Chapter 42: The meaning of life

"Olive! Olive, stop that!" Blue scolded the tiny, forest-green dragon that was flapping its wings angrily as it tried to divebomb Alexander. The human had just stepped into Blue's home when the tiny winged reptile started his attack. Not that Alexander was worried that much. He just made a shield and the itty-bitty dragon bounced off of it.

"Finally got him to stop spraying fire everywhere, huh?" Alexander noted with a wry chuckle as he caught

"Yes, I had to scold him several times before he realized that fire and a wooden home do not go together," the Machine said.

"Well, he did live in a damp camp and the remains of a science bunker, so there wasn't a lot to actually burn down there. He knows better, now, though," Alexander chuckled, keeping the snapping jaws of the dragon away from his face.

"I'm sorry, I don't know why Olive doesn't like you," Blue apologized, taking the dragon back from her human friend.

Blue's dragon friend Olive didn't seem to like Alexander that much. Only really seemed to get along with Blue, in fact. He hissed at anyone who wasn't the Medium Biped, and was content to ride around on her head like a portable seat.

That didn't stop everyone, from Machines to androids, from being fascinated by it. After all, the mini-dragons we'd discovered were a completely new race, an artificial one born from human experimentation. Quite a few androids were comparing the dragons to themselves, as a result, and White had had to declare them an endangered species to keep curious androids from taking them home as pets.

Not to mention White had to also stop a bunch of curious scientists and researchers *Cough!* Jackass! *Cough!* from despoiling the mini-dragon's natural habitat in their pursuit of knowledge.

As such, Olive was the only available public specimen and he'd attracted a bunch of attention. Olive the Dragon had almost as many cams recording and live-streaming his day-to-day life as Alexander did, and the human wasn't sure how to feel about a temperamental lizard getting more social media views than him recently.

Aunt Jaqueline had taken to calling Olive a 'little pigeon-lizard' after he bit her index finger off. To be fair to the dragon, Alexander mused that he would probably bite someone if they were poking his face non-stop, too.

"Don't worry about it. What did you want to do today?" Alexander asked, sitting down in one of the chairs in her house. It was really more of a hut than anything. Or maybe a fancy shed? The Machine Lifeforms still had fairly rudimentary homes in their settlement, with only a single shared space in each that acted as both living room and bedroom.

But they were improving on the quality of furniture. The chair he was sitting in had been hand carved by a Machine who was trying their hand at carpentry, and it was actually comfortable and proportioned properly, unlike some of the other ones Alex had tried in the past. And the coffee table in front of him in the middle of the room was a well-done piece of woodwork as well, with artistically carved flowers and vines on the legs as decoration.

"Cards?" she offered, and Alex nodded. Blue got out a deck of playing cards and they went through a few games of Go Fish before getting bored. They then began to try building a house of cards, but only lifting, positioning, and stacking the cards using their magic as a training method to improve their control.

When that finally stopped being interesting – and Blue accidentally setting the cards on fire with a burst of magic – the pair of friends just sat quietly together, enjoy each other's company.

After a few minutes of this, Alex noticed Blue staring at him, and he turned to face her.

"What's wrong?" he asked, though he already had an idea.

"I do not like seeing you get hurt," Blue said softly, placing a hand on Alexander's left cheek. He flinched a bit as the gesture agitated the bruise covered that side of his face, but the coolness of her metal appendage actually felt pretty soothing.

"I'm fine, my trainers are pushing me just far enough so that I can manage it," Alexander replied, soothing her worries. She didn't look convinced and just stared at him until his shoulder sagged.

"I'll try to do better," he promised Blue. "That's the best way to avoid getting more bruises."

"Why go through such painful training?" she asked.

"Because I want to be stronger. Because I have to be stronger," Alexander said, flexing his hands, feeling the phantom sensation of his fists impacting against various targets over and over. "I want to protect you, Cleo, everyone… I don't want to be the only one who doesn't fight when the time comes."

