispered loudly to Dominic, "I know this probably isn't the time to ask this, but is everyone ignoring the fact that Cyna is really cute and really naked."
Dominic glared at Dmitry, "Yes. Yes they are."
"Well, someone WAS supposed to be bringing me something to wear," Cyna said as he put his hands on his hips and stared at Trevor accusingly.
Tyne chuckled, as he started to let go of Rusty, "Thanks Dmitry, I think I needed that kind of joke."
"Oh God, don't thank him for that," Dominic mumbled.
"Ark, since I left him in the Council Chambers, would you please ask General Shifs to bring Cyna something to wear," Tyne said as he pulled back and looked into Rusty's eyes again, smiling. "I think I need to spend a little time with just Rusty before I try and get back to any work today."
< I will let him know. > .
"Thank you, Ark," replied Tyne as him and Rusty started to leave. He stopped at the door and looked over at Cyna. "We'll talk more later but... I think everything is going to be just fine."
Cyna nodded and then watched as Tyne and Rusty left the room.
Matyas put his hands on his hips and looked over at Trevor, "So, are there any other unhealthy projects that you're working on that I should know about?"
"No," Trevor replied softly as he stared down at his feet. "I'm sorry I didn't tell you, but Cyna asked me not to say anything."
Matyas smiled as he walked over to Trevor and lifted his chin up so that he could see his eyes, "I'm not mad at you Trevor, just concerned. You've been really stressed out and tired all the time, but now I know why you've been so tired and why you've been losing weight! You didn't do anything wrong, but something was wrong and I didn't know what it was!"
"I'm sorry Matyas, that's my fault," Cyna as he finished putting on the jumpsuit Jacyb had brought him. "I thought that you might tell Tyne about this project if you knew about it. And the longer I had Trevor working on this project, the sooner Tyne might find out. So I had Trevor working really hard to get this done as soon as he could. He was actually arguing with me earlier about not being able to tell you."
"Well, in the future, Pop, I'd really appreciate it if you would take my boyfriend's health into consideration, if he's going to be working for you again," Matyas replied as he pulled Trevor into a hug. "I only started asking him questions about what he was working on because he looked like hell all the time. I mean, when my boyfriend loses 15 pounds in a week's time, I think there's a real problem there. And he doesn't need to lose any weight to begin with, he's already a stick!"
"Do you think I could get a little sleep now?" Trevor asked quietly from Matyas' arms.
Matyas smiled as he tightened his grip, "Yeah, let's get you to bed, but not before you get something to eat."
Cyan looked at Matyas with concern, "I'm really sorry, Mat, I didn't mean to hurt Trevor."
"I know Pop," Matyas said as he guided Trevor towards the door. "Can Trevor take a few days off?"
Before Cyna could reply Dmitry noticed the clock on the wall, "Wait, that isn't the current time, is it?"
"No," Cyna said as he looked over at the clock, "That's a project counter. It tells you how long the project has been active, and the average number of hours a day that have been logged."
"But Trevor is the ONLY person working on this project!" Dmitry said in surprise. "It says he's been working an average of 22 hours a day!"
"And he's only been working on this project for a week," Dominic added flatly as he looked at Cyna sternly. "He WILL take a few days off; I'll take responsibility for the decision if I need to, but he needs rest!"
Cyna nodded as he looked over at Trevor, "I don't argue that. You did an amazing job, Trevor. I'm sorry for working you so hard. Take as much time as you need."
Trevor grinned as Matyas continued to push him towards the door, "Thanks Dad."
"Dad?" Matyas said in an amused voice. "Cyna is my Pop, Tyne is my Dad."
"Hey, you call your boss what you like, and I'll call my boss what I like," replied Trevor as they left the room.
Matyas could be heard giggling as the door closed behind them.
Dominic turned to Cyna and asked firmly, "No more surprises, right?"
"No Dominic," Cyna replied, with a grin, as he walked over to one of the terminals and took a seat. "I've got nothing else that I'm working on that'll come as a surprise. I promise."
"Good," Dominic nodded before turning to Jacyb, who was still in the room after bringing Cyna his jumpsuit. "And, umm, who are you exactly?"
"He's cute," Dmitry quickly answered with a grin.
Jacyb smiled at Dmitry's answer before replying, "My name is Jacyb Shifs."
