Sequel to Sterile. He walked an edge, between disdain and grace, even as the world crumbled...
Introduction: Here... At Realities Edge
…You can never again return by this road
What kind of dream were you drawing and fell into
That time when you lost your footing on the other side of the border?
The future visible in tomorrow isn't even close to satisfactory, but
Perhaps we're living clinging to such things
Surely the truth is that you and I are searching for the same thing
Feeling the same thing - the one truth - in different places
That alone is what we want to know
So we are here holding on to nothing
Prowling in dreams and reality, we're too close to the edge
A quote from the song, The Edge, by yuki kajiura. Japanese to English translation by
He'd always been fond of wind chimes. Not the brass and metal ones, rather those made of glass with silvery threads. The one's that seemed to hang in place on nothing at all, when the moment was just right, that and the light, after all time was consistent, and light fickle it was only when they conspired together things worked out. In that, just right moment, with the lines gone, and the edges golden, he would reach out with a hand to ring the hanging bells.
Or at least he'd try.
"Satoshi!" Harried and busy shopping not thrilled to have to be hollering after her wayward son, Mother snapped his name and he snatched his wandering hands back. "Get over here; you buy it you break it you know!"
Having not known he tucked his hands behind his back, beyond temptation. Dutifully he rejoined her, quiet as could be. Still, she scolded him. Eight year old just didn't walk off like that, and don't ever ever do it again. Lecture one she snatched his hand, resolutely going to hold it the whole time.
To that he moaned.
"Mooom. I'm not a baby or nuthin', let go!"
The glare she pinned on him stilled other, similar protest, face flaming, head down, he endured.
It was curious what you remembered, when and where. Stopping on an impulse, stepping in a knickknack shop he saw the chimes. Edges in gold, light just right… he saw, and the memories all rushed back. As he had that day, he did this day, he marveled. Gathering the threads, edges visible when set against the contrast of his touch, he ran the brittle threads through his fingers. They sang, even loosely clenched, they sang, soft and sweet, utter joyous nonsense.
Looking up at the shopkeeper, who was staring at him obvious concern –a thief or not a thief, that was the question etched along the worry lines of her face- he smiled. A futile attempt to alleviate worries and set her mind at ease, for her scowl hardened. Still he didn't wonder why he tried, he had tried and that was enough.
He gave the chimes a meaningful shake, they sang about his fingers.
Amongst the trees, precious sky lost in the overflowing greenery of a forest locked in eternal spring, he lounged. Back to the back of a knotted tree, arms crossed, one leg bent with the blade perched upon tensed knee. Taking a handful of fallen feathers –not fresh however, a quick experiment told him to do so hurt far too much- he whipped down his blade. The oil of said feathers set his blade to gleaming. This sword didn't weep as the one Orca had taken from him, but it was sturdy, and so it earned attention and care.
Polishing done, and sharpening before that, he sheathed the sword with both reverence and reluctance.
Though worthy of any nature lovers panting efforts, this was the World. Wyrms of wood slithered along branches, malicious sprites of a sylvan slant wandered at will. Sill, baring a spell of paralysis or sleep being tossed on him before said beastie came to sup he wasn't too worried. Yet, despite his own assurances he kept one hand touching his sword, and dwelled on how true the circumstance of "area level" vs "player level" would avail him if something did start.
Wing folded, eyes closed, lounge became pre nap sprawl. He yawned and green and sun gold blurred in his scrunching eyes. Though logged in he wasn't "on the clock" as a matter of fact he wasn't supposed to be "on" period. It was mere minutes after school, and he was more than likely going to miss the bus for this. Oh well, as Orca liked to say, you make the best of what you got.
"I hope I haven't been keeping you waiting."
A touch acidic, more than a bit gruff, and horse besides, administrator Lios came into being with a swirl of zeros and ones. First the symbols would appear –all in neon green, a muted neon, but synthetic and bright all the same- then somehow someway, they'd warp.
Amongst their distortions would come a realization that somehow, amongst the light and numbers and the sculpted space between, one could see the shape of a man. Seeing, as the adage went, was believing. And here, in the world belief just was. As was Lios, such he'd appear. It was a pretty show, now familiar, and his weariness was such that he kept his eyes closed, imagined it as he'd seen it before, and felt he hadn't missed a thing.
"Awake, yes. Waiting… mmm not so much."
