For the first time since the time so long ago that he had first reached out, he felt hope.

He scarcely dared to believe it, but there it was.

Someone can hear me!

My message has reached someone at last!

He could feel it now, feel it strong and pulsing, unhindered by the others’ damping, unencumbered by their malevolent influence. They were not gone—oh, no, they were there and they waited...always they waited—but somehow their minds, their whispers no longer picked up his efforts, twisted them, added their own foul spin to his message. His voice, crystal clear, strong, full of hope and power, reached out across the vast gulf and had at last touched something on the other side.

At first he was confused: what minds were these that he had reached? Where was Gethelwain? His brother was there—he could feel him, stronger than the others—but there were other presences, strong too but different, alien—

Their thoughts reached out to him, full of shock and horror and compassion—and then he knew.

Of course.

It was the bond. Not simply the one he shared by blood with his brother, but that which he shared by choice with his brother’s friends. He had nearly forgotten about the bond in his torment, but now it rose once again to the forefront of his mind as he realized simultaneously that this provided him with a greater chance to reach someone, to communicate his message and to seek help—but it also put these friends in great danger. The things wanted Gethelwain, that much he knew—but he had no doubt that they would be pleased to add a few extra victims to share his torment.

The pain was too strong, the torment too great, to allow him to dwell on such questions for too long. He could not bear it for much longer—he did not know how much longer he could cope with this before whatever was left of his essence fell apart and there was nothing left but unceasing mindless agony.

He hoped that they would forgive him—Gethelwain and his friends—but he was no longer in a position to consider these things too carefully. He had to take the risk, as he knew it was the only chance he would ever have.

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Copyright ©1999, 2000 R. King-Nitschke. The Shadowrun universe is the property of FASA Corporation.
No part of this story may be reproduced without permission from the author.