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How much further east could I go? The Clock of the Kala had long since fallen below the horizon in my wake. The people no longer spoke even the rudimentary traders language I had learned growing up in the black riage. The bright storm in the datasphere was close now; I could see the conflagration at its heart. There, perhaps a mile ahead, through the cracked an jutting spires of uplifted rock and stone. There, a new god of the datasphere was being born. Or perhaps a great battle for control over the Iron Wind was being fought as it had for unknown years and would for years more. I did not know what lay ahead, only that I needed to reach that point, to see what lay there, and witness what would happen. I felt it in my body, my mind, my soul; this was destiny.
The last mile felt like only a hundred yards, my destination was at hand, my destiny lay before me. Ahead I could see more of the storm than ever before; swirling energies and coruscating lights, rose from a sunken crater into the sky. Streamers and whorls spun about a central shaft of dazzling light that I knew was pure data. There in that depression lay the source of the storm and the answer to my questions.
My boots crunched on something and I stopped to look down. The ground was covered in tiny crystals, like sparkling shards of glass, or snow formed from quartz. It was a thin coating here, but I could see ahead that the crystals covered the ground more deeply ahead. I continued onward, heedless of the crunching below my heels.
I topped the rise and looked down. There, in the center of the crater, lay a mass of light too bright to make out. My eyes watered at the brightness, but I forced my way forward, stumbling down the slope blindly, reaching out without sight for whatever lay in that blinding light. My hand closed on something, a shaft of sharp irregular material. It cut my hand and burned my flesh. I could see my bones through my skin, and through my bones I could see data sprites compressed into solid matter. The sprites entered my blood, flowed into my veins, replaced my flesh as it burned away.
I screamed in terror and pain and sudden awareness and knowledge. I screamed as the sprites used my body to compile something new. I screamed the cry of a newborn as I was birthed into a new world.