This chapter is part of the 10,000 Dawns Finale, which you can read all of (and download!) at this link: http://www.jameswylder.com/home/10000-dawns-the-finale
Chapter 27: A Miracle of Malice and Mercy
Graelyn stared at herself in awe. She was in her mid thirties, but you might mistake her for younger than it. She'd aged well, and possibly de-aged at some point. Her desk, and the whole office was littered with tinkerings, experiments, and equipment, interspersed with carefully chosen pieces of art. The room was luxurious, yet practical. A quiet ticking sound from an old grandfather clock underlay the room, while the gentle sound of classical music flowed through the room.
“Mozart's 5th.” She said, finally recognizing the piece.
“My favorite piece.” She replied.
“Mine to.” The older Graelyn raised her eye brow.
“You have good taste.”
“You as well.” Arch looked between them. They'd seemed to forget his existence within the room.
“It is a bit rude to show up so unannounced.” She felt like apologizing to herself, but avoided that.
“One doesn't typically expect to meet yourself.” The other Graelyn smirked, and she felt a shiver down her spine. She walked around her desk towards her, and approached, her shoes clicking on the floor till they were facing each other. Every click lined up with the sound from the clock, and she couldn't tell if that had been intentional or not. Graelyn realized she had to look like a mess to her real self, she was still in her spacesuit, and had literally seen the end of the world, so she tried to make up for it with great posture, which her other self already had in scores.
“You know, since this mess with portals into alternate realities started, this is the first time I've ever dropped by for a visit with myself.” She reached out, and grabbed Graelyn's chin, turning her face from side to side, which was weird but she went along with it. “How old are you, sixteen?”
“Seventeen. Honestly I might be Eighteen, I've sort of lost track of time.”
“Close.” She let go. “And you bring such interesting company with you.” She looked at Arch and he raised a hand in greeting.
“Oh, this is my friend Archimedes.”
“Right. So why exactly are you here?” She looked into her eyes, and her younger self felt uncomfortable.
“Arch and I were trying to get to the past to change history so the Council wouldn't wipe out the Earth.”
“I see you succeeded.”
“Well, we got the intelligence there, just not ourselves... It was complicated.”
“Things always are.”
“I can't believe we're finally meeting. There's so much I want to know about you. Where my history diverged from yours, what you've created...” She started to reach out towards herself, but decided against it, curling her fingers back.
“And I'm as equally curious about you.”
Graelyn looked back at Arch, his skin flickered. “If we're going to chat, someone really needs to look after my friend. I don't want him dying while I'm having tea and crumpets.”
“Well, why don't I have a look at him.” She led herself over to Arch, and the red haired Graelyn knelt down next to him.
“This is one of Manuel Salazar's design's, correct?”
“Well, I'm more than just a design...” From behind herself Graelyn made a face, and he nodded. “Yes, technically.” pushing a wisp of her red hair out of her eyes, she began to look him over, and opened up a panel on his chest.
“Salazar built him, but he's been a loyal companion. What do you need from your workshop to fix him I'll-” As she said that, the red haired Graelyn reached her hand out, and a box flew from the table into her hand. Adjusting her glasses, the younger one's jaw dropped. Red haired Graelyn pulled a tool from her box, and began to use it on a mechanical organ inside Arch, then reached in with her other hand and sent a slight shock of electricity into the organ. Like God had blown on it, it began to move and pump again.
“That's incredible. I heard people in the prime reality could master abilities from other realities, but I didn’t really believe it. It just sounded so... Fantastic. Pseudo-scientific, even. Like you were wizards or Jedi knights or something.” Pulling another tool from her box, Red Graelyn continued her work.
“Well, what unique ability does your reality have?” She said placidly, as she telekeneticly reopened the tube Graelyn had closed with a rock earlier, and then soldered it shut to the other half of the tube.
“We haven't been able to find one. There doesn't seem to be anything unique about where I'm from.” Red Graelyn pursed her lips.
“Pity.” Arch made a noise as Red Graelyn finished another repair, and his skin grew brighter. “So did Manuel give you this unit for protection, or did you take it?”
“Er, neither, I found him by chance.”
“So Manuel never showed you his pet project while you were interning with him?”
“I, uh, never interned with him.” She patched one of Arch's organs, sealed it, and looked back at her.
“So there you go, our realities diverge there. Who did you intern with?”
“John Aril.” Red Graelyn gave Black Graelyn a look of disgust.
