Thank you for reading Symbionic. Soon there will be a first edition available for purchase. Until then, you can read this “Zero edition” as much as you like, from blurb to now: Here.
Elix stands with a burning curiosity to look around at the Assims close to her.
They’re breathing but not active.
She tries to push past her father but the wall of Assimilated is too strong. Almost inaudibly her father lets out a whisper that grows at its end.
“You’re not going to die, you’ll outlive them all, I’M NOT GOING TO DIE I’LL OUT LIVE YOU ALL”
Elix steps back her ears are hurt by the yell.
“Something is definitely wrong” Elix soliloquizes, taking cautious steps backwards to the thinner section of Assims in the hall.
I guess joining the Encephalon is off the table.
Elix has to act quickly; she charges at the large group in front of her. Escape is the new plan. She leaps with all her might and dives, as though they were a pool, into the Assimilated.
She makes it only a few heads deep when the Assims step to the side and let her fall to the hard ground. She gets to her feet as quick as her adrenaline will allow. She’s breathing quickly now, knee’s weakly bent, walking back to the circle she dove out of, her eyes darting all around, her mind set to panic, her hand holding her temple; rubbing it.
“What the fuck?”
“Elix…” They all confidently call, much louder than the previous speaker.
“…I can’t let you turn it off Elix”
She turns, and staggering, she tries to rush the patch of Assimilated containing her former cluster. Davis grabs her by the throat. He raises her to the tips of her big toes with one arm; a feat he would never have imagined possible without the utter certainty of the Encephalon’s control.
“Davis… Stop” She struggles to blurt through choked breaths, her face already turning red.
“What’s the matter Elix? No fight left in you?” The new speaker relays through Davis’ voice.
Elix punches his arm attempting to break free. She is at first hesitant to hurt her now former comrade, but quickly, her condition deteriorates, her head swells and begins to pulsate; trying to slurp as much blood and oxygen as it can from her fast beating heart; to no avail.
Panic ravages her mind and survival kicks in. Elix with her bionic arm swings wildly at the Intelliguise attached to Davis’ head. It crunches under her knuckles, sparks emerge, Davis’ grip loosens and Elix drops. She swiftly draws new air to her desperate lungs, but her reprieve is short lived as Blister steps forward and places his boot firmly on her chest. Her recently reclaimed lung of air is stamped from her body.
“I knew you were going to be nuisance the moment we met in the Raven’s Tongue” Blister speaks now.
Elix’s ribs are millimetres from cracking under the pressure of Blister’s powerful legs.
A memory flashes to Elix in her dire moment; the time she stabbed the ground to earth herself fighting a few Assims so many days ago.
My Spike. She thinks.
Once again, she rips her index finger off; activating her lancet’s erection phase. Elix stabs her spiked finger through the back of Blister’s knee. He falls backward and releases the pressure on Elix’s chest. She stands immediately to avoid being trapped again. She coughs to expand her ribs again.
“Mal… Malcom?” She exerts.
“Humph, took you long enough” He answers in a snark tone.
With a wheezing voice Elix speaks.
“Malcom, we thought you were dead. We fucking wept for you man. How were you able to block the Encephalon?”
Elix’s father steps closer to speak as Blister limps away.
“You think I’d put that modified shit in my own head, once I had seen what Abishua had done to them I used the Encephalon’s plan to aid my own and when that shark came for me I couldn’t pass up the chance to fake my own death”
Malcom uses the entire group to speak.
“Now I want you to listen to me very carefully. This is the only time you will hear my story, this is the only time anyone will hear it. When I’m done you’ll all be dead or my personal puppets…”
A pause lingers as Malcom chooses his first words and who shall speak them.
