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Chapter 20 - Songs of Chaos City, Part 4/5

Song 4: Rainday

Have you ever seen the rain

In a city that’s to blame

For the deaths

Of a million people?


Acidic precipitation in the night

Then the heavens will break open and cry…


Would you dance in the rain,

Would it be all the same,

If it would be your last time?

Would you if life was pain?


Have you, have you

Have you seen the rain?


Would you dance in the rain,

Would it be all the same,

If it would be your last time?

Would you if life was pain?


Can you imagine being born into a short life of agony and suffering? How could you. Perhaps you know agony and suffering, but to even attempt comprehension, you have to realize that human beings have several extraordinary powers that they often never become aware of: Did you know that your brain has a deep-rooted reflex to perceive an object as a part of your body, when you take it into your hand? As such your brain will attempt to determine the rules of that object: A sword can be swung up and down and left and right, a horse’s rein can be used to direct it. Every object has its rules when you make it your own. Another example of our extraordinary powers is the power to adapt to our surroundings. We can’t adapt by growing claws or chitin armor, but if we actually survive long enough to ‘live’, we will inevitably adapt: psychologically, spiritually; and we will make that ‘life’ our frame of reference for happiness, for fulfillment. So would it be alright for us to be born into a short life of agony and suffering? Would we see it not as a burden but as the way things are and enjoy ourselves to the highest extent possible?

Powers have their limits, and even the briefest glimpse or the faintest idea of normalcy, or even more, would inevitably and irrevocably shatter the illusion of our adaptation and reveal the gravity of our hell. So would you? Would you dance in the rain? Would it be all the same if it would be your last time? Would you, if life was pain?

If rain was death, and life was agony, would you not deem it to be god’s righteous hammer, plunging down upon you from the heavens to free you from life’s surly bonds?

- The reflective scribbles of a little girl named Balsibart


Ísa

“How do you even know such a person exists?” Ísa asked with some agitation.

He shrugged his shoulders. “All who are mighty know of him. And I am the second mightiest person on Aqualon.”

“Oh you pompous… wait, who is the mightiest?” She had not expected this man to admit being second to anyone.

“Oh yes,” he said carefree. “I fought him once, just after I set foot onto the Great Land from Rim City. It must have been… a little under twenty years or so ago. At the time he was… I think a general of sorts, had a whole mercenary army that I cut in half. Of course, he took offense and fought me. When he landed the first blow; it was as if the gears of the entire Great Clockwork were falling into line behind him and he was burning with the strength of a thousand suns. All the power I had at the time could not put a dent in the vibrating air around him. But instead of killing me for my transgression, he declared me a strong fighter and thanked me for the dance I had granted him. It was all I could do, to take her and limp away. His name was Plâton, I think. If ever one should want to stop me, only he could actually achieve it. I saw him too, when Atlas came for me. I knew then that it was time to sleep.”

And again: the surprise. It never ended while she was here. She had not expected that he would know Plâton, a man she had met quite recently and heard of throughout her carrier in the Shadow Society. Though during the battle of the Saltplains, he had been absent to her knowledge. At that time, the word had been that Midas Creek’s army had been broken by Balsibart.

“So,” she said with a now quiet voice, “you have been to Rim City. Has it been… as it is now, all those years ago?”

He looked down at the little girl, which had turned its back on them, and sighed. “Something like that. I guess I really picked the right woman for the task at hand if you know even about Chaos City. Have you been there too?”

Ísa looked into the fire as gruesome images of strangely humanoid figures and eerie chants flickered through her mind, and she heard herself mumbling, with the hint of a melody she heard some time ago: “Will god still take me when… the devil’s done with me…

He smiled. “So they are still singing my songs, I take it. The Great Clockwork is a beast with a million teeth…”

“Y-… your songs?! You planted those horrible songs in that society?! How could you do that to them?”

Again he shrugged his shoulders. “I am a soft touch I guess. And I was a young entity back then…” His voice was almost apologetic as he said that and filled with a certain melancholy.

This time she did punch him in the mouth.

