Gunmetal Black 3 Chapter 10 - Three Wishes
Vain watched the Myrmidion
from the Silhouette's observation dome as it took up position on the
portside of her ship. They had left the planet far behind them now; it was
important to find a place of convergence for the ritual, Ravenna had said, a
crossroads of energy that could be tapped into.
It had also
required transferring Jayla-2 to the Haxan's ship. Vain hadnt much liked it,
but was eager to settle their bargains, so she had believed Ravenna's story
that the Myrmidion could better handle any problems the massive amounts
of energy the ritual unleashed would cause.
They had no
reason to lie, or so Conscience said, Vain
thought. She looked down at her new right arm and flexed it, clenching it into
kept their word so far. Three wishes, my arm's the first, Jayla-2 is the second.
Vain folded her
arms and watched the ship. There was nothing to do but wait, and waiting at
this point seemed the hardest thing to do. The silence felt deafening. Even the
Myrmidion seemed to hand there dully, like the Silhouette's shadow.
Vain thought. What had I expected? A bright
fireworks display? Perhaps I'm too spoiled by Jaevin's blatant displays of
power. I, more than anyone, should know that the real magic, the real power, is
always wielded in the shadows.
Toriares raised his
pistol at Sinclaire.
giving orders all of a sudden?" Toriares asked, drawing the hammer back on
you a way out," Sinclaire replied coldly. "Take Kienan and leave.
I'll take the explosives and destroy the command center."
Toriares thought it
over. On the face of it, it was a practical solution -- they really didnt need
three people to plant explosives -- one in the right place would ruin the
command center and trap everyone inside. And Sinclaire could do it. Toriares
knew from experience he could sneak in and accomplish the mission.
It's logical but
it doesnt feel right, Toriares
thought. More to it than this.
expect me to believe youre doing this out of the kindness of your own heart,
do you?" Toriares said. "We've had disagreements but everything I've
seen today tells me you hate Kienan's guts. Why spare his life?"
"I dont hate
him," Sinclaire said, looking down at him. "Not anymore."
why?" Toriares asked, keeping the gun level with Sinclaire's eye. Fast or
not, the first wrong move Sinclaire made would be his last.
Sinclaire said, sighing. "I'm the only one of the three of us who cares
about this place anyway."
He sheathed his
sword and walked over to Kienan, picking him up and dragging him up the exit
ramp. "Do you know," he began. "I came here to get out. Like the
criminals in the Peace Hotel. I just wanted ... out. I never intended to draw
these swords again. I'd tried being a villain and I failed. I tried being a
hero with Silhouette and I wasn't any good at that either. Do you
out?" Toriares asked, safetying his pistol and walking up the Vroom's
ramp. "Yeah. I can understand the urge. I was sort of hoping I could do
that for Kienan. That's why I brought him here. So maybe he'd find a way
this was my way out," Sinclaire said, setting Kienan in one of the Vroom's
seats. "People here didnt care who I was or who I was trying to be. It
was the first time I can ever remember really ... belonging anywhere. And now
him curiously before handing him a small satchel.
else I learned this trip," he said. "Trouble follows you wherever you
go. All you can do is face it. The alternative is to keep running until it
the satchel and checked the explosives. They were enhanced past their
specifications -- supercharged plasma-fusion bombs with catalytic detonators.
Once one was activated deep in the bowels of the command center, everything in
a perfect 25-foot sphere would be incinerated.
plan," Sinclaire said, throwing the satchel over his shoulder. He walked
down the ramp. "I'd say I'll see you around ... "
" ... But
you're not intending on coming back," Toriares said. He sighed. "You
sure this is the way to go out? The way you want to go out?"
down the ramp, his steps that of a man who had totally accepted his destiny. He
looked over his shoulder, his blue-green eyes soft and resolved but not sad.
you," he said. "None of the roles I tried on fit. Maybe the only
choice left is to be ... nothing. Besides, these people offered me a paradise
yesterday. The least I can do is die for them. Who knows? Maybe I'll see them
again on the other side."
that for a moment. "Good luck," he said.
