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Rated: 18+ · Novella · Sci-fi · #714704
Star-crossed lovers:one light, the other dark Slash. Not for squimish. Updated daily.
I fear tha t I have been going about this all wrong. I blame my muses. See, this story is based loosely from a game I'd recently found out about, but never played. It deals with alternate timelines and what if scenarios. JFK and Marilyn Monroe's scandal is the key incident hat triggers a global change, and Muto-Mix is how the society turned out. Anyway, I hope you enjoy, seeings as to how, I went all out on this one and refused to back down just because there were some parts I didn't want to write. Anyway, it's my combat against gays not being in many sci-fi novels.

By chaos_reaper :)

Prologue: There Are No Angels



President Kennedy and Marilyn Monroe affair exposed!
(Excerpt from article)
"...greatest degradation in morals in the United States. President Kennedy resigns officially tomorrow.
As for Marilyn Monroe, perhaps, in some other universe this blonde-haired beauty would've become an eternal symbol of stardom and fame, an angel of Hollywood, a goddess. But one must remember: we're not in some other universe...There are no angels here.

BOOK ONE: Angel-like Death

"So children of all lost and unnumbered suns
Must fear the dark
Which mingles in shadowing-forth on air.
And swarms the blood.
No matter what the color, shape, or size
Of beings who keep souls like breathing coals
In long midnights
They must need saving of themsleves..."
--Ray Bradbury,
Christus Apollo

A creture emerges from a thousand year sleep, dispondent, unconcerned until the first rays of a networld sun come pouring down upon its human face.
A human face?
Eyes of cyber-dreaming, glossed over, sightlessly staringat the world around it. A mouth twitched in the pre-quickening: a vague smile of poor stupidity. Pale hands pulse with the first echoes of re-life. Wires, snake-like, plugged into moon pale skin, retracted back into walls of black marble, back into dark holes that fed into a monstrosity of a machine: the giver and taker of cybro-dreams.
A sigh issued forth, then a hiss, as a door decompressed and light stremed in, gracing the body of pale skin and human-like features. But no human could he be. Too beatific was he, too...angelic. Seemingly untouched by the perversities of the world around him.

Four strangers stepped into the small chamber, coming to stand about the chair on which sat the pale man. They peered down at him curiously, the silence deafening, until two very human, and yet, inhuman amber eyes, darted from each shadow enshrouded face to the other.
"Strange, isn't it?" came one gruff voice. There was no masking the awe it held.
"Yes, quite," another answered. This one accented and inquisitive.
"He is human, though, right?" came the third.
"I should think-"pause-"that in some way..yes, he is," the first voice to speak answered. There was a sigh.
"Should we wake him, then?" a fourth, unfamiliar voice broke in. Regretful. The pale, earth-bound angel's eyes fluttered, then opend wider. A beeping went off somewhere distantly as his fingers moved with the most delicate of spider-like grace.
"I should think," the fourth voced said, quite amused," that he thinks so."
Three of the four shadows moved off, but the last remained. He peered down at the angel. "Yes, of course." He paused." Yes, wake him, indeed."
Then he too was gone.
A city never sleeps truely, a great juggernaut of lights and wires, impossible skyscrapers and city stations. This one was no different. It's many eyes were wide, bright starlights of building windows, the red glow of car taillights rushing to its heart, or leaving it: a lone tower of cybernetic make. Indeed, above its many twisting columns and bright, glass windows, stoney arcs and open balconies, words flashed holographically,"Karma Tach., International: the world's largest distributor of cyber electronics..."

And beneath the holograph a door opened, one of four swing glass doors, and a pale angel stepped out, into the darkness, accompanied by four others.

"It was quite fine, Mister Matthias," one said.

"Yes, quite," said another one's mimic. They all smiled their smiles and shook hands with the pale man, and he grinned almost dumbly at them. Then they went back into Karma Tech., shutting their doors. Indeed, shutting him out into the dark...until tomorrow, or tomorrow night. Or...whenever they summoned him next.

Matthias turned on a leather-shoed heel and walked down the street. His limps were sore, arms feeling weighed down by some unfathomable tonnage, a heaviness settling down about his shoulders. A dark wind stirred, lifting the silken, milky strands of his hair in the cool night breeze. He let the wind take his sigh, drown it out by its whistle, then carry the small exhaled breath along with it on some other way.

