Aran
The War
 
027: Clearing A Path     028: Ambush     029: Sahris
030: A Weapon Given     031: Duel


Aran's facePost: 08.14.1998
Date: 12.19.2195
Time: Midday
For the past two days, the Pure have been loading their personal possessions on the train, along with their information and technology that has been saved from before the fALL.  Aran and the Technomancers are preparing to leave, and deal with a new problem: Doc has disappeared. 
Clearing A Path

"Aran...Aran...."  The voice seemed to pop a bubble of blessed solitude.   The thoughtful world of daydreaming was melted away by color, sound, and voice.  The nearest being Ta-Kyn.  Aran turned, folding his wings back into his body. 

"Yes."  Aran began walking towards the young technomancer.  "What is it?" 

"The wirewitches gave a full report, you were right.  They're all modified.  Every one." 

"Hmmm." 

"Ummm...Aran?"  Ta-Kyn held up a small device.  The small cube looked like an older interface unit for something. 

"What?" 

"This is something you should have."  He tossed it to Aran.  "This train is rigged for remote control.  However, not from the inside, apparently a Technomancer can link into it.  That's the interface unit, if I understand." 

"You're telling me that this thing HAS to be piloted by a Technomancer." 

"Well," Ta-Kyn coughed politely.  "Apparently only you, it requires essence for control." 

Aran's visor slid over his eyes and he scanned the crowd. 

"When I find John Salan, I'll kill 'im." 

*    *    * 

"Betcha can't catch me!"  The young boy laughed. 

"Yes I CAN!"  The defiant brother screamed.  "I'm Ar-in, the metal warrior!  I'll catch you!" 

Kreep strode through the crowd with a gait that never slowed.  The crowd parted around him like he was carrying the worst news they'd ever heard.  Part of it was because of his expression.  That alone would have caused some people to faint.  But he had experienced one of his 'episodes' after he an Aran had talked last. That had changed him more than just attitude this time.  It happened in the night.  The same dream, a boy, himself probably... 

The night was cold, Kevin huddled against the wall to keep warm.  He had given his sister the blanket, though his mother had draped it over both her kids.  He always did this, keep silent, pretending to sleep.  Then he would sneak away, creeping towards the night stand, and put whatever change he had scraped together with his mothers collection, and return to put the blanket over her.  He was tough, he was gonna grow up and be just like Ichi, the Technomancer.  He'd make enough fellinum to get them a house somewhere.  His sister wouldn't be hungry, and his mother wouldn't cry in the night.  Kevin would make sure they were ok.

The door opened as a face of pure terror slid inside the walls and towards the bed.  Kevin froze, telling himself he was dreaming.  The face took his mothers body like a limp rag and tossed it aside.  It picked up his sister and held her aloft, as she screamed.  Tiny rivulets of skin rose on her arm and shot through her body.  Her screams were brief, even less than his mothers.  Her hair turned to gleaming strands, falling out to leave a single, swaying strand.  Her eyes glossed over, and all his nightmares came to life.  The evil people who stole children who didn't obey their mommas.

"WIRWICH!"  Kevin screamed. The face turned placidly to look at him.

"We have no need of a warlock. Kill him."

His sister turned to him, her arm a blade.

"No..don't, sis..."

"I'm not your sister."  The same voice drove like nails into his skull. "My name is--"

Kreep's eyes opened as he realized the crowd was backing even farther away from him.  With shock he began pulling himself together.  Blades retraced into his skin, smoothing slightly.  Some of the damage was too far, he hadn't caught himself in time.  His finger nails were already two inches long, razor sharp barbs.  And his hair was almost molecular-thin wires of steel and triadium.  As he threw his head up, his hair whipped through the air, creating humming and whistling sounds.  In the distance, a man was being thrown through the crowd. 

