Story:Steel Sisters - The Siblings Meet
|Steel Sisters - The Siblings Meet|
The Siblings Meet
The site of so many gadgets in the castle never ceased to impress most. Pipes flowing with ekati radiated with a gentle magenta glow. To Stayla LeVasseur though, they were spectacular machinations that provided all of the glamorous things she once had in her noble life. To Yora Eddie, they were a reminder of the nobles’ iron grip on the everyman. They had little time to marvel at the room’s architecture as the nearby stone golem quickly escorted them.
“Come, this way,” the golem spoke. “The professor is in the next room.”
Stayla paused to stare at one particular pattern on the wall. A collection of all the noble family sigils across all Leir. Maybe she could find Leir.
Yora stared her down with contempt. Obviously, Stayla was not in any better shape than she was. Her clammy skin and slower movements suggested she’d only been recently treated from a terrible sickness. Thankfully, the last minute treatments she received prevented it from spreading to others. Stayla wore the garments of a wealthy noble family, only tattered with the edges of her dress ripped and torn. And worst of all, Stayla’s curvaceous figure only made Yora self-conscious of her starved state from which she barely survived. Yora’s ribs jutted out like spikes through her own clothes. Were her skin more pale, she could pass as an undead from Necronia.
“Hey! What are you standing there for?” Yora lashed out. “Let’s go!”
“Sorry, I didn’t mean to. We should get going.”
The golem lead them to a rather tall door with many intricate, angular line patterns. No signs of any door knob or keyholes. The golem approached a nearby terminal and pressed its hand into it. All of the lines lit up magenta with a small hum and the door automatically opened. One of those fancy magitek doors that Leir had everywhere.
Stayla and Yora glanced at one another, unsure of the situation. But they went in. The moment they did, the door closed behind them. And the room went dark.
“Hello? Is someone there?” Stayla called out.
No immediate answer. Next were rapidly echoing footsteps as if someone was hurrying about.
“Vinda! The lights, please!”
And with that, the room lit up as small crystals decorated along the wall lit up revealing a man with unkempt hair and glasses. He stood with a slight hunch, clearly not someone who has seen the outdoors very much.
“Ah, there you are! I should have programmed that golem to open the door when we were actually ready. Anyway, my name is Dr. Otto Salvian. Welcome to my lab.” The professor turned to the table. “Please, have a seat!”
In a short moment, someone else appeared. A young woman, except that only her face was recognizably flesh. The rest of her body was comprised of mechanical parts forged into the shape of a human figure. She looked human, sure, but was not quite one.
“I am Vinda Dorchester. Would you like some tea?” the woman spoke.
“Yes please!” Stayla happily exclaimed.
The woman nodded her head, served the tea into two different cups, then set down the kettle. As Stayla gently sipped her tea, Yora grabbed the whole kettle and began to chug it down, then spit it out as it singed her tongue.
“What?” Yora said. “I was thirsty!”
“Is that how all miners drink their tea?” Stayla asked in a strangely innocent way. What might have sounded like a sarcastic insult came out as a very legitimate question.
“We don’t drink tea. We drink liquor.” Yora paused then glanced at Vinda, once again noting all of her mechanical parts. She had never seen anything like her before. “What kind of golem is that? What’s Leir been cooking up this time?”
“Actually,” Dr. Salvian said taking a sip of his own tea, “that’s what we’re here to talk about. You see, Vinda isn’t a golem. Not technically anyway. A golem does not have a soul, but Vinda does. In fact, she’s a human soul fused into this mechanical body. She is a mechanis, the first of her kind.”
Yora gave him a puzzled look. “And what’s that got to do with us?”
Dr. Salvian repositioned himself in his chair to improve his posture to break the news. “Everything. I'm here to turn both of you into things like Vinda. Both of you will become mechanis.”
Yora paused, almost dropping the kettle and shattering it. “I'm sorry, what now? You're gonna turn me into that ugly piece of scrap metal?”
Vinda looked to the side, her glassy eyes recolorizing to a bluish tint.
“Sorry about her,” Stayla said. “It's been very hard for both of us. If you’re a mechanis, does that mean you’re still human?”
In a short time, Vinda’s eyes turned to a gold color. “I feel more than human, better than I ever was.”
“You mean if we were to turn into something like you, we could be better too?” Stayla asked.
