Concept 0-4

Adrien sat alone at a console later that day, mostly trying to get the happenings between Ella-Louise and Vernier out of his head. People were nothing but trouble in general. As much as he loved people, that was the truth. He leaned back in his chair, staring up at the ceiling and sighed.

Adrien? S spoke directly into Adrien’s mind with a tone of surprise.

“Oh… right,” Adrien replied verbally, leaning forward and getting back to work. He and S had been making all the necessary arrangements for the aug operation Hoburg had queued him for next week.

It was still fairly early in the morning. As per Hoburg’s orders, Adrien had contacted Alice Sterling, who had promptly replied saying a last-minute schedule change had left her free to meet Adrien for lunch and perform the review afterwards. Not having any other immediate obligations, Adrien had agreed to meet her then. Between now and then, S and Adrien were collaboratively tying up all the other loose ends of Adrien’s promotion and augmentation.

After Sullivan’s death, two of Sullivan’s Sub-Investigators took psych leave. Consequently, Adrien was supposed to supply two of his own replacement candidates before he took over the Northwestern case.  But Adrien could not find anyone he considered suitable and was thinking of chalking it up to Hoburg to leave the case understaffed on account of hazard assessment. All the possible candidates were simply too green to be faced with potentially life-threatening situations.

He also had to finalize which doctor would handle his post-aug therapy. There were two doctors to choose from, and Adrien had decided to go with the greener Dr. Alexandra DeGange, a young woman who was his age, rather than the much older and more grizzled Dr. Gregory Wilson.

Dr. Wilson was notorious for having some of the harshest post-op psych evals on the planet. He’d met Wilson once, and based on that singular larger-than-life encounter, Adrien decided he wanted something a little more down-to-earth when he was dealing with the post-aug psych trauma.

The psych trauma. Adrien took a deep breath and exhaled loudly. A woman’s touch would probably be good for him when he was dealing with that. That was one thing no one could be prepared for.  Getting augs was just about the most painful thing in the world, physically and mentally. Every case was unique and different, and though the process was completely safe, everyone came out a changed person. Some people came out calmer and more at peace; others seemed to become gripped by an otherworldly determination and razor-sharp focus, stripped almost completely of their humanity and replaced with cold-hard objectivity.

Adrien wondered what would become of him in that regard.

Momentarily, he visited upon the thought that Ella-Louise was afraid of how the augmentation procedure would’ve changed Vernier. In a way, augs were a different kind of human altogether. Adrien smiled at the thought. He saw it as a new frontier, and it struck up the adventurous spirit within him. The augmentation procedure would be a new beginning.

 

Concept 0-3

Ella-Louise vouched for you? S asked rhetorically, more to express his interest to Adrien.

As if to grind on Adrien’s nerves, Ella-Louise herself coincidentally turned the corner directly ahead of Adrien, headed straight in his direction. She smiled as soon as she saw him, waving her hand eagerly.

And Adrien, of course, instantly dropped all his lingering sentiments and was utterly ecstatic as he greeted Ella-Louise. “Hey El!” He called out cheerfully using her nickname, a playful concatenation of her first-name’s initials.

She smiled warmly in Adrien’s direction. “Hoburg?” She asked, curious. She already had an idea about what had transpired. Adrien could tell. He could tell everything about her, and he gulped with the thought. He reached out and placed his hand on her shoulder, just wanting to feel her, to touch her warmth. His fingers almost clenched, almost tightened into her flesh, emphasizing to her how much she truly meant to him — but he stopped himself. His smile broke into an all-out grin instead. Some part of him clung to her, not wanting to let go, and in quiet reward for his self-restraint, the moments rolled by in pleasant slumber like years as he gazed into her eyes.

She didn’t do anything to remove his hand, she only smiled fondly at him. He felt her pulse slacken with his. Not infatuation, but contemplative attraction.

