Jalick and the Omni Bot
rating: +25+x

The pain was searing and nearly unbearable.

Jalick's physical sensory receptors were on fire after he'd fallen from the top of the old building. Well, not so much fallen, more like pushed. The young mech had "befriended" a parasitic wind spirit a few cycles after he'd booted up for the first time, and it'd been accompanying him since. Always waiting, always watching, and often trying to kill him and harvest his parts for her own nefarious needs.

With a groan Jalick rose and ran a system diagnostic. Optics? Still new, still functional. Arms? Functional. Legs? Functional. Hands? Functi-

Wait, no. Hands? Jalick patted himself down and looked at the mass of circuitry that should have been his six digit appendages. He scanned the immediate area and found nothing. Where were his hands?

"Gods be damned," He muttered to himself. If wind could be strangled, Jalick would have done something. Or he would have, if he had hands.

The wind spirit, a mischievous creature Jalick had named Venti, giggled at his misfortune. Jalick kicked a few particularly large stones into the swirling mass of leaves and debris that floated behind him and grumbled.

"This cannot continue," He stated, folding his arms and metallic stumps over one another, "Help me find my hands or I swear to god-"

Jalick cut himself off when he realized he didn't know which god to swear to. The wind spirit rustled leaves in his face, a sign that they were non-verbally laughing at his plight. The mech scowled at his life-long companion and continued his difficult search through the rubble for his hands. Hands that would have made searching for his hands all the easier. Hands that would have made very rude gestures at Venti if they were attached to their rightful owner.

After toiling the golden hours of the day away, Jalick finally found one of his mechanical appendages. It was a bit dustier than he remembered, and a few of the nerve cables were frayed.

Nothing a bit of technomancy can't fix. Jalick thought as he prepared for the ritual.

Venti floated above him, deciding for the first time that day to not be a nuisance. Jalick stared at the wind spirit for a moment, eyeing them with enough suspicion that it was palpable in the air. Venti flittered a bit when they noticed this before vanishing entirely.

They weren't really gone, of course, but not having them look down on him as he worked put Jalick a bit at ease. Using a bit of oil from his stumps, Jalick drew a complex symbol on his hand. It was sloppy, but well enough to work for the technomancy he was preparing for. When the symbol was completed, he laid on the ground next to his hand and put his right stump close to it.

There was a faint blue glow as the wires from his hand tightened themselves into thin copper strings, which connected to the wires in his stump. The wires pulled themselves together, entangling one another in a complex array of machinery that Jalick had only seen a handful of times. He winced as the sharper bits of metal reattached themselves to the rest of his arm, and he screamed once the blue fire erupted from the seam that formed between his hand and his stump.

The fire was short but intense. Had he looked at it directly, the light the fire emitted would have overloaded his optics and blinded him. Thankfully he had the sense to look in another direction, but the heat still burned the back of his ears. When the fires subsided, Jalick could feel his hand again.

The mech sighed and flexed his digits. Index finger? Functional. Middle and ring fingers? Functional. Pinky? Still missing, but that was nothing new. Thumb? Functional. Second thumb? Also functional. Now, where was that other hand?

The sun set without him realizing, leaving the mech to stand alone beside an ancient building in the dark. Jalick flipped a switch behind his ears and activated the lights he had recently installed behind his optics. The grassland was bathed in a warm yellow light that contrasted with the darkness of the rest of the world.

And in that light was a skamp, one of those knee-high tall reptiles with smooth scales and a terrible habit of collecting metal. The creature stood on all fours with Jalick's other hand in its mouth, gnawing at his finger. With a great deal of effort, the skamp removed the mech's index finger and swallowed it whole.

"Hey!" Jalick yelled.

The skamp looked at Jalick. Jalick looked at the skamp. The skamp looked at Jalick's missing hand. Jalick looked at his missing hand.

And then it bolted in the opposite direction.

Jalick broke into a sprint after the skamp, cursing loudly at the thing as it scampered through the ruins and kicked debris in his path. Jalick lept over a large stone that the skamp had knocked into, narrowly avoiding being crushed beneath the rock. The pistons in Jalick's joints ran fast, heating up his internal systems enough to make steam shoot out from behind his optics and out of the vents on his back. The skamp looked back at him as it heard the noise of escaping air and churning metal pistons.