Vinda placed a finger on her chin to think. She had never given thought prior to her transformation. To her, being a mechanis was always better. How to put it for them though?
“Well,” Vinda began. “I don't need to eat, or sleep, or grow tired, or get sick...or really... anything. The procedure doesn’t hurt either. I merely died then reawakened in this new body.”
“Indeed,” Dr. Salvian added. “The process, while experimental, is very much rooted in the more scientific side of magic. Far more mathematical and predictable than those ritualistic hexing and enchantment spells.”
“That means…” Stayla said drifting off. “I could be given a second chance. A new life after losing everything.”
“Hold up,” Yora interjected. “You said you don’t need to eat. Does that mean I have to give up eating forever? I mean, look at me,” she said uncovering one of her sleeves to show her bony, emaciated arm. “I pretty much already have.”
Dr. Salvian leaned forward a bit. “It was only a short time ago that Vinda underwent the procedure, so I will have to admit the range of human sensations available to mechanis remains untested.” Dr. Salvian paused then clasped his hands together. “We can make you accommodations just in case.” Dr. Salvian turned to the side and called out for a stone golem which materialized itself to his side. “Golem, prepare something special for Yora.”
“Anything for Miss LeVasseur?” The golem asked.
Stayla shook her head. “No thanks. The tea was enough for me.”
The golem acknowledged and sped off to the kitchen. Yora smirked in anticipation.
Stayla looked to the side, uncertain of what to think. “I'm....I'm not sure. I can't imagine things being the same ever again. Would the people out there see me as a person? Would they be scared of me?
“You weren’t too scared of me, right?” Vinda said rather confidently. “My body may be made of machines, but my soul is still a human. I’m sure once there are more mechanis out there, we’d be seen as equals, and not something to be afraid of.”
“I hope you're right.”
Celebrating a shift from a solemn to a joyous tone, the golem came back with a dinner plate full of lobster bisque, some fine bread, and several potatoes. Yora could not break her gaze from it.
“Okay, you’ve won me over,” Yora proclaimed. “But first...you guys want to see a magic trick? I can make all this food disappear.”
It may not have been real magic, but the speed at which Yora devoured the food before her could only be compared to a dragon razing a village. Not so much as a crumb or a smudge of condiment was left on the plate. The others stared at her dumbstruck at what just happened. Yora had made up for just over two weeks of nothing eat. In a single sitting. Promptly, she let out an enormous belch, then patted her stomach. She had never been in a more content state.
“Yora!” Stayla exclaimed. “Isn’t that rude?”
“Where I come from, it’s a compliment,” Yora said giving a thumbs up. “Hit me up with this mechanis stuff. I’ve got no more regrets.”
Stayla bowed her head slightly briefly closing her eyes. “I suppose I will accept too.”
“Then let’s get started,” Doctor Salvian rather eagerly replied.
In a short moment, another golem materialized and lead Yora and Stayla to a hallway with many doors each numbered with three digits.
“You two will be staying here, Miss Eddie,” the golem said showing them inside. “Make yourselves comfortable. The professor will arrive in a moment,” Plain, dull grey with minimal features. Two beds each next to a strange machine with no obviously recognizable function. Many smaller flashing lights and tangled wires like the head of a medusa. Perhaps something the professor created himself.
Yora lay on one of the beds in a relaxed position staring at the ceiling, but very quickly, she stiffened up. The bed wasn’t all that comfortable, and it was likely just an improvised, metal table with a cheap mattress laid across. Turning her head to the side, Yora noted that Stayla didn’t look any more comfortable than she was.
In a short time, Dr. Salvian walked into the room, approaching Yora first. In his hand, a syringe containing a magenta liquid.
“Don’t be alarmed. This potion is just an anesthetic. I don’t want the process to be painful for either of you.”
Yora braced herself, then Dr. Salvian pricked her with the syringe. A bit of pain, yes, but not more than a bee sting. It didn’t take very long, but Yora’s senses dulled. She could no longer feel the stiffness of the bed or the slight chill in the air from the castle. Everything felt floaty as if she were drifting away in the ether. And soon enough, she had forgotten that Stayla was in the room with her.
A good time to take a nap, she figured. She gently closed her eyes as she let herself go from the material world.
