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going to bed

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Hazel Levine 9 months ago
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> possible consciousness of sin as a deed. This is the expression for the fact
> that sin is a position; the positive factor in it is precisely this, that it
> is before God.
>
> -- Kierkegaard, _A Sickness Unto Death_
.....
@ -38,4 +39,96 @@ holding facility. Although they had showed no sign of hostility, it was clear
that something had them more than a little frightened, and the Embryon leaders
wanted to get to the bottom of their story as soon as possible.
As the fugitives' leader and de facto representative,
As the fugitives' leader and de facto representative, Lupa had been interrogated
by both Gale, the Embryon's bishop, and Serph, the tribe's leader. The shock
trooper Heat had invited himself into the proceedings, as well. Seeming to
accept that he was, for the time being at least, a prisoner, Lupa now set
hunched in his chair, both hands in plain view on the armrests. His sharp eyes
peered out from beneath thick, bushy eyebrows, calmly and fastidiously taking
stock of his situation. He met the penetrating stares directed his way with a
resolute intensity of his own, looking both ready and willing to repay any
physical mistreatment with the same in equal measure. Yet he remained calm and
quiet, if not for his own sake, then for that of the fellow Wolves he had
brought along with him.
Once again, Serph thought about the man called Lupa he had known before -- his
own former leader, who had looked exactly like *this* Lupa -- and reminded
himself that this man couldn't possibly be him. "His Atma is called Cerberus?"
Serph asked. "I haven't heard of that one."
"I have conducted a search, and found no one else in possession of said Atma,"
Gale said. "Its combat capabilities suggest that it is on par with those of the
ranking members of our tribe. It is very likely a type of High Atma; however,
the other Newborns who accompanied him possess only Lesser Atma. For a Newborn,
he is unusually powerful."
"You're certain you don't remember anything?" Serph asked the prisoner. "About
us?"
"I'm sorry," Lupa replied with an apologetic shrug. "I don't remember anything
before the moment they ushered us out through the Temple gates and into the
Junkyard with the others. I was already in possession of my Atma at that point.
One of the first things we did was to enter Wolves territory; after they took us
into custody, we joined up with their tribe. But then it wasn't long before we
were forced to flee here."
He paused and turned his attention to Serph. "Why are you asking me these
questions? If you're suggesting that you and I have met before, I have no memory
of it."
Heat growled under his breath as he stood leaning against the wall, and it was
all Serph could do to keep himself from screaming in frustration. "You're
*Lupa*," he insisted, his voice low and level. "You, Heat, and I used to be a
tribe together, just the three of us."
Gale flashed him a concerned, questioning look, but Serph ignored it and pressed
on. "You were our leader. Our first leader. You took Heat and me on as Newbies,
and you hammered the fundamentals of combat and tactics into us."
"What?" Lupa looked beseechingly from Heat's fiery gaze to Serph's determined,
silvery stare before shaking his head and sinking back into his chair. "That
doesn't make any sense. I only remember as far back as leaving the Temple. I can
say for sure I've never been the leader of a tribe, and I don't recall taking on
any other members, either. What happened to this 'Lupa' you're talking about
now?"
"He's dead," Heat grunted.
Serph gritted his teeth behind pursed lips. "He was killed in battle, shot dead
by an enemy sniper. We managed to find the leader of the enemy tribe on the
battlefield and take him out before the Church issued their cease-fire order.
Once that order came, Lupa's tribe -- *your* tribe, the Embryon -- was dissolved,
since you'd been killed in action. But we reformed the tribe, with only a leader
and a single follower, and kept its legacy alive. This was all a long time ago,
though, before we had Atma."
The scenario that played out in his dreams came back to him with remarkable
clarity. *A tank barreled in towards their position. He hurled a grenade. There
was a spray of blood. The muzzle of a rifle poked out from within a bunker. A
hand signal waved him on. A broad-shouldered man hopped out of the trench ahead
of him and began to charge -- then staggered, stricken. A scream of despair tore
its way out of Serph's throat...*
"If this 'Lupa' of yours died so long ago, how could I be him? Do I look that
much like him?"
"You more than just *look* like him", Heat spat.
Serph nodded in agreement. "Your face, your body, your voice -- even the way you
move are all exactly the same. I'm willing to bet that your physical
capabilities and your combat prowess are the same, too. Plus there's the fact
that you have a High Atma. Thus far, only tribe leaders or high-ranking
liutenants have been in possession of those."
"But the fact remains that he is a Newborn. His production timestamp confirms
it," Gale pointed out calmly. "When individuals in the Junkyard die, they ascend
to the heavens and are taken in with the clouds; from there, they fall back to
the earth as rain, which is collected by the Church and washed clean of its
karma before being given life again in the form of Newborns. There are no
recorded instances of an individual's abilities or physical appearance being
carried over from a previous incarnation. With the exception of bishops, all
Newborns are created with roughly equivalent beginner-level capabilities. While
personal judgment and other variances in ability begin to emerge later on, there
are no reports of any Newborns inheriting the name and appearance of an
individual who has already died, nor is there any record of a Newborn posessing
capabilities on par with those of a tribe leader."

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