Part 134: Episode CXXIX: No One StopsEpisode CXXIX: No One Stops
A dusty wind kisses my cheeks.
Buried in sand, we press forward one step at a time.
We have nowhere else to go, after all.
Because our modelsthe Devola and Popola modelsare defective.
New Music: Blissful Death (Instrumental)
When first we woke, there were still people.
They had flesh. Ego. Emotions. Souls. And they issued a single order:
Function as observers of Project Gestalt.
This is the sole mission of the twin Devola and Popola models.
It is the only reason we exist at all.
We were the latest model, though many companions shared our appearance.
There was a sparkle in all of our eyes. A sense of pride at having been
entrusted with humanitys future.
And yes, there was anxiety as well.
But we existed as a pair. We shared destinys burden as a pair.
And because of that, all hesitation was swept away.
Each pair was given their own cities as observation areas.
We were ordered to guide the Replicants with our own hands.
All for the sake of the promised time that would one day arrive.
We were the only ones who could handle such a duty.
We were observers, after all.
Devola staggers and falls in the soft yet unforgiving sand.
I hurry to her side and sigh with relief when I find shes not seriously hurt.
Are you all right?
Sorry, Sis. Guess I spaced out here for a bit.
She smilesthe same wry smile I know so wellas she rubs absently at her leg.
It is wrapped in a white bandage.
Your bandage is coming undone. Here, let me change it.
Its all right, Popola. Come onwe have to go before we lose the light.
We wont be going anywhere if sand gets into that thing. Now quit whining and hold still. Ill be quick.
Devola grunts and turns away. I take it as consent.
Soon we are resting in the shade of a nearby rock as I pull the bandage free.
Artificial skintorn and bloodiedpeeks out from beneath the bandage.
Judging by Devolas current lack of ambulatory control,
I imagine the circuitry underneath has been damaged as well.
Taking a deep breath, I...
> Check the circuitry to see if it can be repaired.
As expected, wiring in the nerve circuitry has been damaged.
Replacing it will require new connectors, as well as some tools.
None of which is easy to find in a desert.
> Replace the bandage and hope for the best.
I want to repair this as soon as possible, but I have no tools or materials.
And I know I wont find either in the middle of a desert.
For now, the important thing is to make sure the wound doesnt get worse.
Sorry about this, Sis, mutters Devola.
That wry smile again. It kills me every time.
Dont you dare apologize, I respond. Youve done nothing wrong.
I calmly change the bandage, trying not to let my worry show.
I make it as tight as possible so no sand can slip inside.
Its all I can do until I get the proper materials.
But thats going to be a tall order, considering our current condition.
Im sorry, Sister.
Okay, now YOURE apologizing!
We both apologize while insisting the others apology isnt necessary.
Its kind of funny in a way. Such a trivial exchange under such circumstances?
We laugh together, the sound echoing out across the desert before being stolen
by the cool evening wind.
There has to be some way to prevent relapses!
Devolas sharp voice echoes through our private quarters.
You must be quiet, Sister. The Replicants will hear.
Pffft. They wouldnt even understand even if they did.
That might be true, but regardless...
Annoyed at my hesitation, Devola crosses her legs and scowls.
The Black Scrawl took another victim, she says. Thats three this month. Its spreading way too fast.
Lets wait and see what happens.
Im tired of hearing you say that!
Her shout makes me jump. Just a littlebut enough for her to notice.
Seeing that, her eyes suddenly open wide.
Im sorry, Sis. Its not your fault. I shouldnt have lashed out like that.
Its okay. I understand.
Its all going wrong. You can feel it too, right?
When I was first assigned to Project Gestalt, I was over the moon with pride.
But now, my chest hurts just to think about it. If it were to fail...
Before we knew it, the Replicants had gained a sense of self
and the Black Scrawl started raging out of control.
It moved fast. So fast.
Like a wind.
Popola and I would go to the observation room and act like it was all okay.
Wed talk to the Replicants as if we didnt have a care in the world.
But at night, wed just hold each other and share the horror of it all.
Im glad you were here with me, murmurs Popola.
I couldnt have handled being an observer all alone.
We were able to endure because we had each other, I reply softly.
Did the humans see this coming? Is that why they made a twin model?
Were they really so clever? ... Were they really so cruel?
I couldnt have done this by myself. I would have descended into madness.
I simply couldnt bear such a burden all alone.
When I get the chance, Im going to try contacting another city, she says.
Maybe these abnormalities are a localized phenomenon.
I pray thats the case, I reply. Even if were of no use ourselves,
things will still work out if the other observers can pull through.
Dont worry. Its going to be okay.
But it wasnt okay. Nothing was okay.
All thanks to a pair of Devola and Popola models from another town.