"You are certain that there will a battle?" Blue asked nervously.

"Purple Athena is too set in her ways to compromise with us. She refuses to see things from my side of the line. I don't want to rule. I don't want to become a god or whatever else it is she wants from me," Alexander sighed. "She could go and do what the twins did, and leave Earth to found her own little cult on another planet, but she's too stubborn. She believes we are connected, somehow, and that her way is the only way."

"Do you like her?" Blue hesitantly asked.

"As a friend? Perhaps," Alex said, not quite getting what Blue was hinting at. "She's smart, but free spirited. A lot like you in that regard, actually. But her ideas of 'fun' aren't the same as mine, and she's too… eager? Not sure how else to say that… Pushy, perhaps? Bossy? Yeah, bossy. In a way, she's too much like mom for me to think of her as anything other than a friend."

Blue nodded slowly, privately running several algorithms in her head to try and parse what this meant for her own chances. Was she too going to be 'friend-zoned' as the human media called it?

As she tried to understand all of this, a flicker of foreign code pierced her firewalls, and implanted a single question into her mind, before retreating before it could be detected.

"Can I ask you something else?" Blue requested a moment later.

"Sure, you can ask me anything you want, Blue," Alexander promised.

"Alexander, can you tell me… what's the meaning of life?" Blue asked, giving Alexander a searching look. He sucked in air through his teeth.

"Hard question right off the bat, huh?" he muttered with a dark chuckle, before taking a moment to compile his response.

"Life… has no meaning," Alexander said after a moment to think. "The only meanings there are, are the ones we assign it."

"That does not make sense," Blue pouted.

Alex rubbed his chin then pointed at the dirt where a line of ants could be seen. "Do you see those ants down there, Blue? They're toiling away, each one trying to survive and contribute to the colony. Yet they lack awareness of their surroundings. They don't know 'why' they do what they do. Or that there is anything else other than that. But is that bad? No! The ants give their actions their own meanings. Purpose. And the only one who can give life meaning is you, yourself. Don't let anyone else decide what matters or is important to you."

"I still don't understand," Blue said, looking down in dismay.

"Hmm, how else can I explain it?" Alex wondered. "Um, take the sun, for instance. The sun is nothing more than a big, flaming ball of gases. That's it. But we assign it special meaning because it provides light and energy. If there was no one like you or me to observe it, the sun would just continue on doing its thing. It doesn't need us to validate its existence. It's going to keep on burning away up there in space long after we're both gone. Yet to us, the sun is more than a bunch of super-hot matter because we, you and I, assign meaning and purpose to it."

"Life… life is what you make of it," Alexander finally finished, somewhat worn out from his own philosophical rant. "That's what it means, Blue."

"I'm sorry, Alexander. Your words… they are like Jean-Paul's. Complex and dripping with subtly. I cannot wrap my thoughts around the abstract concepts you are attempting to impart to me," Blue said, tone apologetic.

"It's okay, Blue," Alexander said, reaching out to pat her on the head, only to pause and retract his appendage when Olive growled at him from his perch on the back of Blue's chair.

"I am curious, though. What made you ask that question?" Alexander asked.

"I-I don't know," she admitted. "It just felt important to ask it."

"Well, I can understand why you're interested," Alexander nodded. "And who knows? Maybe you'll come up with your own interpretation for what the meaning of life is."

"Isn't that contradictory?" Blue queried. "How can there be multiple answers for a single question? That defeats the purpose!"

"Yup. But that's life for ya," Alexander replied. "It's not as simple as a mathematical equation."

Blue nodded slowly and absently as she processed this.

And far away, hidden in a dome-shaped factory-bunker, two purple eyes glowed with feverish, religious joy.

"Life is what you make of it? Oh, Alexander! You truly are wise! Only you are worthy enough to stand beside me as I take this world, aNd ReMake iT!"

Author's Note:
Happy Easter!
And check out akashicrecordstrue on the site that rhymes with 'Flareon' to read early chapters!