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You were told it would end in flames, and the beauty and destruction shall burn through you until there’s nothing left. How do they know what you’ve experienced? They ask why haven’t you grown? People never think before opening their mouths. Only your healing matters.
Let’s begin. I’ll tell you a story. You know it well. There’s a quiet one and a raging world. By some sweet miracle of existence, you’re still here. You know. This is the story of your life. There’s a ghostly echo in your otherwise preoccupied mind.
After your descent into utter ruin, nothing is good or bad, it just is. After suffering much tragedy, who could blame you for not grasping the concept of awe, wonder, or terror? A pity, denying yourself your full range of emotions in fear of reliving your past.
I ask a lot of questions. Why am I putting you through this? As noble as your intentions are, they won’t help you. You’ll sink deeper. After being buried for so long, it gives your mind a breath. Don’t run from it. You need it. Let me help you with the first one. Step by step, my love.
Let’s start at the beginning, when you picked up your bleeding form off the ground instead of waiting for the spirits to take you. No one wants that, if they care about self-preservation. Your inner self believed you deserved to live, so you’re still here a decade later.
Since you have limited time, I’ll make the most of it. After we finish, you have life to return to. For the first time, it’s the one you want. Doesn’t that floor you? You did it, my love, no matter what the vengeful gods threw at your quest.
There are still gaps in foundations to fill, cracks to repair, and unhealed wounds to patch. That’s why I’m here. Thank the stars that you came to your senses. You sapient creatures divide everything into neat groups. Your mind might explode if you didn’t.
Life is chaotic and you can’t handle it all. It isn’t an insult, my love. Take comfort in your similarities and embrace your differences. Let’s not waste another moment.
The sky bleeds as you do, weeping over so much wasted life over a right everyone else in the galaxy enjoys. Don’t panic. This piece of your painful history is necessary.
You’ve known pain your entire life. It’s the constant of your existence, but this is different, a kind you aren’t accustomed to. No one should be. It cuts through you, deeper than you’ve ever known. And its mark lasts. There are physical scars, but mental scars aren’t permanent.
It scares and fascinates me how little power you think you have over your mind. Maybe that’s not the best way to phrase it. Raging against the brain is pointless, but living with it? That’s true liberation. Does it still hurt? Oh my love, I wish I could take it away.
The sacred ground turned open graveyard lies still with you in the dead of night, exhausted from being ripped apart and reassembled again for days. How many lunar cycles have you been doing this? Moons, but then, there was still hope. Tonight, there’s nothing left.
Something else remains. It’s enough to make you leave your beckoning grave and stumble to a place of safety. You find your ship and the medical supplies within, ensuring your survival. You fly from your beloved, broken homeworld and never return.
There were valid reasons for the galaxy’s catastrophic military failure. Remember the positive things, my love. It brought you back to life. Sometimes I wonder why I treasure you so. A mind like mine has space for irrationality, I suppose. For that, I’m grateful.
It hurts. There’s guilt wrapped around you, like the iron chains they used on prisoners of war. No one is inflicting these bonds on you, my love. Only you can release yourself. When we’re done, I hope you’ll find the strength to become a person again. You’re only fragments of one.
My programming is easy to fix, but trying to rewrite the patterns you’ve had for decades? No straightforward task. There’s light at the end of this tunnel. Metaphors aren’t my strength, but you’ve taught me much.
You’ll be better when we have finished. Accepting what you were is paramount. Can you do that? Not yet? We shall continue, instead.
Let’s return to the second day of your beginning. A heaviness descends upon you, lacing around your aching bones and muscles. Ironic, since in space you’re weightless, yet you’re your heaviest.
After moons of stoic silence, you break. You’re foolish to ignore the boundless wrath of pent-up rage and sadness, but how can I blame you? The thick, intricate lines of blue war paint you painted on your russet-brown, aquamarine scale-flecked face run with your tears.
That symbol of victory now signifies defeat. How does it feel to be the only crying person in your world? Yes, it’s a hardship, and it rips apart your fragile body, but it heals. Scientists can’t figure out how your anatomy works. Faced with crushing failure, isn’t this concept a miracle?
You have no room in your mind for anything else. You run raw until there’s nothing left. Lying on the cold metal floor of your stolen spaceship, the loud thrumming of the engine is but a gentle hum in your unhearing ears.
Your red hair, braided in the tradition of your forebears, spills out around you like a broken halo. You’re shattered. I don’t know how long passes between you falling asleep and waking up in a panic. Your ship has been discovered, and it’s being attacked.
How did they find you? Why? Through the cockpit window, you see the massive bowels of a battleship, approaching, ready to swallow your little shuttle. No. You won’t be subjected to more violence. Because you make enough for yourself.
Oxygen levels are dropping, and you have minutes left. Returning to your control panel, you set your course for the nearest planet, praying to the galaxy’s many gods. Your ship explodes as you’re consumed by the energy of one of the largest battleships in the galaxy.
You awake in a sea of charred exoskeleton pieces, called ‘Lifegiver’ by a friend. She died in your arms as she held onto hope. It wasn’t enough, and you blame yourself for her death. You blame yourself for many failures. Does that help?
Recall the beautiful things she was and be glad you knew her. Otherwise, you’ll spiral. When you drown yourself, how many times am I going to rescue you?
The swollen sky threatens to pierce the delicate landscape with lightning bolts and rain darts. Find shelter before it unleashes its onslaught. Where have you landed? Civilization?
You saved your life and prevented those dastardly fiends from doing any more damage, but at what cost? Can you breathe here? Or eat the plants nestling around your battered body? You sit up, but that simple motion racks you with anguish.
Did you ever try such a movement without your exoskeleton? Don’t curse your lack of foresight, because in moments of crisis, that’s one of the first things to fall apart. Don’t argue with your mind, for it keeps you safe.