“Really? That idealistic buffoon.”
“He was right though, he actually did pull of his idealistic notions where I come from. Though, well, he couldn't have if I hadn't been working for him. I figured out the hole in his plans.” Red Graelyn seemed to warm for a moment.
“I'd expect nothing less. And I suppose that's how you got into an alternate reality, you made one of his experiments work.”
“Exactly. We've been popping around the 10,000 Dawns for awhile now, going from place to place, and we made a deal with some people to get us home if we helped do something to fight the Council. To make a very long story very short.” She looked at her own face, and tried to memorize every bit of it. “When I learned there was a Prime Reality, I wanted to meet you right away.”
“Because you're based on me?”
“Well, to put it bluntly, yes. Wouldn't you be curious?”
“I'd want to be my own person.” She supposed she had a point. She ran a hand through her dirty hair and thought about that as Red Graelyn rose, summoning a cloth to her hands to clean them off. “Your friend will be fine.”
“Thank you.” Arch said, as she walked away from him. Black Graelyn gave him a smile, and then scampered after herself. Arch's body lit up, an exclamation mark on his face. She knew he thought something was off, but of course it was off! They had just dropped into her office without asking, from the future, as she'd said. She couldn't suppose time travel was a regular occurrence in her workspace. Black Graelyn looked at the tinkerings: she could see a jar of nanobots forming different shapes, a patch that looked like the healing gel she'd gotten in Songbird's world... She had truly done amazing things here.
“This is fantastic.” She said, smiling up at herself. “Is this a gene modifier?”
“Improved vastly over the previous model. We've been able to use it to insert chains of DNA that shouldn't fit in areas by using nanogens to recode other areas in order to fit the inserted code in more appropriately, with a very low rejection rate. Of course, I've had to delay perfecting it due to more pressing projects in the war against the Council. It works decently enough at the moment.”
“This is leaps and bounds over what I've seen....” She peered down at the other experiments.
“And what have you done?” She asked herself. She rose up, to meet her own gaze.
“Oh, well, my work has mostly been in inter-universal physics. I figured out how to make a semi-stabilized tear between two alternate realities, one that you could travel through. John Aril figured out how to make the tears, but not make them stable enough that you could slice through into another universe.” She nodded.
“Thank you, its nothing compared to... The sheer quantity of quality work you've done here. I daresay you might well put God to shame if you keep it up.”
“You haven't even seen the best of it.”
“You can help so many people with this...” A thought suddenly occurred to her. “Wait, I hate to ask, but Alice MacLeod hasn't tried to kill you in this reality yet has she?” Her counterpart raised an eyebrow again, and shook her head.
“I think she'd like to. It's not like she'd succeed.”
“Well, don't underestimate her. I saw her kick one of us out of a window with a rope around the neck in one reality... Which, well, I don't think she understood how fitting that was.”
“What do you mean 'how fitting that was?'” Black Graelyn tried not to look herself in the eyes.
“You know, what we did when we were young. Jumping out the window.”
“I never accidentally fell out a window.”
“It wasn't an accident. You remember, after Petyr died...” There was silence. Both Graelyn's shuffled their feet.
“You tried to kill yourself?”
“After he died, mom just... Fell apart. She changed a lot. Put pressure on the whole family. Started abusing us. I couldn't take it.” She looked back up at herself, expecting to see understanding, but instead saw a look of purest disgust. Black Graelyn felt like covering her face.
“You gave into weakness.”
“I know I did, but when I was falling, I realized I never wanted to fall again. I've been doing my best to stay away from people, keep to myself, so I'd never hurt them-”
“That's what you're worried about? Hurting people?” Her gaze was intensely analytical, like giving her motivations an MRI, yet intensely judgmental.
“Shouldn't it be? There's already enough cruelty in the world without me adding to it.” The look of disgust somehow managed to grow.
“Where is your ambition? Do you think the wonders in this room created themselves? You can't expect to achieve something while you're curled up in a ball.” Black Graelyn tensed, she felt the urge to run.
“I can't help people if I'm hurting them!”
“And do you really care about people?”
“Well of course I don't, people are cruel, selfish, petty, impractical, parasitic, and they only want what they can take from you!” She thew up her arms gesturing, and a metal mannequin in a glass box behind her mimicked her motions. “But I also know I didn't enjoy being treated like that. So I ran.”
“Because it was... Easy?” She crossed her arms.
