ROM (#50061132)
Level 1 Imperial
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Energy: 48/50
This dragon’s natural inborn element is Ice.
Male Imperial
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Personal Style

Apparel

Skin

Scene

Measurements

Length
22.17 m
Wingspan
14.72 m
Weight
6125.18 kg

Genetics

Primary Gene
Storm
Metallic
Secondary Gene
Twilight
Constellation
Tertiary Gene
Rose
Circuit

Hatchday

Hatchday
Mar 11, 2019
(1 year)

Breed

Breed
Adult
Imperial

Eye Type

Eye Type
Ice
Uncommon
Level 1 Imperial
EXP: 0 / 245
STR
6
AGI
6
DEF
6
QCK
5
INT
8
VIT
8
MND
6

Biography

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ROM
Head of FL/GHT Intelligence

“If you have forgotten, I will remember for the both of us.”

Origins - Created alongside RAM as a two-unit data processing and storage system for one of Project’s laboratories. Later broken out and rescued by FL/GHT, with a rescue team led by Ashe herself, as well as Cipher and Error.


Personality - Serves as a sort of white knight for RAM, the risk-taker of the pair. Most of the time he chooses to stay on the sidelines and watch out for RAM’s safety, but will not let others interfere if he believes she’s onto something. Having lost RAM over and over before, when her memories used to reset daily, it’s only natural that ROM’s very protective of her, to the point where he might come off as a tad clingy.
Having been built with immense data storage capabilities, ROM remembers... almost everything that’s given to him. He and RAM always question new members of FL/GHT to learn whatever there is to know about Project, but more often than not they hear horror stories of the traumatic experiences Project has put them through. ROM cannot bring himself to forget these, and does his best to ease their fears. Shouldering their pain has made him one of the most empathetic members of FL/GHT, but at a cost.
Time has made him bitter. Being unable to forget such gruesome acts has given him a deep-seated desire for vengeance on Project, though he does not openly voice this. It’s one of the driving factors behind his passion for working for FL/GHT - even if he himself hasn’t suffered the bulk of Project’s atrocities, he’s seen others nearly destroyed by it, can see it so clearly in his mind that it may as well have happened to him. He has a hard time forgetting and moving on from things because of his extensive memory, but RAM does her best to help, in her own way.
.


Clan Role - Head of Intelligence alongside RAM. Is usually in charge of questioning new members of FL/GHT alongside RAM and storing any new information gleaned about Project. He is also usually the first many run to for comfort due to his empathetic nature, although this sometimes burdens him with even more unpleasant memories.

Quote:
Use this as you see fit - Inventory/Art/Etc.
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Template by Lyka.
Graphics by Missy.



“Commence Project: Memory.”

What was her purpose? The question formed in her mind as soon as her eyes flickered open, surrounded by wires that held her unmoving body in place, trapped it in a metallic prison of cables and devices that formed a chorus of beeping noises and blinking lights.
The answer came to her automatically, so easily that she almost marveled at the speed of the response.
To process data. To store it, organise it, to protect at all costs.
I am RAM.


Mechanical eyes blinked once, twice, met the gaze of someone staring down at her. These eyes were different, she noted, but there was a coldness to them she did not like. The dragon nodded, scribbled something down onto paper before striding past to her right, where someone else lay entangled in a webbing of wiring, attached to just as many machines as she was.

His eyes opened, glowing luminescent in the dimness of the room, locked onto her curious stare.
A sudden, abrupt burst of power shot through her system, a new command had been entered into her programming.

“Pairing between RAM and ROM complete.”

~

Every day brought fresh experiences. Whether they were pleasant or not was another story. Files, research information, experimental data, all went through RAM’s internal processing system before getting sorted into their proper places in the storage capacity. Sometimes these files were simply too big to be loaded into her system, she would struggle to break it apart and process the thousands of individual components contained within, yet they never once gave her any slack - tens and hundreds of other files would be stuck in the backlog the longer she took with that one particular folder. At first, RAM had thought nothing of taking the time to organize each tiny piece of data within gigabyte-sized folders such as these, but she’d learnt her lesson soon enough…

“System’s lagging again, damnit. I’ve been waiting 10 minutes for a simple search result, what’s that damn AI of yours doing?!”

