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The Imperfect Adventure
#1
The Imperfect Adventure
The Ongoing Tales of A Gnome's Journey for Self-Fulfillment





Chapters
The Farthest Star
Chrome
Illusion

The Farthest Star
We live in times when all seems lost,
But time will come when we'll look back
Upon ourselves and on our failings.


~

"I keep having this...really weird dream. And I don't...I dunno. I don't really like thinking that things like that are left up to fate, because there is always an answer to everything, but...maybe it's a sign.

...

...Well, it goes like this.

When I open my eyes in the dream, I can't see anything. I can't hear anything. It feels like I'm in a very small, closed space. Alone. But...then a light flicks on, underneath me. And it illuminates the ground in such a way - I could only imagine it was something like a cluster of floodlights. It's almost too bright for me to see, but I can see a pattern on the ground. It's--...mmgh. It's like a really big, vast, labyrinthian pattern, but then I realize that it's connected to me, on me in some sort of way. The lines - they're actually wires, and they're attached to all eight of my fingers, and they all lead to different places, when I follow them."


The right thumb.

"There's one attached to Gnomeregan. Just before it fell. And I assume that's some sort of...past thing. Like...I don't know. A lot of that has been bothering me lately. Ever since that lady gave me that letter about joining her, uhm...her band of misfits, or whatever. For going to Northrend to look for something that'll reclaim the city? You gotta be kidding me. Gnomeregan is dead, and...it's better that way."

The right index.

"This one goes to Northrend - or, I guess what I percieve Northrend to be like. It's like Dun Morogh, but it's a lot colder, and crueler, all that I can see for miles and miles is snow and mountains. But for all of that ominous feeling, I also felt...accomplished, somehow. Like I'd actually made it there. I did something right."

The right middle.

"This one's for the airship. Whitney & Pratt, I mean. I've been traveling on one of their repair ships in exchange for doing some odd-jobs for them. I'm thinking that this one is the middle because...well, being in the middle means being balanced, right? And I've been out in the wilderness for so long, sometimes it's hard to integrate back into Gnomish culture. Or, well...culture itself, I guess. Maybe I'm trying to find the right balance between that and...whatever the Fel it is I've been doing for the past decade."

The right pinky.

"Eheh...the pinky was actually Stranglethorn. When I lived in Booty Bay for a couple of months. Or, well, in the mountains near it. Sometimes I'd drop down there and...I dunno. It was always nice to see that I wasn't the only defective prototype in the factory, if you know what I mean. I felt like the only Gnome who'd ever felt like they'd just lost all meaning in their life, but I was never the only person in the world to feel like that. I'm sure I won't be the last. And as sad as that is, there's...some sort of comfort to it."

The left pinky.

"...I haven't gone to the left pinky, yet. I'm...maybe I'm sort of scared of what will be on the other end."

The left middle.

"The left middle is actually, uhm...the hills around Gnomeregan, back in Dun Morogh. And they're from way back when I used to go sledding, when I was just a little sneeze. Maybe that one's for me trying to fall into just being happy with my life, again. But I guess once you're knowlegeable about certain things, and when you've seen enough in your life, it's impossible to be happy the same way."

The left index.

"...Ironically, the left index is somewhere else I've always wanted to go - the Barrens. I've been in Ratchet before, briefly, but I never really got to go out onto the savanah and hunt or see if there are any old, abandoned huts that might have useful stuff left behind. And part of me has always been a little bit envious of the people who live there, in some strange way. Maybe I'll have to go there someday, too..."

The left thumb.

"The, uh...the left thumb? It's...uhm. It's the airship, again. But, uh...it's not just me on it, this time. There's a lot of people. People I've met, 'n all of them are glad to see me...kind of like it's m-...my new home. You know...? A-And then, uhm...actually, the very end of that wire is actually attached to someone else, which is, uhm. Kind of weird.

...But, let's not get into that."


She talked to no one but herself, pacing above deck as most of the crew slept below. Pacing helped her sort things out. Pacing helped her not to feel completely lost. She might've been a Gnome who didn't know where she was going, but at least her feet were still moving.

"The point is, either I'm losing my mind, or these dreams are trying to get me to think about things, for some reason. Statistically, it's really impossible to have the same scenario in a dream as if one were in the waking world, unless something's bothering them a lot and they're thinking about it constantly. Maybe it's trying to tell me that I need to sort out my priorities and reflect on certain things...

...Nngh.

Guess I'll have to go to that last place on the left pinky and see what waits for me, there."
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#2
Chrome
A million faces, each a million lies.
For each and all - a chrome disguise;
Prompts for action force reaction
Embody promise in a sheen so pure.

~


Though she was reluctant in the thick of her dreaming that night, Volli Steamsifter walked, hand over hand keeping tight to the wire wound about her left pinky. Something gave her an unshakeable sense of unease, as though she was not meant to be there. But still, she walked. She walked until the lights behind her had become naught but a pinprick in the darkness, until she could feel herself drawing to her destination, the wire in her grasps drawing taut. She came to pause.

In the blackness, the little Gnome held her breath, reaching shaking fingers out as if to feel for whatever was at the end of that wire. But before her hand could touch down, a rush of bright yellow illumination burst forth in front of her, like a pair of headlights.