The little girl let out a shocked scream, but he just patted her on the helmet while wiping some blood out of the corner of his mouth. “You are far less perceptive than I thought,” he noted drily, “and far more judgmental. But I suppose that is only natural for one so young. I fear my ‘people skills’ have deteriorated a little while many fathoms of stony earth and briny depths held me prisoner those ten years.” He stood up and wiped some dirt from his cloak, which wrapped his body like a monk’s brown robes. “Well, I have spent enough time unfolding, I think; we are ready to travel. I hope you have recovered your strength, because I have something in mind for you.” He reached into his cloak slowly, and as she expected him to draw a weapon and attack her, nothing could have surprised her more than a sight that was at the same time familiar and stranger than anything she had ever seen before: it was a lamp.

By its making she could instantly tell that it was akin to the magical artifacts employed by her guild, the Shadow Society, but on the other hand it was nothing like those: its elegant shape was curved and white as ivory, whereas the Society’s were black and rigid. Inside of the lamp was a faint, blue glow, as if it was being used even now, and something seemed to be inexplicably off about it, just as if one entered a room but could not quite grasp that all the angles of the walls slightly diverged from ninety degrees.

“Take it,” he said. “I am lending this lamp to you, Ísa Muundir, travel far and travel fast. We are wandering under the umbrella of war, an umbrella that casts deadly rain upon all who walk beneath it.”

Ísa grasped for the lamp and held it before her face. Something was definitely strange here, but now was not the time to be squeamish; this was her best chance to escape from this madman! If she hadn’t been weakened so much, she would have bided her time to kill him, but now she held the ticket to freedom in her hands, and there were other fights she had to join. She reached into the core of that lamp and at the same time into her own. A gate there creaked open and resonance was indeed achieved, despite the odd quality of the lamp. With a flash of light, she sank into the shadows and emerged far away.

“Farwell, Ba… wait, where am I?!” She looked around, disturbed, as she realized that her spell had somehow misfired and transported her to a different location than the one she had pictured in her mind.

“Now, now, there is no need to be scared. You know that place much better than the ground you now tread. … fine, but only for a while…”

Ísa turned around hastily as she heard that accursed voice and could just see how he patted the little girl on the head and heaved her up onto his shoulders where she let her dirty, bare feet dangle playfully. There was no smile on her face though. Other than base emotions of fear and such, her little face had been void of any real expression this whole time, a fact Ísa just now realized. After thinking she had finally regained a measure of control, it turned out to be nothing, nothing at all. “What happened, why are we here? How are you here too?” she demanded to know, feeling beads of sweat form on her brow. The stress was really getting to her. After being left on the eternal brink of a slow death, she was now the hostage of this madman and his puppet-girl sidekick. Ísa was just about ready to try her luck and attack him with tooth and nail like an animal.

He, however, did either not notice that, or simply did not care: “Why, you brought us here, just like I requested. What an odd question to ask. And as to what happened… well, you may be able to ride the stream, but you certainly cannot swim against it without drowning in the depths.”

She clenched her fists: “I’ve had it… up to here… with the damn… metaphors…!” Her hissed voice became more pressed and angry with every word she spoke.

“Right, to work then,” he said; as if that had been her problem. “Well, as you may or may not see: We are now at the premises of good old Altonar, the city closest to the great western wilderness. I figured it would be the best place to start our search. I am eager to see you do your thing.”


Atlas

The lights were glary and white and flickered. There was no shred of warmth in them. There was no shred of warmth in the people either, though curiosity lit their eyes up as much as the blight. Their skins were like sheets of ice, speckled and soiled with dust and dirt, poorly veiled in pathetic rags. They seemed to come from all walks of life: Children, youths, adults, old folk. And still, they all looked as if they were near death.

The singing had stopped as the door had opened, and all Atlas heard now was the damaged breathing of some and the livid scratching of Ayveron’s multi-meter that seemed to violently object to the severe radiation levels in this highly populated hall.

There were about… sixty or so of them, and many had prominent bald patches and there was hair on the ground. Skin lesions, blackish nails, missing teeth. Only the younger ones seemed free of these marks. For the moment.

Many were huddled together for warmth. All of them eyed the two strangers curiously, as if they had come from a different world. And they might indeed have. As Atlas walked inside slowly, many stood up to touch him; as if to obtain proof of his existence, as if he was a transcendent being such as could only exist in fairy tales.

“I…” he began, and he wanted to say that he needed to get to Borealis, but all he could utter was this: “I… am sorry… I am so sorry…”

One of the children looked up to him and said: “Are you the one? Are you the magus?”

The others murmured about ‘magus, magus’, as if the word itself was magic to be wielded.

