Obsidian – Krysten Krane

Krysten Krane

“Y’know, that does explain a lot.”

 

 

 

 

 

Section 1: Splinter

White.

Ceiling.

Ceiling?

No, wall. Lying sideways, not facing up.

Ow, ribs. Arms. Legs. Everything hurts, ow, fuck.

Heart. Woooaahh okay, heart, chill. That’s fast. That’s very fast.

I sit up, head hanging, chin resting on my chest and arms barely holding my body. Oooowww. Look around my apartment, fairly normal. I’m just outside my doorway, end of the hall, walls on either side. Push down with my palms to stand, but ow, sharp. Coming from my hand. Why? Splinter. Look at the floor beneath me, it’s cracked outward. Outward from – me? Why?

I look forward, at Illiam. Middle of the hall, on his back. Bloody, shirt ripped. Nice, did I do that? No, or not on purpose. Shame. Looks like decent damage.

I try to speak; nope. Try again:

‘I-illiam?’ Sore throat, voice is back, just. Don’t know where it went. Encouraging.

‘What the fuck, Krys?’

‘I- ‘cough, ow, my chest, ‘I don’t know. Did I do this?’

He scoffs, sits up, eyes are wide.

‘Yes, Krys, you didn’t fucking notice?’

Interesting.

‘Well, it’s news to me, you moron, how could I have-ooowww. Okay, I really hurt.’ Standing is harder than I think it’ll be. I lean against the wall; it cracks and groans, shifting under my weight, breaking inward and almost falling through completely. My forearm lands on a wooden beam behind it. I spit blood, spattering the floor. What did I do?

‘Good. I do too, bitch.’ The breath blows hard from his mouth as he stands; he turns, looks at the wall on his left, it’s caved in too, like the one propping me up. I guess he bounced on the way down. God, what did I do?

‘Look, I know we haven’t always been the best of friends, but in my defence- ‘

‘If you’re about to say it wasn’t your fault,’ he picks some plasterboard out of his shirt, ‘I beg to differ. We aren’t friends, Krysten. You’ve just proven that.’

For fucks’ sake. He smirks. He plants his feet. He thinks I’m weak. I might be in pain, but that only helps. He should know that.

‘Really? Are we really doing this?’

His arms shroud in the Agony, white liquid-energy dripping off his thick, leathery skin like tar and burning the floor. His Glyphs are glowing, the swirling tattoos of white ink pulsating down his shoulders and onto his hands, clawed and scarred. Wow, he’s actually mad. Fucking hell, what did I do?

Eh. Whatever I did, right now he’s an idiot. And I’m gonna show him.

His right arm twitches – I catch the bolt, standing firm now. Charge it up with my own juice, feel the surge through my veins and out onto the ball of bright heat. Send it back, throw all my force into it and watch it thump into his left shoulder, burning his shirt off and opening a wound into his flesh. We’re both slow, sluggish. Bolts grow, matched tit-for-tat, thrown and dodged or blocked. A boring fight, really, a few burns and I press the advantage on his left, but we’re both standing here, too hurt to move or fight physically. Equals. For once.

‘C’mon, Ill. What is this?’ I block his incoming bolt, up into the ceiling, dust and some rogue sparks of energy bursting back down. He coughs out a laugh, then sighs shakily. He’s weak. So am I.

‘I took the shot, but clearly,’ stops, breathes for a few seconds, shakes some rogue Agony onto the floor and watches it hiss, ‘this ain’t going anywhere.’

‘Agreed.’ I can feel my knees, screaming to give way. Can’t show weakness now, he’s about to give up.

‘Just, get the fuck out, okay? I’ll let you off the repair costs. Just get out.’

Okay, good, success. ‘Thanks.’ I nod to him, walking as straight as I can towards him, towards the door of the apartment. The hall is long, but it feels longer, the walls stretching as my vision blurs a little. Dig deep, Kryssy, you’ve got this. We pass and I flick a little Agony off at his feet, making him step back and glare at me. I smile, more of a smirk really, flashing my sharp fangs over my shoulder as I limp on. Gotta maintain some dignity.

