Wednesday, April 9, 2008


The following is pretty rough. Filing here for later cleanup. I'll have this whole thing behind a cut as soon as I figure out how the hell to do so.

The thoughts that ran through Jeran's mind as he fled were a mystery to him; that he would be thinking of his brother now, as he ran in a near-panic from the beasts of Skyline, confused him. That his mind was able to consider rationally the state of their relationship at a time when his entire body should have been given over to the desperate chase for survival was a marvel to him, although he wasn't sure how particularly pleased that he was that his faculties drifted as such.

Jeran was unsure how long he had been running. The hydraulic thrusters attached to his ankles provided him easily with the energy and extra lift required to maintain the high-velocity speed of his run down the mountainside. As he became aware that his survival was unlikely, the act of enabling duration as opposed to considering duration became critical. Although time was grey and shrouded to him, the horizon and, perhaps safety, was razor-sharp. So too was the face of Mearne, his brother, frozen in that last scowl from a decade prior. The conflict revolved around their father, and the resolution of the estate he'd left for the brothers to divide. Jeran wanted little, and preferring a nomadic lifestyle, cared less for the lands his father had owned. Of his father's leavings, he wanted only the corpse, so that it might be buried in a place of his choosing, high in the mountains and in a place of appropriate dignity for the man he called father.

Five years had Jeran been atop the mountain where he buried his father, naked to the elements, deep within the earth. Much of it had been spent in solitude and silence, clear of mind and thought, free from obligation of anything but the occasional effort placed in survival. Then it came; in a waking dream, Jeran saw the face of Mearne, twisted with rage and malice, the dreadful dead-eye gaze of a younger sibling. As Jeran leapt from boulder to boulder, he took careful aim with his pistol and felled one of the beasts, understanding that though he would not survive, he would not be the only corpse to litter the side of this mountain today. The spray of red blood from the severed cartoid artery arced in a similar fashion to that of Jeram's neck when his brother first threw him down in early attempts to resolve the conflict of the corpse.

'Man,' Mearne said slowly and haggardly as he stood over Jeram, 'was not meant to be lain to lie with beast, to rot as the wood and grass and monster. Man is meant for the skinlabs.' He reached down and lifted Jeram by the throat, his servo-enhanced arms making easy work of the slender frame of Jeram. 'Man must serve in death!'

Jeram struggled feebly in his younger brother's grasp, searching desperately for an opening, and, seeing it in the form of the blade he kept belted at his back, pulled it free and tore into the flesh of Mearne's abdomen. 'We were once more! You've become poisoned,' Jeram panted from the ground as he made his way to his feet and stood in a more defensible position. 'FAKT has destroyed you. Man is more than data, more than binary digits, more than upgrades - man is flesh.'

Jeram tripped on a small outcrop of granite, sending him tumbling down into the foothills of the mountain, breaking his arm and one of the hydraulic thrusters and leaving him bloody and nearly broken. The twisted face of Mearne laughed and contorted in rage in his inner eye, mocking his weakness, his flesh. 'His organs, my life! His brain, my thought capacity! Dear brother, man may be flesh, but man is weak! The flesh holds the secrets, but no man born of womb alone can transcend. Man must have man to grow, to become better, stronger!' Struggling to a stand, Jeram glanced back at the beasts. Instead of falling out of control as he had done, they'd taken to the air, membranous wings unsheathing from slots built next to their arcing spines, and descended upon him rapidly. Carefully placing a hollow-point on the flat surface above one of the beasts single eyes, Jeram leapt further down the mountain, his eyes affixed to the treeline not a hundred yards away.

'The flesh is sacred, Mearne, the meat is not for us! Only the ground and sky may lay claim, and to take it is to be cursed,' Jeram lunged at Mearne with his dagger, aiming for the patellar tendon above his right kneecap so as to cripple him. Mearne's body, amplified by both machine and the generational flesh of their mother and some distant cousin, was quick to identify, adapt and respond to Jeram's attack, and he nimbly retracted the wide leg and twisted his body to bring to bear his spiked left elbow onto Jeram's back, producing a loudly audible cracking sound.

'You do not understand the gifts that God has given us,' Mearne shouted as Jeram fell once more to the ground. 'Why waste what was given? We were meant to harvest the dead, to become better! Transcendance may be attained only by the worthy, and nothing stinking of original birth can attain near what the collection can.' Mearne thrust his closed fist into Jeram's atlas vertebrae, severing his link to the conscious world.

