I caught up with Sylenia at the corner of the next street.

She was hunched over and throwing up, her face hidden by rained soaked hair. The sharp smell caught me unawares for a moment, and my stomach threatened to rebel too. Only by taking deep breaths did I keep my lunch at bay.

The rain was coming down in sheets, beating a low roar on the roofs and cars around us. Ordinarily I would have resented it, but instead I closed my eyes and held my head up to face the night sky, revelling in the cool and clean flow of water.

Unbidden, my mind returned to the sight of the bloated bodies hanging in the basement, remembering the fluid filled pipes that punctured the gangrenous and veined skin of the wretched victims. There were tanks of yellowing liquid surrounding them, endlessly circulated by electric motors whose shallow whine barely masked the gurgling breath of the victims. In a brief moment I had seen these things, yet they were burned into my memories in a way that threatened to be permanent.

Sylenia coughed loudly and spat on the ground, breaking my reverie and returning me to the present. She looked at me through her matted hair with dark and gloomy eyes. I knew her well enough now to recognise the brooding introspection she was sinking into, a silent war of words with herself I could neither hear nor interrupt.

For a moment neither of us spoke, and I felt my gaze begin to melt under her unwavering stare.

"The Dust is not made," she said quietly, "at least not here on Candor."

I blinked as the rain began running into my eyes, and seeing a porch nearby motioned for us to shelter there. Sylenia joined me and shivered. "What happened to your shield?" I asked, trying not to sound impertinent.

She drew the hair from her face and scowled. "My powers are not limitless, Joshua." I nodded, recognising that her angry response was simply her irritation at appearing weak in the eyes of a human. Her anger soon passed and she glanced across at me once more. "I think they are keeping the dust alive in living hosts. Unless it has living organic matter to inhabit it will simply die or become dormant."

I looked back at the dark windows of the house, anonymous and camouflaged amongst the homes of ordinary people. "They'll have to come back to collect the Dust, so they can package it up for the street." I glanced back to Sylenia to see if she had heard, but she was already walking back to where we had hidden her air car.

The journey back to our lair was largely silent, and I felt Sylenia's mood grow blacker beside me. Instead of going back to her ship, she walked out to the edge of the water, and watched the sea till morning.

-- Joshua Isuza


SP3 figure in the Travalian Outfit with custom textures. Buildings by Stonemason, air car is an original model created in Hexagon.

Scene assembly and final rendering in Vue 8 Complete. Post processed in Photoshop CS2

Return to the 2010 gallery

Updated: 09 July 2010

© Mark Hirst, 2000 - 2018