If my knees were screaming before, my whole body is burning bright white now. Fuck, this isn’t normal. The Agony is aggressive, but this is – chronic? Like the blood that’s keeping me alive is burning me inside-out. Pain, present at every movement. I reach the door with a thud, leaning into it as I fumble the latch, my fingers struggling to curl enough to get around the handle as they shiver.

‘Enjoy the streets, Krane.’

I turn to face Illiam, back up against the cold front door, and he’s standing, one hand against the left wall, looking up at me as blood runs down his chin. His broad shoulders are hunched over, his grey skin stretched tight over muscle and bone. He’s slim for a Potaris male, only eight feet tall with simple, sharp bone sticking out of his elbows. His eyes burn bright and white, the Vapours floating through the long, black hair covering his face in matted, plaster-stained scraps.

‘You’re gonna die out there.’

I shrug as best I can. His knees buckle and he falls to the floor, at first coughing up blood on all fours, then leaning back to rest on his calves, grinning.

‘Looks like I might die in here.’

I pull the door open then breath deep through a wave of pain. It’s like acid. Bile rising up in your throat.

Ugh.

‘Don’t let the Agony take you, or the Street-Rats. It’d be a shame to see you go before I have a chance to finish you off.’

The door slams behind me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Section 2 – Chills

‘Ah – goddamit!’

It’s cold. Really fucking cold – and darker than I remember it being. How long was I out? I stumble down the worn-away redbrick steps, holding my arms against my chest. I’m not really wearing enough for this weather; the boots are good, but an oversized pyjama-shirt and joggers aren’t exactly prime cold clothing.

The Slums stand before me, looking about as rough as I feel; harsh cobbles, burnt stone and only one in every few buildings are still in decent condition. I still find Celaris a confusing place. Everyone seems to act as if run-down and half broken is the standard to aspire to, but – ah, it doesn’t matter right now. More important shit to deal with.

Head is fuzzy, can’t focus.

Where am I?

End of my street, more like a small cove built into the complex alleys and roads of the Slums’ webbing. Our flat is behind me in one corner. Old flat. Exactly the same as everything else around here; sandstone and cement, cobbled together to make a solid structure and reinforced with Atlas steel girders. “Holds up the world”, apparently. Sure, cool tagline, but useless when you’ve just exploded.

The closest alley is across from me, about 100m over the courtyard, and from there, who knows. I don’t know where I could go, even if I knew my way around. Fuck. I almost crack my head on a hanging ladder as I stumble off the curb and swing around to look up; towering sprawls of extra buildings sit on top of the one I’ve just left, at least fifty stories tall.

Suddenly, I really want to get away from underneath them all.

Moving hurts, but so does standing still and I’m far more vulnerable in the open. I’m looking around me, checking, squinting into the dark, as I slowly limp across the courtyard – not just because Illiam could burst back out of the door any second. A couple of times, some rubble cracks as it hits the ground; my glyphs burn on my skin as I feel my blood pumping. White lines; a webbing of spider silk. Not tribal like Illiam’s, or floral like I imagine my mother’s would’ve been. No one chooses the style, they burn onto your skin as you begin to use the Agony in early childhood. Painful, traumatic, and a wonderful Potaris rite of passage.

I reach the corner of one building and lean against it, staring down the cracked pathway. Dumpsters and bags of trash border both sides of the alley, I think; I can’t see the other end through the haze in my eyes. I never really learnt the layout of this ridiculous area, which I’m now regretting. Just never really felt needed, like I knew I wouldn’t be sticking around for long. Guess that paid off. Lucky me.

If you’re – I’m strong enough, I’ll survive.

I will.

I hope.

I think.

My legs give way; I’m on the floor, the back of your tee scraped and torn by the side of the brick. My skin aches, veins burning with that acid blood running through them.

Mythos is spoon-feeding you soup, as I lay in my bed, legs pulled up to your chest. I’m nine and he’s patting my hair, stroking my shoulder, singing softly as I groan and fidget. You’re ill and he’s taking care of me, not my father but your father. It feels so real.

Pay attention, Krysten.