Atlas looked her in the eye. Her irises had oddly colored rings at the rim, something he had not seen before, though the cobalt blue glow of fully progressed spellblight was all too familiar to him. “I am not sure,” he replied. “I am not sure if I am. But there are some things I can do that are quite like magic.”

Carefully, Atlas laid Ayveron down at a nearby wall where a flock of people gathered quickly.

Is he alright? Is he always sleeping like this? Is he also a magus? They riddled poor Atlas with many questions, which he patiently tried to answer, but he was very tired and very thirsty, for the cleansing the sword was performing to keep him and Ayveron free of the toxic radiation continuously evaporated water from his body to expel what was not wanted inside.

“Could I have some… water please?” he finally asked after answering several of the inquiries and many tin cups with clear liquid were quickly handed his way, a gift he gladly accepted. As soon as he drank, he felt some of his strength return, and he also poured some water down Ayveron’s parched throat. Food was also passed along towards him: a white paste in little cups that looked more like a salve than food-stuff, but before he could try it, the old man that had led him here struck it out of his hand with a meek slap. For a moment, Atlas feared the man had broken his brittle wrist in the process, but that seemed not to be the case. “What is it?” Atlas asked startled.

“You must not eat our food, magus. It may sustain the body, but it withers the soul. We eat because we must, and we pay the price. Many believe that god cannot forgive us for this alone, yet we pray.”

“God?” Atlas asked with his brow furrowed; the little grease monkey had also spoken of god as if it was a singular entity. “Why would this food wither the soul? Nothing edible or inedible on this world should be capable of that.”

“Is that so? I would not go against the word of a mighty magus,” the old man said humbly, “but know that much of our food is made from the bodies of our deceased. There are no bodies in this city, other than ours, the walking dead.”

Atlas stared at the seemingly unimpressive little tin and its salve-like content, and it took a moment for him to realize what the old man was actually saying. “You… you eat your dead?! But why?! You even seem to despise it yourself!”

“We are not people, great magus,” the old man said solemnly, “We are the cattle of this city, and as such we are born, eat, live and die by its orders. These halls hold no mercy for the Children, for that we can only turn to god.”

“Which god?!” Atlas insisted now, he had to know.

“Just god,” the old man said. “The one that watches over us and takes us back to his side when we die.”

“You mean the Great Clockwork?” That made more sense to him.

“Well,” the old man said, “Our great ancestors who built this city believed that there was a Great Clockwork permeating the universe, yes. But we know that all machines are made by the hands of the living, so a living being must have made the clockwork as well, how else could it exist? We think it was a being that made the Clockwork to in turn make mankind and give us this world to live on. But our great ancestors angered that being when they gave life to machines themselves, for only it may give life to the world. Thus, this sad existence is our punishment for the sins of our forefathers. Our savior of old herself said this: Indeed it is a great machine that made this world, for what living creature would have made it so flawed? We call the maker of the machine god, as that is the most powerful name we know. It is all we can hope that this life is punishment enough to atone for the sins of our forefathers, and that in death we are redeemed and taken to his side, absolved.”

This did not really improve Atlas’s emotional state. It seemed his first impression of these people had been right, and they were suffering greatly. “How long have you… suffered this life, old man?” he asked quietly.

The old man looked at his shaking hands. “Almost seven-hundred nights. My lifecycle is nearing its end and I shall die as one of our oldest. The carbonium is rich in my body, and soon I will be called for extraction. No one survives the process.”

“Sev… you are barely two years old!” Atlas exclaimed in shock.

“Barely? Few live as long as I have,” the ‘old’ man said surprised.

None of these people were older than two years, yet they looked as if they came from all walks of life. However, the city had created these beings, changed them in many ways; turned them into cattle. Atlas had never seen anything so atrocious in either of his lives, and the reality of it almost crushed him under its weight.

Suddenly, Ayveron awakened and stared at the pathetic people about with wide eyes. He quickly noticed the incessant crackle of his multi-meter and grasped the situation with his usual sharp wit: “Are these… the isotope incubators? By the gears…” He looked from face to face, finding curiosity and marvel, but also pain and suffering. “What are we going to do?” he asked quietly and looked at Atlas with uncertain eyes.

Truly, he did not know. Atlas looked about and sighed. “I have an idea or two.” It was then that from the corners of the room, where strange boxes were nested on the walls, a monotonous and hollow voice, difficult to understand, sounded throughout the hall:

This is a city wide announcement. The central data core has determined, with a 70% probability, that there will be rain this evening, therefore all human resource isotope incubators are asked to search for the nearest shelter and wait for further instructions. All drone units are asked to collect stray resources for sheltering.