Yora’s eyes suddenly opened. She still lay in the bed in the same position she was from before, only this time, she had a good night’s sleep. At first, nothing felt different, but then she felt an invigorating wave of energy as she got up.
As expected, her entire body now consisted of metal, mechanical parts. At first, her arms could only stiffly move like that of a marionette, but even so, she no longer felt tethered somehow. As if no longer constrained by a weak, malnourished body. Her first instinct was to perform the stretch exercises she would do just before going to mine - ones she would perform to make sure she wouldn’t pull a muscle or throw out her back. As she stretched her arms into the air, she heard more machinery click into place, and now she could move her arms more freely.
Yora continued stretching, reaching for her toes, leaning forward with her legs, rotating her hips and moving herself in other positions to make sure everything fell into place. Now, she could move almost as naturally as she could before. As she gazed at her hand, she could now appreciate the intricacies of the mechanisms that she was now comprised of. For once, all the ore she mined was being put to something of reasonable use as opposed to fueling the opulent vanity of the nobles.
To test herself out, Yora threw a few punches into the air, noting how quickly her arms moved. Taking a fighting stance, she punched the air noting how fast she was. She would think it, and her body would make it happen instantaneously. And then, a loud bang thundered across the room. Yora then realized she had just dented the metal wall.
“Yora, is everything alright?” A voice called out.
Yora turned to see Dr. Salvian and Vinda on the other side of a glass window. She had not even noticed either of them the whole time.
“Other than being hyped up on energy, kinda weird actually. Like, I want to have some food, but I feel like I don't have to. I could go to sleep, but I don't have to. Somehow, I feel I can do anything.”
“I know you must be excited, but I must ask you to remain calm. You now weigh two thousand one hundred and forty five pounds. You now have the strength to demolish buildings.”
Yora paused for a moment to look at her body, then slightly chuckled. “Heh, heh. Looks like I gained all that weight from my little binge.”
Dr. Salvian didn’t quite pick up on Yora’s sarcasm and promptly responded, “Actually, both Stayla and Vinda are of similar weights as you. The levitation runes inscribed all throughout your bodies help to make sure you can handle small objects with fine precision.”
A short time after, Yora heard more clanking of machines nearby. It was Stayla who had finally awoken. She cutely yawned and stretched out her arms.
“That was the best nap I ever had,” Stayla excitedly said. “I don’t feel sick anymore!”
“Are there any complications, milady?” Dr. Salvian asked.
“I’m all fine! Thank you!” she replied.
The patterns on Stayla’s new body designs were far more intricate and more colorful than Yora’s. The shape of her figure seemed a bit more physically attractive than her own. Yora couldn’t help but stir in contempt.
A golem entered the room carrying two plates. One with a finely done steak dinner, and the other a few sandwiches. It presented the steak to Stayla and the sandwiches to Yora.
“I thought you two would like to try eating something to test if you can still feel the sensations of it,” Dr. Salvian said. Despite his intentions, Yora was quick to notice the inequality in the meals.
“Hey Stayla!” Yora called out sarcastically. “You weigh more than a workhorse now. You shouldn’t be eating that!”
“Oh…” Stayla said. “I suppose I haven’t been watching what I eat lately…”
“And don’t forget mechanis don’t need to eat anyway, so let me just take that off your hands.”
“Miss Eddie, is there a problem?” Dr. Salvian asked.
Yora turned to Dr. Salvian, baffled at his response. How did he not see the discrepancy?
“What’s going on here? Why is she getting more food than me? I thought we were all getting reset to equals.”
“Yora, I understand your concern, but she is still nobility. I’d like for you to show some respect. And besides, does she not get compensation for turning down a last meal?”
“So you just brought us all back from the dead. What are we to you, then?” Yora retorted. “Are we just going to be your little labrats forever?”
“You won’t be locked in these cages for very long. Soon, you’ll be transferred to proper servant quarters that will be to your standards. Because experimenting in here will not be your only tasks.” Dr. Salvian paused, then cleared his throat as Vinda held his shoulder in anticipation of the revelation of information. “You are to become mechanised soldiers for the Leirian military.”
Stayla froze, then dropped her fork hitting her plate with a loud clang. “A...a soldier? You mean, I'll have to fight people? Why would anyone want to do that?”
Yora got more fired up. “Do I get to beat up those jerks who trapped me in that coal mine?”