He walked down the city streets, eyes illuminated by neon gassed lights, stores on the lower levels still open, 24 hrs a day, running onward. Matthias shuddered. Running onward, drunk off some high. Like him, and his net world.

But the sun was beautiful, and the snakelike wires only stung when too hastily impaled into his skin. Then the flooding of information rushed into his body like heroine to a crack addict's brain, and he felt nothing...Nothing at all. Hell! He could spend a four day holiday hooked up online. Matthias' tongue darted out of his mouth and coated his lips thinly with saliva.

It was only a game to those damn Corporates, seducing him with the wetware, controlling his every want and desire with a machine. It was a drug, the Net, real life was too boring or hard to live, too hard to bear, and so they taunted and teased like a Louisiana whore drunk off of age-old wine. And they made pleasing the web, to all those poor souls who wanted to escape. And he was only a poor soul to them. A poor, beautiful, wretched soul. Matthias licked his lips again.

He knew, without a doubt, that they were paying extra attention to him, more than most. Watching him as the wires slithed back into their holes, and the flood of information returned to the computers. He knoew they sstood over him, and prodded and probed him with their eyes as he woke, his mind numb and absent, from his networld vacation. He knew they liked to watch him as he twitched and groaned in the chair of the Annex chamber, his nude body responding to any and every stimulus. His mind would be faraway in a cybernetic Cuba.

He knew and wondered how he knew, or why. And why they stared at him so. Why was he so interesting? A thing on display?

Matthias came to his street: Winn way, and proceeded down it, to his apartment, in the better parts of Mesmerpolitan. A small sector of many within Cybro-New York. As he approached the keypad I.D., Matthias turned back, a frown plastered on his beautiful features........

He could've sworn someone was watching him, someone from a far. His eyes, straining, scanned the street. The dark wind returned, but there was no one...No one in the street lights, no one hidden between the parked cars nor within the shadows. His eyes swept about everything in amber curiousity, finding nothing amiss. The frown fell. He shrugged. It was only a feeling after all.....

He went to the door and keyed in his I.d., then stepped inside the building, leaving the darkness outside.
But he had been watched.
If he'd only turned, at the last second, before closing himself in the brightly lit building, he would've seen a shadow detach itself from one of the trees lining the street. The shadow was of a man, broad shouldered, tall, heavily built. A red pinpoint was drawn from his mouth, the burning end of a cigarette, his eyes, deep and dark, watched the building intently. Then, when he was satisfied, the man walked down the street, away from the building, passing in and out of the street lamps.

And the light revealed what the darkness did not. The man's features were rough, chiseled from hard work and hunger and sadness. His lips were a thing, grim line, his eyes a tired blue, a smouldering fire burning within them. He was not handsome by any standards in Mesmer, or any other sector of Cybro-New York; maybe not anywhere. Only golden boys and girls with silky hair and otherworldly features were looked upon with approval.

Perhaps that was why he followed Matthias everyday, and any day, he could. Matthias was beautiful: a pale, narrow face, pristine eyes, a hwakish nose and a trim, lean body. Narrow hips opened up to succulent legs of shaped muscles. Pale as well.

He knew.

He'd watched Matthias run one morning through a park just outside of Mesmer's edge. He'd almost been caught that time, hanging about the fountain, watersprouts shooting from the carved dolphins, cascading like scattered diamonds down into the fountain's waters. An android had come near him, sweeping and picking up trash, depositing it in the compactor unit that followed closely behind. He'd sidestepped the stupid thing as it avoided the fountain, and not him, continuing on its way.

"Stupid contraption," he'd hissed angrily, which was met, quite unexpectedly, with a hearty laugh. He jumped with a whirl and faced a very bemused Matthias, undazed or dumb by whatever Karma Tech did to him. His amber eyes were alert and his breathing slightly shallow from the run.

"They can't all be smart," he said, coming to dip his hand in the fountain water and take a sip. Rather than answer, he watched as Matthias tensely as water dripped in slow beads down the pale man's neck, spilling into his shirt. He had been mesmerized.

"Jules Matthias," he'd introduced holding out his hand. He'd been forced to take it and told Matthias his name in a forced whisper," Logan Fantine."

Matthias had smiled an angelic smile, taking back his blessed hand and inquired, curiously,"Do you come here often?"

"Huh?" Logan's head snapped to Matthias', both men's eyes meeting.

