As you all probably know, Force Monkeys is well underway, so I’ve got to be ending Got Ghand pretty soon. That means more time for Twist. That means more frequent chapters. That = good.
Send mail. New address, by the way. So be sure to send it there, and not to my old one.
And, uh... By the way...
Forget everything you thought you knew about the Deus Ex universe.
--- --- --- --- CHAPTER TWELVE
--- --- --- ---
A cooperating sensual binding of thought and senses... A homeless man coughed. Spittle flew into the air... It was vivid. Rain poured down, making the roads sleek and wet, stirring the filthy scent of city into the air. The clouds churned above. Night. All safety had fled.
Each step proved more exciting... Like he was accomplishing something, finally... The universe turned, and there was a blinding point of focus, and it was within him, and he knew it, and shaped it as sculptors do their sculptures. He knew all that was around him. And he walked through it. Down the center of the road... Slowly. In the wet blackness.
Dominic stopped. He stood in the center of the street in the rain. And he smiled.
He was feeling the world again. Like a marionette freed from its strings, there stood he, in the rain. Two police officer stared at him. Someone smoked a cigarette beneath shelter; The fumes it emitted bound with the very fibers of the universe and came only to Dominic. He knew what was there, and what was around the corner, and what was above him.
He walked again.
Shadows pooled hungrily over whatever surfaces they could find. Moments of gleaming light shimmering on surfaces that might mate with it broke the otherwise swallowing blackness.
The lights of Hong Kong illuminated everything.
Dominic slowly walked beneath those lights.
On occasion we have moments of breakthrough. Times when we feel we have discovered something wholly staggering, and some ultimate realization impacts us heavily. At that moment Dominic felt such a force upon him. Like the world was plain, though he had before seen it complex. Like there was beauty in what was around him, though he had before seen none. It was one of those times in which we better understand the universe and ourselves, though such things may be much too staggering for anyone to ever fully comprehend.
He looked up, and saw that up was not a direction, nor a boundary, but a possession.
His body blurred. That is the only way to describe it seen from eyes other than his. He blurred, darkly and violently, as though escaping from himself, and then he traveled, in such a means as is not easily imaginable. It was not flying, nor was it running. He simply moved - Sliced through space before him in a darkened haze of motion, traveling down a corridor not in our own perception or knowledge so that if someone were to look upon him as he traveled then they would see only a ripple, and then it would slither from their detection like a shadow into void.
He impacted. He impacted at such a velocity upon the window that he broke through it like tissue, and the resulting explosion of glass was fierce.
And his feet touched carpet.
Again he stood as a man, simple and vulnerable and obscene.
He did not recognize his location though he had guided himself to it. So he turned with a moments pause and glanced out the large window, which was now without glass, and saw that he was very high above the ground, in a penthouse comprising the pinnacle of... whichever building it was that he was in.
He turned again to face his surroundings.
The carpet was finely made and red. There was extravagant furniture filling the room which he occupied, and the walls were of intricately carved wood.
From somewhere came shouting; It occurred muffled and indistinct. Then footsteps.
Down the stairs came Maggie Chow.
Her face contorted beneath shock, then anger. In her hand was a gun.
She was beautiful.
She was a demon, born from the fires of all that might be called Hell.
Dominic walked to her - Though it seemed much too fast to be a walk, for he was before her in seconds - And the gun was in his hand. He fired into her. She crumpled as bodies do when they are emptied of life.
Men came, dressed in black and gray, their arms filled with tools of slaughter. They were armored and helmeted. They were MJ12. Bishop knew it when he saw them.
He went to them, quickly, in blurs. They shot at him, and perhaps hit him, for he was quickly drenched in red. He bled and he felt pain as men do and he thought as a man does and reacted as a man might, but Dominic Bishop, in all his flesh and blood, in his flood of motion through which he spilled the life fluids of his attackers, was not a man. He was not a human, though he before thought he was, and this came to him then as his revelation, his better understanding of everything at once, and yet, all at the same time, an encore of complications struck him.
They struck him so that he staggered from their force, so that he collapsed to his knees.
And yet it only calmed him.
His eyes watered and spilled tears. He was without his plague of pain. He was without the blue face that had been crippling him for so long. What he had to do was before him. What he had done and what he had once been vanished behind him as though part of him had wholly left altogether.
He took the Dragon’s Tooth from its pedestal (tucked in the hidden chambers of Miss Chow’s apartment, which were then empty), and was gone.
--- --- --- ---
There was blood in the streets.
The market of Wan Chai was emptied as though it had never been occupied by more than ghosts. Jess ran through it and stopped at a corner.
She did not know where they went... There were several of them. She hadn’t counted them all.
Rain poured in whatever gaps between the buildings that lacked roofing. It was as though the crashing torrent filled in those spaces entirely, creating hollowed chambers - prisons, almost - of stifled sight and sound. It was impossible to hear anything other than the crashing of water, which came so fast it sounded like the static of a neglected television.
But there was a footstep.
Jess turned, and pointed her large, silvery magnum - the reflections of the rain darted across it in a visual game.
She advanced towards the source of the noise.
Stopped at another corner, and leaned outwards, weapon pointed before her.
There was only a small shop, and within it sat an obese cat.
The cat stared in an uninterested manner at Jess, lazily lolling its tale. Careless. Sleep came even within the storm. It rolled onto its side.