If reptiles could smile, the skamp would have grinned at him. Jalick clenched his remaining fist and whispered a rhyme to himself. He hated to resort to archaic technomancy, but his hand was at risk and by the time Jalick crafted another of that quality, his parts would have rusted.

A dark blue light grew in the palm of Jalick's hand before taking form. The light stretched and tightened, glowing brighter and brighter as he ran after the skamp. When it was finished, the mech had a jagged, roughly lighting bolt-shaped form of raw energy in his hand. Jalick focused his optics on the skamp.

50 meters away. 12km/hr. Ready. Aim. Loose!

And the bolt flew, connecting with the ground just in front of the skamp. It scorched the earth, and the stones of the ruins that stood near them.

"Yes!" He said, picking up speed.

The ground beneath the skamp started to give way and crumble like a delicate flower exposed to the cold. Trees were uprooted as they fell into the crater that was growing fast enough to swallow the skamp -and Jalick's other hand- before he could reach them.

"No!" He exclaimed, trying to switch directions.

The ground split open, blasting dust and debris skyward. There was a sense of vertigo as the world was suddenly shifted sideways.

It was too late.

Jalick's mechanical legs failed to carry him out of the pit as it grew around him, and Jalick was swallowed into the earth along with the skamp and his remaining hand. They fell for a moment before hitting something hard. Then the world went dark.


When Jalick's optics activated, he noticed that he was surrounded by flowers.

Venti. the extremely helpful parasite they were, was playing with the flowers, carrying pollen in the wind. Although, they were also made of wind. Jalick blinked and shook the thought of Venti playing in the wind from his mind.

"Where…"

THUD.

Jalick's attention shot behind him. He jumped to his feet and scanned his surroundings. Above him were the ruins he'd just come from, and to his right was a cliff wall which he'd apparently fallen down when he released the spell. Across from him, on the other side of the meadow, was another cliff wall with a slight overhang. It looked as if it had been recently demolished by something, but Jalick was unsure what.

THUD.

A few meters away was the skamp, dead, still clutching Jalick's hand in its mouth. He ran over to it and jammed his hand into the creature's mouth. Then he rested his stump on its neck.

THUD.

Jalick yanked with all the strength he could muster, pulling his hand free and causing the skamp's mouth to snap shut. The mech didn't see Venti draft over to him, and recoiled as the wind spirit caught him off-guard.

THUD. THUD.

"Venti! Lot of help you were," He chided.

The wind spirit circled around him a few times before snapping north, taking flower petals and pollen with them. Jalick turned to follow where they went and saw the outline of something in the distance. He switched on the light behind his optics again, but the shape was too far to make out distinctly.

Whatever it was, the thing was massive. At least four times taller than the mech himself, and Jalick was fairly tall. It had long, lanky arms that ended in four sharp claws. Its outer arms had spikes that protruded from them, and steam jetted out from its head. A set of yellow eyes flickered on and peered through the night air in Jalick's direction.

It was walking toward him.

"Secure. Contain. Secure. Contain." A deep and mechanical voice boomed.

Before Jalick could react, he was suddenly grabbed from behind and yanked backwards. Venti blew wind in the opposite direction, trying to keep the mech upright at least, but whoever or whatever had taken hold of him was much stronger than them. After a moment or two, Jalick was laying down with the back of his neck against the cliff wall, staring up at the thing that had grabbed him.

It was a woman, or at the very least something that resembled one. Her skin was flaking off at regular intervals, suspended in the air next to her like they were floating in water. Her hair defied gravity in the same way and flowed behind her as she moved her head. Her eyes were cold, pupilless and bloodshot. If Jalick hadn't know that she was a Promethean, one of the undead, he would have thought the woman was possessed.

"Look," A raspy voice commanded as a long, spindly finger pointed at the machine Jalick saw earlier, "Do you have any idea what that is?"

"It's a machine," Jalick answered, confused by the question.

Venti began circling around the Promethean, swirling her hair and skin particles around her as they flew. Warily, the wind spirit returned to Jalick's side and floated in the petals that were at his feet. He could almost hear them growl.