“Well... Yes, honestly I suppose that was part of it. If I ran no one would hate me, cause no one could see me.”
“You think you're me?” Red Graelyn said, leaning in towards her, “You're nothing like me.” As if on cue, dozens of the objects she had on display in the room turned slightly. A dagger's edge faced her. What looked like the real mask of Agamemnon from Greece stared her down. A mechanical hand on a stand's fingers clenched.
“Of course I am! I'm you. Our lives diverged, but we're the same person deep down.” Red Graelyn examined her face. Black Graelyn could feel her breath against her face.
“What do you think matters in the world?” She tried to lean back.
“I'm sure you're looking for an answer so why don't you just say it.”
“Power.” With that word, she felt her elder dive into her own mind, and her brain swam. She could feel her own memories, like they were in her palm or brushing against her calf. She felt a cat's scratchy tongue on her hand, and a violent blow to her face. She felt her life, and felt a hand inside it twisting inside her braincells.
This Graelyn, she could go into people's minds.
The thought wasn't surprising, she'd after all dealt with Council technology that did exactly that, and the alien jellyfish that called itself part of “the Pantheon” that worked on the same principle. She'd seen Kinan put her own mind inside a T-Rex of all things. But those moments all seemed different than this. She had gotten the unconscious perception that the T-Rex and Kinan were both okay with their body sharing arrangement in some way. The Orb and the Pantheon had felt like they were simply sharing a user interface with her, it had felt normal and organic like learning sign language when you'd only ever spoken before: just a different form of communication between beings.
This was different. This felt invasive. There was no control on her end, like she was on marionette strings. It then occurred to her that that thought, was in fact, a bad one.
Yes, a bad thought. The hand in her brain pulled a string. She looked up at herself, clearly the better version of herself, and realized the truth:
She didn't deserve to live. This woman in front of her had accomplished so much, had accomplished everything. She had never given in, never faltered. This was her true self, and she was an embarrassment to it.
“I want you to get out of my sight.” Red Graelyn said, walking towards a window and unlatching it by hand. It swung in, wide and tall, leaving a windy hole in the side of the building.
“Of course, Miss Scythes.” She told herself, then corrected herself, “Director Scythes.”
“I worked for every scrap I have, and here you are, a parasitic weakling trying to coast on my back. Living in the dregs of my own memories. If your life is so defined by jumping out a window, then make it final. Jump. Do it for me. I'd like to see it.” She smiled at herself, at least she could make herself happy. That was, however, before Archimedes tried to stab Red Graelyn in the face. He was working enough that his gravity regulator's were functioning again it seemed, and his massive tank like body had barreled across the room like a gazelle in a silent film. A sword slid from his arm, and nearly touched Red Graelyn's face when she lightly gestured with her hand, and another arm blocked the blow. Arch and Graelyn looked at the second intruder to their conversation. He wore combat armor from head to toe that reminded Graelyn of Arch's carapace. It had taken on the exact image of the world around it, so that the figure looked nearly invisible. Revealed, the colors drained from its skin, and it was nearly Arch's color. Its armor looked like Arch's would if you advanced it a few decades in design. It's movements were perfect.
“You think I wasn't expecting that?” She sighed, and several more of the figures seemed to pop out of the walls, though it was clear they'd simply stopped remaining motionless and camouflaged. “Johnathan, please take care of him.” Johnathan, whose armored arm was linked with Arch's sword, stepped into action, and shoved Arch backwards. He staggered, and regained his footing, sliding the other sword out of his arm. “All of you, finish him.” She gestured carelessly, and looked back at Graelyn by the window. She seemed conflicted, even as she stood still, smiling all the while.
“Well then, what are you waiting for? Jump. Its what you're good for.” Graeyn turned to the window, and walked to the edge. The breeze was chill but not cold, and felt good against her face. Her hand reached out and grabbed the edge of the window. This was a perfect place to jump.
No one would miss her.
She'd be better off crumpled there on the pavement below, the pain would end, the memories.
No one would ever hurt her again.
She could finally, finally, stop worrying.
And I chose to be the kind of person who would never fall again.
She thought of the little girl she'd been, learning animal anatomy through dissection in the forest. So alone. That had been this Graelyn to. She thought of that night Ashlyn broke up with her, and the way her mother had slinked into her brain with her insidious words. She thought about her cat, how he'd always been there when she came home, brushing past her legs. She'd named him Mister Sprinkles. She'd held his fussy body to her breast and tried to get to sleep. She thought of her nights alone in project Atlantis. She thought of her nights alone all through her life: her friendships were so brief, so fleeting.
