-- Chapter 5
The mountain sparkled with celestial life as freshly embodied souls
accepts me as his friend," Micah defended to his High Up.
intelligence reasons, the Counsel has decided to assign you to him,"
his High Up explained, "You impressed the right ones."
mean," Micha began... "Permanetly," his High Up confirmed.
Micha grinned. Jolvians were permitted to chose non-Thulians for
friends, but interspecies friendships were never known to last.
Bri met Micha on a reciprocating expedition to Thule-Vril, the twin
inhabitable planets orbiting Jol, known to everyone else as Jol 1 and
"The Counsel believes that your friend is being groomed for the Highest
on Vejhon," his High Up clarified. "He doesn't think so," Micha
replied. "Shellan modesty," his High Up corrected, "Even the
Cacci Dai were impressed with his Theite treaty; an impressive work by
Micha pixelated a fuchsia-rose color and then faded out of view to hide
his involvement. "The Jolvian aspects of the Theotian treaty
have been impossible to inculcate..." High Up
touched Micha's invisible shoulder to re-pilelated him to his natural
white scales, "...without a little help from a... 'certain'
Micha looked away as if alerted to something in the distance.
Jolvians were not astutely psionic, but scale reading was a
science. The agrarian tones intermittantly bleeding
into his scales was a clear indication that he was concerned about
something. "Your friend?" High Up asked with parental
concern. If their friendship had not been genuine, Micha would
not have sensed anything.
8. "Life through Light and Death," Micha began but didn't
finish. That narrowed the possible locations down to one.
"Your friend must be in trouble. You know that's a Thuelian
intonation?" High Up querried matter-of-factly.
9. Micha gave High Up a 'be serious'
expression that didn't need to be vocalized. "It's a Society
expression," Micha clarified, "and they hate the government
there." That truth was well known. "You better go
back," High Up suggested, "There's a flight waiting. We'll check
on you periodically."
It had been several years since Bri felt the queasy uneasiness of a
psionic attack. His vision blurred and blood pressure
raced. The luminous green faded to shades of gray. Dark
blotches obstructed the light and the natural sound of tropical birds
was replaced by a crushing vacuum in his head. A dreadful
down and squeezed his body like suddenly finding himself 300 fathoms
underwater; unable to
He shielded himself the best he could while the swaying horizon threw
balance. If he had attempted to shout -- nobody would have heard
him. Sound cannot travel in a vacuum.
shellan might have felt terrorized, but Bri recognized the attack style
and knew who the attacker was. If 'death' had been the point --
he would have been dead already. Nothing Kor did ever surprised
A mischievous part of Bri was impressed since he had forgotten what a
assault felt like. Typically, a Guard always shielded him, even
if passively, but since nobody wished harm upon the shell's top-ranked
poster boy, the Director let him
walk the last mile unshielded. He was, after all, 'officially'
off-shell near the Outter Banks, Azoth knows where.
The psionic headlock was getting old but Bri was a patient
"I know it's you, Kor," he sighed psionically, "and you know, I know
it." He couldn't count the number of times he said those exact
same words as a
winds threw around more
leaves than usual and a few branches snapped overhead. The
shellcast had called for another flawless day...
Bri wanted to repel this nightmarish dreamscape, but his effort would
only humor Kor, so he didn't bother. Everyone was expected to
accept that Kor's rules trump all others; there was only one imperative
when playing in Kor-land.
18. Bri had
been immunized against torture many
years ago; to include psychiatric and physical pain. "It's all
relative," he quipped, and laughed at his stupid pun, redacting to a
He was thinking that he might
have to kick Kor's ass if the attack didn't stop. Kor knew that
Bri wasn't afraid of him; Bri's just wanted Kor's attention, so he
indulged his vanity to give superficial substance to a finite
relationship. Kor always claimed to want no relationship, yet he
feigned these accidental encounters every fracking
days are coming to an end," Kor said psionically in a
menacing tone. "So I got a rise out
of you," Bri thought.
Bri gave it a second thought, "Are you a prophet too, now?" he
mocked him. They had been fighting since they were 2 and probably
would be fighting when they were old. Bri chuckled under his
breath, "My days are coming to an
end?" he echoed. He was the only object that ever saw this
side of Kor, whose predatory stare typically warded off the naïve.
There was the lull. Bri sighed, unphased by the special
effects, "This would be great if I
hadn't seen it so fracking many times!"
The familiarity, however,
was comforting. "Shellans become used to cruelty and in the end
make a law of that which they despise," he remembered from middle
"How come you never go see Mother?" Bri asked, ignoring the effect of
his brother's attack, "She sends
her greetings." Then he rephrased, "Frackin'
ass hole! It
wouldn't kill you! You live right frackin' here!" He was
polite. Kor liked it. "Oh, so you still 'feel' something?"
