Blades clashed all through the night, deep underground. “Loosen your hands, for the last time! Chin down!” Omega snarled.
Theta fixed her posture, just as Omega came at her again with the training saber. She felt her right arm go numb from being struck, and she maneuvered with her left. She parried against Omega, learning from his harsh instructions. Each time he defeated her, his lessons painful.
By the fifth straight hour of fighting, Omega decided Theta had earned a break. He reset the training module on her, giving her free movement again. “Sit. Rest.” Omega gave Theta half an E Crystal and a handful of slag, as prescribed. “Feh, how can you fight when you eat so little?”
Theta said nothing to that. She ate quietly.
“I asked you a question, Theta.”
“…I… I always ate this much.”
“Where do you get your energy from, then? Under-charged Reploids are weak, pitiful. But you lasted this long. How?”
Pausing, Theta asked, “Did you find a cover on Wilson? Like a tarp?”
“What of it?”
“It’s made of Solar Fabric. The Ferals have been making it for years. It absorbs the sun’s energy and makes it useable to us.”
“Hm. Interesting. But now that you are underground, you are to eat.” Omega, curious, tried a pebble of spent E Crystal. “Ugh… This is horrible. It’s burnt.”
“I’ve eaten it from the start. Same with Wilson. Neo Arcadia dumps so much of it.”
“Heh, no wonder they have a crisis. But that will change.” Omega grabbed the training saber. “Finish up. Lord Weil wants to see tangible improvement by morning.”
“Much better.” Dr. Weil purred as he watched the footage the next morning. Theta lay on the operating table, strapped down and stunned. “Now to start adding improvements. Omega, please get the Elf.”
“All right.” Omega saw the container on the ground, broken open. “Well, now I have to go find it.”
“What do you mean?” Dr. Weil turned to see the container. “Oh those Hacker Elves! Slippery lot. Grab an E Crystal, set one of the traps I built. If it was meant for the Baby Elves, it can catch an errant Hacker.”
“Sure, fine.” Omega set the trap, and went to Theta’s side. “So why do we need that Elf?”
“If you must know, Omega, I hijacked that Hacker’s data, and I can rewrite it to carry programs I will need Theta to absorb when the time is right.”
“What about me?”
“Keep training Theta. She will be needed when the plan comes into place.”
“Lord Weil, are you trying to replace me?”
Dr. Weil glared at Omega, “No. But her genes mean she will be able to tolerate the programming. You see, her mother was Counterfeit.”
“You… You contaminated my genes with a FAKE!?” Omega snapped.
“To put it harshly, yes.” Dr. Weil went back to Theta, adding, “Counterfeits have malleable programming, meant to be completely changed at owner’s will. However, that means they are highly susceptible to shoddy programming and glitches. Your superior DNA means that while Theta can be modified easily, she can fight off errors and malware. She is far from perfect.”
Grabbing his blade, Omega roared, “Then she could turn on us!”
“Easy now, that’s why I am reprogramming her as we speak. She will be obedient to not just me, but to you. Put your saber away.” Dr. Weil’s eyes narrowed as Omega hesitated, “Now, Omega.”
Finally, Omega deactivated his saber, eyes showing a malicious gleam, “If she hurts you, Lord Weil…”
“That likely won’t happen, but thank you for the sentiment. If she turns, then you may kill her.” Dr. Weil placed his hand on the helmet, “Sweet dreams, little one. When you wake, you will know obedience.”
Omega had gone to his capsule to rest. He stared at the second one, presumably Theta’s. He glanced around, and then whispered, “Come out.”
A blue Cyber Elf flittered out from behind the capsule, and Omega lay down. It landed on his chest, blue, moth-like wings opening and closing. This action soothed Omega, and he sighed. “I don’t understand your power… But I need rest.” With that, the Cyber Elf slowed its movements, lulling Omega to sleep.
Omega had just gone into deep sleep when Variants moved Theta to her capsule. She still wore the helmet Dr. Weil had put on her, and she was limp as the drones secured her in. The mysterious Cyber Elf watched from the shadows, waiting for the Variants to leave.
Theta woke up, and started to cry from the sensations riddling her systems. Her mind was filled with destructive, poisonous images of war, war caused by her hands. The helmet overrode her ability to move, keeping her in the capsule and seeing these nightmares.
The blue Cyber Elf slowly crept out, and investigated the new subject. Something felt familiar about her, and it went back to Omega, waking him with rapidly fluttering wings.
