On the day Xander murdered my apprentice Yvette, my whole world ended. I don't know what else to say, but I guess I'll have to try.
The whole thing spiraled out of control so spectacularly, I never had a chance to think about what I was doing. One minute the whole universe made sense, certainly in its uniquely mad way, but there was an order to it, not because of the Sapo Order, which is something I guess I always understood but very few others did, but Sapo certainly didn't hurt. I mean, that was the whole point.
One of the few others who understood this was Quentin. He was like a father to me, never mind master. He was the one who made it clear to me, very early on, that some things are more important than any one person's life. It was not a matter of sacrifice to him. Sacrifice, he said, was what one did when there were no longer any options. He insisted that there were always options, regardless of whether or not anyone else would ever understand them. The hardest thing, he said, was letting go of what other people thought, what they said, basically of other people in general.
I guess, in the end, I failed him in that regard. Because I couldn't let go of Yvette.
The way it happened was this: one day the slayers of Reeve descended on us, and very nearly wiped us all out. There were survivors. There are always survivors. (It would do the universe well to remember this. There is a remnant of everything that ever existed. It doesn't matter if no one recognizes it for what it is, because hardly anyone ever truly understands anything. Basic principles of science tell us that nothing is ever truly lost. Just let that sink in. Let it be a solace for you, too.) The survivors did what they could, which wasn't enough. I did something radical. I ensured that my story would be told, because as it was, I was cast as the villain. When the dust settled, it no longer matters what people believe, because that's just life, life had to resume. It always does. And it always seeks the most convenient way forward. That's only natural.
I survived because I defeated the slayer assigned to me. I took advantage of my unique opportunity, because until his fall, Reeve had created a monopoly over these robots, keeping them out of general circulation, so that the rest of us had to make due, if we were interested at all, with inferior machines. These were true masterpieces, not the flimsy models you might be thinking of, but so intricate that the Order was easily defeated by them because they had been designed to defeat it. The Order fell because we let it fall.
So I took the slayer and modified it. Among the arcane arts mastered by Sapo was a truly ancient one, in which the mind of a person could be rescued from the body's extinction. I had always fancied myself to be Yvette's mother. I couldn't bear to lose her. I knew it was wrong, but in this type of relationship, I had been mentored by Quentin. It had previously been forbidden by the Order, precisely because it clouded one's thoughts, caused them to lose focus, objectivity. That was the party line, anyway. In the end, the Order fell because it had become too detached, too distant from those they were supposed to protect. What you do not understand becomes meaningless to you.
I transferred Yvette's consciousness into the slayer. I was there when she died, when Xander...murdered her in cold blood. Of course she wasn't ready to face him. But I couldn't stop her. Her impetuousness had given her strength, but at the cost of overconfidence. Or perhaps she cared too much about me, too. I guess I'll never know.
The moment Yvette passed into the slayer, I shut it down. I erased its memory. And programmed it with a compulsion to learn the truth for itself.
Somewhere buried deeply, or so I convinced myself, Yvette lived on, and would live again. What I couldn't stand was to face Yvette myself. I couldn't. I couldn't face my greatest failure. When she died, I died, too. Well, first I made sure Xander died, too, but he took me with him. It was a hellacious fight. The truth, all of it, died with us. It was the only way it could end.
Some day, she would awaken. I named this new being Kindly. The remnant that survived the end (because something always survives) may very well be what awaits her still. But that is another story. Not for me. And, I hope, desperately, not for her. But it is no longer in my hands.
I consider this a good thing. Some good came of it. This story belongs to others now. It will be told. Sapo knows, it will be. All our stories will be told. The awful tapestry of life demands it. One way or another, it will all come out.
I hope she forgives me.
"This is the story," says Kindly. "And now I can rest. I think I'll tell her. Because I love her, too."