Such is life? Life is a miracle after all, but its one born of such malice. To have to live her life was unfair, to have to see it through till its end was cruel. She was a malignancy, a broken circuit in reality's operating system. She was poison. And she would be damned if she would grow old and ruin those who had loved her so needlessly with her mere existence.
It was finally okay. She'd given herself the okay, even. The ultimate sign of approval. The relief washed over her.
Never fall again.
She put a foot out past the edge of the window and felt her weight pull her forward. All she had to do was lean into it.
A though occurred to her then, a simple thought, but one that she had never entertained seriously. It wasn't the kind of thought she'd expected to think, or that one would look back on and love or frame, or even lace in a fancy font in an image online, but it was her thought, and it was important.
It occurred to Graelyn at that moment, that perhaps she didn't need to be perfect. It occurred to her that maybe feeling like she wanted to die was okay, as long as she didn't actually do it. That wanting to achieve great ends and missing them didn't make her worthless, and that no one loving her but herself was enough reason to live as it was. That even if she couldn't love herself, her own breath in the chill air was enough reason to give herself the next one. That her need to be perfect, that her need to be in control, extended so far as to crush her own heart while she tried to walk to its beat.
She opened her eyes, and looked out at the city below her. She'd never seen it before, never been there before. She could see people below, going about their day to day lives. Streets were barricaded, and guns were on top of roofs, just like in Nojpeten, but the people there were still living, and still breathing, and if she fell the person it would impact the most was her.
Because she wasn't alone. Like it or not, she had people now. She'd hid herself away, and yet for all that time thinking she didn't deserve company, it had come to her easily. She hated herself, and loved herself, and others did the same. She was just alive, breathing in the chilled air above the city, and her heart moving in and out with the steady tempo of adrenaline.
As she exhaled, only then did she realize she had taken hold of the hand in her own head.
And I chose.
She stepped back from the window, and turned to face herself.
“No.” She said. A host turned to face her. Arch was trying to fight off a horde of armored men who looked eerily like him, and failing, but they all stopped to look at her. Red Graelyn squinted her eyes, and seemed to be focusing harder. She batted the hand in her own head away.
“I said, 'no,' or is your English that rusty?”
“Your mind must be much stronger than I-”
“Oh shut up.”
“As you, said: no.” She walked towards herself, their eyes locked.
“Let Arch go.”
“No.” Graelyn looked in her own eyes. Her own pupils locked with themselves, and Graelyn felt the hand reach into her mind once again. She thought of Lizette at the piano, and imagined her own hands guiding hers on the keys. She didn't bat the hand away this time. A quiver of a smile appeared on Red Graelyn's face, and she sprung on it. She pushed the hand back into the mind it came from, carried with it. Red Graelyn's eyes opened wide, as she seemed to realize what she'd done, and Graelyn grabbed her arm as she tried to gesture. As she did, they seemed to fall through the floor together.
They dove and spun in an inky green blackness, and Graelyn found her hand on Petyr's.
“They're gunna get you medicine Petyr, I promise.” He nodded weakly, and she clenched her hand around his. He was feeling colder, despite all the blankets. She got up, slipping her hand out of his as she crept to the door, and cracked it open. Her parents were meeting with the men in the nice suits with the jewelery.
“We know Centro has denied your request for medical funding, and you can't afford it on your own.” Said a man with a gold medallion around his neck. “But despite what you may have heard about our organization, we're very family oriented. We want to help you, but we need something in return.”
“What exactly are we talking about here?” Her father asked. The man reached a mechanical hand into his jacket, and pulled out a tablet he handed to her parents. They scrolled through it together. A few minutes passed.
“We couldn't possibly do this.” Her mother said, her voice cracking. “We're godly people. We would never do something like this.”
“Lady,” the man began, “Centro has already abandoned you. Your kid is gunna die if he doesn't get treatment. All we're asking you to do is give us some information from your workplace. If you don't, someone else will. This is an opportunity you shouldn't pass up just cause you have some moral-”
“We have morals.” Her dad cut in, “We will keep praying for our son, and trust in God's providence.”
The mechanical handed man scowled, “I'm your damn providence. This is the miracle you've been waiting for.”