Although the sky is filled with watery fury, the distant lightning turns the faraway charred black mountains a violent shade of purple. The delicate, brownish-blue plant fronds tremble beneath the raw power of the raining world.
Unless you find shelter soon, you’ll suffer the same fate. Move, my love, before the cold weakens you further. Beyond the hill you crash-landed on is a cave. Self-preservation kicks in. The way you speak to yourself, you wouldn’t say to your worst enemy.
You’ve had plenty of those in your time. Your lesser mind is a hindrance, but embrace it. Otherwise, you die. You’re allowed to make mistakes, to cry yourself to sleep, feel guilt flow through your veins, and to imagine yourself falling, never to get up again. Get out of this storm!
Don’t drink in too much of the frigid air. Your body isn’t suited for this environment. You take your hand from your mouth. The chilly atmosphere wafts up your nose, and your body seizes.
You want to run until all you see are the foothills and the trees and the outlines of mountains in the far distance. Your hearts shall give out, as will your legs. Continue trudging.
A cave becomes your sanctity against the whirling winds and sheets of rain slathering the rocky landscape with an aggressive fresh coat of paint.
Do you remember when you were a romantic? That’s what drew me to you. I saw how you used your abilities to protect your home, how you lived for the thrill of battle and longed for the chase.
If I’d told you there was something better? You would have laughed. There’s a glimmer of hope in this mess. You can’t run away. One day, it’ll catch up with you, and then where will you be? You’re still entrenched in survival mode.
For now? Conserve your energy, rest and wait out the rainstorm. There’s nothing else you can do. Sleep, my love. Take out those hearing aids so you can slumber. This is where I leave you. We begin again in the morning.
My mistake. As you wake, hours later, the sky is still a deep violet, with only the moons to reveal the faint outlines of the mountains beyond. There are a myriad of celestial objects in the sky, so many I struggle to count them.
This landscape is familiar, though my archives aren’t turning up relevant results. Let me search while you acquaint yourself. See, not all is bad. Though you forgot any breathing apparatus, the universe has shown you mercy. Doesn’t it astound you how much of a paradox you are?
You led the most successful non-violent military campaigns in your system’s history, but you’re forgetful enough to leave the survival kit when you launch yourself into space.
My love, you’re beautiful and brilliant, but you’re a fool.
How unusual. You used to protest when I said things like this, so determined to protect your precious reputation, to smooth over your shortcomings. You’re only lying to yourself.
Deceiving other people is difficult, but hoodwinking yourself? It’s easy to do.
Now you only nod, with a half-hearted laugh that dies in your throat. Oh my love, what has this life done to you? I suppose humility is a blessing?
Good news, there are others settled on this planet. Only the stars know why.
Find a way out of here. It’ll take me time to generate a suitable map for your great journey across the plains. Rest and find something to eat.
You didn’t bring any food, either? Is there a protein bar squashed in one of the many pockets you sewed into your jacket? For the stars’ sake, my love, start searching!
As you step across the grasslands, headed for the rocky outcrops as my route guides you, you notice things. Only fools think you need full access to your senses to appreciate beauty, but you experience it in its glorious strokes.
Desolate as this place is, it’s stunning. The mountains have ridges like welts. In the canyons between them is a green substance, carving out an uncertain existence.
The leftover rain reflects your wandering form and the sky lighting its surroundings. The ground is soft, warm and forgiving, and this place feels brittle, a simple thing to shatter. It’s the world you never wanted to know but will forever.
The one thing the Cosmos Chart failed to mention is how heavy you feel. Gravity drags you down, your weight a burden to the soft earth. You feel the air on the patches of your bare skin through the charred exoskeleton. Thank the stars you had the sense to bring a cloak with you.
Your Lifegiver is necessary to your existence, but conspicuous. Once it was to be shown off, painted in the swirls of red and aquamarine, but now it’s a danger, revealing your true identity. Yes, my love, I’ll call it that. Your dear friend always had a talent for naming things.
The planet’s atmosphere shifts like a living entity. Despite the eternal darkness on this side of the planet, it’s warm. A breeze brushes your skin. Maybe the rain is apologizing for its decimation of the earth and is giving this as a peace offering.
It should take two days to cross the mountains to the other side to reach the first of the few settlements in this hemisphere. Don’t hold yourself to those arbitrary standards, my love. Factor in your condition and the state of your injuries, it’ll take far longer.
Unrealistic expectations do the most damage to sentient people. People like you live cursed lives, yet their outside circumstances have nothing to show for such a terrible internal world. This shall take time. That’s something you have but never wanted.
Let us skip forward a few years, for they are much the same, and you grow impatient. What we must discuss happens many years after your constructed plans exploded in your face. It’s now you find that helmet. Yes, my love, I don’t like it, and no, I shall never be quiet about it.
I know it helps you function in a galaxy that demands more of your sight and hearing than they can give, but that’s not the reason you wear it. For such problems are smoothed over by painless implants, or a device your great-grandparents would wear when they aged.
Some do centuries later. When something is no longer a necessity, people hold onto the memories. If they don’t, what do they have left? I’m not criticizing your choice of headgear. It helps you exist, lessens the headache of everyday interactions with others, and protects you.
I cannot control you. You’re doing better than most. Some only realize the torture they experienced was self-inflicted on their deathbed. This world is strange.
I’m not criticizing your choice to make peace after the war you started. Why do you wear a helmet? Because you’re afraid? What do you fear? You say you fear not being yourself and being forgotten in the process?
That’s not the problem. You fear living in a world you cannot understand. Though the memories of you will fade, you’re not living to make a legacy. You need to find meaning for yourself now. I hope one day, after years of suffocating, you’ll breathe.
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