Jeram, covered in blood and the dirt of the mountain, had managed the treeline and quickly scaled an ancient oak, readying himself for the coming wave. There were five beasts moving rapidly towards him, their wings folded back into their slots and their long tusks gleaming with a lust for the kill. Resigning himself to death, Jeram centered himself with finality and quickly empited what remained of his clip into the roving mass of tooth, talon and forked-tongue, felling three but striving clear of two. He could hear the mad, ravening laughter of Mearne as his bullets fell wide of their mark, as if his brother were watching through the eyes of the Skyline monsters.

'I have a surprise for you, dear brother; you've been asleep these long months, and today, for your birthday, I've given you a gift; I've given you father.' Mearne laughed hysterically, the neurotonins that thickened his blood driving mad his wits. 'Soon you shall understand, Jeram, soon - no, no - now!' Mearne tore the various tubes and straps that had held Jeram to the gurney, and using a great and uncharacteristic gentleness to remove the cerebral claw from Jeram's spine. Lifting him over his shoulder, Mearne carried Jeram out of the rust-colored, windowless room, and dumped him unceremoniously on the grassy hillside.

'What,' Jeram started, incredulous and struggling to retain conciousness, 'what madness have you cast upon me? This, this strength, this sharpness, no - you grafted him to me!' Raging, Jeram lunged himself at Mearne but leapt far too high and far to connect, and instead crashed heavily onto the ground.

Cackling with a madness born of neurotonins, Mearne crossed his arms and narrowed his eyes. 'You see, brother, now you see -. Feel the new strength surging through your veins, grasp the new truths surrounding you, understand what it means to be man! What was once weak, dependant upon the lottery of genetics, glaring in physical weakness and mental incompetence, gone! Amplified five, ten, a hundred fold, by the mere loss of a single, worthless, decaying corpse!'

Jeram was stunned, confused, and at a complete loss for reaction. 'You, you - you have defiled the sacred flesh, but yet -' The renewed power and vigour was rippling through him, an ecstacy of super-human senses parading through his blood and brain; the grass was a brilliant, emerald green, the sky is a deep azure blue, and the sun - the sun! Radiating waves of infrared and ultraviolet light cascaded before him and through the atmosphere, radiowaves surging through the stratosphere, x-rays and microwaves bombarding the planet from qasars and pulsars from afar, all now visible to him! As Jeram watched in awe at the newly visible spectrum of waves of all kinds, mathematical formulae danced through his head, the laws binding the physical world together as clear to him now as the hand he held before his face.

'This, all this - all this from one body? Mearne, a single corpse can give a single man all of this?'

'Yes, dear brother, and now you see; although I gave up the glory that surely father was so that you might know the wonders of grafting, imagine what further wonder there can be! Realize now, brother, that this power within you, this new life, this is but one body - the grafting is exponential, limitless! We will be as gods!'

'Yes, brother Mearne, yes, I see now, I understand so clearly how I was mistaken. Embrace me, brother Mearne, that my first new touch might be to that of one of an equal,' Jeram held open his arms, the tips of his fingers visibly shaking and trembling with the raw energy coursing through them. Mearne approached, and pulled his brother close to him. 'Brother, yes, you and I, we can become - anything, even,'

'Brother, enough, you know not your strength, relax your grip,' Mearne struggled in his attempts to free himself from Jeram's grasp, which was enclosing his shoulders and closing yet tighter, the bones of his shoulders being forced from their sockets.

'Even corpses to decay in the earth!' Jeram pulled tighter as the arms of his brother flailed against him, striking him on the spine, the throat, the top of the skull, but to little use; Jeram had embraced him as such so as to restrict the movement of Mearne's arms. Tighter, and tighter yet - Mearne's shoulders, although greatly enhanced through grafting, quickly reached their maximum stress levels and began to crack. Similar effects were occuring along the radial at which Jeram embraced his brother, and within moments, Jeram had collapsed and pulverized the spine of Mearne, leaving him concious but utterly invalid. He carried him then to atop that mountain and buried him alive, his flesh to be grafted to naught but the good, cold earth. He pulled from his body as much of the grafts as he could without killing himself, and buried them at the mountain summit, marking the half-tomb with a marker made of stone, earth and tree.

Fully aware of the knowledge that this was to be the place where he would die, Jeram leapt from the tree and lashed out against the nearest Skyline beast, shattering skull and lung, and grasping and tearing jaw with another hand. Though two were slain with the rapid ease capable only of the grafted, one remained; and one lunged, it's long, sharp and metallic incisors tearing into the flesh of Jeram's throat. As the life-blood of Jeram seeped from his throat and onto the earth, his final thoughts were mixed and confused; pleasure, knowing that his blood, as a result of the grafting, had become highly toxic and would kill the beast, and panicked, as the final images seen with both his outer and inner eyes were that of his brother, smiling, as if he'd somehow extracted revenge.

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