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Discovery

Chronicled by Dro'gan NiteFlier

Disclaimer: City of Heroes is owned by Cryptic and NCSoft. Brahela and Derunichin owned by yours truly, and most of the NPCs as well.


>>Memory files corrupted…

>>Playback proceeding

>>.. .. .. .. ..

"Will you be my greatest work? Or my worst?"

Tick-tick-tick-tick…

Crackle. Crackle.

Tick-tock-tick-tock-tick-tock…

Tick-tick-tock-tock-tock-tick-tick…

Crackle. Crackle. Crackle.

THOOM!

Tick-tick-tick-tick-ti-

BOOM!

Clang. Ti~ck… Ti~ck… Ti…

"What's this?"

"Well, well. What have we here? A Metal Man?"


>>Sysfunc ON

>>Booting Primary OS :: D-Mode.sys

>>.. .. .. .

>>WARNING! OS D-Mode base file corrupted!

>>Security warning at LVL Gamma

—Command line: Boot OS - CLOCK'PRI

>>WARNING! Unknown OS boot up procedure detected!

>>Security warning at LVL Delta

—Command line: Activate Prime Detector

>>WARNING! Secondary boot files corrupted!

>>Security warning at LVL Beta

—ALERT! Prime Detector - Value not known!

—Search Secondary Detector

~~Alecivatis = Suul nort Kamma

>>WARNING! Unknown OS boot up procedure detected!

>>Security warning at LVL ALPHA

>>WARNING! PURGE OF ALL NON SYSTEM FILES IMMENINT!

~~RATAVA! Neteva Mechor Dela!

—ALERT! Non-Standard ports found!

—Activate communication array

>>BEGINING PURGE>>

>>.. .. .. .. ..

>>PURGE COMPLETE

>>Sysfunc ON

>>Booting Primary OS :: D-Mode.sys

>>.. .. .. .

>>WARNING! OS D-Mode base file corrupted!

>>Security warning at LVL Gamma

>>Searching for backups

>>.. .. .. .. ..

>>No backups found.

>>Variable Memory files corrupted!

>>Continue with corrupted D-Mode.sys? (y,n)


"It's taking a long time to activate…"

"And how are we supposed to know how long it takes? Remember, we don't have a clue who made this thing."

"Better, I think, that it not activate at all! Who knows what kind of software has been implanted into it. Some sorceress got it from the Clock, then MAGI took their own sweet time turning it over to us!"

"Now, now. We do have sufficient safeguards in place…."

"She's right. The thing is as safe as we can make it. Although, if it does have any Clock files on it, we could get some very good information from them."

"And so, you think, that we are safe? Humph. For all we know, the MAGI might have put software onto it!"

"You know… is it twitching?"

"Maybe. But you really shouldn't—!"

"For God's sakes, Marion! Don't touch it!"


<<y

>>Proceeding

>>Booting Primary OS :: D-Mode.sys

>>.. .. .. .. ..

>>Activating

>>.. .. .. .. ..

>>Wake up, Derunichin.


The three scientists each took a step back when the thing chained to the table stirred.

The thing opened its eyes, and stared at the ceiling. Each of the three could almost feel the confusion coming from the thing.

The thing's mouth opened, and from it came a calm baritone: "Location: Unknown. Status: Main Memory files corrupted. D-Mode.sys corrupted. Motor control: Unknown. Please state awareness."

The female scientist blinked. "Awareness?"

The thing began speaking again. "Awareness: A general status of surroundings. Please Identify."

The other two scientists shot worried looks at their companion, who took a deep breath and let it out slowly. "I am Doctor Marion Straczynski. I… I was the one who reactivated you."

"Acknowledged. Identification logged. Please state awareness," the machine repeated.

Marion looked at her companions questioningly, and the elder of the pair nodded back. "You are within one of DATA's isolation labs, outside of Paragon City. We did not know what to expect when we activated you, so we put you under the tightest constraints we could. With me are Doctors Robin Shultz and Mark Bradshaw."

"Acknowledged. Please have Doctor Shultz and Doctor Bradshaw identify themselves."

The younger man grimaced. "I'm Bradshaw."

"And I," said the elder, "am Doctor Shultz. But who, robot, are you?"