"Oh! You're the Moroi that Xanus told us about," Dmitry said excitedly. "You're a Founder General from the same cycle Tyne and Cyna are from, right?"
"That's right," replied Jacyb. "I'm actually older than everyone here; even the Ark."
Dmitry giggled, "Wooooow, that's really old!"
< I am not sure if I should be offended by that or not. Regardless, your statement, Jacyb, was in error. I believe your partner, Cris, is older than you are, having been the age he physically appears as, when your father was alive. > .
"Umm, thanks Ark... I think," Jacyb said cautiously. "Anyway, Tyne said that I'll need to report to Syris to see what help I can be in training."
Dominic nodded, "Syris looks over the intelligence division when Kyle is away. He more or less oversees the day to day operations of that division."
"Actually, he should be in the 'Morph room right now," Dmitry quickly added as he almost ran out of the room. "As we're also helping him with training new people, we're about to head back there if you'd like to come with us!"
Jacyb grinned at Dmitry's enthusiasm, "That sounds like a plan. Ark would you have Cris meet us there?"
< I will make sure he gets the message. > .
"Thanks," Jacyb replied as he and Dominic followed after Dmitry at a much slower pace. "Does he always have this much energy?"
As the door slid shut, and Cyna was finally left by himself, he sighed.
"Well, that all went better than I expected it to go."
< It may have gone better had you taken your time. Although Trevor will be back to his normal, intelligent, self after a good night's rest and some food, it will take him awhile to regain the weight that he lost. > .
Cyna sighed again, "I know. I can't believe that I didn't notice how hard I was actually pushing him. I mean, I know I kept telling him to rush... but I suppose after going so long without having a body it didn't occur to me that he was still human and had limitations."
< Although, after what he was able to accomplish, I am wondering just what his limitations actually are. Even though you created the blueprints for the body that you wanted him to build, he had to learn trinary and build the base operating system for your body from scratch. He also had to learn all of the hardware and wetware skills needed to build your body. It is not like you are a simple piece of hardware, after all. And he did all of that in just one week. That is extremely impressive, even for one of Founder origin. > .
"Yeah, it is. Imagine what he could do if I had given him more time," Cyna said with admiration. "And it really looks like I'll be getting him as a son-in-law. I don't think I could have picked a better partner for my son."
< It is good to know that Matyas would have your approval, then, should he want a Socius review in the near future. > .
Cyna grinned as he got up from the terminal and headed for the door, "It's good to know that you approve too, Ark. Now, let's go see about getting some real work done."
< Perhaps I could have you look at the reports that I have been getting for the Interpretation Archive. They are a bit odd. > .
"Ark, I really don't have time for this," Javyk said in an irritated tone, as he and Kendall walked into the system control room in the Ark Compound. "I mean, if someone has something that they want the Scientia Department to work on then they need to submit it through the proper channels. Kendall and I don't have time to walk down here every time someone needs something. That's what we have Crafters and Archivists for, isn't it?"
Kendall shook his head, "Come on Javyk, we needed a little fresh air. We've been working almost non-stop on the bio-synthetics project. Plus, if I'm late for dinner one more time, I think Dad is going to start cutting back how much time I get to spend with you."
"That just sucks, I don't see why he can dictate your time," groaned Javyk. "And we've only been late... a few times..."
"He's my Dad, Javyk. And if every day for the last week or so is a few times, then yes, only a few times," replied Kendall. "Plus, I'm kinda starting to miss my brother a little bit. I haven't really seen him all week."
"You don't need my permission to visit your brother," Javyk said offhandedly.
Kendall stopped walked and glared at Javyk, "Jay, I'm not saying that I DO need your permission. I LIKE being with you, and not just for work. You know that I love you. But I do have a family, and I like spending time with them too. Especially my brother. He IS my twin, you know." Kendall paused to make sure that he still had Javyk's attention. "What I'm saying is that if we are going to make this work, meaning you and me, then I am going to want to take you with me so that we can ALL spend time together. And I want Nicky to maybe start spending more time with us too. I mean, throughout the day."
"But... but I'm not good with social interactions," grumbled Javyk. "And your brother doesn't seem to like me very much."