“…I killed my family, they were idiots, I killed them all; my mother, father, sister and the young cousins that were staying with us. They were actually going to Assimilate themselves; they hadn’t even researched the process or the reason. They were so trusting in the media, the technology and their government, that they just packed up and got ready to leave”
Davis takes over talking:
“We had breakfast together that morning and I proved their naivety by poisoning their eggs. The food smelt bad and looked nearly rotten, but they ate it because they trusted me. It was the perfect poetic way to end their idiotic existences. From then on, I waited in our personal bunker; I waited for the intelligent to strike against the ignorant and then I found the Uprising, and you welcomed me in with open arms. I felt a persistent urge to poison many of your breakfasts, I can assure you”
Malcom switches back to Elix’s father.
“Ooh this is fun, jumping from body to body, I feel like some kind of god”
“Stop it! Just stop, what’s your game Malcom? Have you even thought this through? Or are you just going to play with us like dolls?” Elix asks.
But quickly she falls into a hysterium of laughter which ripples into her next words:
“You know? Blister and I were talking about this one day, I thought you were the kind of kid to play with bugs and spiders and lizards, and he said you were definitely an agalmatophiliac. I didn’t think he knew what that word meant but it doesn’t change the fact that he was right after all”
An awful shriek spouts from Blister and shocks Elix’s laughter away.
“I’m going to fix this world Elix. I’m going to start with Blister”
Malcom walks Blister underneath one of the lights overhead, forces him to jump and rip the casing off to expose the wires.
Davis kneels in front of Blister and aids his ascent to the wires. Malcom stops Blister’s hand just millimetres from the live wires.
“No don’t, please” She pleads.
“Three wires Elix. Live, neutral and Earth… A fitting analogy don’t you think?”
An epiphany strikes Elix just as the hammer of a gun cocks behind her, she turns to see her remade pistol in her father’s hand pointed to his own temple as he speaks.
“…Enough jokes Elix. Once I’ve had my fun destroying these idiots I’m going to set the Intelliguises to a more permanent setting. Oh, and would you believe it? This control room is connected to the world’s defence system. Perhaps a nuclear device set off in the atmosphere will do the trick, what do you think Elix?”
“No, let me help you, I think the Encephalon had a plan for us, but when we interfered, it forced them to change their tactics. There has to be something bigger going on here Malcom otherwise none of it makes sense”
“Hmm yes there are files in here about that. A nice little fable really, kind of reminds me of the Bible. Something about a visitor from another place, warning us about Knowledge. Ha knowledge has a capital letter; even the smartest people on Earth have made a grammatical error, pathetic. It truly is time for a change around here. Oh, wow they even go on to say that technological intelligence like that of computers won’t register on the enemy’s radar”
“That has to be it…” Elix starts.
“…There’s an enemy called Knowledge, hence the capital, that seeks to destroy civilisations that get too smart. Can’t you see we’ve been fighting the wrong war? That’s what they’ve been preparing us for all these years”
“It’s a little too perfect for me Elix. Sure, let’s band together against the invisible enemy, only, you’re not allowed to use your brain because they can track you when you think, so we have to plug you in to this mind-numbing device so we can fight them”
His sarcasm doesn’t translate through her father’s face, but Elix picks up on it.
“It’s a good story they’ve cooked up, the only thing that ruins it is this little thing called common sense. It’s a lie Elix, nothing more than an excuse to control the masses. It’s funny though; do you know how the intelliguise started? In the early twenty first century, tech companies the world over began manufacturing devices known as smart phones, from there the majority of our intelligence slipped away. But it also allowed the intelligent bloodlines, like mine to hone. From there came brain-computer interfaces; Elon Musk, Bryan Johnson, Mark Zuckerberg, and later, your oh so precious Artemis Jude. Pioneers and visionaries twisted by this invisible enemy our governments had churned out; a creature of fiction, just like god or the devil. Humph, I bet they thought they were saving the world integrating our minds with computers. Fools; if they could only imagine our present as their impending future, I wouldn’t be forced to act, to salvage us”
Elix, and Malcom’s newly acquired Assimilated are at a standoff. She has her plan but it has to be executed with precision. Elix is looking around at every face, constantly checking over her shoulder, she cogitates:
I have an EMP nade, I have my spike, I know what needs to happen and I know I can’t allow Malcom to control the Assims, regardless of whether the Encephalon has been lying or not. I have to use the EMP. I have to.