“What? What do you want?” Omega sat up, and held his hand out for the Elf. “It’s just Theta. Lord Weil’s ‘backup plan’. He says I’m her father. I don’t see it.” He watched as Theta trembled, the helmet forcing her back to sleep. Omega sniffed, “Hmph. Probably training simulations. I wonder what she’s seeing… Well, Moth, better go back to sleep.”
The Moth Elf landed on Omega’s chest as he lay back down, gently sending Omega to sleep.
“Omega, Theta, I want the both of you to train. I have important tasks today, and I don’t want to hear of any misbehavior from either of you.” Dr. Weil went over the blueprints for several of the Eight Gentle Judges, preparing to modify them to his design.
“Feh, you heard him, Theta. Let’s go.” Omega led Theta to the training chamber. Already, he could see Theta’s exhaustion. “I take you were doing simulations all night. Let’s see what you learned.” With that, Omega tossed Theta her training blades. He picked up his own training saber.
Trembling, Theta let Omega put the training module on her back, and braced herself for battle. As Omega lunged at her for the first strike, she felt her mind go fuzzy, and then her vision blanked out.
“Woah!” Omega stumbled back as Theta attacked him without hesitation or mercy. Her face was devoid of emotion as she mimicked Omega’s earlier attacks, the ones used in the simulations. She had become like him in the early stages of the Elf Wars. “Ha! Maybe the old man hasn’t lost his touch!” He sent a signal to the training module, making Theta stop. “Okay, kid, maybe you are ready to play with fire OW!” He gasped, and struck Theta across her head. “Did you just BITE ME?”
Theta hissed, her eyes glinting scarlet before going back to their typical cerulean. She fell to her knees, gasping. “What… Is it over?”
“YES. Why did you BITE ME?”
“I… I bit you?” Theta slurred.
Omega yanked Theta to her feet, slamming her against the wall. “Don’t you play dumb with me! Look what you did!” He showed her the marks in his forearm. “You are lucky you didn’t break the coatings!”
“I don’t remember! What happened?”
“Okay, if you want to play this game, what do you remember?”
“You put the training device on me, and gave me the sabers. Then… …you hit me. You said I bit you.”
Omega stood back, “Damn… He really hasn’t lost his touch. What did Lord Weil put on you last night? That helmet. What did it do?”
“It was horrible. So much blood, so many bodies. I couldn’t stop killing.” Theta began to shiver, “I was attacking a city, and no one was spared.”
“Sounds like one of my first battles. Took down a whole squadron of Maverick Hunters. No one was spared in Twilight City. Ha. The good old days.” Omega stretched, “Guess this will make my job easier. But as I said, you seem ready for live sabers.”
“No, I don’t want to be like this!” Theta stammered.
Omega, laughing, grabbed his weapons, tossing Theta her own sabers and a pistol. “Too bad. This is your life now. You are to be my heir, should I die. Do not let Lord Weil down.”
Grabbing and activating her sabers, Theta began to feel dizzy, and her eyes changed back to that malevolent hue. She lunged at Omega, using the Arc Blade technique, catching him off-guard.
Omega retaliated, and the two began their battle.
Wink watched them fight, her wings trembling as she adjusted her glasses. The small Witch Hacker watched her friend become a monster. Theta was not afraid to use her power, and she was dealing and taking considerable damage. By the time it was over, both Omega and Theta needed repairs. Wink hid as Variants assisted both to the capsules.
Omega lay down in his capsule, electricity arcing along the injuries he sustained. “That was refreshing for a change. Heh, maybe you are like me. But remember, I come first here.”
Theta said nothing, still stunned, her eyes shifting back to their resting shade. She started to cry as Variants began the repairs.
“Oh shut up.” Dr. Weil floated into the lab, “Why is she blubbering?”
“Beats me. I thought it went well.” Omega winced as Dr. Weil inspected his injuries. “Whatever you did to her, it’s doing wonders for our battles, Lord Weil. We used live weaponry today, as you can see.”
“Oh, I can.” Dr. Weil glared down his nose at Theta. “And how’s our little darling?”
Theta looked away from Dr. Weil, still sobbing. She began to struggle as a Variant pulled out the helmet. “No! N-no!”
Dr. Weil placed a gentle hand on Theta’s shoulder, “Remember, you are just my backup plan. I need you ready to deploy at a moment’s notice. I do not care for your feelings on the matter. Now stop your crying and become the demigoddess you are destined to be. I will rule all, and that includes your little Ferals.”
Omega sniffed, and inquired, “What are Ferals, anyway? You barely mentioned them until Theta came along.”
