Worlds Adrift Chapter 57

“Big brother… Where are we?” Luna asked, sniffling after she stopped weeping. Looking around, Kain found a normal, if old alleyway. The ground was paved in cement, the buildings were made of concrete, and the little details like trash cans and sewer lids were present. Kain peered out into the street and saw cars rush by and pedestrians, wearing anything from grease-stained overalls to pristine business suits, pass.

“This is definitely a city. A human one at that,” Kain replied, looking deeper into the alley.

Luna’s teary eyes seemed to sparkle as her ears shot up. “A city!” she exclaimed quitely, “This is so cool!”

Kain held up a hand and her enthusiasm deflated a bit. “Well, it could be good depending on where you are. For all we know, this place could be hanging any foreigner they find or something.”

“Why would they do that?” Luna asked, tilting her head a bit.

Kain was about to answer when he thought for a bit. He wondered if he should tell her about how awful humans can be and how it might affect her. He was no nihilist, but he knew the capacity of humans to perform truly awful actions well enough. In the end, he took a middling approach, “Because… humans are erratic as a species. Maybe it’s like that for every sentient species, but I can vouch for its presence in humanity. We are capable of great evil and great virtue, no matter how irrational it may be at the time. Why would a city slaughter a demographic wholesale? Because that’s what the people with power decided. Be it the population as a whole, a government, or a single despot,” he explained. “Just remember this: we may find something awful here, but that is as much a part of humanity as I am.”

Only allowed on

Luna meekly nodded, “Okay… I’ll keep it in mind. I want to say that different types of humans from different places have different minds but… you and the Dubai Corporation humans have nearly identical brains,” Luna said. “Kain stared at her for a moment, wondering why she brought it up and thinking about any of the possible implications of the fact, but put it aside.

At that moment, the crystal in Luna’s hands pulsed lightly as an ethereal serpent formed in the air. “We got away, I hope?” Ythane asked. Both Kain and Luna nodded as the serpent grew red eyes. “Good… It is a shame that I could not kill the beast with my own claws but… this is better than death. So, where are we?”

“A human city,” Luna replied, cutting Kain off, “Big bro said that this place may have bad stuff. They might kill us.”

Ythane looked at Kain for a long moment, then began to eat at the air. After a moment, she stopped. “Hmm… they may have Ether, but it is weak. Very weak. Even though I can feel the small prick of Ether from… whatever place we just escaped from, it is still weak,” she muttered.

“Is that so?”

She nodded. “It is. This place would have been considered a backwater based on the Ether levels in my own world. The density was twice as much as this in moderately wealthy areas and thrice this much in the richest areas. My point is, if the humans of this city want to remove us, then they will fail. Badly. In fact, this place feels so… thin after being in that place for so long.”

Kain and Luna took deep breaths and came to the same conclusion. “It really is…”

“Huh! It is! Wait, what are we going to do now? Should we just go ask someone where we are?” Luna proposed.

Kain shook his head. “I don’t think so. If this place is… not friendly to any of us, then we may be in big trouble. We have the benefit of the rings I made, so we aren’t glaringly obvious to those around here. We just look like slightly powerful people. Except for Yth, she can do it on her own. But even if we can just use force, I don’t think that it’s a good idea. If we do, then… I don’t want that much blood on my hands. Killing some screeching Grunts who can’t figure out the difference between prey and predator is fine but killing a bunch of people with lives and jobs and families and hopes and dreams and… everything… I can’t handle it.”

Ythane cleared her ethereal throat, drawing attention. “What if someone wanted to kill you? We may be near-gods in terms of Ether concentration, but are still able to die. Barely. If some oaf with a weapon that can split atoms throws that at you then you are not coming out alive. If some idiot with a deadly enough plague puts that in you then you are not coming out alive. My point is that we need to be willing to take a life to save our own. If you can’t do that then… I’ll have to,” she said, surprising both Kain and Luna, “Look, we all know that, despite our friendliness, we don’t really know each other. We may be strangers, but I care about both of you. We may have known each other for long, but you two are all I have, and I won’t lose that.”