*    *    *

Aran's force wall flew from his hands, picking John Salan up again and hurling him further away.   Leaning, with an expression born of both annoyance and boredom, Aran waited for the soldier to charge him again before throwing another translucent wave of blue energy towards him.   Kreep emerged from the crowd, his ever changing body shifting slightly as he walked.  His hair seemed longer. 

"Morning,"  Aran greeted. 

"Morning."  Kreep's reply.  "Bad news I assume?" 

"Just for me."  Aran sighed, throwing a thin bar of blue light at the fighter, tripping him to the ground.  "I've got to pilot the train." 

"That's why he brought you?  To pilot the train." 

"Only way it could be done."  Aran sighed and threw another wave of energy.  The fighter struggled to stand but was tossed through the air on the crest of a wave. 

"So what's this for?" 

"Every time I use this blasted stuff, It feels like I'm getting hurt.  I'm about to pilot this train for a few weeks.  I just want him to know what it's going to do to me." 

"And?" 

"If he had intended to use me just for this, then dump me..."  Aran hurled a arc of blue light from his hands.  John Salan was picked up and placed onto the roof of the train.  "...I want him to understand what will happen to him." 

"Anything I can do?" 

"Yeah, we know for sure the PYLE is among the Pure.  Start 'discretely' looking for him.   When you get a suspicion, talk to Ta-Kyn.  That's all I can tell you for now, but know we've got a plan." 

"Ok.  You done with him?" 

"Yeah."   Aran flared his wings and lifted into the air.  "I've got a train to run." 

"Good.  I need to talk to him." 

"All right, we leave tomorrow dawn." 

*    *    *

Dawn:12.20.2195

"Your kidding me, right?"  Aran slammed his fist onto the top of the train.  The reappearance of Doc had been a relief until he started talking.  The enigmatic old Technomancer had revealed he wanted to scout out the trail, and found it was blocked up a few miles. 

"I think I can help,"  Ta-Kyn beamed.  "The defenses on the train are wired to the link module.  You can channel your energy through amplifiers and use it to clear a path." 

"Ta-Kyn, you amaze me."   Aran toyed with the linking box for one last time. "When this is over, I want those amplifiers." 

"Got it, already creating schematics." 

"Ta-Kyn?" 

"Yeah." 

"You're not creating schematics for anything...got it?" 

Ta-Kyn flushed, a considerable task for a technomancer, and nodded.  He promptly jumped down the chute into the train below. 

"You better go too, Doc.  Make sure the kids are calm. This could be bumpy." 

"Ok, Aran." 

Aran slid the linking box into his arm and felt the train underneath him meld into his consciousness.  Cogs, gears, and micro-fiber relays became like parts of his body, flexing like gigantic muscles.  The train lifted into the air a good forty feet, reaching it's maximum hovering ceiling.  Aran flooded the Essence energy he knew so little about through the linkwires running to the train.  Below, rows of Ionic-Pulse batteries erupted with blue-gold light.   A thin, flat, ray of energy dissolved a building and evaporated the rubble below. 

"You know.  I could get to like this,"  Aran muttered.

  Aran's facePost: 10.17.1998
Date: 12.25.2195
Time: Midday

Ambush

The wind rushed by at a pace that would have blown both the Technomancers away, had they not been anchored firmly to the train.  Aran, wings retracted and feet braced with metal supports, leaned into the wind, watching the horizon.  For the fourth day straight, he was clearing a path through the island.  And as much as he hated to admit it... 

"It's been fun,"  Aran muttered.   Kreep's super-sensitive hearing implants could pick up the words as if they had been talking in a quiet, empty room.   Kreep turned around, shoving his blade-arms into the roof of the train.  The taut bio-organic implants held him in two directions, while spikes form his feet dug into the metal like it was topsoil. 

"I didn't actually think you'd plow through that forest," Kreep added. 

"Neither did I." 

The only sound was the whistling of the wind and the humming of the train beneath. 

