Keeping It Real Chapter 18

So why even make Lila a cyborg at all? That’s something that’s been nibbling at me and making me wonder. Sure there are some things Lila’s done so far that a regular person couldn’t like fly or lock up because she’s got a bug in her programming. But why not just have Lila be full human?

It would make her vulnerable as a character and then Robson could stop writing things like “AI-self”. Plus then Lila gaining magical powers by merging with an elf wouldn’t seem ridiculous. Ok, it would but not as bad as her being War Machine crossed with a terminator.

We rejoin Lila and Dar walking along the bottom of the lake. It’s slow going as they have to push their way past the water and each step sends them bounding forwards like they’re in reduced gravity. Luckily Lila keeps things light hearted by going a bad Jacques Cousteau impression. ‘Ze occe-an, a meestery weech you will explore with me and ze trusty crew of ze Calypso.’ ‘Stop it Lila. It wasn’t funny the first time and it’s not funny now.’

Again, I get sick of picking on the small things but the bottom of the lake should be muddy. Lila weighs at least a ton if not more and the bottoms of lakes are full of silt and mud. Something about being dirt underneath all that water and such. If Lila wasn’t sinking, at the very least she should be having a harder time in it than Dar.

And Robson seems to remember that her elves are better than everyone. Suddenly, Lila is using infrared imaging but Dar doesn’t have any trouble because he can see farther and better than her. Which makes me wonder why they don’t suffer from the effects of bright sunlight or streetlamps. If their eyes are so sensitive that they can see in near dark conditions, you’d think sunlight would smart a bit. Knowing Robson, only the dark elves are bothered by sunlight and only if they’re on the wrong side.

They come to a door and stand outside of it, Dar says something and then Lila can feel drum beats. Also, in completely unrelated plot happenings, a water dragon brushes past them. Lila knows that water dragons can detect the finest impurities with their whiskers and would have sensed if anything was wrong.

Aside from the pointless information, how does Lila know that much about a water dragon? I mean, elfland and earth have only been connected for six years, maybe a little longer. Where did she find the time to study an obscure creature in all the many thousands of new species that exist in elfland. It just seems like the kind of information which wouldn’t have yet become common knowledge among humans. But then Robson wouldn’t be able to impress us with her growing bestiary.

The door opens and Barry tells Lila not to hesitate. He warns her that the door is run by “primal magic” which won’t be bullied by her cyborg parts so she’d better not screw up. Lila then decides to turn her emotions off once more. Again, probably something that should have been done since she met Zal. But now the author throws in a half hearted warning screen on Lila’s HUD which warns her against possible psychosis through overuse. Like someone downloading free software riddled with bloatware, Lila clicks past the warning and ignores it.

Dar says they have to pass through three elements to get in and the first was the water while the third is air. He says that the second is the void which is supposed to be mostly nothing. Lila can barely make out images of the place using her sonar like Daredevil in the movie. Dar says he’s been here before but she can lead the way and Lila figures he’s using the tinkling of his equipment to sound the place out like she is.

Okay, Robson might be able to get a pass on the whole vision thing. Maybe the elves have irises that are a million times more flexible than those of us lowly humans. Fine. But they don’t anything like that in their ears. That’d make them like dogs in that they have sensitive hearing but really loud things, like fireworks or thunder, hurt. Not to mention performing at a “rock concert” or attending one.

Lila squeaks by a hole which is actually flat and magical. Dar pulls her along and says they must go towards the elemental while Lila complains about her emotions chip. Apparently it’s getting close to overloading and if that happens her emotions will come out in unexpected ways. I can’t even begin to wrap my head around how that works so I won’t bother. I will, however, picture the inside of Lila’s head as filled with tubes labeled ‘anger’ ‘self pity’ and so on. Right now steam is bursting the seams while hoards of mental homunculi scramble to prevent a head ‘splosion. ‘Hold tight cap’n. The stupidity is about to blow!’

Then an air elemental stops them in what is the most baffling sequence of the book so far. She throws a dried flower which ignites, Dar tells her to hold still as air is very sensitive, then Lila screams which somehow lets her mind merge with Barry’s for a second. This reveals to her that Barry was Dar’s ally all along and they have a bit of history and then something about Barry’s magic which Robson is saving for later. Then Barry asks to be put in control because the air elemental knows they’re not what they seem.

Being a moron who still hasn’t figured out you don’t let strangers control your body, Lila turns over the keys to Barry. Barry immediately makes things okay with the wind. Lila asks if Barry cast a spell and he says he knows of none that will hold the wind and that it only respects the strong willed. Once it’s gone he gives her control of her body back and asks if that’s really a nuclear reactor powering her and Lila says it is.

Dar is upset because they failed. The only way out of the void is through the hall of fire and the air elemental will have told the fire elemental that they’re not worthy. So Lila kisses him then considers nuking the place. The stone door from earlier starts pushing them along towards the fire hall so they hold each other while Lila thinks. Lila decides that she’ll just get rid of the oxygen in the room by firing a couple of grenades into it that way they can’t burn.

Personally, I would figure a fire elemental would be more of the embodiment of heat than actual fire. But Robson goes the other way and the elemental can’t hurt them right away. It can as oxygen starts coming back into the room but Lila rushes through and  leaps ten meters to the exit. She lands on a jade floor which instantly drops them into water. Now, Robson remember that Lila is a cyborg as she starts sinking because she’s made of metal.

‘Uh, durr, metal be heavy, durr!’

Luckily there are some elves nearby who reach in and pull Lila out. Elves must hit the gym everyday to be able to lift Lila. The mistake her for Barry but they’re very suspicious as they didn’t just waltz through the entrance. Lila says that spending so much time in deathland has affected changes and hopes they don’t pry further. Then the elf queen shows up and Robson dumps the largest paragraph she’s done on description.

I could quote it but I’m not searching for something which will replicate the mind erasers from MIB. She’s pretty, blonde, green eyed and wears “britches”. Which seems like an extreme anachronism to me. The elves do know what pants are by now, right? But maybe they’re not allowed to as they weren’t invented by someone with pointy ears.

Then Robson describes the room as being a bubble shaped into delicate elfin architechture. Because author forbid they build anything that looks even remotely crude. Then Dar says he’s brought Lila black to the queen. Lila gets upset but Barry reminds her the ruse was up when she used the grenades. So Lila plays along and the tension a double cross plot could have generated is circling the drain.

Arie says that it’s rude to wear the face of your victim, as she believes Lila killed Barry, but Barry says not to drop the llusion because Arie only knows she’s human not cyborg. Lila says she’ll stay cloaked and the queen threatens Lila with a sword that can change shape to her will. Lila grabs it and bends it even as it cuts her fingers to the bone. The queen is nonplussed outwardly but says they’ll work on getting Barry out of there but Lila is to be jailed until then.

One of the female elves is distraught and wants to spend time communing with Barry as he may have advice on how best to get him free. The queen permits her a half hour before they begin the exorcism. Then Lila spits in Dar’s face before she’s taken away just to complete the illusion.

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