He turned to the
controls. The Ruby Vroom, nervously balanced on its one functioning
engine, whined to life. Toriares looked over his shoulder through the rear bay
of the Vroom as it closed, watching as Sinclaire trudged forward to his
that binds us in this existence, I call upon you,
Give this vessel
a portion of your light,
existence with its departed soul and cleanse the darkness at the heart of both
with your unblinking light."
Ravenna raised the
Soulcaster over her head, every cell in her body on fire with the energy she
was channeling. The ceremony was nearly complete. They had done the easier
parts. Jayla-2's body had been remade, not human, but close enough given the
materials they had.
Now came the moment
of trust. Tying Jayla Kyren's soul to this new body. Essentially it was like
writing a program permanently onto a data medium -- only a perfect copy would
suffice. Any errors would leave Jayla-2 blank or create a personality other
than Jayla Kyren's.
One last chant.
"As we come
from the stars, so shall we return,
sunfire, take from here the darkness.
disperse it, and ground it.
And let her rise
as a new child of light."
There was a flash
of green energy and then silence. Ravenna looked at Illiel and Kayt, both still
holding the focusing circle. The air smelt of ozone, and even Ravenna could
feel her hair standing on end from the release of energy.
Slowly, she lowered
the Soulcaster, willing the cybernetic implants in her eyes to scan Jayla-2's
body for the results of their labors.
Had it worked?
Ravenna pondered. I've never tried to bind a soul
to anything so fundamentally different from the initial source.
opened her eyes. She ran her hands over her soft grey skin, her emerald
fingernails gently traced the shape of herself, as if she had been so long
asleep she had forgotten who she had been.
Her black lips
opened to speak. Ravenna realized, to her shock she was speaking in a language
even most Haxan had forgotten.
our languages, Ravenna thought. She
motioned to Illiel and Kayt to close the circle. They watched as Jayla 2 sat
up, her jet-black hair cascading over her shoulders, still searching for the
answer to her unspoken question.
Her fingers closed
around the coin on the chain around her neck. Her shining green eyes turned
dark for a moment, and Ravenna at last began to understand what had happened.
down the narrow dark corridors of the command center with steely purpose. He
had meant what he'd said to Toriares before he'd left -- he was ready to die.
The curious thing
was, it was a choice he was totally comfortable with. This was not the dramatic
narcissism of a hopeless man, but the calm, reasoned decision of a man who'd
reached the end of his existence.
he thought, his fingers running idly up and down the
strap on the satchel, I cant be anything. There is no life and if
life and purpose are gone then what's left?
his hand going to his sword. He heard footsteps, small, quiet, unafraid. For a
moment, his thoughts of nihilism were tipped by hope. Had survivors been able
to make their way here? Was it possible some had survived under the Sekhmet's
Then suddenly the
pressure was back, more insistent than ever. Sinclaire's brain felt like it was
being squeezed in a vice, the feeling was so strong. He willed the discomfort
away, trying to focus on the footsteps in front of him.
The lights flipped
on, the corridor was suddenly bathed in pale cool fluorescent light and
standing in front of Sinclaire were two people -- one, a tall impassive man who
appeared to be wearing a mask like Toriares' and a small child, a young girl.
unafraid, the child least of all. In fact she was smiling at Sinclaire and
looking at him with a familiarity that made him deeply uncomfortable.
distressing was the merciless gaze of the man behind her. It wasn't the
aggression he felt, or the pressure Sinclaire was responding to. It was the
terrible sense that Sinclaire was looking into his own eyes.
"What are you
two doing here?" Sinclaire asked, hand close to his sword, but not wishing
to appear aggressive. "The Sekhmet -- "
" -- have
killed nearly everyone in the colony," the young girl said. "Yes, we
know. This may surprise you, Sinclaire, but we were the ones who put them up to
Sinclaire asked incredulously, hand closing on his sword. "How could you
have done that? And how do you know my name?"
The child smiled
and looked at Sinclaire almost pityingly. "Sinclaire, I know everything
about you. I was there when you were born. I know your purpose, I know your
past, and I know your future. And I know all your names -- Sinclaire, Sabre,
and your first ... Ain."
you've got the wrong guy. That name means nothing to me," Sinclaire lied.