"Do you come here often?" Matthias repeated. "Huxley park is alittle out of the way of Mesmer. Not many come here." His gaze turned suspicious. Logan's already tense muscles grew even more so as he stuttered uselessly for an excuse. Matthias, in a perticularly thoughtful tone, said," But, I suppose, there are some quite odd ones still out there, no? Walking or running is a great derivitive of pleasure-" Those angelic eyes fell on his-"among other things."

They parted after the short exchange, and Logan never went back to that park again. It was best to watch his angel from a distance. Then he smirked. His angel? When had Matthias become 'his angel' ?

'When you started watching him,' a voice said snidely in his head. Logan grimaced in the night as he threw down his finished cig. and tunred down an even brighter street. He was back in his side of Mesmer: the underside of it. This place was calle 'Boomtown'. Techie music blasted from every open shop and store, a mixture of people hung about the streets, some carrying rave sticks and painted in glow-in-the-dark lime and hot pink.

The mutants were what got him the most, though. Slimey buggers, he thought. Some of them one-eyed with cancerous-like mounds on their foreheads. Other with three arms, more or less, and others were beyond discribing. It didn't matter to him, either way. He was somewhat one of them. His grandfather had been graced with mutated genetics. Logan had turned out normal, or as normal as possible......

He continued down the street, fending off mutant and human prostitutes alike, and the males that wanted to fuck his brains out for a minimal fee. They weren't what he wanted anyway. His tastes ran more along the lines of pale angels with probing eyes.


More and more since that scene in Huxley, he'd felt drawn to Matthias, drawn to the milky hair, those beautiful eyes, that moonstone skin. The amn was flawless: a fragile creature of heavenly purety. His very walk spoke volumes of his grace, when he wasn't on some Karma Tech high. His arms and legs moved, carried, walked, flowed, in such a rhythmic tide. Logan felt warm, the hot blood of his heart pool in between his legs and his dungees jeans felt too tight.

Shifting his direction quickly, he stepped into the nearest on street men's room. The place reeked of urine, old cigarette smoke and a hundred other things Logan couldn't put a name to. He found a stall not as bad as the others, and settled down the seat, unzipping his pants.

Oh God....

He'd gotten a hard-on just thinking about Matthias. That sweet body of his, pale, untouched except by the light of a thousand-and-one moons. Those pristine, amber eyes stared at him from within his mind, clouded over, uncomprehending. The mouth was parted open in a silent scream of release. Logan dug into his pants and took hold of himself, pumping hard.

In his mind, Matthias' body was rocking, pale slim hips moving, up and down, legs parted, face-down. His hands, white claws, digging into an invisible bed. He threw his head back and howled with pleasure, Logan could almost hear it. Ringing and echoing like sweet church bells in his ears. Those pristine eyes disappeared behind closed lids and the heead tossed itself back and forth, sweat glistening on white skin. With a shudder, Logan let out a loud hiss as he reached his climax. He threw his head back and bit his lip untilthere was a trickle of blood running down his chin. He was done, spent.

And a mess.

Logan looked down at himself in disgust. His pants were ruined, his hands dirty and his shirt splattered.

But, damn...
That was-
He felt himself shudder as pale, athletic legs ran through his mind
-that was...
intense. Logan licked his lips, tasting the bitter tang of copper. Damn, and now he was bleeding for the sonofabitch. Pristine eyes flashed before his mind's eye as he reached for the stall door, pants, messy ansd sticky, zipped up. He stood and went out, thankful that no one had ventured into the bathroom. He went to the faucets, turning one on. Brown water shot from it and pooled into the sink like a mud pit. Logan grimaced, but stuck his hands in anyway. He needed to get clean and get home.

Finally, he was done. Where the offshoot of his climax had been, there was al arge wet patch. He frowned. Well, that wasn't much better. It looked as if he'd pissed in his pants. Logan grunted and turned away, quickly leaving the bathroom.

"Shit," he said softly and stumbled out into the street, walking upright in his most dignified manner. He continued onward, homebound, walking to a derelict subsector. It was even worse than Boomtown: groups of ramshackle buildings left over from the short-lived presidency of JFK and the Great Scandal. The pavement was cracked, the dark asphalt roads barely accesible or used.

Nothing in this part of Mesmer got repairedd. It was tucked so far away in a forgotten corner, that often the wind forgot to blow. Logan sidestepped a toothless, old hag and her cats, seated by his building's door. The cats were mutations of what old felines used to be. He pushed through the doorway and up the stairs, past an old drunkard and up to his apartment.