“Ah, Ferals. They descend from the dredges of robot technology. They live out in the badlands, and I’ve seen them in my time away from you. Neo Arcadia has utilized some of these descendants of fakes and Mavericks as slave labor. They do show some Reploid traits, such as intellect, but also can adapt to adverse conditions much quicker. This is why I chose a Counterfeit as Theta’s mother.”
“So if she was so adaptable, where is she now?”
“As I said before, Omega. You killed her, like scores of others. You loathed her anyway.” Dr. Weil smiled at Theta, “But I’m sure you two will get along just swimmingly. And only because I am ordering you both to.”
“Yes, Lord Weil,” Omega paused, as he heard Theta whisper the same thing under her breath. He turned to gaze at her, the helmet secured to her head.
“Such a good little pet, isn’t she? Almost like that irritating little fake Deathtanz Mantisk thinks he can parade around as his student. I’ll take care of that pest too.”
Omega sighed, “Don’t tell me, you haven’t gotten to reprogramming them yet.”
“Oh, I got most of them. Just Cubit Foxtar and Blazin’ Flizard are left. It helps that Volteel is always in need of maintenance.” Dr. Weil adjusted the helmet on Theta’s head. “You. I will find that Cyber Elf of yours, and maybe we will test mounted combat in the coming days. I need all I can get to defeat Zero.”
Omega’s blood boiled as he heard that name. He threw aside a Variant spot-welding a weeping injury shut. “I WILL KILL HIM.”
“Yes, I know you will, Omega.” Dr. Weil waved his hand condescendingly, “But we need Theta as well. Such a battle will be an excellent learning experience, if she is waiting in the wings.”
Omega and Theta slept in their capsules. Theta’s body twitched as the helmet ran her through more simulations while she was in sleep mode. Wink hovered by Theta’s side, pondering how to get Theta out. “Theta…” she whispered. There was no response from the young Feral. “Theta!” Wink began to pull at the helmet.
The Moth watched from behind Omega’s capsule. It noticed Omega stirring, and went to ease him back to sleep. Its concern was only for Omega.
“Moth…” Omega lazily whispered, putting a hand over his Cyber Elf. He opened his eyes, and then noticed Wink. “There you are!” he shot up, the Moth hiding behind his capsule at the sudden activity. Omega grabbed Wink, making her squeak in his grasp. “Thought you could hide from me, did you? Lord Weil will be happy to have you back.” Omega went to Dr. Weil, who was still awake and working, and put Wink into a container. “Found it.”
“Good. Where was it?” Dr. Weil gazed at the Cyber Elf, smirking, “I have big plans for you, little one.”
Omega yawned again, “Trying to pull that helmet off Theta.”
“Theta won’t need that helmet much longer. I’m almost done with the coding to rewrite her sleep mode to make her do simulations on her own.” Dr. Weil placed Wink on a workbench, “I also have to try and reprogram the horse. Or, design a Ride Chaser that replicates him.”
“All right, Lord Weil. If I may, I’m going back to sleep.”
“You do that, Omega. But first, make sure Theta is secure. This Elf has always given me trouble.”
“Sure.” Omega went back to the capsules, and checked the binds on Theta, and then the helmet’s connections. “You really are an interesting one… …Who was your mother?”
The Moth flew out, chittering softly to Omega before landing on him. Omega smiled, “Right, right, yes, I got you a piece.” He pulled out a third of an E Crystal, and stroked his pet as it ate the piece of E Crystal. “It’s funny, you eat like Theta. Most Elves gorge themselves on E Crystals if allowed.” The Moth flashed blue, before fluttering its wings again. Omega glanced at his daughter, and went to lie down. “Moth, I don’t remember her. Was she just another life?”
Realizing Omega was talking about Theta’s mother, the Moth went oddly quiet. It then rested on Omega’s chest, and started flapping its wings slowly.
“I… I asked you a… Question.” Omega went to sleep.
“Excellent…” Dr. Weil purred as he watched Omega and Theta battle. Already, Theta was able to use the Arc Blade and Triple Slash with ease, adapting them to her dual sabers. Wink’s container was attached to the computer, and Dr. Weil chuckled softly, “Now for you. This is a dangerous program I am entrusting you with. When the time is right, Theta will absorb you and gain this power.”
“No! Be with Theta!” Wink protested, before an electrical charge made her hover blankly.
“Oh, you will. Once absorbed, you will be part of her forever. Wouldn’t you like that?”
“Silly little Elf.” Dr. Weil paused when he saw the two combatants finish fighting, and glared as he saw Omega pat Theta’s shoulder. “They are getting awfully chummy…” Grabbing the microphone, Dr. Weil gave his orders, “Omega, Theta. Come to me immediately.”
