Garik "Face" Loran returns to Halmad and remembers his fellow Wraith, and best friend, Ton Phanan, who died there during their mission to find Warlord Zsinj.
A bit further, and Phanan said, in a hoarse whisper Face could barely hear over the whine of the repulsorlift, "It's up there again."
~from Iron Fist by Aaron Allston~
It's quiet here beside the river;
the sun stitches patchwork squares on the grass, the breeze
like an animal warm at my ear
nudges the leaves to whisper their stories -
the past year, the sum of their living memory.
The reeds quiver
and somewhere a hand rises in their midst
. . . waves.
That's one story the leaves can't tell,
their memories wiped by the endless cycle of death
that's my story - the hand
a trick of the light, an image
from a past over twenty years old
yet clear as yesterday. A hand
pale, strong, skilled, as befitting a surgeon,
yet not averse to violence
nor afraid to grasp at dreams;
a human hand -
yes, definitely human.
The hand of my friend, Ton
who died here
gazing at the sky
with his one human eye.
Ton, my irascible friend,
his humour cutting with surgical precision,
yet more often than not
his own flesh caught the nick
and slash . . . squirming;
not exactly self-hate, but close.
Too good a psychologist,
that was Ton's problem -
too articulate -
a self-declared superior intellect
that saw only too well its own weakness;
superior intellect and wit,
a status he enjoyed, of course;
superior intellect and wit -
if only you knew how much I miss
that little joke.
And he was right, they are a dying breed:
dying because they do the right thing -
analyse, calculate their lives to be less worthy
than those of the many,
refuse to surrender
in case they compromise their friends,
and die because
they're human . . .
and dying IS proof
I never doubted that,
but I know he did sometimes.
He knows now, though;
knows that humanity runs deeper than flesh,
deeper than any cyborg face, than any
outer armour, real or assumed.
You can tell
because it's so quiet here, so serene,
no stirrings of a troubled spirit,
no uneasy ghost.
The crater I gouged
when I destroyed his mortal remains
in a hail of fire
is a pool framed by wild flowers,
fire transmuted into water -
death and renewal -
as it is for the leaves
and for us, too.
The trees, hills, river are still here,
the Halmad sun is still up there
like you, Ton,
still up there in my mind,
unique in the way
humans are . . .
as only a friend can be.
Original cover by Wraith6. HTML formatting copyright 2006 TheForce.Net LLC.