30 July 2008

Flight or Fight

The family reunion, while charming and informative, did not get us closer to Gematria. I had vertigo by the end, though. My long term memories are from my parents – I was constructed from their emotional distress and copies of their psyches (no, I am not totally sane, thanks for asking) with copies of their memories at the time I coalesced. So I have pieces of Father’s memories that no longer exist in the current history.

I have been recording what I remember from them as much as I can, but I needed a break, and took off for the skies above my current roost. Uncle gave me house-room; I think mostly to help him keep an eye on the place. Most of us in the Station at Harborside are transients, what with Uncle’s usual pattern of commuting back and forth between Uncle Nico’s office and here, and Grandmamma and Uncle Nico kip here when they visit. Wolfie is supposed to go back to school mid-August, but he may end up having space at the dorms here, with Rennie. The airspace here feels comfortable, even with the flying fish.

I generally patrol the area at least once a day when I am here, partly for the exercise and also because I have too many protectors in my background to not keep an eye on things. So, after checking on the chickens at Da’s place, and taking a quick loop though the south district, I was dropping lower to check on the city plaza, when I saw the odd sight of Father running – not flying – hell-for-leather to the office.

I landed in front to the door, just in time for him to run up with the warning “Mybrotheriscomintodestroythefamily!”

“Nobody is in the office today, and besides, you don’t have a brother!”

He stood panting, which, with the kerosene fumes, surely was not doing him any good. “Memory wiped – Jeremiah – clone brother…” he wheezed.

Ugh, that horrendous elder Mason keeps causing problems, no matter how many times you squish him. “We need to report in,” I said, grabbing his collar and pulling him sideways between planes to the Station.

Immediately as we came out of the void between, I heard Mama mutter behind us, “To think - he actually had calmed down as an adult.” She pulled the rocket pack off Father’s back, and handed it to me, saying, “A leak this bad indicates maintenance is in order, would you please take this down to the workshop?”

“Hey! I keep that running according to the manual! It was Gematria’s other hand!” Father explained in a rush how he came to be doused in the fuel, and when he got to the part about Gematria’s grip, Mama stripped him out of his flight jacket to check the bruises on his arm. “Ow! Stop it and listen to me! There’s a clone of me on the way to make a smoking hole of the Foundation at least and maybe the city!”

Mama nodded, and took his flight jacket and helmet. “You go clean up, and I will leave some of Wolfgang’s work clothes by the door to the bath.” She forestalled his protest with a raised hand, and continued, “I will let the Baron know when he gets here; he is on his way for another report. In the meantime, continued exposure to the petrochemical fumes will kill brain cells you will need later if you do not get out of those clothes. Besides, your flight leathers will need cleaning as soon as possible to save them. If your twin does arrive here in the next hour, there is little we can do to stop him.” She raised an eyebrow at me, and I paused, waiting until Father had shut the door to the bath.

I kept my voice low, “I’m going to take it to the workshop in Kitti, and see if I can’t find Ash.”

She nodded, “Just what I was going to request, and if Herr Baron has gotten tangled up in another information exchange gathering, could you let him know we now have more irons in the fire?”

“Hearkening and Obedience, I’m gone,” I said as I slid between to the workshop. If Ash was not there, I could at least give the equipment a quick once-over to make sure nothing got damaged when Gematria lent a hand to the situation.

25 July 2008

Dancing in Air and Darkness

Yes, I’m levitating, but only a little bit. It helps with the shoes and the sense of place.

“Marcus” is giving the appearance of having a wonderful time, but I think he is getting restless. He’s shielded enough I had to be within a couple of meters to read him, even with that spike that the dealer generated. I waited until he laughed off the old dope peddler and turned away before placing the “Police Notice You” mark on the freelance pharmacist. It is one of Mama’s favorites, and the one with the least karma load to balance out later.

We are still here hours later, still hunting for Gematria. It seems the balance for the place is off, time does not seem to mean anything to anyone here - and the music isn’t that great. I only listen because I might need to react to the play list or musical technician’s comments.

There are more family members on the way, but I can’t tell which side they are on at this range. It is no one I have met since incorporating. Ash is still on the roof across the way, and either has not seen them, or does not consider them to be a danger to the mission. Moving closer to Father, I cannot yet tell if these two are carrying the taint of the Usurper or not. Still, we might need a quick exit….

She does not enter the club, but he does, and I hang in the air, dumbfounded for a moment. He’s not supposed to be back for at least another generation, I thought. I check the buckle of my shoe to cover the pause in the dance and watch him approach “Marcus”.

He covers his surprise well, for those who can’t See. He invites me along on the outing, the first time he has acknowledged me directly since we got here, but considering the clientele, I don’t think anyone here will notice. I drop to my feet and use the twinge in my toes on landing to fuel another light shield around the two of us. At this point, the low level nervousness on the edge of my sensing could be me or Father, but it is likely just me. He grins up at me as we leave the club to meet with a pair of impossibilities.