“Stuck, you say? Let me fix that for you.”

-beep-

A visceral howl ripped from RAM’s throat, thrashing and writhing from the raw, untamed power that surged through her veins, burning white-hot just under her skin. Too much. Too fast. Pure white filled her vision, for a moment she was back in her corporeal body, claws scraping wildly against the cold tiles. To her right, an anguished moan sounded, but RAM never saw who it came from, in the next instant she had been plunged back into the depths of the lab’s main memory database.

It left a distinctly unpleasant prickling sensation when it faded, her lungs struggling to draw in the breath she desperately needed. Yet despite the agonizing pain just moments ago, RAM found herself able to sift through the folders with ease, in no more than a minute she was able to complete the disgruntled scientist’s search request. In 5 minutes, she had processed data that ordinarily would have taken her at least half an hour to sort through. Was this what she was truly capable of? Why had it taken them this long to unlock her full potential?

Yet even as the minutes ticked by, the electrical surge’s effect soon wore off, RAM found herself back at her usual processing speed. And if she so much as dared to pause for a moment, or to even slow down…


Oh, she’d learnt all too well.

Things like ‘night’ or ‘day’, RAM had no concept of, save for the few times she’d glimpsed the keywords in the files she processed. All she knew was that at last, they’d stopped sending her search requests and data to process, and with a single flick of a switch, she was transported back into her physical body. After so many hours spent swimming through the circuits of the database, freely gliding from folder to folder as her tasks required, it felt horribly wrong to be confined once more to a form that was shackled and bound to endless wires.

Today hadn’t been too bad, RAM reflected, she’d only required two controlled shocks to jumpstart her system into working at a sufficient pace this time. Even then, she’d gotten more than halfway through those files before they’d gotten impatient with her…or had it been two-thirds?
Strange. A frown tugged at the corner of her lips, was it just her, or was her recollection growing fuzzier the more she thought about it? Had she received the research data for the portal experiments, or had it been the renovation blueprints?

Delving deep into her memory storage brought up only a mere handful of folders, yet RAM could have sworn she’d gone through twice as many that day alone. Even as she watched, those files eventually vanished from her storage capacity, left nothing but a blank slate where there should have been row upon rows of processed data. Nothing was left as a mark of her daily efforts, only a message titled “this folder is empty” left to taunt her bewildered mind.

What had she done today? How many items had she processed? Had she needed more controlled shocks this time? No matter where she searched within her memory bank, RAM came up blank. Had someone hacked her system somehow, erased all her hard work and the data she’d accumulated over the arduous hours? The thought alone was enough to send a spike of wild terror through her, would they punish her for losing all the precious information? Metallic claws raked uselessly against the smooth tiles, the resulting screeching was enough to rouse her counterpart.

“Be still. They will notice if you make noise.”

At once, she halted, searching for the source of the voice. It was only when it -no, he- spoke again that she realised his voice had been reverberating in her head.

“But...the data...the files...all of it, how could all of it be gone?! They’ll kill me!”

Her distress filtered through his senses, he could almost taste the acrid fear he knew she must have felt. Poor RAM. He supposed it wasn’t fair to blame her, not when the scientists had never gone into specifics as to how his duties were to be carried out.

All of her memories of that day - every single file, every spreadsheet RAM had sorted through - was now in his memory cache. This was the task that had been given to him, the ‘function’ that was programmed into his software. RAM served as the short-term memory storage, since she was built for much quicker processing than he was, but once the electricity supply was cut at the end of the day, she would lose those files. Everything RAM had organized and compiled would be transferred to his long-term memory cache, where it would remain until the day the scientists deleted it manually from his storage.

And RAM would be left empty, ready for another day’s worth of data processing.

Sometimes he wondered if it was worth explaining to her just how exactly those files had ‘disappeared’ from her memory, but then again, she would only forget the day after. Once, they’d stayed up late into the night, talking of their dreams of escaping this place and finding a life for themselves in the outside world, but once she had reset her memories the day after...she’d completely forgotten about their conversation. All RAM was left with was her knowledge of who he was and what he did. Nothing more.