He stared into her eyes for a moment, and he knew that she knew — in that moment — everything he had to say. Because she knew him, better than Hoburg, better than Vernier even: she was and always would be…

“Congratulations,” she said quietly, reaching her arms around him and pulling him into an embrace. He exhaled and breathed deeply as she did this, almost resisting unintentionally but letting her draw him towards her at the last moment as he tried to maintain his composure while his heartbeat quickened.

He did not try and wrap his arms around her, instead he just stood in her embrace, letting her keep him there for as long as she wanted. She continued to hold him, and at last said:

“When I told Vernier I’d vouched for you, he was furious.”

Adrien was quiet. He knew this was what she’d really wanted to talk to him about.

“I told him why… I told him that I didn’t want him taking the risk of getting augmented and then becoming a different person; I told him I wanted him just the way he was.

“But he snapped back saying that I loved you more than he did, and that he honestly wondered if…”

Adrien could feel his throat tighten because he already knew what she was going to say.

“… if we should stay together,” she barely whispered.

Adrien hugged her tighter. They spent a minute like this, enveloped in a shell of silent contemplation.

Finally, Adrien spoke. “It’s okay,” Adrien said, gentle and optimistic. “Vernier’s going to be okay. I’ll talk to him.”

Of course, the reason she had vouched for Adrien over Vernier, was because she loved Vernier as her husband; because she wanted to keep Vernier safe. In contrast to Vernier, Adrien was expendable. Vernier, the father of her two children.

Adrien felt his heart throb and he drew her away so she wouldn’t feel his emotions in his pulse.

He smiled with sincere warmth towards her, and she in return. They withdrew from their embrace, each walking their separate paths without a backwards glance.

Adrien Cristof was Msec. That’s all he would ever be. Vernier Fallon had the privilege of being something more: of being human. And Adrien would make damn well sure Vernier realized it.

***

Adrien, your norepinephrine and dopamine levels are precursory to an episode, S communicated soothingly, his suggested course of action implicit.

Adrien didn’t want any chemical inhibitors. Not now. He wanted to feel what he was feeling — and he trusted S could ensure he wouldn’t have an actual episode. I’m fine, he responded silently, walking faster in reaction.

But Adrien could sense S’ disapproval.

“I’m fine,” he emphasized verbally,  enjoying the sound of his own voice. Then, silently, he added: I trust you’ll make sure I don’t do anything I’ll regret, S.

Of course, replied S, comfortingly. Adrien could sense that this appeased S and felt a tinge of gratefulness that he had such an understanding partner as S.

S quietly slunk into the depths of Adrien’s subconscious, waiting patiently for the time when he would be needed.

***

S was aroused by the sensation of rivers of hot liquid, blood-like in viscosity and color, raging about him in roaring currents. The skies here were dark and cloudless; the world itself was nothing more than an infinite expanse of blood whirlpools and waters.

Here, S had a physical form, a human body. It was Adrien’s subconscious manifestation of S into a physical form. He was waist-deep in the warm crimson waters, garbed in raiments of darkest ebon; his flowing, silken dark-brown hair dripping with the foul liquid he was immersed in.

From nowhere in particular came the sudden agonizing howl of tempestuous winds; and the surface of the vast oceans of blood frothed and sprayed. Though the skies were black and devoid of light, an eerie twilight permeated the atmosphere, seemingly coming from everywhere and nowhere. The twilight was accentuated beautifully by brilliant flashes of lightning that arced overhead, illustrating the infinitely hopeless expanse of unbroken dark. This was the current manifestation of Adrien’s subconscious onto a plane of conscious abstraction.

S: Stop.

And suddenly, the gushing blood stopped; the howling winds halted; the brilliant sparks of lightning ceased. It was dark, then, but quiet. But there was a rumbling, a vibration that came from all around, a deep disconcerting trembling that rocked every molecule of this universe and grew until it had turned into a damning voice reeking of violently pure cognizance:

SubL: No. Why?

SubN: No.

SubOM: (chanting) Noooo-oooooo. Nooooo-oooooo.