"No luck," Kreep finally sighed.  He was referring of course to what they were both thinking  about: PYLE.  "Ta-Kyn keeps wanting me to try using sweeping software with stealth-soft 4.02.  Whadda ya think?" 

"No dice.  He's older than that and more than capable of detecting our efforts.  He's using older technology in his buildup, and he has all the knowledge of whoever he's absorbed so far." 

"So just..." 

"Keep looking for a suspicious Pure.  If he's body-jumping...,"  Aran sighed as the train rose over a small building, swooping right to miss it completely,  "...we're in more trouble than we can imagine." 

"Got it." 

*    *    *

"Mr. Ta-Kyn!  Your device has performed perfectly!"  The voice was full of both awe and disbelief. 

"Thank you!"  Ta-Kyn turned back to his work.  Both of his feet, nothing more than metal gripping claws, suspended him from the ceiling.   He was reaching into the top of his latest machine, something Aran had ordered to be built.  Man, one thing about Aran, with him around, I'm never out of work.   Ta-Kyn looked up to find the Pure man staring at him. 

"Mr. Ta-Kyn." 

"Yes?" 

"Umm...can we request another device?"  He looked a little flushed. 

"What can I do?" 

"Well...we'd all really like some coffee.  We have the beans grown and in the holds, but in the last bit of 'turbulence', the coffee machine broke.  Can you fix it for us?" 

"No problem!  Just bring me the machine and I'll get on it.  Oh, hi, Kreep!" 

Kreep descended from the ceiling, lowering himself from the open hatch with his blade arms.  Arms folded, hair hanging like glistening razors over solid black eyes gave him all the impression of a nightmare come to life.  The Pure man visiting Ta-Kyn muffled a scream and ran into the wall twice before finding the door. 

"You have too much fun doing that, Kreep." 

"There's a reason I have fun doing that too...," Kreep grinned.  He pulled his blade arms in and closed the hatch. 

"Aran ok?" 

"Yeah, 'course.  Friggin' invincible if you ask me.  Hasn't slept, not that he needs to, but he hasn't charged his internal batteries in four days.  Doc says he's 'feeding off of his own energy.'  Whatever the glitch that means.  Aran told me what to do next, and he has a request for you.  He gave me a wire-to-wire from his memory." 

"What does he want?" 

"A weapon he had to ditch a few weeks ago.  Something called a 'DIRGE'.  He says you should have no problem with it.  His banks kept most of the software it loaded, including schematics for repair." 

"DIRGE?  Hmm...got it.  Send it on over, I'm ready to receive."

*    *    *

The halls of the train were exquisite, plushly furnished with thick carpet and beautiful decor.  Formed steel furniture seemed to rise from the floor and form the aisles of comfortable seating and beds.  Through them the Pure moved, maintaining their lives.  Metalsmiths and Crafters spent their hours in little makeshift booths, forging their wares.  Farmers tended the hermetically sealed containers of seeds and crops.  Children ran around underfoot, with the wirewitches sitting placidly in the middle, wearing their conditioning suits Ta-Kyn had built two days ago.  The suits, fully covering, allowed them to move about and be detected should PYLE's tampering suddenly manifest itself.  The wirewitches, amazed to be given freedom, simply reverted to wanting to be left alone.   The watchful eyes of Weapon and 7 kept them from trying to expand their coven.  But separated from it all was an old man, sitting in a hand carved rocking chair away from the commotion.   His eye, digitally enhanced by his parasitic guest, observed all he saw, formulating a plan.  All the while, digesting the new information he was getting.   The fear inside him, the fear of being killed was replaced by something far worse.   For inside the human, PYLE gathered pieces of information that cleared his cloudy past. 

I am not alone?

*    *    *

Aran stared over the edge of the train, towards the upcoming forest, preparing to try to aim around it rather than burn another mile wide path through it.  The wind whistled loudly, and the engines throbbed with energy, but he still heard.  A rustle of soft cloth, the tap-tap of steel heeled boots.   He turned to see a dark figure walk forward, unbothered by the wind. 