To that the admin snorted, some of the bite leaving his tone. "Even when I was your age school wasn't so exhausting I had to take a nap right after."
"My history teacher is a monotone." Smiling at the dark behind his eyes, the Azure Sky stirred, sliding deeper into seeming sloth. Enough so that the root that was nudging him under the ribs was distant and the rude poke was all but a memory. "So much so I've heard him scream in monotone. Furthermore, he's of the mind that the text book is the Almighty. And that we aren't intelligent enough to understand what we've read the night before as homework. So he reads it to us, the stuff we've read ourselves, and he allows no questions."
A cough answered the Azure Sky's bout of grousing, than tentative –for they were new at this, just talking to each other, and they tragically failed at small talk, both of them. Though Balmung knew where he failed at small talk and just... communicating (see said incident with that girl in the cafeteria a week and a half ago for any needed examples) as a whole he also knew, with that special kinship found amongst the socially inept and outcast that Lios too had failed similarly down the line. Or perhaps he was failing, failing to communicate how grave this was to his superiors. Only prying would tell the truth of that tale.
"How was the board meeting?" Balmung dared, just as tentative, more than a touch gingerly.
"Ugly, very ugly." Lios' grunt sounded utterly disgusted, but Balmung did not press that obvious wound. Folding to temptation the administrator sat, or so the crinkle of leaves a few feet away alluded. "I don't know who the company wants shut up more. Me or that Tokuoka fellow from the Japan division."
To that round about revelation Balmung opened his eyes, startled as the implication roosted in his head.
"You're not Japanese?"
A smile came in answer to his question, than wry as the voice was gruff Lios replied. "No, helps to avoid the potential "unprofessional relationships" a quote that from the guidelines by the way. Unofficially it helps fill in the odder shifts amongst the player supervisor teams without having to hire a pack of troglodytes."
To that image, a pack of troglodytes hard at work and play in the World-the scaled, demonic type- he smiled. Then, smile fell off his features and his expression grew sly, his thinning eyes and smug quirk of his lips gave him well away before the question tumbled even out. At least to golden eyes, to others, who knew, but to those gold eyes and their owner he knew what was coming at least.
"So, where are you from then?" The Azure Sky queried.
"Let's say it's very early here and leave it at that." Came the brisk reply.
To that where others would have complained of the fairness or of other childish things Balmung met Lios' golden eyes and laughed. Not knowing what to make of that the admin hummed and hawed, than after a good span let out a barkish "harrumph". To that warning and it's obvious exasperation Balmung sobered somewhat. Though the Azure Sky's smile was still… a touch childish, impossibly young when set against the adult's face he wore like a mask.
They fell to waiting, waiting for the right moment, for Lios to decide what he could tell and for Balmung to scrap up the courage and brace for what he must hear. Still time dragged by, and unimportant Real matters buzzed about his head like disquiet discordant ghosts. Weary of it all Balmung shook his head, he was done with silence and perfect moments and the waiting that both entailed. He cleared his throat. "What can you tell me?" He dared.
"We both have our jobs, for the time being. Tokuoka is considered dangerous, we're working in and with the system, he's not. And that's the only reason we've got our respective character data right now.
Picking up a leaf (natural green, unnaturally spongy) he twiddled the stem between his fingers.
"What's company's orders?"
"Standby, wait until they give me orders that I'm to parrot at you."
"And what do you suggest?"
"We've reported data fluxing and hidden forbidden holy ground. Something our records showed happening before that dog thing appeared. It's barely discernable now, a ripple, but I's n abnormality, and needs looking over."
Setting the leaf aside, Balmung grinned. After five days of well… nothing, doing nothing, he was glad to have this much. To know he could help… it was enough.
"I haven't been to church for long time." The Azure Sky noted, only that.
"Don't go today, but don't wait till Sunday." Lios warned. "The Japanese investigation team will be having the place under surveillance for twenty four hours. Any abnormalities would be deleted on sight." A pointed look set to Balmung's wings said the rest.
"Now, day after tomorrow, when my team gets to watch the place…"
The Azure Sky nodded his understanding, than eyes thinned looked up at his boss. Half teasing, wholly curious, he dared. "So team "S" will take over watching while I work?"
"Team S?" Lios grumbled.
With a low chuckle, gold eyes squinted in mirth, the Admin shook his head. "No, not Spain."
And with that parting shot, the man named after a lion logged out.