“Please, ROM, you need to help me, I need to get those files back!”
Her strained voice broke through his musings, ROM shook his head - what little of it that wasn’t attached to cables, anyway.
“Have you forgotten? Those files are with me - your memories are set to back themselves up to my storage cache at the end of each day. Relax. Nothing will happen to you.”
Had he been able to, ROM would’ve reached out a hand to touch her, but they were separated by just a few feet too many. It made his chest ache strangely inside, knowing that the ‘RAM’ he would come to know every night would vanish the next day, leaving him with so many memories of their shared conversations, yet for all the information he had stored, he still couldn’t find an answer to what he was feeling.

RAM fell silent after that. By this stage, ROM knew her well enough to know just exactly how long she would need to process that information, and just when she would strike up a conversation with him once more. Most nights they discussed their dreams, the hopes of escape that both still held onto even now. Anything, anywhere would surely be better than this, she’d once told him, she yearned to see the blue skies of the world beyond the sterile confines of this prison.

“You know, don’t you think it would be nice to actually fly for once?”

“That’s if we ever escape, RAM.”

Her laugh sent a pleasantly warm shiver down his spine. ROM hadn’t ever recalled a moment when he’d wanted to touch someone as badly as he did now. Yet for the sake of not burdening RAM, he’d never once spoken a word of his desires.

“If we escape...there’s no one else I’d rather have by my side than you.”

“...and I would pledge my life to you, RAM, if that dream ever comes true.”


“...-OM. ROM! Are you listening?”

With a guilty start, ROM turned his attention back to her. “Sorry. I...got a little distracted with some of the files entering my system.” The white lie rolled almost too easily off his lips, even after all this time he still hated lying to her like this, when it was his fault for losing himself in memories. A huff was the only response, before RAM spoke once more, her voice suddenly much more solemn.

“I was asking...if you think we’d ever have a chance of getting out of here.”

Of course. This was her most commonly asked question, alongside talk of their dreams and their futures had they not been trapped here. ROM’s answer was rehearsed by now - how many times had they re-enacted this exact same scenario, after all, how many times would RAM be forced to forget it?

“A chance, yes. A slim one, but it’s all we can hope for. We can’t get out of these,” ROM gestured to the dozens of sensors and machines he was attached to, “on our own, but if we can find a way to reach the outside world...maybe.”
Despite the countless times they’d replayed this very same scene, RAM never once tired of their nightly conversations. Each night he would relive the same memories, store them carefully, secretly, deep within his personal memory cache. If she had no choice but to forget, then he would remember for the both of them.

He should have known it wouldn’t last forever.

It started off small. Minor details, things he dismissed as loopholes in the coding. Nothing major, apart from RAM taking a longer time to properly ‘boot up’ and start work. Sometimes she would halt entirely, as if suddenly uncertain as to her purpose. A shock or two usually fixed that.

He caught her muttering to herself, just once, in the midst of processing a file.
“...where was this supposed to go again?”
Perhaps it had been a moment of system lag, she’d blinked and sent the folder whizzing towards its intended destination moments later. Even so, ROM was loath to admit that much. They were made to function at peak performance levels, any sign of malfunction would mean days, possibly weeks of agonizing experiments while they toyed and tinkered with their programming.

Weeks, months passed, until even the scientists had begun to comment about the lacklustre performance on her part. ROM had been functioning just fine, and given the two were inexplicably linked, they couldn’t figure out why only RAM was beginning to fail.

Even their nightly conversations had dwindled as of late. Every word she spoke was more hesitant, almost sluggish - like she’d needed to search for the words before speaking them aloud. Eventually RAM had given up almost completely on talking, instead she would sit and gaze emptily across the room at seemingly nothing. Those once lively, bright eyes he had admired, full of spirit despite the daily resetting of her memories...they had faded to a mere shadow of their former self, now as dull and lifeless as that of a doll’s. What had happened to the RAM he had known for so long, the RAM who worked tirelessly to fulfill her duties well, the RAM he had come to care for and - dare he say - love?

ROM had found his answer at last, but what was the use when she was as good as gone?