I open my eyes. I’m sitting, leaning against the wall, hands dug into the – concrete? The hell? I pull, cracking the paving as my fingers come free, then look up and – oh good. Street Rats. Three boys, fifteen – no, sixteen. One of them is throwing and catching a ball of Agony, horns about eight inches long curving out of his forehead. He’s growing plates of armour from his bone too. Looks rough. The other two are equally as vicious, clearly raised fighters, one with huge shoulders plated with bone and the other, in front, has a tail coiled around his leg. As I stand, shakily catching myself as my knee gives, one of them laughs. Can’t tell which, but the front pipes up:

‘I’m gonna assume you’re lost, or delirious, and by the looks of it someone else has already had a crack at you.’ He scoffs; a cruel sound, breath forced out like a fake cough but with a smirk that tells me oh boy, he is loving this. ‘From your point of view, at least, I’d imagine you feel pretty fucked.’

Great. Kick a girl while she’s down. I already hate him. I can feel a wave of pain building as the other two approach from deeper into the alley. I can barely move with this shit, let alone fight back.

I think this is gonna hurt.

They start simply, two taunting me as the leader flicks his tail. He’s using it like a whip, slicing up my weakly-blocking arms.

I was right.

Why does everyone have to be so good at inflicting pain? Why does this country run like a fucking slaughterhouse?

‘Do you really need to do this? I can’t imagine you three struggle to cause suffering.’

One of the other two bursts out laughing. Can’t tell which one. Fuck. Why can’t I tell?

‘No, you’re right, we don’t. Our Agony is fed nice and well. But,’ he slams his tail down onto my forearm; I scream out as a barb gets stuck in my skin, ‘it’s fun.’

This is why I hate this place.

I can see them thriving off my pain. The Broad-Shouldered Beast in the back is just standing there, his chin up in the air, taking it in. The leader has stopped, but he’s there licking the blood – my blood – off the barbs of his tail. The third guy is – well, horny is the right word in both senses.

I breathe deep. Another wave of pain builds, and builds and builds and I’m screaming and they’re laughing and then it’s just –

Darkness.

All black, all I can see, and roaring noise, like a bomb just went off between me and tail-boy, and then I can see again and they’re in piles, two up against the far wall and one to my left.

And I feel fucking great.

I walk over to the closest body, a little woozy with the sudden rush of clarity. His arms and legs are not where they should be. I guess he bounced like Illiam did, but concrete walls don’t bend like wood.

Oh. Fuck.

Well done.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Section 3 – A New Old Friend

That’s – uhm – that’s not me?

Well, it is. It’s my head. It’s this voice, this running commentary. But it’s not your words. Yeah, exact – hm. Interesting. Hello, Krysten. It’s been a long time. A long time? I’m looking around, but I know it’s no one on the outside. You’re stuck in here with me, aren’t you? Yes. Do I know you? No. Are you – real? You’re not hallucinating, no, but I’m not anyone, Potaris or Anthromon or Creare at all. Right, good, okay. Makes sense. Why would you be? Silly me.

It feels like waves. My own thoughts and – you, interrupting and pushing back. But it’s soft, too. Tugs and pulls, to and fro, sliding around in my head. I suppose you’re right, yes. I’d never thought of it like that.

Who the fuck – or, what the fuck – are you? I’m your power. Your source of energy. The thing that just saved me. Yeah. Thanks for that. You’re most welcome. So, you’re the Agony? I didn’t realise – that’s because I’m not. You’re right, the Agony cannot heal, only inflict pain and cause suffering. You Creare are direct with your naming, if nothing else. But no, I’m not your Agony. I’m far more than that. And far older. Right. Okay. So, what then?

You will find out, when it’s safer to talk. Right now – yeah, we’re leaving. I can feel my body moving – which, just for future reference, is fucking creepy. Ah. My mistake. I assumed you’d appreciate getting out of here, last time – nevermind. Understood. Thanks. We’ll come back to whatever the fuck ‘last time’ was later.

I’ve –

We’ve? No, too complicated. I’ve already moved down the length of the alley and now, out the other end, I’m standing at an intersection.

