Aaaaaand the hiatus is over! Sorry for taking approximately three thousand years again. Hopefully I’ll be posting content more regularly to this blog from now on.
Anyhow, please enjoy this chapter caused me so much pain. I await the inevitability of me checking this again and realizing that, after hours of editing, I missed a typo.
In waiting for Cirrus to wake up, Axel had fallen asleep herself, an action she wished she could go back in time and prevent, as sleeping on the floor proved to bring nothing but pain and discomfort. Her body ached even more than usual, and her joints made loud cracking noises that sent unpleasant shudders throughout her body.
At least Cirrus had attempted to cushion her. Attempt was the keyword, as Cirrus wasn’t the most comfortable pillow in the world and all Axel really noticed was that the dog was absolutely filthy and that she should do something about that sooner rather than later.
Nonetheless, thoughts of the mechs soon returned to the forefront of Axel’s mind and, with Cirrus awake, she decided there was no better time than now to begin her exploration and regain what she had lost.
Lorelei would complain, Axel figured, but she also didn’t particularly care at the moment. Lorelei could chastise her for disappearing, as long as Axel found her mech intact, she didn’t care what Lorelei did to her. At least, not as much as she might’ve otherwise.
Axel stood up and walked over to the door, looking at Cirrus. The golden retriever still remained on her side on the hard floor, putting as much soulful sadness into the single brown eye Axel could see as possible. She groaned and stretched, standing up anyway.
Stepping out the door, Axel let the fragmented memories lead her through corridors she hadn’t been down since she had woken up after the accident. Her confidence rose, and for once she found herself paying little mind to the stares she received from the people she walked by.
The further she walked down unfamiliar corridors, the less people she saw, and those that she did see were all workers of some sort. She, like them, walked by each other without so much as a hello, while steam filled the air. She watched some of them carrying boxes while others had their eyes on computer screens.
The smell of fuel overcame Axel’s senses and it took all of her power not to start coughing. Cirrus coughed however, and Axel placed a hand on her back and gently stroked her fur in an attempt to soothe her.
Keeping a close eye on Cirrus, Axel resumed walking, squinting from the harsh yellow light that reflected off the walls. She hoped she was getting close, and with each additional step she took, she remembered more and more of the corridors she walked down. She was close.
Reaching her destination hit her with a maelstrom of emotions she wasn’t sure how to process. Standing among mechs again made her feel smaller than she had ever felt before, made the primal spirit within her ache with desire.
There were so many different types held within the Valiance’s mech hangar. Cats, dogs, reptiles, birds, and creatures from ages past and the pages of stories. The only one she couldn’t find was the one that belonged to her, or rather, the one she belonged to.
Come on, I know you’re here. Where are you?
She passed by the mechs and the people that were working on them, oblivious to the looks of fear and awe she was receiving. One man dropped the box of tools he was carrying in order to get out of her way, tripping on the fallen tools immediately after.
She reached a hangar door where few people seemed to roam, and her name was written in red on the door alongside red claw marks meant to emulate a velociraptor. Her heart beat faster, and she placed her hand on the scanner to open the door.
She stepped back and watched the door slide open, revealing the mech she had bonded with all those years ago, or rather, the mech it had become. Once a pristine Gun Raptor, now fitted with parts scavenged from other Gun Raptors and Velocirippers, a mech that by all rights should never have been able to move. But she knew, she knew it could, she knew it did, she knew it was the strongest mech there was. She knew she was the best pilot there was.
A Frankenstein it may be, but it is mine.
She reached a hand out towards one of the mech’s sharp talons, placing her palm on the rough metal. As she looked up at the Gun Ripper as her younger self had so affectionately called it, she noticed the scrapes and gashes across its steel skin. She took a step back, to take it all in and think to herself it it would still function. Thin fractures lined the glass part of its head, and the cables holding its neck were exposed and she saw some of them had been severed completely.
Axel could repair the Gun Ripper, she knew that much. She had brought it back from the brink after it had suffered worse. Of course, back then, she remembered she could loot whatever mech she came across, of which there were many. The Valiance was a tad more civilized than that, or so things seemed to be. It was just a matter of getting the funds, the parts, the time, and avoiding Lorelei.
Her muscles twitched, starting with her fingers and moving up her arms until she had to tense her body to stop the twitching. Her mind and body ached with the yearning to sync with the Gun Ripper, having been deprived of the bond for so long. The desire was overwhelming her, becoming her.
She let it take control of her, and as she climbed up the rusted, rickety stairway to reach the Gun Ripper’s head and step inside, her mind felt peacefully empty and her body seemed light as a feather. When she reached the top, she looked down to see Cirrus sitting at the bottom of the stairs, mouth open in the standard golden retriever smile and her tail wagging as if to cheer her on.
Axel wasted no time stepping inside the Gun Ripper’s head, watching the dirty glass click back into place with the metal frame. The entire cockpit was just as much of a mess as the rest of the Gun Ripper, but all the important pieces looked to be intact. Seeing it not resting on its perch, Axel looked around for the helmet and found it lying on the floor. She frowned, picking it up and turning it over in her hand in search of any damage. There was none.
She cupped the helmet with both hands and held it with the visor phasing her own face. She stared into it, and her reflection in the glass stared back. Her body trembled again with the anticipation, with the need. She would be whole again, she would be herself once more.
She turned the helmet around again, lifting it up and placing it on her head. Her blood flowed with energy like she had never felt, and the weight of the helmet served to ground her, if only for a moment. She stepped into the indented center of the floor, the weightlessness returning as robotic arms reached for her and placed iron armour around her arms and legs. A chestplate and sheet of armour trailing down her spine clicked into place, and wires poked through the holes in the spinal armour, connecting to the implants inside her and giving her a jolt.
Her soul seemed to leave her human body, meeting and becoming one with that of the mechanical velociraptor’s. The damage done to the robotic marvel translated to her body as dull aches and searing pains in equal measure, and she stumbled forward, unused to the sensation after so long. But it wasn’t enough to stop the feeling of sheer triumph that soared through her veins.
Taking care that Cirrus and no other person was in her path, she stepped forward again, exiting her hangar and standing to her full height. Broken she may have been, she remembered, she remembered, and she would rise again. Perhaps not as the same person she was, but as someone stronger, someone wiser. No fear remained inside her heart, and lingering doubts faded away.
She reared her head back and roared.
I’ve got another piece of Lamenting City content planned that will be here in a day or so. It’s not a new chapter, but it’s…….. something, alright.