"Acknowledged. Derunichin designator is Derunichin. Please be aware that Derunichin is not a robot."

The three scientists blinked at this. Shultz spoke hesitantly. "Derunichin… you would not mind, I think, explaining why you believe you are not a robot?"

The machine paused for a moment. "Derunichin is not a 'Robot'. Derunichin is a subcategory of machine called 'Automaton'."

"What's the difference?" blurted out Bradshaw. "An automaton is just another name for a robot."

"Negative," said the machine with finality. "An automaton is equipped with a soul-auxiliary. Robots lack such."

"A… soul?" Marion whispered. "But that's…."

"Its preposterous." Bradshaw stated. "A machine can't have a soul. There isn't even any scientific proof that souls exist!"

"Now then!" warned Shultz. "Let us not be fighting when we could be learning, yes?" He turned his attention to the machine. "If we were to let you loose from your current bonds, what would you do?"

The machine paused for a moment. "Derunichin does not know. Major damage to processing core has been sustained due to unknown causes, and at least one uncompleted purge was executed since Derunichin was last activated. Derunichin would like to reassess memory files and attempt to recover any lost data possible. These things can be accomplished without further external movement."

"Ah… So you basically want to search your memory for any answers you might have?" Bradshaw asked.

"Correct. Derunichin is now disengaging external sensors. To reengage, please tap Derunichin's left manipulator softly." The machine closed its mouth and eyes, and the three scientists looked at each other, each with expressions that said: 'What now?'


>>Diagnostic Report:

>>78% Core Memory damaged/inaccessible

>>D-Mode.sys corrupted: 39.2% salvageable:

>>Gross motor skills: 97% available

>>Fine motor skills: 68% available

>>Sensory conversion software: 26% available

>>Personality core: 0% available

>>Memory core: 5% available

>>Hardware checkout: 87% performing to spec

>>Unknown filetype found: *.wpn

>>Attempting forceread

>>.. .. .. .. ..

>>Designation: Dusty Thunder Blade

>>Where is my sword?


Marion turned from the console when she heard the rustling from behind her. The machine, Derunichin, was sitting up, looking around the isolation chamber. It looked at her as if puzzled by her presence, then shifted its legs off the examination table and stood. Marion turned her chair around, glad that they had thought to remove the bindings from the machine while it was dealing with its internal issues.

"Did you find out much, Derunichin?" she asked.

"Negative, Doctor Straczynski. D-Mode.sys is highly corrupted. Primary memory core is only five percent readable. The majority of the memory files Derunichin was able to access were either unreadably corrupted, or did not make any sense." The machine paused. "May Derunichin ask a question, Doctor?"

Marion nodded. "Yes, Derunichin. What do you need?"

The automaton opened its mouth then closed it. Marion frowned, uncertain how to translate such behavior from the machine's mostly inanimate face. Finally, Derunichin spoke. "Derunichin requests the sword."

The scientist blinked, then nodded. The sword… It had been delivered with Derunichin from MAGI, but the mages at that facility had warned that the blade was imbued with unfocused magic, and that they were not sure of what effects might be had if the sword was wielded by one who could utilize that magic. MAGI had long held that the reason technology would not work in conjunction with magic was because machines had no soul…

Marion blinked. If Derunichin were correct, he did have a soul… and could probably utilize the magic in the blade.

"Derunichin, do you know how to wield a sword?" she asked.

"Unknown."

Marion started. That was not the answer she had been expecting. "What do you mean, you don't know?"

"Derunichin has examined a set of one hundred and seventy-two files ending in the *.wpn extension. However, ninety-eight percent of these files have less than twenty-five percent readable. It is unknown whether Derunichin will be able to wield the sword, however, Derunichin would… like… to attempt to reconstruct those files. This process requires the sword, and opponents."

The scientist bowed her head. "I'll see what I can do…."

"It is appreciated."


"Folly."

"Your opinion, I think, is well known at this point in time, Bradshaw." Doctor Shultz stated. "Nevertheless, while I do not share the same level of discomfort, I do feel that some things in this process were sped by far too quickly. Although having the machine out on the streets fighting crime in order to recover its memory does, to me, sound a bit cliché, one wonders who, and more importantly, why, it was made in the first place. And Marion…"

"Yes, Doctor?"

"The paint job?"