The door creaked open to reveal a dirty, hardwood floor. The furniture was meager, mismatched and holey. Into this place, he walked, the door creaking shut behind him, and he slumped down onto the living room sofa.

Was it any wonder--what with all this filth--that he would prefer to spend his time thinking of something beautiful? Was it too horrible of a thing if he'd rather watch an earth-bound angel than stare at the perversities of his world? This wolrd of mutants and poverty, the occassional lack of food and warmth and feeling. Logan closed his eyes and let the vision of Matthias fill his mind and enthrall his senses. He was a relief, both spiritual and physical.

Logan's fingers suddenly pulsed and tiwtched with the urge to touch his angel, hold that waxen body in his arms. Trembling, mumbling, incoherently, from the pleasure Logan could give him. Those eys. Those primodial eyes! Logan's heart fluttered like a caged bird.

He closed his eyes, an agel dancing behind his shut lids. A warmth settled over him, rushing through his body, an over powering....Want.
A want?
A want to touch, to feel, to tremble. To kiss and love and hug. A want to be pressed against another warm body, to feel that body shiver, muscles rippling then taunt. To feel that body wriggle and squirm from pleasure, from soft butterfly kisses and gentle caresses. Logan laid back as the world around him became oblivious to his dream. A small, dumb smile played across his lips, and immediately, he thought of Matthias' lips pressed reverently against his.

Dear God...

An irrelevent term. His angel was god, and he could feel blood pool between his legs again. And he realized how much more he wanted to be with Matthias rather than just dream. More than anything, more than life itself. More than just watching Matthias walking down a street or running in a park.

Logan felt something shatter then, a breaking a way of some old fear. He felt freer than he had in months since it all started. He gave a delightful howl of delight as his muscles clenched in excitement. Tomorrow-a wide, tirumphant grin spread across his face-Matthis, his angel, would be....his.


It nevered occured within a twenty-four hour period. He'd never
been summoned the very next day, at most, only two seperate days a week.

Matthias walked down the street towards Karma Tech., a bright sun blazing with unrelenting intensity overhead, punishing the poor, wretched souls that had to walk beneath it. He flowed through the bodies of workers, going about their daily rounds: wake up, get to work, leave, go home. Matthias' beautiful face was creased in a frown. Why had the company heads summoned him?

He checked his watch. Thursday, Nothwestern time, June 15, 2057. Then rubbed his eyes. The sun WAS opressively hot. Ever since the eco-collapse of half the earth's ozone layer in 1989, the world was heating up. Scientists predicted that in the next 100 to 150 years, the world would be literally boiling. Matthias sighed. Such was the world he lived in.

Coming up to the glass doors of Karma Tech., Matthias paused and fingered his chin quietly. He was abit reluctant, even IF it were his job to appear when summoned and do what his superiors told him....Even if he didn't necessarily know what that was. When he was summoned, he went to work and was plugged into their computers and VR, then released to go home, drugged up on some Netway high. On his good days.

Other times, he left with a migraine, somewhat aware of the world around him. Aware of the people and the streetlamps and cars. Matthias sighed and stepped into the building.

*.* o.0 >.<

Maybe he could talk to him, just walk up to him and see if he were semi-coherent, then re-introduce himself. Perhaps.....

Logan grimaced as his hands plunged into the green slime that powered the Mesmer Sector factories. The slime fed into a machine unit that lubricated the pumps drawing hydro-electric power from the ground. Damn. He hated his job: cleaning out whatever trash got into the green guck that could clog up the pumps. And quite alot of trash got in it. Logan pulled out a dead rat and frowned.

If he were going to approach Matthias tonight, he'd better get cleaned. There was no sense in going out, glowing like a mutant from Boomtown. Assuming the other man was going to be out. He was taking a huge gamble.

He continued to work until the afternoon bell rang for lunch, then streamed out of the factory with other workers, out into the fresh, clean air. He breathed and smiled. Tonight...Tonight, magick was going to happen.

8-/ @.@ X-

"You're very unique. Unique, indeed."

Matthias regarded the four men that sat before him as they grinned with a smug knowingness. It made him uneasy. What did they want? And why-he began to drum pale fingers on his chair's arm-did they think him so unique?

"Very interesting," mumbled one of the men flipping through a manilla folder. Matthias frowned.

"Please,' he began,"could you tell me as to why I have been summoned? What is it that you want?"

