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The Metaphysical Engine, or What Quill Did Recap

Quill goes to the gym and tells Dorothea that she's ready. Dorothea confirms that the students will stay in the classroom, and warns that the chances of Quill dying are high. Quill isn't impressed, but Dorothea points out that the Arn knows Quill's thoughts and if it hasn't killed Quill already, it's because she doesn't truly believe it will work. She says that there will come a moment when Quill starts to believe and there will be no going back. Quill tells Dorothea that she wants to be free and to begin. When Dorothea wonders who Quill really is when she's free, Quill says that she is war itself.

A eneryg-handuffed man, Ballon, appears in a teleportation circle. Dorothea frees him and he tells Quill to stay out of his way. Meanwhile, Dorothea activates a piece of ancient alien technology and warns that it's unstable. She sets it down and it teleports all three of them away before disappearing itself.

Quill and the others find themselves in a metal room that is shaking furiously. Dorothea pulls out a circuit from the wall, activates it, and...

Surprised, Quill finds herself on a bed of ferns in an alien forest. Dorothea and Ballon are standing nearby, and Dorothea explains that they were "atomically fuzzed" to somewhere quite extraordinary. She starts walking and the others follow, until Ballon stops and says that "they" are near. Dorothea tells Quill that their best thinking is that Quill needs to talk about her childhood because it feeds on memories. Quill remembers how she and the others in her litter ate their mother after she gave birth, and Ballon says that they're coming. He yells and runs off, and Dorothea draws a gun and follows him. Quill goes after them, and Ballon finally captures one of the creatures. It's an Arn, and Dorothea explains that they need to capture a dead one so they could use its pheromones to calm the one in Dorothea's head. When Quill points out that the Arn are genetically created in a lab, Dorothea says that isn't true.

Dorothea holds up the device and explains that it's a Netaphysical Engine. Everything in the universe is conserved, even belief, and when millions of creatures believing something strongly enough and long enough, and even space responds. The Arn aren't wild creatures, but parts of them were and they dream like humans do. The trio are in the idea of Arn heaven, and Quill feels the Arn move in her head without hurting for the first time. Dorothea admits that it's the first time she's actuallyy traveled using the Engine and teleports them back to the chamber. She explains that the Governos studied the Coal Hill tears and think that they were provided there for those who can listen. Quill asks what Ballon gets, and he says his freedom. Dorothea tells Quill that Ballon is her surgeon and a Law shapeshifter, posing as a Zygon, and asks him what being unfrozen would mean to him. He says that it would mean everything as they teleport away again.

The trio appears in an underground chamber and Ballon identifies it as Law hell. It is filled with humanoids frozen in different shapes, hell to the Law. Dorothea explains that she needs a key to unlock Ballon's shapeshifting ability, so that he can shift his hands to do the surgery. It's impossible, so the only place to do it is in an impossible place. Something growls in the darkness, and Ballon says that the key is the blood of their god.

Ballon runs off and cowers in a corner, and Dorothea tells Quill that she'll have to get the blood using a knife. Quill reminds her that she can't use knives, and asks Ballon what she needs to do. When he doesn't respond, Quill tells him that it's the first fear and everyone has it. She helps Ballon up and Dorothea gives him the knife. They go to confront the creature, and Quill has Ballon hold the knife out so that she can guide his arm. Once they get the blood, they go to Dorothea and Quill explains that the creature already thought that they were statues since they didn't move at first. As Dorothea prepares the Engine, Quill tells Ballon that it was good to fight with another soldier. He says the same and walks off, and the Arn moves in Quill's head. Dorothea warns that Quill is now believing that the procedure might work so the Arn is fighting back, and reminds Quill that her choices are death or freedom.

Quill tells Dorothea to proceed and they return to the chamber. Dorothea checks her notes and admits that she volunteered, and that no one else was interested in saving Quill. Ballon says that he can see the Arn in Quill's midbrain, and Dorothea says that they need to find a Quill brain to study the pathways. The device teleports them into the first Quill nest, and Dorothea says that it's where the Quill goddess is about to be born. Quill explains that the Quill long ago stopped believing in heaven, and the chamber shakes. The Quill goddess will emerge from the Underworld where she has been trapped, and she rises with fury and venom.

The goddess emerges and Ballon and Quill attack it. It knocks them aside, Quill flying into Dorothea, and Quill tries to reach the Engine that Dorothea dropped. When she can't, she attacks the goddess and says that it doesn't deserve her belief. She says that her eopple have been dying for millennia and the goddess was nowhere to be found, and dares it to kill her. The goddess stops and then strokes Quill's cheek, staring into her eyes. Ballon jumps it from behind and kills it with his knife, ignoring Quill's objections. Once he cuts off its head, Quill says that she could have been the first Quill to hear what the goddess had to say. Ballon points out that Quill would have had to worship her and change everything she thinks and believes, and says that the goddess will rise again if they're in a metaphysical place.