“You heard him. Come on.” Omega led Theta to Dr. Weil, and the both of them knelt before their master. Omega was calm, and yet Theta shook like a leaf.
Dr. Weil hovered, watching his two creations. “You two are getting along, I take it. A real father-daughter pair. I don’t like that.”
Omega looked up, “You ordered us to get along, Lord Weil.”
“It’s looking a little too genuine. Omega, understand that any emotions Reploids feel are mere imitations of us real humans. If Theta is starting to think of you as a father figure, break that bond immediately, painfully. I do not want to see a bond like that executioner and his Feral pet.”
“Could you please elaborate, Lord Weil? About Deathtanz Mantisk.”
“Ah, yes…” Dr. Weil paced. “It seems Deathtanz Mantisk had a student a few years ago, a Feral slave. That little blind whelp ended up stolen by Ferals when he was being taken for Processing. He returned, and Deathtanz Mantisk has taken him back. His name is ‘Klein’ and it seems he can make Reploids hallucinate with his music.”
Omega paused in thought. “Maybe make him one of your fighters, pit him against Zero.”
“I like how you think, Omega. That would buy me some time. But as for you. Theta is only the backup plan. You may be her father by genetics, but you are only to teach her your ways. I will furnish some Reploids and Ferals for you two to kill.”
“No…” Theta murmured, her eyes to the floor.
Dr. Weil’s eyes narrowed, and he moved to her, lifting her chin in his hand. “What did you say?”
“I can’t hurt them…”
Suddenly, Theta felt the sting of Dr. Weil’s hand as he slapped her. She held the sore area of her cheek, her body shaking. “You will do as I say, no question. Omega, I will give you some tools to adjust her attitude.”
“Yes, Lord Weil.”
Theta lay on the table, the helmet fastened to her head. “Now, now, little one, these next simulations…” Dr. Weil purred as he ran his hand over her braid. “The Counterfeit’s memories are a little messy. But I’m sure you will learn something from them.” He tightened the straps.
Omega watched, curious as to what Dr. Weil was saying. Still, he went on his mission, to gather Reploids and Ferals for slaughter. He would have more than enough blood on his hands before his return, and they itched in anticipation.
The mountain range was his first destination. He knew they would be there. Omega easily found the black powder explosives, dodging as to not detonate them. He slinked into the main chambers, and came face to face with a red, wolf-like Feral.
“Kneel, and you will live a short time longer.” Omega pointed his blade at the Feral’s chest, and smirked. “Round up your pack.”
“…Yes, Omega… Anything for you.”
This was not what Omega expected, as the Feral gathered everyone. He chuckled at the sheer idiocy of the Feral. “What is your name?”
“I am Red Wolf. I had trained in your ways, since we had met a long time ago…”
“I do not know you.”
Red Wolf paused, and sighed, “I expected as much. But we honor you, Omega. You are our God.”
“Then follow my orders. You will come with me. Lord Weil is your master now.”
“Yes, Omega…” Red Wolf led his band, twenty strong, to where Omega would transport them back.
Dr. Weil watched Theta as she underwent the blurry memories of her mother. He heard the transporter whirr. “Back already, Omega?”
“I have them.” Omega gestured to the Feral band. “They came willingly.”
Red Wolf’s lips curled, “Omega, you obey him?”
“Lord Weil, who shall I take down first?”
Dr. Weil’s Variants surrounded the Ferals, as Dr. Weil strode up to Red Wolf. “You always were a naïve one, Little Red. You just led your entire band to their deaths. You won’t survive this time. I’ll have my Numbers deal with you.” The Variants cuffed Red Wolf, and led him away. The other Ferals began to panic, and drew their weapons to fight back. “Omega, make an example.”
Omega smirked, and quickly beheaded two Ferals. “It is my will that you lay your lives here. Kneel.”
After a moment of hesitancy, the remaining Ferals kneeled. Dr. Weil cackled, “It seems we found ourselves a little cult! May you all rejoice that your Messiah has chosen you for death, and the coming of his daughter. Omega, once Theta is ready, prepare your sheep for slaughter.” With that, the Variants herded the Ferals to the cells, as Omega selected the first few.
“You are lucky…” Omega cooed. “That Red Wolf has groomed you for me. You prepared for my coming.”
“Yes… Lord Omega…” the first Feral shakily responded.
“Hmph. I don’t know him. But this is awfully convenient.” Omega traced his blade down the Feral’s chest, scoring the armor and making them bleed. “Tell me, what was he to me?”