"To study you, m'boy!" One of the men exclaimed, the eldest with snowy hair and dark, black shades. "As my colleague has told you, Mr. Matthias, you are unique!"

"Yes, I heard him," Matthias snapped aggitatedly. "But how? Why?"

The one who spoke first, stood, the grin on his face wider. "Perhaps, he suggested,"you should go into the Annex chamber and get hooked up. You shall see then." The others stood as one, the same self-satisfied grin plastered across their olden features. Matthias watched them suspiciously. "Why should I?"

"Because it's your job," the eldest snapped, and for a moment, just a moment, Matthias thought he saw eyes behind those dark shades widen in explosive anger. Then suddenly the older man's features softened. "Now, up you go, ol'chap! Up, up and get online."

He hoisted a reluctant Matthias to his feet. The younger man sighed as they exited the room, he within the center of their pressed bodies.

"Yes," a third said, a chubby man with piggish features. Eyes, of course hidden by shades. "You are doing a great service to Mesmer Research and Development. Indeed, perhaps, to the rest of the world."

Matthias looked back at him skeptically, his amber eyes darting to each face curiously. Each face was a mask, one of smug pride. He turned a way from them as he came to the dressing room that sat just before one entered the Annex chamber. There they left him, and there he entertained the idea of going home. Something about this, about the whole day, just didn't feel...right.

He sighed and shook the heaviness of suspicion from his shoulders, taking a step into the room. It was all white, lit up by Phosphorescent bulbs, and here he stripped down to his birthday suit, almost camaflogue with the room itself. He walked across the cold floor, ignoring stubbornly the chill that ran up and down his legs. He refused to shiver.

He grasped holdof the door knob, leading to the Annex chamber then suddeny....yanked it back. He drew it protectively to his chest.

He felt--for a split second--good God. A premontion of something....something. Like the world wasn't right--not at that moment, and perhaps not for the rest of the day. He shivered.

"Why do you hesitate, Mrr Matthias?" came the mechanical voice over the intercom. His eyes went to the dark gery patch-the room's only flaw- at the northly most corner.

"I-I-I-"Matthias glared at the knob in disgust-"Nothing. I'm fine, just a little antsy from yesterday's hook up."

Quite understandable," came the voice. Matthias took hold of the knob, teeth gritted tightly. Did they understand? Did they truely understand? He opened the door, every part of him tingling. He took a seat and remembered the first time he'd come here.

It had been nearly three years ago, the proposition had been propsed to Karma Tech.'s, CEO board, and he and about twelve others, young employees, stood before the company heads, ready to proudly serve their employers. He'd been one of six chosen, and quickly the next day, the six had been ushered into six dressing rooms, told to strip of their clothes and enter six Annex chambers, nude, and ready to plug into the VR. That was how he started, but he never knew what happened to the others.

The first time in the VR, information was slowly eased into his mind:numbers, algorithms, mathmatical equations, graphed onto jis memeory. Stimulus pumped into his veins, chemicals in his blood stream, his nerves continuosly bombarded with impulses sent by Karma Tech.'s computers. And the strange thing was that after a time, the numbers stopped and his brain was fed beautiful VR 3-d sequences. Instead of algorithms, he got beaches of crystal, white sand. Instead of mathmatical equations, he got coastal waters of sapphire and a high sun of comfortable warmth. And it was from that point on that he wondered what his purpose was in Karma Tech.'s scheme of things.

Matthias leaned back in the Annex chamber's chair and closed his eyes, waiting for the wires, alive and yet, unalive snakes, to come slithering from their burrows in the walls, seeking out his warm skin. Wehn he felt a pinch and their metal needles sliding into his arms painlessly, pumping anesthetic into his bloodstream, he patiently waited for the tickle at the back of his throat. When that occured, he knew he was ready to get hooked up. All computer systems were up and running, the VR was waiting for him to access it. Then after that, whatever lay beyond.

He closed his eyes and was met a geometric code streaming in thousands of number lines, blinking in and out of existence, lime green, and behind his closed eyelids. Vaguely, he heard the gentle whisper of computer cooling fans as they hummed into existence. He grinned, then suddenly felt...nothing. Where his heart beat should've been, there was only a profound silence. Where he should've felt the air filling his lungs, there was emptiness. Darkness enveloped him.