"Greetings."  The voice was an icy cheer that defied description.  Aran's synthetic skin crawled as it echoed through his head.  Nightmares became reality as they stepped from the night into the life of day.  "Marvelous machine, no?"  The voice that spoke seemed about as calm and smooth as if he had just pointed out an interesting flower or cloud in the sky. 

"Sahris!"  Aran growled and began channeling the essence through his arms.  Sahris' scythe was over his shoulder and in his hands faster than the eye could follow.  It flipped and Aran felt the all too solid metal end slam into his jaw.  He staggered and lost concentration on the energy. 

"Not yet.  The train, let someone else control it.  Where is that old man? About as useless as a Ka'naator.  DOC!!!" 

"What?  Aran?"   Doc's head shot up through the hatch nearby.  Sahris swooped and used the butt end of his scythe to pull Doc out of the hatch. 

"Aran, give him the module. We have unfinished business." 

"What in the glitch are you doing here?" 

Sahris smiled and planted his scythe on the roof below.  He sweeping gesture from his right hand and shadows began to merge.  From the sides of the train, from the hidden recesses and crags.  A hundred or so gray-clad soldiers.   Sahris smiled and gestured to the forest ahead. 

"An ambush, Aran.  Time for this thing to stop."

  Aran's facePost: 10.17.1998
Date: 12.25.2195
Time: Midday

Sahris

The train lurched as it changed course, Doc could control the train, but for how long Aran didn't know.  The batteries he had charged with his essence would eventually deplete, causing the train to hurtle to the ground below at full speed. 

"...unless you defeat me?"  Sahris laughed, completing Aran's unspoken thought.  His soft laughter was not mocking, more like he found the situation genuinely funny.  "Aran, the most dangerous of all my potential enemies, you have courage.  Undirected of course.  A lot of your life lacks direction, that's what makes you lose so much." 

Aran's lunge was countered with a swift motion of the staff.  Aran felt the solid staff crack into his chest as he fell down onto his back.  The curved, scythe-like blade was at his visor before he could even blink. 

"See what I mean?  Too easily influenced.  I heard a lot of stories about you, a lot.   And of course, I trust all of them are true.  They are too strange to be lies.  Seems you were somewhat of a warrior once, a mercenary.  With the woman Tyillion.  Quite the warrior, she is." 

"Was,"  Aran snapped.  He was on his feet, wings flared and arms glowing with blue energy. 

"Oh, well."   Sahris pulled the scythe up and held a hand down.  "I grew tired of bird hunting. When one hunts a burning bird, one's fingers can get burned very easily.  And as I left, I remembered you.   Of course, finding you wasn't very hard.  One can say you are, without a doubt, the least subtle person I have ever met.  Now, stand up." 

Aran stood up without the aid of Sahris.  His visor began to display the display of the scene around. 

"Good.  Good.  You haven't been relying enough on your main strength, Technomancer.  Why don't you use it now.  Give me your best shot." 

*    *    *

Ta-Kyn hung from the ceiling by his clamp-like feet.   Staring at the top of a box-like machine Aran had salvaged from the building where he got the information on the pure.  Having delved most of the information out of it, and already constructed a few devices. 

"Ta-Kyn?"  The voice rumbled.  The monstrous 7, the least seen of the Technomancers stood beside Kreep, looking up at him. 

"Yes?" 

"Where's Doc?" 

"I dunno," Ta-Kyn sighed.  "Have you asked Aran if it works?" 

"What?"  Kreep asked. 

"I didn't get the DIRGE cannon working, but I did manage to make a essence-based weapon for him.  It uses bits and pieces of several weapon designs integrated into his internal bioware.  He can piece it together the way he is right now!.  Part DIRGE technology, part ion canon theory , part pulse disrupter, part essence amplifier, part--" 

"What does it do?"  Kreep asked, cutting Ta-Kyn off. 