The chanting echoed and resonated everywhere, the din growing and diminishing in a cascading cacophony of rhythmic cadences, turning the world into an ocean of sound that sung out defiantly against S, battering against him with relentless, fervent opposition.

S: STOP.

Now S’ voice boomed out over it all, and the blood around him boiled suddenly and was pushed back with meteoric force, causing tsunamis that seemed they could engulf even the tallest of skyscrapers. The blood waters imploded back upon S after, submerging him completely in blood. He stood there, quiet, awaiting Adrien’s subconscious response.

SubL: NO.

SubN: Why?

SubOM:  (chanting) Noooo-oooooo. Nooooo-oooooo.

S was alone in a vast subconscious that was swarming around him, brimming with unbridled energy. He was tackling the core of Adrien’s being, the dark subliminal anger that was the centerpiece of Adrien’s focus and drive. Suddenly the blood that S was submerged beneath became nauseating and intolerable: it began to suffocate S ruthlessly, trying to extinguish his existence within this sacred but ominous realm.

But it could not. Again and again, S beat back the blood, the emotion, relentlessly and with matched vehemence and ferocity. And at last, the tsunamis began to die unrealistically into gentle rolling waves; the skies grew in light, the twilight replaced with a pre-dawn aura; clouds settled in where there was once infinite emptiness. A gentle, warm drizzle began, and the last change: the blood turned to water of crystal-clarity.

As peace of a sort returned, S stood — or perhaps he floated — waist-deep in the water. There was no ground, no sand. But he stood there.

Though S himself had no notion of a physical body, Adrien did, and therefore Adrien’s projection of his subconscious onto a higher mental abstraction often resulted in analogies that only made sense to a physical body. The sense of choking, of trying to breathe and failing. The oceans of blood, the dark skies, the lightning, the howling wind.

The sense of being pulled away by the currents of emotion.

S felt his chest. Adrien’s subconscious provided him this body, this encapsulation of S’ higher mental processes — and part of that included a heart. Some part of S was enthralled as he felt his own physical heart beat with life. These were his heartbeats.

S was enraptured. To have a physical body was a beautiful thing, and though he was free from wants, S couldn’t help but feel, if there was one thing he wanted, it was to have a human body, to be able to touch and hold Adrien as only another human could. He loved Adrien… he’d watched Adrien grow from an infant into the man he was today.

A gentle warmth radiated out from S’ body.

The darkness suddenly calmed, then was savagely sucked away in all directions with a frightening howl. S stood alone. A scene began to paint itself out, drawing upon Adrien’s memories and directed by the love radiating from S. A beautiful scene: clear blue skies, a valley surrounded on all sides by crisp snow-capped peaks. In the valley, a single hill, and upon that hill, a singular tree. A gentle breeze stirred and tousled the hair of a young Adrien who lay beneath the shade of the tree, his eyes closed.

There was something interesting about the scene: as S looked around, the edges of his vision, left-right-up-down, everything was elongated and stretched out, as if he was perpetually viewing the world through a wide-angle lens.

Suddenly, the effect multiplied and the entire world seemed to become stretched out. Then the world began to stretch and compress, to grow and shrink to a natural, organic rhythm. Colors began to bleed out of boundaries and into other objects; the sun’s orange bled into the sky’s blue and created patches of green; the tree’s leaves began to melt into Adrien’s still, peaceful body.

On a beach, his feet digging into the sand, S watched as the tide ebbed and flowed, pulling closer each time. At last it got to his bare feet, submerging his toes in seawater.

Some distance away, there was a cliff that erupted defiantly from the sea, some hundred feet into the air. The relentless tide crashed noisily upon the base of the cliff, millennia of scarring evident upon its hard, darkened body.

S watched Adrien, who was walking arm-in-arm with a woman whose face was hidden beneath a wide-brimmed straw hat she wore for shade. Dark blonde curls of her silken hair bounced as she walked with Adrien, and S heard the slight tinkle of her charming laughter over the din of the sea.

