Oh yes, did it hurt.
There is no quantifiable way to describe it. People describe pain like a nerve trapped in a vice, like burning under the skin, like electricity, like a spark – but this was none of those things. Pain is just a chemical reaction, a warning sign popped up to remind you not to do what you just did. Greed( ) wasn’t a burn, or a gunshot, or a dismemberment. No loss of blood, nor limb, no losses at all – Greed( ) stole life-force and flowed it back into me. “Pain” isn’t the right word. I did not hurt. I had too much life pumped into me. I was alive.
That’s partly why I screamed.
And my mind, my mind was too alive, stuffed with the lives of all the machines I had removed. Not just their memories, not just their time lived, but the time not lived; I saw what had been and now, by me, what would not be. I saw their timelines sheared off before the end, now with a new end, left trailing in the wake, wiping out all that had been lain out for them – more than twenty lives howling at a new and unexpected darkness. More than twenty nightmares, at once.
That’s partly why I screamed.
But the anger. The anger. Actually, I was past angry, several stops along from furious, and buying up a lot of land in the roiling lands of outraged. My burning hatred for the Timelords had been refuelled afresh for the next 1500 years. I knew they’d lied, I knew they’d suppressed us, robbed us of our natural abilities – but to have it outright confirmed at last, proven by a patronising parent-block set up by the paranoid patriarch himself, that, what? We weren’t to be trusted? We weren’t allowed complete freedom? We were treated like children and thrown headfirst into the chaotic deep-end of the universe, with the expectation of saving it from its infinite self without any additional help.
It’s a funny thing, to finally take one’s place in the most grandest scheme, and look outwards. At how you got there, from the race that consider themselves above the rest of creation – turns out, they are just as corrupt and twisted as the rest of creation. Another crowd of power-mad, lying cowards in the bunch.
That‘s my heritage. I knew it, but now I really knew it. It wasn’t my own conjecture or cynicism anymore. Pessimism proven correct.
So that’s mostly why I’d screamed. Or roared, to be more accurate.
I could take the excess energy. Could even see myself getting used to it.
I could take the mental barrage of multiple lives cut short. That’s just background to me.
I couldn’t take the truth.
But I had roared for all three.
The Q.U.A.R.K vibrated against my arm. I wiped my eyes, and consulted its screen:
Greed( ) – Gained: 7258 years.
I dithered between two impossible choices, ignorant to the result of either, and chose Retain on nothing more than a 50/50 guess. The “too alive” sensation sparked, to almost unbearable, and sharply vanished. The Q.U.A.R.K delivered another message.
Retain successful. HH Lifespan extended.
Review current HH Lifespan – Yes/No?
I’d never clicked No so fast in my life. Some things weren’t meant to be known.
I got back to my feet and walked forwards, kicking up several piles of ash. I’d seen it all happen before me. Watched my handiwork in action. Maybe just a little bit of the yelling had been releasing my terror.
Aloy caught up with me. “What did you just do?”
Let’s see. I defeated a dominant race, extended my own lifespan, found my place in the natural progression, and generally, almost blew my own head off.
“I think…I evolved.”
And I made my way towards Odyssey.