|The Null Master And The Ex-Keeper Converse
||[Jan. 18th, 2006|10:32 pm]
Nielthunn stared at the moving corpse until the flame in its eyes flickered and went out. All of a sudden it was heavy and still, as corpses should be.
"Been shouting down far too many ghosts today...sorry. Are you alright?"
The man before Nielthunn was dark-skinned, his eyes white and sunken between the lines on his face. Idly looking down at the dying corpse under his foot, the null master returned Nielthunn’s gaze and simply responded, “I’ll live. You came at a good time... didn’t know that the OIS people still helped their own kind.”
Nielthunn sighed in a manner indicating that he was far too tired to get angry about anti-Machine sentiment. "Somebody's got to protect people from eachother. Nielthunn Zagy. And you are?"
The man before Nielthunn paused briefly, as if unsure of his own name, and watched the OIS man carefully, as if weighing his objectives. Finally, he replied, “Harlow Fisben. I’m just passing by... this man attacked me and my companion, we were just leav...”
He was interrupted in mid-sentence by the one woman who had watched the entire event unfold - Lish Gayue, a face Nielthunn all too well, was slowly approaching him, her hands held out to him. Her sunken, unearthly-looking eyes widened and startled, she walked forward slowly to the former Zagy, calling softly, “Benjy? Benjy?”
"You'll excuse me Mr. Fisben."
And with that, the OIS worker walked right past 'Harlow' to someone he hadn't seen in seven years. "Lish? Oh, oh man...where's Benjy? How are you here?" Hands met shoulders, and Niel looked her straight in her eyes.
How he wished he could see his brother's reflection in those eyes.
Her skin was cold, pallid like an anemia victim, and as she stared back at Nielthunn, comprehension dawned in her maddened eyes, and slowly, she stepped back from him.
“You’re... you’re not...” Her words were slow, almost slurred, and then her eyes widened once more with dawning recognition. “Oh god. Neil. Neil, you’re... we thought you were...”
"You thought I was?" He had to burst out with a chuckle. "You thought I was what? I thought you two were dead? Where did you run? What names -"
And then he stopped himself. He had to, or he'd just start asking questions and never stop. He was giddy, he was babbling, and he couldn't help it. Inhaling deeply, he calmed down. "What just happened, Lisha?" He turned to the man with yet another name.
"You protected her from him, didn't you?"
But the man who called himself Harlow just shook his head, and indicated to Lisha with his right hand. The former Gayue looked away now, away from Nielthunn, not responding to his questions. “I remember now. I remember everything.” Her face looked to the dark-skinned ‘Harlow’, for a brief moment, who was watching the exchange with rapt attention. He furrowed his brow, and took a step to her, but she retreated.
“No,” she whispered, looking away from him as well. “Don’t come any closer. I’m... no. I’m not. I can’t...” Her hand fumbled against where her heart was, and her breath became rapid, panicked. “This can’t be. I can’t be. It's all wrong.”
Her large eyes looked back to Niel again, and with both hands, she pressed his fingers against her neck. “Feel it. Do you feel it? There’s nothing. No pulse, it’s gone...”
Her voice choked at the last word, and she looked down, her shoulders shaking as her arm went to Nielthunn’s shoulder once more.
It takes him an eternity to realize it. Or ten seconds. He can't remember.
Niel stands there, confused, with his hand to her neck, and suddenly realizes that he's been conversing with a dead girl. And just as suddenly realizes he can't tell if she's been magicked. No smell, no Aspect, no hint.
And if she's dead, and waylaid by Gayue Keepers after her death, where is Ben...
Enough. This is going to take more talking than could be done on a street.
He shakes his head to clear his thoughts. The timing is bad enough - he needed to get back to Synthia and the investigation. "We'll talk about it in a second. Mr. Harlow, please help me deal with the body. I'll file a report and we can get some Forensics down here to deal with it. In the meantime, you two should stay right here."
“I’ll help with the body,” said Harlow quickly. “But if you don’t mind, I’d rather not be here when any machines arrived. I’m allergic to them - I hope you understand.” His eyes flicked to Lisha briefly as he spoke to Nielthunn, and though the man acted cool and confident, his eyes betrayed a second meaning in his words.
Lisha, meanwhile, looked down quietly at the body strewn on the ground, her eyes going back into a blank, detached gaze as she remembered who the man was before his death.
Just as before, Niel did not have the energy to worry about human dissent. People were not going to like them, and Niel accepted that. Hell, Niel didn't like them. He could spare Harlow his 'allergies'.
He pulled a little notepad and pen out. The notes actually had fields of entry and signature, and fine print at the bottom. A few seconds of scribbling and a rip, and Harlow suddenly found himself holding an official piece of paper.
"Harlow Fisben, you have just been temporarily deputized. Your duty is to ensure that no one disturbs the crime scene. Please inform all the worried people currently staring at us from their windows not to be concerned and that they should cooperate with authorities. I'll be right back, and then you can go."
A look full of questions was turned to Lish.
"We can talk then."