Following the nekos through the alleys of this district, is seems to me they are in no hurry, the male chatting amicably with “Marcus”, though the female gives away her tension in the set of her ears and the twitch of her tail. We are not led through the darkest alleys, though no one here seems to care to be caught in the occasional pools of light. We were in the club for hours, yet I have not seen this place in full sun. Not that I really care to, because my night vision is adequate, though I sometimes wish my sense of smell was not so sharp. Thankfully, our guides seem to be olfactorily sensitive as well, and steer clear of the most noxious areas.

The cafĂ© we finally light upon is reasonably hygienic and lit just a little brighter than a tavern or a dockside chai-house. There are a few children here, but “Marcus” stands out for having unpatched flight leathers. I hope adding the “I Am Not Your Problem” formula to the shield will be enough. He is also one of the few apparent humans in the room, and I keep a firm grip of his shoulders as the nekos lead us to a table.

In deference to my wings, they give me a backless chair, one of several about. If I wasn’t so worried about being led into a trap, I might feel comfortable here. I can get us back to the hospital if we are in danger, or if something follows us, I can get us to the clan house holding arena, but that would mean we lose the leads for this district, and even if these two are a distraction, we still have a toehold here.

Strategically, this is not a terrible spot, but Father’s curiosity might need to go unanswered if this meeting does not lead to Gematria. With Uncle's unresponsive state, there is some urgency - I have a sense of foreboding that we must find her soon.

23 July 2008

Stalking Family

Mama had an awful lot of emergency gear packed for Wolfie in that little pack – near as I can tell, it is not that far scaled down from the standard long patrol kit that the Jaegers use. Sensible gear, sensible clothes, with many surprises… I don’t like to think about the fact that it was necessary to teach Wolfie to survive the wastelands before he needed to shave, but that is a reflection of the non-Europan parts of my borrowed memories.

Luckily, most of it was gear that Father could use in his current state, except for the dissection and sampling kit. I slipped that into my pocket after seeing him avoid the surgery, but I made sure he still had basic knife safety skills before giving him the pocket tool set. He’s kitted out not much heavier than the average urchin-turned-assistant, and he says they are prevalent in the Palisades – I would not know, as I haven’t gotten all that stable shifting to human.

Thing is, this place is much more tolerant, to the point that as long as you’re still technically “dressed”, they do not care what you look like. Mama’s memories of this place were mostly good, she just stopped coming when there wasn’t a friend to invite her, and though the neighborhood is a bit rough, it's not as bad as some of the places she's been. So, while I am not completely out of place, I am still keeping back, close enough for me to keep an eye on him, but also drawing attention away from him.

I want my stompy boots, these heels are uncomfortable.

22 July 2008

(Nonstandard Language Redacted)

WHY are my parents so (nonstandard adjective with verbal modifier) determined to kill themselves for SCIENCE?

Just as well he started ranting; otherwise I might have missed it.

Vater, I’m sorry for breaking into your lab, but I needed the stasis chamber – at least I did not damage the physical structure and I reset the wards after. Never mind, you didn’t know about those. Uncle Gus, Da, or Mama, check those for me, please?

Father, if we get you through this, I may have to flay you for not having someone check your figures, and scaring my brother like that!

(Further transcript unsuitable for transmission)

18 July 2008


Awareness, fear pain, panic, desperation….

A sharp, graveled voice speaks in my mind, “GRUB! Pay attention, perimeter containment NOW!”

Frink! He’s talking to me! Okay, I can do this, lay out the runes in my head, link the equations, and ground the shields to… there is no earth-link here… oh, air and fire, of course, hand it off to the Decurii…

First link entity Mama? Moved out of striking range, covering fire by second link entities Vater? Da? Father? Calculations for escape cascading from tertiary link entity Brother? Recalculated by extended link Auntie? Target entity damaged by PAPA! NO! He’s got no helm! Dive! Have to get him before he leaves the air bubble – GOTCHA! Warning received from Uncle and Aunt/Sister/Harbinger…. My eyes cross and I drop the link search and ready for the vector change…

Immediate family links completed as extraction nearing completion. Target sealed, neutralized, and finally mercy granted – the pain did not stop, though – Squad leader senses the change, and so do I. The Founder is confirmed, the energy fluctuations blinding to those who can See.

I try to remember the string of curses the Decurii uses, they are really good ones none of my memories have heard before.

Decurii then gives a minor warning to those in the ship, the squad arranges itself in position – but I am an extra, and slide into the engine room, to monitor the others.

Mama is focused on getting everyone home safe, she does not realize I am here, or rather, I am part of the group, being made up of so many of them. Most of them follow instructions and sit tight and blind for the trip. Mama knows this path and checks the course, but Vater watches until his eyes threaten to turn inside-out, and the only other who has his eyes open cannot see for the pain and grief…


I'm sorry I wasn't there sooner.

You did everything you could; I know - I have your memories.

Don't hide, and don't bury yourself in work, please - talk to Papa and let him confirm your tactics. Talk to Vater and let him check your equations if you like. Let Da tell you about the nature of the Wheel. Talk to Mama and let her help soften the edges. Try talking to Ash instead of just giving him orders. Or maybe we could talk, sometime?

Just… don’t forget we are all family, and are there for you.

We will be coming out of the void between soon; I’ll try to find you later.