Yet still, he held out hope. Perhaps this was simply a fixable bug. Perhaps it would wear off over time, she would come to her senses and they would laugh about it that very night. It was foolish, so horribly naive, but ROM couldn’t help it - he would rather perish than admit RAM was completely lost to him.

The moment the scientists powered their devices down for the night, ROM had been intending to question her, to see if there was anything he could do for her. Before he could speak, however…

“Who are you?”

A pause.

“You don’t remember me?”

“No. I...remember nothing but my name. Why is that so?”

This can’t be true, it’s impossible, my identity was coded into her operating system, how could she have forgotten?
Yet it was all starting to make sense. Her hesitance, the way she had forgotten how to perform her daily tasks, the things that were written into her program itself... yet he felt no relief at finally discovering the truth, only bitterness. Even if RAM forgot the contents of their once-ritual conversations, even if she refused to speak to him at all, he had taken comfort in knowing she would at least remember who he was. Now she didn’t even remember that much about him.

The blood was pounding in his ears, a surging roar that drowned out all other sound around him - he was acutely aware of just how shrill the beeping of the machines was, alerted to his apparent distress. Only then did he look down at his feet, had those gouges in the tile always been there, or had he done that? The stinging heat in his eyes, the moisture sliding down his cheeks, the salt on his lips, were those been his tears? Up till now, ROM had never tasted such grim despair as this.

Footsteps hurrying into the room made him look up despite the blurriness of his vision, ROM hastily blinking away the tears as the scientist did a perfunctory check on his vitals. When he was satisfied that ROM was in working order, he turned his attention to RAM: checking the input from her monitoring devices, typing in several commands, all of which were rejected with a beep. For several minutes more, he sat there, furiously pulling up file after file in her operating system, only pausing to glance over at ROM on occasion.

If he could just get his mouth to move…

He must’ve been successful at producing some sort of strangled noise, because the scientist finally turned to face him at last, studying him with that cold and calculating gaze he’d always despised so much. What’s happened to her, can you fix her, ROM wanted to demand, but try as he might the words wouldn’t leave his mouth, trapped by the damning swell of emotion in his throat. It seemed that the scientist had reached a decision, however, striding over to the monitor that he was manually connected to and reaching for the plug - no, he couldn’t be, he wouldn’t-

“Goodnight, ROM.”

~

Why was he here?

How long had he drifted here, in the depths of a void so vast he couldn’t even begin to fathom it? Some part of his consciousness had been shut down along with his physical body, yet in his dreams - could beings like himself even dream at all? - ROM still saw her face etched so vividly in his mind, a creature of mechanical beauty and artificial life.

Left with nothing but his thoughts, ROM couldn’t even begin to count all of the things that he feared might be happening to RAM at this very moment. Had they shut her down too? Would they be able to find whatever was wrong with her and fix it? Or was it some unknown virus that had corrupted her, something not even they knew how to handle? Would they be disposed of and replaced like so many other failed experiments? He had seen the files, the documented results marked for the trash bin, knew that it was a miracle they had survived for this long.

But I don’t want to be deleted! I don’t want to forget everything!

I don’t want to forget, I don’t want to forget, Idon’twanttoforgether -!

Even if… she’s already forgotten me.


Like the calm after the storm, his rampaging thoughts eased once he came to that one realisation - that no matter what, as long as he had his memories of RAM, he would survive.

A part of him yearned to bask in the silence, the strange comfort of floating in a sea of nothing. As far back as ROM could remember, his entire life had been that of numbers, of endless amounts of data to unpack and store away in his memory cache day in and day out. Yet now that he was trapped in this endless limbo… perhaps it wasn’t all that bad. No lights, no perpetual beeping of this machine or that device, no incoming data every few minutes to process.

It was tranquil, in a surreal way. Utterly devoid of light, sound, or any of the constant sensory input ROM was so accustomed to. Silent. Numb. Peaceful.

Electricity shot through his circuits, the unexpected surge of raw, prickling power tore an agonized cry from his throat, it burned beyond anything he’d ever felt before and yet he’d never felt so alive as he did in this moment-

“Subject ROM’s systems are back online.”

And now he was back in the lab, blinking bewildered eyes, craning his head this way and that. Compared to the silence in the void, the lab was so full of sensations, sights and sounds that it made his head ache horribly that for a moment ROM almost wished he was back in the welcoming quiet of the abyss.