"It puts very large holes in things."

*    *    *

Sahris picked himself up from the train, dusting his coat in annoyance.  Aran  held his arm out still, the single pulse canon idea he had received via his AI from Ta-Kyn  last night still radiating a faint light from the blast. It had drained a lot of his essence, and it would be a while until it recharged. 

"Guns.  So...childish.  Let me teach you why such things are not weapons of Technomancers and Masters Of Strategy." 

Sharis slung the scythe-like weapon over his back and threw his long coat back, two pistols appeared in his hands faster than could be followed. 

"Guns.  Designed by weak men to be weak weapons.  So childish.  Load them, point them and..."  Sahris leveled the guns at one of his soldiers, pulling the triggers and sending screaming trails of energy to the unsuspecting man's chest.  The force of the blow, if it didn't kill him on impact, threw him from the train hurtling down to the ground.  "...did he know what was happening to him?  No.  Did he feel pain?  No.  Did he have a chance to scream for mercy that I would not show?  No.  How...unproductive.  How weak.  Now take this..."   The guns disappeared and the scythe was in his hands, held in an almost loving grasp.   It swung through the air and sliced into another of his soldiers, this one trying desperately to back away.  The doomed figure fell to the floor of the train and screamed. 

"Now...that one knows just what is happening to him."  Sahris cast a casual glance and shrugged.  "At least he thinks he does."

*    *    *

Kreep didn't know how he knew, just that he knew that up above him were intruders.   His blade arms erupted from his back and cut a crude hole in the top of the train, then pulled him up through it.   Near the end of the train when he heard the feet scuttering above him, he saw Aran and...someone, at the front of the train.  John Salan was lying unconscious at the feet of one of the guards.  Kreep growled and let the razor-barbs and spikes grow from his body. His blade arms poised like another two arms, blades twitching in the dim moonlight.   The soldiers turned and saw the form of Kreep hunched over lurching towards them.  As he approached, his hair was almost to his ankles, glittering razors of black metal and bio-fiber twisting and writhing in the wind.  Two eyes were coated in reddish haze, as tears of blood streaked down the eyes of a man lost to his dark nature. 

"It's over."  And the world became war. 

*    *    *

PYLE pulled himself up from the hold Kreep had made, stringy metal body like a living ball of twine trying to frantically run away.  No need to worry of survival.   PYLE consumed one of the soldiers, sliding his molecule thin wires around his bones and nerves. The soldier ceased to be, just becoming one of the many memories trapped in PYLE's form.  The soldier leapt from the train to the ground, aiming for the city street. 

*    *    *

"Ok, Aran.  Time to prove yourself."  Sahris feet gracefully entered a fighting stance, the staff held with one hand behind his back, the other held in a fist lowered near the roof of the train. 

Give me a constant feedout on Sahris.  Do you trust me enough to-- If I don't, we're both scrap metal.  Running battle-ops 4.12.3, overlaying thermal vision and sight enhancement.

Aran held a hand out, wrapped in a pulsating blue energy that seemed to crackle and leap.  Let's see just what I can do.

"The only thing I'm going to prove to you, is that you have no comprehension of what you're fighting." 

*    *    *

Two boys ran through the streets, carrying all of the valuables from the body of the fallen soldier.   PYLE hunched in a corner, unseen.  Observing.   They ran, not because of fear, but because of what they saw.  Spider-like creatures, burrowing, eating, dissolving the very ground beneath them.  And others springing up in their burrowed holes.   His eyes, marvels of another age, could read the plaques on their heads.  The Bleed.    PYLE waited until the right moment, and hurled himself on top of one.  It never could have seen him, but it felt the wires begin to penetrate its skin.  Felt the cold, chemical gel permeate it's own life fluid.  The others turned to it, a thrashing spider-like blob in the streets.   Then, PYLE exploded from it, wires ripping through it's skin, as PYLE ran back into the alley away from them.  He never saw if they were following.  He only had one concern, what he had learned from them. 