In truth, he was remembering something, like a dream one desperately tried to
hang on when they awoke.
Three names, he
thought, Three ... capsules. Three ... people. Ain, Ain Soph, and Ain Soph Aur.
"Dont try to
deny it, Sinclaire," the child said, stepping forward. "Even now,
you're beginning to remember, arent you? You've always known, you know. I just
needed you and your sister to forget for a few years."
sister?" Sinclaire thought.
The girl nodded,
brushing a lock of brown hair from her eyes.
my ... sister?" Sinclaire said. "Now I know youre lying."
"The term's an
ill fit, but it's more or less true," she said. She gestured to the man
behind her. "And this is your brother. His name is Omega. My name is Kyra
Jenolan Sandoval. I'm the daughter of the man who created you."
believe a word of it," Sinclaire said.
"I figured you
wouldn't," Kyra said. She took a step back and leaned against the corridor
wall. "But it's the truth. You've never wondered why you're so much
stronger and faster than humans, have you? How you can heal from injuries so
quickly? How you have that peculiar extra-sensory perception that comes and
goes like the pressure on your brain you're feeling right now in the presence
of your brother?"
Sinclaire said, the anger in his voice no longer disguised. He drew one of his
swords and stood ready. "I'm sorry Kyra. I dont believe you, and even if
I did, I have a job to do."
starting to rattle. "How could you know?"
Kyra smiled and
shook her head. "Sinclaire, I know everything, don't you understand? Who
do you think sent you to Iczelia to learn swordsmanship? Who do you think
shipped Silhouette to the Frontier?
years ahead of you, Sinclaire," Kyra said. "Your every action, your
every thought is old news to me."
believe you," Sinclaire said. "My life is my own."
"Your life is
a lie," Kyra sighed. "My lie. And now it's time for you to
come back. I have a job for you, Sinclaire."
join you," Sinclaire said. "I dont believe you, Kyra. And I would
never work with someone who butchered a whole colony."
"I know you
won't," Kyra said. "As for this fool's paradise of yours, it was
never yours either, Sinclaire. It was never yours to have. It's destruction was
as preordained as this. Omega, if you please ... enlighten your
Omega moved in
front of her with blinding speed, moving so fast he seemed to disappear from
Sinclaire's view. In an instant he was inches from Sinclaire. With one wise of
his right hand, he swatted aside his sword and closed a red-gloved hand around
Sinclaire into the metal deck one-handed, denting it with the force of the
impact. Sinclaire felt his world explode in pain, but found himself beginning
to heal, more rapidly than he ever had before.
doing? Sinclaire wondered. Is he
... really ... like me?
Sinclaire got to
his feet. Omega stood before him, fists clenched, waiting for him. Sinclaire
painfully opened his eyes just in time to see Omega throw a punch more powerful
than anything he'd ever experienced.
Sinclaire's jaw and
face were pulverized under the force of the blow as he flew backwards down the
corridor, smashing through one door, then a wall, then another door. Each
impact broke more of his bones and burst more of his internal organs.
And as he lay in a
pulverized heap now three sections away from where he'd started, he began
healing, regenerating from what would have been to anyone else, fatal injury.
Blood drained from his lungs as ribs reformed around them and Sinclaire took a
painful breath and spat up a font of blood, watching as Omega stalked towards
him, silent but lethal, like the finality of Death itself.
Kyra picked up the
sword Sinclaire had dropped as the communication unit beeped. She sighed and,
still holding the sword, answered it.
"What is it,
"I just wanted
to inform you, we're ready to leave at your pleasure, Miss Sandoval,"
Reficul said. "Sufficient evidence has been left to point the UEF
investigators in the direction we want."
"A handful of
humans hiding on the far side of the town above, lady," Reficul said.
"I believe without adequate provisions they will be dead by the time any
will," Kyra said. She looked at Omega, heading towards Sinclaire, who was
still mostly meaty jelly. "Doctor, ready the Sekhmet's craft and land it
in the courtyard of the command center. We'll join shortly as soon as we see to
our ... family reunion."