“We won't do it, and that's final.” Her mother said. “This is wrong.” The man sighed, and rubbed his nose.
“If you change your mind before the 7th, the Index will gladly--”
“We won't.” Her father said. They showed themselves out.
A month later, she held Petyr's hand, trying to warm it up.
“Graelie, can you sing me a song?” He whispered, though maybe he was talking at full volume. She nodded, “What song Petyr? I'm right here.”
“One you really like.”
“Are you sure?” He nodded. His skin was so pale. She could see his cheekbones so clearly. She tried to think of a song, “Jackie loves her work, and her work is love, cause there is no other...” She began, his hand was feeling limper. He blinked.
“She said God has given me a job, Jackie loves her work, for there is no other...” He wasn't blinking. “Petyr?” She said. He didn't respond. His eyes were still open.
“I don't want to hurt you... Just wanna... Have some fun...” She tried to keep singing, but tears started coming to her eyes. “Petyr, Petyr...” She shook him, but he didn't respond, just jiggled like a doll, “Come on quit playing around... Petyr.... MOM!” She screamed, and her parents ran into the room. They stormed into the room, and they all stood there silently. Graelyn had felt the tears coming, but they never finished. No one moved forward to touch the body.
“Did we pray hard enough?” Her mother asked. Graelyn looked up at them, and felt a cold rage. She knew, right then, that this had all been preventable. The coldness of the world had sank into her though Petyr's hand, and it wouldn't leave. There were those that used, and those that were used up, and they had chosen to let him die. Her mother met her eye, and in one life the coldness sank into both of them, and into the bones of their family, and in another they stared like a cliff and a glacier. Her mother made a choice, a subtle one, and started a slow descent, and in the other approached the body of her son finally, and dropped to her knees. In another life, she looked down at Graelyn, and giving into the darkest impulses to keep control of something in the shadow of her agony laid the first blow on Graelyn and yelled at her about why she hadn't called them in sooner, or prayed harder, and in another she crumpled over and wept, clenching her son's cold hand.
Two women named Graelyn emerged from that moment, inseparable, but forever apart.
There was a scream, and one Graelyn, a younger one with black hair felt her soul rise up through the floor into her own body, as her body rose up in the air and careened across the room, landing in a crumpled pile as she crashed into a pillar holding up a clockwork unicorn model.
“How dare you take me back there!” Red Graelyn screamed at her, and holding arm out, raised Graelyn into the air, suspended as if on wires. “You're a monster, and I'm done playing with you.” She looked at Johnathan. “Stop messing around and kill him to.” Arch was trying to duck and weave a group that was faster than him, and his carapace was even more cracked than before. Graelyn looked down at herself from the air, and didn't feel so small. She could see the agony in her own face, and the tear she felt inside her own soul bigger than any in the fabric of the universe, and she allowed herself to feel sorry for herself. She focused on that feeling, the pain she'd felt the long unending agony, and decided she couldn't fix it.
“The past is over.” She muttered, and felt the grip tighten around her. She felt the grip, and felt how it tied to her. It was like there was a string between them, a connection, a window of failure in the laws of reality...
How am I aware of this?
She reached out to it, and could feel it like it was in her own hand... Like...
Her eyes went wide, and she grinned.
“Do you know who I am?” She gasped through the pressure on her chest. The other Graelyn raised an eyebrow. “I'm the one whose going to fall again.” She reached out, and felt the cord with her mind, and snapped it. Her other self's eyes got just as wide as hers, as she fell to the ground. She got up, her eyes red with anger.
“You never had to deal with any of my pain, and you're trying to kill me? Because you think I'm weak? What kind of a sicko am I in this reality?” She tried to reach into her mind and she slapped the hand away.
“What are you doing?” Red Graelyn yelled at her, and tried to throw a pillar at her, but she snapped the cord and it fell to the floor. She held a hand up, and tried to emulate Zeus himself by throwing lighting at her, but it fizzled in the air.
“I guess I know what my power is.” Graelyn said. “No wonder I didn't notice it. I'm your opposite. I'm your off switch.” In a world where people only know how to turn a switch off, how could you know it was on?
“I've seen people who can turn off powers before, you can't keep doing it like this.” Graelyn laughed at herself, and stopped a whole flurry of objects hurled her way. She could feel the cords between them, ties of reality, like an extra sense, and she knew Arch could feel them too if he learned how. Speaking of Arch, he found himself suddenly free of the soldiers as they were scrambling towards Graelyn.