A huge tower of scrap metal down one of the alleys, the ruins of a factory.  PYLE began to burrow a way into it, absorbing one of the rats in the rubble.  Minutes went by, and he emerged.   Following him was a grotesque metal monstrosity, built of jagged steel and rusted joints.  The rat-like being stared at it's father, nodded, and scurried into the alley.   It scooped up another rat in it's jaw and dove back into the hole.   PYLE grinned.  I have to find some humans for this...

  Aran's facePost: 11.11.1998
Date: 12.26.2195
Time: Midday

A Weapon Given

Aran flared his wings to stop his fall.  Sahris' scythe-like weapon had swept his feet from beneath him a blink of an eye earlier.  He clamored to a stop on top of the train.

"Sloppy."  Sahris sighed, swinging the curving razor-edge weapon with one hand towards Aran's head.  "You showed such promise.  Looked to be such an adversary.  Perhaps you have the potential.  I, however, don't quite have the patience to continue teaching you everything."

"Teach me?"  Aran growled, throwing a wall of blue light towards the regal black clad figure.  Sahris raised one eyebrow and clasped his scythe with both hands in front of him.  The wave passed him by, affecting him as little as the wind.

"Very well.  Learn."  Sahris sighed as he leapt into the air, scythe aimed to Aran's chest.

*    *    *

Kreep had lost control.  He couldn't remember when, where, or what provoked it.  Doc said it was memories and stress, mixed with his technology overloaded body.  Ta-Kyn said it was the sheer amount of weaponry he had installed instead of system tech.   Aran said it was his humanity.  But Kreep was now in the vortex of all his problems, whatever it was.  He was a living battery of rage overloading.  Blades were sprouting from his shoulders and arms.  Long, sweeping claws from his wrists and fingers tore through the armor of his attackers like they weren't there.  Inside their wounds, his metallic weaponry changed shape, creating crippling lacerations.  His hair was now waist length, flowing in the wind.  One turn of his head and a thousand red lines sprouted over an attackers face as his very hair raked over it.  His bio-technological blade arms were acting like they were born on him.  Darting through the crowd, anchoring him, pulling him, severing weapons.  Kreep could feel the wet streams from his eyes pour down his face, the taste of salty, coppery blood tears. The world was lost in a hue of reds as all he was receded inside, and the rage took his soul.

*    *    *

Ta-Kyn swallowed the offered cup in one draught.  He stared into the empty ceramic mug for a few minutes and looked to the man in front of him.

"Not bad," Ta-Kyn said, passing the cup back.  "Coffee?  That's what it's called?   Hmmm...not bad at all..."

"Yes, we like it a lot.  And umm...another question..."

"No.  Tell me your name first,"  Ta-Kyn demanded.

"Well--," the man shuffled, running a hand through his red hair, "--my name is William, but they call me Greasy."

"Greasy?  Why?"

"Umm...I was always getting grease all over me trying to fix those rusted machines in the dome."

"What kind of machines?"

"Tanks!"  William beamed.  "I never got one working, but I think I have the general idea on how they work."

"Neat, maybe you can tell me some time."

"Umm, that's what I was going to ask you.   Do you think I could help you with this stuff?  I don't have anything to do, and the mayor won't let me open the crate with my tools."

"Sure!  Look at this, it's a matrix inverter...,"  Ta-Kyn began.  "..it's actually part of your old coffee-pot, but I tweaked it.  Now, what we're doing is..."

