First part, Funeral, was written by Mr. Alice with heavy revision by myself. Second part, Birth, was done by yours truly.
I will adore the person who picks up on the Firefly reference.
Once upon a time, there was a cathedral of stone.
Its name was Delphi, house of prophets, and it served as a herald of past, present, and future.
Delphi was ancient, and sacred. It was an ancient shrine of History and a sacred temple of Information—a holy place unlike any other. Delphi sat atop a great snowy mountain, surrounded by a sweeping silvery forest of satellite dishes, each facing the Heavens like so many stargazers. Delphi had stood on the mountain for thousands of years, chronicling history and predicting the things to come with the help of powerful Xatu. But the dusty old halls had been void of Xatu for three decades. The frail beasts did not survive easily in this cold climate, and peering into time was a difficult task. Their bodies wasted away easily.
Now, the hallowed cathedral had changed, the skeletons of the old prophets buried deep into the frozen soil. The black obsidian nave of Delphi gleamed with a high mirror finish, reflecting off each other into repeated infinity.
Flat sheets of square liquid crystals floated suspended in the air, arranged in simple geometric arrangements. They were all perfectly still, yet gave the unconscious impression of motion. The optical illusion was caused by the steady, pulsing glow emitted by bands of light running along the floor and the walls.
Along the surface of one particularly large pane of crystal, something seemed to tremble, distorting and refracting light. The flat, two-dimensional image of a Porygon glided across the liquid crystal’s surface, and disappeared abruptly as it reached the edge. The Porygon immediately reappeared in the shimmering surface of the nearest crystal sheet, having effortlessly transmitted itself from one pane to the next. The Porygon were everywhere in every sense excepting physical presence.
Arrayed around the perimeter of the spacious hall, a legion of Metagross stood meditatively on all fours, their claws plugged into the floor. Their burnished steel armor hummed as they processed immeasurable amounts of raw information.
The Nave of Delphi was nothing but ghosts and crystals. Yet, it was the world’s biggest inorganic brain. The new oracles were housed in a climate-controlled mainframe, their minds all integrated into a single, vast entity. Thousands of Porygon and Metagross compiled data from all over the world with smooth, flawless coordination. The traditional need for meditative trances induced by Paras spores was long gone.
The rise of modern technology had revolutionized divination. Now, Delphi sat upon its icy throne in the sky, compiling all the data it could receive to predict anything from tomorrow's weather to the outcome of a war with extreme accuracy. Even the slightest margin of error was unheard of.
The floating panes of liquid crystals pulsated with information—everything from news of droughts in Hoenn, to the news of the up-and-coming Ash Ketchum’s return to his hone of Pallet Town from Sinnoh, the current Lucky Number in Johto, whisperings of economical decline, the most recent Suicune sightings, the atmosphere of political tension between Kanto and Johto, the new alliance between Kanto and Sinnoh, a radio birthday shout-out, and everything in between. On occasion, someone would make the treacherous journey to Delphi to seek the oracles’ illustrious advice. However, on this day, the fate of the world would be predicted for the last time.
In the flickering, ephemeral light of the liquid crystals, voices hummed and buzzed with occasional pops of static. The disembodied noises echoed sepulchrally within the vast, cold spaces of the Nave.
“—these abominations emerging…”
“….creators…corrupted results of countless decades of illegal experimentation. They—“
“…incapable of emotion or sentient thought beyond the parameters required to fulfill their individual tasks.”
“…The Pretty Pretty Probopasses’s rock concert tour in Orre was...”
“—a human body can be drained of blood in eight-point-six seconds given adequate vacuuming systems…”
“….sighted in smaller numbers all across the Kanto border and seem to be organizing an all out onslaught. If the people of Kanto do not act quickly, they will be overpowered…”
“—political tensions escalating, the people are distracted…”
“…offering exclusive new Poketch model, limited edition—”
“Well, Jim, I think Kanto’s government are focusing the public’s attention on their rivalry with Johto. They’re attempting to cover up the radio silence of Saffron’s communications and its disappearance from satellite imaging by calling it a freak explosion but we’re not fooled…”
“In recent news, the Indigo Plateau Conference’s viewership skyrocketed after the return of Ash Ketchum…”
Suddenly, there was a muffled explosion in the distance, and the foundations shuddered. The light of the liquid-crystal panes flared and then died out in a rolling wave that plunged Delphi into abrupt darkness. After a short, black silence, the emergency lighting flickered on, glowing a dim red in the darkness. A low, deep throb rang through the walls, and the voices spoke again, a new note of anxiety evident in their tonal modulators.
“So it has finally come to this…”
“How long do we have until they reach us?”
“We’ve just received a message from a unknown source. The user’s IP address is completely distorted, it’s unreadable by the servers.”
There was an uncertain silence. The dim redness pulsated in the darkness.
“It may be relevant to the current situation. Display it.”
From : m1$$1ng#7@???
In the time of darkness, when Iron wars with Flesh
and man brings itself to its knees
the creators of the Iron shall create salvation
and the Goddess shall rise again
She will speak to those who hold knowledge
And fight with those who take action
She will outlive the three great horrors
And she will live to fight the greatest horror of all
Under her banner will the two undefeated nations rally
By her voice will the fallen allies rise
Behind her wings will the remaining Titans gather
And to her tune will the five armies war
Then black blood will stain the sky
And black fury will stain the earth
The first and final great corruption will reveal itself
And a decision will be made.
