Part 44: MEchacide
That's Marco, I get it, but who are you?
I guess I'll let you both catch up. The dead won't bury themselves, so excuse me.
Marco shrugged when he realized he didn't need to introduce himself. He decided to leave us both to bury the dead, whatever that meant.
Wait... are you Ityne? Avaritia from the second group? You don't look like what I remember.
I understand you may be confused, so give me a moment to explain this particular thing. I have been Avaritia in the second group. What you saw in the elevator was a lie.
Considering my... and the Beta Ex Machinas' appearances, there was no other choice but to substitute everyone's real appearance with their corresponding person. That means while I looked like this, to you and everyone else who wore these helmets, I looked just like Avaritia. In the same thought, everyone else from the second group who wasn't human was the same.
If you ever had the idea to touch this place's weaponry- the static shotguns, for example- then you would have seen your hand passing through them. That is because they are also a fake reality. All were fake guns, except for one of them. That one was to be used just in case things would go badly.
Okay. I understand that now. What I don't understand is why? Why do all this? What do you have to gain from organizing such a complicated killing game?
There are also details I cannot say because someone is still watching. If I said them, it would pre-emptively unravel my plans for the future.
I decided to get comfortable, so I sat down into Ancora's chair. The helmet was already disconnected anyway. Even if I was an Alpha Ex Machina, my body could still feel some sort of comfort.
And by we I mean the Empty S. It is a nefarious organization Marco and I have... infiltrated. We are also staff members of the Empty S, don't get us wrong- we just don't quite share their exact views. In tandem with the construction of this replica, we also matured your Ex Machina over twelve years. We designed and built others for the members of My Emptiness. They were Beta versions; less advanced, but still suitable.
Originally, everyone was to be executed as part of the Empty S's plans. Naturally, Marco and I felt it would be best otherwise. If we'd been on a train, think of our current involvement as switching rails and going off the planned path.
To avoid being killed.
Yes, but also to avoid some much larger catastrophe. My own life won't continue for very long even after this outcome, however. I am definitely frail and old, unlike the kids from My Emptiness we kept in stasis for twelve years...
They were all headless, most likely due to the fact the helmets had exploded. Six of them were carried in- the six deaths that had been prophesied early on. The three survivors had been Marco, Ityne, and Greta. I still did not know the why.
So, this is a nice history lesson, but it doesn't tell me your reasons.
BGM: Mereo Mentis
Yes, that's right. I did say they were threefold. The first reason is that we had to put the Sally-Ann Test into practice. Someone in the Empty S theorized that by adding a higher being's belief to ours, we could duplicate a reality. Think of it a little like a reality error. By combining the view of someone from a higher level than humanity with another that witnessed the actual reality, both outcomes would exist at once.
So it was yours.
Fair, I suppose. But no, it was another insane old bat. All of this was based on a principle where if you learn something, you can never unlearn it. This is easy for us, who are humans, since if someone learns something they aren't supposed to learn... You can just kill them, or erase their memories, or whatever. In short, you can wipe the slate clean with a normal person's consciousness learning something they can't unlearn. At least, in theory. In practice, wiping a mind doesn't really work. But I digress.
The idea was to test the theory to see if it worked- and then, if it did, send God somewhere else. Marco had to then explain the Sally-Anne Test and, if we played our cards right... The trick will never work again. Since it was clear that we succeeded, and because eventually we would succeed after trying this many times, I already planned ahead and set that up.
The old woman gave me a complicit smile. Was that personal to her, or had I misread her?
Something's bothering me. You said trying many times just now. What do you mean? Has this occurred before?
One thing at a time. I will move onto the second reason now.
As long as you don't forget to expand on that, too...
The impatience of youth never ceases to surprise me.
She paused for a moment, and then she resumed, as if testing me.
The second reason behind all of this was simple. Perhaps the simplest reason of all: it was to punish My Emptiness. At least, that's what it was on paper.
What it did is birth ME Code in their heads. The ME Code, or Memories and Experience Code is made of my own mind. My own memories and experiences stuffed in much younger bodies, duly erasing the ingrates and giving me a bit more... leeway.
Well, that's not creepy at all. And it's pretty monstrous of you to do.
Oh, I guess it is. I'm not asking you to forgive me. I don't need forgiveness- I need results. Either way, it wasn't my intention to rob them of their free will, but I don't have the choice anymore. I'm pressed for time, and I have very little resources. You do understand I'm fighting against the Empty S, right? I need all the staff I can get. I need all the resources I can get. I need every ounce of strength I can muster to bring about their fall, and prevent them from enacting...
I stared at her for a moment, but she did not continue.
Yes? To enact what?
If I did, God wouldn't be able to unlearn it.
God again! Are you really claiming God is here or something? Is that your reason behind your refusal to speak? Are you going to use this as your excuse every time?
Yes, because God is here. Do you know why you are called Ex Machinas? It's because you are a Deus Ex Machina. Literally, you are hosting God. God is watching everything, through your eyes, at this very moment.
I think it is. I think it's really silly. However, this is a position that the Empty S has taken on the matter, and while I've systematically been countering their theories, I feel this one is too strong now. Too many people believe in God. Those damn drugs...
Anyway, that's the second reason. It was to duplicate me, essentially, into seven able, real human bodies and put a real wrench into the Empty S's plans. They'll lose funding, access to many important pieces of technology, and we'll turn them inside out. Of course, I bet they already know what we're planning. If we're fast, we can get out of here with everything I need, though.
Doesn't that scare you?
Not at this stage. Speaking of... Marco!
The man walked back to us. Apparently, he had been talking with both Greta and Hannah.
Polo! Aye aye, sir. We're moving out?
Stop with your silly puns. We have to move quickly. Bring Greta and Hannah somewhere safe.
Maybe... the Complex #27 seems good. That's where I'm sending all the vats.
He made a poor impression of a pirate, and swiftly vacated the area. Meanwhile, Ityne brought her attention back to me.
What about the third reason?
I'll tell you that, but first... I need to put this helmet on you.
This helmet? Am I not...
I touched my face. The helmet was no longer on my head. And now Ityne wanted to put one on me again?!
It'll just be for a moment. Do you remember the penultimate puzzle you solved? The answer was one two three, wasn't it? Currently, you are two. You have the memories of your trip through only one half of this place, but not the other. This helmet contains the information you had in the other half. Without it, you cannot become third.
And it will only take a second?
Yes. If you do it, I will tell you about the third... and biggest reason, why all this had to take place.
I hesitated. Who wouldn't?
Just like one was the sum of their memories and experiences, my first self had been the one who lived through the first group's events. My second self had been the one who lived through the second group's events. And now, the process combining both together made me become third.
Deep down, I knew, the person I had been a few seconds ago... was gone. At least, I wouldn't need to make any more sacrifices now.