There had been glimpses. Glimpses of a world before the war, memories that flashed before ones eyes. Emotions that flickered and lingered in fragments across ones circuits. Something felt.. warm about this. Something that kept the mind away form its troubles. It felt so tempting to linger there, so inviting..
A white light enveloped the senses. A young voice called out in the silence.
"I'll go with you."
The light suddenly faded and became a jet black. A whirring noise rang in the ears...
"2B?" A familiar voice called out to her. "2B, Wake up."
Modules within came alive as she awoke from her dead slumber. Sitting up, she looked around her. Where was she?
"Welcome back to hell." A2 spoke curtly, standing above her. "Bet being revived wasn't on your list."
It wasn't hell, but it definitely wasn't heaven- or any otherworldly concept either. Where she lay was just an overgrown rooftop with her and A2 on it. As she looked around a little more, she noticed: there was nothing else here; No Pods, No Machines, No visor, No... She wiped off some moss that had grown attached to her hair and looked up at A2.
"I see you're alright... " She gave a small smile, but her voice gave a concerned note. "But... Where is 9S?"
A2 looked away and kicked a rock off the roof. There was a long pause, and before 2B could break the silence, A2 sighed. She turned away and walked towards a barely visible flight of stairs. "He's... here. Sorta."
2B stared at the other android for a moment and, after adjusting to her legs again, she followed behind A2. Her mind buzzed with questions, but when she asked, A2 only gave her silence. They went down another couple flights of stairs and a few mossy hallways. Soon they stopped at what looked to be an entrance to a room. A2 pointed into the room, her back turned to 2B. "He's there."
As 2B walked into the entrance, light flooded her vision for a moment. As her eyes refocused, the soft sunlight that shined through the cracks of the old building made it look almost surreal: There lay the young Scanner at rest, a familiar black pod hovering around him. She stood there for a moment, looking at him from afar.
Slowly, she approached him. The pod took note of this and silently floated towards A2.
9S looked so serene and at peace, and yet... He was lying still. A stillness 2B knew all too well, one that caused her very core to shake. She kept composure as she knelled next to him and picked him up, holding him in her arms. Her expression fell soft as she gingerly ran her fingers through his hair, cupped his cheek in her palm, looking at him like he was the world. "Nines...?" She spoke to him, her voice barely a whisper, "Nines, can you hear me...?"
A creaking noise came form behind her as A2 leaned against the doorway. "Even though his black box is giving off a signal, He... hasn't woken up yet. Edge Pod whatever here confirmed it." She clinked her knuckles against the floating pod.
"I... do not understand why Unit 9s has not awakened." The pod chimed in, its metallic voice sounding more of an androids than before. "We have preformed routine maintenance as scheduled. We have also attempted hacking his system for further information, yet yielded no results. There is only one conclusion."
2B's looked at the two in disbelief, then back to 9S. That... can't be...
Pod 153 floated over to 2B and confirmed in a somber tone. "Unit 9S's consciousness data has been lost."
The sky swirled with clouds; The sun just drifting off for the evening with the moon rising high into the sky.
A young boy sat looking over the ocean, waves dancing at the shoreline. Where water crashed, sand scattered within it. The particles looked like stars in a deep blue sky.
He smiled to himself, humming a tune he'd heard... somewhere.
It reminded him of a theme park.
It took all A2 could do to calm 2B down since she found 9S. Since Pod 153 announced that 9S was potentially lost forever. The YoRHa android constantly thrashed, screamed, cried her way through the entire building in grief. Anything and everything she could come into contact to she would do her damnedest to break it down. Once her fists weren't enough, she self destructed herself, forcing her vitals down to dangerous levels.
A2 attempted to just let her grieve at first, but once 2B caused one of the floors to cave in, she couldn't take it anymore. They sparred once, twice, the third time with A2 hacking her system to force her into sleep mode so she could calm down and recover. They were both beaten up badly at this point, A2 spitting out blood out onto the ground.
"I can't really blame her, but damn." She sighed to herself, looking over the two androids in mulled silence.
Pod 153 floated towards A2 and the two unconscious droids. "Warning: Unit 2B's psychological state is at dangerously low levels. Proposal: Unit A2 should preform emergency maintenance on--"
"I know that." She'd cut the Pod off of its analysis. "Just help me out."
As a month passed, all A2 could do was watch over them and hack into 2Bs system to keep her stabilized, while 153 would keep her vitals in check and preform some small bits of maintenance. With so much free time, A2's mind began to wander on what to do when 2B wakes up. She should hug her, try to comfort her the best she could, right? Or something along the lines of that. Maybe get her a machine corpse to pummel, that always worked for her. She mulled over the thought of having to reboot her eventually... In fact, what If 2B just kept going berserk after she woke up? Was it better if the two stayed asleep this way, in some sort of false eternity together...?
"... Nm." She muttered. "It'd be boring with just a Pod to talk to."
The Pod interjected, giving out a small. "Negative: Pods are meant to be companions to all YoRHa units. I feel... hurt by your words, Unit A2."
"Yeah, yeah." She looked off into one of the openings in the building walls, clouds billowing in the distant sky. "... Sorry, I guess."
With that, the silence took over once more.
A week later, 2B was of few words. The burst of emotion before her shutdown caused her to ..?
She couldn't understand it. She didn't want to. All A2 could do was hug her, try to comfort her the best she could.
The 4 left the crumbled building behind, the atmosphere completely dampened. 2B quietly carried 9S's body with herself, constantly clinging him to her body as if her black box could bring him back. Pod 153 hovered close by and A2 silently walked ahead of the three to lead them somewhere. Anywhere.
After a couple days of wandering, 2B suggested they seek refuge in Pascals village. A2 stood silent, her mind buzzing with the thought.
