MEMORIES OF RETROCITY (Part-03)
I am working on a roleplaying game based on my graphic novel Memories of Retrocity (Published in French in 2011), I decided to make the original texts available for you, revised translated in English.
I will drop them here while I go through the translation process.
Those are "pre-translations". They need to be proofread and modified before any official release. Hopefully you can enjoy the raw material!
Welcome to Retrocity.
Dec 22, 2004
I needed to feel like I wasn't this town's only reasonably normal human being. In the heart of the saddest winter I have experienced, I needed human warmth. Really human, I mean.
After almost a month in this city, I have become accustomed, by force of circumstance and psychological necessity, to human-machines and human-objects. Those who have been saved and those for whom it is too late. The Mechanicals and the... the Retro-Processeds. The dead and the dying. " Psychological necessity" indeed, because if I had failed to banalize seeing these horrors daily, I would have just become another madman within this asylum.
So I entered a church.
First time in twenty years at least. Although I was raised Catholic, my faith faded with age. The more I discovered men, the less I believed in God, until I reached perfect atheism. Bordering misotheism. But last night, the sight of this Church filled me with a vague hope for salvation. If there was even one person in this town who could show me the way to any kind of wisdom or understanding, all was not entirely lost.
But the sacred is always perverted.
From what I have observed since my arrival, the Retro-Citizens all work for the Corporation, directly or indirectly. It produces and provides them with homes, food, means of transportation, etc. And, ultimately, the remedy to the Retro-Process. In the end, everything (and I mean everything) is recycled in the multiple factories and foundries located in the abandoned areas on the inner outskirts, producing the raw metal material the Corporation needs.
Androids, out of use (one can no longer decently use the word dead when one reaches a certain degree of mechanization...), are exposed. Put on display. The Corporation suspends them by cables between the buildings' tops. Over the streets. Like some kind of morbid trophies. Warning? Pride? Corporationist nymphomania? I don't know, but I suspect something even darker and more disturbing behind it.
It got me thinking.
Remove the Retro-Process from this "cycle of life," and the entire structure collapses. The city needs the disease. She feeds on it. The low birth rate is counterbalanced by its inhabitants' incredible and unnatural longevity. Those who have fully fusionned are, from a theoretical point of view, immortal. And this immortality is the source and inspiration of the nascent Religion whose temple I entered last night. They call it "Sanctuary," and I soon found out who was in control of the whole goddamn mess: the very strange Retro-Nuns…
As I passed through the heavy doors of the Sanctuary, I could already tell something was off. I was expecting some kind of Christian temple. Well ... this cult took over what was left of a church and "redecorated" it in their own way. The stained-glass windows have been altered or replaced. They now depict scenes of biomechanical surgery performed by parodies of saints in white coats. Prostheses of arms, jaws, eyes, or even internal organs are exhibited in the reliquaries.
I walked in. Forward.
A human shadow approached me.
"You're new" she said.
It was not a question.
That was not an answer.
I rested my eyes on her. Detaching my sight from the eclectic and grim ornaments all around.
The nun's body was barely covered by a long black veil. Satin. Some twisted eroticism at play here. Flesh. And the spell-casting smell of church incense. I couldn't help noticing the details. Despite her apparent youth, her hair was moon-pale. Framing her hidden face, covered by what seemed to be a copper gas mask.
Mechanical prostheses as hands.
And the click of steel heels on the cold stone as she walked toward me.
"Follow me, Corpse. Sanctuary welcomes you. »
Yeah, Corpse, that's what she called me.
Then she showed me around and gave me a slow-paced proselytizing speech with a cold voice sliding from under her mask.
Interesting. Fascinating. Twisted. Scary.
The Retro-Nuns are devoted to faith in a Higher Power who designed, perpetuates, and propagates the Retro-Processus, for the good of humanity. According to their beliefs, fusion is a natural evolution of the human body, granting access to immortality.
They accept and worship the transformation generated by the Retro-Processus and glorify those who undergo it.
The nun explained to me the three steps and the two sacraments a human should expect in a faithful existence:
First, the life of the flesh (I am still there). An immature, fragile and imperfect stage of existence under which we are all brought into the world. That's why she called me Corpse. As she only sees the "already dead because faithless" in me.
Then, when the first signs of the Retro-Processus appear, a mechanical Baptism is celebrated at the Sanctuary. From there, the believer accumulates small fusions and bio-mechanical surgeries to slow the Retro-Processus, until they discover the ultimate object, the one with which they wish to spend eternity.
The final sacrament is then celebrated through the Ritual of Disembodiment. All implants and mechanical stoppers are removed from the flesh, leaving the believer's broken body in complete agony. In that state, the intense emotional attachment to the chosen object should accelerate the fusion. And dodging death, the believer reaches immortality.
On the other hand, the nuns vowed to dedicate their lives to the Processus and, therefore, will never fusion: they will speak the faith until their altered mechanical bodies stop working.
That's when I realized her mask was not one.
Coming home that night, I wondered which fate I would prefer... Death, surgery and prostheses, or fusion with an inert object.
I feel so lonely.