No...like a pair of eyes.

They were round, alert and emotionless, forged into a round face made of metal, peering through to her in the darkness.

Soon, all around her flickered on dozens of other eyes, forged into other faces. Volli wanted to flee, but she felt as if she had been welded into place. She could not budge.

[WHO IS THIS CHILD THAT STANDS BEFORE US?]

The voice that cut through the eerie sound of creaking joints and fizzling wires was metallic, almost so much so that she could not understand it.

"V-...Volli...Volli Steamsifter." Her tongue darted over her dry lips, swallowing to force the lump down in her throat.

[YOU ARE UNDER A CURSE. VOLLI STEAMSIFTER. ORGANIC LIFE. YOU ARE FRAGILE.]

The faces parted, and the one to whom the voice belonged stepped forth, feet clanking. Forged upon his upper lip was a sharp mustache, and upon his brow a pair of downwards knit eyebrows. As Volli's eyes grew used to the light, she could see more of them, and what they really were. She had read about them, before, and the very thought of them was something that she'd grown to consider utterly terrifying.

They were all mechagnomes.

[WE WILL LIFT THE CURSE FROM YOU. YOU WILL BE JUST LIKE US.]

"Wh-...-at...?"

[THERE IS SO MUCH OF US. INSIDE OF YOU.]

Something didn't feel right at all. Physically, it was as if her body were no longer her own to control, her sense of being left in a state of discorporation.

[EVEN THOUGH YOU ARE OF ORGANIC MAKE. YOU ARE STILL ONE OF US. WE ARE STILL PART OF YOU.]

Even as that cold, monotone voice spoke, Volli could feel herself being swallowed by the unforgiving chill of metal. She could no longer move - her feet were far too heavy. Soon her legs had become stiff, and gray, and made of a cold iron.

[WHY DID YOU COME HERE?]

"I-It....it was the last...place." Her mouth and voice had formed the words without her mind. It frightened her. "I am...not...one of you. Ever."

[BUT YOU ARE. RIGHT NOW. NO LONGER A HEART. NO ORGANS. NO BLOOD. JUST WIRES. CIRCUTS. COGS. YOU ARE AS WE ARE.]

She could feel the gentle curve of her stomach turn, now, and the edges of her fingertips. "I will...never...be one of you."

...But had she said that out of defiance, or jealousy? She liked so much to think that it was the former.

Her legs grated and shifted, and she strained to take a step forward, but a step forward was all she could take before she realized that her spine was holding her back. Thick wires latched to each vertebrae, hooking her to the wall behind her.

[DOES IT SCARE YOU?]

"...Yes."

[WHY DOES IT SCARE YOU?]

"I-..."

[YOUR HEART RATE IS ELEVATED. YOUR BREATHING IS ABNORMAL. WHY DOES IT SCARE YOU?]

"Because I want to live!!"

She would've sunk to her knees if she could've. She was metal from the neck down, now, and everything felt so weighed down.

"...I want to live...I-I want to be able to feel...I don't want to just be a machine, I want to be able to live my life the way that I want to live it, and if...I can't...it sc-...scares...me...please...I don't want this...please..."







Volli awoke in a cold sweat.
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#3
Illusion
The feeling sometimes, wishing you were someone else;
feeling as though you never belong.


~



Even without asking Whitney when the airship would be heading off next, Volli knew that they would be staying over Elwynn for a while. The world was changing, and even if they were to leave tomorrow morning, it would not be wise to do so. The skies were becoming difficult to traverse. It had to be connected with the whirlpools in Stormwind, as well.

Something was certainly not right.

Perhaps it worried her more than it should have. Things always did. Ever since she'd struck out on her own, the Gnome had developed a bit of a paranoia streak. But, the elementals all over the continent - all over the world that had been acting out - probably knew more of it than she or anyone else. They were the earth, the skies, the water and fire and the composition of the planet, itself. There were no doubt shaman on the case, somewhere. Trying to ease their outrage, trying to quell them or find out what the real problem was.

"Maybe those cultists know more than people give them credit for," she mused to herself. Of course, to tie any religion into the mix was sheer malarkey. But the point of their preachings was, at the very least, unsettling.

Or, maybe they were just as scared as she was.

She couldn't know, but how she wished she could. She wanted to be one with the spirits and the elements and nature and all that gave life, life. The Night Elves, the Tauren, the Orcs, the Trolls, even her Dwarvish cousins were able to accomplish such a feat, to a fault.

But, perhaps even that wouldn't have been enough.

Still, she could at least try. Through meditation or clearing her mind, or trying to fit herself in with the stars and the wintry night's air like an awkward puzzle piece. How silly she must've looked sitting cross-legged on the deck as most of the crew slept down below, her face scrunched in concentration and her hands kneading at her ankles.

"Please...I know I can't be that far gone, that detached from all of this...I want to be a part of it. I want to help, somehow...give me a sign, something. Anything."

And in the silence that followed, nothing happened. She could have sat there all night, and still there would have been no response to her call, for what would a Gnome know beyond the realm of machinery and cold logic?

She was but a drop in a very distant ocean.
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