Bri heard from the angry, twisted foliage. "Guards!" Bri rolled
his eyes, "there you go -- with your diversionary irrelevancy."
Bri intoned an octave higher, "Oh, so you still 'feel'
something!" He knew that would piss Kor off.
His legs were kicked out from under him by an unseen force -- his
body fell back but did not touch the ground. Instinct should have
taken over, but Bri had this whole sequence memorized, as if it was
An unseen power cradled Bri and lifted him up gently.
The wind stopped, the pressure stopped and a ray of misty sunlight
illuminated Bri's body as if God was retrieving a fallen angel.
In Kor's version of Heaven, Bri only rose to about 10 feet, but the
sensation was convincingly divine. He could feel the sunlight.
"You've got a lot better at this," Bri commented unintentionally.
26. "He who was
‘Born into Light,'" Kor
said, in a soft, disingenuous
voice. He would have excelled in theatre. "They must miss
you," Bri was certain, reflecting on moments when his official duties
called for following a script
was referring to the legend of their births, as told
by El Sha, when Vejhon was in transition from Dark to Light: Kor
was born just before dawn and Bri had
been 'Born into Light.'
28. "You chose
your own path," Bri said, quoting his mother. He did not have an
sympathy, "No amount of fortune telling can make you do anything!"
agreed on that
While insects buzzed in the hazy sunlight supporting Bri's levitation,
he asked, "For once, can you tell me what it is I did to make you hate
question was not terribly passionate, but it did
accuse Kor. "Why do
you hate me -- what have I done?" Evidently, Kor wasn't in an
answering mood and might just as easily have
slammed his brother into a tree.
realize I could have killed you if I wanted to," Kor
thought. His exertions at levitating Bri must have lowered his
When Kor realized that Bri was reading him, he dropped him like a
shovel full of dung. The foliage broke Bri's fall and was still
nothing compared to being thrown off a cliff like in days
The attack ceased and the weather resumed it's natural
serenity like changing channels on a holo.
Kor had still not appeared but Bri knew the finale was coming.
The hazy mist reacquired it's normal perspiration
from the ground.
"Is that it, then?" Bri asked, getting up to finish his trek back to
the landing pad. He always looked forward to these encounters but
couldn't stand the inflexible script. He thought maybe
one day his brother would simply talk to him without all the drama, but
evidently that was asking for way too much.
Another sensation tingled through Bri's mind and body like the soft
flutter of an angel's
wings. It was not hostile -- it was erotic and focused on his
manhood. The extreme juxtaposition caused Bri's muscles to tense
up; he tilted his head back and nearly froze on his toes. A
psionist can trigger sexual
responses better than any
date rape drug. He broke into a sweat, aware that he was
being violated, clearly not the first time. Thousands violated
him every day, but Kor's motives were not really sexual.
"Ahhhh," Bri replied mockingly, fencing with the violation, "I didn't
think you were still
into me? My fans, 'yes,' but you?"
If a Watcher had been watching, the kids would have been dispatched
immediately. Most psionic
rapes went unreported because they were difficult to prove. Kids
were the least desirable targets because they were more
dangerous than adults and maintained a
symbiant relationship with the Guard.
"If you're wanting to be my bitch -- why don't you just ask?" He
mocked Kor, who had his own repertoire of eager, adoring
Finally: Two large ferns parted like stage curtains and behind
them stood the
commanding figure of Kor. Bri laughed out loud because Kor still
wore face paint; had his trusty quiver of arrows, and organic
sandals. It seemed like
he would never grow up. Kor was not grinning because his face
was made of stone. Bri
reached out and pressed his fingers against Kor's scuplted cheek bone
and Kor did not react. He was a spectacular symbol of physical
perfection; like looking through a mirror darkly.
"It won't take you long," Bri said. It was a double
intende'. Kor rolled his eyes.
42. "You, my
brother," Kor said in a devilishly
seductive tone, "are going to cause the deaths of
millions." It was almost funny the way he said it.
This time Bri rolled his eyes while Kor slowly encircled him as if
inspecting. He repeated rather slowly, "Because of you --
millions of shellans are going to die." Bri was waiting for him
to add, "What to do? What to do?" as if he were merely
contemplating a solution to a simple misunderstanding. "What's
with the accent?" Bri asked. Kor ignored him.
Notwithstanding that Kor's calmer demeanor called for equal
consideration on Bri's part, Bri asked, "Just how fracking arrogant can
you get?" He alluded to Kor's incredulous costume, "Look at
YOU! You attack me, hold me in the air, give me a psi-job... and
accuse ME of doing crap that will
NEVER happen! Unless you're a Prophet now, how do you know anything?" Bri
calmed somewhat and spread his arms
shell-at-large. He wanted to confess that the avant garde nature
of this interlude
was a refreshing departure from the norm, "Do you
even care about what goes on,
anywhere... besides here?" He looked squarely into Kor's eyes,
"Anywhere?" he added. He held Kor's face steady with his hands,
"Have you ever even left this
rainforest?" He was squinting but earnest, and let go of
Kor was not completely without reason, but in Kor-logic, there was no
aggravate a moot point.
