Finale: Free Will
Kai hesitated as he looked at the list. It was the final 3 names from the original list his spymaster had sent him days ago. Duke Cane, his loyal Knight. Rayda, his finest Steward. And a third person named Person4.exe. He really needed to figure out a system to name his Machine Born. But then, they were supposed to name themselves. It was just the ones he renamed for clarity that he needed to get a better system for.
He could make a better system after he finished cleaning house. He’d checked the coding of Rayda and Cane multiple times. Neither had been hacked. They were clean. Person4.exe was the last one at risk, and with the robot gone, Person4.exe was the last possible holdout for Melhi’s influence. It had only taken him a week to weed them out, better than the last time Melhi invaded.
Kai made his way through the palace, snapping for a messenger boy to attend him as he walked. He sent the boy with messages for Rayda and Cane to meet him in his study, and headed downstairs to the Glory Barracks, where the Officers and Honor Guard lived. Person4.exe’s room was out of the way and took some navigating to reach, but when he found it, the door was open, and the room empty. All that was within was a chessboard with 4 pieces.
“What is he playing at?” Kai crouched down and examined the board. 3 white pieces, 1 black.
“Huh. Checkmated by the Steward, Knight, and King.” He frowned and plucked the Black King from the board. “What symbolism are you showing Person4.exe?” He heard the patter of feet down the hall, and turned back to see the messenger boy return.
“My Lord Kai, Lady Rayda and Lord Cane are not in their room.”
Kai frowned deeply, and turned to examine the rest of the room. Spartan, only containing the necessary furniture to hold his gear. The room had a window to the outside of the palace, and on the sill were the rest of the chess pieces. He stood and walked to them, examining the pieces closer. Three of the black pieces had small paper labels, naming a pawn ‘Clippy’, a Rook ‘TK421’, and the Queen ‘x/0’. There was a label off to the side, unattached to any piece, labeled ‘Person4.exe’.
Kai crumpled the pieces of paper, and stuffed them into his pocket. He turned back to the boy, and pocketed the black King. “Do you know where Person4.exe is boy?”
The boy nodded. “The Roof my Lord.”
Kai shut the heavy steel door behind him, raising an eyebrow at the scene presented. Rayda and Cane were both looking over their shoulders in surprise at him. Person4.exe stood calm at the edge of the roof, his hips leaning against the parapets. Cane had his massive sword out, only passive lancing allowing him to hold it upright.
“Person4.exe, I don’t think you had a choice in betraying me.” Kai walked forward slowly. Clippy and TK421 had both been erratic due to the intrusions in their Concepts. They had not acted entirely predictably, but they had also not tried to kill him so he was probably safe. “If you give me time, I can fix you.”
A variety of emotions flashed across the old soldier’s face. Finally, he settled on loathing. “I am whole, lord Kai.” More flashes of emotion, as if his face was at war with its mouth.
“You say you are whole? Then you must be saying you choose to fight me on Melhi’s behalf of your own free will?” Kai was now even with Cane and Rayda. Cane moved to stay between Kai and Person4.exe, but Kai held out a hand and continued to approach.
“My own free will lord? Do any of us even have that? Are we not all puppets, made by the Wode to entertain you? To push you towards the will of the Wode?” Person4.exe smiled viciously, but the smile dropped, and he winced. “If I did have free will my lord, I would use it to end my own existence. I have no wish to serve Lord Melhi.”
“Do you wish to serve me?” Kai stopped, some 15 feet from the man. “I can fix your Concept. It will take me days, but I swear, I can change you. Give you new memories if you wished it, so you would not have to recall this shame.”
Person4.exe stood still for a long pause. “A shame. Is that what you call my capture? I am a shame to you?”
“Not what I meant, but no. You are not a shame. It is my shame. My shame in being weak enough that Melhi could strike at the heart of my power, and destroy you.”
“I see.” Person4.exe turned away from them, looking out over the city, lit red by the Grand Aurora far above them. “I would still prefer to die my lord. I am not a man. I am a weapon. But you can not wield me against your distant foes, only they can wield me. So I would choose to deny them my life.” Person4.exe raised his leg, and stepped up onto the parapet. The wind blew against him, pulling his clothing taut.
“Person4.exe.” Kai called as he reached into his pocket. The man turned, still on the parapet, and Kai tossed him the black King. He blinked into Lance Sight, and as Person4.exe caught the Chess Piece with a frown, Kai gathered the Aurora’s energy into a lance and sent it flying forward. It stabbed through the King, and through Person4.exe.
The man shuddered in surprise, and looked up at Kai, confusion clear in his eyes. Kai blinked out of Lance sight, and watched as Person4.exe died, his body falling backwards into the wind. “You were my shame, my fault. Your death was my burden to bear Person4.exe.”
No. The man shouldn’t have died without a proper name. “Steward Rayda, you know of Old Earth correct?”
“Um, yes my lord.” The woman sounded worried.
“What did they call the citizens of the planet? The ones who stayed there no matter how many better options there were?”
Rayda cocked her head to one side, trying to remember the information, learned long ago. “They were called Terran’s I believe.”
Kai nodded. “Very well. Prepare a funeral for the newly named Terran. He deserves to die with a name of Honor. He was not just a man who happened to be the 4th to join. He was a man who fought till the end, a man who knew he would die, but refused to let it happen easily. Let Terran be spoken of with Honor.”
Congratulations to the Machineborn for winning! Special congratulations to Randuir and Elandera for surviving with large targets on them the whole game! Here are the links:
Elim Doc Spec Doc Action Spreadsheet
Don’t expect GM Final thoughts, though if i have time, I will try to post them.