“The source is unknown. It cannot be trusted.”
“We don’t know for certain. It should be forwarded, regardless. The future generations may understand its meaning better than we do in the coming future.”
“We should begin the purge. Our time has come to an end.”
In the darkness, the Metagross noiselessly retracted their legs and glided through the now-silent nave. They had no need to vocalize their sorrow. Some things transcended pure, factual data. Deep within their cores, they knew a funeral was to be prepared.
The Porygon began the systematic deletion of every piece of data they had ever gathered, wiping centuries’ worth of information clean. Following the data purge, they disassembled the program structures, beginning with the most external programs and working in through to the core of the mainframe. Finally, all that was left was a rudimentary messaging program.
An hour later, Delphi was a brilliant pillar of orange fire against the night sky, a blazing beacon lighting up the land for miles around. An eerily red aurora rippled above the smoke, veiling the stars. The polished surfaces of the satellite dishes reflected its bloody light, shimmering in the choking haze.
The war had begun.
It remembered the day it was born.
It had been drifting alone in the deep empty when it heard them calling. Sunlight streamed down from the rippling surface above, illuminating it in warm light. Slowly, faintly, it was aware of warm, thick pink embryonic liquid swirling against its skin. Distant voices had echoed all about it, whispering snatches of nonsense.
”Heart rate steadily increasing from sixty bpm to one-hundred and fifty bpm.”
For as long as it could remember, it had existed, long before it was born. It had been entombed there, in the empty blue, in that deep limbo where one comes from before they are born from the womb and attain consciousness. Even before that, it was there.
It remembered, a long, long time ago, when time first began to flow. It had felt that first stirring, a prickling awareness that all was not as it had been before. It also recalled feeling space began to expand, when awareness of the concept of space itself had appeared. And then it was in the place where everyone was from and nobody went, in the empty blue with the sunlight…but that was in its mind, and when it was not in its own mind, there was the pink embryonic fluid and the low, steady humming.
It did not know the word to name what it felt, but it felt as being like the time in between the lightning and the thunder. A time of waiting.
And now the voices were calling, although they meant nothing to it.
”The brain waves are changing. From delta frequency, to gamma frequency. Delta rhythms—that’s found in comatose people or those who are in deep, dreamless sleep. But you’re looking at live EEG recordings. It’s suddenly switched to gamma. That’s brain activity to the extreme—I think this one might actually work. This one’s ready to be born.”
Birth is a hideous affair. There is no dignity to it. There is only blood, and pain, and screaming—the agonized screams of the mother, and the affronted scream of the baby once it realizes what it has been brought into. The baby screams as if horrified at the prospect.
The second time it was born, it had been far gentler, although no less undignified. But it would not come to understand that until much, much later. For now, all it understood was that it needed, desperately, to breathe.
The furnace-hot sun beat down harshly upon the deserted beach. The white-capped waves, golden in the rosy light, lapped gently at the sand. A loud splash echoed in the air, startling a flock of Spearow pecking at seeds amid the withered weeds into flight. The water’s surface broke as a thin figure burst out of the foam, lurching and staggering up the beach. It was a naked human girl, utterly bedraggled and soaked to the bone. A waxy sheen of grime was encrusted on her skin, stiffening her joints.
She tottered and collapsed on the ground, panting like an animal. Her fingers sank deep into the wet sand, raking gouges as she laboriously struggled to pull herself up. Fingers twitched as the girl shook, racked with coughs. She scraped one grimy hand across her bare scalp, where a faint dusting of stubble had begun to grow on her bald head.
The girl blinked as her eyes re-focused. They were washed-out blue, the color of dead winter. She slowly stood to her feet. Something flashed in the sunlight. Long, thin catheters were affixed into her flesh, snaking down her back and dragging in the sand, creating shallow furrows. Their ends were frayed and broken, clogged with sea-salt and grime. The girl yanked the tubes out quickly, and her arms bled sluggishly. With a wince and a grunt, the girl groped at her back. Her fingers found a tube and curled around its base. The girl bit down on her lower lip as she roughly yanked the catheter out.
The limp tube clattered against the sand as the girl began to walk wearily up the beach. The Spearow circled overhead, their harsh cries echoing shrilly in the hot wind. The silhouette of the girl eventually grew fainter as she shrank into the distance, vanishing amid the roiling waves of heat until it seemed she was only a mirage.
All remaining traces of the girl’s presence soon faded, marked only by footprints in the sand and a trail of tangled and discarded catheters glittering in the hot sun.
(some readers were puzzled so I've placed some answers here)
Why was Delphi destroyed? The answer is all inside the flow of data. Think back to the previous chapter, of the Andros Alakazam. Then the explosion...the rumbling. When they say "it's starting..." That means what the data streams had been hinting at finally happened--all hell broke loose. They had to destroy all of the information, lest the Andros seize control of Delphi.
BIRTH: The girl was born only once.
The first time at the end of the first section, and then for a second time metaphorically, when she emerged on the beach. That was meant to be a time skip and I am very sorry if I didn't make it clear.
She was aware long before she was born. Which is why she remembered the day she was born, because she was aware when it happened.