Bri placed his hands on Kor's flawlessly sculpted shoulders while Kor
read a thousand questions in Bri's eyes. He could not shape a
single thought into words, because cosmos and chaos could not be
quantified at a single point in space, like love and hate; polar
extremes and unrequieted love. Rejected by blood.
Bri looked compassionately into Kor's eyes, "If just for one second,
said pleadingly because the issue certainly wasn't about his dignity,
I have to do?" Bri was offering
himself on a platter. Kor batted his eyes. It was hard to
tell if his expression was one of compassion or horror or complete
Kor was not inept at shellan emotions -- he understood. It was
kinder to forego the cruelty than
to give hope to their
paths were incompatible; their
futures' unmergable. Kor let his gaunt expression weaken a
little because he did respect his brother's intention, but refused to
grieve over the irretrievable. He had lived this moment in his
mind and knew how it ended.
destiny must be stopped," Kor said, with
un unnerving clarity, "Because of you,
are going to die." Bri's face tightened up because he knew that
was being sincere. In that case, the 'what if' was greatly
distubing. "If my existence is such a crime," Bri thought, "why
haven't you killed me?" He
didn't say it out loud but knew that his brother heard him.
possible, "What... makes... you... so... damn... sure?" Bri
was fighting to give their relationship a chance.
"What is it that Micha says, when reaching an impasse?" Bri searched
his memory, "Think outside yourself. Is this one of those
times?" As he plugged in the Michaism, he realized that Kor
didn't come to visit -- he came to say good bye. "It's always so
simple for someone else," he was embarrassed by its simplicity.
The light in his face
This would be their last accidental encounter. He
withdrew his hands from a cold statue that had been his brother, and
the gleam in Kor's eye seemed to confirm Bri's epiphany: They
used to be related -- now they're
Bri defaulted to his analytical mind and could see a universe in Kor's
eyes that did not include him, because
Kor belonged to another dimension
and God. "That's all it really ever
was," Bri whispered, as if the statue in front of him was incapable of
thought. Kor just needed to make sure that Bri finally
relationship, which had never been a real
relationship, had concluded.
tear would have made Kor angry so he restrained himself. It would
his last gift to his brother, who evidently, was programmed not to love
universe was half a mile away, and in that Universe every door was
open. The perfect word to describe this blend of
56. Kor stood
strong and unmoved, staring through his brother as though
he was already a ghost.
57. In spite
of his effort, there
was a leak in Bri's face, so as a parting gift to him for showing some
restraint, Kor wiped the
tear from Bri's face and licked it. No
outburst. No cynicism. Somebody else might have been
spooked when the statue moved, but Bri was dealing with his
58. Then Kor
looked away, as if sensing something else. Bri
remembered this exact reaction when they were 15. It startled
that strange cylindrical indentation in the water that
disappeared. It felt like yesterday: Kor was dressed
the same and the diversion was a welcome reprieve from parting.
59. For the
first time, Bri had access to everything that Kor felt that day, and
Kor didn't block him. It didn't matter anyway since this chapter
in their lives was ending. Kor felt that the object was connected
to him; sentient, but
blocking it's thoughts... as if it had been built by a psionist.
Not being able to read it vexed him and he let Bri see
catch that fracking thing if it's
the last thing I do," he whispered
psionically, then he faded into a vaporous form and the
vapor faded. Bri did not wave his arm in the space where Kor had
been because he knew Kor was gone. He entertained that Kor might
have staged the distraction to make parting
easier, and he contemplated whether or not the object was complicit in
their dispute. Bri had always believed in Kor, but he wasn't a
Onimex dropped his insides when Kor suddenly seized him on either side
and held fast. Droids are not easily spooked like this.
"You didn't see me this time!" Kor rebuked it vengefully. It
was futuristic in design; deja vu in a round
suitcase that defied known mechanical conventions. 'Time'
fit into the equasion somehow, "it had too,"
shifted further out of phase, escaped Kor's grip and continued to
modulate until Kor quit searching. "Wie tat er den!" Onimex
wondered, "How in the hell did he do that?" Kor had proven once
that he was an unquantifiable
danger. Onimex could only think of German metaphores
that he learned from Xanax.
63. When Kor
returned to his natural dimension, Bri
was gone: Time had ticked differently during the interlude.
Bri's car glided across the treetops and echoed in
the canyon as it departed for Bri's Universe. Kor still spoke the
words, "Good bye...