“What was that? And what does it mean?” Atlas asked distressed. He had barely understood a word because of the unusual quality of the voice that had emerged from the boxes. More than anything he feared the start of another reactor cycle. He did not think he could bear those sounds of ultimate pain again.

“It means that we are now locked in to die here,” the old man said gravely. “The door through which we entered will not open again until morning. … great magus, could you not perhaps open it for us so we might leave this room before it is too late?”

Atlas glanced at the door. It didn’t look any different. He gave it a try, and indeed it had been locked. “Why would you be locked in here to die?” he asked the old man.

“Because it is what we were made for,” he replied, looking at the ground as though ashamed.

Atlas drew the sword from his back and cut through the door near the handle as if it was butter. Few blades were as sharp as the eternal Aalandra. The lock was destroyed and the door now opened with ease. “Will this do?” Atlas inquired as he sheathed the sword again.

The old man nodded, “Yes, this will do nicely.” He gave his comrades a strange look that Atlas did not quite understand.

Ayveron stood up with some strain. “Your sword. It stopped… err… crying?” he asked with polite interest.

Atlas nodded. “We have come to an agreement. Besides, when I pulled it out to negotiate your healing, the rain burned through our clothes and skin. Look, you still have the holes in your garb.” Then he turned back to the old man again: “Well, are you not leaving?” The door was open after all; still, no one seemed eager to depart. The old man shook his head. “In a few hours. We have that much time. In the evening it will be difficult for the drones to pick us off the street. Yes… very difficult…

If it is not too much trouble, could you… could you tell us of the world? A story perhaps? We all grow up knowing the same, you see, and there is little we learn in our lives. Only the tales of our savior are passed down. And now there is a new one! It would be so wonderful to hear of your travels.” He coughed violently, but held up his hand to deny any help as he leaned against a nearby wall.

“Well,” Atlas said, “there is something I would like to hear as well,” and he turned to Ayveron: “What happened while I was unconscious. Could you recount your journey to this island, something about magic pirates I believe?”

Ayveron sat down again, still appearing tired. “Hmm… Alright then. But don’t expect too much, I am not good at telling stories:

When you fell unconscious, Plâton just picked you up. We were still at the strange stone circle, the Angel Stones, where blue light would rise into the sky in endless bursts. Plâton said that the souls are going to Helgard to be judged for their worth and then sent to one of the two sides that realm had to offer; one of them is supposedly made of golden halls where a feast is held forevermore, with regular great hunts in enchanted forests that grow all around them, and one where dark things dwell and hope is dim. I am not the superstitious type, but there are historical documents that confirm at least the existence of those old northern gods, so who knows, perhaps Helgard is as real a place as the Middle Lands themselves. What was happening to those… well, ‘souls’, I guess, that is for clockwork theologists to discern, not for one like me. I am more interested in the workings of things with real properties.

So, with you over his shoulder and his face neatly concealed by his hood, he walked on, next to the Giranja, and what could I do but follow. I had many questions to ask of him, but he answered few, using that unusual, hoarse voice. I did not realize how badly he had been injured at the time, but I could feel that something had been taken from him, or damaged in him, so after a while I stopped pestering him so much. Still, it was a lonesome journey, almost as lonesome as my journey from Altonar to the Middle Lands –“

Atlas interjected: “You know, I would love to hear about that too sometime.” He suddenly realized that he knew less about Ayveron than he thought. His dark brown eyes were often curiously wandering about, gleaming with that insatiable thirst for knowledge and detail Atlas had come to know, and he knew that Ayveron had studied and mastered certain areas of science, making him a well-respected technocrat in his home of Altonar. But precious few details did Atlas know about Ayveron’s life before they had met, about his journey to the Middle Lands and his past in Altonar. Did he still have family there? Atlas would have to ask these questions soon, for they were heavily weighing on his mind now that the Great Land was falling into war. Yet, he also knew that, even with those questions unanswered, Ayveron was his friend now, made so by many mutually endured perils and long travels.

“Well, I shall tell you sometime then, or would you prefer to hear that story first?” Ayveron inquired with a raised brow.

Atlas shook his head. “I am sorry, I should not have interrupted you.”

