I don’t like the taste of Sour Apple candies in the morning. II
Kiyro arrived in front of a large double door where it automatically opened. The moment the door opened loud voices burst through causing him to take a couple steps back. He was not expecting so many voices chattering among each other inside, giving him a slight headache. They were a large pockets of group of people standing around something that Kiyro could not see till he peered over on tip toes. Cheers erupted as the group of harden battle ready people excitedly place their bets on a two rhino beetle battling each other out.
They stepped into a pub like room where people were having a good time drinking and eating. Not many were in the room that did not have on armor or weapons strapped onto their back.
“Dad’s here!” Eve exclaimed in delight. “Dad!” She waved her head over her shoulder, lightly running up to him.
Alex rolled his eyes and walked forward with Eve towards Steve. They walked over towards a group of tough looking men and women sitting around on a table, taking a swish of beer, lazily talking among each other. They stopped and turned towards her.
Kiyro squinted his eyes to see in the dark. Steve? He was having a difficult time differentiating who was who, but he could tell Steve sitting leaned back on a chair. He had black hair, sharp eyes, and muscle that seems to bulge out of his clothes any second now.
Steve glanced up towards Eve and Alex. His face was stone cold with no emotions plastered on his face. Even when he saw Kiyro he did not show a single speck of emotions, instead he scowled.
“Eve. Alex. Did you finish your mission?” Kiyro felt he was way to distant, the memory of the past Steve was completely broken, almost like it was all just a dream.
“Well…” Eve and Alex felt very uncomfortable under the gaze of Steve. If one could say that his stare could kill, it did. Everyone became quiet, listening in on their question. It made Eve more self conscious and her voice became quieter.
“I expected better of both of you.” Steve voice was filled with disappointment. The surrounding people became tensed as they glanced back and forth from both father and siblings.
“We were just taking care of Kiyro.” Eve muttered so softly that Kiyro thought Steve would not have caught it, but he was told wrong.
“Sympathy is not something you need here at this time. There are Deviants out there that needs to be dealt with and you were playing babysitter?”
“But Dad. It’s Kiyro.” Eve was twirling her fingers on her hair nervously. “You were waiting for him weren’t you? Dad?”
“It was not her fault. I told her to stay with Kiyro for awhile. Please don’t be mad at her. It’s my fault,” Alex quickly cut in.
“I know.” Steve said coldly. “Both of you go to the office and report for your next mission.”
“I said go.”
Alex cast his gaze down with sadness and anger. He nodded and pulled Eve with him towards the exit. Kiyro watched them leave. Was Steve always so cold? Did the years that they were apart made them change so much that he could barely recognize him?
Kiyro watched and waited wondering what Steve would do next. Steve walked over with his hands behind his back. His step were light like a cat, he prowled around Kiyro like a predator that was sizing up its prey.
Kiyro glanced up towards Steve. He was not sure what to expect from Steve and wonder what he would do. If his memory served him correctly and if he was still the same man that Kiyro remembered him.
“You have grown. I’m surprised that you are still alive.” Steve words drawled out.
“Why did you thought that I would not have lived at all?”
“In this time and age we would not know.” His words seem a harsh, that it made Kiyro really wonder what happened that changed him so much. Maybe death had changed him so many times, he didn’t know, but it was something he considered.
“There is the rebirth machine. Didn’t you think I would come back through that?”
Steve was silent for a moment. He was in front of him watching for any signs of Kiyro’s movement. Kiyro wondered what was going on in Steve’s mind. If he only he could connect with him telepathically again. He would love to peek into his thoughts.
“I have never doubted that you would come back.”
“Than why have you not come by when I was awake?”
“I was on a mission.”
“A little hello wouldn’t be so bad you know. A pat saying, hey Kiyro you did great in keeping Eve, Alex, and the rest of the kids alive.”
“I wouldn’t say that you completely succeeded did you?”
“I tried. Is that so hard to ask for?”
“Trying had got them killed. What if we weren’t here? How would they have survived the infestation around the city walls? You were sleeping seven years Kiyro. Why? Did you not wanted to come back?”
