Avatar

The Last Sons of Mars: Part 2 (Fan Creations)

by iconicbanana, C2-H5-OH + NAD, Portland, OR, Tuesday, March 31, 2015, 12:50 (3364 days ago)

Part 1

“Can’t you just let me die in peace?”

“/You’re killing us both, you know.”

He had been sitting alone at the bar in the empty dive for an hour. Outside, the cold rain mixed with ash; under the shadow of the shanty edifices that towered up into the fog, the white orb that hung over the slums was invisible. The bartender had left to get a bowl of rice for lunch, and abandoned his post to the sole inhabitant; with the assurance that he would not take anything off the top shelf, only the denatured white dog that passed for a drink to anyone without credit.

He smoked a long bound roll of old tobacco, difficult to find and out of place in that scabrous environ; his beaten grey tank and naked shoulders exposed, his flak jacket draped on the chair back of the stool. Electric blue honeycombs tattooed his shoulders, glowing through the stained shirt he wore, and his hairless head and face were scarred with vicious cartography. As the cigar choked and died, strange blue iconography would pulse like vivacious heliotropes around the ash, flames sputtering to life as he drew. Minutes later he would let the smoke flow from his mouth; but he never inhaled, nor exhaled.

There was a rush as the door opened, sucking much of the smoke from the room, and he turned the black sapphires of his eyes to it without moving his head. It was an awoken woman; her eyes and hair pale as clouds, her skin a warm blue that reminded him of the sky at twilight. She was badly dressed, in a ragged cloak and threadbare wraps; but her boots were too new, only scuffed without being worn; and she carried herself like a sprinter. She was tall, nearly his height.

She walked to the bar, sitting down with a stool between them. He turned his head, ever so slightly to the seat between them, and looked up to her eyes.

“This one’s taken,” he mumbled through the cigar. “You can’t have it.”

She was surprised for a split-second, maybe; the look of shock seamlessly changing into a grin, her pearlescent eyes sparkling. She sidled to the chair in an elegant arc, her fingers playing on the bar as she seated herself and crossed a knee, facing him. “You’re a real character.” Her voice was deep and full, and he had a feeling she laughed the same. “I think I’ve been looking for you.”

“I wasn’t aware you tower dwellers knew I existed.” Her smile flickered, but remained. A small confession. “You’re awfully bold to walk around this neighborhood. The halls don’t care for such intrusions.”

“The halls aren’t quite as perceptive as yourself,” she replied, her voice still strong. “Do they know you exist?”

He raised his mug, swilling the half pint, and turned half way to face her. “You’re cute.” He raised his face up slightly, to look down his flattened nose at her. “What do you want?”

“What do you know about Dregden Yor?” Her voice was less sure; not timid, more searching. He chuckled, turning back to the bar; he reached over it and grabbed a bottle of the too-young whiskey.

“What could you possibly do with Yor if you found him? All you bastards ever talk about is Yor.” He pulled on the cigar as he poured a thumb; plumes of smoke filled the air between them. “Seems like two years ago that Orifice fella-“

“Oracle-4,” she corrected coldly.

“Whatever,” he mumbled, taking the cigar from his mouth. “See what good it did for him.”

“I’m flattered by your concern for my well-being,” she shot back, the smile returning now, but more sinister. “But I’m not concerned about what Yor can do. I just want to know where he is.” He eyed her a little more carefully, and set the bottle down.

“You can’t find him. You need to have something he wants.”

“And what could I offer him?”

“You don’t have anything worth anything to him,” he chortled back at her. He thought for a moment and slung the thumb of whiskey. The viscous white fire burned in his throat and he grimaced, his eyes screwed up in pain and half-regret. He set down the bottle. “Now I, on the other hand…I might have something he wants. So the real question is,” he turned to her, his eyebrows up, quizzically, raising the last syllable. It took her a moment.

“Shin.”

“The real question, Shin, is what you can offer me.”


***


Outside the rain thundered down, washing filth and sewage up into the derelict streets. They stepped out into it, hooded and bare-headed.

“Do you understand the terms?” He shouted to her over the rain.

“In the upper climes near Dwindler’s Ridge. Saracen Mining Complex. Just the two. Is it alright if I drive?”

“Just as long as you stay out of sight. Three is a little suspicious.”

“See you then,” she replied. She turned and walked up the long hill that ran against the bar, disappearing quickly up into the wet fog that lingered around the slum gutters.

“/An interesting proposal, Bayard. What do you make of her?”

“I know that name,” he tethered, looking up into the low clouds; then thermally, through them. His eyes scanned through the broad spectrum and rested again on his human vision. “Malor? One of Brask’s drop-outs.”

“/Malphur. An exceptional talent. I was not able to trace her original conscious; she may actually be a native born and not re-animate.” Bayard placed a new cigar in his mouth; the electric flowers of static fissioned around it, and it sparked to life. The rain hissed and evaporated around him, sizzling and boiling inches from ever touching him; he was dry as bone.

“What do you think about the offer?”

“/I had never considered going back. I would dissuade you from the notion.” Bayard looked up, scanning in infrared. The great dead orb hung like a black beryl in the jet sky.

“Is it worth waking?” Renaud paused; it was a long pause for him, even though only a moment.

“/You know my feelings for the tower. I still think it’s best to leave them to their own devices.”

“Maybe so, friend.” He turned down the hill. “We need to make some arrangements, don’t we?”

“/It would appear so.” They disappeared down into the fog.

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