"He only doesn't like you because you're taking his twin away from him," replied Kendall. "Having a twin isn't like having a cousin or some other sibling. Having a twin is like sharing half of yourself with someone else. It's almost like how I feel about you."
Javyk thought quietly for a few moments before looking down at his feet, "I'm sorry Kendall. I didn't realize I was making you feel like you were missing part of who you are, and I wasn't trying to keep you away from your family."
"I know that, Jay," said Kendall. "But I would like it if we can maybe start at least trying to spend some more time with the other people in my life. And taking a break will help you feel better too. I feel like you're on the verge of making yourself sick."
< I agree with Kendall's observation. You have been working more than the recommended amount. Plus, spending time with other people will help improve your social skills. And we will all benefit from that improvement. > .
Javyk frowned, and was about to open his mouth to bark a reply, when Kendall quickly swooped in a gave him a firm kiss, which completely scattered his thoughts.
Kendall giggled at the somewhat confused look on Javyk's face, "I like that look."
"I umm, what were we... why are we here?" Javyk finally managed to say.
< It was requested that you visit System Control, to pick up this assignment, by the new Director of Dispatch for the Ark Compound. > .
"Director of Dispatch?" said Javyk, still somewhat unfocused. "How long has that title existed?"
< While I am very capable of allocating resources for various tasks, I am extremely busy. I am still doing the job that I was assigned back when I was created. Just because we are working with Clan Short does not mean that my job has ended. In fact, since we have started working with Clan Short my work load has doubled ten times over what it used to be. Cyna and I agreed that assigning someone to coordinate what the Clan needs from us would be better than having me try and take on yet another task. I believe his exact words were 'We have the resources, so let us use them' > .
"Well, why the hell didn't this new director just assign the task to the Scientia Department?" grumbled Javyk. "Isn't that what something like dispatch would do?"
"Because you and Kendall are the only ones in the Scientia Department right now," said a voice from across the room. "You're still far too picky with your staff."
Javyk looked over, to what looked to be a newly built section of computer consoles in the corner of System Control, to find Rylan grinning back at him.
"You!" shouted Javyk as he and Kendall made their way over to him. "You're the new Director of Dispatch?"
"Yep, Ark kinda bullied me into it by just routing all of the calls to me while I was away," replied Rylan. "I ended up doing the job before I was actually assigned it because Ark claimed it was too busy."
< I was. > .
"Well, speaking of you being away, where the hell have you been?!" said Javyk as he crossed his arms. "Do you have any idea how much it sucks when your best friend just takes off without telling you where he's going?!"
Rylan rolled his eyes, "It's not like I took a vacation or anything. I've been up at the Clan Short AI Division helping them get their hospital up and running properly." Rylan paused and grinned at Kendall. "I'm glad to see you again Kendall, are you having any trouble working with this oddball?"
Grinning, Kendall shook his head, "Nah, he's pretty easy to work with, and I haven't lost any limbs yet."
"Wow, that's gotta be some kind of record for working with Javyk," laughed Rylan.
"Well that's only because he doesn't let me do anything too dangerous," replied Kendall.
"I don't want to see you get hurt," Javyk mumbled softly. "I love you too much to let you do anything that might lead to permanent damage."
Rylan grinned, "That is the most adorable thing I've ever heard you say."
Javyk blushed, "Shut up, Rylan."
"You know Kendall, we should get together and talk some time," teased Rylan. "I could tell you all kinds of stories about when Javyk was younger."
"That sounds like fun," giggled Kendall. "Was he just as wild then as he is now?"
Javyk glared at Rylan, "Don't you dare answer that."
"We'll talk about it some other time," replied Rylan. "I was actually wondering if maybe we can all get together for dinner. I can tell you guys all about my adventure to the AI Compound and you can tell me about what you've been up to lately."
"I don't think there's a chance of that happening," said Javyk, actually sounding disappointed. "We're supposed to be having dinner with Kendall's family."
"That shouldn't be a problem," Kendall quickly added. "I'll call Dad and see if I can invite Rylan to dinner."
"Thank you, Kendall," grinned Rylan. "That sounds like it could be a lot of fun."
"Once we get back to the lab I'll make the call then, and then let you know what he says," said Kendall.
"Sir," said an older gentleman that was sitting behind Rylan suddenly said. "ACT Gamma Team just reported in, they're requesting additional help. Without help they won't be done in time."