“I-” Kiyro stopped for a moment and thought it over. Was it really the case? Did he really not wanted to come back from death and instead sleep an eternal sweet dream? No. He shook his head and stared straight into Steve’s eyes.
“I did at first. I wanted to stay sleeping for an eternity. Never having to deal with the problem in this world and instead living at the happiest moment in time of my life. But I was called back. I could of choose to continue sleeping endlessly but I didn’t. I don’t know what my purpose in this world is Steve, but I could not leave it just as much as you and everyone around here.” The voice in the room became silent and they turned towards Kiyro voice which got louder. “You all came back. You know just as much as I that you did not have to. It was a choice and that choice was given to all of you every time you take a step back into this world. You all could’ve died back then in the time of transition and leave behind this wretched world but you didn’t. Guilt of nothing being able to accomplish your dreams and goals. The regret that you had been harboring in your heart all this time. Without the feeling of relief you would not be free.”
“We have the choice to live our life or die.”
“That is not what I was asking about Kiyro.”
“Yes it is. You’re disappointed that they did not stay alive longer and I did not come back sooner.” Kiyro was seething in anger. He felt like he was put on the spot for the failure of not being able to protect them at all. “You don’t know what we have been through. You were not there when it all happened.”
“Then why did it sound like you were accusing me?”
“I was not.”
“That’s not what your tone of voice were stating.”
“I’ll talk to you later Steve. Right now I don’t have the patience to talk to you.” Kiyro stormed away. He did not look back once nor did he stop when Steve called out to him. All he felt was disappointment and pain. What was worse was that the past Steve was gone and a new one took its place. Whatever happened during the long years when Kiyro was sleeping and away was something Kiyro did not foresee nor could he have controlled. He had done his best. Yes. He had done his best. There were nothing one could ask more from him.
Walking through the hallway, he mindlessly continued forward not know which direction to go. It was like a giant maze and if he was not careful he could get lost. Well truthfully told, he was already lost and he did not know where he needed to go.
“Can you believe it? There is actually someone who was not Rebirthed for seven years. Is that even possible?” The voices of two soldiers talking among one another as they were walking away from Kiyro. Kiyro stopped to listen and followed them out of curiosity.
“Well it is isn’t it. We have one already out and about walking among us.”
“Its creepy I tell you. Nobody sleeps that long. Don’t you ever wonder it might be someone else entirely? Like a ghost that took over his body because he couldn’t make it in three months?”
“Highly unlikely. You know as well as I that the Rebirth Machine somehow brings back the same soul.”
“How are you so sure? We could be someone different from our past previous life.”
“Well supposedly that the soul that escape the body is forcefully sought out and brought back every time. Even if we try to escape from its grasp we won’t be free till our lives are up.”
“That sound pretty scary. You make it sound like it some kind of devil that clings to one foot and brings them back to hell.”
“Hell. That’s a great way to put it. Why don’t you now say we’re all demons that are in human body now.” The man mumbled in disapproval. “Our memories are the same. Our identity has not changed since the last time we have awoken.”
“But still…even Steve seem to turn into a demon since his last Rebirth.”
“Something could’ve happened. Who knows. We all have a reason to change.”
“Look you have all your memories don’t you?”
“I don’t know.”
The soldier sighed. “It’s the gut feeling that tells you you are you. Got that?”
“Kind of. Than what about that kid that slept for seven years you think he is the same?”
“I believe so.”
“You believe so? You’re not definite either?”
“Come on. Give me a break will ya. I’m not a scientist here that could explain all this weird phenomena.”
“What it’s true. Don’t you find it a scary thought?”
“Yes, but still it’s the Rebirth machine for crying out loud. It has not failed us once.”
“Don’t put too much faith in it. It’s not a god you know.”
“I know. I know, but this is what science have achieved. It’s a complete breakthrough you know to bring back the dead in a new body with the same looks, abilities, and physical abilities.”
“There could always be something that could go wrong.”
“Let’s not think to much about it can we.”
“What? You don’t think it’s already something wrong with it?”
“Come on. Seriously?”
“Think about it. Every time we have to choose there are these creepy ass apparition that seems to grab at your soul or something to try to drag you to hell.”