THUD. THUD. THUD.

A circle of dim yellow light shone on the meadow, scanning it from one side to the other slowly. The Promethean pressed herself against the cliff wall and motioned for Jalick to do the same. Scrambling, the mech forced his aching pistons to fire again and he flattened himself as much as he could against the wall. The light passed over them as it scaled the wall and examined where Jalick had fallen from.

"Did you break the landbridge?" The Promethean whispered, punching Jalick in his shoulder.

"I…"

"WHY?"

"My hand," Jalick whispered, pointing at the dead Skamp in the middle of the meadow. He then held up his stump and his still-detached hand. The Promethean shook her head.

"You didn't crush any of the flowers, did you?"

THUD.

"No! What the hell is that thing?"

"The Omni Bot."

Omni_Bot.png

It's not so bad

The Omni Bot broke through the treeline surrounding the meadow and scanned the area. The light that shone through its optical sensors flickered between yellow and green for a few seconds before settling on white. Once its optics were white, the machine knelt down in front of the Skamp and poked it with one of its digits. The machine tilted its head to the side and poked the Skamp again. And again. And again.

The Promethean sighed, "Look what you've done. Come on."

She moved from the wall and walked across the meadow toward the Omni Bot, taking careful steps to avoid crushing any flowers in her path. Jalick followed suit, with Venti brushing past him and spreading pollen in his face. He swiped her away, but the wind spirit persisted. They blew Jalick with enough force to create a stumble in his balance, and he nearly crushed a flower beneath his foot.

The Promethean woman caught him as he was falling, standing the mech up on his feet before harm would come to the flowers.

"Be more careful!" She snapped.

"But I-"

"If you so much as tear a single fiber on these flowers, the Omni Bot is going to obliterate us and everything under the moonlight until it calms down. Be. Careful."

Jalick nodded and shot a look in Venti's direction, but the wind spirit had disappeared again.

As the pair came within arm's reach of the Omni Bot, the machine turned its massive head to look at them. It bathed Jalick and the Promethean in a cool white light for just a moment before it returned to the dead Skamp.

"Protect." The machine said in its monotone, mechanized voice.

The Promethean put her hand on the machine's leg and caressed it. The white light switched to a light blue, and the Omni Bot's shoulders began to shake. Oil dripped from its optics and onto Jalick's head.

The Omni Bot was crying.

"Protect. Protect. Protect." It repeated, scooping the Skamp in its claws and holding the dead creature to its chest.

"Shhh, big guy, it's okay." The Promethean said. She turned to Jalick, a scowl now replacing the look of empathy she wore when addressing the Omni Bot, "Apologize."

"I thought you said it was dangerous!"

"I only said that because immortals tend to actually listen when their lives are on the line! The Omni Bot is harmless now."

Jalick approached the machine, and it bathed him in its light blue light. Oil sprinkled from its optics onto Jalick, which he did his best to ignore. With a sigh, he placed his stump on the machine's leg and stroked it gently.

"I'm sorry."

"Contain."

"Thank you," The Promethean said as a small smile grew on her face.

Jalick shrugged, "So uh, how did you two meet?"

"Before the Calamity."

"That's… well, I was going to say 'that's impossible', but nothing's really that impossible anymore, is it?"

The Promethean shook her head, "No. Before I became what I am, I was a researcher at a place. A place I can't seem to remember now, no matter how hard I try. Omni Bot's got files stored away inside of him that could tell me more, but without the right tools I can't risk accessing them without damaging him, or the files themselves."

"That's unfortunate," Jalick said, taking his stump away from the Omni Bot, "Is there anything I can do to help?"

"Unless you know what how to input a…" She pointed to a small hatch on the Omni Bot's torso, " 'Foundation Level 4 Access Code', I don't think so."

"Well, maybe we can figure it out together. I've been out here in the ruins for a while now, I know the place fairly well. I'll uh, help you work on the Omni Bot, and you can help me, ya know, stay alive."

The Promethean nodded, and extended her hand.

"Thank you."

Jalick shook it and asked, "Of course. What um, what should I call you?"

"My name is Sophia Light," The Promethean began, "And I'm pretty sure I built the Omni Bot."

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