... After a long pause, she reluctantly nodded.
It was a long trek, but once they got there, 2B couldn't believe her eyes: It was empty. Pascal was the only one there, standing in the middle of a crossroad. A2 stood unmoving as 2B briskly walked past her. As she approached, the machine spoke:
"Oh, Hello! Its so nice to see new people around." Pascal chirped, his voice full of cheer. "Would you like to buy something from my shop?"
"Pascal..?" 2B stuttered out, completely baffled. "What happened here?"
"Pascal? Oh, Someone called me that earlier! Actually... " He blinked as he pointed to 9S. "That's him, isn't it? Is he alright?"
She could only stand stunned as she looked down at 9S, not sure how to respond to Pascal's remarks. A2 only looked away, something falling off her cheek. She muttered a small "Lets go." before walking off. 2B followed shortly after, giving a small "Sorry to bother you" toward Pascal.
The machine waved them off, chiming "Have a wonderful day!"
An empty house at the top of the steps. A2 kicked the door open and check to see what was in there: Nothing. "Let's settle here."
2B sat 9S down in a corner, adjusting him so it looked as if he was resting. She cupped his cheek in her hands before standing up. "A2." She turned to the other, her face scrunched in upset. "What happened here."
"What you expect." The android sat herself down opposite of the two. "The village turned on itself."
A pause. "... I wiped his memory."
"Why.. Why would you--"
A2 turned away from 2B, her face turning soft. "He... couldn't bear remembering them."
Some time had passed.
They say that when humanity began, a great God gave them a garden to thrive in.
That when you died, you would return there as long as you had not committed any 'sin'.
But if you were not human, or not a worshiper of this god, where would you go?
They say the machines made their own heaven: a server created by the Tower, only known by the name [Heaven's Ark]. There, two of the 'Gods' sons lived peacefully among themselves, along with the consciousness of many others who boarded before their take off.
Were they Human? Machine? Both? Neither? It is unknown. But one by one, this garden filled itself with many bodies. The first three being thus:
The first boy was intelligent, with long silver hair and wearing graphics corrector around his blue eyes. He gained vast knowledge of the world quickly, and was known by all by the name of Adam. He was the first of the Gods creation.
The second was a curious, excitable sort. He appeared the same as the first, though his hair was short and messy. Rather than study, he always loved to play. He was always smiling, especially in the company of his brother. He was known as Eve.
But the third was an oddity: for he wasn't meant to be a son of this god, nor was he meant to manifest in this garden. His hair was pure white like the others two, but his eyes were a stinging red. He was always smiling, and yet, he never spoke a word to the two brothers. The two accepted to call him Nine.
That was the first time he frowned; The name reminded him of...
They say an ark blasted them into the great unknown, where they'd live peacefully for all eternity.
That it would save them from the unknown.
Where they'd have no worries, and many to talk to.
For this ark -- with all the knowledge it had obtained from records and the like -- emulated the earth before the calamity to the best of its ability.
It allowed the consciousness to feel at peace.
– I thought about it constantly.
Where would we go from here? When we finally, truly die, was there some kind of heaven waiting for us?
Our bodies, our minds are all just artificial beings. No matter how human we try to become, there is no ‘soul’, only programming.
Maybe, if we could just reach out to the sky, then...
It had been a few weeks since the androids had settled in Pascal’s village. Though it was practically empty, it beat being in the broken down towers of the city ruins. In that time, A2 explained what all the other android had missed (gingerly of course, There wasn’t a need to destroy more buildings) The story about Pascal’s dismay, The tower suddenly coming out of thin air, how she had fought 9S…
It was distressing to hear for 2B, especially about how 9S had fell to the virus again, which was probably the cause of him not being able to wake up. However what caught her attention was how A2 noted that, in the final moments of the Tower's collapse, she saw something flying up.
“I never really paid any mind to it.” A2 sighed, kicking a pebble around at her feet, ”Hoped I was gonna die for good. But it’s all I've thought ‘bout since 9S here can’t really wake up.”
2B looked at 9S’ body again. “What if it had anything to do with the machines shutting down?”
“I wouldn’t know.” A2 sighed “There’s no way to ask them, they’re all dead. Maybe ask the pod, or look up and ask whatever's out there.”
That quip caused something in 2B to stir, question if there really was a way to ask the machines, maybe... figure out where that Tower’s data went? They could find someone, anyone who may have witnessed the tower crumbling and validate the flying thing A2 brushed off. Any kind of knowledge of machines that may have been left, was it left somewhere?
In fact, the battle unit wouldn’t let the idea go, even after days of search and nights meant for at least some kind of rest. Her thoughts ran through data, asking herself with dozens of questions, all that she knew had moot answers but couldn't help thinking about. Eventually her thoughts started slipping out aloud,
– In helping keep the machine village look presentable for just the three YoRHa living there, 2B mused “If Pascal survived, there must be other machine lifeforms still out there.”
– In passing conversation while digging through the City ruins, she’d wonder “Are we truly the only YoRHa units left? What if other units were rebuilt like us?”
– While combing the desert for any machine remains, only to find the endless sand and the quietness that came with it, She’d look up and ask the vast skies “Whatever the tower sent off, we need to find it...”
In every instance, A2 tried her best to humor 2Bs statements and curiosities in her own way, giving a nod or leaving 2B to talk to Pod 153 or 9S in his comatose state... but the way the battle unit was acting from all this was odd. It was simply a dumb suggestion to ‘ask what's out there’ but she was actually doing that. As if that would help; There was only the moon in the sky. Whatever humans believed in was long gone now, and the humans YoRHa had believed in never existed. Maybe 2B's data was cracking under pressure again, looking for something else to fill that.
As 2B asked mulled over a question one night, a shooting star graced the sky as if to answer.