Lily Ex Machina Chapter 011 2017-01-18T19:47:40+00:00

Change

Lily walked on, strange box in hand. She had, at some point, begun to refer to the box as a <<Supply Kit>>. That was, after all, its purpose. As she filled the box with more liquids and food, its weight had gradually grown heavier, to the point where she was unable to lift it off the ground without significant effort.

Frustrated, she had eventually worked around this issue by Extending her system to include the box. Her <<Extension>> created a pseudo-muscular system by which she was able to manipulate her Extensions, and this allowed for her to lessen the weight of the box, making it far more manageable – one does not, after all, feel the weight of one’s arms or head.

As she walked, time passed. Or at least, she supposed that time was passing; there was no way to be certain of that notion in this place, where nothing changed, not even the light which illuminated the area. She knew not how long she had been walking, walking in the direction of the slight tremor. Perhaps days. Perhaps years. She kept walking, and the tremor got ever so slightly louder, but never significantly enough to truly be a change.

She kept walking. When she was thirsty, she drank. When she could no longer withstand hunger, she ate.

Her mechanical legs had no organic tissue to tire. They kept moving, a part of her. After prolonged use, after a high degree of stress, her legs were fully integrated into her body; she could not consciously release the Extension. She could change its form, could lengthen it, could extend its reach, but she could not retract her tendrils of magic, nor could she release her control over them. The habit of operating them was thoroughly integrated into her subconscious.

Though her legs did not tire, the rest of her body could feel fatigue. Mental fatigue from seeing nothing but waste and corpses all around – a sight she soon got used to – and physical fatigue, from forcing herself to stay awake for such an extended period of time.

Eventually, while she ran, her body finally gave in and she fell asleep while running. Naturally, this cut off the movement commands to her legs while she was in the midst of walking, and inertia caused her to lurch forward, falling face-first into the scrap metal on the ground. Fortunately – and in fact, miraculously – the patch where she landed was devoid of any sharp edges, and the sudden pain of feeling her nose slam into the ground jolted her awake.

Grumbling while nursing her bleeding nose and getting into a sitting position, she contemplated how she should resolve this issue. Certainly, the only option she had now that her body had given in was to sleep and allow herself to rest – indeed, that thought was tempting, tempting enough to make her want to just accept the idea and sleep, but she forced herself to consider the danger. She had neither seen nor felt any traces of life while walking and searching with <<Probe>>, but that was no sure fact. It was entirely possible that there were enemies or monsters in this land, and she had simply not encountered them yet. Sleeping as she was now would leave her defenceless.

Therefore, she had to make herself less defenceless.

She needed to somehow sleep while staying alert and wary of her surroundings. The question was how. There were stories of great heroes and adventurers training themselves to sleep while being fully aware of their surroundings. Unfortunately, these stories usually involved years upon years of harsh training and getting attacked in their sleep – and she did not have the luxury of time to train for years. She knew not how long her supplies would last her – bountiful as they might be – and she cared not to find out how long it might take to fully expend them.

Therefore, she had to rely on her natural gift: <<Extension>>. The common understanding of <<Extension>> was that it allowed for one to Extend their nervous system and manipulate external objects. This was not entirely true. This was a fact she had fully discerned over the course of her journey thus far, having constantly used the magic.

<<Extension>> allowed one to extend their nervous system and assimilate external factors, yes. But more so, the true essence of <<Extension>> was “manipulation”. <<Extension>> allowed Lily a high degree of fine control over her Extended factors, as well as over her own body. It was this that allowed her the fine control and continued operation of her new legs with minimal strain.

Furthermore, the control was likely not over just her physical body. Lily suspected that it extended to anything which she considered a part of her “self”. This hypothesis, she had formulated while considering how she had managed to ignore her thirst for so long. She suspected that at some subconscious level, her Extension had activated as a part of some self-preservatory instinct, changing her mind’s ability to process hunger or thirst. She had no proof of this, and indeed had only thought of it in a moment of whimsy while contemplating the degree of control her ability granted her, but now seemed as good a time as ever to test her theory.

She closed her eyes, let her tendrils of magic flow throughout her body, felt them, felt their movement, their presence. She slowly let them extend outwards, reaching at everything, but not assimilating anything. Then she grabbed them and forcefully directed them inwards, towards herself. She felt them course through her body, leaving a strange warmth in their wake. She felt them wrap around her soul. She visualised her brain as a web, a complex construct formed of connected and intersecting thoughts and concepts. Within her mental landscape, she saw herself surrounded by branches of the web, each line glowing a faint green. She focused a bit more, and hazy, shadowy words began superimposing themselves on each strand. “Dislikes”. “Habits”. “Likes”.

She reached out and took hold of the “Dislikes” thread. She instantly felt, not saw, but *felt* images of horses, of darkness, of snow peas, of a myriad of other trivialities. She experimentally imagined the section pertaining to “moths” being erased. Immediately, she felt something within her shift. There was no way to confirm it, but it was likely she no longer possessed an irrational hatred of moths. She released the thread, and it changed colour, pulsating a light blue, contrasted against the luminescent green of the web.

Looking around, she noted the existence of several other blue strands, but they were interconnected and closely entwined with other threads; try as she may, she could not isolate them. It was likely impossible for her to consciously affect them.

Recalling the purpose of this experiment, Lily grabbed hold of the strands which governed “Sensory Input” and accessed them. She felt a series of subcategories which processed her sensory input. Accessing the “vigilance” category, she felt a series of conditions that governed her degree of awareness of her surroundings. Focusing on the “wakefulness” condition, she imagined the condition shrinking, diminishing in size, to nothingness, disappearing. As this occurred, just before the condition was to disappear, the shrinking stopped. A feeling echoed throughout; a warning. She knew, somehow, without thinking, that removing this condition would have a detriment: namely, it would remove her ability to have dreams.

She frowned as she considered. She enjoyed dreams; they were a nice view into another reality. As much as she desired to sleep safely, she was not quite ready yet to fully discard the ability to dream. The inability to dream was likely a result of having to devote her sensory perception to her surroundings instead of dreaming. Keeping this deduction in mind, Lily focused on the category of “vigilance”, and divided it into two: one for her normal five senses, the other for <<Probing>>. She set the “wakefulness” condition for her five senses at the lowest possible, then removed it entirely for the Probing category. This time, there was no warning. With this in place, she would be able to keep her <<Probe>> net open while asleep, warning her of any presences approaching. Meanwhile, her other senses would still be highly vigilant in her sleep, allowing her to immediately notice any approaching unfamiliar sound or presence.

She allowed the tendrils of magic to recede, allowing the web to fade away, then opened her eyes with a smile. She had no idea if the changes would work, but if they did, it meant she would have a powerful new tool in her arsenal. Lying on the ground, she closed her lids and started to give in to the fatigue, fading away into sleep.

While she fell asleep, her lips crinkled as she thought of the perfect name for this new ability… <<Modification Web>>.


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