Music: Blissful Death (Instrumental)
The wind rubs my cheeks. The sand grazes my skin.
Its grown cold out here.
We walk with renewed purpose, hoping to make up for lost time.
Devola loses her balance every now and then. It gets bad after a while.
I slip myself under her arm so she wont fall again and we press on.
Is your leg all right?
Well, I doubt Ill be dancing anytime soon, but yeah. Its fine.
She smiles as she says this, but I can tell she doesnt have much left.
And yet, she continues to smileall so I wont worry.
I remember when our Resistance allies injured her leg.
I was furious. Beyond fury. I wanted to scream and cry and lose myself in it.
But then she smiled, and all of that rage just... drifted away.
To think we have the same face, yet such different smiles.
One day, I realized how she reminded me of the martyrs Id seen in old records.
That was the day we decided to leave our town forever.
Our role as observers ended on the day Project Gestalt collapsed.
All due to the actions of Devola and Popola models from another town.
With the original Gestalt lost, humanity was doomed to an inevitable extinction.
Knowing this, we gathered what remaining Replicant data we could find
and launched it to the surface of the moon.
And though success was as unlikely as finding a lost sand grain in the desert,
we still had to attempt it. We still had to try.
We were androids, you see. Protecting humanity was our instinct.
Other androids, beholden to that same instinct, began to direct their hate at
the Devola and Popola models whod snuffed out humanity.
It started small. A few off-hand remarks. The occasional glance.
But even the smallest things have weight, and with enough of them combined,
that weight eventually become a boulder.
Emotions boiled over. Remarks became jeers. And soon enough,
my sister and I were the perfect target for persecution.
At first, we simply accepted the fact that our friends turned on us.
It was almost unavoidable, I suppose.
We were observers for Project Gestalt, after all.
And while we didnt cause it to fail, the people who did...
Well, they looked just like us.
So we accepted it. We took the resentment and scorn. We endured.
Because as crazy as it sounds, I think we actually felt... responsible.
We moved from town to town in an effort to avoid persecution.
But in one such town, my seemingly infinite patience finally broke.
My sister, Devola, met with unprovoked violence at the hands of a Resistance member.
She said something in response to his taunts. Something quiet.
And though her words were ambiguous, he slashed her leg nearly in two.
My vision narrowed. Everything went red. And then... she smiled at me.
Its okay, Sis. Theres nothing we can do.
But it was too late. My emotions were no longer in my control.
Im simply not strong enough to stand aside and let the most important person
in the world come to harm.
Devola and I left town that same day.
Violence like that wouldnt stop. It was going to happen again.
And it wouldnt be coming from just one person.
So rather than let them kill us, we ran.
I guess it was the greatest resistance I could muster.
We lose the sun as dark clouds gather overhead.
We continue our march.
A cold wind blasts us, stealing what little body heat we have left.
I smell rain in the air.
We continue our march.
Sometimes we hear animals howling in the distance.
It makes us flinch every time.
But we continue our march, because even this is better than suffering at the
hands of our fellow androids.
Why must we suffer this persecution?
I know were the same model as the androids who doomed humanity,
so I understand that part. At least a little, anyway.
But at the same time, were not them. Were not the same.
We are who we are, and that Devola and Popola were who they where.
Thats how I felt when I saw Devola being hurt.
I wanted to shout it at everyone. I wanted to scream.
As far as Im concerned, theres only one Devola. And for her, theres only me.
No one can take the others place.
Rain falls from the sky.
It stimulates our sensation nerves like cold needles.
We need maintenance badly. But thats a pipe dream, I suppose.
No android would dare help a pair of outcasts like us.
Are you cold, Devola?
Im all right as long as youre with me, Sis.
I feel the same.
We press our bodies together to try and retain heat.
Its cold now. Much worse than the searing heat of midday.
But we just smile at each other and keep pressing on.
Theres another camp on the other side of the desert. A new camp.
If we can just get there, I can finally fix Devolas leg.
And yet, I wonder if theres anywhere on this planet that will take us.
Hey. Whats wrong?
...Its nothing. Dont worry about it.
I do what I can to suppress the anxiety in my chest and keep walking.
The rain grows worse. It lashes at us without pause.
Is this our punishment?
I reach out and...
>Touch Devolas cheek.
The rain flows down her cheeks like tears. I reach over and gently wipe it away.
She smiles, but seems surprised.
Theres no point in doing that, you know, she whispers.
But there is.
Because I swore to myself that I would stay with her forever.
> Support Devolas body.
As long as we have bodies to support one another...
As long as I have someone with whom to share my fate...
Then I will press on, no matter what happens to me.
Because I wont ever stop protecting her.
I wont stop.
No one stops.