I’ve always enjoyed the feel of this place at night. Well you’re a fucking weirdo then. We might get on okay. We’ve been getting on okay thus far, you know. Well, when I don’t know you’re there, you have an advantage.

*

The streets extend in all directions and it takes me an hour or so to get out of the Slums. With my help. Yeah, alright. The sun is starting to rise behind the fringes of the buildings, sprawling out from that alleyway in broken, worn-down suburbs and cul-de-sacs build upon with all kinds of ad-hoc structures. They look old, apartment buildings and office blocks used for anything and everything, but they were probably built in the last decade. Everything is constantly rebuilt here; it ages far faster than it should with the constant damage it takes from – well, everything. Why do you talk to me like I don’t already know this? I don’t know, I’ve always spoke to myself in my head. Oh. Oooohh. That makes sense now.

I never learnt my way around Cresalis – hell, even if I had, I still wouldn’t enjoy the place. It just feels – broken, deeply. Like a great city of life was just cut off from its blood supply and it drained out of the stone, turned it grey.

I feel fantastic though. That caustic acid in my veins feels more like milk and honey. Some of my best work. I’m glad you feel so good – enjoy it. I am, you know I am. I’m through an archway and at the end of a huge courtyard now.

Wait, what?

Okay, this is getting confusing. Are you zoning me out or am I just going mad? I apologise. Hearing my voice for the first time can be – disorientating. Yeah, no shit.

The courtyard is – well, fair play to you, fucking majestic. I can’t believe I’ve never seen it before. Regal architecture, gargoyles and tribal masonry and flapping standards adorned with the Potaris mark; a black flag with an exploding white star bursting through the centre. The ground level is open, an alcove running the length of all four sides, great pillars of stone holding up the upper four stories. The stone is sand, it’s beige and boring and bloody beautiful. I stand, pivoting on my feet as I swing my body around to take it all in and –

Silence. Finally, silence. Who knew this country was capable?

Well, apart from me.

Almost. Silence.

‘Why did I end up here?’ I say aloud, enjoying the emptiness of the place. Because I brought you here.

‘Okay, well, why did you bring me here?’ Well, I – I’d keep your voice down if I were you.

‘What? Wh – oh’ I trail off, turning to look at the entryway at the opposite end to me. I can make out four soldiers walking through the arch, but I don’t recognise their armour from here and they aren’t carrying any weapons. Interesting, for some soldiers. They’re wearing plating over cargo trousers and tight shirts; it’s around their chest, on their shoulders and on their legs, both shins and thighs. Bleached white once, I assume, but covered in the ubiquitous dust of Celaris and stained dark across parts of their chest and thighs. Their arms are completely bare, showing off vibrant Glyphs surging with Agony. They’ve got an impressive variety of fangs and spikes covering their bodies, the lack of helmets made up for with sets of uncomfortably sharp horns growing from their foreheads. They’re either special forces or The Order of the Sun. What? That’s who they are. Oh. Forgive me, randomly throwing out proper nouns doesn’t help. You’re very good at profiling people, clearly, I’m sure you’ll survive. You need to hide, now.

Yeah, I kind of assumed as much. I run as quietly as I can from the gate to the nearest pillar, to the left. Luckily, the courtyard is huge, and they were too busy talking to a fifth figure, who has now come through the arch as well, to see me. I stumble behind the upright-log of stone, and then – ow. Ow, fuck. Oh joy. The acid is back in the blood. You told me I’d be fine, you solved this. I’m doing my best, trust me, but that – thing.

                That is heresy.

What? What are you talking abo – ooowwww, goddamn it! Heresy? What, are you a religion now as well? It’s a turn of phrase, but you know what I mean, Krysten. I don’t understand, they’re just a – okay, not a soldier. I’ve leant around the pillar slightly, clutching the tattoos on my arms that have begun seething with pain. Whatever the fifth figure is, it’s cladded in dull grey bone, once white I presume and acting like armour. It’s rippling with swirling tattoos, shifting and pulsating around its – body? Yeah? It looks mostly Creare, legs and arms and a head of sorts. But – different, somehow. It’s just wrong? I know, I share the sentiment. It’s an abomination.

