30. Preparation

A tension exists in the world of humanity, between two vast ideas. On the one hand, the human mind seeks for everything it sees and everything it experiences to be interconnected and have some sort of fundamental connectivity between cause and effect. At its very worst this notion is used to justify wars, penury, the deprivation of life and liberty, and violation.

On the other hand, the human mind is equipped to recognise the randomness and unconnected nature of the events in reality, knowing that things may be linked by causality, but the behaviour of humans is so removed from fundamental things that all life might as well be random, with no great sense of justice or fairness dominating and judging actions. At its very worst this notion is used to justify wars, penury, the deprivation of life and liberty, and violation.

Essentially, there’s a flaw fundamental to people, and it probably is a tendency to try and find ways to justify wars, penury, the deprivation of life and liberty, and violation.

Angus was an academic trapped in another world, whose body roamed the earth clad in night-blue and white stars. Barbara was a cheerleader-turned-warlock, capable of flinging fire, an indestructible phone, and the ability to bind people’s will with oaths, magic growing with her reputation. Bea, reflection that she was, was a practitioner of a form of craftsmanship that builds ghosts and gives rise to guardian spirits. Enkudu was a witch, who can remember things the world forgot. Innogen was a different kind of witch, who played with fire in her fingertips, an athlete and a fighter. Holland… was Holland.

These were not the only people roaming the world in the strange days of magic, in the new age of sand. A few other players – most significantly one to whom no magic would fall. One to whom experience and dedication and resourcefulness could always be weightier than any new force.

White hair blew past her cheekbones, her expression grim, her nose wrinkled in disdain. Not for anything she saw, through her milky red eyes, but for everything that had been, thus far, in the world. The helicopter beat its way down next to her, yet as the winds picked up, she gave no visible sign of even noticing, not even as it set down and the grass prostated itself before the man-made god of wind.

A relaxed moment, she had time to fish out the stack of business cards, flick, flick, flicking through them, finding the right one, then flicking it into her other hand, holding it up, arm’s length, into the helicopter, in the face of the only passenger.

Am I being set up for a video game introduction?

“Nope,” came the booming voice, the rattle of a strap. “I’d get out and invite you in formally, but I’m strapped in, and you know about my legs. C’mon in.” he said, gesturing next to him.

A badly animated video game introduction?

“You seriously plan these out ahead of time?”

Yes. I do seriously plan these out ahead of time.

The duffel bag clinked next to her foot as she turned and took up her seat. Flip flip flip, and finally, she held out another card.

This is about the thing in the ocean, right?

I’m the only one you can find, so you want me to take care of it.

He nodded, sitting forwards. Hands gripped the counter next to him as he hoisted his body, pushing himself backwards a little, legs hanging like led before him. The wheelchair was visibly sitting, folded up, across from him.

“Yeah,” he murmured, rubbing his chin, hand going through his dull grey beard. A habit that he’d acquired to deal with the small, pointless pains. The prickle of stubble against fingertips gave just an instant of relief from the dull, throbbing ache in the wrist, the hand, the phantom pain down in the legs. Turning to her, he leant forwards and drew a breath.

“We have a briefing, such as it is.”

We have some time.

I only have so many cards

Tell me what you know.