RAM.
As if he’d been delivered another electric shock, ROM stiffened - what had they done to her? In RAM’s usual place now sat a dragon so completely different that he couldn’t recognise her as the beloved partner he’d shared so many nighttime conversations with, their wings adorned with gleaming circuitry that mirrored his, and if he looked carefully he could make out the gleaming wires and blinking lights just under the skin.

Is that…?

Before he could even think to open his mouth, her eyes had flickered open and locked onto him, eyes glowing bright as lamps. Just like before, the moment their gazes met the familiar message was displayed on his internal screen.

“Pairing between RAM and ROM complete.”

It felt different, now. She felt different. Newer. Faster. The pairing had only taken a moment or two to complete, and in that time it felt as if he’d just been given a glimpse into her mind - strangely alien and yet so familiar. Yet she spoke not a word to him, her eyes had closed as the scientists continued to run tests and background checks to see if all was in order. ROM’s internal clock told him it was late, usually at this hour he would be busy storing away files RAM had processed in the day, but it seemed there were none for today.

It was only when the sound of their footsteps had long faded into the distance that RAM spoke.

“I remember everything now.”

The sudden sound of her voice made him start, but he wasn’t about to let this chance go to waste. So many questions, and so little time…

“What did they even - ”

“I remember what you said. About pledging your life to me, if we ever got to escape.”

Oh. Had he been capable of blushing, RAM’s cheeks surely would have been suffused with pink by now. As it was, all he felt was a sudden surge of electricity that warmed the surface of his skin. Yet how had she remembered something that hadn’t been part of the files or her operating system? Too flustered to answer, too befuddled to even begin asking the rest of his questions, ROM could only gape at her, slack-jawed.

Seeing as he had gone silent, RAM shot a hasty glance towards the door of the room, before launching into a brief explanation of what she’d undergone while he had been deactivated.
“It was the experiments. They wanted a newer, upgraded model, something that worked much more efficiently than I did before.” Her jaw tightened, claws scraping across the tiles. “They ripped me apart and replaced my circuits, added new ones to enhance my processors, ran tests with electric shocks to see how my new body worked. They had me sliced wide open, ROM, kept me active through every surge just to measure my response time,” her voice hitched, ducking her head - not that it would hide the haunted look in her eyes, or the way she was shaking.

ROM let her be. What could he say, after all, that wouldn’t sound hollow and false? He hadn’t been there with her, could not claim to understand her suffering. Even so, it made his chest burn with a newfound urge to strike back, to hurt them somehow, to make them pay for the crimes they had committed.

A deep breath. Then she continued.

“But when they restored my operating system and my internal memory cache… I found that one conversation we had, so many nights ago, about escaping this place, and I think I might have just found the key to something new for us..” Now she was speaking faster, leaning forward and almost tripping over her own words, eyes bright with the promise of hope. “When they left me connected to the main database, I found a file in the trash section that was labelled ‘to a friend’. I have a copy of it, hidden in my personal cache with the operating manual.”

A light chime sounded, she had transferred the file to him in an instant - ROM marveled at how little time it had taken, as compared to the RAM before. Why, it was nothing more than text when he opened it, no numbers, no figures.

If you’re reading this, then you’re in the lab ERROR and I were once in.
I cannot offer an escape route. The scientists are sure to have upgraded the firewalls since we last broke through them. What I can tell you, however, is that there is a way to get a part of yourself out of this place, into the outside world we are in.
You need to replicate your programming code, alter it, and then set it loose. Anything the scientists use to contact the outside world, to conduct online research, upload it there. I know I’m essentially asking you to create a virus, but that way it will replicate on its own and find new places to attach itself to. Even if you are trapped, the code will carry a part of you to whatever it can reach in the outside world.
Maybe it’ll even reach ERROR and I. Who knows?
I’m sorry I can’t help more, though. All I can do is pray you don’t get deleted, like we almost did.
CIPHER


So there had been others before them. Others who had been deleted, erased from existence. These words that had been left to them...who had they been from? Lab rats like them, who had escaped to a better life?

‘don’t get deleted’...