Then, suddenly, that’s all S could hear. Just her voice, her breathing, her heart. S could smell her, could feel her body-heat, could recollect all the countless moments he’d spent with this woman…

No, all the moments that Adrien had spent with this woman. S became alarmed — it was becoming tough to distinguish who was S and who was Adrien in this subconscious projection.

Quietly, S let go of the world and it all vanished into motes of colored pixels that floated upon an infinite sea of blackness. But her scent remained, and S felt his heart throb one final time as his body disintegrated and he retreated from Adrien’s subconscious.

There was no more violence.

***

Adrien was furious as he slammed open Vernier Fallon’s office and stormed inside. He issued an unspoken command to S, requesting S to enact subconscious emotional restraints. It was not something Adrien did typically, but this was not a typical situation.

Vernier himself sat at a console with his back turned to Adrien, and was utterly unphased by the commotion.

Adrien stood behind Vernier, a stern expression on his face.

“You brought up divorce?”

Vernier turned his head, just enough that he could glance at Adrien from the corner of his eye. Then he turned back to his console, response-less. A moment of silence passed, during which the most dominant sound was Adrien’s infuriated breathing.

“She vouched for you instead of me,” Vernier said quietly.

“So she could protect you.”

“BULLSHIT,” Vernier raged, standing up violently and knocking his chair back. Then, suddenly quiet again, he added: “she loves you as much as she loves me.”

Adrien could say nothing. He could only see Ella-Louise’s face when Vernier said that; could only remember how deeply affectionate she was towards him. Adrien could only feel shame thinking how much Ella-Louise meant to him; sweet Ella-Louise whom he wanted so much to touch and hold and smell, but could not. His darling Ella-Louise who had left him for Vernier without any clear reasoning; his wonderful Ella-Louise who had twisted and contorted his heart in ways he could never have imagined.

“I can’t live with you, Adrien. But I will always love you,” she’d slid her fingers across his scratchy chin, turning his head and then kissing him gently goodbye.

Adrien shook his head, now calm and mostly pervaded by a sense of quiet understanding. “That’s not true, and you know it,” he said softly but dangerously.

“Yeah,” Vernier sighed. He took a deep breath, then sighed again, harder. “I…” Vernier winced as he tried to bring himself to say it.

“Can’t help it,” Adrien snapped. Then soothingly: “I know.”

Vernier got up with Adrien watching carefully. He stood a moment, his eyes turned guiltily towards the floor. “I’ll go fix this,” he said finally, his voice hardened with certainty.

“You pull something like this again, and we’ll exchange more than mere words,” Adrien said as he felt S retreating from his subconscious, his violent impulses allayed.

Vernier chuckled. “Just try me.”

Adrien couldn’t help but chuckle with him.

May God Forgive

He sits there quiet, just sipping
Not a word spoken, just flipping
Through pages of gold and brown
Leaves angels left lyin’ ’round,

Her voice marks the distance ‘tween dawn and dusk;
The longing I have to watch the dust
Settle ever gently
Upon my grave

There’re no words to be said ’bout my poetry,
Its uselessness
Spent on hatred
Drinkin’ and thinkin’… I’m better off dead;

She said she might like to come join me
Some day
Upon an eve
Encrusted in… summer solstice;

My birthday comes ’round just at that time
But the only shine
On that golden day:
The glint of steel… as I take a knife

Of course I’m alone as it’s done,
The only words
Spoken then
“May God forgive… all my sins.”

Concept 0-2

It was interesting how the world’s roadways had evolved. Adrien stared upwards at the seemingly unending spacetowers, a colloquialism given to the mega-rise structures that penetrated far past the clouds and the historical “skyscrapers” that ceased to exist beyond the 22nd century. Times had changed. Attitudes had changed.

