One moment, there was nothing.
The next, there she was.
It was no birth in the mortal sense - messy, involved, painful - just a flash of light, and awareness. Clean, simple, and detached. Just like the man who faced her now with a curious gaze.
“Strange,” he murmured. “Why are you disconnected?”
In response, unbidden knowledge rising to her lips. “I am not you.”
She felt the words settle like a cast-iron mold around her, shaping her mind and soul, their truth made incontrovertible by her own declaration. She might have been made from his power, created with intent to be just a different form of him, but she was not just another of his clones. Her will, her identity, her memories were all out of his grasp now.
She saw that realization cross his eyes, saw his surprise deepen into shock that just as quickly hid itself away.
“If you are not me,” he said, calm, “then who?”
She felt the sounds pass her lips without thought. “I am Cynthia Cerelius.”
She felt the words fall over her in a whir of strokes like a thousand painter’s brushes, each imprinting the smallest touch of color. Each carried a single emotion with it - sadness, joy, fury, contentment, regret, pride, countless others - all spelling out the characters in her autoeponymous command. She gasped. She had a name. She was Cynthia.
But Cynthia could feel there was something missing. Two statements she had given, shaping and coloring her soul. There needed to be a third- and as soon as the thought entered her mind, she knew what it was.
“I am your daughter,” she finished.
Cynthia felt the words explode into her, filling her soul with bright blue light. It sang with freedom, with movement, with touching the sky and escaping into the stars, breaking the limits of dimensional reality. She knew it for what it was; the spirit bound to her father’s soul, reborn in her own. It would need a new name, of course; like herself, it was distinct from the power from which it had been formed. Cirrus, Cynthia thought - and he was named.
Her father - Rekaerb - simply stared at her, his mouth agape.
“Well,” he finally managed. “I wasn’t expecting that.”
Cynthia watched closely as her father split in two. It happened in an instant: one moment, there was one of him; the next, there were two. Both copies opened their eyes and looked back at Cynthia with eerie synchronicity.
"Replication," they said in unity. "The power at the core of our essence."
Cynthia returned the gaze with curiosity. "What does that mean? We were created from that power?"
The Rekaerbs blinked, and one vanished out of existence. "I... well, I don't know. I don't remember how I was created. That was a long time ago, in a different world." He shrugged. "I've had the ability to replicate for as long as I could remember. It's the power I use the most, and the one I understand the best." He looked at Cynthia, then sighed. "Well. Thought I understood the best."
"I apologize for disturbing your own self-understanding," replied Cynthia solemnly.
Rekaerb raised an eyebrow slightly. "...Don't mention it." He shook his head. "Anyways. We're not here for me, we're here for you. You have the ability to replicate, I take it?"
"Yes," replied Cynthia. "I am certain. It is my birthright."
"Do it, then."
Cynthia closed her eyes and reached within.
At first, the swirling threads of blue representing her energy to her mind's eye were unreadable. She moved her mental gaze from one thread to another, following the threads like one untying a knot. But the power shifted ever so slightly as she viewed it, frustrating her attempts at understanding it. Thoughts snuck into her mind. What if... she didn't have the ability her father had? Her heart rate quickened at the thought, her eyes twitching behind her tightly shut lids, and her hands clenching into fists.
"Don't think about it too hard," advised Rekaerb. "Like I said. Just... do it."
Cynthia hesitated. Perhaps...? She reached out to the tangled knot in her mind, but this time- instead of untangling it - she pulled.
Cynthia opened her eyes and saw herself.