First fic in a while. It's about time I tried using my muse to write something Xenoblade X related. There are post chapter 5 spoilers. You have been warned.
Disclaimer: Don't own anything except this fic.
What It Means to be Human.
Unable to sleep, Rafael Cross stared up with his heterochromatic gold and purple eyes at the underside of the upper bunkbed, his mind playing over and over what had happened on top of the Mesa plateau in Oblivia just a few days prior. When he dived after Tatsu and his arm had gotten blown off by the Ganglion Skell and everything had changed.
Rafael screamed in agony as he held his shoulder, the appendage below gone, every nerve in his body on fire as sparks and some unknown clear blue substance leaked out onto the hard desert ground from where his arm used to be. In the brief time he had been awake on this planet, he had never experienced pain like this before, not even while battling the toughest of indigens
It hurt. Damn it hurt.
"Are you alright?!" He heard Lin exclaim.
He tried to respond, he really did, but all that came out of his mouth was another scream. He could feel himself convulsing.
"W-what? Friend is robot?!" Tatsu's voice, shocked and uncertain.
"I'm gonna block off feedback to the nervous circuits." Lin's deft fingers danced across her comm device as she pressed buttons, then the pain abruptly stopped. "Still hurt?"
"N-no…" Rafael answered with a shake of his head, gritting his teeth as he struggled to catch his breath. He turned his head to meet Lin's eyes. "T-thank you, Lin."
The world no longer a haze of pain, his eyes then landed on something that looked suspiciously like an arm several feet beyond her. He felt sick to his stomach as he realized it was his, charred and black.
Looking down at his remaining hand, only one thought came to his head. I'm not human.
"Wait a second." Now Elma was kneeling in front of him, blue orbs filled with an unnamed emotion. "You don't remember anything about your body being a mimeosome, do you?"
With a small, frustrated sigh, Rafael swung his legs off the side of the bed, sitting up to run a hand through his short red hair. He had been at this for hours. Despite having no idea what time it was, he stood, deciding that maybe a long walk around the districts was in order, or else he was going to punch a wall with his new arm.
He was almost to the exit when a familiar voice called out, "Rook. Don't you think it's a little late to be going out?"
Rafael turned to face his team leader. Of course she would still be up. Sitting on one of the couches nearby, Elma was, for once, not in her battle armor but a long sleeved black shirt and pants, a book in her lap to read below the florescent lighting. "You should be resting. After all, it was only earlier today that you woke up from—"
"Maintenance, I know." Rafael chuckled bitterly. He was beginning to hate that word. "But I seriously doubt I need rest since I'm a robot, you know?"
"Rook?" Elma said with a frown, standing. "Our bodies are artificial, that's true. But you heard what Lin said: Mims were designed to mimic human physiology as much as possible. We're still human, eating and drinking the same as before. We still have our customs and traditions. We'll find the lifehold…get our bodies back, trust me." She paused. "You really should be asleep—"
"How can you say we're still human, Elma?! We're made of nuts and bolts now, not flesh and blood dammit! How can we call ourselves that when—" Realizing his voice was rising, Rafael stopped to take a deep breath before he continued. "When we've lost the one thing that makes us truly alive? And how do we know that I…I mean, we were even human to begin with?"
"Don't call me that. Please." He said, gritting his teeth as Elma flinched.
"I need some air." Before she could reply he was out the door, walking briskly to God knows where, his head filled with a myriad of emotions and questions.
He was frustrated, angry that he couldn't remember even a tiny amount of his time on Earth. He didn't know who his parents were, nor if he had any siblings. And surely if he had any old friends still alive, he would've run into them by now in NLA. His past was an utter mystery, lost forever in the ashes and bits of rock floating in space that was once his home world.
He glanced done at his hands, now seeing wires and steel beneath where he used to think there was actual muscle.
On top of that, the discovery he was actually a mimeosome shook him to his core. He had read enough books from one of the libraries in NLA to know that humanity had crossed a line somewhere, even if it was in an effort to survive. Who was to say he or anyone else living in this town had actually been alive to begin with even before the war, or that their bodies in stasis were actually projecting their minds into artificial bodies? For all any of them knew, this could be some big cosmic joke.
That also brought into being a very important question: What does it mean to be human? Was it based upon science, or something deeper, something he couldn't quite grasp?
Unable to think of an answer, Rafael shook his head. Now he was just letting his emotions rule his imagination too much.
Eventually, he found himself in the park in the residential district. No one, other than a few drunkards sleeping, was present. Taking a seat at one of the empty benches, he let his gaze wander, at some point staring at Mira's sky. A few hours must have passed since he left the barracks, as dawn was approaching quickly, enveloping the stars one by one. It wouldn't be long before most of the city was out and about once more in an attempt to keep civilization going.
Suddenly, white hair crowded part of his vision. "There you are, Rafael." A soft voice stated. Turning his head, he saw it was Elma again, all suited up in her armor. Now that he was a bit calmer, Rafael vaguely wondered why she never just walked in normal clothing, but he knew better than to ask. It was none of his business. She was a private woman after all. "May I sit next to you?"
He nodded. "Go ahead."
A long moment of silence passed between them. "I'm sorry." They said at the same time.
Rafael shook his head, raising an eyebrow. "Why are you apologizing?"
"Because." Elma replied, studying him. "I…can't imagine what it must be like, to have amnesia and not remember who you were back on Earth." She closed her eyes, and when they were open again he could that they were filled with remorse. "And for that I am so sorry. There are things I wish I could forget, but I can certainly understand that want for you and others to know who you are…or were."
"The present is based upon the past, so it's only natural you wonder what kind of person you were. Even so…." Elma paused, considering her words before nodding firmly. "I'm positive you were a wonderful person back on Earth, regardless of whether you happened to somehow not be human, and will continue to be so even here on Mira. You've done so much for NLA as a Blade, you know. "
Rafael blinked, not sure what to say. It was unlike Elma to so…straightforward like this.
"I'll be honest with you. You really me worried there, back in Oblivia. I thought I was going to lose you." She admitted. "If not for Lin being there and her quick thinking you would have died. I…no, BLADE would have lost an irreplaceable soldier and the team would have lost a dear friend." No longer looking at him, her voice had gone soft. "So, try not to do anything too reckless in the future, you hear?"
"No promises." He grunted. Then, trying to lighten the mood he added, "The talking potato will need all the help he can get."
Elma smirked, elbowing him in the rib. "I'm serious, Rafael."
"So am I."
She giggled. The sound, at least coming out of her mouth of all people, surprised him, but in a good way. It was…nice to see her rather relaxed.
A few seconds of companionable silence passed. Then Elma stood. "We should head back. I'm sure Lin is wondering where her co-chief in making breakfast is."
Rafael nodded, getting to his feet with a smile. "Here's to hoping she didn't cook Tatsu without me already."
Ugh. More Tatsu food jokes. I swear those things have been engraved into my brain.
So, thoughts? I'm a bit rusty and while I'm sorta happy with how this fic turned out, I know there are things I can improve on…like dialogue for one. Any advice would be appreciated. Beyond that, let me know what you enjoyed about this through a review, or just a follow or fav.
This fic may or may not have a "part 2" coming. I haven't decided yet.
Anyways, thanks for reading.