There came a spark, and the vague sense of warmth on his skin. And slowly that vagueness became reality, more and more warmth and a blinding, blazing light. It finally cleared to reveal a New England coast: cloudy skies of churning grey and white, the sound of rushing srashing waves filled the air and sand scraped against his feet. Matthias stood there observing what the VR created for him.

Long ago, whe he was a boy, his mother had taken him to a place like this, beofre she'd gotten herself into hyper-mixed drugs and polyclubs of new, godless faiths. The day had been cloudy, just like this one, on the brink of storming, and he...he had stood at the edge of the waters, hands outstretched, where the the roof of the vast ocean met the floor of the stark sky. His oul had been elated, free from years of a strange kind of prison--one with false smiles, indecent touches and a whole mix of other things his young mind couldn't comprehend, nor wanted to remember.

Remembering back on that day, Matthias' VR self smiled vaguely. He'd given his mother such a scare. She'd dragged him out of the water, her face flushed pink with salty tears and angry worry. And he remembered feeling asif he'd done nothing wrong. Matthias stepped forward as the clouds parted and a glorious golden sun broke through, shining like a stairway to heaven. The sea lit up like a thousand diamonds strewn across a blue, writhing blanket.

He smiled, kneeling before the lapping waters, and plunged his arms in up to his elbows. When he withdrew them, a sparkling shower of water crystals spilled from his open hands and he gave a jubilated laugh.

But just as he was about to plunge his hands into the water again, he drew back and frowned. A face was beginning to form, a strange face, much older looking than his. A glich in the system? Matthias couldn't fathom how, but as the sun's light grew in intensity, the features became recognizeable. It was a man, his face rough and worn with hunger and poverty. His hair was dark and his eyes shadowed. He was, by no means, handsome, but....

Matthias leaned into the water, mesmerized. He licked his lips hungrily and kissed the VR, wet surface. The image shatterd, as did the world around him, and Matthias found himself heaving and coughing in the Annex chamber, his lungs on fire.

"Calm, Mr. Matthias," came the mechaical voice. "Calm."

But he continued to cough, his shoulders shuddering, his throat rasping and his mind in a whirl. The wires retreated swiftly back into their holes in the Annex chamber walls and the room lit up like a thousand suns. Why the hell- Why was he out of VR prematurely?

The door opened and 'The Four' walked in looking troubled. Matthias ast back in the chamber chair, his coughing finally stopped, taking in huge gulps of air.

"Yes, that's it," said the eldest one as he patted Matthias' head nervously,"Yes, deep breaths."

And when the pale man finally got his breath back, he asked," What the hell happened?"

"A glich," one of the men answered quickly and cast a look at all his companions. Matthias caught it and asked suspiciously, "What?" His features were covered with anger.

The eldest shrugged and said a bit importantly," We don't know, Mr Matthias, snd it'd be best if you waited patiently for answers."

His anger turned into a death glare as the third man spoke, Mr. Pg-face," Well, it's evening now. We'll resume this next summons."

Matthias scowled at their backs as they walked out of the room. Instead of following immediately, he sat back in the Annex chamber's chair and forced his mind to recall all that had occured. First he'd booted up and connected with the VR, and he'd been placed on a New England beach. Second the sun was shining. Nothing strange there. Then he'd gone to the waters, dipped his hands in, drew them out......

Matthias' mind froze that image in his mind. The face, the face of a man in the water: worn, chiseled and defined, but a man's face no less. His mind's eye roved over the picture carefully. Hadn't he met someone like that some time ago? He had this feeling that that man had been somewhere with him, when most of the people of Mesmer chose not to go.

But try as he might he could not dredge up the memory nor bring to life any recollection of where he could have been to see it. Or, most importantly, why VR had it graphed into its programing. VR did not manifest what a person wanted unless it were already programmed, and only A.I. with cybernetic implants could do that.

Matthias studied the Annex chamber. The walls were cold, black marble, as was the ceiling and the floor. In the upper northwestern corner, there was a security camera and the intercom. And along the walls about fifty or so holes for the wires to come through. By all respects, the room was normal. There was no faulty spark or strange irregular sound to taletell of Karma Tech.'s inefficiency.

Done, but unsatisfied, Matthias rose from his chair and walked into the dressing room. From there he put on his clothes.

Before leaving, he cast one last, curious glance at the Annex chamber's open door and the darkness beyond it. He shuddered and turned away, leaving it behind. He left it all behind, the hallways, offices and cubicles, entering out onto the street. And, finally, he turned and began dow the street, leaving Karma Tech behind as well.

