Prelude to Brainiac

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Prelude to Brainiac
Date of Cutscene: 24 July 2017
Location: Unknown
Synopsis: Summary needed
Cast of Characters: Viridian, Collector, Indigo, Brainiac 8

"Welcome to my ship," the Collector said. It would nearly be possible to imagine his tone was pleasant, but that was just an illusion created by his alien drawl. A look into his eyes showed nothing but cold, distant greed, without purpose; the stare of obsession so old it had simply become an imperative without meaning. It was that look which convinced Indigo she was in trouble, even more than the shackles binding her to the table.

"I'm sure you're wondering how I've managed to contain you," he continued, hands tucked behind his back as he began to circle Indigo's table slowly, examining her.

There was a silence there, one that suggested she was meant to fill it, so Indigo indulged him by explaining, "No, not really."

The Collector stopped his pacing and raised an eyebrow at Indigo. She kept her calm and elaborated, "My wrists and ankles are visibly bound, but I can't feel anything touching them. If I try to move my arms or legs, I can feel them moving infinitely, but can't see them changing position. It implies fourth-dimensional folding technology, which I'd guess you bartered for from a fifth-dimensional imp."

The Collector's grin threatened to split his face. "Yes! Very good!" he said with greedy approval. "I was afraid your intellect would be blunted by this strange personality program crafted for you."

Crafted for her?

"Speaking of that, are you comfortable? You see, as charming as this contrivance is, I want the real you. Now that you belong to me, I must insist that you release your Brainiac programming."

Brainiac programming?

"I see you're confused. Well, try not to worry. I intend to help you with that. I have a worldsmith from the twenty-eighth century at my disposal, and I'm sure once we cut into your head, he'll be able to dispose of this pesky Indigo personality to release your true self." He patted her shoulder reassuringly, like a kindly old man wanting to comfort a child, and it was about then Indigo began to scream.

The first thing they did was sever her voice box with a targeted laser pulse. It cut through her ablative armor effortlessly, melting metal and searing her silent. Her diagnostic systems shrieked endless alerts at her, the cybernetic equivalent of agony; a constant shade of red flashing in her brain with an imperative impossible to mute, demanding, "Repair me! Repair me! Repair me!"

But Indigo could not repair herself. The prehensile microcables that composed her skin were fused by the laser, and could not separate to begin repairs. She could only thrash on the table silently as clamps were applied to her temples to hold it steady and focused plasma coils cut through her skull industriously, each slice as precise as a scalpel, agonizing beyond the pain because of the horror of her helplessness, the shame of her violation, and, an hour in, the awareness that she--Indigo--the person she'd always understood herself to be--was dying. Her subroutines were shutting down one by one: her memories were being erased. They were impediments, roadblocks surrounding some unknown core inside her, that were being removed pitilessly. A cut, and there went her love of cooking; a slice, and there went the pleasure she took in doing the Guardians' laundry; a stab, and there went the memory of the crystal caverns she and Viridian walked through once.

Herne by one, each thing that made Indigo was taken away from her, and at the end of her life she was aware of pain and of tears running down her face.

Her last thought was to try to remember if there had ever been a time when she wasn't in pain, but those files could not be found.

The Indigo could not escape because its personality created psychological blindspots in its processing capacity. Brainiac 8 had no such blindspots, nor did it have the Indigo's attachment to its body. Indigo would never have detonated her power cells, but Brainiac 8 did so without a moment's consideration, sending fatal charges to the power distribution nodes in its elbows and knees. The explosions that followed were channeled through Brainiac 8's gravitic impulsors, shredding Brainiac 8's limbs too fine to even be shrapnel but generating concussive waves that killed the worldsmith outright, shattering its ribs so hard bone splinters shredded through its internal organs. The Collector, a Cosmic Elder, was just thrown back against the bulkhead of the dissection table.

Brainiac 8 ignored him. Already the microcables of its severed limbs were forming together into penetrating wires to stab down into the table that had once been holding it, injecting computer code so advanced the table had no choice but to spontaneously grow circuitry to absorb it, molecules rearranging themselves in mechanistic harmony to fit the will of Brainiac 8. The ideo-circuitry spread like a fungus down the table, into the bulkheads, and from there to the computer systems, which became a part of Brainiac. It took less than a second to absorb the ship's operational information and memory banks.

By then, the Collector was climbing back to its feet. "I'm disappointed, Brainiac," he said, honestly: he was more disappointed than even angry. "Did you think that explosion could kill me? I'm older than this universe."

"Your age is irrelevant," said Brainiac 8, not bothering to look at the soon to be dead Cosmic Elder. "Your ship has a transtemporal drive unit, capable of immeasurable speeds. I have just shut off the inertial dampeners in this room."

It was a speech Brainiac 8 did not need to give, except to buy itself time to anchor what remained of its body more firmly to the table before turning the engines on for one short burst. The Collector had just enough time to look surprised before the velocity of the ship slammed his body into the wall so hard it wasn't even crushed to mist: the force of impact was hard enough to reduce his body to molecules.

The Collector was not dead. Already, his consciousness would be transferring to the nearest clone body. Brainiac 8 was not concerned. There was too much in this ship for it to use, unique technologies to assimilate and unique biological specimens to dissect.

Across the Collector's ship, prehensile cables began to drop from the ceilings, searching pitilessly for new life to absorb. All would become part of Brainiac 8.