On the Trail

It was a few hours before Gabriella was feeling well enough to leave so Michael spent him time exploring the seemingly cavernous chambers and corridors of Triad's tower. The place was like a large circular labyrinth in three dimensions and everything looked the same. A common theme Michael noticed was how dirty the place was. Dust and grime was everywhere, thick smells hung in the air and the metal plates of the walls, floors and ceiling were stained with various fluids that Michael was determined to think about to deeply. Triad's raw organic components seemed to spread through the tower like a fungal infection, in fact, Michael suspected that Triad was the tower, that it had slowly subsumed and assimilated the tower's structure and systems into it's own as it grew to accommodate the workload it was being put under with the ever increasing load of Aetheric connections it had to filter as they passed through the Aether. He wondered how Triad survived when it's raw organics were exposed to so much filth. No doubt it was something to do with the Mendelian tech that made up part of it, an engineered immune system far better than anything nature had managed to create. Of course, not only that but the assistance of nanites from it's Technomancy side to attack anything else. The Aetherics and their things probably helped too. Bacteria after all was a form of life, albeit simpler than a human being. Life and how to control and interact with it at the most basic level beyond the physical was something the Aetheric devoted their lives to. Thinking about it, the combination of all those various disciplines with all their own benefits and deficits into one thing – Triad, was amazing, not only for the marvel of what it had achieved but also that the factions had even managed to work together at all. The rivalry ran deep and it was a shame that the only thing that could overcome it was a global catastrophe and even then, they had only put their differences aside when the first attempt by Tetherson with his bomb had failed to end the threat entirely. Now things were back to normal, petty bickering and posturing.

 

“Triad,” Michael spoke, knowing it could hear him anywhere in the complex. “why is the world like it is?”

 

“It's a little late in the game for you to be having an existential crisis Michael.” A voice echoed from the halls.

 

“No, it's not that. It's just that everything feels so futile sometimes. Don't you ever get frustrated? The factions fought each other, then they worked together – you're the living embodiment of that – and then they fought again. And still are fighting.”

 

“Are you trying to make a point?”

 

“Oh I don't know. I just feel lost. I don't know why I'm doing anything any more.”

 

“I was made for a purpose, so were you. I just have the luxury of knowing what it is. Just do what you feel is right, it's all anyone ever can do. By the way, Gabriella is ready now. You may leave when you wish.”

 

Michael nodded. “What's the deal with you now anyway. At first you were full of cryptic bull and dumping me in the middle of nowhere, now your acting completely different. What game are you playing?”

 

“Why, I'm hurt Michael. So suspicious. Maybe I just had a change of heart.”

 

“You don't have a heart.”

 

“On the contrary I have several.”

 

“Not what I meant and you know it.”

Triad ignored the previous conversation and started a new one. “I presume you will be going wherever Gabriella leads you – to the source of this thread I presume?”

 

“That's the plan.”

 

“Don't let what you find change you Michael. Always remember who you are.”

 

“What do you mean?”

 

“Only that sometimes the sought changes the seeker, some people live only for the journey and when it's over, they are no more. Goodbye Michael.”

 

Gabriella walked in, smiling broadly. “We ready to go?”

 

Michael smiled and looked her up and down. She'd been given some new clothes by Triad and she looked stunning. Her long black hair was tied back in a pony tail except for two dark wisps framing her face. A delicate pair of silver earrings hung from each ear and she had painted her lips a dark, vibrant mahogany colour which complemented her deep green eyes. She was wearing purple waistcoat that amplified her small breasts and a dark, sheer skirt that dropped don to her feet which were covered by knee high black leather boots with a tight fit. He was blown away.

 

Gabriella looked around, unsure what Michael was staring at. “What? Is there something on my face? Did something happen when Triad removed the demon?” She asked worriedly.

 

Michael shut his mouth, then opened it again as he realised he needed to in order to speak. “No! No! You look beautiful!”

 

Gabriella blushed. “Michael!”

 

“Sorry, but really, you look great.”

 

“Thanks, I'm always worried about looking, I don't know, weird. Being blind makes it kind of hard to judge.”

 

“Well, you judged just fine. In fact, I'd say you have excellent taste.”

 

Gabriella rolled her eyes. “So are we going or what?”

 

Michael frowned, then smiled. “Yep. Lead the way.”

 

“What?”

 

“I've decided I've had enough of running. We've got to make some decisions for ourselves. If you want to, you can go back home, or anywhere else you want to go. Isn't that right Triad.”

 

“My Neutrals are at your disposal for this task, yes.” The walls echoed.

 

“But I'd really like it if you stayed with me.”

 

Gabriella looked embarrassed for a moment. “Michael, I-”

 

“So you can help me find what's at the end of this thread. After that, well, who knows, right?” Michael quickly interrupted.

 

“Oh, right. Well, sure, I haven't really got anywhere else to go. I can't go back to uni, not when there could be demons there.”

 

“The authorities are aware of the matter.” Triad interjected.

 

“Even so, I wouldn't feel safe. No, I found you and rescued you because I was curious. Casey died for that curiosity,” Gabriella said, jaw set and eyes moistening, “if I didn't see it through to the end it would be like she died for nothing. I'll help you Michael. I'm coming with you.”

 

Michael grinned. “Well, that's settled then. Well Triad, be seeing you.”

 

“Yes, goodbye Triad, thank you for your hospitality.”

 

Triad answered by presenting them with a Neutral that escorted them through the complex to a launchpad. On it was another wasp-like craft, it's opening waiting for them to enter. They stepped aboard and the Neutral took the pilots seat.

 

“Where do you want to go?”

 

Michael and Gabriella looked at each other. Michael spoke first. “Hey, you're the one that knows where we're going, you're the one that can follow the rainbow.”

 

“Umm... well, I guess.” Gabriella said. She looked around the Aether , tracing the thread from Michael and out through the side of the craft. “You need to rotate left about 30 degrees and then head in that direction.”

 

The craft took off and they began following the invisible thread that ran through the cockpit and into Michael.

The End

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