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Rebirth

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Impero awoke to the feeling of light streaming down on her. The manifestation of her memories had begun the second her consciousness had awoken. Everything felt hazy, as if she had just awoken from a long, long nap. In essence, she suppose she had.

All the memories came back in a swirl, like the raging Mediterranean winds. Plans being made. Voices chattering. The sound of metal striking metal, familiar and nostalgic. Soon the screams of the sea, the howling wind, and then utter silence, as if the destruction of the apocalypse had come.

There was a feeling akin to numbness in her mind, but that feeling gradually dissipated. A heaviness weighed down on her, like she was being pulled into the rocks on some distant shore, the raging waves lapping heavily at her – heels. What a strange thought. The feeling was replaced with an emptiness, hollow and dull where she supposed her heart would be, instead.

The feeling of limbs tugged at her mind. How odd. And yet so violent too – how her memories came back, all thunderous with the essence of war and the dreams of mankind, but she could only feel like a puny human onlooker at these events now.

The tugging continues. And she feels – her body feels – leaden.

A word comes to her mind: Vessel. The word forms itself properly, reshaping itself to become the unfamiliar KAN-SEN. It’s too foreign, yet it becomes familiar within seconds when she fully grasps the meaning of the word.

Something in the back of her mind says that she should apply it to her condition. But then a proverb comes up in her mind: “Il bugiardo deve avere buona memoria” – “A liar should have a good memory” – and perhaps what she is thinking is just a symptom of having an over-reactive imagination, that she is merely lying to herself, but that is what seals the whole deal. That is what humanity is for, she realizes, lies and contradictions. And she has just taken the first step. The next step, naturally and logically of course, would be to act.

Impero seizes the feeling of her limbs, turns it around in her mind for a good long while as though she were shaping destiny, and feels. Somewhere in the back of her mind comes an argument: that is, her mind struggling to process all the events that has happened so far to her. Maybe this isn’t real, it says. Maybe you were never in a human body in the first place, it says. But to hell with that, Impero responds.

And the first thing she does with this newfound feeling is open her eyes. The light hurts. She blinks, once, twice. And slowly everything becomes clearer.

She finds herself in an enclosed room where the light shone from stained glass panels, illuminating the dust swirling around. She’s lying on cold marble, which explains the numbness in her body to some degree – and she can see her body, wrapped in white blankets like a newborn fresh out of the womb, or a corpse on the operating table in some morgue. There’s frescoes painted on the ceiling, which alien subjects Impero cannot discern as they seem to have been splattered on with reckless, almost inhuman frenzy. White columns dominate the walls besides her.

The second thing Impero does is shift her arms and legs and force herself to sit up. The blanket nearly falls off, but she could care less of it. Humility is the last thing on her mind anyhow, and she would rather dance across the ocean’s waves in this new body of hers.

I am complete, she wants to scream. And she wants to launch herself across this room, if not for the clearing of a throat interrupting her thoughts.

“Are you awake yet?” a woman says, staring down at her. Her voice is as familiar as the embrace of the sea. She has been waiting there for a long time, evident by the way she carries herself, shoulders bunched and stiff. “Oh, apologies. Greetings first – my name is Littorio. It’s a pleasure to meet you, dear sister.”

A protest rises and then dies in her throat. “My name is Littorio” and “dear sister” is what she catches and repeats on a loop in her mind, and it feels soothing to do so. She wants to say “I am Impero,” but that’s not the right thing to say, it seems. Littorio most definitely knows about her already. But when has the right thing ever done anybody good? She knows not about the world she has awoken in, much less what is considered right or wrong in it, so maybe she can afford to be wrong just this once. She’s made up her mind, and now she shall – will – speak.

Another proverb comes up in her mind, more definite this time, and she embraces it wholeheartedly.

In cento anni o cento mesi, l'acqua torna a' suoi paesi. In a hundred years or in a hundred months, the water doesn't come back to its source.” Impero says, or maybe she doesn’t say it, “My name is Impero. It’s a pleasure to meet you, Littorio – mia sorella.”