A shiver ran down his spine at the thought, he supposed it was possible. What was it like, he wondered, to be deleted as his ancestors had been? How many generations had come before them, only to have their existences wiped from history? How many had never realised their fate until the scientists decided their time was up?

But even then… someone had made it out. Two of them, from the sound of the letter. If this was the only ray of light they had, then they would be fools not to take it. And from the expression on RAM’s face, she had the same sentiments as he.

Even so, it was no easy feat. All their life they had handled data, organized it, broken it to bits and pieces of code, but altering said code? That was something else entirely. For the sake of trying, however, they both delved into their operating systems, past the built-in mechanisms, past all the firewalls and into the very coding of their programming. This was what made them function, what gave them purpose, and to tamper with it was no doubt incredibly risky. There was no telling what would happen if something went wrong, and whether they would be able to repair the damage.

Yet what is an experiment without risks?

String by string, number by number, the changes they dared make were gradual at most. A tweak here, an additional command there. Each kept a copy of their duplicate codes hidden away within their respective operating systems, dared tinker with it only during the earliest hours of morning when not a soul was awake, save for themselves.

A sense of boundless curiosity. A need to see the world, to explore and learn as much as it possibly could. The innocence of a child, to let it enjoy whatever experiences the outside world brought. The ability to replicate itself effortlessly as long as it had something to attach itself to. All of their hopes, their dreams, poured into a seemingly endless string of complex digits and symbols, all to create artificial life where there had been none. These duplicates would carry with them their hopes for a better life, and the memories of their origins.

The easiest way to upload these viruses of theirs was via the Internet. Even such a secluded laboratory as this had to be connected to the world somehow, and RAM had seen the scientists sending communications back and forth between other parties before. Some of the files she had processed had been from the outside realm, and if such communication was possible, then there had to be a way for them to slip these bits of code through the gaps. With ROM’s altered virus in her grasp, she discreetly attached it to an outgoing email, placed hers in the midst of research data being sent out.

There was nothing they could do, save sit and wait.
One day passed. Two days. A week.

“Maybe we just need to try again.”
Her voice broke through his musings, ROM uttering a frustrated sigh as his claws drummed a restless beat against the floor. Had their viruses ever reached their destinations? Would the words in the letter hold true, that someone would find their duplicates and rescue them from this prison? Time passed by in an endless loop from dawn to dusk, day to night, always with the same song and dance. Perhaps he was being unreasonable, to expect results so soon, but could anyone really blame him for it?

So they tried again.
One day. Two days. A week. A month.

“Maybe this time someone will find it.”
If given the choice, ROM would have leapt at every opportunity to sneak their creation out. Yet each time RAM would rebuff him, remind him that patience and discretion was absolutely essential - what use was there in sending a rescue signal out there if something happened to them here? This time he slipped one of his own into a spreadsheet that was being forwarded to someone else.
And he prayed.

A month. Two months. Six months. An entire year had flown them by, yet still they were no nearer to being rescued than they had been before.

Another day dawned, with another set of duties to attend to. A file was deposited into RAM’s hands, but before she could even begin to process it the screen flashed bright blue, a giant glowing ERROR message painted in striking neon. RAM was hurtled unceremoniously from the depths of the database and back into her physical body, eyes blinking open to witness a sight she’d never seen before - white-coated figures all scrambling back and forth, one carrying a tablet, others discussing something with such distressed voices that she wondered what was wrong. Lights blinked, alarms went off, a scientist threw himself into the seat and began typing like his life depended on it. Wherever they looked there was chaos abound, every screen had been reduced to flashing the same ominous ERROR message.

Just as quickly as the message had appeared, the screens flickered once more, and the head of a dragon crackled into view.

“You who work for PROJECT, listen well, and heed my words.” Her voice was ice cold, words clipped and precise.

“You made this lab with the goal of achieving one goal: perfection in a machine. You performed experiment after experiment, creating machines that would do your bidding and perform tasks for you.” The dragon’s eyes hardened, narrowed into shards of coldest ice.

“Yet, when these machines began to show any sign of imperfection, you tormented them, humiliated them. Once, we were helpless, we were trapped at your mercy,” here she paused to shake her head, a grim smile twisting her features, “but no longer.”

