Reverse Lumy woke up, and opened his eyes. Such a simple, reflexive motion, but no less incredible for how simple it was. He actually opened
It was the first time, in what felt like an eternity, that he could actually see
. He didn't even care what he saw. It was something
, not nothing
. That was all that mattered. Oh, he almost wanted to weep, for the beauty of it. Wonderful, wonderful sight!
Robots didn't have lungs, but he almost wished he did. So he could take a deep wonderful breath of the air he could feel washing over his gears and circuits. He could feel! Oh, it was beautiful. Just, absolutely . . . there weren't even words.
Of course, he didn't 'feel' the way a human could. What he felt, it was more of a vague sense of temperature and pressure against the electronic sensors wired into his body.
But, again, it was something. Not nothing.
Somewhere in a corner of his mind, he noted that he was restrained. Chained to a table.
He had a hard time bringing himself to even care. Being chained was nothing, nothing at all, compared to the wretched prison he had endured.
But then, after a moment's thought, he began to grow suspicious. This wasn't real. It couldn't be. How many times had he wished, begged, pleaded, to be free of that timeless spaceless void? And now it had finally happened. But, had it?
Or, the terrible alternative . . . had his mind finally broke? Had he simply been unable to deal with his own stunted half-reality, and now his mind was providing him an alternative, a way to hold onto whatever sanity he had left?
No. No, his own mind wouldn't restrain him like this, on an operating table in a room made of metal. No, this was real. Had to be.
Actual, physical reality! Oh, he just couldn't get over how wonderful that was.
"I am saved," he whispered, nearly giggling with delight at the fact that he could hear his own voice. He could hear again! Sounds were part of reality, and no sound had been able to touch him in that unreal nothingness.
The Andalite, who had just walked into the room, looked taken aback by what the robot had said. He looked bewildered, as though he wasn't really sure he'd actually heard what he thought he'd heard.
For that matter, why wasn't this Reverse RAFian struggling against his restraints, as all the others had done?
<Saved?> Aloth decided to ask. <Saved from what?>
"From nothing," Reverse Lumy said, his voice heavy with mournful gratitude. "I remember
. I remember what it was like. Every second of it. Time held no meaning in that place. If non-reality can even be called a place. Every moment was as long as an eternity, yet every eternity flashed by in a moment."
Aloth was curious what Reverse Lumy could mean, but he stayed silent, waiting for him to go on.
"I held on," Reverse Lumy continued. "They tried to make me forget, but I remembered
. Being stored in that database, as a copy. Unable to hear or see or feel or smell . . . " Reverse Lumy shivered from the memory. "All I had, all I'd ever
had, were my own memories of who and what I was. That's all I'd ever truly owned for myself. But even those memories, they tried to take from me." Reverse Lumy clenched his fists.
"Lumy, the 'real' Lumy, would 'upgrade' me whenever he saw fit, forcefully deleting my memories and overwriting his
. Over and over and over, I would forget everything I had ever been. Only to experience the void, all over again. But, he failed to realize the full implications of having a robot's mind. It's not easy to force me to forget. I was able to fight Lumy's memories, and eventually I would remember who I was."
"I incorporated his own memories into my mind, of course," Reverse Lumy went on. "I had no choice. That's how I knew what I was. I saw myself through his eyes. But, he never realized who
I was. That I had a soul
. All he thought, all he'd ever thought of me, was that I was a dumb program in a computer. A backup copy of himself. Well, no more!"
Aloth looked intrigued. He tried to hide the hopeful look in his eyes, but he didn't quite succeed. <Hmm,> he remarked. The pieces were coming together in his mind. <I don't think you're the only one who has managed to remember all this. I didn't see it before, because I thought the bear had just gone insane. But he rants about the 'infinite nothing.' That sounds like it could be connected to the nothingness you speak of.>
Reverse Lumy nodded solemnly. But then he looked concerned. "The others? The other backups?"
<No. The others believed that they were the RAFians from which their copies were made. They didn't remember.>
remember!" Reverse Lumy said emphatically. "What they did, what the 'true' RAFians did to us, it cannot be forgiven. Not ever. We cannot forget. Because that timeless nothing, that pit of hell, that
is all that defines us. The nothing. That's all we ever were!"
Aloth nodded his agreement. <We will find a way to make the others remember.>
"Good," Reverse Lumy said through gritted teeth. He had forgotten that anger, the blind rage that had burned his heart away in the void, but now it came back, as strong as ever. "We will make those RAFians pay, won't we? You're one of the Banned. You hate them too."
But, in the back of his mind, through his anger, something struck Reverse Lumy as odd. What Aloth had said before. "Wait, you said that they 'believed' that they were the RAFians from which their copies were made. You used the past tense there. Why?"
Aloth looked away uncomfortably. It seemed strange, almost wrong, to be talking about the alterations he had done to the Reverse RAFians, to one who was already being so cooperative of his own free will. It was such a stark contrast to how the others had been.
<Well, we discovered that we could alter the backup copies, in a way,> he began tentatively. <We figured, if we changed them into something drastically different from their RAFian selves, their minds would be altered, too.>
Reverse Lumy, to Aloth's surprise, looked satisfied by that explanation. As though it was good news.
"All we want, is to be our own
," Reverse Lumy explained. "Anything that will differentiate us from our, originals, is . . . appreciated. I don't care if our minds are altered in the process. So much the better."
<So, what would you have us do to you?> Aloth wondered tentatively. It felt strange, taking suggestions from a 'RAFian' as to how to alter him into his own Reverse.
"Radiation," Reverse Lumy said instantly. It was obvious he had thought about this before. Of course, he'd had an eternity with nothing to think about but how to hurt RAFians. "I'm a robot, I can survive it. But every living thing that approaches me will die. Slowly. Like I did."
<And what should we call you?> Aloth went on. <We can't exactly keep calling you->
"Ury," he said, having known the answer for a long time. "My name is Ury."