And it’s bleeding. Everywhere. A trail of reddish-black blood follows it up to where it now stands, in the centre of the courtyard, and from every orifice, even through the bone itself, blood seeps out. It’s thick, like a dark treacle or tree sap, and its body must be producing it faster than normal because fucking hell, it’s ridiculous.

The Agony, in its currently purest form. That is your High Warlord Kelathir, by the way. Well, it was once. I’m sure it will be again.

No, Kelathir is a myth. I disagree. The title, the position, ‘ruler’ of this place, there hasn’t been a High Warlord in decades. Besides, how could they control the Potaris? They’d be laughed down, or just killed, you know that, we both know that. I think you underestimate how strong that man is. How perverted his Agony, how swollen with suffering. I need you to watch.

Gates that I hadn’t noticed until now, set into the walls lining the courtyard, start opening. I can feel my hairs stand on end as they screech, the metal clearly old and unused. More soldiers, as well as the four that led the ‘Warlord’ in, appear from the gates and start dragging prisoners into the courtyard centre. Well, I assume they’re prisoners. They’re all in chains and struggling against them. Loudly. Vocally.

So much for enjoying the silence.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Section 4: Facelift

The prisoners are lined up in rows of fifteen. Ten rows total once they’re done; five on each side of the ‘Warlord’ in the middle. One hundred and fifty people – Creare, indiscriminate of age, gender, anything. They only need the Agony within them. Who they are is irrelevant.

Most of them are struggling against their bonds; chains that clamp tails to wrists, forcing the prisoners to lean back. The chains are too short. The soldiers are walking around, slapping, pushing down, trying to shut them up. One of them grabs the horns of a young male, pulls him up into the air – and slams him back down again. He spits on him, the black tar of his mouth coating the grey skin of the prisoner.

The ‘Warlord’ is staring. Can he see me? What’s left of his face is locked to a spot above my head, the floors above the alcove I’m hiding in. I’m behind a wide pillar, only the edge of my head peeking round, and they’re easily twenty markers away. I can only just hear them – and I’m straining to listen. But he’s still staring.

I am incredibly uncomfortable. That’s because you’re different – better than them. These people are a mockery of the power they wield.

Looks like they’ve all been, well, subdued. Some of the prisoners are hanging limply from the hands of their captors, unconscious or just resigned. None of these people are baring fangs, hissing or thrashing their tails. I thought Potaris, well, we’re supposed to be the ones that fight back. Be violent, feed off other people’s suffering. Where’s the fire? I think they’re trying to suppress it. The Warlord wants it. The less they fight, the more they act the fool and give up, the less virile the Agony will be when –

When what? What have you brought me here to see?

I double over – of course, that’s still a problem. If you fixed it the first time, why the hell is it back? Are you letting it in? No, I – I’m sorry. I need you to see – and I need to see what happens to you when you do. I want to see if the rest comes out.

I really hope I start to understand what the fuck you’re on about soon.

The ‘Warlord’ raises his – hand, I guess. Claw? It’s covered in bone, but the four fingers are all protruding, covered in blood. It drips down his arm, an obsidian river flowing over snowy mountains. All at once, the soldiers’ hands spark and glow and – swords, blades made of pure Agony, stretch out of their palms. They take them with their free hand – they’re as bright as lamp strips, waves of distorted light rippling off them like the horizon on a hot day. I have to bite down on my fist to not cry out; in the same moment, a burst of pain from my chest washes through my body. My skin is on fire. Interesting. Oh, fuck you.

And then his hand drops.

There’s no sound. That’s weird. The blades don’t make any noise when they cut through four or five of them at once, so that between the soldiers they’re all dead in one cleave. The ‘Warlord’ has both arms raised and – oh. There’s a blade pierced through his chest from behind, between his two hearts. He falls and there’s one of the soldiers behind him. The others aren’t moving though, they all seem okay with it. What the hell is going on?

Wait.