So, the technocrat continued the storytelling, and all the isotope incubators, young and old, though all babes in the eyes of the travelers, leaned forward, listening intently, soaking up every detail Ayveron had to spare: “So there we were, the heat was unbearable during the day, and in the night it got mighty chilly; such is the climate in the desert. Uh, that’s a huge land filled with nothing but sand,” he added hastily to address the puzzled crowd, which oohed and ahhed to that. “Had not the great river soaked up the sun’s warmth during the day and given it back in the night, I might well have frozen to death. I mean, I had a heating element, but I wasn’t going to waste my last carbonic power cells on that… And as for Plâton… I don’t think anything can kill that man, to be honest. Maybe if something heavy fell on him, like a castle, or the moon perhaps. … Well, anyways, we went on and on until we met a little tradesman cog, sailing upstream. It landed after they caught sight of us and we had a few words. News of Arkatrash had not reached the Rusty Shore yet, and they were very distressed to hear them from us. My, to think you travel between densely populated places as a living, delivering cargo, and one day the largest chunk goes up in flames and is gone forever, all the people just burned to ashes… They were horrified to say the least and decided to turn around. For a small price Plâton bargained they let us join them and from thereon it took only a few days to reach the Canyon of Khepri. Truly a marvelous place: Jungle all around – dense forests that is – and countless strip mining operations. And in the middle, a fairy chimney with a huge magical sphere on top. That’s where we went. We met an old man named Noah there, and inside the sphere, his sphere, was a world he had created. Plâton sent him to the Middle Lands, and he brought us to the Rusty Shore with magic.

So there it was: the Rusty Shore. The Iron Belt itself must be ten leagues across, it reached up to the horizon, all made of metal, slightly rusted at the edge. Blacksteel Harbor was burning. Apparently the Church has tried to fence off the entirety of the Ocean Belt from the Great Land-”

Atlas chimed in: “Hold on, what?!”

“Yeah, a Black Priest was waiting for us. He started spitting gospel at us and was all nice and ready to have us turn around or shoot us, but err… Plâton did a fate thing, I think? A pirate ship shot the priest to pieces with a cannon.” Ayveron rubbed his upper left arm, where a faint scar Atlas hadn’t noticed before was outlined.

“So the Church of Pure Souls is trying to fend off the yellow glimmer? Do they have any chance?”

Ayveron shrugged his shoulder. “I wouldn’t know. Even Plâton had such trouble with it; I don’t know if anyone can, to be honest.”

Atlas sat back, his mind racing. With every passing moment, he became less and less sure of which step to take next. Was going to Borealis really the smartest move for him? He had a letter to deliver, but the circumstances of that letter were very suspicious, as was Plâton’s appearance. While he had not questioned the situation playing out and falling into place around him, now that he had regained a bit of clarity and purpose, he was growing more and more wary of the circumstances that had brought him here. In the end, it all seemed like an orchestrated series of events, perhaps put into place by the Great Clockwork itself. But what were his thoughts on that Great Clockwork now? Now that he had seen this city… The city that shouldn’t have been allowed to exist.

In the following hours, Ayveron told a marveling tale of his and Plâton’s travels to this island, always carrying Atlas with them. After the Black Priest lay dead before them, the three of them, Atlas an unconscious piece of luggage at that point, went on to the rim of the Iron Belt, where the Blue Whale, one of the most notorious pirate ships of the Corsic Ocean was waiting for them, hovering on a column of water.

The ship, commanded by a fearsome captain named Van Jöten, descendant of a long line of pirate lords, was in charge of an impressive crew, which consisted mostly of water mages. In fact, once aboard, they lowered the ship down and dove below the ocean’s surface to travel in a bubble of air through the briny depths.

Van Jöten surfaced two times on their way to Guantil-ya to attack and plunder HJT tradesman cogs. They even managed to acquire some carbonic power cells, some of which Ayveron purchased from the pirates, much to their amusement. It seemed the cells had come from Guantil-ya, that is to say Rim City, itself, for all the Great Land’s supply of carbonic power cells ran through Rim City, the go-between for Borealis and the rest of the world.

But nowadays, so the pirates told him, no one dared to go to Rim City anymore, and the trading ships stopped at the far side of the shore, where the bullet train would cart the supplies to and fro.

All dealings were agreed upon prior in writing, and no one had seen so much as a face of anyone who still lived in Rim City, save for the blighted captains of heavy ironclad trading vessels that still shipped wares between Rim City and the Commonwealth of Corsia.