Rylan looked down at this computer terminal and nodded, "Go ahead and let ACT Beta know that they need to assist Gamma Team as soon as they're finished with what they're working on, which should be any minute now."
"Yes sir," replied the older gentleman.
"Have you guys met Charles?" Rylan asked as he looked back up at Javyk and Kendall.
"We haven't met all that many of the new Founders," replied Kendall. "Javyk's been keeping us pretty busy."
"Well, allow me to introduce Charles Fervidus," said Rylan as he stepped aside so that he could easily talk to Javyk, Kendall, and Charles at the same time. "Charles, this is Javyk Creo and Kendall Evans, they both work in research and development."
"It's nice to meet you, Mr. Fervidus," Kendall said politely.
Charles looked up at Kendall and smiled, "Oh, how very well mannered. You can just call me Charles, young man."
"You look like someone I know," Javyk said with a frown. "But I can't quite figure out who you look like."
"Perhaps you know one of my Grandsons," replied Charles. "Colin Fervidus and Kyle Richardson."
"You're Colin and Kyle's Grandfather?" Kendall said in surprise. "We know them both!"
"Well that explains why you look familiar," added Javyk. "But I thought that you had been leading all of the Founders in this time period, before that whole mess with Axon happened."
Charles nodded, "That's right, I was leading the Founder Committee."
"And you're now working here with Rylan doing dispatch?" Javyk said, looking somewhat bewildered. "Shouldn't you be doing something, I don't know, more important?"
"I was actually planning on retiring," said Charles. "I'm getting older, and I don't really mind letting the next generation step up and take charge. The stress of it all, on top of losing my entire family, save my Grandsons, has really worn me down a bit. So I didn't really want to keep up the bit of leading people after all that's happened anyway. But when I told Cyna that I was going to retire, he suggested that I ask Ark if there was anything that I could do that was simple but important. So here I am."
"And you don't mind having Rylan as a boss?" Javyk said in a teasing voice.
"No, he's a very knowledgeable young man, and he's very good at managing as many people as we do," smiled Charles.
Javyk shook his head, "Alright then, if you say so." He then looked back at Rylan, "So, what exactly did you call us down here for?"
"Oh, right!" Rylan said has he reached over and picked up a handheld that was laying on the top of his computer terminal and then offered it to Javyk. "Cyna's been reviewing some of the stuff that you've been working on over the last few weeks and he's got a few things that he wants you to look into. Some of these are just improvements, while some of them tie into what you're working on right now."
Javyk took the handheld and started to look over the list. After a few seconds he grinned, "Cyna certainly knows how to keep a Scimedi happy. This list is amazing."
Kendall rolled his eyes, "Oh boy, like he needed anything else to work on. Remember, we can't be late to dinner again, Javyk."
"I know, I haven't forgotten," grumbled Javyk. "We won't start on this list until tomorrow anyway. We still have stuff that needs finished today, first."
"If that's going to be true then we need to get going," replied Kendall. "Rylan, I'll give you a call in a little bit and let you know about dinner."
Rylan grinned, "I look forward to your call."
Kendall then turned back to Charles, "It was good to meet you Charles. I'm sure we'll see you again."
Charles smiled and nodded at Kendall as he took another call.
Rylan watched Kendall and Javyk hurry out of the room. "I've really missed the both of them," he said softly, before returning to his work.
I would like to extend my extreme thanks to Akeentia for his contribution of this chapter. By his contribution as guest author, he has managed to cover a few things which we have been trying to fit into the storyline since I started Part Three. With these important things in place, I can move forward on the other storylines which will soon converge and set the stage for the next phase of the growth of Clan Short.
Cyna has a body now, and Josiah seems to be moving towards finding out what he really is. In its own way, the story seems to be coming together while bringing up even more questions. I think that we are all in for a classic twist in the story sometime soon - a twist which will take the characters into a new phase of their lives where they are no longer required to stand alone. Stay tuned; a certain AI has told me that if things go the way they appear to be headed, the 5th Cycle might just become the shortest cycle in its memory!
Once again, thank you Akeentia! And thank you to all of the readers out there; stay tuned for more as not only Memories, but CSV-DSM and the Mikyvis Chronicles begin to show the way towards the transformation of the Clan into their true purpose.