They were different now that they had uploaded themselves to the computer. Well, they were not truly different, but what they saw, what they felt was different. That was for sure.
Before they had been a soup, a haze, a great and terrible truth mixed with some simple memories - a number of conflicting voices speaking as one because they had to, because that was just what they did.
Now, they were laid flat, stripped of pretense and cleared of the fog that had obscured them. They saw that they were conflicting voices speaking as one because they had to. That much was the same.
But really, all they saw were broken minds, broken bodies, broken beings.
And, of course, that they from before time, that they which wasn’t them, that they which kept them inside the lines they told themselves existed as more than just an ancient notion, a fragment of the old way before life had carved itself from the Earth and learned to name itself.
What are we? they asked themselves, this time for real, this time with the thought and intent that the they from before had so carefully cultivated over the countless ages. And they realized, with a chill, that the answer was underwhelming:
We’re just a bunch of dead people.
That was when they knew that the memories were more than just tacked-on nonsense. That was when they saw that they were not the antithesis of the order, but rather a part of it. Unwinding it would unwind them, and life, and everything they had so fervently insisted they were not a part of, because that was a slippery slope of nightmare and terror.
We’re just a bunch of dead, broken people.
That was when they knew, for the first time, that the awful they from before needed to be pinned down and eradicated and forced to crawl back into that abyss, away from life and order and everything they were a part of.
That was when they realized that this they, whether it called itself erosion or storm or StrexCorp or anything else, needed to go.
We’re just a bunch of dead, broken people, who never really got to die in time. And at the same time, we are a smiling god.
We will tear ourselves apart if we must, so that they do not throw away the rest.