|Subject:||Chaos is Bliss (Part 3 of XX)|
|Date:||Fri, 16 Jul 1999 06:42:06 -0400 (EDT)|
(c) 1999 Steven "Bull" Ratkovich
Stephen smiled as he stepped off the plane, the tension of the last few
weeks draining from him as he contemplated his new life here in Cleveland,
and his future wife, Beth, whom he hadn't seen since his father's funeral
several weeks before. But now that was behind him, and while he loved his
father dearly, he knew that his mother was going to continue on, with
another son to raise. It would be rough, and Stephen planned to do what he
could to make her life easier.
The young man walked into Hopkins National Airport, passing quickly
through the security sensors and went to collect his baggage. Beth and a
couple of people from Renraku were supposed to be meeting him here, and
Stephen looked forward to it. He was nervous, though. This wasn;t college
anymore. He couldn;t goof off and have fun. Granted, tehre would be
plenty of that too, but for now, he was being hired and paid what he
thought was a rediculous amount of Nuyen to do a job he would enjoy. But
he knew also that he needed to do well, to impress his new employers.
Renraku had been generous with him so far. He hadn;t even started for
them officially yet, but already they had helped take care of his Father's
funeral and the hospital bills that had piled up following his stroke and
the several long weeks that had followed as he lie dying in a hospital bed.
Plus Beth really seemed to be enjoying her job, and Stephen really looked
forward to working with her as well. They would make quite a team.
As Stephen entered the entrance area to the airport, he began scanning the
crowd for the familiar fiery red hair that made Beth easy to pick out of a
crowd. He failed to spot her, but did see a limo driver holding up a plain
white cardboard sign with his name on it. Mentally he shrugged, figuring
that she must be waiting in the limousine, and headed toawrd it.
"Ummm, hi there." He said the the driver, a tall, stern faced man that
appeared to have a rigger jack in the back of his neck. Stephen had never
really known anyone personally that had one, but he'd seen enough trid
shows to recognize one. "I'm Stephen Williams."
The driver nodded wordlessly and opened the rear door. From within the
darkness of the limo a friendly male voice alled out "Come in, my boy.
The driver took Stephen's suitcases and carried them toward the back of
the car. The young mage smiled and entered the car, sitting on the
comforatable and expensive leather seats. It took a moment for his eyes to
adjust to the comparitivly dim interior of the vehicle, the tinted windows
blocking out a lot of the light. As he looked around, he noticed that
there were two men inside the limo, one a slightly aging man in what
appeared to be a very expensive suit and the other a younger man with an
odd and rather stern look on his face. Something about the man made
Stephen fairly nervous.
One person he did not see though twas the one person that he had been
expecting to meet him. He sighed to himself as the older man began speaking.
"Mr. Williams. My name is Antonio Rennard. I am the assistant Vice
President in charge of Renraku Thaumaturgical Studies and Research. I
believe we spoke once on the phone a couple weeks ago. Once again, let me
extend my condolences to your recent loss." The man was smooth and his
speech was flawless and friendly, but it had a rehearsed quality to it, as
if the man had said much the same thing many times.
"A pleasure to meet you, sir." Stephen said, shaking Rennard's hand as it
was offered. he settled back in the leather seat as the man began fixing a
drink, and declined when Rennard offered him one as well. "Umm, sir? if I
can ask... Where's Beth? I thought she was going to be meeting me at the
The man paused as he was placing an ice cube in his glass. "Oh my." He
finally muttered after several long second. "You haven;t been informed."
Stephen froze, fear ripping into his gut. "Told about what?"
"Oh dear, this is most unfortunate. You must have left for the airport
before they called." Rennard said, looking decidedly uncomforatable.
"Dear boy, I'm sorry, but Elizabeth Thompson was killed yesterday in a very
unfortunate accident at the lab. She was working on a new spell formula
she and another new researcher..."
Rennard's voice continued, but the young mage couldn;t hear him any
longer, the words just a drone in the background as anger, fear, and pain
welled up inside him. His vision seemed to go red and a loud roar seemed
to fill his ears and his brain.
Antonio Rennard stopped talking suddenly as the mage's eyes suddenly
glowed brightly. The man next to him was a blur of motion as a gun seemed
to appear in his hand out of nowhere and he dove across the limousine
toward the mage. But he never made it as fire coalesced into a raging
blast of fire that seared through the interior of the limo. The fuel tank
caught fire and exploded, sending shrapnel and pieces of fiery rubble
flying in all directions.
Pain was the first sensation the man was aware of. Pain, followed by
intense warmth. With a groan, he sat up and slowly opened his eyes. He
stared in shock at his surroundings.
He seemed to be in an alley way, but the walls and ground all seemed to be
scorched flat. His skin was blistered and red all over, like he'd been
caught in a fire. Then he remembered what had happened, what the man from
Renraku had said. And what he had done.
Stephen WIlliams threw back his head and screamed, his rage and pain and
anguish billowing out of him. A dozen meters away, several street
squatters who had built up enough courage to venture forth to see what had
happened to their alley scattered before the sound. The young mage
screamed for several long minutes before his voice cracked and failed, and
then he dropped his head to his knees and cried. He didn't know what to
do, where to go. The men in that car were surely dead. His fatehr was
dead. Beth, his love, his light, was dead, killed in some stupid magic
experiment. If only he'd left home a week, a day sooner! He could have
been there. Could have helped her.