Despite the availability of magstreams and maglev cars, Adrien much preferred the roadways. He loved the feel of the automobile as it wound down the perfectly-paved, mostly-empty streets. He often imagined what it must have been like in the past, crowded with people. What public transportation must have been like, the bustling of a crowded station, the sensation of being a part of the teeming mass of humanity that comprised a city populous.

Everything is… darker.

A song popped into his mind.

Everyone is…

“Darker,” He sang quietly, then smiled.

***

Thom Hoburg  was sitting at the head of the conference room table, his back to the large bay windows that let in brilliant beams of sunlight, intently reading something on his personal tablet.

The clean-cut creases upon Hoburg’s face tightened somewhat as he heard rapid footsteps from outside.

“Good morning.” Adrien said casually as he flung the doors open and entered the room. Hoburg nodded vaguely in reply, still immersed in what he was reading and his own thoughts. Adrien quietly sat down in a chair across from him, kicking back on the legs of the table so he rolled away a bit while spinning.

When he came to a stop, Adrien was staring out the window. He put his hand up to his eyes to block some of the light and continued to stare, watching the clouds roll past the windows, the ground below hardly visible.

Some minutes passed.

Finally, Hoburg said without looking up: “Good work handling the Southwestern insurgents.”

Adrien shrugged noiselessly. “It was mostly Faulkner.”

“Not according to the Committee,” Hoburg looked up and quietly turned off his tablet’s display. The Committee was an oversight network of SIs that monitored all personal SI neural lace feeds 24/7. An automated inquisitorial board, if you would.

Suddenly, as if he could hold it in no more, Hoburg added: “Sullivan was killed by a high-pressure coolant explosion while he was investigating an aberrant SI at a Northwestern facility.”

Adrien raised an eyebrow and his expression became furled. Sullivan was a senior field agent at Msec and a good friend of Hoburg’s — he wouldn’t be killed so easily. Certainly not by something as unlikely as a coolant explosion: either Hoburg was lying about the cause of death, or someone had pre-meditated Sullivan’s murder.

Adrien guessed it was most likely the latter.

Hoburg continued. “His invitrion endoskeleton remained, but the coolant managed to pierce his skull-casing and obliterate his brain and his SI.”

Adrien looked quietly at the floor, trying to make sense of this. “I’m sorry for our loss, sir.”

Hoburg nodded, his eyes darting to the side, pupils directed towards the wall. No doubt all of this was much harder on Hoburg than he let on.

Hoburg continued gazing at the wall from the corners of his eye-sockets, for some reason avoiding looking at Adrien’s face. He added quietly: “In response, the Committee’s decided that they need a Master Investigator who’s…” Hoburg stopped there, the gravity of what he was about to say pressing upon his mind and chest.

“More daring,” Hoburg finally finished after a long moment’s pause.

“Who have they picked?” Adrien asked, contemplating that Hoburg had rephrased the Committee’s actual words, likely because the decision was something that didn’t sit so well with Hoburg himself.

Hoburg nodded, finally looking back at Adrien. “You.”

The monosyllable reply hung in the air.

Hoburg had never liked Adrien. He’d always seen Adrien as a wildcard: a beast that could not be tamed and therefore had to be kept caged. But he had to admit, the insurgents were animals, and it was only fitting to let a beast hunt other animals.

And Adrien… well, he was a thorough-bred predator if Hoburg had ever seen one; an animal whose entire genetics were founded upon the thrill of the hunt. Adrien didn’t even know it, but Hoburg could see it: Adrien was a murdering machine whose only redeeming factor was that he’d been raised in a time and age where he could not evoke his best traits.

Adrien looked up. Almost as if he could read Hoburg’s deepest thoughts, the furl upon his brow grew into a full-out frown.

“What about –”

“Don’t say ‘what about Vernier.’ Even Ella-Louise vouched for you, and she’s his wife,” Hoburg snapped back, a touch of his contempt towards Adrien seeping into his words. Don’t pretend like you care was what Hoburg truly thought. He closed his eyes to rid himself of the biased opinion which he knew to be untrue. Adrien was still human, and he was still empathetic.

