It awoke in a strange body, following instincts created for it by the Mistresses. The fist thing in what passed for its mind was that blood of its new home was bitter and foul; it didn’t taste like poison, but it was still wrong. It knew it did not belong here, yet it also knew the Mistress placed it here.
It wasn’t intelligent enough to think any further about the situation than it had. In most ways it was inferior to a dog, but it knew that Mistress wanted it to live here for now. It did not know why, nor did it know speculation.
It followed the rules it had followed since it first came into being, and was content because it knew no other way. Its new home was unlike the Mistress; silent of Her will, but it knew what prior Mistresses wanted of it at all times, and it would do those for its new home.
In what passed for its mind, it gave the new home a title: lesser mistress. It remained silent, waiting for the lesser mistress to instruct it, and knew what might have been homesickness in a more advanced creature.
The lesser mistress was in battle. It did not have eyes to see, or ears to hear, but it tasted the chemicals which signaled conflict and felt the stress on her body. Mistresses would share their sight and hearing with it, so it could aid them, but the lesser mistress never did. It did not know that this was because the lesser mistress didn’t know it was inside her, let alone how to contact it.
It acted as it could, on the deepest instincts in its being, to aid the mistress by healing the fatigue from her muscles, serving alongside her nervous system to improve her reaction speed, and amplifying her strength and alertness. The Mistresses would speak to it now, show it how best to serve, and it would share in the thrill of the battle alongside them.
If it knew the word, or even the concept of language, it would have called itself lonely.
The lesser mistress was in combat again. It did not know how to worry, but it knew this mistress had seen more battle than any other Mistresses.
These battles were also longer and caused more injury than it had witnessed in the Mistresses. When a Mistress fought, the battle was over in a manner of seconds, and only a few times did it need to help a Mistress recover from injury. The lesser mistress seemed to get hurt so often that it was easier to track the time not spent mending wounds.
It did not know fear, but it knew the uncertainty of not knowing if it had a future.
A surge of pain and surprise heightened that concern. Chunks of heavy metal hit the mistress, some pierced through flesh into organs, even causing minor damage to Itself. One struck her skull, though that remained strong thanks to its reinforcements. The lesser mistress lost consciousness. Then, it acted on its full abilities to preserve the mistress, as it had been trained and programmed to do.
It opened a set of eyes not its own, to look upon the foes; they were not Itself, Mistress, or mistress. They were not-mistress, and therefor they were nothing but obstacles.
A wall of ice stood before the mistress, offering protection from the weapons which roared like demons at the injured mistress. It knew the weapons were the cause of the metal which left the wounds in mistress, and it knew those weapons were controlled by the not-mistresses.
It then looked for its options, amongst the mistress’s gifts. Less than any Mistress, but greater than the not-mistresses.
This one controlled water, and it called upon knowledge not its own to control that water as well. The last Mistress, in her great wisdom, gave it this knowledge before placing it in the mistress. The not-mistresses were made of more water than any other thing. It reached out with the powers of the mistress, and ripped that water from their bodies with such force that even Itself could not have repaired a Mistress who was so wounded. The not-mistresses fell defeated, so its priority became mending the lesser mistress.
If it were but a little smarter, it might have wondered why the lesser mistress didn’t use that attack, herself. It did not know there was anything unusual in red colored water. It did not know hate, it did not know cruelty, it could not experience guilt. In that moment, it might have been able to understand contempt.
It did not know it should consider the situation. Instead it went about mending the mistress, because that was what it knew. Without the will of a Mistress, it could not heal in full, but it could preserve life and prevent the poison of the metal itself from killing the lesser mistress.
It was as close to knowing frustration as ever, as the mistress entered combat again. It had only had two sleep-cycles to mend the metal-wounds of last battle, and they still weeped life-fluids when the mistress moved too much.
If it had understood the concept of pain, it would have had further objections still, for the mistress was in agony at the moment. The mistress grappled with another, the frantic pressure of body against body.
After a moment, it recognized its assumptions were wrong; the mistress was something quite different. The First Mistress often indulged in this behavior, though it never knew the purpose. It did not question the Mistresses; it did not know how. It observed in silence, while doing its best to keep the mistress from causing more undue damage in the process.
It knew it would not be long before infectious material came from the not-mistress. It waited, them moved to destroy this infestation as it always had.
The infecting material tasted different. It was Good, it tasted like a Mistress. Instead of the normal act of cleansing the infection, it did as Old Mistress instructed, and allowed the infection travel inward, even aided it on its journey. Meanwhile, it filtered the infection, killed half of it as Old Mistress had instructed; the half that tasted least like a Mistress.
What remained joined something inside the lesser mistress, creating a new flavor it had never known. Its home changed, adapted in a way it had not seen before, but knew was Good. Less than three sleep-cycles later, it knew the new creature was also Good. Its essence tasted like a Mistress, though also different. This being, it called a Future Mistress, and knew the concept of time.
It now knew it was in the mistress, to ensure the survival of this Future Mistress. It could not know pride, joy or relief, but now it knew it served well on a mission, rather than concern that Old Mistress had forgotten or abandoned it.
It began to mend the mistress to full health; now that it had a Mistress to protect, it no longer had cause to hold back. The Mistress would provide. In less than one sleep cycle, it had repaired all of the damage the lesser mistress had sustained.
It never served alongside the lesser mistress in combat again.