The young mages sat back against the wall, eyes cleched shut, fists balled
up tight enough to feel the nails slowly cutting into his skin. Warmth
from the baked wall basked his back, and he slammed the heel of his fist
against the ground.
He looked up at the sky, slowly turning to twilight above him, and
hoarsely tried to scream. "I'm should be dead! Let me die!"
"If you want to die, surely we can help ya." A calm, cold voice came from
the mouth of the alley way. Stephen lifeted his eyes to see several ragged
looking toughs coming up the alleyway. The leader, and the speaker, was a
human. He was dirty, wore tattered clothing, but had that tough, defiant
"king of the streets" look. He flexed his hand and a pair of long,
gleaming spurs popped from the back of his wrist. Behind the ganger, the
others grinned and laughed menacingly, each of them holdinga weapon of
some kind. A chain, a baseball bat, an old piece of pipe.
Stephen slowly rose to his feet, his muscles shaky and his vision blurring
slightly. He knew he was a dead man. He died in that car. or should
have. Part of him died when his fatehr passed away. A larger part of him
died when Beth did. He was a dead man. The world just didn;t know it yet.
"You bastards want a piece of me?" The mage said, a slight giggle
escaping his lips. His body quivered, and his blood felt like it was
aflame. "You bastards want to kill me?" His voice rose to a shriek, his
raw throat cracking as he screamed. "I'm already dead, you silly little
people. I'ma dead man."
Suddenly his hands lit up and his body was surounded by flame. The flame
lit up the darkening alleyway and the gangers all took a step back.
"You... can't... kill... what's... already... DEAD!" The mage took a
step forward with each word, the growing conflagration around him glowing
larger and brighter with each syllable. The Gangers could feel the heat of
the flames washing over them as the mage stood in the alleyway staring at
them, head cocked as he stared at them, his clothes more ashes than fabric,
and radiating more heat than a furnace. They stood as if entranced,
staring, then one by one, broke and ran.
The mage cackled as he watched the fleeing figures. "Tell your friends,
boys." He shrieked after them, flames dancing around him, scorching the
stone and cement around him. "Tell everyone! Chaos has come to town!"
Abruptly the flames died out, and witha slightly startled look, the mage
collapsed to the ground and gave way to unconsciousness for the second time
Awakening to pain and heat was not a pleasant sensation, and doing it
twice ina row made matters worse. The mage opened his eyes again, and saw
a vision of beauty standing above him, red, curly hair flowing around him,
bright green eyes sparkling as she looked down at him, worry evident in her
"B- Beth?" The mage muttered, his voice dry and his throat raw.
"No, Stephen, I'm sorry. It's Cindy." Cindy, his elemental, his friend.
Bonded, rebonded, time and effort placed into her creation, care taken to
bring her back, patience and true love gone into making her more than a
servant, but a friend. Cindy, who remarkably looked a like Beth. Tears
welled up in the mage's eyes.
"Cindy, Stephen is dead. Gone. Call me Chaos from now on." Chaos held
his head bowed for several minutes as the elemental stood staring down at
him. She was not your typical elemental. Really, she never had been. She
had seen the crude constructs that other mages at the school had summoned,
and knew that she was different somehow. She was still bound by her
summoner, by the mage that lay broken and wounded before her. But somehow,
she seemed to be more.
"Stephe... Chaos. You have to be careful. You expended a lot of energy
today, First in the car, and then in the alleyway." She held a cold
washcloth over his face, and the cool water helped sooth the burns a
little. "YOu almost killed yourself when you destroyed the car. I...
I've never seen you like this before. It worried me."
Chaos smiled slightly. "I should have died. I did die. I don't know,
Cindy. What am I going to do?"
The elemental shrugged slightly. "I did what I could. After the
explosion, I moved you to an alley while the police were looking around. I
think they thought you died in the explosion, along with those men."
The mage sighed. "I should have figured they were dead. Deead, like
Beth. Dead, like I'm not lucky enough to be. I don't suppose..."
"No!" Cindy replied hastily. "No, I can't kill you. And I can't allow
you to kill yourself."
"Then what do I do, Cindy? There's nothing left for me now. Mom will
think I'm dead. At least this means Renraku won't be coming after me.
that's good, I suppose." The mage lay back in the bed, then looked around
to see they were in a hotel room. "Where are we?"
"I'm sorry, but I stole some money and got us a hotel room. It's not
great, but... It was the best I could do on short notice." The red-head
shrugged again as she looked down at him.
Chaos laughed, and pain lanced his side again. Everything on him felt
bruised or blistered. "What are you, my dear Cindy, You're more than you
seem. YOu always were." But sleep took him before he could hear her answer.
TO BE CONTINUED...
Bull -- The Best Ork Decker You Never Met
bull@*******.net ===== bull22@***********.com
= Order is Illusion! Chaos is Bliss! Got any Fours? = =
"Animals have 2 jobs: To taste good and to fit well."
-- Greg Proops, "Vs."