There had been horrible tales of monsters and ghosts and abominations of science that kept the seamen spinning their yarn for miles on end. All of it sparked by both the isolationism of the island and the leaked illegal survey reports of the Hank & Jordan & Tenzer Survey Corps.

All this and more had happened while Atlas had been in his long sleep, and Ayveron told the story vividly, drawing in the attention and cheers of his audience.

It was only after he was done and sighed sleepily that the old man knocked against the door. “Well, children, it is time for us to leave,” he said and bowed before Atlas and Ayveron, “mighty magus and learned technocrat, you have made these hours very precious to us all, and we thank you. We can go outside now. Wait here until you are fully rested, no harm will come for you in this hall, only for us, so we must now depart.”

Atlas was still sensing a strange intention within the old man, but nodded wearily. He was so very tired, much like Ayveron.

As the many isotope incubators left through the door he had cut open, only two remained behind: a young woman, and a man who had his face concealed by a hood, which he now drew back.

What was underneath surprised Atlas deeply, for it was a faceless head with eyes, but nothing else. “It has been a while, Atlas,” the thing said with a strange, distant and disembodied voice that Atlas had heard once before.

Atlas nodded, catching himself. “You had mentioned that you would be here, John.”

“So, we meet again,” Ayveron noted. “I assume you do not remember our previous meeting, since it has not happened for you yet?”

The strange man shook his head.

“And this,” Ayveron continued, “Is a fork point in… err… time? You are a time traveler, are you not?”

“Perceptive as always, Ayveron Galamoor,” he replied. There was no facial expression to read. “But aren’t we all time travelers? We all travel through time, you forward, I backward. I have as much power over my traversing of that mighty stream as you.”

Atlas began to get a clearer picture of what Ayveron and Plâton had apparently began to grasp at their first meeting with John already. “Now I see,” he said quietly. “Now I see. You are drawn back in time to the events where your history is at the verge of great change, is that it? And then you change the outcome?”

John laughed, which sounded somewhat unsettling. “Not at all, I would never change anything. All I want is to gather knowledge about the past, all the way back to when the Universe was created. Ask me again when you are in Borealis, the me of the present day will gladly tell you about my undertaking. Right now, too, I am here to observe what happens next.”

Atlas nodded slowly. “Yes, I have an inkling what that might be. And I have another one on why you went to the Saltplains during our last meeting. I think I saw you there before, many years ago. Though, you looked nothing like you do now. At the time I thought I would have to deal with another monster, but you vanished sometime during the fray.”

Now it was Ayveron’s turn to be surprised by Atlas’s insight: “You know? What was it then?” he wanted to know.

“I had the strangest feeling all this time, especially while I was on the other side. And now I realize why: Balsibart has broken free of his entombment under the Saltplains. That is why you are going there, is it not?” Atlas asked John testily.

He just lifted his hands in defense. “It is very possible, I wouldn’t know. I have as much knowledge about your past as you have about your future. Well, one time I was more aware of what was going on in the world, but that was hundreds of years ago, and I have forgotten much.”

Atlas had hoped for confirmation, but still, he could feel it in his bones: Balsibart was alive and at large again, somewhere. It was terrible timing, since the forces of the world were already occupied, but there was little he could do about it now. He sighed and leaned back tired. Then it happened. A noise.

“What was that?” he asked, leaning back up.

“What?” Ayveron asked and looked around.

There it was again!

“Oh, I hear it too now,” he corrected himself. They all listened intently and the noise began to swell until they realized that it was screams. People were screaming at the top of their lungs as if they were being skewered on jagged pikes, distant though the sounds were. He stood up and jumped to the door, closely followed by Atlas, but a voice held him back:

“Stay, mighty ones, this is their desire.”

Atlas looked back and it was the young woman that had stayed behind quietly all this time. “Their desire?”

And then she did the one thing he had hoped from the depths of his heart she would not: she sang.


Have you ever seen the rain

In a city that’s to blame

For the deaths

Of a million people?



Would you dance in the rain?

Would it be all the same,

If it would be your last time?

Would you if life was pain?


And as she finished to the cacophony of distant screams of agony, Atlas knew that it was raining outside and that the isotope incubators had tricked him to let them out so they could die in the cascading acid that had rent him and Ayveron before. The knowledge was almost enough to break him all over again.


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