The sounds of gunfire had reached Joshua's cell only minutes after the first alarm bell sounded. His fellow cellmates remarked on the confusion with undisguised glee, but this had turned to fear when the lights went out. The sound of carnage continued unabated in spite of the gloom, broken only by the collapse of the cell wall behind him. Brick and stone subsided languidly into small fragments and dust to reveal the elfin face of Sylenia. She was surrounded by the angry glow of swirling geometric shapes, which sparkled and sang discordantly from the impact of stray bullets and other debris.

The moments that followed were a blur, a rush of bright flashes and explosions that culminated with a sudden chill and momentary darkness. The silence was temporary though, cut through by the sounds of sea birds and the smell of seaweed. Joshua stumbled to the ground with an overwhelming feeling of nausea. A second earlier he had been near the prison in downtown Candor City, but his senses now told him he was somewhere else entirely. Instead of the wail of sirens, he heard the cries of sea birds; instead of the stink of the city, the fresh clean breeze of the sea.

Sylenia's musical voice had tried to reassure him. "We are safe now, just breathe slowly. Soon you will feel fine." He tried to focus on her voice, to hold on to that precious sound, but the waves of confusion overwhelmed him and he fell into unconsciousness.

That had been many hours ago. Joshua felt like he could have slept for hours were it not for the sounds of pigeons cooing noisily above his head. He was in a large disused warehouse, a bright and airy structure dominated by an elegant spacecraft. He recognised its blue metal immediately; it was the glassy material from which Sylenia's air car was made. Sylenia had mentioned her personal flyer many times, but he never imagined it would look like this.

Soft footsteps approached him from the shadows, making Joshua leap to his feet in fear, but the shadowy form stepped into the light and took on a glow of its own. "Are you better?" asked Sylenia gently, "did they mistreat you?"

Joshua shook his head. "I'm fine, where are we?" Sylenia reached out and touched a graze on his arm. "We are safe, this will be our new home, a safe haven. From here we can strike our enemies at will." Joshua nodded towards the graceful craft. "I thought you'd abandoned your ship, I thought you said it was damaged."

Sylenia waved her hand and shrugged. "My pursuers have not followed, so I took the risk to retrieve it. It will give us immense power."

"But how did you get it in here, the doors aren't big enough-" Sylenia reached out and touched his lips. "You ask too many questions."

Joshua looked down at her face and blinked, startled at this unaccustomed intimacy. "Sylenia, I need to tell you something. I think I'm in love with you." Sylenia's face clouded and she looked away for a moment. "It is not permitted," she murmured quietly, "if we became lovers I would die of poisoning." Joshua pleaded with her, "We could still be together in other ways couldn't we?" Sylenia shook her head slowly. "In the years to come you would age and wither, whereas I would stay strong and youthful. In time you would pass away, and then I would die of a broken heart."


Stonemason's Faded Industry building. Stephanie Petite figure in Desolation Earth Nomad outfit with custom textures. Lazloi runabout model created in Hexagon.

Scene assembly and final rendering in Vue 6 Pro Studio. Post processed in Photoshop CS2

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Updated: 21 November 2009

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