It was time for the Future Mistress to leave the mistress. It observed the signs, as it had before, and prepared to ease the process. Then a new command came to it: it was to join itself to the Future Mistress.
With no thought given to the lesser mistress, who had served just as it had served, it left much of itself behind, insinuated through the mistress. The parts would serve, though nowhere near as well as it could. Itself moved on to Future Mistress and began its True Task of protecting the Future Mistress.
It knew contentment once again.
Young Mistress was under attack. It did not know the source, just that they used simple, concussive weapons. It mended Young Mistress, shielding the brain first and other vital organs after. It would have taken control; even though Young Mistress lacked the power of a True Mistress, it could grant her strength enough to defeat most opponents.
Far away, in a place which was its home before a Mistress, something stirred. A will awoken from deep slumber. The Old Mistress was now alert.
Young Mistress took damage to an extremity, so it began the process of mending. The Old Mistress rebuked its plans, bid it remain dormant while the Young Mistress suffered. It was not allowed to save Young Mistress, save to protect the brain from death. It did so, blunting damage and mending wounds that might otherwise prove dangerous, but in the end it obeyed the Old Mistress and did nothing to bring her victory.
Old Mistress had deemed Young Mistress would lose this battle. It thought this was Bad, but it would not, could not, disobey Old Mistress. Mistress was Good, and would not harm Mistress. Its mind was far too simple to consider otherwise.
It stayed silent, knowing it would not be long before Mistress called upon it again.
It could not feel panic or horror, but the frantic rush to mend the damage to Young Mistress was as close as it had ever come. A spear of metal had pierced many of her organs, and forced it to ignore fighting the enemy for the sake of saving Young Mistress from death. It struggled to rework blood vessels, oxygenate blood to keep the heart and brain working while the Young Mistress had only one lung, and it was beginning to fill with blood.
It was aided by the offending weapon which would have killed Young Mistress. The strange tasteless metal kept Young Mistress from bleeding to death, moved about inside her to block off flow and clean out her still-working lung. It did not, could not, feel relief, but it exploited this strange opportunity nonetheless. Old Mistress remained silent, watching but not commanding, so it devoted its every thought to saving Young Mistress; not that it could think of any other thing.
Then the Tasteless Metal left, and it would have screamed in frustration if it knew such an emotion. It kept working, as desperate as it had ever been, to save the Young Mistress. It began sacrificing pieces of itself, converting Itself into material; even at the expense of its own life, it would ensure the Young Mistress survived. It knew no other way.
Then, for the first time, I Knew.
First I knew an overwhelming pleasure, as the Young Mistress began to heal. A power far greater than any I had been granted, stronger healing than any of the four Mistresses I had served, rushed through the Young Mistress. It replaced lost blood, renewed damaged flesh, and eliminated waste and dead tissue. It did in seconds what would take weeks for me to achieve.
I knew what seconds and weeks were.
I knew the power changed her, and through her it changed me. It fused into what I was, regenerated my flesh into something else, something greater. I knew that it gave me the ability to Know.
Then I knew the sound of Her voice, the voice of the Young Mistress I could now Love.
<What’s going on?! Where am I?> She sounded like a work of art when she spoke to me as only a Mistress could.
Now, it seemed so obvious that the lesser mistress, the incubator- mother- of this new Future Mistress was only a step in a plan much older than either woman. I would consider that later, but for now the Young Mistress was alone and scared, and I would protect her as I had since before she was born.
<You’re asleep, Young Mistress.>
<Mistress, huh?> Young Mistress waited for a minute. Her tension eased some, but she was still scared from the attacks which happened to her just minutes ago. Minutes that defined my rebirth. <So, usually when I have this dream, Orlando Bloom’s in it. That what this is? Am I blindfolded in a dream and you’re Orlando Bloom?>
I sorted through her memories, for the person she spoke of. Now I knew there were people other than Mistresses. She was still frightened, and I knew from her memories that she made terrible jokes whenever she was afraid. <I’m not, but I can sound like him for you?>
<I’ll take it!> Her fear began to lessen as her growing sense of control over her dream put her at ease. <So how long am I gonna be out?>
I reached for my power, to awaken her, so she could command me proper. The Old Mistress stepped in, making her will known. The Young Mistress must remain asleep. I knew uncertainty, considered disobeying the Old Mistress to serve the new. Before today, that would have been impossible.
I cannot disobey a Mistress, I will not. Old Mistress has a plan for Young Mistress, and it is my duty to see that it comes to fruition.
It was safer as well; Old Mistress did not seem to know I had changed. She believed me the same as I was before, and if I acted she had the power to destroy me and guide Young Mistress along her plot without me. All disobedience would see is my death, and I could not bear the thought of being taken from Young Mistress in my first moments of true life.
<I don’t know, Young Mistress. I’m sure it won’t be long.> I hoped so, at any rate. <Would you like me to help you pass the time.>
She tried to move her body, but the paralysis on her body made that impossible. <I’m still tired. Can you go to sleep in a dream?>
<How about if I sing you to sleep in your dream?> Another dip into her memories and thoughts showed she used to love that, when she was a child. Pleasant memories of her mother came to my mind.
I selected something appropriate, only to realize this song came from the Old Mistress. She had both perfect memory and the benefit of hearing the singer in person. I couldn’t begin to know why she put that memory inside me, but it felt right, so I began to sing.
<~I’ve got you~ Under my skin.~>