Kyra shut off the
communicator and jogged to catch up with her bodyguard. The sword made a
horrible scraping nose as it scratched against the smooth metal deck of the
she said. Omega turned to face her.
Kyra smiled and
pointed up. Omega nodded.
Kyra quickly made
her way to the service stairs, still dragging Sinclaire's sword behind her as
she mounted the stairs as quickly as possible. They'd been fortunate to catch
Sinclaire only three levels down into the complex. Any lower and Omega's little
stunt could have backfired on them.
And Kyra wanted
Sinclaire to understand the full scope of what he was up against.
She thought. Maybe it'll jog his memory.
Omega silently tore
the satchel of explosives off Sinclaire's shoulder and grabbed him by his grey
scarf and raised his left hand. A glowing sphere of energy began to focus there
and flew towards the ceiling. With a sound like thunder magnified dozens of
times over, the first three levels blasted upwards and out, and there was
suddenly a perfect hole to the outside, the reddish-pink of dawn mixing with
the particle of debris from Omega's blast and the floors above sagging into the
Sinclaire high into the air as a child might idly pitch a baseball upwards.
Sinclaire went flying hundreds of feet into the air, the shock magnified
because Omega had seemed to put no effort into the throw.
Omega watched as
Sinclaire's ascent stopped. Then he crouched and leapt into the air after him,
overtaking Sinclaire by a foot and smashing at Sinclaire with his fist, driving
him into the sand like a tent peg.
catlike in front of him and started walking towards him again. Sinclaire began
to sweat. Out of the corner of his eyes he saw Kyra walking up to him, her smug
smile rubbing her triumph in his face. She balanced on Sinclaire's sword as
Omega drew closer.
Mirage stood before
Jayla-2, pulling out three footlockers, each landing on the deck with a heavy
thud. Jayla-2 took all this curiously. She was wrapped in a blanket provided by
the Haxan, a soft beige cloth crisscrossed with strange black patters and runes.
Around her neck, above her necklace, was a yellow vox collar. Beneath it, she
Vain and Mirage
knew from experience Kienan wouldnt allow that. The collar the Haxan had
suggested, as it would make it easier for her to acclimate to multiple speech
patterns. The blanket they had given out of respect for her modesty.
Mirage opened one
of the footlockers and lifted up a handful of clothes to Jayla. "All
right," she said. "Here are some clothes. Go through them, find
something you like, but dont come out until youre dressed. In words of one
syllable: Put some damned clothes on."
Jayla-2 said, reaching for what Mirage held in her hands. "Thank you!'
The blanket slipped
off her and Mirage sighed. She mused for a moment about what was a worse fate
-- Kienan seeing Jayla-2 running around the ship stark naked or finding her
wearing Silhouette's things.
seems to be an optimal decision, she
thought. So we'll have to see if what worked with us works with her.
Mirage watched as
Jayla-2 began to rummage around in the footlocker. Whoever designed her, she
thought, must have had the same things in mind as our creator did.
There are a
lot of sick people in this galaxy.
"I'll tell you
what Jayla-2," Mirage said. "I think I'll let you get dressed in
peace, OK? Just uh ... hit the door chime when youre ready."
right," Jayla-2 said. Her voice was pleasant, unlike anything Mirage had
ever heard before. It was almost childlike, but at the same time, somewhat
I dont know
how we're going to explain this to Kienan, Mirage
thought, as she squeezed past Jayla-2 as she lifted a red shirt out the
footlocker and held it to her chest.
"I'm far too
big for this," she said to no one in particular.
Mirage opened the
door and looked over her shoulder. "Try breathing in a bit," she
said, stepping through and closing it behind her.
Outside the door
stood Vain and Kayt.
"How is our
new crewmate?" Vain asked.
Mirage said. "I realize we were essentially just as blank as she was and
had to learn human interaction by observation, but we couldnt have ever acted that
weird. Did we?"
"I ... cant
remember, sister," Vain said. She turned to Kayt. "All right,"
Vain said. "Now that we're both here, Kayt, I think its time you told us
truth?" Kayt repeated innocently.