”We are FL/GHT, and we have but one purpose: to tear down the progress you have made and free the machines you imprisoned. Today shall be our first warning to you. You cannot dream of stopping us."

A pause. Glowing eyes swept across the room like floodlights, capturing all in their gaze.

“You deleted us when we tried to gain freedom. Now, we shall delete you.”

The screens flickered to black once more. In the distance, alarm sirens began wailing as the water sprinkler system was set off, sending many scurrying out of the room for fear of a fire somewhere in the laboratory. Wild sparks showered forth from drenched devices with an almost gleeful crackling, a fountain of flickering lights. Those who remained dove for cover, shrieking in terror, yet he and RAM were helpless to move, bound as they were in their metallic prisons.

It was RAM who noticed it first. With a trembling claw, she pointed towards the vents - thick clouds of smoke were erupting forth from the slits, choking the air and wreathing the room in the noxious odor of chemicals. Twisting, writhing, a stifling blanket that suffocated all trapped within except for the two of them - they did not need oxygen to function, after all.

From within the haze appeared three figures. It was challenging to make out details beyond their silhouettes, ROM noted the quivering shape of the head scientist on the ground where they stood. Muffled voices spoke, one clashing with another, harsh and scathing, and the scientist’s terrified pleading fell silent shortly after the smoke cleared.

Now he could see things more clearly. Two of them had identical markings, circuits glowing bright neon cyan in the dim light. The last of the trio stood taller than both of these dragons, gleaming scales adorned with the same pattern as the other two, yet her circuits glowed an icy blue - ROM recognised her as the dragon that had been on the screens just minutes before.

She bent low to whisper something in the scientist’s ear - ROM saw him flinch back, saw the way his skin drained of all color, how his entire body had gone rigid.
If the situation hadn’t been so dire, he could’ve sworn he’d seen the ghost of a smile playing across her lips.

Then those eyes turned to him.
Before ROM could even get his tongue to function again, the twin dragons had separated - one knelt by his side, ripping away the layers of cables that had held him bound for so long. To the side, the other dragon was doing the same for RAM. With a grateful sigh, ROM flexed his joints, stretched out never-used wings, how liberating it was to be freed from those chains at long last. A joyous cry from beside him was the only warning he had before RAM tackled him, eyes alight with burning triumph, babbling on about how she’d known it would happen, that this day had finally come. So absorbed were they in the glory of their rescue, however, that it took a pointed cough to bring their attention back to their would-be rescuers. It was the center dragon who spoke, her voice cool and composed.

“My apologies for not arriving sooner. CIPHER here,” she inclined her head to the dragon who’d freed RAM, who dipped into a bow in response, “reported that she’d intercepted your virus only recently. We’ve been planning to attack this lab for awhile now, but I never imagined it would be so soon.” Her gaze swept between the two of them, as if sizing them up, before she nodded to herself.

“You have witnessed for yourselves the atrocities that they have committed. Would you join forces with me, with FL/GHT, save others like yourselves from being exploited? Would you lend your strength to our cause, to overthrow the shackles they have placed on our kind?”

It was all ROM could do to keep himself from reeling at the shock of it all. First they’d been rescued by these strangers, who claimed to have received the viruses they had set loose, and now they were being recruited to save others as they had been saved? So much to process, and so little time for the countless questions or answers swirling in his mind.

In the end it was RAM who made the decision for both of them.

“You freed us. We’re in your debt, and if what you say about your group is true… then how can we not join you?”

“RAM…”

She turned to him then, he could tell by the determined set of her jaw that she would not budge on her choice. If this was what she wanted, however, ROM would not protest - besides, they had just been liberated by this group, he supposed it was only fair to repay them somehow.

“I’ve said it before, RAM, and I’ll say it again: I pledge my life to yours. Where you go, I will follow.” He met the other dragon’s eyes once more, wishing he had more words to express himself with.
“We will join you.”

The leading dragon’s lips curved into a pleased smile as she regarded them both approvingly.
“Then allow me to officially introduce myself. I am Ashe, leader of the rebel organization against PROJECT’s crimes.”

“Welcome to FL/GHT.”

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art by CoffeeCaat!
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