The group stood in silence for a long moment, letting the flooding noise of cars passing, people going about their lives, and distant factories churning fill the space left. Finally, Kain broke the silence, “I… You make a good point. I won’t risk any of us just to make me feel better. I just… never liked the idea of having blood on my hands,” he conceded.

Luna tilted her head for a moment, and asked a question, “But aren’t you a weapons designer? Doesn’t that mean that anyone who dies is your fault in some way?” she asked innocently. Kain adopted a slightly stunned and contemplative expression while Ythane shook her head.

“In some ways, yes,” Ythane began, “But in others, that is not the case. There are those that design weapons to make war a much less personal affair and there are those that design weapons to make a profit. The Steel Legion was designed to save the lives of many Duvalid. Whatever mentally deficient individual sold weapons and armor to the Titans did so to make money. There are nuances, I believe,” she summarized, giving Kain pause once more. Luna thought for a moment and simply nodded in understanding. “Either way, I believe that it would be a good idea to leave this area. We are quite suspicious here, so close to prying eyes.”

“Hmm… I like it! Let’s go!” Luna agreed.

“I suppose we don’t have much of a choice, do we?” Kain wondered.

“Good, let’s go,” Ythane said simply as her ethereal body sunk into her crystal, red eyes sticking to the surface of the soul gem. Kain and Luna shrugged and ventured into the alleys of the unfamiliar city.


The overhead light flickered on as the mana switch was activated. The room was not filthy by any stretch, but was in clear disrepair. Like everything else in the slums. The windows were more wood than glass, there were cracks in the walls showing the electrical and mana wiring behind, and the furniture of the one room apartment was old and nearly rotting. Mary threw the sword she had stolen from the soldiers to the ground and climbed into bed, exhausted. 

“This is my life now, isn’t it?” she said vacantly.

[What is?] Abe asked. 

Mary sighed, tossing over to look at the ceiling. “My father is dead, I’m a wanted fugitive, the target of my revenge is gone, and I have the soul of an electrician in my heart. Everything changed… so much. Too much,” she spoke wistfully.

[You’re telling me.] Abe grumbled, [I literally don’t have a body, just killed hundreds of people, and am in a different world. No offense, but I think I take the cake here. The worst part is that it feels like something just… broke.]

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Mary got up while Abe spoke and walked over to her cabinet, grabbing a small box of dried fruit and sitting in her chair to eat them. At the end of Abe’s sentence, she paused. “Broke… Broke how? Are you alright?” she asked worriedly.

[I don’t know how to explain it… I was practically wailing in pain, in regret, in agony when you touched my core, but at the moment when we fused… It all seemed irrelevant. Maybe it’s a quirk of the soul-core. I don’t know. Now… All I really care about is keeping you alive and happy. It’s f****** wierd! It feels like constant clarity, but something feels wrong! Like I’m missing something important. Like I left home without a left sock or without a stud finder or something else. It’s just… so strange.]

Mary, stunned to silence, tried to think of an answer for a moment. She liked Abe in a way that was entirely dissimilar to a lover, brother, or even friend. He felt like… a part of her. She shook her head, realizing how weird it was to think like that. It was almost as if she couldn’t imagine being without Abe. She disliked the feeling as much as Abe did, but couldn’t blame him for it. He was as much a victim as she was. He didn’t want to be fused with a constant reminder of his dead pseudo-sister but he was stuck. And so was she. She breathed in and out for a few moments and finally worked up the courage to reply, “I think it is both of us that were affected. I can’t imagine life without you and you can’t without me. What was the word you used for it? Yin and Yang? We’re kind of like the two halves of the same whole. At this point… we need to draw the lines and make the ground rules. If nothing other than to keep our sanity,” she said. Only after saying it did she realize that she had veered off from what she originally wanted to say and may have hurt Abe’s feelings along the way.

Abe was quiet for a moment, but she suddenly realized that she could feel what he was feeling. His emotions were abruptly laid bare for her to feel and she could feel the same happening to her emotions to him. At that moment, he was feeling panic, likely from the oddity around their emotions or the changes to his psyche, and relief, which she was clueless as to its origins. [Ground rules… That’s a good place to start. Alright. Rule 1: neither of us should use that emotional link without permission from the other.]

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