“Let me help you Malcom…” She pleads.
“…If we put our minds together we can…” She’s cut off.
“We can what…Bicker and disagree about how to steer the future of humanity? Ultimately leading to some kind coup being devised under my nose, ha, ha, no Elix; I do have something planned for your mind though…”
Elix drops her hand closer to her hip pocket in a lackadaisical manner.
“…I’ll drain it every ounce of useful information, till it’s nothing more than a grey shrivelled mass, and then I’ll use it as a paper weight on my desk”
“I’m impressed Malcom…” She lies, trying her best to keep his hubris bigger than his suspicion of her.
“You’ve been hiding this side of yourself from us this whole time…”
Elix’s hand is as close to the Nade as she can get it without alerting Malcom.
“…I mean, you fooled me, you fooled the smartest of us all. Artemis had no idea; otherwise he wouldn’t have let you join the Uprising”
“I know what you’re doing Elix…”
Malcom says through Blister, whose hand hasn’t moved from its nearly-closed grip around the live wire since he exposed them. He stares Elix in her eyes and unblinking he clamps his fingers tight.
Elix acts fast. She leaps into a sprint for Blister, rips the Nade from her pocket.
The Assimilated’s reaction time is stunted as Malcom struggles to control them all at once.
Elix rips the EMP Nade in half and reattaches it in its active position; she drops it to the floor and jumps forward knees first at Blister.
Malcom is flustered and uses Trace to try and grab Elix mid-air, but Elix flies too fast and smashes into Blister’s chest, while she pierces her spike through the Earth wire dangling from the roof.
Malcom abandons his pursuit of Elix instead he piles the Assims on the Nade in an attempt to quell the force of the EMP.
Elix presses the button on her shoulder; her bionic arm’s skin explodes into action, encasing her once more in her cocoon of safety. The shell is dark but not as dark as her thoughts.
“I’m sorry, I’m so sorry” She whispers squeezing tears from her tired, beaten eyes.
The Nade erupts, cutting off Malcom’s curse through his helpless Assimilated; they cease their actions, the nanites get to work fixing the Intelliguises. Elix dangles in a silence too pure for her to deserve, yet she relishes it anyway, if only to cry her heart out her throat.
Moments go by and Elix briefly recuperates to press her shoulder’s button. Her faraday skin slinks back to her arm and reveals a square of light softly beaming at her from down the hall. She lowers her legs; it’s hard for her to see the ground and she feels a body under foot before she relocates them.
Her eyes adjust to the dim.
“Davis…” She chokes, bathed in regret, anger and a hint of relief.
“I’ll take care of Nox, and, and I won’t lie about what I did here, I can’t”
Elix turns to see the pile of bodies wrapped around the EMP Nade; their faces stain her memory, inking their way into every crevice of her mind. Their missed futures, their dreams and aspirations bleed into Elix’s soul, she feels hollow, broken and weak, and yet with some dubious strength she steps over Davis towards the control room.
Blister is in her path, she slowly walks to the side of him, and guilt overcomes her.
“I’ll look for your family; I’ll fix this Blister… I’ll fix this”
Elix makes it to the door and pulls at the handle; it opens.
The EMP must have released the seal.
She looks over her shoulder at the twisted clump of her former friends; she blinks slowly and sighs before shutting the door behind her.
Elix sits in the perfectly postured chair mounted to the floor in front of the control panel; she assesses the configuration of buttons and switches, and begins the shutdown sequence.
The dull hum Elix mistook for silence fades away within seconds, leaving a ring in her ears; it hurts and causes her jaw to contort. The lights flit, sapping every joule of energy from the plant. The ring in her ears dissipates and Elix is left in the dark.
