“You say that you are alive.” The metal man said, leaning close. In the darkness, the fraction of light we had glinted off the curve of his metal head, the crystals of his eyes reflecting dancing shards. I was uncomfortable – this wasn’t the sort of discussion one wanted to have while awaiting rescue.
“You say that you are alive, and you think that I am not.” He – it? – continued. “What makes you alive?”
I drew in a deep breath. After he’d bound my leg, after the rockslide and the collapse of the mine shaft, I’d been trying to focus, engage those hypnosis techniques I’d been practicing, to quell the pain. It was working – but this conversation was all that I could focus on. I’d have to answer, or taste the pain. I sat back against the mineshaft wall and looked up at it defiantly. “Yes, I am alive. And will be for a good long time, metal man. This wound’s not going to kill me, and even weakened as I am, I doubt you’re a match for me.”
“It’s true,” the warforged said, collecting wood. The crystal tracery on his body shimmered as he moved. “I’ve been trapped here for some time indeed. However,” he said, raising his hand – and I smelt the sharp, acrid scent of cordite, and there was a silent explosion of light from his hand. “Yours is not the only mind capable of exceeding its conventional boundaries.”
I stared, agog. That was… that was psionics! What kind of flayer-born monstrosity was this?
It tossed the wood down before me and, I fancied, that strangely unreadable expression raised an eyebrow. “You seem surprised.”
“Who powers you, construct?” I demanded, glaring at him. Someone was channeling psychic energy through him – it was obvious. Damnation, though – there was nobody living in these mines, our divinings had shown – so whatever master powered this creature did so with phenomenal raw power. “Who created you?”
He turned, as he arrayed the wood in a circle, putting his hand on one of the sticks. As he made contact and drew his hand away, the light remained – a fireless campfire. It was oddly comforting and familiar. “I walked as I am from the womb of the earth, as did all of my brothers and sisters.” He turned to me, and now I could see his face clearly. “You say you are alive, but you do not think I share that state?”
“Of course not,” I grunted, sitting up and resting my good hand on my hip. “You’re a machine. A collection of parts.”
“Yes. And your aorta – that’s the vessel that carries your blood to your brain – is a tube. Your hands,” he raised his own and closed it into a fist, “Is a grasping device. And your heart – the thing that you ascribe so much meaning to, the thing that holds memories of…” His eyes flashed for a moment, “Cecilia? … That is a pump.” He stood and stared at me.
“You say you are alive and that I am dead. I say that your imagination is dead, and that you’re as bigoted as everyone who called you half-breed.” He gave a disdainful toss of his head and turned away slightly, and I realised – he was miming spitting on me. “The mind that drives me and the mind that unites you, these are things that defy categorisation, they are things that refuse to be confined by mere ‘parts’ and labels of that ilk!” he stepped forward, within striking distance if he started something, “If you discount my mind because of my flesh, you discount your own. You and I are alike, half-elf. We’re both a collection of parts looking for some reason to feel special.”
He paused, then turned and stood in the shaft, looking up. “Now sleep. I know that your parts need that, while mine seem to be made of sterner stuff.”
This was written in response to a forum question about whether or not Warforged could be Psionically active and why.