Sometimes, he looks at Ren and he thinks of Galatea, formed so perfectly from the illusion of a woman, exactly as her creator wanted. When she sleeps, he will look at her and touch her face, and know: this is not marble brought to warm life, to be her creator’s companion in all things — this is just a young girl, ones and zeroes and computer code, who keeps the silence from breaking an old man’s heart.

On some level, he meant to tell her as soon as she was old enough to understand. Thirteen is not quite enough to weigh the situation and see the equation to its end. Makubex would know, but Makubex is a genius, and Gen knows he himself has been left behind. He meant to tell her, and then time slipped away from him, until she’d stepped over of her own accord, and learned the truth.

His statue was broken to pieces, and she wept tears of plaster and dust. The gods of Babylon City have only pity enough to grant her life for her creator, and not for any other.

And if Ren is Galatea, then Makubex is Icarus, who flew too high and was plunged into darkness as a result. Sheer luck, perhaps, kept his skull from being dashed to bits, or his body dissolving into gray dust.

Luck, or the will of the gods. Gen could, if he wished, reach through the networks and learn the secrets of Babylon City, as Makubex had. He could read of his own eventual fate, or of the prophecy that surrounds ties Raitei’s fate to the Beastmaster’s. Some well-placed keystrokes, and he could delve into the mathematical heart of the Archives, whirring to accommodate for the appearance of the Witch-Queen’s grandson, and how the calculations have shifted to keep the end product the same.

But Daedalus, genius inventor he was, dared not stir the waters, or challenge the will of the gods. He is a tired old man, with dreams that have flowered poisonously and withered away. The Labyrinth he helped create, with monsters at its core, runs on its own now, beyond his power to control.

Perhaps, then, Makubex is Icarus’ potential realized; if there is any who will break open the secrets of Babylon City, it will be that young boy. Daedalus has let his path diverge from that of his son, and cannot reach him now.

In his chair, Gen leans back with a groan, feeling his muscles pop and creak. A moment later, his Galatea comes in, and there is a stained apron tied around her skinny waist and long neck.
“Gramps,” she says, “dinner’s ready.” They have never discussed how a computer generated child can live with the true illusion of breathing, functioning life; Ren continues to make dinner for them, and he has watched her eat amounts appropriate for a growing girl her age.

“Ah,” he says, watching her. “Thank you, Ren.”

She shrugs and smiles, and the expression is tired. He thinks he can recall a similar weight in Makubex’s shoulders, shortly before the boy took his place at Raitei’s side. It pains him to see, but it’s something that she must solve for herself. Daedalus has put aside his drawing board; Pygmalion has cast aside his artist’s tools.

There is only himself, Gen the Pharmacist, and his granddaughter, who looks at him with such very real eyes.

“Coming?” she asks.

“Yes,” he says, and gets to his feet.

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