Riding Shockwave

From the Story Arc: The Wayward Spiral

Previous Story in the Arc: Running Red by Sturmfront (Monday, June 13, 2005)

Next Story in the Arc: Striking Sparks by Sturmfront (Tuesday, June 21, 2005)

(posted Tuesday, June 21, 2005)

'I was born for this.'

It was not so much a realization as mere acceptance of what he had already known. Known it since the power first came to him in that fateful storm. So long ago. So so long ago. That had been in another age, it seemed now. Brighter, bolder, better.

Certainly, there had always been the threat of Western aggression, of nuclear war, but at least these threats had existed along clear national borders. Now Europe had lost its borders completely while all across the globe, new borders were drawn, no longer along political or geographical but religious and economical lines.

Nothing of that mattered right now, though. He was born for this. Free falling from the top of a Steel Canyon Skyscraper, just off Blyde Square he could not help but stare at the pavement as it closed in on his point of view, eventually filling it completely. "I am not that suicidal."

A single thought called up the winds to catch his fall and softly land him.

It had become more than a simple dare placed upon himself. It was a ritual. A reminder of his own mortality. That nothing he took for granted actually was. That his life was precious and that ultimately, as long as there was life, there was hope.

Why then, while he knew this intrinsically, did he fight this knowledge? There was ample time for self-reflection as he took to the skies. The walls, the tunnel, then Talos Island.

The open sea. The open skies.

'Home.' A voice inside him stirred.

'Home.' He agreed with himself.

Knowing something to be right and arriving at the conclusion that something is right. That was where the paths began to deviate. He knew that the Blue Faerie was right. Of course he did. He was a curmudgeon, not an idiot. But even by telling him what he already knew, even by insisting that they were friends of a sort... she could not turn him into a real boy.

One hundred percent German Oak. That single thought spawned a whole litter of associations. The Oak was a holy tree once, and after a fashion, it represented his people, their good sides, and the bad ones.

Tall, strong, sturdy, unyielding, tenacious.

In his childhood, he had seen oaks easily a hundred years or older. In some, the inner layers of the trunks had already gone, leaving great hollows, enough room for half a dozen children to squat in and play. Not him of course, since he was too busy staring out across the sea and, in those times, wondering at what monsters lay beneath the waves. Of course, there had been no Midgard Serpent... only bad weather. Very bad weather.

'Stop flattering yourself.' After all, the oak also represented rigidity, inability to change... and growing roots.

An implacable object then. As she said. Fine.

'But where are your roots?' In an idea? Communism was the utopia, Socialism the workable model, but defending or furthering either was not a passionate thing for him. It was a logical choice. 'A logical choice for a helpless romantic maybe.'

Of people, there were comrades, allies... and yes -unfortunately- friends. That might have been the one point he had not considered. He could pull himself together and try to keep people away from him. But he was himself, too. There was the soldier...

And then there was the other man. The one who would not abandon his fallen comrades but stand over their prone bodies and keep fighting until he joined them or cleaved them the opening they needed to rally. Even if it was insanity. Even if the only thing that had kept him going was that simple fact. Those were his comrades, his friends. Sisters and brothers in combat. In blood. Women and men that were not to be abandoned.

'No-one gets left behind?'

'No-one gets left behind.'

'But how can I expect them to leave me behind then?' He said it out loud. And found that he had no answer to that question. Would he expect less of the people he had chosen as his comrades in arms than of himself? He would not. Not even the ones he only knew through communications and hardly ever saw. Much less the ones he had fought beside. All of them heroes in their own way.

Even if he could not agree with them all.

Damn it, he could not agree with anyone these days. Could he ever? When the kill order came, he resented it. Not because of the killing. He had already dropped his share of corpses into the sea around Striga Island then. But because of the motivation it was given under. The way it was presented.

The Blue Faerie -and others- spoke of 'turning into them' but that would mean relishing in it, would it not? She had also asked him where he would stop. He recalled not having an answer. The day one of his own would start to enjoy the killing, or consider it justified might be that day.

He did neither. His one claim to sanity.

'Where do I stop? At whatever can stop me.' No matter how amusing SHE might find that.


Focus. He needed to focus. Not only had he lost his original train of thought completely, but he had gone far beyond Talos and the smaller isles already. Right now, there was nothing in his line of sight but seagulls in any direction.

Then again, it was too late for much of any kind of thought. His path was set in a fashion he could not remedy. He had asked for a grace period and received it. Then stretched it beyond its limits. He would have tonight, to say goodbyes, and attempt to make amends one last time. Then that path, too, would be blocked.

He paused, suspending himself in mid-air. Just low enough to feel the spray of the waves against his face. Cooling, with that high concentration of salt that does not need to be tasted but can be smelled. Even more so out here than near the coast where the odour was shot through with the smells of the city.

Sturmfront reached up to the eyepatch that covered the hollow of one socket. He had lost it in that storm that made him. There were only theories on what happened to the eye. The most unsettling one was that actually lightning emanating from within him that burst the eyeball and cauterized the socket, his body not yet being able to channel all the power properly, still adjusting.

Out here, all alone, he could take the eyepatch off. He shut his good eye, and the world lost colour. But it did not leave him.

'I was born for this.'

'I will not mind dying for it.'