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soh13 [2011/07/13 17:02] (current)
doan created
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 +It was a long climb, even for Bilan.
 +The Silver Castle's Clock Tower was utterly unnavigable for it. Most life-forms with a full set of legs and arms and opposable thumbs couldn't manage all the jumps and bizarre angles that jutted out above a drop so steep they couldn't see the bottom if they were foolish enough to look down. Scaling the mountain would have been easier but still have taken a long time. Had the human following it not revealed a short cut, it would never have gotten there in time for the stellar conjunction. Unlocking a little door that Bilan barely fit through, he demonstrated that the small platform would move, depositing it in a chamber full of frozen humans and pretty lights. The human seemed quite proud of his collection of frozen humans; Bilan wondered if he was building a bower in order to attract a mate. On the other side of the large room, another moving platform appeared. Bilan stood on it and was ferried over to the mountain, only a few feet away from the peak. From there, the creature could easily climb to the top.
 +
 +Slithering over to the very edge of the cliff, Bilan stared at the sky and waited. Night had fallen and the stars were coming out, a garden in the sky. Their pattern was beautifully symmetrical. Somewhere in the Universe, there was order. Cold, neutral law, uncaring of and incomprehensible to any life on the planet, but still law. As the last star flared into life, a sparkling emerald brighter than any other in the sky, green energy also flared from Bilan's macabre form. It was as though the creature was consumed by flames, except that the scream emitted from its mouthpiece was not agony but ecstasy, the exhiliration that came from being flooded by limitless power. Its song in Bilan's mind was like a chorus of jubilant angels. The dancing phantoms of energy composed themselves into an ever larger body, which then broke up as it absorbed more energy and became larger, as if Bilan itself was the fire that consumed the whole sky.
 +
 +Time had long since lost meaning, as had the outside world. There was only an all-encompassing, limitless Bilan-ness, not just a personal identity any more but a fact of the Universe growing truer with every moment.
 +
 +Bilan didn't notice or care about the eyes behind it, watching it. Or the hand that put three rings onto its finger, one after the other. Copper, gold, then silver.
 +It felt a twinge, a pull, in the outer limits of its consciousness, which by now was roughly the radius of a small planet. Try as it might, it could not shake the feeling off. It turned around. As it saw the human put the third ring on, it felt a sensation that it had not experienced before, a kind of growing, urgent sense that sub-optimum things were about to happen to it. Bilan wondered if this was how humans experienced the emotion known as 'fear'.
 +
 +Moments later, there was a strange surging, flashing light that filled up the entire Universe, so that Bilan couldn't see. When it could see again, the human wasn't there any more.
 +
 +Bilan clicked its mandibles irritably, then turned back to stare at the sky. Spreading its vestigial, skeletal moth-wings, it watched as they were engulfed by the emerald light. Upon wings of fire, Bilan rose into the sky.
 +
 +----
 +
 +As Garian reached the part of Jailer's Port that shouldn't exist, he was just on time to see his mark disappear, along with the wall-length TV he had stolen, and that was now showing his face. A large moving platform had moved him down. Garian scratched his head. As far as he could tell, there was nowhere for the platform to lead to. This whole area felt wrong. His feet were sinking into what should be solid wood. The angles clashed and grated on each other even more than usual. Everything he touched gave him a minor static shock. He put one foot onto the platform, cursing as  his foot went straight through it. Sent completely off balance, he fell into the hole.
 +
 +By the time he reached the bottom,  he had managed to right himself so that he didn't fall awkwardly. At the speed he was going, he would have broken his ankles if the laws of physics hadn't been little more than vague guidelines. He picked himself up and looked around. It was mostly too dark to see. The only illumination came from dull patches of orange light set into glass tiles on the floor. Strange, elongated pyramidal railings ringed the huge square chamber. He couldn't see an exit.
 +
 +Somewhere above him, the other Garian was waving at Jack. Between them, they were trying to slot the TV into an alcove on the wall. At least, it looked like an alcove. It might just have been a gap where nothing had been put there yet. The whole room had a half-constructed feeling. Not just the walls and floor, but its place in the Universe on a deeper level, the very fact of its existence, wasn't clear yet.
 +
 +“A word with you, if you please,” Garian called out, drawing his sword. He suddenly felt a little foolish, talking to himself, all the time, “I do believe you have something that doesn't belong to you.”
 +
 +The other Garian turned around. He was looking more solid, less glitched, than usual. Garian wondered if this was because the weirdness of this area made him look almost normal by comparison. He whistled and his snakebird flew down to meet Garian.