Night fell heavily on the city. No stars shone, no moon, and the sky was filled with rolling, frothy clouds. A storm was coming. A dark wind blew from the disturbed heavens, rustling through trees, passed cars, stirring distant park swings and rocking, spring horses. It continued down through Mesmer, down its streets and street corners, shaking street lamps and causing their lights to flicker. And underneath one of them, illuminating the darkness in amber-orange glow, the wind's poor defenseless victim, Logan stood and waited.

It felt like a thousand years, the world seeming to go very slowly for him. Even the rapid beating of his heart sounded like a snail's pace to his ears. Logan nibbled his lip and stared down the street. He knew Matthias was going to come. He knew, even if he didn't know the man's chaotic work schedule. He seemed to be called in at any random time of the week.

As the wind rushed past to terrorize other sectors of Mesmer, Logan's face creased into a troubled frown.

'Okay, so now I'm here,' he thought,' but what am I gonna say?'

He looked up and down the dark street, thankfully empty, and stepped out onto the black asphalt. What could he possibly say to an angel? His frown deepened as his mind racked for something. But nothing came, it was empty, about as empty as the street around him. He shivered in the night air, worry finally claiming him.

What if Matthias didn't come? And even if he did, what if Logan froze up and couldn't approach him? Suddenly, what seemed so easy last night, became a twisted, complicated maze of words and feelings. What could he do-what could he possibly do to claim his angel? What could--

Logan's thoughts stopped immediately in their hazy babble as Logan heard the distant thud of gentle footfalls. He retreated into the darkness of a tree's shadow and watched the street nervously. His eyes widened. Matthias came gliding down the street, his clothes, a pale-bluish white suit, hung loosely about his lean, slim form. But what was particular about it, was that as Matthias walked, his body, his skin, face, hands, seemed dimly lit by their own inner fire. His features shone and his hair framed his head like a halo, as he stared wonderingly at the sky.

Logan watched him, muscles taunt like a bowstring's, afraid of this seemingly impossible creature. And as Matthias walked, oblivious to him staring from the shadows across the street, Logan released the breath he had been holding. He detached himself quietly from the tree's shadow and crossed the black asphalt sea, coming to walk along the sidewalk, trailing behind his angel.

What could he do? Should he call out to Matthias? Call his name? But no, that would surely scare him: a strange man, in the dead of night, calling to him. Logan clung to the shadows, palms sweating, nerves on edge. The brisk wind blew again, and he craned his head slightly to let it brush across his neck and rustle his dark hair.

Slowly, he worked the muscles of his jaws and throat. Okay...it was now or never. Logan breathed and his lungs felt constricted. He continued to walk behind Matthias, seconds ticking away into minutes ticking away into eternity. He kept to the shadows, and up ahead he could see the brighter lights of the apartment buildings Matthias lived in. His head thundered painfully against his ribcage.

Now or never...
Now or never...
Now or never...

He shouldn't be doing this. He felt it, knew it in his bones and sinew, pulsing through the dark passage ways of his blood. He wasn't ready, and he'd probably scare hell out of Matthias if he tried. He turned his head slightly and suddenly saw himself in the reflecting, mirror-like surface of a building's window. The picture he saw wasn't pretty.

He saw a haggard man with dim, smoldering fires in his eyes. He saw hunger-worn features and the slight tale-tell signs of mutant-blood : Dark, hooded eyes, too narrow of cheeks and too hard of bones. He continued to stare at the face, the world slipping away quietly, until all that remained of it was him and the reflected image. Anger and disgust blossomed in his stomach.

A calloused hand reached out and touched the face staring back at him, as a snide voice broke into his mind, 'You have no right. What kind of a man do you think you are? What kind of creature of pity, poor flesh and blood, to approach someone like Matthias?'

Slowly, the sound of his blood came to him from beneath the cover of darkness and rose in a fever pitch until he heard it thundering like a thousand drums in his ears. The anger blossomed into a balefire and the disgust curled his features into a snarl. It was like poison, pulsing up and down the length of his body.

Such an ugly face, such an ugly being....No right...No right...No right...

~But why shouldn't I?~

The thought fluttered free, transformed. Why didn't he have the right to take what he wanted? The Corporates did, and the fools who worked for them. He had to take things all his life that he didn't like, why not change that now? He glowered at his face, glowered at the angry features and bared his teeth....





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