Ballon goes through the unconscious Dorothea's pack and finds the blood, but tells Quill that there isn't enough to unfreeze himself. He explains that he was caught as he shifted, and isn't one way or another. Ballon says that their planet was attacked by an enemy that they couldn't fight, and the Law lost everything. They intended to meet on Earth to seek sanctuary, but when Ballon arrived he found neither them nor sanctuary. A family took him in but turned on him when they realized he was a monster. Ballon killed them without meaning to, and the Governors found him before UNIT did and froze him. Now they'll set him free if he gets the Arn out of her head without killing her. Quill says that she lost her lover in the war with her enemies, in the same battle that they arrested her. They took her will and made her used to it, cutting off who she is. Ballon realizes that she was frozen as well and offers his condelences, and offers her shared sorrow. He says that a soldier would next ask how to make them pay, and Quill tells him that they're all gone without being made to pay for their crime... all but one.

Quill clutches at her head again and tells Ballon that she just started to believe the plan might work. Dorothea wakes up and says that they're out of time, and activates the Engine. The trio returns to the gym and Dorothea tells Ballon to get started. She then tells Quill that the mission didn't go as planned and she'll have to explain, and Quill moans in pain. Dorothea says that there are bigger things in the universe than life, and tells Quill not to die because she's intriguing.

Using the assembled pieces, Ballon traces the nerves in the goddess' brain and figures that he can remove the Arn. He warns Quill that there will be pain, but she refuses to back out. Ballon jams an extended finger into Quill's brain through her eye socket and finds the Arn. He pulls it out and stomps it to death, and then places the bladder with the blood over Quill's ruined eye socket. When he's done, the damage is repaired, leaving a scar. Ballon explains that he used the blood of his god to manipulate her flesh, and helps her up. Quill goes over to the Arn's body and beats it repeatedly, screaming in fury and relief. She then tells Ballon that the Quill celebrate victory in battle in a certain way, and kisses Ballon. Ballon warns that it has been too long since he was close to someone, and says that sex makes him coarse like the form he's trapped in. He says that all he wants is to be free, and Quill says that she wants the same before they kiss.

After sex, Quill and Ballon doze off. She wakes up and removes her hand from Ballon's, strokes the scars on his face, and then feels her own scar. Quill finds dirt in her other hand, gets up, and starts walking. Ballon wakes up and goes out of the gym with her... and they find themselves on Rhodia. Dorothea appears and explains that the "school" was a hologram. They had to enter the Cabinet of Souls to increase the chances that Quill would survive the Arn removal. They realize that "Dorothea" is a hologram as well, and she says that the Cabinet is dying. If she didn't leave when she did, there was no chance that she'd come out alive.

Dorothea gives Quill a gun but says that they have to resolve their dilemma before Quill can take it. Ever Upward Reach has calculated an 85% chance that only one of them will survive leaving the Cabinet. The Governors have voted and there's only enough energy for one of them to leave. Dorothea tells them that the decision is theirs to make, and a fight to the death is traditional among both their people. Ballon refuses to take a life that he saved, and Quill agrees. Dorothea tells Ballon that he has a niece on Earth and they will never be free unless one of them goes. Ballon will never see his family, and Quill will never wipe the Kin from the universe. Dorothea says that the gun is set to open fire warns that time passes differently so they'd better get started, and disappears.

Ballon says that he's been imprisoned for too long and asks if Quill would take the same risk for her family. He tells her that if a soldier doesn't fight for his family then he's no soldier, and goes for the gun. The two fight and Quill finally chokes Bannon until he collapses. He manages to grab the gun and says that he has to take the chance that Dorothea will set him free. Ballon tells her to look away before he shoots, but Quill refuses and tells him to do it. He ask her to forgive him and shoots... and the gun backfires, shooting him. Quill realizes that Dorothea set the gun to backfire and holds Ballon's corpse in her arms.

After burying Ballon with his knife, Quill picks up the gun and walks away. The Rhodian souls appear and Quill grabs one, screaming in pain as she ages and her hair grows. Quill wonders how much of her life she's losing and tells the Rhodians that she fought them and still will, and demands that they release her because she is war itself and will suffer no more in their heaven.

Quill climbs out of the Cabinet and goes back to Coal Hill. She goes to the detention room and destroys the prison shard, and Ram, April, and Tanya storm out. Charlie wonders how Quill can find a gun, and when she tells him that he doesn't want to talk to her after the day she's had, wonders how a day could have passed for her when only 45 minutes passed for him. Quill tells him that saving him was her last favor to him and tosses him the bag with the Arn, and says that she's no longer his slave. She says that now things are going to change... before she collapses. Charlie grabs the gun and aims it at her, and Matteusz says that it can't be.

Written by Gadfly on Jan 20, 2017

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