His mind whirled in frustration, in fear, in desperation.

This cannot be!

He cannot be lost now! Not after all he has done. Not after all that all of them have done.

He had watched in increased dismay as his captors had carried out their latest plans, watched as the illusions and deceptions had driven his brother further down toward the pit of madness. He had watched as his brother wavered in his resolve, confused and unsure even of what was reality and what was simply the creation of his tortured mind.

He had watched—and been unable to help.

His attempts in the previous scenario had not eluded them. When he was forced at the end to show his hand, to reveal his presence by speaking through the small creature he had influenced, they had discovered him. The punishment had not been pleasant. It had gone on for longer than he thought he could bear, but always the thought of his brother had sustained him just enough that he managed to hold on. He had to hold on. His brother needed him, just as he needed his brother. They had to succeed. He knew now that both of their lives—and more—depended on it.

He was in pain now, but pain was a minor consideration. He was always in pain, so it was simply a matter of degree. Eventually it all began to blend together. When he became aware again he saw that he was too late to influence things to aid his brother in his captors’ latest scenario, so he watched and he waited.

The events continued; he focused, willing his brother to remain strong, to refuse to give in, even as his own resolve began to fade with his brother’s sanity.

It seemed all was lost, and then—

—another. Another who came and touched him and spoke to him in his dreams.

Who was she?

He did not know-he tried to reach out to her, but she eluded him. He could sense a peculiar attunement to his brother in her, but it did not extend to himself. She did not remain long, but it was enough. She had come and done what he himself could not—she had reached his brother and pointed him once again on the road toward sanity. He wished he could thank her, but there was no longer any trace of her.

He watched again, heartened as his brother struggled upward from the madness and reasserted his will. That will—he had always held his brother in contempt before their reconciliation for just that attribute: his strong will, his unwavering resolve to do what he thought was right. Now he knew that was the thing that would save him, if nothing else could. That and the mysterious presence, and whatever help he could offer now. And, he realized, the influence of his friends, who had left the safety of their lives and their bodies to seek him out and offer him their aid.

I am with you, brother, he sent. I am with you and I will not leave you. Together, we will prevail.

Concentrating with all his being, he redoubled his efforts to reach out to his brother.

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