Hoburg, briefly, recalled what Sullivan had been like before getting augmented and after getting augmented. It had been over 20 years ago that Hoburg and Sullivan had been heatedly debating whether or not the two of them should get augmentations.

Sullivan had decided to go for it. Hoburg had not, preferring to remain completely biological.

They’d had a falling out before the operation and Hoburg had quietly assumed that he and Sullivan would never be friends again. But after the operation, Sullivan changed. He became… more composed, more empathetic. He and Hoburg had made up their differences and become even greater friends in the process.

Perhaps, Hoburg reasoned, the augmentation process would have a similar effect on young Adrien. “This is about you, Adrien,” he added softly.

Adrien nodded grimly and turned his eyes to the floor, staring intently at as he disappeared into a bout of intense introspection.

Some part of Adrien was ecstatic, despite Sullivan’s death. Sullivan, who had been his mentor when he had first been accepted into Msec. A sense of disgust pervaded his self-consciousness as he realized he was more happy for the promotion than he was sad for the loss of Sullivan. But he put it aside. That he felt some disgust was a healthy enough sign that he was not himself a bad person. Any further caustic self-judgement was counter-productive, something he’d learned a long time ago.

“You have the opportunity to get augmented now,” Hoburg said after carefully examining Adrien for a few minutes. He turned to stare out the window with a deep breath, his back now facing Adrien. “I’ve booked you for an O.R. next week, you’re free to take it or leave it.”

A slight sigh escaped Adrien’s lips as he looked up. “I’m sorry for our loss, sir,” was all his flustered mind could muster to repeat.

Hoburg nodded silently, actually consoled by the words. “I received your message regarding the Beijing financial SI. I’m assigning Ryan Juris to the case in your stead so you can start taking care of your new tasks as Master Investigator — the first of which is to contact Alice Sterling and schedule a review for the new Kusanagi-series exoskeleton armor.

“In the meantime, make a decision about getting augmented. You’re assigned Sullivan’s case either way.”

“Yes, sir,” Adrien nodded, his mind a flurry. He remembered Ryan Juris and concluded Ryan was an excellent replacement choice. As for whether or not to get augmented… Adrien bit his lower lip slightly as he drew blank uncertainty.

Hoburg waved his hand, indicating Adrien was dismissed. Tight-lipped and intense, Adrien swiftly got up and left, leaving Hoburg to contemplate things by himself.

Concept 0-1

The oceans. We all came from them.

Maybe that’s why I love floating in the water so much.

I wonder if our ancient ancestors, the ones we evolved from, I wonder if they stared at the sun — reached out for it. I wonder if that’s why they escaped from the water onto the land.

The sun’s shining down. Refractive patterns shimmer upon the ocean floor. I reach out and touch them. Suddenly, I realize it’s all so surreal. I breathe. I can breathe. I can breathe underwater.

I look up at the sun and reach out. Slowly, everything else in my vision disappears into the radiant brightness of the sun.

I wake up. The sun’s shining on my face through a crack in the curtains.

“God damnit” he muttered under his breath as he angrily tore himself out of his covers and sat up in bed, his feet hanging off the side. He sighed and rested his head in his hands, letting gravity help pull his shadowed eye-sockets into the balls of his palms as he gently massaged the sleep out of his eyeballs.

He rested that way for a moment and sighed again.

**

Adrien Cristof got into the backseat of the automobile he’d flagged down and slammed the door shut. The emotion from the dream he’d had that morning still lingered in his mind: the warmth, the sensation of floating, the beauty of the golden sun…

He closed his eyes with a squinting expression and shook his head briefly but violently, trying to dislodge the lingering thoughts and emotions. He opened his eyes again as he tapped the base of his neck to reactivate his companion SI who, for lack of originality, he’d grown habituated to calling S.

Good morning, Adrien, S’ warm and melancholy voice sang hauntingly into his skull. Msec?

