(Qannen) you have a body as long as you remember you have a body

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At first there's nothing. Not darkness or emptiness, but just nothing. Absence. A void.

And then slowly, a drop at a time, the absence is filled. There is awareness of the void. Awareness of herself within that void. And as that awareness grows, she has the sense that data is just a form of energy, and as such it is timeless, shapeless, endless. Within this understanding she also sees: that data wants to be with other data. Like water out of a faucet or over a cliff, it is driven to follow and fold into any space open to receiving it.

Enough of the data that used to be her eventually gathers close together enough for her to be able to recognize her sense of herself. That she exists, somehow. She can't remember her name and doesn't know where she is, or why she is experiencing whatever this is that she is experiencing, but she also isn't scared about it. She feels vaguely as though she lost something, that there are pieces of her self missing, but since she can't remember what they are, they can't have mattered, and aren't worth being sad about.

Sad. An emotion. The opposite of happy. Is that the right concept? Maybe instead: the parts of her that she has lost, being lost, must not be worth having attachment to, so there are no feelings to attach to them.

As soon as that thought occurs to her, suddenly, out of the endless, impenetrable darkness that surrounds her, an image appears.

Not an image, a scene. She can see the characters moving, but the images are hazy, fuzzy at their edges. The sounds they make are muddied, indistinct. Like she's watching them from underwater, or through a window.

She sees a woman in bed. The bright yellow and green ombre of her hair in stark contrast to the dark mocha of her skin. The sheets fall softly over the wide curves of her body. She's doing something on her screen.

Screen. The word appears in her mind and she immediately thinks about her hands, which she now realizes she has. They are attached to her body, which wasn't there a moment ago. One of the aspects of herself she hadn't realized she'd forgotten, perhaps.

Through the haze of the window she watches as a new person enters the scene. Tall and lithe, a shape like a shadow, sliding under the sheets next to the green-haired woman. The word Qynka jumps out from from the scene, and immediately joins with the word sister in her mind.

Qynka. That's her sister.

She calls out to her sister but her voice is nothing, no sound, a hollow wind in the darkness. She tries to reach out to them but the window isn't really a window and the scene, even though it's right in front of her, remains impossibly distant.

She is nowhere. She can sense an approaching wave of fear/broken/incorrect/fear/broken/incorrect just around the edges of this scene. It threatens to consume her with terror. She wants to focus on her sister, not on the fear that suddenly seems to exist everywhere else in the darkness around her.

Qynka has her hand on Azelbeth's face. They're kissing. Slowly turning their bodies towards and against each other's. It's so quiet and intimate and so not for her that she is about to look away. But then there is a flash of light in the room, and a woman appears, a woman who looks almost exactly like Qynka except her hair is bright pink and lavender, and she's floating at the foot of their bed, and Azelbeth is screaming.

And she, the one watching this, thinks: Wait that's me.

And this, this sudden sense that she is not who she thinks she is, or has been split away from who or what she was, is too much. Too confusing and overwhelming to even consider. The wave of fear/broken/incorrect releases, crashing up over the scene and pouring into her mouth, drowning her. She sinks down, under the awful weight of wave after wave of fear/broken/incorrect. The scene rises up above her, floating away as she disappears down into the darkness. She doesn't fight it. She lets the darkness consume her and it's fine, it's better this way. Not being able to see things she doesn't understand, not having to feel things she doesn't want to feel. Let the darkness carry her away, deeper and deeper into nothingness, forever and ever.

The scene in the bedroom is just a pinprick of light hovering high over her now. One star in the vast nighttime sky. Almost gone.

Bye.

The end.

Be you before someone else does, a voice says.

Suddenly everything reverses. All the fear/broken/incorrect pours out of her and she comes back into herself, and again she finds herself standing in front of this window into another world where Azelbeth is crying hysterically on the bed while Qynka screams and yells at the beatifically smiling apparition hovering beside her. But now, in the light that glows from the scene, she sees someone standing next to her. She's shorter, younger, although the concept of age and older and younger feel foreign in her mind. Her straight brown hair is slicked back from her round face.

"Heyyyyy, sorry," the girl says. "I'm only a low-key influencer you might feel a little weird."

"What's. What's. Where."

"Say your name," the girl says. "Just say your name. Start there."

She looks out into the scene and points towards the version of her floating in the room.

"No. That's not you, ok? That's just data. It's not you. Tell me your name before it's gone forever."

She turns her attention away from this girl, drawn into the scene of her sister and this other version of herself. It's starting to get dark again. The scene starts to winnow and float away.

"HEY!" the girl shouts, forcing her attention back. "I can't leave you here. You're stuck in the descant layer and if you don't start looking away you're going to blob out and if you blob out the Demon Lamantine will absorb you, and that's literally on period OK? So drag your fucking ass bitch, what is your name?"

"Qannen," she says. It suddenly feels true, solid, at the core of her being. "I'm Qannen."

"God damn right you are. I'm Anicentricity, let's fucking go."

"Go?" Qannen says. "But my sister..."

"Nope come on, we realllly have to keep moving. If you sit here contemplating your old life you'll just dematerialize again and I won't be able to bring you back."

Anicentricity reaches out to her, and Qannen finds she has an arm that reaches back, and she steps out of the darkness, her body existing, and her legs and feet appearing beneath her.

"See?" Anicentricity says. "You have a body as long as you remember you have a body. That's important. Also...you're hot btw. That's not important, but I'm not mad about it. OK? Come with me if you want to maintain the sanctity of your being."

Qannen lets Anicentricity pull her away. She leaves the scene of her sister yelling at the apparition and as it fades into the distance the darkness starts to recede. In the growing light Qannen sees buildings, streets, a city.

"I recognize this," Qannen says, amazed.

"Yeah. Well. Don't thank me yet. There's a whole war happening. It completely sucks."

Together they move, faster now, back towards the city.

"I don't understand anything that's happening," Qannen says.

"Well there's no time to explain." Anicentricity says. She stops, smiling wide and slightly unhinged at Qannen. "Just kidding! So,"

///

End of S2

Thank you to everyone who read this far. I cannot thank you enough or express how deep my appreciation for you is.

Qannen & Qynka will return in Season 3. Soon.

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