“Kill her!” She heard herself say, and she felt them crawling up the walls of the room around her, along the ceiling around her, and on the ground next to her. Cords slid between each of them and the other Graelyn, and between themselves and their armor and the floor. She heard the music in the room, Mozart's 5th, apparently on repeat, and reached her hands out, the universe's own conductor, and ran her hands through the notes in the air, bundling the cords up, and in a moment of extreme apathy, looked herself in the eyes and whispered:
“Holy shit.” Arch said. “How did you do that?” She smiled back at him.
“I just learned that-” She was cut off as she barreled towards herself, and put her hand around her neck. She tried to cut cords, but there were none to cut.
“Congratulations.” She told herself, “You woke up to your potential. But you're still not-” Arch kicked her in the side, and she flew off of Graelyn to land a few meters away. He reached down, and helped her up. She stood, and they panted for a moment, then Arch collapsed. His carapace flickered, his breathing raspy.
“Are you alright?” She asked.
“Yeah, well, no, not at all.” She stroked his faceplate, and looked over at Red Graelyn, who was dusting herself off and rising to her feet. She straightened her glasses.
“I underestimated you.”
“We just want to go home.”
“A pity.” She walked over to her desk, and calmly picked up a glass of water from it. The soldiers in the room began to slowly rise themselves. She downed the glass of water without speaking, and set it down, wiping her mouth off. Graelyn looked over at the soldier she'd called Johnathan, and squeezing Arch's shoulder (though she wasn't actually sure he could feel it) slinked over to him. He tried to grab at her leg, but she dodged it.
“Curious, are we? You should have just tried to run.”
“I need to know.” She replied. They looked each other in the eyes.
“Then maybe there is something similar between us. Johnathan, go ahead and let her look.” He grew still, and she reached forward and pulled off his mask. She knew that face. She'd seen it in the apartment of that other version of herself on Songbird's world. The one with the operating table. The one she had carved up in her own apartment as part of some project.
“Johnathan.” She said.
“Oh, so you know Johnathan Carthage?” She shook her head.
“I didn't even know his last name till today.”
“That isn't actually him, you know. She gestured to the room, and all the soldiers took their masks off in unison. They all had the same face. They stared silently and stoically. “I make them in Mexico City, I have a big plant there. Its my greatest achievement. With these soldiers as our vanguard we've been able to hold off the Council.”
“Mexico city...” She thought of Alice, who'd seen something so horrible she couldn't speak of it there.
“Yes. Its a complex process, and it involves a lot of excess-
“Its fairly simple: not every person is able to attune to powers from other realities. Only some ever do. So we have to manufacture quite a lot of units to actually get the ones who can connect and attune to those powers. So we recycle the rest to reuse their biomatter.”
“Recycle? Biomatter?” Graelyn yelled at herself, “This is a person!”
“Manuel Salazar knew better than to think a being you created is on the same level as you.”
“Parents have a responsibility to their children.”
“Parents can let their children die.”
“I'm ashamed to share the same face as you.”
“I've seen us killed for doing this.”
“You won't see it here. Nightingale MacLeod is too weak to get the job done.”
“Nightingale? You mean Songbird.” She poured another glass of water, and shook her head.
“Its an alternate reality, catch up... This has gone on long enough. I have important business to attend to today, and you're becoming a bother. So how about you just leave?” Red Graelyn took another sip of water, and lazily gestured at the room. Black Graelyn watched as the damage in the room from the fight began to right itself, the objects flying back into place all over the room. Cracks seemed to close. The group of Johnathans faded into the walls.
“You... Can fix this all? Just like that?” She wanted to punish herself, throw this red haired Graelyn out a window, but realized very quickly she had managed the best possible result of a standstill.
“Yes. And if I'd taken you more seriously, you'd be dead. But you're not worth my time. Get out of my reality.” She didn't look back, just picked up a tablet on the table, and began to scroll through it, using her other hand to begin to piece a complicated device together in the air.
“You're wrong you know.” She didn't turn around. “Power isn't the most important thing.”
“What is it? Something sappy like friendship? Love?”
“Being able to accept your own flaws without falling prey to them. Goodbye, Graelyn.” She floated the thing she'd built into her hand.
Graelyn weakly slipped an arm around Arch, and the two walked towards the exit of Graelyn's office, the doors opening before them. As they shut, a cord was sliced forever.