“Red W-Wolf claimed you were the one who led Ferals to the mountains.”
Omega thought about this, before laughing, “And you believed him? Ha!”
“…He was to train one called Theta.”
Pausing, Omega drew his blade back. “Oh?”
“He knew of Theta. Wilson was to bring her so he could teach her.”
“Well, if he knew anything, ANYTHING about me… Theta is here, and I am training her.”
“…” The Feral bowed their head, accepting their fate.
Omega huffed, and simply decapitated this Feral, bored. “I guess I should save some for Theta, if she’ll even do it.” He sauntered back to the lab, and went to the table where her Elf was. He picked up the container, and without warning, started to shake it.
“Ow ow ow ow ow!” Wink cried. “Stop!”
“I should just absorb you myself. Take the programming Lord Weil is giving to Theta! Tell me what he put in you!”
Holding her head, Wink sniffled. “Bad.”
“Oh?” Omega put the container at eye level.
“Theta’s gonna be a monster…”
“And I’m the God of Destruction. A monster is nothing.”
Wink sniffled again, and looked to Theta, who writhed in the straps from the simulations. “Theta…”
“She’ll be fine. If not, then she’ll die.” Omega growled, “Lord Weil doesn’t need her. He only needs me. I am the Messiah.”
“Then let her go.”
Omega started shaking the container again at that suggestion. “I’d rather kill her first! Lord Weil demands I train her!”
Dizzy, Wink quieted, and sighed in relief as her container was set back down on the workbench. She watched Theta, and gasped when Omega made his way to his daughter’s side.
“What if I did let you go?” he pondered aloud. “Where would you go? It’s not like you have anything to live for, other than Lord Weil.” Theta said nothing, save for the pained whimpers from experiencing the simulations. Omega watched her, amused. He felt warmth on his arm, and looked to see the Moth. “Why are you out? Do you have anything to say?”
The Moth fluttered their wings, before landing on Theta, soothing her pain. The Cyber Elf then looked at Omega expectantly.
“You’re not asking me to…”
The Moth fluttered their wings again.
“Lord Weil is going to be livid if I do that.”
Again, more fluttering.
“But then, I’d be his only one.”
The Moth flashed blue now.
“I won’t have to share.” Omega put his hands on the controls, and then asked, “Is he out? Is he busy?”
The Moth nodded.
“Ah, trying Red Wolf. That’s going to take him awhile. He likes to draw those out.” Omega went and grabbed Theta’s helmet, removing the small screws holding it to her head. “She’s still out. Hm…” He grabbed the training grenades, strapping them to her chest before taking her to Wilson. “Moth, wake him up.”
On command, the Moth landed on Wilson’s face, restarting him. The old Clydesdale Model opened his eyes to see Omega holding Theta and Wink. “No…”
“Relax, fleabag, the grenade’s a dud. Listen. You will take these two out. Run, do not stop running.” Omega shoved an E Crystal in Wilson’s mouth. “You will only stop to eat, even then, make it short. Do not stop until Neo Arcadia is completely out of sight.” He put Theta’s weapons into the storage hold under Wilson’s saddle as the Reploid horse ate.
Swallowing the crystal, Wilson trembled as Omega strapped Theta to his back. “Is... ...is she?”
“No. Just… Keep her away from Lord Weil.” Omega grabbed Wilson’s harness, leading him to the way outside. As a final warning, he jabbed his blade into Wilson’s flank, making him bellow in pain. “I don’t want to see any of you, ever again! GO!”
Wilson galloped off, as Omega began slaughtering Ferals and covering his tracks.
“You did WHAT?!”
“So I went on a rampage.” Omega gave a sadistic grin, “And I don’t like to share.”
Dr. Weil stared at the sheer destruction of his lab. Feral parts strewn about, the floors coated in simulated blood. “Where is Theta?!”
“Probably exploded by now. Strapped her and some bombs to the horse and set him free. Ha.”
“Omega… Of all things…”
Omega shrugged, and then roared in laughter as he felt the first of the shocks meant to punish him. “I am your only one! I am the Messiah!”
Dr. Weil looked to the armor he’d rebuilt for Omega, shaking his head. “Fine, just, FINE! The Dark Elf has been located, we must act now. Go, my God of Destruction.”
“As you wish.”
It had been days since he’d started the journey. Wilson looked back in the direction he’d come from, and then nuzzled Theta. “You’re safe, but we must keep going.”
Theta held her sabers, “Where to?”
“Far, far away. I don’t know where, but it’s gotta be far enough away from Neo Arcadia.”
“Thanks…” Theta leaned against her mentor. “Dad.”