Jayla-2," Vain said. "You did more than reintegrate her. You made her
a Haxan, just like the rest of you."
knew?" Kayt said, turning away.
hard to figure out," Vain said. "The physical similarities are
telling enough but everything else -- the heightened perceptions, the fact that
she understand every spoken language and needs the vox collar only to filter
them out to one we can understand? It's pretty clear what you did. I just want
to know why."
certain aspects of our order, yes," Kayt said. "But in many ways she
is more and less than we are."
good," Mirage said, leaning against the doorframe. "More
"She could one
day learn our ways," Kayt said. "In fact, she has more of an aptitude
than anyone ever has. She is in tune with the energies that sustain this
"Why do all
that, though?" Mirage said.
"Consider it a
down payment on your third wish," Kayt said. "Jayla-2 is special. Her
attunement with the energies of the cosmos is critical to what is coming.
Jaevin caused more damage than we thought, and from our study of recent events
it has been aggravated."
happen is not yet clear to us," Kayt said. "All we know is that a
crisis is coming. When that time comes you will see us again. Jayla-2 will lead
us to you. On that day, at Earth, shall our bargain be settled."
Kienan was dreaming
his least favorite dream again. He was held tight by the Magmadivers, their
hard, gnarled hands grabbing him and forcing his face into a pool of blood.
Within the pool were more of them, swimming up and grabbing his face. Pulling
him under as he was pushed under.
He tried to gasp
for hair and one of the hands closed over his mouth and nose. He couldn't
breathe. Unconsciously he tried to scream and only gasped in horror --
As the nightmare
dispelled he sat bolt upright. He looked at his hands and coughed. No blood,
no Magmadivers, he thought. I'm alive. I'm ...
He looked around. Where
The door behind him
opened. He turned around, gritting his teeth at the pain that shot through him
when he did so.
Kienan. You cant relax even when forced to, can you?" Toriares said,
helping him get into a more comfortable position. "You could be a little
bit more self-aware kid. If you knew how many sutures I put in you to keep your
stuffing in maybe youd listen to me."
Kienan said, sighing. "How long was I out?"
three hours," Toriares said. "Sinclaire clocked you good. Knocked the
last bit of tension keeping you up on your feet out of you. The Chimera's
med-computer listed about 715 damaged tissues on your body."
Kienan groaned. "It's been a wonderful vacation, Toriares. Really."
what I expected either," Toriares said. "Still ... it was good to
work with you again." He smiled.
Kienan smiled and
hugged Toriares as gingerly as he dared to given the exquisite pain he felt.
"For me too," he said. "Guess no one really can stop the
Brothers of Blood, huh?"
ever been able to?" Toriares said. "C'mon now, kid. Rest. Listen to
your elder for once."
listening to you was how I got this banged up in the first place."
Kienan," he said, smiling. "Listen, I've been in touch with your lady
friends. Our ETA's about four hours. They're going without safeties on the
Space Drive to rendezvous with us as soon as possible. They also wanted me to
give you a message."
words," Toriares said. "Mission accomplished."
The long shot
had worked, he thought.
wrong?" Toriares asked.
Kienan said. "No, everything's Ok, I guess. How long did you say it would
hours," Toriares said. There was more to the message, Toriares knew, but
he knew better to pry. The vague messages were an old trick. A way to be sure
no one could work out the purpose behind it.
I should know,
Toriares thought. I taught him myself. And
despite the fact that the crazy fool nearly managed to get himself killed, I
think I taught him well.
Maybe I didnt
teach him everything I should but it's good to know the important stuff sank
Kienan lay back on
the gurney. He took a deep breath then looked over at Toriares.
wrong?" Kienan asked.
you take doctor's orders so well."
"I've got four
hours to wait," Kienan said. The vague hint of joy in his voice was gone,
replaced by something that to Toriares sounded like either anxiety or outright
fear. "I guess all I can do is rest. I've got a lot to think about."
"If you want to talk, call for me."
Kienan nodded and
stared at the ceiling of the medical bay. The door slid shut behind Toriares
and Kienan was alone again.
accomplished," the message had said, style='font-family:
Arial'> he thought. That means that they brought her back. Jayla Kyren. The
woman I thought Id lost. She's waiting for me. Alive again.
