From the Story Arc: Phoenyx Rising

Previous Story in the Arc: Catalyst, prt. 1 by John Murdock (Wednesday, June 01, 2005)

Next Story in the Arc: Distractions by Sister Shuma (Tuesday, June 14, 2005)

(posted Tuesday, June 14, 2005)

John stood at the window of Bella’s apartment, leaning against the frame as he peered out at the cityscape below him. It was just after dusk, with the sky still tinged with shades of burnished orange, quickly fading to dark blue. Magic hour; this is the time when most of a day’s criminal activities take place. And I’m here, not out there fighting. For the first time in years. Things had changed; in John, in his friends, in the CCCP. But he figured that they weren’t done changing yet.

With a sigh he fished his deactivated comm. headset out a pocket. Hesitating, he waited half a beat before switching the device on, then to broadcast on the RPC and CCCP channels. Better now than later.

“This is John Murdock, on air. I’ve set my comm. for transmit only, so don’t bother attempting to pipe in about what I’m gonna tell y’all.” He paused for a moment, still reluctant. They deserve better’n you lyin’ to ‘em till the end of it. Tell ‘em now, while you still can. “Those of you that have been patrolling with me as of late have probably already noticed this, and those that have been listening to the comm. have heard mention of it. My health has been deteriorating, pretty rapidly over the past week or so. That’s because…I’m dyin’. Lot of fancy details, words I can’t pronounce and such, but it all boils down to this; my powers are killing me, and there isn’t any way of treating it. No medicine, nothin’ meta-human either; nothin’ known can touch this.” He stood up, one hand still on the railing to steady himself. “I’m…sorry for lyin’ to those of you I have been, ‘bout this. I didn’t want to raise a fuss, I guess, but I figure it’s gonna be out in the open anyways, and that it’s just as well y’all heard it from me. Anyways…that’s it. Anything that can be done is being done. Or has been. The short time I’ve known most of y’all has probably been the best in my career…my life. Only regret that I have is it couldn’t have been longer. I’ll leave y’all with somethin’ from Thoreau, I figure: ‘One world at a time.’”

John thumbed the communicator back to standby, then off. It’s done. He looked out at Paragon; the lights, the skyline, the war-walls. Out there, there was still fighting that needed to done. Not for me, tonight. Not for me, much longer. Raking his fingers through his hair, he wearily went back to bed…and another.

High on the rooftop of a building in Steel Canyon, Belladonna Aura listened to the announcement on the comm in silence.

Then, in the still air, far above where anyone could hear her, she sang, as tears etched their way hotly down her cheeks.

You crossed another threshold today
And now there's just an empty space
And it can't be that warm where you are - near or far

And every journey must reach an end
Is there a message you'd like to send
Are there a million stars where you are - near or far

It's only love that keeps us hanging on
Until the battle in our hearts is won
On the day of reckoning, reckoning

When you pull the sword from the stone
And all the walls came tumbling down
And all your knights have fallen to their knees, to their knees

It's only love that keeps us hanging on
Until the battle in our hearts is won
On the day of reckoning, reckoning

C'est la morte d'Arthur
Can you hear the sound of it?
Tell me can you hear - echoing?

La morte d'Arthur, (c'est la morte)
La morte d'Arthur*

*Taylor-Stanley/Miriam Stockley