“Well, Stayla...Yora…” Dr. Salvian began. “The King of Nomes, I mean former King of Nomes has asked you to join the Leirian military to stop the Nomian Uprisings as of late. Some nobles are...angry...to say the least, about losing their titles.”
Stayla stood both scared and puzzled. What was Dr. Salvian even talking about, she thought. “I'm sorry, but I don't know anything about these uprisings. My father never kept me informed.”
“But,” Stayla said entering the conversation. She had still been processing everything Dr. Salvian had told them. “I still don't understand what you want us to do. How do we stop these uprisings?”
“Well, Miss Stayla,” Dr. Salvian began, “All of you have been equipped with new tools for a variety of purposes such as crowd control, and...the neutralization of hostile targets.”
At that moment, Stayla noticed her arm. It was not a true arm, but a composition of a series long metal pipes bundled together, bound with a series of intricate rotary mechanisms. Her hand instinctively disassembled revealing what these pipes lead to. A muzzle. Dr. Salvian had turned her arm into a gatling gun.
“Wha- What is this thing?! What did you do to me?”
“You are not ordinary soldiers. The emperor himself requested all of you be equipped with the latest tools Leir has to offer,” Dr. Salvian said. “You are the elite.”
“But...but why did you choose me? I'm not a soldier.”
“Neither is Yora nor Vinda,” Dr. Salvian explained. “But I chose you to save you from death. To give all of you a second chance. Unfortunately, it comes at a price.”
“What if I hurt someone? What if someone...dies?” Stayla’s eyes turned a deep, glassy blue as she shrunk back, hardly able to process the new information before her. She tried to shed a tear, but she couldn’t. “What have I done? I should not have taken this second chance.”
“If someone dies at your hands in the line of battle, then you have done a valiant service to your country,” Dr. Salvian explained with a hint of uncertainty. Though he designed them to still be able to feel emotions, he could not have predicted how expressive Stayla and Yora could be.
“So you just picked us up off the streets so that we could become disposable tools? You cheated us!” Yora said, becoming riled up. She readied her fist into the wall. “What's to stop me from punching a hole in this wall and escaping?
Dr. Salvian stopped. As intricately as he designed them to be, he had no failsafe installed in them. No hidden enchantments to automatically turn them off or bend them to his will. How could he be so foolish? But a part of him didn’t want to do that. He didn’t want to make slaves. Where the emperor wanted to create armies, Dr. Salvian was only curious of the properties of the human soul. But whatever the case, he had to choose his next words carefully. He waited, thinking things through. But he had nothing to say.
Vinda, however, asserted herself, walking closer to the glass to look them both directly in the eye.
“I became a mechanis because someone had to. The High Elves have been slaughtering innocent people in the thousands. Can we really stand by and let them have their way? And worse yet, if we are fighting among ourselves, doesn't that make us an easy target?
“My parents. They were...lost. Taken by the High Elves. They see us humans as an inferior species. Can we really continue to let them have their way? We can't let them push us around anymore. There's a time where we have to stand up and fight. Even if you don't like to fight, at least find something to stand up and believe in.”
Both Stayla and Yora stood speechless. Something about the way she said it sparked something in them both.
“Both of you,” Vinda continued. “Surely, you must have a cause to fight for. Find that conviction within yourself.”
Yora paused to think. Her immediate impulsiveness took a backseat. “Never gave much thought to it. Before all this mechanis stuff, all I ever wanted was food in my belly and a roof over my head. So I guess I live for the things that’ll remind me I’m still human.”
“Maybe...maybe I need to know more about what’s out there,” Stayla said. “I lived as a noble, but I want Leir to be a safe place for everyone.” Stalya said. “All I ask is that if we become soldiers, could you make sure we're okay? I don't want to mess things up.”
“I can ensure that you’ll have the highest quality weapons, armor, and more,” Dr. Salvian explained. “It is up to you to use them to the best of your ability. I am sorry I did not tell you about this, but it was the only way to get you to come.”
Stayla respectfully bowed. “Thank you so much. I'm sorry for being so rude. I should have been more grateful that you saved my life.”
“Our lives,” Yora added, doing a fist pump. “I'm looking to beat up some pretentious, stuffy High Elves. When do we start?”
Dr. Salvian adjusted his glasses then smiled slightly. “We can start immediately.”