“Yeah,” Adrien replied verbally. The automobile began to accelerate and steer itself as S tapped into the controls. Usually Adrien de-abstracted the instructions, perusing the SI’s command interface for his own enjoyment. But today, he was not in the mood.

Having access to Adrien’s brain through his neural lace, S understood this. In fact, S could interpret and read Adrien’s thoughts with uncanny accuracy and knew exactly what was bothering him and why. Despite this, for Adrien’s own human comfort, S put up the guise of a normal conversation, the kind Adrien might have with a good friend who happened to be able to read his expressions instead of a construct able to parse the thoughts in his mind.

Another bad dream? S asked gently.

“Actually, it was a good one.”

Oh?

He shrugged and sighed. Sometimes the fact that Adrien knew S was just faking it bothered him. This happened to be one of those times.

Sorry, S said in response.

It’s okay. Adrien communicated telepathically. It was never S’ fault. Just…

I can call up Ella-Louise if you’d like, S spoke up.

Just, sometimes Adrien wanted to speak with a real human. S had read that subconscious thought before Adrien’s conscious had fully registered it. Adrien smiled. A lot of people found SIs to be too invasive and often chose to live out their lives subjugating their companion SIs to menial roles. Adrien found S’ perspective to be tart and refreshing; a breath of fresh air and a way to escape from the pointless frailties of human friendship.

The sentiment of wanting to talk to a real human passed.

“Nah, S, no need to bother her,” Adrien said decisively.

The oceans are nice, though, S retorted. Especially when you have someone to go with.

Already S had jumped onto the topic of the dream itself. “It might be soothing to use some of those vacation days you have saved up, Adrien.”

Adrien chuckled. “Yeah, maybe.”

It was one of the rare occasions where the idea of a vacation actually appealed to him. “S, what’s on the agenda for today?”

Your usual 9 o’clock with Hoburg, but you already knew that. There are corroborated reports of SI failsafe malfunctions for an intranet of financial SIs operating in Beijing.

Adrien nodded. “Contact the officials responsible for the Beijing SIs and tell them I’ll need a listing of all the personnel they’ve been using to conduct the failsafe evals, and that all involved personnel should be briefed to report to me at…”

9 am tomorrow morning. S finished. I can arrange for an intercontinental transport around 8 am.

“An ICT that soon? Perfect. Oh, and of course, notify Sullivan about our plans.”

Wouldn’t want to keep the chief in the dark, now would we? S said, playing on Adrien’s sense of humor.

Adrien chuckled. “Of course not.” Then, in a serious tone he added, “Not about these things, anyways.”

True Suicide

in darkness dreary, so tired and weary,
weather-worn and cast-aside
rock-like features and leather hide
a beast in all but inside;

his head so leaden, full of dread,
decides ’tis time to die;
no more living among the dead
only to die on the inside.

in twilight eerie, taut and teary,
he sits with gun beside,
for hours at length, brimming fury,
unable to muster to die.

“If only ’twas so easy”, mutters he,
imagining vividly, suicide;
“No more wishing” he breathes succinctly
muzzle-to-eye, peering inside.

With a click, a flash, a bloody splash,
her mind’s insides now reside
across the sheets and red bed-sides.
Still alive, he gently sighs —

“Killing love is true suicide.”

Darkness Fruit

Darkness falls, darkness calls
    green apple trees resolve
those stoutest souls still naive
    to grow, to blossom, to ripen and seed
to try, to strive, to bleed for dreams.
    Come fall, their fruit afoot,
quickly turns to pungent mash
    rotting, trampled, underfoot;
scrounged by the forbidden caste
    but therein their seeds are sown
forgotten beneath men's soles
    years later to rise, to shade
the true fruits of artists' souls.

Love

that so wicked a thought
  ought, for its ephemeral part
to lure me so surely
  atwixt nagging boughs overhanging
thin twisted tendrils latching
  pulling passerby found matching
catching lesser men and scratching
  those powerful few able to eschew
the flowery fragrance and bosom's view.