 +
 +It wasn't Jack. This bird was smaller and had a bright yellow plumage.
 +
 +“You're not Jack,” said Garian.
 +
 +“No, I'm not,” said the bird, “Look, I don't know what you want with us but I'm warning you, its a really bad idea to pick a fight with either of us. No matter whether you win or lose. Can't you just leave us alone? We saved you from Meg, so you owe us one.”
 +
 +“I can't. I'm on the job, but its about more than just my honour. Those things you've stolen, they've already messed you up. Just look at you. And they have to be put back where they belong, or the whole Island will be destroyed,” he said, “I really don't want to fight either of you but I will, if you don't give back what you stole.”
 +
 +“You sound very sure of yourself, kid,” said the bird, “You really have any idea what these things do?”
 +
 +He shook his head, “Well... no, to be honest. But I can see that you don't, either, or you wouldn't have let them do... that to you. And the Warden said...”
 +
 +“Yes, because the Warden has such a good track record of being honest to you kids.”
 +
 +Garian bowed his head, “I'm just following a lead... just looking for anything at all that might be different. A way out.”
 +
 +“Aren't they all.”
 +
 +“The Warden at least seems to know something about them. Can't you give them back, just so he can maybe do something useful with them?”
 +
 +“We got our own plans,” said the bird, “Well, not plans exactly, but we're working it out as we go along. For instance, we're recreating this place from what we've seen. Like detectives recreating the scene of a crime. Know what this place is, kid?”
 +
 +“A mess?”
 +
 +“A prototype,” said the bird, “Part of the Island that never got to exist. Never got the bugs fixed either. Don't need to, if you're going to remove it. Now, we're thinking that maybe other things didn't get removed either. Important clues.”
 +
 +“Found anything yet?”
 +
 +“Mostly just more mess,” the bird admitted, “We find lots of things but they never come with any explanation as to what they're for. Our next plan is to go and find the bridge that this key card is supposed to operate. Of course, we don't know which one this is, so we're just going to try every bridge and everything else that looks like it operates with a key card. And we're gonna hope that its actually a bridge that still exists. And if it isn't, we'll go and find a bridge from somewhere else and put it where the bridge should be.”
 +
 +“You're gonna end up re-arranging the whole Island. No wonder the Warden's angry with you,” he said, “Do you have any idea what you're doing to the continuum?”
 +
 +“Listen, kid, this thing's never worked properly since the day it was set up. Sometime you gotta break things to fix them again.”
 +
 +“You talk like you saw it get built.”
 +
 +“I was on the design team. Don't bother looking me up, the other birds don't know I still exist. They thought I was eaten.”
 +
 +“Eaten?”
 +
 +“That's telling too much, kid. If you report back to the other birds, they'll hunt me down and finish the job.”
 +
 +“The other birds want to kill you?”
 +
 +“Okay, imagine that the thing I'm talking about is Bilan. It isn't Bilan but it works on the same principle. You're fighting Bilan, everything goes tits up, the others lose sight of you, they think you've been killed. You come back again...”
 +
 +“You might have been possessed. They have to kill you. Just to make sure.” Garian hung his head.
 +
 +“I'm not possessed, by the way.”
 +
 +“Neither was Lance. We do screw things up in life, don't we?” said Garian, “Sometimes I wonder if what's happening to us is just karma.”
 +
 +The bird shook its head, “Karma works properly.”
 +
 +“Listen, birdy... you're not gonna give me your name, are you? Listen, I've got a deal for you. I'm not gonna go back to Jack. I don't even know where Jack is, to be honest. I don't want to know. I'll stay with you, where you can see me. I'd rather travel with people who have at least a vague idea of what they're doing. In return, I want you to let me in on it. And promise me you won't just destroy yourselves, the Universe and me in some stupid experiment.”
 +
 +“You really won't be allowed to leave. You okay with that? You can't go back to Jack or anyone else from the Agency.”
 +
 +Garian shrugged, “A day ago, I was ready to kill myself. The Agency don't let me leave either. Jack used to follow me around like I was a wanted criminal. My life couldn't get any worse around you guys.”
 +
 +“In that case, could you go and help with that TV? He looks like he's gonna drop it,” said the bird, “After that, we can go somewhere more secure, we can have a sit down, I'll tell you my real name, and my story.”
 
soh13.txt · Last modified: 2011/07/13 17:02 by doan
 
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