“Yea. Every time I think about it it gives me the shivers. Let’s not talk about it please. It’s giving me goosebumps.” The soldier on the left rub up and down his arms to get rid of the feeling.
The soldiers continue onwards into the corridors. Kiyro stopped following them and instead stopped in front of a glass wall. Inside the room were over thirty test tubes that were filled with different stages of people growing up into there last form. If Kiyro didn’t know any better he thought he stumbled upon a crazy science lab where people were genetically created.
“Fascinating isn’t it.” A woman’s voice appeared behind him. Kiyro turned around in surprise. A beautiful woman with flaming red hair wearing a lab coat walked up next to him starting into the glass window. She pulled out a lollipop from her mouth and twirled it in her fingers.
“The Rebirth Machine. It’s quite miraculous if you ask me.”
“You don’t think so?”
“Well I guess it is.”
“You don’t sound to sure of yourself.”
“Honestly I don’t know what much to think of. Don’t you think we have stepped into the realm where we should not stepped in at all?”
“Hardly. Mankind had taken leaps and bounds through science to better humanity’s cause.”
“I don’t know maybe its best if somethings are left hidden.”
“If that was the case, why did you put yourself into the system? I would assume that you would not have done such a thing from the sound of it.”
“I didn’t. I had no choice.”
The women was silent. “Do you regret it?”
“No. I was just thinking things over in my head that was all.”
“Quite a thing to think about for someone so young. I’m assuming you are Kiyro correct?”
“Yes. How did you know?”
“I watched you sleeping in one of those containers. You were quite a talk through our research group.”
Kiyro couldn’t help but chuckle nervously. “You make it sound creepy when you state it like that.”
“I’m sorry. I wasn’t trying too. We were just fascinated about your predicament. Seven long years and you were the one that brought over the Fallen Weapons.”
“I was not the one who did though. Eve and Alex should of been the one too. They died first didn’t you know?”
“Really? Strange. I wonder why the system state you were the one. This is something worth looking into.”
“By the way, I never got your name.”
“Where is my manners. My name is Amelia Randforth. Genetic engineer and a Rebirth machine specialist.”
Kiyro turned back towards the clear glass. He couldn’t help but wonder what the sleeping people were dreaming about in their test tube. “How does the Rebirth Machine get its power to bring back the soul and the memories?”
“Kuhuhuhu,” Amelia chuckled under her breath like an old geezer. “That is a fascinating thing in itself. What do you think of death?”
“Well, the definition of death has changed over the centuries didn’t it?”
“Yes, I know, but what do you think of it?”
“I’m not sure. Alot had happened during my Rebirth phase that I don’t know what to say it is anymore.”
“That is what everyone who has gone through the process of Rebirth thinks of now. There isn’t really an meaning to death anymore. Humanity has cheated death so many times because of this technology that we forget what it means to sleep for eternity.” Amelia demeanor shrouded into worry. “The answer to what happens to when you die is found through the Rebirth machine but at the same time it does not answer all the question that we are all looking for. Is there a god and if there is why has the god have not shown itself still? So far this machine has not proven anything.”
“Isn’t that a good thing?”
“Well that is a matter of opinion.”
“Without a higher power, we humanity lose our hope. In all honesty, it makes the world a gloomier place if you think about it. To not have a true place to rest from all the hardship that humanity had to go through. It can wear down our soul.”
“That’s quite deep and dark thought to have.”
“Yes, but no matter.” Her demeanor changed one sixty and instead was chirpy. “The Rebirth machine is just a tool. It is a machine that pass through the veil that exist between the living and dead and hunts down the soul that had drifted away from the body. Every single time it has successfully brought back the same data, excuse me I mean soul that matches the file.”
“But that does not make any sense on how the machine is powered.”
“There is a special crystal that is found on Earth that we harvested from. We call it the Soul Stone. Since World War III, these Soul Stones had been growing in the most contaminated region on earth. It has the ability to purify the environment but because the growth rate of a Soul Stone is so slow that having one the size one hand takes about fifty to hundred years to grow.”