*    *    *

Sahris strode over the roof of the train as if it were a city street.  The staff hung in his right hand almost limp, as if it were an inert object.  Aran realized in a moment it could be at his throat.  "You technomancers have an incredible array of weaponry.  But you've forgotten how to fight.  Take all that chrome away, and you'd still fight.  You are living proof of that.  But do you know why you fight?  Why that energy, that Essence, flows so easily through that shattered little body of yours?  Do you know?  Guns and arsenals are not fighting...  This...on the other hand."  He lifted the scythe up and presented it before Aran, almost in a proud fashion. "This is not a weapon, it is a tool.  A tool for my reason to fight.   Because it is so well suited to my rage and reason, it serves me better than any gun or ordinance you could imagine. I heard you used to carry a sword?"

Aran's mind flashed back to memories he had locked away, they hit a wall of code meant to keep him from reliving those memories.

"Well, look!"  Sahris exclaimed, turning to see the figure advancing.  Behind him the train was littered with wounded and fallen of the battle.  One man who had cut his way through a war ground alone.  Or what had been a man... "Kreep!  How are you?  Oh my, he seems a tad psychotic, Aran."  Sahris made a clicking noise with his tongue.  "You should choose your friends more carefully."

"Kreep!  Snap out of it." Aran ignored Sahris and walked up to his friend.  Kreep stared at him for a split second, and the two blade arms shot towards his chest.  Aran leapt backwards and fell to the roof of the train.

"Oh, he can't hear you,"  Sahris sighed, sounding more annoyed that intimidated.  "He's got problems you wouldn't even understand.  He's what we used to call a 'wirefreak'.  Too many weapons, not enough tech.  They burn out so easily, but oh, how wonderfully they fight!  He took out my 'guards' with no trouble.  Well, this is almost over.   Let me assist you. Sergeant!" Sahris motioned to the remaining of his soldiers.

"Sir!"  The last remaining guard rushed to Sharis side.   Sharis face opened in a warm smile, while his scythe flew through the air, a clean slice and the officer fell to the deck of the train in a heap.  Black gloved hands reached down and unfastened a blade from the back on the Sergeant.  With a toss, Sahris lofted it gracefully to Aran.

"Ok, I'll take my leave of you here.  But you're going to have to take Kreep out."

"I'm not going to kill him!"  Aran growled, leaping for Sharis.    Sharis rolled his eyes and slammed the butt-end of his staff into Aran's chest.

"I didn't say kill him, just take him out.  Slice into what little control systems he has, give his mind a chance to get back into his body.  Here."   Sharis put Aran's hand over the hilt of the sword.   "Now, do this or I'll quietly stroll down the halls below...I do have an artistic mood at the moment.  If you can take him out quick enough, I'll go elsewhere to peruse my whims.  If you don't, your Pure will be my next palette.

In Aran's mind, something snapped.

  Aran's facePost: 11.11.1998
Date: 12.26.2195
Time: Evening

Duel

Blind, but aware of all around him.  A courtyard of stone, a thick breeze of industrial air sweeping across the slick cobblestone.  Aran blinked and the train and the memory coexisted.  A voice called out.

"Balance between light and dark...," Tyillion whispered from somewhere around him.

"What's the matter, Aran?  Don't have the guts to help a friend?"  Sahris voice laughed.  A wave of anger crept over him.

The voices back and forth.

"A calm within a storm...,"  Tyillion continued.

"You gutless wonder, do I have to do everything for you?"   Sahris picked up his scythe and walked over to Kreep.

"And your rage must be drawn, but you must not touch it..."

"First Kreep, then you...I guess I was wrong about you, tinman."

"Like water, over a smooth stone, let your anger flow.   Aran, above your hate, is your power."

"Aran, this is going to hurt me more than it's going to hurt you..."  Sahris slowly lowered his scythe.

"Aran, the reason you can fight, and win, is because of your reason.  Behind all of the hate and anger that wells up, if you have no reason to fight, you fail before you have a chance to begin."

