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Crystal Prison

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When Fisica awoke in darkness, the only thing she remembered was the explosion.

It came back to her in bits and pieces: the machinery, the pulsing wires, the tuner growing red hot in her hands as she poured all her focus into the Notalium of Life. The brush of Ena's spirit against her own. The overwhelming power flowing from the giant crystal, flooding into her body. The searing heat and the explosion. The tinkle as her tuner hit the ground and shattered. 

Halpas's triumphant cackle ringing in her ears as she lost consciousness.

Piercing eyes swam into her field of vision. For a fraction of a second, she thought she saw Halpas's leer again before the eyes crystallized into vivid green.

"Ritmo," she gasped. The remainder of his face blurred and shadowed in the darkened ruins, but she'd recognize those eyes anywhere. "You—you're okay. . . We're alive. . . ."

"Shhh, stay still. You've been out for a while. I'm so glad you're awake!" Ritmo reached out to cup her cheek, his hand warm and infinitely gentle.

Fisica looked at him more closely. His lip trembled, and his face was lined with grief. In the short time since the explosion, he seemed to have aged decades. She tried to sit up, impossibly, and gave up with a groan; it was as if her limbs were simply not there.

"It's okay, Fisica, don't struggle! It will all be done soon. Fisica. . . I'm so sorry."

"What are you doing?" Fisica tensed as Ritmo crossed the room, and her vision finally sharpened. She lay on a gurney, a sheet covering her body with wires flowing away and into—

Ritmo flicked a switch. A rush of current flowed from the Notalium of Life, into her body, and her limbs finally twitched and moved. Fisica pushed herself sharply upright. The sheet fell away, revealing a robotic body crafted of shining steel and inset with hundreds of Notalium crystals: cold, terrible, and beautiful.

Fisica screamed.

"What have you done?" she whirled to face Ritmo. In her circuits she could sense the energy of gentle fawns and proud trees, of children's laughter and a busy village square: all the treasures that had been sacrificed to power her body. Tears gathered in her eyes and she sank to her knees. "What have you done?" she repeated, a hoarse, despairing whisper.

Ritmo knelt down beside her and gently turned her face up to meet his eyes—eyes grown calculating and sharp, all trace of his former tenderness erased by single-minded ambition.

"I'm sorry," he whispered, the faintest trace of remorse in the furrow of his brow. "I couldn't let you go."