There’s roaring. Like the strongest wind blowing right past your ears, cutting off any chance of hearing anything else. I’m pushed into the pillar by it, the pure force of the movement, seemingly pulling all the air from outside the courtyard towards the ‘Warlord’ – and past everyone else. The soldiers have all driven their blades into the ground; they kneel on one leg and hold their blades for support, heads bowed to the body of their leader. The bodies of the dead prisoners start to stir – no, not the bodies, just the Glyphs. The tattoos are writhing under their skin, glowing with white energy. Then they’re off – literally, flying through the air, towards the dead body of the ‘Warlord’.

The first one strikes his forehead harshly, like a snake biting into the body of its prey. One by one they follow suit, stabbing into his body at any angle and location, burrowing through the bone-like armour. As they do, it burns away or falls off, reduced to dust or bricks of chalky powder that the wind quickly brushes off his body. Eventually, the rotting body of a man starts to be visible. The bone and blood are washed away to reveal flesh that’s half-gone.

Then they start going for that too. Cutting into the broken body – but when they do, it grows back? The muscle rebuilds, eyes and teeth appear in their place, skin peels back onto arms and legs and everywhere, until he’s whole again. The dead body of a man in his late-twenties, looking like he’s just fallen asleep.

Then he wakes up.

And I pass out.

*

Resurrection. I’ve heard about it from Illiam, he tried it once with his hunting party after one of them got clipped by a falling building, but it didn’t exactly work out. One hundred and fifty people appears to have done the trick. Along with whatever else Kelathir cooked up. Get up, Krys.

                I open my eyes. I feel amazing again. Really, truly incredible. Good, it did what I had hoped it would. What do you mean? In a second – look.

I roll onto my side, stones and rubble pressing into my thick skin. It really is Kelathir. I take it back. Thank you. This makes sense, too. The Warlord always leads by example – and this is a pretty big power play. He stands, the soldiers stand with him – and I, now feeling high as a kite, pick myself up too.

“Well, that was rather successful, don’t you think?” The Warlord is inspecting his tattered clothes – no, his skin under the clothes. Running his hands up and down his arms, picking at bone-dust that still lingers.

“Yes, sir. Any problems?”

“No, Kylas, thank you. It was perfect. Finally.”

Kylas? You don’t think it’s that one, do you? Well – wait, you know him? I’ve been in your head for years, Krys. Oh, that’s just creepy. And no, it won’t be that guy, I left him when he got himself caught stealing four years ago. But then you know that too, don’t you? Just keep explaining like I don’t, it’s okay. Fuck you.

Kelathir is walking out of the courtyard, the soldiers – Knights, I suppose – flanking him, their blades gone. They’re just leaving the bodies? They’ve got everything they need from them, why would they care? I suppose, but…

All those people.

You never were fully Potaris, Krysten. You’ll never understand their heartlessness and that’s a good thing. You’re not supposed to.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Section 5: Answers

The courtyard is silent again. The bodies lay broken and drained of blood; the sandstone cobbles have drunk their fill. The floor is sticky.

I’m back down again, sitting with my knees to my chest. Can’t we get moving? No. Tell me what’s going on. I’ll explain on the way; we really need to –

No. Fuck you, no. I need to know what just happened; I’ve felt the best and worst I’ve ever been in the space of one fucking day.

I’m scared.

I’m sorry. I know this is far more confusing for you than for me. But we do need to get out of here. Those Knights will be back and next time they will definitely – what are you doing?

I start walking towards the other end of the courtyard, passing through the centre of the broken bodies. I can’t stay sat down, but I don’t know where to go. The prisoners were of all ages; there are children of four and five years old all the way through to elderly men and women in their late-forties. They’re all gone. Let me guide you, let me take you to the port and we can –

As I walk through the archway, a metal girder lands to my left, impaling the soft earth outside. This place is falling apart – I wonder how old it is. Ancient, Krys, and we’ll be left here to gather dust with it if we don’t leave.