The wave of hatred vanished like fog.   Aran held the sword in his right hand, fingers crossed just so as he had learned years ago.  Sahris stopped short as Aran brushed past him and drove the sword through Kreep's midsection.  A shower of sparks erupted from his chest as the mad technomancer fell down into a heap.  Aran pulled the blade out slowly and turned to Sahris.

"What..."   Sahris dodged as Aran's sword crossed mere inches from his face.   Sahris whirled the staff around to knock Aran off balance, but the sword clanged against it.   Aran's eyes were stone, his face looked as it had been cut from solid steel.  It was like looking into the shell of a man.  Sahris stood back and looked at the approaching technomancer and put pieces of a puzzle together.  Rumors of two technomancers, one a master of technology, one a master of weaponry.  For the longest time he had assumed that latter, a wirefreak, had trained Aran, the former, to fight.  Only as he looked into the face of the Technomancer before him did he realize the similarities in the stories.  Sahris realized the two legendary technomancers were one.

"Glitch."

The world existed beyond sight and sound.   Aran felt the sword reach out to Sahris from his hands.  Long forgotten lessons and skills springing into his mind.  Tyillion.  Aran's fury increased, the blade countering and striking faster.  Sahris unflinchingly kept up.  Tyillion...I...  The fury continued, Aran pulled the ever growing river of confusion and pain out of his soul into his body.  He couldn't feel his movements anymore, he existed with the sword, and they were both beyond rationality.  Tyillion...I...I think...I loved you...    Aran's soul seemed to explode, screaming inside of him.  The pain, confusion, and hatred inside of him welled up, bursting through all of his defenses.  A thousand memories coexisted.   Tyillion carrying his broken body to the doctor innumerable times, the caring voice that tried to keep him innocent in the world.  A mistake and a decision, harsh words, and a  million secrets they wouldn't let each other know.

"NOOOOOOOOO!"   Aran screamed with his eyes closed, feeling the world stop.  He opened them to see the face of Sahris, drained of all color, beneath him.  Aran's sword pierced Sahris' chest, the staff still clutched in his hand.   Aran's hatred gained a new face, and he let go of all the pain.  Essence seemed to explode out of every pore in his body, churning through his very heart and mind.  The blue energy crackled from his hands down the sword, engulfing them both in a globe of blinding blue light.  And it didn't stop.   Every face, every pain, every wrong Aran knew gained a face in Sahris.   And all the pent up energy, the pain of being unable to help, the hidden rage beneath all of his apathy, the guilt and blame became personified in the monster before him.

Aran became aware of the essence magnifiers below him, in the train.   His mind reached out through his wirejack to Doc, bypassing Doc's mind completely, ignoring it's mental defenses as if they were no more than paper.  Aran reached for the control unit now in Doc's hands, through Doc's cyberware, activated it with his own technology.

"Good bye, Sahris," Aran growled.  Blue and purple light mingled and Aran roared.  The shockwave erupted from them, a halo of blue and purple energy slicing through the air in a deafening clap of thunder.  Sahris flew from the train with the shockwave.  The ring of purple energy shattered windows and crumbled stones from buildings around the train.  Aran fell to the train sobbing.  Once he had held hope, a bright and shining reason for existing and fighting, a purpose.  Now there was nothing.  The train below groaned from the force of the shockwave, the batteries depleted.  In a sickening moment, it hung in the air, and began to descend slowly.  Nearby Kreep pushed himself up with the greatest effort and reached out to Aran.  Never again.  I'll always reach out.   Aran reached out and held the hand, feeling Kreep's razor sharp skin tear into his own. From now own, nobody dies.  The ground below rose up, ever closer.  Aran held Kreep up while the technomancer shook almost uncontrollably, looking at the city below.  In the distance was the rusting remains of a once great port by the ocean.  We almost made it.  Below, the mass of crowds, the fighting and war he had only heard about.

In the beginning, all I had was hope.   Now all my hope is dead.   All that is left is the destruction and chaos of a world gone made.  Now all that we have before us, is obliteration.

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