The footstep sounded again.
She looked. She couldn’t determine its direction.
But then there was a flash of red, against the pouring rain, behind it, so that the color came chopped and smeared, a distorted costume of movement. She shot - The red-clad man screamed loudly and fell into the open, where the contents of his head spilled and mixed with the impacting rain.
That was one. The others were nowhere to be seen. Jess could only imagine that they had either fled, went into hiding, or were circling her now, as a predator does its prey.
The cat hissed.
Jess turned, ran, fired, sprinting as quickly as possible. Rain hit her in the face. She fired. Again. Bullets hit her targets. Two of them bled. One of them shot at her. She rolled.
There was a pause.
She leaned out from behind the wall, which a bullet struck, generating splintered debris. She squinted and fired at where the flash of light had split the air - There was no more firing.
Her chest heaved with breath. She staggered back behind the corner and sat, with her gun in her lap.
Gordon Quick’s corpse was before her. It stared blankly at the ground. A part of its neck had gone missing.
She breathed heavily. There was no more firing.
--- --- --- ---
The sky was calm.
Dominic stood on the slick pavement, and looked down upon it. It reflected everything so that there might have been a parallel world beneath him, so that while he might have been looking upon his own surroundings, there was indeed a second copy of the same Earth beneath his feet, turned upside down so that everything was reversed, and that is indeed how he felt. He looked upon the reflection of himself - or, rather, his second self - and saw only a man, standing in a city, in a world that was devoid of life, at peace, and rested. But where he stood existed only himself, something altogether opposite from what he saw before him, and the world was red, and the ground was dyed with the hue of blood. And there was no way he could break that barrier beneath his feet, just as there is no way to return to the past. He was no longer a man and the world was no longer innocent, if it had ever been, and the young species which he had once thought himself to belong to was as confused as a young species could possibly be.
There were corpses about him. Some wore red, some wore white. He recognized the split face of Gordon Quick. He saw dead policemen, and a military robot which had apparently been destroyed.
Burning flesh filled his nostrils.
He returned to the Luminous Path headquarters as quickly as possible. He ran. He ran so that his legs burned with the anger of exhaustion.
There was no longer a Luminous Path headquarters.
There was a pile of debris larger than any he could have ever imagined. More horrifying than anything he had ever previously seen.
He was on his back.
Looking towards the parting sky.
And there was a black dot.
It descended upon him so that he saw it was a helicopter.
--- --- --- ---
“There was light,” Jess said, shivering beneath the blanket draped about her shoulders. “That’ all I remember. Blinding light. I thought it had only been the Red Arrow, I shot several of them…” She stared at Dominic. “There was something else there. I can’t tell you how afraid I suddenly felt. There was something else there. You saw the destruction.” She paused and shook her head. “What can do that? What can destroy something that easily? All I remember is a light. And then I heard some of the most terrible sounds of my life. And then I woke up, and Jock stood over me…”
They had landed on an appropriate building somewhere in Hong Kong. They didn’t know where. They didn’t care.
Jaime was with them. Jock was there. Dominic, and Jess, and Alex.
Everyone else they had known was dead. Even Tong.
”Dominic,” Jock said suddenly, “You’re... Tong told us something, when we saw him last. About you.”
Bishop knew what was to be said before it was said.
Jock shook his head. “You’re not...”
He had the Dragon’s Tooth sheathed beneath his belt. He did not until then realize that he had no idea for what purpose he had gone to get it in the first place. But he had done so, almost as though he had been driven, but it was entirely his own doing. No, it was just that he knew it had to be done. He accomplished something… But then that accomplishment fell to ruin, along with Tong and his compound.
As far as he could see there were two forces at work. One directed him as an officer directs a soldier. The other destroyed, and did all it could to get in the way of the first.
--- --- --- ---
Dominic sat in the chair. In that chair raised above the floor, in which he had previously sat, in which he had conversed with the blue man.
He sat there now, and he rose, and the blue man entered the room.
This was only a product of his unconsciousness, Dominic knew, only an environment fabricated by his idle mind. But the blue man was real. He merely no longer had any power over Bishop.
“You defied me,” the blue man said.
“You used me,” Dom responded. “As a weapon.”
The blue man smiled. “Yes. I did. Because that is what you are. A weapon. In a sense.” He stopped. He went to the table to pour himself a drink, which he swallowed quickly. “You have capabilities beyond any other as you now know. I could have helped you master them. I could have helped you become the greatest power on this planet.”
“There is something more powerful than I.”
“Yes, and you saw it today. You saw what he can do. But you have already made your mistake of deceiving me. It was a small deception, I admit, but small deceptions only act as evidence of future deceptions. I have no more use for you, but I have no more control over you.”
The blue man paused and poured himself another drink.
“Which puzzles me, but it is a minor issue. You are as much of a threat to my objectives as a regular man.”
“What is it? What other weapon do you have? What caused so much destruction today?”
There was no answer.
Dominic lashed out and pinned the blue man against the wall. The drink was spilled onto the floor. Dominic shouted in the blue man’s face. “What did that today?! What was it?!”
The blue man only smiled.
“See, that is your disadvantage. You are foolish as a man is. You have the disadvantages of emotion. Emotion is always the folly of power. Always. Emotion ruins good things. No. What I have is better than you. You are hopeless without me. And you can do nothing about it. Good day.”