I look around; I’m in the middle of nowhere. I can see the edges of the Slums in the valley, at the bottom of the hill I’m standing on – a hill? I check around me – yeah, we’re way up. No wonder my legs are sore. I walk a few paces towards the edge; I can see a path winding its way down, until it fades into the dull brown of the ground. The path those Knights and Kelathir would have taken. The path we took too, Krys. It looks like it cuts clear around the burnt-out forests that cover the majority of the valley floor. Apart from the road, it’s fields of grey filled with dead trees and fuck all else. The population tend to stick to the big cities, or risk being torn apart by the shit that lives there.

I can feel you trying to move me, but I won’t let you. Fuck you, fuck all of this, it doesn’t make sense. I’m halfway through this miserable life, I spent the first nineteen years thinking I was alone in the world –

“And now you show up out of nowhere. You invade my head and tell me exactly what I should be doing. You take control of my fucking movement and you’ve almost killed me twice!” I can’t help but vent out loud to the open air.

My breathing is heavy. I can feel my Glyphs burning and my hands are itching with the excess of Agony dripping off my fingers. You don’t struggle to get angry; you were taught how your whole life. But there is more to you than just the Agony, Krysten. The life you think you have, what you think is in store for yourself, is no longer correct.

What do you expect me to do with that? How can you think that I’ll just roll over and follow what you say? Because honestly, I won’t leave you alone. I am bound to you, to what resides within you. But you don’t even know what that is! I am painfully aware of that, Krys, but there’s nothing I can do if you won’t work with me and help me find out.

How am I gonna help? What do I do now, I can’t go to Illiam, I don’t have any family left? You need to help me understand who you are, which starts with getting the fuck out of here. Krys, I don’t want to make you feel worse, but what have you got to lose? Hah. You’re pretty good at it, even if you don’t want to.

I walk to the edge and sit down, my legs dangling over the cliff-face. It’s far steeper than I realised; it looks like the land fell away one day and left a jagged scar on this elevated hill.

You don’t know how many times I’ve been done with this place. Yes, Krys, I do, I’ve seen everything since you were a kid. But this is the last time, if you want it to be. Where we’re going, I’m hoping you won’t need to come back. What do you mean, since I was a kid? It happened once before, and – look, we need to go to Ordraan. If we go there, we can find the Vigour and see how you react to it. And you can have your answers on the way, to as much as I know.

Ordraan – so, the Anthromon people. That’s what you think I am? Their power, the Vigour, is what’s doing this shit to me? From what I can tell, Krys, it’s keeping you alive. Somehow, you have the blood of a different species mixed in with everything you already know, and it’s pumping their Vigour through your Glyphs. It saw the Agony in action back there and I think it’s ready to fight.

But, why now? I’ve been seeing this shit daily for years, I grew up in a gang for fuck’s sake. I’m not sure; either something has happened within you or in the world at large. Or both. This is why I need you to get to the port – there are things I can’t learn from watching through your eyes on Cresalis.

I’ve spent my entire life thinking I was a bad Potaris, bad at my job, bad at my life, bad at living the way I was supposed to.

Now you tell me that there’s something completely opposed to the Agony, flowing through me.

The energy that’s dedicated to the life of all things, living in a Potaris.

Y’know, that would explain a lot. And ask a lot more questions.

I stand up, careful not to slip on broken rocks. I can see the port on the horizon-line, blurred by distance but defined as a spot of black in the sea of brown and grey.

Fine. Let’s go.

Crill sighs.

Hands stuck in his mess of blue hair, fingers caught halfway up the strands, he swears. When was the last time he showered? His head can’t remember, but his hair says too long. Well, it screams it really, the poor stuff. He doesn’t mind most of the time, far too busy running tapes and drawing up the timeline, but right now he is slightly regretting it.

Crill has been at this for five months. Wow. Really, that long? He whistles to himself, chuckling slightly, as he loads another tape in. That last one was strange, real strange. Reports of 150 Potaris prisoners being removed from their cells at random and disappearing off the face of the planet. Recent, too; he wouldn’t have known to look for it if not for his flatmate’s tendency to flirt online with Potaris women. She is a weird one but living with her has its uses. He had to use a lot of backdoors to get into their system and find the damn thing, but now he’s sure it was worth it. There’s something here, he thinks, as he sits down to read the interview transcript.

Something worth searching for.

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