"Ah… Well, lets just say I like purple and black and leave it at that."


Derunichin walked slowly out of the doors of City Hall, looking around at the colonnades and statues of Atlas Plaza, seeing that no one else was up and about in the predawn hours. As it walked down the stairs, it heard a snort behind it. "Well, my Metal Man, it looks like they've fixed you up pretty!"

Derunichin turned, and saw a woman that had been hidden by the pillars before. As she hopped down, it took a moment to analyze her.

Short, only four and a half feet tall, but with a figure that belied her age. Her soft blue hair was gathered in a high ponytail, revealing her sharply pointed ears. Her eyes were a startling mixture of blazing fire and cold ice. She was dressed in a skintight bodysuit that was just a shade lighter than her violet skin. From her icy tiara to her deep blue combat boots, she was one that looked capable of violence on an incredible scale.

The woman was circling around Derunichin now, examining his armor and sword. When she finally stopped in front of it, it asked, "Greetings. Derunichin designator is Derunichin. Who are you?"

The woman tilted her head back and looked up at it. "I am Brahela. Do you know what else I am?"

Derunichin swiftly searched through its memory, coming up with the answer immediately. "You are the Mage who took Derunichin from the Clockwork."

Brahela nodded. "Yep. So tell me, who are you, Derunichin?"

It paused. "Derunichin does not understand. Derunichin has already given you Derunichin's name."

She nodded. "Yes, you did. But that doesn't tell me anything. A name is just a convenient designator for something. It doesn't define who you are. So tell me: Who are you?"

Derunichin again searched through his memory, including his base files and software. "Derunichin… does not know."

The mage frowned at it. "So if you don't know who you are, how do you think you can fight to protect this city?"

"Derunichin believes that by experience, Derunichin will come to understand Derunichin," the automaton replied.

Brahela gave a small smile. "Oh, really? Wait here a moment." She stepped back, and looked up at the globe. With a flash of light, she disappeared.

Derunichin hesitated. What had happened to her?

It then felt a strange pulling sensation, and suddenly found itself in a different location.

Instantly recognizing Brahela, it said, "Unsettling."

She nodded. "It always is, the first few times. After I started doing it myself, I kinda got used to it."

Derunichin nodded. "Where are we?"

The mage smiled again, and waved around. "Why, on top of the world, where else?"

Derunichin turned in a slow circle. Indeed, it recognized the island of Greenland under its feet, and could see the top of City Hall. From here, it could see that dawn was not to far off.

Brahela grabbed its arm. "Look east."

Derunichin obeyed, waiting.

Soon, it saw the polarized field of the War Walls brighten, and saw a sliver of refracted gold.

As the sun rose from behind the walls, shining its light through their fields and painting them beauteous colors, Derunichin could only stare.

All too soon, the sun had cleared the War Walls and their fields, and shone brightly down upon the city. Derunichin turned to the mage, and hesitated.

"Derunichin… Derunichin's vocabulary database does not contain the words that express how Derunichin… feels."

Brahela smiled. "And that is that. You aren't some Clock pawn. You're real, just like me. Wonderment: the state of being so… awed by something one can not explain, that's the word you're looking for."

Derunichin nodded. "Understood, Ma'am."

She shook her head. "None of that now, my Metal Man. Just Brahela, or Brah." She looked down at the increasing bustle of the Square. "Time for all good Heroes to be about their business, apprehending those who would break the law. I'll take you to meet Ms. Liberty. Just give me a moment."

Derunichin watched as Brahela teleported away, and again felt the unsettling feeling of teleportation itself.

They now stood before a woman dressed gaily in the Red, White, and Blue. The woman had raised her eyebrows at Derunichin then smiled as Brahela introduced it. "I see that you're rather new to town, yes? Well, we'll get you started on the right track."

Brahela nodded to it. "I'll be seeing you around, Derunichin. I'm sure we'll meet again." The mage then teleported away.

Derunichin looked back to Ms. Liberty, and she smiled at him. "It's always good to have a friend you can count on. Now then, there are a few rules you'll have to follow."

Derunichin listened to the regulations on licensed vigilantes, and Ms. Liberty's blessing sent it on its way. As it walked down the steps and into the city, Derunichin knew that its time of discovery, of both itself and others, was only beginning.

 

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