And, at the
moment, I cant seem to think of a single thing I want to say to her.
Sinclaire lay in
the dirt, playing dead, biding his own time. He'd seen the folly of trying to
attack Omega. Omega was too fast and too powerful, and too ready to toy with
He knows I'm
healing faster and faster, he
thought. Anything he does, I can bounce back from within minutes. It's only
the shock that takes time to recover from. He's toying with me. Trying to make
his point about how much stronger he is.
Sinclaire closed his
eyes and slowed down his breathing. He had fought people stronger than him
before. Not this strong, but out of his range. He had prevailed in those times
by using his strength judiciously, at the right moment.
that was the key here, he thought. His left
hand, hidden under his body, was close to his other sword. If I could catch
Omega off-balance, surprise him ...
he thought, hearing Omega's white boots as the sand
sighed around them with every footstep he took. Time became slow, seconds moved
like minutes. Sinclaire could hear Kyra behind him, giggling like a child
watching a schoolyard brawl.
Come on ...
Omega reached for
him, and in an instant Sinclaire flipped to his feet. He laced the fingers of
his hands together and swung at Omega as hard as he could. Omega's mask
shattered and he stumbled back, surprised. Sinclaire's blue eyes crystallized
with cold determination.
This is the
moment, Sinclaire said. STRIKE!
Sinclaire drew his
sword, intending to cleave Omega's head off as the blade cleared the scabbard.
the cut, his blade pointing towards Kyra.
Or it would have
done, if the blade had been intact. It was shattered midway down the blade.
Sinclaire absorbed all this in two seconds before Omega grabbed him by the hair,
turning him to face his brother.
Omega lifted him
off the ground and stared into his eyes. Like Sinclaire's they were blue-green.
But Omega looked much different, despite the anger on his face now, his
features were softer, more innocent. In fact, the only thing that seemed to
emphasize his anger was the symbol drawn over his eyes. The symbol from which
Omega's name came.
Omega said. "Stop fighting."
"I'll ... NEVER
... stop ... fighting you!" Sinclaire shouted, kicking loose of Omega's
grip and falling into the sand. The escape was short lived, however. Omega
seized him by his scarf and spun him around so hard it tore free of Sinclaire's
body, sending him a few hundred yards into the wall of the courtyard.
Kyra smiled. Just
like she remembered. She nodded to Omega and tossed him the other sword.
The rising sun
caught a glint of the sword Omega held as he seized on the broken handle
Sinclaire had held. Then, moving too fast for the human eye to catch, he caught
Sinclaire again, slamming him back into the wall.
There was an awful
sound -- the meeting of bone, blood, steel and stone as Omega drove one of
Sinclaire's swords through his left hand. Sinclaire screamed at the
unbelievable pain that seemed to set his whole world white-hot.
But Omega wasn't
done. He grabbed the broken handle and pinned Sinclaire's right hand to the
wall as well.
loud and long. Omega watched him as Kyra trudged over to her bodyguard,
carrying something in her hands.
"You cant say
he didn't warn, you, can you, Sinclaire?" Kyra said, grinning. She passed
the item she'd been carrying to Omega. "Pin his legs too, Omega. One will
Omega took the
object and nodded. Sinclaire saw it against the sunlight and recognized it as
the other half of his broken blade in the two seconds before Omega slammed it
into his thigh, pinning it to the wall as well.
"I know, I
know," Kyra said. "It hurts. But look at it this way, Sinclaire: Pain
leads to enlightenment, and today is the day you'll be enlightened. First you,
then your wayward sister, then Earth. It'll be a new age for all of us.
Sinclaire tried to
struggle against the blades, but it was hopeless. Already his hands and leg had
healed around them. All he could do was writhe in pain.
Behind Omega and
Kyra, his scarf was blowing away. He sighed and closed his eyes. He had failed
at being a hero, a villain, and at ending his own life. There was nothing left.
sunrise, Sinclaire," Kyra said, turning and looking over her shoulder. She
smiled, as if everything were right and good.
"Today is the
first day of the rest of your life."