“Earth?” Kiyro was shocked to hear where the crystal had come from. “The last time I remembered Earth it was inhospitable on the surface. All I saw was snow. Not a single one was present. How?”
“Inhospitable? Wait you have been there before?”
Kiyro clamped his mouth shut. He felt stupid for blurting out something that he had kept a secret for so long. It was till now that he had made a mistake in blurting out his secrets. “I mean the history of Earth being covered half in snow and half in desert because of the war. Supposedly the temperature was worse at that time, how were humanity able to find the crystals?”
“Ah that’s what you meant, for a moment I thought you were saying that you have visited there or something. Wait..” Amelia stared at him deeply. “I remember now. You’re Steve and Diana’s adopted son. They found you on Earth.”
“Yes. Yes it is you!” Amelia squealed in delight. “You were quite a gossip during the time when we left the ship. People thought you would of mutated into some kind of monster or something but everything about you were normal. Not a single defect on you. It was quite fascinating. I remember like it was yesterday. Even now you look normal….ah….not exactly.”
“I’m not? Did something go wrong?” Kiyro followed Amelia’s eyes that was cast upon his head. He reached his hands above him and stopped. Two sharp horns protruded out his hair that seem to curl from his forehead and out towards the back. “Oh!”
“We did a data analysis on it, but it seems like it is part of your body. You’re growing horns.”
“It’s my Fallen Weapon.”
“It is? Their is actually a symbiotic relationship that merges with the body? This is quite fascinating. We thought it was something familiar to Eve and Alex’s Fallen Weapons but you just confirmed it. I must notated this when I get the chance.”
“If you don’t mind continuing on with your explanation.”
“Ah, I’m sorry. I do tend to get carried away. I’m not sure if you remember, but do you remember the combat suits?”
“Yes, I have seen both Diana and Steve wearing them at times.”
“That what kept us alive when we entered into the Earth atmosphere. It has the ability to keep the wearer cool or warm without frying them or freezing them. Without it we would not have been able to enter and harvest the Soul Stone. Finally bringing in a sample of the stone, scientist were able to create the first ever machine created called Reincarnation. But there was a problem with the machine, it could not handle bringing back the physical body and storing data at the same time. So Reincarnation was splitted up into two major machines: Growth and Rebirth. The Growth machine logs in all the DNA, body and mental changes, and Data of your memories, while the Rebirth Machines recreates the body. By working together it recreates and bypass the typical stages of infant age and brought to the current log. The best part about the Rebirth machine is that it rewrite your DNA so that your body is free from deadly disease and ailment that your body currently had.”
“I never knew that.”
“Well it’s something that we don’t tell everybody.”
“So if I open up both the Machines I will find a Soul Stone in them.”
“Yes, but I highly suggest you not to touch them. It’s not something one should play with.”
“Then what happens when the Machine is destroyed?”
Amelia went quite. She turned away from Kiyro, crossed her arms, and answered, “then we won’t have another chance to live again. The last time someone had sabotage the machine was the time when the extremism had took over the 2nd Chance Corporation and destroyed a third of their Machines. This caused quite a stir and money lost. Anyone who had died that day never came back.”
“I’m sorry to hear that.”
“No worries. They are special defense mechanism installed in it that is nearly impossible to bypass. Though having one Rebirth and Growth Machine at hand is worrisome.”
“I’m glad to hear that.” Kiyro thought it over. He was truthfully glad that the machine did not get destroyed any time soon. “If you don’t mind, I have a question.”
“Why does the first thing one taste sour apple when they wake up from the Rebirth machine?”
“Sour apple? Oh!” Amelia clapped her hands. “We don’t know.”
“You don’t know?”
“Yep. For me it’s green grapes. I hated green grapes but now I love them. Eventually one of these days you’ll like sour apple. You’ll probably pop one or two of them in your mouth the next time you get Rebirthed. It’s a psychological thing that tells you that you’re alive in this world I’m assuming. Tasting the rich flavor of fruits gives you a boost of energy and the taste of life.”
Kiyro thought it over for a moment. He did have a small tug in the back of his mind to try a sour apple, but it was still manageable that he could quell the urge and ignore it.
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