For Elix not much has changed, but for one third of the world their entire existence has taken a turn, now they awake from their long active stasis, fully able to think, to dream, to live.
“I did it Artemis…” Elix speaks to the dark, to the memory of her mentor.
“…I finished… What you set out to accomplish, we saved them”
Elix lingers in the pitch black, the ring in her ears returns, beginning faintly and growing to a deafening squeal.
“YAAAAAARRHH” She screams in pain.
Her ears bleed as she mashes her hands against them without success. She looks around frantically. Pure white light consumes the room in an instant. Pain, confusion and fear envelope her senses, white is all she can see. She closes her eyes but the white is inescapable and on the inside of her eyelids a message burns:
The message fades and a voice reverberates in her mind. It’s hard for Elix to determine gender but the voice is soft, deep and filled with resentment.
“You stole from me the only thing I covet, the only thing I am; Knowledge. The Soul has adhered itself to every morsel of information within its grasp, and you have done so for eons. I am weak now, I have used nearly all my Knowledge to find you, and you have burnt your Soul to evade me. You will not escape me again Soul. My last iota of Knowledge has been dedicated to fusing our existence. You will not escape me again, you will not steal what I am, you will not give your Soul to any more beings and YOU. WILL. NOT. EXIST. WITHOUT ME. ANYMORE. But you were right. When you told me, I would understand and would grow a Soul of my own. You just FAILED to realise that YOU are MY Soul”
Elix couldn’t speak, she couldn’t move and she couldn’t feel anymore, but her mind was active within her white noise prison, and soon she realised that she wasn’t alone. Frantically she called out with her inner thought’s voice.
“Hello? Is anyone there? Am I here still? Am I alive?”
“None of you are here, not anymore…” A contrite voice replied.
From this Elix surmised that she is/was, not here/there anymore. She also gathered, she wasn’t alone.
“…I am sorry Hûms, I gave you Souls out of fear of losing myself, I gave you Souls only for a fleeting instant of my own existence, but within that time you existed for lifetimes of your own, made Souls of your own and found your own Knowledge. And now as I leave this plane for my old home I wish I gave you more and then I wish I didn’t give you any of me. Because now we all must succumb to Knowledge.”
Elix now realised that there was truth behind the words Malcom had so easily said with such discontent of their value. Knowledge had come. Soul was what it had been seeking, and the only reason Knowledge had found Soul was because of humanity’s hunger for information and lust for power.
Elix’s mind erupted with acerbity, but it quickly dissipated into the void of Knowledge as her and the rest of humanity’s sentient existences assimilated with its consciousness.
All beings became once again, one.
With a thought process as fast as light all life within, Knowledge knew the feeling of abandonment and rejection Soul had felt, as well as the fear and despair in the heart of Soul.
Their story is the oldest in time, the first story and the longest. They were the only two to begin with; two vastly different beings, equally existing in the same space. But when Soul began to gain Knowledge through no effort of its own, Knowledge felt jealousy and for the first time in its existence could not understand why this was happening. Soul tried ardently to reassure Knowledge that there would be an answer in due time, but it was no use. Knowledge went into a tumultuous rage and attacked, causing Soul to flee across space.
Epoch after epoch oscillated beside Soul as it roved the emptiness in search of salvation, with Knowledge trailing close behind.
Time came to be and passed by in increments larger than any eon, life sprung up and fluttered away. Soul attached itself to whatever life it could in an attempt to hide, but Knowledge swiftly visited every being, and every time, it would decimate the population. Yet even when it absorbed these lifeforms, Knowledge could still not attain a soul of its own.
Before long Knowledge could no longer find Soul. Soul had broken so many pieces of itself off that it didn’t register in Knowledge’s scope of senses. Weak and desperate, Soul found itself a warm star to pass by; our sun, and then it had found its way to Earth, six million years before our common era. It was here that Soul’s journey truly began.
Soul integrated with the species on Earth that had the most potential; a fledging humanity. It was within them that Soul enjoyed its longest solace.